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Josh Dun x Reader

Chapter Text

You hardly paid attention as you heard the front door swing open. Josh had mumbled something about going to the store half an hour or so ago, but you had been so caught up in the story that you were writing that you had hardly noticed when he left.

It was the slam on the table that finally drew your attention away from your computer. You looked up to see a box of bright yellow hair dye on the table in front of you, and a very proud looking Josh standing behind you.

“What do you think?” he asked, a wide smile plastered on his face.

You picked up the box and examined it a bit closer, taking a few glances between it and Josh.

“I think it will suit you,” you smiled.

“Will you help me?” he asked, immediately using his puppy dog eyes.

“Of course.”

His smile grew even wider.

“Just let me finish up this paragraph, I’m on a roll.”

“I’ll start getting stuff ready while you do that.”

You continued to write as Josh wandered around the kitchen, opening various packages and mixing dyes. It was hardly anything more than background noise, you were too absorbed in the story to really process what was going on.

“Done,” you said proudly, shutting your laptop and sliding it down the table out of harm’s way.

“Perfect timing,” Josh smiled, setting the dye on the table in front of you.

“No, no, no, we are not dying your hair over the wood floors.”

Josh rolled his eyes, “I’ll grab a sheet.”

You pulled a chair out so that Josh would be able to sit while you dyed his hair. He returned a moment later, carrying a sheet over his shoulder. You helped him set it up so that you wouldn't get dye on the floor.

“Are you sure it’s going to look ok?” Josh asked, picking up the hair dye and looking it over.

“It’s going to look fantastic,” you reassured him as you gave him a kiss on the cheek.

He sat down and you wraped a towel around his shoulders, once again patting him on the shoulder. He turned and looked up at you.

“Don’t fuck it up.”

“I’ll try not to,” you sighed, rolling your eyes with a smile.

You grabbed the hair dye and began to apply it to his pink strands of hair. They had grown out significantly since you had last been in this same position, dying his hair from bright red to a light pink.

“You know, as cool as yellow is going to look, I think I might miss the pink.”

“Really? Me too.”

“Why did you decide to change it then?”

“Something new. Plus the Grammys are coming up and I wanted to be able to stand out.”

“Makes sense. You have to make sure all the fans can see you in the crowd, right?”

“And when we’re on stage accepting a Grammy.”

“That too.”

“Although I don’t think that’s what people will be paying attention to.”

“Hmm?”

“Nothing.”

“Alright.”

Josh then pulled out his phone and opened Twitter, quickly typing out a tweet about his changing hair color and urging his followers to guess. Seconds later, replies were flooding in with colors ranging from magenta to turquoise.

“You know, some of the fans have some really good hair color ideas.”

“What if we just made your hair into a rainbow?” you giggled.

“Can we?” he asked eagerly, turning to look at you.

“Careful! Or I’m going to get hair dye where it isn’t supposed to be,” you groaned.

He turned back around in defeat, but the quiet doesn’t last long.

“I have an idea,” he said happily, and you could practically see the bright smile on his face. “What if you paint your nails bright yellow for the Grammys to match my hair?”

“Now that’s an idea I can get behind. I can get them professionally done and everything.”

“That’s going to look so cool.”

“Alright, I think I’m done. How long does it have to sit?”

“Half an hour.”

“You want to watch some TV?”

“Yeah.”

Josh took the towel off of his shoulders and walked over to the couch. You grabbed the remote and sat down on the couch next to Josh, leaning yourself against his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around you as you turned on Netflix.

“You better not get any dye on the couch,” you warned him.

“If I do, it’s only because you didn’t wrap it right,” he retorted.

“Are you kidding? Of course I wrapped it right, you just are too crazy to keep it in place.”

“Yeah, yeah. You love me.”

“I do.”

He squeezed your arm and you both went quiet as the show started.

Half an hour later, Josh was back in the chair while you were carefully unwrapping pieces of tinfoil from his hair. The color was almost blinding, but you knew it would die down once the excess was rinsed out.

“How does it look?”

“Bright.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“No, I think you’ll like it. Come on, let’s get you to a sink.”

You guided him over to the sink and began to rinse the dye out of his hair.

“You should rinse dye out of my hair more often.”

“It feels that good?”

“Yes.”

You grabbed a towel and put it over his head so that he wouldn’t drip water everywhere.

“Do you want to dry your own hair or should I?”

“Can you?” he asked, his voice muffled under the towel.

“Sure, love.”

You rubbed the towel all over his head to dry off his hair.

“I’m not hurting you, am I?” you asked, pausing for a second.

“Nope.”

“Ok.”

You kept rubbing the towel all over his head until his hair was mostly dry. He popped his head up and smiled at you.

“Do we need to blow dry it too?” you raised your eyebrows.

“Can we?” he smiled widely.

“Come on,” you said, grabbing his hand and leading him upstairs.

You lead him into the bathroom and grabbed your hair dryer from under the counter. He looked himself over in the mirror, studying every angle.

“I could use a haircut.”

“That I can’t help you with.”

“I like the color though, it really stands out.”

“Well, we’ll see how much you like it once it’s actually dry.”

You plugged your hairdryer in and had him get down on his knees so that you could actually reach his head. He smiled happily as you continued to run your hands through his hair as you dried it. A few minutes later, his hair was totally dry. He stood up and began to run his own hands through it, a big smile on his face.

“I love it.”

You stood next to him and leaned your head on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around your waist and pulled you into his side.

“You were right, it does suit me.”

You reached up and grabbed a strand of his hair, twisting it around your finger.

“You look really good, love.”

“All thanks to you.”

He bended down and planted a kiss on your lips.

“It’s going to be a hard color to match on my nails…and to my dress.”

“You said!”

“I know what I said, trust me, I’m not going back on it.”

“Good. I have to make sure the world knows you’re mine,” he smiled.

You smiled and hugged him a little tighter, you wouldn’t trade him for anyone else in the world.

Chapter Text

You furiously typed out an email to your manager, trying desperately to explain to her what had happened with the shipment. She had blamed you for it not coming in on time, despite the fact that you had ordered everything on time and had the confirmation email to prove it. That didn’t stop her from dangling your job over your head though.

Josh walked into the kitchen as you were typing and opened the fridge, looking through it briefly. He must have noticed your stressed disposition, because he walked over and took a seat at the table next to you.

“What are you working on?” he asked as he unscrewed the cap of his drink.

“I’m trying to get my point across without exploding on my manager,” you grumbled as you ran a hand through your hair. “It’s proving to be quite difficult, she’s being totally unreasonable.”

“Oh, is this about the coffee bean thing?”

“Yes,” you huffed. “Despite everything I showed her, she still thinks it’s my fault and not the delivery company’s.”

“Why don’t you take a break from emailing her? This seems to really be stressing you out.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, Josh, but I really need to finish this email right now.”

“You’ll have time later tonight. You just got home from work, you should take some time to relax.”

You looked over at him, “I don’t know, I really want to just get this out of the way.”

“Alright, then I’ll help you, then we can relax.”

You nodded and Josh pulled his chair over next to you. Together, you managed to get your email to sound pleasant, while still stressing the point that you were trying to make. Once it was done, Josh closed the laptop and pushed it away from you.

“Why don’t you go get changed out of your work clothes and I’ll order us dinner?”

“Chinese?” you asked, pulling your best cheesy smile.

“Whatever helps your stress,” he smiled, kissing your temple.

You walked upstairs and changed out of your black top and jeans into shorts and one of Josh’s t-shirts. Just changing into your pajamas made you feel less stressed about the ordeal, and the fact that you now had the entire night to spend with Josh, stress free, made it even better.

