Jeremy sighed as he spotted Michael waiting outside the school for him. Well, time to deliver the bad news.
“Hey, Mikey!” Jeremy called as loud as he dared, jogging towards his friend and catching himself as someone shoulder checked him. Oh well, at least it wasn’t a full out punch this time. Probably because Michael was around.
Michael turned, taking off his headphones as he grinned and danced in place. "Hey, Remy! Are you as excited as I am to meet Sunny? She's going to love you, I know it. Mama should be here in a few minutes to pick us up."
Jeremy shot Michael a small, broken smile. Really, he shouldn’t have expected anything else. His teachers hated him for some reason.
“Sorry, Mikey, but I’m not gonna be able to come with you...”
The dancing stopped right away as Michael's eyes softened. "Wait, why not? What happened?" He stepped closer to Jeremy. "Did somebody do something? Do I have to go report them with you?"
Jeremy shook his head. “Mr. Laurence gave me detention again. Today and tomorrow.”
Michael was shocked. “But tomorrow’s Saturday!”
Jeremy nodded. “Yeah, so I can’t hang out tomorrow either... Sorry, dude.”
"That is not fair at all. What did he even say that you did wrong? I'm sure it's bullshit, whatever he said."
Jeremy ducked his head. “Disrupting the class,” he mumbled.
"Okay, even if you did that, which I know you didn't, that is not worth two days worth of detention including Saturday School!"
Jeremy shrugged. “He’s been looking for an excuse. Apparently sneezing was enough.” He was used to this, even if Michael couldn’t believe how bad it was.
“Can I please report him? That’s so unfair,” Michael said with a huff as he clenched his hands into fists.
Jeremy shrugged again. “I mean, you’re welcome to try. I doubt it would do much considering this would be the fourth time for Mr. Lawrence. The others have been two each... except Mr. Reyes. He’s nice.”
Michael let out a growl of sorts as he tugged on his shirt and then his fingers. “Why can’t all of the teachers you have that we don’t share be Mr. Reyes?”
“I wish.” Jeremy snorted. “That would legitimately be heaven. I’d take his hot-pocket smell over them any day.” He really wished he and Michael didn’t have to be in different classes. Or that Mr. Reyes was his teacher all the time.
Michael nodded before sticking his hands into his front hoodie pocket. “Well, as soon as you can tomorrow, I still want you to meet Sunny. I’ll ask Mama to text your dad about it.”
Well... Jeremy did have an idea. “I mean, I’ll be done by five. If your moms don’t mind me staying for dinner, I could visit after my detention,” he offered shyly. He knew the Mells usually didn’t mind, but he wasn’t going to force himself onto them.
“Oh, of course, my dude! That’ll be so great. The breeder isn’t too far from here, so we’ll be back around then. I think Ina is ordering dinner, so we’ll get your usual from whatever place.” And there was Michael’s giddy grin.
Seeing that made any discomfort Jeremy had been feeling melt away. Seeing Michael happy made any sort of shit Jeremy went through worth it. He just hoped Sunny liked him.
Jeremy was expecting his dad to say something when he picked Jeremy up from detention, but he didn’t expect him to go into the office and, basically, call and bitch everyone out legally. He was still in his suit from the firm, coming from right after work to get him, so it made his other best friend intimidating to hell and back as he laid into everyone. Somehow, it ended with a formal apology to Jeremy and no Saturday School.
“I’m sorry about that, Private,” his dad said as they got into the car.
“Thank you so much, dad.” Jeremy was sure his voice was full of awe, as it always was when his dad went into lawyer mode to protect Jeremy. As soon as he was sitting, he leaned over the console and hugged his dad tightly. His dad was amazing.
“Of course. You deserve the world.” After returning Jeremy’s hug, his dad pulled back before buckling hope. “Now, I got a text from Michael about this. Do you want to get anything to surprise the new dog? Also, you can sleep over all weekend if you want as long as you get your homework done.”
Jeremy’s eyes went wide. “Really? Thanks dad!” He beamed. “Also can we get Sunny a toy from the pet store? Like a rope toy maybe.” He sat back and buckled up his belt.
“That sounds good with me. We’ll stop to get that and then I’ll drop you off.” With that, his dad turned the car on and drove out of the near-empty school parking lot.
