quietlyendless: (Default)
[personal profile] quietlyendless
Series: they were unfortunate lovers
Part: 01, 02
Chapter: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06


"Come on! Keep up, keep up!"

Jean grits his teeth, barely managing to hold back a curse, and forces his legs to run faster. Every muscle in his body is exhausted and drowning in oxygen debt, and his lungs burn in need of more air.

"Kirschstein!" yells one of the officers, bringing his horse a little closer to the running soldiers. "Are you even trying!?"

"Yes, sir!" he barks out between gasps.

"I don't think so! Did three days of bedrest turn you into a complete wimp!?"

"No, sir!"

"Then what the hell are you doing lagging behind for!? Get up front!"

"Yes, sir!"

"Same goes for the rest of you!" he snaps, pulling on the reins of his horse as he adjusts his speed, now falling in pace with the last few of their group. "Move your asses!"

There is a resounding chorus of "yessirs" from the general area behind him, but Jean keeps his gaze trained on the figures ahead of him.

It has been five days since the castle was attacked, three of which he had spent sleeping in the infirmary--and hell, did it show. His endurance had deteriorated horribly, and his pride had suffered a severe blow that first morning back, when he had tried to keep up with his peers during their regular jogs and subsequently failed. Today seemed to be going slightly better, but he had still fallen behind halfway, struggling to match the grueling pace the senior officers had sat for them--one he once met easily.

Some seven other privates had also lagged behind, falling further back than even he, so Jean takes some small comfort in knowing that he's not alone.

Then again, even Armin's running ahead of him, his short yellow hair bouncing with each step.

"Move it, lazybums!"

Jean clenches his fists, a low frustrated growl starting in the base of his throat, and sprints the rest of the way.

When the officer-in-charge--some assface named Jamal--finally calls for a break, Jean collapses unceremoniously onto his knees, his stomach churning unpleasantly. The sun is only barely up, still peeking out from behind the trees, but his clothes are completely soaked through. His lungs are blazing angrily in his chest, limbs aching with strain, and he feels so fucking pathetic that his throat clenches with nausea.

Weak, his mind mutters angrily, hot with shame. Top ten graduate my ass.

"Fuck you," he whispers, and then exhales slowly in an effort to rein in his wild heartbeat. Sweat is getting into his eyes, and he wipes them away with the back of his hand.

When he glances up, he catches Connie looking.

Jean scowls, not even bothering to hide his irritation, and jerks his head upwards once, a silent question.

The other boy starts, as if only just realising that he's been caught staring. A sheepish expression worms its way onto Connie's face and he shrugs, looking away immediately.

That does nothing for his mood, and the black cloud that had settled onto his shoulder intensifies, darkening into a dull, inexplicable anger.

"Alright, kids!" Jamal yells, his brown stallion snorting in an impatience that mirrors its partner's. "Break's over! Pick your fat asses off the floor and start running!"

Jean grips a handful of grass, yanking it out viciously and tossing it back onto the ground. Then he forces himself up and hurries after the others.


When they're finally let off for lunch, Jean is so exhausted he can barely walk straight. Every step feels like more effort than he can make, and he ends up wobbling along the edge of the crowd, making slow and unsteady progress towards the dining hall.

The world around him feels dim, a faded out background of noise and colours. Even the food feels bland as Jean goes through the motions; scoop up, chew, swallow, repeat. He doesn't taste anything, hardly feels the solids going down his throat.

He's so tired.

A bell rings, signalling the end of lunch.

Jean doesn't moves, wondering if he could take another break, if he could make some shit up about shadows and go back to bed for another day--

"Move it, newbies!" Jamal yells from the other end of the hall. "We've got plenty of work left!"

He curses, braces two hands against the table's edge and shoves himself up so violently that he nearly trips the bench over with him. He feels more than sees the glances people are giving him, the laughter they're trying to hide.

(And somewhere in the big hall, he's sure Jaeger is watching him stumble past the door for afternoon practice, laughing himself sick)


The next few days pass like that. Jean staggers through the Survey Corps' daily training regime, while everyone else easily surpasses him. At some point, he falls off his horse and nearly gets trampled to death.

He lags behind during morning runs. He gets his ass handed to him during spars, by Connie nonetheless.

