"I'm not doing Space Mountain. Or Splash Mountain. Or any rollercoaster," was the first thing Jeremy Heere insisted on when the "SQUIP Squad" decided they were going to Disney World.
Of course, the moment Jeremy left, the first thing the group did was discuss how they could trick him onto going on a rollercoaster. Out of everyone in their little group, Michael was the only one to raise any concern. He knew that Jeremy could go into full on panic attack mode if he was scared enough.
Nobody listened to his protestations, simply laughing and plotting away.
Cue about a month later, Main Street, USA.
Patrons passed by, lost in their own little world. Who wouldn't be? It was the happiest place on Earth, and there wasn't a sour face in sight.
The little pack of teenagers had dashed into the park, whooping, all except for Chloe.
"God, you guys are like four year olds," She groaned, "This is lame." Though everyone knew she was just being difficult. Somehow she'd already snatched a pair of overpriced ears from a shop.
Brooke suddenly grabbed her hands, spinning her around and squealing as to cut off any other protestations she had. The brunette shoved her off, screeching, but laughing none the less.
Brooke also had a pair of matching ears, courtesy of Chloe.
"Are you done, ladies?" Jake grunted, arms crossed.
"Yeah, I wanna get going!" Christine agreed, bouncing on her heels. As many could imagine, Christine was a Disney fanatic. She'd been whining on the whole car ride about going to Hollywood Studio, having to have Jenna reassure her every five seconds that they would get around to going there.
Chloe stumbled back over, smoothing down her skirt and straightening her ears.
Rich spoke up from his place next to Jake. "Hey, Michael, how bout we get you some ears?"
Michael didn't have time to respond, nearly getting run over by a mom with a stroller. He quickly grabbed Jeremy by the arm and yanked him clear.
"Sorry, what?" He turned to look down at Rich.
"Let's get you some ears," Rich repeated. He continued, voice dripping with a smirk, "y'know," he turned to look at Jeremy, "for your boyfriend. I think he'll like them."
Jeremy sputtered, flushing red as Michael snorted.
"I- I'm not a furry!" He insisted at last.
Jeremy continued to stutter, only being saved by Christine. "Come on!" She insisted, "Stop being stupid - we're going on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride."
"We are?" Rich asked. Everyone stared at each other, dumbfounded.
"We are." Christine said, tone declaring that plan as final. With that, she sped away, not waiting up for anyone.
"Does that have any... uh... drops on it?" Jeremy huffed, rushing to catch up.
"Yeah, but they're not big," Jenna called over her shoulder, meeting Christine stride for stride.
Michael felt his Riends Sense kicking in, and he tightly gripped Jeremy's hand, giving a reassuring squeeze. He was rewarded with a brief nervous smile from his boyfriend.
The line was pleasantly short and they quickly boarded.
"It's dark," Chloe whined when the ride started.
"We know, Chloe." Jake responded.
A minute passed of floating. They were still in the beginning of the ride, where no real attractions had popped up.
"I'm bored," Chloe whined.
"We know, Chloe," Jake responded.
Her eyes narrowed at him in the dark, but she didn't say anything else, opting to push herself nearer to Brooke, who she was already pressing dangerously close to.
Michael watched this event idly which Jeremy, who whispered, "Dude... She's almost sitting in her lap."
Michael snickered, "Do you bet she'll confess under the romantic glow of the fireworks tonight?" He wiggled his eyebrows.
"She'd pussy out. Besides, I wouldn't be able to tell anyways. 'Be too distracted making out with you." His boyfriend retorted.
Michael snorted, and a narrative voice boomed through the speakers on the ride as their boat neared the mouth of a cave. "Let's try not to fuck in front of 50 innocent unsuspecting families."
"But that's my kink, Micah!"
"Shut up gays, it's actually starting!" Christine hollered from the front, bouncing up and down.
Michael was glad Jeremy handled the ride so well. Cracking witty comments and talking trash at the animatronics seemed to help, though Christine threatened them several times to shut up or she'd throw her shoe at them.
