Richard Goranski was six years old the first time he ever kissed a boy. Well, the first time he kissed anyone, actually. He’d often curse himself over the years for forgetting his name. He’d remember it eventually, but…
It was the last day of school when he was in the first grade. It was at recess, and he was hanging out with his only friend. Usually his only friends’ other friend was hanging out with them too, except his parents didn’t send him on the last day, which was pretty typical. A lot of parents just let their kids skip the last day.
“And then it was all like, boom, and then it-” Rich’s friend was rambling about a show he was watching before he paused. He looked at Rich and noticed that he looked sad.
“Why do you look sad?” he asked. “Are you okay? Did I accidentally say something bad? I’m sorry.” he looked at Rich with a concerned face.
“I’m moving next week.” Rich mumbled. “To Texas.”
“Texas?! That’s so far away!” exclaimed the friend. “Why? You can’t move!”
“My mom’s family is in Texas. And she’s sick.” Rich fumbled. “She has cancer.”
“Cancer?” the friend gasped. “Will she die?”
“I… don’t know.” Rich sighed. “With treatments she might live but we dunno for sure.”
“I’m sorry,” murmured the friend. “I hope she turns out okay. I hope you turn out okay.”
“Me too.” Rich got teary eyed. “I don’t want to move.”
“I don’t want you to move neither!” shouted the friend. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too.” Rich looked down.
The friend brought Rich into a tight hug. Rich grabbed onto the boy's jacket.
“Will you come back?” the boy asked.
“I dunno.” Rich said. “Maybe? I hope so.”
“I hope so too.”
They pulled away from the hug and the boy looked lost in thought. “What’s wrong?” Rich asked.
“Would it…” the boy trailed off, as if he was unsure if he should say what he was thinking. “If I like… kissed you.. would that be weird?”
“Huh?” Rich didn’t expect to hear that.
“Not in the… like… weird cooties way. But like…” the boy began to mumble. “Like, when I get out of the car when we get to school, my mommy kisses me quickly. When my other mommy leaves for work before we leave for school, she kisses me quickly to say goodbye.”
“Ohhhhh.” Rich said. “I don’t think that would be weird.” “Are you sure?” the boy asked. “Mhm!” Rich nodded. “But maybe we should go where no one can see us. Just in case someone tells. Cuz I don’t think kissing is allowed.”
The other kid agreed and the pair went to an area in the playground where they were covered by a few trees. They looked at each other.
“I’m nervous.” the boy twiddled his thumbs.
“Why?” Rich asked. “This isn’t weird, right?”
“...Right.” the boy said. He moved his hands to Rich’s face and held it in face. The boy quickly turned his head and kissed the slightly taller boy on the lips.
The boy moved back but kept his hands on Rich’s face for a few seconds. Rich thinks he saw the boy go slightly red, but he had a darker complexion so it could have just been the lighting. Or maybe a sunburn, it was very sunny out.
The boy, after a few seconds, moved his hands down. Neither of them said anything until Rich spoke up.
“Um…” Rich trailed off. “Can we do that a-”
The boys jumped at the sound of the teachers whistle- it was time to go inside.
“Recess is over.” the boy pouted. “Our last recess together.”
“Yeah.” Rich’s lip quivered slightly. “Hey, we still have a few hours left of school! Let’s just spend it together!”
“Yeah!” The smaller boy piped up. “Let’s go! Maybe we can convince Ms. Smith to put on the new Power Rangers movie!”
“I don’t think the dumb girls will agree to that.” Rich snickered.
“Oh god, stupid Chloe and Brooke would never.” the boy laughed as the two walked to their class. “I hate girls. They’re so weird. ‘Cept my moms. They’re okay.”
“Well, what about when you get married? You’re gonna marry a girl.” Rich said.
“...” The boy blanked. “Nah, I don’t think so.”
The second time Rich ever kissed a boy was because he made the decision to join his school’s drama club in the 4th grade.
He saw the poster on the wall and ended up taking interest. Something to keep him busy, he figured. He didn’t have many friends at school, especially not that he hung out with outside of it.
The teacher running the drama club happened to be his teacher, Ms. Brown. When he told her that the drama club had piqued his interest she was super excited to have him join, even letting him call home to let his parents know he’d be staying at school for another hour and a half.
