“I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
Joshua Dun was seated with his legs crisscrossed on the toilet in the cramped bathroom of the tour bus with his phone cradled in his trembling hands. It was counting down from three minutes. There were only two minutes left and his anxious thoughts were eating away at him about what would happen after the timer ran out. So, he thought back to what brought him here.
The past couple weeks had been pretty rough. Josh felt tired and started napping more. When confronted, he brushed it off as drumming too hard and wanting to put on a good show. In his mind, he just pinned it down to the tour taking a toll on him.
Then nausea hit. Thinking about food made him feel disgusting on the inside. His love for Taco Bell had all but died. Doing his flips off the piano left him a little weak in the knees. That’s when Tyler got a little concerned. Josh promised he was fine. He didn’t want to put off the tour. Out on the stage, he could forget his exhaustion. He could brush off nausea. He could close his eyes, turn his attention to the sound of Tyler’s voice and the cheering clique. The flips came to an end, though. That was fine.
Well, all good things come to an end because the migraines bloomed not long after. All the sounds he once enjoyed were like nails on a chalkboard. Tyler’s singing was like that of a dying siren. The clique, his friends and family were knives digging in his brain. Drumming no longer brought him relief. The vibrations shook his bones and made his ears bleed.
When he could no longer take it, he decided to get down to the root of it. He told the crew and Tyler he was going to run around in the streets of the city they were. That was normal for him. They wished him well, to stay safe and call if he needed anything. Tyler embraced him tightly, pressing a ghostly kiss to his temple. “I’m here for you, Jishwa. Don’t be afraid to talk to me.”
Josh smiled and bolted off the bus. He found an alleyway that was far from the bus, far from the streets and prying ears. He crouched down, called his mom and cried to her, telling her all the problems he was having.
“Josh, honey, I need to listen to me. This is going to sound absolutely crazy but take a pregnancy test. Can you do that for me, Joshie?”
He thought his mother was crazy. A pregnancy test? How in the world could that be possible? He questioned her inquisition-style. Telling her that there was no point unless there was something she wasn’t telling him.
“You’re old enough to make your own choices. I always supported that. I know I can’t make you do this, but remember, I always have the best intentions in mind when it comes to my children. I love you, Joshie. Call home more, yeah? We miss you, baby.”
Josh felt guilty now. His mother had never steered him wrong before. Why question her now? So, he went to the nearest pharmacy and picked up a test. The clerk there had eyed him as he made his purchase, saying that he looked oddly familiar. Josh grabbed his bag and ran back to the bus.
So, now here he was with less than thirty seconds left on the timer. All he could think about now was if this came back positive. Could I even call this positive news? This could kill my career! This could kill Tyler’s career! No. He’d just kick me out of the band. He’d replace me, probably leave me too…
That brought tears to his eyes. The idea of losing his band and his boyfriend all in one go, that was worse than any pain he had felt. If it came down to that, he wouldn’t stop Tyler. This is his dream. He’s been fighting for this. If I have to go, I’ll go. I’ll do it for him. This is his life.
“This is our life, Jish!”
That’s what Tyler always tells him. He knew it was their life. Tyler and Josh, they ascended far past bandmates, finding comfort in a gentle romance that bloomed from years of support and understanding. They kept it under wraps from the public eye, choosing to come out to their friends and family first. Their parents laughed as they embraced the boys, congratulating them on finally getting together. Jordan just grinned from the sidelines as he collected money from a disgruntled Ashley and Zack, claiming he knew it would happen before they were thirty. The clique, that was unknown. A wild card. There was nothing more terrifying than not knowing how your fans would react.
“Frick,” he breathed out as the alarm went off. It played a cute little marimba version of Ride. He dismissed it, taking a deep breath and prepared himself for whatever may come. The drummed grabbed the stick off the counter, looking at the little circle that would make or break his career.
Glaring back at him were two pink lines. Josh’s heart shattered in his chest. How is this even possible?
