The day was bright and sunny, but Michael’s mood didn’t match the weather in the slightest.
“Chris,” he said irritably, or at least as irritable as someone could when talking to the cinnamon roll otherwise known as Christine Canigula, “I am not pining. I am bigger than that. I am not just someone who likes their best friend. I am my own person.”
Christine sighed. This conversation was not the first of its kind, and even her boundless energy was wearing thin.
“Michael. When Jeremy passed you in the hallway today and patted your hair, you blushed and stood in the hallway for at least thirty seconds.”
Michael blushed. Had he stared at Jeremy for that long? He hadn’t even realized. Just then, he spotted Jeremy, who in turn spotted him, gave him a big smile, and started walking in his direction. Was Michael’s face red now? It better not be.
Turning to Michael with a weary smile, Chris mused, “I’ll leave you to it.” She evidently regained some of her energy along the way, because she started skipping to her next class. Michael felt bad. His complaining probably sucked away her energy. But it wasn't like he could complain to his best friend...
Jeremy had reached him about this time, greeting him with their signature handshake: clap, clap, foot tap. They both knew it was nerdy, and people quietly chuckled at them as they passed by. Although, after the Squip incident and the subsequent formation of what became known as the ‘Squip Squad’, people tended to bother them a lot less. Maybe it was a side effect of hanging out with popular kids. Who knew.
“What’s up, my bro, my buddy, my pal?” Jeremy gave him a relaxed smile. That was good. They both had anxiety, but they had always been completely at ease around each other. Michael smiled back, trying to disperse his melancholy cheer.
“Dude. That was not a smile. You literally just bared your teeth at me. What’s wrong?”
“Ah, nothing,” Michael internally grimaced. “I just have a shit load of work to do, that’s all.” Michael was lying through his teeth, and Jeremy, best friend of more than a decade, saw right through it.
Jeremy swung his arm around his shoulder, and Michael tried not to lean into it. God, he really was a slut for physical contact when he was sad.
His problem, Michael thought to himself, was not his crush. (Not a crush, his mind helpfully supplied. Thanks, brain.) Well, maybe it was a little bit. But his actual problem was that he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) do anything about it.
Jeremy was fine with him being gay, obviously. Michael had practically come out of the womb spewing rainbows and the stereotypical gay sass. No, what Michael was worried about was that his best friend would realize that he was unequivocally, irrevocably in love with him. And then promptly reject him.
Which is what would happen if he told Jeremy how he felt.
Jeremy was talking, and Michael felt bad for not listening. What a friend. He quickly tuned back in, relieved to hear that Jeremy was prattling idly.
“--- and Jake told Rich that if he won the bet, he’d give him fifty bucks and take him to the fast food joint of his choice! Crazy right?” He chuckled, obviously amused by their friends’ behavior.
Michael smiled at him, and faked a believable laugh. “Totally.” They were headed to lunch, which meant that all the freshmen were returning from their lunch, and in turn created a monstrous tidal waves of five foot tall, hyperactive monsters.
Jeremy’s arm was still slung around his shoulder, and Michael didn’t want him to remove it. Physical touch from his best friend always improved his bad mood.
However, this made a precarious situation and both of their eyes widened as they realized this at precisely the same time. And then Jeremy, being the klutz that he usually was, tripped. On a freshman. Taking Michael down with him.
He yelped as he went down. He yelped again, quieter, when he realized where he had ended up.
Jeremy had landed flat on his back, and somehow through the magical powers of physics (Michael should have payed attention in class, damn it), Michael had landed on top of him. The hallway quieted significantly as the freshman realized her mistake and hurriedly walked away, and the crowd resumed their surge to their next classes.
Jeremy met his eyes, and suddenly Michael realized how close their faces were. Jeremy’s face turned red, and he was sure his did too. They stared at each other, and for the first time since the Squip the awkwardness between them was palpable enough to cut with a knife. At least it wasn’t sexual tension-- and with that helpful thought, a loud laugh rang through the hallway, wrenching Michael’s mind out the gutter.
Rich and Jake were standing there, laughing so much that Jake had to lean against the locker to keep from falling.
“Oh my- oh, my GAWD,” Rich laughed, and then snorted, sending Jake helplessly laughing again. “Your faces! Oh my god!” He elbowed Brooke (when had she gotten there?), who yelped from the pain but also managed to whisper, “Priceless!” through her giggles.
Somehow the rest of the group had arrived as well. Michael, who was still considerably dazed from his fall, realized that he had lost his glasses. A flash from the camera blinded both of them further, and Michael intuitively knew two thing.
One: Jenna Rolan, the school gossip but also their friend, had taken a picture of them in a compromising(ish) position. Two: there was no way that this wouldn’t have repercussions from the inevitable post on social media.
Jeremy groaned under him, and Michael quickly flopped off of him and to the floor next to Jeremy. His butt hurt .
“Are you--” a giggle, “guys okay?” A feminine voice, but Michael didn't know who. Time to find his glasses. He started pawing out for them, stopping when they were placed in his open hand. His palm meet cool, thin fingers. Jeremy.
Michael put them on, and fought of the split second of disorientation that comes with putting on high prescription glasses (god God, he really was blind). After a moment, he had his bearings. Jeremy had sat up before he did, averting his eyes and rubbing his hip. Michael could understand the lack of eye contact. He had fallen on top of Jeremy, after all.
The Squad had gotten closer, making a circle around them. They all were unsuccessfully holding back laughs, but at least the were blocking other students’ view of them. What an embarrassment. Michael stood up and held out a hand to Jeremy, who took it and hauled himself up as well. They looked at each other. A beat.
Then they both started laughing and couldn't stop. Michael snorted and Jeremy giggled (giggled!) helplessly. Out of breath, they leaned against the other.
“Well,” Jeremy said, breathless, “At least now the school has evidence to back up the theory of our torrid romance.”
Michael choked. Then he exploded in laughter. “We should have had our backpacks on,” he gasped. “We really needed the power of boyf riends.”
The rest of the group, who had been doing their best at repressing their laughter, exploded again. Since Jeremy's and Michael's sudden rise in popularity, they had become the school’s fictional power couple. This might have been because of their friendship that had lasted an eon and a half. Or, more likely, it was because both of them were very touchy-feely with each other- probably caused by the said eon of friendship. In public, Jeremy seemed cool with it, while Michael was more uncomfortable, but when it was just the two of them, their roles were switched.
As the Squip Squad made their way to lunch, Michael tuned back into the conversation, and the rest of the day passed in an uneventful blur.