A kid in the class-Max-started teasing Rich the moment he overheard his and Ms. Brown’s conversation about it.
“You know drama club is for girls, right? Are you a girl, Richie?” he teased. Rich rolled his eyes, not paying any mind to the trouble-making problem child.
“Max, may I remind you that you are also joining the club yourself.” Ms. Brown called him out.
“Only cuz my mom said I have to.” Max huffed.
“Regardless, don’t tease other kids for their hobbies. Nothing is strictly a boys thing or girls thing. Anyone can do anything they’d like.” Ms. Brown scolded.
“Whatever.” Max rolled his eyes.
After a few more minutes, he started poking fun again.
“My dad says that only gay boys do theater. Are you gay, Richie?” he teased.
“I don’t even know what that mea-“
Rich is interrupted by his teacher yelling, “Maxwell! We don’t use that word in a derogatory sense in my classroom!”
“What does derogory mean?” Max asked, butchering the word.
Ms. Brown sighed. “Max, we don’t use the word gay to make fun of things. That’s hurtful to people who might be in that community.”
“My dad says that being gay is wrong and that’s why it’s illegal for them to get married.” Max closed his eyes and smiled, crossing his arms as if he had just said something smart.
“Actually, it’s been legal since last June.” Ms. Brown informed. “I happen to have a wife myself.”
“Woah, really?” Rich piped up. “That’s c-“
“Gross.” Max interrupted.
“If your dad says drama club is gay and for girls then why is your mom making you do it?” Rich asked.
“They’re divorced.” Max shrugged.
“Makes sense.” Ms. Brown mumbled, loud enough for Rich to somehow hear, but not Max. Rich tried to hide his giggling.
“You know, Ms. Brown, my friend in New Jersey had two mommies.” Rich told her. “His name was- it-“ he stumbled on his words. “I don’t remember.”
“Aw, that’s awesome!” Ms. Brown clapped. “My wife and I have been trying to adopt ourselves, but that’s really hard for us right now.”
Their conversation was interrupted by an administrator stopping by the room and peeking his head in. “Ms. Brown.” He looked her dead in the eye. “Please limit these types of conversations in the future.”
“Mr. Gary.” She looked at him, blinking and smiling sarcastically. “Why don’t you tell that to Ms. Johnson, who enjoys spilling every detail about her messy divorce to her first graders?”
“Ms. Brown, please.” Mr. Gary pleaded.
“Sure, Mr. Gary. Sure.”
Mr. Gary left the room and continued walking down the hall.
“You wouldn’t get a good role anyway.” Max jabbed.
“Why not?” Rich asked.
“Becauth you thound like thith all the time.” chimed in a girl, Jayla, walking into class to take her seat, while mocking Rich’s lisp. “Actors have to sound good, y’know.”
“Jayla, stop it.” Ms. Brown scolded. “Why is it only you three in here right now? Class starts in-“ she looked at her watch. “Oh. Twenty minutes. I feel like I’ve been here longer.”
And that’s the story of how Rich ended up going to drama club, but being too insecure to ever audition for any important roles.
Despite Ms. Brown trying to convince Rich to just try harder for a bigger role, he pleaded to just be put on the setup team, even despite being actually a naturally talented actor during team warmups.
The first play they ever did was Sleeping Beauty. During the dress rehearsal, the main female lead was running late. Something about her great-grandma falling off her porch.
“Okay, are there any volunteers to fill in for Emily until she gets here? We can’t hold off any longer.”
None of the girls volunteered.
“Okay, then Teresa, you’re filling in.”
“Nuh uh!” Teresa shook her head. “Ryan is Abbie’s ex and I’m not kissing my best friends’ ex!”
“Ex? You guys are in the fourth grade!” Ms. Brown groaned. “Rachel?”
“Nope. Abbie is also my friend.” Rachel fake gagged. “I’m not kissing him, he’s gross.”
“Are any of the girls here not friends with Abbie?” she asked.
None of the girls spoke up.
“Come on guys, we don’t even know for sure if you’ll have to kiss him! Emily might get here on time.” Ms. Brown tried to compromise.
All of the girls shook their heads. “No way am I taking that risk.” Teresa huffed.
“Me either.” added Jayla.
