cosipotente: (onew)
cosipotente ([personal profile] cosipotente) wrote2013-12-09 08:11 am

the only hope for me is you

PG-13 ; Jean/Marco
summary: His phone rang at 6AM Monday morning, a shrill sound right at his ear, and Jean answered on the first ring. There was a mechanical quality to Marco's brother's voice when he relayed Marco's update. Comatose.
word count: 4,043

Jean's phone buzzed in his pocket. He quickly dug it out and unlocked it, reading Marco's text.

Dinner on the bridge?

He smiled at the suggestion. The diner that sat before Stohess Bridge, a little mom-and-pop joint that his dad used to treat him to as a kid, was Jean's absolute favorite place to eat. The delicious food aside, which had Jean's mouth watering just thinking about it, Bodt's Burgers had played host to many hallmark memories for Jean.

Most of his birthdays were thrown in the diner. His dad had paid for his whole little league baseball team to eat there in celebration of their first win. Jean's first date had taken place in the back corner booth while his subsequent first break up had happened at the bar over milkshakes. His high school graduation dinner was held there.

What Jean considered to be one of the best days of his life happened in the small diner. He had met, and fallen in love with, Marco in Bodt's.

He waited for his professor to turn back to the notes he was scrawling across the whiteboard before replying. He typed out an excited hell yes!!!! :D, sent it, and then pocketed his phone once more. The prospect of juicy burgers and Marco's freckled face later this evening re-energized Jean; he powered through his remaining two classes and took next to godly notes.

Stohess Bridge over looked the river Yalkell, a body of water that wound through out all of Sina. Marco was leaning against the bridge's short stone wall, eyes on the flow of the briny water. Jean watched him for a long moment. He was silhouetted against the mute grays and purples of the December evening sky, scarf wrapped about his neck and the lower half of his face to fight the winter chill. He cut a picturesque figure standing there, and if Jean didn't have to two left hands when it came to art, he'd recreate the scene in perfect detail in water colors.

Marco ruined the moment with a huge sneeze. Jean chuckled to himself as he made his way over him.

"Polo!" He called out. The in-joke never failed to amuse Jean. He could be 80 years old and he would still do the whole 'Marco Polo' bit.

Marco turned from the river, scanning the small crowd of pedestrians walking on the bridge. When his eyes lit on Jean heading toward him, he smiled broadly freckles stretching to follow the curve of his cheek. They have been dating for three years now, but Marco somehow managed to still make Jean's heart pound in the same way it had when he first laid eyes on his freckled face.

Marco greeted him with a kiss, lips somewhat cold pressed against Jean's. Jean remedied that by slanting his mouth against Marco's. The kiss is chaste and quick; neither of them are keen on overt displays of affection.

"Hello." Marco sighed softly, his breath warm against Jean's lips.

Jean smiled, cupping Marco's face to run his thumb over the dusting of freckles on his cheek. "Hi."

Marco's stomach let loose a muted growl making him blush and Jean laugh. He took Marco by the hand and they walked like that to Bodt's Burgers.

The diner was owned by Marco's family, run by his divorcee mother and his eldest brother. The second eldest son, Marcello, was head chef, and his younger sisters, twins Claudia and Ciana, worked in shifts at the register and as a server. When Jean and Marco walked in, they were greeted by the jingling of the bell above the door, hits from the 50s, and Marco's sisters playfully groaning about their ugly mugs ruining the evening.

Ciana dutifully guided them to their regular booth, striking up a sarcastic back-and-forth with Marco as Jean hung up their coats on rack by the door. He turned around in time to see her playfully punch him the shoulder and a laugh at the expression of mock pain on his face. The Bodt children all shared the same olive skin, chocolate brown hair, and freckles spattered in different patterns they had inherited from their father.

Jean was an only child, and while his home never lacked for familial warmth, being around Marco and his family was like standing five-feet from the sun; they were all brilliant and warm.

"Your usuals?" Ciana asked when they sat down, Jean across from Marco. She didn't bother with the notepad in her apron pocket.

"Not for me," Marco replied. "Get mom to make me soup."

