"Parker!" A muffled voice could be heard through a young man's dreams as he lay face down on his desk, fast asleep.
"Parker!" The voice yelled once again, this time sounding much clearer and interrupting the high schooler's slumber.
Eren Parker, the young black prodigy of Osborn Academy, woke up to find himself in his science class, having accidentally fallen asleep once again. A few students laughed, while others glared at the boy as he rubbed his forehead and placed his glasses back on his face.
Unknown to everyone in the room, he was going to be the hero that saves that world one day, though that day was many years away and the boy still had much to learn.
Once his vision cleared and adjusted to his glasses, the young man glared back at his peers, completely devoid of all emotion.
His one-armed teacher stood behind his desk with his one hand on his hip as he prompted the young man with a question. "This is the third time this week Parker. It's amazing to me that you somehow manage to keep an A in this class. Answer this question for me: Why is the sky blue? This should be an easy one."
The young man sighed, opening his mouth to answer the question, only to be interrupted by another student's voice. "It's because of the reflection of the ocean!" Said Flash Thompson, the big blonde oaf that made Eren's life a living hell ever since they were in elementary school. Flash hated Eren because, despite the boy seeming to not try, he always found a way to one-up him.
Even as a child, Eren would triumph over Flash in sports and academics, he even somehow gained the attention of the most beautiful girl in school, Cindy Moon. These facts infuriated the blonde bully, leading to him wanting to return the favor and one up Eren whenever he could. However, he'd always fail and then resort to violence.
The many kids in the classroom laughed at Flash's answer, knowing it was completely wrong. The teacher couldn't help but laugh too, the only ones who weren't laughing were Eren Parker and Flash Thompson.
Eren exhaled before saying his answer plainly to the one-armed teacher. "It's because the color blue has the shortest wavelength, which causes it to collide with things in the atmosphere, such as Nitrogen, which makes up most of it. That's why it's blue." His elbow rested on his desk as he spoke nonchalantly, infuriating the blonde bully to the point where his face was turning red.
"Great job, Parker!" The teacher commended him, grinning at his lazy star student. "Next time raise your hand if you aren't called on Mr. Thompson, okay?" The class continued to snicker and giggle at the jock's incorrect guess after the fact. Flash looked back at Eren and mouthed the words 'You're dead' with a clenched fist. Eren looked back at him with an indifferent look, as this was a common occurrence.
The bell rang, causing the eager students to immediately jump out of their seats. Their bags were already packed due to watching the clock. Eren, still with his empty notebook and pencil on his desk, began to pack while everyone else was leaving. After haphazardly dumping everything into his bag, he began heading out of the classroom. His teacher was looking directly at him with the intent of speaking and Eren knew it.
He tried to ignore his teacher's glare, but it did not stop him from talking. "Eren. Can I talk to you for a sec?" Eren, knowing he had no choice, nodded his head and approached the teacher's desk.
"You have a lot of promise Parker. You sleep almost every day in my class, your notebook is always empty, and yet you somehow have a grade higher than any student I have ever had."
Eren's eyebrows furrowed in annoyance. He's had this conversation with many teachers before that day and he was already fed up with it. Eren interrupted him before his teacher could leap to the cheating accusations. "If this is about cheating, you aren't the first teacher to accuse me of cheating here, I can take my exams at your desk if you want."
The teacher looked at Eren with an alarmed look. "Oh, no no no that's not why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to invite you to an afterschool program. I told Osborn about you, and he'd love to have you on board. It could even lead to a scholarship for you."
Eren clearly wasn't interested, it was clear by the look on his face. Despite the disinterested glare, Dr. Connors continued. "I know how much you hate school, so I see why you wouldn't want to come back here, but think about how much easier things could be on your mother."
Eren lived with his single mother after his father died of an incurable disease when Eren was just seven years old. His mother, working as a photographer and reporter for the Daily Bugle, often took on double shifts just so they could make ends meet and so she could pay for his private school's tuition.
Eren wanted to work so he could help her, but she didn't allow him to get a job. She wanted him to focus on his education, despite him knowing that he wouldn't even need to study much to keep his straight A's. That was the main issue with his mother, she never wanted help from anyone, especially after his father had passed away.
Finally having a way to help his mother indirectly, Eren decided to join the after-school program, despite it meaning he'd have to stay after hours at school.
"Alright, Dr. Connors. I'll be there. Thanks." Without saying anything else, Eren awkwardly exited the classroom and began heading toward his locker.
Once at his locker, Eren began to exchange his notebooks and textbooks, grabbing the calculus textbook for his next class. Once he was all packed and ready to go, Eren closed his locker, only to be met by Flash Thompson and his lackeys.
