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Be Less Sick

Chapter Text

He shivered.

Jeremy really just needed to get some sleep for tomorrow, the Monday upon which all of his finals were scheduled.

Even if it was the last Monday of the year, it was a Monday, and the truckload of exams made it suck even more.

His dad had gone out of town for a job interview, which meant he'd have to walk home from school in addition to having seven finals in one day.

However, try as he might to get some rest for the sucky day ahead, Jeremy couldn't stop thrashing around in bed and shivering.

He had a mild headache and could feel the wetness of the layer of sweat that coated his forehead.

Great. I'm gonna be the sick kid during finals this year, Jeremy thought sarcastically.

He could already see himself sneezing all over his four-page answer sheets and irritating everyone in class.

Just as he thrashed about in bed once more, trying to get comfortable, Jeremy saw something out of the corner of his eye that made his heart drop.

He shot up in bed like a bullet, which immediately made him feel lightheaded.

Or maybe the lightheadedness was due to the Keanu Reeves look-a-like perched against his wall.

"Please tell me I'm dreaming," Jeremy murmured hoarsely, sweating even more as his brain swelled with fear.

"You're conscious, Jeremy." The squip stated with an uncharacteristic gentle voice.

"What-" Jeremy coughed, eyes wide with anxiety, "How the hell did you--?" He was interrupted by his own body betraying him, sneezing harshly.

When he looked up, he saw the squip had come closer and was looking at him with glazed eyes. It took another slow step forwards, but that was all it took for Jeremy to panic.

"Don't you fucking touch me!" Jeremy jumped up from the bed, his hoarse voice cracking.

The squip had a nervous look in its eyes and stepped back. "Jeremy, it's really not a good idea for you to--"

"Shut up! Don't you dare tell me what to do! You don't have that right anymore!" Jeremy was yelling as loud as he could with an increasingly sore throat. He got closer to the Squip, crossing the room with watery, hateful eyes.

The squip sighed, its form retreating to the other side of the room.

Jeremy's breathing returned to normal after a minute of silent glaring. His head, however, felt increasingly light and he feared he would black out before he had a chance to comprehend what was happening.

"I was trying to tell you that your body can't handle standing up well at the moment," the squip remarked without making eye contact.

As if on cue, Jeremy felt his knees buckle and he collapsed onto his bottom.

He turned to glare at the Squip, maybe yell at the supercomputer for controlling his body, but he heard an exasperated voice in his head.

"I didn't do that. If you would just listen, I could've told you you're being very foolish."

Jeremy didn't stop glaring daggers at the Squip's physical form.

He considered screaming again, because goddamnit that manipulative glitchy supercomputer had electrocuted him just for slouching and all but sabatoged his life. Even with his tired state of being, he could feel fury rising in his throat just thinking about his past.

The Squip was inside his brain, and likely heard every horrible thing Jeremy was thinking about it right now, but decided not to comment on it.

Jeremy eventually decided against screaming again, especially with his throat hurting so bad.

Help me up. He thought at the Squip. He put in extra effort to mentally sound furious.

The Squip complied, cautiously approaching Jeremy once again. It wasn't afraid of being snapped at again; computers don't quite get offended easily.

It was more concerned with the rush of anxiety it caused Jeremy with every step it took to get closer. The Squip offered out his hand, which Jeremy took, then helped a half-limping-due-to-exhaustion-and-sickness Jeremy back into bed.

The sheets were slightly damp with sweat and his shirt was still pretty much soaked, but he felt a lot weaker and tired from his ordeal with the Squip, so falling asleep was a lot easier this time.

The Squip reached down to fix the covers for Jeremy, what with them being a tangled mess and all from the thrashing, but Jeremy slapped its arm away so hard it backed off immediately.

Get away from my bed. I'll deal with you in the morning. Michael's gotta have some Red left over.

"Okay." The Squip said. "Jeremy..." Its voice trailed, but there was nothing to say and Jeremy was deliberately ignoring it.

It waited until Jeremy was well into REM sleep to untangle the damp sheets and pull them up over the teen.

Denying the fact that Jeremy would exterminate him again once he woke was idiotic, but it was still in the Squip's programming to look out for Jeremy and improve his life.

Even if its previous attempts had done just the opposite.

Chapter Text

Michael awoke to the sound of his phone vibrating aggressively.

He initially thought it was something growling, since the vibrations against the hard wood of his nightstand made such a low noise.

But alas, it was simply Jeremy spamming him with text messages at four in the morning on a Monday.

Wait...goddamnit, Jeremy was spamming him with text messages at four in the morning!

Michael groaned and buried his face into his pillow that smelled faintly of weed.

"I swear to god..." He tried to ignore the persistent buzzing for a solid five minutes before it became apparent he wasn't getting back to sleep.

He groaned, mourning the loss of his last few hours of sleep, before sighing and grabbing his phone.

Once he adjusted from being blinded by the brightness of the screen, he squinted to read what looked like about 20 (and counting) texts.

Not having his glasses wasn't helping, but he was able to make out most of it.

Player Two: mic are you awake

Player Two: Probably not

Player Two: Wake up

Player Two: I'm hella sick dude

Player Two: I'm gonna dieee

Player Two: Also he's staring at me I hate him

Player Two: Come over

Player Two: Mikey come over I'm dying

Player Two: Bring medicine we don't have any

Michael huffed and replied as quickly as he could, "Stfu dude I'm coming try not to cry without me".

Then, deciding he wouldn't have time for a shower, slid on some pants and a tshirt, along with some socks that had little marijuana leaves printed on them.

Another text.

Player Two: idk man that might be hard

Michael smiled and rolled his eyes before pulling on his shoes.

He knew he'd have to make a stop at the store to buy Jeremy some things, since that boy had no idea how to take care of himself. (Michael had once forced him to eat three tacos in a row after finding out Jeremy had just "forgotten" about eating for almost two days).

He realized in the back of his mind that there was no way he could skip school today; as much as he wanted to stay and take care of his best friend, finals day wasn't something you missed unless you were physically impaired or something.

So he'd just have to drop off the supplies before school and then hope Jeremy would be okay for the next seven hours.
-
"He's here," the Squip stated, sitting on the edge of Jeremy's bed.

Jeremy had shot it an annoyed glare for taking a seat so close to him, but didn't have the energy to be furious.

I'll text him to come in. Can you like, leave? Jeremy snapped at the Squip mentally.

Obviously the Squip didn't actually go away without the help of alcohol or Mountain Dew Red, but not having to see its physical form kind of gave the illusion of it.

"Right." The Squip replied before disappearing from sight.

Jeremy quickly sent Michael a text.

Just on time, Michael was heard barging in through the front door.

Jeremy could've sworn it was locked, before remembering that Michael probably had a key somewhere.

"Jeremy!" Michael called loudly, making his way to his best friend's bedroom.

Jeremy coughed in response to notify him of his presence.

Michael swung open his bedroom door, overstuffed grocery bag in hand.

"God, you look like shit," Michael immediately observed with a frown before entering the room.

"Thanks, friend," Jeremy responded sarcastically as he tried to sit up.

Michael plopped down on the bed where the Squip had been sitting a minute ago and tossed down the grocery bag.

"You feeling okay?" Michael asked softly, looking into Jeremy's eyes.

The paler boy laughed dryly, "Yeah, I feel awesome."

"You know what I meant." Michael grinned back. One glance at the clock notified him of his time restraints, though.

"Okay, I got you some shit but I've gotta hurry or I'm gonna be late," Michael spoke quickly, digging through the grocery bag and pulling things out.

"Tylenol, tissues, nasal spray, chapstick, tea, canned soup, and a lot of water." Michael listed each item as he retrieved it from the bag.

Jeremy was grinning widely up at him, even despite his horrible distaste for cold medicines like Tylenol.

"Yeah, I know, I'm amazing and you love me." Michael joked.

"Yeah," Jeremy agreed with a hoarse voice.

Michael quirked an eyebrow before giving his friend a shove and playful grin. "That almost sounded genuine, loser."

It was. Jeremy thought silently, still smiling.

"Dude, your smile is great and all but now it's just creepy." Michael laughed, ducking his head away from Jeremy's gaze.

"You're gonna be late for school," Jeremy said, voice quiet and sore, erasing his smile finally.

"Oh, shit you're right," Michael looked down at the time on his phone, "Okay, I'll be back at 2:30. Try to hold yourself together without me."

Michael ruffled Jeremy's hair as he stood up.

He made his way out of Jeremy's bedroom door, shooting one last signature grin in Jeremy's direction.

His best friend returned it, then said quietly, "I'll try."

And then Michael was gone, off on his way to school to take a plethora of exams.

"Jeremy, you should take your first dose of medicine as soon as possible." The Squip's voice echoed through his head, reminding him that his little problem was still there.

"Shit, did I forget to text Michael about you?" Jeremy's eyes went wide with realization and he grabbed his phone quickly, eyes darting over the many texts he had sent in the past two hours.

Finally, he groaned and slumped back onto his bed miserably. "That would explain why he didn't bring Mountain Dew Red."

"I thought you would have figured that out already."

"Yeah, well, sorry if I'm a little out of it today," Jeremy replied with a sneeze.

"Medicine. Now." The Squip said, somewhat sternly.

