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That Demonic Child, Heere

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“Dad, do I have to go to school?” Jeremy asked, kicking the glovebox in front of him. He was sitting in his car seat (in the front!) while his dad drove him to his first day of school. Again. This was the third school he was going to try and he knew it wouldn’t be any different. People would be mean and then he’d get angry and upset and either start yelling or go quiet and then he’d have no friends.


Even at five years old, Jeremy knew that’s how the world was. No one liked him except his dad. Even his mommy didn’t like him, she was always angry at him even when he did nothing wrong.


Add the fact that everyone except dad thought he was a girl and you had a recipe for Jeremy hating the world as much as it hated him. He didn’t know why he had to be here, but he was stuck. There wasn’t a pause or quit button like on video games.


"You have to. I'm sorry, Annie- Sorry, I meant Private." At least his dad was trying. Jeremy hadn't told his dad about his new name yet just in case his mommy overheard. "School is something everyone needs to go to. And hey, third time's the charm. I'm sure you'll do great. Actually, no, I know you'll do great."


Jeremy sighed and stopped kicking the glovebox. If his dad thought he’d do great, he’d do his very best. Jeremy really loved his dad, as much as his dad loved him, so he wanted to make him proud.


“Since I gotta go, can you tell the teachers that I’m a boy please? I even have a boy name to use, but you can’t tell mommy or she’ll get angry.”


His dad instantly nodded. “Of course, Private. I won’t tell her about your new name, but I’ll keep calling you ‘Private’ around her when I can,” he promised as he smiled down at Jeremy. “Now, what name did you choose?”


Jeremy beamed, wiggling in his seat. “My name is Jeremy.” He nodded, almost bursting with happiness. That was the first time he said it out loud. He loved his name and it felt right, like it already was his name, when he first heard it on the TV a few weeks ago.


“That’s a fantastic name, Jeremy! I’ll be sure to tell the teacher about your name.” When he pulled into a parking spot, his dad turned and held his hand out to Jeremy with a knowing wink and a smile. “Hi, Jeremy, it’s nice to properly meet you.”


Jeremy flailed, trying to sit up enough, before grabbing his dad’s hand and shaking it up and down like how he saw other grown ups do. “Nice to meet you too!” He giggled, wiggling in his seat more. 


Okay, now that he had his new name officially, Jeremy was super excited for school. Dad said he’d do great! And he had his real name now, too, so everything had to go right, didn’t it? It had to!


His dad seemed to think so as he took him into his new kindergarten class. The teacher, Miss Carlson, was waiting for him, greeting him and his dad warmly. His dad told Miss Carlson his name, which had her nodding her head in understanding. 


“Well, thank you for letting me know, Jeremy. I’ll be sure to change your name tag and tell the rest of the class.”


She seemed nice now, but it was only a matter of time before she started- no! Be positive, this was going to be his lucky charm school. His dad said so.


“Thank you, Miss Carlson,” Jeremy muttered, scuffing his shoe on the floor awkwardly but trying his best to be polite and nice like dad taught him. “It’s nice to meet you.” He hesitated, then held out his hand to shake hers. He introduced himself, that’s what grown ups did when they introduced themselves.


Miss Carlson smiled and shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you too, Jeremy. Now, your cubby has the wrong name on it right now, but I’ll change it by tomorrow. You can put your things there and then I’ll show you to your desk. I’ll also change your name tag there by tomorrow.”


Jeremy nodded and pulled his bag up onto his shoulders. “Thank you, Miss Carlson...” She was being really nice. Maybe this would be different to the other schools. By this point, most of the teachers would be giving Jeremy that look, the one where he knew they hated him already but didn’t want to say so in front of his dad. He hated that look.


Even after he said bye to his dad, Miss Carlson didn’t give him that look. Instead, she kept smiling and showed him to his desk, which had ‘Annabelle’ in pretty letters on his desk. “If you tell me your favorite colors, I’ll work on your new name tags as soon as possible,” she promised before going to say ‘hi’ to other incoming students.


Jeremy poked at his name tags, frowning a little. It wasn’t his name, but the letters were pretty. Maybe Miss Carlson could make his new name tags look the same, since he liked the yellow and blue on there already. 


He looked around, trying to see who was going to be sitting near him. There was a name which said... R-I-C-H... Rich? Yeah, someone called Rich would sit over there and next to him there was another name. M-I-C-H-A-E-L... that one was weird. Mi-ch-a-el? Mich-ael? Oh, Michael? That seemed like it might be right.


Jeremy only looked up when he heard someone come over. A boy with brown hair, overalls, and a big jacket sat down in the seat for Rich. He was staring at Jeremy with big, wide eyes before sitting quickly in his seat. “You’re new. I’m Rich.”


“I’m Jeremy,” Jeremy mumbled, feeling his words start to lock up in his mouth. What if Rich was mean to him like all the other kids his age? He was nervous, and it was starting to affect him.


Rich seemed to think what Jeremy said over, looking down at the name tag on Jeremy’s desk. “That’s not on your name tag. Did Miss Carlson mess it up?”


Jeremy nodded. “She’s gonna fix it tonight.” Rich seemed nice. Maybe this really was a good school? Jeremy did like learning things, which is what’s supposed to happen at school. It didn’t normally for Jeremy but maybe this time, because no one would pick on him.


That seemed to be good for Rich because he nodded. “Okay. Hi, Jeremy.” He seemed to be nervous too, like Jeremy, because he stared at his lap before going to grab crayons from the bucket on the table and paper before drawing.


Jeremy decided to do the same. If Rich was nervous, then it had to be normal, right? He could do this. He could be a big kid and go to school and make dad proud.


Jeremy grabbed the black crayon and started drawing a dog. He’d like to have a dog, a big black one and she could be called... Ellie! That was spelled... E-L-E, right?


After some time of drawing a few Ellies, Jeremy saw Miss Carlson come over. She knelt down next to Jeremy, looking over his work. “Oh, who are you drawing? Is it a lot of cute dogs?”


Jeremy nodded, showing his pictures proudly. “They’re the dog I want. Her name is Ellie, see?” He pointed to where he wrote her name in the top corner of the paper.


Miss Carlson hummed happily before seeming to think. “You are really close on the name, but can I help you out?”


Jeremy nodded. “Yes please.”


Miss Carlson, in her pretty letters, wrote E-L-L-I-E. Oh! “There you go, Jeremy.” She seemed to want to say more, but she looked to the doorway of her classroom. “I’ll be right back.” With that, she left.


Jeremy traced the new letters with his finger. So Ellie had an extra L and an I in it? Wow, Miss Carlson was so smart. And really nice. She was the best teacher ever!


While Jeremy tried to write Ellie’s name right this time, Miss Carlson came back over with a boy who had glasses and a big yellow shirt on. He was picking at his shirt at the bottom and wasn’t looking at anyone, though Miss Carlson held the boy’s other hand. “Jeremy, this is Michael. Michael, this is Jeremy. He is your new table friend.”


Michael glanced up at Jeremy, but he only waved and didn’t really talk. It didn’t seem like he didn’t like Jeremy though, but he wasn’t going to talk.


Jeremy nodded to himself. He understood how hard talking could be, he never liked saying the first thing in case he somehow did something to make people be mean to him. Jeremy just waved back and curled in on himself a little. He didn’t want to get into Michael’s space.


Michael’s eyes seemed to get bright when Jeremy waved, but he didn’t say anything as he sat in his seat. He didn’t color or anything, just messed with his shirt.


Rich spoke up then, looking up from his drawing full of blues, greens, and yellows. “Michael doesn’t really talk. He’s answered questions though.”


Jeremy nodded. “Sometimes I don’t talk too,” he said, even though his voice was really quiet. “My dad says it’s fine...” 


After a moment, Jeremy had an idea. If Michael didn’t talk, maybe he couldn’t be mean to Jeremy so they could maybe be friends. How did his dad say to make friends again? Find something you both like? But Michael didn’t talk! How could he-


Oh wait! Jeremy slid his drawing closer to Michael. “This- this is Ellie. She’s the dog I wanna get...” There. Now Michael could see Jeremy liked dogs. Maybe Michael liked dogs too. That would be good.


Michael looked up from his shirt at his drawing. He stared at it for a minute before grabbing a sheet of paper and some crayons. Jeremy got confused for a second before he saw that Michael was trying to draw Ellie.


Was this what it was like becoming friends? Jeremy liked it if it was. Making friends made his chest feel all warm and fluttery. 


“Ellie will be nice and black,” Jeremy explained as he watched Michael draw. “And she will make pig noises when she’s happy.”


Michael didn’t say anything, but Jeremy watched Michael finish Ellie before grabbing a pink crayon from his pile. He then started to draw a pig next to Ellie. Both Ellie and the pig had big smiles, and Michael wrote something on top of the paper before sliding it and the Ellies to Jeremy. F-R-E-N-S.


Frens? Oh! Michael wrote friends! Were they friends now? “Is the piggy and Ellie friends? Like us?” he added nervously. He really wanted to be friends with Michael. He liked Ellie!


Michael quickly nodded, though he still wasn’t looking at Jeremy yet. He was staring at the table as he grabbed another piece of paper and started drawing some more.


Jeremy scooted a little closer to Michael and started drawing again as well. They were friends! Jeremy had a friend, his first ever! He decided to make something for Michael since they were now friends and that’s what friends did in tv shows, they made each other presents.


Jeremy did his best to draw Michael and him playing outside in the sun. Michael had the yellow shirt on,and it was the same color as the sun! And Jeremy drew himself in his green cardigan which was really soft and comfy. He did his best to write friends and then wrote his name and Michael’s name (he’d been practicing writing Jeremy already, and he could see Michael’s name on the table).


After he was done, Jeremy nodded and held out the paper for Michael to take.


Michael looked up then, and he actually looked at the paper and then Jeremy. It seemed to take him a bit to get what was happening before he took the paper and looked it over. Jeremy couldn’t tell what Michael was feeling, but he had to be happy, right-


Wait, why was he crying?


Oh no! Jeremy had made Michael cry! Now Michael wouldn’t want to be his friend which was sad because Michael seemed like he’d be really nice.


Jeremy pulled back and curled up into a ball, being careful to keep his feet off the seat. “M’sorry. Please don’t cry,” he whispered, watching Micheal and feeling like he might cry.


“Thank you,” Michael said, which caught Jeremy off guard. Why was he thanking him? He made Michael cry!


Before he could ask, Michael slid the paper he was drawing on over to Jeremy. He had drawn himself and Jeremy together with Ellie in the middle. He tried to write all of their names and they were all smiling.


“Oh,” Jeremy whispered, uncurling himself and looking at the paper properly. “You drew us too. And Ellie!” His eyes widened. So Michael was crying because he was happy? Jeremy didn’t know that was a real thing, he’d never been that happy before that he cried. “Thank you, Michael. Is this for me to keep? ‘Cause you can keep that one I made... It’s a present for you.”


Michael nodded before running off. Wait, where was he going- Oh! He was putting Jeremy’s drawing in his backpack.


When he came back, Michael was smiling wide, even if he sniffled a lot. “Thanks.”


Jeremy smiled at Michael too. “I’ll be back.” He jumped to his feet and ran over to his cubby and put the drawing away, being careful to keep it away from his drink bottle so it didn’t get ruined. He was putting that drawing up on the wall in his room and keeping it safe forever.


As soon as he was sure the picture was safely away, Jeremy ran back over to his seat and beamed at Michael. “You’re really nice, Michael. Thank you.”


Jeremy watched Michael’s eyes widen (wow, they could do that?) before he wiped his eyes. “You’re nice too.”


Jeremy blushed. No one except his dad ever said he was nice before. Jeremy really wanted to give Michael a hug, because Michael was making him feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but he didn’t know if that was allowed. Did friends hug friends? He wasn’t going to risk it. 


“I like your glasses,” is what Jeremy said instead.


Michael kept wiping his eyes for a bit before he stopped. “Thank you. Ina picked ‘em out for me.” He looked at Jeremy with a smile, even if he looked like he needed a hug since he just cried.


Jeremy hummed. “Who’s Ina? Is that someone you know?” It was probably one of Michael’s friends. He seemed really nice so he must have loads of friends.


Michael nodded as he put his crayons back. “Yeah, she dropped me off. Mama can’t ‘cause of work. Ina works at home.”


Jeremy blinked. Was Ina like a big sister? He could ask properly later. Right now, he had a big feeling to deal with which he couldn’t hold back any longer. “Can I give you a hug please?” he blurted out, the words louder and more messy than anything he’d said today. Oh no, he was being weird again!


That didn’t seem to bug Michael though. He just blinked before nodding and holding his arms out. “Yeah. Hugs are nice.”


Jeremy smiled nervously and awkwardly shuffled to Michael. He grabbed him in a gentle hug, his brain getting really worried. What if he was being weird? What if he was smelly? What if Michael didn’t actually want a hug and he called Miss Carlson over and got Jeremy into trouble?


Michael grabbed Jeremy and hugged him back, causing all of Jeremy’s worries to go away. He even hummed as he hugged Jeremy. “You’re nice to hug.”


“You’re nice to hug too,” Jeremy whispered back. He really was. Michael was warm and soft in the perfect way.


Before Jeremy could say that, Miss Carlson cleared her throat and called for class to start. Michael quickly let go and sat back down in his seat, but he gave Jeremy a smile. It made Jeremy’s heart warm up in the best of ways.


Jeremy also sat down quickly, not wanting to get in trouble. He couldn’t stop smiling, though. Even when Miss Carlson started calling attendance, Jeremy kept smiling. He had a friend. He had a friend who gave him a present and a hug. No one except dad had ever hugged him, not even mommy.

The rest of the day was fun. Michael spent it with him, helping him with any activities Miss Carlson had them do. They sat together at lunch, played together during recess, and slept next to each other during nap time. Jeremy couldn’t help but be happy.


As the day was ending, Michael sat with Jeremy in one of the play areas where no one else was. There were people around it but not in it. Michael was fiddling with his shirt while Jeremy got out the blocks for them to play with. He didn’t seem sad, but he seemed... There was something wrong.


Well, Michael didn’t talk much but he did speak to Jeremy a little. Maybe he should ask? Since dad would ask if Jeremy was okay when he was upset, it must be the nice thing to do.


“Hey, Michael. Are you okay?” he asked softly. There were a lot of people nearby and that made Jeremy feel nervous which made his voice quiet. They weren’t super close, but they were around and it was a lot.


Michael looked up at Jeremy then, looking... He didn’t know the word for what he looked like. “You’re gonna be my friend tomorrow? Y’re not gonna not be my friend?”


Jeremy’s eyes widened. Why would Michael think that? Had Jeremy been mean without realizing?


“Yes I will! You’re my first ever friend.I really like you!” he cried, almost dropping the blocks he was carrying. Then he paused. “You’re... still gonna want to be my friend, right? ‘Cause I’m really sorry if I did something to make you not like me. I really do like you. I wanna be your friend.”


“No, y’re not mean. Kids...” Michael looked down at his lap, whining a little as he pulled some string from his shirt. “They never stay my friends. You’re my longest friend.”


Jeremy frowned at that and scooted closer to Michael. “Why don’t they like you? You’re really nice. You come up with cool things. You’re really fun to play with! You’re such a great friend, I think.”


Michael shrugged as he squirmed where he sat. “I dunno.” He looked a bit sad as he kept tugging on the string from his shirt. “But... thank you. For being my friend.”


Jeremy scooted even closer, not touching Michael but being as close as possible. Jeremy knew that he didn’t always like being touched when he was sad, so he would do the same for Michael.


“Thank you for being my friend,” Jeremy whispered. He was going to tell Michael a secret, about how many schools he’d been to, so he didn’t want anyone else hearing. “I’ve never had a friend before. Everyone doesn’t like me at the two whole schools I went to before. They all were really mean and nasty. I tried my best to be nice...”


Michael’s face changed from sad to... surprised. That was the word. Well, he still looked sad, but more surprised. “What? But you’re nice! And really fun! They’re... they’re... stupid.”


Oh wow, Michael said a bad word for him! He must really mean it. “Thank you, Michael. You’re... if I’ve never had any other friends, could you maybe be my best friend?” He asked, fiddling with his fingers. “You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met, even as nice as my dad! I really wanna always be your friend...”


“You... you wanna be my best friend? Me ?”


Jeremy nodded quickly. “Yeah! Of course I do, you’re so nice and cool and friendly!”


Michael went to move before stopping. “Can I hug you? Please.”


Jeremy nodded. “I really like hugs. Only dad hugs me usually.” He scooted closer so he was sitting right next to Michael, leaning a little against him.


Michael’s arms wrapped around him in a warm hug. Jeremy felt safe and loved in this hug. “I love hugs.”


Jeremy couldn’t help but relax. This was almost as good as dad’s hugs. Wow, Michael was a really good hugger.


“I think I love hugs too.” Jeremy sighed, squeezing Michael closer.


They kept hugging until Jeremy heard his name called. He looked up to see Miss Carlson smiling at him. “I’m sorry to stop this hug, but your dad is here to pick you up, Jeremy. “


Jeremy didn’t want to let go. He didn’t want to leave Michael, just in case. He almost wanted to cry because what if Michael didn’t actually like him tomorrow even if they were best friends?


“Oh- Okay...” He sat back and scrubbed at his eyes, lifting his glasses a little. He looked at Michael. “Do you wanna come meet my dad? He’s really nice, like you.”


Michael nodded as he stood up, offering his hand to Jeremy. Only his dad had ever wanted to hold his hand before. “You think he’s nice, so he’s gotta be nice.”


Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. Today was the best day ever, even if Michael wasn’t his friend tomorrow. He took Michael’s hand then looked up at Miss Carlson.


“Can Michael come and meet my dad, please? He’s my best friend and I want my dad to get to meet him,” he asked the teacher, who was still waiting nearby.


“Of course.” Miss Carlson was smiling so wide. It had to hurt to smile that much.


Jeremy almost wanted to ask, but at the same time he thought she might have had the bad look in her eyes, maybe just a tiny bit, so he didn’t say anything about it.


“Thank you, Miss Carlson.” Jeremy tugged Michael over to his cubby and grabbed his stuff, then they headed to the door where Jeremy could see his dad waiting. “Dad!” he cried, louder than he’d been all day. How could he not be? His dad was here and his dad was his other best friend (besides Michael now). “Hi dad!”


“Hey there, Private!” His dad gave him a hug before looking at Michael. Michael was standing near the door, a bit away as he messed with his shirt again. “Oh, who is this?” As he asked, he waved at Michael with a smile. Michael waved back, but didn’t come closer yet. It was like how he was when Michael first met Jeremy but quieter.


Jeremy smiled and took his dad’s hand, leading him closer but not too close. He didn’t want to make Michael uncomfortable. 


“This is Michael. He’s my best friend and he’s really, really nice.” Jeremy explained, smiling first at Michael then at his dad. “Michael, this is my dad.”


Michael waved again and didn’t look at anyone. He looked at his feet instead. “Hi, Jeremy’s dad.”


“Well hello there, Michael. It’s so nice to meet Jeremy’s best friend.” His dad squatted (his dad told him that was what it was called a few days ago) and smiled at Michael. “If Jeremy is saying you’re so nice, you have to be.”


Michael’s cheeks got red as he kept looking at his feet. “Thank you.”


Jeremy let go of his dad’s hand and instead scooted closer to Michael, holding out his hand in case Michael wanted to take it. 


“You don’t have to be nervous, Michael. My dad is nice like you,” Jeremy whispered.


“Sorry,” Michael whispered back before he took Jeremy’s hand. He still didn’t look up.


“It’s alright, Private. I can tell he’s a nice boy. Plus, I’m new.”


Jeremy squeezed Michael’s hand. “You don’t have to be sorry. I just want you to feel comfortable,” he whispered.


He looked up at his dad again. “Michael drew me a picture of us and Ellie, and I drew him a picture too.”


“Oh really? I can help you hang it up in your room when we get back.” As he said that, he kept smiling. “While it’s nice meeting you, Michael, we do need to get going soon.”


Jeremy nodded. He held out his arms, not letting go of Michael’s hand. “Can I give you a goodbye hug?” he asked.


Michael glanced up for a second before nodding. “Yeah, of course.”


Jeremy stepped forwards and grabbed Michael in a tight hug. “See you tomorrow, Michael.”


Michael hugged him back and held on for a bit before letting go. “See you tomorrow, Remy- Sorry, I meant Jeremy.”


Jeremy blinked. “You can call me Remy. It’s a nickname, right?” He heard that friends gave their friends nicknames. “Can I call you Mikey?”


That got Michael looking up and at Jeremy. “You... Yeah, if y’wanna.”


Jeremy smiled nervously. “Well... bye.” He stepped back and took his dad’s hand. What was he supposed to do now? He never really had to say goodbye to anyone before.


Michael waved to Jeremy, giving a smile before going with Miss Carlson back into the classroom. Meanwhile, Jeremy’s dad walked with him out of the school. “So, I’m taking it that third time's the charm?”


Jeremy nodded. “Yeah, I have a friend for the first time ever, and Miss Carlson is nice and doesn’t act like I’m always mean. And there is a boy who sits near me who is also kinda nice, I think. He wasn’t being mean anyway.”


“That’s great! I’m so glad that you found the place for you. How about we celebrate with a quick stop for ice cream?”


“Really?!” Jeremy cried. “Can we sit in the car and eat it? I don’t want the big kids to spill their ones in my hair again.”


“Yes, of course, but you’ll need to eat it all over the bowl so it doesn’t spill in the car,” his dad told him as he unlocked the car.


Jeremy grinned. “I will!” This really was the best day ever!

Jeremy was really loving school. Having Michael around meant that Jeremy was never alone, and for some reason all the other kids left him alone. It was awesome! Not only did Jeremy get a best friend, he also was finally able to learn at school without being worried about everyone else!


It couldn’t last.


Michael had been feeling a little sick the day before, but Jeremy was sure that he would feel better by the next day. It was only because he ate the ice cream too fast, he promised he was fine. Except Jeremy was sitting in his seat, waiting, and Michael was running late. He always came into the classroom when the big hand on the clock was pointing at the four, except he wasn’t here and it was already almost at the six. And what was worse was Jeremy was starting to hear the whispers again. People were talking about him.


The bit of scrunched up paper hitting the back of his head made Jeremy start to feel sick. It was happening again. People were starting to be mean to him. Oh no…


Rich didn’t even say anything or look at him. He had seemed so nice too…


Miss Carlson, though, had come over to Jeremy and picked up the paper after talking to someone else. “Are you alright, Jeremy?” At least she was still being nice.


Jeremy nodded as he tried his best not to cry. Maybe it was an accident. This school had been so good so far, he didn’t want to have to leave because people were being mean again... 


“I’m okay, Miss Carlson,” he said, nodding again.


“Are you sure? No one should have thrown paper at you,” she told Jeremy. “It’s okay to be upset.”


Jeremy nodded again. “I’m used to it.” He sighed. “It always happened at my old schools. Those were the nicer days. They weren’t so mean then.” He poked at the scrunched up paper that now sat in front of him. It looked like someone drew a poop on it. That was pretty mean.


“You being used to people being mean isn’t alright either,” she said as she took the paper from his desk. “Now, Michael isn’t here today. Do you wanna stick by me?”


Jeremy nodded. “Yes please.” She would hopefully protect him if things got worse. Things always got worse.


Miss Carlson gave him a smile then. “Alright. You wouldn’t mind being my special helper then?”


Jeremy tried for a smile. “I would like that.” It would be nice to have someone nice while people were being mean. “What do I need to do?”


Throughout the day, Miss Carlson had Jeremy doing tasks for him that other kids couldn’t do. If anyone was mean to him by saying mean things or tossing things, they got talked to by Miss Carlson. She was the nicest teacher Jeremy ever had.


Miss Carlson made Jeremy feel safer at school than he had ever felt with any teacher ever. He was staying at this school for sure.


Miss Carlson was great, but she couldn’t be there all the time. When she ran off at recess to stop some people fighting over a ball, Jeremy tried to hide in the classroom, but they found him. The bullies. They always found him.


“Where are you going, pipsqueak?” one of them called. Jeremy didn’t remember his name. He stayed quiet, instead just trying to focus on heading back to the classroom.


Then he got shoved to the ground. Jeremy felt tears form because he scraped his hands and knees and it hurt! “Hey! Listen to us! Don’t be mean.”


Jeremy tried to push himself to his feet, or at least to be sitting up, but he was pushed back down again. And when he tried to open his mouth to tell them to stop, nothing came out. It was like his voice had disappeared.


“What, you only talk to that weird kid? That’s so mean. We’re gonna tell on you.” Some of the kids laughed at him as they pushed Jeremy down once more.


Jeremy tried to tell them that he wasn’t trying to be mean, that his voice just wasn’t working, but it wouldn’t happen. No matter how hard he tried, all he could manage was a small squeak. 


He tried to get up again, sniffling and trying to stop his tears. If the bullies saw him crying, it only made everything worse. Just like getting a teacher. If he tried telling a teacher, they’d say he was the mean one and then Jeremy would get in trouble, not the bullies.


“What a crybaby.” One of the kids mimicked him and the others all laughed. They high fived each other before sticking their tongues out at Jeremy and leaving.


Jeremy’s arms shook as he tried to push himself up again. He couldn’t help but cry as his hands and knees hurt. Was he bleeding? Oh no, blood made him feel sick.


His tummy started bubbling in a bad way as he managed to turn over and sit on his butt. Seeing the blood on his hands and knees made him want to be sick.


“-remy?” Suddenly, Miss Carlson was by his side, kneeling by him. “Oh, let’s get you all cleaned up. Can you stand or do you want me to pick you up?”


Jeremy opened his mouth again, but no sound came out, just sick feelings so he closed it again quickly. He made grabby hands at Miss Carlson, looking up at her pleadingly. She was nice, right? She’d look after him. She had to. He felt like he’d break into little pieces if someone didn’t look after him or call his dad to come look after him.


She seemed to get it as she picked him up. “I’m so sorry, Jeremy. I’ll help patch you up in class.” As she walked to their class, Miss Carlson seemed to think. She did that a lot. “If I list off what someone did to you, could you nod when I’m right on what happened?”


Jeremy clung to her as best he could without hurting his hands. He nodded. Even if he couldn’t speak, he could nod.


Once they were in the classroom, Miss Carlson sat Jeremy down in the comfy chair by her desk. She got out some bandaids and other things before listing a few things that didn’t happen. “So none of those. Did you get shoved by more than one person then?”


Jeremy paused, then nodded. He didn’t like lies, they made his tummy feel weird. Even though telling a teacher usually meant things getting worse, Jeremy didn’t think he could let his tummy feel worse off than it already did. He didn’t want to be sick.


“If I told you names of your classmates, could you tell me who the people who hurt you are? They should not have done that to you in the first place. I am so sorry, Jeremy.”


That... wasn’t a lie? Miss Carlson actually thought that Jeremy shouldn’t be hurt like this, which was... different to most people. Jeremy decided he really liked this teacher a lot, she was amazing.


He nodded slowly. Even if he didn’t exactly remember their names, he could try. If Miss Carlson was gonna be so nice to him, Jeremy would try his best to do what she wanted.


Miss Carlson helped him figure out who were mean to him by asking which desks the kids sat at. He could put faces to desks that way, so it helped. She made sure Jeremy was safe for the rest of the day, and she told his dad everything that happened when he came to pick Jeremy up.


Jeremy waited until all the other kids had gone before going over to see his dad. It wasn’t long, just waiting until the clock was pointing to the seven instead of the six, but it was long enough. He stayed clinging to Miss Carlson’s leg right up until the last student left the room, at which point Jeremy raced over to his dad and clung to him, crying hard. He needed a dad hug. Nothing else compared (well, maybe a Michael hug but those were a special case).


“Woah, hey Private.” His dad picked him up and hugged him, keeping him held and against him even after the hug ended. “I’m so sorry about what happened today. That wasn’t fair to you at all.”


Being with his dad and knowing the other kids were gone, Jeremy felt his voice unlock. It was like someone pressed a button and it turned back on at last.


“Why do they all not like me? I’m not mean. I try so hard to be nice but they all say I’m mean!” he whimpered, his voice still soft and croaky but working at last.


“I don’t know, kiddo. I’m really sorry.” His dad pressed a kiss to Jeremy’s head before he took Jeremy’s backpack and lunchbox from Miss Carlson. “When we get back home, we can cuddle and you can watch whatever you want. I’ll even let you have two bowls of whatever snack you want.”


Jeremy nodded before he realised something. “Is mommy home?” Mommy was sometimes home after school. He really hoped she wasn’t, she was mean and would probably blame Jeremy for getting hurt in the first place.


“No, she’s still on her business trip. She won’t be back until Monday,” his dad told him before he looked to Miss Carlson. “Thank you so much for helping him today.”


“Oh, of course. I hope you feel better, Jeremy. I promise that tomorrow will be a better day.”


Jeremy looked at Miss Carlson and paused. Then he made grabby hands in her direction. As soon as his dad let her take him, a little confused, Jeremy cuddled Miss Carlson tightly in a hug, trying to show her just how happy and nice she made him feel, even on the bad day like today. “Thank you, Miss Carlson,” he whispered.


“You’re welcome, Jeremy.” She gave him a squeeze and a smile before she eventually gave him back to his dad.


Jeremy held onto his dad tightly, not really noticing how he started sucking on his thumb. He was tired after today, he just wanted to cuddle with his dad and sleep. Everything hurt and he just wanted to feel loved and sleep. And maybe see Michael. He’d be nice to cuddle with, he was warm and soft, like a teddy bear but better.

He didn’t see Michael until the next day at school. Michael was sat down in his seat, his arms criss-cross on the desk with his head there. He looked tired, but he still smiled when Jeremy came over. “Hi, Remy. Sorry, I was sick.”


Jeremy almost ran over when he saw Michael, only stopping when he was right next to him. He sniffled and scrubbed at his face. He had been crying a few minutes ago, he didn’t want to come in. Michael and Miss Carlson were the only reasons he did.


“H-hi Mikey. Are you feeling better now?” he asked, his voice softer than usual. He was still a little scared after yesterday. What if Michael decided that Jeremy was mean too, and decided to leave him properly?


“I still feel icky and bleh. I’m better though and came. I missed you,” Michael said. “I don’t wanna do much today. I’m gonna be boring. Sorry.”


Jeremy sat down in his seat. “I missed you too.” He nodded. “And boring would be good today. Anything that means we stay away from the people on the green mat tables.”


Michael frowned at that. “Why?”


Jeremy paused then put his hands up on the desk face up, so the band aids were on display. They weren’t the cute hello kitty ones Miss Carlson had given him yesterday, but they were covered in stars which was also good.


Michael gasped before frowning even more. “Oh no. I’m sorry they were mean to you. Do they hurt?”


Jeremy nodded. “A little. But everyone was mean yesterday, except Miss Carlson. She’s always really nice.” Jeremy whispered. Miss Carlson had said he didn’t have to join in for the writing lessons today, so long as he tried extra hard tomorrow. She was so super nice and Jeremy thought that he might love her a little, like how he loved his dad and Michael. Not as much, but a little.


“Miss Carlson is the best. She is my teacher friend and was my first friend. Well, you’re really my first. I dunno if she can be my friend right now. Y’know, ‘cause she’s our teacher.”


Jeremy thought for a second about it. “I think she can be our teacher friend.” He nodded after a moment. “Because she looks after us like friends do, but she’s a teacher too.”


Michael nodded before sniffling. “She said I can lie down like this. I don’t feel the best still.”


Jeremy nodded and scooted his chair close enough that Michael could lean on him a little if he wanted to. “I don’t feel so good either. My voice feels all sticky in my neck,” he admitted.


“That’s weird. I’m sorry,” Michael said before moving an arm and offering his hand to Jeremy.


Jeremy took his hand and squeezed it. “If I’m trying to say something, but the words get stuck, do you think you can say it for me please? Because I try to speak, but it only works sometimes. ‘F I’m scared or nervous, it gets all sticky and quiet.”


“Yeah, of course. I’ll help you out. That’s what friends do,” Michael promised with a smile that made Jeremy feel really happy.


Jerrmy wanted to cuddle Michael until it was time to start. “Can I lean my head on your shoulder please or would that make you feel icky?”


“Yes please. It’ll help.” Jeremy could feel Michael relax when he had his head on his shoulder. Hopefully they wouldn’t keep feeling icky as long as they stayed with each other.

Chapter Text

Jeremy was almost shivering as he waited on the play mat with Michael. His dad was coming late, which meant Jeremy was going to be able to meet Michael’s moms: Mama and Ina. He was really nervous.


At this point, Jeremy had known Michael for a while. It was...April and they met in January. That was a really long time, but Jeremy hadn’t met Michael’s family before. They always came later.


“M-Mikey, are you sure this is okay?” Jeremy whispered, fiddling with the sleeve of his cardigan. “What if they don’t like me?”