Jeremy fiddled with his shirt, letting himself sink deep into thought. Why did everyone hate him so much? He never did anything. Hell, his detention today was caused by a sneeze . He just didn’t understand, and his joy about staying with Michael for the weekend was slipping away.
His dad cut through that by asking about Sunny. “You haven’t told me really anything about her, Private. Tell me about her.”
Jeremy jumped and looked up at his dad. “Well she’s a yellow jindo and Michael’s mama says she’s really playful and excited, but also really thoughtful when she’s not playing.” It was hard to focus on anything else when thinking about dogs, so Jeremy’s brooding melted away. “She’s also really cuddly apparently, so that’s perfect for Mikey. He’s a cuddle bug.” That’s what Ina always said and Jeremy couldn’t help but agree.
“Can you look up a picture of that breed for me? I have no idea what a judo looks like,” his dad said as he turned into the shopping plaza parking lot.
Jeremy giggled at that. “It’s jindo , dad, not judo,” he corrected. “And sure!” He pulled out his phone and started tapping away. “ I think they look like a squarer version of a shibe inu, but Michael doesn’t agree.”
“Isn’t it a shib a inu, not a shib e inu?” his dad teased as he turned into a parking spot and turned off the car.
“Yeah, but I call them shibes so it’s shib e with me.” Jeremy stuck out his tongue before showing his dad his phone. “But see? Doesn’t that look like a squarer version of a shibe?”
“Mm... I can see it. It looks like the grown up version of a shib a to me,” his dad states before sticking his tongue out in return at Jeremy.
Jeremy giggled and put his phone away. “ Fine , I’ll call them Shib a Inus. For now!” He let out an exaggerated evil laugh, breaking off into a giggle after a moment.
His dad joined him in laughing before he took his keys out of the ignition. “Well, for now, let’s worry about what toy we’re getting Michael’s new judo.”
“ Jindo !”
“Whatever you say, Private.”
By the time they made it to Michael’s house, three way rope toy in hand, Jeremy was feeling much better about his situation and so much more nervous about meeting Sunny. Hopefully she’d like him and his offering. He didn’t want to even give up Michael, even if he would to make sure Michael got the help he needed from the service dog.
“Should I walk home on Sunday?” Jeremy asked his dad as they pulled into the Mell residence. It was only a couple of blocks away from their home, so it was totally possible, even if Jeremy really didn’t like walking. He often got beer bottles thrown at him. And that was the good days, sometimes it was so much worse.
“No, I can come pick you up. Just let me know when you want to be picked up tomorrow sometime, and when I say sometime, that doesn’t mean at one or two in the morning on Sunday.” After parking, Jeremy’s hair was promptly ruffled.
Jeremy swatted at his dad’s hand, giggling and brightly grinning. “I will! And I’ll be reasonable too.” Jeremy snickered before leaning over the console. “Bye dad. I love you.” His dad was one of the very few people Jeremy could say that to. His dad was just so amazing and he loved him so much, and he was most certainly one of Jeremy’s best friends. It was a little weird, being best friends with his dad, but Jeremy was happy with it.
“I love you too, Private. Have fun and text me pictures.” After giving Jeremy a hug and a kiss on the head, his dad unlocked the car door for him.
Jeremy grabbed his backpack and hopped out the car, making sure to take the rope toy with him. He waited until his dad pulled out of the Mells’ driveway, waving as he left, before heading over to the front door and knocking. Sure, he had a key, but he didn’t want to be rude and barge in.
Barking broke through the silence of outside before the door opened, revealing Ina with a smile and her head popped out the doorway. “Hey there, Jeremy. Fair warning before you come in: Sunny is very protective of Michael right now. She barked at Mama and I earlier, but she doesn’t hate us. She’s just taking her job very seriously right now.”
Jeremy nodded, clinging to the toy nervously. If Sunny was being protective of Michael against his moms , how would she react to Jeremy? He was generally hated by most animals... He was super nervous now.
“You’re going to be fine, I promise.” Ina held her hand out to Jeremy with the most reassuring smile that she could manage.
Well, she wasn’t lying, but she was clearly unsure. She wanted everything to be fine, but Jeremy could tell she was just as nervous as he was. Still, he took her hand and let her lead him inside.
