Jeremy shifted uncomfortably as he hovered by the door to school.
This was it, time to test out how effective the aura suppression was. He really hoped it worked and that people who were usually mean ignored him. Maybe they’d even be nice for once…
There was an encouraging push in the back of his head that Jeremy knew was Squip. If he didn't do his best, at least Squip would be here to help him. With that in mind, Jeremy walked into the door. He could do this. He needed to do this.
As always, he felt his voice lock up in his throat as he stared at the throngs of students. However, unlike what always happened, no one spared him a second glance. There were no harsh glares or cruel smirks. “ It’s... working... ”
" I told you that everything would be better once you could control your aura. Keep it up. Also, there'll be the women’s varsity lacrosse team coming by in a second. Wave to them and smile as if you're starting to get stoned so it's a chill and not too overenthusiastic of a smile. "
Jeremy gave his confirmation mentally before spotting the girls Squip meant. He walked in their direction, which was on the way to his locker, and shot them what he hoped was a friendly, chill smile. He was more than a little surprised when he got some enthusiastic smiles in return, as well as a few almost flustered sounding giggles from a couple of them. What?
" They enjoyed the smile and wave you gave them. They were having a bad day, as they lost their game this weekend. I overheard it from some passersby. You encouraged them and some of them seem to realize that you are attractive to them, hence the giggling. "
Jeremy’s cheeks darkened as he glanced over his shoulder at the team. One of the girls was doing the same, and she turned bright red and looked away. This was too weird, but in the best way. Even if Jeremy wasn’t necessarily attracted to them (he was pretty sure he was demisexual, not that he really had much to go off of), the fact that he might be attractive to them was just... mind blowing.
" It should not be surprising that you are attractive, Jeremy. You may not be conventionally attractive to your peers, but you are uniquely attractive to both females and males. "
That caused Jeremy to halt when he made it to his locker. " What was so surprising about what I said? "
“ Guys might find me attractive too? ” he asked softly. The smallest spark of hope lit in his chest. Maybe, it was possible that he stood a chance. If he was even a little attractive to-... No, don’t get excited. He wouldn’t risk it. It wasn’t worth it if he was wrong.
" Guys do find you attractive, son. Is there anyone in particular that tickles your fancy? That sparks your interest? "
Jeremy fiddled with his cardigan. “ Well, yeah. Kinda. I think so, anyway. I might like Michael... a lot. ” He hadn’t even told his own dad about this yet, and he was coming out to Squip, who he knew for less than a week. It was a lot.
" What makes you think that you might like Michael a lot? While you explain, open your locker and get your things. You have drama class first today. "
Jeremy headed over and started putting in his code. “ Well, I have one other friend, Christine, and my feelings for her are so different than what I have for Michael. I trust him more than anyone and I feel safe with him too. And I just... He makes me feel warm and loved, even if it’s just friendship for him. He’s amazing and funny and kind and sweet and just... I wanna spend the rest of our lives together, and I think he wants to as well, but in a friendship way. ”
" First, thank you for telling me all of this. This cannot have been easy to do, and I am glad that you confessed all of this to me. " A twinge of pride filled Jeremy as he opened his locker. " Second, I think you should confide in Christine about this. It can help build your trust and friendship as well as get a second opinion. Christine may have noticed things about Michael that you might not have. "
“ You don’t think it would weird her out? ”
" Not at all. In fact, it may strengthen your bond since she will know that you trust her and can confide in her about intimate and important issues to you. "
“ But you’ll be here. Right? ” He didn’t think he could do this alone. The auditorium was in sight. Christine would be there any second.
" I will be here, but I won't be guiding you. Not unless you need it, " Squip reassured. " I believe in you though. You'll be fine. "
Jeremy sighed and headed into the auditorium, strengthening his resolve as best he could. Christine was sitting in their usual spot, right by the front.
“Hey Chrissy,” Jeremy called, managing to make his voice a little louder than normal as he walked over.
Christine's head popped up from her book before turning to Jeremy. Her eyes were wide, as they normally were when talking to him. "Hey Jeremy! What's up? You seem..." Her head cocked to the side and Jeremy could almost hear the gears turning in her head. "There's a different air about you. It isn't bad at all, but it's just... different."