Josh was on the phone by the time that you returned downstairs. You walked over and took a spot on the couch, wrapping yourself up in your favorite blanket. Once Josh was done on the phone, he walked over and took a spot next to you. In hardly any time, you were curled up next to him with his arm around you. He quickly flipped through Netflix until he found The Office and turned on the episode that you were on. He began to play with your hair, running his hands through it or just stroking your head. You grabbed his free hand and lightly played with his fingers as you watched TV.

Eventually, the doorbell rang, signaling that the food was here. Josh got up and paid for the food before bringing it inside and setting the large bag on the counter. Together, you began to lay out all the food on the counter. It seemed to just keep going and going.

“Holy shit, Josh, how much food did you get?”

“All your favorites…and all of mine,” he smiled gleefully.

“Well, I can’t be mad at you about it,” you smiled as you grabbed plates and forks for the both of you.

You both piled your plates high with your favorite foods and returned to the couch. You sat with your legs across his lap, which doubled as a nice tray for him to set his food on. You, on the other hand, had to precariously balance your plate on your uneven lap.

You practically inhaled your food and ended up going back for seconds. Josh still managed to eat faster than you though, and was going back for his third plate by the time you had finished your first. The one benefit to this was that he was kind enough to get your food for you.

Eventually, you were both so full that you had to stop eating. You paused the TV and went through the ordeal of fitting all of the leftover food into the fridge. It was a process, but you eventually managed to fit the last box in a small crevice. With a high five, the both of you returned to the couch and you once again curled up next to him. You continued to watch TV and relax until you were practically falling asleep in Josh’s lap, which he of course had no problem with.

“Do you want me to carry you up to bed?” he asked softly.

You nodded against his leg. He slowly slid out from under you before scooping you into his arms and carrying you up the stairs bridal style. Your body immediately relaxed as soon as he set you down on the bed, and you could hardly bring yourself to slide under the covers.

“I’m going to get ready for bed, and then I’ll be back,” he said, giving your temple a kiss.

You nodded without even opening your eyes. It was hard not to fall asleep, but you focused on the sounds of him brushing his teeth and changing into his pajamas. Eventually, the bed sunk slightly with his weight, causing you to roll towards him slightly.

You opened your eyes, only to see his face almost directly in front of yours. It caused you to jump slightly, making him laugh.

“Didn’t expect that,” you smiled.

“Sorry,” he smiled in return. “So are you less stressed now?”

You nodded, “Thank you for tonight, it was very much needed. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

You leaned forward and kissed him. He wrapped an arm around your waist and pulled you towards him so that you were laying on his chest.

“You’re warm,” you smiled.

“Are you cold?”

You nodded against his chest. He pulled the covers up over your head so that it was around his neck.

“Me too.”

“Hey,” you laughed, pulling the covers down so that you could breathe again.

“What? I was cold!” he said, pulling his best innocent voice.

“Well you should have thought of that before making me lay on your chest because I’m comfy now and I’m not moving.”

“It’s ok, you’re pretty warm.”

“Good, now I’m going to sleep because I’m tired.”

“Goodnight, love,” he laughed.

“Goodnight.”

It didn’t take long for you to fall asleep to the sounds of Josh’s steady breathing.

Chapter Text

You watched Josh carefully as he answered another one of the interviewer’s questions. You recognized the interviewer: a tall blonde that seemed to be at every festival or event that the boys played. Her flirting was evident, the way she leaned in or gently touched his arm. It was hard to watch, but you knew Josh would be upset if you didn’t.

You fought back the nauseous feeling in your stomach as the interview continued. Your eyes were on every move Josh made in return: the path his eyes followed or how he smiled. You knew it was dumb and you were only making things harder on yourself, but you couldn’t help it.

It wasn’t until the interviewer fully wrapped her arm around Josh that you couldn’t take it anymore. You quickly shut your laptop and shoved it onto the coffee table in front of you. Tears were freely falling from your eyes now, and you pulled your knees up to your chest, wrapping your arms tightly around them.

You were still a sniffling mess when Josh returned home an hour later. He closed the door gently behind him, obviously believing you had fallen asleep on the couch. You tried to stay quiet, but just knowing that he was in the house sent a fresh wave of tears.

“Y/N?” Josh asked.

There was the sound of him setting his stuff on the ground followed closely by his footsteps crossing the living room.

“Are you ok?”

You sat up and pulled your legs closer to you, leaving him room to sit on the couch. Worry was etched onto his face, and you slowly shook your head. There was no point in lying to him.

“What’s wrong?”

You opened your mouth to say something, but your voice was thick and the words that you so desperately wanted to say wouldn’t come out.

“It’s nothing, just some stupid problem that I’m having,” you mumbled, wiping away an escaped tear.

“If you’re sitting here crying about it, it obviously isn’t some stupid problem,” he said, sitting down on the other side of the couch.

His voice was so quiet and concerned. You pulled your knees back up to your chest and rested your forehead on them. Looking at him only made you feel worse.

“Y/N, please, I’m worried about you.”

You shook your head. Every part of you wanted to tell him about how you felt, but there was no way he would feel the same and it would ruin everything.

“I…I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“It’s too embarrassing.”

He reached out and grabbed one of your hands, “Will you look at me for a second?”

You sniffled and lifted your head up to look at him. He was staring directly at you.

“Nothing you ever say to me will ever make me think less of you, ok? I don’t want you to ever be embarrassed of anything you say to me.”

You bit down on your lip. Josh was still holding on tightly to your hand, his eyes never leaving yours. Your heart started pounding at the prospect of what you were about to do.

“I’m in love with you, Josh”

His face immediately changed, his eyes growing wide. He leaned back slightly.

You started talking again, trying to fill the silence he had created, “And I know things are going to be awkward now because we live together and you don’t feel the same but after watching you with that interviewer, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to watch the interview but I got so jealous whenever she put a hand on you and I couldn’t bear to watch that anymore. I should have told you how I felt a long time ago but I was so afraid of ruining what we already had that I didn’t but I can’t hold it anymore, Josh, I really can’t.”

Tears started flowing out of your eyes and you quickly buried your face again, pulling your hand away from Josh’s. You wanted to sink through the floor and disappear forever, but instead you were stuck on the couch, facing the guy that you had just confessed your love to.

“Please don’t cry, Y/N,” Josh said, reaching out and placing a hand on your knee.

You wrapped your arms more tightly around your legs.

“Will you look at me again?”

You lifted your head up, making sure just your eyes were visible.

“I don’t love her,” he started.

The knot in your stomach lessened slightly, at least that was one thing you didn’t have to worry about.

“I love you.”

Butterflies immediately erupted in your stomach and you felt your breath catch.

“You do?”

He nodded. You couldn’t help the smile that spread across your face. Immediately, you got up and reached over, crashing into him as you attempted to hug him. He wrapped his arms tightly around you, holding you close.

“I should have told you a long time ago,” you whispered.

“I could say the same,” Josh responded.

You leaned back for a second to look at him, which he quickly took as an opportunity to pull you into a kiss.

“I love you, Josh Dun,” you smiled, burying your head in his chest once again.

“I love you too, Y/F/N Y/L/N.”

Chapter Text

 

Your phone started to ring, waking you up from the dream you had been having. Groaning loudly, you rolled over and answered.

“Hello?” your voice was hoarse from sleep.

“Heeeeeeey, sweetheart.”

You recognized Josh’s voice immediately. And by the use of his favored pet name for you, he was drunk off his ass yet again.

