“Oh, crap, I like Brooke,” Jeremy groaned.
“Ooh, Brooke? Well, it’s been about three months since you broke up with Christine, so I think you’re safe to try. That is, you’re safe to get humiliated,” Michael shrugged.
Jeremy fell back on his beanbag, his hair falling in front of his eyes. Michael’s ceiling bothered him. The overall itchiness of his retro bean bags bothered him. His own face bothered him. Sure, he and Brooke made up after the play and she said she harbored no ill feelings towards him, but like…
Did he really want to try again?
Did she really want to try again?
Brooke was still single. He checked Jenna’s page every day and she always posted if people were together or not. Seriously, she knew everything about everyone. Even with people she doesn’t talk to for months at a time! Like, how? It was amazing that she hadn’t exposed Jeremy’s crush on Brooke!
Well, he did just realize it two days ago, but still. It was only a matter of time before she found out. Sure, she probably wouldn’t post it, but she would definitely harass him about it.
“You know what’s crazy? Right now, my only crush is Ryan Reynolds,” Michael said. “Like, in Sophomore year, you were the person who made me realize I was gay, believe it or not.”
“Aw, Michael!” Jeremy sat up and put his hand over his heart. “You had a cwush on wittle ol’ me?”
“Wow, you know… that was meant to help you. But now I see that your self-destructive tendencies has ruined this friendship. I thought you were bae. Turns out you were just fam.” Michael fell back on his beanbag.
“Bruh,” Jeremy cried.
Michael just stuck up the ‘I love you’ hand symbol, thus completing the vine.
“Well, that gives me some self-confidence. Thanks anyway, Michael. It’s three in the fucking morning, though, so I’m done.”
“Why don’t you take her out to Pinkberry or something? You can confess your undying love there!”
“What? I’m not asking Brooke out on a date!”
“Then don’t call it a date.”
Jeremy spluttered and grabbed his covers. “Goodnight.”
Michael rolled his eyes, took off his glasses, shut off the TV, and pulled the covers on. “Whatever.”
Jeremy scoffed. Like Hell he was going to do that. Who did Michael think he was? Brave? Pft. So much for being hashtag besties.
Yeah, that Pinkberry trip wasn’t happening.
“So, Brooke, how are you doing?” Jeremy asked.
“Great!” She beamed. “How did you know I was craving Pinkberry?” She turned up the radio. Brooke really liked country music. Highway don’t care was blasting in her mother’s car and the windows were down, so Jeremy could enjoy the early spring hair moving through his unkempt hair.
Earlier that day, Jeremy impulsively asked Brooke to Pinkberry. He immediately threw his phone and ran to the bathroom to have a mini panic attack. He shaved and realized he looked fourteen instead of seventeen and nearly screamed. He took a shower and washed… thoroughly. Finally, he put on a decent amount of deodorant and Michael tried helping by messing up his hair. Jeremy complained and Michael said it looked better. Jeremy believed he was just screwing with him.
“Do you want to get lunch first? I might be craving Chick Fila,” Brooke’s stomach grumbled. “Ooh, what is it, girl? Sushi? Bubble tea?” She patted her stomach. Jeremy snorted.
“What does your stomach say?” Jeremy asked.
“The souls of the innocent!” Brooke squished her stomach and lowered her voice. “Two bagels!” She said normally. “No!” She smooshed her belly again and pulled her shirt down.
Jeremy was just dying in his seat. Why were girls so amazing? Like honestly, how? Brooke had the softest ass hair, cutest ass personality, funniest ass jokes, and a whole bunch of other good things with ass thrown in there for emphasis.
“yeAh,” Jeremy’s voice cracked. He inwardly screamed and wished for Cthulhu to just end his pitiful existence. Brooke just teased him and Jeremy wanted to run screaming for the hills. At best, he was a little brother to Brooke. He wasn’t manly like Jake, and he didn’t have backbone like Rich. He had slight muscle tone from those push-ups, but he hasn’t done as many recently.
Brooke dated a lot of guys. She liked Jeremy because he seemed real. As it turned out, a Squip possessed him. He apologized by explaining the whole truth, and surprisingly enough, she believed him. Even if she didn’t like him back, she deserved to know.
Jeremy held the door open and she flashed the peace sign. Brooke was wearing a jean jacket that cut off at her chest along with a yellow crop top. She wore skin tight black leggings and converse sneakers and had these medium sized hoop earrings in. She also had her hair up in a messy bun that looked perfect even though he could tell she didn’t put too much thought into it. Oh, God, she was too cute. And sexy. And perfect. And completely out of his league.
Jeremy screamed internally as they walked to the foot court.
“Thanks for taking me out! I’ll pay for my lunch, though. I’m not going to siphon you of your funds, Jerry,” Brooke promised. She liked calling him Jerry. He didn’t think too much of it.
They both decided to get chicken fingers and fries.