So basically, the trip was off to a banging start.
Rich stood a few feet away from Michael, stretching and rolling his neck. "Where now? Gimme something more intense."
Christine paused and whispered with Jenna, who furrowed her brow before whispering back.
Michael noticed that Jeremy looked uncomfortable again.
"You don't have to do anything you don't want," he reminded him.
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
Michael frowned. He knew that Jeremy was trying to be brave, but Michael didn't want him to have a meltdown or throw up. Jeremy was much more appreciative of the Disney aesthetic than the rides themselves. They'd never really gone to a carnival or amusement park for a date because Jeremy, "didn't feel like that." Michael never had issues with any amusement park rides, as long as they didn't go upside down. But, he was respectful of Jeremy's boundaries, unlike some of their other friends.
He knew they were gonna pull something at some point, and he was gonna be around when they did so he could stop them. He knew they'd never mean to hurt Jeremy but... well...
They didn't understand.
Christine's voice broke him from his angsty moment.
"Well, Frontierland is just a jog ahead."
"Aaand... what does that mean?" Brooke sighed.
Jenna rolled her eyes, "It MEANS Splash Mountain and Big Mountain Thunder Railroad."
"You got me at Splash Mountain," Rich grinned.
"No thank you." Chloe said.
"Yeah." Added Brooke.
"Wha- ya'll are stupid." Rich mocked, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I don't want to get wet." Chloe groaned, Brooke mmhming in agreement.
"Wear a fucking poncho you cat." Jake deadpanned, reaching over to slap Chloe on the shoulder. She shrieked and lunged at him, but he avoided her like the tall fuccboi ninja he was. He grabbed Rich by the arm.
"Where is it?" He asked Jenna quickly.
Jenna squinted at him, pointing down the road. "Go straight."
"Oof, you really can't go then, Chloe, cause your gay ass will never go straight." Jake teased. A scream boiled out of Chloe's throat, and he quickly yanked Rich forward by the arm and squatted down. Small bisexual jumped on his back and fuccboi began to run towards the sunset with his lover in tow, just like in the Disney classics. Chloe dashed towards them, knocking past disturbed families.
"Get them Chloe! Get 'em get 'em get 'em!" Christine howled, bouncing after her with Jenna not far behind.
Brooke stood, lurching forwards with flustered giggles. Jeremy snorted, but looked after them doubtfully.
"You can wait outside of the ride if you want. I'll stay with you," Michael offered.
Jeremy thought about it, shrugging his shoulders. "Nah, you can go. I'll wait by myself," Then he smirked, "I'd like to see you get wet."
"Ooh, that's kinky Jer."
"Hey," Brooke snapped, "They're getting away, let's go you eggs."
A silence fell over the three as they walked down the cobble path. Chatter filled the air from other families around them. Off to the side, a group of young girls posed for a picture. Michael would have to be stupid to call bullshit on the magical atmosphere the genius crackheads behind the scenes had created. He just hoped it wouldn't rain- it seemed every time he went to Disney it ended up raining.
"... If you want.. I could wait with you, Jerry," Brooke said, brushing strands of hair out of her face as she trekked steadily next to them.
"Guys, you seriously don't have to. I'll be fine." Jeremy shoved his hands in his pockets.
"Mmkay. But if you change your mind..." Brooke put emphasis on the "d" in mind, so it sounded like she said, "Minduh."
Some things about Brooke just irked Michael, like the way she talked, the way she carried herself. He tried not to mind too much, he knew it wasn't her fault. At least she didn't act like she was above others like Chloe did on occasion.
Chloe had gotten better. Michael liked to think he and Jeremy had humbled her a lot. Jake was like that too, but once he started dating Rich, he seemed to lose his jackassiness altogether. Rich had actually done something right.
But Michael kept this to himself. He was still adjusting to all of his new friends, since he'd never had more than one in his life. Sometimes less than one...