“What do you want, Josh?” you asked.

Dealing with drunk Josh was the last thing you felt like doing right now, especially since he had woken you up in the middle of the night.

“I was just calling to tell you how beautiful you are.”

You felt your heart start to race, even though his words were empty. You were far from the first woman that he had told that to tonight.

“Do you need me to pick you up?” you grumbled.

“Nah, the night is just getting started.”

You got up from bed and grabbed some shorts that you had tossed aside the night before.

“I’m coming to get you, where are you?”

“I don’t need to be picked up.”

You somehow managed to pull on your shorts with one hand.

“I’ll ask you one more time, where are you?”

You heard him groan loudly on the other line, “The bar on the other side of town. The one with the green door.”

“I’ll be there in ten,” you said shortly before ending the call.

You could hear the thumping music from inside the bar before you had even shut the car off. A couple of people were leaned against the brick building, smoking cigarettes and laughing with one another. You locked the car behind you and walked through the door.

Smoke clouded most of the room as you looked around for the familiar bright yellow of Josh’s hair. You quickly spotted him sat at the bar, flirting relentlessly with some blonde. He had obviously forgotten about you coming to pick him up.

“Alright, Josh, that’s enough,” you said, grabbing him by the arm as you walked up to him.

The girl looked at you with disdain, “Who are you?” she spat.

“A friend,” you shot her a look before pulling Josh off the stool and dragging him out.

“Look at you, getting all feisty,” Josh laughed as you walked him through the bar.

You rolled your eyes and brought him out to the car.

“Are you going to be able to get in on your own or are you so drunk that you can’t open a door properly?” you hissed.

“I got it, sweetheart,” he said as he opened the door.

You climbed inside and turned on the car. Josh clicked his seatbelt and leaned his chair back.

“You better not throw up all over my car,” you warned.

“I don’t plan on it, sweetheart.”

Josh continued to call you pet names and flirt with you on the way home, it was what happened when he got drunk. Tyler had always been the fun one to be around when he was drunk, although it was rare that that happened anymore.

You parked in your normal spot on the side of the building. Josh took awhile to get out of the car, much to your dismay.

“Do you have your apartment key?” you asked.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I wasn’t planning on coming home, if you know what I mean,” he said, shooting you a wink.

“You’re atrocious,” you groaned.

Josh trailed slowly behind you as you walked across the parking lot. More than a few times he almost fell face first onto the pavement, causing you to spin around in a panic. By the time you reached the door to the lobby, you were one stumble away from punching him straight in the nose just to knock him out. Dragging him upstairs would be lightyears easier than what you were going through now.

“You should wear those shorts more often, they make your butt look good,” he slurred.

You punched the elevator button before pulling your shorts down a bit further. Josh continued to stumble around behind you.

“I cannot believe you left your apartment key at home,” you grumbled as you stepped into the elevator.

“I already told you, I didn’t plan on coming home,” he slurred. “Even now I might not,” he smirked, slinging an arm around your shoulder.

“Yeah, you’ll be sleeping on my couch.”

Josh groaned loudly as you stomped out of the elevator. You walked up to the door and swung it open before spinning around and waiting for a stumbling Josh to make his way into the apartment.

“I just don’t see why I can’t go home, it’s right there!” he exclaimed.

“Because I’m not going to bother Tyler with your stupidity,” you said, shutting and locking the door behind you. “Take off your shoes.”

He bent down and unlaced his shoes before kicking them off by the wall.

“Go lay down on the couch while I grab you some blankets.”

He started to walk in the general direction of the living room, so you headed down the hall towards the closet. A blanket was stuffed up on the top shelf and after a brief moment of executing your climbing skills, you had it tucked safely under your arm. The pillow was easier to grab, being only at about eye level.

Josh was already half asleep on the couch when you returned. Deciding just to let him sleep since he was less annoying that way anyway, you gently lifted up his head and slid the pillow under it. He barely moved as you threw the blanket over him and ensured his feet were covered.

You took a moment to watch him, just to make sure that he was stable before returning to your own room. Your pajamas were still in a discarded heap on the floor, so you quickly pulled them on and crawled back into your bed.

When you woke up the next morning, Josh was still fast asleep on the couch. You lazily shuffled across the wooden floors to the kitchen to grab yourself a bowl of cereal.

Just as you started to walk around the counter to the stools, Josh started stirring on the couch. You hopped into a stool and spun around to face him.

“‘Morning, princess,” you smiled as his eyes blinked open.

“Where am I-woah-ow,” he said, reaching up and grabbing his head.

You hopped back off the stool, leaving your cereal temporarily abandoned in pursuit of some pain meds. Based on how drunk he had been acting last night, his headache was bound to be a terrible one.

“Take these,” you said, shoving a couple of pills and a glass of water into his hand.

While he was doing that, you grabbed your cereal and walked back over to the armchair, throwing your legs over the side.

“What happened last night?” he asked.

“Let’s see, it started when you called me at three in the morning to ‘tell me how beautiful I am’. Then I had to come and pick you up from a bar on the other side of town, except you didn’t have your apartment key because you hadn’t planned on coming home last night, so I brought you in here and stuck you on the couch,” you smiled sarcastically.

He stared at you blankly for a little while, but whether it was because he was processing things slowly or trying to tell if you were telling the truth, you couldn’t tell.

“I’m really sorry I put you through that.”

“Wasn’t the first time,” you grumbled. “You should just be happy that you didn’t call Tyler.”

Your conversation was interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Speak of the devil,” you said under your breath as you stood up.

Based on how these nights usually went down, the chances of it being Tyler at the door were very high. Sure enough, when you swung the door open, a very worried looking Tyler was on the other side.

“Have you seen Josh recently?”

You swung the door open further, making Josh visible. The worried look on Tyler’s face quickly turned to anger as he stormed inside.

“Wait,” you said, just as Tyler opened his mouth.

Tyler spun around to face you, his eyebrows knit together and his eyes tight.

“As much as I love you two, do you mind taking this to your own apartment?”

“Fine,” Tyler managed.

Tyler stormed quickly out of the apartment, followed less than closely by a shuffling Josh.

“Good luck,” you said, giving him a reassuring pat on the back.

You swung the door closed and walked back over to where your cereal was sitting, happily adding another Drunk Josh fiasco under your belt.

Chapter Text

Seven months. That’s how long it had been since the last time Tyler or Josh had sent out a tweet, made an Instagram post, or done anything to let the fans know that they were still out there.

Now, they were desperate.

Every picture posted by a family member, any paparazzi shot that showed even the slightest part of the one of the boys’ faces, or anyone close to them, for that matter, was analyzed for any clues as to what was going on in their lives.

You had been pregnant for six months now, and it was getting increasingly difficult to hide the ever-growing bump that was your stomach. Your wardrobe had consisted of nothing but Josh’s oversized sweatshirts and flowing dresses for months now, but even those were hardly cutting it anymore. You and Josh had to watch for paparazzi at every turn, because you knew the second that the fans caught wind of this, all hell would break loose.

“Maybe I just shouldn’t go out for the next few months,” you sighed. “It’s getting too risky, and they’re being more aggressive than ever because of the hiatus.”

Josh walked out of the kitchen, chips in hand.

“Babe, you can’t keep yourself holed up in here until the baby is born. You heard the doctor, getting out and going for a walk is good for you and the baby.”

“I know, I just wish I didn’t have to worry about there being cameras around every corner. The doctor also said unnecessary stress isn’t good for the baby.”

Josh walked over and leaned over the back of the couch, “I’m going to be there with you every step of the way. Now why don’t you go throw on one of my sweatshirts and we’ll take a little stroll around town?”