During Maneuvear Gear practice, he miscalculates and ends up tangling his wires with a passing soldier's; the tall, gangly blonde tries to laugh it off, but Jean is busy fighting down an old memory--years ago, when Marco had slammed into him, and Jean had found himself face to face to with the other boy's crotch. It was during one of the earlier cycles, long before Jean had managed to get his head out of his ass long enough to acknowledge that guys didn't have to fall for girls, and having not-so-platonic thoughts about Bodt did not make Jean society trash. Needless to say, Jean had panicked and cursed non-stop over Marco's neverending trail of apologies. The whole situation had been awkward as fuck, even more so when Reiner found them and refused to do anything more than whistle suggestively. It was Bertholdt who finally helped them down, and Jean couldn't look Marco in the eye for days.

Jean blinks, and sees Marco's face twisted in fury, hears the betrayed snarl curled in his throat.

He remembers all of this while dangling in the air like some incompetent infant, and he blinks rapidly against the moisture collecting at the corner of his eyes because this is ridiculous.

What are you doing, Jean?

He swallows, turns his face down and away so the girl can't see the tears that are definitely not running down his cheeks.

What the hell are you doing?

When help finally arrives, it comes in the form of Armin, eyes wide and worried. He whips past them, saying, "Wait there! I'll be right back!" and returns some time later with backup. When they finally do get down, Jean can't look at anyone. His stomach is heaving and he has to force his breathing to even out, trying to control his rebeling insides.

"Jean, are you okay?"

He winces, doesn't turn around to look at Armin when he answers. "Peachy," he says, and stalks off.

The subsequent silence is tense and heavy but Armin doesn't push for more. Jean spends the rest of the day swallowing bile.


He dreams about a lot of things. Sometimes of the past. Sometimes of the might-have-been future. And sometimes, if he's really lucky, he dreams of another life, where the Titans never were, Marco doesn't die until he's aged and wrinkly and soft, and Jean never meets the man in the bar.

Pipe dreams, he thinks, when he wakes. Silly, childish escapism into a reality that would never be.


There are some night when he dreams of nothing but horrors. When he wakes cold and shaking, feels fear clogging up his lungs, tears in his eyes and blood on his skin.

Like tonight.

"Do you ever dream about what's out there?"

Jean doesn't open his eyes, enjoying the cool breeze of nighttime on his face. "I dream about the titans all the fucking time."

"What? No, silly." A quiet laugh. "I meant the world. What it might look like outside."



He shrugs. "How different can it get? More trees. More grass. Same stuff we've got here, 'cept there's more space."

"You have absolutely no imagination whatsoever."

Here, he turns, rolling onto his side to face the other boy. He props himself up on one hand, reaches out with the other to flick his lover's nose. "Yeah? What's your take then, Mr Creative?"

Marco hardly blinks at the act, smiling up at Jean, his brown eyes big and warm. "Some place beautiful. And calm. And quiet."

He snorts. "How is that any better than what I said?"

"It is," he insists. "There are these pictures in my head, but i don't really know how to describe it. I just know what it feels like. You, on the other hand," he says, frowning in mock disapproval, one hand flapping in the air dismissively, "can't be bothered to think of anything."

"Hey, I said there'd be more space, didn't I?"

"It doesn't take a lot to imagine that, Jean."

He rolls his eyes and plops back down onto the grass, arms splayed out in beside him. "Whatever, man."

Marco chuckles again and wriggles his way closer, laying his head on Jean's arm. One of his hands finds its way to Jean's face, tracing patterns on his cheek with one long finger. "It's okay, though," he murmurs, breath tickling the skin behind Jean's ear. "I can do the imagining for both of us. So you don't have to worry about it."

Jean scoffs again, but lets his eyes fall close, basking in the warmth radiating from the other boy. "Got it."

They fall quiet, a comfortable silence slipping between them. The finger on Jean's cheek trails down his jaw, onto his neck, then back up to pause beside his throat. Two fingers press lightly there, and Jean leans slightly into the touch, feeling his pulse thrumming against Marco's fingertips. He hums softly.

"I dream of us too," Marco whispers suddenly.

Jean opens his eyes and turns his head, their gazes meeting. "Yeah?"

