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Old Faces (and new ones, too)

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“You can’t blame me for this,”

Tyler laughed. “I’m not blaming you for it,” he starts, “but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with it.”

Josh looks baffled. “Ty, you know I can’t up and leave! This is my career!”

”Oh, really?” Tyler sounds hysterical. “It seems like you’ve found it so easy to up and leave me.”

”You know I don’t like being apart from you.”

”So don’t!”

Josh almost shouts, laughs, it doesn’t make any sense. How does Tyler expect him to support them but be his full time boyfriend?

”Tyler.” Josh is unsure what to say.

”Go be with your band,” Tyler tells him. “Go be famous and successful. You clearly don’t need me to be happy.”

”That’s bullshit and you know it!” Tyler flinches, Josh rarely raises his voice, especially at him.

 “All I’ve ever done is try to show you love.” Tyler doesn’t meet his eyes. “I can’t be here all the time, Tyler, that stupid band is what keeps a roof over our heads, and barely at that! It’s not like you’ve been trying to help out!” 

“Just go.” Tyler doesn’t seem fazed by his words, and his own are monotonous.

”Go where? This is my home!”

It’s not like I have anywhere to go, Josh!”

”Get out. I don’t want you here anymore.”

”Are you serious?” Tyler has tears in his eyes for the third time that night, but Josh doesn’t flinch.

Get. OUT. I don’t care where. Get your shit and leave.” 

 

 

”Hey, you get the mail?”

Tyler turns over from his position on the couch and groans. “Too early.”

”Dude, it’s almost 12 in the afternoon.” Mark sounds irritated, and Tyler hears his voice get quieter as he presumably walks into the kitchen.

”Sorry. Just taking advantage of my day off.” Tyler says back.

”Every day is a day off for you.”

With that, Mark opens the back door and walks outside, leaving Tyler on the couch as he probably retrieves the mail Tyler never got.

 

Living with Mark wasn’t Tyler’s ultimate goal. In fact, two years ago, he would have laughed in your face if you told him he’d be living in Mark’s shitty rental and working part time jobs to keep him from getting kicked out. But here he was.

Sometimes Tyler missed Josh. It’d been well over a year since they’d even spoken, and the last time they did was when Tyler got kicked out after an argument that ended up breaking the two up.

Josh grew up with more advantages. He did better in school and never got into bad habits like drugs as compared to Tyler. Not only that, but he was insanely musically talented. So it was only natural that Josh joined a pretty popular local band and would play shows with them pretty often.

There was so much to like about him. When Tyler met him, he was so charming and kind. He made awkward situations funny, and helped Tyler when he needed it the most. When Tyler was well near homeless and depressed, Josh immediately took him in with open arms. Tyler owed Josh everything.

But after awhile as the band grew more popular, Josh was home for dinner less and less. Sometimes Tyler would lay in bed waiting for hours only for him to come home at almost 1 in the morning. Josh was doing really late performances, mostly at clubs or bars with the band, and the more it picked up the less he was around.

He tried to make the moments he had with Tyler worth the long periods of time apart, even though they shared a home together. Now and then they’d get a day or two to spend time together for more than an hour or so, and it was great. But the rarity of those days and the amount of times Josh was with his band instead of Tyler was too much.

And the next thing Tyler knew, he was wiping away tears and calling his buddy Mark to see if he could stay at his place for a night or two.

A night or two turned into months. Tyler already had no job to begin with, he was practically mooching off of Mark. Mark was at work most days from 9 to 5, and it wasn’t until three or four months ago that he’d had enough of Tyler lazing around and doing nothing to support himself.

”That’s it!” Mark cut in. “Either you’re getting a job or you’re going back on the street, and I’m sure you don’t want that. Please, for the love of God, Tyler.”

Tyler didn’t have much to compensate for his lack of job history, or his lack of any skills that could help him. But that didn’t stop the local diner from hiring him as a waiter. It was a shitty job, he barely made anything besides the money he snagged from tips, which usually came from being extra friendly to the creepy old men who stopped by. It was either that or the rich kids who took pity on him and left him a twenty dollar tip. Those were the better days.

Over time it got better. Tyler was always on thin ice with Mark, and he had nowhere to go and still couldn’t afford his own place, but he could feed himself and treat himself now and then instead of using Mark to satisfy his needs.

 

 

It was a Thursday, Tyler just got home from his shift and it was almost nine. Mark was sprawled out on the couch watching Friends as Tyler set his jacket on the coat hanger.

”Hey, how was work?”

Tyler scoffed. “Same as it always is. Had to not-so-subtly flirt with this ugly old dude. He looked eighty, dude.”

”Holy shit,” Mark was bent over with laughter, and paused the TV. “Hey, I think we should do something this weekend.”

That was never good. Mark was more of a social butterfly than Tyler ever was, so when Mark decided to spring a ‘social gathering’ on him at last minute and invite 20 strangers into their shitty house, Tyler wasn’t exactly thrilled.

”God, what this time?”

Mark stood up and sat on the arm rest. “You’re gonna hate me for this. Guess.”

”Party.” That was all Tyler could think of.