Tears burned the corners of his eyes as he tossed the stick away, not wanting to look at it anymore. He buried his face in his hands, biting back the sobs that were building up in his throat. He was 28 years old, in a successful band, dating his best friend that also doubled as his front man. Well, now he could add ‘father of my child’ to that list. The pair were normally so careful when it came to sex, but caution had been thrown to the wind a couple times after shows that really stirred up the adrenaline. Here was Josh facing the consequences.
He’s going to blame me. I’ll lose the love of my life and my best friend. Josh whimpered, fingers weaving into his hair, tugging at the yellow locks. Tyler had insisted he dye his hair a new color. He even pushed for yellow.
“You’re my ball of Dun-shine! Ow! Don’t throw the nice pillows, Josh!”
The little flashback made the tears flow faster. A few sobs escaped and he prayed no one heard him. Well, either God was punishing him or was out on vacation because someone did hear. They were knocking on the door. “Josh, are you alright in there, man?”
It was Mark.
“Yeah, I’m cool,” He stuttered out. “Just uhm, I’m not feeling so hot, you know? I think I’m catching something.” Josh was a terrible liar. Tyler had pointed that once. Thankfully, not everyone seemed to catch on. Mark was a tricky one, though. He would sometimes pick up on the lies, other times they’d go way over his head. Thankfully, today was a miss.
“Alright, I’ll let Michael know. We can probably cancel the next couple shows so you can recover,” The tech geek commented. He sounded a little disappointed. Josh’s stomach churned. Not from nausea, but guilt. Cancel shows? No!
“No, Mark! Wait a minute! Don’t tell Michael! I mean, you can tell him I’m not feeling good, but don’t cancel! I’ll be good enough to play!” Josh was holding onto threads now. In his mind, I’ll be good enough to stay. I’ll be good enough for Tyler. For everyone. “I just need to rest up, relax. Maybe not drink so much Red Bull. Do we still have tea?”
“Uh, yeah! I think we do. I’ll go talk to Michael and get started on that tea.” Josh heard footsteps heading away from the door and he let out a breath of relief, but it only lasted for a moment.
The panic came back triple-fold when he spotted the test lying on the floor. It was so hard to wrap his mind around the fact that this was happening to him. Sure, he had heard about the weird genetic mutations that were happening that caused pregnancies in men, but it was so rare. Like, ‘if you get fifty men in a room, only one has it’ rare. Well, Josh was the one in fifty and he didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse. On the upside, his mother would have the grandchildren she always wanted. On the downside, he’d probably be labeled a freak and lose the man he loved more than life.
“What do I do?” He whispered as he hung his head, hands still gripping his hair as he struggled to find the answered. There were really only two options. He could let this whole thing come to fruition and deal with the inevitable consequences that would surely ruin him emotionally and mentally. Or, he could find the nearest clinic and have it terminated before he got too attached. Act like this never happened. The latter made him like an awful person.
Sure, he had always believed in choice. If you wanted to keep it, you keep it. If you didn’t want to, do what feels right. All of a sudden his view changed because it was his choice right now. He felt like a monster for wanting to abort the life inside of him. This was something that he and Tyler made together, just like their music.
Josh whined. I don’t know what to do! I want to ask for help. I know I need it, but that would mean telling someone and… Frick. Someone was knocking on the door again.
It could have been Michael checking up on him. Josh so desperately wanted to believe that. It could have been someone wanting to use the bathroom. Josh could accept that too. Once more though, God was forsaking him.
“Jish, are you okay?” His heart plummeted into his stomach. “Jishwa, open the door! You’ve been in there for forever!”
Of course, it had to be Tyler. Why couldn’t it be Michael? The manager probably sent the singer to retrieve the drummer. Curse you, Michael. May your tacos always be soggy, jerk. Josh’s throat tightened up and his lips quivered. A sob escaped.
“Josh? Come open the door, man. This isn’t funny anymore! I’ll break it down if I have to!” Josh cried more. He didn’t care if Tyler could hear him now. He didn’t care if anyone heard him. This was the final nail in the coffin. It was all over now.
He didn’t move as he watched the door give way and open. Tyler might have been the strongest person, but get him worked up enough and there was nothing that could stand in his way. “Joshua! Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Warm hands cupped his cheeks. Soft thumbs brushed away the tears. “Joshie, why are you crying?”