Ciana jaunted a hip, leaning it against the table a bit, and put a hand on her hip. "Mamma's upstairs with Antonio. Why not have Marcello make it?"

Marco rolled his eyes and Jean snickered to himself; exasperation was a good look on him. "I just want mom to do it; she puts more love into it."

This time, Ciana did the eye rolling. "Whatever," she muttered before she slanted her brown eyes at Jean. "You? Usual or soup, too?"

"Definitely the usual." Jean said, pushing his and Marco's menus to her. "Extra tatter tots, please."

"Got it." She ruffled Marco's hair in passing, heading back to the counter to place their order.

Marco sneezed loudly, putting his face in the crook of his elbow to cover it. He didn't just sneeze once, though, he sneezed six times. Jean didn't bother with saying 'bless you,' instead he handed Marco a hand full of napkins from the metal dispenser on the table. When he was finished and his face came out of his elbow, Jean eyed Marco.

"You feeling okay?" He asked, concerned.

The older man sniffled, wiping primly at his nose with a napkin. "I may or may not be coming down with something. It seems flu season started early; we've had four kids out due to sickness."

"Those little brats are reservoirs for germs." Jean said, half-joking. Kids were not his forte. He had two cousins in diapers and they stressed him by existing. He added a shiver for effect. Marco laughed, reaching across the table to swat at him. Jean caught his hand, and before he could feel weird about it, he laid a kiss to the back of it. Marco's cheeks reddened making Jean smile, and he let the hand slip from his grasp.

Claudia brought their drinks; their usual drinks, Marco's water and Jean's soda. Jean could only tell Ciana and Claudia apart by their hairstyles. Ciana wore hers piled up in a trendy bun that was popular with the girls on Jean's campus. Claudia kept her hair chopped short, one side buzzed close to her head.

"Hey bro," she greeted Marco, setting his glass in front of him. "Hey bro's boyfriend."

"I have a name for a reason." Jean bit back, snatching the straw from her hand. She tipped her shoulder in a way that clearly said she didn't give a shit what his name was. Her duty done, she left for her next table, but not before giving Jean a good, solid noogie in passing.

Marco laughed, but it quickly turned into coughing and Jean's scowl shifted into concerned. His look was waved off as Marco took a long pull from his water.

"I'll give you some medicine when we get home." He meant it both figuratively and literally.

Marco shook his head, wry smile twisting his lips. Under the table, Jean brushed knees with him. "I thought about you in class today," he admitted, leaning back in the booth. "About how we first met."

"It was here, wasn't it?" Marco responded. He looked around the diner as if he too were recalling that particular summer day three years ago.

"You had graduated two weeks earlier and I had just moved back from Maria after living with my dad."

Jean nodded, a fond smile pulling at his lips. "Your mom put you to work right away. I had you as my server."

"And all my troubles started that night." Marco joked. Jean crumpled his straw paper into a little ball and then flicked it at Marco. It pegged him in the forehead before falling to the table. But before he could get back at Jean, Marco's mother stopped by their booth with both the soup and Jean's perfect, perfect burger.

She greeted them each with a kiss to the cheek. Marco got an extra on his forehead.

"You're feverish." She noted. There was an accented lilt to her voice that none of her children inherited. She pushed the bowl of soup closer to Marco. "Stracciatella will cure it." She said, matter-of-fact, pinching Marco's cheek gently.

Marco was a mamma's boy through and through, but Jean found it endearing. Jean never knew his own mother.

"Jeannie," Marco's mom wagged a finger at him. "Make sure you take care of him."

He nodded emphatically. "Yes ma'm."

Jean caught Marco snickering and he lightly kicked him under the table. An elderly regular in a back booth called for her and she left them to their food with an invitation for dinner at the family's home sometime soon. The burger called out to Jean from where it laid on his plate and he dug into it. It was perfect. When he died, he wanted to be buried with a burger from Bodt's.

"You're doing that thing where you groan while you eat." Marco commented between sips of his soup. He was very obviously judging Jean.

