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Michael Nae-Naes Up My Life

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Senior year came by, and so did this new boy.

 

Jeremy is whipped because he was pretty. Pretty amazing, pretty smart, pretty cool, and pretty hot like Jeremy’s coffee in the morning. Wait, coffee couldn’t be smart. Shit.

 

His eyes were like two chocolatey circles with black dots in the middle. His hair was short and swoopy and dark as night. He had a sexy tan with flawless skin and everything he did made Jeremy’s heart do two thousand backflips in a nanosecond. He was just such a happy-go-lucky guy in a non-bothersome way. He liked Reggae music and wearing hoodies even in hot weather. People ask him how he handled it. He just said-

 

“It’s always hot in the Philippines. New Jersey has nothing on it.”

 

Jeremy wondered if that was bullshit and if hoodies were just his comfortable clothes. Jeremy lowkey stopped wearing as many cardigans to, hopefully, make himself seem a bit more attractive. Then again 0 x 1.1 was still 0.

 

Anyway, a few more things about Michael was that he had dorky and nerdy working to their full sexy effect with just his glasses, alone. Jeremy knew he was just trying to see, but he had a glasses kink…

 

Uh, fetish…

 

UhHhhh, appreciation! Yeah, appreciation.

 

Also, he really liked video games and he drifted between friend groups. Jeremy never saw Michael at lunch, but he didn’t hide out in bathrooms or anything. He must go out or something.

 

There were only a few problems with Jeremy trying to get his attention.

 

One, Michael has rejected the following people after telling people he was bi without an ounce of fear: Jake Dillinger, Richard Goranski, Chloe Valentine, Brooke Lohst, Whizzer Brown, Elphaba Thropp, Heather Mcnamara, Heather Duke, and Lafayette. The hottest, smartest, funniest, or coolest people in the grade.

 

Now, it could just be that Michael realized that a few of those people asking him out might have just been interested in him just because he was someone new (and hopefully easy to manipulate, depending on the person. Not that Jeremy would ever do that or could ever). Or it could just be that Michael didn’t like anyone at the school.

 

“Jenna, do you know if Michael is dating anyone?” Jeremy asked. She already knew about his crush before Jeremy even knew about his crush. Like, honestly, she was a nightmare sometimes.

 

“His social media is free of partners. Jeremy, I don’t want to be an absolute bitch, but your chances are so astronomically low that you have a higher chance with literally everybody else. Including Christine!” Jenna scoffed. Christine and him broke up last year after the ecstasy situation in the play, but they remained friends. Christine tried dating some boy and surprisingly, a girl from theatre, but both ended quickly.

 

“Honestly, Jeremy? I think you should shoot your shot. Don’t focus on the ninety nine, focus on the one. Pick a number from one to a hundred,” Christine said. “Guess my number.”

 

“Twenty seven,” Jeremy shrugged.

 

“Nope. But you know what you just did? You ticked your chances just a bit higher. Millions of one percents come true every day, and the fact that this one just failed means that it’s simply not the right one,” Christine said. “That means that you have a higher chance of, at least, talking with Michael!”

 

“That makes no s-” Jenna started, but Christine clamped a hand over her mouth.

 

“Thanks anyway, Christine. I think I’ll pine safely from a distance. He doesn’t even know me!” Jeremy scoffed.

 

“Wait, here he comes. He’s going to an empty table!” Jenna realized.

 

“Sup fuckers?” Chloe asked. “Jake got a lunch detention for throwing a pen at Rich.”

 

“Nice, nice,” Jenna nodded. “Where’s Brooke?”

 

“Nurse. Stomachache. Rich went out somewhere. What were you-” Chloe yawned. “Talking about?”

 

“Jeremy was just about to go talk to everyone’s favorite bachelor by himself,” Jenna answered.

 

“Michael Mell? Oh, come on, Jeremy. I love you dearly, but the odds are stacked so hard against you on this one. Hell, asking out Jake would give you better odds!” Chloe snorted.

 

Jeremy face planted onto the lunch table and groaned dejectedly.

 

“Wait, wait, wait!” Christine interrupted. “Jeremy, you’re wearing that Apocalypse of the Damned shirt, right?” She realized.

 

“Oh, Christine, you genius!” Jenna caught on. “On his Twitter, he follows the official page for that game.”

