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Dear Succulent

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Michael was, for a lack of a better word, fucked. Now, you might be thinking, ‘Oh, it can't be that bad…’ and you're right. It really isn't that bad if you look at it through someone else’s eyes, but right now you're supposed to be looking through Michael Lens™. So strap yourselves in, get ready for a wild ride.

 

Michael is unapologetically gay . He is a homosexual and he is loud and proud about it. He never had any problem discussing or joking about this with Jeremy until recently. Because not long ago he discovered feelings for said best friend. As in, definitely not your typical best friend feelings. As in, gay feelings.

 

Now, Michael was quite aware that he wanted to kiss Jeremy for a long time. He knew that normally people didn't think about kissing their best friends. He had been very well aware of his crush on his best friend. What he hadn't realized was just how deep his feelings for Jeremy ran.

 

Michael was slapped across the face by his feelings one Friday night in his basement. He and Jeremy had been playing Smash Bros and one round, Jeremy had totally annihilated him. Michael groaned as his friend whooped loudly, jiggling a little from his place in the beanbag as some kind of victory dance. Michael looked at him, about to say something about going easy on him but the words got stuck in his throat. Jeremy looked so unbelievably cute. No, beautiful. His face was a bit flushed and he was laughing, making his eyes crinkle and his nose to scrunch up. His shoulders shook with laughter and all Michael could think was, ‘Wow, I love Jeremiah Heere.’

 

Now, 2 hours later, Michael laid on his back, staring at the ceiling of his bedroom. His thoughts were clashing with constant screaming in the background. Twice, Jeremy had asked him if he was alright after his great big revelation. Both times he was able to play it off, easily falling back into their normal routine and pushing those new thoughts aside for later. Now it was later and those thoughts came with a vengeance.

 

Michael groaned and buried his face in his pillow. He lifted his head and rested it on his hands as he assessed the situation. He was in love with his best friend. His best friend who was straight. That…

 

That was it.

 

He groaned and buried his face in his pillow once again. This was going to be painful.

 

 

 

***

 

The next day they were invited over to Brooke’s house for a barbecue. It was a small thing, only their friend group was invited: Jake, Rich, Christine, Jenna, Chloe, Brooke (of course), Jeremy and him.

 

After the Squip incident, Jeremy and Michael had been sort of absorbed into the friend group. At first, Michael had been wary. These were the same people that had teased and bothered them incessantly for almost 2 years, but once he realized that they had really truly accepted them into their group, he relaxed a bit more. It also helped that one day they all decided to apologize to Jeremy and him, individually.

 

Now, Saturday at noon, Michael and Jeremy stood in front of Brooke’s house- No, Mansion, with their mouths hanging open slightly.

 

Michael leaned closer to Jeremy, “Did you know her place would be this fancy?” He asked.

 

Jeremy shook his head silently and they both stood there, admiring the grand house.

 

About a minute or two later Chloe came outside to get them, both stumbling after her as she pulled them in. Inside, the house was even more impressive. It was sleek, clean and fancy. But they didn't get to appreciate the inside of the house much because Chloe quickly pulled them outside. The smell of food punched Michael’s nose, in a good way.

 

“I found them,” Chloe announced, once they were outside, “They were out front gawking at the house.”

 

Michael and Jeremy both sputtered indignantly. Rich nodded solemnly, “Same.”

 

With that, they quickly melted back into chatter, the food being served a little later. They all sat at some picnic tables, talking and laughing. The conversations went normally, or at least that's what he thought, until Jeremy left with Brooke to find a bathroom. They all quieted down and looked at each other then looked at him. Chloe looked at Michael dead in the eyes.

 

“You're eye-fucking Jeremy more than usual.”

 

Michael choked.

 

Christine, bless her soul, cleared her throat, “What Chloe meant was that today you looked at Jeremy with more... fondness than usual… Did something happen?”

 

Michael flushed and looked away, “N-no… Nothing happened…” He risked a glance at them and when he looked they all had the same look of ‘That’s utter bullshit’ written all over their faces . He sighed, “Well, not that he knows of…”

 

Jenna stood up suddenly, “OH MY GOD! Do you kiss him in his sleep?!”

 

Michael choked again and coughed a couple of times, “What ? No!” He took a breath, “I just…” he mumbled something.

 

Everyone instinctively leaned closer, “What was that?” Christine asked.

 

Michael mumbled again looking at the table.

 

What?”

 

He mumbled once again.

 

What is it, Michael?” Chloe asked, getting impatient.

 

I realized I was in love with Jeremy, alright!” Michael exclaimed suddenly, making everyone sit back. He winced at his volume and flushed red.

 

There was a pregnant pause where everyone just stared at him in silence then suddenly everything exploded to chaos. Christine squealed and fell off her seat, Jake slapped him in the back, saying something about how it was about time, Rich just snickered and punched his shoulder. Jenna was desperately trying to get her phone back from Chloe who was lecturing her about privacy. Michael frantically tried to calm them all down.

 

Eventually, they all did calm down (even though Jenna didn't get her phone back) and Michael let out a breath. Chloe leaned forward and rested her chin on her hands, “So, how did you make this discovery?” she asked.