“Ok.”

Josh planted a kiss on your cheek before walking off into another room. You headed upstairs and dug through the pile of sweatshirts that you had been basically living in for the last few months until you found a particularly large one. In one quick motion, you stripped off the t-shirt you were wearing and pulled on the sweatshirt over your leggings.

You started to walk out of the room, but stopped and took a look at yourself in the mirror. The sweatshirt masked most of your bump, but it was still just visible if you looked close enough. Normally, you would panic and try to find some way to mask it, but you were so tired of the stress of it all that you shrugged it off just this once.

“I’m ready!” you called to Josh as you finished lacing up your shoes.

He walked over and joined you at the base of the stairs. You held out a hand to him and he helped you stand up.

“Don’t you look beautiful,” he smiled.

You rolled your eyes, but struggled to conceal a smile, “Do you have to say that every day?”

“Yes, because you look beautiful every day.”

He planted a quick kiss on your lips before intertwining his fingers with yours.

The sun was shining brightly outside. A sweatshirt was a bit warm for the sunny Los Angeles weather, but you knew you didn’t have much of a choice. Instead, you focused on spending time with your husband and enjoying some fresh air.

“So then Tyler went running down the street with his shirt off, and I had to go chasing after him…” Josh said, trailing off the end of his story.

You turned to look at him, wondering why he had suddenly stopped. He loved to tell that story, despite the fact that you had heard it seemingly hundreds of times before. You followed his gaze up ahead, to where a few reporters were huddled on the side of the street, cameras in hand.

“Shit,” you sighed, stopping in your tracks.

“Do you want to turn back and head home? Because we can do that before they get too many pictures.”

You ran a hand through your hair, “I don’t care, I just want to enjoy a nice walk with you.”

Josh smiled and gave your hand a light squeeze, “Then let’s keep going.”

You and Josh walked along the sidewalk, all the while you reminded yourself of everything that Josh had told you about dealing with paparazzi when you first started dating. Keep your chin up, don’t pay them any attention, and don’t stop moving.

“Y/N! Josh! Over here!” one of them called.

You kept walking forward, keeping your attention on Josh. His grip on your hand tightened a little, so you gave him a reassuring squeeze.

“So, the story you were telling?” you reminded him.

“Right, so Tyler was running shirtless down the street…”

 

You sat down on the couch with your pizza, taking a second to make yourself comfortable. Josh was still upstairs drying off from his shower, so you took a moment to scroll through social media on your phone to kill the time.

You opened Twitter and were immediately flooded with notifications of people tweeting one of the latest Twitter moments at you. Typically, you would brush it aside and continue on with your day, but because of your pregnancy, you couldn’t help but look into it. Sure enough, pictures from your walk earlier that morning were plastered all over, being tweeted from pretty much every news account and clique member imaginable.

Y/N Dun pregnant?

Is the newest band member on its way?

Rumored new addition to the Dun family!

You should have known that the second the pictures got out, the clique would jump on it. With the hiatus, something being even slightly off in a photo would send them in a frenzy. You knew that you shouldn’t be too upset, they were going to find out eventually, but you couldn’t help but be upset that you had let the information get out so easily. Josh had always stressed that he wanted to be the one to let the fans know.

Josh walked downstairs a few moments later and saw you in your panicked state on the couch. His instincts immediately kicked in, and he was next to you on the couch in seconds, one arm wrapped protectively around you stroking your arm.

“Hey, what’s going on?” he asked.

You shook your head, “I didn’t hide my bump well enough. There are pregnancy rumors everywhere, Josh. They all basically know.”

His face fell a bit, but he pulled you into his chest and held onto you tightly.

“It’s ok. This isn’t your fault.”

“I’m sorry, Josh. I know you wanted to be the one to let them know.”

“Don’t be sorry. I should have let them know sooner, the hiatus is just making things difficult.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. Just because things didn’t go the way you expected them do doesn’t mean it went wrong.”

“I love you, Josh.”

“I love you, too. And I love our little drummer,” he smiled, resting a hand on your baby bump.

You nestled yourself further into his chest, wondering how you got so lucky to have such an amazing family.

Chapter Text

Four counts in. Hold it. Six counts out, you reminded yourself.

“Now put your hands together for Y/N L/N!”

Shit, that’s me, you thought. Alright, you’ve got this. You’ve been singing for years, you’re good at it, there’s a reason they hired you.

You smoothed out your dress one final time before taking the stage. Lights were shining in your face, making it near impossible to see the crowd. You could make out a few faces here and there, and you were pretty sure you could see the trailing fabric of the bride’s dress. There was silence as you took your place at the mic.

You quietly cleared your throat as the music started to play. As soon as the first word left your mouth, you immediately felt relaxed and got lost in the words.

 

You sang a handful of songs before walking back off stage. It had gone flawlessly, and you couldn’t help but feel proud of your performance. A smile was plastered on your face as you gathered up your things and started to walk towards your car.

You were making your way down a long hallway when someone called after you. Thinking you had forgotten something, you spun on your heel. A man with bright yellow hair was a few paces behind you, looking a bit out of breath.

“Um, hi,” he stammered.

You chuckled at his nervous demeanor, “Hi.”

You took a second to look him over. He was dressed in a full suit, although you were pretty sure he wasn’t the groom. If anything, he was one of the groomsmen. His nose piercing also stuck out to you. In general, he didn’t really seem the type to get all dressed up like he was.

“I’m sorry if this is weird, but I was just so blown away by your voice…I had to introduce myself. Josh, by the way,” he said, holding out a hand.

“Y/N,” you said, returning the handshake. “And don’t worry, I get that a lot.”

You mentally slapped yourself for sounding so cocky.

Josh smiled, “You know, I doubt anyone would mind if you came and hung out for a little while.”

You raised your eyebrows, “Will there be cake?”

“They’re cutting it in five minutes.”

“Then I’m in,” you smiled. “Let me go put my bag in my car real quick.”

“Alright, I’ll meet you inside.”

“Perfect.”

You turned back around and continued walking towards your car, the smile on your face even bigger than it had been before.

Chapter Text

“Yes, one large hawaiian pizza and one large pepperoni pizza,” you repeated.

“Ok, we’ll have that delivered in about fifteen minutes.”

“Thank you,” you said cheerily before hitting the end call button.

You walked back over to the couch where Josh was currently wrapped up in blankets. He looked up at you hopefully as you took a seat on the other end of the couch and grabbed your own blanket.

“Fifteen minutes,” you said, already knowing the question he was going to ask.

“That’s so long,” he groaned.

“It could be much worse, remember that time we didn’t get the pizza for over an hour and then it was cold when it got here?”

“We got it for free and cold pizza is way better, anyway,” he retorted.

“Alright, let me just call them and tell them they can take as long as they want,” you said, jokingly reaching for your phone.

“No!” Josh said, lunging towards you.

He landed on top of you, squishing you between his body and the couch.

“Josh,” you groaned, pushing him off of you.

He sat back on his side of the couch with a smile. You shook your head and grabbed the TV remote from the coffee table.

“So what non-romance movie should we watch?” you asked.

For the last three years, you and Josh had spent Valentine’s Day together to avoid being alone on the holiday. You usually spent the night eating more pizza than should be humanly possible, watching any movie that had minimal amounts of romance and maximum amounts of action, and complaining about how alone you two were.

“What about that new one that just came out?” he suggested.

“Eh,” you shrugged. “I was thinking something more along the lines of The Avengers.”

“We watched that like two weeks ago!”

“It’s a fantastic movie.”