“I didn’t wanna kiss any of you ugly girls anyway!” Ryan blew a raspberry
Ms. Brown rolled her eyes. “God you guys are impossible. Okay- I can’t believe I’m doing this- Boys? Any of the boys wanna play a girls role until Emily gets here?”
Most of the boys gagged and shook their heads.
“Hey, wait, I’m not kissing a boy!” Ryan jumped in. “No way!”
“I might have a bag of Reese’s Pieces in my purse.” Ms. Brown looked at him.
“Sold!” Ryan shrugged.
“Richie will do it!” Max called out.
“I never said that!” Rich quickly turned his head to Max, giving him a dirty look and then looking at Ms. Brown. “I didn’t say that!”
“Oh come on Richie, you look enough like a girl to play the role.” Max teased.
“Rich, you know those soda candies from the prize box you like so much?” Ms. Brown asked. “I might have some in my purse if you fill in just this once .”
Rich’s eyes lit up.
“Hey- wait! I’d kiss Ryan for something from the prize box!” Rachel piped up.
“Too late, Rachel.” Ms. Brown glanced at her.
Emily ended up not being able to make it to dress rehearsal in time and so… against what the boys wanted, they did in fact, have to kiss.
Of course, it wasn’t anything special. It was a quick peck on the lips that grossed the two boys out and that’s all that Rich remembered of it. Rich was just happy to have his soda candy while Ryan poured the damn Reese’s Pieces into his mouth.
The third time Rich ever kissed a boy was in the 6th grade. At this point he had some friends, but they weren’t exactly the nicest to him. They often just pushed him to the side and would dare him to do gross stuff, and since Rich was weaker and kind of a pushover, he just let it happen, because having mean friends was better than having no friends at all, right?
They were sitting at the lunch table and all thinking of funny things they could do to mess with the kids around them. Rich was just sitting there eating the school made spaghetti, which honestly tasted like water, but whatever. He typically didn’t get involved in these conversations until he got given something to do. There was Elijah, Dylan, Tyler, Jason, and Gavin.
“Okay… um…” Dylan trailed off. “I have UNO.” he shrugged.
“Okay, Dylan, seriously?” Tyler rolled his eyes. “The hell are we gonna do with UNO?”
“Uh… whoever loses has to do something gross?” Dylan suggested.
“There’s only one winner in UNO, dude. There’s five of us.” reminded Jason. He looked at Rich and corrected himself. “Six.”
“We play until all but one of us is out? And they have to…” Dylan trailed off.
“They have to kiss Richie!” interrupted Elijah.
Rich nearly choked on his spaghetti and piped out a “WHAT?!” As everyone else went, “EWW.”
“Hey, wait a second!” Rich stopped everyone. “I didn’t agree to this! And what’s so bad about me anyway?”
“Well, for one your hair is greasy, seriously when was the last time you washed it? Your two front teeth are like, miles apart from each other, and your lithp thoundth really thtupid. Also you’re a boy, and kissing another boy is gross by default.” Gavin snickered, mocking Rich’s lisp while making the remark about it.
“Okay, first of all, I do wash my hair, regularly! And m-”
“Okay, firtht of all, I do wath my hair, regularly!” Elijah mocked.
“Stop it!” Rich whined.
“Thtop it!” Elijah continued. “Anyway, we all on board with this?”
Everyone hesitantly agreed, not particularly wanting to risk having to kiss Rich but also finding the idea of someone else having to do that amusing.
“I didn’t agree to this! And what if I lose, hm?” Rich asked.
“You’re not playing.” Dylan said as he distributed the cards. “And why not? Are you chicken? ”
“No! I just don’t want to kiss any of you!” Rich exclaimed. “That’s gross!”
“Well if you don’t then we won’t let you hang out with us anymore!” Jason threatened.
Rich shut his mouth. Having bad friends is better than having none. Having bad friends is better than having none. He repeated the quote over and over in his head to convince himself it’s a bad idea to walk away at that moment.
After a long ten minutes, it was down to Gavin and Tyler. Gavin had two cards, Tyler had three.
The card on top was a blue five. Tyler put down a blue three.
Gavin put down a red three, calling out “UNO!” But then proceeding to look down at his card nervously. Tyler put down a yellow three.
Gavin looked at the stack excitedly, slamming down a yellow seven. “UNO OUT!” he cheered.
Everyone looked at Tyler and then Rich. Rich looked nervous and Tyler let out an annoyed groan.