"Mmhmm." The other boy is smiling, the curve of his lips soft and secretive.

"What about?"

Marco shrugs, his pupils dilated.

"Come on," he says, turning onto his side to wrap one arm around Marco's waist, pulling him closer. "Tell me."

Marco laughs, a short puff of warm air against his nose. "Nope."

"Why not?"

"Just because."



"Give me a hint, at least?" he pleads, rubbing circles into Marco's back.

Marco purses his lips, making a show of considering the request. His lips part and Jean can already hear the incoming 'No'; before the other boy can say anything, Jean leans forward, closing the small distance between them, and captures Marco's lips with his own. The other boy mumbles something inaudible, and then he's kissing back. Tongues slip past, pushing at each other, licking. Jean gently bites down on Marco's lower lip, and the other boy breathes out a quiet moan.

His hand trails down from Jean's neck to his chest, fingers brushing teasingly over a nipple. His knee rubs against Jean's groin, not too hard, but not quite hard enough, and Jean finds himself shivering involuntarily, swallowing a helpless sound of his own.

"Marco," he pants between kisses, low and needy.

The fingers dancing on his chest finally head lower, scratching lightly across his stomach. Marco's knee is still a regular pressure down south, steadily working him up. A frustrated growl rumbles in Jean's throat, and this time he bites down hard on Marco's lip. The other boy giggles--he actually has the fucking audacity to giggle, and Jean is just about to hiss in affrontment when a hand dips under his trousers and abruptly wraps around the base of his cock.

Jean gasps, breaking the kiss in his surprise as he pulls back slightly. Marco doesn't even pause, leaning forward to mouth at his neck, teeth scraping against skin.

He's breathing harder now, the hand on his dick moving achingly slow, and it takes all of his self-restraint to not buck his hips. Jean clings to the other boy, clutching his shirt in a tight grip.

Then Marco is pushing against him, rolling them over so he's straddling Jean's hips. He leans forward, nipping at the corner of Jean's mouth and rubs slowly against his dick.

"Fuck," Jean gasps out. "Fuck. Hurry up, will you?"

"Somebody's impatient," Marco says, moving to the side, teeth tugging at an earlobe now.

His body jerks forward desperately, and Marco's knee presses down on his hip, stilling his movements. Jean throws his head back, eyes shut tightly. "Damn it, Marco."

The other boy breathes hotly into Jean's ear, and then squeezes his dick, hard.

He curses, hands coming up to grip the other boy's waist. Marco's picks up his pace, his breathing ragged in Jean's ear.

"I dream about killing you."

Jean's eyes snap open, and Marco grins down at him. The expression is horrifying; his mouth curves all the way up on one side, and ends in torn flesh on the other. Jean sucks in a breath, his whole body going cold.

"Why did you do it?" Marco asks, and the motion splatters blood onto Jean's face.

He can't speak. He can barely breathe.

"Why?" The other boy ducks his head, and as Jean watches, a tear slowly makes its way across the skin of his face. His jaw unhinges with a pop, drooping towards Jean and his eyes glow a bright, eerie shade of yellow.

Panic bubbles in his chest, but his limbs have gone numb, his mind a white cloud of static. He can't do anything.

Marco's fingers, sticky with blood, wrap around his throat, and squeeze.

"Why, Jean?"


He wakes up with a strangled yelp, heart in his throat. His vision of swirling colours gradually clears to form Bertholdt's face, his eyes drawn tight in concern.

"Breathe," the brunette is saying, "in and out."

Jean gasps, his lungs heaving as he greedily drinks in oxygen. His heart is pounding against his ribcage, and he realises he's shaking all over. There are hands on his shoulders, rubbing in what may or may not be a soothing manner, and Bertholdt keeps saying "Breathe," over and over, like a mantra.

When he's finally breathing normally, he exhales heavily, and presses the base of his palms to his eyes. He feels Bertholdt pull away, giving him space and they remain that way for a while, surrounded by quiet snores in the dark.

Eventually, Bertholdt speaks up, whispering softly. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah," Jean says, pretending he doesn't hear the unsteady wobble in his voice. "Just had a weird dream, 's all."

There is an uncertain pause. Then, "You were talking in your sleep."

