Rich is the definition of a bisexual disaster and watch out because he's caught feelings for a straight boy.
The only person in their school who threw parties was Jake. No one else had as nice a house or as absent of parents. So if you wanted to party, you went to Jake's. Freshman year Rich hadn't been invited to any of those parties, but he heard about them. The way people talked, they were everything. Everyone who went had the best time, had the craziest story, and only remembered half the night. When he got his SQUIP, he got his in.
The way people talked, Jake's parties were basically Coachella. But that was just the way people talked. If you couldn't drink, all thanks to the supercomputer in your brain, then Jake's parties were basically just watching drunk people do dumb stuff for a few hours while you occasionally acted like you'd downed a couple of shots.
But the parties weren't all bad. After all, Jake was there. And Jake liked him. Popularity, SQUIP-style, had never been a 100% thing. Girls still thought he was short and a little weird but Jake, the most popular guy in school, was his friend. And even if Jake spent most of his own parties getting wrecked and hooking up there was always a part of the party where he noticed that Rich was there and smiled like he was glad of that fact. No one else smiled when they saw him. It made Rich feel things he didn't think he was supposed to feel.
The first party after the SQUIP was gone Rich got properly wasted and he realized that those taboo feelings were, well, feelings. Jake had offered him friendship, a connection that no one had ever offered him before and in return, he fell head over heels for his best friend while insisting that he was still straight. He knew that Jake didn't like him, didn't like guys, that way, and he knew that outing yourself came with unwanted consequences.
But he was a teenage rockstar and this was his splendor, and he was the kind of drunk that said things that never should be said.
"Jake Dillinger," Rich slurred, "I love you."
Jake was also super drunk, "I love you too, man!" He pulled Rich into a hug and Rich went in for a kiss. And Jake didn't push him away, at first. Their lips crashed together and their tongues tasted alcohol and for a moment Rich felt a different kind of buzzed and then Jake stepped away.
And Rich stopped going to parties.
There were rumors flying around the school but no one really went for him. Jake hadn't publically denounced him so he wasn't a complete social pariah. He was drunk. Jake was drunk. Most people were content to let it just be a drunken mistake. But it wasn't. And worst of all, Rich didn't know how Jake felt about everything.
So maybe Rich was the one avoiding Jake, and not the other way around. But Jake was always so busy, always flitting to one extracurricular to another, slipping between friend groups, Everyone worshipped Jake, and for a long time, Jake had been the only person who really saw Rich. And now he didn't.
So he hung out with Michael and Jeremy and Christine but he spent his time moping and missing Jake. He wanted to reach out, wanted to apologize, wanted to confess, wanted to break down into sobs for ruining the only thing in his life that had been good.
It seemed like Jake hadn't even noticed that Rich wasn't in his life anymore. It was disheartening to hear someone else call Jake's name. It made him feel so… So empty. He wanted to call out, he wanted to say hi, but if he had to address the kiss, had to say he hadn't wanted it, had to lie like there was still a SQUIP in his head, then it would just make him feel worse. If he lied, he'd hate himself, and if he told the truth, that he'd caught feelings for his straight best friend, Jake would hate him.
Rich knew you weren't supposed to fall for straight boys. A few months ago he'd been playing the part of one. He'd flirted with women and women were fine but women didn't have Jake Dillinger's smile. But Jake's smile wasn't for him, not in the way Rich wanted it to be. Though at this point, if they could forget about what happened at the party, he would be so happy to just go back to being Jake's friend.
"Hey, Rich." The words snapped him out of his heartsick daydream, though for a second he thought he was still dreaming.
"Hey, I haven't really seen you around." Jake was smiling like everything was still okay and Rich was stunned.
"Oh, yeah, sorry, I uh… I didn't want to bug you."
"Bug me? We hang out all the time, man." Jake put a hand on Rich's shoulder and a blush rose to his face. He tried to push the feelings down.
"You still want to?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't I?"
"All those dumb rumors," Rich muttered.
Jake thought for a moment, "Oh, yeah, those. Hey, dude. You don't have to let those get to you, people say that about anyone. I know they're not true."
Rich winced, "The thing is that I actually am, well, I'm bisexual. I like dudes."
"Oh, okay. That's… Wow! Thanks for telling me." Jake hadn't taken his hand off of Rich's shoulder, hadn't flinched away like he was diseased.
"Listen, dude, if that's what you want out of life I'll help you find a dude to bang. Is there anyone you like?"
Now Rich stepped away. He didn't want to hurt Jake, didn't want to hurt their friendship, but if he couldn't do this while he was sober than he would never take control of his life.
"I like you, Jake. I realized after that stupid SQUIP got out of my head that I have feelings for you. And I know you don't like dudes like that and that's okay. I just had to tell you."
"That's why you kissed me at the party," Jake realized.
"I'm so sorry, I was drunk-"
"It's okay! I don't like men in that way. But you're my best friend. I would never get mad at you because of feelings. Can we still be friends, Rich?"
"I'd like that. Thanks, Jake. Am I still invited to your parties?"
"Just don't get wasted and kiss everybody."
"I'll try not to."