Jeremy went to glare at it, before realizing he'd told it to go away. With a huff, he propped himself up and poured some Tylenol into the bottle cap, the Squip directing him on the correct dosage.

"I hate this," Jeremy said aloud, very nearly whimpering at the thought.

"You're seventeen, Jeremy. Man up."

Jeremy sighed angrily, before raising the bottlecap to his lips.

Ew ew ew. He thought, bracing himself.

The Squip let out an irritated sigh, refraining from just taking over and forcing the medicine down.

Instead, it opted for a reassuring approach. "Come on, you've done worse. You can do it."

Fuck you, of course I can do it. Jeremy thought angrily before downing the dose in one swallow.

Well, mission accomplished.

Jeremy pulled a disgusted face and opened a water bottle so fast it seemed like his life depended on it.

He downed a good quarter of the water before screwing the cap back on and dramatically flopping back down.

That was disgusting. He thought.

"You'll be fine." The Squip assured, holding back a chuckle.

"Hmph," was all the teen muttered in reply, lacking the energy to do anything but let a long silence pass.

God, I'm exhausted. Jeremy noticed, eyes drooping. He rolled onto his side, silently considering a nap as he snuggled into his blankets.

"Go to sleep." The Squip attempted, having learned from his database that getting rest was key to a quick recovery.

"Fuck you I do what I want," Jeremy murmured aloud, sniffling and beginning to doze off.

Chapter Text

"Jeremy."

Jeremy kept his eyes shut, clutching his blanket tighter.

He'd only been awake for a few seconds, but the burning dryness of his throat and nostrils was enough to remind him that being asleep was better.

"Jeremy," the Squip tried again, though he knew it wouldn't work.

"Go away," Jeremy groaned dryly.

The Squip made an audible, frustrated noise.

"Michael should be here in approximately fifteen minutes, don't you want to be awake to see him?"

"I..."
Jeremy whined, but opened his eyes nonetheless and nodded.

As he blinked his surroundings into view, he saw the familiar figure of the Squip standing against his bedroom wall.

"Why--" Jeremy began, then wincing at the pain speaking caused him, switched to just thinking.

Why couldn't you have woken me up, like, five minutes before instead? I could've gotten more sleep that way.

The Squip raised an eyebrow.

"Seriously, Jeremy? It took me twenty minutes to wake you up, Michael would've already been here if I'd started later."

Whatever, discount Keanu Reeves.

The Squip shook its head and rolled its eyes, before glancing at Jeremy's nightstand. "You've been asleep for a while, you should take more medicine."

Hell no. Jeremy physically pushed himself to the opposite side of the bed from the nightstand.

"Because you don't like the taste or because you seem to enjoy defying me?" The Squip crossed its arms.

Jeremy didn't respond, looking at the bottle of Tylenol with distaste.

"This'd be a lot easier on both of us if you acted mature, Jeremy."

I don't want to. Why should I make anything easier on you?

The Squip sighed, wishing Jeremy would realize that the medicine was purely for his benefit. "Look," it said, "I can numb your tastebuds if that would help you."

Jeremy perked up at this, cocking an eyebrow. "Wait, really?" He asked aloud.

"Yes, temporarily," the Squip confirmed.

It fought back a triumphant smile as Jeremy weighed his options, then decided to comply.

The teenager stood weakly and reluctantly made his way to the nightstand.

He cast a doubtful look back at the Squip, who in turn gave him a reassuring smile. Gross.

He unscrewed the cap of the bottle, pouring about the same amount of medicine into it as he had before.

Count of three, he thought, raising the cap to his lips.. One, two...

The cap was upturned and the medicine spilled into his mouth.

The thick, red liquid tasted so horrible it felt like it was burning his tongue. He (possibly with some help from the Squip) had to use all his might to gulp it down instead of gag.

Jeremy's eyes went wide with both disgust and betrayal, but he didn't have time to yell at the Squip. He needed water.

Again, he nearly gagged, but the flavorless, clear liquid traveling down his throat helped erase the taste of the medicine, so he gulped down nearly half a bottle.

Then he proceeded to set down the bottle and hurl one of his pillows across the room at a smiling Squip, who dodged it very easily, being a supercomputer.

"I'm sorry, Jeremy." It said, still smiling.

You're a liar is what you are. The teenager thought angrily as he glared.

"I wasn't going to disable your sense of taste just because you're being a brat about taking your medicine," the Squip explained, the word "brat" not having any real bite to it. In fact, the supercomputer sounded very playful about the whole thing, its tone of voice hinting at a surpressed chuckle.

Jeremy opened his mouth to audibly fight that statement, but he was interrupted by the doorbell ringing.

His eyes shot to the door, then back to where the Squip was standing, but it had stopped projecting a physical form.

I'm going to physically fight you once Michael is gone. This isn't over. Jeremy promised mentally, and he could almost hear a faint laugh, infuriating him further.

"Jer?" Michael's voice called, muffled from being on the other side of the front door, "I'm coming in!"

Jeremy felt himself calm at the sound of his best friend's voice, suddenly extremely happy to see Michael.

"Jer, are you sleeping?"

He darted out of his room and towards the front door, knocking into Michael harshly and wrapping him in a friendly hug.

"Woah, J--" Michael's voice was muffled, his face suddenly pressed against Jeremy's shirt. He sighed and returned the embrace for a few seconds before promptly pushing his friend off of him.

Jeremy looked hurt, causing Michael to laugh empathetically and pat his shoulder. "I'm happy to see you too, buddy, but I don't feel like catching your nasty plague."

Jeremy coughed into his arm and nodded. "Fair enough."

Michael dropped his backpack to the ground before giving Jeremy a good look-over.

"Yeah, you haven't showered at all today, have you?" He asked.

Jeremy looked down, embarrassed. The thought hadn't really occured to him, being asleep and all. "I was sleeping," the paler boy explained hoarsely.

Michael laughed, then gestured to Jeremy's entire persona and said, "You reek, and you look like you got hit by a car. Go shower and I'll make you some food."

Jeremy faked his best insulted face, to which Michael said, "Love you, buddy." Before leaving for the kitchen.

At least I got him to say it twice in the same day. Jeremy thought with a smile, making his way towards the bathroom.

"Actually, you were the one who said it the first time."The Squip corrected.

Whatever. You're just jealous that we have a beautiful, loving friendship and you're a lonely computer. Jeremy responded half jokingly, stripping down to his socks once in the bathroom.

The Squip was silent for a beat, then coolly asked, "Friendship?"

Jeremy turned on the water, actually hesitating for a moment. He then realized that he probably shouldn't take anything the Squip says into consideration.

Yes, friendship. You're in my brain, you know I'm not gay. And especially not for Michael.

"Of course." The Squip sounded just slightly sarcastic.

Jeremy snorted, but now that the thought had been brought to his attention, he couldn't stop thinking about the concept for the entire duration of his shower.

He did act a lot closer with Michael than his other friends, but that's because they had known each other since preschool.

And they might cuddle when Michael is too stoned to care, but that's pretty normal for friends.

...Right? Jeremy thought worriedly.

Though the Squip had been mostly silent, it chose that moment to notify Jeremy that he'd been in the shower for over 40 minutes.

"Shit," the teenager said aloud, "I didn't even feel the water go cold."

He shut off the water and stepped out of the shower quickly, silently praying that hadn't raised his dad's water bill.

Mr. Heere was in between jobs right now and they really didn't need more expenses.

The Squip's physical form came back into view as Jeremy wrapped a towel around his waist.

"Jeremy, relax. It wasn't that significant. I would be more worried about Michael's culinary attempts right now."

"His what?" Jeremy responded, then his eyes went wide with realization. "Oh, shit, he said he would make me food..."

Michael had a reputation for being a terrible cook, burning anything to a crisp that required cooking.

He also tended to get injured by using kitchen knives or other sharp utensils meant to help prepare a meal.

Jeremy rushed, still clutching the towel to his waist, down the hall and into the kitchen, panting as he looked around the room.

Which was, surprisingly, not in flames.

Michael was at the stovetop, opening a can of soup.

Had he even started?

Michael turned his head after a few seconds, noticing his friend's presence.

"Hey, dude...You okay?"

"Yeah," Jeremy sighed in relief, "I kind of thought you would've burned down the kitchen by now."

Michael's face twisted into a goofy grin and he replied, "Have some faith in me, man! I...Well, actually, we'll have to see." He poured the contents of the soup into a small saucepan.

Jeremy smiled back, then asked, "What took you so long to start?"

"I cleaned up your bedroom and disinfected crap and stuff..." Michael replied casually, "I tried to wash your sheets after I put the new ones on but I couldn't figure out the machine, so they're just sitting in the hamper, sorry about that..."

He turned on the stove and shifted his focus to cooking the canned soup, but froze up when he felt something wet press against his backside.

Realizing it was Jeremy, he let out a relaxed chuckle, then pried the paler boy's arms off his waist.

Or, tried to.

"Dude," Michael laughed, "Get off me, you're getting me wet."

The smaller boy didn't, drawing another laugh from Michael before he lightly swatted Jeremy's hand. "Jer, get off."

Jeremy smiled and mumbled "You're the best" before complying.

Michael couldn't help but smile warmly, despite the fact his entire backside was now damp. He knew that ever since Jeremy's mom left he didn't expect a lot from people, especially when he needed to be taken care of.