Michael looked at Jeremy with wide eyes. "Wh- They like you! They'll love you when they meet you." He seemed sure of that as he nodded.


Jeremy hugged himself. “I really hope so...”


"I know so," Michael said before offering his arms open for a hug.


Jeremy blinked before scooting closer and hugging Michael. He still wasn’t used to being able to get hugs whenever he wanted. He really liked that Michael was a very cuddly person.


"They're gonna love you, Remy," Michael promised as he hugged Jeremy.


Jeremy went floppy in Michael’s arms. He felt safe here, even safe enough to ignore the teasing calls from some of the other kids who were waiting. After that really bad day, some of the kids stayed mean to him. He didn’t understand why, he was always quiet and tried to be nice, but they just hated him. It was still way better than his other schools.


Michael just held Jeremy closer when people tried to tease them, even going as far as sticking his tongue out at the kids. "They're butt heads."


Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks Mikey. You’ve made everything good. Everything in my whole entire life has been good since we became friends.”


"You've made everything good too. You're so nice and cool and... yeah." Michael squeezed Jeremy in the hug as he smiled.


Jeremy grinned at Michael and relaxed. Things would be okay. Michael was with him, things would be just fine.


It took him a minute to hear Miss Carlson calling for Michael. Michael only looked over when Jeremy poked him. "Michael, your moms are here to pick you up."


Michael grinned and quickly let go of Jeremy to help them both stand up. "C'mon, Remy!"


Jeremy wobbled to his feet (his legs had dot thingies inside them from sitting still for so long) and followed after Michael. He felt his voice get sticky in his neck, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to talk much. He tugged on Michael’s sleeve to let him know.


Michael looked at Jeremy and smiled before squeezing his hand. "It's okay." He then ran the rest of the way, going over and hugging the legs of two women. "Mama! Ina! Hi! Meet Remy, my best friend."


Jeremy waved shyly at the two pretty ladies who Michael was hugging. One was very tall and she looked a lot like Michael. The other lady had yellow hair and blue eyes, and she was shorter. Jeremy liked how they looked, but he couldn’t decide if he liked them yet because he was scared they would be mean. He really hoped they wouldn’t be.


The one that didn't look like Michael walked over after the one that looked like Michael picked Michael up. She was smiling and looked... happy to see him. "Hi there, Jeremy. Michael's told us so much about you. It's so good to meet you. I'm his mama." She squatted down and held her arms out for a hug.


Jeremy stared at her for a second. She wanted to hug him? But they just met! Still... she looked like she might be soft, like Michael. Michael gave really good hugs.


Slowly, Jeremy scooted closer to the lady, Michael’s mama, and held out his own arms, hugging her. It was very gentle, because he was worried if he hugged her properly, she would pull away and be angry with him. Mommy did that sometimes, and it always made Jeremy really sad.


Michael's mama didn't pull away though. Instead of doing that, she pulled Jeremy closer. She was very squishy and comfortable to hug, like Michael. "Is this alright? Michael told us that you love hugs."


"He does!"


Jeremy nodded and started hugging her properly. She was soft and squishy and warm, just like Michael. This must be why he was so great to hug, his mama was too!


Jeremy’s heart was beating louder than normal. Normally, his heart was quiet but now he felt very happy but also like he might cry. He didn’t understand why, though. Crying was for sadness, right? But then Michael had been so happy he cried when Jeremy met him. Was he happy crying?


He felt himself moved in Michael's mama's arms, still being hugged while his face was carefully wiped. "Are you alright, Jeremy? What's wrong?" Oh, and she sounded like she cared a lot.


Even if his voice was sticky, Jeremy tried his best to speak. “Never had a mama hug before... s’really nice,” he managed to say as he sniffled and cuddled closer to Michael’s mama.


"Oh. Well, you can have as many as you want now," Michael's mama said as she held him close again. "Is that alright with you, Jeremy?"


Jeremy nodded and snuggled as close as he could. He didn’t think he could say much more.


Michael’s mama kept him close then, and she helped Jeremy to feel very safe and happy.


“Hey there, Private. Who’s that you’re hugging?” Jeremy didn’t even realize his dad was here. In an instant, he started smiling and stepped back from Michael’s mama and ran over to his dad.


“Dad! You’re here!” he cheered, his voice getting less sticky already. “This is Michael’s mama. And his Ina,” he explained, giggling happily as his dad picked him up and cuddled him close.


“Really? Well I’d better introduce myself then, shouldn’t I? If they’re your best friend’s parents then I’ve got to know them!”


Michael’s mama stood up and held out her hand, and Michael’s Ina stood next to her. “Hi there. I’m Abigail, and this is my wife, Dalisay. It’s nice to meet you. We’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about you and your son.”


“Jason. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” Dad was so strong because he shifted Jeremy into just one arm and shook Michael’s mama’s hand while still carrying him. His dad was so cool and strong. “Your son has made a world of difference for Jeremy, so thank you.” 


Oh, they were doing the grown up version of making friends, where you talk weird until you’re actually friends. That’s when people could relax.


“Well, we’re glad to hear that they’re both helping each other out,” Michael’s Ina said as she shifted Michael so she could shake his dad’s hand. “Michael has one wall filled with Jeremy’s pictures that he drew him.”


“Jeremy has one as well.” Dad chuckled. He sounded happy and proud, which just made Jeremy relax more. If dad was happy and proud, then that meant Jeremy had to be doing the right thing before.


“I do. I keep every one of them and dad helps me put them up.” Even if his voice was still a little sticky, Jeremy found talking much easier than before. 


“You know, I’m pretty sure Jeremy might like to see Michael’s collection of pictures... Would the two of you be free for a coffee this weekend? I’m sure the boys would love to have some time away from school together.” Wait, that was allowed? Jeremy could maybe see Michael when they weren’t at school?! 


Jeremy whined a little and nodded quickly. He really wanted to do that.


Michael stared with wide eyes between his moms, Jeremy, and his dad. “Please, Mama? Ina?”


Michael’s mama seemed to think it over, looking at his ina before nodding. “If it’s alright with everyone, we would love to have you all over. We can make lunch too and have a fun play date.”


Jeremy nodded so quickly that his whole body wiggled and dad almost dropped him!


“Woah there, Private. Careful.” Dad was laughing a little as he straightened up Jeremy in his arms before smiling at Michael’s mama and Ina. “That sounds like a wonderful idea. I’ll bring over some food too, we can make it a fun afternoon. Is there anything you particularly like? Any allergies or the like?”


“We are fine with anything. Michael might not eat it though, but don’t take offense to it. He’s a super duper picky eater, and there is nothing wrong with it.” Michael smiled before he rested his head against his ina’s shoulder.


Dad shrugged. “I guess we can trial and error it until we get a proper menu for Michael, then.” Wait, that meant that dad wanted to do this more than once, which was exactly what Jeremy wanted too! “Here, if you give me your number we can sort out the address and everything later.” He gave his phone to Michael’s mama.


Michael’s mama quickly tapped on his dad’s phone screen. “Yeah, for sure. It’ll be so nice to chat while they play.” She then gave back his dad’s phone. “We need to get going though.”


“Same here. My wife is cooking tonight and she’s frustrated enough that I was running late.” Dad made a sort of worried face that looked like an upset version of a smile. Oh no, that meant mommy would be angry at Jeremy again. 


Jeremy curled up small and hid his face against his dad’s neck. He felt safer here. He also felt safe earlier when Michael’s mama hugged him. Why couldn’t she be his mama too? She was nice and actually liked Jeremy maybe.


“Well, sorry for making you later.” Michael’s Ina waved at Jeremy before grabbing Michael’s backpack, lunchbox, and jacket. “See you soon, Jeremy!”


Jeremy waved before leaning over and making grabby hands at Michael. He needed his goodbye hug.


Michael reached out, and Michael’s mama closed the distance so they could hug each other. Michael gave him such a warm and happy hug that Jeremy wasn’t sad when they had to stop hugging. “Bye, Remy.”


“Bye Mikey.” Jeremy smiled and waved before hugging his dad again. Time to go home. Oh no.


He was so worried about his mom that he didn’t realize they were home. Wait, how did they get here so quickly? 


His dad got him out of his car seat and smiled. “You can go to your room for now. I’ll talk with your mom for a bit, alright, Private?”


Jeremy nodded, ducking his head and curling up a little as he picked up his bag. If he was quiet, mommy wouldn’t know he was there and get upset.


Once dad opened the door, Jeremy slipped in silently. He felt his voice get sticky in his neck as he made his way past the kitchen, where he could smell mommy cooking already, but he didn’t stop until he was in his room.


After putting his bag on the peg, Jeremy got changed out of his school clothes into his clothes he wore when mommy was around: a light blue top which looked like a dress and a pair of leggings. Dad said the top was a tunic and it’s what princes in fairy tales wore, so Jeremy didn’t mind too much, but it still felt a little girly for him. He folded and put away his school clothes carefully, then checked the rest of his room to make sure it was clean. If it was clean, mommy might not get so angry.


There were a few stuffed animals on the floor and a shirt, so Jeremy quickly grabbed them and put them away. While he did that, he could hear mommy talking loudly to dad. Was he taking mommy’s anger for him?


Jeremy wanted to curl up into a ball but he kept cleaning. Better to be clean than not clean if mommy was around. Once everything was cleaned up, Jeremy sat down with his mouse stuffie Cheese and cuddled her close. She would protect him from mommy. She was like Jeremy, except she had a deep voice and used to be a boy.


When there was a knock on the door, Jeremy jumped in bed. “Hey, can I come in?” Oh, it was dad, thank god.


“Yeah. Come in dad,” Jeremy called, relaxing and sliding back onto the floor.


He came in, giving Jeremy a tired smile (he always had them after mommy was angry at him). “Hi Private, how are you?” As he asked, he closed Jeremy’s door.


Jeremy wiggled a little where he was standing. “Not very comfy... this looks like an Annabelle outfit instead of a Jeremy outfit... but I cleaned up my room! And look! Cheese is happy to see you!” He held up Cheese and made her squeak a few times, wiggling the stuffie to try and get his dad to laugh a little. His dad loved Cheese.


His dad laughed and smiled as he pet Cheese’s head. “Hi Cheese, it’s good to see you.” After clearing his throat, his dad looked at him. “Your room is so clean and nice too. Mommy’ll be happy.”


Jeremy’s eyes went wide. “Really? Do... do you think she might give me a hug even?” he asked softly. He really wished his mommy would hug him properly. He bet it felt even better than Michael’s mama’s hugs.


“She seems to be getting into a better mood, and she’s having a drink after she finishes cooking,” his dad said, very softly. Was Jeremy supposed to hear that? “I think you might, but I’m not sure yet.”


“Wow. I hope so. I’d really love mommy to hug me. I love her lots...” She was scary and angry but she was his mommy and he knew that she must love him too. All the mommys on TV loved their kids, and all the people at school who had mommys loved their mommys and their mommys loved them.


“She loves you lots too, she’s just in a bad mood a lot of the time.” It seemed like dad knew it, and Jeremy trusted him. He just wished mommy was in a good mood a lot.


Jeremy nodded. “Is other people also just in bad moods too? Is that why they’re mean or angry all the time?” he asked, looking up at his dad hopefully. Maybe, if he could figure this part out, he could make more friends. Either that or figure out a way to cheer up mommy.


“I don’t know, Private. Some people are just mean,” dad said before giving Jeremy a kiss on the head. “But just because people are in bad moods doesn’t mean you’re bad. You’re my special man.”


Jeremy smiled up at his dad and hugged him tightly. “I love you dad. You’re also special and nice and good.”


His dad smiled and hugged Jeremy back. “Thank you, Jeremy. That means the world coming from you.”


“You’re the best dad in the whole world.”


“You’re the best son in the whole worl-“


They were interrupted by a knock. Mommy came in, holding a glass in her hand that always made her a lot nicer. “Dinner is ready, you two. Be sure to wash your hands before coming down.”


Jeremy blinked in surprise before nodding at Mommy and smiling. “Yes mommy! I need to wash my hands anyway because look! I cleaned my whole room!” he said hopefully, waving one of his arms to try and show her. Everything was neatly folded and put away, and all his toys were put in their tubs and boxes. He even made his bed, just like how mommy liked it.


She looked around before humming and drinking some more of her drink. “It looks really good, Annie. Good job.”


Jeremy was so happy he was almost wiggling, even if mommy called him Annie. He didn’t mind since she was being nice and she even said he did good! He was being a good boy! Maybe she’d even give him a kiss goodnight tonight if Jeremy was extra good and careful when he was eating. If he didn’t spill anything, then mommy might be happy enough for that.


“We’ll be down in a minute,” dad promised before mommy nodded and left, going downstairs. “Let’s get your little hands clean, Private, and go eat. Your mommy made chicken, pasta, and potato wedges.”


Jeremy cheered and ran off towards the bathroom. “Can I have juice with dinner tonight?” he asked excitedly


“Of course. Just be careful with it. We don’t want it to stain anything.”

Going to school was really great in Jeremy’s opinion. At least, when Michael was there. The other kids left him mostly alone, they generally just ignored him, when Michael was at school with Jeremy. When Michael wasn’t there, well... Those were bad days but they didn’t happen often, and Jeremy could cope pretty well.


At least, he did until second grade when Michael and him got put in different classes. Suddenly, Jeremy was faced with hours of no Michael and without Michael, people just started picking on him even more than normal. He even got kept in at lunch most days because even the teacher didn’t like him.


Once that started happening, Jeremy almost never got to see Michael. And he was feeling so sad all the time, so sad that he couldn’t focus in class no matter how hard he tried. It didn’t help that people kept throwing things at him, even things like drawing pins when they could find them. He was lucky his glasses protected his eyes or they might have gotten really hurt from today’s ones. 


Jeremy sat outside by the car cue, far enough away that the kids couldn’t push him into the road again, but close enough that he could run into the car when his dad pulled up.


When he saw his dad’s car, Jeremy booked it for the back seat. He got in, tossed his backpack to the floor, and shut the door before sitting in the booster seat and buckling in. “Hey there, Private. How was school today? Learn anything cool today?”


Jeremy shrugged and made a small noise. He didn’t learn a thing, not that he could remember anyways. He was too busy trying to duck out of the way of what the other kids were throwing at him. He was only half successful, the big scratch on the left eye of his glasses was proof. It was giving him a headache.


His dad didn’t drive on. Instead, he looked back at Jeremy. “What does that m- Jeremy, what happened to your glasses?”


Oh no, his dad sounded upset. His dad was never upset at Jeremy, so he must have done something really wrong!


“I- I couldn’t dodge them today. M’sorry dad. I’ll... I’ll do it better next time,” Jeremy whimpered out in a small voice. “It was Leon. He kept throwing thumb tacks and some hit my glasses because I couldn’t dodge it in time.”


“You don’t have anything to be sorry for, Jeremy.” He seemed to really be thinking before he drove... into a parking spot. “Jeremy, come with me. I need to talk to the people at your school.”


Jeremy undid his belt and went to open his door. Then he paused when he realized something. “Should I bring my bag too?”


“No, just push it under one of the seats. It’ll be fine,” his dad promised as he opened the door and got out, the car parked and off.


Jeremy scurried to follow after his dad, closing the door behind him. His stomach rumbled loudly as he reached out to take his dad’s hand he was holding out. It was a big enough rumble to make him stop for a second. It hurt . He was so hungry. He was hoping to eat when he got home, like he had been for this whole week when Mr. Lukas had been keeping him in at lunch times. He wasn’t allowed to eat in the classroom, but he wasn’t allowed to leave either,


His dad looked down at him with kind eyes as they walked into the school. “You’re hungry, Private? Did I not pack you enough for lunch?”


“Didn’t get to eat it yet,” Jeremy mumbled. “M’not allowed to eat in the classroom but I have to stay in at lunch times now. Mr. Lukas says I’ve been bad...”


“You- Oh, that’s not alright. I’m so sorry, Jeremy.” His dad walked over to the principal's office, but he paused before knocking. “Michael is in the class that has Ms. Canon teaching, right?”


Jeremy nodded. “I think so... that’s the other class I think... I haven’t seen Michael since school started ‘Cause Mr. Lukas has been keeping me in every lunch...” He looked up at his dad with worry in his eyes. “Have I been bad? S’that why we’re gonna see the principal?” People only went to see the principal when they had been naughty, like when Bobby shoved Marie.


“No, you haven’t been bad,” he told Jeremy as he gave him a smile. “Your teacher and classmates have been bad.”


“Oh... really?” He didn’t quite understand what they were doing there if that was the case, but Jeremy trusted his dad to know what was best.


“Yup, and I’m going to tell your principal that and get some things fixed.” With that, he knocked and opened the door, standing by the nice lady’s desk (Jeremy was told she was nice by Michael) that was before the actual principals office. “Hi, I’m here to talk with the principal right now. This is urgent.”


She gave Jeremy a look, which meant maybe she wasn’t so nice after all, before looking up at his dad. “I’m sorry but Mr. Carter is very busy at the moment. Can it wait until tomorrow?” Her voice sounded sweet but it made Jeremy feel bad for some reason.


“No, I need to talk to him as soon as possible. This is urgent and if it isn’t taken care of soon, I will have to talk with someone in my law firm to get this sorted out.”


The lady’s eyes widened. “Please take a seat, I’ll let you know when he’s ready to see you.” With that, she stood and ran into the office. Her shoes made a nice click-clack sound as she left.


His dad nodded before going and sitting with Jeremy in one of the weird seats. “Now, I want you to come with me. You’re gonna see me get mad, but I’m not mad at you, alright?”


Jeremy nodded slowly. “So I haven’t been bad?” he asked, his voice feeling sticky again. He stared at his feet as he spoke, not wanting to look up in case his dad really did get mad at him. “I’ve been trying really hard to be good, but everyone seems to think I’m really bad.”


“You’ve been good, I promise. Everyone else is just being bad to you,” his dad said. “You’re gonna be in Michael’s class with him starting tomorrow if it’s the last thing I do.”




“Mr. Carter is ready to see you now.” The not-so-nice lady came back in before his dad could respond, and the door to the principal’s office was open now.


“Really. Now c’mon, Jeremy.” His dad took Jeremy’s hand, walking with him into the office. Jeremy sat down in the chair his dad gestured to and watched as he shook Mr. Carter’s hand.


The principal sat back down behind his desk, looking nervous. “So, Mr... Heere, was it? What can I do for you today?” He sounded kinda scared. Jeremy could almost smell him with how scared he was. But that was wrong, wasn’t it? Dad wasn’t scary, he was nice.


“I’m here to talk about the awful treatment my son has been getting in his class. No one should be treated how he has by his peers and his teacher. He has not been able to eat at all this past week to start, and he has been bullied and tormented by his peers! This is unacceptable!”


Jeremy couldn’t help but curl up a little. His dad did sound a little scary when he yelled. Jeremy didn’t like it, except his dad wasn’t yelling at him, he was yelling at Mr. Carter for Jeremy. No one had ever gotten so angry for Jeremy before, only at him.


“I- I assure you, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Heere. I’ve had no reports of any children being kept in, or any reports of bullying.” 


Jeremy suddenly got a very sick feeling in his stomach, which he knew meant that Mr. Carter was lying. He didn’t know how he knew that, he just did. His voice was feeling sticky so Jeremy just tugged on his dad’s sleeve and tried to tell him some other way, so Mr. Carter wouldn’t hear and maybe Jeremy could unstick his voice.


His dad looked down at Jeremy then with caring eyes before he squatted down to be at eye level with him. “What is it, Private?”


Jeremy leaned up and tried whispering in his dad’s ear. “He just told a lie. He knows all about it,” he managed to get out, barely loud enough to hear. His dad seemed to get the message, though, which was good.


“I have a good mind to say that you’re lying to me. My son knows it’s been reported. You just haven’t done anything about it, which is unacceptable!”


Mr. Carter spluttered. “Nothing has been reported!” he cried. That was the truth, Jeremy didn’t get the sick feeling in his tummy. He nodded a little when his dad looked down at him. “I can show you the system, there have been no reports of bullying or mistreatment of your son!”


“But have you known?”


“No!” That was a lie. Jeremy felt like he might throw up. It was so strong. If he had anything in his tummy, he probably would.


“I find that hard to believe since Jeremy says this has been happening since the first day of school. Maybe I’ll have to work with my firm on a case here-“


“There’s no need for that.” Mr. Carter sounded... something. Jeremy wasn’t sure what. “I’m sure we can arrange something to sort this out?”


“Yes, you will arrange something to sort this out,” his dad said. “You need to switch my son out of that god awful class he is in now to the other one, and he needs to sit next to Michael Mell, who will surely agree to sitting with Jeremy. They need to be in classes together.”


Wait what? Jeremy knew that he wanted to be near Michael, but needed too as well? That... Well, he was very happy about that. He got to sit next to his best friend.


“I’ll get right on that. I... is there anything else you need, Mr. Heere? Any other... complaints that your son has?” The principal stared at Jeremy with one of those looks. Jeremy knew that it meant if he said anything, he’d get in trouble. He shrunk down under the feeling, his voice going so sticky he might throw up if he tried to speak.


“Do not look at my son like that,” his dad said with such an angry and... something voice. “How dare you look at him like that.”


Jeremy scooted close to his dad and his against him, feeling almost dizzy with how scared and upset and hungry he was.


“Considering that your son is a disruptive influence in his class, I’d say that he’s gotten much more than he deserves.” Mr. Carter sounded angry too, and even if Jeremy felt the lie, he also could feel something else. It was almost like Mr. Carter was getting bigger, like he was inflating like a balloon. He wasn’t really, but it felt like that.


“It is everyone else who is being a disruptive influence! No child deserves to get anything done to them! You should know that as a principal and educator!” His dad held Jeremy close as he gave an angry look to Mr. Carter. “If Jeremy is not arranged to be in the other class and seated next to Michael by tomorrow, I will take legal action and bring what you just said into court. I’m sure the judge will be very happy to hear what you just said, Mr. Carter.”


“You’d have no proof.” Mr. Carter scoffed before turning back to his computer. “I’ll get it all sorted to avoid the headache of a legal battle, Mr. Heere, but that’s all. Your son doesn’t belong in my school or anywhere else for civilized people.”


His dad’s eyes got angry and... something Jeremy couldn’t describe as he took out his phone and waved it. “I’m sure this voice memo I’m recording will say otherwise, Mr. Carter .”


Mr. Carter went very still, almost like he turned into a statue, and his face went white. “I-I’ll get it sorted, Mr. Heere,” he repeated quietly after a moment. “Your son will be transferred to the other second grade class and he’ll be allowed to sit next to Mr. Mell.” The principal sounded a bit like Jeremy did when he got in trouble and he was saying sorry.


And you will put in Jeremy’s records that he needs to be with Michael for the rest of his classes and seated next to him as well.”


“I will.” Mr. Carter nodded. “I can only control that for as long as he’s in elementary school, but I’ll make sure the note is made.” 


Jeremy was still feeling dizzy so he just kept clinging to his dad and closed his eyes. He wanted to go home and eat something and curl up with Cheese and his dad for a bit.


“Good. We are going to get going now. Hopefully I won’t see you again soon, and neither will Jeremy.” Jeremy felt his dad pick him up before they left the office and eventually left the school.


“Hey Private, you can eat your lunch in the car. I’m sorry I didn’t bring it in for you to eat during all of that.”


Jeremy shook his head. “Feelin’ sick anyways... ‘nd my head hurts.” He thought it might be because of the scratch on his glasses.


“Good thing we have a spare pair of glasses for you at home. I’ll let you lie down for a bit and I’ll make you a big dinner. You mom left for her trip this morning so we can even have dinner in bed tonight. How does that sound?”


“Good.” His voice was still sticky so he wasn’t very loud, but Jeremy tried to show his dad just how grateful he was and how much he loved him by cuddling as close as he could. “Love you, dad.”

Chapter Text

Jeremy shuffled his feet awkwardly as he waited in the gap between the lockers and the drinking fountain. Michael was going to meet him there, as always, but Jeremy could just feel in the air that things were different today.


For one thing, he was in middle school now. Elementary had passed without too many more incidents after second grade, but middle school was hell. He and Michael only ever had two blocks together, which meant they almost never saw each other anymore. Admittedly, one of them was lunch so at least they had that, but Jeremy was struggling already. It had only been a week in the new school and Jeremy was contemplating asking if it was too late to be homeschooled by his dad.


Michael came over to Jeremy, his schedule in his hands. He was messing with the paper and Jeremy knew that meant he was thinking about something, and it probably involved his schedule. “Hey Remy. I can’t stay long, I need to go see the counselor. Mama told me I need to go see him because they really messed up my schedule.”


“They did?” Jeremy’s voice was quiet, just like it always was in public. His dad said it was a form of selective mutism, which made sense with how his voice would go ‘sticky’ when he was little. “Can... Can I go with you, please? Bradley is gonna be coming by soon and he’ll probably take a swipe at me if you’re not around.”


“Yeah, I was gonna ask for you to come with me. I wouldn’t leave you alone.” Michael stopped fidgeting with the paper to hold one hand out for Jeremy to take.


Jeremy shifted his backpack up higher and took Michael’s hand with a soft smile. He loved holding Michael’s hand, it made him feel safe. No one seemed to notice him when they held hands, only Michael. It was awesome. No scoffs or glares or anything that he usually dealt with and, of course, Michael was still just as warm as ever.


Michael walked with Jeremy to the counselor’s, Mr. Roland, office. He was going to be with them throughout their three years of middle school and was supposed to be nice. Jeremy learned that a lot of people who were supposed to be nice never really were to him. Not unless he was with Michael when they first met. Hopefully Mr. Roland would like him.


Well, he was with Micheal now, so there was that, but Jeremy had learned not to be hopeful. It just hurt more. 


He curled close to Michael as Michael knocked on the door, waiting for a reply.


“Come in!” a friendly voice called.


Michael opened the door and walked in, keeping Jeremy close. “Hi, Mr. Roland. I emailed you about fixing my schedule?”


“Ah yes! Come on in, Michael, take a seat. And I’m assuming this is Jeremy?” Mr. Roland certainly seemed nice so far. He didn’t have ‘the look’ which Jeremy knew meant someone didn’t like him. Maybe the counsellor would be a nicer person, like the kindergarten teacher Miss Carlson. He still saw her sometimes. She wasn’t as nice as she used to be, but she wasn’t exactly mean either.


“Yeah.” Michael squeezed Jeremy’s hand before he put down his schedule and shook Mr. Roland’s hand. “My teachers said that they emailed you too to help with rescheduling?”


“Yes, I did see that.” Jeremy could see that Mr. Roland already had Michael’s file up and ready. He didn’t sound too happy. “Well don’t worry, I’m sure we can work out what’s gone wrong and get you into the right classes.” He started typing. “I’m guessing you’ve already been told where the issues are?”


Michael shook his head as he sat down. Jeremy sat down in the chair next to Michael, still holding his hand. “No. I mean, I was supposed to be put in all honors classes, but my English and History aren’t. I thought those were my only issues.”


“Hmm, that’s odd. Here, let me take a look.” Mr. Roland hummed, typing something and making a few clicks. “There we go, all sorted. Unfortunately that does mean that some of your electives won’t be available. And, actually, that was another issue I’ve been told about. Apparently you’ve been put in the wrong classes for your electives anyway.”


Jeremy got a spike of intense pressure in his stomach that made his breakfast churn. Mr. Roland just told a lie, but he didn’t like it. He wasn’t lying because he wanted to. Jeremy squeezed Michael’s hand in a pattern of four: two short squeezes, a long and then another short. That meant an unwilling lie.


Jeremy saw Michael frown as he tried to think over what Jeremy did. “But those are the ones I picked when I signed up for classes last year. Those should be fine.”


“Not- er, not according to the notes you’ve got on your file.” Mr. Roland smiled apologetically. “It says here that you submitted the forms late. The only reason you were put in them for now was because of the other errors in your classes.” There! That was the lie!


The timetabling error wasn’t actually an error, if Jeremy understood his feelings right. It meant that something else was going on, and Mr. Roland clearly didn’t like it.


Michael frowned and spoke up before Jeremy could squeeze his hand. “That’s not true. I submitted them the very next day. I was one of the first people to turn their forms back in.”


“I’m really sorry Michael, I’m just going off what the system says.” That was the truth at least. Jeremy gave a single short squeeze to tell Michael it was the truth when he got the tiny, questioning look out the corner of Michael’s eye. “How about this? You take a look through the other electives and see what suits you? Maybe we can work out a compromise on this.” He started typing away again and the printer whirred to life. “While we work through that, though, is there any other issues I can help with?”


“Could... Jeremy and I be in the same classes together? I know he’s in honors English and History too.”


“I can sort that out.” Mr. Roland nodded with a smile. He pulled up another window, probably Jeremy’s file, and frowned. “Hmm, looks like he was missed in the registers too. Well, I’ll remake his one as well.” Mr. Roland glanced over at Jeremy for a moment. “According to this, you suffer from selective mutism? Is that true? You don’t have to answer verbally, just nod or shake your head, son.”


Jeremy froze when he was addressed directly but he relaxed a little after a moment. Mr. Roland was nice, and Jeremy decided he liked him.


“I see... Well, is there anyone you feel comfortable talking to? Again, you don’t have to answer verbally if you don’t feel up to it.”


Michael piped up then. “Me. We’ve been friends since kindergarten. He’s only ever felt comfortable talking to me, and I’ve sort of been answering for him whenever he’s got picked on to answer things or something like that.”


Mr. Roland nodded and started typing. “Well I am going to make some notes in his file then. In the meantime, why don’t you and Jeremy pick out some electives together instead? I’m sure you chose at least one of your old lot together. And with the changes to Jeremy’s schedule, he’ll need to select some as well.”


Michael nodded as he took the sheet of paper Mr. Roland handed over to them. He held it close so Jeremy could look it over. There weren’t many options, but they were going to have them together, so that was what mattered. Well, mainly. Jeremy still wanted them to have fun and cool electives.


Mr. Roland kept typing, so it must have been a long note.


Jeremy pointed out the language option, which both Latin and ASL as the primary focus of study. It was weird, but the description said it was so they got two useful skills: a dead language and a new way to communicate. He also pointed out the art elective and the computer science one too.


Michael frowned and looked over at Jeremy. “You’ll need to help me with languages. I’m not really good at them.”


Jeremy leaned up so he could whisper to Michael. “Of course I would, but if you don’t want it we don’t have to do it. I just thought the ASL would be useful.”


“Oh! Yeah, that would.” Michael’s eyes looked over the sheet before looking around at the few choices they had. “Uh, what’s in the computer science class? I know I love video games, but computer science seems really boring.”


Jeremy leaned up again. “It’s about coding and stuff. So we could make our own video game, or even program up robots. I know you’ve been asking dad about him teaching you how to solder ‘nd stuff.”


Michael hummed as he thought it over. “We could try it for the year and see if we like it. If we don’t, we can try another elective next year.”


Jeremy nodded excitedly. He really liked the idea of learning to code, he liked computers. They were easier to deal with than people most of the time. Plus, robots. He could totally build a robot with Michael, with him coding and Michael building it.


With that decided, Michael circled those three electives before handing the sheet back over to Mr. Roland. "These are the electives we'd like if possible, Mr. Roland."


Mr. Roland had just finished typing when Michael handed it back. He beamed at them after scanning the paper. “Excellent. I’ll sort out the schedules now.” He started typing again. “Also, you both now have instructions for your teachers. You two have to sit together in every class and you both have permission to talk, provided it’s to each other about the school work. So no matter what’s going on, Jeremy, you’re allowed to speak to Michael so he can pass on any messages you need him to. Of course, provided you’re both okay with that arrangement?”


Wait, what? No one had ever done that for him before... It would make classes so much easier! He could actually answer the questions he knew the answer to. Jeremy nodded so quickly that it made his head hurt a little.


Michael nodded as well with a big smile as he happily squeezed Jeremy's hand. Then his expression changed. "I just have one question, Mr. Roland. What did my teachers actually say about me for schedule changes if it wasn't for what they told me?"


Jeremy saw the slightest hesitation, the small flicker of Mr. Roland’s expression, before he smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry Michael, I don’t know. There aren't any comments on the files besides what I told you.” Jeremy squeezed Michael’s hand. All four were short. That was an intentional lie.


That caused Michael to frown. "But that doesn't make sense."


Mr. Roland sort of flinched. Jeremy knew Michael wouldn’t see it, but he did. “I’m really sorry Michael.” 


Michael kept frowning as he sat back in his chair. A few emotions sort of raced across his face before he asked, "Do they not like me or something?"


Mr. Roland’s expression softened. “I don’t think it’s that. You’re a lovely and polite young man, Michael. I’m sure it’s just a mix up or something.” Lie, but done from a place of kindness. Jeremy told Michael that silently.


"Okay." Michael didn't say anything else, but his eyes got a lot sadder as he looked down at his lap. "Thank you. Mr. Roland."


