Jeremy wasn’t quite sure how he made it to Michael Mell’s house.
He remembered being invited over to Rich’s for beer pong. He remembered that Jake had been invited too and that he thought it would be just the three of them. When he got to Rich’s house, however, he found out that the whole school was invited. Rich had tipsily greeted Jeremy at the door with a huge glass of beer. There was music that Sober Jeremy thought was too loud in the background, the bass pumping, people dancing. Rich wrapped an arm around Jeremy as he went deeper into the house, looking for his headphoned safety net.
“Michael wasn’t feeling up for the party,” Jake had said, noticing Jeremy’s watchful look. When Jeremy started a new search, Rich sighed.
“Christine knows you were invited. She even brought a date!” Rich said as a means to relax Jeremy. It made Jeremy feel something release in his chest but he was still anxious. There hadn’t been any big parties since the one at Jake’s… Everyone wanted to make sure that the SQUIPs were gone for sure. The SQUIP’d people had to go to the hospital every week just to be sure. The ones who had it longer- so Jeremy and Rich- and the ones who had bad stuff happen due to the SQUIPs taking over were (forced) encouraged to go to therapy. Jeremy was diagnosed with Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by his therapist; he and Rich sometimes did group therapy. Most of the people did not feel the after effects.
And his friends knew. Jeremy broke up with Christine because of this. He didn’t want her to be with someone so broken. He realized that Christine was more affected by his symptoms because she was also SQUIP’d. She probably didn’t want someone so easily influenced by a tiny white pill. And oh god the pills. Jeremy knew he should be taking his medication but he was so anxious that one day his medication will turn out to be a SQUIP… Jeremy couldn’t even think about it without feeling anxious. To control the thoughts and compulsions he turned to the one thing he knew would lower his anxiety AND the SQUIP couldn’t control him: alcohol. Know, Jeremy didn’t drink everyday. He knew that would be bad. Only on days that were really bad. So he couldn’t have been an alcoholic, right? He didn’t want Christine to have to deal with that. In case he drank too much.
Rich led the skinny boy over to one of the many beer pong tables. Christine was there, alongside Chloe, Brooke and Jenna. B and C were having an intense game. Christine greeted Jeremy with a hug. She introduced him to some guy that Jeremy recognized from his English class. One of the few guys that did not get a SQUIP. Jenna was, as always, taking videos for Snapchat and Instagram, holding a cooler close to her lips. Christine was staying sober.
“Heere, over here!” Rich called.
After a few drinks, Jeremy was feeling more relaxed. He allowed himself to slouch, his muscles relaxing. He stopped constantly thinking about what others thought. He stopped thinking about how much he missed Michael.
A few months after he and Christine broke up, Jeremy had accidentally, drunkenly, confessed his feelings to Michael while having a tiny get together with the friend group. Michael and he had had their first kiss two weeks later when Jeremy was completely sober. So, about a week before this party. Jeremy was still getting used calling Michael is boyfriend. But as the night went on, a few beer pong games later and Jeremy was standing on a table with Rich and Jake, yelling over the music how much he loved Michael with Jake and Rich kissing on the other side. He was met with drunken cheers.
In his stupor, he thought more and more about Mell. How much he had hurt the man he loves. How he had him blocked out from his vision. How even after all that, Michael still wanted to be friends with him. Hell, wanted to date him. How Michael is the reason he was able to stay sober every day. Michael had gotten Mental Health first aid for him. He helped Rich out too; but he used it on Jeremy the most. Mr. Heere was unsure how to help Jeremy; he tried, he really did, but he had Michael on speed dial for when the nightmares acted up.
Jeremy sat on a comfy couch thinking all these things. All his thoughts lead to Michael. All of them to how much of a burden he was. How he hadn’t apologized enough.
Jeremy remembers going to the bar for booze that Rich was supplying. He got three shots of tequila. Downed them all; a terrible idea, really. It burned his throat and made him cough a bunch. Jeremy didn’t care, he had done worse to himself. More permanent things.
He soon found himself lying on the floor while Christine stroked his hair out of his face. Her hand was warm but compared to Jeremy’s face was cold. Rich, who had been a lot more responsible with his drinking and spaced it out over the night so far, was there too. Christine was talking.