Jean's heart stutters for a few beats, and goosebumps prickle his skin. After a moment, he dares a glance up. Bertholdt's expression is a little difficult to make out in the dark like this, but Jean think he's pretty sure the other boy isn't being unkind. He takes a deep breath, and asks, "Did I say anything weird?"

Bertholdt rubs at his elbow, his discomfort showing. "You said...his name a few times."

Shit. "Just a dream," Jean repeats, a little more insistently this time.

The brunette stares at him for a few seconds longer, before he finally nods. "Okay."

Jean shakes his head a little and lies down, turning his back to other boy. He hears Bertholdt shuffling about, trying to get comfortable, and then the night is calm once more, filled with nothing but the quiet breathing of sleeping soldiers.

Every time he closes his eyes, the image of Marco's torn, bloody face grins menacingly at him.

Jean lies awake until dawn.


It takes him a few more days to notice. Jean has to admit, it's more than a little surprising, and in another life--in another cycle, he might have been a little touched by the kind gesture.

"Dude, are you okay?"

At the moment, however, as he picks himself off the ground, spitting out mud, his ears burning, all he feels is resentment.

"For fuck's sake!" he yells, whirling around to face Connie, his fingers curled into tight fists. "Stop asking me that, damn it! I'm fine! I was fine before, I'm fine now, and it doesn't matter how many times you guys ask, I'll still be fine!"

The shaven boy freezes in place, one hand outstretched, palm facing upwards, blinking owlishly at him. His mouth is twisted in a strange mixture of a grimace and a smile.

Jean breathes heavily, his eyes burning so much that he has to rub at them, and damn it, when did he turn into such a pansy?

Connie swallows, once. "Uh," he says.

A frustrated sound blows out of his throat and Jean turns on his heels, stomping off in the opposite direction.

Later, after dinner, Armin approaches him with cautious steps, hands held in front of him in an appeasing gesture. "Jean," he says, "can we talk for a minute?"

Jean shoves his mug away from him and follows the other soldier wordlessly up the central stairwell, to their shared bedroom. When they arrive, Connie is already there, sitting next to Bertholdt.

Striding over to them, Jean stops a few feet away and crosses his arms. "Ready to tell me what the fuck is going on?" he demands.

His tone must be a lot more menacing than he means it to be because Connie actually flinches a little, and Bertholdt drops his gaze to the stone floor, where his fingers are fidgeting with each other restlessly. Their reactions don't bother Jean quite as much as the fact that no one has started explaining yet, and he wants to strangle someone. "Well!?"

"Jean, why don't you sit down first?" Armin suggests, taking a seat himself. "Calm down."

"I don't want to sit down, and I'm sure as hell not gonna calm down until someone starts talking!"

Armin looks up at him. "What do you want to know?"

"What do I--are you fucking serious?" he snaps. "You're the one who dragged me up here and you're asking me questions?"

Connie lets out a shaky breath. "Dude, are you sure we need to tell him?"

"Yes," Armin replies. "Keeping quiet any longer isn't going to help."

"But what if--you know." Here, Connie shoots a nervous glance in his direction. "What if he ends up like the others?"

"He won't."

"But what if he does?"

"He won't," Armin repeats. "We'll help him."

"Fucking hell--I'm right here!" Jean slaps a hand to his chest with a loud smack. "Stop talking about me as if I'm invisible!"

Connie's head whips back around to face him, and his hands come up in front of him, like a shield. "We're not!"

"Yes, you are, shithead. You were just at it!"

"Wow. Okay. Uh--"

"Connie's just worried about you," Armin interjects smoothly. "He thinks you're not ready to talk about it."

A frustrated sound explodes from out of his nose. "Damn it, I'm not a kid! If you've got something to say to me, just say it!"

"Alright then," Armin says, catching his gaze and holding it. "What really happened in the basement that day, Jean?"

His heart skips a beat. "What?"

"The basement," he repeats, slowly. "What happened?"

"I told you, I don't remember."

"Are you sure, Jean?" He tilts his head down slightly, blue eyes steely.


"See?" Connie interjects hurriedly. "Nothing to worry about."

"You were crying," Bertholdt says quietly.

Jean's whole body goes cold and he turns the full force of his glare on the tall brunette. "What did you say?"