Mr. Roland hesitated, then held out his hand. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re a good kid, people would be crazy not to like you. You’ve got Jeremy and you’ve got me now. If you have any issues, you come see me. No appointment necessary, okay?”


Michael kept looking at his lap but nodded. He hesitated before reaching forward and taking Mr. Roland's hand. "Okay." His voice was too soft and quiet. "Thank you."


Mr. Roland squeezed Michael’s hand before pulling back. He reached under his desk and picked up some paper. He handed one to Michael, then the other to Jeremy. “Here you go, boys. And Jeremy?” Jeremy looked up at Mr. Roland with surprise. “You take care of Michael, okay? You take care of each other.” Jeremy nodded seriously as he stood up, gently tugging Michael with him.


After Michael waved 'goodbye' to Mr. Roland, he walked out of the office with Jeremy. When they walked out, Michael quickly handed Jeremy his new schedule before he scrubbed his face with his now-free hand.


Jeremy let go of Michael for a second to carefully fold up the schedules and put them into their bags. Then Jeremy grabbed Michael in a tight hug and held him as close as possible. “S’okay, mikey. They’re stupid, you’re awesome.” He whispered, not able to conjure up anything louder right then.


Michael sniffled and clung to Jeremy. "Are- are my teachers mean to me now 'cause I got diagnosed as autistic?"


Jeremy knew that must be the case, and he never lied. Especially not to Michael, who struggled enough to know what people meant normally. “Yeah, I think so... But they’re stupid and wrong, Mikey. You’re awesome and amazing and my very best friend. They don’t know shit.” Jeremy almost never swore, so this was proof how much he believed it.


"I... I guess," Michael whispered before hiccuping and holding on to Jeremy tighter. Then he murmured something that Jeremy couldn't even hear.


“Can you say that again, please Mikey?” he whispered.


"Is there something wrong with me 'cause I'm autistic?"


“No way. Never,” Jeremy replied instantly. It was as loud as possible for him right then. “You’re amazing and they’re just narrow minded and horrible if they think you’re not.” Jeremy squeezes Michael tightly.


He pulled back after a second. “Wait right here.” He nodded with determination before heading back into the office. His voice was tight but he was determined to help Michael.


“Mr. Roland?” he managed to croak. It hurt so much to speak, but he had to do this. “I need a favor. Please.”


Mr. Roland looked over from his desk with a surprised look on his face before nodding. "Of course. What is it, Jeremy?" All of his attention shifted to focus solely on Jeremy.


Jeremy wanted to crumble under the attention, not used to it in a positive way, but he stayed determined. He’d always push through his hurt or fear for Michael.


“I need to ask for Michael and me to have a day off. He’s really upset about the teachers not wanting him because of his autism,” Jeremy said with as much conviction as he could manage.


Surprise crossed Mr. Roland's eyes again before he went back to his nice and caring look. "Jeremy, you're a very thoughtful friend, but I assure you that the reason why his teachers offered for Michael to switch classes is not because of his autism." A blatant but well-meant lie.


Jeremy felt something so strange overcome him and his mouth started moving before he even realised what he was saying.


“Don’t lie to me,” he said calmly, his voice only a little softer than a normal person’s. He felt way too calm all of a sudden, and the air seemed to hold his words and vibrate around him. “You’re lying about it to be nice. I can feel it. I don’t like lies.”


Mr. Roland seemed to tense for a moment as he looked at Jeremy. His kindness didn't go away though. "I cannot legally say anything, Jeremy. I am sworn to confidentiality." That wasn't a lie. So his job wouldn't let him be honest. "Is Michael alright though? How upset is he?"


Jeremy felt the strangeness fall away and he shook his head. “Very. He won’t say it because he’s trying to be brave, but it’s bad enough that I’m worried he’ll start picking if I leave him too long. I’m the only one who can help with that when his moms are at work.”


That had Mr. Roland's eyes soften. "Can you bring him in here please? You two can wait here while I call his moms to see if they can pick you two up." He clicked his mouse a few times and looked back at his computer screen, so both of their files must have still been up. "Thankfully, they're both listed as emergency contacts for the both of you."


Jeremy nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Roland.” He turned and ran back outside. As he went, any confidence and determination he felt before melted away and he felt his throat close over once more. “Mikey, we gotta go back inside. Mr. Roland is gonna call Mama and Ina to take us home so we can have a day off,” he whispered, reaching over and taking Michael’s hands as he moved to start picking.


Michael sniffled as he didn't look away from his hands. "Okay." Wow, he... he didn't expect Michael to go along with the idea so easily.


Jeremy squeezed Michael’s hands and slowly led him into the room. He tugged Michael over to the soft couch at the side of the room, not letting go of his hands once. Mr. Roland smiled at them but otherwise remained focused on his phone, picking it up and dialing.


After a few moments, Mr. Roland started talking. Jeremy could tell it was to Ina with how he was talking to the other person on the phone. Once he knew that, Jeremy focused on Michael, who was still looking at their hands.


“Are you okay, Mikey?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper. “Can I help right now?”


That seemed to snap Michael out of it since he blinked a few times. He still kept looking at his hands. "I... I dunno." He paused before asking, "Can you hug me? Please?"


Jeremy nodded. “Yeah, but you have to hold onto my shirt, okay? With both hands.” That would be enough to stop Michael from picking, at least while they hugged. He scooted closer and wrapped his arms around Michael, pulling him closer.


Michael whined before he clung to Jeremy, holding onto Jeremy's shirt with both hands. He even rested his head on Jeremy's shoulder after he seemed to get comfortable.


Jeremy relaxed and smiled. There, now Michael could start maybe feeling better.


“Hey Mikey, something really weird just happened,” he whispered after Michael relaxed even more. Giving him something else to focus on would also help Michael. “I could talk normally to Mr. Roland for a minute, and I felt really strange.”


Michael hummed at that, probably thinking. "Strange how?"


Jeremy had to think about that for a second. “Like... buzzy and colder than normal. And my mouth was speaking without me realizing. I said things before I even thought them... It was kinda creepy, actually.”


"That... That's really weird." A pause. "Was it like someone else was talking instead of you?"


Jeremy thought about it more. “Kinda, but also not. It was like there was something else inside me, but it was still me. Does that make sense?”


"Sorta? I dunno. I was told that my brain works differently than most people's brains, so I don't think I have that 'something else' that you do."


Jeremy sighed. “Either way, it was freaky. Maybe there’s something wrong with me , and that’s why people almost always hate me.” He couldn’t help but hold Michael tighter.


"No way. People are just stupid," Michael told him as he nuzzled against Jeremy's shoulder and yawned.


“D’you wanna nap until mama or Ina get here?” Jeremy asked quietly.


"Can I? 'M not too heavy?"


Jeremy shook his head. “You’re perfect, Mikey,” he whispered, nuzzling his cheek against Michael’s.


"Thank you, Remy." Not even a minute later, Michael was softly snoring near Jeremy's ear and a little bit more of his weight rested against Jeremy.


Jeremy smiled and squeezed Micheal softly. He’d stay here until Ina got there; he was very comfy and Michael was finally relaxed. They’d be okay and Michael would see just how awesome he was.

After a long day of classes, Jeremy was tired. He didn't let Ina know that though as she dropped Jeremy off, wishing him a good day. Michael was wiped too, napping in the front seat with his head against the window.


He was tired and didn't want to face an angry mommy. Unfortunately, from the text his dad sent to his cell phone, it seemed like she was in a bad mood. He was probably still arguing with his mommy, which wasn't going to be fun. Maybe he could sneak by without being noticed this time.


Jeremy managed to unlock the front door with relative ease and he slipped in silently. The voices echoing from the kitchen were familiar, but that didn’t make it any better when Jeremy started towards his room. He had almost made it to the stairs when the very person he wanted to avoid called out to him.


"Get over here! I see you going upstairs." Oh god, she sounded furious.


"No, he stays out of this, Lucille."


Jeremy responded without thinking. He set his bag down next to the stairs and shuffled meekly into the kitchen, head bowed and hands clasped in front of him.


“Yes, mommy?” he whispered, not looking at her. That was the normal rule: he wasn’t allowed to look unless she said so. She said looking at his face properly made her feel sick.


From his peripheral vision, he could see her grimacing at him. He could also see his dad furiously glaring at her. Jeremy normally hid during fights. Did he normally look at her like this when he wasn't around?


"Did you even do the things I told you to do before I got back from my business trip?"


"That has nothing to do with what we were talking ab-"


"I'm not talking to you, Jason!"


“Yes, mommy,” Jeremy squeaked, trying his best to keep his voice even. “I cleaned the whole house while dad was working on his case, washed and folded all the laundry, and got everything prepared for dinner tonight.” That was everything. He ticked it off on the checklist mommy had left him. “And I booked the appointment to the hairdressers too.” She didn’t like his hair being so masculine. She wanted him to get it cut to a more feminine style, and Jeremy was too scared to disagree.


"You had him do what ? You told me his only chore was cleaning his room-"


"Jason, stay out of this!"


"I will not when you're treating our child like a servant! Jeremy, you can go to your room."


"No, you are staying right here, Annabelle."


"His name is Jeremy . Get it through your thick skull!"


Jeremy didn’t know what to do. He stood there, shaking and on the edge of tears which he didn’t dare let fall. It would only make mommy more upset. 


“I’m sorry, mommy.” Jeremy’s voice was thick and, for the first time in a long while, it felt truly sticky in his throat. He hadn’t described it like that in years, but it was the only way that felt right. “Sorry for making you fight with dad again.” This was his fault. Mommy never failed to remind him of that fact. It was always his fault.


Mommy went to open her mouth, but his dad cut her right off. "Don't you dare say another word to our son, Lucille. If you are not going to treat our son like a proper human being first and foremost, I do not want you in our house anymore. I can handle you taking your anger out on me, berate and degrade me, but as soon as you take it out on him and treat him like this, I will not tolerate it."


What? Was dad... kicking mommy out? This... this was Jeremy’s fault, it had to be. The tears he’d been managing to hold back came pouring out as he bowed his head further and curled up as much as possible without actually moving from his position. His whole body was shaking as he tried to process what he was hearing.


"Look, you're making her-"


"Shut the hell up, you vile woman. You became this horrible woman and have been treating Jeremy, our son, so awfully. I should have done this sooner. Get the hell out of Jeremy and I's home. You are not welcome here. Jeremy, please go to your room. I'll be there in a minute."


Jeremy hesitated, then slowly turned and walked back towards the stairs. A certain hollowness echoed in his chest as he climbed them, completely ignoring his backpack. He could barely focus enough to keep his legs moving, let alone process that he had a bag to take.


Jeremy sat in his room, on his bed, head still bowed and hands clasped daintily in his lap. Mommy liked it better when he was ladylike... but mommy was leaving? Or was that just dad being angry and not actually going to follow through? It... it didn’t feel like a lie. Jeremy didn’t know what to think, so he just stayed sitting on his bed and crying, his whole body trembling like a leaf.


Not knowing how much time passed, Jeremy heard a careful knock on his door. "Private?" When he listened, Jeremy realized it was quiet. "Can I please come in?"


“Yeah,” Jeremy managed to croak out after a second. He couldn’t really muster much more than that, his voice too sticky and sore to be of any more use. He didn’t stop shivering, he couldn’t. Everything was suddenly too cold and way too hot at the same time.


His dad came in, instantly going over and sitting next to him in bed. He reached over before holding Cheese close to Jeremy. "Cheese and I are here to check up on you."


It took Jeremy a moment to be able to reach over and take Cheese. He hugged the worn, well loved plushie close, burying his face against her. Having her close helped, but he couldn’t stop crying or shivering. 


“M’sorry Dad. You weren’t supposed to know,” he whimpered after a minute. “Mommy said you weren’t supposed to know about my chores. M’sorry.”


“She really told you that?” Jeremy sniffled and nodded. “Well, what she did was not okay. She did many things that weren’t okay, to me and you.”


Jeremy whimpered again. He was so confused about what to feel. On the one hand, he knew his mommy wasn’t treating him like a normal mom would treat their child. He’d seen first hand what that was supposed to be like with Mama and Ina. On the other hand, he knew that his mommy loved him, she said as much whenever she was drunk. She’d apologize and hug him properly, especially more recently. Ever since he turned ten, she’d been especially affectionate when drunk.


“I’m sorry for not doing anything sooner, Private. You’ve gotta be so confused right now. Is there anything I can do to help?”


Jeremy took a few deep breaths before holding out his arms, silently asking for a hug.


His dad instantly gave him a hug, holding him close. He didn’t say anything. He just hugged Jeremy.


Jeremy clung to his dad, everything still feeling too hot and too cold, but somehow manageable. The shivers died down after a bit, but his tears didn’t.


“What did I do wrong?” he asked, his hold on his dad and Cheese tightening. “Why doesn’t she love me like she’s supposed to? What did I do wrong?”


“You did nothing wrong, Jeremy. She was the one who did everything wrong. She’s not the woman who I thought she was. I’m so sorry, Jeremy.” Jeremy could feel fingers carefully running through his hair then.


Jeremy didn’t say anything, he just cried harder and clung to his dad tightly.

Chapter Text

Things got better after that heavy sadness and guilt went away. His mom wasn’t a good person to him. She wasn’t a good mom. Mama and Ina were his moms. He got to purely be himself at home without worry or fear of his mom.


That didn’t mean he didn’t miss his mommy. His mommy that hugged him when she was drunk and didn’t look at him like he was scum. He wished he could’ve had his mommy all the time instead of his mom. There was a clear distinction between the two.


It bothered him even while he was sitting with Michael in his room. Michael was looking over different lists of dog breeds that Mama gave him before she hurried off for her nursing shift. Neither of them knew why he got the dog lists, but Michael was excited about them.


“They’re all so good, Remy. How can I choose just one?”


Jeremy gave Michael a tired smile. He wasn’t feeling so energetic, even if he was excited about dogs, so he couldn’t muster his usual enthusiasm. Still, he was happy Michael was so excited.


“I dunno, dude. You just gotta go with what feels right, I guess.” He shrugged, shifting slightly. His new binder pressed a little uncomfortably on his chest. He wasn’t used to the pressure yet, but it would pass.


Michael looked over at Jeremy, focusing properly on him. He frowned after a second, putting down the list of dogs. “Are you okay? You look... off. Like you’re sad but also just... off. It’s hard to describe.”


Jeremy sighed. He would ever lie to Michael. “No. I’m not okay.” He shook his head. “I’m still feeling... weird and sad about mommy leaving.”


Michael’s frown deepened as he scooted closer. “That was... Uh, we’re going to enter high school in a few weeks, and that was the seventh grade...” He muttered to himself for a few moments. “That was almost two years ago, Remy. Maybe closer to a year and a half ago. She... she didn’t treat you right. She didn’t deserve you. She still doesn’t.”


“I know.” Jeremy nodded. “I’m just... I found something yesterday. She’d written me a note. When she was drunk, from the looks of it. Considering the fact that she had written it from a place of love, I’d say it was certainly from when she was drunk.” He sighed and pulled it out his pocket. “Here, take a look...”


“You... Where did you find this?” Michael took the note but didn’t read it yet.


“In my dad’s room. He left it out on the bed... I think he was trying to decide whether to give it to me or not. it was in an envelope with my name on it so I opened it without thinking.“


“I don’t know if I should read this, dude.”


Jeremy sighed again. “You don’t have to. But you’ve got my permission if you want.” He was just feeling weird about it all again. He missed his mommy, the one who clearly loved him. The person who wrote the note was his mommy, not the woman who she was the rest of the time.


Michael looked at the note before handing it back to Jeremy. “It feels too intimate to read. You can tell me what was in it though.”


Jeremy took back the note and tucked it away. “It says how much she loved me. And that she was sorry for how everything turned out. And she kept saying how it was all her fault, but never specified what ‘it’ was... She tried to fix it, whatever it was, but apparently it didn’t work,” he explained. That was the summary of it, anyway. It took a few reads for Jeremy to get the coherence, so maybe it was better that Michael didn’t read it just for the fact that it was hard to understand. Mommy had been very drunk when she wrote this.


“That... She might have just been very drunk. I don’t know what that could even mean.” Michael was just as honest with Jeremy as Jeremy was with him. He knew lies made Jeremy feel sick. It worked better this way, even if honesty hurt sometimes.


Jeremy hugged himself tightly. “I know it’s basically drunk nonsense but... she did love me. Somehow. This letter is like proof. And it’s just... hard to process. If she actually loved me, why treat me like she did? Hell, why do most people treat me like they do? I just... It feels like something’s wrong with me,” he admitted softly.


Michael scooted to sit right next to Jeremy, hugging him. His hug helped him feel a bit better. “I... I don’t know. I can’t really get how and why people think how they do.” He rested his head against Jeremy’s. “But I know there isn’t a thing wrong with you. You’re my best friend and the best dude I know.”


Jeremy leaned against Michael, closing his eyes. “Thanks Mikey. I just... Sometimes, I wish I understood. I mean, I’m not a bad guy, right? But people seem to decide to hate me the moment they meet me if I’m not with you.” He sighed. “It’s like I’m cursed or something, and even my own mother wasn’t immune.”


“You are not cursed. You’re the best damn person in the world and everyone else is stupid for not seeing that. They can fuck right off.”


Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks Mikey. You’re pretty damn awesome too.” He shifted to hug Michael properly, needing to contact and to just feel Michael’s warmth. It helped immensely. Jeremy always felt sort of cold these days.


“Aww, thank you, my dude.” Michael squeezed him and held him close for a good minute or two. “But uh, besides dog business, do you think you could show me your new art that you’ve made? You brought your sketchbook over, right?”


Jeremy hesitated at that. He hadn’t really drawn anything in ages, he didn’t feel any drive to create like he used to. “Er, no. I have it, but there’s nothing new in it,” he admitted. “I mean, I can show you what I’ve done, but...”


“Wait, you haven’t? But you’re always drawing.”


“I... haven’t drawn anything in months,” Jeremy whispered, almost ashamed.


Michael pulled back just enough in the hug to look at Jeremy. “What? But... You’ve drawn when we’ve hung out.”


“And you’ve seen all of those. I never completed any of them, they’re just... sketches or parts. They didn’t feel right, I guess.”


Something danced across Michael’s face. “Have you only drawn around me? But you love drawing. You said you wanted to create an art portfolio your senior year of high school. Do you... do you not feel a drive to draw anymore?”


Jeremy shrugged. “I don’t feel a drive to do much of anything anymore,” he admitted after a moment. “I just feel... kinda numb, I guess. It’s not so bad when I’m around you, but... yeah.”


“You...” Michael frowned and quickly pulled out his phone with one hand, typing on the screen as he kept Jeremy in a hug. “Hold on.”


Jeremy let Michael do what he needed to. This was pretty normal, he’d start researching something to understand it better before continuing whatever they were doing. In this case, Jeremy was more than happy to just sit there and accept the hug.


After a few minutes, Michael put down his phone and reached up, holding Jeremy’s cheeks- Wait, what? “I’m so sorry that I didn’t notice until now.”


Jeremy blinked as he looked up at Michael, confused but also really loving being held like this. “What’re you talking about?” he asked softly.


“I should’ve noticed that you’ve been feeling so bad lately. I mean, I’ve sort of noticed it, but I didn’t take action. I’m really sorry.”


Jeremy blinked again and started to melt into the contact a little, his eyes closing once more. “I mean, it’s not that big of a deal. M’just not one hundred percent at the moment. It’ll get better... maybe.” He wasn’t sure if it would, but he hoped so.


“It is a big deal. You’re my best friend and closest person to me. I should have said something.” Michael shifted a little but his hands stayed against Jeremy’s cheeks. “You’ve helped me so much and still help me. I gotta help you too.”


“But how?” Jeremy was genuinely curious to hear what Michael had to say. “S’not like you can control what people do when you’re not around... And I feel better when I’m around you anyways. Being away from you... That’s when people get nasty and then it makes me feel more numb.”


“You shouldn’t just rely on me. There’s just...” Michael sighed in a way that meant he was trying to figure out how to say his thoughts. “I’m going to work on having people not be mean to you when I’m not around. I’ll figure something out, I promise. You deserve the world, and I haven’t been helping you get that.”


“Michael, I’m pretty sure you’re the reason I’m still alive,” Jeremy pointed out softly. “When I was younger, the older kids would pick on me on the days you were gone. They’d shove me and hurt me and-... It got worse the longer you were gone for, but they never looked at me twice when you were around. I’m pretty sure if you weren’t around, they’d have killed me. Them or some adult I encountered or someone ...”


Michael stared at Jeremy as he processed everything he said. “You shouldn’t have to only be around me to not feel scared or worried,” he stated. “You don’t deserve to be treated like that. No one deserves that, but especially not you, Remy.”


Jeremy sniffled a little at that, his eyes starting to water. “Doesn’t feel like I don’t deserve it,” he mumbled, not really sure how clear his words were.


“You don’t deserve that treatment, Jeremy. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Michael said clearly and firmly with love and care. “Fuck the world. Fuck everyone. You deserve nothing but the best.”


Jeremy burst into tears at that point, unable to control his emotions any longer. God, this was too much, but the numbness in his chest seemed to almost pulse and lessen. It was as if just hearing those words helped break it somewhat. Not a lot, just a bit.


Michael held him close, guiding Jeremy’s head to his shoulder. Once his head was there, Michael practically wrapped himself around Jeremy as he whispered soft words of how he was a good person and how he deserved nothing but the best.


Jeremy just clung to Michael and sobbed. Hearing those loving words didn’t fix him, not even close, but it did help beyond belief. Having someone there, just... believing in him, believing that he was a good person, helped soothe the pain which he hadn’t even realized was there. Maybe... maybe things would be okay, eventually. Maybe Jeremy was a good person. Michael believed it after all and he was, in Jeremy’s opinion, truly the best.

High school wasn’t going to be fun. No matter how much Michael and Jeremy begged, they didn’t have all of their classes together. They had a lot of them together, but they didn’t have math, science, and some electives together. They only saw each other half of the day and during lunch. Better than no classes, but augh!


Michael walked Jeremy to the auditorium where his theatre class was supposed to take place. He gave him a quick hug before booking it to the other side of the building where his honors math class was.


Jeremy wished, not for the first time, that his teachers didn’t mark him down for no good reason. He knew he got the same answers as Michael on their last exams, but nope! Jeremy was stuck without honor role or honors classes because the math teacher seemed to be determined to hate him, more so than most teachers. Jeremy hadn’t told Michael about that fact yet, but hey, there wasn’t much they could do about it besides Michael getting upset, which would throw off his scores for future tests as well. Jeremy wasn’t going to let Michael throw away his future for him.


With a shaky sigh, Jeremy pushed opened the doors to the auditorium and slipped inside, taking in the view.


There wasn’t really anyone there yet, but the auditorium had rows of seats. The stage was open and inviting, and it made Jeremy want to stand up there and feel on top of the world for once in his life. He deserved that much, right?


Since he was alone and probably would be for a couple of minutes (he arrived very early from lunch because Michael wanted to make sure he got there safely), Jeremy decided to do just that. Why shouldn’t he actually enjoy himself for once? It’s not like anyone else would be there to judge him.


With that thought in mind, Jeremy grinned and threw his backpack into one of the unoccupied seats, scrambling his way up onto the stage. 


It was amazing. Jeremy could just imagine it, him on stage, out of breath after maybe him finishing a song or a monologue, the people in the crowd cheering and clapping. They loved him, they loved his work and wanted to see more. It was an impossible fantasy, but as Jeremy stood up there, staring out to the empty auditorium, he couldn’t help but imagine. He closed his eyes and let himself indulge for a moment, throwing his arms wide as he basked under the non-existent heat of the stage lights.


Then he heard someone and he froze. “Oh wow, you look like you’re having a moment. A good moment, but a moment. I was hoping to do that before anyone else got here, but you beat me to the stage.” Somehow, the voice didn’t sound upset or anything. If anything, the person talking was excited.


Jeremy’s eyes shot open as his arms dropped to nervously pick at the hem of his cardigan.


A cute girl in a green dress and a denim jacket stood by the door to the auditorium. She was cute and non-threatening, that much was clear, but Jeremy had never been more scared of someone in his life. He had been in a vulnerable moment, letting his guard down for once, and this person came in and now had the power to take a swipe at him and completely destroy him. Okay, well not really, but that’s how it felt.


“Oh! I’m sorry, did I bug you? If you were having a moment, I can go and guard the door to keep kids from coming in. I don’t think I can stop the teacher, but I can stop them at least.” Did she say all of that in one breath?


Something about this girl was... familiar, almost. Even if it was quiet, Jeremy somehow managed to unlock his voice a little. “S’okay. You... you can have your moment too, f’y’like...” he mumbled, hopefully loud enough for her to hear. He hopped off the stage and shuffled back over to his bag.


“No, you finish your moment first! I’m sorry for interrupting.” The girl hurried over and dropped her bag off by the stage. “I’m Christine, by the way. It’s nice to meet a fellow theatre geek!” She held out her hand and beamed. It was like the world was a bit brighter and his chest was a little less numb because of that smile.


Jeremy stared at her hand for a second before reaching out and shaking it. “J-Jeremy.” No one ever wanted to shake his hand before, not without Michael being around and, generally, a lot of coercion. “And- And don’t worry, my-“ He took a deep breath to stop his voice trembling. “The moment’s over. I get... stage fright?” That was one way of putting it. Another way would be that he was just genuinely scared of people.


Christine pulled her hand back and looked Jeremy over. “Well hopefully this class’ll help with that. You seemed so happy up there and it was really sweet to see you so happy, though I felt like I was interrupting an intimate moment so sorry again.”


“S’okay.” Just who was this girl? No one was ever this nice to Jeremy, only Michael. Maybe... maybe Jeremy should say something nice? Christine was making him feel a good sort of weird, so he should be extra nice to her to make sure they could maybe be friends later. “I... I your... dress,” he managed to stammer out after a moment. It really was a nice shade of green.


That seemed to be the right thing to say. Christine’s eyes lit up and she twirled in place, letting her dress rise somewhat in the air and twirl with her. “Thanks! I got it ‘cause I really like the flower on it and I think that the color is really nice. Plus, it’s nice and flowey and super pretty.” She stopped spinning and looked over Jeremy. “I really like your sneakers. They’re cool and sparkly and where did you get them?”


“Online.” Jeremy muttered, shuffling his feet awkwardly. He wasn’t used to people looking down at his feet except to make fun of his sneakers. They were cute Hello Kitty ones, and Jeremy liked them and so did Michael so of course Jeremy would wear them. “I... I really like cute things.” Now that he thought about it, Christine was really cute.


“They look really good on you,” Christine said with a sort of finality, nodding as she beamed. Then she paused, as if thinking, before gasping. “Do you like cute stickers too?”


Jeremy nodded, a little more relaxed and excited. “Michael always gets me lots. My door is covered in them, and so is my laptop as well as all my journals.”


“Okay, hold on.” Christine rushed, grabbed her backpack, and took out a huge sticker book of cute animal, food, and plant stickers. “Ta-dah!”


Jeremy’s eyes went wide. So many cute stickers!  Christine nodded when Jeremy hesitantly held out his hand, letting him flick through it in wonder.


He spotted a very cute, very familiar looking sticker on one of the animal pages. A black dog with a red collar, just like how he used to draw his dream dog, Ellie, when he was little. He couldn’t help but run his finger over the sticker longingly. She looked so cute chasing that little yellow butterfly.


“You can take that sticker if you want. You’re gonna love it more than I would.” When he looked up at Christine, Jeremy saw a soft smile on her face. “I think there are a few more stickers of that dog in here. There’s one with her rolling around in grass, with a pig nose and ears, and then just one of her sitting.”


Jeremy blinked and looked up at Christine. “R-really?” he asked quietly. “You’re sure you want to give it to... me?”


Christine looked confused for a second before smiling. "Yeah? I wouldn't be offering if I didn't want to give them to you. I just need to get some scissors to cut them out!"


Jeremy could almost cry. Someone was giving him something, just because. No reason or need or ulterior motive attached, just because she could. Christine had to be one of the nicest people in the whole world. She certainly was in Jeremy’s opinion, maybe almost as nice as Michael.


“Thank you,” he whispered.


"Of course!" Christine went to dig in her backpack before some other students came in. She ignored them in favor of finding her scissors she apparently had, and the kids... ignored Jeremy. They ignored him without Michael around for once.


Jeremy still curled up a little, as he always did when faced with a lot of people. Even if they ignored him, that didn’t mean they’d be nice if they had to interact with him. Even as he felt his voice seize in his throat, Jeremy couldn’t help but have that feeling of relief that he only ever associated with being around Michael. Christine made him feel different to how Michael did, but it was a similar sort of thing for sure.


"Aha, got 'em." Christine took out a pair of scissors with a sheath that covered the end. She took it off before plopping down on the ground, starting to cut out the first sticker.


Jeremy had to stop his expression from turning wobbly. No doubt now, he was gonna cry when he was next alone with Michael. He had a friend . That’s what this was, right? He was becoming friends with Christine? He really hoped so.


“Thank you so much,” Jeremy whispered, looking at the stickers in awe before standing and tucking them into his sketchbook he always kept in his bag.


"Oh, do you draw? That's so cool-"


A man cleared his throat as he tried (keyword being tried ) to make a dramatic entrance from the stage, whipping his coat behind himself. "Hello everyone, and welcome... to theatre ."


Jeremy almost giggled. Except he didn’t want detention, so instead he quickly shifted his bag and sat down. He glanced over at Christine and patted the seat next to him hopefully. He was doing that a lot today. Hoping.


Christine quickly hopped up to sit next to him as the rest of his classmates sat down as well. She beamed up at Jeremy before focusing completely on (presumably) their teacher.


" I am Mr. Reyes. I will help you all discover the amazing craft that is theatre, but first, I need to go really quickly to my office. I forgot to cook something, so be friendly with one another, however you all do that nowadays." With that, he quickly dashed off the stage.


Jeremy couldn’t keep his small giggle contained this time before he stiffened. What if Christine thought he was being rude?


When he stopped giggling though, he heard Christine giggling as well. "He is so dramatic. I'm so excited, ah!" She flapped her hands, grinning.


Jeremy blinked before actually shooting her a small smile. “Me- me too. And Mr. Reyes is weird but I’m excited.”


"Same! I'm excited to have a friend in theatre. I just moved here and was nervous I wouldn't be able to make a friend but you're here, so... thanks." Christine gave him a small and vulnerable smile. "I know I'm loud and everything and talk a lot but... thank you, Jeremy."


Jeremy hesitated, then held out his hand. “Well, I mean... I only have one friend. No... no one else likes me. I don’t know why, so thank you , Christine,” Jeremy whispered just loud enough for her to hear. “No one except Michael has ever given me anything before.”


She stared at Jeremy like he was crazy for a second and oh god, did she hate him now-


"How could people not like you? They're crazy!" As she spoke, she took Jeremy's hand and squeezed it comfortingly. "You're amazing. I mean, I know I've done a lot of the talking 'cause I have a lot of energy and my mind wanders a lot, but still."


Jeremy blushed. “I- I like you talking and your energy,” he stammered. “I... I can’t always talk. So I like the fact you talk lots.”


"Oh, good to know." She smiled before hesitating and taking out her phone. It had keychains dangling from it and the case was clear but thick. It showed off a lot of small stickers of fruits. "Do you wanna put your number in my phone? I can be your second friend since you're my first new friend here."


Jeremy nodded and took her phone. It took him a second to remember his number, but he quickly inputted it. After a small hesitation, he also added a theatre mask emoji. He handed back the phone, blushing lightly.


Christine looked over his phone, smiling as she quickly tapped on her screen before putting it away. "Ah, I'm so happy!" She flapped her hands again before stopping and offering one to Jeremy.


Jeremy smiled a little more solidly and reached out, taking Christine’s hand. Her energy was infectious and he couldn’t help but relax and grin. He started wiggling with how happy he was, unable to contain his joy. 


He had a new friend! A real, genuine friend! But... she made him feel different than Michael did. After a brief moment to contemplate that, Jeremy resolved to think about it later. He could ask Michael.

After half a week of school, Jeremy was excited to have Michael sleeping over for the weekend. They could hang, play games, and talk. He had a proper chance to talk about Christine.


Michael flopped down onto Jeremy's bed, humming as he kicked off his shoes before carefully placing them on the floor by the foot of Jeremy's bed. "God, they need to give us more than five minutes to go to class! It's a way bigger building... wait... It's a larger building than the middle school."


“Yeah, it is,” Jeremy agreed, flopping down on his bed and holding out his arms. His binder had come off as before even his shoes had so he was ready for some cuddles. “Still, you don’t have to walk me to drama class anymore. Christine has volunteered and people seem to ignore me when I’m with her too, so you don’t have to go sprinting all the time.”


Michael paused as he went to lie against Jeremy. "Wait, Christine? Who's that?"