The barking subsided as soon as Jeremy stepped inside. In the middle of the living room laid Michael, who was curled around the barely chubby jindo. She was still growing up, that much was clear (and Michael told Jeremy she wasn’t a year old yet), but she still looked so mature as she looked up at Jeremy.
“Remy! Hey!” Michael lifted his head up, resting his body up on his elbows as he beamed. “What took- Oh. Did you get Sunny a gift?” He pet Sunny’s side as the dog’s eyes scanned Jeremy before settling on the toy. “Yeah, that’s Jeremy, my best friend. See how awesome he is? He got you a new toy.”
Jeremy nodded and clumsily held out the toy, half presenting it, half offering it to Sunny. He felt his voice lock up in his throat from his nerves, meaning he wouldn’t be giving her any verbal reassurances for a few minutes at least.
Sunny got up and walked over, sniffing the toy first before sniffing Jeremy’s hand. After a tense moment (well, maybe not for Michael), Sunny nuzzled his hand before biting onto the toy and tugging it.
She was... accepting him? Jeremy gripped the toy properly out of sheer instinct, stopping her from yanking it from his hands. After a second, he nervously pulled back. She wanted to play, right? (She wanted to play with him!!! )
Sunny let out a playful growl as she tugged again on the rope toy. “Oh, she needs to get all her energy out. C’mon Remy.” Michael scooted closer as Sunny tugged once more, looking up at him, as if begging him to play with her.
Jeremy was sure his grin was a little crazed as he almost threw off his backpack and positioned his body lower, tugging on the rope properly. “You wanna play, girl? You wanna get the rope from me?” he cooed, giving the rope a few good tugs. Jeremy had never played with a dog before, but he’d see Michael and his dad interact with them and have fun. And this was actually, really fun so if Sunny also seemed to enjoy it, then Jeremy was doing this right.
Sunny growled and tugged the rope, even shaking her head while holding the toy. When Jeremy played, he almost made her lose her grip a few times by accidentally pulling too hard. Instead of her getting mad though, she loved it and tugged harder in return.
Jeremy kept pulling at the rope, giggling and playfully growling as he tugged and shook the rope as well. Then, Sunny gave an almighty tug and Jeremy lost his grip on the rope, falling over backwards and landing on his rump. His joyful giggles and his high-flying mood didn’t dampen even slightly as he watched Sunny shake the rope victoriously.
“I think you’ve made a new friend,” Michael said as he lay down next to Jeremy after he stopped crawling.
Jeremy leaned against Michael, still giggling happily. “That was so fun. Thank you, Sunny.”
Sunny dropped the toy and looked over at Jeremy, sneezing after he called her name. She then bolted over and cuddled next to Michael, whining happily as she tried to get closer. “Hi there, crazy lady,” Michael said around a laugh before wrapping his arms loosely around her.
Jeremy couldn’t help but smile and he slowly reached out to stroke Sunny. “Is it okay if I stroke you, Sunny?” He knew she couldn’t respond properly, but he hoped she understood him and could let him know if it was okay.
Sunny looked over at Jeremy and seemed to nod before focusing back on Michael, whining and whimpering. “Yes, hello there, I got you.”
That-... She just-... Had Michael seen or noticed that? Sunny had just responded, just like a human would. That was insane, right? There was no way. Still, Jeremy reached out and started to stroke her behind her ears, which she seemed to really like. This was too strange, but Jeremy felt a sort of calm descend over him. Sunny was clearly very special, and she accepted Jeremy, or so it seemed. That was more than Jeremy could have ever hoped for.
“Isn’t she just the best dog?” Michael asked, and when Jeremy looked down, he saw his best friend resting his head against his leg.
Jeremy nodded and reached down, running his free hand through Michael’s hair while also still stroking Sunny’s head too. “She really is. I love her already, she’s so smart and beautiful,” he agreed softly.
“Yeah, exactly. And she’s gonna be coming with me everywhere so you’ll get to be with me and her all the time.” Michael let out a soft hum as he leaned into Jeremy’s hand.
Jeremy kept playing with Michael’s hair. “Yeah, that’s gonna be so good. She’s amazing.” He looked at Sunny. “You’re amazing.”
Sunny let out a gentle yap before her head flopped down and she yawned. “I think she’s finally crashing, at least for now.”
Jeremy giggled again. “Perfect.” He grinned. “Well I’m here all weekend if you wanna crash for a bit, too.”