The drummer had no words. He just shook his head, trembling hands holding onto Tyler’s wrists as tightly as possible. “Josh, I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me, baby. Come on, you know you can tell me anything.”
Teary eyes glanced up into worried ones before glancing off to the side. Tyler followed his gaze, spotting the test near the door, undisturbed from his startling entrance. He freed one hand from Josh’s weak grip to retrieve it. “Josh, what is this?” Oh, he knew what it was. He just wanted the confirmation.
His response was hiccups and a fresh wave of tears. Yeah, that was all he needed. He looked down at the stick, eyes widening at the results. “Josh, you… you’re pregnant?” Their eyes met once more. “Is this for real?”
“Please don’t leave me, Tyler. I don’t want to leave the band or lose you.” Josh sniffled as he wiped away the tears. “I, I’ll do anything to make this right. Just, please don’t make me do it alone.”
Tyler was a little stunned, wondering what could possibly be running through Josh’s head that would warrant those words. He really took in the state of his drummer. Fear in those watery eyes, streaks on his face, hands shaking as they tried to hold onto Tyler a little tighter. Anxiety. It was taking over.
He set the stick down on the sink and wrapped his arms around Josh, pulling him in real close. He whispered against the sun-kissed locks of hair, “Let me tell you something, Josh. First of all, I’m not leaving you. Not now or ever. You’re my Spooky J, my Jishwa, my best friend and the love of my life.” He could feel Josh shake, hear the soft laugh. “Second of all, this band would fall apart without you. I got the world’s greatest drummer in my arms right now and no one could ever take his place. I can’t be a one man band, Jish. My ukulele might be impressive, but it’s not a miracle worker.”
That got some giggles. Tyler was proud of his progress. He tilted Josh’s head back so he could look into those beautiful mocha eyes. “And finally, you’re not getting rid of it. That’s a big frick no. I don’t know what anxious thoughts made you think you had to do that, but no. We’re keeping it. That’s right, us.” Tyler smiled at the shocked expression. “I can’t be a one-man band and you can’t be a single parent. Do you know what that would mean? I’d be facing the wrath of our mothers. Our fathers would put the fear of God in me. Madison, she’d recruit your sisters and they’d hunt me down! Our brothers… Can you imagine what Jordan would do to me? I know Zack and Jay would torture me.”
Josh’s eyes narrowed. “Are you staying with me out of pity? Is that what this is? A way for you to save your own backside?” Josh tried to push Tyler away, but the singer kept his grip tight, shaking his head.
“No, Jishwa. No way. This is not pity or saving myself from certain doom.” Tyler situation himself so he was sitting on the floor in front of Josh, looking up at him instead of down, piano fingers wrapped around calloused hands. “I love you, Joshua Dun. I wouldn’t have done all that I have in the past up until now if I didn’t. Do you think I would have screamed your name in ‘The Judge’ if I didn’t love you? What about when I wrote ‘We Don’t Believe What’s On TV’ for you? I know we lost the fight with ‘Tear in My Heart’, but Jenna and the others know that’s for you too. I always tell the clique you’re so beautiful and they laugh it off, but I always see that cute blush. I might have fought you when you quit your job, but I couldn’t be happier.” Josh started crying again. He blamed the hormones.
“None of this out of pity or self-preservation.” Tyler rested his head against Josh’s knee. “I love you so much, Jishwa and I’ll love this baby.”
The drummer wanted to slap the singer for being so romantic and sweet. It made his teeth hurt. “I love you too, Ty.”
“After the next couple shows, we’re gonna refund all the fans, maybe send some little merch packages in place of the concert. I can’t have you drumming your heart out or doing flips off my piano in your state.” Tyler reached up, fingers brushing against Josh’s stomach. It was flat, but the gesture still held so much love and tenderness.
“The clique is gonna ask why. What do we even tell them?” Josh placed his hand over Tyler’s. The singer gave him a grin.
“I think I’m ready, to tell the truth. It will be terrifying, but we’ll have each other.” The warmth and assurance in those words made Josh feel vulnerable and invincible all in the same breath.
“As long as I have you, I think we can do anything.”