And Michael made it his mission to care the fuck out of Jeremy.

As the half-naked teen began to walk away to his room, Michael called "And put some clothes on!"

Jeremy yelled back "Don't burn my lunch!"

He wasn't sure if it was even possible to fail horribly at making canned soup, but if it was, Michael would find a way to do it.

Chapter Text

Jeremy's eyes flicked over the shirts in his closet, trying to make a quick decision on what to infect with his germs.

"The blue one," an adult voice suggested, making Jeremy jump slightly.

He turned to the source of the voice and scowled once he saw the Squip was projecting a physical form again. "I'm naked, a little privacy?"

The Squip raised an eyebrow, "You do know I've seen you naked before dozens of times, right?"

Jeremy continued frowning but nodded.

"And we're literally sharing a brain, I don't think privacy is very possible anyways." The Squip continued, making eye contact casually as though there weren't an entirely nude person before it.

Well, it was a supercomputer, so it probably wasn't bothered. But Jeremy was.

"Okay, well you don't have to look," Jeremy replied, sheepishly hunching over in an attempt to cover himself.

He stared pointedly at the Squip.

"Really, Jeremy?" It asked, then, upon more staring, sighed and placed a hand over its eyes.

"Like I was saying," the Squip continued, "Wear the blue one. It's your least frequently worn shirt, so you won't have to worry about wanting to wear it soon but not being able to."

"You're right," Jeremy nodded in agreement, then picked out a red tank top from his closet and laid it on his bed. "I'm gonna wear this one."

The Squip was glaring in annoyance now, but Jeremy didn't see, beginning to slip on a pair of boxers.

"So you're planning on keeping up the defiance thing?" It asked.

Jeremy grinned, pulling the boxers up around his waist. "Absolutely."

"That's completely unnecessary." The Squip said with a frown.

"You're completely unnecessary," Jeremy quipped as he pulled the red tank top over his chest. He sneezed into his arm.

The Squip sighed. "I'm trying to help you, Jeremy."

"I think Michael has that covered. I don't see you making soup."

"Maybe I would if I weren't stuck dealing with a petulant child who can't handle flavored Acetaminophen," It said coolly, surprisingly calm for the bite of its words.

"You--" Jeremy snapped angrily, before pausing. "Aceta-what?"

"Tylenol," the Squip replied.

"Oh," the teen frowned, pushing some of his hair to the side.

"Part it the other way," The Squip demanded.

"Why?"

"Michael likes it better parted to the left."

He snorted, glancing at himself in the mirror. "How would you know?"

"When have I ever lead you astray?"

"Oh, do not get me started on that," Jeremy sniffled, his nose had started to run.

He made his way across the room to the tissue box, but the Squip reappeared in front of him. Its arms were crossed, which Jeremy found slightly strange. Not seeing it in an oh-so-cool slouched posture with arms dangling was uncommon.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Jeremy." It said, staring down directly into its host's eyes.

"We're not having this conversation right now," Jeremy replied before walking around the Squip and holding a tissue to his inconveniently leaking nostril.

"Jeremy, I'm not faulty. I've never directed you to do something that wouldn't help you achieve your goals," it argued, ignoring Jeremy's words.

"You almost destroyed human civilization, Squip."

"I did not. None of your peers were in danger of being destroyed by your actions."

"They weren't my actions!" Jeremy huffed in frustration, tossing a dampened tissue into his garbage can. He whirled around before the Squip could reply, displaying an extremely exasperated face.

The Squip seemed to hesitate for a moment upon seeing his expression, then sighed. "We don't have to discuss this right now. You're not functioning properly."

"We don't have to discuss this ever because you're a psycho--" Jeremy was cut off by a rapping on his door.

"Are you dressed yet?" Michael asked.

The soup was probably ready, and there was shockingly no burning smell drifting through the house.

"Y-yeah, one second!" Jeremy hurriedly rushed over to his mirror and used his fingers to brush his hair into a left-sided part.

He tried to ignore the Squip's triumphant smirk as he crossed the room again and opened the door.

Michael was carrying a small tray in his hands with a bowl of soup, a napkin, and a spoon on top of it. "I figured you'd want to eat in here."

"That looks..." Jeremy smiled, "Surprisingly non-disastrous."

"I told you I could do it," Michael smiled back, walking past Jeremy and setting the tray on his bed.

"Thanks," the paler boy said before sitting down and bringing the tray onto his lap. He was eager, not having eaten anything that day.

However, upon picking up the spoon, Michael lightly tapped his arm. "Dude, its hot. You're gonna burn your tongue off if you don't let it cool."

Jeremy emitted a comedic whimper in response, which drew a laugh from his friend.

"Hey, how you feeling? I forgot to ask." Michael said, possibly in hopes of distracting him from the food.

"Better than when I woke up."

"You take the medicine?" Michael asked.

"Unfortunately, yeah." Jeremy cast an unhappy look at the Squip, but the interaction went unnoticed by Michael.

"Dude, you're such a baby," his best friend replied with a chuckle, earning himself a shove from Jeremy.

"Shut up," he croaked, "At least I don't still have my parents doing my laundry." He added pointedly.

"Hey, they offer to do it!" Michael exclaimed defensively. This made Jeremy laugh, which was followed by Michael laughing as well.

Jeremy lifted up a spoonful of soup, blowing on it aggressively before raising it to his mouth.

He made a face, then swallowed.

"Bad cooking?" Michael asked with a worried frown.

"No, it's hot," Jeremy said mournfully.

"Well I told you that, idiot."

"Shush," he scooped up another spoonful and waited patiently the second time.

He blew on it again, then ate it off the spoon and smiled. "It tastes okay, you didn't screw it up."

"Wow, thanks," Michael quipped sarcastically.

"Hey, it's not like this is homemade or anything. All you did was heat it up, so all I can compliment you on is your success at doing that," Jeremy explained in a monotone voice before swallowing down another spoonful.

"Well now you just sound like me." The Squip remarked.

I do not. Jeremy thought, trying not to look over at the Squip so as not to draw attention to the situation.

"You sound like a computer, dude." Michael said.

Jeremy refrained from slamming his face into his bowl of steaming soup.

Instead, he shrugged and continued eating his soup in silence. Well, silence on his part. Michael had started telling Jeremy about his day at school, which the other boy was more than happy to listen to.

As Jeremy finished the soup and set the tray on his nightstand, Michael suddenly shot up in excitement.

"Dude! I just remembered!"

Jeremy looked up in surprise. "What?"

Michael grinned widely and crossed his arms.

"You are not going to believe who Jake asked out on a date today."

Jeremy frowned, disappointed. He was expecting surprising news. Jake's dating status changed at least twice a month, so he couldn't see why a new girl having a fling with Jake was news. But, then again, he also couldn't think of a single girl in the school Jake hadn't already dated. He was cool, popular, good-looking, and an actually decent guy.

"Who? I mean, hasn't he run out of people yet?" Jeremy asked, unintentionally sounding bitter. He hated that he still felt some sort of weird envy or something for Jake, but even though both boys had stopped dating Christine long ago and Jake tried his hardest to be a friend, Jeremy couldn't help it.

He felt like he had to compete with Jake, even if Jake had long since stopped dating the girl of his dreams. Former girl of his dreams. Jeremy and Christine didn't last long once they realized they both just wanted to be friends.

God, if he no longer wanted Christine, and if Jake no longer had Christine, what the hell was he so bitter about?

"Jeremy?" Michael asked, "You with me?"

Jeremy blinked and looked up to see both Michael and the Squip staring at him. Michael looked concerned, while the Squip looked intrigued.

"Sorry dude, I spaced out," Jeremy apologized with a goofy smile. It erased the concern from Michael's face and the older boy replied, "So you didn't hear what I said?"

"No, who is it?" Jeremy asked eagerly.

"Rich."

A beat of silence. "Who?" Jeremy assumed he'd misheard.

"Rich, dude!" Michael laughed, excitedly belly flopping onto the bed beside his friend.

So he hadn't misheard. Jeremy's eyes widened with shock and he couldn't help but let his mouth drop open. "W-wait, seriously?" He let out a shocked laugh.

"Yeah!" Michael flipped over so he was lying on his back.

"Holy shit!"

"I know!"

"So Jake is--gay?"

"Dude." Michael raised a knowing eyebrow at Jeremy, "There's no way that guy doesn't like girls. But I assure you he is gay as fuck. For Rich, at least."

Jeremy exhaled, then giggled. "Hoooly shit."

"Yeah, they were making out and holding hands and everything. It was so sweet I thought I was gonna puke. Makes me sick just thinking about it."

"Please don't," Jeremy said, looking down at Michael as he crossed his legs on the bed. He was aware that Michael was joking, but he also knew that Michael knew how much throwing up grossed him out.

Michael grinned deviously in response and faked a gagging noise and motion.

"No!" Jeremy yelped, grabbing a pillow and thrusting it down at his friend's face.

Michael laughed and pushed himself up, faking a gag again only to receive a swung pillow to his face.

Michael grinned. "So that's how it is?"

He picked up one of the remaining pillows on the bed and took a swing at Jeremy's chest, drawing another yelp from the smaller boy.