"Don't worry," Jean replied, popping a tatter tot into his mouth with a saucy wink. When he finished chewing it, he leaned forward and said, sotto voce, "I'll groan when I eat you."

Marco choked on his soup, but the flash of want in his eyes said everything Jean needed to hear.

True to his words, when they got back to their flat, Jean dug out the remnants of their cold medicine from the cabinet in the bathroom. He brought the gel tablets and a glass of water to Marco who was turning down the covers on their bed. He looked a little wan around the edges.

Jean had always thought Marco had an immune system like an ox; he couldn't recall him ever being sick (he wasn't counting that time he tried to cook and gave them both food poisoning).

"Are you sure you're okay?" Jean asked, watching Marco knock back the medicine in one go.

"Mm. After my mom's stracciatella, the cold tablets," Marco ran his hand down Jean's abdomen, fingers slipping into the band of his boxers, "and some of your medicine, I'm sure I'll be fine by tomorrow."

Jean pushed Marco's hand further inside his shorts while somehow also managing to guide them on to the bed. Marco's mouth was a warm, wet heat on his neck, sucking and nipping. Jean slid his thigh between the older man's legs, pressed up just so, and was rewarded with a breathy moan from Marco.

Marco's hands tugged Jean boxers loose, pushed them half down his thighs, and ran his hand down the hard length of Jean's cock. He decided then and there they were wearing too much. They were naked in a matter of moments, Jean holding himself above Marco with one arm, using the other to jerk them both off. He knew from the heavy lidded look on Marco's face the cold medicine had kicked in and he'd be out like a light in no time soon.

"Sorry," Marco moaned, running a hand up and down Jean's chest before letting it fall to his own. He teased at his nipple making Jean want nothing more than to wrap his mouth around it.

Jean gave their dicks a particularly tight squeeze. "S'okay." Beneath him, Marco shuddered.

They moved together, rocking into each pull and tug of Jean's hand. Marco's moans filled the quiet between them, sounding more frantic the closer he got. Jean watched him, he liked to see when Marco came, and he wasn't disappointed. Marco's face scrunched, lip between his teeth, and he gave a keening moan that nothing but Jean's name drawn out.

Jean worked his hand faster, the warm, slippery mess between them making it easier for his dick to slide and get the friction it needed. Marco's longer fingers teased the head, his thumb pressing against the slit and rubbing. Jean's orgasm coiled low in his stomach and spilled out into his hand, onto Marco's.

Marco sagged, having exerted all his energy. Jean rolled his eyes and pushed himself up; it was obvious who was going to be cleaning up. By the time he finished wiping the mess off of them both and turning out the lights, Marco was asleep, most of the covers taken with him.

Over the course of the next few days, Jean noted a marked improvement in Marco's overall well being. He looked less fatigued, and he didn't sneeze or cough as much. The last vestiges of concerned tension fizzled out of Jean as they sat down to dinner with Marco's family Sunday night.

The Bodt household was lively, as always, but it was made even more so by the fully lit Christmas tree and the warm glow of the lights hung about the house. A tantalizing aroma wafted into the dining room every time the swinging kitchen door was open. Jean had a hard time staying in his seat rather than following the smells.

Luckily, he had Marco at his side holding his hand.

"I can't wait for Christmas dinner," Jean remarked, nose still in the air sniffing out the food. "Your mom's panettone is the bread of the gods."

"Too bad you have to wait two weeks." There was a definite playful sneer in Marco's tone. His snide laughter broke off into coughs, wet, desperate coughs that had him gasping for breath.

"Marco?" The panic in Jean's voice stopped the bickering between Marcello and Claudia. "Are you okay?"

Marco made to wave Jean off, but the hand he had used to cover his mouth came away bloodied. Gut-wrenching dread filled Jean as his boyfriend continued to cough, to gasp for air he wasn't receiving.

They got him into the car as quick as possible, rushing him to the Sina General as fast, and as legal, as possible. It was the longest fifteen minute car ride in Jean's life.