“....god Rich, he’s burning up. Who found him like this?”
“Jake had gone to get some towels and found Jeremy in my parent’s room. He was holding himself up with the railing and then just collapsed. He was responding to his name with mumbles and head nods. But he blacked out when Jake came over, hence the recovery position-”
Jeremy realized that’s exactly how he was laying. The cardigan Michael had gave him was super soft and made a nice pillow.
“-and he got someone to come get me. Which is when I got you since you are the most sober of our friend group.”
Why were they friends with them? He just ruined their lives. He brought down the apocalypse to his friends. In his video games he typically fought the enemy but in real life that is what he had become. Hence the permanent marks on him. The lines currently covered up by his cardigan and jeans.
“What should we do, Christine?”
Jeremy heard her voice, asking him to respond. A tight squeeze to the arm. A hand on his back and then… knuckles along his sternum. That definitely did not feel good.
“C-m-is-eeeeen… Stoooooooooop” Jeremy moaned quietly. He opened his eyes slowly. Rich was right in front of him. He had a sweater on over his muscle shirt now. His face visibly relaxed at the sight of Jeremy’s eyes opening.
“His eyes are open.” Rich said at Christine. He heard her let out a breath of relief.
“Hey Jeremy, how are you feeling?” Rich said at him. Jeremy felt in control of his body. He had alcohol in him; he didn’t have to worry about the SQUIP. Jeremy suddenly felt an uncomfortable feeling in his abdomen.
“Bathroom,” he managed to say clearly with a high amount of focus. He could feel his muscles working. Rich and Jake helped him up and took him to the bathroom, leaving him in there by himself but telling him they will be outside. Jeremy did NOT want to need their help with such a task as using the bathroom. For some reason, peeing helped him feel at least a little better. Enough time had passed that he was sobering up a little. How long had he been out for? He figured his body was still cleansing himself of the alcohol. He had drank a lot and it would take some time for it to be filtered out of his system.
He exited the bathroom, needing Jake and Rich to help keep him upright. They took him over to Rich’s room, in case he threw up. Rich did not want that in his parents room. He plopped on the bed. Sweat was starting to form on his forehead. Christine felt his face with the back of her hand. Just like Michael did when Jeremy came down from an anxiety attack.
“Oh god, he is boiling.”
“It’s probably that freaking cardigan he has for skin.” Jake commented.
Oh no. His cardigan was what kept people from worrying about him. It was his armor. People knew how bad he was doing. He was allowed to go to school, but he was on academic leniency; the teachers had to go easy on him. He was allowed as many absent days as needed, as long as he did homework. People were worried about him and it made Jeremy feel like a burden. People took not of him now because of the SQUIP. Because he was fucked up. But no one knew the half of it. No one knew what the not-normal treatment was doing to him. He felt like he was more of a freak than ever. Sure, his friends kept telling him it isn’t his fault but it WAS. There were so many things Jeremy could have done, could have said. But Jeremy found a suitable punishment and escape. It wasn’t a healthy one, but it was better than alcoholism or drugs. He didn’t want people to know about them. Jeremy wasn’t ready to have that conversation yet. Especially not when he was this badly drunk. Besides, he wanted Michael to be the first to know; he deserved to be the first to know.
“Jeremy, we are going to take off your cardigan, okay?” Christine told him.
“N-n-no…” Jeremy croaked. “I-i-i-i-i’m cold.”
He knew it was a bad excuse but he couldn’t think of another one. He was actually burning.
“Jeremy Heere, we know that isn’t true,” Christine sighed.
“Man, he’s so bad,” Jake said, trying to sound amused but all that came out was concern. As if trying to lighten up the situation a bit. Jake was all rigid, standing in the doorway with his arms crossed. He was trying to shove down the concern from his face but it was obvious that he was barely keeping it together.
Christine started to take off Jeremy’s cardigan. Jeremy backed away from her. Well, rolled away and then off of the bed. He let out a whimper of pain. Rich helped him back up.
“Please…” he whispered.