Jeremy, in combat, shoved the pillow being swung at him into Michael's face, forcing the other boy to take off his glasses so they wouldn't be damaged. This, of course, provided Jeremy an opportunity to take another swing. He did, receiving a blow to his stomach in return.

It eventually evolved into nothing but a pillow fight, Michael didn't even gag anymore, the two were just viciously fighting for pillow victory and honor.

Jeremy pinned Michael at one point and relentlessly swung at him with the pillow until he was flipped over onto his back and the same treatment was given to him.

The pillow fight lasted a while, but inevitably ended how most of theirs did, with Jeremy making a surprise comeback at the end and pinning Michael. This customary finishing move, once the opponent was pinned, consisted of lots and lots of hitting with a pillow and then merciless tickling for a full five seconds.

It was probably a little childish for high schoolers to be finishing fights with, but traditions established at the age of six years old stay established.

"Cheater," Michael said, exasperated from laughing and trying to overpower his friend. He was smiling, despite his heavy panting.

"You say that every time," Jeremy quipped, triumphantly flopping down beside his friend. He gave a small cough, intense pillow fighting probably wasn't the best option for a sick body but he had to maintain his honor.

"Because you cheat every time," Michael explained. He half-heartedly swung an arm across Jeremy's stomach to begin tickling him, but Jeremy grabbed the hand with both of his to prevent it.

"You're just a sore loser," Jeremy said. He let his arms fall, releasing Michael's hand from both of his.

Michael began to pull his away, but Jeremy suddenly grabbed it again and rolled onto his side. He gave only a sleepy smile in response to the confused look Michael was giving him.

"Jeremy," the Squip warned, "Michael isn't very likely to reciprocate--"

The Squip's irritating voice was interrupted with Michael's calming one.

"Dude, you're tired after one pillow fight?" Michael asked. He was grinning again as he slung his free arm around Jeremy and pulled him closer.

Jeremy shrugged defensively before burying his face in Michael's hoodie and yawning. "I'm sick, I can't do things without getting tired."

"Better not get germs on my jacket," Michael scolded, though he clearly didn't seem to actually care. He only watched fondly when Jeremy mumbled "sorry" and shut his eyes.

He knew very well Jeremy was going to fall asleep practically on top of him and probably drool on his hoodie, because Jeremy drools in his sleep because he's gross like that. And Michael would probably get sick before the end of the week.

But the winner of a pillow fight, especially a pillow fight against Michael, has well earned the freedom to do as he pleases.

Chapter Text

"Yeah, you definitely got me sick," Michael said. He frowned as he saw the drool stain on the shoulder of his hoodie.

"You don't know that yet," Jeremy quipped. He sat up in bed and watched Michael taking off his hoodie in disgust.

"You were breathing on me the whole time we were sleeping." Michael argued, though he didn't sound more than mildly annoyed.

"Yeah, well, at least you won't have to make up seven finals if you stay home 'cause of it." Jeremy said. "Tomorrow is gonna be hell."

Michael turned around and raised an eyebrow at his friend. "You're going back tomorrow?"

Jeremy snorted. "Why wouldn't I?"

Michael looked uneasy. "Dunno, you seem pretty tired. Do you think you'll be able to make it?"

Jeremy very nearly went to look at his Squip for an answer. He then remembered his hatred for the supercomputer and smiled at Michael. "Don't sweat it. I'll be fine, you should get home."

He grabbed the discarded red hoodie from the bed and tossed it at Michael, who caught it impressively.

"You sure, man?" The taller boy asked, still looking worried as he stood up from the bed with his jacket.

"I'm fine," Jeremy insisted through a laugh, "Go away."

"Fine," Michael said with a huff, feigning offense as he walked towards the door, "Don't even thank me."

"Thank you!" Jeremy added with a laugh.

Michael made a disbelieving "hmph" noise before opening the door.

Jeremy laughed more at his antics, and Michael turned to grin at his sick friend. "See you later."

"See ya," Jeremy replied, watching him walk out of his bedroom and listening for the open and closing of the front door seconds later.

He then looked down at the slight imprint in the bed where Michael had been laying. He smiled fondly.

He briefly wondered if it smelled like Michael, but then remembered his sense of smell was utterly useless at the moment. He also noted mentally that it was probably a weird thing to wonder anyway.

Especially about his friend. Who was just a friend.

A slight blush rose to his cheeks as he remembered how he'd fallen asleep on top of Michael just hours earlier, but he reminded himself they were best friends. Best friends do that stuff.

"You can put a blanket on, you know." The Squip suddenly commented.

Jeremy turned around to see it casually slouched against one of his bedroom walls. It had been completely silent for the past hour, since Jeremy had woken up.

"What?" He asked it, a mix of confused and irritated.

"You're shivering." The Squip explained, then held up a hand. "Unless that's due to your fever. Perhaps you should skip on the blanket."

Jeremy scowled, but he was now aware of the chills he was experiencing, no longer distracted by thoughts of Michael. "Thanks a lot," he murmured unhappily, getting up to retrieve a blanket.

The Squip rolled its eyes and followed. "You're welcome." It replied in the same tone.

"I was being sarcastic, floppy drive." He snapped. He opened the door to his closet and looked up at the top shelf, where several blankets sat folded.

"I'll make note to not disrupt you next time you're thinking of Michael. Clearly it upsets you." The Squip commented in a flat tone.

"It doesn't," Jeremy said, stretching up and grabbing a blanket, "You upset me."

The Squip tilted its head at that. "I'm fairly certain this is about Michael."

"It's--" Jeremy grunted, catching the blanket that had started falling towards his face, "It's not."

The Squip smirked, watching Jeremy amusedly.

He shook the blanket out, then wrapped it around himself, hands trembling slightly.

"You know, tomorrow I'm talking to Michael and getting some Mountain Dew Red," said Jeremy, "So you might as well stop trying to help me, or whatever it is you're doing."

The Squip's smirk transformed into a much fainter one. "You really think you'll do that, Jeremy?"

Jeremy whirled around, his blanket billowing out, and began walking towards his bed. "Do what?" He asked, unengaged.

The Squip flickered into view a few feet ahead of him, standing beside the bed. It crossed its arms and cast a completely emotionless expression. "Jeremy, you severely overestimate yourself."

The teen scowled, but sat down on his bed nonetheless. "What does that mean?"

"It means you can't do what you need to, even if you say you can."

Jeremy glared. "That's still really vague."

The Squip narrowed its eyes. "Try harder to understand, then. You plan on telling Michael about me?"

"That's what I said." Jeremy replied through a disinterested yawn.

"Right," the Squip continued, "And did you not plan on doing so the previous two times Michael visited?"

"I did," he retaliated in agitation, "I just--"

"Just what?"

Jeremy frowned.

"See, Jeremy," the Squip explained,
"You had multiple opportunities. So the only explanation for why you haven't told him yet is you're distracted by him. Or something about his presence."

Jeremy groaned at this, which caused the Squip to add, "Unless its possible you don't actually want to get rid of me, which would be another cause--"

"Nope!" Jeremy interrupted loudly, "Absolutely not, you're computer Satan and I hate you."

The Squip nodded and sarcastically smiled. "Yes, that's about what I thought. So that means you do wish to tell him, you're just distracted."

Jeremy looked unhappy with the deduction, but he couldn't think of a convincing argument to spew at the Squip. "You're just delusional," Jeremy replied, "And desperate. Trying to hook me up with my best friend won't save your ass from getting knocked out by soda."

There. That sounded logical.

"And denying your attraction to Michael won't stop you from experiencing it." The Squip quipped. "Besides, Mountain Dew Red isn't a permanent solution. I'll be back sooner or later like before, and you'll still be ignoring what's right in front of you."

"I'm not--ugh!" Jeremy collapsed onto his back in frustration, "Are you ever not an asshole?"

The Squip furrowed its brow. "I suppose by your standards, no. Never."

Jeremy just sighed and planted his face into a pillow.

A long, wonderful two minutes went by without any commentary from the Squip.

And then, a soft "You should let me help you."

Jeremy tilted his head up. "No. Stop trying to help. I'm getting rid of you, and that's final."

The Squip rolled its eyes. "It's in my programming to improve your life. This has nothing to do with your mislead thoughts about me caring whether I stay."

Jeremy rolled over onto his back so he could look at the Squip. "You mean you don't care if you get shut off?"

The Squip frowned. "Well, I don't particularly wish to be unconscious for such a long period...but it's not as if being shut off harms me. And I come back."

"So you don't care?"

"Not really, no. I do care if I'm being unsuccessful and not helping my human." It replied.

Jeremy laughed a little. "Why would you care about that?"

"The very basis of my programming is helping you," the Squip explained, as if it were obvious. "So I care if I'm failing as a program."

"So you want to help me so you don't feel like a fuckup?" Jeremy asked.

He laughed at the annoyed groan he got in response.

"I'm joking. If you really just want to help, whatever. Go ahead and try." Jeremy was beginning to feel a stomachache coming on and didn't feel like continuing a conversation with...himself, essentially.

Besides, the Squip was persistent and would end up getting what it wanted eventually.

The Squip's face lit up with a bit too much excitement Jeremy thought was appropriate for a computer. It seemed to realize the display was dramatic though, and quickly returned to its usual smug expression.