Jeremy wrapped his arms around Michael. “She’s the girl in my class I told you about. The one who gave me the stickers that look like Ellie and Hello Kitty.” He squeezed Michael softly. “She’s my friend... I think.”


"Oh! Yeah, her." Michael glanced up at Jeremy with a smile. "She literally said you were her friend. She's your friend, dude."


Jeremy blushed. “I mean, I know that. But I just... I don’t have friends except you, Mikey. I don’t know all this stuff. Plus, she makes me different than I feel with you,” he grumbled playfully.


"Dude, I don't know this stuff either. You're, like, my only real friend. I mean, the girl Jenna in my math and science classes is nice, but you're really my only real friend." Michael paused then, glancing to the side for a moment. "Wait, she makes you feel different than I do?"


“Well yeah.” Jeremy nodded. “You’re my Mikey. You’re, like, the other side of my coin or something. She’s... different.”


"Hm. I guess that makes sense. New friend versus an old friend."


Jeremy nodded again. “Yeah... she makes my stomach feel weird.” He sighed. “And people keep whistling at me and her when they see us holding hands. She’s been helping me stay calm when people get loud.”


Michael frowned as he cuddled closer to Jeremy. "Well, I'm glad that she's helping you, but... How does your stomach feel weird?"


“Like... twisty.” Jeremy hummed after a minute. “I don’t know, it’s weird.”


"That is weird," Michael agreed. "Maybe ask your dad about it? I have no clue what that could mean."


He nodded. “Yeah. I guess that makes sense.” Jeremy nuzzled against Michael. “You’re still my best friend, though, Mikey.”


"And you're my best friend, Remy." Michael gave Jeremy a big smile. "Oh! Also, Ina and Mama told me the reason why they gave me that list of dogs! I forgot to tell you why during lunch."


“Oh, tell me!” Jeremy cried. He was now excited about dogs. He needed to know.


"They said that they'd been researching and saving up to get me a service dog!"


Oh. My. God. “That’s so awesome, Mikey!” Jeremy couldn’t control his volume, his voice cracking as he almost shouted in his joy. “You chose the yellow jindo, right?”


"Yup. The dog's apparently been trained for a bit and in, like, two months, I'm gonna be going to pick her up with Mama. Her name's Sunny. I chose it unknowingly. I was sorta just spitballing names and I guess they told the breeders and trainers to name her that."


“Oh wow, that’s so cool!” Jeremy giggled. “Can I come with you to go get her?”


"Of course. We’re going to be going after school to get her, I know that much."


Jeremy wiggled happily. “Yay!” Hopefully that would be as awesome as he was imagining. He loved dogs. Even if they tended to just stare at him or even growl sometimes, he really loved them.


"I'm told she's a very happy and lovely girl. She's a very hard worker too. I'm just- ah! She's gonna be with me all the time too so I'm excited."


That made Jeremy hesitate. “She’s gonna be great, Mikey.” His smile was a little forced, admittedly. Michael was gonna be with the dog at all times, if the dog didn’t like Jeremy then Jeremy wouldn’t be able to be around Michael. There was no way Jeremy would deprive Michael of such an important helper just because he wanted to be near Michael. If the dog didn’t like him, Jeremy would take a step back, even if he didn’t want to necessarily.


"She will be. And I know that she'll love you," Michael said, looking up at Jeremy. He reached a hand up and cupped Jeremy's cheek. "If she doesn't love you, I don't want her."


“But she’ll help you so much, Mikey,” Jeremy protested.


"You're too important, Jeremy. I can't not have you two like each other."


“I’m not so important,” Jeremy whispered.


"You're the most important person," Michael whispered.


Jeremy closed his eyes and leant into the touch. He didn’t believe it, but he knew Michael did. He could feel that Michael believed it wholly. He wasn’t lying.


"You trust me, right?"


Jeremy nodded instantly.


"Then trust that you're the most important person to me. You're the best person, Jeremy."


Jeremy nodded after a second. “Okay... okay...”


When he opened his eyes, Jeremy saw Michael's fond smile before he rested his head on Jeremy's shoulder. "Alright, good."


“You’re the best person to me, Mikey,” Jeremy hummed softly.


"Aww, Remy. You're too sweet."


“I’m just honest.”


"You are, but you're also very sweet." Michael was completely relaxed, and Jeremy could tell he was starting to doze off.


Jeremy smiled and held Michael close. Yeah, they could both use a nap. Honestly, Jeremy was always tired after school. At least he never came home hungry anymore.

Chapter Text

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.”


“I would.”


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.

Chapter Text

Michael glanced over to Jeremy, who was curled up with Sunny on the bed. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t worried about what was happening, even if he was certain that things would be fine. Jeremy, if nothing else, had been terrified by what happened the day before, and he was clearly still scared of it happening again. His constant flinching proved that. 


Michael sighed and clicked on another link, this one leading to what seemed to be a cultist website which worshiped a specific demon. Yeah, this was pretty standard from his search so far. The only accounts of someone spontaneously freezing a living human all linked back to cults and demons, claiming that any person who did it was actually a dangerous demon in disguise.


Michael knew for a fact that that was bullshit, Jeremy was too kind and nervous to be a demon, and Michael didn’t believe in that sort of stuff to begin with. There had to be some logical explanation to all this. Still, he’d work with what resources he had to try and figure it out. Maybe he’d be able to find that missing link to tie it back to science.


As he laid back in bed and scrolled, Michael tried his best to read the Latin on this page. Thank god for that weird culmination language class in middle school because he was able to understand part of it. Google Translate wasn’t much of a help here since, when he tried it on other sites, most of it was broken Latin that made no sense, so he had to rely on middle school Michael’s knowledge.


Luckily, this chunk of Latin seemed to be within his range of knowledge. From what he was understanding, it was a summoning spell for the demon described in the rest of the website.


Michael worked on translating it, hoping to find some possible useful information buried within. He didn’t realize, though, that on his last check to make sure he got it all, he was whispering it to himself, sounding out the words to ensure it was all corrected.


The moment the last syllable left his lips, the lights in his room began flickering and Jeremy screamed


This wasn’t a scared scream, no, this was a scream of agony as he began spasming and thrashing around on the bed, accidentally knocking Sunny out of her position next to him. She yelped in surprise before growling.


Jeremy kept spasming and screaming and Michael saw his eyes roll back, showing only the whites as the pain kept wracking through him.


Forgetting about his laptop, Michael knelt down by Jeremy’s side as he tried to think of what to do. This seemed like a seizure. He was supposed to get Jeremy onto his side, right? And his head was on the bed so he wouldn’t hurt himself. Michael managed to get Jeremy onto his side as he tried to keep himself from panicking because Jeremy needed him.


Jeremy kept spasming, his screams dying off into pained, choked off moans. The lights kept flickering, the flashes of brightness almost enough to make Michael dizzy as he tried to help Jeremy.


Then, a fuse somewhere blew because Michael heard a loud popping sound before everything went dark, only lit by the light fighting it way through the curtains and the sparks now traveling up and down Jeremy’s form.


Wait, sparks? Michael's eyes widened as he flinched before jerking his hands back because of (what he assumed was) static shock. "What the fuck did I do?"


After a moment more, Jeremy fell mostly still, twitching occasionally but the spasms no longer attacking him.


Sunny ran and turned away from Jeremy before she started barking at thin air, where the sparks which had been on Jeremy shot off to hit the ground.


"Sunny? What is it?" As he asked, Michael sat right behind Jeremy as he checked him over, glancing occasionally at the spot Sunny was barking at.


The spot seemed to darken, as if there was a shadow growing there, before a silhouette started rising from it. First a head, then a body, and finally, a pair of long legs, all shadowy and indistinct.


Okay, now Michael knew why Sunny was barking. He yelped in surprise, almost falling back and away from Jeremy. "What the hell?!"


The figure, which appeared masculine, seemed to take a deep breath. Then, as it exhaled, the shadows fell away to reveal a handsome looking guy. (This person looked just like Keanu Reeves!) Their face was peaceful, eyes closed as they finished exhaling.


Sunny ran around the bed, still barking, and pressed herself close to Michael’s side.


Michael held Sunny close with one arm as he held onto Jeremy somehow with his other. He was grateful but also not grateful that his moms were gone for the day.


The person opened their eyes, relaxing more as they focused on Michael. “Thank you for freeing me,” they said and yup, that was Keanu Reeve’s voice alright. What the actual hell was going on?! “Is that him? Oh, he’s grown so much stronger than I ever imagined...” Their tone was soft and tender, almost adoring and so, so proud. Wait. Were they talking about Jeremy?


Instinctively, Michael held Jeremy closer as he stared at the... being in front of him. "What the hell is going on? Who are you, and why are you talking about Jeremy like that?"


“His name is Jeremy?” They sounded almost reverent. “Oh he’s so beautiful, just like his mother...” The being sighed before standing up a little straighter. “Squip, category three demon of greed. At your service.” They bowed. “And he... he is my son.”


Wait, what? "Uh, no, Mr. Heere is Jeremy's dad. No way a de-" He... Did he actually summon a demon? It would make sense with everything that just transpired, but a demon ? "What?"


“I assure you, I am his father. Here, let me-“ the demon, Squip, took a step closer. Sunny’s threatening barks turned to growls and she bared his teeth at Squip menacingly.


Squip, to his credit, stopped and raised his hands in surrender. “I just want to help him. I wouldn’t harm my son, or the person who summoned me. I can stop him from hurting.”


How could Michael trust this random demon he summoned? He was saying all this crazy stuff and seemed to be part of the reason why Jeremy was hurting and spasmed, but he had no one else to turn to. Michael trusted Sunny's judgement, but he needed someone to help Jeremy. "Fine, you can help him, but that's it."


“Of course.” Squip took a slow step forward, then another when Sunny’s growls didn’t turn more threatening. After a few seconds, he was kneeling by the bed, reaching out to Jeremy. He gently, almost tenderly, brushed Jeremy’s hair off his face before leaning forwards and kissing his forehead. In an instant, Jeremy’s tremors slowed to a stop, and his eyes closed more naturally.


Squip stood and took a few steps back, returning to the point in the room where he appeared from. His hands were raised once again, this time almost in a peaceful way,


Regardless of how peaceful Squip seemed, Michael got a bad feeling from this being as he held Jeremy closer, wrapping his arm more firmly and properly around his best friend. Plus, Sunny didn't like Squip, and he trusted her. He did daily for his own safety. "So, I summoned you here. Now what?"


“I don’t know.” Squip admitted. “It depends on what Jeremy wants. I just want to be there for my son, I would have been from the beginning if his mother didn’t seal me away.” He sighed, watching Jeremy with a fond, longing smile. “I just want what’s best for him, that’s all.”


Even if Michael didn't like Jeremy's mom, she at least did something right. "Why did she seal you away?"


“She wanted to get out of our deal, and she hoped that sealing me away would ensure Jeremy didn’t end up with any demonic traits. I... I have no idea if it worked, but I doubt it would have. If nothing else, he’d have the aura...” Squip mused. “But then again, you’re here. How is it you’re not repelled by him if it was active?”


If what Squip was saying was true, Michael had no idea. This was a huge load of new information to process and Michael was having a hard time with it all. "I don't know, but we've been best friends since we were five. I'd never abandon Jeremy."


Something in Squip’s face shifted and he regarded Michael with a slightly different expression. “Oh, I see . You desire him, you want him and his love. And... Ah, that’s why you’re not affected. You’re... What’s the word you humans use? Autistic?”


How the hell did Squip figure all of that out? What did he do to know that and why was he looking so oddly at him? "I'm autistic, yes," Michael confirmed, ignoring the first bit of information he was given.


Squip’s smile turned somewhat mean. “That makes sense, defective humans aren’t affected by demonic auras. You’re so much harder to influence directly,” he purred. 


Sunny growled threateningly, but before Michael could respond, Jeremy groaned softly and shifted in his arms, curling closer to him.


Michael instantly wrapped both arms around Jeremy, holding him close to his chest. He ignored the chills and stomach churning that Squip caused as he focused all of his energy onto his best friend. "Remy?"


Jeremy groaned softly again before his eyes fluttered open. Except instead for the familiar stormy blue with the smallest hint of brown Michael was used to, his eyes were totally black, from the iris to the sclera. Michael could tell he was focusing on him, somehow, but it was impossible to know that from sight alone. 


“Mikey?” Jeremy mumbled, his voice a little hoarse. “What... what happened?”


Reaching a hand up, Michael carefully brushed Jeremy's hair back, hoping to keep Jeremy centered and grounded. "This is going to sound crazy, but I need you to trust me." After Jeremy barely managed to nod, Michael glanced quickly at Squip before focusing his attention solely on Jeremy. "I summoned a demon."


Jeremy blinked, then frowned a little, before nodding. “Okay... That was kinda stupid, wasn’t it? I keep telling you it’s not something to mess around with,” he teased weakly, squeezing Michael’s arm gently.


“Jeremy?” Squip’s voice was back to that gentle, adoring tone from earlier. Jeremy turned his head to look at Squip, frowning a little.


“I... I know you. Why do I know you?” he said slowly. Squip smiled in relief and relaxed.


The stark contrast made Michael tense as he held Jeremy a smidge closer (somehow, that was possible). "He... he claims to be your dad."


Jeremy frowned again. “Well, can you prove it?” he asked. He was just accepting this all?! What the hell!


“I can. If I could come closer, please?” Squip asked gently. “I won’t hurt you, or your friends. I promise, I’ll just prove it, then I’ll step back again.” Jeremy paused, then nodded,


Slowly, Squip came back over and took Jeremy’s hand. It took a second, but suddenly they were both grey, like someone had painted their skin, with blue glowing lines covering their whole body. The patterns resembled circuitry somewhat, and yet still seemed so natural and organic. Jeremy stared at his hand, his black eyes wide with shock.


Michael felt like everything was too much, but he tried to keep his own feelings buried down then and there. Too much was present for him to properly process, but this wasn't about him right then and there. This was about Jeremy and the fact that the demon he accidentally summoned was here, somehow was Jeremy's dad, and that Jeremy was somehow accepting all of this?


Jeremy felt so much colder in his arms than he did a minute ago, but that didn’t stop Michael from holding tightly. And Jeremy didn’t seem to mind, instead just tracing the blue markings curiously with his free hand.


“Mikey, look... I’m glowing...” he murmured, looking up at Michael. He was clearly fascinated but also a little confused and lost. He was looking to Michael for guidance and support.


Feeling his body and mind trying to compartmentalize his feelings so he could focus on Jeremy, Michael nodded as he felt himself numb to his own problems. "You are," he confirmed. "This is... It's cool, but this is weird." He glanced up at Squip. "What did you do?"


“I’m simply repressing the illusion his body was naturally projecting. This is how he really looks.” Squip explained. “How does it feel?”


“...Relaxing,” Jeremy admitted after a moment. “Like, I can’t feel my anxiety at all right now, and I’m not so tired either.”


“That’s because you’ve been using energy to keep the human appearance. It’s been draining you and causing the anxiety in the first place, since you weren’t aware as to why your body was losing energy.”


Well, that would at least explain why Jeremy's anxiety medication didn't ever help. "Well, it's not like he can do this all the time though."


“No, but I can teach him how to control it. The more he exercises the power, the easier and less draining it will become.” Squip smiled, letting go and Jeremy’s hand and stepping back. Jeremy didn’t return to normal straight away, instead turning his hand over and staring at it curiously. The small furrow in his brow meant he was really focusing hard.


"So... If you did help teach him, what would you be helping him with besides maintaining his human appearance?"


“It would give him control over his powers, both current and future. He’s almost seventeen now, he’ll be manifesting ice soon enough if he hasn’t already, and there are more powers to come even after that.” Squip shrugged. “And I can teach him to control his aura. Unfortunately, half demons are naturally repulsive to humans since they see them as ‘wrong.’ If Jeremy learns to control the demonic half of himself, he can dull or completely suppress the aura, meaning people won’t detect his demon half at all.”


Jeremy perked up at that, his concentration breaking and his skin turning back to normal as he turned to look up at Squip again. “You can make it so people don’t hate me?” he asked hopefully. Squip nodded. 


“I can’t change what they think of you as an individual but I can make it so they don’t just hate you from the get go.”


"And you aren't going to do anything besides help him learn how to control his powers?" Michael asked as he still kept Jeremy close, though he noticed Sunny pressing closer against his side.


“I would only ever do what Jeremy wants me to. If that means only controlling the aura and then never seeing me again, then I’d respect that,” Squip assured him and Michael could tell that Jeremy believed it. He always flinched when someone lied.


Michael couldn't help but be suspicious and wary, especially after how he talked about his autism and just him as a person. That was something Jeremy needed to know to get a full picture of Squip. "Well, what about respecting others besides Jeremy?"


“Jeremy is my main concern, first and foremost. But, once I’ve actually woken up properly, I’m generally pretty chill.” Squip shrugged.


“Woken up?”


Squip smiled at Jeremy. “Yes, woken up. Your mother sealed me away since before you were born. I’ve been sort of kept in suspended animation this whole time until your friend released me. It’s exhausting.”


“Michael. His name is Michael,” Jeremy corrected. Squip’s eyes widened before he nodded and smiled.


“In that case, it’s nice to meet you, Michael. Thank you for taking care of my son all this time.”


Even if he thanked Michael, he couldn't help but feel distrust and disdain. "You don't need to thank me for that. It's not that nice to meet you after what you said to me. I don't care if you haven't 'woken up properly' yet or whatever and that's your excuse for what you said."


Jeremy frowned. “What did he s-“ He yawned, eyes fluttering. “Oh, god, I’m so tired.”


“I’ll leave you two for now. You should rest Jeremy, and I’ll catch up with you later. I really want to know everything about you, and to be a proper dad for you if you want me to be.” Squip smiled, approaching slowly. When Jeremy nodded, Squip bent down and kissed his forehead. “When you’re feeling up to it, just say Squip near a lit candle. I’ll be there in ten seconds.” He stepped back. “Bye Jeremy, bye Michael. I’ll see you around.”


With that, Squip vanished back into a puddle of shadows once more. Jeremy’s head flopped backwards as he seemingly passed out.


As Jeremy passed out, Michael felt his panic, emotions, and everything hit him now that he didn't need to be the source of comfort and support for his best friend. Carefully lying Jeremy down, Michael had to try to calm his hyperventilating. He stayed with his back pressed against Jeremy as he held his shaking arms open wide for Sunny.


Sunny instantly curled close to him, resting her head against his cheek and half smothering him in exactly the way he needed. The weight of her against him gave him something to cling to, something to focus on, as he started to process his feelings and calm down.


Michael pet her back as he decided he definitely did not like or trust Squip. After what he said, how Sunny reacted, and his own gut instinct told him, Squip was just... bad. Not because he was a demon, especially since Jeremy was apparently part demon, but because he just gave Michael bad vibes. 


He seemed to truly care for Jeremy too, but he just... Michael couldn't shake this bad feeling. He really fucked up, even if Squip was going to help Jeremy. That much was at least true. Hopefully he'd just help Jeremy learn to control his powers and leave, but that seemed just as likely as Michael realizing he loved sex and girls.


Michael felt Jeremy shift a little behind him before a cool, skinny arm wrapped around his waist. Jeremy pressed himself close, nuzzling against Michael’s neck almost sleepily. 


“Hey, s’okay, Mikey. M’here. M’not going anywhere, m’staying right here with you,” he mumbled. “You’re okay... you’re fine.”


When did Jeremy wake up? "I know you're not leaving me, but I just... He gives me a bad feeling I can't shake. A really bad one."


“Well, he’s a demon. Maybe his aura is different to mine so it does affect you,” Jeremy offered. “Either way, don’t worry. I’ll make sure he stays away from you and that the one thing he teaches me is stuff to help me stay with you easier. I don’t ever wanna lose you, Mikey.”


Michael wanted to explain everything, but Jeremy didn't seem fully aware of everything. Still... "He called me a defective human, Jeremy, and he smiled so meanly when he said it and seemed to get a thrill out of telling me that."


Jeremy hummed in thought. “I’ll just have to kick his butt then. I’ll learn what I need then kick his butt for being so mean to you.” Jeremy nuzzled against the back of Michael’s neck again, and Michael could have sworn he felt the faintest brush of cool lips against the sensitive skin back there.


He had to take a deep breath to keep himself calm. "He called me defective for being autistic. I just... I can't trust him."


“You’re human, and you’re perfect to me. I’d give anything to get to be like you and just... live out my life with you,” Jeremy murmured. “I’ll get him to teach me how to suppress the demonic stuff, how to control it so I never accidentally use it, and then that’ll be the end of it. If he doesn’t respect you, I don’t want him around more than absolutely necessary.”


Michael couldn't help the heat that rose to his cheeks. "You really want to live out the rest of your life with me ? Like, I know we're best friends and everything, but me? You have Christine too that you can be friends with and stuff for all time..."


“I love Christine, she’s amazing and funny and so clever. She’s an amazing person and I’m lucky to be her friend,” Jeremy murmured, squeezing Michael’s waist. “But you’re my best friend, Mikey. You were the first person to actually... see me. And to see that I’m a real person. You made me feel like a real person for the first time in my life. Who I am today is largely thanks to you. Of course I’d want to spend my life with you. Who could want anything else?”


Oh god, Michael had to cling to Sunny to stay somewhat calm. "I dunno... I'm glad that you think so highly of me and that I helped you so much though."


“I’m pretty sure you’re the reason I’m still alive, Michael,” Jeremy confessed quietly. “Before you... Well, let’s just say that I don’t bet too highly for my chances without you looking after me when I was little. I’m pretty sure someone would have kicked too hard ‘by accident’ one day.”


That had Michael shifting to look at Jeremy, even if he had to let go of Sunny. He felt her rearrange herself to help keep him calm as Michael looked down at his best friend. "Wait, what?"


“People were a lot more rough with me before I met you.” He sighed. “That’s why I moved schools so much beforehand. And the longer I was there, the worse it got. Those days you were absent and I got beat up? Those were nothing compared to normal.”


Oh god, that broke his heart as he quickly went to hold Jeremy's hands. "Well, now we at least know why people are like that to you. After you're able to control all of this, people will see you for the real you. You won't have to worry about that anymore."


Jeremy nodded and looked up at Michael with big, trusting, blue eyes. “And then I can actually have a life instead of hiding all the time. But even so, I still want my life with you . You’re perfect to me, Michael. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says.”


He was going to cry. He couldn't cry right now, it would ruin the mood. "I... With me?"


Jeremy nodded. “Yeah, with you. With perfect, funny, amazing you.”


Okay, he was crying. Michael pulled a hand back to quickly scrub the tears away. "Sorry, sorry."


“Don’t be.” Jeremy reached up and brushed away one of Michael’s tears, smiling. “It’s a lot, but I do want a life with you, if you want one with me. Even if I’m... I’m half demon.”


"Dude, I don't care that you're half demon. You're my best friend and my favorite person. I just want the best for you because you deserve it. If I'm what's best for you, then I want that life with you too.”


“Mikey, you are always what’s best for me.” Jeremy rested their foreheads together, a familiar action but it felt so much... more now.


"I... Thank you, Remy," Michael managed to get out as he shut his eyes to try to take all of this in.


It was intense. After the rollercoaster that was summoning Squip to Jeremy’s confession to his desire to stay with Michael... It was a lot. And what Jeremy was saying felt almost like a romantic confession. If Jeremy wasn’t so... innocent about the world and people (he understood it all less than Michael did), Michael would think that it was. Still, Jeremy was innocent and still learning. Michael wasn’t ever going to take advantage of that, even if he did wish what Jeremy wanted was romantic.


Instead of doing anything else, Michael took a few deep breaths and just took this moment in. Hopefully he was wrong about Squip (he knew he wasn’t wrong) so that everything could work out for Jeremy. That was the least Jeremy deserved.

Chapter Text

Michael really didn’t want to leave Jeremy alone after meeting Squip, but Mr. Heere had insisted that he come home for the weekend, just so that he could have a fresh start on Monday and hopefully put the whole ‘fight’ incident behind him.


Which was how Michael found himself out on Saturday afternoon, stocking up on soda, snacks and grabbing a new game he’d been eyeing up for the inevitable crash both he and Jeremy would suffer through Monday night. School was tiring enough, it was even worse when there was a directed vendetta against you.


Making sure to grab Jeremy some Dr. Pepper at his Seven-Eleven haul, he walked out of the convenience store and started heading to the local game store. He only stopped when he saw Jeremy. He was out with Squip, across the street. Wasn’t he supposed to be chilling at home with his dad? What happened?


Jeremy was actually talking , his mouth moving a mile a minute as he gestured wildly with whatever story he was telling. Michael only ever saw Jeremy this comfortable and animated at home, and yet here he was, in public , more comfortable than Michael had ever seen him. Squip was watching Jeremy with rapt attention, clearly fascinated with what Jeremy was telling him.


After checking on Sunny quickly, who was working but clearly on edge, Michael crossed the street and called out for Jeremy. “Remy! Hey!”


Jeremy turned and his already happy expression lit up to the point where it could conceivably light up an entire city. Maybe a whole state.


“Mikey! Hiya!” Jeremy called back, stopping with Squip and rushing over to Michael, grabbing him in a hug as soon as he was on the sidewalk. “Out getting some snackage or...?”


“Yeah, I was getting stuff for when we’d inevitably crash at my house on Monday. I’ve already got the snacks, but I was going to pick up a game from Level-Up,” Michael explained as he smiled at Jeremy, doing his best to ignore Squip. “What are you doing out?”


“Oh, Er, well dad got called away on an emergency case so I decided I’d chat with Squip. And he suggested that we go out so he can start teaching me how to suppress my aura!” Jeremy cried excitedly. God, he looked so happy.


“He’s a natural.” Squip beamed. “Soon enough he won’t even need me to supply him energy for it, he’ll be totally self sufficient.” Sunny pressed closer to Michael when Squip started talking, clearly uncomfortable as she stared hard at him.


“Yeah, it’s been awesome .” Jeremy nodded, glancing up at Squip before grinning at Michael. “Not only did I manage to get the shopping done without getting shoved or having every bag searched, some of the assistants actually came over and talked to me. Just because!“


That was... almost insane progress. “That’s amazing, Jeremy. I’m so happy for you. It’s not tiring or draining to try to suppress your aura though, right?”


Jeremy shook his head, clearly riding the high from the positive human interaction. “Nope! Squip is giving me energy so I can learn how to do it before I try and do it solo. So it’s all his energy doing it, I’m just directing it,” he explained. He looked like a giddy schoolboy who just got told he was top of the class or something.


“Well that’s great. Will it drain you in the future though?” Michael just couldn’t help but worry, even if he was so happy for his best friend.


Jeremy nodded, looking a little upset. Why was he upset?


“It will at first,” Squip interjected, “but with time it’ll get easier and easier, just like any skill.”


Michael nodded in understanding before giving Jeremy a smile. “If you’re a natural at this, it won’t take that long for you to get to that level.”


Jeremy’s smile got a little brighter, regaining some of the energy he lost. “Yeah! I’m gonna finally get to see what it’s like to not be universally hated.”


“Aww, slugger, you know I don’t hate you.” Squip chuckled, pulling Jeremy into a noogie. Jeremy squealed in surprise, bursting into happy giggles as he flailed and tried in vain to push Squip off of him. 


Squip released him a moment later, earning himself a brief touch on the shoulder by an old woman passing by.


“It’s so nice to see a father be so affectionate with his son. Good job, sir,” she cooed, shooting Jeremy a smile before continuing on her way. Jeremy just beamed, his cheeks lighting up in a happy blush. Michael knew it was from the ‘son’ comment, he didn’t get those too often even when Michael was around.


But what if Jeremy regarded Squip as a fatherly figure? Granted, he was Jeremy’s birth dad, which was weird as all hell, but... God, he really had a bad overall feeling about this whole situation, but he wanted Jeremy to be this happy all the time and to be loved like he deserved to be.


Jeremy was still beaming as he reached over to hug Michael again. Except this time, he stopped short when Sunny let out a clearly agitated bark, one that Michael knew meant ‘back off’. Michael also knew it was aimed at Squip, who had taken a step closer, but Jeremy didn’t.


He also knew what the bark meant, and he started curling away from Michael as soon as Sunny did it. His expression and jovial mood dropped instantly, replaced with a vulnerable, hurt expression. That was soon hidden as well as he ducked his head, picking at his cardigan instead. “Sorry,” he murmured, voice dropping back to the more familiar, near silent volume level that Michael was used to in public. He wasn’t happy about it.


“No no, that wasn’t to you. Sunny barked at Squip who was walking closer,” Michael quickly assured as he reached his hands out to Jeremy. “She would never tell you to back off, Remy.”


Jeremy stared at Michael’s hands, slowly reaching out before pulling back and shaking his head. “Don’t wanna risk it.”


“Hey, he’s right, Jere. You didn’t do anything wrong here, I should have been more respectful of Michael’s space.” Squip swooped in, scooping Jeremy into a gentle hug and setting about soothing him. He shot Sunny a look, which Michael couldn’t quite decipher before focusing back on Jeremy.


The boy in question was letting himself be hugged and seemed to be leaning into it somewhat, even if he wasn’t returning it. He looked so utterly devastated and scared and it just broke Michael’s heart to see.


“I think I’ve done enough here for today. Why don’t you head over to Michael’s place, go relax there for a bit. I’m sure Sunny will make you feel loved again in no time,” Squip suggested gently. “I’ll keep the energy coming your way until I sense you’re back at your house, so no worries about your aura.”


It wasn’t like Sunny had been the problem. Squip was framing it like she was though, and that added another thing onto Michael’s mental checklist against the demon. He could also feel Sunny’s anger subsiding and being replaced with worry and concern for Jeremy. “I’ll drop you back off at your house later after we hang for a bit.”


Jeremy nodded, still muted and sad looking, before looking up at Squip. “When will you be back?” he asked.


“Whenever you call me, kiddo. Same as today, I promise I’ll be there if you ever wanna talk or anything else.” Squip smiled and ruffled Jeremy’s hair affectionately. “See you later, Jeremy. Michael, Sunny, it was nice to see you. Bye!” With a jaunty wave, Squip turned and left, ducking into an alleyway. Michael saw a bunch of what looked to be shadows emerge a second later. 


Jeremy remained standing where he was, keeping a respectable distance from Michael and picking at his cardigan. He looked so sad and Michael knew that even if it was Squip’s fault, he had to do something to help. He couldn’t just leave Jeremy feeling so upset.


Turning to his bag of treats, he pulled out the Dr. Pepper and offered it to Jeremy. “Hey, I got you this. Also, do you wanna come with me to pick up the game? We can play it and geek out. I know it’s not as fun as hanging out in public like this, but it’s still fun. Also, I got another treat you can have now that I was also planning to give you Monday.”


Jeremy hesitated before taking the soda. “Sure, if that’s what you wanna do... you didn’t have to get me anything, though.” Oh no, he was deferring the choices to Michael; that meant he was really upset. Such a small thing must have really shaken him. Michael would need to find out exactly why once Jeremy was more relaxed. Maybe it would be worth getting the weed out when they got home, Jeremy seemed like he could use some.


"You're my best friend and favorite person, of course I'd get you stuff. And I'll do it if you want to do it. You can just nod or shake your head," Michael said before offering his free hand to Jeremy. Simple stuff would help right now.


Jeremy hesitated, staring at Michael’s hand again before glancing over at Sunny. Very slowly, Jeremy reached out and took Michael’s hand. When Sunny didn’t bark, and even looked at Jeremy apologetically, her tail wagging slowly, Jeremy relaxed a little and nodded.


Intertwining their fingers, Michael gave Jeremy a soft and reassuring smile. "Alright, so I need to know, and just nod or shake your head to this: Do you want to go get the game before we head back to my house?"


Jeremy nodded after a second, still watching Sunny almost warily.


Sunny still had her apologetic look, pressed to Michael's side as she always was when Michael was still and she was working. "When we get back, do you want Sunny to smother you in love 'cause of how sorry she is? I know she didn't mean to make it seem like she was barking at you. She was barking at Squip, I promise. She really doesn't like him."


Jeremy nodded again. “That would be nice... I really don’t want her to be upset with me, ever. I love her so much,” he mumbled, picking at his cardigan with his free hand.


"I know she feels the same about you. That's why she looks so sad. Look, even if she's working, her tail's barely wagging and her ears are drooped!"


Jeremy looked conflicted before reaching out and holding his hand close to Sunny. It was far enough away to still be respectful but close enough that she could touch him if she wanted to. Of course, as soon as he was in range, she leant up and nuzzled into his hand, her tail wagging more noticeably. She whined softly and licked his wrist before getting back into work mode. Jeremy, while it wasn’t the brilliant grin from before, smiled and relaxed again. Michael counted that as a win.


"Let's go get that game and then hang out," Michael said, cheering softly and squeezing Jeremy's hand.

Saturday was fun, but Jeremy was exhausted come Sunday. More because he was focusing so hard on not upsetting Sunny again that he tired himself out. 


