Deep breaths, deep breaths, you're fine. You're fine.
Josh's fingers were technically shaking, but vibrating is more the word that seemed to fit.
His efforts were focused on staying hidden behind Tyler's slightly taller physic and trying to calm the frick down, but the obnoxious, rapid clicks of photographer's cameras were chipping away his control.
They were strolling down the red carpet of a bright and busy award show. It was supposed to be the night of their lives, but with Josh's anxiety rioting and choking his body, he felt like curling up under his bed covers and sobbing.
It didn't help that Tyler, who was dealing with his own brand of stress, kept roughly shoving him.
"Guys, guys! Come on, look up!" Photographers from all directions demandingly shouted.
"Up, up, look up! Here, over here!"
Shut up, Josh thought desperately.
"Guys, look here!"
No. Go away.
"No, look here! Smile!"
Go away. Go away. Please go away. Go away, goplease, goawaypleasegoaway-
Josh bit back a whimper as his body gravitated behind his bandmate again. Except, this time, Tyler was prepared. He wrapped his arm around Josh's lower back, a gesture that seemed comforting and friendly; something that people would 'awe' at, but to Josh, it was rather tight.
Tyler subtly yanked Josh's body beside his.
It's the first time Tyler's touched him in weeks.
"Stop doing that," Tyler whispered harshly into his ear, a forced fake smile plastered on his lips to please the photographers.
Anxiety squeezed Josh's stomach painfully.
"S-Sorry," he whispered back, but Tyler was already looking at cameras.
It's okay, you're okay. In for four...hold for seven...., Josh counted in his head.
He stared down at his feet, desperately trying to breathe evenly and ignore his trembling hands.
"Yo, Yellow Hair! Look up!" Josh flinched, his body moving on autopilot.
Tyler's arm roughly pulled him back.
"I said. Stop," Tyler growled, his voice like steel.
"Aye, Traffic Light, look up!" Laughter and more clicking.
They're laughing. They're laughing at you.
Josh's shaking finger nails dug themselves into his palm. He bit his lip and leaned into Tyler, trying to tell him to move.
Tyler, however, had had enough.
"Stop, Josh!" Tyler whisper-shouted. "What's wrong with you?" He hissed out, gripping Josh's back tighter in irritation. "You're so annoying, just be still and look at the fucking cameras."
Josh's entire body froze. His stomach dropped like a stone.
"You're so annoying." Tyler's words eoched in his head.
His head throbbed to the beat of his heart.
He's fucking right, you know. You can't even take a picture without freaking out. You're so. Fucking. Annoying.
Tears burned his eyes.
"I'm sorry, I-I'm so sorry." A broken apology escaped his lips. "I-I'm t-try-ying, b-bu-ut..."
This. This is why Tyler can't stand you, this is why you have no friends. You can't even speak without being a fuck-up.
Tyler's head snapped down to Josh. Upon noticing his trembling frame, his wide, glassy, tear-rimmed eyes, and quickened breath, Tyler immediately loosened his grip. He moved in front of Josh, sheltering him from the photographers nosey veiws.
"Hey," Tyler softly put his hand on Josh's shoulder, cameras long forgotten. "It's okay, shhh. It's gonna be okay."
Josh sniffled, tears cascading down his cheeks. "'M-M-M sor-rry."
"Breathe, bud, breathe," Tyler murmured comfortingly as he gave a quick glance around. "We gotta go. Just hold on for a minute, alright?"
Tyler softly planted a protective hand between Josh's shoulder blades, gently but swiftly guiding him down the carpet.
It's the first time anyone's touched him affectionately in months.
"I'm sorry 'm-m sorry, sorry, Ty, 'm-"
"Ay!" The photographers protested. "Come back!"
At their shouts, Josh fell silent, shrinking into his friend's side, more tears leaking down his cheeks. Sparing a look at his drummer, Tyler was instantly filled with guilt.
The same Tyler that hadn't texted Josh in over two weeks. The Tyler that didn't notice when he would cry in the bathroom at rehearsal. The Tyler that didn't seem to care when Josh got so anxious that he would throw up. The Tyler that was supposed to have his back.
The Tyler that spent the previous months neglecting and ignoring Josh.
Why does he care now? Josh thought for a fleeting moment before his confusion quickly mixed into his tornado of emotions.