“My metabolism is great! I eat greasy shit like a pig and, well, still skinny! It’s great!” Brooke cheered. She practically devoured her meal, and Jeremy couldn’t stare in a mix of awe and fear.
Was it weird that he was also a bit turned on?
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Jeremy said.
Brooke nodded and Jeremy took a fry for the road. No, he wasn’t going to take care of his dick at a freaking public bathroom, he needed to go.
But when he got out, a guy was chatting up Brooke. Jeremy had read enough fanfiction to know where this was going.
“Hey, Brooke. Hey, not Brooke.” Jeremy sat back down.
“Hey, Jerry.” Brooke batted her eyelashes at him. The guy sneered while Brooke pleaded for mercy with her eyes. Jeremy got the message loud and clear.
“Can we help you with something?” He asked.
“I just wanted to get to know you, Brooke,” the guy said. Jeremy was a bit outmatched in the looks department. The guy had curly brown hair, dark skin, and was built like a freaking tree, but he was just kind of a dick. Brooke didn’t date guys for looks. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have dated Jeremy.
“You didn’t even ask for my name. You just walked up and said ‘hey, sexy’ when I didn’t want the compliment.” Brooke crossed her arms.
“It’s a compliment. Why don’t you want compliments?”
“I think you’re pretty sexy, dude,” Jeremy interrupted.
“What the Hell?” He knitted his eyebrows. Brooke just stared at him with a confused look in her eye.
“I’m bi and ready to fly with anyone. I think you look really hot. The t-shirt really shows off your muscles,” Jeremy winked.
“Ugh. People like you-”
“People like us, actually,” Jeremy interrupted again. Whoo, damn, he got that random burst of confidence and he was using it. “Why aren’t you accepting my compliments?”
“Do you not want my compliments?” Jeremy asked innocently. A look of realization flashed across that guy’s face.
“Woah, woah, woah. It’s different with guys. Saying that stuff is gay.”
“And you saying that stuff to Brooke is straight. What’s your point? You gave unwanted compliments. I gave unwanted compliments. It’s the same thing, you hypocrite.” Jeremy pointed for him to go away. “And while I think you can figure this out, you’re not attractive in the slightest.”
The guy fumed for a bit silently and ultimately left without embarrassing himself further.. Brooke just gave him the most impressed look he had ever seen. More impressed than Christine was when she heard him hit C5.
“Holy shit, how did you do that?” Brooke reached out for a high five. He accepted it.
“I stole it from a Tumblr post,” Jeremy stated proudly. Brooke laughed and Jeremy wasn’t joking.
But he laughed, too.
“Well, come on. Let’s go to Pinkberry, already.” Brooke grabbed his hand and took him to the frozen yogurt area. He just followed along with a lovesick look in his eyes. Brooke had really soft and warm hands. They were small in his palm, but he found himself lightly jogging in order to keep up with her enthusiasm.
He was so whipped for Brooke.
Jeremy paid for the yogurt, as agreed. Jeremy got Cake Batter while Brooke got Blueberry. They took their seats again and just idly chattered about school, recent events, and Tom Holland.
“I love nerdy kids. Like, talk black holes and chemistry to me,” Brooke admitted.
“Black holes are made when something gets so dense that it collapses in on itself. If you compressed the earth into a tennis ball, you would form a miniature black hole,” Jeremy started.
Brooke was hanging onto every word.
“Small black holes are actually more dangerous than large ones. It’s more dense in small black holes, so every physical object in the universe will most likely get sucked into one until it just disappears. I think that ‘eating’ enough objects will make it go away, but I have to check that one. Um, two black holes colliding either bounce away from each other or orbit each other until they form a bigger black hole.”
“How do you know all that?” Brooke chuckled stupendously.
“Astronomy class.” Jeremy was actually pretty school smart. It was just that not a lot of people took AP classes with him. He took all APs and was always anxious because of it. Being socially awkward didn’t help.
“You take all APs?”
“I said that out loud?” Jeremy’s face scrunched up. “Oops. I don’t try to brag, but…”
“That’s awesome! I’m in, like, one honors!” Brooke’s jaw dropped.
“Heh, thanks,” Jeremy rubbed the back of his head.
Soon, they finished their ice cream. Jeremy shuffled next to Brooke, his hands deep in his pockets and his eyes trained on the floor, only glancing up when someone was in his way or if a sign caught his attention. He noticed a Chinese woman running through the mall, a forever 21, a conversation about Viagra, and someone and their service dog. He had no idea what Brooke was doing, but if she noticed Jeremy, she would probably see how odd he was acting. Or maybe she wouldn’t think anything of it.
They were approaching her mother’s car. Brooke turned on her heel to face Jeremy. He nearly ran into her after staring at the sky. It was deep blue, and there was a plane in the distance. A white streak followed close behind.