 

Jeremy perked up immediately.

 

“Go talk to your man, geek!” Chloe pushed him along. Jeremy stumbled, but he steadied up. Like a mechanical soldier, he made his way to Michael before anyone else did.

 

Until Madeline got in his way.

 

“Talk to him and I’ll tell him about your crush.”

 

“What? Why?” Jeremy asked. He wasn’t used to talking to people besides his friends, but still. Why was she getting in his way?

 

“I know you’re trying to get his pants with that stupid nerdy game you like,” she said. Jeremy silently cursed.

 

“Can I not talk to him about the game?” Woah, Jeremy, slow down. You might sound like you had a back-bone for a second.

 

The Chloe look-alike (but with dark blonde hair and more fair skin) crossed her arms. “I’m not taking risks with this one.” She put on her fake French accent.

 

Albeit reluctantly, Jeremy went back.

 

“So, how did it go?” Jenna asked. Jeremy looked back in the crowd of people that came in and guessed that he could understand their inability to see the Madeline-shaped interruption.

 

“I ran into an obstacle,” Jeremy said. “One named Madeline Ceres who threatened to tell him my crush.”

 

“Oh, that bitch,” Chloe seethed. Man, Chloe hated Madeline. Like, it was for a good reason, but he had never seen anyone hold so much ire for someone else.

 

“Oh, please. I can out-blackmail anyone. I’m the owner of this bitch we call a school,” Jenna chuckled.

 

Jeremy just wanted to know how their conversation was going. Hopefully, Michael would say no. Please say no. Please God say no.

 

“Oh, tweet from Madeline. ‘Man of the hour will be mine’ she wrote. Winky face, too. I think that’s just a euphemism for his rejection to her advances,” Jenna snorted.

 

“Oh, definitely,” even Christine agreed. Jeremy didn’t really get the subtext, but he let out a relieved sigh.

 

“I think he prefers guys. Or maybe it’s just that fewer guys are comfortable with their sexualites, so he gets less propositions from them?” Jenna’s face crinkled a bit as she went deep into thought.

 

“Jeremy, it’s whatever. Just talk to him when Madeline’s not around, and if he likes you back, her saying you like him will literally be pointless! Perfect plan!” Christine shot her hands up. “Look, Jeremy, I believe in you. Maybe you’ll be his Mr. Right. Just try to be friendly, first of all. Don’t just ask him out on a whim.”

 

“Right. I’ll do that. Tomorrow,” Jeremy rationalized.

 

The three girls groaned.

 

-

 

After school, Jeremy went to Seven-Eleven. He just stared at the floor with a burning intensity as he grabbed a Big Gulp cup and filled it with Coke. He could really use a hit of weed, but he was trying to stop as part of his senior resolution. That didn’t exist. It was really just Christine telling him to stop getting high by himself.

 

He put the cup on the counter and forked out a few dollars. He sighed dejectedly and got the change back.

 

“That’s fifty five cents, right? Well, either way, you did just waste about a dollar,” a familiar voice rang out.

 

Jeremy’s head snapped up. Oh, shit.

 

If Jeremy’s fight-or-flight instincts had a sound, it would be the new challenger approaching sound from Super Smash Bros Brawl.

 

It was Michael freaking Mell, the Filipino bachelor.

 

“What do you mean?” Jeremy gulped.

 

“Who gets a Big Gulp at a Seven Eleven?” He scoffed. Jeremy checked behind him just in case he was holding up the line.

 

“What else is there to get?” Jeremy tilted his head. Michael spluttered and took a cup.

 

“Raspberry slushies, at the very least. You look more like a blueberry slushie appreciator.”

 

“I’ve never had-”

 

“Seriously?” He interrupted. “Okay, this is free of charge. Call it the classmate discount.”

 

“Wh-What? Michael, no. I can pay for it,” Jeremy chuckled. He was really funny and ohmygod Jeremy was actually talking to Michael. He was doing it! With no distractions!

 

“It’s free. Enjoy it and I’ll let your reaction be my payment,” Michael crossed his arms with a cocky smirk on his face. Shit, that gave Jeremy an awkward boner.

 

He moved a bit closer to the counter to hide it. “Alright.”

 

Jeremy took a hesitant sip and found he couldn’t stop himself.

 

“Well?”