You and Josh turned to face each other. His eyes met yours, and you immediately narrowed your eyes in challenge. He raised an eyebrow.

After a solid thirty seconds of starting at each other, Josh gave in, “Fine, we can watch The Avengers again, but I’m picking the next movie after that.”

“You better pick Age of Ultron,” you warned.

“No promises.”

 

Halfway through the third movie of the night, you were beginning to get tired. Your head was bobbing dangerously from side to side, and you were fading in and out of consciousness.

“Y/N,” Josh whispered.

“Huh?” you said, barely bringing your head up to normal level.

“Come here.”

“What?”

“Come lay on me, you’ll be more comfortable.”

You nodded and slid over to the other side of the couch so that you could rest your head on Josh’s shoulder. He adjusted slightly so that you didn’t have to crane your neck so much to lay on him.

“I know you’re really tired right now, but can I tell you something?”

“You can tell me anything, Josh,” you yawned.

“I have feelings for you.”

You immediately woke up as adrenaline started pumping through your body. It took you a second to fully process what he had said.

“You…have feelings for me?” you asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m sorry if you don’t feel the same and I ruined the night. And I know I picked a really cliché day to tell you…”

You grabbed your phone and checked the time.

“Actually, you didn’t,” you smiled, showing him the time that read just after midnight.

A small smile flashed on his face, but the expression of nervousness soon returned.

“I have feelings for you too, don’t worry,” you said, reaching out and grabbing his hand.

“You do?”

You nodded.

“Sweet,” he said with a nervous laugh. “Is it-uh-can I kiss you?”

“I can’t promise it’ll be very good because I’m half asleep but yes, you can kiss me,” you smiled.

He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to your lips. You couldn’t help but smile as he did so.

“I guess we’ll have to make actual plans for Valentine’s Day next year,” he said.

“I don’t know, eating pizza and watching action movies has served us well in the past, why stop now?”

“You’re such a dork.”

“I know.”

Chapter Text

The beeping of the smoke detector in the hall woke you up from the dream you were having. Your roommate was already sitting on their bed, pulling their shoes on. Outside in the hall, the sound of footsteps rushing past was distinguishable.

Not wanting to get caught on the fourth floor in a possible fire, you quickly pulled on your shoes and grabbed your keys from beside the door. You followed your roommate out the door and down the hall towards the staircase.

People were already gathered outside the residence hall, most of them wrapped in blankets or sweatshirts that they had quickly grabbed, something that you had completely blanked on doing in your quick attempt to get out of the building. You had also failed to grab your phone from your nightstand, meaning you would be unable to contact anyone if you ended up being stuck outside all night.

People were whispering all around you, talking about what set off the smoke alarm. You managed to catch pieces of conversations as you stood at the edge of the mass of people.

“…had a candle burning when they shouldn’t have…”

“…doesn’t know how to cook properly…”

“…pulled the alarm for a joke…”

“You look like you’re freezing,” a familiar voice directed your concentration away from the conversations around you.

“Hey, Josh,” you smiled.

He was wrapped in a blanket over what appeared to be a long sleeve shirt and pajama pants. His hair was sticking out at all angles and you hadn’t seen someone look so tired before, although he did have a tendency to look like that all the time.

“Is there a reason you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt on a cold October night?”

“Well I didn’t exactly expect to have to evacuate the building, and when I did, I blanked on grabbing anything to keep me warm…or my phone, for that matter.”

“Well, my blanket is big enough for the two of us,” he said, holding out his arm and part of the blanket.

The thought of being pressed up next to Josh under a blanket made your heart start to beat a bit harder. Your head told you if you did that you would make a stupid move, but the cold spreading throughout your body told you otherwise.

“Can’t pass that offer up,” you smiled as you snuggled up next to him and took the blanket from his hand, wrapping it around the two of you.

You expected him to move his arm so that it provided a barrier between the two of you, but he instead moved it to rest on your waist, ever so slightly pulling you towards him so that your sides were touching. The warmth from his body radiated onto you, making you even warmer than if you just had the blanket around you. When you looked up at him, he kept looking forward as if he hadn’t done anything.

You continued to stand like that, huddled together and not really talking until one of the RAs came out and told you all that you were free to go back inside. It had turned out to be some stupid prank that another freshman had pulled, but you didn’t really mind. When you finally reached the doors, you unfurled yourself from the blanket and headed for the stairs.

“See you in class tomorrow,” Josh smiled.

“Yeah, I’ll see you then,” you smiled back.

Chapter Text

Your alarm went off, waking you up from the dream that you had been having. Next to you, your husband Josh was rolling over with a grumble.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” you smiled.

He blinked his eyes open slowly. You couldn’t help but admire his messy hair and tired eyes; it was rare that you two ever got a peaceful morning together anymore, especially not on vacation like this.

“I should probably get ready before the kids wake up,” you sighed, starting to get out of bed.

Josh reached out and lightly grabbed your forearm, “Can we please lay here for just five minutes? We never get mornings together like this anymore,” he whimpered.

“Fine, but only for a few minutes,” you said, crawling back into bed.

Josh scooted over and wrapped his arms around your waist, burying his head in the crook of your neck. You traced patterns on his bare arm, enjoying his company and the quietness of the house. The waves of the ocean were visible outside, and watching them swell up and crash against the shore only added to the peaceful atmosphere.

“Mom!” a young voice yelled.

Josh immediately sat up at the sound of the yelling. Seconds later, the door to your bedroom came crashing open as your two children ran in and jumped on the bed. Josh instinctively protected your stomach as your son launched himself towards you. Your daughter was less wild, opting instead to crawl on the bed.

“Good morning,” you smiled at your kids. “Did you guys sleep well?”

Your daughter nodded while your son launched into a detailed explanation of the dream that he had. Once he was finished, the four of you headed downstairs so that you could make some breakfast. Josh took the lead on making food so that you could watch over the kids.

“Mom,” your daughter whispered, tugging lightly on your pajama shorts.

“Yes?” you asked, turning to look at her.

“Can I have cereal for breakfast?”

“Dad is making some cereal for you right now,” you smiled.

Your daughter smiled widely before walking over to the other side of the living room where your son was currently playing with his toy truck. She grabbed one of her own toys and sat down next to him, playing quietly. So far, the two of them were getting along fine, which you were thankful for.

Since the kids were playing quietly and not demanding your attention, you got up and walked over to the kitchen where Josh was currently making food for everyone. He was currently cutting up some fruit that you had picked up at the grocery store yesterday to make fruit salad.

“Is that for me?” you smiled.

“It is.”

You clapped your hands giddily and gave Josh a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Do you want any help?” you asked.

“The kids’ cereal is ready, if you want to try and get them to sit at the table.”

“On it,” you said, walking over to the area of the living room where the kids were sitting.

“Mom! Look at this,” your son said, holding up his toy truck that now had a few plastic army men sitting inside.

“That’s pretty cool!” you smiled. “Are you guys hungry?”

“Yes!” your daughter cheered, throwing her arms into the air. Your son opted for nodding while he continued to push his truck around the wood floor.

“Alright, let’s go take a seat at the table then.”

Your kids pushed themselves up from the ground and walked over to the dining table. Your son was easily able to climb into his chair, but your daughter needed some help getting into her booster seat. Once the two were settled in, you brought them each their bowls of cereal.

Josh carried over your breakfast not long after your kids started eating. He had made you a fruit salad and a bagel with your favorite spread on top. Your son kept most of the conversation going, telling you all about what he had done the day before, despite the fact that you had been there the whole time.

