Hello! However you stumbled upon this fic, thanks for finding it! Just a Mikecedes one-shot here. After seeing the two holding hands in that graduation still, I could not resist! I'd love to see their friendship explored more in the fic world. Enjoy and comments are appreciated :)
Mike pretended not to hear her as he made his way around the living room. With the vacuum in one hand, he cranked the dial to his iPod as discreetly as he could. Listening to Kanye's problems was much better therapy than dealing with his own. Only, with a best friend like his, this therapy session wouldn't last much longer.
Out of the corner of his eye, Mike watched the rapid change in expressions that deflected from her face. She was heated.
Mercedes Jones would always be the sweetest person Mike Chang had ever known. That hadn't changed since the two shared a 2nd grade classroom at Burnt Chimney Primary School, almost fifteen years ago. The girl with a toothy grin and barrettes in her hair was shy, but known on the playground. After spending recess discussing which Ninja Turtle she liked best and why, Mike had found a new friend.
He would soon learn that said new friend could also pack a punch with her bold attitude, which primarily came from a place of love. Today, though, her infamous stance—hip cocked and arms crossed— indicated that her attitude came solely from a place of irritation.
Despite her not so subtle attempts at getting Mike's attention, he decided to take his chances. The looming topic of discussion could wait just a bit longer—especially since he'd been ignoring this exact moment for three days.
Not one crumb could be spotted within the corridors being vacuumed. This fact had not prevented Mike from attempting one last go around their tiny floor space. Just as he went to revisit the under path of the living room table, the roaring of the cleaning device came to a stop.
The screech rang through his body, causing unnerving shivers down his spine. Oh, she was pissed, Mike could officially confirm. When she'd first entered their apartment not too long ago, Mercedes was only at Level One. He'd known her for such a long time that he had categorized her levels of anger. Level One meant there was room for negotiation. He could come out of Level One alive.
But because he'd tested his luck, the 22 year old was treading water far too deep. Mercedes had reached the Danger Zone, and unless he ran, Mike had an interesting afternoon ahead of him.
"Hey! When did you get here?" Mike pulled his earbuds, taking a fearful turn towards the seething girl behind him. If he played dumb, maybe he'd only come out with a few scars. He finally peered at Mercedes, who was donning sweats with her hair to a side pony tail. She was most likely coming from the recording studio, one of the few places she would go in her current state.
"Don't even! I saw your rude ass turn up that iPod—you heard me calling you," Mercedes scowled, cutting across the floor to take a seat.
Though she might have been pissed, he was glad to have missed out on the swat to the head that he deserved. Just then, Mercedes' phone rang, and Mike took this opportunity to put away the cleaning supplies. And think of an escape plan.
"...Yeah, calm down Tina, I'm here with his sorry ass now...No no, no need for all of that...I'll talk to him...Love you too," Mercedes spoke into her phone, keeping her eyes on Mike. The pair soft brown, but hard at the same time.
As he caught the end of her conversation with Tina, he cringed, wishing he could take back the last three days of his life. There were many different ways-more mature ways—that Mike could have done to deal with his current situation. Except he hadn't, making these few days hell.
"Of course...stop saying that! I'll talk to you soon. Bye."
Mike had hoped to sit in the love seat, far from his friend, but she'd tugged his arm before he could make it. The two now faced each other on their brown leather couch-Mike waiting for his scalding.
"That was Tina," she shoved the phone in his face before throwing it down in between them.
"I figured that much...Ow!"
He had spoken too soon about that swat. Mercedes didn't seem too concerned about his throbbing knot that slowly forming on the side of his head. Instead, she proceeded with her verbal beating.
"Tina is in shambles, Mike. I mean, it's bad enough that you ignore me for the past three days," Mercedes paused to take control of her trembling lip. "But giving the cold shoulder to your own girlfriend? That's just...it's just..."
Her overall saddened face shot a pang of his own sadness through Mike. She'd given up on trying to find words, which led to silence. A silence he couldn't handle. He could take her words, even her smacks to the head, but a silence that said "I'm so disappointed in you," is what he couldn't do.