 

Michael shushed her, “Guys shut up! What if he comes back?!” he hissed. They gave him a look, “He can’t know about this.” They still didn’t seem especially inclined to relent, “At least until I completely figure this out? Please? ” They all seemed to pause, considering this.

 

Finally, Chloe sighed and rolled her eyes, “Well, I told Brooke to take him to the farthest bathroom so we had enough time to grill you.” Michael suddenly felt a twinge of sympathy for his friend. She continued, “But if you want to feel safer, we could use a code word for him…”

 

Twink !” Rich suggested loudly.

 

Michael shook his head, “I already tease him with that. He’ll know.”

 

They lapsed into silence, thinking of a word to use for Jeremy. After a minute of silence, a small voice piped up.

 

“Succulent?” Christine suggested.

 

They all looked at her with looks of confusion and amusement. Christine pointed at the centerpieces in a glass table a few feet away. There were a couple of succulents there. Small ones, tall ones, green ones, colorful ones.

 

After a few seconds of silence Michael spoke up, “Well… at least he won’t suspect a thing?”

 

“That sounds stupid,” Jenna pointed out.

 

“You got anything better?” challenged Chloe. Jenna pressed her lips together and didn't say anything.

 

“So it's settled. From now on, Michael’s love interest is now called Succulent,” Christine announced. She turned to him, “Now go ahead, tell us how you discovered your forbidden love for our dear succulent?”

 

Michael rolled his eyes but his lips twitched up in a smile. He sighed and started when he first realized he wanted to kiss dear Succulent.

 

 

 

Turns out, gushing about Jeremy did Michael some good, and by the time Jeremy and Brooke came back, he felt refreshed and a bit flustered.

 

 

***

 

After coming back from the ridiculously long bathroom trip, Jeremy came back to a surprising sight. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but it wasn’t Michael talking and waving his hands around wildly, clearly animatedly talking about something. Jeremy supposed he was talking about some video game, but when he got closer it was clear he wasn’t talking about a video game.

 

“-’s so cute! God, I love J-” Jake elbowed him, “M-my dear succulent?” Michael looked up at him and Jeremy raised an eyebrow, “H-hey Jeremy! Have fun on your bathroom tour?” He smiled nervously.

 

“You got a succulent?” Jeremy asked, confused.

 

Michael cleared his throat and looked away, “...No.”

 

“Then why’d y-” Jeremy started, but was interrupted by Chloe standing up suddenly.

 

“I promised to convince Brooke to give him one of her succulents,” she stated loudly. Brooke made an indignant sound but Chloe shot her a look that shut her up quickly.

 

“O...kay?” Jeremy was still extremely confused and now a little suspicious, “When did you start liking succulents, Michael?”

 

Michael shrugged and laughed a bit, albeit sounding a little shaky, “I guess I’ll fall in love when I see the right one?”

 

Jeremy thought his answer was a little weird, but he didn’t press any further, choosing to shrug and just sit on the bench next to Rich, who had taken his spot beside Michael. They resumed their friendly chatter, but it felt different. Like they all knew something he and Brooke didn’t. Jeremy frowned but brushed it off, he’d ask Michael about it later. At about 5 o’clock, Brooke whisked Michael away to choose a succulent.

 

Michael couldn’t believe Chloe had actually gotten Brooke to give him a succulent, even though she had a lot, she seemed quite irritated when Chloe had implied she’d have to give him one.

 

“So, tell me what I missed,” Brooke said as soon as they were out of earshot. Ah, that’s why.

 

Michael was about to protest, but Brooke shot him a look that shut him up immediately. He sighed, giving up, and told her what he told everyone else.

 

“...And now Jeremy’s codeword is…My dear… succulent... And, yeah,” He finished lamely.

 

Brooke stared at him for a second before squealing loudly. Michael scrambled to cover her mouth because, while they were far enough that they couldn’t be heard while talking normally, they weren’t nearly far enough that Brooke’s loud squeal wouldn’t be noticed. Michael looked back at the group and waved awkwardly, one hand still covering Brooke’s mouth. He then quickly pushed a bouncing Brooke farther into the garden.

 

“That was so cute ! Now I’m definitely giving you a succulent. Chloe was right I- Oh my god are you blushing?!”

 

Michael shushed her, “Sh-shut up…”

 

Brooke giggled, “C’mon, let’s go find you a succulent.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him to a small path between the hedges━ Jesus Christ, she was rich ━ and towards a small greenhouse a little farther away. She opened the door and let him in, the air was a little warmer and more humid in there, but he barely paid that any mind. The greenhouse was filled with succulents and only succulents. If he thought she had a lot when all he’d seen were a few stray ones on a picnic table, he was incorrect. This was… overwhelming, to say the least. He looked back at Brooke, who was looking at him in amusement. He cleared his throat and closed his mouth. She snorted and gestured, “Go ahead, choose.”