“Jeremy, for your safety we need to take it off. You will get heat stroke; why did you wear your thickest cardigan? You have like, so many other ones to choose from and you chose the thickest one,” Christine rambled a bit. He hugged it to himself, muttering the name of someone he associated red with. “That’s sweet but we need to take it off. We promise that once it is off, we will see if Michael will come.”
Jeremy, even this drunk, knew that was a farce. Michael did not like these parties; the one where bingeing was the norm and people were getting dangerous with their consumption. Michael wouldn’t come. Maybe if he went outside, into the cold, it would cool down his body temperature. It was a great idea! He could then look for Michael. He totally knew the way to the Mell’s house. Jeremy bolted up as fast as he could. He stumbled out of the room like a newborn deer, fumbled down the stairs and ran out into the night. He figured the backyard would be a good start. There was a path; could it have lead to Michael’s?
Rich didn’t even have time to grab Jere. For someone that wasted, he was fast. Rich figured his tallness factored into his aerodynamic ability. Jeremy was out the door and out of sight before three teens all got down the stairs. Christine and Rich swore, Rich’s word being a bit more intense. They split up and searched around the house. Jeremy luckily wasn’t at beer pong again. He wasn’t at the bar. The DJ hadn’t seen him. Chloe and Brooke hadn’t seen him. They were cuddling on the couch near the music, coolers in hand and a pack on the ground. Rich checked with the people in the kitchen. He wondered where Jenna was. She was taking videos and blog posting earlier. Rich had the great idea of check her story. Rich cringed at the video of him and Jake kissing while standing next to a yelling Jeremy. Sure enough, Jenna had a snap with some trees, captioned “Getting sick suckz”. After asking around to where she went, Jenna apparently had gone to throw up along the path in the woods; not a drunk vomit, but she ate something that hadn’t agreed with the alcohol in the stomach.
Jeremy heard the sound of someone else out there. It was dark and there were a lot of trees, bushes, and unearthed roots. Jeremy followed the noise until he saw the outline of a human in the distance. Someone else was along the path. Maybe it was Michael? He started yelling.
His throat burned.
“MICHAEL???? I LOVE YOU! I’M SORRY FOR ALL THE SHITTY THINGS I DID”
Soon the drunk boy was crying. Sobbing, actually. He heard some noise up ahead; an opening in the path. He ran towards it. The tree line was near a ditch, which was near pavement.
A car whizzed past Jeremy. He was sad Michael wasn’t there. Why would he be though? Why would Michael want to date him? Was he just a pity case? A charity? He was such a burden, having to be looked after. All he was to his peers was a broken loser who gave a lot of people trauma. Someone who didn’t deserve to get the easy version of high school. He was a waste of space. And the people he called friends were the ones he hurt the most by just living. He was never going to be the same again; he can’t heal from this. He just wanted the pain to stop. He wanted Michael’s pain to stop.
“MICHAEL, I’M SORRY” He yelled. He started towards the road.
Two hands pulled him back. Jeremy stumbled down the pathway and someone, a female voice, apologized for being rough before asking why the hell he did that. He recognized the voice. Jeremy asked where Michael was and she brought him back into the woods. Another girl was there, the smell of bile faintly in the air. He was forced into a sitting position on a rock. He quite liked this rock, it was very comfy. Jeremy started yelling again but he didn’t move from the rock.
They had searched everywhere but Jeremy was nowhere to be seen. People were too drunk or high or both to remember anything. The group met up in Rich’s bedroom. Just as Rich was done going over the places he checked, Christine’s phone made a loud DING noise. She showed the two boys.
JENNA: Check snapchat
Christine immediately did. She opened Jenna’s story and found a video of Jeremy yelling out his boyfriend’s name on the side of a road. Then him doing the same while sitting on a rock. Rich said he knew exactly where they were. Christine grabbed her new boyfriend, who was her designated driver in case she chose to drink, and they drove to meet up with Jenna. They decided that bringing Jeremy to Michael would be the best option.