The other boy looks up, and his face is completely devoid of emotion, his eyes as blank as they are black. "You were curled up in one corner, hunched over, crying non-stop."

"Asshole, I did not--"

"You kept calling for him," he says softly, mercilessly. "Marco, Marco, Marco."

"Shut up!" His chest is heaving, and he feels so very cold inside. He exhales shakily, trying to cool his nerves. "It doesn't matter. We're not talking about that. We're talking about why you guys have been hounding me all week."

Connie stares at him. "We haven't been--"

"Yeah? Sticking to me like glue every time we leave the castle? Constantly checking on me all day long like I'm some baby that needs taking care off? 'You okay, Jean? Saw you falling off your horse earlier. Are you hurt?'" Jean scowls, ears burning at the memory. "Ringing any bells yet?"

The shaven boy flushes a little, a half-grimace forming on his lips. "Okay. Look. We were just looking out for you. That's what friends do, right?"

"Whatever it is you think you're doing, you can stop," he snaps. "I can take care of myself. Don't need your babysitting."

"Even if you say that, we can't. We have orders to--oof!" Whatever it is he was planning on saying gets swallowed back down as Armin shoves an elbow in his ribs.

Jean pauses. "What was that?"

"Nothing," Connie says hurriedly.

"No." He takes a step back, ducking his head. "No, you were saying something about orders."

Armin closes his eyes and lets out a long-suffering sigh. Next to him, Connie starts talking very fast. "Orders? Did I say orders? Nah, man, I was talking about, uh. About something else. You heard me wrong."

"Who ordered you? To do what?"

"It's really not that big a deal," Armin tries.

Jean shakes his head. "Nope. Someone ordered you to watch me? Definitely a big deal. A very big deal."


"What for?" he asks, blinking rapidly. "Are you guys evaluating me? Checking to see if I'm still fit for duty? Is that what this is about?"

Connie springs into a standing position. "Look, man. I know it probably sounds bad, but we're doing this for your own good!"

"Sure," he says. "Gotta make sure I can still fight before they send me out to the titans, right? Gotta find out who they can and can't spare."

"What? No, not like that!"

"And what have your reports been like so far? Kirschstein is too weak to save his own butt. Performance has deteriorated badly. Put under titan fodder team. With the rest of the useless garbage."

(That's right.)

Arm inhales sharply. "Jean, don't say that!"

"It's true, though, isn't it?" He barks out a horrible, bitter laugh. "Why else would I be on probation?"

"Jean, man, you're not on probation!"

"Then why are you keeping watch over me!?"

Connie hesitates. "Okay, maybe you're kind of on probation, but it's not like what you're saying."

"Then what the hell is going on!?"

"Damn it, just calm down, okay? We can talk this out!"

"Quit saying that, will you!? How the fuck do you expect me to calm down!?"

"Well, you freaking out like this isn't helping anyone!"

"Connie!" Armin says, giving him a sharp look. "Jean, I know you're confused and angry--"

"Fuck, you think!?"

"--and I swear, there's an explanation for all of this. We'll get to it, I promise, but you really need to calm down."

"Just tell me what's going on!"

"Dude, take it easy!"

"Shut up!" he snarls. His eyes feel hot again, and he's pushing at them with his palms. His fingers are digging into his scalp, pulling at his hair, tugging mercilessly. The room feels too small, too hot and he's so angry. "If you're not gonna say anything then just stop talking!"

"Jean," Admin begins, half-standing.

But he barely hears him. Everything is so loud in his head, so crowded and noisy and fuck, he's so angry. "Ngh--"

(They're lying to you. They're keeping secrets from you.)

"Shut up..."

(Poor Jean Kirschstein. So weak, so pitiful. How little you know.)

"Shut up!"

Something heavy hits him directly in the stomach, crushing the breath out of him. Jean reels back, gasping as pain blooms throughout his abdomen, but then he's being pushed backwards, down onto his back. He fights back, kicking out reflexively, but a heavy pressure keeps him down. His fist connects with flesh, and he feels a surge of delicious satisfaction at the pained yelp it elicits, but then his hands are being pinned down too. A hot puff of air against his face, and then Bertholdt says, "Breathe."