“Okay, guys, pucker up!” Elijah started making kissy noises.
“Do I have to? Is there something else I can do?” Tyler whined.
“This is the bet we agreed on, Tyler!” Jason said. Tyler rolled his eyes and quickly pecked Rich on the lips before gagging. The entire group burst into laughter, except for Tyler who was annoyed and Rich who got teary eyed.
He picked up his lunch tray and stood up. “I don’t think I want to hang out with you guys anymore.” he huffed before speed walking away.
“Oh, come on, Rich, it was a joke!”
“Are you really getting butthurt over this?”
“Aww, someone can’t handle hanging with the boys.”
“Sensitive little pussy.”
Rich threw out his tray and covered his ears.
The fourth time Rich ever kissed a boy was in the 8th grade. It was probably a semester or so into the year.
Despite trying to shove this specific memory out of his brain, he unfortunately remembered it too well. The kids’ name was Bryce Addison.
Rich, at this point, had a fair share of decent friends. He wasn’t particularly popular but he also wasn’t particularly at the bottom of the food chain, like in 6th grade.
His mother was doing better for a while, but now it was starting to get worse again. Significantly worse. There was a near zero chance of her making it past summertime, and Rich wasn’t doing too well mentally- neither was his brother Kyle or his dad.
They were hanging out at Bryce’s house. Bryce was kind of a rough kid, wasn’t nice to most people. But he was nice to Rich.
Right now, they were sitting across from each other on Bryce’s bed. And Rich was sobbing.
“Hey- Hey.” Bryce wiped Rich’s tears off his face. “It’s going to be okay.” he consoled. “All we can do is hope she’ll live through it. But regardless, you’ll be okay. It’ll be okay. There’s not much I can do other than tell you that.”
“Th-Thanks.” Rich said. “I just- I just- I can’t-” he was sobbing uncontrollably. “My dad’s okay, but my mom and I have a closer bond. And I just- I don’t know what will happen if she’s gone. I see all these stories about kids’ whose dad goes to shit when the kids’ mom dies and I just- I don’t want that to happen to me. And my brother- I don’t know. He’s been closed off.”
“Hey, come on.” Bryce reassured. “Have some faith in your dad. You’re all going through a hard time but you can’t doubt him, especially not now. You guys will especially need to be there for each other when- if- you know.”
“...Yeah. I know.” Rich sighed.
They were both silent for a few minutes before Rich spoke up again.
“My dad said that if she dies we’re moving back to New Jersey.” he spilled. “I don’t want to- I don’t think I want to. I mean, I liked it there, but I just have more memories, more people here, y’know? I don’t want to lose that.”
“Shit, really? All the way to New Jersey?” Bryce raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t your family here though?”
“Well, Mom’s is. Dad’s family is around New York City but we can’t exactly afford to live there. That’s why we lived in Jersey instead. Close, but affordable.”
“How’d your mom end up in Jersey?” Bryce asked.
“College.” Rich shrugged. “That’s how they met.”
“Makes sense.” Bryce tilted his head. “You have any friends back up there?”
“Well, I had one- maybe two? When I was younger, but I don’t remember their names. Or their faces. And I doubt they remember me, either.” Rich sighed. “I do distinctly remember the names of two girls that always annoyed the hell out of us, though.”
“What were their names?” Bryce asked.
“Brooke and Chloe. Knowing how they were then, they probably turned out to be like, stereotypical bitchy popular girls.” Rich snickered.
“Like Hannah and Stephanie?” Bryce inquired.
“Yeah. Maybe worse than them.” Rich said. “I’ll update you on that if they’re still there, though.”
“You better.” Bryce chuckled. Bryce had a nice laugh. “I’ll miss you, though.”
“Yeah. I’ll miss you too.” Rich looked down and sighed.
Bryce took Rich’s hand and squeezed it. Rich went slightly red but quickly brushed it off.
Bryce had strong hands. Comforting hands.
“Hey, even when you’re back in Jersey, make sure you keep me updated on life, okay? Even despite everything, I worry about you.”
And even if he was sometimes a dick to other kids at school, he was always so nice to Rich.
Rich’s next act was impulsive and really fucking stupid.
Maybe he should’ve asked first, that would’ve been the right thing to do. Or just… not do it at all.