The group pulled over to the side of the road, near where the path in the woods let out. They couldn’t hear anymore yelling. Rich lead them, not exactly being able to walk straight, to a clearing off of the path. Sure enough, Jenna was there with Jeremy. The poor boy was damp now, his temperature at a dangerous high. Rich told the group to go wait in the car; he wanted to try to get Jeremy to take off his cardigan and get him to the car by himself. Worst comes to worst, he figured, Rich and Jake would carry Jere to the car after forcibly removing his clothes. Rich giggled at his wording because he was still buzzed.
“Jeremy, here are your options”
Rich had a hand on Jeremy’s face. He was speaking in a gentle yet firm tone that made Jeremy almost want to comply. He had stopped yelling due to his throat being sore and he felt less energetic than earlier. The cold air had cooled him down but not enough.
“Either you choose to take off your cardigan or I take it off for you. Don’t think that I don’t know how to take clothes off while trying to pin someone down… Ooo bad wording. When Jake and I did that, Jake was cool with…. Anyway, I’ll do it.”
Jeremy started to cry. It was stressful for him. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. He wanted to be in control of telling someone, and that someone being Michael.
“I don’t understand, why are you getting all upset Tall Ass?” Rich said lightly, his voice full of concern and genuine curiosity. He was trying to be good cop now, lightening his tone. Jeremy regained his composure. He mustered everything he could from inside of himself.
“Before I do, you need to know some things,” Jeremy slurred. Rich was very interested.
Jeremy took a shaky deep breath. He was going to do it.
“First, Michael doesn’t know. He would never fully understand. Second, part of what are going to see is from the SQUIP. A lot of it is because of the SQUIP. Third… please be, uh, gentle...”
Rich looked at him and Jeremy couldn’t read his face. Jeremy took all of his drunk courage. He brought a hand up to his shoulder. Picked up the fabric. Didn’t move it. He had enough physical strength to do it but apparently not enough guts.
“Rich?” He squeaked. “I-i-i-i-i can’t…”
Rich asked Jeremy if he wanted him to do it. Jeremy nodded. Rich quickly took off the cardigan, threw it slightly far away, then gasped when he saw the lines running up the skinny boy’s upper arm. Some fresh and red, others faded and white. Jeremy was already crying but he started sobbing. Rich’s big tough bravado melted away and he brought Jeremy into a hug; tight, firm and safel hug.
“Please… I don’t want the others to know… Not until I tell Michael.”
“Jeremy… I know why you do this to yourself…”
Jeremy was confused and felt his shirt dampening with a cold water. Rich parted and stood up. Jeremy had a weird feeling; it only grew stronger when he saw Rich undoing his pants. He paused before shooting them down his legs.
“Only Jake knows because he is the only one that’s…. Been down there…”
Rich stood there in his briefs. Red lines like a zebra littered his thighs. Jeremy was speechless.
“I-i’m sorry Rich-” Jeremy started but was cut off by Rich. Jeremy noticed the short guy was crying now.
“YOU’RE sorry??” Rich exclaimed, exasperated “Jeremy, I am the one who should be apologizing. I made your life a living hell before the SQUIP and then made it worse by telling you about it! I caused everything.”
Rich pointed to a series of deep scars. He pointed to one.
“Jake,” he went along the line of them. “You. Christine. Chloe. Brooke. Jenna. Mom. Dad. Everyone else. You. Everyone I caused pain to; a punishment for that. The rest are to get me out of anxiety attacks and nightmares. I caused ALL of this Jeremy. I understand why you would do the same. I understand that you drink to forget but until then it is a walk down emotional lane. And we have both been trying our best to shove down our pain. Sometimes, it gets too much and we try to do stupid, permanent things…”
It was Jeremy’s turn to console Rich. He liked his rock and didn’t want to move from it so he got Rich to come to him. They hugged in the woods.
Jeremy hoped no one decided to take a stroll in the woods. Imagine the rumors that would have spread; Rich in his underwear drunk in the woods, sitting within Jeremy’s embrace. Also they would see the marks on both boys.
Rich seemed to calm down after a minute of hugging. He wiped his eyes, his usual demeanor starting to seep back.
“My sweater is lighter than yours. I’ll give it to you to wear and make up some excuse, okay?”