"If you two crash, know that dinner is supposed to arrive in an hour. We ordered a few minutes before you got here, Jeremy," Ina said from the kitchen entryway.
Jeremy looked up at her, careful not to disturb Michael or Sunny. He was used to ending up in similar positions, so the possibility for any embarrassment was long gone. “Thanks Ina. I’m happy here if these two are.”
"I am too. I would just like a blanket if possible Ina. Please and thank you." Ina fondly rolled her eyes before grabbing the blanket from the back of the couch and lying it over the three of them. Even if Sunny was completely buried, she seemed fine. "Thank you again!"
Jeremy grinned as Ina took special care to wrap him up carefully as she always did. “Thanks, Ina. Love you.” He smiled. He really did. She and Mama were like his moms, but better. He loved them almost as much as he loved his dad. Almost as much as he loved Michael.
"Of course, and love you too, Jeremy." Ina pressed a kiss to both of their foreheads before heading back into the kitchen, presumably to sit at the dining room table to talk with Mama.
Ina beamed at Jeremy as she left before turning his smile down to Michael. “Love you, Mikey. And you too, Sunny.” He hummed. He was feeling lots of love right then, maybe it was a side effect of playing with a dog. He hoped so. He liked this feeling.
Sunny let out a snore and Michael snickered before he curled up closer to Jeremy, his head against Jeremy's chest now. "I love you too, Remy."
Jeremy smiled and closed his eyes. Yeah, he could happily stay here for a while. Michael was so warm, and Jeremy felt happy and safe.
Sunny had helped to make school more bearable, but it didn't make the issues Jeremy face any better. In fact, as high school progressed to junior year, the teachers (except the ones shared with Michael or Christine and Mr. Reyes) got worse. If hell existed, school was the first layer of it.
Jeremy was hunched over as he tried his way to navigate through the crowed hallways of his own personal torture. No eye contact, don’t say anything (not hard with his selective only mutism getting worse as he got older) and don’t touch anyone. Those rules kept him from being beaten to a pulp, something he found out the hard way one time in sophomore year.
Still, it didn’t seem to be enough as he approached his locker. Someone was hovering right next to it and Jeremy could just feel they were waiting for him. Stupid school system, keeping his and Michael’s lockers on opposite sides of the school. He suspected it was intentional for this very reason.
"Hey, Heere!" No, he needed to ignore this bully. Going over to his locker, he tried to focus on entering his combination.
Wrong choice as he got shoved. A few nearby people, probably the guy's friends, snickered. "Are you deaf now too when Mell isn't around? I said something to you!"
Jeremy regained his footing and slowly turned to face the bully. It was Grant. Figures. He was the worst out of the lot by a long shot since he was so certain his parents could just pay off any damage he did.
Jeremy didn’t dignify the insult with a response (not like he could say anything anyways) and instead just tried to focus on getting into his locker.
"I think he's mute and deaf now." Again, the peanut gallery laughed before Grant pushed him again. "Say something! Or does your boyfriend have to be here for you to say something?"
Just... don’t respond. It just gave them more to work with when Jeremy responded in any way. He just had to stay calm.
A third shove. "Maybe we should get your boyfriend so you can finally say something. Isn't his locker on the other side of the school? I can text some of my boys to go get him."
Logically, Jeremy knew that Michael would be fine. He had Sunny with him, and his locker was right by the counsellor’s office with security cameras nearby. If they did try anything, Sunny would protect Michael and the cameras would prove that anything that happened was purely from self defence.
Unfortunately, Jeremy’s logical brain wasn’t working in the split second it took for the words to register, all Jeremy heard was that they were going after Michael. He spun around, scowling and forcing his words out. They were wispy and hoarse, barely even words, but it was something. “Leave him out of this,” he demanded, his voice not even qualifying as anything more than a breath.
"Wait, did he actually say something?" one of the kids asked, almost in awe.
"I don't know if that can qualify as words. It just sounded like he was breathing a little more than normal." Grant grinned as he went to shove Jeremy again. "Speak up!"
“Stop it!” His voice was a little more present, scratchy and painful to use, but he managed something that could maybe be classified as a whisper. Anger started pulsating through him, both familiar and alien. He was no stranger to being mad for being shoved around, but something about the icy feeling in his veins was scary and overwhelming. Jeremy tried his best to shove it back down.