 

It was good, but not… that good. “I don’t see why-” instant pain. The kind of brain shattering pain that made Jeremy’s head explode and made him lurch forward. “Oh, son of a bitch!” Jeremy yelled. Everyone turned to stare at him. His face burned bright red.

 

“Heathers, huh? Was that intentional?” Michael said between laughs.

 

“About as intentional as having two of them in our grade,” Jeremy groaned out. “You like musicals ‘n’ shit?”

 

“Not shitty musicals, of course,” Michael answered.

 

“Well, besides the brain pain, it was good,” Jeremy replied sarcastically. “It was fine. I guess I’ll just have to pace myself the next time I order a slushie from here. It might be often if I get the student discount, too.”

 

“Only when I’m in a good mood. You’re quite funny… Jeremy,” Michael tried to rhyme.

 

“Bike is short for Bichael,” Jeremy replied. Michael laughed. Oh man, he was doing it!

 

“I see you have an Apocalypse of the Damned shirt. Now, before we continue this conversation, what’s the name of Level Nine?”

 

“It’s the Cafetorium until you move out into the Courtyard to fight the faceless zombie. Technically, you could avoid the fight with the flamethrower underneath the desk, but do you really want to fight crawlers? Like, I’m not that good,” Jeremy answered.

 

Michael’s face was stunned, to say the least. His face made it seem like Jeremy just dropped his dog into a blender.

 

“At least you didn’t say guess The Zombiepocalypse,” Michael chuckled.

 

“Who said that?”

 

“The Madeline girl in your grade. She approached me while I was trying to cram the math homework I just got so I wouldn’t have to work on it at home,” Michael said.

 

Oh, that bitch. “Sorry about that, I guess. Being new means being popular and crap. How was that worksheet, by the way? I finished it, but I think I wasn’t supposed to get negative thirty seven as my answer for five.”

 

“Why does that seem wrong?” Michael asked.

 

“It was a multiple choice question with only positive numbers.”

 

Michael’s mouth went into an ‘o’ shape and his hair bounced up a little. Jeremy just noticed his green headband. Holy shit, his hair looked really soft, now that Jeremy was looking at it. It reminded Jeremy of Damien’s obsession with the guy who played the Beast at his summer camp.

 

“Excuse me? I’m sorry to interrupt, but…” A girl who looked a bit older than they did interrupted.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Jeremy moved out of the way. “Uh, bye Michael.”

 

“Yeah. Bye Jeremy.”

 

Jeremy went outside and inwardly squealed.

 

“So, thank you math! For bringing me joy!” Jeremy sang to himself. He was really good at AP Calc. “And thank you math, for bringing me this cute boy!”

 

He hummed the entirety of Stupid With Love on his way home. It was such a bop and Jeremy just remembered that he only shared AP Calc with Michael. Well, also History, but that was a pretty big class, too.

 

Wait a second.

 

Brain blast! Jeremy just had a great idea.

 

-

 

“Partner project for today!” Mr. Todd shouted. He was a graying man with short hair, thick glasses, and a thick beard to go along with it. A few people groaned, but Jeremy was ready for this. He had a tight bond with Mr. Todd, and he was his sole teacher confidant.

 

Which was why Jeremy talked to him earlier that morning about his super crush. He shrugged and said that he would see what he could do, but that was good enough for him. He was such a cool teacher, honestly.

 

“Woods and Goodwitch, Heere and Mell-”

 

Internal screaming on Jeremy’s part.

 

“Oh, Jeremy. I didn’t know you were in this class!”

 

If Jeremy was in a video game, he would’ve fallen to the floor and ‘WASTED’ in big red letters would flash over his corpse.

 

But you know what? It was okay. It was a big class, and it was only the sixth day of school.

 

“Yeah, I am. I like math.”

 

“Really? I don’t particularly like it, but it comes easy to me.”

 

“Why’s that?”

 

“Asian parents.”

 

“Ah.”

 

Jeremy didn’t really know how to respond to that.

 

“They’re not the kind of parents that would kick me out over a B, of course,” Michael chuckled. Jeremy laughed, too.

 

“I’m sorry, but now I’m thinking of Crazy Rich Asians. I dunno why that came to mind,” Jeremy said.

 

“I liked that movie. Anyway, we should probably get working.”