Jeremy shrugged. “It’s kinda a complicated story. Mind if I explain some other time?” he asked, sitting down next to her and giving her a quick hug. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it at the moment.”
"Yeah, of course." Christine hugged him so nicely before letting go. "So, what's on your mind? I can tell that you're thinking about something."
Jeremy smiled sort of sheepishly. “Is it that obvious?” He sighed and shrugged. “I wanted your opinions, and some advice on something. I think I might... like-like Michael.”
Christine gasped before quickly marking her book before putting it away. "Really? Oh, you two would be so cute together, aaah!"
Jeremy’s cheeks darkened onto a deep blush. “I just... I don’t know if I do? I think I do, but I’m not sure, and I wanted your opinion and your opinion if you think Michael might have a chance of ever liking me back.”
Right away, Christine turned and held out her hands to Jeremy. "Explain everything to me. I'll help you understand what you're feeling as best as I can."
The next five minutes were filled with Jeremy gushing about Michael and explaining every aspect of his attraction. It was... a lot, but Jeremy felt so much better having explained it all when he was done.
When he focused back on Christine, Jeremy saw the soft, understanding eyes her friend held. "Oh Jeremy, you don't like him. It sounds like you might love him."
“Wh-What?” he gasped. Love was such a strong word. It was such a big thing. Was it actually possible Jeremy was in love with Michael? (A small voice in the back of his head, somewhere different than where Squip was, whispered, “ Yes, yes, yes. ”)
"Yeah, you clearly have more than a crush or something. You truly care about and love him in so many ways. I didn't think teenagers could love so strongly or at all, but you're proof that teens can, Jeremy. It's inspiring, actually."
Jeremy shot Christine a shy smile. “Yeah?” he asked softly. “Well do you think I stand a chance?”
Christine quickly nodded. "Totally! Honestly, I think Michael likes you. I know I don't talk to him as much as you do since we only talk with each other during lunch or if we share a class, but he so has a thing for you."
“Wait, really?” Jeremy’s eyes widened.
"Yeah! I wouldn't lie to you about this serious stuff."
Jeremy curled up a little as he hugged himself. “He likes me?” he whispered in shock. “I... He could maybe want me too?”
“He totally could. Sometimes he looks at you when you aren’t looking like you’re the world.”
Jeremy’s cheeks got even darker. “Oh, okay.” What to do with that information? Could he...? “Do you think I should ask him out?”
“Only if you’re ready for it. I think you should let Michael know how much you mean to him though and that you like him romantically before asking that though,” Christine quickly said before patting Jeremy’s hand. “I can help you with anything else involving that. I’ve read a lot of romance novels.”
Knowing Mr. Reyes and their classmates, Jeremy knew they had about ten more minutes at least before anyone else arrived.
“Chrissy.” Jeremy grinned. “Teach me everything you can.” Christine lit up and started rambling. Silently, in the back of his head, Jeremy whispered to Squip, “ Thanks for the push. ”
“ Of course, Jeremy. You deserve everything. ”
Michael woke up that morning with a bad feeling. He didn’t know why, but it put him off all day. He had a hard time focusing in his first period and Sunny was even lying in his lap during class to keep him calm. Ugh. Hopefully meeting up with Jeremy and having classes with him the rest of the day would help.
He quickly navigated to their usual meeting spot, only to stop short by a little bit. Jeremy was there, as always, except he was there talking to people. As in strangers who he didn’t know, and more than that, they all seemed to be smiling and having a good time. What the hell was going on? Jeremy hated talking to people.
Except he didn’t, he was just scared and so used to rejection that he didn’t try anymore... Oh no. This gave Michael a really bad feeling.
Sunny pressed even closer to Michael and he pet the top of her head before heading over. Wait, were there lacrosse players and theatre kids in here? And some of the popular kids too? Would Jeremy even notice him coming over? What if Squip made Jeremy not notice him because he hated Michael-
“Mikey! Hey!” Jeremy cried, pushing past some of the people around him and grabbing Michael in a tight hug. “I missed you, dude! C’mon, I want you to meet these guys.”
“Is this the infamous Michael you keep talking about, Jeremy?” a blonde haired girl asked with a smile.
“Yeah! This is my best friend Michael.” Jeremy sounded absolutely giddy and almost dazed in the best way. “Michael, this is Brooke, Chloe, Jake, Rich, and Jenna. They’re all in drama with me and we have a project together with Christine. We’re doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, except it’s gonna have zombies in it!”