 

Michael walked around for a while, idly looking at a couple of colorful ones, until a plant near the entrance caught his eye. He approached it. It was about 3 feet tall, it had thick rounded leaves at the bottom and a long stem that stood up with a few droopy bell flowers at the top. Michael smiled a little, it kind of reminded him of Jeremy. Tall, skinny and kind of droopy.

“So this is the one?” Michael yelped and jumped when Brooke appeared beside him, “Interesting choice…”

 

God, don’t sneak up on me like that.” Michael clutched the front of his shirt.

 

“It’s called Cotyledon Pig’s ear,” she continued as if she didn’t hear him, “It’s a little big, do you have space?” Michael nodded, “About how much space?”

 

Michael shrugged, “Not as much as you do, obviously, but… enough?”

 

Brooke narrowed her eyes at him, “I don’t trust your judgment.” She paused then nodded, as if coming to a decision, “I’m going to your house tomorrow to check it out. I’ll bring it with me tomorrow and then I can show you how to properly take care of it.”

 

Michael blinked, “Okay..?”

 

Brooke clapped her hands together, “Great! Let’s go back to announce the good news to everyone!” Michael blinked, slightly put off with her boundless excitement, as Brooke skipped off to the exit. She stopped right at the exit, “The adoption of the new member of the Mell-Heere household!” Michael spluttered and scrambled after a laughing Brooke.

 

***

 

Jeremy was happily talking with everyone when Brooke came back, running and laughing, with an out of breath and slightly flustered Michael running after her. Jeremy noticed they didn’t seem to be carrying any succulents.

 

“Guys! Mi-” Brooke started but was cut off by Michael’s hand over her mouth. She seemed annoyed and Michael leaned over and whispered something to her. She frowned for a second then blushed and nodded frantically. Michael removed his hand from over her mouth. If Jeremy didn’t know Michael was gay, he’d think something happened. Brooke spoke up before he could continue that train of thought, “What I was going to say before I was rudely interrupted ,” she started, shooting Michael a look. He just shrugged, a slightly smug smile on his face. She continued, “Michael finally chose his new son… It’s a Cotyledon Pig’s ear.” She waited expectantly for someone to say something and seemed disappointed when no one reacted. She sighed sadly, “Well, whatever. Michael got his succulent.”

 

At this they all murmured happily. Brooke huffed and went to sit beside Chloe while Michael sat beside Jeremy. Everyone else seemed wrapped up in their own conversations, so he took the opportunity to voice his doubts to Michael.

 

“Michael?” Jeremy started tentatively. Michael looked up.

 

“Hm?” He seemed less jumpy than before.

 

“Why did you get a succulent?” He asked, deciding not to jump the gun and start asking about some great big secret that apparently now Brooke was in on too.

 

“I just think they’re neat,” Michael shrugged. He had what might’ve seemed like an easy smile, but Jeremy knew him enough to notice the slight waver. Jeremy narrowed his eyes.

 

“Michael Antony Mell-” Jeremy started but was cut off by Chloe loudly declaring that they were all going inside to play board games. Michael started to stand up but Jeremy grabbed his arm. Michael looked back at him and raised an eyebrow. Slightly embarrassed, Jeremy let go of his arm and whispered, “We’re talking about this later.”

 

Michael frowned, “Why? It’s just a succulent,” he whispered back.

 

Jeremy also frowned but didn’t say anything, following Michael and the rest into the house.

 

***

 

They left Brooke’s house at about 7 pm, since Jeremy’s curfew was at 9 and they wanted to stop for slushies. On the way to 7/11 Jeremy didn’t get the chance to interrogate Michael because as soon as they had gotten in the car, Michael had turned on his playlist loudly and every time Jeremy reached over to turn it down he was rewarded with a slap on the hand.

 

Once they got to 7/11, Michael got out of the car quickly. He didn’t look back, but he felt Jeremy’s eyes on him from the car. He knew he couldn’t evade the conversation forever, God knows how persistent Jeremy was , but he just needed time to come up with a believable reason why he suddenly wanted a succulent, when he had never shown the slightest interest in anything nature-related. He ran through some excuses, dashing them out almost as soon as they came to mind, until he remembered something his mom had said a while ago.

 

Jeremy had just left after an intense gaming session and as soon as the front door shut, Michael shuffled to the living room and flopped face down onto the couch. Mrs. Mell walked in and sighed when she saw her son.

 

“Really Michael, you should get another hobby, something other than video games…” She sat down beside him, “It’s not healthy…”

 

Michael just groaned.

 

 

He grinned as he poured Jeremy’s blue raspberry slushie. That would be a perfect excuse. He headed over to the cashier to pay for the slushies.

 

 

When Michael came back with the slushies, Jeremy waited until he had gotten in the car then he locked the doors. Michael jumped a little and looked at Jeremy, who had the car keys in his hand.

 

“Start talking,” Jeremy said, crossing his arms.

 

Michael snorted, “Seriously? I was going to tell you anyways, you know that, right?”

 

Jeremy suddenly felt embarrassed, “W-well you can’t blame me for thinking you weren’t going to talk…” he looked away, frowning.

 

Michael sighed, a heavy pit in his stomach, “It’s just… Mom said I should get a new hobby…”

 

Still frowning, Jeremy turned to him,“That’s all?”