Instead of shoving it down, Jeremy was shoved to the ground. "Is he actually talking? Is it a miracle? It might be!"
Jeremy scrambled to his feet before they could start kicking him and instead braced himself against the lockers. Yeah, it might mean his head would hit the metal if he got punched in the face (unlikely, too risky even for Grant) but it protected the rest of him. Cracked ribs were no fun at all.
Throughout this, he kept his mouth shut tightly.
What got him to not keep being a punching bag was what Grant said next. "I hope your f*g of a boyfriend shows up before I'm done beating you, Heere."
The icy rage from before flooded Jeremy’s system again and this time, Jeremy didn’t try to hold it back. Instead, he let it bloom and take root in every fiber of his being. He wanted it there after that comment.
When Grant went to punch Jeremy, clearly aiming for his jaw, the world seemed to slow. It was simple for Jeremy to raise his hand and catch the punch with one hand. Had Grant even used any strength there? Jeremy had felt harder shoves from when he and Michael were kids. Instead of shoving Grant away, Jeremy held onto his fist, not letting him pull back.
"Wh- Ow! What the hell are you doing?" Grant tried to pull his fist back, but it was like he wasn't even trying. The hell was Grant playing at now? "Ow, ow ! Let go of me, you freak!"
Jeremy paused, then opened his hand. He was beyond shocked to see that not only was Grant’s fist steaming and looking almost burnt, it was crusted with ice . What the actually fuck was going on?
Even with his confusion and shock, though, Jeremy’s rage didn’t diminish at all. He was tense and ready for the bullies to come at him for once.
For once though, he got no such response. Grant's friends yelled and bolted as Grant stumbled back, crying out in pain. "What the fuck?! You freak of nature!" With that, Grant almost tripped and fell with how quickly he was running away.
Jeremy stared after them for a split second more before reality crashed down around him. He had just burnt someone. He’d given them an ice burn with his hand . Panic quickly replaced the rage as he realised the sort of implications this might have, and the world started to collapse, as it always did when he began falling into a panic attack.
Michael. He needed Michael.
With that thought burning bright in his mind, Jeremy tugged his sleeves over his hands and started pushing through the crowd of students, totally ignoring so many of his rules for once. He didn’t care. He needed Michael.
He didn't stop until he reached that familiar hoodie. As soon as he saw it, Jeremy went to grab it before he realized that he might hurt Michael too. No way would he ever do that.
As he yanked his hands back to himself, Michael looked over his shoulder. "Oh, Remy- Wait." He instantly turned, Sunny staying glued to his side as Michael's eyes filled with worry. "What happened? Do you need my kit or a hug? Car?"
Jeremy, too worked up to even conjure up a sound beyond a broken sob, managed to clumsily sign ‘car’ to Michael before he half curled up, tucking his hands under his armpits so he couldn’t risk even touching Michael slightly.
Michael instantly nodded as he shut his locker after haphazardly shoving whatever into it. "Can I hold onto your arm and guide you there?"
Jeremy hesitated, then nodded. His arm was fine, probably. He didn’t think the brief touches he’d had with other people had resulted with him freezing their skin off . Oh god, he was going to be sick.
His brain calmed down a smidge when Michael held carefully onto his arm and led him out of the school and to the Cruiser. Sunny stayed pressed to Michael's side, but was between Jeremy and Michael. She glanced over at Jeremy once or twice on the way to the Cruiser which was, thankfully, free from surrounding cars.
While Michael fumbled with his keys, Jeremy ended up half collapsing against the car, breathing deeply as he tried to quell the nausea building in his throat. He wouldn’t ever forgive himself if he puked in the Cruiser. Some things were sacred, this car being one of them.
"If you need to get sick or something, there's plants nearby," Michael said as the tell-tale ' beep-beep ' echoed in the air.
Jeremy took a few more breaths before he managed to shake his head. He wouldn’t be sick. He was... fine. Relatively. In the sense that he wasn’t about to throw up. He was still reeling from the fact that he stopped Grant’s punch like it was nothing, and that he apparently was running cold enough to give him at least second degree cold burns, just from what he briefly saw.
"Alright. I'm going to help you to lie down in the car. Do you want it to be in the seats? Forewarning that I need to move Sunny's bed first and that her dog seat belt system's still gonna be there."
