“Michael,” Rich screeched, his body veering directly to the left so he’d collide with the tall gay. “Watch where you’re goin’! You almothst ran into me!”
Michael did not seem to care as he continued to walk through the school parking lot. He was starting to regret carrying Rich to school with him and Jeremy. Although Jeremy’d run off as soon as they had arrived, Rich stuck around. Michael wasn’t sure if he was okay with that.
”Don’t call me that.”
”Ugh. Michael, hey! What lunch period do you have? Becauthse I have fourth.”
After a moment of consideration, Michael murmured a small ‘same’ in response before adding that Jeremy did too. Rich’s eyes lit up.
”Jake thaid fourth, too!” Rich tackled Michael with a hug. Literally tackled. Michael let out a small ‘oof’ as he crashed onto the ground. “God, we can have tho much fun!”
Somewhere nearby, someone scoffed and let out a soft ‘gay, much?’ before there was a nice laugh following, as well as someone commenting ‘babe we’re dating’. Presumably two girls, if Michael was judging correctly.
Ugh. Embarrassment flooded through Michael as his face turned red, parts of it showing up more apparent due to the limited pigment splotched across his face. Ah, vitiligo. He stood, brushing himself off, and nudged Rich forward.
”Breakfast, then? Unless we end up being late since someone-”
”Jenna,” Rich shouted, his attention switching from Michael to the teen just a few feet away. She froze, her eyes flicking up from her phone before a smile spread across her face. She waved at Rich briefly before going back to walking. “Underapprethiated, that one.” He turned back to Michael.
He wasn’t there. In his excited stupor, Michael had managed to sneak off from Rich. Luckily, Michael was hopping along to his music, Rich assumed Bob Marley, and hadn’t moved much farther than fifteen feet.
Dashing to catch up, Rich’s sneakers hit the asphalt in a calming ‘thud’ each time his foot hit the ground. Michael let out a shriek as Rich looped their arms together, a fellow classmate glaring at them as they passed.
”Jesus,” Michael muttered, slipping his headphones onto his neck, “a little warning?”
”Not my fault you jam out all the time.” Rich shrugged. He put his free hand on Michael’s bicep. “And, anyway, you were leaving me! I had to get to you. To the cafeteria!”
Michael tried to ignore the tugging feeling in his chest as he opened the door to the senior section (which he felt was pointless), holding it open for Rich, who pulled him in and towards the back.
Only three of their friends where at their normal table. Jake, Jeremy, and Brooke. Rich couldn’t forget the huge smile on Jake’s face as Jeremy chattered on about whatever - perhaps a new game? - and he only wished that Jeremy wasn’t so... dumb. Oblivious? That was it.
Michael sat next to Jeremy, a seat against the wall, and Rich sat in front of him, next to Jake.
Jeremy’s eyes lit up when he saw Michael. He immediately leaned into the formerly bright red hoodie, and Rich noticed the way Jake’s face fell just enough for him to not look as upbeat. “I was wondering when you’d get in here!”
”Rich kept trying to talk to me. How do people deal with it?”
Rich, placing a hand on his hip, stuck out his tongue. “You juthst can’t handle the Real Rich!”
Brooke raised an eyebrow as she glanced at Rich from the ends of her hair. “I thought it was ‘The Real Rich Goranski’,” she teased.
”... Not anymore!”
Michael rolled his eyes. He put his head on top of Jeremy’s head, sighing softly. “Jere, please stop using so much fucking hairspray, are you trying to suffocate me?”
Jeremy scoffed. “... I don’t tell you to inhale my hair every day! Seriously, Michael, that’s.. really gay.”
”As it should be! I mean, a gay kid with his.. two pansexual friends, one bisexual friend and boyfriend, and two moms? Pretty goddamn gay.”
Rich shifted closer to Jake subconsciously in an effort to become warmer, only to be met with the cold metal of a wheelchair. Rich’s mortal enemy, as his cousin’s teased once.
Jake glanced up as Jenna squeezed into a seat right against a wall, a soft frown etched onto her face.
“Hi, guys. Guess who got grounded for ‘offending’ their dad by being themselves. Hint, it’s me.” Jenna spoke in a voice that almost none of them had heard from her. Quiet. Too quiet. Rich recognized the feeling way too well, but none of the others seemed to care much. Excluding Jake, but Jake cared about basically all of their friends.
Brooke waved a hand in response, only becoming more expressive once Chloe had sat down next to her. Everyone faded into their own conversations except for Rich, Jenna, and Jake.
Rich wished he was back in the fire. No, actually. He wished he was in the basement with Michael, hugging him and just generally being... okay.
Jake wished his parents were around. God, did he wish that. Maybe then he wouldn’t be so obsessed with keeping everyone around him out of trouble and not hurt. He wished he’d talked to Rich before he’d set the fire. He wished that Jeremy would notice him and actually acknowledge the flirting.
Jenna? Oh, Jenna. She wished that people would listen to her. She wished that she hadn’t spent so much of her prior years gossiping and spreading rumors. She wished that people would actually bother to accept and include her, and she wished that her dad wouldn’t overreact everytime she visited! Maybe soon people would regret everything. Maybe.