Rich had a problem with fireworks.
Well, he didn't always have an issue with them, as he loved them as a kid, but while he grew older and older, anxiety began to set in with uneasiness. The fireworks were too loud for him and irritated him, and some others bugged him a lot.
When he burnt down Jake's house, that only intensified this.
Rich could handle watching fireworks from the television with his parents. He loved doing that, so it should have been obvious that he still had a love for fireworks somewhere in his heart. His parents saw this, and suggested getting earplugs so he didn't have to cover his ears every time he heard a firework go off.
But Rich refused to believe that. He didn't think he could hate fireworks in any way. He despised the idea itself.
He was stubborn enough to the point where he decided to go with his friends to watch fireworks for some crazy event he couldn't be bothered to remember.
It was hell. Every time a firework set off it made him flinch like crazy, the sound being way too fucking loud.
Jake, Brooke, Christine, Jeremy, and Michael didn't notice at first. They were happily watching the show, and in their defense, Rich was being very quiet.
But then he was covering his ears and pinching the insides to mute the sound, and everyone gathered around him, worried as hell, not knowing what to do or how to help.
They just left early. Rich thought he was burdening them for that, despite the fact that they insisted he wasn't. He still didn't believe them, though. He remembers going home from the sleepover they were going to have, and cried himself to sleep, feeling incredibly guilty about everything that went down.
So, he was a bit worried when his boyfriend asked him to watch fireworks with him on the Fourth of July.
Rich wasn't exactly big on the holiday, because it wasn't the perfect nation everyone held it up to be, and had a dumb president who's racist, homophobic, and a self centered millionaire who doesn't want to spend a dime on his wall.
It also was an excuse to sell things that were all American. Flags, t shirts with the flag on it, bandanas, or other things. Mostly though, it was an excuse to go over the top with fireworks.
But back to the topic at hand, Rich was scared to go to fireworks. He would've told Jared about it, if he didn't think he was being a burden again. He didn't want to put anyone through that a second time. Rich could just repress his feelings, right?
Well, that didn't help as he was pacing anxiously in his empty house, waiting for Jared to pick him up. Why had he agreed to go? Why couldn't he just tell Jared about his fears like a normal person? He was so stupid-
Rich was pulled out of his thoughts when the doorbell rang, and he hurried to open it.
Jared was standing outside, wearing a dorky t-shirt, jean shorts, and had his purple jacket tied around his waist. "Hey, you ready to go?" He asked with a smile.
Rich tried his best to give him a genuine smile. "Y-Yeah. Let's go."
Together, they got into Jared's Toyota and drove to Ellison, where the fireworks were going off at. Rich tried to stay calm, and allowed himself to get sucked into the random pop music that was playing on the radio.
Once they were parked, Jared took out a blanket (he packed chairs just in case), two sandwiches in ziplock baggies, and two water bottles, and Rich definitely helped him out.
As Jared set out the blanket, Rich sprayed himself in bug spray, and helped Jared apply some when he was done.
"I bet you this is exactly where Evan and Connor had their first date," Jared grinned, sitting down on the blanket.
"It'd be suiting. Evan loves nature, and Connor is passionate about protecting the environment," Rich nodded, rubbing his arms slightly over his still visible burn marks.
"Oh! Before I forget," Jared pulled out a tiny pull-string black bag, and opened it up, revealing a set of earplugs.
Rich blushed, "Oh um, I-I don't need those.."
"Your friends warned me that you have trouble with how loud the fireworks are, so I got these just in case," Jared explained. "I want us both to have a good time, and if this helps, so be it."
Rich hesitantly took it. "It isn't silly, right?"
Jared shook his head. "Anyone who says otherwise is a dick."
Rich smiled, putting the earplugs, and watched as Jared took out a small box of torpedoes, and shook them at him as a silent offer (Rich used to love torpedoes).
After using the entire box of torpedoes, they looked up and watched the sky fill with light.