Jeremy nodded after a second. He was just going to agree with whatever Michael suggested for a minute or two more. Michael knew Jeremy best, he knew what Jeremy would need in terms of comfort and aid, and he could handle that part while Jeremy just tried to... process what he’d just done.
With that, Jeremy felt himself carefully be moved and lied down in the back of Michael's Cruiser a minute later. He heard Michael call out, "Break," before Sunny sat on the floor of the back seat, whimpering with worry as the backseat car door shut.
Jeremy kept his hands curled close to his chest, pulling his sleeves over them just to be double sure he didn’t accidentally touch Sunny or Michael. He would never forgive himself if he hurt either of them. He whimpered pathetically.
“Mikey, what’s happening to me?” he begged, knowing Michael wouldn’t even have the context but not caring. He needs some answers, something to give him some stability. He needed something .
"You're having a bad day, but things are going to get better. I just need you to follow my breathing, yeah? I'm gonna over-exaggerate it for you."
“This is so much worse than a bad day,” Jeremy managed to gasp out. When had he started hyperventilating? Maybe he’d get lucky and pass out long enough for this nightmare to be over.
Before he could pass out though, he heard Michael's over-exaggerated breathing. He needed to follow that, so he did.
It took a couple of minutes of reflexively following Michael’s breathing, but eventually Jeremy stopped hyperventilating and managed to calm down enough that he wasn’t on the precipice of a total breakdown.
"There you go, Remy. Just take the time you need to feel better and then you can nap or talk with me about what happened."
Jeremy turned and curled himself against the back seats, away from Michael and Sunny. “Got in a fight... sorta,” he mumbled after a minute longer.
"Are you alright describing what happened in the fight that made it a 'sorta' fight?"
“I stopped his fist and froze it.” God, it sounded even crazier out loud.
"Like metaphorically froze it in place when you stopped it?"
Jeremy shook his head. “As in, it had a layer of ice over it,” he croaked.
"You..." Michael paused, probably processing everything he said. "Well, whoever was fighting you probably deserved it."
Jeremy let out a small, disbelieving sound. “Mikey, I just told you I froze someone’s hand . It caused burns .” Why wasn’t Michael freaking out, or pushing Jeremy away. That’s what should be happening here, Jeremy was a freak! Michael wasn’t supposed to be so calm about it!
Michael nodded as he carefully reached forward and squeezed Jeremy’s arm. “Well, we can figure out how that happened, but like I said, they probably deserved it.”
Jeremy repressed his urge to flinch away. His arm was fine, he couldn’t freeze anyone with his arm. He couldn’t hurt Michael so long as his hands remained tucked away.
“I’m going to drive us to my house in a minute, yeah? I’m gonna buckle you all in first and I’m going to need to buckle Sunny in where your feet are too. Then I’m going to look up what could have caused all of this to happen. I don’t want you to be scared of yourself or hate yourself because of this.”
Jeremy nodded pathetically. “Mikey, I’m scared,” he whimpered, curling his hands closer to his chest as Michael buckled him in. “I stopped Grant’s punch like it was nothing . And then his hand was just... covered in ice. I hurt him. Pretty badly too...”
“I’m not saying that you doing that was good to him, but he deserves it after everything he’s done to you,” Michael said as he finished buckling Jeremy in. He patted the car seat and Sunny hopped up, patiently waiting as she was buckled in as well. “We will figure this out though. I know you and you’re a good person. I’m not going to let you be scared, especially of yourself. That’s a promise.”
Jeremy whimpered again, this time from the conviction and determination in Michael’s voice. There wasn’t an ounce of dishonesty in his words, they were totally true. And if they weren’t, he was going to make them true.
Jeremy didn’t say a word during the drive home, but he did end up leaning closer to Sunny when she rested her head on his shoulder. She was so warm and it helped him relax, as she always did whenever he was panicking. Sunny was amazing and Michael was amazing and even if Jeremy still felt like the scum of the earth, he felt marginally less shitty and panicked by the time they made it home.
Michael helped to unbuckle Jeremy and Sunny, grabbing both of their backpacks as he led Jeremy inside the Mell household. “We can go lie in my room for now. I’m going to get you something to drink from the kitchen after dropping my stuff off and then I’m researching.”
