Josh knew nothing good could last. He had felt on top of the world, but as it turned out the top of the world was actually the edge of a huge black trench waiting to swallow him whole at any given moment.
The moment to be exact was when he and Tyler had been having lunch without Jenna, which was a rarity but Josh wasn't complaining, he enjoyed the one on one time. Jenna knew about them, it was strange really, all of the chances in the world and Tyler didn't realize what he wanted until after marriage. Jenna had been nothing but supportive and loving for them, letting them be as close as they needed, letting Tyler be loved by them both, loving Josh as well to a certain extent. It's not as though Josh wouldn't have sex with Jenna, but she never mentioned it and he already felt as though he was encroaching every time Tyler would weave their fingers together or press soft slow kisses on his neck, cheek, lips. Josh had never been happier, felt more whole, more loved than he did with Tyler and Jenna.
This is why the worst thing that could happen did.
"So I think we need a break." Tyler said this with an air of casually as Josh's stomach plummeted, anxiety worming it's way into his thoughts.
"Oh, like from tour? I figured we were going to to soon, nothing's been lined up for months but that award show-"
"I meant us, Josh....this...isn't working out."
"Oh....us?" Josh wanted clarification, he wanted Tyler to joke and say he was kicking him out of the band, he wanted Tyler to make
this all better and he wasn't. He was staring at the wall past Josh's head, the light grey of the cafe wall couldn't have been that interesting. Josh waited a beat, two,nothing.
"Okay." Josh finally broke the silence, standing and walking past Tyler and out of the shop, numbness flowing in his veins, ringing in his ears, not a thought in his mind as he started running down the block.
Jenna wouldn't answer when he called, and he refused to call Tyler. Josh sat at his house, alone and distant. Every glimpse of his yellow hair reminding him of how happy Tyler was that he'd chosen the color, dye still dripping down his neck post shower as Tyler pulled him close. It reminded him of how Jenna would play with it, her nails scratching gently along his scalp. Josh put a hat on as he looked up flights back to L.A.
The last performance was bad in his mind, he played harder and harder, fingers bleeding as he gripped his sticks, pain coursing through his mind and heart and self, his hands dripping red onto his drums. Tyler barely spoke to him, Jenna wasn't there.
Josh hadn't heard from Tyler or Jenna in weeks, no texts or emails or missed calls. Josh heard from his own brother that Tyler had moved, not sure where to and Josh didn't want to ask Tyler's mother where he'd gone, she would probably be shocked he didn't know and there would be questions. He'd dodged his fair share with her before and he didn't need more now.
Josh looked at himself in the mirror and saw the faded yellow, he grabbed clippers and took it away.
Josh spent the afternoon in a studio, drumming for a friend of a friend's band,just a fill in to fill his mind with anything else.
Later that night Josh read somewhere in some clickbait article he'd found through another he'd read that there were different chemicals in your tears depending on what you felt when you were crying. Leucine-enkephalin was all Josh could feel along his cheeks.
He sent a text that night, to Tyler and immediately wished he hadn't.
'so where are you, it's been awhile'
There was no text back.
He received a letter, no name or return address. It had been so long and inside was the same messy scrawl that he'd seen on set lists for years, Tyler didn't explain anything, it was just an address and a date and a one way plane ticket. It was a week away and Josh threw it in the trash and grabbed his keys, he had a date with Debby tonight. His hair was growing back it's natural brown, it was frizzy in the dry heat of California, Debby would play with it in bed at that night and Josh would pretend he didn't need melatonin to fall asleep without dreams.
After she left, he'd take two with a full glass of water, standing in the dark over the kitchen sink; the pale yellow light of the hallway casting a beam straight across the floor to the trashcan.
The flight was long, and there wasn't enough xanex in the world to keep Josh's knee from bouncing, fingers tapping. Josh spent an hour in the airport in the gift shops. He was torn on buying flowers, roses were cliche and not at all what he needed, yellow sunflowers may be nice but not for this. Josh picked a different bouquet and paid and left, his Lyft driver asked him if he was visiting from out of town and he made small talk, the sweet scent of flowers filling the awkward silences.
Josh watched the city fall away, more and more trees along the road as the address that was on a crumpled piece of paper in messy handwriting in his pocket drew closer.
He thanked his driver and grabbed his bag and the flowers and headed towards the door. It was quiet out, the sun was peaking around sparse clouds and it was warm for this time of year. Josh was sweating and he wasn't sure if it was the balmy 85 or his nerves.
He knocked twice and waited, one two- the door opened and a bright eyed Tyler stood before him, smiling like this was okay, like the weeks of silence were fine. Josh let out a breath he didn't know he was holding and offered the red flowers to Tyler. Carnations, the state flower of Ohio to remind Tyler of home and whatever else they might mean.
"Oh, thank you." Tyler's voice sounded scratchy and deeper than Josh had remembered, the way his heart grabbed his chest was fine.
Tyler stepped aside and Josh walked in, closing the door. The house was already well lived in and he could see the remnants of Jenna, but didn't see her.
