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Flaming Boys

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Michael could remember the party like it was yesterday, when in reality it was ten months and fourteen days ago. 

But hey, who's counting?

Jeremy was settling in with Evan being gone, forgetting all about the party. Rich was moving on, therapy helped and he was doing great, and he even forgot about the rumors. Jake was never that upset, he was bummed about his house and best friend but hey, it's over now. Christine had no problems with the night, even if Jake did cheat on her. Brooke and Chloe listened to Jeremy about the SQUIP and forgave him, and Jenna was fine.

Michael wasn't okay, because he remembered he had the choice to stay in the bathroom that night. The choice to inhale the smoke and choke on it, the choice to be free from the world he decided to stay in. He tries not to trouble his friends and boyfriends about his problems, he really does try. In fact, he faked the night terrors to be just really weird, kinky dreams. Jeremy fell for that instantly, knowing his best friend well. The rest followed suit, except for Jenna.

Jenna didn't believe he was actually okay.

"So what if he mumbles about fires?" Jake answered Jenna's question as they sat in the living room, Michael was asleep, and Jenna was determined to prove Michael Mell was not okay. "He does that all the time, Jenna."

"Okay, let me go in his room and I will prove to you two he's not okay!" Jenna said, waiting for the two to nod she opened the door. "Michael? Can I come in?"

"I'm having my period!" Michael called back, still asleep.

"That's what he said during the party!" Jenna hissed to the two boys watching.

"Okay, so he remembers the party--"

"I wish I stayed at home. . ." Michael grumbled in his sleep. "Off myself--it's so hot." 

"See?!" Jenna threw up her hands.

"So he--"

"Jake! Thith ith your fault!" Rich said, crossing his arms. "We can't jutht ignore hith problemth!"

"This is not my fault!" Jake spat back. "If anything it's yours! You refuse to talk about the night!"

"Guys! Guys!" Jenna hissed.

"Mm, Jenna?" Michael sat up. "What're you doing here?"

"Protecting you." Jenna said, sitting down next to Michael. "I was pointing out you're not kinky, you're suicidal."

"I'm not--I--I'm--" Michael sputtered.

"Thee?! He'th uncomfortable admitting it in front of you! Of courthe he ith, you're not the motht acthepting!" Rich crossed his arm. "You didn't acthept me either, you jutht thaid you did! You didn't go to any therapy appointment with me, you didn't athk how I wath--"

"Who do you think paid for them?!" Jake yelled back.

"Please don't fight." Michael whispered, he wondered if it was because of him in all honesty.

It sort of was.

"We'll talk about this later." Jake said to Rich before turning to Michael. "Baby--"

"I'm fine, don't worry." Michael whispered.

It was Jenna who opened their eyes, and they were now too awake to not worry.

Michael was sewing a patch into his hoodie at school, an AOTD patch he had proudly declared to Jeremy about making in fact. He was almost done when Dustin Kropp, who was playing Emmett in the play, walked past and stopped in his tracks. "Apocalypse of the Damned, right? You play that, Michael?"

"Um, yeah?" Michael squinted at Dustin. "Why?"

"Dude, that's my favorite game!" Dustin sat next to Michael, smiling. "Killer, we should play sometime. I have it at my house, do you have it? If you want to come to my place we could play it!"

"I have it at my house, if you want to come over one night after play practice? We're, um, probably going to hang out after practice on Friday in a month." Michael said with a smile. "I know it's in a month but--"

"Dude! Of course! We should totally hang out!" Dustin gave one more smile before stalking off. 

"Hopefully Jake and Richard won't be fighting." Michael mumbled.

They were always fighting.

"You can't act like it's not your fault!" Jake yelled at Rich, it was Thursday and the two have been fighting nonstop. 

"Guys." Michael groaned.

"Oh pleathe, like I thought that wath a good idea!"


"Fuck you, Rich--"

"GUYS!" Michael turned to his boyfriends. "Can you two stop fighting for one goddamn second?!"


"If you two can't get along why are we dating?!" Michael threw his hands up. "Look, maybe we should just. . . take a break." 


"No, Jake! We need to take a break, we can date if you two get your shit together, okay?" Michael crossed his arms.

"Fine." Rich mumbled. "If it makes you happy."

"Whatever you want, Michael." Jake sighed out. "We can wait."

"Good, jesus." Michael rolled his eyes. "I'll move back to my room."

"Okay, alright." Rich said.

They knew they messed up.

"Woah, Dustin you're. . . amazing!" Michael said, driving Dustin back to his house. "You were awesome! Wasn't he, Jenna?!"

Jenna smiled from her place in the back, holding her phone. 

"Thanks Michael, you're pretty cool yourself. Love the car, Michael." Dustin said, looking at Michael as they stopped in front of his house. "Thanks."

Michael was going to respond when Dustin leaned close, kissing Michael softly. When Dustin pulled away Michael blushed. "Um, that was. . . Nice!" 

"Not again or--"

"Yes again, uh, text me okay?" 

"Okay." Dustin smiled before hopping out. 

"Jenna, don't tell anyone."

"I won't." Jenna promised.

Michael, sadly, didn't know her fingers were crossed.

What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him!