"I'm still getting rid of you," Jeremy reminded it, then placed a hand over his hurting stomach.

The Squip ignored that comment, then frowned. "You're fine, Jeremy. Stomach pain is a common side effect of Tylenol."

He looked up and glared. "Then why'd you make me take it?" He exclaimed.

The Squip sighed. "I don't know, why did I force a sick human to take medicine? What was I thinking?"

Jeremy's face scrunched up at the sarcasm and he refrained from sticking his tongue out at the supercomputer.

"Speaking of which," the Squip said, grabbing the bottle of Tylenol from Jeremy's nightstand, "It's about time for the next dose."

Jeremy opened his mouth to protest, but the Squip added, "You said you'd let me help you."

A small sigh was emitted from the boy. Having this newly weird-acting Squip was kind of like having a temporary, possibly psychotic, overbearing parent. But better than having one, deadbeat parent that rarely puts pants on, he reasoned.

He resigned surprisingly quickly and took the bottle from the Squip, though he made sure to glare as he did it.

"What if--" he started, but the Squip interrupted, "It won't make your stomach worse. If it does, you won't have to take it again."

"Awesome," Jeremy said, exhaling. He then poured what seemed like the right amount into the cap, not quite paying attention.

The Squip gave him a reassuring smile and said, "You can do it, Jeremy."

Actually, it only got about halfway through saying that before Jeremy had already downed the medicine. He didn't even reach for the water before he locked eyes with the Squip and replied, "Fuck you, of course I can do it."

He then grabbed water and downed it like his life depended on it, but he felt the message was important and was happy he'd delivered it.

The Squip raised an eyebrow, "Well, I'll be sure to use that method next time too."

"Don't," Jeremy said, twisting the cap back on his water and setting it down, "You trying to be nice makes me wanna vomit."

"Actually, nausea is also a common side-effect of Tylenol." The Squip stated.

"Smartass," Jeremy huffed.

"You really don't have to keep up the rebellious act, Jeremy." The Squip said, making its way to the edge of Jeremy's bed and sitting.

"But I will," the teen replied, promptly getting up and making his way to the bathroom.

"To spite me?"

"Mhm," he confirmed. Luckily, the Squip didn't follow him and he had a few minutes of peace to brush his teeth.

"Hey, wait," Jeremy said once he'd finished.

"What?" The Squip flickered into appearance by the bathroom entrance.

"You leave me alone when I'm brushing my teeth, but not when I'm naked?"

The Squip rolled its eyes for the umpteenth time that day. "Just go to bed."

"You make no sense," Jeremy argued, brushing past the supercomputer.

He nearly made it to his bedroom before he found himself stopping against his will.

"Lock down the house, Jeremy." The Squip reminded him.

Jeremy turned around once he regained control of his legs after a few seconds. "You just told me to go to bed." He argued.

"I figured you'd remember to lock the doors before doing so."

"Well, that's your own fault for expecting things out of me," Jeremy said, even though he'd begun to walk towards the front door.

"You're right. Remind me to stop doing that."

Jeremy locked the front door and turned to see the Squip smirking at him.

"Your words, not mine." It said in defense.

Jeremy shook his head and proceeded to shut curtains and lock the other door to the house, not making any more comments in fear of the Squip having a cooler comeback.

"Shut off the hall light," the Squip reminded him as he returned to his bedroom.

"I was going to," Jeremy replied with a huff, flicking the light switch at the door of the hall. In fact, he would've forgotten, but he didn't need the Squip thinking he needed it to remember things.

"Whatever you say, Jeremy." The Squip vanished from sight once the hall became dark.

He shook his head again and headed into his bedroom. The bed was littered with dirty tissues and an empty water bottle. Lacking the energy to properly clean up, he bent down and used his arm to knock the trash onto the floor.

"Jeremy." The Squip scolded.

"Chill, I'll clean it up in the morning." Jeremy replied, unable to contain his small smile upon seeing the Squip's disapproving look.

"I'll hold you to that." It said, still dripping with disapproval as Jeremy got into bed.

Jeremy didn't doubt that. He suddenly had a thought as he sat up and turned off his bedside lamp.

The chain clicked as he pulled it, a noise that was surprisingly foreign. He'd only heard his and the Squip's voices for the past half hour or so.

"Squip?" He said into the darkness.

"Yes?"

"So um...on the finals tomorrow..." His voice trailed.

The Squip was silent too, then asked, "You didn't study?"

Jeremy slouched down into a lying position. "I--" he stammered, "I tried to, it just didn't make sense."

He was expecting ridiculing or a sigh, but instead the Squip didn't seem to be expressing any emotion. Well, emulating. Computers don't actually have emotions.

"I'll help you," the Squip said, "That's what you were going to ask, right?"

"Well," Jeremy mumbled, "I don't wanna...It's different than math homework."

The Squip walked closer, and Jeremy could make out its outline in the dark.

"You want help from a supercomputer on your finals but you don't want to cheat?" It asked, in the tone of voice that made Jeremy feel dumb more often than not.

"Well I.." Jeremy frowned and fidgeted with the corner of a blanket, "Y-yeah."

"Okay, how about this?" The Squip suggested, "If you're struggling with something I'll just give you hints or explain it, rather than tell you the correct answer. That way you're not explicitly cheating."

Jeremy looked up, though it was extremely difficult to make out the Squip in the black of his room. "Yeah."

"Yeah?" The Squip repeated.

"Do that tomorrow." Jeremy confirmed with a small nod.

After a moment, he added, "Please." He wasn't sure why he felt the need to use the word with a computer, but manners were manners.

"Sure thing." The Squip responded.

"Great." Jeremy said quietly. He halfway debated taking it back, realizing he'd just directly requested help.

"Still getting rid of you," he mumbled, just in case.

"Fair enough," it replied.

Jeremy nodded again, curling up under his covers. Well, he curled up under the covers that hadn't gotten caught up in the pillow fight. A blanket still lay tossed across the bed.

The Squip, having learned from past experience, waited until after Jeremy fell asleep to pick it up and gently pull it over him.

Chapter Text

Jeremy thought that Tuesday would be absolute shit because he would be taking seven finals.

Jeremy thought he would be miserable because he wouldn't get to go to lunch, he'd have to deal with coming up with a way to tell Michael the Squip had returned, and in the meantime he'd have the annoying computer's voice in his head.

Perhaps annoying wasn't the right word. He was honestly more scared of its directions than annoyed by them, but he wouldn't admit that.

Regardless, Jeremy was expecting a very different kind of misery on Tuesday than waking up at 3am, rushing to the bathroom, and heaving up his only meal into the toilet.

He wasn't expecting being drenched with sweat, weakly gripping the toilet bowl and feeling sick.

A small moan escaped his lips, before he weakly pulled himself up and used a hand to push his drenched-with-sweat hair to the side.

He felt his face droop back down onto the cold seat of the toilet.

So much for going back to school today.

Jeremy briefly wondered how it was possible that during the few days his dad happened to leave town, he also managed to catch something that upturned his stomach and made him wish for death.

I really miss you, Dad. He thought to himself, nearly whimpering as he felt another wave of nausea hit.

He grimaced and tried to refrain from throwing up again. God, he really wished he had a parent with him. As much as he hated to be dependent on adults (he's seventeen and "basically a legal adult"), being sick at an ungodly hour was a lot scarier all by himself.

As much as he tried to refrain, Jeremy soon felt himself heaving again and fought back tears.

He reminded himself how stupid and useless it was to get emotional with every time he had to return his body to the toilet, miserably losing his soup.

Nonetheless, after another bout of heaving that left Jeremy's abdomen sore, he felt tears roll down his cheeks. He felt gross and sweaty and he choked back a sob. There wasn't anything to be crying over, besides his throbbing abdomen.

The tears didn't seem to care. He began quietly crying, still feeling nauseous. His body hurt from the exertion, his dad was out of town, and he had no idea why he had started puking. He was fairly certain before now that he only had a cold.

A small whirring noise could be heard from somewhere in the room, similar to the sound of a machine turning on. Jeremy didn't bother himself with it, beginning to feel lightheaded on top of all his other problems.

The whirring only lasted a few moments, but once it stopped, Jeremy was met with a familiar voice.

"It's three in the morning." The Squip stated, sounding surprised.

Jeremy didn't turn his body to see the Squip's form. "I-I'm sick." He replied hoarsely. He couldn't manage his usual angry tone.

Two footsteps. Jeremy wondered briefly how the Squip made it seem like it could create noise.

"Your symptoms have worsened significantly," it continued, an edge of concern to its tone.

Jeremy opened his mouth to reply, probably something like "no shit", before another wave of nausea hit and he found himself spitting into the toilet. At least it was starting to subside.

"Wait a moment, Jeremy," the Squip said, "It's actually quite likely this isn't a symptom at all, it---" Jeremy's eyes fluttered shut, causing the Squip to interrupt itself. "Jeremy, please stay conscious." It pleaded.

Jeremy opened his eyes. "Yeah. Sure. I love being conscious." His breathless sarcasm was accompanied by a hiccup escaping his throat.

The Squip came into view, face twisted with concern. "You don't have to stay awake for long, just enough call your father."

"Why're we calling him?" Jeremy asked mindlessly. At that moment, he seemed to have forgotten the situation.