Michael forced out a breath quickly and reached to grab Jeremy's hand. But his hand was still in his pocket.
Jeremy stared at him as Michael stuck his hand in Jeremy's cardigan pocket. Flustered, Michael tried to pull his hand out, but both their hands were crammed and couldn't get out at the same time so he just lifted up the bottom of the cardigan. Oh shit. Abort, abort.
They managed to get their hands out, avoiding eye contact. Thankfully for Michael, Brooke didn't seem to see the exchange.
Michael grimaced. Why couldn't he just be a smooth fucker like Jake?
As Michael contemplated his death, he felt something poke at his hand, which now hung limply by his side. Then a hand closed around his. He smiled softly. He loved this awkward teenager.
As soon as they entered Frontierland, it was hard to miss where their group was.
Chloe clawed at Jake as he tried to push her off of him. They rolled on the floor. Christine and Jenna were restraining Rich, who was screeching almost as loudly as Chloe. Parents ushered their kids away from the group, staring disapprovingly.
Brooke muttered a "god damn it Chlo," under her breath, before running over and trying to pull her best friend off of the fuccboi. Chloe showed little restraint, even relaxing in her arms a bit.
"She bit me!" Jake exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. Christine and Jenna released Rich, who had also fallen to the ground in his struggle.
"Serves you right, you asshole."
"I don't think your boyfriend would like that."
Said small bi popped up next to his boyfriend. "Are you cheating on me? In the happiest place on earth?"
"I would never cheat on you, you fun sized bag of KitKats," Jake comforted demeaningly, in good nature.
"I'm a what you huge chicken leg?"
"You're a snack," Jake synopsized, slapping Rich's ass, "No homo."
Lispy bi turned bright red and stammered. Chloe and Brooke giggled.
Michael decided that that was the last straw - he'd have to get flirting advice from that guy. Jeremy was cute when he got flustered.
Christine chuckled before returning to the matter at hand. "C'mon! Splash mountain!"
The group all snapped back to attention, a few of them whooping.
"Jeremy's gonna wait outside while we go on," Michael interjected immediately.
He heard Jenna say, "Of course he is," but ignored her.
"Actually, can I stay off too?" Chloe asked.
"If this is about not getting wet I swear to god-" Jake groaned.
"No, no.. I just don't feel well." Chloe muttered. Michael puzzled over this. Why was she acting so weird all of a sudden?
"Oh. You only tell us this now?" Jake squinted.
"I-I didn't want to bother you all."
That was even weirder. If Chloe really weren't feeling well, she'd be a drama queen and whine about it.
"I'll stay off with you too, then. In case you need to leave." Brooke smiled compassionately, grabbing her friend's hand comfortingly.
Michael watched in shock as Chloe swallowed and shook her head, looking down at their intertwined hands.
"What's the deal?" Jeremy whispered next to him.
"Sorry for this," Michael whispered back.
"I- uh- What?" Jeremy let go of his hand.
"I'm sure Jeremy will be fine staying with her, Brooke," Michael interjected.
Brooke let go of Chloe's hand, which seemed to relax the taller girl. "... yeah... I guess you're right."
"Yeah yeah, let's go before the line gets longer than it already is." Rich groaned, walking towards the entrance. Christine gabbed Brooke, dragging her after the short stocky man. Jenna followed with Jake, who called, "Hurry up Mell!" Over his shoulder.
Michael swiftly bent down and whispered, "Talk to her," in Jeremy's ear, before disguising it with a kiss to the cheek.
Seeing Chloe so distressed freaked him out. She was usually so calm and collected that it was just odd. He knew Jeremy wasn't the best person for her to talk to, since he was kinda awkward around her, among their other friends. But Chloe was seemingly avoiding the best person to talk to, so he guessed that she'd have to just deal with his adorable stutter.
Michael jogged to catch up to the group, and went to stand in the extraordinarily long line.
Jeremy stood in an awkward silence next to Chloe Valentine, the prettiest girl at his school.