 

Michael felt horrible, even if he technically wasn’t lying, “Yeah…”

 

Jeremy looked at him, gaze searching, before nodding, seeming satisfied, “Alright,” he said, handing the keys over. The ride to Jeremy’s was silent, and Michael felt the pit in his stomach get heavier.

 

 

Chapter Text

In hindsight, Michael should’ve changed his ringtone a long time ago. The next morning at 7:30 am, he was woken up by the John Cena theme playing loudly from his phone. A little panicked, he tried to jump out of his bed, but his legs got tangled in the sheets and he fell on the ground with a thump. He reached over to his nightstand and grabbed his phone, answering without even bothering to check the caller ID.

 

What? ” he asked, his voice still scratchy and slow from sleep. The voice that piped up from the other side surprised him.

 

“Good morning to you too Michael.”

 

Brooke ? How did you get my number?” Michael asked, now much more awake than before.

 

She, of course, completely ignored his question, “I’m outside with your plant. If you don’t let me in in the next five minutes, I’m leaving.”

 

Michael scrambled up, this time making sure to untangle his legs from the sheets, “Coming…” He put on some sweatpants over his boxers and pulled on his red sweatshirt before running downstairs. He ignored his mother’s Who’s that at the door? in favor of scrambling over to open the door. He was briefly met with an annoyed and slightly impatient Brooke before her whole demeanor changed in a second.

 

“Michael! Help me get the stuff out of the car. You have a backyard, right?” She turned and headed to the car, not waiting for a response.

 

Michael, who was still not used to Brooke, was slightly put off, “Y-yeah,” he answered scrambling after her.

 

She nodded, “Good.” Brooked opened the trunk of her car. Inside, there were a couple of hand-held garden shovels, a couple of different size pots, a bag of dirt and the succulent. But the one she brought was different.

 

“Why doesn’t this one have any flowers?” He asked, pointing at the plant. Brooked scoffed.

 

“Did you really think I’d give you one of my fully blossomed babies?” She looked at him, “You’ll have to make it bloom yourself.”

 

Michael huffed, he couldn’t really argue with that. He reached over, grabbed the garden shovels, lugged the dirt bag over his shoulder and turned to Brooke, “Follow me.”

 

He watched her quickly grab the pots and the plants then he turned and started heading inside. They were about to go outside before Michael’s mom stopped them.

 

“Michael, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” she asked, giving him a pointed look.

 

Michael sighed, “Brooke, mom. Mom, Brooke.” He vaguely motioned to the both of them.

 

Brooke shifted the pots so she could look at his mom, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Mell!”

 

“Oh, Nonsense! Call me Alexandra.” Mrs. Mell smiled at her.

 

“That’s such a pretty name!” Brooke exclaimed.

 

Michael’s mom smiled, “Thank you!”

 

“And what do you use for your hair? It looks amazing!”

 

Mrs. Mell laughed a little, “Oh nonsense!” She finally seemed to notice what they were carrying, “What are you guys doing with all that stuff?”

 

Michael was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to carry the bag much longer, so before Brooke could answer he started to usher her toward the backyard, “We’re planting something mom, bye!”

 

When they got outside, Michael let the bag drop and huffed a little. He really was out of shape. Brooke looked around then turned to Michael, “Where do you want your succulent?” Michael looked at her and shrugged helplessly. She huffed, clearly frustrated. She looked at an especially sunny corner of his backyard. Setting the pots and the plant down she pointed at it, “Is that spot sunny most of the day?” Michael shrugged again and Brooke groaned, “That’s it. I’m calling your mom.” She poked her head inside, “Mrs- I mean, Alexandra?”

 

Michael’s mom peeked out of the kitchen, “Yes dear?”

 

“I need help choosing a spot to plant the succulent and Michael is being no help.”

 

Mrs. Mell chuckled, “I’ll be out in a minute!” she went back inside.

 

When Brooke turned back to Michael, she found him staring at her, wide-eyed, “What?” she asked, a bit defensive.

 

“How do you do that?” he asked.

 

“Do what?”

 

“That. ” Michael gestured vaguely to where Brooke was standing when she talked with his mom, “How did you instantly get on my mother’s good side?” He paused, then in a low voice he asked, “Was it the compliments?”

 

Brooke scoffed and shook her head, “No, I was just being honest. Alexandra really is a pretty name and your mom does have really pretty hair.” She then shrugged a bit, “And anyways, Parents always love me for some reason.”

 

Michael huffed. They waited in silence for a few moments until Michael’s mom came outside.

 

“How can I help?” she asked.

 

Brooke smiled, “I was asking Michael for a spot where it would be sunny for most of the day.”

 

Mrs. Mell nodded, thinking for a moment before walking over to a spot not too far from the fence, “This spot is sunny most of the day, but around 6 it gets a bit of shady. Is that good?”

 

Brooke nodded happily, “Yes! Thank you, Alexandra!”

 

Mrs. Mell smiled warmly, “I’ll be inside if you need any more help, okay?”