Sometimes, Jeremy just wished he was a star. Staring down at the earth, a blank look on his face. Unfeeling, uncaring, and just shining his light to those who could see it. He wouldn’t think for millions of years until he expanded and expanded and then deflated into a white star. Then, soon afterward, he would burn out and the only thing keeping him alive would be the time it took for his light to reach the earth. And once that went out, no one would notice or miss him. Maybe being a star had some parallels to being a human.
Well, to Michael, Jeremy would be a furry, not a human, but his opinions were invalid.
“Jeremy!” Brooke clapped her hands in front of his face. He snapped back to reality.
“Uh, yeah?” Jeremy shifted his weight to his left foot.
“You spaced out for, like, fifteen seconds!”
Yeah, Jeremy didn’t know how to function anymore. Socially, he would get an F. Those AP classes were the only things that let him be considered ‘smart’, but other than that, he didn’t have much. Michael took only 3 APs with the rest being honors because he wasn’t a ‘psycho furry’ like Jeremy was.
Geez, where would Jeremy be without those AP classes giving him validation? He considered just breaking down and giving up when his mom left, but he talked himself out of it. Jeremy was convinced that his value resided in the fact that he was good at school. He helped others with their homework every so often, and he was more often than not right, so that made him feel better about himself.
It was still just… hard, sometimes.
“Hey, Jeremy,” Brooke said. Uh oh, full name again. Did she figure out his crush? His painfully awkward crush that would never work out?
“Mm?” Jeremy curled his toes multiple times.
“Close your eyes.”
Maybe she wanted to see how ugly he would cry with his eyes closed.
Okay, Jeremy knew that probably wouldn’t happen, but he always left room for those one percents.
Anyway, Brooke’s lips were on his and- wait, what?
Jeremy kissed back. He sorta remembered how to do that. It was pleasant. He felt like an expanding star again.
“Did you know I had a huge crush on you?” Jeremy asked.
“Kinda? I wasn’t sure, so I decided to just… go for it.” Brooke did jazz hands on the last three words. Jeremy laughed.
“I’m really sorry for being a bad boyfriend before,” Jeremy blurted out. “I won’t use you to get someone else or anything awful like that cause you’re just this awesome person and I hope you know that I want to officially date you. Unless you don’t want this to be official-” Jeremy bent his legs and did finger quotes and shook his head left to right. “Or whatever. If you just want this to be casual like friends with benefits or you don’t want to get serious with me because of trust issues like I totally get that, but it’s not what I want and sorry, you look like you’re trying to say something.” Jeremy clamped his mouth shut and shrunk down a bit.
“Jeremy, I forgave you a long time ago. You have nothing to worry about. I want this to be seriously official. Serious and official. Serficial. Whatever.” Brooke patted the top of his chest with both hands. “It’s all good.”
“It’s all good?”
“You’re very attractive.”
Jeremy thought of the fish from that episode where Spongebob went missing. What a load of barnacles… “Thank you.”
“I appreciate that you’re smart,” she added.
Okay, less barnacles. “I’m not good at relationships. Or common sense. Or street smarts. I can write a few math equations and sing! And memorize a lot!” Jeremy let out a bunch of nervous laughs. “Ha, ha, ha, ha-please make me stop-ha, ha, ha, ha.”
Brooke cupped his cheek and kissed him again. Jeremy sighed into the kiss and gingerly put his hands on her waist. She didn’t lurch or pull them away.
“Do you wanna ride back to my place? I know you don’t usually meet parents on the first date, but…” Brooke nodded her head side-to-side.
“Brooke, I might burst into flames if I meet your parents right now.”
Brooke laughed. Jeremy didn’t. She stopped laughing.
“You want to go back to your place then? Would meeting your dad be easier?” She tilted her head and shrugged up a shoulder. Her hair bounced a bit.
“My dad is… not expecting guests.” Jeremy had a hard time explaining his dad didn’t always wear pants in the house. He was better about it, but not perfect.
“Home, then. Each of us. Either way, I had fun. You made this fun. I look forward to next time.” Brooke opened the door for him. Gender roles be damned even though it was just one motion.
“You were fun, too!” Jeremy nodded profusely.
Brooke drove him home in content silence. When she waved him goodbye, his heart pounded and his ears rung.
When he went inside, he jumped on his bed and hummed Stupid With Love under his breath.
Once, he was smart with math and stupid with love. But now, he wanted to get it. Understand how to love right without a supercomputer or anyone else, for that matter, telling him what to do. Of course, he could take suggestions, but his point was clear.
And if anyone wanted to bet it? That he could get it? Then, they could just wait. He he had a good feeling this time.
Maybe this time, Jeremy was going to do something right. He wanted to do right by her. Maybe he couldn’t be as manly as other guys, but that obviously wasn’t what got her attention.
Him just being his normal, anxious self was enough. Maybe, for once, just Jeremy was enough.
He called Michael and Jenna to tell him the news.