Oh god, all the attention was on him and with the popular kids . At least Jeremy was still the same, if not a little out of it from how happy he was. “Doesn’t Chrissy hate changes to Shakespeare?” Then he focused on one particular person. “Rich, weren’t you at almost all of our tables in elementary school since kindergarten?”
“Yeah, that’s me.” Rich grinned, rubbing the back of his head almost sheepishly. “Sorry about not really talking to you guys much. Guess I was just kinda shy back then.”
The others chuckled and the tall guy (Jake?) pulled Rich over and hugged him from the side. “Not that you’d notice it now. You can’t make him shut up.”
God, this was weird. This was too much change and Michael did not like it. His skin was crawling and felt nauseous and-
“Oh my god, you’re the kid with a dog at school! I knew you sounded familiar,” Chloe said, causing Michael to focus on her. “Can I-“
“Chloe, he has a service dog, remember? They put up posters about it and that she’s working and to not pet her or else it could screw with his health if he has an emergency,” Jenna quickly said, glancing up from her phone. “You talked about how you have a love-hate relationship with service dogs for an hour freshman year.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” She huffed, sounding genuine but also frustrated. “I’m very proud of her for doing such a great job, but I also really want to love her.”
“Er, I think it’s time for us to get going, guys. See you later!” Jeremy interjected, taking Michael’s free arm and guiding him away.
There was a chorus of goodbyes before the group vanished from sight and Jeremy tugged Michael into a janitor’s closet. “Are you okay, Mikey? I’m really sorry, I got excited and didn’t think about how that would affect you. Are you alright?” Jeremy asked softly, letting go of Michael and giving him enough space to decide what he wanted.
Michael took a few deep breaths as Sunny pressed against his side and front. Petting her helped to center and ground him as the gross feelings went away. The bad ones he had since he woke up didn’t go. “I... I’m better now. That was just... a lot.” He looked at Jeremy before holding his free hand out. “How did all of this happen? You and becoming friends and all this? Did you already learn how to control your aura stuff?”
Jeremy nodded. “I practiced yesterday and I found a way to get extra energy so I can keep the aura suppressed longer,” Jeremy explained, taking Michael’s hand and squeezing it. “Once it was down, they just sort of... gravitated to me and picked me and Chrissy to finish off their project group.”
That made sense, but didn’t explain his bad feeling. “That’s great! I’m sure Chrissy doesn’t like desecrating Shakespeare though... But uh, what way did you figure out? With the extra energy stuff, I mean.”
“Chrissy hates it. But Reyes said we needed a ‘twist.’” Jeremy chuckled. “And as for how I did it...” He lifted his shirt and showed off his stomach. It was... Oh god, it was the gray and blue skin Jeremy had when Squip claimed him as his son. “Showing my real skin gives me extra energy since it’s not used to keep the illusion up.”
It was mesmerizing but also so disorienting to look at. But it was helping Jeremy, and it wasn’t like anyone else was going to see this... “I didn’t realize that you keeping up this illusion used up so much energy. You seem so lively and buzzed, even with you keeping your aura at bay. This is... It’s almost insane, but in a good way.”
Jeremy smiled shyly at Michael, a slight blush on his cheeks. “I think I’m more buzzed because people are actually talking to me now, more than anything else,” he admitted. “Humans are social creatures after all, even if I’m not totally human.”
“I mean, you’re still Jeremy. This doesn’t change anything for me,” Michael clarified as he squeezed Jeremy’s hand.
Then it hit him. How long had they been in this closet for? “Shit, we’re going to be late for class if we aren’t already!”
Jeremy’s eyes went wide and he tugged Michael out of the closet. “Let’s move!” He turned to grin back at Michael, looking so happy and almost wild in a way both familiar and unfamiliar. He never moved like this or acted like this when they were in public, but when they were alone, it always made Michael’s heart go funny.
The fact that they were in public, rushing to class to beat the bell, was no exception. Even if it wasn’t private or intimate, he couldn’t stop his cheeks from warming up or any other stupid love-filled thing he felt for Jeremy.
