|Primary Characters:||Thomas, Pierre, Martial, Bertrand, Fatia|
|Warning:||m/m sex, some strong language|
|Description:||Pierre and Thomas fight, then Pierre bumps into Martial. Martial, as always, has an unsettling effect on Pierre. For a while, things seem to work out, but Martial is a very complicated person. Most of the students at the dorm end up getting hurt before the situation is resolved.|
Just like Julie had said, Fatia had moved in with Bertrand. His room was big enough for another bed and she’d asked for one to be transferred there. It surprised her that no one found her request odd. Her background had made her expect at least surprise or even outrage when a young unmarried woman decided to live with a young man. Here, it seemed to be a matter of course.
Bertrand had recovered better than she’d expected him to but he didn’t show any signs of tiring of her presence. Quite the opposite, in fact. He was pleased and grateful. They seemed to be able to pick up where they’d left off, that night she’d offered him some of Julie’s vegetarian food. Fatia was impressed with his self-control, until a shadow of a doubt entered her mind. Maybe he didn’t make a pass at her, because he didn’t find her attractive? That hurt. She’d spent so much time hiding her true feelings, it never occurred to her that he might have formed the impression she wasn’t interested.
From time to time, she tried to make him tell her what had really happened that night, but he wouldn’t. Instead, he kept asking himself why. Fatia could have told him the truth. She’d known all along what a lecherous scumbag that guy was. He’d been staring at Bertrand’s hot body and finally fallen for the temptation, that was all. Simple, sordid, but true. Of course, she had figured him as a straight guy. That was rather a blow to her ego. She knew these things. Could spot them a mile off. Martial had somehow avoided her radar until now.
Bertrand had no idea what she was thinking, however.
“I just don’t get it. He was so nice to me. Helped me with my homework. It was thanks to him that I passed that exam. You have no idea how surprised I was when I found out I’d passed. It wouldn’t have been possible without his help. He took me out to a restaurant and bought me dinner and then we went to a bar or club or something. It was really cool. Then suddenly – he’s this pervert.”
“Maybe he faked it, so he could get close to you?”
“Why would he do that? I’m nothing special. That’s why I knew he was just being a friend. What would he gain from pretending to like me?”
Fatia didn’t want to disillusion Bertrand, so she avoided the question.
“You’re really sexy. Of course he saw that.”
Bertrand cast Fatia a hurt look. He hadn’t expected her to tease him like that. She was always so nice and – she was the sexy one, not him.
“Don’t make fun of me, please. This isn’t a joke.”
“I’m not making fun of you, Bertrand. You really have no idea how hot you are, do you?”
His eyes had a hurt, sad look and she wanted to reach out to him and hold him and kiss him and replace the look with a smile.
“Fatia, please. I’m serious.”
“So am I. Come here.”
She took his hand and dragged him along to the mirror hanging on the wall, where he would stand in the mornings trying to fix his hair. Placing her hands on his shoulders, she stretched and stood on tiptoe so she could see his face reflected in the mirror. He was smiling uncertainly, wondering what she was going to do. She couldn’t help pushing away some of the hair that had a tendency to fall into his left eye all the time.
“Ok. I’m looking. What’s the big deal?”
“You. Look at yourself with my eyes. You’re so strong and sexy and cute. I love that smile and your eyes and – all of you.”
“You really are serious, aren’t you?”
She was beginning to feel self-conscious. Would he laugh at her? Could a Breton find an Arab girl sexy? Or was that just part of her foolish dreams of integration, of becoming just like all the others? A French girl, not a North African one. Deep down, her fear of letting herself go lurked. A girl who gave herself to a man was a whore. Any man would be justified in killing her. She could almost feel the knife entering her heart. Or would it be rocks? A gun? Would they pour gasoline on her and throw a lighter at her?
“Fatia? You’re cute. No, beautiful. And really sexy. I’m glad you like me. It’s ok when it’s you. Were you trying to tell me that what you said was what Martial saw in me?”
“I don’t know.”
Bertrand couldn’t quite believe he’d heard Fatia list all those qualities and not meant them in connection with – Thomas or – Martial. So many times, he’d been hoping to hear those words from her, that when she finally said them, he didn’t know what to do. He wanted to hold her, to kiss her, to tell her – how much she meant to him.