He really didn’t want to make her upset with him, but it was something he was always scared of.


Which was why, come Sunday evening, after his dad had come home and collapsed in bed after a good dinner, Jeremy decided to summon Squip again.


He set out the candle and lit it, following the instructions which just seemed to make sense to him beyond what Squip had said. “Squip. I want to talk to you,” he whispered, blowing out the candle in the same breath. The smoke curled away from the wick before spiralling to the side. A moment later, Squip formed at the end of the smoke trail, smiling over at Jeremy.


"Hi there, son," Squip said, holding his arms out in a hug that Jeremy instantly took. It felt nice to have someone who understood all about him and how to help him. His dad, Michael, his moms, and Christine were all great, but they didn't completely get it. Squip did.


“Hi Squip.” He wasn’t dad. Jeremy doubted Squip would ever be dad, since Jeremy already had a dad who he adored. “You said yesterday that you wanted to teach me some other powers, right? I was wondering if I could learn some of those...” He liked doing demon stuff, surprisingly. It was nice to have such a patient teacher, and have something he was innately good at, like his art.


"Yes, of course. Which ones out of the list I gave you yesterday do you want to work on?"


“Can we try the illusion?” Jeremy asked softly. “Not the changing my actual appearance-“ He could actually manipulate how he looked on a physical scale, something he and his binder were very much looking forward to. “-just the removal of my... human shape...”


Squip nodded as he stood back. "So you want to shift your body shape to your ideal image?" Jeremy nodded. "You are limited in what you can do, and if you want to try actually removing something, that's something else entirely different that we can cover later. To have the illusion of something being gone, however, that takes some energy usage and manipulation. It also takes imagining and then believing that you look the way you want to."


Jeremy nodded. “I can do that. Are we... are we gonna try doing the revealing the demon skin thing first? Or is that later?” For as nervous as he was, Jeremy was also so excited. This was gonna be so cool and Michael would freak out when Jeremy showed him later.


"Would you like to do that first? It is a bit easier to remove the human appearance you have first, but doing it all at once may be too overwhelming."


Jeremy shrugged. “Whatever you think would be best, Squip. I... I trust you.” He actually did, despite what Michael had said. Squip had only helped Jeremy this far, and he said he even planned to go and apologize to Michael after their first meeting on Thursday. Jeremy was feeling pretty good about Squip, if he were honest.


"I think we should do whichever you're more excited about first," Squip said as he sat down on Jeremy's bed.


Jeremy grinned, flapping his hands a little in his excitement. “Can we show my demon skin first please?” He remembered that Squip mentioned that once Jeremy got control over that, he could more easily manipulate his own energy for other magic, diverting it from the illusion to the spell. He really wanted to be able to do that.


Squip nodded as he smiled before holding out his hand. "So, this is going to sound odd, but I want you to imagine a shell peeling away from your hand and stopping at your wrist." As he spoke, Squip's skin shifted to show his true demon skin. "This will happen."


It made sense. It would be like Jeremy was erasing part of a top layer in a digital canvas. He was just showing what was underneath.


Holding out his right hand, Jeremy focused on it, imagining the shell of the top layer and mentally erasing it to show what was underneath. He huffed when it didn’t work and tried again, this time tracing down his hand with his left hand instead, using his fingertips as an eraser of sorts.


Sure enough, following the same path his finger took, Jeremy saw the freckled, pale pink of his skin shimmer and fade to reveal the soft, smoky gray with the electric blue markings. From the initial line, the rest of the layer peeled away, leaving his hand totally changed and, honestly, hauntingly beautiful. Jeremy had never thought of himself as beautiful before, but his demon skin, his true skin, honestly was.


"And there you go. You're really a natural. It normally takes people a day to learn how to do that at least and you're already doing this with ease."


Jeremy beamed, his cheeks lighting up in a blush. He noticed that the blue markings seemed to glow brighter when he blushed.


“Well, it just made sense to me... like erasing a layer when I draw on my computer.” He shrugged shyly. He hadn’t really spoken about his art much to Squip thus far. He was honestly a little nervous as to how Squip would react.


"Erasing a layer on the computer? Oh, like digital art! Yes, it's just like that." Squip smiled before he patted Jeremy's shoulder. "You're already making connections, and making those'll help strengthen your control of your energy and power."


Jeremy lit up (literally, where he was pulling back the illusion even more down his arm). “Would you... like to see some of my digital art? I’ve done a few pieces that I’m pretty proud of, even if I’m better with traditional stuff.” He had his full right arm exposed now, and it felt amazing. The energy rushing through him was setting him off, making him more excitable and hyperactive than he could ever remember being. Was this how much energy he used just covering the one arm? If so, the rest of his body would be super intense!


"Yes, I would love to. Be sure not to reveal too much of your actual skin yet though. Too much energy compared to normal will overwhelm you," Squip warned.


Jeremy nodded. “Yeah, this is already a lot.” He hopped up and ran over to his laptop, quickly logging on and pulling up some of his pictures he did for commissions online, as well as some he did just for fun.


The one with the icy blue flames and sparks with the angel with the broken wings silhouetted against them was one of his favorite pieces of all, not just of his digital art portfolio.


When he showed that to Squip, he let out a low, impressed whistle. "My god, Jeremy, you have such a talent for art. What inspired you to make this? It's breathtaking."


Jeremy shrugged, blush and markings still glowing brightly. “I dunno. It just sort of... came to me, one day. It’s one of my favorites.”


"Are you proud of this? You really ought to be if you aren't."


“I really am!” Squip was proud of Jeremy’s art! Oh this was an amazing feeling. The buzz from his arm combined so beautifully with the energy from knowing someone important liked his work.


"Good. Now, are you taking an art class? You should be with these kinds of skills."


Jeremy shook his head. “I’ve wanted to, but I’ve always been too scared,” he admitted. “Not because I think I’m bad or anything, I’ve just been scared of the art teacher. I’m pretty sure she wants to kill me just with how she looks at me.”


“That’s only because of your aura. If you can learn to control it as quickly as you learned how to reveal your own skin, you could easily take that class and excel.” Squip seemed to pause in thought. “I know a way to make that happen even quicker for you, actually.”


“Wait, really?” If there was a way to dull his aura quickly, then Jeremy could have a chance at a properly normal life even when he wasn’t around Michael!


“If you’re alright with it, I can reside in your head with you and help you learn to dull your aura. It’s a quicker way to learn since I can slowly wean you onto dulling it fully.”


That... It was a little weird but it sounded possible. And Jeremy didn’t think Squip would put him in any danger, so... “Okay then. Let’s try it.”


Squip smiled and looked so happy. Surely this was good. “Alright, great. I can help by doing this now so you have some practice in for tomorrow at school. Is that alright?”


Jeremy nodded. “So I need to brace myself or...?”


“Just accept me into your head when I try to enter.”


With another nod, Jeremy closed his eyes and relaxed. This was fine. He trusted Squip.


He didn’t wait long to feel the mental prodding from Squip. It was an odd sensation, but he let the demon in. 


It felt even weirder to share the space of his mind with another, but it somehow felt... cozy. It felt right. Squip was just helping him.


“So-“ It felt strange to be talking to an empty room. “What now?” After a second, Jeremy got a sort of... warm, tingling sensation which took a second for him to recognise as Squip hugging him. It lasted a moment before Squip actually spoke.


You think at me while I’m in your head to make things easier. And for now, you do nothing. Go about your normal business and tell me if anything feels different to you.


Jeremy nodded and stood up from the bed. “ I’ve got nothing else to do for today so I think I’m just gonna... chill and play some video games? I’ve got all my homework done and everything... ” He didn’t know why he felt the need to justify playing to Squip, but it was there. Maybe because Squip was being like dad, since he was Jeremy’s biological dad.


Do whatever you want. Just make sure to make yourself something for dinner since your father is asleep and won’t be able to make anything.


I’ll do that first, and I’ll make sure to leave something out for him to reheat. ” Jeremy shrugged. His dad always woke up about two hours after crashing to grab some food. Jeremy was used to taking care of him during hard cases, after all, he took care of Jeremy the rest of the time. “ I think I’ll just make some chicken.


That sounds like a great idea. I’ll check in with you soon, son. ” With another mental hug, Jeremy felt Squip’s presence fade into the back of his mind.


It was more than a little strange, but it was comforting in a way Jeremy didn’t really know how to articulate. Squip’s presence was warm, even if he was cold to the touch, and he made Jeremy feel safe. It was... nice. He felt loved. And he didn’t really want this feeling to stop any time soon. So, hopefully, it wouldn’t.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Jeremy was practically vibrating in his seat as he waited for the final bell to ring. It was almost the weekend which meant sleepover at Michael’s! Since his dad was still working on the really hard case, Jeremy had permission to stay with Michael as much as he wanted, which worked out just fine for him.


The past two weeks had been insane. After finding out everything and having that amazing day at school, Jeremy’s life had only gotten better. Not only did he help Michael relax a little around his drama buddies (it wasn’t perfect but they no longer overwhelmed him instantly like the first day), Jeremy had also learned so much from Squip about his powers and how to control him.


Squip said he was a natural, and Jeremy wanted to show Michael. He was really proud of himself and, beyond that, he really hoped that he could impress Michael too. He hadn’t confessed yet, but he was working his way up to it.


The bell rang and everyone left. His teacher called for everyone to remember their assignment due next class and Jeremy bolted to go see Michael. He’d be by his locker by the time Jeremy got there, so it would be perfect timing.


After giving a quick hello and goodbye to Brooke as he ran past, Jeremy quickly made his way to Michael’s locker. Sure enough, Michael was just closing it when Jeremy arrived, looking tired from school but also having that notable relief that the day was over.


Before he got close enough to see, Jeremy took the time to actually just admire his friend. Michael was so cute and handsome and oh god, Jeremy really needed to stop this or he’d end up all flustered and wouldn’t be able to speak.


“Mikey! Hey!” Jeremy called, jogging over once he pulled himself from his admiration spiral.


Michael looked over from where he had been staring into his locker, smiling when he caught sight of Jeremy. “Hey Remy. You ready for an amazing sleepover weekend?”


Jeremy almost melted at that smile, earning a small chuckle from Squip in the back of his head. “Hell yeah I am!” Jeremy cried excitedly. “It’s gonna be awesome, as always.”


“Oh, totally.” Michael shut his locker after slinging his backpack over one shoulder. “Are you ready to go?” As he asked, Michael held his free hand out to Jeremy.


Jeremy fought back his blush (they held hands all the time, god dammit! He shouldn’t be getting flustered by it just because he’s aware of his feelings properly now!) as he took Michael’s hand with a grin. “I’ve got some stuff to show you in a sec too. When we’re in the car or something.”


“Oh, what kinda stuff?” As he asked, Michael started to leave the school. Sunny stayed pressed against his side but seemed tense. She always seemed tense ever since Squip started staying in Jeremy’s head. Did she know or something? No way... Right?


“I’ve been practicing some cool stuff. Magic stuff.” Jeremy shrugged, trying to calm his nerves. Sunny wouldn’t be upset if she understood why Jeremy had gotten Squip’s help, right? She loved Jeremy. “I’ve gotten pretty good, honestly. So I thought you might like to see?”


“Yeah, for sure! I’m glad that you’re getting all of this down.” Michael exited to the parking lot, holding the door open before taking his keys out. “Also, I know you haven’t had Squip around near me, which I’m really grateful for, but I just get bad feelings every now and then. Like, chills and weird stomach feels and stuff. I still don’t trust that guy, even if he’s helping you.”


Jeremy felt a little guilt build in his stomach. He hadn’t exactly lied , but he hadn’t been totally honest with Michael either. Thinking about it made him queasy so he just tried to ignore this fact.


“I know you don’t, Mikey.” Jeremy nodded understandingly. “Don’t worry, I’m being careful. I just don’t think he’d hurt me.”


“Just because he wouldn’t hurt you doesn’t mean he’s a person to trust though,” Michael almost mumbled. “He still never took back his comment either, and I don’t think him trying to do that at this point would be genuine or anything. I just...” Michael shook his head as he unlocked the Cruiser. “Sorry, didn’t mean to be a downer.”


Jeremy cocked his head, confused. He thought Squip had apologized. “ Sunny wouldn’t let me near him to actually do it, ” Squip explained, sounding sheepish.


“He can’t actually come to you without being summoned,” Jeremy offered as he climbed into the car. “Maybe if you’d summoned him, he would have apologized. But he can’t just go wherever, even if he wants to.”


“Again, it doesn’t mean I’d take it or think he meant it. He could have apologized when I saw him with you in public or something. I dunno. I don’t trust any person or being that thinks you’re broken if you’re autistic.” Michael opened the back door for Sunny, letting her in after letting her go on break. “The only reason I’m not trying to get rid of him is because he’s helping you.”


“As soon as I’ve got a handle on things, he’s gonna go,” Jeremy assured him. It was something he and Squip had spoken about. He’d visit, but Jeremy was happy being human. Squip was alright with that since Jeremy wasn’t rejecting him entirely.


“He’s not going to come and visit you, right?”


“Only if I summon him.” Jeremy shrugged. “He couldn’t just show up out of the blue. He can’t even ask to visit.”


“But you don’t want him to come visit, right?” As Michael asked, he finished buckling Sunny in.


Jeremy shrugged again. “He’s my main source of information on demon stuff. I’d call him if I had a demon issue, maybe not any other time.”


Michael frowned as he put his backpack in the backseat. “Alright,” he said before shutting the back door and getting into the driver's seat.


“Hey, you know I’d never make you uncomfortable on purpose,” Jeremy reminded him gently.


“I know you wouldn’t. Trust me, I know.” Michael got himself settled before turning and focusing on Jeremy. “But anyway, past him and onto you. Show me your magic.”


Jeremy grinned and started rolling up his sleeve. He focused and ran his finger down his arm, revealing his demon skin up to his elbow, and prepared himself. He wiggled his fingers and suddenly, his hand was covered in frost, creating swirling patterns and crystalline shapes.


Michael gasped as he focused in on the changing shapes and patterns, leaning forward to get a closer look. “Holy shit.”


Jeremy held out his arm, giving Michael a better look. “Check it.” He reached forward and tapped Michael’s sleeve, transferring the patterns on to it but not the moisture.


“Holy shit!” Michael held his long sleeve of his tie-dye shirt closer to his face to get a better look. “This is so cool, oh my god.”


Jeremy grinned, focusing on keeping the patterns moving on both of them. “Here, hold my hand like we’re gonna shake,” Jeremy instructed excitedly. When Michael did, Jeremy made the patterns join up and get thicker, spiraling around both their arms and creating textures with it. “Touch it. It’s like snow.”


“Wait, no way. You’re shitting me right now.” Michael touched the textures and gasped as he pulled his hand back. “Oh my god! What?!”


Jeremy grinned. “Turns out hell is cold, so demons are too.”


“I mean, if Dante’s Inferno is anything to go off of, yeah.” Michael touched the patterns a few more times before grinning up at Jeremy. “This is awesome.”


Jeremy grinned proudly and let the patterns stop and steam away. “There’s one other thing I wanna show you.” He giggled, reaching into the glovebox and handing Michael his sunglasses. “Put these on, though. It can strain your eyes a tiny bit since it’s kinda bright. Sunny, look away, baby girl.”


Sunny whined at that from the backseat but Jeremy saw her turn away from the front. “Should I be concerned?” Michael asked as he replaced his glasses with his prescription sunglasses.


“No way, dude. Trust me.” Jeremy snickered, rolling up his other sleeve and exposing his demon skin again. He held up two fingers, one on each hand, and suddenly there was a dim, pale blue spark connecting them. It wasn’t massively bright, but Jeremy knew Michael’s eyes could be sensitive at times. He wiggled his hands a little and the spark shifted to form Michael’s name.


“Holy shit! Since when could you do electricity stuff? Hot damn have you been learning a lot these past few weeks,” Michael exclaimed as he grinned. “What else can you make with the sparks?”


Jeremy wiggled his hands again, focusing hard, and made the spark form his name first. Then it shifted to a heart, complete with an arrow going through it. After a second to gather his concentration, Jeremy even managed to make a very basic looking cartoon zombie which even moved slightly like it was shambling around.


Michael was almost losing his shit at all of this. “This is amazing, oh my god! I know these are probably simple tricks but ah!”


Okay, now for the finale. Jeremy wiggled his hands again and sent the spark so it looped itself around Michael a couple of times. It wasn’t strong enough to give more than a small static shock if touched, and it wouldn’t burn him, so Jeremy wasn’t too worried about doing this trick. It was more for show and to keep Michael smiling that beautiful smile.


When the spark landed back on his finger, Michael let out a huge round of applause. “Oh my god , I know I sound like a broken record but that was amazing! How long were you working on all of this for?”


Jeremy grinned and blushed. “This whole time. Since I got the aura mostly under control,” he explained a little shyly, running his hands together to get his human illusion back up. “The snow stuff was easy, the sparks are more complex.”


“I can only imagine. Literally. I have no real concept of that complexity except from your demonstrations.” Michael switched his glasses before looking back. “You can look now, Sunny,” he said before Sunny turned around and cocked her head up at the two.


Jeremy smiled and settled back in his seat properly. He was feeling a little flustered and honestly, he was getting almost overwhelmed with how Michael was looking at him. It was awesome.


“Seriously though, that was amazing, Jeremy. We should celebrate it. Let’s pick up some Seven-Eleven on the way home.”


“Woo!” Jeremy cheered and Sunny wiggled happily in the back seat, leaning forwards and nudging them both happily. The celebration was cut short when Jeremy felt a stabbing pain in his bicep. He screamed out, curling up a little as he cradled his arm.


Michael instantly was by him, worry overcoming his face as he checked over Jeremy. “Remy? Are you alright? What happened?”


“My- my arm hurts ,” he whimpered, holding out his injured arm a little. God, it hurt so much, like when he once brushed against a hot pan and got a bad burn on his left arm.


“Let me see it so that I can treat it and figure it out,” Michael said, his voice soft and caring.


Jeremy nodded, whining pitifully as he pulled up his sleeve all the way to reveal- holy shit, that was a really big burn. Not deep but holy fuck, how did he do that?!


“Oh my god,” Michael murmured as he reached into his glove compartment.


I can help to heal that up for you. Are you alright?


Jeremy whined and shook his head a little. “ What happened?! This is like... out of nowhere, ” he whined. “ Was it an angel? You said they can burn us.


There was a pause. “I think I have figured out something, but please do not freak when I tell you.


Jeremy just whimpered and watched as Michael pulled out his small first aid kit he always kept in the car. “ I’m about as freaked out as I can be now. Just do it.


I think Sunny is an angel. Specifically, she is Michael’s guardian angel.


Oh .” Jeremy wanted to be more shocked, but it made so much sense. Sunny was hyper intelligent, and she didn’t like Squip. She just... fit the role of a guardian angel with how she protected Michael so fiercely. Which meant- “ But why did she burn me? I thought she loved me...


I don’t know. I thought so too. Maybe... Angels have a disdain naturally for demons. She may not like you because she knows who you are now, which is wrong, ” Squip said as Michael started to treat his burn.


Jeremy could only whine and whimper from the pain, both physical and emotional. Sunny didn’t love him anymore? And she... wanted to hurt him? She had just burned him... god, she must hate him then, not just dislike. A soft, broken sob escaped Jeremy’s lips as he realized that fact. Sunny didn’t love him, she hated him.


Sunny whimpering from the backseat had him flinching as Michael finished applying burn cream. “Sorry, I know this sucks. I’m almost done.”


Why was Sunny whimpering? She was the cause of this, she’s the one who hurt him! Maybe... Maybe she was just acting because it made Michael feel better. Michael still loved him, the way he was treating Jeremy so carefully proved it. So maybe Sunny was playing along to keep Michael happy, even if she actually hated Jeremy.


The feeling of Michael wrapping the wound carefully brought him back to reality. “Hey, it’s alright, I finished,” Michael murmured before reaching up and wiping away some forming tears.


“Hurts,” Jeremy whined out after a moment, leaning into Michael’s touch. His chest hurt as much as his arm did, maybe more so. He adored Sunny. Even before he met her, he loved her.


“I’m sorry, Remy. We’ll go straight to my house and then I can get you some pain killers,” Michael assured Jeremy as Sunny kept whining from the backseat. “Then we can figure out what happened.”


Jeremy nodded mutely. He just wanted to curl up with Michael and maybe sleep, being in so much pain was exhausting. Except Sunny slept with Michael sometimes. At the very least she liked to cuddle on the bed. Which meant that Jeremy wouldn’t be able to curl up with Michael or he’d be hurt more. Fuck. Jeremy quietly let out another sob.


“It’s okay Jeremy, it’s okay,” Michael reassured as he gently squeezed his cheek. “I promise it’ll be okay-“


Sunny barked from the backseat and oh god, Sunny really didn’t like him! But he loved her so much. It hurt and made Jeremy sob more openly. “Remy? What’s wrong?”


Jeremy glanced back at Sunny before curling up more. “Too much,” he managed after a moment. It was all too much, the pain combined with Sunny barking and clearly hating him, it was too much and Jeremy was getting overwhelmed in a bad way now.


Michael seemed to understand as he looked back at Sunny. “Sunny, you need to stay quiet right now,” he said, even if Sunny whined. “I know, but you need to stop for now. Jeremy’s overwhelmed.”


That... that helped a little. Jeremy just nodded and let Michael drive them home in almost silence. He couldn’t do much else.


He did notice Michael glance over every now and then, but Jeremy felt his wound healing a little on the way to the Mell abode. At least Michael would always care for him... right?


The drive home was uncomfortable and quiet. Michael didn’t try to fill the space and Jeremy could just feel Sunny staring at him intensely. He wanted to curl up and disappear, this was all too much. Sunny hated him and it seemed like Michael might be picking up on that, considering how often he was glancing at him.


When they did make it to Michael’s house, Jeremy was quickly taken in and Sunny stayed on Michael’s side opposite to where Jeremy was. Michael quickly got him into his bed and even tucked him in. “What else do you need right now, Remy?”


Jeremy just curled close to Michael. “Just stay with me, please.” He didn’t think he could handle being left alone right now. Michael was the reason he wasn’t having a total breakdown.


“Yeah, of course.” Michael went to sit in bed but looked down, presumably at Sunny. “Not right now, Sunny. Go lie on your bed please.” There was a whine before Sunny walked and flopped down on her bed by Michael’s desk. Michael yanked off his shoes and socks before lying on top of his sheets by Jeremy. “Is this good, or do you want me with you under the sheets?”


“Under,” Jeremy muttered, curling up a little.


Michael just nodded before he got under the covers. “Do you want me next to you or holding onto you? Or do you want something else?”


“Hold me. Please, Mikey.” He knew he was being pathetic, but it just was all too much and it hurt .


“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry,” Michael assured as he scooted right next to Jeremy and held him close. The soft pressure Michael had helped to calm Jeremy a little with that initial contact. Jeremy felt his head guided to rest against Michael’s shoulder as he was gently shushed and comforted. “It’s okay. It’s alright, I promise.”


Jeremy shook his head and buried himself into the crook of Michael’s shoulder. Michael still cared about him. He still loved Jeremy in some way. Things would be fine.


As the thought drifted through Jeremy’s head, his consciousness wavered and he started drifting off. “ Don’t worry, son. I’ll take care of you.


“It’s gonna be okay, Remy. I’m not going to let anyone or anything hurt you,” was the last thing Jeremy heard before he fell asleep.

To say Michael was worried was an understatement. Jeremy had been acting strange since yesterday, after the burn, and it was starting to really confuse and concern Michael. 


For one thing, he was super sad and upset, even if he wasn’t admitting it out loud. There was just this sad vibe radiating off of him, and Michael just wanted to scoop Jeremy up and protect him. Then there was the fact that Jeremy was keeping his distance from Sunny. He seemed genuinely afraid of her, skittering away if she approached and almost cowering when she looked his way. It was getting almost stupid with how scared he was and Michael knew he needed to address it before it became a real issue.


Michael sat down with Jeremy on his bed, giving him the bottle of water he had. Hydration helped with depression. “Hey, so you’ve been really down and scared. I need to know what’s wrong so this doesn’t become a huge thing.”


Jeremy uncapped the bottle and downed a few mouthfuls before answering. He briefly (almost imperceptibly) glanced in Sunny’s direction before sighing. 


“I really don’t want to talk about it. It... I don’t want to upset you,” he replied after a moment.


"I would rather get upset and us figure this all out. I already know that you've been freaked out by Sunny since yesterday," Michael said as he scooted closer to Jeremy. He knew Sunny was worried about all of this, he could just tell. Her whines and whimpers and wanting to help Jeremy was also a helpful indicator.


“...Yeah.” Jeremy nodded, pulling his knees to his chest and hugging them. “I just don’t think she likes me as much as she used to. I-“ Before he could continue, Sunny jumped up onto the bed, keeping her distance. Jeremy squealed and scurried backwards, more panicked than Michael had seen him in a while.


"Sunny," Michael said sternly, only so she'd stay back. He hurried to be by Jeremy's side, carefully rubbing his arm. "Why wouldn't she like you as much as before?"


Jeremy didn’t respond right away. “I think she’s upset I’m part demon. She’s been tense around me since we found out, and she- she-“ He trailed off, rubbing his burned arm carefully.


"She still loves you, Jeremy. She is not upset with you at all, I can assure you of that. She's just been on-edge with Squip because she doesn't like him and neither do I," Michael clarified.

“He hasn’t exactly been around, though, has he?” Jeremy muttered.


"Not around us, no, but he's been with you. She can probably smell him and stuff, and I just... I've already told you I've been having bad feelings. They haven't gone away. I told you that."


Jeremy paused then shook his head again. “I’m not convinced. I’m sorry, I just... I’m still freaked.” He sighed.


"That's fine and completely valid. For now, Sunny can have some distance from you, but I need her to be around. I can't just abandon her."


Jeremy shook his head vehemently. “I would never want or ask you to. I know you need her.” He sighed and slumped over. “I just... I can’t even be near her without being scared. I feel...” He trailed off, mumbling the last bit almost ashamedly.


Michael reached and took one of Jeremy's hands, squeezing it. "You feel what?"


“Like I’m gonna get hurt if she touches me. Since she doesn’t like me anymore.” He sounded on the verge of tears with that admission.


Now, Michael had no idea how Jeremy got that idea (maybe because he got his burn when Sunny touched him, though there was no way she could cause that. She was a dog ), but he wasn't going to chastise him. "Remy, she adores you. We can keep her from touching you for now though, but I promise you that she would never hurt you. The only time she would, I promise, would be by accident or something. She's accidentally scratched me before when I didn't trim her nails a few times."


Jeremy was shaking and was clearly repressing tears. “She burned me, Mikey. She doesn’t like me, not at all. She doesn’t like me now that we know I’m a demon.”


Well, he needed to address this now... somehow. Michael was grasping at straws with how to do this as he asked, "How do you think she burned you?"


“When she touched me. After you said we were going to Seven-Eleven.”


"How could she have done that though? Like, she touched you, but she's touched you so many times before and it's never hurt you, even after we met Squip and learned about you being half-demon."


Jeremy was silent and he looked away, clearly set on his hypothesis and unwilling to talk about it.


Michael gently squeezed Jeremy's hand. "Remy, I need to know what you're thinking. Please. I'm just a bland human and I'm not, like, Professor X."


Jeremy looked at Michael again, eyes wide. “You’re not bland, Mikey. You’re amazing,” he replied earnestly. “I’m just... I think the more powers I’ve managed to control, the more tense she’s gotten around me. And then, I get a burn in the exact area she touched after extending my powers.”


"But it's not like she can hurt you. She doesn't have powers or anything besides helping to keep me from hurting myself and keeping me alive." God, Jeremy was really set on this, but it just didn't make sense in Michael's mind as to how his three year old dog could possibly burn Jeremy.


“I know what I felt, Mikey. I’m sorry,” he mumbled.


Sunny huffed and walked right up to Jeremy, not touching him but staring right at him. Michael could see her apologetic, begging expression, but clearly Jeremy couldn’t with how he was cowering against the headboard of Michael’s bed.


Michael shifted so he could hold onto Jeremy, arms around him to comfort him. "I know she's scaring you right now, but look at Sunny. She's sorry for scaring you and everything."


Jeremy wasn’t looking, his eyes squeezed shut and his whole body trembling in Michael’s arms. He was genuinely terrified right now. He needed to fix this somehow.


This was one of the things that Michael was shit at, but he wasn't going to let Jeremy down. He had to try something at the very least.


"Jeremy, you trust me, right?"


“Yeah.” His voice was shaking but his answer was instant.


"Then trust me so I can understand where you're coming from." Honestly, Michael thought the burn came from something related to Jeremy's energy usage. Hopefully, this would help Jeremy understand. "Can I hold your hand please?"


Jeremy nodded again and slowly uncurled himself slightly, freeing his hands from his legs.


Michael carefully took his hand, even rubbing his thumb against the back of Jeremy's knuckles. "If something happens, I will take you right out of the situation, alright?"


Jeremy nodded, tipping his head toward Michael slightly. It was a way of showing trust without opening his eyes.


As he smiled, Michael looked over at Sunny and nodded his head back. She understood and came over, still giving good space between them and her. "Alright, I'm moving our hands forward," Michael explained as he carefully reached his and Jeremy's hand to Sunny. He'd brush their hands against her so Jeremy knew that she was safe.


The moment Jeremy’s hand touched Sunny’s fur, it started hissing, almost like meat in a hot pan. Jeremy screamed and tried to pull his hand back.


Michael instantly pulled Jeremy's hand back, apologizing as he pushed his dumbfounded confusion to the side. "I'm so sorry, Remy. I took you right out though, it's going to be fine. You're going to be fine." Thankfully, Michael only had the side of Jeremy's hand, the pinky side, brush for a few moments, so the damage wasn't as bad as his arm.


Jeremy whined and curled up again, leaning against Michael. Sunny scuttled back, whimpering in an apology.


As he held Jeremy close, Michael gave as reassuring of a look as he could to Sunny. What had happened that made Jeremy react to Sunny like this physically? It confused Michael to no end, but he'd try to figure it out. For now, he had Jeremy to comfort. "You're going to be alright. I'm sorry for putting you in there, but I understand now. I'm so sorry, but you're going to be fine. It's like a small burn, it's not like the one you have on your arm."


Jeremy nodded and stayed curled close to Michael, whimpering and whining and now crying a little as well. “‘Hurts, Mikey,” he sobbed softly.


"Well, let me get some more burn cream. Can you come with me into the bathroom please? Then we can treat it real quick and it'll feel better soon."


Jeremy nodded and climbed to his feet with Michael. “Mikey, why’s she hurting me? I thought we were friends,” he whimpered, his voice weak and quieter than Michael had heard it in weeks.


"She isn't meaning to," Michael told Jeremy as he walked with Jeremy out of the room. Sunny sat in her bed, curled up and ashamed. 


"Is everything alright, boys?" Ina asked, coming up the stairs. "I'm sorry for not being here sooner, but I just got back from grocery shopping."


Jeremy was silent, just cradling his burned hand close. Sunny, who had followed them out, ran over to Ina and whined, looking between her and Jeremy. She pawed at Ina a few times, trying desperately to get her to look at Jeremy.


Ina bent down to pet Sunny's head before looking over at Jeremy. She gasped softly before going to Jeremy, holding her hands out. "What happened? Would it be alright if I looked it over?"


Jeremy didn’t speak, but he did hold out his hand. With his free hand he signed the word ‘sticky,’ which was what they used when his voice was locked up from his selective mutism.


Ina nodded as she carefully cradled Jeremy's hand. "Oh dear. I don't know how this happened, but let's go and treat it. We should have some burn treatment and bandages, but this should be healed up soon. Just no picking or anything, even if the skin's darker while it heals, or it'll scar."


Jeremy nodded again, following after Ina as she led him to the bathroom. He didn’t say a word, but he did watch Sunny warily as he passed her.


Michael told Jeremy that he'd be in soon, and Jeremy nodded before entering the bathroom with Ina. He let out a sigh as he quickly went downstairs, Sunny following close behind as he went to the kitchen. "I... Squip did something to him. That's the only thing that makes sense," he thought out loud as he went to get a water bottle from the fridge.


Sunny whined and sort of nodded, then butting against Michael’s leg. She looked up at him pathetically, clearly worried and nervous. She seemed to agree with Michael’s assessment.


Squatting down next to Sunny, Michael pet her and pressed a few kisses to her head. "We'll help him, I promise. We just..." Michael thought as he stopped talking. Was there some way to exorcise Squip? Jeremy's mom had done it. Jeremy might not like it at first, but it would be for the best in the long run. "We need to find out what Jeremy's mom did to get rid of Squip."


Sunny yipped in agreement, turning her head and licking his chin. She whimpered and hopped from paw to paw, glancing over toward the stairs. What was she-? Oh. It was faint, but Michael could hear Jeremy crying from the bathroom, and he could just about hear Ina trying to comfort him.