His whole body jerks in violent rejection. Wrong wrong wrong-- "Get the fuck off me!" he screams.

But the other boy only tightens his grip. "Jean, you need to breathe."

"I said get off!"

"Not until until you calm down."

"Jean, breathe!"


"Fuck you!" he snarls. "Fuck all of you!"

Bertholdt punches him.

The other boy doesn't hold back in the slightest, and the force of it snaps his head to the side so hard that his cheek smashes into the ground. The hit leaves his ears ringing, and he actually blacks out for a while.

When he comes to, the world returns in a dizzying swirl of colours. There is the sharp, metallic range of blood on his tongue, and his inner cheek is twinging with pain.

He let's out a long breath.

"That's it," he hears Bertholdt say. "That's good."

Jean closes his eyes and focuses the entirety of his attention on breathing. In and out. Over and over. He can feel the anger draining out of him with each exhalation. His fingers are tingling, twitching restlessly, but he can feel his mind clearing as the noise dies down. Everything is quiet once more.

After what seems like an eternity, Bertholdt finally sits back, relinquishing his hold. When he stands, he offers an arm to Jean, fingers spread open slightly.

He blinks at it a few times, and takes it, lets the other soldier pull him up non-too-gently and doesn't flinch when Bertholdt taps him a few times on the shoulder. "Better?" the other boy asks.

Jean clears his throat, and then decides to just nod.

A few beats pass in silence. Then. Connie lets out a loud, extremely relieved exhalation. "See? That's what we were afraid of."

Jean presses a hand to his forehead, feeling unreasonably tired. "Connie, I still have no idea what you're talking about."

"You losing your shit, man."

"Connie, we just got him to calm down," Armin says. "Don't rile him up again."

Bertholdt clears his throat, a tiny awkward sound. "I think you guys should explain. About what happened to the others."

Jean nods, as eagerly as he can manage."Yes, I second that."

"Alright." The blonde pauses, fingers hooked under his chin, looking thoughtful. "Jean, do you remember waking up in the infirmary after the attack?"


"Do you remember all those other people there with you?"

"You mean the other soldiers?" He waits for Armin to nod before answering. "Yeah, I remember them. Why?"

"Well," the other boy begins, meeting Jean's gaze, "the thing is. There were a lot of casualties from the ambush that night. Quite a few soldiers have gone missing. We're assuming they were...eaten. By the monsters. And a lot of the ones wounded during the battle were a little...different afterwards."

"Different how?" he asks, recalling the near-palpable tension in the infirmary, stiff with dread.

"They acted strange. Some of them just went around mumbling to themselves, hiding in dark corners. Some of them wouldn't go out into the sun. And well..."

Jean waited. "Yeah?"

"Some of them got violent," Armin finished quietly.

There was another pause as Jean chewed on this, trying to remember if he had seen anything strange in the last few days.

"People were fighting amongst themselves. Beating each other up. I heard someone even went after the corporal with a butter knife." The boy shivered. "He didn't take it well."

"It got so bad so fast that the higher ups sent them back to the city," Connie adds. "For rehab, they said. It's like something in their heads broke that night. And they all got a little unstable."

"But not everyone turned out like that. And there were still people who hadn't woken up yet."

"So they assigned a watch," he says slowly, piecing together his thoughts, "to those who woke up after. To make sure they weren't crazy."

"Yeah." Armin smiles a little. "You've always been pretty agressive, though, so it was kind of hard to decide."

Connie gives him a thumbs up, his other hand perched on his hip. "But don't worry, man. We told them you were fine. So you're not getting deported any time soon."

"We just wanted to check on you anyway. Just in case."

The tight knot in his chest loosens, a little at first, and then unraveling completely. It sends a rush of air past his lips, easing the strained muscles in his shoulders and runnig down his spine. Jean breathes in, then out, and resolutely refuses to acknowledge the prickling in his eyes.

He hears Connie snort. "You're also an idiot, by the way. We're your friends, moron. We're not gonna sell you out."

That draws a startled chuckle from somewhere deep in his chest. The sound is si sudden that for a minute he doesn't recognise it, and when he does, he laughs a bit more, feeling ridiculous--and for the first time in days, it doesn't make him feel like crap.

"Okay," he finally says, a near-whisper. "Okay."


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