Jeremy just nodded. Rich put his pants back on and gave his sweater to Jeremy. The cool air had brought him down a bit. Jeremy bunched up his cardigan and held it close with one arm, used the other to attempt to stand up. He hadn’t gotten very far when he felt arms wrap around him and picked the boy up.
“You just focus on breathing and staying awake, okay?” Rich said. Despite his height he was strong.
Jeremy cuddled into the familiar feeling of being held. He felt so vulnerable and didn’t know how to get the feeling away.
“Oh, and Jeremy?” the skinny boy nodded. “If you ever need to talk to someone… Please don’t hesitate. I know we have done group therapy, but like… A psychologist didn’t get belittled, shocked, and taken over for months.”
When they got to the car, Jeremy felt himself being passed to someone else. Jake. They spoke about Jere’s new attire to which Rich told them he tried convincing the wasted boy to take off the cardigan but to no ado because Jeremy felt cold. Rich offered to trade with him and Jere agreed. Jake rocked Jeremy in a way that Michael did when he had a nightmare. Which, to Jeremy, was a good way to describe how this night was going. The thought that Jake had probably done this for Rich many times crossed his mind.
“So now that he is all good,” the driver said, “can we go back to the party?”
The look Christine gave could have killed.
“Are you SERIOUS?!”
The guy looked blankly at her.
“Uh, yeah? He is fine now, not freaking out and not wanting to go see Michael.” The guy from English started to drive once Rich was in. Jeremy stretched out across the laps of the back seat, using the cardigan as a pillow. Rich was stroking his head. Jenna was on her phone, Jake and Rich whispering. Soon Christine was driving, leaving her now ex-boyfriend at the party.
So THAT’S how he got here.
Rich was a few steps behind Jeremy on the porch of the Mell residence. Jeremy remembered clearly now how they got there and was a little ashamed. He was sobering up; he could actually carry on a conversation now. It’s good, he thought, that’s what he needs to do. Have a conversation with Michael. The love of his life, the guy he has disappointed many times. Would Michael be disappointed now? Would he see how broken Jeremy is and want nothing to do with him?
The door swung open to reveal the man himself. He was in his pajamas and had his typical headphones on. He looked from Jeremy to Rich with a knowing gleam in his eye and smirked.
“Having fun at the party?”
Jeremy didn’t say a word. He wanted to hug him. He wanted to kiss him. He wanted to do things he saw on a certain type of film he watched earlier. Mostly, he wanted to apologize to him.
“Your boyfriend got wasted and was crying your name.” Rich said. Jeremy felt a blush coming onto his cheeks.
Michael tried to hide a laugh. “I know, I saw Jenna’s snap story.” He looked at his boyfriend and asked if he could hug him. Jeremy nodded, not too sure what all was on Jenna’s snap story. He didn’t recall Jenna’s camera pointing at him. Michael brought him in for a firm hug. He smelled divine. It made Jeremy get a little high; not because it was drugs or anything but he just loved the smell of Michael. It was familiar. Safe. Home. As they embraced each other, Jeremy felt Michael’s lips against his ear. A kiss was placed softly on Jeremy’s cheek. Michael, almost inaudibly, whispered into his ear to ask if he was okay. Jeremy whispered back a small “No” and Michael knew they needed alone time.
“God, Jeremy you are really burning up. And is that the cardigan I gave you? Whose sweater are you wearing?”
“That,” Rich said “would be mine”.
“I will see that it is returned to you. If you don’t mind, I’m going to draw up a cold bath for my boyfriend and take care of him.”
Rich nodded and left for the car. Michael whisked Jeremy into the house. He got him to sit down on his bed upstairs.
“Want to talk about it?” Michael asked; he went to the bathroom and started filling the tub. Jeremy was dreading this conversation. He started off with the party, explaining most of what happened. He left out the part where he tried to walk into the in-coming car and Rich’s secret. Michael listened actively. By the time Jeremy was done, the bath was filled. He stood up a bit too fast and fell over. Michael assisted him with standing back up and Jeremy came to the horrifying conclusion of what Michael was probably going to suggest.
“I know with the whole thing that happened with Chloe you might be uncomfortable with this but… I may need to help you take your clothes off. If you want to wear your briefs you can because we are definitely not at THAT level in our relationship.”