 

Brooke nodded and turned back to Michael, who was now using his phone. She frowned, “Michael,” she called, huffing when he didn’t seem to hear. She snapped her fingers close to his face, “Michael. ” He looked up, seeming a bit startled.

 

“O-oh, sorry. It’s just that…” he trailed off.

 

Brooke crossed her arms, “Just that what?”

 

“Uh, Jeremy wants to come over to help?” He looked at her, smiling sheepishly.

 

Brooke couldn’t help it, she let out a small bark of laughter, before covering her mouth with one hand. She composed herself and looked at him, still openly amused, “Sure, loverboy, knock yourself out.”

 

Michael spluttered as Brooke asked his mother if she had any spare gardening tools. She always seemed to do that.

 

***

 

Jeremy was a morning person. That was something he couldn’t control. It didn’t matter if he had gone to sleep at 2 am the night before, the latest he was able to wake up at was 8. So when he texted Michael, who was definitely not a morning person, at 7:45 am and got an immediate response, to say he was surprised was an understatement. He usually sent the text and got a response way later, usually at 11 am, on Saturdays and Sundays. He was less surprised when he found out Michael was up early because Brooke had woken him to plant the new succulent. Jeremy, still doubting this whole succulent thing, offered his help and was pleasantly surprised when Michael accepted his offer a few seconds later.

 

So there he was now, walking to Michael’s. It usually took about 15 minutes to walk there, so Jeremy had enough time to ponder.

 

It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Mrs. Mell would tell Michael to take a different hobby, Hell, he’d been there when she asked most of the time, but he just couldn’t believe Michael would finally give in. He guessed that the group had somehow convinced him while Jeremy had been in the bathroom. What did they tell him to convince him to take up a hobby? And why did they have to wait until I was gone?

 

His pondering was cut short when he spotted the Mell household. He smiled and jogged the rest of the way there. He breathed a sigh and knocked on the door, opening it and coming in when he’d heard Mrs. Mell’s muffled ‘It’s open’. Jeremy walked inside and followed the voices until he got to the backyard, where he spotted Brooke and Michael, joking and laughing as if they’d known each other forever, both covered in dirt. He felt his chest constrict a bit at the sight and felt a little out of place. I shouldn’t have come. He didn’t invite you. You’re probably invading. He was just being polite. You-

 

His thoughts were interrupted when Michael looked up and his face lit up, “Jeremy! You’re finally here!” Michael paused, “Not that you’re not always Heere…”

 

The dark feeling that squeezed his chest seemed to unfurl at that, “If you say that pun again I’m leaving,” he said, but the small, fond smile on his lips seemed to say otherwise.

 

Michael grinned, “I hope you’re ready to get dirty!”

 

Jeremy snorted, “Oh, you bet I am!”

 

***

 

About an hour later, Brooke was still lecturing them both about the proper way to take care of the Cotyledon Pig’s Ear.

 

“...And I can’t stress enough how you shouldn’t overwater it, ” Brooke said for the fifth time, “In fact, it would be better if you give it too little water instead of too much water.” She paused, “Don’t do that either.”

 

Michael sighed, “Brooke, you’ve said this like seven times already-”

 

“Five, actually,” she piped up.

 

Michael continued, “And I think both Jeremy and I get the gist.”

 

“Ok, but be sure to check fo-” she started, but Michael cut her off.

 

“Yeah yeah, check for snails and slugs, which are easy to spot by the chewed holes in the leaves and by the silvery, slimy trail they leave behind. Keep the area clean and free of debris. Apply slug bait or use snail traps, if necessary.” Michael looked at her, “Did I leave anything out?”

 

“Remember to remove the blooms, along with the stalk, as soon as the flowers wilt,” Jeremy piped up.

 

Michael glanced at Jeremy, “Thank you, Jeremy.”

 

Brooke rolled her eyes but smiled a bit, “Alright, alright.” She stretched and stood up from where they were sitting on the grass. Checking the time, she said, “Well, I have to leave.”

 

“What?” Michael asked, “Already?”

 

Brooke smiled, “Sorry, I promised to treat Chloe and Rich to Pinkberry today after lunch, and I was going to lunch with Jenna and Christine.”

 

Michael blinked, “Wow, you’re busy.”

 

Brooke shrugged, “Well, I’ll see you guys tomorrow!” And with that, she disappeared inside. Michael could hear her say goodbye to his mom. He turned to Jeremy, only to find him looking at him with a slightly soured expression.

 

“What?” he asked.

 

Jeremy didn’t say anything for a couple of seconds, making Michael nervous. Finally, he spoke up, “I’m really hungry.”

 

Michael let out a bark of laughter, nervousness dissolving instantly, “Let’s go and eat then,” he said, standing up and offering Jeremy a hand. Jeremy shot him a lopsided grin and accepted the hand, pulling himself up. They both headed inside, unaware of their still-clasped hands.

 

***

 

Michael groaned when he fell off of the rainbow road for the eighth time. He hated playing Mario Kart with Jeremy ‘cause he was good at it and the little shit knew.

 

Jeremy glanced at him, a shit-eating grin on his face. Michael briefly glared, before going back to concentrating on picking up as many items as possible in hopes of getting a blue shell and at least demoting Jeremy to second place.