After what felt like hours, the pair finally reached the end of the velvet carpet. Tyler lead them around for another two minutes to make sure he'd found a corner with no paparazzi or reporters.
I shouldn't have said that, Tyler thought. Why did I say that?
He delicately pushed Josh into the corner, Josh's back against the wall so Tyler's own backside would shield Josh from judgy celebrities.
"Ty," Josh whimpered, his voice cracking.
"Josh, you need to breathe. In, out. In...out..." Tyler grasped Josh's trembling fingers, raising both their hands as he took a dramatic deep inhale, then dropping them down as he loudly exhaled.
"No, no, n-nononono," Josh cried harder. "I'm, I'm ann-annoy-annoying, a-and, and-and," he hyperventilated.
Tyler's head was foggy with guilt. "No. No, hey, Josh. Josh, look at me, Josh, look," he stated firmly, eyes misty. "You have never been annoying. Ever. Okay?"
You're the most retarded, dramatic, attention seeking sorry excuse for a person anyone's ever see. And it's all. Your. Fault.
Josh let out a quiet sob, breaking eye contact. "'M sorry, s-sor-rry, sorry, 'm sorry sorrysorrysorry-"
Tyler took hold of Josh's forearms, doing all that he could to ground the panicking drummer. "Shhh. Breathe in for four....hold for seven.......out for eight........in for four....hold for seven.......," Tyler repeated, finally gaining the other boy's attention.
"Yeah, that's it bud," Tyler encouraged as Josh did his best to mimic the singer's breathing. "You're doing perfect."
Tyler let go of Josh's forearms, moving his body closer so he could rub Josh's back. "Almost there, just a little longer."
Josh was taking deep breaths and had calmed down a little, but tears still brimmed his eyes.
"I'm sorry T-Tyl-ler. Didn't-didn't m-mean to," Josh apologized.
Tyler's heart shattered.
Tyler gripped his distraught friends shoulders. "I didn't-Josh, when I said that, I was mad, and-and stressed, and I'd never...I didn't mean it. I swear, I swear on everything I know, I didn't mean it."
Josh tilted his head and sniffled. "You....didn't?"
"No, Josh, no. Never," Tyler hooked his arms around Josh, bringing him into what hoped felt like a comforting, safe embrace. "You're never annoying."
He just feels bad because you went all cry baby on him.
Josh stiffened in his friends arms, keeping his arms tightly against his sides. "'M sorry for freaking out," he murmured into Tyler's shoulder.
"You don't need to apologize," Tyler tightened his embrace, a little thrown off by the fact that Josh wasn't hugging back. "I'm so sorry I ever said that. It's not true, and you didn't deserve to be yelled at. 'M sorry Jish."
He's not sorry, don't you know that? Where have you been the past months while Tyler's been ignoring you?
Josh sniffled lightly, his tears converting to sad eyes. "I-It's okay, Ty." He burrowed his head further into the taller boy's shoulder.
"No, it's not. It's really not," Tyler squeezed his drummer's shoulders, pulling their of the "hug" and looking into Josh's glassy almond shaped eyes. "You're never annoying. I was just-just stressed and-"
Tyler paused, tilting his head in confusion as he noticed fresh tears brimming Josh's eyes.
"Ty, really. I'm a-annoying sometimes, I know, I get it. I promise. I just, I get nervous and, and-" Josh whimpered, cutting himself off before he pushed himself into a new anxiety attack.
Tyler sighed, pulling Josh to his chest again. "Hey, hey. You-You know I care about you." Carefully, Josh tried to pull away, but Tyler's arms gripped his back gently. "You know I love you, yeah?"
Josh sniffled. "N-No you don't." He whispered, not really thinking. As soon as the words registered in Tyler and Josh's brain, they both froze.
What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Tyler thought, angrily.
Did I say that a loud? Oh fuck, Josh thought nervously.
Almost violently, he yanked Josh back, looking at him directly in the eye. "What?" He demanded, worry evident on his face. "Josh-" Tyler tried to start a love-filled rant, but was interrupted by a tap on his shoulder.
"Excuse me, sirs?" Both boys directed their attention the middle aged woman who was standing behind Tyler.
"If you're going inside to the awards, you have to leave now. We're closing the hall in a minute." She supplied.