 

And for the first time in forever, Jeremy was excited to work. He already liked math, so Michael talking smart to him and using his cute voice to read out a few problems and muttering ideas under his breath was just heaven. Jeremy kept up, of course, and wanted to cry when the period ended.

 

“Hey, we’re the only ones who got it done!” Michael chirped. “I appreciate that you’re smart.”

 

Oh, shit, that just made Jeremy melt into a puddle. He’s so casual and cool with compliments. But like how did he do that? Saying he was smart was honestly the most nice (and truthful! People have called him attractive as a joke. It was really, uh, funny…) thing that anyone cute had ever said to him.

 

“You, too. It was hard keeping up!” Jeremy chuckled.

 

“Do you want to go sit with me at lunch? I don’t think I finished questioning you on Apocalypse of the Damned.”

 

Jeremy started thinking with Plankton’s voice . “Yes. YES. YEEEEEEEEEEESSS!”

 

“Yeah,” Jeremy said calmly. Inwardly, he was screaming so much.

 

He then thought back to Madeline, but Michael looked pretty happy about it. Did that mean Jeremy had a chance? Should he risk it?

 

Wait, better idea.

 

“Um, this is going to sound weird, but Madeline posted something I don’t think you would find comfortable on her Twitter. I would prefer eating out if that’s alright.” Jeremy gave himself a mental high five.

 

“Okay.”

 

Jeremy yeeted internally.

 

“To where, though?”

 

“I wouldn’t mind a stop at that pizza place by Shoprite,” Jeremy said.

 

“I know it. I like it. Let’s go,” Michael said.

 

Jeremy trailed behind Michael with a lovesick in his eyes. The boy had his headphones in and he was silently jamming out to some tunes. Even if they couldn’t be boyfriends, Michael would still be an awesome friend.

 

“And here’s my beaut. She’s Hilda,” Michael did jazz hands next to his PT Cruiser. “Wow…” he said in a whispery voice. “Hilda is so cool!” He pretended to be a different person by stepping into a different position and changing his voice. Jeremy snorted.

 

“Cute name. That’s not a reference to Stella Glow, is it?”

 

“What?”

 

“I meant Legend of Zelda,” Jeremy whistled awkwardly. He was not about to explain that Fire Emblem-esque game, but somehow more anime.

 

“Yeah, it’s a Zelda reference. What is-”

 

“Let’s go eat, okay? Do you play Fire Emblem?”

 

“I have all of them except for Fates. I heard it kinda sucked due to Birthright being too easy and Conquest having shitty characters while Revelations was a clusterfuck.”

 

Jeremy was about to argue that, but then he shrugged. “Birthright was the best of the three, I’ll say that much. Conquest had good maps and everything needed for a good story, but nah. We got yandere tits, jailbait, a magical jagen with the emotional range of a teaspoon, and ruined potential for a bunch of siblings,” Jeremy listed off.

 

“Sounds bad. Reminds me of Juju from Xenoblade.”

 

“Oh, God, Juju.” Jeremy held his head in his hand while his eyes widened considerably. “Worst character in that game. Shitty sibling to the least helpful character.”

 

“Hey, don’t say that. Sharla can be helpful. She doesn’t completely suck,” Michael defended her.

 

“Ow! My rifle’s overheating!” Jeremy put on his best British accent. “I used her in a boss fight and she couldn’t join in on the chain attack while she was using cool down, Michael Mell. I actually wanted to die until Dunban AKA best character came in.”

 

They continued to talk about games ranging from hack-and-slashers like God of War and Devil May Cry to the new Spiderman along with older games like Shovel Knight, Shantae, Kirby Air Ride, Fire Emblem before Path of Radiance, Silent Hill, Mario Party 1, etc…

 

“Jeremy, I think you’re my new best friend.”

 

Now, Jeremy needed the Call of Duty message from Campaign that said ‘Friendly fire will not be tolerated!’ and he would be all good. Friend zone stung.

 

"Thanks, dude. I never met anyone who actually understood most of the games I played,” Jeremy agreed.

 

When they got out of the car, Michael whipped and nae-naed and Jeremy couldn’t stop laughing on his way inside.

 

“What do you want?”

 

Jeremy was barely holding back his laughter. “Pineapple?” He wheezed out.