He leaned in and kissed Bryce.
Bryce didn’t move. He paused for a few seconds before pushing Rich away as soon as he realized what was happening.
“What the fuck, dude!” Bryce stood up, wiping his mouth. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I-I’m sorry, it’s just, I thought-” Rich started to stumble on his words.
“Thought what?! That I was some sort of queer?!” Bryce yelled out. “I’m not a fucking faggot, dude!”
Rich didn’t like that word.
“I’m sorry- It- It was impulsive- I didn’t mean to- I should’ve-” Rich stopped. “Just, I mean, you held my hand, and wiped off my tears, and were so-”
“Those were acts of consolation, dude! What the fuck?!” Bryce snarked. “I’m just trying to be a good friend since I know you aren’t doing well and you grow some kind of gay crush on me?!”
“I’m sorry- I- I don’t know what I was thinking, and I-”
“Get out!” Bryce yelled. “Don’t come back to my house, don’t fucking text me, don’t talk to me at school, don’t come near me again, you faggot!”
Rich listened. He ran out of the house, not looking at Bryce again or any of Bryce’s family members. He ran home.
The coming Monday was not a good day. Bryce had told everyone about it.
In fact, after a week, Rich had convinced his parents to have him homeschooled until he got back to New Jersey.
He said it was to spend more time with his mom, which while a perk, was not the true reason why.
Rich’s mom died that July. Only a week after the funeral in August, he, his brother, and his Dad packed everything up and had a long, depressing, and silent road trip back to New Jersey.
It was a weird kind of nostalgia being back in his old house. He couldn’t tell if it was a good feeling or bad feeling. He was back here on bad terms, obviously, but it’s not like he had anything left for him in Texas, anyway.
School started September 2nd. It was August 24th when Rich’s dad had told him he enrolled him in school.
“Dad, please, I really don’t want to go. Can’t I just keep being homeschooled? You don’t even have to do anything! There are online programs, and-”
“Online programs that cost money, Rich!” his dad interrupted. “I know it’ll be hard but since we moved I have to find a new job. Money is tight and we have to apply for food stamps and other government assistance. I’m sorry, but you just have to suck it up. You’ll be fine. You have friends here, don’t you?”
“Not that I’ve talked to since I was seven, dad.” Rich rolled his eyes.
“What about that one kid? The fucking… fuck, I don’t remember his name. He had two moms.” Rich’s dad asked.
“I don’t even remember his name either.” Rich informed.
“Seriously? I thought you guys were pretty close. That sucks.” Rich’s dad shrugged. “You have your brother.”
“Dad, Kyle’s gonna be a senior! I’ll be a freshman. The chances of us having classes together are very slim.” Rich whined.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Rich.” the older man said. “I know it’s hard and I know you don’t want to and I’d homeschool you if we had the time or money but we just don’t. You’ll be fine. You’ll make friends eventually, just like you did when we moved to Texas.” he continued. “Speaking of which, you still talk to any of your friends there? Haven’t heard about any of them in a while.”
“...Sometimes.” Rich lied. “Haven’t hung out with them since I started homeschooling so we kind of drifted.”
“Damn. That sucks.” Rich’s dad said, opening the fridge.
“Yeah.” Was all Rich could mutter out.
Rich’s dad cracked a beer.
Rich got his SQUIP shortly before his freshman year ended by his brother’s girlfriend, Danielle, who apparently had one herself. She said that her uncle who worked at Payless sold them on the side and as an act of kindness, decided to give Rich one for free. At first he rolled his eyes and threw it in the back of his drawer, thinking the concept of some supercomputer in your brain telling you how to be cool was ridiculous.
He decided to take it two weeks before his sophomore year started as a last resort to make his sophomore year better. He figured it more likely wouldn’t work, but Danielle had told him that she’d give him what the SQUIP was worth in cash if it didn’t, and he would rather not have to pawn his Xbox to be able to afford lunch at school, even if it was at the expense that he may get a little drugged.
But it did work. It fucking worked. The supercomputer that took the form of his mother (despite not acting like her at all, it quickly learned that Rich was more likely to listen if it took that form) had managed to give him a complete makeover before school started and once it did, he wiggled his way into the popular group (Jake, Jenna, Chloe, and Brooke) in no time.