Jean wasn't sure how long he sat in the hospital lobby, hours maybe, leg tapping anxiously as he prayed with all his being for Marco to be alright, when the doctor pulled Marco's mother aside. Her face lost what color was left in it. She came back to her seat looking pale and distraught. Frail and older in a Jean had never seen her look before.

"The doctor said he is sick," her voice shook as she spoke. "He has the new influenza, but he isn't responding to what they are giving him. Marco isn't waking up."

She listed sideways into the crook of Ciana's neck, crying in wrecked sobs.

Jean's world opened beneath his feet like a gaping, black pit at the bottom of which laid all of his hopes and dreams with Marco. Despair clung to him like layer of extra skin. A nurse kindly asked them to leave and Jean walked out of the hospital with lead feet.

His phone rang at 6AM Monday morning, a shrill sound right at his ear, and Jean answered on the first ring. There was a mechanical quality to Marcello's voice when he relayed Marco's update.


Jean couldn't bring himself to thank Marcello so he hung up, putting his cellphone back where he had it: on Marco's pillow, a few centimeters where Jean had had his head buried moments earlier. A cold kind of relief washed over him. Marco wasn't dead.

Marco wasn't dead.

Jean threw back the covers and got out of bed. He couldn't sleep (hadn't really slept, anyway) while he thought about how in roughly three hours visiting hours would start for ICU patients. A hot shower did him wonders and a small breakfast settled the churning of his stomach. He called the day care to let them know of Marco's condition, tried to keep the conversation to a minimum as his voice started shaking.

The flat was too quiet without Marco there to laugh, or to hum whatever silly tune he picked up from the kids he worked with. Jean turned the television on (the morning news made good background noise), kept the volume at a medium level, and pulled out his revision work. He got through one page out of 20; Jean found the clock ticking away the minutes more important than his assignment.

He laid his head on his notebook and closed his eyes, wondering how everything came to be as it was now. How did the flu put people in comas?

His thoughts ran in a loop, a spiral of questions without answers.

"The new influenza outbreak, being referred to as the Titan strain, has claimed five lives since the start of the flu season in September."

Jean lifted his head to stare at the television.

"Health officials are urging the public to follow these tips: get the vaccination, take preventative measures to reduce the spreading of germs, and take any antiviral medication prescribed to you."

The report didn't change things for Marco who was laid up in the hospital, but Jean put his class work away, heading for their computer desk instead. He would get the vaccination and do whatever the hell else to prevent a relapse when Marco woke up. Jean checked online which pharmacy around him was providing the shots, jotting the address down on one of Marco's many notepads, before shutting the laptop down.

After the uneventful flu shot, Jean got to the hospital a few minutes after visiting hours started. He checked in with reception at lobby, leaning against the desk and anxiously drumming his fingers against the wood as the nurse called up to the ICU. She hung up and turned back to Jean, explaining to him that Marco had been put on a ventilator as he was no longer breathing on his own, that seeing him in that condition may be daunting. Jean said he understood, which he did really, but nothing short of an atom bomb going off would stop him from seeing Marco.

The doors to the ICU wing opened and Jean walked through them with his heart in his throat.

The Intensive Care Unit sign loomed over Jean's head, static and intimidating from it's place on the hospital ceiling. He was sweating in rivulets from the constant pulse of worry pumping through his veins. His heart thudded painfully in his chest as he approached Marco's room. He stopped outside of the door put on the mask and the gloves the nurse had given to him before she allowed anywhere near Marco's room.

He took a steadying breath before pushing into the room.

The low hum of machinery greeted him as Marco, via the ventilator, breathed. He looked peaceful, swaddled beneath blankets, and Jean supposed he was. A chair had been sat beside the bed and sunk into it, tentatively wrapping his gloved hand around Marco's bare hand. For the longest time, Jean stayed quiet, just listening to the machines that monitored his lover; each each beep and whir told Jean Marco was alive.

After a time, Jean cleared his throat, fiddling with Marco's fingers. "I got a flu shot today. I didn't want you possibly catching anything from me when you woke up." There was an awkward strain to his voice that vaguely reminded him of how he sounded on his first date with Marco. He gripped Marco's hand and continued anyway. "I called the day care for you. Petra said she would get the kids to make you cards."