If she hadn’t been there that night, he didn’t even dare to think what Martial would have done to him. And afterwards, her presence had helped him snap out of the shock. Besides, Fatia was the only one who had ever listened to his stories about Brittany and their culture and not laughed at the corny Breton. She had seemed to share his enthusiasm.
His gaze, travelling across her face, the warm smile, the look in his eyes, helped her tear herself away from her memories and suddenly, she felt a surge of joy. She was here, in Paris, studying for her degree, living on her own away from her family and – she was with Bertrand, who was a completely different sort of guy than the ones from her neighbourhood. The guys with their cold, narrow eyes and thin lips, hiding switchblades and guns, always on the lookout for new girls to enslave and degrade. She’d never met any guy so gentle and sweet as Bertrand.
Her father wasn’t here and neither were her brothers. No one could see them now. She turned Bertrand around to face her and closed the distance between their faces. He kissed her lightly on the lips, making her impatient for more. She deepened the kiss and felt his arms close around her. Her own arms moved to embrace him too.
When they finally broke free, Bertrand had a look of such bliss, she couldn’t help laughing delightedly.
“Mm. That almost made it worth it.”
“Martial – what he did. Almost.”
“Almost. When I get my hands on him, he’s going to regret ever being born.”
“No, Fatia. Leave it. It’s not worth getting in trouble over. I’m ok now.”
“Hm. We’ll see.”
It must have become apparent by now, to everyone in the dorm that Fatia was now sharing Bertrand’s room, but no one had the nerve to ask. Martial kept well clear of the rest of them, but by now, no one was ignorant of his relationship with Pierre. That could have been the talk of the entire corridor, but for some reason, no one discussed this either. It was as if everyone was afraid of provoking another violent outburst. Other than that, life more or less returned to normal. There were still papers to be handed in and exams to study for and lectures to go to.
Bertrand had tried to get Fatia to agree to let him pay for the room as he had been until she moved in, but she’d refused. She still had to work in the afternoons, but in the evenings, she did her best to help him with his homework. Most of the maths was way beyond her too and she couldn’t understand why he didn’t simply tell his father he wanted to transfer to another subject. Why torment himself unnecessarily?
They sat up until quite late each evening, studying and sharing snacks, once in a while, exchanging happy glances.
One evening, when it was particularly hot for the season, Bertrand realized he was thirsty. He decided to take a break and run over to the kitchen to get some mineral water.
“I’ll bring one for you too.”
“No, thanks. I’m fine.”
He knew she was lying and she knew he knew it too, so he didn’t insist.
“Ok, we can share mine.”
She smiled indulgently at him. He was so sweet. Maybe she really would take one sip or even two, if only so she could see his pleasure at being allowed to give her something.
Bertrand opened the fridge and moved some of the other bottles and boxes out of the way to find his bottles of Evian. Normally, they were at the bottom shelf, but when he’d pushed everything else out of the way, he still couldn’t find them. He straightened out and turned to take a look at one of the other cupboards. If the fridge was unusually crowded, someone might have removed the bottles.
He suddenly looked into Martial’s eyes and panicked. It was the first time he’d met Martial this close since the night of the incident. Bertrand panicked and backed into the table, knocking over a few chairs, winding himself. He ended up on the floor, trying to scramble away.
Martial didn’t move or say anything, and his eyes lay in shadow, making it impossible to read his expression.
Bertrand hadn’t known he’d be seized with such terror. Just as he’d told Fatia, he felt more or less ok. Everything had happened so suddenly, it was more like a bad dream than anything real. Yet now, when he’d found himself only inches from Martial, so close he could smell him, he’d lost it completely. All he could think about what getting away, so Martial wouldn’t touch him again.
Eventually, he’d been able to get to his feet, but he fell down again, when Martial’s hand shot out, as if he was going to touch him again. A wordless wail escaped Bertrand’s lips and he more or less crawled backwards into the corridor.
His scream had called Fatia and now she stood protectively over him, her eyes dark with loathing.
“You again. What were you trying to do to Bertrand? Get away from us, you pervert. If I ever see you again near Bertrand, I’m going to -”
A whimper from Bertrand made her break off in mid-sentence and help him to his feet. Her arm protectively around him, she kept glancing menacingly over her shoulder at Martial, who still hadn’t said a word.