-Chloe Valentine has been acting strangely. Talk to her to find out what is upsetting her.-
-Will you accept this mission?-
Jeremy was just as curious as to what was bugging Chloe as Michael was, but he wasn't exactly the most outgoing, definitely not the one to come to for comfort.
Chloe had freaked out when Brooke had tried to comfort her, so Jeremy thought they may have had some sort of falling out. But why would Brooke be so nice to her then? Chloe's behavior had come out of nowhere, especially after coming off all touchy feely on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Jeremy went over a few sentences in his heads, things like, "hey, is anything wrong?" No, too accusatory. "How are you feeling?" No, not specific enough. "How are things between you and Brooke?" Waaaay too direct.
He couldn't do this.
But Michael told him to. And Chloe was his friend, and she was clearly not ok.
Fine, Jeremy thought.
-Chloe Valentine has been acting strangely. Talk to her to find out what is upsetting her.-
-Will you accept this mission?-
"Uh.. hey." Ok sure good enough.
Silence. A child screamed in the distance. Jeremy could never relate more.
"Uh... so... do you... uh... d'you really feel sick?"
Chloe's nostrils flared, but she didn't look at him.
"I said I was, so yeah."
The both of them returned to their respective distance. Jeremy grabbed a cuff of his cardigan, rolling it between his fingers.
He wished Michael were here. He never said the wrong thing.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jeremy took in Chloe's slouch. After another beat, he noticed she... wait.. was she chewing her lip?
"...Jeremy?" She asked, her lip snapping back from her teeth.
"SORRY I WASN'T LOOKING AT YOU!" He screeched. Greaaat.
She let out a single breathy laugh. 'Great job,' Jeremy thought to himself, 'she thinks I'm a weirdo. Well, not like she didn't think that already. I'll bet she figured that out after-"
'Or maybe it was sometime before that-'
"I... shit this is embarrassing... can I ask a question?" Chloe stared at the floor.
Michael's voice rang through Jeremy's head. "You just did," his voice said, the signature response to whenever Jeremy asked that question.
Right. Chloe is here and asking him something. Not time to think about his amazing boyfriend.
"Yeah." He said at last.
Jeremy took a couple steps closer to her as she stared intently at the floor, formulating her sentence. He stared down at the pocket of her blazer. She was biting her lip again.
"Kinky." Michael's voice said in his head.
'Shut up, not now you gay,' Jeremy thought to the voice.
After a long minute, Chloe looked Jeremy dead in the eye.
"How did you figure out you liked Michael?"
He wasn't expecting that.
His fingers dug into his cardigan sleeve and he fidgeted with it harder. He found a loose thread and pulled at it, the string pressing roughly into his fingers.
Chloe was still looking at him expectantly.
Jeremy could have avoided the question by saying, "Why are you asking?" Or some thing of that sort.
He could have.
But he didn't.
He inhaled, thought, 'fuck it,' and began.
"Well... Uhm... He.. Well it was after.. after the squip thing.. uh. I guess I didn't really realize how much I missed him, and - and," he was shaking. No going back now, "I guess... I guess I just started noticing things about him. Like.. uh.. How he bites down on his tongue when he's focused on a video game. Or - or, how when he's nervous he pulls his hood up, even though the teachers yell at him. And how when he gets really excited his glasses fog up..." Jeremy found himself gaining more confidence as he began thinking about Michael.
He took a quick breath.
"Or how he smells like weed and fruit punch Kool Aid. Oh! And how whenever he listens to music, his eyes screw shut and he starts bobbing his head subconsciously. Or how whenever we hug or he touches me he's really... warm..."
Jeremy caught himself. He quickly snapped out of his daze to study Chloe. She didn't seem annoyed though, in fact, she looked... amused. And maybe jealous?
"Right, um, back to... your question," he swallowed, "I noticed and... I- I guess I just started really appreciating that..." A pause, "Then I realized that he was really.. attractive I guess? Like, really really attractive. And then my heart just kinda... Sped up whenever I was around him and my face got red and... I realized that that's how I felt when I used to like Christine." He stopped. Chloe looked at him, expression unreadable.