"Thanks, Sunny." After one more kiss to Sunny's head, Michael bolted up the stairs. "I'm coming. I got you some water," Michael called as he took the stairs, two steps at a time, and rushed to the bathroom.


Jeremy was sitting on the closed lid of the toilet seat, curled up as Ina cradled him. The burn on his finger was bandaged up, but he was crying hard. As always, Michael knew Jeremy was trying to mute his sobs. He hated crying out loud.


Putting down the water bottle on the sink counter, Michael squatted down a little to be more at Jeremy's level as he wrapped an arm around his shoulder. "Hey, it's okay, Remy."


Jeremy leaned into his touch, still sobbing. Thank god Jeremy wasn’t rejecting him as well as Sunny. Michael didn’t know what he’d do if Jeremy rejected him too.


Carefully transferring him with Ina, Michael managed to sit on the toilet seat (somehow) and held Jeremy close. "You're gonna be fine, I promise you that." Once he got Squip out of the picture, everything would be fine.

Chapter Text

Jeremy was on edge. This was supposed to be an amazing sleepover weekend but it was just awful. It wasn't because of Michael or anything... At least, not intentionally. That's what Squip had been telling him.

" You need to help him relax. He's been wary and having these bad feelings because he isn't good with change. You told me that he freaked out when he had to get a new pair of glasses that were a new frame and it took him so long to adjust. What I'm suggesting you do will help him and, in turn, it will help Sunny. If Michael isn't stressed or anxious, she won't be either and might be able to have a change of heart, " Squip explained as Jeremy lied in Michael's bed. Michael was currently sitting in his desk chair, Sunny curled up by his feet as he typed away at his laptop.


So it’ll help him, right? But it won’t change him. I don’t want to change any part of Michael, I love him just as he is. I just want to help him relax and to be friends with Sunny again, ” Jeremy mused, scrubbing at his eyes. God, this was getting to be too much. Between balancing Squip and being scared of Sunny, Jeremy was almost at breaking point.


" This will help him, you, and Sunny, " Squip promised. " I've only been trying to help. I wouldn't suggest you do something if it wasn't with the best of intentions. "


I know, I trust you, Squip. ” Jeremy nodded internally. “ Um, also... Would it be okay if I started calling you dad? Since you are my dad, and you’ve been taking care of me and stuff. ” Admittedly, it felt a little weird, but it also felt right. Squip had been loving Jeremy this whole time, looking after him and teaching him. That’s what his dad did, even if Jeremy wasn’t his biological son.


" That would be more than okay. Thank you, son. " Jeremy could feel Squip smiling. " Now, with this, you'll need to be away from that dog so she won't interfere. "


He could totally do this. It would help Michael and it might Sunny like him again too. 


“Hey Mikey, can we sit outside? It’s nice out there and I wanna go curl up on the swing chair,” he requested softly.


Michael looked up and over from where he was working. "Yeah, totally. I honestly thought you were asleep," he admitted before quickly checking his laptop screen and carefully shutting it.


Jeremy hummed and sat up, stretching a little. “Should we give Sunny dinner in the meantime? Then she can... join us outside after.” He really did want Sunny to join them in a bit; it would help her realize that Jeremy wasn’t gonna hurt Michael, and was trying to help him instead.


Michael checked his phone and laughed a little. "Well, I'll give her lunch, but not dinner. Mama and Ina'll be back in time for dinner since they're bringing that," he said as he stood up and stretched his arms above his head. "Lemme just tug on a hoodie from my collection first."


Jeremy grinned weakly and nodded. “Why not the yellow one? It’s one of the softest,” he pointed out. It was also one of his personal favorites on Michael, since it looked really nice on him.


"Oh, yeah! Lemme grab it." Michael stuck his head into his closet, digging around as Sunny stretched and stood from under Michael's desk. She stood near the door but looked at Jeremy. He couldn't help but flinch and Sunny's ears drooped as she whined.


That made Jeremy feel bad, even if he was still kinda freaked out that she was an angel who clearly hated him. “H-hey. It’s okay, Sunny. You’re... you’re a good girl,” he offered weakly. He didn’t want her to feel bad, he still adored her and wished he could hug her without being roasted alive.


Sunny didn't look at Jeremy, seemingly ashamed. "She is a good girl. She does feel bad for hurting you," Michael said, his voice trying as he quickly tugged on his hoodie. Going so fast made his hair poof in an adorable way that made Jeremy's heart race instead of hurt.


“I still love her so much,” Jeremy murmured, trying to calm his racing pulse. “I’m sure we can figure out something after a while. It’s just new and not so nice at the moment.”


"Yeah, we can and I know we will. She loves you too," Michael promised as he walked over and offered his hand to Jeremy.


Jeremy was doubtful, but if everything went well, she might love him again. He took Michael’s hand with a smile, climbing off the bed.


Michael walked with him downstairs, Sunny going first. He told Jeremy to go get comfy outside while he got Sunny her food, which Jeremy did. " I'm going to start the spell since this is going to be your first real spell, and then I'll have you slowly put your energy into this. "


Will it make me sleepy like the aura thing did at first? ” he asked, heading over to the swing chair and getting comfortable. Mama had put the cushions out, so it was a perfect time to cuddle up together.


" It may. I don't know if it will or will not do that, " Squip admitted as Jeremy found the perfect spot. " It may also make him sleepy though, but that is fine and normal, I promise. "


Okay! ” Squip was being honest so Jeremy had no reason to doubt him. He’d always been honest with Jeremy.


Just as soon as he was comfy, Michael came outside and closed the sliding door behind him. Jeremy made grabby hands at Michael, giggling and blushing a little. You know what? This would be the perfect time to confess! When they were both comfy and cuddling together and a little sleepy from the magic. That would be awesome.


"Wow, you really look comfy. Can I get in on that?" Michael asked as he walked over and sat beside Jeremy.


“Please!” Jeremy grinned, shifting enough that Michael could curl up next to him, then moving himself to lie against Michael. “Mmm, comfy,” he purred, only half teasing. Michael was comfy to lie against. And warm. Mmm. It had been a long while since Jeremy felt this warm, honestly. Since he found his demon powers by freezing Grant’s fist, he just couldn’t seem to generate enough heat to be cozy.


"Glad to know I'm only useful for cuddling with," Michael teased as he rested an arm over Jeremy's waist.


“You’re worth so much more than that, Mikey,” Jeremy murmured, nuzzling against his chest. “On that sort of topic though, I have something to tell you.”


"Oh, you do?" As Michael asked, Jeremy could hear Squip murmuring Latin that he didn't really understand. "Impart upon me your wisdom."


“I...” This was hard, but it felt right. It felt right in a way that nothing else did, it felt certain . Something Jeremy wasn’t really used to. “I really like you. As more than a friend.” He tensed up, waiting for his response. Please be good.


"When you say as more than a friend, do you mean as more than a best friend too?" Michael asked. Jeremy almost didn't notice the hopeful tone in Michael's voice.


Jeremy nodded and closed his eyes, not moving even slightly away from Michael. If Michael wanted him gone, he was more than capable of shoving Jeremy away, even with Jeremy’s super strength that came with being a half-demon. “I mean in a romantic way. I... actually kinda love you, Mikey. In a boyfriend way.”


Michael's arms held Jeremy just a bit closer. "You... Really?" Jeremy nodded, nuzzling against Michael in the process. "I've liked you for a while too, but I didn't want to push or pressure you in case you didn't like me in the same way.


“Really?” Jeremy turned his head up to look at Michael. “That’s why I didn’t say anything to you! I had to ask Christine if she thought I had a chance with you in the first place.” He giggled.


"Oh my god, we're both dumbasses," Michael said around a forming laugh. "In a good way, but we're total dumbasses."


“We really are.” Jeremy laughed as well, shifting so he was sitting up, facing Michael. “Can I... Would you like to be my boyfriend, Mikey?” he asked shyly. Yeah, they liked each other, but that didn’t mean they were gonna be together like that. Michael might not be ready, or he might just wanna see how things worked out.


Michael looked up at Jeremy, grinning a bit sleepily. The spell must have already started working. "Only if you're alright with being my boyfriend too, Remy. It's a bit of a burden, you know."


Jeremy shook his head, smiling softly. “Not to me. I would love to be your boyfriend.” He leaned closer. Sure, Michael was a little sleepy, but that was okay. He was just gonna relax. “Can I... can I kiss you, please?”


Even before Michael nodded, Jeremy felt himself becoming a little sleepy as well. Squip must've been transferring it so he was doing the spell now. 


As Jeremy bent down and connected their lips, he didn't feel sparks in the kiss. Instead, he felt something better: the feeling of how right this kiss was. Even if both of them were inexperienced, this felt natural, like they were always meant to kiss each other. The slow, relaxed movement of their lips together wasn't helping with Jeremy's relaxed, somewhat sleepy feeling, but it wasn't like it was a bad thing to feel that way.


When they separated, after lazily kissing for a moment, Jeremy found himself satisfied and warm in a way he didn’t know he could ever feel. It was awesome, addictive, and it just made him want to kiss Michael some more. 


Except there was something wrong. Nestled among the warm feelings in his chest, Jeremy could feel a shard of ice lodge itself inside him start to grow. Without his consent, the illusion keeping his skin human faded away and he felt his demon half begin to grow with the ice shard.


Dad, what’s happening? Why can’t I keep the human shape up? ” he asked, confused and a little nervous for some reason.


" It's a part of the spell. It needs to take a lot of the energy to do this spell since it is your first time, " Squip explained, sounding content and relaxed, as if there was nothing to worry about. " This is normal for the first time you cast a spell. "


Then he heard Sunny barking from the sliding glass door that Michael shut. Flinching, Jeremy glanced over and saw her pawing and jumping at the door, which she never did. She was always well-behaved and polite.


No, something is wrong. Can you stop the spell, please? ” he asked, finding it difficult to move suddenly. He knew something was wrong here, he could feel the fear and pain building in his chest which he didn’t understand, but he knew from experience that it meant something bad was happening. His instincts were well honed in that respect.


" You're the one in control of the spell now, not me. It's not really one you can stop once it has started. " Squip didn't sound apologetic at all in that regard. " Trust me when I say that nothing is wrong and that everything is going as it should. " Sunny's barking cut through Squip, stopping him momentarily from speaking. " Look at how relaxed Michael looks as well. "


He did, but it felt wrong. Michael was lazily smiling, his eyes shut, but the classic Michael vibe he gave off wasn't there. That sent Jeremy's heart racing. What was he doing to Michael?


Tell me how to stop it. ” This was wrong. “ I don’t want this anymore, it’s hurting him. This is changing him. ” Jeremy could feel it now, something inside Michael was shifting, and something inside Jeremy was shifting to match. He hated it, it wasn’t him and it wasn’t Michael. “ It hurts! Make it stop!


" This isn't hurting him, I promise. This spell cannot be stopped once it's started, but it will make everything better. You will be who you were meant to be and Michael will always be with you. Even that little angel dog will be with you. "


“What is it doing?” Jeremy cried, not nothing to think at Squip anymore. He was getting dizzy and everything was hurting and he felt so cold , like he’d never be warm again.


He felt the presence of Squip in the back of his head vanish for the first time in weeks. Jeremy couldn't help but feel somewhat hollow as Squip stood behind the swing chair, holding onto the back of it as he smiled down at him. "It's making you who you meant to be: your demonic self. Your first spell is always your most important, letting your body adjust as it finishes the spell."


“But I don’t want to be a demon. I told you, I want to be human!” Jeremy protested, his words slurring a little. “Besides, I haven’t chosen a sin yet, and I don’t have a cult.” Every demon had a sin associated with them. Squip was greed, knowing what people desired and wanted for themselves. “I can’t become a demon without those.” It was a full proof argument, right?


"You'll choose one when the spell is almost done. You've always struck me as a demon of pride. Your body will naturally change to the sin that you most align with when the spell is complete," Squip said knowingly before nodding. "You also already have someone who is dedicated to staying with you for life, Jeremy." Squip reached down and gestured to Michael, who seemed more like he was actually sleeping now. "Your spell will help him to become more welcome to change, and that includes your change you're going through. He will follow you through hell and back, and that is exactly the dedication you need for your cult leader."


“No!” Jeremy didn’t want that at all! He wanted Michael to be Michael, not to be some mindless cult leader.


Without much thought on what he’d do next, Jeremy threw himself away from Squip and landed firmly on his ass on the ground. He had to figure out a way to help Michael. 


God, he really messed up. Why had he ever trusted Squip?! He wasn’t a dad, he was a demon, a selfish greedy demon who Jeremy should have banished as soon as he learnt how to access his powers.


Sunny never stopped barking and jumping as Squip hummed. "The two of you will be together for as long as you wish though," he said as he walked over and knelt down by Jeremy. "You'll be happy with him and you won't have to suffer anymore. I'm so sorry that I couldn't help you with this sooner."


A vicious growl escaped Sunny as Squip went to hold onto Jeremy's arm, and Squip turned and glared at her. "Oh, just be quiet." He snapped his fingers and an ice spike popped up through the glass inside, near Sunny. She yelped and jumped back before it could do anything. "You aren't ruining this for my son."


Jeremy almost screamed when he saw Sunny almost get hit by the ice spikes. Then it hit him: Sunny was an angel, she could help Michael!


Before Squip could grab him, Jeremy staggered to his feet and shot over to the sliding door. He slid it open and used as much energy as he could to conjure up some lightning, shattering the ice spikes.


“Help him. Please !” he begged before his legs gave out once more and he fell to his knees.


Sunny looked conflicted as she looked between Jeremy and Michael before dashing past Squip. She growled at him, as if daring him to touch her, before trying to hop up onto the swing chair.


"Jeremy, I am here to improve your life," Squip said as he walked over to Jeremy, kneeling down beside him. "You are so powerful. You might create a bigger cult that I did ages ago, and with technology today, it will be widespread and so amazing. You already have future cult members at school too who will follow and worship you."


“I don’t want to be worshiped, I want to be normal!” Jerrmy was almost in tears. “I just wanted to get to be a normal kid. I don’t want to be a demon, I want to be human!” He stumbled to his feet once more. “Now make it stop! Tell me how to turn it off and let Michael go! Please, Squip, let me choose for myself.”


"You are a child of a demon, Jeremy. You do not have a choice. This was part of the deal your mother made with me that she tried to back out of, for me to help you harness your powers and reach your true potential," Squip said as he stood up as well. "I am doing what is best for you. You can never be a human, it is literally impossible for you." He glanced back, seeing Sunny almost making it up the seat, before waving. She managed to yelp and jump back before she got impaled by icicle spikes again.


“Sunny!” Jeremy cried. No no no! Everything was wrong! This was supposed to be a good moment, a happy moment. Michael was his boyfriend, and now Jeremy was gonna lose him forever. Whoever he became after the spell was over wouldn’t be Michael anymore... The spell which was coming from Jeremy. Jeremy, who could never be human because he was a demon. 


A demon who burned when he touched an angel.


“Sunny, come here, girl. I have an idea,” he called, walking towards her as surely as he could.


Sunny looked over, head cocked as she whimpered, before running over. Squip tried to stop her, but she growled and managed to bump his leg. His dad-no, he was just Squip-cried in pain as his skin blistered, burning worse than Jeremy’s skin did, before Sunny managed to make it over to Jeremy.


Jeremy smiled sadly at her, landing on his knees with a painful thump. “You never hated me, did you?” he asked quietly, looking at Sunny with a soft sort of finality. “You were trying to warn me about him.” He took a breath before nodding. “Look after Mikey for me. I don’t know what will happen once this is over.” Before anyone else could react, not Sunny and certainly not Squip, Jeremy leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Sunny.


The pain was intense, and Jeremy started screaming as it overwhelmed him, but he tried his best to hide his face against Sunny’s neck to not hurt her ears. He didn’t want to do this, but he would. If he couldn’t stop the spell, maybe he could stop himself. He’d do this a thousand times over, though, if it meant Michael would be safe.


Sunny whimpered and whined as she wiggled around in Jeremy's arms, trying to get away. She really never wanted to hurt him. How could he ever think that she wanted to?


"Jeremy, no!" Squip screamed, his voice full of actual sorrow and agony. Maybe Squip did care, but only could in a certain way.


Jeremy whined but didn’t let go. Instead, he pressed himself closer to Sunny, holding her tightly but as sweetly as he could manage. “Please. Give me this. Let me protect him,” he begged through his tears, which only made things get hotter. The ice in his chest started thawing, even shattering at points, as the spell started to collapse.


She did not stop whimpering and whining, but Sunny did stop trying to get away. She nuzzled against Jeremy’s covered shoulder, giving him a kiss before settling there. “Jeremy, please !”


“You didn’t give me a choice, so I’m making my own,” he managed to grit out after a moment. It hurt like hell (probably literally) but he fought through the pain and the sort of numbing sensation washing over him. He must have been almost spent by this point.


There was an odd sensation that Jeremy felt before, through the numbing pain, realizing that Sunny had wings pop out that were proportional to her body. She whimpered once more before there was a sort of shattering in Jeremy’s chest, and she pulled away to reveal that yes, she had wings as well as a halo. Her eyes were asking if she could go, that he had done enough, even as he felt numb.


Jeremy nodded and fell back into the grass. His burns ached and stung worse than anything he’d ever felt in his life, but he was happy. The spell had stopped. He’d protected Michael.


Jeremy closed his eyes and let the numbness start to overtake him, let it start to black out his vision and shut down everything else. He did what he needed to, he could rest now.


Except he realized that he didn't do everything. Squip was still there. Sunny might not be able to save Michael on her own.


He still needed to protect Michael.


That blackness and numbness he felt took the pain away, but it changed it into something else. Something useful, something helpful. The burns and pain he felt went away as he heard yelling and screaming from Squip, growling and barking from Sunny.


Everything felt right for once when he heard Michael cry out in surprise and in slight pain, his eyes opening to take in the scene on the back porch.


Squip had Michael in a headlock, glaring at Sunny who had her wings and halo away. She was barking at Squip fiercely but there seemed to be nothing she could do. Squip just was holding Michael too tightly.


Tight enough to hurt. Squip was hurting Michael. The numbness was still very present as Jeremy looked on, but so was something else: rage. He felt rage beyond anything he knew, even more than what he felt at Grant when he called Michael that slur. Squip had manipulated Jeremy and now, worst of all, he was hurting Michael. Jeremy clenched his fist and found his hand closed around something warm. It felt almost metallic, but it would work for what he needed.


With great difficulty, Jeremy sat up and used the metal thing to push himself into a standing position. Then he pointed the metal thing (holy shit, was that a sword covered in blue fire?!) at Squip.


“Let him go,” Jeremy demanded, his voice hoarse but present and commanding.


Both Sunny and Squip looked at Jeremy with clear surprise on their faces (yes, even Sunny's because she was that expressive). Squip seemed like, if he could, he might start tearing up. "Jeremy? What-"


Squip screamed out in pain as Michael somehow managed to elbow and kick him. Michael went to turn and run, but before he could, he screamed in agony before skidding across the porch. His hoodie had burns through them, enough to where Jeremy could see the scorched skin loud and clear, as Squip pulled his hands back and Michael convulsed. Sunny instantly ran over, howling the most heart wrenching howl, as Squip seemed to realize what he did.


"Jeremy, I-"


Before he could even think of what he was doing, Jeremy threw the sword at Squip, impaling him through the stomach. “You tried to kill Michael,” Jeremy whispered, his back suddenly in so much pain that he could barely think. He didn’t need to, though. He knew what he was doing. 


“So I’ll kill you instead.” 


He shot his own bolts at Squip, the sword acting as a lightning rod and directing them all straight into the demon. 


He stopped a moment later, coming to himself enough to run over to Michael and cradle him close. “Mikey? Mikey, are you okay?!” he croaked, his voice still in agony from screaming so much.


There was no response from Michael, and Sunny was sadly howling as she nudged him. She looked up at Jeremy, her eyes lighting up with something past the sadness and heartbreak as she whimpered and pressed her muzzle against Michael's face. She looked between Jeremy and Michael a few times before doing it again.


“You... you want me to kiss him?” Jeremy asked incredulously. Still, Sunny was an angel and Jeremy knew beyond a doubt that he could trust her. She had never let him or Michael down, even when Jeremy himself was letting them both down.


With that in mind, Jeremy bent down and pressed a gentle kiss to Michael’s lips. As he did so, pain sprung up on his back even more intensely than before. There was a tearing sound, and suddenly Jeremy was sure they were in shade as the pain faded. He pulled back a moment later, staring at Michael and not giving a flying fuck about anything else right then.


Jeremy didn't realize that Michael hadn't been breathing until he started doing it again, albeit it was shallow but he was breathing and alive! 


Sunny nuzzled happily against Michael and then Jeremy. He flinched at first instinctively, but it didn't hurt. Sunny gave him a few kisses before bolting off, and faintly, Jeremy heard Squip scream in agony somewhere behind him.


Jeremy squeezed Michael gently. “M-Mikey? Are... are you okay?” he asked softly, almost begging. Michael had to be okay. If Jeremy was alive, Michael had to be okay.


Michael barely managed to open his eyes, but they were open. He seemed really out of it as he tried to focus up on Jeremy. "Remy?" His voice was hoarse as he asked, "What... what happen't your face?"


Oh, that’s why things still hurt. “I hugged Sunny and got burned... But it worked and you’re okay now!” he cried, his voice rising as much as it could. (Barely anything, his throat was wrecked.)


"Wh... what?" How lost and out of it Michael sounded hurt Jeremy's heart, but this was so much better than the alternative. He'd be fine soon. He had to be.


“Doesn’t matter, it’s all gonna be fine. Squip electrocuted you and things were bad, but you’re alive again somehow and that’s the important part.” He nodded. The shadow above them shifted but Jeremy still ignored it.


Michael blinked a few times before looking above Jeremy. "Why're there wings?"


“Wings?” Jeremy blinked, then finally focused on the shadow. Two massive black wings were spread out behind him, covered in what looked to be soft, feathers as black as night. “I... don’t know.” The wings puffed up a little and flapped, and Jeremy almost fell over. “I think they’re attached?!”


Michael let out a soft hum of acknowledgement to that, slowly shutting his eyes. "Okay..."


Jeremy rebalanced himself and held Michael close. “You’re not gonna die again, are you? You’re just sleepy?” he asked softly.


"'M tired," Michael mumbled, barely audible as he leaned somewhat into Jeremy's hold.


Okay. That was fine, Michael just needed to rest. Jeremy could deal with that. He nodded as he cradled Michael gently. “I gotcha, Mikey... I gotcha...”


He looked up and around, trying not to fall over as his(?) wings shifted slightly.


He stopped when his eyes landed on Sunny. She was sitting on top of Squip with her wings and halo out and Squip was literally sizzling. Jeremy couldn't see anything happening, but the steam was evident as the demon only hissed along with his actual body.


He thought he should have felt worry or even anger, but he felt... nothing towards the demon who was his birth father. He didn’t care that Sunny was causing him great pain or that he was somehow still alive. Michael was okay, so Jeremy was okay.


“Why wouldn’t you give me a choice, Squip?” he asked after a moment. “Why did you force me to become like you?”


"You wouldn't succeed, and your mother made that deal with me," Squip got out as he managed to look up. He looked... pathetic. There was no other suitable word to describe how far this demon had fallen in such a short span of time. "Now I can't even help you anymore."


“What mom did isn’t what I do.” Jeremy shook his head. Then he processed the other part of what Squip said. “And what do you mean you can’t help me?”


"You've changed. I can't even touch you anymore," Squip said as he shook his head. "I cannot believe you gave your life up, what you could have become, for that ." The way Sunny growled at Squip and pressed her paws hard against his back made it easy to know who Squip was referring to.


“I’d do it again,” Jeremy stated, holding Michael closer. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat if it meant protecting Michael. I love him, and beyond that, he’s my best friend. He’s the reason I’m alive to even have this conversation.” He glared at Squip. “And you tried to kill him.”


After a moment more, Jeremy sighed. “What even am I now? I don’t feel as cold as I did before.”


Squip seemed reluctant to tell, but Sunny pressing her paw against Squip's face changed his mind. With a paw-shaped burn on his forehead, Squip explained. "A fallen angel. You died for a good cause during the spell that was meant to turn you into a full demon. I thought you did die after the spell was cancelled, but you were dying as the spell was still active. You gave your life for him and that was enough of an act to give you your wings. Demons can never truly be angels, but you're the closest thing."


Jeremy’s wings flapped a little at that. “I’m... a fallen angel? And I died?” That made sense, what with the pain and the numbness and the way everything went dark for a bit. He wondered how long he was dead for before realizing he was in shock. That’s why everything felt detached.


“I think you need to go now, Squip. You’ve done enough damage.”


Squip went to say something but Sunny pressed both paws to his face. She looked up at Jeremy, and he somehow knew what she was asking. "You can get rid of him."


After hopping off of Squip, Sunny started to bark, growl, and yip. For a split second, Jeremy thought he heard her actually talking, before (literal) heavenly light encompassed Squip. His screams of agony were cut off as the light enveloped him completely before he just... blinked out of existence.


Despite everything he did, Jeremy felt kinda sad that Squip was gone. He really did care about Jeremy, and he had taught Jeremy so much. Still, Jeremy was glad he was gone and Michael was safe now.


“Sunny, I think I need a doctor. Can- can you get me my phone, please? I think I left it inside.”


Sunny barked softly, her wings vanishing along with her halo, before she booked it inside. As she left, Jeremy focused on Michael, who was definitely breathing. He really was just sleeping.


Things started getting a little fuzzy again, so Jeremy just focused on the fact Michael was breathing. He was alive and therefore everything would be okay.


He only stopped focusing on Michael when there was a gentle nudge against his side. Looking over, he saw Sunny with his phone carefully in his mouth.


Jeremy took the phone from her and gave her a scratch behind her ears. “Good girl, Sunny. Thank you.” He kissed her snout before picking up the phone, impressed with how dry it was. She didn’t drool at all.


Sunny let out a soft boof before going and curling up next to Michael, right against his side. She even rested her head on his stomach as a text came in from his dad, asking how the weekend was going and if he needed to be picked up soon.


His dad. He’d been kinda distant these past few weeks, which was bad. His dad protected him and loved him and looked after him his whole life. Jeremy shouldn’t have ignored him so much, even if it wasn’t properly ignoring him.


Without thinking, Jeremy dialed his dad’s number and waited.


A few seconds later, the dial tone stopped. "Heya Private. You normally don't call me when hanging with Michael. What's going on?"


“Dad, I think we need you to take us to the hospital,” Jeremy managed to get out pretty clearly. “Mama and Ina are shopping, but this is really urgent.”


Already, Jeremy heard the sound of his dad walking. "I need you to tell me everything that you can about what happened, but first: are you and Michael alright? Are either of you fatally hurt or injured?"


Jeremy stopped to think for a second. “I think I died for a minute. I’m all burned up and it stings really badly,” he said quietly. “I think Michael died for a second too, but now he’s just sleeping because he’s breathing and he was awake a minute ago. He got electrocuted and he got burns from that too.”


"Is Michael stable from what you can tell?" As he asked, Jeremy heard the jingling of keys.


“Yeah.” Jeremy nodded, even if his dad couldn’t see. “He’s breathing okay, and he seems relaxed like he’s sleeping but not as relaxed as earlier when he wasn’t breathing. I think I’m in shock too. This is all so much and it’s just... It’s too much and everything hurts but it’s also numb and I have wings and-“


"Just take a few deep breaths. You don't have to tell me everything right now, Jeremy. Also, would it be alright to stay on the phone with you until I got there?"


Jeremy took some proper breaths before responding. “Yeah, that’s okay.” He sighed. “But dad, I gotta warn you about something first. I’m not- I’m not properly human. I’m half demon... Or I was, anyways.”


His dad laughed on the other end- Wait, laughed? "You know, your mother kept telling me that she had been involved with a demon and cult stuff when she was growing up. I didn't believe her, but I started to as time went on."


“So you know?” Jeremy asked softly. “And you’re okay with it? ‘Cause it means I’m not yours, biologically. You’re my dad, but...”


"You've always been my son, Jeremy, and always will be."


That brought tears to Jeremy’s eyes. “I love you, dad.” He sniffled. “I love you so much and I’m so sorry I ever listened to Squip at all.”


"Your mother said he was very persuasive and manipulative, so I do not blame you. I love you too, Jeremy."


Jeremy sniffled again. “Squip said I’m not a demon anymore, though. And I don’t... look human right now,” he said after a moment. It was better to warn his dad before he got there, right?


"Thank you for letting me know, Private. I'm getting in the car right now, and I'll be there in a few minutes max." As his dad said that, Jeremy realized Sunny walked up and behind him. Her paws pressed against his wings (it was weird to feel her touch his wings) where they met against his back before they went away. Literally, they went away.


It was like they folded back into his back and vanished. He could still sort of feel them if he focused, but other than that they were gone. “Thanks Sunny,” he mouthed.


“Okay dad.” Jeremy took a chance to look himself over while he waited. Of course, his skin was marred by bad burns all over. His face was stinging and his whole front and some of his back hurt too. Except, his skin also looked different. Where he was grey with blue, very straight markings, now his skin was a sort of glittery black covered in swirly gold markings. He didn’t really notice until now since both his arms were burned up and down all the way where he hugged Sunny. “Hey dad, you know the swirly patterns you liked for the couch cushions? That’s kinda how my skin looks, in black and gold...”


“That sounds really pretty,” his dad said as Jeremy heard the car start up over the phone. “Now, I’m probably going to be shocked for a second when I see you and Michael, but then I’m going back into serious mode. Is Sunny with you, by the way?”


“Yeah, she just helped me. I had wings too, but she made them go away somehow.”


“She did? Interesting. Well, give her a scratch and a kiss for me if you can. Please.”


“I will.” Jeremy reached over and did just that, then guided Sunny to come sit with him. He didn’t realize just how much he missed her until now. “Good girl, Sunny..” 


Everything was starting to get blurry again as the gain from his burns flared up once more. “Dad, everything hurts... Are you almost here?” He knew he was whining but he couldn’t help it.


“Yes, I’m turning into the driveway. Is it alright if I hang up now?”


“Okay.” Jeremy whined, nodding again. “See you in a sec, dad. Love you.”


“I love you too, Private.” With that, he heard the line go dead and a car door slam shut in the distance.


Jeremy could only curl up and quietly sob as he waited for his dad to get into the back yard. Sunny, clearly worried about him, leaned against his less burned parts, licking his cheek gently. It helped a little, but not much.


The sound of grass shifting and slight panting had Jeremy glancing up to look at his dad, who climbed up the porch to kneel down next to Jeremy, Sunny, and Michael. “Do you think you can walk at all, Private?”


Jeremy thought, then shook his head. “Used up all m’energy. Don’t think I can do much ‘cept make me look human again when I gotta,” he mumbled, leaning closer to his dad. He was so warm and solid, just like Jeremy loved and needed right then.


“Well, I can’t carry both of you at once. I’m going to bring you to the car first, then I’m going to get Michael and whatever stuff Sunny needs, alright?”


Jeremy nodded, carefully positioning Michael to lie on the ground, then focusing and making his human skin reappear. The burns didn’t change from that horrible pink and brown, but they looked more normal than before.


Sunny lied down against Michael again, softly whimpering. Jeremy’s dad went and pet Sunny’s head for a few seconds before he carefully picked up his son. “Is this alright?”


Jeremy whined but nodded after a second. It hurt so much, but he could work through it, he had to. Besides, being close to his dad again made him feel so safe in a way he didn’t realize he’d been lacking in the past few weeks. He could manage the pain if it meant he got to keep this safe feeling.


“Alright, I’ll be quick.” And he was as he managed to carry Jeremy to the car. He settled Jeremy in the passenger's seat, buckling him in. “I’ll be back in a few minutes with Michael.”


“Okay,” Jeremy whimpered, closing his eyes and trying to relax. The seatbelt irritated the burns on his chest and neck, which just hurt more, but he knew that anything touching them would hurt a lot. He hated this so much. Why did he have to be stupid and trust Squip?


He didn’t know how long had passed, but he heard the backseat car door open. His dad grunted for a second, and Jeremy looked in the rear view mirror to see Michael being lied down as best as possible and buckled in. Sunny sat on the floor of the back seat before the car door shut.


Jeremy weakly reached back to stroke Sunny. Michael must have still been okay since Sunny was calm, just worried, so Jeremy managed to stay calm too. 


“Dad, are you upset with me for trusting Squip and getting everyone hurt?” he asked softly after Michael was strapped in safely and his dad was in the front seat.


“No, I’m not. Your mother had told me stories about what happened when she was growing up and when she had been forced to be with Squip. I wish I had believed her back then.” His dad gave Jeremy a reassuring and loving smile before pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “I’m just glad you’re here and alive, and the same goes for Michael.” With that, his dad turned on the car, buckled himself in, and backed out of the driveway.


