Playing video games until 11 pm doesn't seem like such a good idea on a weekday but on the weekend, all bets were on. I sit on the floor of my dark bedroom, pure and undiluted concentration shown on my face as I stare at the TV. screen with an Xbox controller in my hands. Sitting cross-legged next to me is my best friend/boyfriend Marco with the same look of attentiveness on his features. Both of us stay absolutely still as if we were on the actual battlefield shown in the game.
"You're going down, Kirschtein."
"In your dreams, Bodt."
On the screen, I move my character around the war zone until he gets to the top of a tall building and lies down on his stomach over the edge, waiting for Marco's character to appear so he can snipe him down. I can do nothing now but wait for him to appear in my sight while I hear the click of joysticks to my left. With this being a new map that we've never seen, I have no clue where his character even is by just looking at his side of the screen. I just hope that I'll be able to see him coming from my point of view.
He speaks up, "Hey, Jean?"
I don't take my eyes off the screen. I know he just wants to distract me because he's probably in my line of sight and doesn't want to lose yet again. I answer him anyway with an unwavering gaze, "Yeah?"
"Can I be on top tonight?"
I almost snap my neck because of the speed at which I look at him with a stricken gawk. His face is completely absorbed in the game that I momentarily forgot so with a flourish of his thumbs, his character sneaks up behind mine and shoots him.
A word appears on the screen.
"Not fair! You distracted me, you jerk!" I yell at the freckled boy.
His mouth stretches outwards into a snarky grin as the final score lights up the screen.
"Rematch. This round didn't count, you cheater."
"You shouldn't have gotten distracted, but fine; rematch."
Just as I went back to the start screen, the TV suddenly shuts off as well as the ceiling fan and plunges us into pitch-darkness. I can guarantee you that I totally didn't squeal like a girl or jump into Marco's lap. The power must have gone out. There was construction of some kind going on with the power lines nearby so I conclude that it must have been the cause. Nevertheless, I still freak out.
My first instinct is to grab my phone and use the flashlight on it before I realize that it's dead on the living room couch. I ask my current protector, "Where's your phone?"
I can practically hear the amused smile on his face when he answers, "At home."
Freaking super. He lived across the street from me. Our only hope now was to blindly search the house for flashlights in the dim moonlight coming in from the window. Like hell I was actually going out there by myself. My problem was solved when Marco placed one arm under my knees, the other around my back, and held me bridal-style. He stood up, carrying me in his arms and carefully maneuvered through the bedroom carefully. He'd been over to my house so many times that he knew the layout of the structure as well as I did.
Walking into the kitchen, he set me down on my feet and I hear him start rummaging through a drawer most likely where I keep a bunch of random junk. After a while, a small flame appears from Marco's hand that illuminates his face. He found a lighter I didn't even know I had. I walk towards him and start looking through the drawer myself. I push around a bunch of old documents and little trinkets until I finally find what I'm looking for. Or not looking for, instead finding a good substitute.
"Aha! I owe Armin big time." I say as I take out the items.
Marco lifts a questioning eyebrow. "What? Did he leave a flashlight here or something?"
"Even better." I answer while holding up the two dense objects in my hands with a smile.
"Scented candles?" He questions with now both his eyebrows peaked upwards.
I shake my head. "Cinnamon Swirl scented candles. He gave them to me last Christmas."
The dark-haired boy just shrugs before lighting both of them with the previously found lighter. I lead the way to the living room and place both of the candles on the coffee table before plopping down on the couch. Marco sits next to me with my hand held in his. We stay there for a few minutes just enjoying each other's presence. I start to get bored and resort to memorizing his face.
I start by analyzing his sharp jaw line. The shadows made it look more angular. I went up to his soft smooth lips that have spoken my name many times. The freckles dotting his nose and cheeks were a dark caramel color and posed an intriguing feature. His huge, calm brown eyes shined in the dim lighting. The lighting did something weird to his hair.
I chuckled. "The candlelight makes the roots of your hair look orange."
Marco looks surprised before turning away with a sheepish expression. He speaks quietly as if we're at a funeral. "It isn't the lighting. My hair is actually naturally red. I just dye it black because I hate my natural hair color."
That was unexpected. I've known him for almost 3 years now and I have never noticed the strange color. I mean, I do the same thing but I don't really have the motivation to continuously dye my undercut so I just bleach the hair on top. I ask him how he can afford all of that hair dye for the shorter hair on the back of his head.
I can see in his face that this isn't the question he was expecting but answers, "I normally get the temporary hair color spray for the undercut. The top, I just permanently color it."
I nod at his answer before pausing to imagine Marco with bright orange hair. I think it would make his eyes stand out and his freckled more noticeable. I decide to strike a deal with him.
"If you go back to your natural hair color, I'll go back to mine."
He hesitates. "Why would we do that?"
"Because you would look cute with Leprechaun hair."
He doesn't take nicely to the new nickname but agrees after a while of persuasion. After making plans to go hair dye shopping the next day, we end up falling asleep on the couch before the power comes back again.
A week later, we walked into our high school hand in hand as a brunette and a red-head. On that day, we earned the glorious nickname 'Reese's'.