This is it, Michael thinks to himself. I'm going to tell him.
He raises a fist to the white door, still a little nervous, still doubting himself, but before he can back out, flesh meets wood once, twice, three times. He takes a step back after, not wanting to be in the face of whoever opened the door.
That person is Jeremy. Just the guy he wants to see and, hopefully, talk to.
"Michael? Why are you-" Jeremy doesn't get to finish before Michael is pushing past him, chest tightening as he realizes that he's actually doing this.
Michael is really going to come out to his best friend of nine years.
"Okay, " Jeremy let's the 'ay' drag on in a show of confusion. He shakes his head minutely, most likely deciding to let his suspicious actions go. "Do you want any-" Michael cuts him off again, in the form of holding up a hand. He feels a little breathless as he speaks up.
"Not-not yet. I just want to get this over with, " Michael says, watching the floor as if it would open any minute to swallow him. He wishes it would. It would definitely beat having this conversation. Not that he didn't want to have this conversation, no, it was just one of those things that sounded better in theory than it did actually happening.
Jeremy's expression morphs to show even more confusion and he replies with a, " get what over with?"
Michael takes a deep breath, preparing to tell Jeremy, but nothing comes out when he opens his mouth. His chest constructs as he continues to try to say something, anything.
Jeremy moves closer, obviously concerned and Michael still doesn't say anything as Jeremy leads the two of them to the bedroom at the end of the hall. All Michael could think was that it probably was a better place to confess than the Heere's living room.
This "coming out" stuff is harder than I thought, Michael thinks to himself as he almost collapses on Jeremy's unmade bed. I just hope my brain lied about the reaction. Michael closes his eyes for a second, continuing to breathe deeply to somehow get rid of the weight on his chest. It soon becomes apparent that the only way it will dissipate is if Michael talks. He takes one last deep breath before looking at his friend again. "It's only Jeremy" plays like a mantra in his head, only barely managing to keep the building panic at bay.
"I- there is, actually." He wrings his hands together and tries to gather his scattered thoughts. Jeremy moves to sit beside him and Michael moves over, thankful for the sudden dip in the bed and the pressure against his arm, even if it felt a little numb.
"Michael?" Jeremy sounded worried. Why was he worried? Did I- Michael's vision swam and he suddenly became aware of what was happening. How did I-shit.
The two of them sit there for a few moments, not wanting to risk everything getting worse. And as soon as Michael can feel himself relaxing, his hand moves of its own volition, grabbing Jeremy's as the boy in question mutters encouraging messages and reminds him to breathe every few seconds. After he does, he can feel Jeremy's thumb sweeping lightly over his knuckles, helping him to further ground himself.
"I think I'm good," Michael says after another moment, but he doesn't move away.
"Are you sure?" Jeremy doesn't make a move, either.
"Yeah." And the two of them are quiet again. So, like the dumbass he is, Michael just blurts out the reason he's there like it didn't just send him into an anxiety attack.
"I'm ace." Michael covers his mouth with his hands as his eyes go wide. "Wait-shit-"
Then Jeremy's confused again and he blurts out his own question, "what's ace?"
Michael looks surprised but gives him a small smile before explaining: "'ace' is short for asexual. It means I don't have an interest in sex and I don't feel sexual attraction. I can still fall in love, though." Jeremy looks thoughtful after Michael finishes his explanation.
"I guess that's kinda cool." Michael lets out a breath and smiles again.
"I guess it is."
Michael Mell is a lot of things, stupid not being one of them. He sees things that a lot of other people don't, especially when it comes to his best friend, whether it be how he tends to look up a lot or how uncomfortable he looks when having a conversation with a certain reformed bully.
And speaking of his best friend and Rich, the two were talking animatedly about something that Michael couldn't figure out. Maybe it wasn't that Jeremy was uncomfortable with said person, Michael thought to himself, but instead, it was probably the conversation. Though, they seemed to have that conversation a lot if that was the case.
"-didn't take my advice? It could have worked." Michael frowned as he caught the tail end of the conversation. Jeremy looks vaguely uncomfortable again as he stutters out a response.
"It, uh, it was good advice but, um, I don't think-" the conversation is lost again as Michael gets distracted by a small rack in the store a few feet away from them. It held a couple dozen different patch designs and one particular patch caught his eye.
"No!" Jeremy yells suddenly and Michael's attention was back on the two other teens. He noticed that the longer the conversation went on, the more uncomfortable Jeremy seemed to be. So that begged the question: what were they talking about?
"Are you sure?" Rich's eyebrows raise in a suggestive manner and Jeremy cringes.
"Yes! I'm definitely sure, Rich." After that, Michael was pretty sure the topic was dropped. Then Rich says something else and another conversation begins.
Michael wasn't jealous that Jeremy chose to talk to Rich, not at all, but he couldn't help but feel a little resentful because he was his Jeremy.
Michael shook his head to clear his thoughts. He really didn't need to think about his friend like that.
"-liked you. Did you guys-" Michael frowns when he catches another tail end of a sentence. He watches as Jeremy shakes his head and gives a definite, "no" while looking uncomfortable again.
Michael was about ready to deck Rich, especially if he kept making Jeremy uncomfortable. That's when it hits him.
"Hey, guys? I'll be right back." And Michael walks off, hoping that he's right.
It's their friendship anniversary and Michael couldn't be more excited. He had been waiting for months to have the perfect excuse to give Jeremy something.
He couldn't wait till that afternoon to give the present to his best friend.
"What's got you so excited?" Jake asks from his seat beside Michael. They were in chemistry and had just finished today's lab assignment.
Michael looks over at Jake, unmatched eyes shining brightly. "I got this thing for Jeremy a few months ago and I finally get to give it to him." Jake looks a little confused.
"Is it his birthday or...?" Michael shakes his head and continues bouncing in his seat a little.
"Anniversary. Thirteen years of friendship." Jake looked impressed but before he could say anything else, the teacher interrupted and the bell rang for the next class.
"Jere, Jere, Jere, Jere, " Michael repeats as he practically vibrates in place. Jeremy looks a little annoyed but he gives Michael a fond look before replying.
"Yeah?" A box is thrust into his hands and Jeremy almost drops it. "A present?" Michael nods rapidly, putting even Christine to shame in his hyped-up state. Jeremy smiles before opening it. Once he does, his eyes widen and he jumps up with a quick, "wait here" before he runs out of the room.
Jeremy comes back moments later with his own box, tossing it to Michael before sitting back down.
"I bought it years ago but kept forgetting to give it to you. Better late than never, I guess?" Michael opens the box where the exact same patch lays; a shooting star with a black, grey, white, and purple color scheme.
Jeremy smiles. "Do you want to put them on?" Michael nods wordlessly before he realizes something.
"Wait, you're-" Jeremy nods.
"I meant to tell you but things just kept getting in the way. How did you know, anyway?" Jeremy looks over at Michael from where he's grabbing his hoodie.
"It kinda clicked with that one conversation you had with Rich a few months ago." Jeremy blinks owlishly at him for a second before an embarrassed blush rises on his face. "I only caught ends of a few sentences but it was pretty clear by the end."
Jeremy's blush deepens a bit and he decides to change the subject by saying, "I'll get the iron, yeah?" Michael watches him as he rushes out of the room and chuckles a little to himself.
He might still have a chance, but that was a conversation for another day.