The truth was, there were no words. He deserved the painful silence. After all, he'd been a coward the last 72 hours. Having decided to only return calls and texts that regarded work, if he had any friends left, that would surprise him. Mike's eyes traveled over to the slumped figure next to him. His best friend lay there with her head back against the headrest, squinting at him. Her expression was emotionless, whereas before you could feel how pissed she'd been.
Before Tina, Mercedes kept a close eye on the girls that Mike was involved with. He would rather take a girl home to meet his parents than Mercedes. If she wasn't "too fake", she "wasn't appreciative of your talents." Though she was never rude to anyone Mike thought was worth bringing home, Mercedes could spot a flaw from miles away. Which only got worse when they moved out to L.A. together after graduation four years prior.
"These girls out here are out for blood. They're different than Ohio girls, Mike. I just don't want to see you get hurt," she had said one day over ice cream. That day alone, Mercedes had given the stamp of "no way in hell" to three different girls that had caught his eye.
Though he knew nobody was perfect, Mike was starting to give up on dating life. He wanted someone he could love, but who could also fit into the life he and Mercedes had built. They had been inseparable for years, and someone else wasn't going to change that.
He was beginning to think Mercedes would never budge, which is why he'd been so surprised when she set him up on a blind date.
Tina was nothing he expected-not that he could draw much of an opinion since Mercedes had deprived him of any detail. All he knew was that she was a fellow back-up singer signed to the same label as Mercedes.
Thankfully, she was far from standoffish or clingy-one of his biggest turn offs. Tina's smile captured Mike, taking his heart to places they'd never been. Tina was this ball of happy that was full of surprises. She'd been signed to Sunroof records on whim, only looking to sing temporarily. While she loved to sing, her real dream was to open an art gallery of her own. From that night on, he'd have to see her almost every day. Their relationship moved fast, which remarkably had no strain on his friendship with Mercedes. She loved Tina and was smitten with the fact that her two closest friends were together. What he thought would put a hindrance on that steady balance he had going, had actually strengthened the relationships with both girls.
That was until Tina and Mike's fourth anniversary dinner last week has gone downhill, and now his life had tipped the scale.
"Firstly, I was not ignoring you, Merce. You know that."
It was the truth. The past week had been huge for the both of them. In fact, the past four months had been hectic. Sunroom had finally come to their senses and signed her as a new artist. She'd been in the studio nonstop for weeks, and the label wanted her first EP to drop before the summer ended. Whenever she had a break, Mike was either teaching dance seminars, or in a stuffy office building signing papers.
When he moved out to Los Angeles, he met a few students that were taking classes with him at Cal State and started a dance troupe. They had been renting space at the local Y, giving dance lessons. Four years later, they were getting their own space, which included much more than they expected. This past week, contracts were being finalized, the grand opening had to be planned, and it also happened to be his anniversary with Tina.
So getting in contact with Mercedes had been impossible. He leaned towards the girl, who now stared ahead, refusing to look at him. When she flinched, he stopped before he lost any limbs. He did need them to make a living.
"So you admit to ignoring Tina, then?" He preferred for her eyes to be elsewhere now that they were ripping through him. Mercedes tucked her feet under her and scooted further.
With a sigh, he couldn't tell her the truth, even though he had been ignoring her. Not so much her, but the dilemma at hand. Mike was up to his eyeballs in work and life in general, but he'd found a balance. But when his girlfriend suggested that they take their relationship a step further by moving in together, Mike found his juggling abilities to be mediocre.
"Mikey, I just don't get it. Things were almost perfect, if there was such thing. She mentions one little thing..."
"I'm almost positive that moving into a place together is not 'one little thing'", Mike said.
She groaned, taking herself into their kitchen. He watched her fumble around with utensils in the sink, getting ready to wash dishes. In spite of how upset Mercedes was, she never could rid of the tiny things that molded her into the awesome person she was. When she was stressed, she had to keep herself busy. That almost always resulted in cleaning something, a trait she and Mike shared. Which is why he was vacuuming earlier and why their place was always clean.
