Jeremy has a very strained relationship with pictures of himself because he’s got this great talent of looking like garbage in every single one of them.
Which sounds a bit harsh, but he’s telling it like it is. Jeremy freezes up at the sight of a camera, tends to only smile with half of his mouth like an idiot, and always blinks right at the moment any picture is taken. Taking a picture of Jeremy is accepting that the picture won’t at all be good and that there’s an eighty percent chance of him instinctively throwing up a peace sign out of what feels like self defense. Selfies he can deal with, because he can at least see what his face is doing and try his best to rectify it, but all other pictures of him are a disaster.
“As per usual, you are putting yourself down way too much, dude,” Michael says, fetching his DSLR camera from its bag, sending a familiar wave of anxiety into Jeremy’s brain. “I’ve taken tons of good pictures of you!”
“We’re dating,” Jeremy rolls his eyes, fidgeting with the cuffs of his cardigan. “So you’re biased. You’d say I’d look good in every picture.”
Michael lips quirk up slightly as he adjusts the lens of his camera. “Wrong. I also have a treasure trove of pictures where you look like an undocumented cryptid with stomach flu.”
“You’re doing wonders for my confidence right now.”
“You started it,” Michael finally turns to Jeremy with bright eyes and a smile he’s seen more than a thousand times but can’t help but be blindsided by every now and then. “Now come on, it’s a great day out and we finally have funding to print a program for the play. That program needs a great picture of its devastatingly handsome cryptid lead.”
They’re by the bleachers at the football field and the sun isn’t setting. It’s just on the edge of beginning to. Jeremy figures that must mean the lighting is good, or something, but that won’t be enough to save any picture he’s in. As if to illustrate his point, Jeremy tries to pose. He puts his hand in his pocket (so he doesn’t make a peace sign), thumb out (because that’s cool, right?), and…he leans a bit.
“Oh my god,” Michael starts laughing. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Posing! Shut the fuck up!” Jeremy hisses, trying to go for frustrated, but he can never keep it up for too long when Michael is laughing.
“I implore you to stop posing then, hoo boy,” Michael wipes a tear from the corner of his eye.
Jeremy flips him off. “There. Take the picture now.”
“I want to so badly, but then they wouldn’t let us print it,” he says, then he pauses for a bit, glancing at his camera then at Jeremy. “Let’s sit down.”
“Why?” Jeremy asks, but he follows. They both take a seat on the grass.
“The reason you always look ‘bad’—” and Michael actually does air-quotes. “—in pictures is ‘cuz you think too much. You have really good candids, when you’re not blinking. So just relax?”
“Trying to,” Jeremy sighs, placing his hands behind him and leaning back. He figures he looks decent for a second, catching Michael raise his camera from the corner of his eye, but involuntarily he tenses up. Wincing, he says, “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. Jenna and Rich did a jump shot in their picture, but they couldn’t jump at the same time,” Michael tells him. “I’ll just be sneakier. You’re letting me fulfill my childhood dream of being a wildlife photographer.”
Jeremy laughs, “You’re such a nerd.”
Michael pitches his voice into a awful David Attenborough accent. “This here is the elusive Jeremy Heere–”
“–a beautiful specimen native to the suburbs of New Jersey. Easily spooked and always on edge, pictures of this species are a rarity, but right now its guard is down–”
“Michael, oh my god,” Jeremy laughs. Then he hears the shutter of the camera. Shocked, he turns to Michael who’s looking the picture over. “Was that any good?”
“You moved, so it’s blurry,” he shakes his head. “But you don’t look like your being held at gunpoint anymore, so we’re on the right track. Keep it up.”
“Keep what up?”
“Relaxing,” Michael rolls his eyes good-naturedly. “Try not to move and think of nice things.”
“Nice things, huh?” Jeremy says. Kind of wanting to get this picture over with already, he gives it a try. He thinks about that dumb joke Jake had told him earlier. He thinks about how he and Brooke still need to practice their blocking, but that he’s really proud with how dedicated she is in this production. He thinks about how Michael’s pictures are going to look great on the program.
Then his mind wanders. He thinks about Michael. He thinks about his hands or his eyes or how his voice sounds like in the morning. He thinks about the really cheesy promposal he’s secretly planning for Michael. He thinks about Michael, who’s sitting with him here, looking at Jeremy like he’s something worth taking a picture of; something beautiful. He thinks about Michael and—
“You’re doing great, Jeremy. Maybe turn your head here just a bit—Perfect.” Michael raises his camera. “You look really happy. What'cha thinking about?”
And there’s the sound of the camera going off right as Jeremy says, “You, mostly.”
Michael sets his camera down, blinking for a moment before breaking into a smile. It’s a great day out, the afternoon sun casting itself over Michael. Warm, molten light. A well worn gold that settles on the edges of Michael’s face. Jeremy’s seen him smile more than a thousand times, but this one is a really good one. He knows he’ll think the same thing tomorrow and the day after too, but he’s pretty sure he’s right every time.
“God, I love you,” Michael says. Then he feels the need to add, “Dweeb.”
“Love you too, nerd,” Jeremy shoves him, his hand landing close to Michael’s. “Is the picture okay?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t checked it yet,” Michael takes his hand, thumb running over Jeremy’s knuckles as light does the same. “But I’m pretty sure it’s perfect.”