“I love you, dad. Even if we’re not actually related, you’re my real dad,” Jeremy mumbled as he started to drift off.


“Thank you, Jeremy. Just sleep for right now. We’ll be at the hospital soon.”


With that, Jeremy let consciousness slip away and let himself finally rest. Michael was safe, that was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

“Do I have to use the wheelchair, Mama?” Jeremy asked, squirming in place a little. “I can walk just fine now.” It had been a week since he was brought to hospital and now that the skin grafts had healed up mostly, he was being transferred to a different room. Specifically, Michael’s room. 


He hadn’t really heard much about how Michael was apart from the fact that he was stable, but in a coma. Mama wasn’t worried about it though, saying it was just because of his body reacting to everything that happened. She promised he’d be fine and wake up with time and Jeremy knew she was being honest.


“It’s protocol, Jeremy. Plus, I’d rather be safe than sorry,” Mama said as she got into the elevator with Jeremy. “You know I’m mostly a rule follower here.”


“I know.” Jeremy sighed, finally falling still. The bandages protecting his burns, which ran all the way down the side of his face to his stomach, started itching again and he started squirming again. Ugh, being hurt like this sucked. “How much longer do I need the bandages for? They’re itchy and weird.”


“For however long they need to be there.” The elevator door shut and Mama ruffled Jeremy’s hair. “You’re lucky I forced myself to be your nurse. When we get you settled, I’ll check on you to see if you still need them or not, but you’ll probably need them for another day or two at least.”


“Okay...” He grumbled, leaning into Mama’s touch a little. “It’s a good thing you are my nurse, though. If anyone else saw my non-human physiology, that would be bad. Besides, I can’t repress my aura still since I’m still tired, so I doubt it would have been that hard to be assigned to me.” 


Mama and Ina had been fully informed about everything that happened, including the fact that Jeremy wasn’t totally human. Their only reaction to it was to give him even more kisses when they next saw him, and to start making subtle demon jokes whenever possible.


“Well, even if you aren’t repressing it, people have been nicer to you and concerned. Maybe it’s because you aren’t half demon anymore,” Mama offered as she glanced at the number display. “I do have to warn you about something before we get to your new room though.”


“Yeah? What is it?”


“Michael’s still stable and in his coma, but we did some tests over the past week.” She always gave it to Jeremy straight because her profession demanded it, and now was no different. “Michael is paralyzed from the thighs down, which is better than from the waist down. He still can go to the bathroom on his own, but he won’t be able to walk or move his legs on his own anymore.”


“Oh...” Even if he hadn’t been the one to actually shock him, Jeremy was the reason Michael was paralyzed. Guilt hit him like a freight train and he tried his best to regulate his breathing. If he got too overwhelmed, he’d hurt himself. “So he’s gonna be in a wheelchair from now on?” he asked after a second.


“He will. Ina has already been working to have our room and Michael’s room swapped so he can stay on the first floor,” Mama explained. “We’re getting a ramp on the front and back porch as well. Just know that this isn’t your fault and that you brought our son back to life. If it wasn’t for you, he’d be dead.”


“Really?” Jeremy thought that Michael had stopped breathing before, directly after the shock, but he wasn’t sure. Things after he woke up from being dead himself were all a little blurry.


“Really. With how he had been shocked, he should have been dead. I don’t know if he died or not since I wasn’t there, but he was in a coma when your dad brought him in,” Mama elaborated as the elevator door opened. She held onto the wheelchair handles and started walking with Jeremy. “Did I tell you that he needed some skin grafts on his back because of those electrical burns he got?”


Jeremy shook his head. “No, but he was really burned so it makes sense. Squip really got him and he wasn’t breathing when I got over to him. Then he was again after I kissed him.” Mama and Ina also knew that Jeremy was crushing on their son, hard. They were more than fine with it and gave him their blessing to go out with Michael if they both still wanted to.


Mama hummed, and Jeremy didn’t need to look back to know that she was grimacing. “Then... Thank you for bringing Michael back to life from us. It seems like you have magical kisses.”


“Well, you have a magical son,” Jeremy replied, “Since I’m pretty sure I was either dying or dead, but I couldn’t die since he needed me. I woke up again because of him and I’m a fallen angel because of him.”


“I wish I knew more about this stuff to offer a legitimate explanation. It sounds like you two are really bound to one another though,” Mama offered with a hum. “You have a double blessing from me now with Michael.”


Jeremy blushed and ducked his head a little. “Thanks, Mama.” He reached up with his less bandaged hand and tapped her arm affectionately. “Once I’m in the bed and allowed to walk around again, can I give you a hug please?” He hadn’t gotten many hugs since his burns really hurt, but he really wanted to hug Mama.


“Of course, Jeremy. I would love that. I’ve missed your hugs.” She turned down the hall and stopped outside of a room where Michael’s name was written on a whiteboard. Mama took the green marker and wrote Jeremy’s name below Michael’s. “There we go. Now, are you ready to go in? It’s going to be hard to see him. Your dad cried when he first visited.”


“He did?” Dad almost never cried, so that was a really big deal. “I... yeah. I need to see him for myself.” It was gonna be bad and hard to see and probably horrible, but Jeremy needed to see Michael and see that he was okay. Even if he wasn’t awake, Jeremy needed to see him and just feel that he was still warm. If he was still warm, he was still alive and everything would be okay.


“Alright.” Mama knocked on the door before opening it. 


Michael was lying in the bed closer to the window. He really didn’t look different, but the air in the room, even if it was just Ina and Sunny with Michael, was somber. Ina quickly pulled a tissue from her face and smiled at Jeremy. “Hi Jeremy, it’s good to see you.” Sunny lifted her head up from Ina’s lap and softly yipped and sneezed before resting her head back down.


“Hi Ina.” His voice was getting tight just looking at Michael. He was almost motionless, like he was frozen in time, and if it wasn’t for the heart monitor he was hooked up to and the subtle shift of his chest from his breathing, it would be conceivable he was dead. “Mama, can I get out of the chair now, please?”


Mama quickly shut the door behind them before nodding. “Go for it.”


Jeremy shakily stood, using the arms of his wheelchair to help him up, before he took a hesitant step towards Michael. Then another. And another. Until he was standing right next to Michael’s bed. 


He had just reached out to touch Michael when he spotted that his hand had lost it’s illusion. “Mama, are the windows to the room closed?” he asked, stepping back to make sure he wasn’t revealed. For some reason, being close to Michael was knocking out his human skin.


Ina, who was sitting by the windows, shut the curtains. “They’ve been closed but now no one can see in. We’re on the fifth floor though so it would be hard to see anyway.”


“And I’m covering the window on the door with my back and head,” Mama added.


Jeremy nodded and stepped close to Michael again, this time willingly letting his illusion drop. Mama and Ina both gasped. They’d never seen him with his... Angel form? Was that the right way to describe it?


Slowly, he reached out and brushed the hair off Michael’s forehead. Then, acting out of pure instinct, he carefully bent down and kissed Michael’s forehead. For a second, energy shot through him, tensing up all his muscles, then it faded and everything relaxed. He pulled back with a soft, weary smile.


“Hey, Mikey. I’ve missed you,” he murmured.


Sunny whined softly, hopping out of Ina’s lap and almost dancing next to Jeremy and Michael’s bed. Jeremy went to pet her, but Michael shifting had him pause. Did people in comas ever shift-


“Mm...” Michael’s head turned to Jeremy before his eyes barely opened. “Remy?”


“Mikey?” Jeremy breathed, barely daring to hope this was real. Had he really woke up from a coma with a kiss? “Are you really awake?”


Michael blinked a few times as he reached up and cupped Jeremy’s cheek. “I dunno. You don’t have swirly gold that... looks like it’s suspended over black like a lava lamp skin normally. Maybe ‘m dreaming. I dunno the name for this swirly look you got going on.” His voice was hoarse and strained, especially as he talked more, but Michael was awake and here and alive.


Jeremy couldn’t help the soft, happy sob that escaped his lips as he leaned into Michael’s touch. “I dunno what it’s called either.” He smiled, closing his eyes. “But it’s ‘cause I’m different now. M’a fallen angel now. Squip’s gone for good, and I’m not a demon anymore.”


“Wow. I missed a lot then. The last thing I remember is us saying we’d date each other.”


“Yeah. Lots happened. You’ve been in a coma for a week,” Jeremy muttered before opening his eyes and pulling back. “But we can talk in a minute. Mama and Ina are gonna wanna fuss over you.”


“I’ve... What?” Michael sort of stared at Jeremy as he stepped back, allowing for Ina to come over to fuss over him. “Hi Ina.”


“Jeremy, do you think you can conceal yourself again?” Mama asked, not yet moving from her spot.


Jeremy closed his eyes and remade his illusion. “Go check on him. I’m just gonna sit down.” That took a lot out of him for some reason, so Jeremy staggered over to the bed which was set out for him and half collapsed into it.


Mama made sure Jeremy was comfortable in bed first before going to check on Michael, bless her heart. Both women almost coddled Michael as Sunny whimpered and whined. “Hi, hello. I love you guys too.”


“We’ve been so worried, baby.” Ina sighed, kissing Michael’s head. “I haven’t left your side for more than a few minutes. Oh, I’m so happy you’re awake.”


Sunny wriggled where she was, putting her front paws onto the bed and standing on her hind legs to grin happily at Michael.


Michael looked between his moms and Sunny, laughing a little at his dog. “I’m sorry for worrying you all, really. Is it alright if Sunny comes up here though? It looks like she’s gonna implode if she doesn’t get up here in the next minute.”


“She most certainly can.” Mama laughed, discreetly wiping away some tears. With permission given, Sunny was up on the bed and curled carefully against Michael a moment later, resting her head on his chest and licking his chin.


Michael pet Sunny, cooing over her before pressing a few kisses to her muzzle. “Hiya there, baby girl. Yes, I’m happy to see you too.”


Everyone giggled at the reunion, and Jeremy couldn’t help but smile fondly. Now that he understood what Sunny was and what it meant, to an extent, this little moment meant even more than it would have before.


After he wrapped his arms around Sunny, Michael looked back over at Jeremy, properly taking him in. “Wait, what happened to you, Jeremy? Why are you all bandaged up?”


Jeremy sighed at that. “It’s... kinda complicated. But the short version is that Squip was using me to try and change you. I wanted to stop it, so I went and hugged Sunny. I figured if I wasn’t able to power the spell, I couldn’t hurt you anymore.” He shrugged. “It did a lot of different things, but I kinda died and came back as a fallen angel instead, so, tada.”


“You- What?!” Michael moved to try to sit up but had difficulty with it. “Sunny, can you move please? I need to get up.”


Everyone froze and tensed up. Jeremy was out of bed in a shot, wobbling slightly but not caring as he made his way over to sit on Michael’s bed.


“Mikey... You won’t be able to get up,” he whispered.


“What are you talking about? I can do that,” Michael said, trying to lift himself to sit up with his arms and failing. “Sunny, please move.”


Sunny whined and shifted back, looking sad.


“Baby, you won’t be able to get up,” Mama murmured, stroking Michael’s hair and helping him sit up. “You... you’re paralyzed. From the thighs down.”


Michael stared at Mama for a good few seconds. “What? No. I can still feel them. They’re probably just asleep and stuff since I was in a coma for a week.”


“No, honey, you can’t. We’ve done all the tests, the nerves in your legs are fried,” Mama said.


“Honestly, it’s a miracle you’re alive in the first place. All your nerves should be fried after what happened, and they probably were considering how burned up you were,” Ina explained gently. “But your legs are not gonna work anymore. There’s nothing we could do.”


Michael stared between the two of them as he shook his head. “I can still feel them. There’s no way. I would know if I couldn’t move them anymore.” Even if nothing was happening, Michael’s face showed the effort he was making. “They just need to wake up.”


Jeremy reached forward and took Michael’s hands, squeezing them. “Mikey, you know I never lie, right? That it makes me feel sick if anyone lies around me?”


Michael kept looking at where his legs were covered by a blanket. “Yeah, I know.”


“Your legs are paralyzed. The tests all show it. You can’t move them or use them beyond your thighs“


Michael’s gaze didn’t shift from the blanket. “But... But I can still feel them. I do!” 


“That’s a phantom feeling, baby. You can feel them as if they were still working but they aren’t.” Michael started tearing up but didn’t look away.


“I’m sorry, Mikey,” Jeremy murmured. “I’m so sorry.” He squeezed Michael’s hands as he looked away himself.


“But...” Sunny pressed herself right against Michael’s chest and Ina started to run her fingers through his hair.


“We’ll work with this,” Jeremy promised him quietly. “We’ll figure this all out and work with it. It’s not gonna be the end of everything. Things will just be different. But I’m not going anywhere and neither is Sunny or Mama or Ina. And neither is my dad or even Christine.” Jeremy squeezed Michael’s hands again. “We’ll all help you with this shift, I promise.”


Michael barely squeezed Jeremy’s hands back as he started properly crying. Ina pressed a few kisses to his head while Sunny rubbed her head against Michael’s chest. “But- but-“ He cut himself off with a sudden sob as he squeezed Jeremy’s hands tight this time around.


Jeremy flinched but didn’t pull away. This was hurting his burns, but he didn’t care. In his mind, he deserved it for trusting Squip in the first place. 


“Hey, Mikey, it’s okay. You’re gonna be fine, I promise,” he mumbled, squeezing his eyes shut but still not pulling away.


Mama intervened then, carefully getting Michael’s grip to lessen and eventually switch to holding her hands tightly. When Jeremy went to argue, Mama gave him a caring yet stern look. “You’re recovering too, Jeremy.”


“I know,” he grumbled. “But Mikey needs help. Can I at least hold him?”


“You can for now, but you need to lie down soon,” she said. “I still need to check your burns.”


“Okay.” With permission given, Jeremy shifted closer to Michael. “Mikey, can I hold you please?” he murmured, knowing that Michael would hear him even through the panic. He always did.


Michael managed to nod, even as he shifted to only hold one of Mama’s hands and clung to Sunny. Sunny looked at Jeremy from where she was, softly whimpering as she reached a paw up for him.


Jeremy nodded and wrapped his arms around Michael, guiding him to lie against Jeremy’s chest, just above his heart. It stung because of the pressure on his burns, but he knew nothing else would calm Michael as quickly as this. Michael always calmed when he could hear Jeremy’s heartbeat.


Mama didn't even try to argue because she knew this too. Michael curled up as best as he could against Jeremy's chest, hiccuping and gasping. After a few minutes, he calmed down as his breathing evened out and he eventually stopped crying.


Jeremy just cradled him sweetly, running his fingers through Michael’s hair and humming softly. “There you are, Mikey. It’s gonna be okay, I promise. You’re gonna be fine. I’m gonna help you through this and so will everyone else.”


Michael managed to nod as he sniffled. "I... Okay."

Michael was still struggling to deal with everything. He’d been awake for about three days and he was still weirded out. He couldn’t walk ever again. That was so much to deal with and he couldn’t process.


“Hey, Mikey? Mind if I close the blind on the door? I need to try something because I’m getting really uncomfortable,” Jeremy asked, pulling Michael from his thoughts.


Looking over from where he was sat up in bed, Michael nodded. "Oh, yeah, sure. What d'you need to do?"


Jeremy climbed out of his bed and closed the blinds. “It’s... I genuinely don’t know. I’m running on instincts.” He chuckled, moving to the center of the room and shifting his hospital gown so his back was exposed (his was half open so Mama could get to the bandages more easily). “Here’s hoping it’s not something too weird.”


"I mean, I guess?" Michael pet Sunny's head as she snored in his lap.


Jeremy rolled out his shoulders and bent forward a little. There was a kinda gross tearing sound and Michael gasped when he saw blood drip onto the ground behind him. Then, from the center of his back, two massive black wings sprouted. They were clearly covered in something, probably blood, but they soon shimmered and the feathers turned a beautiful, glossy, inky black.


Jeremy sighed happily, expression going dazed as they shook out and folded behind him. “Ah, so much better.”


"You-" Michael heard his own volume and quieted down to whisper shout, "You have wings?!"


“What?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder before gasping. “Oh, shit! It wasn’t a hallucination!” he cried. The wings flapped a little and Jeremy ended up windmilling his arms to try and keep his balance.


Michael went to get up before stopping himself. Thankfully, Jeremy grabbed onto the railing of the nearby bed to keep himself steady. "No, these are real."


Jeremy carefully righted himself, his wings flapping to help him. “Yeah. They are.” He panted. Very slowly, he walked over to Michael and stopped next to him. The wings puffed up a little as he grinned dazedly at Michael, clearly very relaxed. “They feel good to have out. I didn’t realize how much I needed to let them out until now.”


"I mean, those are new. You wouldn't have known," Michael murmured as he looked Jeremy over, especially his wings. "They're beautiful."


Jeremy blushed and the wings puffed out even more. “D’you... D’you wanna touch them?” he asked, leaning forward slightly and extending one of his wings to be in reach of Michael.


"Yeah, sure. They look fluffy." Reaching out, Michael carefully ran his fingers against the ends of the feathers and yup, they were as fluffy as they looked.


Jeremy practically melted against him with a soft, content sigh. Michael wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Jeremy so relaxed and- Oh, his skin was flickering to reveal the fallen angel patterns Michael was still trying to get used to. He liked this black and gold look much more than the grey and blue one, though. It was softer, more magical and less clinical. More Jeremy.


Michael didn't want to ruin this moment though, so he started to run his fingers past the edges of Jeremy's wings and further in, closer to the feathers near the base of Jeremy's spine. "These are really soft."


“Are they?” Jeremy sounded just as relaxed as he looked, and twice as happy. “That’s good. Do you think that maybe I could fly with these? They feel pretty strong, and I’m pretty strong too.”


“I mean, I don’t know. I would be too nervous to test it out,” Michael admitted as he hummed.


“I think I might try it. We can go to the lake, maybe take a picnic,” Jeremy offered, ducking his head shyly. Michael could see the blush rising up to his cheeks and he could feel the wings puff out as Jeremy got a little flustered. “Make it a date. If you still wanted that, of course. I know we haven’t really talked about it yet, after everything that happened.”


“I mean, if you’re still fine with dating me, I’d like to.” Even if he was broken and a pain now, hopefully he could at least be a good friend and partner.


“I really, really want to, Mikey.” Jeremy sounded so hopeful and almost vulnerable in a way Michael had never really heard from him before. “You’re so amazing, I’d be... It’s mind blowing that you wanna be with me, honestly. After everything I caused. And even before making a mess of everything...”


"You didn't make a mess of anything, Jeremy. You're amazing," Michael assured Jeremy as he carefully turned him around and reached around to hold one of his hands. "I'm just happy that you're here and with me."


Jeremy smiled at Michael, the expression almost coming across a little sad. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than by your side, Mikey,” he promised, and Michael knew he wasn’t lying. Jeremy never lied.


Michael squeezed Jeremy's hand. "Same with me to you. I'm really lucky. Thank you, Jeremy."


Jeremy’s smile got a little more solid. “You’re amazing, Mikey. I- I love you,” he whispered. “And I’m sorry for causing all this. But I’m also happy that you still want me around.”


"You don't need to apologize for anything, Jeremy. I don't blame you for anything," Michael said as he tugged Jeremy a little closer.


Jeremy let himself be moved, his wings shifting to partially wrap around them both. “You don’t, but I do,” he confessed quietly. “I blame myself for you being paralysed, and for you literally dying and needing to be brought back in the first place.”


"You didn't know what Squip was going to do. You saved me and brought me back. I'd rather be paralyzed than lose you." That was the truth too, even if he was broken and useless now. He'd rather be like this than never get to be near Jeremy again.


Jeremy leaned closer, wrapped his wings more tightly around them. 


“Stop thinking badly about yourself,” he muttered, almost annoyed. “I can feel it, and you’re thinking badly about yourself. Stop it. You’re amazing and beautiful and so damn strong, Mikey. Stop being mean to my best friend.”


Michael let out a sigh as he took Jeremy's other hand. "If I stop trying to be mean to myself, can you try to not blame yourself?"


Jeremy nodded. “I’ll try. But Mikey, I promise that you’re not broken or worthless or anything like that. You’re still as amazing as ever,” he replied earnestly, nuzzling carefully against Michael’s shoulder.


"I'll try to believe that. I never thought I was amazing as you said I was to begin with, so be patient with me."


Jeremy nodded again, nuzzling against Michael’s shoulder as he did so. His wings rested around them, strangely weighty in just the best ways. They were like a fluffy weighted blanket. It helped to relax him a little.


Michael did his best to hug Jeremy, going under his wings to wrap around his back. "Thanks, Remy. I-" A loud snore from Sunny cut him off and he couldn't help but laugh.


Jeremy giggled at that as well. “Silly angel baby,” he cooed, scratching Sunny behind her ears fondly.


Sunny growled happily in her sleep before snoring again. "She's so silly."


“I love her so much.” Jeremy smiled before looking back up at Michael. “And I love you too. In a different way. An actual romantic way.” Jeremy said it directly, so Michael knew it had to be true.


"I love you in a romantic way too," Michael echoed as he looked at Jeremy and smiled softly.


Jeremy beamed and looked like he was about to burst from excitement when a soft knock echoed from the door.


“Hello? Michael? Private? Can I come in?” Mr. Heere called. Jeremy giggled and smiled once more.


“Come on in, dad, so long as it’s just you and you close the door quick.”


Mr. Heere came in quickly, shutting the door behind him and keeping the small shade over the door. "Hey- Oh. Oh my god. You actually do have wings."


Jeremy nodded and flapped them a little. “They’re soft too. And they feel kinda like a blanket, which is nice.” He smiled, curling closer to Michael with what sounded almost like a purr. Clearly, he was very happy and content.


"Would it be alright if I felt them?" Michael saw Jeremy nod before Mr. Heere carefully touched them. "Oh wow, they are soft. That's... Wow, this is a lot. I just wanted to bring you two lunch and I get this in return."


Jeremy’s wings shook out a little but didn’t puff up under the touch like they did when Michael felt them. “You brought lunch? Oh, what did you get? What did you get?” Jeremy cried like an excitable child.


Michael couldn't help but laugh along with Mr. Heere. "Well, I got Wendy's."


“You got chicken nuggies?” Jeremy was practically vibrating now. “Yay!” He kept his voice low, so not to wake Sunny, but his joy was palpable.


"For the both of you, yes. I need you to sit up though so I can give you your food."


Jeremy did so in an instant, sitting up next to Michael in the bed. After a moment’s consideration, he folded his wings behind him and leaned against them like a stack of pillows against the wall, helping Michael sit forward enough to lean against one as well.


"Wow, you're really taking to those wings," Mr. Heere said as he gave Jeremy the bigger bag of Wendy's food. "Now, eat up."


Jeremy opened the bag and instantly cheered softly, reaching in and pulling out a nugget which he started happily munching on. Michael couldn’t help but chuckle. Yeah, things sucked and he couldn’t exactly do much about his situation, but at least he had Jeremy, his adorable best friend and boyfriend by his side. They’d make it through this, Jeremy had promised. And Jeremy never lied.

Chapter Text

Michael stared at the posters across his bed. His moms didn't want to hang them since he always had a particular way he liked doing this. But he couldn't even reach up to hang them, not while in the chair. None of his posters had been hung up yet and he had been staring at them for almost half an hour. Well, not a full half an hour since Sunny needed to be let out in the backyard and given food, but close enough to it.


There was a knock at the door to his new room. “Hey, Mikey! Can I come in?” Jeremy called, sounding far too happy for Michael’s melancholy mood.


"Yeah," Michael called, rolling away from his bed (rolling himself around was tiring).


Jeremy opened the door and poked his head in, smiling at Michael sweetly. “Hi! I’m here to help with the posters since I’m clearly the only other person who can understand your complex artistry.” He grinned, coming into the room and wandering over to Michael. He bent over and gave Michael a sweet peck on the forehead.


"Thanks." Sunny came in, bolting over and nuzzling against Jeremy then Michael. He couldn't feel her head against his legs before she hopped up into his lap. "Hi, baby girl."


Sunny yipped excitedly before leaning her head against his shoulder, asking for cuddles. “Something tells me she’s feeling as affectionate as I am.” Jeremy chuckled as he picked up the first poster and started putting the blue tac on the back of it. Michael didn’t even need to direct Jeremy before he was putting up in the exact perfect place.


"I guess so," Michael murmured as he wrapped his arms around Sunny. He rested his head against hers as he watched Jeremy work, feeling bad for not being able to help or, well, do anything.


“Stop that,” Jeremy said, telling him off with a light and playful edge to his voice even if Michael could tell he was being serious. “You’re being mean to yourself again. You gotta stop it. You promised , Mikey.”


Michael looked over at Jeremy as he got some more blue tac. "How can you even tell that I'm doing that?"


“I have no idea.” Jeremy shrugged. “I just get a feeling  when people aren’t being positive about themselves, but it’s especially prominent around you.” He put up the next poster, still talking as he did. “It’s like this nagging tingle at the back of my head. Not painful or anything. Just weird and uncomfortable.”


"Well, you're a fallen angel now," Michael said as Sunny nuzzled against his neck. "Maybe that has something to do with it? I dunno..."


“Well, Squip said he was making me into a pride demon, so that’s probably a factor.” Jeremy shrugged. “I was part of the way through the transformation when I ‘died’ so part of it probably lingered. Maybe the good parts though, so I can help people hopefully.” He got to work on the next poster.


Michael hummed as he tried and failed to think on what that might mean. His brain wasn't working at all. "And... you do that by knowing when I'm mentally talking bad about myself?"


“I can sense when you’re tearing yourself down so I can intervene and help rebuild the pride you’ve lost for yourself,” Jeremy explained patiently. “It’s strongest when I’m near you, but I’ve caught dad and Mama both being mean to themselves too.”


"I had pride to begin with?"


Jeremy snorted at that. “Yes, you did. I knew that even before I got these powers.” He moved on to the next poster. “It was a quiet, reserved sort of pride, but pride nonetheless.”


"Huh." Michael pet Sunny's back and cracked a smile at how she growled oh so happily.


Jeremy glanced over and shot Michael a wink, grinning at him brightly. “You make Sunny so happy, Mikey. And you make me beyond happy too.” He hummed casually as he kept working,


Michael felt his cheeks warm up a little as he held Sunny just a smidge closer. He glanced to see the work that Jeremy was doing. Somehow, he knew exactly how Michael wanted his posters hung. It was different from how they looked before, but Jeremy somehow knew where he would have placed each one perfectly.


Jeremy glanced over at Michael as he went to grab the next poster. “I know how you want them because I know you , Mikey.” He chuckled. Michael could only gape at him. How did he know...? “I can read your expression, Mikey, not your mind.”


“Am I really that easy to read? I thought I wasn’t but I can’t really see my expressions when I’m talking or thinking or anything.”


Jeremy giggled and walked over to Michael. He rested his hands on the arms of Michael’s chair as he bent down and kissed Michael’s forehead. “I’ve been reading your expressions for twelve years now, hun. I’ve had plenty of practice.”


“Yeah, that’s true,” Michael murmured with warm cheeks. “Just like how I’ve had practice with you.”


Jeremy booped Michael’s nose gently. “Exactly,” he hummed with a grin. Since when was he so relaxed and confident?!


Michael pulled a hand away from Sunny, who only whined for a moment, to reach up and cup one of Jeremy's cheeks. "This is a new side to you. It's relaxed and comfortable with yourself to the point of seemingly being confident. What happened? Not saying that this is a bad thing or anything, but I'm honestly curious."


That sent a little color to Jeremy’s cheeks. He didn’t stop smiling though as he leaned into the touch. “Well that’s an easy one: I have you. You like me back. How could I not feel better about myself knowing that the best person in the whole world likes me enough to want to date me?”

"Oh my god, you are such a sap. You're going to give me cavities or something," Michael said around a laugh. "I mean, I can argue about the part when you say that I'm the best person in the whole world, but that won't get us anywhere."


“Not at all, since it’s you.” Jeremy kissed Michael’s wrist. “It’s always been you. You’re the reason I’m alive, Mikey. And you brought me back to life as an angel. You’re amazing and clearly the best.”


Michael shook his head. "Your love and devotion brought you back to life, and you saved my life many times, before you literally brought me back to life. Like I said though, this won't get us anywhere because we won't budge on our points."


“I guess you’re right.” Jeremy chuckled, pulling back. He turned to go back to sorting out the posters.


Before he left to continue, Michael reached and gently held onto Jeremy's wrist. "Thank you, Jeremy."


Jeremy quirked an eyebrow and smiled before kneeling down next to Michael. It set them at about their former height difference, which was sort of painful but also familiar and nostalgic. “Of course, Michael. You’re my favorite person, always, and you deserve to feel just as special as I know you are.”


Michael sniffled as he nodded, gently squeezing Jeremy's wrist. "Still, thank you."


Jeremy leaned up to kiss Michael’s cheek. “Can I... kiss your lips please?” he asked softly.


"You can, but I don't know if Sunny'll bump you or anything," Michael murmured, gently squeezing the dog as she let out a huff.


Jeremy chuckled at that. “I think she’ll be okay.” With that, Jeremy leaned closer and hesitantly connected their lips. The kiss was soft and sweet, testing how it was. They hadn’t really kissed yet, only a couple of brief times.


Michael shut his eyes, but he quickly opened them as their glasses clanked together. "Ow, okay, I keep forgetting about that," he murmured, ignoring the huffs Sunny let out that vaguely sounded like laughter.


Jeremy chuckled and lifted off first his glasses, then Michael’s. He reconnected their lips a bit more easily.


After shutting his eyes again, Michael let himself focus on the soft feeling of Jeremy's lips against his own. It was nice and sweet, though Michael couldn't see himself doing this for hours on end like books and movies and TV showed. This felt like a nice reminder of who he had and their feelings, but he couldn't lose himself in this. Well, maybe he could, but not right now. This was too sweet and nice for Michael to lose himself in.


When Jeremy pulled back, he was grinning dazedly. “Wow. That... that was really nice.”


Michael nodded in agreement. "It really was." Sunny shifted herself against Michael to whine. "What? Did you not think it was 'cause I stopped petting you?"


Jeremy giggled and stroked Sunny for a moment before putting their glasses back on. “There you go, Sunny. He’s all yours.”


Sunny growled happily as she nuzzled against Michael's shoulder. "Geez, she's so greedy," Michael almost sang before pressing a few kisses to Sunny's face.


“She is,” Jeremy agreed happily before standing back up and heading over to the new, low desk where the rest of the posters were. “But she’s amazing so she’s allowed to be.”


"I mean, I can agree to an extent ," Michael said as he pet Sunny's sides.


Jeremy snickered, picking up Michael’s Apocalypse of the Damned poster before nodding and sticking it up above his bed.


"You're going to have to help me make something else though," Michael said before pointing to a section on the wall. "I want that area free for the thing I'm planning on making."


“Sure. Just instruct me, hun, I’m yours to command.” Jeremy grinned as he grabbed the next posters. It was the collage of pictures of them through the years which Jeremy had made him for his sixteenth birthday. Jeremy stuck it next to the window, which was in line with the direction Michael would face when he woke up. That was perfect.


"Well, I wanna try to do something artsy there. I dunno what yet, but I want it to be something that means a lot to me."


Jeremy nodded. “Well, when you’re ready, just let me know. You know I love doing custom projects.” He grinned.


“Yeah, that’s partially why I wanted your help,” Michael murmured as he nuzzled against Sunny. A slight wave of exhaustion washed over him, probably from all of his negative thinking and overall bad mood from before. Plus, Sunny was just so snuggly and warm.


Jeremy glanced over as he finished up the last poster. “You wanna lie down and nap for a bit, Mikey?” he asked gently after a moment.


“Yeah. I’ve already worn myself out,” Michael explained, biting back a negative statement he was going to add. He didn’t need that. It was alright that he was tired.


Jeremy didn’t comment on it, instead just smiling and wandering over to Michael. “Do you want some help getting all tucked in and cozy? And would you be opposed to another bedmate? Since I know Sunny is a given.” He kissed Michael’s forehead again before playing with Michael’s hair.


“Yes and I wouldn’t mind,” Michael said before holding onto his wheels. He rolled himself over to the edge of his bed, though didn’t deny help from Jeremy to get into bed. He still hadn’t gotten the hang of that yet. “Thanks, Remy.”


“Of course.” Jeremy smiled as he toed off his shoes and climbed in, curling up next to Michael with a happy sigh. Sunny hopped up on Michael’s other side, lying across them both.


Michael shifted his arms around to get comfortable, but he took off his and Jeremy’s glasses to put to the side. “Mm... What time is it, by the way? Ina said she’s bringing food home for dinner, though it’s gonna be us three. Mama’s got a night shift.”


“It’s only about four-ish. We have time.” Jeremy hummed softly, closing his eyes. “Hey Mikey? Can I just... ask you a weird question, please?”