"Look, I'm going to talk to her...I just don't know how, or when," he'd approached her in the kitchen after a moment of contemplation. Her limbs became tense, but let him dry the plate she working on anyway. Mercedes, though smaller than him in height, made up for it with her heart. He'd watched her grow up, and rarely did she put herself before others. That was her nature—how she'd been raised. Which is why he knew he wouldn't be in hot water for long, but he could make things right. She deserved that much and more.
"Well figure it out before it's too late. You can't keep her in the dark like this-it ain't right! Don't lose her over something stupid."
"I should be telling you the same, missy!"
He had said it as nice as possible, but Mike still ended up on the other side of a not so pleased face. He hadn't meant to change subjects just to flip the guilt to Mercedes, but he found it ironic and a bit hypocritical that she was giving him a lecture. As if she didn't have her own relationship qualms to smooth over.
"I have no clue of what you're talking about," she discarded her dish washing rubber gloves, her voice quivering. As she made her way back to their living room area, he knew he had struck something deep in the core.
"Mhm, now you're quiet, huh," Mike found himself too amused with her change in demeanor. She chose to engross herself in something else rather than face him. He knew she was fighting a smile, though.
Mike had no room to talk, as he came down way too hard on the men in Mercedes' life. The number not being high, he had fewer opportunities to lay a smack down on any fool that even thought about hurting her. And though Mike was glad he didn't have to break any faces in, the reason behind her love life or lack thereof is what bugged him.
As long as he has known her, she had been beautiful. Of course, there were far too many people with their heads stuck up their asses that couldn't handle all of her beauty. What hurt worse is that she didn't see it either. Claiming that she could cause international sex riots, smile plastered on her face and all, you would think she harbored all of the confidence in the universe. But when under a microscope that only few were allowed access, that hard shell melted, revealing a girl not too sure of herself. If she couldn't believe it, how could she believe that someone else did?
"So when is Sam going to get that call?" Mike asked her softly, all amusement gone from his voice. He had to smile upon seeing her smile at the mention of his name.
Sam Evans came out of nowhere, but at the right time. It was perfect, actually. Tina, who had been set up by Mercedes, was begging to return the favor. Unaware of how strict the two friends were in finding the perfect match for one another, she had been annoyed when going through possible prospects one afternoon. Sitting in a cafe that was located in the city, Mercedes and Mike took turns saying variations of no.
Tina had given up on the both of them and anxiously awaiting our coffee orders. As she was going through her last picks, the couple was startled by a yelp from Mercedes. Mike looked up to see his best friend doused in some frozen coffee mix, and a very nervous, red-faced barista. The blond attacked Mercedes in napkins, as well did Mike and Tina. Being as polite as she had always been, Mercedes waved off his apologies—and there were many.
Sam Evans had moved to California recently like the rest of the lot, and while he wasn't busting his ass to find work as a voice actor, he was trying his best not to spill drinks on customers—especially beautiful ones. That comment hadn't resulted in the number that he wanted, but Tina had made sure to make frequent trips back to the coffeehouse to make sure that he eventually did.
"Unlike you, I'm not ignoring Sam, we simply haven't had a chance to discuss the topic at hand," Mercedes offered, not daring to look at Mike. She knew the bullshit meter was beeping fast and headed in her direction.
When Sam did get that number, he made it hard for both Mercedes and Mike to send him packing. His words had been the kind that her parents had warned Mercedes about, only Mike could see that the Tennessee native was genuine. With every date or landmark they passed in their relationship, Mercedes had trouble believing that what they had was real. But every step of the way, Sam made sure he proved her wrong. He had been serious from the beginning, so when he ended up on one knee in front of Mercedes just a week before, Mike wasn't thrown off in the least bit. However, Mercedes was, putting their relationship in an awkward place they rarely visited.
The ring was now burning a hole in Sam's pocket, while Mercedes was giving the time she had asked for to "think on it."
"Oh whatever," Mike pushed into her side, laughing.
When he snuggled closer, he had finally seen what she had dug into. In her hands was a photo album that had been given to them from a close friend back home, Quinn. She had known both Mike and Mercedes since elementary school, and was now finishing her undergraduate studies at Yale. The album had been filled with pictures, holding memories that would never fade. Mercedes was only on the early years, a time period Mike didn't like to relive.