"So Parker, you thought that shit you pulled earlier was funny, huh smart ass?" Flash stood in front of Eren, puffing his chest in an attempt at making himself seem intimidating but completely failing. Although his body was large due to boxing, his young freckled face and blonde comb-over did not scare Eren in the slightest.
"All I did was answer the question correctly, you're the dumbass who got it wrong." Eren spoke plainly and lazily, pissing off Flash in an instant.
Flash grabbed Eren by the shirt and looked him in the eye. Eren stared blankly at him without a single ounce of fear, which pissed Flash off, even more than before, and caused him to knee the boy in the stomach. Eren, falling to the ground, was then lifted back up by Flash. He kneed him in the stomach over and over until Eren couldn't stand on his own two feet anymore. Flash and his goons all kicked Eren while he was on the ground until Dr. Connors rushed out of the classroom.
"Hey! Flash, stop it!" Dr. Connors ran towards them. Each of the boys got one last kick in before playfully running away.
"Oh no!" Flash exclaimed in a mocking tone. "Run away everyone! It's Curt the Cripple!" The boys ran away laughing and high-fiving each other after disrespecting the teacher.
"Are you alright, Parker?" Dr. Connors tried to help Eren up with his lone hand, but Eren ignored it and attempted to stand on his own. "You gotta stand up for yourself Eren. You can't just let them bully you like that." Eren looked up at Dr. Connors and wiped some blood off of his face and fixed his now crooked glasses before speaking.
"You know I can't do that Dr. Connors. He wants me to fight back so that way I could get kicked out of the school. I've tried talking to the Dean, but he doesn't care. Flash's family is too rich for any of it to matter, they'd just sue the school if he were to get expelled. It's not even about the money, Osborn's people have it, it's the hassle that's the problem. Why go through all that for some poor Black kid getting punched around by the blonde, quarterback when you could just ignore it?"
Even back in elementary school, Eren found that retaliating against Flash Thompson would result in nothing. Either no one would get in trouble or just Eren would, so he soon realized there was nothing that could be done about it. Even if Eren wanted to fight, he was too skinny to stand up against Flash, as the odds of him winning against the boxer were near zero. One good punch would be all it takes, they both knew that.
Eren stood up, not saying another word to his teacher before making his way to the men's restroom.
Looking in the mirror, Eren stared at the reflection of himself. He saw a skinny, tall, black young man with curly hair, the top of it was long and the sides were faded. He also saw a coward with a bloody lip staring back at him. He then made eye contact with himself, glaring at his own dead, lazy-looking eyes.
He ran some cold water in his hands and cleaned the blood off of his lips. Once clean, he wiped his mouth and headed back into the hallway. As he stepped out of the bathroom he ran into a girl with short black hair, causing her to nearly drop her books and water bottle balancing on top.
Eren looked down to see Cindy Moon, a Korean American student, and his childhood crush, struggling to regain the balance of her stack of books. 'Why am I so fucking stupid!' Eren's inner voice mocked, due to him once again embarrassing himself in front of her.
Eren extended his hand, catching her water bottle and stabilizing her stack of books with his other hand. Letting out a sigh of relief, Eren apologized.
"Sorry, I didn't see you." Eren spoke plainly, prompting Cindy to look back up at him with her joyful eyes. Immediately upon making eye contact with her, Eren's entire body language shifted. For once, he had life in his eyes.
"What, did my incredibly charming looks distract you?" Her eyebrows raised playfully as she spoke, throwing Eren off almost immediately.
"No. Not that I don't think you're charming, I just mean... I just wasn't paying attention." Eren rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, his go-to mannerism for when he was feeling nervous or anxious.
"I'm kidding." Cindy giggled into her hand as she spoke. Unbeknownst to Eren, she thought he was cute when she would tease him, though she liked to keep that part a secret. "You're so funny when you get like that, Eren." Her smile turned into a worried look when she noticed Eren's busted lip.
She grabbed Eren by the cheek, immediately causing his face to feel as if it were an oven. "Flash did this to you, didn't he?"
"It's nothing." Eren looked away from her in embarrassment. He despised looking weak in front of her, but fighting Flash just wasn't worth it.
Cindy then placed both hands on Eren's face, forcing him to lock eyes with her. "Hey, It's okay, Eren. I get it. This is our last year so you won't have to ever deal with him again. Just hold out okay?" Eren nodded his head in disbelief that her soft hands are touching his face in such an intimate way.
'She's so cute.' He thought to himself. He could feel his skin heat up once more, his blush being hidden by his brown skin.
The two of them then headed to their next class together. On their way there, Eren would sometimes crack the tiniest of smiles while speaking to her. She was the only one who didn't treat him like garbage out of everyone in the entire school, besides a few of his teachers, and the only one to unlock the emotion that he locked away deep inside of himself.