 

Finally, his concentration paid off, “Aha!” Michael exclaimed when he saw the item he had received. Jeremy glanced at his side of his screen, and his smugness morphed into fear.

 

“Please don’t,” Jeremy squeaked, his eyes darting back and forth from the screen to Michael.

 

“C’mon Jer-Bear, you know I’m a sore loser. Making you fall back at least 3 places would be so satisfying.” Michael paused, “Unless you can convince me otherwise…”

 

Jeremy looked a little more panicked now, “Uh, I’ll- Um, I-I’ll… I’ll buy you frozen yogurt?”

 

Michael sighed, “I’m disappointed Jeremiah…”

 

No! No no, come on Michael don’t-” He cut off with a loud groan when the blue shell hit him, making him fall back to third place. Jeremy glared at Michael, “You look awfully smug for someone who’s in last place.”

 

Michael’s grin didn’t falter, “What can I say, there’s satisfaction in dethroning a king.”

 

Jeremy looked back at the screen, a small grin on his face, “So, you’re saying I’m a king?”

 

Were a king,” Michael corrected, “Didn’t you hear the part where I dethroned you?”

 

Jeremy’s grin briefly turned into a pout, before morphing into a larger grin, “Well, this ex-king is going to reclaim his throne from Bowser’s meaty claws.”

 

Michael barked out a laugh and glanced at Jeremy, finally accepting his fate.

 

I love Jeremiah Heere… And that’s okay.

Chapter Text

Guys!! I'm so sorry for not updating in 2 weeks!! I hit a horrible writer's block and then I had to go to camp. I'll try to churn out chapter 3 as soon as possible but I can't promise anything! I'm not going to abandon this, I promise. I want to finish this as much as you want me to. 

 

I'm not saying any more to stay short and to the point. Sorry again!

 

Also, 250 kudos and 1.6k hits??? Thank you guys so much!!

Chapter Text

 

Michael somehow convinced Jeremy to stop playing Mario Kart, he was getting tired of losing, and to watch something on TV. They lazily flicked through the channels, munching on some chips. At about 3pm, after they had had lunch and watched a bit more TV, Jeremy looked at Michael. He then reached over to the controller and switched off the TV. Michael frowned and looked at Jeremy.

 

“What the fuck, Jer?”

 

He turned to Michael fully, “Why did you you say you ‘Loved your dear succulent’ if you hadn’t even chosen one?” Jeremy narrowed his eyes. Michael felt his stomach twist nervously.

 

He laughed nervously, “You see…” he trailed off. Jeremy raised an eyebrow, “I, uh, I actually fell in love with this other succulent at the table, but Chloe said that Brooke liked that one too much to give it to me.”

 

Jeremy narrowed his eyes at him for a second, before nodding.

 

Michael looked at him in silence for a few seconds. Jeremy was acting more paranoid than usual. He considered calling him out on that, but ultimately discarded that idea. He turned his gaze back to the darkened TV. Jeremy would tell him if there was something wrong. An awkward silence filled the room. Michael saw Jeremy shift from the corner of his eye. He wasn’t sure if he should switch the TV back on but the silence was excruciating. A Few seconds passed. Silence. He risked a glance at Jeremy. The other seemed wrapped up in his own thoughts, frowning slightly. That was never good. He decided to break the silence.

 

“What do you think I should name it?”

 

The question seemed to jolt Jeremy out of his thoughts. He looked at Michael, looking kind of confused, “What?”

 

“The succulent,” he elaborated, “What do you think I should name it?” Jeremy seemed to ponder for a bit. Michael took the opportunity to observe Jeremy. He seemed… cleaner. Not that Jeremy wasn’t clean before, but this seemed like… like… Michael frowned. What did it seem like? Jeremy’s face was cleaner, less greasy. His acne had improved monumentally. He always smelled like cologne and deodorant. His clothes were never wrinkled or stained. His back was always straight. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the messy hair, but even that seemed intentional now. It wasn’t that Michael was complaining about these changes, Jeremy looked nice, but it rubbed him off the wrong way. These changes were most likely because of the squip. A bitter feeling oozed into his chest and he swallowed. A reminder that this wasn't the same clumsy, messy Jeremy he was used to. His downhill thoughts were interrupted by a pair of fingers snapping in front of his face.

“-ichael? Michael!” He blinked and looked at Jeremy, who was looking at him, a weird expression on his face, “You okay? You spaced out for a bit there.”

 

Michael forced his less positive thoughts to the back of his mind and forced a laugh, “Sorry, What were you saying?”

 

Jeremy shot him one last concerned glance and started talking, “Well, I was thinking and…” Jeremy trailed off. Michael stared at him as the silence stretched for a few seconds.

 

“And?” Jeremy looked embarrassed and he mumbled something Michael didn't quite catch, “What was that?”

 

Kirby, ” Jeremy squeaked, and, if it was possible, turned even redder.