"I will forever side-eye Q for putting these in here," he frowned, getting a closer look at the current page. Mercedes laughed that infamous laugh when Mike tried his best to turn the page.
Their fourth grade class had taken a photo in front of the school's mural, like each class did every year. It wasn't difficult to spot the trio. Quinn and Mercedes sat on their knees on each side of Mike. He would never be fond of the photo in front of him. Thick rimmed glasses and all, the photographer had caught Mike mid-sneeze, adding to the already unwelcome geeky characteristics he had.
"You were adorable back then, so stop. Besides, I love this picture of us." Mercedes smiled down, rubbing a thumb over the glossy page. As much as she loved the picture, that didn't take away Mike's embarrassment.
She then remembered she had a few "why would anyone let me out of the house like this" moments that the world could have done without. Mike, however, begged to differ.
"Oh, not a chance! Give me that!"
The two were now tugging on the album—Mercedes wanting to move on like he had before. They had stumbled upon a great memory from an eighth grade trip, that required going to the lake. Somehow their friend Artie had gotten away with bringing his pet lizard, Harry, along. The boy had misplaced him early in the day, looking all over for him. Unfortunately for Mercedes, she had the pleasure of finding him...in her backpack. Mike had the pleasure of catching her freak out on film.
"Ah, you were never fond of ol' Harry, were you?"
Mike didn't even try to hold it in, giving into his roaring laughter that was building inside. He saw and felt that glare, knowing Mercedes found nothing humorous about it.
"Remember when you said we'd laugh about it one day? Yea, that day hasn't come," Mercedes jerked the book back.
As time went on, the pictures and memories grew fonder, reminding them of just how much they had been through. As they got to the back, the final picture there held much sentimental value. They hadn't gone through this album in who knows how long, each moment remained fresh—as if the moment just occurred.
"Look at us," the sharp breath she took shaking him from a nostalgic daze.
The day they had been counting down to since the previous class had walked across the stage a year prior had arrived. Mike squeezed his best friend's hand as the two walked the corridors of their soon to be alma mater. Dressed in their red cap and gowns, the pair beamed at the camera, while Quinn on the other side was eager to capture the moment. Above this photo was the three of them, reenacting the photo from fourth grade. Ironically, Mike had sneezed again, making it their trademark pose then on.
"Couldn't tell us a damn thing that day, huh?" Mercedes agreed silently, taking his hand in hers.
Graduation day signified new beginnings. A new chapter, one they would take on together, like always. Without Quinn, Artie, and the rest of their close group, life would be different. But Mike knew that with his Merce in stride, the world had better watch out. He had gone through all of his challenges with her. Awkward phases, scraped knees, first crushes, first heartbreaks, college letters of acceptance—and denial-Mercedes had been there. She had even been there pre and post telling his parents that no, he would not be applying to law school, but majoring in dance instead.
If he was scared, she was with him, tackling life head on. He wasn't sure if he was ready for that to change.
"I'm not scared to move in with Tina, that's not what this is about."
He regarded her now tear streaked face, having to push down a lump that he hadn't realized had formed. Mercedes furrowed her brows, not understanding, as she put the book of pictures away. Mike could tell she wasn't thrilled by how she studied his face. The girl could usually spot the issue right on, but as of late, she had been off her game. She sat there on the couch, arms crossed, trying to decipher a puzzle she helped put together.
"I know that I'm supposed to spend the rest of my life with Tina. I've always known that. She makes me so happy, Merce. Even at my worst, she still seems to love me. And on my worst days, she makes the world a lot less shittier."
The tiny hand that crept around Mike's larger one gripped tight, giving him that familiar sense of security.
"Then what's the problem?" Mercedes shifted so that her head rest on his shoulder, answering her own question.
"You've been saving my ass ever since I was 7 years old. And as much as I'm ready to take the next step and making the cutest babies on Earth—"
"I thought you were just moving in! Not that I oppose to cute god children," Mike heard the smile in her voice, laughing into his shoulder.
