p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"The car door slam echos through the near desolate parking lot. Michael's driver door slams shut a second after, followed by two beeps. Jeremy watches the lock go down inside the window. The headlights briefly flash, reflecting off the railroad tracks in front of the car./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy glances at them. Something doesn't feel right./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy can't place his finger on it, but everything just feels slightly off. It could be the hour, or the morning chill in the air, but it's probably the fatigue. Jeremy hasn't slept in over twenty four hours./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Judging by the dark circles under Michael's eyes, he hasn't either. But, Jeremy knows this and he span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"knows/span it's all his fault that Michael's tired. If Jeremy didn't call him at ass o'clock in the morning, too freaked to even speak words into the phone, Michael wouldn't have come over and then he wouldn't look so tired. Jeremy turns his head back towards the car door with this awful feeling, but he has to start walking. Michael's waiting for him by the trunk of the car./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"They walk together to the door in silence. Sneakers crunch unevenly over parking lot gravel. Michael's spinning his keys around and around by the Zelda lanyard Jeremy bought him sophomore year. Michael had just gotten his learner's permit. Jeremy watches the faded triforce spin in circles, listening to the jingle of metal on metal./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy pulls his gaze to the diner. Neon letters spell out 'O-P-E-N' next to a blinking '24/7' sign. The yellow lights inside make the otherwise drab building glow, a welcoming contrast to the dark early morning sky. It radiates comfort, and Jeremy needs that right now./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael pushes the door, then glares at it, confused./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""It's pull," Jeremy says. The corner on Michael's mouth twitches. Michael pulls./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy strides across the breezeway and pulls the second door grandly. Michael doesn't suppress the smile this time, and Jeremy feels slightly less awful./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"They stand awkwardly on the scruffy brown welcome rug, peeking around the diner. It's one of those classic, much too large diners that split off in various carbon-copy sections with floral wallpaper and questionable carpeting. It would be depressing at any other time. Right now Jeremy is just relieved to be out of his depressing house and depressing room. And the diner is so wonderfully not any of those things./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"A bored waitress looks up from the front counter. She looks a little older than him, Jeremy thinks. Probably in college./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Hey guys, sit anywhere you want," she says, grabbing two menus from under the counter./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy looks at Michael. Michael looks at Jeremy. They share the same expression./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""You choose," Jeremy says. He doesn't feel up for decisions this morning./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael blinks and turns around, leading Jeremy to the left hand section that's empty save for two graying men. Jeremy glances at them. They're sitting at separate tables next to each other, drinking coffee and grumbling together over newspapers. He looks away quickly./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Table or booth?" Michael asks./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""I can't b-believe," Jeremy pauses for just a split second. Oh no, he span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"is/span tired. "You're even asking me this," he finishes slowly, concentrating on every syllable./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Dude, you're so right," is all he says. Jeremy lets out a breath. Michael slides into a booth, back to the door. And Jeremy can't help but feel a twinge of gratefulness. Michael knows Jeremy hates having his back to the door./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"He pushes the feeling back, because feeling grateful only leads to feeling guilty. Michael shouldn't span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"have/span to remember Jeremy's little quirks to make Jeremy feel less awful. The thought only makes Jeremy feel more awful. He drops onto the seat across Michael, shifting uncomfortably on the squeaky vinyl./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"The waitress materializes a moment later, dropping the menus in front of them./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Anything to drink?" She asks./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Uh, I'll have a coffee," Michael replies. He glances at Jeremy. "And, uh, cherry Coke."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Pepsi okay?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Um," Michael glances at Jeremy again, "Water's fine, actually. Thanks." Jeremy feels the waitress's gaze land on him, but she seems to pick up on his vibe and leaves without asking him anything. Jeremy feels his shoulders relax./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Thanks," Jeremy says softly, looking down at the table./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Dude, don't worry about it," Michael replies, like Jeremy knew he would. Jeremy shakes his head. The creak of cheap plastic as Michael opens the menu reminds Jeremy he has to look at the menu now. He thumbs it open./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Why is the menu so big?" Michael says. "Like, do we really need, one, two . . . twelve varieties of pancakes? Wait—" Michael looks closer. "I take that back. These all look amazing." Michael gasps. "span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"Look!/span" Michael slaps his menu down, sliding it to Jeremy. A painted nail points out one of the varieties. "You can get one shaped like Mickey Mouse!"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy glances up. Michael looks so excited. Like, just so purely thrilled that pancakes exist in the shape of a fictional mouse. Jeremy steals a moment to marvel at the human person that is Michael Mell. Plus, the darkness under his eyes doesn't stand out as much when he smiles like that. That's nice, too. "Well, are you g-gonna get them?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael's eyebrows fly up. "I can't span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"not/span now that I know they exist!" he pulls his menu back, but keeps it open so Jeremy doesn't feel pressured to make a decision./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy looks back down at his menu. It really span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"is/span much too big. There's a whole griddle page and about twenty different ways you can get eggs and bacon. There's crepes and patty melts and 'South of the Border!' and Jeremy doesn't know what the hell he wants./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"He hears a plastic cup get placed in front of him and the ceramic of Michael's coffee mug clink and the waitress is asking if they're ready to order when Jeremy is so span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"not/span ready at all—/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""I'm still looking," Michael says to the waitress with his Michael-smile. Jeremy feels the tightness in his chest loosen. She walks away. Jeremy looks back at the menu, but he can't focus on the words no matter how much he tries./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael shifts across the table./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""So, like, greasy or sweet?" Michael asks. Jeremy looks up to see Michael sipping his coffee, black. Ugh./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Um," Jeremy watches Michael run his fingers up and down the smooth ceramic as he coddles the mug. Jeremy can almost feel the warmth on his fingertips. "I don't know."