Taking off his clothes meant Michael not just seeing, but also FEELING the scars.
“Michael, I have to tell you something.”
Michael sat down in front of him. He probably noticed the hitch in his voice. The quiver of his lips, the red in his eyes. His hands shaking.
“I have, um…. Been dealing with everything. Some ways are good, like the mandatory therapy, and our little hang out dates, and therapy with Rich. Trying to get back into the swing of things. But other things have not been healthy… and I’ve been meaning to tell you. Rich found out tonight when we were in the woods….”
Just say it! Goddamnit just tell him! You stupid, pathetic excuse for a human. Look at you, not being able to tell your best friend! Jeremy felt the anxiety come but he couldn’t stop it in time. Michael immediately went to work and grabbed the Mountain Dew Red. Jeremy chugged the whole bottle and it calmed him down. At this point, Jeremy couldn’t tell the difference between his intrusive or anxious thoughts or if the SQUIP had returned. The red holy drink was a calming mechanism; whether it was delusional thoughts, anxiety, or nightmares, it helped him get back to normal. Well, his new normal.
“Take your time, okay Jere?” Michael calmly said. “You have been through a lot and you have trauma. You have also been drinking and are overheating in that sweater.”
“I’m sorry Michael…” Jeremy sputtered. The drunken boy tried taking off the sweater but couldn’t find the courage. He sunk to the floor, crying. Michael joined him, asking him what he wanted.
“Take the sweater off of me, I can’t explain things until you see…”
Michael scooted closer and carefully removed the sweater. Michael had only seen Jeremy’s body when they went swimming but Mell had never taken off Jeremy’s clothes. Michael’s gasp broke Jeremy’s heart; Jeremy’s skin broke Michael’s heart. It was a while before either boy said anything. Michael just stared. Jeremy didn’t make eye contact and cried.
“How long?” Michael croaked.
“Huh?” Jere asked.
“When did… this start?”
Jeremy had to think about it. It was before he broke up with Christine and after he started therapy. He explained to Michael that he doesn’t know the date but it was when he was supposed to start on the medication. He thought it was a SQUIP. His dad had to pin him down while Christine administered the anxiety medication. Jeremy felt ashamed and a little high after consuming it, he went upstairs after lying to Christine about his well being and made the first cut. After that it was addicting. It was an escape; a Mountain Dew Red substitute when he was alone. It was a feeling Jeremy liked; he felt in control of the pain and before today it was only causing him pain.
Michael pulled Jeremy into a hug, being gentle.
“I want you to get to the point where you feel like you deserve better, because you do. You don’t need punishment, your memories are punishment enough. The anxiety and PTSD on top of that? You have to be one of the strongest people I know to carry around this burden with you. I’m glad you told me about this and I understand why you have been wearing cardigans in this weather.”
Jeremy could just nod. He didn’t want to talk because everything that came out was just sadness. Michael gave him a peck on the head.
“Are you still wanting that bath?” Jeremy nodded. “Can you take your pants off by yourself?”
Jeremy shook his head, the waterworks starting up again. Michael waited for Jeremy to initiate it; he laid down on the floor. Michael undid the button and brought it down gently, a gasp escaping and a sob when he saw Jeremy’s thigh scars. Jeremy was shaking from the memory of Chloe on him. Michael returned to take off Jeremy’s top. It was easy in practice but as a concept was emotional. Michael helped him up, walked over to the bathtub, gently set Jeremy in. Michael took off his shirt. Jeremy looked at him confused.
“What are you doing?”
“Well,” Michael said, his voice shaking. “I figure that you are being very vulnerable right now. I feel comfortable enough to do this too.”
Michael chuckled a little; Jeremy gave him another confused look.
“When you love somebody you take your pants off.”
That made Jere chuckle.
He helped Jeremy clean his skin. Jeremy felt his body temperature go down. It soon went down to a level where Jeremy was now cold. He started shivering. Michael assisted in picking Jeremy up and getting him out. They dried Jeremy’s body off and Michael gave him fresh clothes to borrow. Jeremy was feeling stronger physically and therefore could walk. Michael lead him over to Michael’s room. Jeremy asked if Michael could just hold him and Michael did that.