”Ding ding ding!”

”But why,” Tyler groaned. “Can’t you just have one of your friends host one at their house so I don’t have to stay here and try to sleep with blaring music going on downstairs,” he pleaded. Tyler never liked parties. Especially when they were at his own house.

”C’mon now, that’s no fun,” Mark joked. “It’ll be good! You need to meet somebody new,” He cut in seriously. “Ever since you and Josh broke up you’ve been in a stump.” Tyler only half-listened. He didn’t like to hear Josh being brought up. “Just try to meet somebody? Even just a friend?”

Tyler considered for a moment. Maybe if he did get lucky or meet someone he could stop spending his whole day inside watching TV and working a shitty job and maybe live with someone who actually wants him. Maybe he wouldn’t have to work at a diner and maybe he wouldn’t be broke.

”Fine,” Tyler sighed, and Mark cheered. “But don’t invite like a hundred people. I would actually like to go to my room without walking in on an orgy.”

Mark laughed, and patted Tyler on the back.

 

 

Saturday night rolled around quickly, and Tyler was trying to mentally prepare himself for any bombs Mark might have dropped on him. After throwing on some less shitty clothes, he waited in his room for everyone to begin showing up. He hated being there when people started walking in. It was just awkward.

After almost ten minutes of waiting, Tyler could hear chatter and commotion downstairs, and what sounded like music playing. Thank God Mark wasn’t blaring it. Yet.

Looking at the clock, he realized it was only eight-thirty. The sun was down, and with every passing minute the noise downstairs got louder. Tyler grumbled at the idea that Mark actually invited a hundred people. It sure sounded that way.

Realizing he should probably go down before someone realized he wasn’t there, Tyler stood up from his bed and looked in the mirror again. He looked like he hadn’t slept in years.

He made his way out the door and down the steps, not surprised to see a crowd of people already dancing and talking to each other, a few of them with drinks in their hand. It looked like a college frat party. Tyler snorted at the thought. All it was missing was the hard drugs and rampant sex.

Turning around the corner to the kitchen, he spotted Mark talking to some random dude and walked over to him. 

“Hey, Tyler! I was just talking to Jack over here-“

”Not inviting a hundred people my ass!”

Mark chortled but gave a guilty smile. “Sorry, dude. You know me, though!”

Rolling his eyes, Tyler huffed. “Please do not let this go on for eight hours like that one time.”

”Woah, what happened that one time?” Jack intervened, smirking.

”This idiot likes parties a bit too much,” Tyler explain, before stepping off and walking towards the living room.

Just as he sat in the chair near the loveseat, about five more people walked in at the same time. He didn’t recognize any of them, except for one girl who he’d met through Mark a few times. He actually liked her, she was sweet and wasn’t an annoying prick like Mark could be at times.

She had her purse in her hand as she saw Tyler sitting down and jogged her way over to him. “Hey, Ty!” She exclaimed, and Tyler immediately snapped his head around at the voice.

”Hey Jen! Oh man, it’s been too long!” He got up from the chair and gave her a quick hug.

”Hasn’t it? I’m glad to see you’re actually down here instead of sulking in your room like usual,” she teased, and Tyler gave her a light punch on the arm. “Shut up!”

With another few quick words, just asking each other how they’ve been, Jenna stalked off into the kitchen with her other friends, presumably to get drinks.

After sitting and thinking for a minute, he got up and followed, pouring himself a drink, but not too much. He didn’t want to end up hammered and hungover in the morning, like the rest of these people probably would be.

Most of the people cleared out of the kitchen then, and Jenna was topping off her glass before she turned around to face Tyler.

”You look super lost.”

Tyler gave a short laugh. “In my own home?”

”I worded that wrong,” Jenna noted. “I meant to say you look super lonely.” She was smiling.

”Wow, thanks, Jen,” Tyler replied, but he was smiling back.

”You need to meet some people. Come with me and my friends! They’re cool.”

”God,” Tyler groaned. “I’ve heard that way too many times lately.” He paused for a moment. “But you’re right.”

Jenna smirked, and grabbed his free hand to lead him towards a group of people in the living room, all with drinks or phones in their hands.

”Guys, I come bearing a friend!” With Jenna’s words, the three people turned their heads to look at Tyler. “This is my friend Tyler. He needs new friends because he’s a lonely boy,” she teased, and Tyler shot her a glare.

”For the record, I’m not lonely, I just don’t have a lot of friends.”

Jenna stage whispered to him, “That’s exactly what lonely is, sweetie.”

Tyler ended up meeting all of Jenna’s friends, finding that he had a lot in contact with Aaron, who was around his age. His girlfriend Dana didn’t seem to be a social butterfly like the rest of them, but she was sweet nonetheless. And lastly her other friend James was probably the life of the party, according to them. He seemed to be just like Mark, only more of a douche. Tyler didn’t like him.

After pausing to go refill his glass, Tyler made his way to the kitchen again. He hummed absentmindedly to himself for a minute, and then turned back around to find Jenna and her group. His heart practically stopped, though, as a flash of bright red hair caught his eye only twenty feet away in the other room.

Mark invited Josh to the party.