“Oh, Tyler, I wanted to introduce you to someone.”
Tyler sighed. Adrianna had been trying to set him up with someone for months now. “I don’t want to go on a date with anyone, Adri.”
“Come on,” Adrianna said. “At least get to know him. He’s really sweet. You’ve been so...so down since Jenna…” She bit her lip and took a sip of her hot chocolate. “Look, you refuse to leave your apartment unless I’m with you and I really think you should at least talk to someone else. This guy is so nice and he’s a pretty good listener. He’s also kind of cute,” she added with a wink.
Tyler sighed. “Fine. If it’ll get you to stop.”
“Fantastic!” Adrianna said - well, shouted, really - and flashed him a smile. “He’s bi too, actually, so there’s that. Oh, and he’s here.”
Tyler’s head snapped up as Adrianna stood. “What? Oh, my God, Adri, I’m going to kill you.”
“No, you won’t,” Adrianna scoffed. “Be right back.”
She returned a few minutes later with an oddly familiar-looking boy by her side, one with bright blue hair and soft chocolate-brown eyes and a bright smile that seemed like sunshine but crashed to the ground when their gazes met.
“Oh, do you two know each other already?” Adrianna asked, seeming a bit confused but bright and happy nonetheless. “Wonderful. So, I’m going to go sit over by the window.” She leaned a bit closer to Tyler, her voice quiet so the blue-haired boy wouldn’t hear. “Hey, if you want to leave at any point, just call me over and I’ll make an excuse for you, okay?” She squeezed his shoulder reassuringly before taking her hot chocolate and heading over to a table a little bit away from theirs.
Tyler turned back to the blue-haired boy.
“Hey,” Josh said. “Um, we haven’t talked in a while, huh?”
Tyler just shrugged.
“So - Adrianna said this was a date, but last we talked you were engaged to Jen - “
“I know,” Tyler interrupted. “But, um, some stuff happened, and...”
“Oh,” Josh said softly. “I’m-I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“It’s okay,” Tyler assured him. “It’s fine. How do you know Adri?”
“We literally bumped into each other on the street,” Josh said. “Like, I mean, she was just walking along and I just kind of ran into her. Literally." He laughed. "I felt really bad and insisted on buying her coffee or something, and we started hanging out as friends. How do you know her?”
“She was one of Jenna’s friends, we met at the wedding.”
“Cool.” Josh just nodded. “Well, this is awkward, isn’t it? I mean…”
“From what I remember, you were a sarcastic jerk back in college,” Tyler said before wincing at how harsh he sounded.
“Oh, yeah, definitely.”
“Have you changed at all since?”
“I’ve been trying to change,” Josh said with a shrug. “But you’ll have to tell me if I’m actually making any progress.”
Tyler just nodded. “I’ll tell you.”
“So, um...do you think Adri might’ve done this on purpose?”
Tyler’s head snapped up, his eyes wide. “Why on Earth - I don’t think she even knew that we knew each other.”
As in, past tense.
Used to know.
Maybe in high school they knew each other.
“Hey, Tyler, wait for me!”
Tyler spun around, smiling at his friend. “Hey, Josh.”
“You want to do anything after school today?”
Tyler shrugged. “I was going to go to Taco Bell or something, I guess.”
“Mind if I join you?” Josh’s smile was shy and kind, bright like sunshine.
“Not at all,” Tyler assured him.
After school they met just outside the doors.
“To Taco Bell!” Josh announced.
“Taco Bell,” Tyler agreed.
They talked, as they always did, about completely random things, things with no relevance to their lives, endless wondering about the universe around them, jumps in the conversation that made no sense that only Josh and Tyler could possibly manage to take in their stride.
They knew everything about each other. Favorite colors, favorite foods, favorite songs, the instruments the other played...they knew everything.
And sometimes it felt like they knew everything in the world, because when they were together it felt like they really were the entire world.
Tyler brought himself back to reality with some effort. “Yeah, I’m...I’m fine. You definitely have made some progress in not being a sarcastic jerk, I mean, you actually asked if I was okay.”
Josh grinned. “Yeah, I guess.”
They remained silent for a little while, both sipping their drinks.
“I miss Jenna,” Tyler blurted out at last. “Sorry. I just - when she...when she died, I was torn apart. And you’re actually being really nice? Like you were in high school. And it’s confusing. And I definitely trust Adri’s judgement, so I mean I’d be willing to - to go out with you. Like, on purpose this time. But the thing is, I’m still getting over her, and it was just so sudden. So I’m really, really messed up, Josh, more than I was back then. And if that’s going to scare you off, I’d rather it scare you off now because when you started hanging out with those other kids and we started growing apart it was one of the hardest things in the world for me and I don’t want to do that again.”
Josh didn’t say anything for a few moments, and Tyler was terrified that he’d actually scared him off.
“Ty, I don’t care. We’re all a little broken, right? We’re just looking for someone that’ll try to help us. Someone that’ll try to fix us. I mean, it’s not going to be enough to have someone trying to fix you, but it’s going to help, at least a little. It’s like...like some of us are shattered glasses and the rest of us are glue. Right? But then there’s some people that are both. And the relationships that work are the ones that are the ones where the first person is one of the shattered glasses and the other is the glue, or the ones where both of them are both. Because then the broken people fix each other or the people that aren’t broken fix the ones that are. You know what we are? We’re the ones that are both. We’re broken but we’re still strong, Ty. I think we have a chance.”
We’re broken people, oh
We’re broken people, oh