“What did I do to deserve someone like you?” Jeremy slurred, drunk on alcohol, lack of sleep, and love.
“You just were Jeremy.”
They stayed there for so long that both boys fell asleep.
Michael was the first one to wake up. He was tired emotionally and physically but for reason his body wanted him awake. The sky outside was dark; Michael looked at the clock beside his bed and saw that it was four in the morning. He had gotten an hour of sleep He saw Jeremy next to him, fast asleep. Which was good because Jeremy hadn’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in months without taking medication. Michael stared down at his beautiful boyfriend. He hated what Jere was doing to himself but understood that he shouldn’t treat Jeremy any different. It was just an action caused by a deeper problem. To help Jeremy not do this, he had to help him with the underlying issue and give him some healthy coping mechanisms.
Michael did want to help in some way. He figured he wasn’t getting back to sleep for a while. The cuts were only on Jeremy’s upper arms and inner thighs. Michael carefully climbed off the bed as to not disturb the sleeping beauty. He went into the bathroom closet and grabbed E-cream, a healing ointment, and a cotton swab. He started applying them to Jeremy’s arms. The boy didn’t wake up, didn’t stir. He was motionless. Michael kept checking to see if his chest was rising and falling, he was laying so still. Michael had a sad heart while doing his task. He hated seeing Jeremy so hurt, in so much pain. Jeremy did drink but it was never this bad; he had never binged before. He typically got drunk to the point of being really cuddly and affectionate. Michael wrapped Jeremy’s arm so that the cream would stay on. When he was close to finishing, Michael saw the sleeping boy stir. Michael put away the supplies and Jeremy woke up when Michael had returned. He climbed in next to his boyfriend.
“Go back to sleep Jere,” Michael said. “It’s been only an hour.”
Jeremy rolled over to face Michael, a goofy grin across his face. He wrapped his arms around Michael, pulled him close, so close that Michael could feel every body part on his boyfriend (some more… Prominent than usual).
“Michael Mell I love you so fucking much.” Jere whispered. He brought his lips to Michael’s cheek. The boy’s face matched the sweater he typically wore.
“I love you too Jere,” Michael replied.
Jeremy seemed to have regained some strength; he grabbed Michael and flipped over so that Jeremy was on the bottom and Michael had no choice but to straddle him. Michael’s face redden. Jeremy brought his boyfriend’s face down to his and started kissing him. The little pecks soon turned into making out. Which turned into Jeremy’ hands exploring Michael’s chest, Jere’s neck kisses sending chills down the other boy’s body. Suddenly Michael yanked himself away, sat up, and wiped his hands slowly down his face.
“Jeremy, you are intoxicated still. You are not in a good decision-making mindset and doing this would be taking advantage of you.”
Michael was cool with kissing Jeremy when drunk when his boyfriend initiated it. But anything more was definitely not right. Jeremy pulled him down again; Michael’s arms gave in and he practically fell on the boy. Jeremy held him there, one hand pulling on the hem of his shirt.
“Please? I want this Michael, I want you.”
Michael did something he rarely did because he knows how much Jeremy hated it. He tickled Jeremy. The boy wailed in surprise and laughter. Michael took this opening to get off; both because Jeremy set him free, and Michael knew how Jere typically reacted to tickling. Jeremy started kicking. Water formed in his eyes. Michael kept tickling him until Jeremy was screaming for him to stop. Heere was panting, lying beside Mell, exhausted.
“If you want me this much when you are sober, then maybe.” Michael stated. He knew Drunk Jere would respect his boundaries. It took a while to get his breathing back to normal but once it was, Jere asked Michael if the two of them could cuddle. Michael wrapped his arms around Jeremy, being careful of the wounds that were on his arms. Jere turned to face Michael and nuzzled into him. Michael planted a kiss to the top of Jere’s forehead. Soon the two were fast asleep.