“So what do you guys want to do today?” you asked once your son finally finished telling his stories.

“Beach! Beach!” your son began to chant.

Your daughter, always one to follow in her older brother’s footsteps, was quick to join in. You and Josh shared a look, at this point there really was no other option.

“Sounds like we’re going to the beach,” Josh smiled.

Your son turned to your daughter and held out his hand. After a brief moment of confusion, she finally gave him a high five.

“Once you two finish your breakfast, we can get dressed and go to the beach.”

Your daughter immediately grabbed a large handful of large cereal and attempted to stuff it in her mouth. Half of the cereal in her hand fell to the floor. You started to get up to clean it, but Josh held a hand to your arm.

“She’s just going to continue to make a mess, it’s better to leave it for now.”

You slowly sat back down in your chair with a sigh, he had a point.

Forty five minutes of cleaning cereal up off the ground, rubbing sunscreen onto squirming children, and gathering up beach supplies later, the four of you were standing on the sand looking out over the ocean. Your daughter was jumping around wildly, desperate to run into the ocean waves. The only thing stopping her was you and Josh holding onto her hands.

You were quick to find an open spot in the sand and claim it for your own. Josh laid out the blanket while you set up an umbrella so that the kids would have some shade when they needed it. As soon as everything was set up, your daughter was pulling on your dress towards the ocean.

“Be careful out there,” Josh said. “Those waves can come out of nowhere and knock you over.”

“I will,” you said, resting a hand on your stomach. Your baby bump was just beginning to show. Josh gave you a quick kiss, causing your son to stick his tongue out in disgust, before you allowed your daughter to pull you out towards the water.

Water lapped around your ankles as you watched your daughter happily stomp around, splashing water all over the place. She would squeal in happiness when little waves washed over her, getting her wet all the way up to her waist

“Momma! Swing me!” she smiled, holding her arms up to you.

“What’s the magic word?” you asked.

“Please?”

“There you go,” you said, grabbing her hands and swinging her around above the water. She laughed happily as you did so.

Josh and your son joined you a little while later. The two of them ran around, splashing water on each other whenever possible. Your daughter watched them, but was perfectly content playing in the waves with you.

“Momma,” your daughter whined.

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“I want a snack.”

“Alright, why don’t we go get you some food?”

Your daughter grabbed onto your hand and you led her back to where your stuff was sitting. You wrapped her up in a towel and she plopped down on the blanket. It took you a second to find the grapes you had packed, but you eventually found them buried at the bottom of the bag and handed them to your daughter.

Once she was finished with her food, your daughter went and took a seat in the sand. You handed her some toys that she could play with, and she began to try and build a sandcastle. Josh and your son returned a few moments later, your son claiming that he needed a snack as well. He happily sat and ate his food while Josh took a seat next to you.

“It’s nice out here, isn’t it?” he asked, wrapping an arm around your waist.

“Much better than the weather at home, that’s for sure,” you said.

“I’m so glad we decided to take this trip, it’s a nice break from life at home.”

“Tell me about it,” you said.

“Momma! Dad! Look!” your daughter said, pointing to the small mound she had made in the sand, adorned with a leaf from a nearby tree.

“It’s beautiful,” you smiled. Josh gave her a thumbs up, which caused her to smile widely.

“I want to make a sandcastle!” your son said, setting his snack down and joining his sister in the sand.

You leaned your head on Josh’s shoulder and watched as your kids built sandcastles. Occasionally, they would run out to the ocean to gather up some water, causing you to tense up a little. Josh would always keep you calm, and you son always accompanied your daughter to keep her safe.

Eventually, your daughter started to grow tired and cranky. She walked over and curled up next to you, closing her eyes in an attempt to take a nap. Your son was still running around in the sand, making various towers and structures.

“We should probably get this one home,” you said, stroking your daughter’s hair.

Josh nodded, “Y/S/N, it’s time to get going.”

“Already?” your son asked, sticking out his lower lip.

“Yes, we’ll have lots more opportunities to go to the beach.”

“Ok,” he said, shuffling over to where you were and sitting on the edge of the blanket.

Josh began to pack up your stuff while you scooped your daughter into your arms. Your son grabbed onto your free hand, leaving Josh to carry everything on his own. Thankfully, he had no problem doing this.

Eventually, you all made it back to the house. It took some convincing to get your daughter out of her bathing suit and into something more comfortable for her afternoon nap, but you eventually managed to do it. Your son was also quick to announce that he would be taking a nap before disappearing into his bedroom.

“You know, a nap doesn’t sound so bad,” you said, turning to Josh after helping your daughter get ready for her nap.

“Do you want to take a nap?” he asked.

You nodded up at him. He took hold of your hand and led you up towards the bedroom where you both collapsed on the bed, once again enjoying the peace and quiet.

“Best vacation ever,” you smiled before promptly falling asleep.

Chapter Text

Your POV

“C’mon, Josh, let’s go!” you said impatiently, tapping the dash of the car as you did so.

Josh turned the key again, but the car only spluttered and died once again. You turned and looked through the rear window of the car, the lights were growing closer.

“It won’t go,” Josh said in defeat, his hand dropping from the keys.

“Well then what are our other options? We can’t just stay here.”

Josh turned and looked at you, “Look around us, Y/N, where are we going to go?”

You turned and grabbed the duffel bag from the backseat, pulling it into your lap, “We’ve been on the run for seven years now, and I’m not about to give it all up because you just choose to sit here.”

You opened the car door and stepped outside, immediately pulling your hood up. Sirens were audible in the distance, but you kept your chin up and kept walking. Josh could fend for himself from now on, you were better off working on your own anyway.

You heard the car door slam behind you, but you didn’t dare turn around. If he really cared about you staying, he could come after you. Sirens continued to grow closer, but you remained focused on getting away as fast as you could.

“Y/N!”

You kept walking.

“They’re going to be here any second, we’re stronger together.”

You said nothing.

“If we get caught, remember our deal. We both stay quiet, no matter what they offer us.”

The sirens were directly behind you now. You could hear yelling, but you kept walking. At this point, it was useless, but you didn’t care.

“Put your hands in the air!”

You spun on your heel, immediately pulling your gun up in defense. Three cops were standing behind you, their weapons aimed directly at you. Behind them, you could see Josh pressed up against your getaway car being handcuffed.

“Drop the weapon and nobody gets hurt.”

You sighed and tossed your weapon on the ground in front of you. Slowly, you raised your hands in defeat.

“The bag too.”

You dropped the bag to the ground at your feet and kicked it away from you. One of the cops rushed forward and grabbed your hands, forcing them behind your back. Another grabbed the bag and unzipped it, revealing all the money that you and Josh had just stolen. The cop shoved your back, leading you towards the mass of cop cars.

Seven years of meticulous planning, not leaving a single trace, and numerous aliases, down the drain.

 

J osh’s POV

I watched as they led her towards another one of the cop cars. She kept her head bent low, and the anger on her face was evident. I should have gone with her, together we could have made it out of here. What was I thinking?

“That your girlfriend?” the cop sitting in the front seat asked.

“No,” I answered, pulling my gaze away from the window. “Just a friend.”

“Pretty hot friend you got there.”

My hands autonomously balled into fists. If it weren’t for the handcuffs on my wrists and the bars dividing the backseat from the front, I would have decked the guy. He had no right to talk about Y/N like that. Another cop slid into the passenger seat of the car.

“Squadron 451, you’re clear to leave. Over,” a voice crackled over the radio.

“This is Officer Hendricks, we have Dun in the car. Over,” the driver answered.