 

Michael blinked, trying to process what Jeremy meant by that when he remembered what he’d asked him. He snorted, then tried so hard not to laugh. He really did try. But alas, he failed, and he burst out laughing. Jeremy looked even more embarrassed and he started trying to take it back, but Michael stopped him, “ Dude , no. Don't apologize, it's perfect.” He cracked a smile at Jeremy, who returned it, albeit hesitantly at first.

 

They smiled in silence for a few seconds before Michael suggested they play Smash. Excitedly, Jeremy agreed. And Michael got to watch with a smile as Jeremy excitedly went to insert the disc.

 

Maybe, Michael thought, Maybe things might be alright after all…

 

***

The next day, Michael hummed to himself as he made his way to his locker. He was in a good mood today. Woke up on the right side of bed. Gracefully opening his locker, Michael quickly took the books he needed and closed the locker. Making his way to Jeremy’s locker, he swung to the rhythm of the song playing in his headphones. Spotting Jeremy, he couldn't help but smile a little. The boy had a way of making his day better by just seeing him. Smile in place, Michael made his way over to Jeremy, leaning against the locker next to his. Jeremy jumped a bit at his presence, but smiled nonetheless. He said something. Michael didn't hear. He raised a hand and paused his song. Pulling his headphones down he smiled at Jeremy.

 

“What’s up?” Jeremy rubbed the back of his neck nervously and looked at his feet, shuffling them nervously. Michael's easy smile faltered, “Jeremy? Buddy? You're making me nervous here.” He chuckled uncertainly.

 

Jeremy too a deep breath then started mumbling so quietly and quickly, Michael would not have been able to tell he was talking if his lips hadn't been moving.

 

“Whoa whoa! Jer, slow down.” Michael’s smiled and dropped and now he looked concerned and nervous. Jeremy sighed and started again. This time, louder and slower.

 

“Rich and Christine invited me to go out with them this afternoon.” He paused, but before Michael could say anything, he continued quickly, “And I know you and I planned on going to that new arcade today but They looked so excited about inviting me to go out with them that I couldn't help but say yes! So now they think I'm going with them but I also don't want to cancel with you because we’ve been planning this for a long time an dI’msosorryi’msosorrysorry-”

 

Jeremy had squeezed his eyes shut, his face flushed red. Michael grasped his hands, “Hey, dude, it's alright.” Jeremy peeked at him and Michael offered what he hoped was a comforting smile, “The arcade thing can be rescheduled. Don't worry.”

 

Jeremy relaxed at that, smiling at Michael, “Thank you.” He said that as if it was a breath he was letting out. He gave Michael a quick hug when the bell rang and hurried off to his class. Michael watched him go with a wave and a lazy smile on his face. After a few seconds he seemed to remember he had his own class to get to, so he scrambled off, a string of curses tumbling out of his lips as he did.

Chapter Text

Michael’s day was dull and not unlike others. He drifted through his morning classes, barely paying enough attention that the teachers didn’t call him out. It wasn’t like he was especially tired, he was just distracted thinking about a show he binged last night. Which… he watched to distract himself from his very loud, very gay thoughts about Jeremy. So he altered between theorizing about the implications of One For All still being alive and internally screaming about how cute Jeremy looked the other day with dirt on his face. He was jolted out of his own speeding thoughts by the bell, signaling the start of lunch. The bell seemed to always catch him off guard.

 

He scrambled to gather his stuff and rush to the lunch room, mostly as a force of habit, since he didn’t really have to rush nowadays. After all, he had a spot saved in a prime table with the squip squad, as Rich had dubbed them. Which didn’t include him since he wasn’t squipped, he had pointed out when Rich first suggested it. Rich simply replied that he didn’t need to be squipped to be part of the squip squad. Michael argued that then there was no point in the squip squad nickname, Rich brushed the logic off with something about the magic of friendship.

 

Michael hummed and bounced as he scanned the lunchroom for his friends, face splitting into a wide grin once he spotted Jake’s tall figure and Rich’s excited gesturing. They really had been lucky to having been put in the same lunch period. He happily maneuvered around other students and tables until he got to theirs. Rich didn’t stop his current rambling, the only sign that he noticed Michael’s arrival was the brief eye contact. Jake was totally immersed in whatever Rich was ranting about.

 

“-otally hot! But that doesn’t mean a single damn thing when he’s faced with the obvious love of his life! I mean, ____ is obviously madly in love with him and would do anything to make him happy. Did you see when she-”

 

“No one wants to hear your weeby rants, Rich.” Chloe sat down next to Michael.

 

“I do,” Jake mumbled quietly, but was ignored as Rich gasped and went on a spiel about how cringe culture was dead and how people like Chloe were the reason for this and that.

 

Jeremy arrived about 5 minutes into the argument. He cringed, “What was it this time?”

 

Michael snorted, “Chloe said no one wanted to hear his weeb rants.”

 

Jeremy let out a low whistle, “Gonna be a long one then.”

 

Michael decided to tell Jeremy about the show he started watching last night. Turns out Jeremy had already watched it and was bursting in the seams, wanting to spoil the ending of the current season. But he controlled his mouth, knowing Michael would definitely kill him if he spoiled anything.