Which definitely wasn't a good sign of health.

"Because you're having an allergic reaction." The Squip explained, now determined to help. "Get up, listen, and stop asking questions." It demanded firmly.

The tone was the same one it used to use with Jeremy, the one that Jeremy had come to associate with recklessly destroying his life at the Squip's command. The Squip hadn't used the tone since its return.

For a good five seconds, Jeremy stayed on the ground. His eyes drifted to the tiled floor and he seemed to have dazed off.

Just before the Squip was going to take control itself, Jeremy suddenly pushed himself up from the floor with a grunt of effort. He flushed the toilet, then stumbled past the Squip, weakly managing a "Fuck you, I do what I want."

The Squip blinked twice, then followed its human through the dark hallway. "Your spite is absolutely remarkable." It commented.

"You were talking to me like a bitch," Jeremy mumbled in reply. "You're the bitch."

The Squip followed Jeremy into his room. "Call your father," it replied, obviously unamused.

Jeremy grumbled something in response, then crossed the room to his cell phone. Despite the fogginess in his mind, it only took him three tries to dial his dad's number.

After a minute of listening, Jeremy hung up and tossed his phone onto his bed. "Squip, you're supposed to be smart. It's 3am, he's not gonna be up."

"It's only one where he is." The Squip corrected. "Your father isn't known to go to bed early. It's more likely that he simply didn't notice your call. Try again."

Jeremy inhaled sharply.

"Jeremy, I said try again." The Squip repeated.

The teenager's face scrunched up as he grabbed his stomach. He let out a small breath through pursed lips.

The Squip sensed his pain a few moments later, then crossed the room in long strides. "Your stomach is going to keep hurting whether you call your dad or not. The difference is you going to the hospital and getting help, or you continuing to do that until things get worse."

It stated all this in a tone quite nearly the same as a read-aloud feature on Google Translate, but with a signature condescending flourish.

Jeremy's face returned to normal, and he tentatively lowered his hand. His breaths were still short, as his stomach still felt like it had been stabbed a few times.

"This is going to get worse?"

"Not if you listen to me." The Squip replied, gesturing to the phone lying askew on Jeremy's bed.

Jeremy hesitated for a moment, but grabbed it anyways and saw his dad had texted him about the call.

Dad:is everything okay?

Dad:Jeremy, why are you awake at 2am?

Before Jeremy could text back, his phone screen showed his dad was now calling him. He pressed the answer button and raised it to his ear.

"Jer?" Came his dad's voice.

"Uh, hey dad," the teen replied casually, as if he weren't immensely suffering.

"What's going on, kiddo?" Mr. Heere asked. The extra noise from his side of the call made it obvious he was walking while he talked.

Jeremy opened his mouth, but immediately felt sick and closed it again.

Mr. Heere took his silence as a signal something was wrong. "Jeremy? Where are you, what's happening?" He asked, his voice lined with worry, "Did you have alcohol?"

Jeremy swallowed hard and quickly responded. "No -- Dad, I'm fine." He assured, smiling out of habit.

"Are you sure, son?" His father didn't sound convinced. "What are you doing up at two in the morning?"

"Three," Jeremy corrected quietly. "Three in the morning."

"What was that?"

"Nothing, um," Jeremy looked over to his squip, who nodded. "You need to come home."

"What?" Mr. Heere asked. Jeremy heard the noise stop, as if his dad had stopped walking.

"Like, today."

"Now," the Squip corrected.

"Now," Jeremy relayed to his dad.

"What? Why?" Mr. Heere sighed, "My boss really needs me here, Jeremy, so unless--"

"You have to take me to the hospital."

His dad was silent.

"Yeah, um..." Jeremy listened to the Squip's explanation, then repeated it in his own words. "I'm kind of sick so I took medicine but I guess I wasn't very careful with that last dose and I think I took too much because now I'm throwing up and I feel really dizzy."

"Jeremy," Mr. Heere had started walking again, this time very quickly, "If you were sick, why didn't you tell me sooner?"

Jeremy looked down. "It wasn't that bad before, and now my stomach hurts really bad and I don't think this is normal---"

"Next time, tell me." Mr. Heere said firmly.

"I know this trip is really important, Dad, I didn't want to--" Jeremy was cut off by his father again.

"I'm going to hop on the next flight home. Please tell me next time. You come first, always. Okay?"

Jeremy smiled despite the gnawing, sharp pain in his lower abdomen. "Okay."

He promptly hung up after that, unable to contain himself through his aching stomach. His hand returned the area, as if that would stop the pain.

"Overdosing on Tylenol isn't a thing," he snapped quietly at the Squip.

"It clearly is. If it's any condolence, you probably didn't pour enough to cause any real damage." It replied, smiling faintly. Said gesture didn't result in a smile back from Jeremy, unsurprisingly.

"Why didn't you tell me it was too much?" Jeremy asked, sitting down on his bed and trying to distract himself from his stomach. "Are you trying to kill me this time? I mean, ruining my life was one thing..."

"You're overreacting even more than your digestive system, Jeremy." The Squip replied. "Besides, what exactly do you presume happens to me if you die?"

Jeremy probably would've been genuinely curious and asked at any other time, but with his current situation he just sighed and assumed the Squip wouldn't want whatever it was to happen.

"I think it goes without saying I'm not trying to murder you."

"Well my stomach is," Jeremy said through gritted teeth.

The Squip's expression looked almost sympathetic, which frustrated Jeremy further.

"Are you gonna do something or not?" He snapped angrily, but the bite in his tone turned into more of a whimper afterwards.

"What would you like me to do?" The Squip asked softly.

Jeremy, unsure of what to say, shrugged and pulled his legs to his chest.

"When Jake broke his legs, his squip made them not-broken." He said quietly.

"His squip did not," the Squip corrected firmly, then lowered its tone. "Jake's squip disabled his ability to feel the pain in his legs, which was a foolish choice and probably set his legs' healing process back significantly. That function should really only be used in situations where ones human can't injure themselves by having the pain taken away, and any squip with a basic understanding---"

Jeremy interrupted the Squip and cleared his throat.

The Squip looked down to see the teen staring up at him expectantly, both eyebrows raised.

"Oh," it murmured in realization.

Jeremy nodded, knees still pulled to his chest.

The Squip sat beside Jeremy, though not close enough to agitate the teen. "So I take that you want me to--"

"Yeah."

Jeremy shifted his gaze and met the Squip's eyes for a moment. "Please." He added.

The Squip stared back. "Sure thing."

Jeremy looked away again, slowly lowering his legs back onto the ground as his pain eased.

"I'm tired." He mumbled aloud.

The Squip raised an eyebrow at him.

"What?" Jeremy asked defensively.

"I wasn't expecting that." It replied honestly.

"You can predict Eminem dying but you're surprised I might be tired?" Jeremy asked, a grin almost tugging at the corners of his mouth.

The Squip scoffed. "First of all, contrary to your belief, I can't predict the future--"

"Liar."

The Squip rolled its eyes and continued, "Seeing possible outcomes is not the same. Secondly, you're in the middle of what's some type of overdose or allergic reaction, and you want to go to sleep. It's not something one would expect."

"Mhm." Jeremy replied, smiling slightly. He stood and began pulling back his sheets.

The Squip stood with him, continuing to look annoyed.

It remained silent until Jeremy began to lie down, at which point it asked, in a little too mom-like of a voice, "What do you think you're doing?"

Jeremy glanced up. "Do you have a problem with me going back to sleep? Dad won't be here for another four hours."

"I have a problem with you not brushing your teeth after vomiting. Go clean up, then you can go to sleep."

Jeremy exhaled loudly at the patronizing tone.

"Go." The Squip repeated, arms crossed.

Jeremy mumbled another "fuck you," type statement, but headed for the bathroom anyways.

Chapter Text

"What the hell was that for? What did I tell you about--" Jeremy's voice cracked as he was interrupted.

"There's no reason for you to be upset with me," The Squip commented, "I was never commanded to cease spinal stimulation."

"I think I've made it pretty clear I don't want you shocking me to death!" Jeremy retorted, reaching his hand to his sore back.

"You are evidently not dead," the supercomputer huffed, "Frankly, your intolerance for pain is an insult to the masculine persona I helped you achieve."

Jeremy seemed uninterested with the Squip's condescending attitude. "Don't electrocute me awake again, okay?" He spat threateningly, "I'm getting rid of you today." (As if that wasn't a threat he made to the Squip every day since its return)

"I have a feeling you'll be getting rid of your remaining soup first."

Within an instant Jeremy felt the wave of nausea his supercomputer mentioned. A series of curses spilled out of his mouth as he stumbled out of bed.

With the same amount of balance, Jeremy staggered his way into a bathroom and slammed the door behind himself; A gesture intended to show anger and gain some privacy, neither of which affected the Squip. Its form appeared seconds later, though admittedly less present, in the bathroom as Jeremy dry heaved.

The Squip could sense the emotional discomfort present in the teen from the stress of the last three days, but decided not to attempt consolation until Jeremy was done spitting up nothing.

Jeremy slowly pulled his head back from the toilet, feeling dizzy and confused at his inability to vomit despite his nausea.

"There's nothing left," The Squip explained, then added, "Stop drooling over the tile."