Jeremy nodded meekly, just letting Michael lead him into the house. Up until Michael had gotten them into the house and went to take Jeremy’s hands. That was when Jeremy jerked back, a panicked whine escaping him. No! He couldn’t touch Michael, he couldn’t risk hurting him.
Confusion crossed Michael’s face before understanding settled in. “I won’t do that again. It’s a habit. Is it alright if I hold onto your elbow or arm instead?”
Jeremy nodded after a second. “I just don’t want to hurt you,” he whispered, bowing his head a little. God, this was too much.
“I know you would never hurt me.” With that, Michael held onto Jeremy’s elbow and led him upstairs and to his room. Sunny dashed up the stairs before them, waiting patiently for them before dashing into Michael’s room.
Jeremy nodded slowly. “I would never hurt you, not on purpose. But I don’t know how I did it or if it’s still active or-...” He took a shaky breath. “I wouldn’t ever be able to forgive myself if I hurt you.”
That got the tears started, silent sobs racking through Jeremy as everything finally caught up to him. Michael wasn’t lying, even if Jeremy hurt him he would forgive him. Even if Jeremy never forgave himself, Michael would and that fact combined with everything else that had happened that morning was just too much.
Michael helped get Jeremy into the room, having him lie down on his bed and polar bear sheets. “I’ll be right back.” He left the room and Sunny hopped up onto the bed, whining softly as she sat down beside Jeremy.
Jeremy wanted to reach out and hug her, just wrap himself around her and hide away from the world until it was more bearable, but he couldn’t. He was so scared that if he touched her, he’d freeze her and hurt her.
As if Jeremy didn’t have enough going against him, now he had to worry about some dangerous magical powers or something which was stopping him from touching the people he loved.
Sunny seemed to get it (she was insanely smart and perceptive) somehow as she moved and sat behind Jeremy, leaning her head against his side and pressing against him. She whimpered for a few moments before settling.
Jeremy relaxed a little more as she did that. She wasn’t scared of him, at least. Of course, that could all change very quickly if he hurt her, but for now, she wasn’t scared. And she was so warm and Jeremy couldn’t help but melt against her.
Michael came back in a minute later with a full glass of water. “Hey, I have hydration for you.”
“Can-... can you put it on the- the side, please? I don’t wanna risk-... risk hurting you.” Great, he was so worked up still that his stammer was out again.
“Yeah, of course.” After he put the glass down on his side table, Michael hopped into bed with his laptop. “I’m going to start looking into this, so you just calm yourself and relax as best as you can right now, okay?”
Jeremy nodded and slowly sat up, careful to keep his hands well away from Sunny, even as she wormed her way into his lap. He couldn’t help but let out a small, slightly hysterical chuckle at that. She was such a cuddle bug.
As he did that, Jeremy saw Michael glance over before scooting closer. “Remy, do you trust me?”
“I do,” Jeremy replied instantly. He trusted Michael more than anyone, except maybe his dad.
Michael put his laptop to the side before holding his hands out expectantly. “Then trust me when I ask you to hold my hands.”
Jeremy whined and squirmed, but he still reached out slowly. His hands shook, and he was so close to taking Michael’s hands when he pulled back, curling them back to his chest. “I can’t! I can’t do it. I’m sorry, Mikey, but I-“
“You can do it. I trust you, Jeremy, and you trust me. Even if you don’t trust yourself, I do, so please do this.” Michael patiently waited, his hands still outstretched.
Jeremy took a deep breath. Then another. Then he closed his eyes and reached out, lightly resting his hands on top of Michael’s, not squeezing or even holding them. Fear pumped through him as he waited for Michael to cry out in pain or to be disgusted with how wrong Jeremy was for existing, but it never came.
Michael’s fingers intertwined with his own as he held Jeremy’s hands. “It’s alright. I’m fine and you’re fine. We’re all well and good, Jeremy. Look.”
Jeremy cracked one eye open, then the other. Michael was holding his hand, and he wasn’t getting hurt. Jeremy wasn’t hurting him. He sagged in relief at the realization.
“Everything is fine now, Jeremy.” Sunny nuzzled her head against Jeremy’s stomach as Michael gently squeezes Jeremy’s hands.
Jeremy squeezed back weakly. He wasn’t hurting Michael, and he and Sunny weren’t scared of him. Michael was going to figure out what had happened... yeah. Things would be okay. Michael said so and Jeremy believed him entirely.