Jake wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing with himself. He just knew that at some point during his walk, he had found himself heading towards the now familiar street where one Michael Mell lived. He was thankful that after last year’s disaster of a play he had remained friends with Jeremy and that Michael had been integrated into the group as well, because he was exactly the kind of person who was always a hundred percent supportive. Always warm and ready to listen to any problem and soothe when need be. And that was exactly what he needed right now. Rich was always bright and ready to help, throwing out his cheesy jokes when things became too serious, but what Jake needed was soft, quiet, understanding right now. All he could was hope that Rich wouldn’t be too upset with him later.
Ringing the doorbell, he waits for a response which doesn’t take as long as he thought it would, when the door is pulled open it doesn’t take long for him to realize why. “Oh. Hi, Jake. Michael’s in his basement! I can bring you guys down some hot chocolate in a bit if you want?” It was Michael’s mom, his Mamá if Jake remembered right, giving him a reassuring look and he could only assume that she could see how broken he currently felt. Managing up a weak smile, Jake nods and thanks her softly and makes his way down the steps he had become so used to in the last few months.
“Hey, Michael...” He starts off, glad to see that Jeremy wasn’t over for one of their never ending gaming sessions. The darker skinned boy glanced up from his game with a grin, pausing it as he turns to really look at Jake, scrutinizing him just a bit.
“You are sitting your ass down on that bed right now and we are talking.about this.” He says without another thought, pushing himself out of his beanbag chair to seat himself beside the jock.
“I was just on a walk and I started thinking and suddenly everything just spiralled out of control and suddenly I just couldn’t handle it anymore...” Jake divulges without needing to be asked. “I’m sorry for just coming by.”
“Hey, no worries, man. Do you wanna talk about it? Because I know I said we were going to, but we don’t have to. We can just watch some stupid movies, or blow up some zombies, or do our nails or something. If getting your mind off of it would help.” Michael brings up his hand to lightly rub it across the taller boy’s back as he shakes his head.
“No, I… I think I wanna talk.” Jake says, going quiet for a moment before looking up at Michael and continuing. “I guess I just started thinking about life, about how I should have noticed how much Rich was struggling, how much he wasn’t okay. And I didn’t. What kind of friend doesn’t know when you’re going through so much that you get to that point? He shouldn’t have forgiven me, but he did. He let me become his friend all over again. He gave me another chance. And I don’t deserve that chance, but he gave it to me anyways. I started thinking about how great he is. He’s so nice and sweet and just… good. He’s so good, you know? I don’t deserve such a great friend, not after everything. But he’s still there. Just like always. And I just… Can’t handle the thought that I might actually love him. Because why should I tell him? He deserves so much more than-” He had begun babbling, speaking so quickly that his words were barely distinguishable from each other when he’s cut off.
“Woah, woah! I get that I shouldn’t be stopping you right now because you gotta rant, get this all off your chest, but. Woah! Since when have you realized that you love that little ball of dorkiness?” Michael practically screeches, turning towards him to look at the other male, placing his hands on broad shoulders.
“I just found out,” Jake says, eyes glued to his lap as he speaks softly, slowly, almost unsure of himself.
“Okay. Next question: Since when the fuck are you into dudes, bro?” Michael asks, voice becoming softer as he realizes how loud he had been with his first interruption.
“Oh. I’m pansexual. I thought everyone knew that..?” Jake blinks, a bit confused. He had thought he had told the squad. Apparently not.
“You’ve never said anything, though?”
“Oh. I’m pan.”
“Thanks for letting me know. Okay. Continue.”
“I just… don’t know what I should do… Should I tell him?” Jake says as Michael’s hand settles onto his back again.
“I think you should. That boy has been pining for you since the day he realized he was bi.” Jake nods, allowing Michael to continue being his source of comfort as they end up moving on to gaming going through about half of Michael’s snack stash after they drank the hot chocolate that Mrs. Mell brought down that had helped to calm Jake even further as the warmth filled his stomach and spread through his body.
It was a week later when Jake Dillinger walked into the cafetoria holding hands with his best friend (now boyfriend), Richard Goranski. They walked to their usual table, smiling just a bit brighter than usual, cheeks lightly pink as they slid into their usual seats beside each other, no one even noticing the newest couple until- “You finally got the guts to tell him about your big gay crush. Huh, Jake?” Michael teases, grin wide as he notices their intertwined hands.
“Wait! What?” Most of their group nearly screeches. Everyone begins talking at once, asking Jake and Rich too many questions all at once for any to be answered. The taller of the two being interrogated glares over at Michael who simply shrugs and grins at him.
Once everyone was calm enough to actually hear what Jake had to say, he began to answer a few of those questions that had been fired at him. “I’m pan. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything earlier, I should have, but I wanted Rich to be the first I told, you know, aside from Michael. He just found out this morning when I asked him out. Anything else?” He asks, looking around at the group who all shook their heads, Jenna already tapping furiously at her phone as everyone settled into one of their usual lunchtime conversations, something about whether or not a makeup brush could be used as a weapon.
Jake hadn’t noticed how stifled, how heavy he felt until that moment when everything just felt so light and happy, his hand still wrapped around Rich’s, his arm around the smaller boy’s waist. The freckled boy was nearly sitting in the taller boy’s lap, his head resting on one of Jake’s broad shoulders as he laughed at something Brooke had said in retaliation to Jeremy’s argument that (“No, of course they aren’t viable weapons, you guys. I mean, what good would a glorified paintbrush do against a zombie?”). Jake leans in to press a light kiss to Rich’s temple with a grin on his face, that smile widening as his boyfriend’s face flushes a lovely pink in his embarrassment, but he doesn’t say anything or push him away. Jake couldn’t think of a better way to spend his time than with this ridiculous group of people that had bonded together over what everyone else at this school thought was a bad ecstasy trip.