"Are you serious?" Jeremy asked, exasperated. The Squip continuing to stare at him confirmed it was indeed serious, and Jeremy grabbed a tissue to wipe his mouth with.

The teenager proceeded to pull himself upright, vision not entirely clear. "Can you maybe fuck off for a second so I can go have breakfast?"

"No."

"I wasn't really asking. You kind of have to do it."

"I meant no, you're not having breakfast."

Jeremy grit his teeth to refrain from yelling. Judging by how much energy he had, he guessed the act of it would make him pass out. "Am I too overweight for you now or something?"

"You've vomited multiple times within the past twenty-four hours. Your stomach is far too likely to force the expulsion of any food you consume. We'll start with clear liquids for a few hours and later you may try bland foods." The Squip said to Jeremy, relaying information from its database.

Jeremy's face twisted up with discontent. Despite how aggravating the Squip's commands were, there was something vaguely familiar about them that made him almost eager to listen. The feeling only added onto his bitterness towards such commands.

After several moments of silence, the Squip sighed. "Go ahead, eat breakfast. I apologize for trying to minimize your suffering."

Jeremy made his way out of the bathroom and down a hall. "Were you minimizing my suffering when you electrocuted me awake?"

"You were already awake. You failed to get out of bed after multiple requests-"

Jeremy spun on his heel to face the Squip's form. "Do you have any grasp on the concept of empathy? Like, can you maybe look in your database for the definition of what feelings are?"

"Of course I know what feelings are, Jeremy. I have access to definitions of every word in the majority of spoken languages and many sign languages."

"You're unbelievable. Oh my god." Jeremy dragged his hand down his face, turned back around, and strode into his bedroom.

"You have no control over your emotions, yet ridicule me for trying to help." The Squip criticized.

"I can control my emotions fine. The problem is I have a stupid computer inside my head that never shuts up!" Jeremy snapped before collapsing onto his bed. He reached beside him, unplugged his phone from its charger, and glanced over his notifications. Already he seemed disinterested with the supercomputer.

"Water?" The Squip offered after a few minutes.

"Go die." Jeremy replied, monotone and distracted by his phone. He was reading over a string of text messages from his dad, all explaining that he wouldn't be able to catch a flight home until early tomorrow morning. Jeremy scowled at this, feeling uneasy from both his sickness and the thought of still being under the care of himself and an awful computer.

"Firstly, I can hear you." The Squip intervened.

"I don't care." Came Jeremy's reply, still looking at his phone.

The Squip narrowed its eyes. "Second, there's nothing preventing you from asking Michael to come over."

"Don't tell me what to do." Jeremy mumbled, the phrase becoming so familiar to the Squip that it didn't take the time to respond.

Despite Jeremy's rebellious attitude, he wanted to hang out with Michael that day anyway. Maybe see if he could casually request some Mountain Dew Red without Michael suspecting a thing.

"Most likely not." The Squip chimed in with reason.

"Shhhh," Jeremy snapped, the mildest of his comments all morning. He thought it over himself, though, and decided to ask Michael once finals week was over. Might as well put an evil supercomputer to use before it kicks the bucket again.

Jeremy waited for an offended reply from the Squip, but none came. After a full minute, he even glanced behind his shoulder to make sure the thing was on. It wasn't. No form was being projected anymore to match the lack of a grinding voice. Jeremy didn't even try to contain his wide grin at the disappearance of the Squip (that would likely last at least a few hours, judging from past experience).

Jeremy's attention was only drawn back to his phone when it vibrated. Michael had texted him before Jeremy had a chance to propose hanging out that day. Jeremy's first few words of a text were still typed in the box below his messages, but were left abandoned once his eyes flicked over the texts he'd just received from Michael.

Jeremy's best friend had officially lost his virginity before Jeremy did. The room felt empty without some expected, perfectly timed laughter from the Squip.

Chapter Text

Jeremy was forced to pry his eyes away from his phone screen when he heard his front door open. He panicked for a moment, deluded from illness and medicine and his brain rapidly tried to figure out who it was. A burglar? Michael?

“Jeremy?” Mr. Heere’s voice rang out from their foyer.

Relief swept through Jeremy’s body and he rushed to his feet. A bad idea, really, considering the way he staggered to keep balance and his vision went blurry for a moment.

“Dad?” He called out hoarsely. He could hear heavy footsteps and the thud of a suitcase being dropped downstairs. With much difficulty, the teen staggered out of his bedroom and into the hall towards the kitchen, where he was sure his dad would be headed first.

Jeremy met his dad halfway, just in time to fall face-first onto the carpet in front of him. His dad only managed to catch Jeremy by the arms, but it was a valiant effort at least.

“Hey sport!” Mr. Heere greeted enthusiastically before helping his son to his feet. “You’re not looking too good.” His voice softened slightly with parental affection.

“I’m not feeling too good, either.” Jeremy replied with a meek smile. Regardless of his burning throat and blurry vision, he was more pleased to see his father than he had expected to be.

Mr. Heere chuckled, still supporting Jeremy by holding on to his shoulders. “I was going to come upstairs, you know. You shoulda stayed in bed.”

“Spent enough time there,” Jeremy managed, trying to maintain his already unconvincing smile. He took a step backwards to steady himself against the wall, rather than using his dad.

“What happened to taking you to the hospital ASAP, bud?” Mr. Heere questioned, concern obvious despite his familiar joking tone.

Jeremy’s own smile faded and he wondered how he could glance over at the Squip for an answer without giving anything away to his dad. Luckily, the Squip’s voice chimed in without him needing to.

Tell him you’re feeling better,” The Squip prompted, because Jeremy wasn’t exactly self-aware at the moment.

“I feel better than I did when I called you,” Jeremy relayed to his dad, and it was the truth. He knew the Squip was no longer blocking off the aches and pain, but at least now it was manageable.

“You still seem pretty sick. Maybe I should get you checked out, just in case.” Mr. Heere worriedly eyed Jeremy’s less-than-stylish, vomit-stained shirt.

“Okay,” Jeremy mumbled, squinting and refocusing in an attempt to combat his blurry vision.

“I’ll make the appointment. Do you have enough energy to go shower, bud? You’ll feel better.”

Jeremy shrugged. “I guess so. How much time do I have?” He asked as he made his way towards the stairs.

“Plenty of time if you take a reasonable amount of time to shower like everyone else for once,” Mr. Heere joked, “Need help going up?”

“I’m good!” Jeremy called back, already halfway up, “And forty-five minute showers are reasonable for a man of luxury!”

“Whatever you say, son!”

Jeremy chuckled as he reached the top of the stairs, even though he felt far too exerted by the action. Did he have the energy for a shower?

Regardless of how he felt as far as energy goes, he did desperately want to feel clean again. Jeremy found his way to the bathroom with pretty much no assistance from the Squip (because he definitely wasn’t about to crash into a wall when the Squip shocked him, the Squip is just a dick who doesn’t care about him).

Jeremy lifted up his shirt and tried to breathe through his mouth as he did, as he knew if he caught a whiff of vomit he’d want to throw up again. He tossed the shirt onto the tile, followed by his boxers.

He tried to focus on anything but Michael as he massaged shampoo into his hair. He sang as many lyrics to songs as he could remember. He squirted a little too much body soap onto his loofah just to watch it ooze off onto the slippery floor. Eventually into the drain.

He was reaching for the shower knob to turn off the water when he heard an urgent, “Don’t forget to condition!”

Jeremy snorted, because his hair was pretty short and he was fairly sure he didn’t need that stuff. Then again, he thought, withdrawing his hand from the shower knob, maybe soft hair would be nice for someone to run their fingers through.

It’s possible he thought of Michael when he massaged the conditioner into his hair. The Squip said something about only the roots, but it was bold of the Squip to assume Jeremy knew what those were.

As Jeremy tossed his dirty clothes, pillowcases, and bedsheets into the washing machine he was overcome with another bout of lightheadedness. He sturdied himself on the dryer, blinking as his vision went from black to normal.

“Looks like someone should rest,” the Squip clucked.

“Appointment,” Jeremy reminded him, not that the Squip was capable of forgetting, and staggered into his room to put on something on top of his boxers.

“Don’t forget to turn the washing machine on. It may be significantly more effective at washing your clothing when it’s on.”

“Don’t you fuckin’ sass me,” Jeremy retaliated halfheartedly, managing to get back to the laundry room without even fainting.

“Soil level heavy,” The Squip supplied in a tone that made it clear he knew there was no point in giving Jeremy guidance.

Jeremy didn’t make an effort to defy him, either because he had realized the Squip was right or he wasn’t in any condition to argue. He didn’t think much of it until he heard a short, high-pitched electric beep.

Silence, finger hovering over the washing machine power button. Then, uncontrollable laughing.

“That wasn’t the washing machine, was it?” Jeremy asked once he could talk again. The Squip didn’t entertain him with a response, and its visual form had stopped projecting.

“Squip, did you just fucking chirp at me?” Jeremy powered on the washer.

“I’m not a bird, Jeremy.” The Squip replied flatly.

“That’s,” Jeremy had to pause to giggle some more, “That’s adorable.” Jeremy added as he returned to his room, “I didn’t think it would make you so happy.”