Tyler smiled sweetly at her. "Thank you ma'am, but we have to leave early. Terribly sorry, but my friend here isn't feeling too good." He motioned toward Josh, who was practically cowering in his suit, very close to tears.
The woman smiled brightly in return. "Of course, sirs. Have a nice night."
Together, they briskly walked back to Tyler's car, neither one of them saying anything.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Why did I have to say that? Fucking fuck. Josh thought, the words stuck in his head like a song. Why are you so fucking stupid?
Meanwhile, Tyler was stuck in his own mantra of deep thoughts, all of them wondering about when the last time he had dinner with Josh, or even gotten lunch. Now that he was on the topic, he couldn't remember the last time he slept over, the last time he hugged his best friend, the last time he asked Josh if he was okay. The last time he said I love you.
Fuck, I'm an insensitive piece of shit, Tyler thought, sitting down in the driver's seat of his car.
You're a selfish attention whore. No wonder Tyler doesn't want to hang out with you anymore, Josh thought, sitting in the passenger seat of Tyler's car.
The sound of the car doors shutting seemed like the loudest noise in the world. A tense, nervous silence fell over them as they each tried to think of what to say.
"I'm," Josh tried to talk but his throat choked up, tears leaking down his cheeks. He unintentionally squeaked, desparetly trying to stop crying by rubbing his eyes.
"Hey, hey, Josh," Tyler reached for the other boy, but Josh flinched back.
"No, no, Ty, I-I," Josh took a deep breath, "It's fine, really, it's okay. I-I get it, I do, you-you don't have to-to explain it, I kn-know already."
Josh let out a stale, fake laugh. "I'm not very.... appealing. I annoy and a-annoy, and I bother, and I.... Jenna. She's perfect. She-She....she doesn't annoy, she doesn't bother." Guilt manifested in Tyler's head, it raged through his entire body. His heart was in pieces as he heard Josh's voice crack over and over.
"I, I understand. You're right t-to l-love her. I love her too. You-You should spend-you should spend your time with her." Josh nodded, shoving his hands under his legs, eyes leaking like running water. "She-She's better. I-I didn't mean t-to say, to-to bring it up, it's just m-me being selfish. I'm sorry. I don't-I don't want you to feel bad. Really, it's okay. I wouldn't've," Josh crumpled, and Tyler had never seen him more sad. "I wouldn't have picked me either."
Tyler felt like sobbing. What the fuck? How long has Josh, his best friend in the entire world, felt like that? How did Tyler let that happen? How the fuck did Tyler not notice?
Tears of Tyler's own streamed down his face. "Josh..." He whispered.
How could I let this happen? How could I let him suffer like this?
"Get," Tyler sniffled, running his hands through his hair. "Get out of the car."
Josh's head snapped up in shock. "W-What?" He tilted his head like a confused, frightened puppy, and Tyler's chest ached.
He didn't trust himself to speak, so he open his door and marched his way to Josh's side of the car. Once there, he gently pulled the shorter boy out.
"T-Ty-" he was cut off by Tyler, who planted his hands on Josh's shoulders. He stared at him for a second before yanking Josh into his chest, wrapping him in the tightest embrace he could.
"I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you so fucking much, Joshua." Tyler sobbed uncontrollably, overcome by emotions. "You're so i-impor-portant to m-me, I-I," Tyler babbled. "I love you, I love you I love you, I love, I-I. 'M sorry, I'm so, so fucking sorry."
Josh closed his eyes, rubbing Tyler's back, doing his best to calm Tyler, but he was overwhelmed by the sudden affection and attention he was receiving.
"You are one of the best things in my life and I," Tyler's voice broke. "I love you. You're everything to me."
The last time someone hugged Josh, really genuinely hugged him, was over four months ago. He gave in out of pure need and pleasure and practically melted into the embrace, almost whimpering at the contact. It felt like years since he'd last been touch like this, and, god, it felt good.
Josh leaned heavily against Tyler, tears dripping out of closed eyes. Tyler held him and murmured soft, heart felt apologies.
After a while, Tyler's dialogue decreased into random, short bursts of "I'm so sorry's".
Tyler kissed Josh's temple. "I love you. I'm going to fix this. I promise." He tugged Josh closer, running one of his hands through Josh's soft faded hair. "I'm going to fix us."
Tyler spoke with so much confidence and reassurance, Josh believed him entirely.