 

“No!” Michael replied with a laugh of his own. “You ingrate. I take you out to pizza, and this is the thanks I get? I’m going to Baldi’s Basics you.”

 

“No, not Baldi.”

 

“Gotta sweep, sweep, sweep!” Michael cackled.

 

“Michael, no.”

 

They both laughed their way to their seats after they ordered.

 

“Detention for you!”

 

“No more, please, Baldi,” Jeremy begged.

 

“That game used to make me poop my pants,” Michael admitted.

 

The pizza man (said fuck) brought them their pizza and they both thanked him. It was half bacon for Jeremy and half sausage for Michael.

 

“Jakolin mo ako, bacon? Like, I get that it goes good with everything, but doesn’t that give you a stomachache?”

 

“Do people with lactose intolerance care about eating dairy?”

 

Michael bit his lip. “No.”

 

“Exactly. And what did you just say?”

 

“Nothing important.”

 

Jeremy gave him a scrutinizing look while biting into his slice.

 

“Kantutan tayo,” Michael muttered under his breath.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Nothing. We got forty minutes until lunch is over, so eat up, bitch.”

 

“Lick my cunt,” Jeremy said.

 

They continued the banter for the next thirty minutes before getting back in the car.

 

“That was one of the more fun meals I’ve ever had. Thanks for making me laugh while I was swallowing, by the way. I can’t believe you said that!”

 

“What? That I got my dick stuck in the ceiling fan after not following the face mask directions correctly?” Michael shrugged. Jeremy burst into another fit of laughter.

 

“My stupid bi ass would probably somehow get flung outside a window.”

 

“You’re bi, too?” Michael tilted his head.

 

“Uh, yeah. That important?” Jeremy asked. Please say yes.

 

“No, I was just curious.”

 

Fuck. “I see.” The radio kicked on. “Do you listen to anyone that isn’t Bob Marley?”

 

“Brendon Urie.”

 

“I actually hate their band. I’m sorry, but… I just don’t like their music,” Jeremy admitted.

 

“I don’t like you anymore.”

 

“Ha!” Jeremy laughed. “Come on, who else?”

 

“Ed Sheeran?”

 

“He’s fine.”

 

“Camilla Cabello.”

 

“Celebrity crush. Good choice.”

 

“Uh… Avril Lavigne?”

 

“You mean my literal lord and savior?” Jeremy wondered. “He was a skater boy, she said see ya later boy!”

 

“He wasn’t good enough for her!” Michael continued on. Both boys continued laughing on their way back to school.

 

The clouds rolled in, and it lightly drizzled.

 

“Ah, shit,” Jeremy murmured.

 

“I’ll give you a ride, dude. Where do you live?” He asked.

 

“Oh, shit, really? Thanks. I live near the elementary school.”

 

“Jeremy preys on the little children with his furry outfit.”

 

“Excuse me?” Jeremy shouted before clamping his mouth shut.

 

“You did admit to liking Five Nights at Freddy's. That’s a telltale sign.”

 

“Jeremy will remember that.” He tapped on his head.

 

They split up for their next classes and he ran into Christine and Chloe.

 

“Uh, where were you?” Chloe asked. “Bitch, you were going to help with math!”

 

“You’ll forgive me in a hot second,” Jeremy cleared his throat.

 

“Ooh, tea,” Christine grinned.

 

“Michael and I, not on a date, unfortunately, went out for pizza.”

 

They both high fived Jeremy at the same time.

 

“How did that happen?” Chloe was genuinely impressed.

 

“He works at Seven Eleven, and we just… hit it off. Then, in AP Calc-” Chloe’s face scrunched up. “We worked together on a project and he asked me if I wanted pizza and a ride home after school. He knows about every game I talked about with him and I had never been so excited.”

 

“Look at you go, Jeremy!” Christine cheered him on. “I’m so proud. I’m sure everything will work out.”

 

“I hope so. He’s, at the very least, a great friend,” Jeremy whispered.

 

“Class is starting. You can gush later.”

 

Jeremy went through the rest of the day with a skip in his step. Sure, he didn’t have a lot of classes with Michael, but he cherished their interactions. Michael smiled and said hi in the hallway, and every expression of fondness lit a flame inside his body.

 

God, he was whipped.

 

After his Bio class, he got his homework out of his locker and shoved it into his bag. He kicked it shut and went outside to Michael’s PT Cruiser.