 

Christine, Jenna and Brooke joined them a bit later, taking one look at Rich and Chloe and turning to talk to Michael and Jeremy. The conversation drifted from the series to the new movie in theaters to their childhood Barbie movies.

 

Michael smiled, laughed and talked. Overall, it was a pretty good day.

 


 

 

The rest of the school day passed by quickly, and before he knew it, Michael was already walking home. Alone.

 

He wasn't upset at Jeremy, no, (He was the one who told him to go with them after all) but he couldn't help but be upset at himself for not having anything else to do other than hanging out with Jeremy. He frowned to himself. It's just another Squip incident waiting to happen. He banished the thought as quickly as it came. No, he couldn't think like that. He had to trust Jeremy.

 

‘But why should you?’ a small part of his brain piped up, ‘He hasn't shown he trusts you, so why should you trust him if he doesn't return the favor?’ Michael wanted to argue with himself, he really did, but he found himself sighing and silently agreeing with that thought.

 

Pretty soon, he got home. Dropping his backpack on the floor next to the couch, he wandered outside, wanting to check on the succ- no, Kirby.

 

It hadn't rained today, as far as he could tell, so maybe that meant he was supposed to water it? Brooke’s warning loomed over him at that thought.

 

You shouldn’t overwater it, Mind Brooke said ominously, it would be better if you give it too little water instead of too much water.

 

So he did what any sensible young man would do in his place, he asked the mother of the plant. After sending a quick message he sat down in front of the little plant and stared. This… this is what he ended up doing? Like, oh yeah Jeremy isn't here, time to stare at a plant all afternoon. That was stupid. This was stupid. He had to start finding other things to do other than hanging out with Jeremy! With that in mind, he typed up another text before he could change his mind.

 

[From: Michael]

[To: Brooke]

3:38 pm

Also, do you wanna come over to play video games?  I’m super bored lmao

 

Michael stared at the message, deleted the last part and sent it. Jeremy wasn't exclusive to him, and he wasn't exclusive to Jeremy.

 


 

 

It was only after Brooke accepted the invitation that Michael realized that he was having a guest over. Someone that wasn't Jeremy.

 

 

He really needed to clean up.

 

And so he set off, picking up old potato chip bags and soda cans (never Mountain Dew), tossing scattered trash into the trash can, cleaning up crumbs and spills and organizing discs and couch cushions. The doorbell rang as he tossed out the last of the stale chips.

 

“Coming!” he called out, glancing back at the basement to make sure everything was in order, and dashed to the door. He opened it and greeted Brooke with a huge smile, “Hey Brooke!”

 

Brooke smiled, “Hey Michael!” Then her smile turned cheeky, “Ready to romance some birds?”

 

Michael blinked, “What?” he asked, but let her inside. She ignored his question and skipped inside.

 

“Where’s your laptop?” she asked. Deciding that following her orders was easier than questioning it, Michael went to get his laptop. Pretty soon they were all set up and playing…

 

“Hatoful Boyfriend?” he stared at the menu, “Is this some kind of… pigeon dating simulator?”

 

“It’s exactly that, my friend!” Brooke exclaimed, “Now buckle up, this is gonna be a wild ride!”

 

Michael let out a long breath, “Oh boy.”

 


 

 

Two and a half hours later, they were done. Michael blinked at the screen slowly. There were a few seconds of silence.

 

“So…” Michael started, breaking the silence, “Pudding?”

 

Brooke let out an undignified snort and started giggling. He soon joined in. They laughed, giggled and snorted for a while until they finally gathered their bearings. She smiled at Michael, “Got anything else to play?”

 

Michael shrugged, “Jeremy and I downloaded Five Nights at Freddy’s 5 the other day, but we haven't gotten the chance to play it.” A pause, “There's also Super Smash Bros and Super Ma-”

 

“No,” Brooke spoke up, interrupting him, “I want to play Five Nights at Freddy’s.”

 

Michael grinned.

 


 

 

And that's how they spent the rest of the afternoon: screaming, playing, and laughing.

 

By dinnertime, Brooke had to leave.

 

“I really have to go. But I had so much fun!” Brooke smiled.

 

Michael offered a big grin in return, “Yeah! You can totally come over again.”

 

Brooke winked, “Tell me when and where and I'll be there.” A beat, “Oh, that rhymed.” She shook her head, and headed to the door, grabbing her purse on the way “Anyway, bye. I'll see you tomorrow.” Then,  almost as an afterthought, she added, “Meri Kuri.” And she was gone.

 

Michael laughed.

 


 

 

The next morning, he met up with Jeremy next to his locker.

 

“Hey buddy! Bro! Amigo!” He slung an arm over his shoulder, “How was your outing with Rich and Christine?”

 

Jeremy smiled at Michael, “It was really fun!” He opened his mouth as if to add something, then he closed it. He paused and finally spoke, “I'm really sorry for ditching you last minute…” He mumbled.

 

Michael waved him off, “Don't worry! I hung out with Brooke for a bit so there was no harm done.” Jeremy sagged in relief, “Anyway, tell me how your outing with the two tinies went.”


Jeremy smiled and told him.