A short male nurse stepped into the room, also in a mask and gloves, and tapped his wrist. Jean squeezed Marco's hand, telling him softly he'd be back until he woke up. At the door, Jean turned back to look at Marco and found the nurse disinfecting the plastic chair Jean had occupied. He shook his head as he stepped out of the room.

Jean visited Marco when he could. He relayed how he had put up their Christmas tree, and how Petra delivered the cards from the little brats Marco watched over. (Jean didn't take them to the hospital due to his irrational fear that there could be germs on each piece of colorful, folded construction paper.) He talked about classes (Jean finally outscored Eren Jaeger, his class rival), and pondered aloud about Christmas—about what presents he may or may not be getting Marco.

"What if you came home to a dog?" Jean asked, sitting beside Marco's sleeping form. It was December 23rd and Jean hadn't really done any shopping. "You wanted one last year when we lived in that dumpy complex that overcharged for owning a pet."

And when Jean wasn't in school, or at work, or at Marco's side, he found himself on his knees in the hospital's chapel. He prayed before the goddesses, Maria, Sina, and Rose, quietly, reverently asking them for aid. It felt the slight bit sacrilegious, as Jean hadn't stepped foot into a church since his dad's death, but he needed all the help he could get.

If he had to go to the ends of the world, he probably would.

Christmas Eve morning found Jean asleep, curled in on himself on Marco's side of the bed. On the nightstand, his phone rang incessantly until he dropped a heavy on it. He fumbled with picking it up (after visiting the chapel, he gotten more than a little drunk), but he managed to answer it before the call went to voice mail.

Claudia's voice was too cheerful for his hungover head to handle, but she was talking at the speed of light and he couldn't interrupt her to tell her to slow down until she finished.

"You have to repeat that," Jean groaned, words muffled by how he still had his head partially buried in Marco's pillow.

She laughed. "Good morning" she said, starting over. "Marco is awake. He's awake, totally lucid, and the doctor said he responded well to the antiviral medication they pumped him with while he was out." Claudia sounded like she was caught between laughing and crying.

Jean didn't know how to react, his mind still hazed from the hang over and the little bit of sleep had last night. However, her words clicked suddenly, like a gun going off in his head, and Jean was stumbling out of bed speaking a mile a minute into the receiver, his words were coming out so fast he could barely make sense of himself.

He hung up and dashed around the room throwing clothes on. Jean did his best to drive to the hospital without speeding.

Marco's family was gathered outside of his room when Jean can jogging down the hall. The nurses were letting them in one at a time for five minutes. In the interim of waiting for his turn, Jean found himself being repeatedly hugged. It wasn't all that bad.

Marcello clapped on him on the back, as if he were tapping Jean into the ring, and he walked into Marco's room with millions of butterflies dancing in his stomach. He didn't know why he was so nervous because as soon as Marco lifted his head and smiled, Jean felt the weight of the world lift from his shoulders. He sat in the chair next to the bed, taking Marco's hand in his.

"Hey," Marco said softly. "I missed you."

Jean felt tears well up, burning hot in his eyes, but he blinked them away, offering Marco a smile. "Hey, yourself."

Marco was released Christmas afternoon after a night of observation, and their generally big Christmas plans (present opening and dinner with Marco's rather large family) were reduced to a quiet dinner in the flat and Jean dramatically reading each card the kids made Marco (no way was Jean letting him touch them) by the light of their Christmas tree.

It was probably one of the best Christmases Jean could ever ask for.

Notes: It's done. It's terrible. And I'm so sorry. I feel like this turned out to be a jumbled mess that happens way too quickly. I just gave a huge resigned sigh as I typed that sentence... I made up my own influenza virus, if you couldn't tell (lack of hemagglutinin and neuraminidases designations should be a dead giveaway). I kind of imagined Marco being from this big Italian-German family. Stracciatella, in this instance, is a type of egg-drop soup and often eaten as a comfort food. Panettone is a sweet bread made around Christmas and New Years. [Title is taken from My Chemical Romance - Only Hope For Me Is You]

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