I leaned back against the seats and looked up at the roof of the car. We had been so careful this time, what had happened?

 

Your POV

“Just tell us how you did it, and you’re free to go,” the detective said, pacing back across the room yet again. Your eyes followed him as he walked.

“That’s not happening.”

He walked over and placed his hands on the table, “If you do, you get to go free and your buddy will serve all the jail time you’ve accumulated.”

You looked him straight in the eyes, “Apparently I wasn’t clear enough the first time. That’s. Not. Happening.”

The cop turned away, grumbling to himself. You shifted slightly in your chair, making it a bit more comfortable.

“I want a lawyer,” you stated plainly.

The cop turned back to face you, shooting you a look. You raised an eyebrow at him, knowing that this was testing his patience. If you played your cards right, you could get him angry enough that it would end up helping your case.

“I know my rights, and I’m not saying anything until I’ve had a consultation.”

“I’ll be back,” the cop said, slamming the door behind him as he left.

 

Josh’s POV

I shifted in my chair again, trying to release some of the tension in my back. It had been awhile since there had been someone in the room with me, giving me plenty of time to think. The only sound was a low murmur of conversation outside the door and the occasional outburst from Y/N in the next room over.

The door swung open, giving me an opportunity to glance at the clock. It had been four hours since they had brought us in, and nothing had happened. The cops had tried every trick in the book, but both of us were standing our ground. If one of us didn’t do something soon, we were both going to have a big trial, and lots of jail time, on our hands.

“So, Dun, has some alone time loosened you up at all?”

I clenched my jaw tightly and shut my eyes. What I was about to do was going to seal my fate forever.

“Yes.”

The cop walked over and took a seat across from me. The slightest hint of a smile was tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“It has?”

I nodded.

“What is it that you need to tell me?”

“I did it. All of it.”

“And?”

I opened my eyes and looked up at him, “I did it alone.”

He looked a bit taken aback by my statement, but nodded. I leaned back in my chair and looked at the corner of the room, nervously chewing on the inside of my cheek. The cop organized his papers before standing back up and tucking them under his arm. Behind me, the door opened and closed. As soon as I knew I was alone, I leaned forward and buried my head in my arms.

 

Your POV

One of the cops walked back into the room and stood across the table from me. You continued to stare at the table.

“Looks like it’s your lucky day. Your friend confessed to all the crimes.”

You scoffed and looked up from the table, “Do you think I’m dumb? You already tried that one on me.”

The cop walked forward and unlocked the handcuffs. You immediately pulled your hands out and massaged the indents that had been left on your wrists.

“Go see for yourself.”

You got up from the chair and walked out of the holding room. Sure enough, Josh was being escorted down the hallway by two cops.

“Josh!” you called, running forward.

Another cop stopped you before you got too close, but Josh turned his head just enough to see you. You were confused, hadn’t he been the one that came up with the deal of both of you staying quiet? So why had he confessed?

“Josh, we need to get out of here right now,” you said.

Alarms were blaring all around you, only heightening your anxiety. Josh reached forward and grabbed your hand.

“I know. Don’t worry, I’m not going to let them hurt you.”

The realization hit you like a ton of bricks as you watched his yellow hair round the corner in the hallway. Josh Dun loved you.

“The exit is that way,” one of the cops said, pulling you from your thoughts.

“Thanks,” you said meekly, quickly walking out of the building.

You took a second to look around you as you stepped outside. Josh had given you something that you hadn’t been given in a long time: a second chance. And for that, you loved him.

Chapter Text

You pulled your jacket up further around your face to protect it a bit more against the biting cold. Wind whipped the fabric against your cheeks, causing them to sting a little, but the slight pain was the last thing on your mind. Right now, you just needed to be out of the house, away from your parents and brother who wouldn’t stop bickering about his lack of employment. Maybe coming home to visit for a weekend hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

The familiar brick of the coffee shop’s exterior came into view as you rounded the corner on Main Street. The small sign was rocking dangerously back and forth in the wind, making it look as if it would fly off its hinges at any given moment. You made a point to walk on the far side of the sidewalk in case that did happen, you didn’t need your parents fighting with your brother and worrying about you in the hospital.

The bell over the door chimed as you walked in, drawing the attention of a few rather bored looking patrons. You avoided eye contact and directed your attention to the counter. What you hadn’t expected was to recognize the man behind the counter, someone you had gone to high school with. You were pretty sure his name was Josh, although you couldn’t be certain. He was a year or two older than you, but you knew each other well based on the sheer number of times that you came into this coffee shop to escape your bickering family. You hadn’t expected him to still be working here two years later, he had mentioned wanting to move out of town so often.

“Hey, it’s you,” he smiled as you walked up to the counter. “How have you been?”

“I’ve been good, making life in a new city. It’s been awhile,” you answered.

“Yeah, two years?” he asked, already grabbing a cup and beginning to write things on it. You furrowed your eyebrows, unsure as to what it was he was doing. “You still want a large hot chocolate with peppermint and cinnamon added in?”

“Yes,” you said, a bit astounded that he had remembered your order after such a long time.

“Great,” he flashed his signature smile at you. “Your total is $2.80.”

You dug around in your wallet until you found enough money to pay for the drink and tip him a bit extra for his remarkable memory.

“How did you still remember my order?” you asked as you passed him the money and dumped some coins in the tip jar.

“When a customer comes in and orders the same thing three or four times a week, it tends to stick with you,” he smiled.

“Fair enough,” you nodded.

“I’ll get that to you right away, have a great day.”

“You too,” you answered.

You walked over and took a seat by the window where you could see the trees dancing wildly back and forth in the wind outside. The coffee shop was just warm enough that you felt comfortable taking off your thick outer coat. You drummed your fingers along the table as you waited for your drink, trying not to think about the fact that you would eventually have to return home.

“Hot chocolate for Y/N,” Josh called.

You got up from your chair and walked over to grab your drink. Josh was standing on the other side of the counter, working on another order.

“Thank you,” you smiled, grabbing a lid for your drink.

“Anytime,” he returned your smile and gave you a quick wink.

You walked back over to your chair and took a seat. It was only once you had made yourself comfortable and went to take your first drink that you realized Josh had written on the side of the cup.

I would love to catch up.

Under his message was a barely legible phone number, but after a bit of staring you managed to figure it out. You couldn’t help the smile on your face as you sat drinking your hot chocolate and watching people trying to brave the wind outside.

Maybe this weekend wouldn’t be so unbearable after all.

Chapter Text

“He’s in this room right down here,” the nurse said as you walked down the bleak hallway.

Your heart was pounding with the anticipation of being able to talk to Josh again. Just over a month ago, he had been involved in a bad car accident that had caused him serious brain damage. The brain damage led to a coma, which meant that you had been mostly on your own for the last month while he healed. It had been hard on you, but you were just thankful that you hadn’t lost him entirely.

The nurse turned just as you reached the outside of his room. You furrowed your eyebrows, unsure as to why she was blocking you from the door.

“Before you go in, the doctor is going to talk about his diagnosis with you for a minute.”

“Ok,” you nodded, a bit disheartened but otherwise complacent. As badly as you wanted to see him, you knew that his injuries had been serious and there was always a possibility he wouldn’t be quite the same once he finally did get better.

The nurse walked into the room, opening the door just enough for her to slide in. You tried to catch a glimpse of Josh, but to no avail.

You recognized the doctor that walked out of the room a few moments later. The two of you had met when Josh was first admitted, she must have been the one who was supervising his care.

“Y/N Dun, nice to see you again,” she smiled.

“You too.”