And that’s what led up to his fifth ever kiss with a guy. At some dumb spring break party at Jake’s, Chloe suggested a good old game of (you guessed it) spin the fucking bottle.
Personally, Rich thought the game was kind of dumb, kissing people for no reason. Like, sure, sometimes in shitty anime fanfiction (which his SQUIP made him stop reading) it was a good plot point, but in reality it was just a game for people to find excuses to kiss the people they liked. (if they were lucky enough to even land on them) Unfortunately, he wasn’t particularly attracted to anyone in the room.
Sure, Chloe was hot, but kind of a bitch and she definitely suggested this game in an attempt to get Jake back for the 100th time. Brooke was hot too, definitely the best candidate in the circle, but despite his SQUIP trying to convince him that pursuing Brooke was a good idea, he wasn’t really attracted to her, though he saw her as a good friend. Jenna was alright but sometimes Rich would silently beg whatever god was up there to make her shut her mouth because of her tendencies to gossip which more than often than not ended up being just that- gossip. Madeline? He didn’t know much about Madeline except that she was crushing on Jake and that Chloe hated it. But she wasn’t terrible looking. There were other girls in the circle, but he could not name a single one. He could call some of them attractive, some not so much, but he still didn’t have any particular desire to kiss any of them.
He decided not to think about the guys because god fucking forbid he even thought about kissing any of them, his SQUIP would be so angry and would shock him again.
“Okay, since I suggested it, I’ll go first!” Chloe giggled. Most, if not all of the people in the circle were at least tipsy- except for Rich. The SQUIP made him not drink because apparently alcohol fucks it up. Not that he particularly wanted to drink anyway, seeing what that shit had turned his once good dad into.
Chloe spun the empty beer bottle. Whatever god was up there must have been feeling nice, because she landed on exactly who she wanted it to land on- Jake.
Rich saw Madeline roll her eyes, but focused his attention onto Chloe, who crawled over to Jake. They liplocked and despite the fact that a peck would be acceptable, they got into making out real fast. It was safe for everyone to assume the pair was back together.
The two pulled away and Jake whispered something into Chloe’s ear, making her let out a drunken giggle. They kissed once again, but it was only for a few seconds this time, before Chloe went back to her seat. “Your turn, babe.” she said, with an unsure tone. Rich supposed most people are weary about their significant others kissing other people, but Chloe didn’t really care that much if it was for a party game.
Jake spun the bottle and started laughing. Soon, it came to a stop and everyone started laughing, wolf whistling, whatever. Why?
The bottle landed on Rich.
Rich internally started screaming, waiting for his SQUIP to give her input.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go kiss him.
Go kiss Jake. It’s just for a game.
I thought you told me I couldn’t kiss other boys.
I told you that you needed to push away any attraction to them. You aren’t attracted to Jake, and this is for a party game. Everyone will think you’re a wuss if you don’t do it.
Oh, so I’m only allowed to kiss boys if it’s convenient?
Jake looked at Chloe, before Chloe said, “Just do it babe, it’s just for a game, and it’s just Rich.” she giggled.
“Won’t that be like, weird?” Rich asked.
Richard just do it.
“You’re both dudes, who cares?” Chloe snickered. “Unless one of you is like, secretly bi or something, it means nothing. Which by the way I totally don’t judge if someone here is, I like gay people!”
Secretly bi, Rich thought.
With that thought, he felt a shock come up his spine.
“Rich, if you really are uncomfortable with kissing another guy, you don’t have to.” Brooke put her input in. “Jake can spin the bottle again.”
Chloe punched Brooke in the shoulder and started laughing. “Oh come on Rich, it’s just a game!”
Rich sighed and walked over to Jake, quickly pecking him on the lips and that was that.
What did you expect? It was Jake. Despite having bottled up feelings for other boys he definitely didn’t feel anything for Jake.
“Awww.” Chloe groaned. “That’s no good.”
“Sorry, Chloe, didn’t realize you were so adamant about me making out with your boyfriend.” Rich said, walking back to his spot in the circle.
“You’re no fun.” Chloe giggled.
“And you’re weird.” Rich half-joked.
“Whatever, just spin the bottle!” Chloe shouted.
Rich spun it, praying it wouldn’t land on another boy.
It landed on Madeline. Despite not particularly wanting to kiss her, it was better than having to kiss another boy again.