At the end of the school day, he decided to take up Dr. Connors's offer and headed to the afterschool program. Eren entered the room and saw Dr. Connors talking with a man in an expensive-looking suit and red hair. Looking over the man's shoulder, Dr. Connors locked eyes with Eren and waved his one hand.
"There he is!" He proclaimed as he approached Eren with the man in the suit. "This is Eren Parker. My student that I was telling you about."
"Ah! Hello there, Eren. I've heard a lot about you, my name is Norman Osborn, but I'm sure you know that." Osborn let out a hearty chuckle as he extended his arm out to Eren. Eren shook his hand with a blank stare. "There's a seat available right over there next to my son, Harry! Go ahead and have a seat."
Eren reluctantly walked over to the seat that Osborn pointed towards and sat down next to a young man with straight brown hair. The young man had the appearance of a playboy, he definitely did not belong in that classroom when it came to appearances. Once he noticed Eren's presence, he looked up and smiled at him.
Harry's smile caught Eren off guard, usually, people are immediately snobby toward him but the boy actually seemed like a decent person. Harry, inversely, had heard about Eren from his father, so he already had a good impression of him.
"Hey. You're Eren, right? I'm Harry, my father Norman and the doctor have said a lot about you. You must be seriously smart to impress those two." Harry said with his hands behind his head. "I kinda feel like my dad stuck you here next to me because he thinks you'd be a good influence on me. He says I 'slack off too much' and I'm 'Ignoring my potential.'". Harry said while using his fingers to make air quotes.
"I wouldn't call myself much of a good influence. I sleep throughout Dr. Connors's entire class. I don't know why he praises me so much." Eren awkwardly said while scratching his head. The absolute smallest of grins, one that was nearly invisible, formed on his face. He oddly felt comfortable around Harry, thinking he could actually see himself becoming friends with a guy like him. Before they could say anything else, Dr. Connors stood in front of the classroom and began speaking.
"Hello, everyone! Today we get the pleasure of being joined by Norman Osborn. He brought us a few new specimens to look at today! These are radioactive spiders that were genetically engineered at Oscorp." He then pulled a sheet off of a glass container, revealing that it is filled with spiders. As he pulled off the sheet, one of the spiders lunged at the glass at a speed that seemed faster than the speed of light. The whole class jumped once the bug hit the glass, causing a loud thump.
"Don't worry! This is special tempered glass. There's no way they're gonna break through." Dr. Connors said with a laugh. "These twelve spiders were engineered by Oscorp as a test for a future super soldier project. These spiders have super strength, enhanced agility, and the ability to generate electricity. The electricity also increases their response time to stimuli, thus showing us that their processing speed may have also increased."
A girl in the front row raised her hand. "Um, sir, there's only eleven in there." The class began to panic until Norman Osborn started to calm everyone down.
"It's okay everyone. We must've miscounted before we brought the spiders here. I might have to replace that intern soon." Osborn said jokingly. The class laughed and Dr. Connors continued his lecture on the spiders.
Eren, nearing dozing off, looks down at his arm as he felt a tickling sensation. A spider with a weird yellow glow, similar to the ones in the container, began crawling up Eren's arm. Before Eren could react, the spider bit his arm. Eren screamed in pain and slapped the spider on his arm, killing it instantly. The class turned around in unison, staring at the embarrassed Eren Parker.
"Sorry, I uh… I hit my knee on the table and it hurt." Eren covered his hand as he awkwardly muttered the words to the class. After his explanation, they all turn around and continue on with the lecture.
During the hour of the program, the students observed the spiders, talked about the science behind them, and the students took turns talking to Norman Osborn. The hour passed and the program ended. Eren said goodbye to Harry before quickly attempting to leave the classroom, though Dr. Connors interrupted his swift escape.
"So how'd you like it?"
"It was cool." Eren answered with a tiny bit of life in his voice. "I gotta get going, my mom wants me to pick up groceries on the way home." Eren quickly and awkwardly walked out of the door and began heading towards the front of the door.
"Feel free to come by next week if you would like to join us again, Eren! Norman really seems to like you!" Dr. Connors waved out of the door as he spoke, having a small grin on his face in hopes that Eren would return.
With groceries in his hand, the young man unlocked his front door before stumbling inside as if he was drunk. In his head, he could hear a constant, probing white noise that was never-ending. His vision was blurred, unable to see a thing as he continued to stumbled toward the dining room.
The boy haphazardly placed the groceries on the table before aimlessly speaking to no one in the empty home. "Mom?" He muttered, scanning the room, though no one was there. Figuring she was still at work, Eren shuffled into his room before almost immediately collapsing on his bed.