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Holding On to You

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If asked, Josh wouldn’t have been able to say what woke him; only that he felt like something just wasn’t right. He forced his tired eyes open and glanced around the room wearily. Why was he awake? With the flight, all the prep work, and the show, he was beyond exhausted. He strained against the darkness, wondering what-

Ah, that was it. The room was dark. It wasn’t supposed to be dark; Josh always slept with the lights on. Maybe the bulb blew, he told himself. Then, his eyes fall across a dark shape silhouetted against the hotel’s window. Curtains Josh knew he’d closed were thrown wide to reveal the brightly lit cityscape outside. Josh’s heart gave one panicked buh-bump before he realized what – or, rather, who – the shape was.

“Tyler?”

“Mhm.”

Josh rubbed at his bleary eyes with the back of a hand as he fumbled for the switch on the lamp beside the bed. Weak yellow light spilled from the tacky bought-in-bulk lamp but struggled to reached Tyler where he stood, forehead pressed against the window.

“What’re you doing, bro?” he asked, pushing himself up into a seated position.

It took Tyler a moment to answer, always did. Tyler never spoke without weighing his words carefully. Everything the man said was run through the over-worked mangler of his mind before being torn reluctantly from his lips.

And here I was thinking that I was exhausted…

“Ty?”

Tyler raised a hand to press it against the glass next to his face before answering.

“I-” He swallowed hard, flexing his palm against the glass. “I can’t sleep. I keep thinking about that attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in England and then… I start thinking about everyone at Sasquatch tonight…”

His hand fell away to hang limp at his side. He turned to face Josh, shoulders slumped. In the dim glow of the bedside lamp, Tyler’s eyes were haunted.

“I couldn’t stand it if anything like that happened to our fans,” he confided. “What if someone got hurt because they came to one of our concerts? What if they died – because of us?” Tyler swiped at an errant tear; the move more frustration than anger.

Something twisted in Josh’s heart. He’d spent the day worrying about whether they’d hit turbulence; or if he’d forgotten to pack his passport; about the stage set-up being done correctly; about hitting the right beat for the right song; about, he thought, everything there was to worry about.

While Tyler had just spent the day worrying about the safety of every single one of the 27,500 people at the gig.

Josh was simultaneously awed and humbled by his best friend. Tyler stood there, in the middle of the night, breaking his heart over something that hadn’t happened, but could have. It made Josh’s soul ache. That being said…

“Uh, Ty?”

“Yeah?”

“I meant, why are you in my room?”

Tyler shrugged but it was half-hearted; more the thought of a gesture, than an actual movement. “Jenna was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her.”

Josh could have mentioned that he had been sleeping. He might have pointed out that having someone to talk to when the darkness came calling was kind of the whole point of being married. But he said neither. Instead, he reached across the bed to yank back the covers.

“Come on,” he said, knowing exactly what his friend needed at that moment.

Wavering just a moment, Tyler crossed the room and climbed into the double bed. He curled into Josh’s side. Face pressed against Josh’s bare chest, Tyler stopped fighting the tears.

Josh hit the light switch. As much as he hated to sleep in the dark, Josh knew that Tyler hated to let anyone see him cry. Wishing there was something he could say to make it right, Josh did what he always did when Tyler needed him: he wrapped his arms around the other man and held him tight. He let his actions say the words his lips couldn’t muster.

In a dark hotel room, on one of the last nights of a nearly two-year tour, Josh held tight while Tyler cried it out. Eventually, the tears dried out but Tyler and Josh stayed that way, wrapped around each other, until the first streaks of morning touched the sky and, at last, they both fell asleep.

When Jenna woke to find Tyler gone, she wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t upset or concerned. She simply pulled Tyler’s sweatshirt over her head, tossed her hair into a messy bun on top of her head, and made her way to Josh’s room to see if her boys were awake yet.