"And then I freaked out and it took awhile for us to kinda talk about it but yeah whatever. Haha."
Dammit Jeremy. You were doing so well.
Chloe looked past him thoughtfully. He felt like his feet were stapled to the floor. Maybe they could forget this ever happened.
His tongue betrayed him.
"Brooke," he blurted out. Where the hell did that come from?
She snapped back to him, eyes widening.
Fuck he was dead he was dead he was a dead man.
"That obvious?" Chloe asked.
Chloe slouched. She looked defeated. The sight made Jeremy uncomfortable.
"I don't know. She'd hate me."
"I thought she was pan."
"She is," she shook her head, "I was thinking about doing it later, but I don't fucking know..."
"That's great!" Jeremy exclaimed, voice cracking horridly.
"Yeah, but what if she says no and it ruins our friendship? I can't do that, Jeremy."
Jeremy shut his eyes. He never thought he'd find a time where he'd relate to Chloe Valentine, but now he guessed a lot of shit can happen in the most magical place on earth.
"I... felt that same way with Michael."
He continued, "But it worked. And it resulted in.. the best thing that's ever happened to me, I guess."
The thread he'd been pulling was now a couple feet long. His cardigan would be trashed if he kept up this rate.
Chloe considered this. "And what if he'd said no?"
Jeremy had mulled this question over before, and it didn't take him long to tell her the answer he'd already figured out.
"We wouldn't talk or be friends. And then he would hate me and think I was a creep. And I would be miserable or dead."
He wasn't joking.
She realized this and the color drained from her face.
"I think Brooke likes you, if that makes you feel better."
"Don't change the fucking subject, Heere-"
"Don't tell Michael."
"Don't tell Brooke."
Jeremy exhaled. And then he was being embraced.
"Thank you, Jeremy," her voice was muffled and her hair cascaded over his shoulder.
"Uh, y-yeah," He slowly returned the hug.
Again, shit goes down in the most magical place on earth.
"I.. I don't know... maybe I will talk to her today."
"Yeah... I think you should..."
She released him a moment later, just as a group of screaming, soaking wet teenagers dashed towards them.
Chloe watched them come closer. As an after thought, she said to him, "Just so you know... You're gonna have to trust us. You're gonna be safe, I promise. It'll be fun!"
What the hell was she talking about?
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Hey! Brooke didn't throw up!" Jake yelled, skidding up behind Jeremy and smacking him on the back.
"Neither did Chloe," Jeremy muttered.
"That's good. You feeling ok?" Brooke came towards Chloe. Her hair glittered with a few stray water drops and her cardigan was tied around her waist.
Chloe looked at her a moment. Jeremy held his breath.
"I do," she said at last, "I actually feel better. I think I'm gonna be good." She gave Chloe a loving smile.
"What did she say?" Breath on his neck and a whisper in his ear. Jeremy squeaked and stumbled away from Michael.
"Jesus! You scared the shit out of me!"
"Sorry. I'm wet, just like you asked for baby," Michael grinned, voice a sultry exaggeration. It was true, his sweatshirt was a bit damp.
"Hot," Jeremy grinned, drawing out the "H" and popping the "T," like Brooke would.
"Wow. They actually let Goranski on the ride," Jenna's voice interrupted.
"Barely," Christine added.
"Shut up," Rich rolled his eyes.
"Don't worry, babe," Jake grinned, slinging his arm over the shorter guy's shoulder, "if they didn't I'd put you on my shoulders and find a trench coat."
"Only if we actually went on the ride like that."
"You know it, bitch."
Chloe was staring at Brooke again.
Michael whispered to Jeremy again, "Seriously, what's up with Valentino White Bag?"
Jeremy gave a breathy laugh at the nickname and synopsized, "She's super gay and might be confessing to Brooke later."
Michael's eyes widened, "Yaaas, work it girl."