 

“Hey!” Michael waved. It wasn’t super enthusiastic, but Jeremy didn’t think too much of it. He might’ve just been tired.

 

“Hi~” Jeremy dragged out the greeting for a bit. He got in the car seat.

 

“You’ll have to, uh, guide me to your house,” Michael said.

 

“Oh, right. Just take the left and then at the end, go right.”

 

Jeremy tried getting a conversation going about Pokemon Platinum, but Michael wasn’t very into it. That was a bit weird. He said that it was his favorite DS game, and he talked animatedly about everything.

 

They were nearing Jeremy’s house. Jeremy then got out and heard Michael’s window roll down.

 

“Um, Jeremy?”

 

“Yeah, what’s up?” Asked the oblivious furry.

 

“Do you like me?”

 

You’re probably wondering how Jeremy ended up in this situation. Basically, Madeline just saw them walking together and was like, “Okay, let’s go over to him and destroy his chances.”

 

At that point in time, however, Jeremy’s brain short-circuited. He was ready to bolt in the opposite direction.

 

“Michael, I… I’m, uh, don’t hate me!” Jeremy ran inside his house.

 

Well, that was an awful message to leave behind. No doubt that Michael will be concerned. Jeremy went through the entire day stressing out and panicking. Each second ticked by and he wanted time to go back. He was going to face Michael the next day, and he was running out of time. Fifteen hours became twelve, and twelve became nine. It was midnight when Jeremy passed out due to exhaustion. He eventually did his homework because he was so anxious, and he tried showering to calm himself down, but nothing worked. Jeremy probably cried for at least an hour, total, and sniffled his way through the rest of that day. His eyes burned, and his face hurt. Badly.

 

He silently apologized to Michael and then spent the entire night berating himself until he stopped thinking and moving.

 

It was only a short reprieve as he woke up at five in the morning and felt absolutely awful. Like, he was actually going to die. His dad wouldn’t appreciate him missing school so soon, and besides, he was going to see Michael in the year.

 

This wasn’t something that could be avoided forever.

 

He got up, took another shower, made himself pancakes, and cried for a few minutes before drinking a lot of water since his head flared up with pain.

 

“Jeremy, you look like ass!” Brooke felt his forehead. “Geez, are you sick?”

 

“No, just morbidly stupid,” Jeremy groaned.

 

Brooke led him to the empty auditorium and made him look her in the eye.

 

“What’s? Wrong?” Brooke demanded.

 

Jeremy babbled on about what happened yesterday. Literally all of it. By the end, Brooke was already holding him in a tight hug where he cried a bit more into the crook of her neck.

 

“He’s going to hic hate me. Like, I have it bad? Also, I didn’t check my phone for what Madeline said about me. I just saw Jenna say something and I shut off my phone and everyone is going to-”

 

“No one is going to do anything,” Brooke promised. She shuffled up their bags and rubbed his back for a bit. “I bet Jenna and Chloe are already handling it. Have been handling it. You think Jenna would just tell you that shit and leave you hanging? She’s not that directly mean.”

 

“Heh. I guess.”

 

“There’s nothing to worry about. Just wait here, I’ll go grab some emergency makeup from my locker because Jeremy, as much as I adore you, you’re a mess.”

 

“It’s okay, I know. Thank you, Brooke. Seriously. You always know what to say and crap.”

 

Brooke flashed the finger guns at him and ran off. Jeremy sat down and took a few deep breaths. Within a few minutes, Brooke was back with a bunch of stuff that Jeremy didn’t recognize in her hands.

 

“Up, up, up! Don’t touch your face, okay?” She demanded. Within ten minutes, she put all her stuff away and took a photo.

 

“Hey, my acne is gone. Thanks,” Jeremy realized.

 

“No problem at all. Come on, I’ll show you it’ll be fine. But I do think you should talk to Michael, first of all. You don’t know how he feels about you.”

 

“I know, but I’m not sure I want to hear him say he doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore. I actually like him as a friend, too. I’ve never laughed so much around anyone else,” Jeremy admitted.

 

“Geez, you got it bad. If he rejects you, I’ll buy you Pinkberry. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably buy you Pinkberry,” Brooke promised.

 

“Okay. Thanks again, Brooke. I’d be lost without you.” He realized his mistake. “Wait, no.”