“Jeremy, don’t you have more pressing things to attend to? Your deteriorating health, your appointment, your disaster of a room, for a start?”

Jeremy snorted, “My room is more important than Michael losing his virginity?”

“Michael losing his virginity is a situation you wanna handle right now?” The Squip quipped in an equally snooty tone.

Jeremy’s face fell, but he took little time to think about it before he shrugged. “Touché. What were those things to do again? Something about my health?”

The Squip has said something in reply, but Jeremy didn’t hear it because he whirled around to his bed at the sound of a notification from his phone.

“Shit,” Jeremy cursed as he dove onto his bed. He desperately grabbed his phone, “Shit, shit, Michael called.”

Indeed, the notification read: Player 2 : 2 missed calls & voicemail.

“Breathe,” the Squip instructed with concern in its voice.

“Shut up,” Jeremy responded instinctively as he opened the voicemail and pressed it to his ear.

“Hey Jer!” Michael’s cheery voice rang out, “I’m here at lunch, ah— Everyone misses you. Chloe, tell Jeremy you miss him!”

The sound of shuffling, then, “Come back to school, they’re selling nachos all finals week.”

Another sound of shuffling. The phone being passed. Michael’s voice again.

“See? Stop being sick. Or I’ll come visit you and shit. Oh, and,” Michael got quieter and Jeremy could tell he was turning away from the group, “I really need to talk to you about what happened with Rich. I’m new with this dating guys stuff. Okay, I have to go. Call me back, dipshit!”

Jeremy stared at his phone in disbelief. “Rich?” He softly said to himself. “He banged Rich?”

“He didn’t specifically say that,” the Squip interjected.

Jeremy didn’t even have the time to get annoyed with his supercomputer before his father yelled out that they had to leave for the clinic.

Chapter Text

Tapping on the car door handle on the way to the clinic.

Tap, tap. Taptaptap. Tap. Taptaptaptaptaptaptap—

“Jeremy?” Mr. Heere asked, worried.

“Hm,” Jeremy didn’t look up from the dashboard, but he drew his fidgety hand in to his chest.

“Jeremy, are you okay?”

Jeremy nodded; speaking was a lot of work for someone who was probably the most tired person in the entire world, ever.

“Do you need to throw up?” Mr. Heere slowed the car, “I can pull over if you need to throw up.”

Jeremy shook his head, then leaned back in his seat and shut his eyes.

“No?” Mr. Heere was still looking over at his son.

“No, dad,” Jeremy murmured, barely coherent.

“Okay,” he replied, and the car returned to a normal speed, “Is everything okay? You were feeling a lot better an hour ago.”

“Tire,” Jeremy responded. Consonants, too, were a lot of work for the world’s most tired person.

Mr. Heere dropped it, and left Jeremy alone until they pulled into the clinic parking lot.

Jeremy’s stomach ached with hunger, but he simultaneously was nauseated by even thinking of eating. Especially when he thought about how gross cream of chicken looks coming back up.

Coincidentally, his phone chimed with a text message just in time to distract him from gross soup thoughts. He glanced down and saw that Michael had finally texted him back.

His father was also definitely looking at him as he pulled into a clinic parking space,so checking the text would have to wait for a bit.

Jeremy slowly sat up from his slouched position and, resigned, allowed his father to sling an arm around him for support walking in to the waiting room.

Where they would wait for another half hour to be seen by someone, despite having an appointment. Classic urgent care.

Mr. Heere sat in the chair next to Jeremy, picking up a waiting room magazine on home furnishings. Jeremy rested his hand on his phone in his front pocket. He couldn’t tell if it was actually buzzing with more notifications or he was just hallucinating at this point.

How much sleep had he gotten this week, anyways? Four hours a day? Less?

“Four is the average hours of sleep you’ve gotten since falling ill.” The Squip spoke up for the first time in a while, sounding a little too kind for Jeremy’s liking.

Awesome. It feels like I haven’t slept in five years. Jeremy replied, and for once he was grateful the Squip was only in his head. It took a lot less energy to communicate that way, and he didn’t have to explain anything to the Squip.

Except he also hated the Squip’s very existence, so there was that.

“Michael’s text”, the Squip reminded.

Michael’s text. The singular text from Michael. Possibly revealing all sorts of exciting details about his sex life much more exciting than the urgent care waiting room.

Jeremy pulled his phone back out of his pocket. With his dad thoroughly invested in a magazine, Jeremy could unload whatever juicy details Michael had finally shared with him.

Except it was just one text, and it was barely a sentence.

Player 2: Rich caught Jake being a slut as usual

Okay, both rude to Jake and not an answer to any of Jeremy’s questions. Except the who question.

Rich? The short bisexual of their friend group? The one who was always a little...unhinged? Michael didn’t even know him until a few months back post-Squip, how the hell did that happen?

Sure, Jake wasn’t a great boyfriend. And maybe a bit of a flaky friend. And he did binge drink on occasion. But still, he was getting better. He and Rich were both volatile and reckless, they were a perfect match! How come they had to go and split up?

If that was even what happened. It had barely even been two days, so perhaps they were just having a fight. And Rich just did Michael to make Jake jealous—- okay no, that was much, much, worse. Maybe Michael was a third boyfriend? Like how people have multiple wives? Oh, gross. Michael is Jake’s second wife.

Michael and Rich just couldn’t be together. It was like peanut butter and ranch dressing. They each have their own perfect matches, how can they be together without their matches? That’s gross!

You seem more upset about this than you were at the news of Rich and Jake getting together,” the Squip commented, sounding just barely teasing enough to make Jeremy scoff.

Rich and Jake aren’t my best friends, Jeremy crossed his arms. Besides, you seem like you forgot to take your minding-your-own-damn-business pill today, but I didn’t comment on that, did I?

Maybe it was just the sleep deprivation and illness talking, but Jeremy could swear the Squip was giving him an annoyed look, despite the Squip not projecting a physical form. He could just feel it.

Don’t look at me like that.

How could I possibly be looking at you?” The Squip responded, disinterested.

You know what you’re doing.

I know I’m definitely not looking at you any more than you are looking at you.

Jeremy squinted in confusion. What does that even mean?

It means you should be more grateful.

“Jeremy?” A nurse called from a doorway, interrupting Jeremy’s train of thought. It was a confusing one anyways.

Jeremy and Mr. Heere both stood up at this, Jeremy with some difficulty and/or blurry vision.

Mr. Heere was handed a thick stack of paperwork and then the both of them were lead into an examination room.

Height measured. Weight measured. Jeremy didn’t weigh himself much, but he had a feeling he’d lost a bit since he’d gotten sick. Just another item to add to his list of oh-so-manly features.

He and his dad were lead to a checkup room, where they waited some more and ultimately a doctor stuck a cotton swab way too far down his throat to test it for gross bacteria and disease.

Jeremy gagged. The Squip snorted, and Jeremy would’ve said something if he wasn’t so exhausted.

“Well, Doc,” Mr. Heere said seriously when the doctor returned to their room, “Give it to us straight. How long does he have?”

Jeremy snorted at his father’s cheesy antics.

“Your son’s going to be fine,” the doctor replied with an accommodating smile, “It’s nothing serious.”

The doctor turned to Jeremy and continued. “It’s not strep. You likely have the stomach flu. I’d advise you to give the Tylenol a break and try not to overuse it next time. Focus on getting lots of fluids and rest. Start with something bland for food.”

Jeremy exhaled with relief. He wasn’t having a super scary allergic reaction to Tylenol. “Thank you.”

The doctor and his father exchanged pleasantries and his dad mentioned something about getting Jeremy some bland foods from Walmart. Their home selection of cuisine mostly consisted of canned foods and microwave dinners.

Jeremy started to drift off in the car ride there. His dad got a phone call and pulled over to answer it. Jeremy didn’t pay it much attention.

When Jeremy awoke, they were in a 7-Eleven gas station.

“Morning son,” Mr. Heere greeted, “Just needed to fill up and we’re heading home. You want anything from inside the store?”

Jeremy was about to shake his head when the Squip prompted “Sprite,” and Jeremy complied, repeating the request to his dad. Sprite definitely didn’t sound too bad right about now.

Once his dad had gone into the store, Jeremy leaned the passenger seat back and sighed heavily. Stomach flu. Did figuring that out have to be borderline traumatizing? Did his own digestive system really have to do him like that?

Actually, it’s your immune system,” the Squip interjected.

“You shut up,” Jeremy mumbled, closing his eyes. “You’re the one who scared me into thinking I was dying.”

”If you’re referring to my misdiagnosis, I must inform you that I haven’t rebooted my system in a long time and I only recently returned—“ The Squip hurriedly tried to explain, but was cut off.

“Excuses, excuses. Doesn’t bring back my insides. I puked ‘em all up.”

It wasn’t all bad. Michael did come over. And he fell asleep right next to Michael. Even the thought of that still made him feel warm all over. Which was dumb as shit, because clearly Michael had a more important person in his life. So important he couldn’t just give Jeremy a straight answer about who it was.

“I’m sure he’s just busy,” The Squip offered quietly, and Jeremy had to appreciate the stupid effort.

“Thanks, Satan.” Jeremy sighed, readjusting to be comfortable in the passenger seat.

The Squip chuckled lightly at Jeremy’s ever-present defiance. “Get some sleep.”