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael turns a page in his menu. "Well, if you think about it, you can make anything with eggs and toast at home pretty easily. Even bacon, if you're committed to the cause, so there's not much point in paying ten bucks for it here."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy looks back at his menu. If he thinks about it like that, then his choices are halved. Jeremy likes less choices. He nods. Michael watches. "And, um. If you don't know if you want, like, sweet stuff like I'm getting or greasy stuff, you can get both. Like a main item and a side."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Yeah," Jeremy replies. He flips the menu over to see the sides, but the selection is also big with a lot of choices. Jeremy's chest tightens again./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"But he thinks maybe he span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"does/span want a mix of sweet and savory. That's one decision made, and he considers this for a few moments./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""But aren't c-crepes supposed to be savory from the crepe span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"and/span sweet?" Jeremy offers lightly. "Like-like if you get one with fruit and, uh, stuff?" He asks, looking at Michael./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Yeah, totally," Michael agrees, nodding. "Crepes are solid idea!"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy looks back at the menu, focusing on the crepe section. There's six different crepes. That's a manageable number./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy reads through the varieties. He eliminates the three with eggs, then reads the remaining options through twice. "The, um. The apple one sounds good."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""The apple crepes, a wise decision," Michael hums over his mug. Jeremy shuts his menu. Michael follows./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy concentrates on the condensation of his cup when the waitress reappears. He hears Michael order for both of them as another drop slides down its side and hits the table. Jeremy hears the waitress laugh at something Michael says. Michael's funny like that. Jeremy lifts the plastic cup and watches the gathered water drops near the bottom suction off the plastic, leaving a wet circle on the table. Jeremy takes a small sip and puts the cup down, careful that it's covering the circle precisely. He feels Michael's eyes on him. Jeremy looks up. The waitress is gone./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Hey, bud," Michael says. Jeremy looks back at the table. The menus are gone./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Michael," Jeremy says. Jeremy opens his mouth, but shuts it and shakes his head. Michael would get upset if he apologized. But Jeremy has to apologize because he's being stupid, letting Michael order for him like that when he's span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"seventeen/span and not seven. And span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"wow/span that waitress must think he's an idiot, and he's just so sorry that he's like this, because Michael shouldn't have to deal with it and—"Michael, I'm—"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Look," Michael says, gesturing at the space between them. Jeremy looks at Michael, then at the table. Michael has made a row of little coffee creamer containers in the center of the table. Michael reaches into the little ceramic bowl, which is still overflowing with them, and selects a hazelnut creamer. He stacks it on two placed in the center of the table. Jeremy watches him reach back into the bowl and repeat./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Uh, what are you doing?" Jeremy says, blinking at the structure./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""What do you think?" Michael smiles lightly at Jeremy, but there's something a little wrong with it. Or maybe Jeremy's still tired./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy is definitely still tired, and he gets what Michael's trying to do, but he plays along. He takes an Irish Creme creamer from the bowl and places it in the next spot. Then, Michael places one, then Jeremy, and repeat./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""You do the honors," Michael says as they reach the last spot in their creamer pyramid. Jeremy selects a French Vanilla container and tops the tower off, just as the food arrives./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael lets out this soft snort of delight as the waitress slides his plate in front of him. "I'm about to murder Mickey."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Need anything else?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""I think we're good, thanks," Michael replies. Jeremy feels bad again as the waitress leaves. He rubs an eye as he unrolls his silverware, suddenly feeling so tired. His eyes are still a little raw and the last few hours are catching up with him quickly. He saws into his crepes and takes a bite. They were a good decision./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy watches Michael carefully select precisely where to stab Mickey. He has this cheeky smirk and glint in his eye. Jeremy feels the corner of his mouth tug up against his will. Finally he settles on slicing Mickey's face in half. Best to off him quickly, then./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael wiggles his eyebrows at Jeremy as he takes a bite of Mickey's forehead. "Despan style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"licious,/span" he hums, and Jeremy is just so exhausted he can't help it if a breath of laughter escapes him. Michael smiles back. Jeremy looks down, shaking his head./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"A few minutes later, the waitress clears their plates. Michael gets a refill on his coffee. Jeremy inspects their creamer pyramid. He's trying to count how many of each creamer they used, but he can't focus. He shakes his head and tries again, blinking rapidly at their pyramid. He hears Michael take a noisy sip from his mug. Jeremy glances at Michael, who catches his eye and holds it./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""How you doin', bud?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy looks away. He takes refuge in the clean ceramic of Michael's mug again./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Um," He's not good at this. "I'm okay. I think. I mean," Jeremy shrugs and looks at the circles beneath Michael's eyes. Jeremy wishes he didn't do that. He looks back at the mug. "I-I'm better than earlier."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""That's good," Michael says lightly. Jeremy hates that tone. Michael sets his empty mug down and begins to disassemble their creamer pyramid, one creamer brick at a time. Jeremy doesn't want to watch that, so he looks out the window instead./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Um, Michael?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Yeah bud?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""I, um. Thank you."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Michael doesn't reply immediately. That freaks Jeremy out. Jeremy looks back at Michael. He's rolling the last coffee creamer around in his hands, looking at it a little too closely. "You don't . . . You don't have to do that."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy opens his mouth, but Michael is quicker./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""It's really fine. I'm, um, glad you called me." Michael gently places the creamer right on top of the pile. "Let's not be late for school."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Jeremy doesn't reply. School doesn't start for another three hours./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"He follows Michael to pay and tip at the register./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.12px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"The waitress smiles at him as he pushes the door open./p