Luckily, after that, no one else landed on him.
After the SQUIP-cident, he and Jeremy still got to hang out with their popular friends, and somehow, some way, Jeremy convinced Michael to join them too. Although he was usually pretty quiet around them, eventually he warmed up- especially to Rich. Which Rich found to be surprising, because out of everyone he was probably the worst to Michael before then.
Rich was now out and proud about his bisexuality, something he couldn’t do before. Everyone around him supported him and he was happy he could finally be comfortable about his attraction to boys that he had felt bad about in the past. Chloe even apologized if she ever made him uncomfortable, and while he was over the spin the bottle incident, he appreciated it.
It didn’t take long for him to realize that he might, just might, have a (not so) teeny tiny crush on Michael. While he was in the hospital it kind of warmed his heart how much Michael cared about Jeremy, despite how awful Jeremy had been to him. Visiting every day, and even talking to Rich before Jeremy woke up. Michael had even given him a cheesy “Get well soon” teddy bear thing as a joke, but Rich would never admit how flushed the gesture made him.
Right now Rich was sitting with Michael on a bed in the taller's basement, the two passing a blunt while they talked and Michael played Super Mario Bros. 2 on his NES.
The rest of the group was currently attending a party at some seniors house- Rich doesn’t know who. After the incident at Jake’s halloween party he’s typically been avoiding any big parties, despite being invited to them. Michael offered for Rich to come over and hang out instead of being home alone because despite initially planning to go, Michael wasn’t big of a partier anyway.
The two weren’t talking about any topic in particular, just jumping from subject to subject based on whatever they wanted to talk about.
“Y’know, I think it’s kind of funny how like-” Michael giggled, stumbling on his words as a result of being high. “You say that no one realized you went to Middleborough freshman year.”
“No one did.” Rich shrugged.
“I did.” Michael admitted. “You had the, the the the- fuck.” he started chuckling again. “Your hair was longer and messier. And you had braces, and glasses. People used to say you looked like a girl.”
Rich cringed. “Oh god, you remember that?” Michael just nodded. “Yep. I remember we had a few classes together, like in civics, you had a presentation-”
“Oh no. Do not bring up any presentation stories from last year.” Rich stopped him. “Most of the time I ended up wanting to bang my head against my wall because of my lisp.” he said. “If there’s one thing I actually liked about that dumbass tic tac, it’s that it got rid of my lisp. But now the SQUIP is gone and my lisp is back.”
“You don’t like your lisp?” Michael raised an eyebrow. “I like your lisp. It’s cute.”
“It is not cute. ” Rich groaned. “It makes me sound stupid.”
“It is cute.” Michael said, pausing his game and crawling over to Rich. “Just wike you’re wittle tooth gap and fweckles.” he pinched Rich’s cheeks.
“Okay- okay stop, now you’re just making fun of me.” Rich whined and laughed at the same time.
“No, I’m serious, they’re cute!” Michael insisted.
“Sure.” Rich rolled his eyes. “Sure they are.”
Michael rolled over so he was sitting right beside Rich. He began tapping his fingers on his own thigh and after a few minutes of silence, piped up a question.
“Do you like anyone?”
“What?” Rich chuckled nervously.
“Do you like anyone?” Michael repeated the question, continuing to tap his fingers.
“I- I-” Rich stumbled on his words. “Do you?”
“I asked you first.”
“I asked you second.”
“Touche.” Michael snickered. “Yeah. I think so.”
“Oh.” Rich sighed. “Who is it?”
“Hey, you have to answer my question now.” Michael scoffed. “If I answered it you have to too.”
“I never agreed to that.” Rich huffed.
“Too bad. I’ll tickle it out of you if you don’t.” Michael threatened as he made a little walking motion with his fingers on Rich’s arm.
“Oh god please don’t.” Rich groaned. “Fine. I… I might.”
“Hm.” Michael hummed. “Who are they?”
Rich squinted at Michael. “I’m not answering that.”
“Fair enough.” Michael giggled. “Guy or girl or somethin’ else?”
“...Guy.” Rich hesitantly answered.
“Me too.” Michael said.
“Yeah, of course it is, because you’re gay.” Rich cackled.
“ You’re gay.” Michael huffed.
“I didn’t mean that as an insult I meant you’re actually gay.” Rich reminded.