"Jenna's.... visiting her parents....she knows you're here though." Tyler tacked on the ending as though it mattered.
"Why am I here?" Tyler looked up from the jar he was filling at the sink, mouth slack and eyes glazed over as he mulled his thoughts. He turned off the water and set it carefully on the counter, flowers almost too long stemmed to stay in the small jar.
"Why are you here?" Tyler mirrored the question and sighed, "I've been writing again."
"Oh." Josh should have known, it was a business trip.
"Do you...wanna go for a swim? I just had the pool cleaned, it got warmer faster than i was expecting, I'm not used to it here yet."
"I didn't bring my trunks."
"You can borrow mine." That was that, Tyler was wandering through this house and coming back minutes later with a pair of black and yellow striped shorts.
Josh found the bathroom easy enough and changed, wishing he'd shaved his chest more recently, the stubble growing back in to match his face.
Tyler was already outside, the back door to the kitchen open and inviting Josh into the sunshine again. Josh blinked at the sun as he stepped outside, wishing he'd left his hat on.
"Your hair." Tyler looked dazed, he was shirtless and standing at the edge of the pool, laying towels on the chairs.
"I needed a change." Tyler walked into Josh's space and reached out, so gently touching the curl above his left ear, next to his hometown tattoo.
"Your natural hair, missed it." I missed you, is what Josh was screaming to say, but he couldn't. He pulled away from Tyler and ran towards the pool, jumping straight into the deep end, the water washing cool and cleansing over his skin. He held his breath, waited until his toes touched the bottom of the pool before resurfacing. Tyler was in the shallow end, wading deeper. Josh's eyes stung from the chlorine as he watched Tyler swim closer.
Tyler's waves gently nudged against Josh as he invaded his space and he let him. Tyler's arms wound around his neck and againJosh allowed it, knowing Tyler still had him bad. Josh bit his tongue, tasting copper, tasting the pool water, and then he was tasting Tyler. warm skin pressed against his own in the cold water, fingers pulling gently at his hair. The kiss broke slowly and Josh felt like he was floating, only, he was.
"I'm so sorry I forgot you...." Tyler spoke against his lips, Josh's eyes were still shut tightly, willing his tears to hold off, his brain mixing emotions and he almost couldn't handle it.
"Jenna said i was stupid, she said I had to fix this one on my own....she...she left three weeks ago and won't even answer my calls and I realized that I-i'm so sorry Josh."
Josh opened his eyes, Tyler's always tired ones staring back and Josh just laughed.
"Jenna always knows how to balance us out....."
"She does..I-Josh i-"
Josh didn't want to hear anymore apologies, he was going to forgive Tyler anyway, he already had weeks ago. Instead of letting Tyler stumbled over his words he pushed them until Tyler was pressed against the pool's edge, deep enough in the pool that their chins were touching water as he went in for another kiss, hungry and aching as he pressed against him, chlorine mixing in their mouths. The sun hid behind a cloud as Josh's fingers pressed into Tyler's hips, their legs woven together, Josh felt like Tyler's grip was the only thing holding him down.
Tyler's hands left his hair and wandered, pulling at the shorts he'd so graciously lent out, demanding. Adreneline vibrating though him, Josh pulled back long enough to kick the shorts away, catching them drifting off from the corner of his eye, Tyler's following close behind.
Josh kept him pressed to the edge, one hand gripping the edge of the concrete the other was in Tyler's hair, Tyler's hands were preoccupied between them, one touching one wrapped tightly around Josh's cock, stroking him hard and fast and with purpose.
Tyler's mouth was attached to Josh's collar bone, Josh's mouth open and panting against the side of Tyler's head. Too soon the rushed chemical cocktail of serotonin and oxytocin were coursing through Josh's brain, his cum swirling into the clean pool water and he wanted to feel bad, he did. Instead he detached Tyler from him and pulled him away from the wall, back towards the shallow end of the pool. Once josh's feet were hitting the floor he grabbed Tyler again and lifted him until he was sitting on the edge of the pool, and Tyler looked nothing short of impressed that Josh could just pick him up like 153 was nothing.
Josh was in between his legs, kissing slowly along his knee and up along his thigh, stopping to nip at his own name. The angle was strange and Tyler kept sliding more and more into the pool again, just barely on the edge, his legs slid over Josh's shoulders, his fingers tangled in Josh's wet curls as Josh licked low over his balls and down, tongue pressing against his hole and Tyler couldn't stop the breathy whines as Josh's hand wrapped around his cock, stroking slow as he ate Tyler out, tongue delving deeper, hungry.
Tyler came shortly after, Josh's hand barely having picked up his pace. Tyler fell back against the sun warmed concrete, chest heaving as he felt the aftershocks course through him. Josh let go of Tyler's legs and pulled himself up out of the pool to lay next to him, creating a wet, vaguely Josh-shaped imprint on the concrete.
Their eyes met and forced the smiles to their faces, the sun came back out to warm them, watching their fingers weave together.
From the kitchen door, still open, Jenna twirled the stem of the carnation between her fingers, a smile on her lips as well.