 

“I’m always here for you,” Brooke said. “Wait, I did it, too.”

 

They both burst into a fit of chuckles. Jeremy turned and nearly ran into Michael.

 

“Oops, I’m going to go. You two talk,” Brooke whistled and ducked out of that situation.

 

“Jeremy, I’m so so-”

 

“Michael, that was dumb of-”

 

They both paused.

 

“You first?” Jeremy murmured.

 

“I shouldn’t have confronted you like that. Especially not from someone as bratty as Madeline.”

 

“It’s okay. I shouldn’t have just ran off like that.”

 

“You shouldn’t have. Then, you wouldn’t have to worry about this,” Michael said. He tilted up Jeremy’s chin and pressed a light kiss to his lips. It lasted for a second, but it felt like it lasted for… three seconds.

 

“Oh, shit, you like me, too?” Jeremy’s jaw dropped a little.

 

“How could I not? You understand everything I’m talking about, and you’re smart and pretty.”

 

“Literally why I like you. I’ve never met anyone so nice yet so funny and not annoying in some way! Wait, that sounds bad. Crap, I’m crap at giving compliments. Might need to work on that,” Jeremy rambled under his breath.

 

“Jeremy, you need to chill out,” Michael cackled. He motioned for Jeremy to come with him.

 

Madeline turned around from her locker and saw Jeremy following Michael.

 

“Uh, Michael? In case you can’t tell by the lovesick puppy eyes, he loves you?” Madeline let out a snort. A few other people started laughing, too.

 

Michael just raised an eyebrow. “Man, I would hope so. Not sure we’re at the love stage yet, but I’d like to get there.” He kissed the top of Jeremy’s head and grabbed his hand. “Sorry to say, but I’m taken.”

 

“Ooooh, shit!” Rich whooped. “You go, Jeremy! Get yourself a man like that, ladies and gents!”

 

Most of the crowd burst into a fit of laughter. Jeremy didn’t like the sudden attention despite it being mostly positive or lightly teasing. He was used to just being a part of the background with his friends taking the spotlight. He was all good with that.

 

But being with someone as conspicuous as Michael drew him out into the open. He found himself being led to his new boyfriend’s locker. Er, wait, was boyfriend the right term? They just admitted their feelings, so would partner be better?

 

“So, do you want to come over later, eat my junk food, and play video games with me?”

 

“Fuck yeah,” Jeremy answered. He consciously shuffled closer to Michael and the taller man took the hint. He put an arm around Jeremy’s shoulders and he found himself enjoying the touch.

 

“Buy him Pinkberry,” Brooke whispered in Michael's ear.

 

“What?” Michael looked back and then at Jeremy.

 

“Oh, Brooke told me she would buy me Pinkberry if you rejected me,” Jeremy answered.

 

“Oh, what? Should’ve told me. I would’ve accepted your feelings after school. I don’t want to pay for no sticking frozen yogurt,” Michael scowled. “Slushies are the best.”

 

“I got that from our first interaction.” Jeremy squeezed Michael’s palm. His hands were big. And soft. And warm. It was so cheesy, but he felt safe around Michael. He felt like he was in the eye of Michael’s indomitable hurricane of calm and chill.

 

“You ready for History?” Michael asked. Jeremy nodded. He may not have had a lot of classes with Michael, but he cherished the time he had with him.

 

“You want to sit next to me?” Jeremy suggested awkwardly.

 

“Don’t infect me with your furry germs, though. I can’t be getting sick-” Jeremy smacked Michael’s arm.

 

“Yeah, nevermind. I’ll just sit by myself.” Jeremy really didn’t want to.

 

“Yeah, sure. You got that look in your eye. Don’t worry, I’ll tolerate the disease just for you, Jere,” Michael whispered in his ear. Jeremy resisted the urge to shiver. Goddamnit, Michael could say mayonnaise and send Jeremy to cloud nine.

 

“Thanks for your sacrifice,” Jeremy coughed out. Michael smirked at him and sauntered to the seat next to him. The teacher announced a partner project and Michael wiggled his eyebrows at Jeremy. The ladder couldn’t help but snort.

 

If there was one thing that Madeline got right, it was that Jeremy loved Michael.

 

And he wasn’t afraid of feeling so strongly for him. Not anymore.