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Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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  It was totally a bad idea.

  Jeremy knew this; as he stood there amongst the sea of drunk classmates dancing haphazardly to the loud music, he couldn’t focus on anything other than that goddamn voice.

  ‘You can’t get rid of me, Jeremy.’

  It had been repeating the same phrase since he woke up. The taunting, arrogant voice seemed to be blocking out any other voices around him. Rather than telling anyone, or asking Michael if he had any Mountain Dew Red with him, Jeremy had decided to take care of it himself.

  Worst mistake he made since purchasing the damn thing.

  It had been two whole years since the incident at the play, and he hadn’t heard anything other than faint, echoing, incoherent babbling every so often, so hearing the voice so clearly out of the blue scared the hell out of him.

  Luckily, Jake’s pre-graduation party was in full swing, meaning Jeremy had full access to any liquor of his choice. That’s how he ended up in the middle of a crowded kitchen, downing a half a bottle of vodka in one go. The alcohol stung his throat, but the tingling feeling he felt soon afterward was well worth it.

  ‘That’s not going to work. I’m a supercomputer, Jeremy. I am programmed to upgrade to my latest software every six months. I am no longer susceptible to most alcoholic beverages.’

  He didn’t listen. He simply continued to take gulps of the liquid, hoping the stupid voice would just leave him alone.

  Rich was standing in the doorway of the kitchen talking to Jenna when something caught his eye. Looking across the room, he saw Jeremy drinking at an alarmingly fast rate. This both confused and concerned the shorter boy. Where was Michael? Shouldn’t he be checking on his boyfriend? Whatever, Rich guessed he’d just have to handle it on his own.

  He walked across the room, occasionally having to awkwardly shuffle around a drunk girl looking for her latest hookup until he finally reached Jeremy. “Hey, slow down there. Save some for the rest of us,” he said gently, ending it with an endearing smile.

  It took a moment for Jeremy to register what Rich had said. “O-Oh, sorry man. Wasn’t really paying attention,” he lied lamely, staring at the floor. ‘You couldn’t come up with a better lie?’ “Shut up!” Jeremy yelled out loud, rubbing his temples and groaned softly.

  “You alright? You seem a little-“ It finally clicked when Jeremy yelled at seemingly nothing. “..Dude, do you need some Red? Jake keeps some in his garage for emergencies,” he asked gently, placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

  “Yes.” Jeremy replied a little too quickly, the alcohol starting to take effect since he hadn’t eaten much that day, and he was already a lightweight to begin with.

  Rich, instead of saying anything else, took Jeremy’s hand, pulling the tall boy through the kitchen and shouting “Move, I’m bi!” to get through the crowd quickly. Eventually, they reached the garage, which was thankfully empty due to the fact that Jake kept it locked. Other than Jake’s parents, Rich was the only other person trusted with a key. Rightfully so, since the Mountain Dew Red was placed there in case the boy’s Squip ever decided to return on a whim.

  He placed Jeremy in a nearby chair since the taller boy was quickly getting more and more drunk to the point where he was having trouble walking right. Rich dug around in the refrigerator for a while, until he pulled out two bottles of the red drink. After all, if Jeremy’s Squip was acting up, who’s to say Rich’s Squip wouldn’t too?

  Jeremy mumbled a thanks to Rich, opening the bottle and hastily drinking as much as he could in one go.

  “Jesus, man. You’re really gonna need to piss soon, seeing how much you’ve drank in the past twenty minutes.” Rich warned, taking small drinks of his own bottle. He never really had a taste for alcohol, so he made it his own goal during each party to make sure everyone got home safely and didn’t drink too much at once. He called himself an innocent bi-stander. Chloe called him a pun slut.

  “Sorry, I tried to drink to get it to go away, but it said it upgraded so it can withstand alcohol. I’m freaked out, man.” Jeremy muttered, slurring his words a little. “I just don’t get why it came back so suddenly. It’s not like anything’s going wrong with me. I mean, I have friends now, a boyfriend even. I’m not awkward…well, I’m not as awkward. So what’s the deal? Why does it show up /now/, when everything’s finally going fine?”

  Rich shrugged, taking a seat next to Jeremy and continuing to sip the drink. “I dunno bro. Sometimes it just comes back and bites your ass when you least expect it. It’s awful.”

  Jeremy nodded slowly, rolling his eyes when the voice returned. ‘I don’t understand you. If you had told me you were gay in the beginning, I would’ve ditched the plan with Christine and helped you go after Rich. You’d both be the most popular couple in school by now!’

  “I didn’t even know I was gay then. Besides, I’m not into Rich like that.” Jeremy argued, hearing the Squip glitch occasionally from the effect of the Mountain Dew Red.

  ‘You know you can’t lie to me, Jeremy. I’m inside your brain.’

  “Shut up!”

  Rich flinched at Jeremy’s sudden yelling, but didn’t comment on it. They just drank in peaceful silence, until the taller boy spoke up.

  “Hey, have you seen Michael around? I think he might’ve left early,” he asked, his words steadily becoming incoherent to Rich.

  “I think he stepped outside for some air- or a smoke. No in between. Want me to call him to get you?” Rich offered, beginning to pull out his phone.

  “No no, it’s okay. I was just wondering.”

  “Oh…okay. How are you two lately?” Rich asked, trying to strike up a casual conversation.

  “We’re fine. Excited for college. He wants us to get an apartment together near campus.” Jeremy sighed, shaking his head to try and sober up a bit.