“Oh yeah.” Michael laughed.
“…I remember, in freshman year, I thought you were the coolest.” Rich admitted.
“Thought? So you don’t think I’m cool anymore?” Michael teased.
“No no, I do!” Rich assured. “I always thought you were cool. Freshman year, while I had the stupid tic tac, and now.” he continued. “I wanted to be your friend so bad but I had so much anxiety I’d fuck it all up.”
“Fuck it up? How could you fuck it up?” Michael raised an eyebrow.
“Just-“ Rich looked down at his own lap. “Experience.”
“Oh.” Michael got the hint he probably didn’t wanna talk about it. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Rich shrugged. “I was better without those assholes that made me think that anyway.” he added. “But hey, we’re friends now, and that’s all that matters.”
“…Right. Friends.” Michael sighed. “Hey, Rich?”
“Who is it you like?”
“Really?” Rich laughed. “We’re on this topic again? Why?”
“I just… I’m curious.” Michael said. “I don’t know.”
The two were silent for a minute.
“It’s you.” Rich admitted.
“H-huh?” Michael stammered, making sure he heard that right.
“It’s you. I like you. I want to hold you and kiss you and do all that stupid coupley shit with you.” Rich spills, looking down at his lap and not looking at Michael once. “It’s fine that you probably don’t feel the same, I just wanted to get it out there.”
“Oh Rich.” Michael giggled.
“Don’t laugh at me, dude. Not now.”
“Rich.” Michael held Rich’s face in his hands so he’d look at him. Rich was flushed and looked nervous and Michael was smiling. “It’s you. It’s always been you.”
The next thing Rich knew, he felt Michael’s lips on his.
And although he couldn’t pinpoint why, it felt so familiar.
Rich immediately roped his hands around Michael’s neck, keeping their lips locked and returning the kiss.
After a few seconds that Rich wished would be forever, they pulled apart.
Rich kept his arms around Michael’s neck as the two giggled.
Michael fell back onto his bed and Rich fell on top of him, laying on the taller’s chest.
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Michael remarked.
“...Huh?” Rich raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“Sorry, sorry. You probably don’t remember.” Michael chuckled. “It’s alright, though. It was a long time ago.”
“Michael I am high as hell I cannot figure out what the hell you’re trying to say.” Rich groaned.
Michael laughed. “I said I remember you from freshman year, but I remember you from long before that.”
“Michael I didn’t live here ‘till freshman year. I was in Texas, remember?” Rich rolled his eyes. “Dumbass.”
“You said you moved to Texas when again?”
“Summer before third, I think.” Rich stated. “Why?”
“Where’d you live before that?” Michael asked.
“...Here.” Rich shrugged.
“Right. Do you have any… distinct memories from your last school day here before leaving?” Michael inquired.
“Uh…” Rich thought for a moment. “Me and my friend convinced the teacher to put on the at-the-time new Power Rangers movie and Chloe and Brooke were so mad at us.”
“No- Rich, dammit.” Michael scoffed. “At recess. What happened at recess, that day? Do you remember?”
“Oh. Uh…” Rich remembered. “Oh, me and my friend kissed as like, an act of goodbye when I told him I’d be moving. It was kind of a cute gesture, actually. He-” Rich looked at Michael in realization. “Oh my god."
Michael started laughing violently.
“Oh my god that was you ?!” Rich exclaimed. Michael just nodded violently. “I can’t believe I never realized that holy shit I feel like a complete asshole! Wait- wait, when did you realize?”
“Oh, the moment I saw you, I knew you looked familiar. Then I heard your name and was like, oh yeah, that’s him, damn I remember when he was taller than me. ” Michael teased.
“Hey!” Rich jokefully hit Michael in the arm and sat up. “I guess I’m glad, then. That means you were my first kiss.”
“You were mine, too.” Michael said. “But to be fair, we were in the second grade, so does it count?”
“Absolutely.” Rich groaned. “I’ve kissed several other people and I do not want to bestow any of them that honor.”
“The honor of being Richard Goranski’s first kiss?” Michael chuckled.
“Shut up!” Rich playfully hit him in the arm again.
“You love me.” Michael laughed.
“Unfortunately.” Rich rolled his eyes.
Rich held Michael’s face in his palms and kissed him again.