Jeremy was the first to wake up this time. It was not immediate; his head hurt, making it the world swim. He had a feral craving for water and despite this had to pee really bad. His muscles were all screaming when he moved. There was a light coming in through the window, blinding him. He couldn’t feel anything other than these sensations. It took a while but Jeremy was finally able to feel stuff. First thing he felt was an arm around him, a body pressed against him. He relaxed a little after sniffing the culprit, the familiar scent of yesterday’s smoke and a faint yet overpowering cologne on him. Jere realized he himself smelled like he had a bath last night… But he didn’t remember it. At least not at first.
When he sat up he realized he was at Michael’s. His moms weren’t home, thankfully. Jeremy’s memory came back like a tsunami. The events at Rich’s. Showing Rich his scars. Rich stripping and showing Jeremy his own. Coming to Michael’s. Telling Michael.
Oh my god, he actually told Michael. He had been wanting to do that since he started but it made him feel wrong. Like an alien. Broken. Pitiful. A Pitiful Child. Charity case. He feared Michael wouldn’t want anything to do with him. That he would be known as that emo cutter kid. That people at school would add to the gossip and whispers as he passed down the halls. Or that he would get hospitalized. He did NOT want that again. But Michael had done the exact opposite. Jeremy knew that Michael didn’t like it at all, but he knew that Jeremy was not just going to stop. The goal was to reduce the behavior by addressing the problem. Michael had certainly reduced the amount on his arm.
Jeremy noticed that he had a bandage on. He took it off, recalling Michael put cream on him while he slept. He then tried to have sex with Michael. Which was not ok. Jeremy, from the thought of forcing himself onto his boyfriend and from last night’s activities, ran to the bathroom and threw up. It tasted disgusting. In his heaving he heard Michael calling his name.
“Jeremy? Are you okay?”
A few seconds later, Jeremy was being cuddled, his back rubbed, by his superhero in a red sweater. Jeremy coughed up the last of it. He wiped and washed his face, his body shaking and tears running down his face. Michael assisted him in getting out of the bathroom after clean up; Jere’s body was too weak. They went downstairs and Michael plopped his boyfriend on the couch. He brought over a glass of water and then heated up some leftover noodles for his lunch. It was that time of day after all.
The water was like an area in a drought getting rain. It was amazing. He drank the whole glass, sighing in content after finishing. He felt increasingly better.
“Michael?” He called. His boyfriend rounded the corner, a nood being slurped.
Jeremy couldn’t make eye contact with Michael. He was so ashamed of his actions from the previous night.
“I’m… REALLY sorry for last night. I got a little carried away and I tried doing stuff with you that totally wasn’t okay. I am sorry, I am so sorry…” Jeremy bit back a sob.
“It’s okay jere, I have already forgiven you.” Michael said. He walked over and planted a kiss on the hungover boy’s forehead. Michael strutted into the kitchen.
“Now, you need something yummy in your tummy.”
Michael settled for leftover noodles to give his his boyfriend. He figured Jeremy hadn’t eaten since yesterday before the party and noodles was the easiest thing right now. After adding some parmesan to the microwaved goodness in a bowl, he brought the meal out to the living room. Michael plopped down on the couch and noticed Jeremy looked like he’d seen a ghost.
“Jeremy, are you okay?”
The brown haired boy didn’t talk; he simply held up his phone for the Filipino to see. Michael read a text from Jenna.
JENNA: Look at my snap story! 700 viewers!
Michael tried not to chuckle. He had seen all of the content from the safety of his room before Jeremy was delivered to him. His top three of Jeremy were him on top of the table yelling for Michael while Jake and Rich made out. His second being Jeremy laying on the couch, his head on Rich’s lap while Christine tried to get him to drink water, all while Jeremy was telling Jenna how much he loved Michael.
“I just love him, ya know?” he brought a hand up to his hair “And his soft soft haaaair,” his hand floated down to his lips, “And his gentle kisses…” Jere hugged Rich’s leg “And the way he supports me.. Like a leg! Or a table! Michael’s a table!”
The third being when Jeremy was in the forest with Jenna, apparently looking for him, calling for him.
“Looks like you’re famous,” Michael chuckled at the memory.
“Oh god….” Jeremy said, his voice flat, “What’s monday going to be like?”