They made it to class before the bell. And the rest of the day was just as crazy, with people approaching Jeremy and Michael and just generally being friendly. And it meant they were almost always barely making their classes. The bad feeling Michael had didn’t go away at all, and as they headed back home, Michael really wanted to address the issues which had been bothering him. He knew he could talk to Jeremy about them. Jeremy was good at listening and generally tried to work with Michael not only figure it out, but to also figure out a solution to any issues Michael had.
“Hey Remy?” he asked as he exited the school parking lot. Sunny was lying peacefully in the backseat, all buckled up and adorable.
“Yeah, Mikey?” Jeremy asked, grinning over at Michael. “I know that tone. What’s up?”
“I’ve sort of had a bad feeling all day, and I finally figured out why. Well, I woke up with a bad feeling, but I figured out other things that bothered me today that I wanna talk about.”
“Okay, well tell me then.” The light tone was gone, replaced by genuine concern and care. Jeremy also sat up a little straighter in his seat and focused solely on Michael.
“Well, all the sudden and abrupt changes. I’m not saying they’re bad or anything, but they were sudden and overwhelming. Like, when we were almost late to fourth because of kids flocking over and our third and fourth and right down the hall from one another.”
Jeremy nodded slowly. “It’s a lot. And besides the group from drama, I don’t really even want to talk to most of them, they just... gravitate to me.” He sighed and shook his head. “This whole thing is kinda messy and I’m trying to balance it out, I promise. But if anything I do makes you uncomfortable, please tell me and we can work out something that’s best for both of us, yeah?” He smiled hopefully at Michael. “I’ll try to slow down the changes and we can work together to adjust.”
Michael nodded as relief filled him. “Yeah, that’ll be good. Sunny was working overtime today ‘cause of all the changes, I think.”
Jeremy nodded again, still grinning sheepishly. “Can I be totally honest? I was freaking out too.”
“You were? You seemed totally chill and excited with everything though.” Michael turned into the area where their houses were.
“I really was.” Jeremy nodded. “I went from being totally hated to either ignored or actually liked in one day. I don’t know what to do or how to act. Hell, I have three friends and one of them is my dad!” Jeremy’s laugh was a little self deprecating. “I was so overwhelmed and the only reason I didn’t totally freak is because you were there and you needed my help.”
“Well, I’m glad that I could help, even if it was unintentional.” Michael gave the best smile he could as he turned down his street. “I’m only good with a select few people, you obviously included, so it was... definitely overwhelming.”
Jeremy nodded. “Yeah. I think I just need to figure out a way to have the aura on, like, fifty percent. So people don’t hate me, but they don’t also seem to love me either. It was weird.”
“Yeah, but I’m sure you can figure that out. You’re smart.”
Jeremy blushed and ducked his head, looking away shyly. “Thanks.” He sounded really flustered too. “Hey, Mikey? Since we’re talking about stuff, there’s something I wanna tell you too.”
Michael turned into his driveway before parking and focusing on Jeremy. “Yeah, of course. Fire away.”
Jeremy was looking away and picking at his cardigan, his voice quieter than normal when he spoke. “I’m, er... I’m demisexual and biromantic, I think,” he muttered. “I don’t know for sure, but that’s what feels right.”
Oh shit. “That’s amazing, Remy! I’m so glad that you were able to figure out some stuff about yourself. Even if it’s only for now, of course, until you figure out what really feels right for you. Ah, I’m so excited for you!”
Jeremy smiled nervously and glanced up at Michael, his cheeks heavy with a dark blush which looked so adorable on him. “Thanks, Mikey.”
“Of course. We can celebrate this in the house!”
He relaxed a little more, looking up at Michael with a familiar, loving expression. He looked so cute and Michael just wanted to scoop him up and hug him, maybe even kiss him-
Jeremy said he was demi sexual. Did that mean Michael maybe stood a chance? And he was bi romantic... Holy shit, he totally had a chance! Ah! He had to go in before he lost his shit.
Before he could make any sort of move to get out, Jeremy leaned across the console and hugged Michael tightly. The soft sigh he let out as he buried his face against Michael’s neck (a familiar action from when he was overwhelmed) sent nice shivers through Michael’s body which lingered until Jeremy pulled back. He was out the car and unlocking the front door before Michael could even really register what happened.
Once he got what was happening, Michael quickly shook his head, trying to ignore the blush on his face, before he turned off the car and went to get Sunny and his bag. God, he was a gay mess.