Jeremy elbowed him, trying not to laugh. "That sounded really gay."
"Yes. I am gay man. Hello."
Brooke spoke up suddenly. She and Chloe had been whispering the whole time, mischievous glints in their eyes. "Hey, so Chloe's not feeling so hot again."
Jeremy frowned. What had Brooke said to have put Chloe back in a bad mood?
"You just said you were fine a moment ago," Jake groaned.
"I was a moment ago. Not anymore," Chloe rolled her eyes.
"You chased me through a Disney park, tackled, and bit me. You're not gonna die, bitch."
"The doctor is in," Rich added.
"The doctor isn't qualified to asses this beauty," Lesbian brunette gestured at herself. Then she slumped again, feigning sickness.
Jenna frowned, "Chlo, if you're not feeling ok, you should go back to the resort."
Chloe paused a moment. Screams came from the vicinity of Splash Mountain.
"Yeah... I kinda do wanna go back... if that's ok.."
Jeremy sighed. He really was hoping Chloe would be able to confess to Brooke. Then again, it wasn't past her to fake sick to get out of stuff she didn't want to do.
"Damn. Brooke can take you back, right?" Jake sighed, "I mean, sorry, but I wanna get going. I'm bored."
"Same here," Rich grunted, still under Jake's arm.
Chloe frowned and cast a nervous look at Brooke. Jeremy felt his stomach sink. Had things really gone bad for Chloe in the past couple minutes that she didn't feel comfortable even walking with Brooke?
"Actually, I think Michael should take her back," Brooke quickly blurted out.
"Wha?" Michael's head snapped up and he stared at her.
There was a moment where everyone else stared at each other, first in confusion, then in a slow realization. Jeremy looked to Michael and noticed he looked none the wiser. Uncomfortable, Jeremy crossed his arms. He felt like he was being left out of a joke.
"MICHAEL SHOULD uh... Definitely do it!" Jake said, nodding with faked enthusiasm.
"Yep." Rich agreed, nodding in a similarly forced fashion.
Christine sighed, muttered a, "Jesus..." under her breath before stepping towards Michael.
"Remember how we're the only ones with room cards left?"
"Yeah..?" Michael looked at Jeremy for a moment, as if to ask, "Do you know what's going on?" Before looking back at Christine.
When they'd gotten into the resort, they'd gotten a room card for each "couple." Rich and Jake already had theirs confiscated when they'd tried to make lines of pop rocks using it to snort, (Jake was crying because, "it burned," according to Christine,) and Brooke and Chloe had already lost theirs.
Jeremy felt something grab his wrist and realized that Rich had snuck behind him and was pulling him away towards from the group. Too startled to ask what was going on or call for Michael, he let himself be dragged into the crowd.
He thought he saw Chloe wink at him.
What the fuck.
"And because these idiots would get totally lost without me and Jen, you gotta do it," Christine finished.
Michael frowned. There was something off about this whole situation. "But why can't Jeremy-" He began, turning to face his best friend, only to realize-
He was gone.
"Rich took him to the bathroom," Jake cut in, "He didn't wanna go alone in the crowds."
Michael huffed. That was understandable, and it wasn't unlike Jeremy to quietly slink away. Then again, the last time Jeremy had been alone in a public bathroom with Rich some pretty bad stuff came out of it.
He groaned after another moment of consideration. Chloe was probably trying to do this so that she could hide her gayness, he thought. "Fine." He muttered at last, waving Chloe over to him. The resort was a quick monorail ride away. He supposed he could humor the popular girl just this once.
Chloe smiled, practically jumping over to Michael, grabbing his wrist and dragging him away from the group.
"Hey-what?" Michael craned his neck to try to look back at his friends, but Chloe kept a steady speed, maneuvering expertly between patrons. Awfully quick for someone who claimed she wasn't feeling well.
Giving up and letting Chloe lead him, Michael tried to look out over the crowd one last time to try and find Jeremy, but he was nowhere in sight.