"You know what I'm saying. I'm just not ready to lose my best friend. Not now, not ever."
He felt his shirt become wet before he heard the sniffles. Jerking away, he inspected the wave of fresh tears. These had been different from their walk down memory lane.
"Damn it, Mikey, I want to tell him yes so badly...I really do!"
Mike kicked into protective mode instantly, hugging her tight against his chest. He didn't like these tears-Mercedes' lip was quivering out of control now. She had soaked up every tissue given to her with her overflowing tear ducts.
"We have somehow managed to live in the same place with unlimited access to one another for fifteen years! Fifteen! We just had to go and find our soulmates and ruin that, didn't we? God, do we have to? Do we have to grow up?"
Curled against him, Mercedes shuddered. He had felt silly for having his reservations. He should have known that she was feeling sad herself. Snaking an arm around her plush waist, Mike let his fear cloud his thoughts.
"Okay, we are not doing this. I am not letting you go," Mercedes pulled away, contradicting her exact statement. She sat up, that determined look he had known, returning to her face.
"I'm going to call my man, and ask him to meet up with me so I can tell him that I can't wait to be Mrs. Sam Evans," she wiped her eyes. The tears, no doubt forming at the realization of her impending engagement. Mike's heart flitted, already making mental notes for his Man of Honor speech. That is, if Quinn or Tina didn't fight him dirty for the prestigious title.
Mercedes was gone when he looked up, only to see her return very quickly with flattened boxes. The cardboard landed in his lap with a soft thump.
"And you, Chang, are going to pack up your things and get the hell out of my apartment!"
"Just how long have you been planning to kick me out, Jones?" Mike faked a hurt expression that his best friend simply rolled her eyes at. That soon turned into a smile—one that was both sad and happy. He understood perfectly.
Quicker than they had expected, their lives were changing. Ignoring the fact for so long had resulted in it sneaking up on them. It wasn't exclusively their relationships, but life overall. Both were graduating this year, attaining their Bachelor's Degrees. Mike from Cal State and Mercedes from UCLA. Mike knew Mercedes' career would be blowing up in short time. He also would be steering a new turn with the new dance center.
It went without saying what Mercedes was trying to get across. It would take a lot to even make a dent in their friendship, let alone destroy it. She had been there for the prologue, and she would be for the remainder of the book.
"I don't care if you are touring the country, Merce, attending my annual Cedar Point birthday party is mandatory. You hear that, Sam?"
The four had met up for dinner later after settling the tension between each couple. Sporting a beautiful engagement ring that almost shined brighter than she did, Mercedes pecked her fiancé on the lips. He had indeed, heard Mike loud and clear. Sam had apparently laughed when Mercedes had told him about their freak out earlier.
"I have no intention of splitting up Mikecedes...just keep your hands in the safe zones, and I'm fine," Sam had announced to the table, taking a sip of his beer. While she and Tina laughed, he had been oh so serious, giving Mike a detailed list of where the safe zones were. He too had to laugh at this, but understood where his friend was coming from.
"He will be too busy not being safe in my zones, so you don't have to worry, Sam," Tina said with an innocent smile. Mike's drink had drone down the wrong pipe, causing the entire table to fall out. Sam's face was red, but approving, while Mercedes stared at her friend in shock.
"I do not know whether to be disgusted or...proud," Mercedes offered Tina a high five, who winked at her boyfriend.
Just a few hours ago, he had been groveling at Tina's door, begging for a chance to talk. While Mercedes' meeting had gone ever so smoothly, he had been left to sitting outside of her apartment. That's what he deserved after not talking to Tina days on end, so he was lucky when she opened the door. After a colorful cuss out, that is.
Across from him, Mercedes had caught his eye. He wondered if she had been thinking about how blessed they had been, just like he had the entire night. She smiled, resembling the girl with the toothy grin and barrettes in her hair, just for a moment. With a tip of her wine glass, she answered him with her eyes.
They did have to—grow up, that is. That didn't have to mean the end of their friendship.
When the waiter passed, Mike asked for the desert menus, not intending to end the night any time soon.
He had a lot to celebrate.
Thanks so much for reading!