“Yeah, of course,” Michael said as he shut his eyes as he let himself relax.


“Do you think it’s strange I can feel a sort of... pull to you? Like, almost a physical feeling in my chest.” He sounded vulnerable, but Michael found his chest warming up. He understood that feeling; if he focused, he could almost feel it too.


“I mean, I can feel it too now that you mention that. Maybe it’s a thing because of the whole fallen angel thing?”


“Maybe.” Jeremy hummed. “But it also feels much older than that. I like it,” he confessed quietly. “I like feeling so connected to you. It makes me feel good. I’m sure there’s a better word for it but I can’t think of what I mean properly right now.”


Michael hummed in understanding as he tried to think on what Jeremy might have meant. “It makes you feel... whole?”


“Yeah! That’s it.” Jeremy nuzzled against Michael’s shoulder.


“Well, glad to know that the feeling’s mutual. Granted, I just realized that I have this feeling, but still.”


“Yeah.” Jeremy giggled sleepily. “Hey Mikey? I love you.”


“I love you too, Remy,” Michael murmured as he nuzzled against Jeremy.

Jeremy was feeling squirmy and uncomfortable. It had been a few days since he last saw Michael, and he really felt... off. Like his insides had shifted two inches to the left while the rest of him stayed where it was. He really didn’t like this. It was like he was fading away.


Which was why he decided to go and visit Michael. It was spring break and Jeremy knew Michael would be home.


After walking to Michael’s house without incident, Jeremy knocked on the door and waited. His stomach churned as he waited, though he heard Sunny’s barking and the sound of Michael wheeling over. “I’m coming.”


As soon as the door opened, warmth flooded Jeremy’s veins and the ice he didn’t realise was forming in his chest melted. He almost slumped over in relief. 


“Hey Mikey,” he breathed. “How are you?”


“Hey Remy. I’m doing alright but I’m feeling a bit lethargic,” Michael admitted as he smiled at Jeremy. Sunny barked happily as she walked in place. “Sunny also says ‘hi.’”


“Hi, angel baby,” Jeremy cooed, running his hand through his hair. God, he felt so much better already. “I’ve been feeling kinda shitty too, if I’m honest. That’s why I figured coming to see you would be the cure.”


“Well, why don’t you come on in? Playing video games can only entertain me for so long in one sitting.”


Jeremy managed to grin at Michael and followed him inside. “So, what’s been bothering you to make you feel lethargic?” he asked, flopping down on the couch.


“I... have no idea. I just have been feeling like that,” Michael explained as he parked his chair next to the couch and managed to sit next to Jeremy.


Jeremy wrapped his arms around Michael, feeling even more settled than before. “I mean, same here. I’ve felt... gross. And colder than usual since yesterday,” he admitted, tugging Michael onto his lap. Hey, if he was gonna have super strength from being a fallen angel, he might as well enjoy it, right?


“You’ve felt colder? I mean, I’ve been feeling grosser, but not colder,” Michael murmured as he rested his head against Jeremy’s shoulder. Sunny huffed and sneezed before jumping up and sitting next to the two of them.


“Yeah, it’s been... not nice.” Jeremy sighed, resting his forehead against Michael’s shoulder. “I haven’t felt that cold in weeks, actually. Not since I became a fallen angel.”


“Well, that’s interesting. I...” Michael sighed as he looked at Jeremy. “Is there any weird magic reason for this because I’m feeling a lot better now that you’re with me. Well, I’m starting to feel better but... Yeah.”


“Same here.” The ice in his chest was still in the process of melting, but it was happening. “Hey Sunny, is there a magic reason for this or are we just codependent?” He was genuinely curious to figure out her answer to this. She couldn’t exactly speak English, but she was an Angel. If anyone knew, it would be her.


Sunny looked up from where she settled to look at Jeremy. She sneezed once and seemed to nod as she scooted closer to the pair.


“So there is? Good to know.” He hummed before realizing something. “Was I cold because the demon magic was trying to re-energize itself?”


Sunny seemingly nodded again before resting her head on Jeremy's thigh.


“Well shit!” He started stroking her gently. “And... was the magic that made me an Angel sort of going unstable because I was away from Michael? And that’s why he’d felt gross too, since it’s that magic that brought him back?” She might not have been able to talk, but Jeremy was pretty sure this knowledge wasn’t in his head a moment ago. Sunny was pretty damn talented.


Again, Sunny nodded before shutting her eyes. "Holy shit. How did you know all of that?"


Jeremy looked down at Sunny questioningly. She glanced up at Michael before looking at Jeremy and nodding. Then she got comfy again and closed her eyes. “Sunny told me.” He sighed, squeezing Michael. “She’s the expert here.”


Michael blinked as he looked between Sunny and Jeremy. "But... how? I know she's my guardian angel, that's still weird to think about, but she wasn't talking."


“I think she did some angel magic.” Jeremy shrugged. “I just knew.”


"Oh wow, that's impressive," Michael murmured as he looked down at Sunny. "Just how powerful are you?" A series of sneezes was the only response Sunny gave.


Jeremy chuckled at that. “She can’t be giving away all her secrets.” He sighed. “But, I guess this just confirms what I already knew. I need to be close to you.” He pressed a loving kiss to Michael’s temple.


"I didn't think that I was that important, but I'm glad to know that we're sort of bound by magic now." Michael pressed a kiss in return to Jermey's cheek.


“Oh, I’ve known this long before I became an angel, Mikey. I’ve needed to be close to you since the day we met.”


"Aww." Michael rested his head on Jeremy's shoulder once more before grinning giddily up at Jeremy. "You're so sweet. Seriously, you're lucky my moms have dental for me."


Jeremy chuckled. “You think I’m joking, Mikey, but I’m not. Being close to you, knowing you’re happy and safe, they’re as essential to me as breathing,” he murmured. “Sure, this has made it stronger, but even before the magic appeared, I knew I needed to be near you.”


Michael let out a laugh then, one of slight confusion. “Is it bad to say I sort of get what you mean? Because all of this totally doesn’t sound healthy. It sounds like unhealthy codependency.”


“Just a little bit,” Jeremy admitted with a laugh of his own. “But yeah. Something tells me that there is something bigger than either of us can understand going on with all this. Why we feel this way and all the strangeness and stuff… I’ve got a strong feeling that maybe we’ll find out answers soon, even if we don’t want to.” He sighed heavily before moving on. 


“In any case, at least we’ve grown in the past few weeks. We actually have an existence outside of each other now, since I’m not dependent on you to literally survive school anymore. Now it’s just surviving the boredom and crowds.”


“Well, it seems like we have to be near each other to literally survive as well. Well, to comfortably survive, which I’m completely alright with,” Michael admitted as he fiddled with his new hoodie hem (it was a new yellow hoodie).


“So am I. Like I said, it’s as important to me as breathing.” Jeremy got an idea to help break the tension a little. “Speaking of-“ He squeezed his arms carefully around Michael and buried his face against his hair, taking a deep, long, loud sniff in the most comical way possible.


After a few moments of silence, Michael just burst out laughing. Jeremy hadn’t heard him laugh like this in ages. He was snorting and grasping at his stomach as he almost doubled over. “Oh- Oh my god , Remy. I haven’t washed my hair yet! That’s nasty hair right now!” Sunny stared at Michael as he laughed, head cocked to the side as her tail wagged oh so fast.


Jeremy curled around him some more, leaning so his face was still against Michael’s hair. “No! Don’t move away! I need that sweet, sweet Michael smell!” he cried dramatically, taking another long sniff, then sniffing wherever he could reach in the same way Sunny would, still keeping it loud and comical.


“It’s gross, sweaty hair! You’re nasty,” Michael cried in return as he snorted a few times and tried to move. “You’re a nasty, creepy boy who enjoys sweat!”


“Come here, Mikey! I need to snoof you!” Being careful of Sunny, Jeremy wrapped his legs around Michael’s, tangling them together before rolling onto his side, bringing Michael with him. He stopped his sniffing and had to take a second before he could speak. His laughter didn’t stop, fueled by Michael’s own laughter.


“You’re god damn insane, Jeremy Heere,” Michael managed to say between his first of laughter. “Sunny, help!” 


Sunny watched from where she moved at one end of the couch, barking and yipping at Jeremy before curling up. “That did nothing! Traitor!”


“Of course I’m crazy, Mikey.” Jeremy grinned, nuzzling against the back of Michael’s neck and relaxing. “I’m crazy about you .” He pressed a kiss where he was before he gently started rubbing Michael’s stomach, knowing that when he laughed a lot, Michael could sometimes strain himself there. It had been a while since he’d laughed so freely, so Jeremy wasn’t taking any chances when it came to making sure this remained a good moment.


Michael flinched at first, as his stomach was always sensitive, before relaxing. “Yeah, you’re crazy for me and just crazy in general,” he muttered before pouting over at Sunny. “Seriously, you did nothing to help me. And you’re supposed to be my support animal and guardian angel.” He just got a sneeze and Sunny cuddling near his head in response.


“Maybe it’s because I’m your angel too. Your fallen angel.” Jeremy hummed, closing his eyes.


“Maybe, but still. I call bullshittery.”


“You caught us.” Jeremy snickered. “We’re in allegiance. Our goal is to both snoof you as much as possible.” He did a couple more playful sniffs where he was, and Sunny even joined in, sniffing Michael’s hair and ear before lying back down and cuddling up against him.


“You two are im possible, honestly,” Michael muttered, but Jeremy could hear the smile in his voice.


“I’m a weirdo and she’s an angel. It’s kinda a given,” Jeremy teased softly. “At least we’re both entirely yours.”


“Yeah, at least there’s that.”

Chapter Text

Jeremy hovered by the door to the Mell residence, bouncing a little in anticipation. Today, he’d finally been signed off for all his burns, he was totally healed. Which meant today was also the day he was going to take Michael to the lake to practice flying and to have their first official date.


He had the picnic basket loaded with their favourite foods (with compliments to dad for sorting that aspect out) and a special blanket which folded into a backpack when not in use.  Add the bouquet of flowers and the box of chocolates Jeremy had for Michael and he was set.


All he had to do was knock.


His nerves ate at Jeremy for a minute before he finally did it. Sunny started to bark midway through the knock, and Jeremy heard Ina’s chiding before she opened the door. She smiled at Jeremy with so much care and adoration. “Heya, Jeremy.”


Jeremy ducked his head, blushing and smiling shyly. “Hiya Ina. Is Michael okay to come out today? I wanted to take him to the lake...”


“Yeah, he is. He’s just finishing getting ready.” Ina quickly checked her watch. “You’re a bit early, so that explains it.”


“Oh, okay.” He knew he was early, but he couldn’t help it. He always arrived early, especially when he was nervous. Yeah, he and Michael had spent lots of time together but this was their first ever date. Jeremy wanted it to be special.


“You can come in and wait too. You don’t need to stand outside,” Ina pointed out as she opened the door further.


“Thanks, Ina.” Jeremy shuffled in after her, still holding the bouquet of flowers and the box of chocolates. Ina grabbed the basket for him, meaning he didn’t need to set them down. That was good.


“Michael, Jeremy’s here!” Ina called, and Sunny barked as she ran down the hall to Michael’s room. “I’m sure you look great.”




Jeremy chuckled nervously as he tried to check himself over. He didn’t exactly have any free hands to fix anything, but now he was thinking about how he looked and oh god, what if Michael didn’t like how he dressed or did his hair today and decided he didn’t want to go out with Jeremy after all? (Michael wasn’t that shallow. He was being stupid) God, anxiety sucked.


“Jeremy, you look great,” Ina assured him, patting his cheek carefully.


“Inaaaa.” Jeremy whined, because he was supposed to, but then he leaned into the touch and closed his eyes. “Thank you. I’m just nervous. I want things to go really well today...”


“Things will go amazing for you two today. Michael’s been just as nervous,” Ina admitted. “Don’t tell him that I told you that though.”


Jeremy giggled a little at that. “I won’t. Promise.” He nodded, trying to relax. Ina believed things would go well, so they had to, right?


“I’m coming,” Michael called from down the hall, and Ina smiled as she stepped back and away from Jeremy. 


Michael appeared from the hallway with Sunny in his lap. He looked beautiful as always, but he wore a plain short sleeve along with his jeans. His hair was styled a bit nicer than his normal brush-gel-and-go too, and he had on his amazing smile. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”


Jeremy took a second to compose himself before awkwardly holding out the flowers and chocolates for Michael. “I only just got here. These are for you.”


Michael blinked before smiling wider and taking the gifts. “Aw, thank you, Jeremy.”


“I’ll get a vase,” Ina said before leaving the room. 


Michael looked over the flowers as he put the box of chocolate down between his side and the arm of the chair. “Oh, these are pretty as hell. What do they mean? I know you went through a phase of flowers and their meaning in middle school.”


Jeremy blushed and ducked his head. “They’re... they’re a bouquet of red chrysanthemum, red salvia, red camellia and fern sprigs. On their own they mean: I love you, forever mine, you’re a flame in my heart, magic and bonds of love. Together it’s basically a love note which means ‘forever together, bonded by love,’” he mumbled. Damnit, that was too sappy. He knew he should have just stuck to the white tulips and roses.


“Oh my god, Jeremy,” Michael whined. When Jeremy chanced a glance over, he saw Michael staring with love and adoration at the flowers before looking at him with that same look. “Please come here so I can hug you and thank you.”


Jeremy relaxed a little, then bent down and hugged Michael gently.


Michael hugged him with one arm before Jeremy pulled back. “Now, uh, I actually have something to give you.”


“Wait, really?” he asked, fiddling with the hem of his shirt. “You didn’t have to get me anything.”


“Well, it’s not new or anything. You might wanna sit down for this though.”


“I... okay.” Jeremy wandered over to the couch and sat down. He didn’t stop his fiddling, having a strong feeling that this was gonna be an intense moment.


Michael wheeled himself closer, putting the box of chocolates on the coffee table before taking a deep breath. After composing himself, Michael reached behind him and pulled out his key ring full of so many keychains that it could legally be considered a weapon. He took off the key to his Cruiser before offering it to Jeremy. “For you.”


Jeremy could only gape and stare at the keys. “I... you’re serious?” he murmured. “There’s no... You’re...” Jeremy couldn’t process this. It was the Cruiser . Michael’s car. It was his way of coping when he was stressed or overwhelmed. Yeah, he couldn’t drive it anymore, but…


“It’s not like I can ever drive it again. Plus, you’re the only person I completely trust with my Cruiser. The only condition is that you’re my chauffeur whenever I need you.”


“Of course.” Jeremy nodded instantly, slowly taking the keys. “I... I promise I’ll take good care of her. We... I promise.” He nodded again, overwhelmed and just... this was too much.


“I told you that you’d need to sit down,” Michael said around a wet laugh. “It’s a lot, I know. I’ve been psyching myself up for this since yesterday,” Michael admitted as he scrubbed at his eyes. Sunny pressed herself closer to Michael then, even if she was already lying across his lap.


“You’re right, I did need to sit down,” he whispered. Then he leaned forward and kissed Michael’s forehead. “Thank you, Michael. If you ever just wanna go for a drive to clear your head, just tell me. I’ll chauffeur you anytime, anywhere. Promise.”


“Well, if you’re working or something, I don’t wanna bother you,” Michael said as he gave Jeremy a shaky smile. “But thank you.”


“I love you.”


“I love you too, Remy. Now, after Ina helps me get the flowers in the vase, are you ready to go?”


“Yeah. Let’s go to the lake. I have a few things I wanna try.”

It was weird being in the passenger's seat of the Cruiser, but it was something Michael had to get used to. He was used to pushing the pedals, having the freedom to drive anywhere. He didn’t have that anymore, and it would be fine. It was a struggle to sit and not do anything, but he trusted Jeremy. How could he not?


Michael stayed put when they stopped and parked by the lake. It wasn’t like he had much choice in that since Jeremy needed to get his wheelchair out and pop and lock everything, but still. He looked out at the scenery by them, glad that it was empty except for them.


“Be right back.” Jeremy grinned, clearly putting more energy into it than he really felt. He obviously felt just as uncomfortable about the situation as Michael did. He hopped out the car and was opening the door a moment later. “Want me to pick you up or do you wanna get out yourself?” Jeremy asked gently. He always gave Michael options, and always respected what he said.


He appreciated it. If it was most anyone else, this would annoy him. But this was Jeremy, not most anyone else. “I wanna try. If I can’t do it, then you can help me.” Jeremy just smiled and nodded as he settled the wheelchair down. 


After taking a few deep breaths, Michael twisted and lifted himself out of the car. Thankfully, he managed to do this all by himself. It was still a struggle to learn how to do this, but he was making progress. This was proof of that.


“Awesome job, dude. You’re gonna end up with guns soon.” Jeremy chuckled. “Now, you wanna wheel yourself to the pier or want me to?” Another choice. “‘Cause I’m feeling pumped, I’m more than happy to speed us over there. I’ve got too much nervous energy.”


He didn’t want to admit that shifting himself tired him out so much, so this was a good chance to help both of them. “Yeah, sure. We gotta get Sunny out of the backseat first though.”


“As if I’d ever forget our angel baby.” Jeremy scoffed, playfully offended. “And, since this area is so isolated and no one ever really comes here, I think we can do without the leash and stuff, yeah? If people come over we can put it on her, but otherwise...”


“Yeah, that sounds good. I’m sure that Sunny’ll love that idea too.” As he said that, Michael looked at Sunny patiently waiting in the car, her tail wagging a mile a minute while still buckled in.


Jeremy opened her door and quickly unbuckled her, picking up the leash and stashing it in with the picnic basket. “Come on out, girl. No leash unless someone comes.” He grinned, stepping back and walking around to close the door as soon as she was out.


Sunny bolted out of the car, landing on her feet as she ran around Michael’s chair a few times. Michael couldn’t help but smile down at his blessed dog as Jeremy closed the door. “Hiya, hun. You enjoying being off-leash?” Sunny happily yipped a few times.


Jeremy locked the Cruiser, grinning at the sight. “Ready to see me try to fly?” he asked, walking over to Michael and starting them all to the pier.


“I’m ready, but I’m gonna be anxious,” Michael forewarned. “It’s not ‘cause I don’t trust you, but just nerves.”


“Believe me, I’m scared too,” Jeremy admitted, stopping them short of the pier. “But... there’s something I wanna try first. Hold this please?” He held out the picnic basket and blanket.


“Yeah, of course.” Michael took both and settled the blanket down first before plopping the basket down. “What are you trying?”


Jeremy didn’t reply, instead reaching up the back of his shirt and pulling out his binder a moment later. His chest, no longer contained by his binder, pressed against his shirt.


Except, after Jeremy rolled his shoulders, his chest shrunk again. And then he started squirming and, after a second longer, he pulled the balled up socks from his pants. “Oh god, it's so weird and dangly!” he cried excitedly.


It took Michael a second to realize what Jeremy meant before laughing and whining. Sunny seemed to be more on the whining side. “Oh my god.” Then it really hit him. “Oh my god !”


“It worked!” Jeremy giggled. “I mean, I’ve been practicing, but that doesn’t mean I knew it would work .” Be swayed his hips a little before pulling off his shirt to reveal a properly flat chest. He had a little bit of a tummy, since he was a little soft and didn’t exactly work out, but god that was a masculine torso and it was Jeremy’s torso and holy shit, he had all the boy parts now that he was saving up for!


“Oh my god , dude!” He was a broken record and Michael only slightly cared. Sunny barked a few times, nuzzling against Jeremy’s legs.


Jeremy burst out laughing properly before spinning and landing on his butt next to Sunny and Michael. “I have my proper body now. This is exactly as I imagined it...” He sighed, leaning against Michael’s legs. Because of his positioning, Michael could even feel the touch a little.


That in itself only added to the tears forming. “Is this permanent?”


“Yeah, hopefully.” Jeremy nodded, nuzzling against Michael’s leg. “It’s like the next level up from my standard human skin. Since my body is literally made from magic, I can shape it with enough practice. So I practiced and did this.”


“Wait, your body is literally made from magic? You never told me that,” Michael said as he reached down and ran his fingers through Jeremy’s hair.


Jeremy nodded, leaning into the touch. “Yeah, it is... Since Squip let me harness everything, it changed me, and then becoming an angel changed me more... I’m not human anymore, I’m totally a fallen angel now.” He sighed and closed his eyes almost sadly. “I don’t even have to eat, and I’ve been too scared to see if I have to breathe.”


“Wait, what?” Michael focused entirely on Jeremy, not stilling his fingers. “Are you alright with this? I’d get it if you weren’t.”


“Not exactly, but I’m coping.” Jeremy sounded a little defeated.


“Well, what exactly about this bugs you?”


“I dunno. Everything I guess. I’m not even a little human anymore, even if I look at it.” The human coloring faded to reveal his angelic skin. “At least before I was half what I thought I was. Now I’m not even that.”


“Well, you’re someone new. Is that necessarily a bad thing?” Michael asked as he twirled some of Jeremy’s straight hair between his fingers. “You aren’t human, but you’re not a demon either. You’re an angel, like Sunny. Granted, you’re different types of angels, but you’re new and a result of what you believe in.”


“Yeah. I believe in you, and the person you are now and who you will be some day,” Jeremy agreed softly.


“And I feel the same about you. You’re figuring yourself out. I love you and believe in you now, as I will while you develop and become a different version of you. You’re still the same at your core, the amazing person I met forever ago, but you’re going to be better for yourself and those around you.” Michael blinked as he paused his fingers in Jeremy’s hair. “Did I make a weird tangent? Did that make sense?”


“It made sense... Thank you, Mikey.”


“Of course, Remy.” Michael reached down and offered his other hand to Jeremy. “I’ll always be here for you.”


Jeremy took it and squeezed. “Thanks, Mikey.” He sighed. “Now, should I get the wings out?”


“Yeah, just be careful and don’t overwork yourself,” Michael said as he squeezed Jeremy’s hand back. Hey, he couldn’t help but worry about his best friend. It was practically ingrained into his DNA.


Jeremy shifted and his wings sprouted from his back. They were damp with blood to start with, then they shimmered and cleaned themselves. They wrapped around Michael lovingly.


“Does that hurt? Having your wings appear and be all gross at first?” Michael asked as he looked the wings over.


“Yeah...” Jeremy sighed. “Like a really bad skinned knee right up until they’re clean.”


“That’s weird.” Michael looked down at Sunny from where she was sitting in Jeremy’s lap. “Sunny, do your wings hurt when they appear? I’m assuming you have wings since Jeremy has them.” Sunny sneezed and shook her head out in response, as if she was shaking water off of herself. “Weird.”


“I think it’s ‘cause hers are natural and mine aren’t. She’s born an angel,” Jeremy cooed softly. He rubbed Sunny’s ears before standing up.


“I guess that makes sense,” Michael said as Sunny lied by his feet.


Jeremy rolled his shoulders and spread his wings. “Well, wish me luck.” He grinned before starting his sprint down the pier. His wings flapped madly and for a second, it looked like he was in the air. Then he tumbled over sideways and landed in the water with an almighty splash.


Sunny ran to the edge of the pier and barked at Jeremy until he resurfaced. “Maybe you should take off your socks and shoes so it doesn’t weigh you down.”


Jeremy spat out some water and climbed out of the lake. “Good idea.” He wandered over to Michael and pulled off his socks and shoes, leaving them by Michael. “I was close though. I think I can do this!” he cried excitedly, shaking out his wings and spraying a little water everywhere.


Michael playfully cried out as he got water splashed against him. Sunny playfully growled as well, shaking herself out in response. “Be careful with where you’re spraying, Remy.”


Jeremy grinned and stuck his tongue out before shaking his wings out even more, making the motions exaggerated and comical.


“Nooo! You’re so mean.” Sunny barked at Jeremy a few times but did nothing else after shaking again.


Jeremy cackled. “Okay, okay.” He sighed before jumping in place a little. “Here I go again!” Jeremy started sprinting down the pier again, his wings beating more evenly this time. And, sure enough, he took off. With a little little wobble, he shot into the sky.


Sunny tried to follow Jeremy as best she could without getting into the water. She ran along the pier and eventually the side of the lake. Michael couldn’t help but stare and smile as he watched Jeremy go.


Jeremy cheered loudly, whooping and yelling in his joy. He started doing tricks in the air, pulling off loops and spirals, barely wobbling or struggling at all.


“You’re a natural, Jeremy!” Michael called as he leaned back in his chair to watch Jeremy go.


Jeremy cackled and turned, diving towards Michael and skimming just a little above him. Sunny tried to jump up and catch(?) Jeremy as he dove but missed, but she continued following Jeremy along.


Jeremy stayed low, giggling happily, staying just out of Sunny’s reach. “C’mon, Sunny! Race me!” he cried.


Sunny growled and bent forward, her butt in the air as her tail wildly wagged. “Just don’t race over the water.”


“I won’t.” Jeremy froze, only his wings moving, before shooting off like a bullet out a gun. Sunny shot after him, barking and growling happily, trying a couple of times to pounce on Jeremy but missing each time.


Michael didn’t know who would win at first, but Sunny pulled ahead at the end. She waited for Jeremy when she made it back, barking and hopping on her hind legs.


Jeremy, who was out of breath and giggling, landed next to her and Michael, collapsing onto his butt. He folded his against his back and leaned his head against Michael’s legs once more, hitting exactly the right area to provoke the tangible sensation again. “That... was fucking awesome.”


“That looked like it was. Sunny looks really happy,” Michael pointed out as Sunny scrambled to lie across Jeremy’s lap once more.


Jeremy stroked her sweetly, trying to regain some sort of composure as he leaned against Michael. “I had no idea it would feel so easy...” He looked up at Michael curiously after a moment. “Would you like to see if I can take you up there with me?”


Wait, what? “Wouldn’t I be too heavy to carry while flying? Like, I know you can carry me while walking, but flying is completely different.”


“My wings feel strong enough, and carrying you is easy enough for me now.” He smiled up at Michael. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to. It was just a suggestion since I thought it could be fun.”


“I mean, it would be fun,” Michael murmured as he glanced at his lap.


Michael heard Jeremy gently get Sunny to climb off him before he stood. His hand entered Michael’s vision, palm up and beckoning. 


“Do you trust me, Mikey?” he asked gently, and Michael could see the shadows of his wings spreading out behind him.


“I do,” Michael answered instantly.


“Do you want to fly with me?” His voice was still gentle and non-judgemental.


“Yes, I do.”


“In that case, I’m going to pick you up now,” Jeremy murmured, doing just that and cradling Michael bridal style. “Hold on however feels best for you, okay?”


Michael nodded as he wrapped his arms around Jeremy's neck. Somehow, a tinge of familiarity rung out in this situation. They hadn't ever done this before though. Maybe it was similar to a dream Michael forgot about.


Jeremy’s wings started beating, first slowly but gaining speed. Muscles that Michael had never seen before moved under Jeremy’s skin, rippling and swelling and contracting to move the wings with such strength and efficiency. Then, all at once, they shot into the air together.


Faintly, Michael could hear Sunny's playful growling and barking, but he pushed that aside to focus on the feeling of the wind moving through his hair, Jeremy's comforting grip, and the sight and sensation of flight .


Jeremy didn’t go too high, barely ten feet off the ground, but they were still flying. Then, as he powered them through the air, Jeremy adjusted his grip on Michael. His arms wrapped around Michael’s torso, pressing himself against Michael’s back, effectively spooning him as they flew. He tangled their legs together as well, meaning that they were pressed as closely together as possible. 


Michael felt so safe, being held like this, but it also meant he had his arms free when Jeremy brought them low enough to skim the surface of the lake.


Unwilling to hold himself back, Michael let his fingers glide against the top of the lake. The feeling was magical as he couldn't help but smile. He glanced to the side to see Sunny racing along the lakebed, and he waved as he pulled his hand away from the watertop.


Sunny barked and howled happily, her tail wagging so fast she looked like she might take off like a helicopter. Jeremy chuckled, the sound right by Michael’s ear, and pulled them up, weaving them around the trees dotting the far shoreline.


They were almost silent in flight, in fact, the loudest thing Michael was finding was the rushing of the air past him, but even that was muted with how Jeremy was carrying him.


After a few more minutes of staying so low and close to the ground, Jeremy pulled up and brought them a little higher above the lake, giving Michael the perfect view of everything. “How does it look to you?” Jeremy asked as they hovered.


"It looks amazing," Michael admitted as he looked over the landscape, laughing a bit as he watched Sunny running circles around where their shadow presumably was. "This is just... I don't have the words to properly describe this."


“I know what you mean.” Jeremy whispered before taking them back down and landing next to Michael’s chair. Instead of setting him down right away, Jeremy spun Michael around and held him there, holding Michael up by his thighs. He was beaming, his expression a little cheeky but very clearly adoring.


Michael looked at Jeremy, at eye level with him thanks to how Jeremy held him, and raised a brow. "Hello there."


“Hi.” Jeremy grinned. “You know, I think that out of everything, this is my favorite view.”


"Oh my god, Jeremy." Michael couldn't help but laugh as he rested their foreheads together.


Jeremy’s proud smile turned a little hesitant. “Before we get the blanket out and start eating, can we just... try something please?”


"Depends on what it is."


“I wanna sit on your lap and try kissing you a little deeper than what we’ve tried.” Ever considerate, Jeremy didn’t fluff anything out, he just stated the facts. It made it so much easier for Michael to actually decide if it was something he wanted or not.


"Yeah, we can definitely try that out," Michael said as he smiled. "Same tap on the side if we don't like it or want to stop, right?"


“Always.” Jeremy smiled back, relaxing as he set Michael into his chair and ensured the break was on. Then, he slowly climbed into Michael’s lap. The pressure was something Michael could feel there, and it was so nice. Jeremy, for all his strength and extra weight thanks to the wings, was still light as anything.


Michael adjusted with Jeremy until both of them were comfortable. "Well hi there. How do y'wanna start this?"


Jeremy wrapped his arms around Michael’s neck and leaned in close, “Well let’s just see where this takes us, yeah?” He whispered to Michael, their lips brushing as he spoke.


Nodding in response, Michael rested his hands against Jeremy's sides before leaning the slightest bit forward to start the kiss. He wasn't sure how far Jeremy wanted to go, so he'd let him lead.


Jeremy leaned into the kiss, slowly deepening it. He whined softly but didn’t push far at all, as if he was waiting to see what Michael did.


Michael couldn’t help but smile into the kiss as he followed Jeremy’s lead and deepened the kiss even further. He gently squeezed Jeremy’s waist to let him know that this all was alright.


Jeremy whimpered and started moving their lips together. Once again, he waited for Michael to respond, letting out a soft breath as he did.


Instead of responding after, Michael kept up working together with Jeremy, moving his lips at the same time as Jeremy did (he was still new at this, sue him). He continued to squeeze Jeremy’s waist to assure him.


Jeremy melted against him, sighing happily as he maintained what they were doing. He didn’t push any further but he didn’t tap out either. The small sounds he kept making certainly showed that he was enjoying himself.


Michael felt quite happy with this too, but he knew he wouldn’t last as long as Jeremy would, at least for today. Knowing this, Michael paced himself as he hummed happily against Jeremy’s lips. His other hand reached up to gently rest in Jeremy’s hair.


Jeremy shivered a little before pulling back to rest his head against Michael’s shoulder. It was then that Michael noticed Jeremy’s wings had wrapped around them entirely, cutting them off from the rest of the world. With the little light that made it through Jeremy’s feathers, Michael could make out the golden swirls dancing along Jeremy’s pitch black angel skin. There was even the faint golden patterns nestled against the black feathers which Michael had never noticed before.


Michael let himself catch his breath as he observed this. He then rested his head against Jeremy’s before shutting his eyes. “You feeling alright?”


“So good,” Jeremy murmured. “That was just a lot.” His breath tickled Michael’s neck in the best way, and Jeremy arms clinging to him made him feel protective and needed.


“Yeah, it definitely was, but it was a lot in a good way,” Michael agreed as he rubbed into Jeremy’s side with the hand still there.


“For sure.” Jeremy sounded tired but also so relaxed. “We really did need to do that again some time.” He sighed happily.


“We do,” Michael echoed before laughing. “You know, I didn’t realize how tired you’d be. I thought we were just amping it up.”


“I’m feeling a lot right now.” Jeremy whined. “It was like, twice as intense as I thought it would be,” he admitted quietly.


“Well, that’s completely fine.” Michael shifted and pressed a gentle kiss to Jeremy’s temple.


“I love you, Mikey.” Jeremy sighed happily.


“I love you too, Remy.” Michael pressed a few more kisses to Jeremy’s temple before gently squeezing his side. “We should go and set up the picnic though.” Sunny barked from outside their makeshift hideaway, and Michael couldn’t help but smile. “Sunny misses us too.”


“Well, if Sunny misses us, we have to go,” Jeremy murmured, waiting a few seconds before he pulled his wings and their secluded world back for now. They could go back to that anytime they wanted. 


But for now, the rest of their date awaited them.