Karaoke night post-squip - feat. Boyf riends
It was a Sunday night, and Michael and Jeremy were at yet another party.
Jeremy said ‘another’ because it was a week until school was out, and their new friends really liked throwing parties. He hadn’t really minded at first – parties were fun! But it was starting to wear on him. You could only puke your guts out under an alcohol-induced haze so many times, he guessed.
As soon as the door shut behind them, Jeremy and Michael were ambushed by Chloe, already drunk off her ass, and Brooke, hanging off her arm.
“You’re here!” Chloe squealed, giggling drunkenly. Then, she nudged Brooke. “Here, Heere. Get it?”
Brooke smiled lazily and patted Chloe’s bicep. “Yeah. Nice.”
“We’re doing charaoke,” Chloe slurred. “Jeremy, your voice is decent. Come on.” She grabbed his arm and dragged him into the house, Brooke and Michael following close behind. Soon enough, they were swallowed by flashing lights and the bass line of an old nineties love song, and Jeremy tried not to breathe in the stench of teen body odor and alcohol.
As they neared the end of the den, Chloe muttered something unintelligible and climbed up onto the miniature stage. To Jeremy’s mortification, she grabbed a microphone and said, “My boy Jeremy could be on fucking broadway and we’re gonna give him a shot tonight!” Only her speech was slurred and she drew out her vowels, so it sounded more like “weeeeee’re gonna give him a shoooot toniiiiiight!”
Behind him, Michael whispered, “Good luck!” and shoved him forwards. Jeremy stumbled up onto the stage next to Chloe.
Chloe grabbed his arm again and said, “I’m picking.”
Jeremy groaned as her song selection popped up on the computer screen in front of him. “When I Was Your Man? Bruno Mars? Really, Chloe?”
Chloe leaned towards him, swaying on her feet. “Just fucking sing, Jerry,” she said, and then Jeremy was alone on the stage.
Jeremy glanced over the crowd, spreading his arms helplessly. “I am so, so sorry for what you’re about to experience,” he said. He prayed that nobody could hear the tremor in his voice. “But since I value my life, well…” He breathed a sigh of relief as chuckles spread through the gathering crowd before him. The first notes of the song spilled from Jake’s expensive-looking speakers, and Jeremy began to sway to the gentle piano against his will. The first line of the song appeared on the screen, and Jeremy inhaled. He shut his eyes against the strobe lights and faces below and started to sing. “Same bed, but it feels just a little bit bigger now.”
Somebody in the crowd whooped. He heard Michael mutter, “Holy shit.”
“Our song on the radio, but it don’t sound the same,” he continued, pulling sound from deep in his chest. “When all my friends talk about you, all it does is just tear me down.” Jeremy opened his eyes and looked out over the crowd. “And my heart breaks a little when I hear your name. It all just sounds like –” His gaze fell on Michael, whose mouth was hanging open. “Oooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.” He sailed through the rest of the song, singing louder and louder, keeping his eyes on Michael. As the music faded out, Jeremy felt better and more alive than he had in ages. He couldn’t keep the dorky grin from spreading over his face.
Suddenly, all that as left was silence. Jeremy let out the rest of his breath. Everything was still for a moment. And then the crowd erupted, and Jeremy was bowing, and Michael was up on stage, hugging him and talking faster than Jeremy had ever heard him.
“Jeremy, Jeremy, Jesus Christ, that was amazing, why don’t you sing more often? Dude, you have to do that more, you could be a professional, wow–”
Jeremy felt himself redden. Then, he had an idea. Maybe it was the natural high, or maybe it was something in the air, but he opened his mouth and said, “We’re going to do the next one together.”
Michael never really enjoyed parties, but he usually tagged along anyways. There needed to be at least one person with a car who wasn’t as high as a kite or drunker than his grandmother on New Year’s Eve. And maybe he had jumped around a little, shouting lyrics to the songs he liked, but he didn’t – couldn’t sing.
He stepped back. “Oh, no. No, no, no, no.”
“I’ve heard you sing before. You’re good,” Jeremy said.
“Have you heard me sing?”
Jeremy cleared his throat. “When you’re high –”
“Okay, okay, point proven,” Michael cut in. “But still, no.”
“Come onnn, Michael.” Jeremy poked him. “I’ll go with you!”
And then the song was starting and it was too late to save himself. Michael read the title on screen. Carry On, by fun.. He kind of knew that one.
Deep breaths, he told himself.
Jeremy started. “Well, I woke to the sound of silence the cars, cutting like knives in fistfights.”
Michael glanced at the crowd and felt his legs tremble.
Jeremy continued. “And I found you with a bottle of wine, your head in the curtains and heart –”
“Like the Fourth of July,” Michael sang. He was sure he was by now visibly shaking, but he told himself to keep going. He adjusted his voice to match Jeremy’s, and kept going, growing more and more confident with every line.
When they reached the first “carry on”, Jeremy grabbed Michael’s hand and held it above his head. Michael felt his face flush, and hoped that everybody still watching would attribute it to his nerves, or maybe alcohol he hadn’t drunk. As the verse ended, Jeremy brought Michael’s hand down, but didn’t let go. Jeremy started swaying to the music, and Michael felt himself follow suit. He kept his fingers wound through Jeremy’s.
The second time they came around to “carry on”, some of the crowd joined in. Michael started to understand people who performed for a living. Part of him felt like he could fly. On a whim, he grabbed one of the microphones from its stand and held it in front of his mouth, bending his knees as he started the “Whoa!”. Michael was singing like he hadn’t known he could sing. He shut his eyes and let his voice go.
The song ended. The crowd turned away, and slowly, the low buzz of mindless conversation returned. Jeremy’s eyes were bright, and Michael couldn’t help but admire how beautiful his eyes were. Jeremy hugged Michael, and pulled back, beaming. He looked Michael directly in the eyes, and Michael couldn’t bring himself to tear his gaze away. They were breathing hard, and their faces were flushed, and Jeremy’s hair was adorably rumpled, and Michael felt his face redden again –
And then he was kissing Jeremy. No – Jeremy was kissing him. Michael stiffened, wondering for a split second if this was some kind of elaborate joke, before melting into the kiss.
It was far from perfect. Michael’s glasses got in the way, and it wasn’t like either of them were experienced, but when they pulled back, Jeremy’s eyes were shining and Michael was the one beaming.
“I love you so much right now,” Jeremy whispered, and Michael squeezed his hand.
“I love you too, Jer-bear.” he leaned his head against Jeremy’s shoulder. “I love you.”