  Rich grinned, patting Jeremy on the back. “Dude, that’s great. Congrats!”

  “I said he wants to. I’m not quite sure about it yet…I mean, I love him, I really do. I just don’t know if I’m ready for a step that big.”

  The shorter boy noticed how Jeremy had begun to fidget in his seat a little, understanding that the boy was clearly conflicted about the situation.

  “Hey man, just remember this: if he loves you as much as you love him, he’ll be okay with whatever you decide. Just, look into your heart. What does it tell you?”

  There was a pause.

  Then another.

  And another.

  ‘Kiss him.’

  Jeremy didn’t fight with the voice in his head, this time obeying and pressing a soft, gentle kiss to Rich’s lips. This kiss was totally different compared to the ones he often shared with Michael. Those kisses were filled with unconditional love and passion. This kiss…this one was different. Jeremy couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was, but Rich’s semi-chapped lips firmly pressed against his made him feel like he was floating.

  The kiss didn’t last long, only a couple seconds before Rich pulled away. “…Holy shit…”

  “I-I know…”

  “You just kissed me.”

  “I know.”

  “We just kissed.”

  “Yes, I know, Rich.”

  “Really? Do you also know how wrong that was? You have a boyfriend.”

  “So do you.”

  “Not technically. Jake and I have an agreement. Don’t ask, don’t tell. We’re sort of together but we can see other people.”

  “Well…I won’t tell Michael if you won’t.” Jeremy replied with a smirk, clearly wasted as he leaned in for another kiss.

  Thankfully, Rich moved out of the way before it happened again. “I can’t believe I’m doing this…alright, fine. But not while you’re drunk like this. Go home, sober up. If you still wanna do…whatever this is tomorrow, you know where to find me.”

  “Wait, seriously?!”

  “…Don’t ask, don’t tell, right?”

  Michael had called his boyfriend a few minutes later once both boys had finished with their drinks and made their way back into the slowly emptying house, letting Jeremy know he had a headache and was ready to go home.

  Soon after, everyone had gone home, leaving Rich and Jake alone in the house. “Hey babe,” Jake said with a smile, hugging the boy from behind and pressing a gentle kiss to the back of his neck. “Missed you tonight. Find someone you like?”

  “Not really. Jeremy’s Squip came back, so I took him to the garage to get him some Red.”

  “Oh…is yours…?”

  “No no, I’m fine, but I drank some too just to be sure,” Rich assured, turning around in Jake’s arms to face him.

  “Oh, good. So…we’re alone…” Jake smirked, cutting off his thought with a heated kiss to his boyfriend’s lips.

  “God, you taste like booze.” Rich groaned, his face scrunching up at the burning taste.

  “Aw babe, lighten up! Stay with me tonight, please?” Jake asked, poking his bottom lip out in a plea.

  Rich smiled a little, pecking the boy’s lips once more before pulling away. “I wish I could, but I might have someone coming over in the morning to hang out. I’ll help you clean up around here before I go, though.”

  “So we have time for a quickie?”

  “I will leave right now, don’t think I won’t.”

**

  The next morning, Rich jolted awake at the sound of knocking on his door. Since coming out to his alcoholic father had gone worse than anticipated, he was forced to move out and get an apartment of his own. He had decided on a small studio apartment across town, since the rent was super cheap and he didn’t have to deal with the hassle of finding a roommate.

  Rich stood from his bed, stretching to wake himself up before walking towards the door. He ran a hand through his hair to seem at least somewhat presentable to whoever was on the other side of the door, before opening it to see a familiar tall, lanky boy with a nervous smile on his face.

  “Wow, didn’t expect you to remember anything from last night. You drank a shit ton of vod-“ Rich didn’t even get to finish his sentence before Jeremy kissed him, soft yet eager. He didn’t object; he simply kissed back with as much passion as the other boy.

  After a while, Jeremy pulled away from the kiss to catch his breath, a bright, excited smile on his face. “…So are you gonna let me in or are we just gonna make out on your doorstep?”

  Rich laughed and gestured for Jeremy to follow him inside. That morning was a very…interesting one for the both of them to say the least.

  A couple hours later, the two were laying on Rich’s bed, limbs tangled together under the patterned blanket and chests heaving in their desperate attempts to regain their normal amount of oxygen.

  That’s when Jeremy began to cry.

  Rich was taken aback when the boy’s body racked with sobs, but he turned on his side to hold him close, Jeremy’s back against his chest.

  “God, I’m a horrible person.” Jeremy cried, voice breaking drastically. It made Rich’s heart hurt, seeing Jeremy so upset.

  “No, you’re not. Why would you think that?”

  “I cheated on my boyfriend!”

  “I told you not to come here unless you were one hundred percent sure you wanted to.”

  “That’s the problem! I wanted to! Fuck, I still want to!”

  “I’m gonna need a minute if we’re going another round…again. Jesus, is your sex life with Michael dead or something?”

  Jeremy, who had somewhat begun to calm down, turned around in Rich’s arms to bury his face in his chest. “No…this is different, I guess? Something about it is just…addicting.”

  “I get what you mean. They were talking about something like that in psychology at the beginning of the year. Apparently doing something you’re not supposed to makes it so much more exciting.”

  “Shit, I’m screwed.”

  “You just were. Three times.”

  Jeremy smacked Rich’s arm lightly, looking up at him with a half-smile. “I’m serious. I hate keeping things from Michael. He can see right through me, Rich.”

  Rich shushed him, continuing to hold the boy in his arms despite the height difference.

  “Nobody needs to know.”