“So, Josh’s diagnosis,” she said, pulling the keyboard from under her arm in front of her. “Now that’s he’s awake, we got a better idea of what exactly happened.”

“And that is?” you asked, eager to get inside the room.

“He has retrograde amnesia.” You felt your throat catch at her words. “Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember most of the events that occurred before the accident. He still has most of his non-declarative memory, but his personal life remains largely a mystery to him. As we told his family, there is a good chance that he won’t recognize you.”

Tears were pooling in the bottom of your eyes, “Is there a chance that he’ll regain his memories?”

“It’s possible, but highly unlikely.”

“Ok,” you nodded, trying to process all of the information that you had just been told.

“Feel free to enter the room whenever you like,” she smiled before walking off down the hall.

You took a moment to compose yourself, wiping away the tears that had slipped down your cheeks. In a way, you were just meeting Josh again for the first time. Hopefully this time you wouldn’t make a complete fool of yourself.

With shaking hands, you reached for the handle and slowly opened the door. Josh was sitting in the hospital bed, munching on some chips and watching whatever was playing on the TV. He was wearing a beanie, one that his family must have brought him, leaving a small strip of his dark brown hair visible. You wondered what his hair looked like beneath it, since it hadn’t been dyed in so long. A nurse was in the corner of the room, making some markings on a chart. He gave you a small smile, which you returned.

Josh turned to look at you when he heard the door open. His eyes widened, and he quickly wiped some of the chip dust off of his fingers before holding out a hand.

“Hi,” he smiled.

You walked over and shook his hand hesitantly, hoping that he couldn’t feel how badly you were shaking. “Hi.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you?” he asked.

“Right, sorry,” you said sheepishly, quickly realizing that you had gotten caught up in admiring him. “My name is Y/N. I’m your wife.”

“I’m married?” he said, his eyes going wide. He looked at you and then at the nurse, as if to double check that you weren’t playing a prank on him. The nurse nodded. “That’s crazy, but it explains the ring,” he said, holding up his left hand.

“Yeah,” you said, quickly wiping away a tear when he was distracted.

“How long have we been married?” he asked.

“In a couple months, we’ll have been married for three years.”

Josh nodded, “Three years,” he repeated quietly.

“You can take a seat if you’d like,” the nurse said.

“Right,” you said quietly, walking over and taking a seat in one of the chairs on the far side of the bed. Josh’s eyes were on you as you walked over and set your stuff down. On the table next to him, there were tons of cards addressed to him from various family members and friends.

“Do you want a chip?” Josh asked, tilting the bag towards you.

You wrinkled your nose, wondering why he would offer you the chips you hated, until you realized he had no idea that you hated them.

“No, thank you. I don’t like those kind,” you said.

“Really?” he asked, taking a moment to examine the front of the bag before reaching in and grabbing one. “I think they’re fantastic.”

“I know,” you half smiled.

It felt weird to still know everything about Josh while he had no idea you were even married until a few minutes ago when you had told him. You weren’t exactly sure how things were going to play out from here on out, but you tried to push it to the back of your mind and enjoy the fact that you were with him now.

“So what else should I know?” he asked, grabbing another chip from the bag.

You let out a long breath of air as a million things began to run through your head. There was almost too much for you to ever explain to him.

“Why don’t we look at some pictures?” you asked.

“That would be nice.”

Josh scooted over so there was a bit more room for you to sit on the edge of the bed. You pulled out your phone and began to look through photos with him, giving him small backstories for each of them. The two of you looked through photos of your pets, vacations you had gone on, and just random things the two of you had done. After about two hours, you decided that you should probably let Josh rest some more.

You got off the bed and grabbed your bag, pulling it over your shoulder in one swift motion. Seeing Josh had been bittersweet.

“Are you leaving already?” Josh asked as you were packing up your things.

“Yeah, you still need to get some more rest.”

Josh pulled out his puppy dog eyes, and it made you laugh a bit to see that despite everything that happened to him, he was still the same Josh deep down inside. “Are you going to come back again?”

“Of course. Legally, you’re stuck with me,” you smiled, flashing your wedding ring at him.

This caused him to smile, “I like you, Y/N. You’re funny.”

“Thank you, Josh. Now get some rest, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

He waved at you as you turned around and walked out the door. Once you were outside of his room, you took a moment to compose yourself before walking towards your car.

 

It had been two months since Josh had been released from the hospital. After a long week of discussion with medical professionals and Josh’s family, it had been decided that he would return home to Ohio and live with his family. The possibility of Josh regaining his memory and choosing to move back in with you had been brought up, but you decided that there wasn’t a point in getting your hopes up too much.

After a week of living in your old house alone, this time knowing that Josh was awake, you decided there wasn’t really a point in staying. Your own family was hundreds of miles away, and Josh was even further than that. After a quick call to Josh’s parents and some internet searching, you had made the decision to move to Ohio so that you could be closer to him.

 

Three months after Josh’s release, you were finally in your new apartment in Ohio. Your old house had sold fast, which hadn’t surprised you. Josh had loved that house the second that he stepped foot inside, and selling it had been a bittersweet moment. Your new apartment was small, but it had just enough space for you and your pets.

You were making sure to visit Josh every day. The doctor had said that being around him and doing things that you had done before the accident could help to bring parts of his memory back. He had also joked that it could make him fall in love with you all over again. You had smiled nervously at that remark because it meant he might also not fall in love with you again.

“Good afternoon,” Laura smiled at you as she opened the door.

“Hi,” you smiled, trying to contain the excited dog that was currently running around your feet.

“Josh is going to be so happy to see Rocket again,” she smiled, bending down and petting him.

“Where do you want me to take him?”

“The backyard is fine, Josh is actually out there right now.”

“Perfect, thank you.”

“Of course, dear.”

You stepped inside the house and gave Laura a quick hug before making your way to the backyard. Sure enough, Josh was sitting on one of the lawn chairs drinking what appeared to be a glass of lemonade. Rocket immediately freaked out upon seeing Josh again, but you tried to keep him as calm as you could. You were pretty sure Josh wouldn’t appreciate being tackled by a seemingly random dog.

“Hey, Josh,” you smiled.

“Y/N!” he smiled, turning to face you. “Who is this?”

“This is our dog-”

“Wait! Let me try to remember his name, I know you’ve told me,” Josh interrupted you. “My therapist said I should practice recalling information that people have told me, because it may improve other memory recall.”

“Noted. Let me know if you need any hints.”

Josh looked deep in thought for a moment. His eyes suddenly widened with recognition, “Rocket!”

Rocket wiggled a bit in excitement at the mention of his name. His tail continued to wag at a thousand miles an hour, and he gave a small bark of excitement.

“He’s dying to see you, Josh.”

Josh got up from his chair and took a seat on the ground, “I’m ready.”

“You sure? He’s pretty high energy, like, he might knock you over.”

“If I could handle him before, I can handle him now…I could handle him before, couldn’t I?”

“Better than anyone else.”

“Then I’m ready.”

You unhooked Rocket from his leash and he immediately sprinted over to Josh, barreling straight into him. Josh happily held him in his lap and allowed Rocket to cover his face in kisses. Seeing the two of them together again was quite possibly your favorite part of the recovery process so far.

“I can’t believe this dog is mine!” Josh said with the biggest smile on his face. “He’s the best dog I’ve ever met.”

“Do you even remember any other dogs you’ve met?” you giggled.

“Well, not really. Just the ones I pass when I go on runs.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“Man, did I just have the best life before the accident? This was…is my dog,” he caught himself. “I’m married to the coolest person in the world. I’m in a band with my best friend. I don’t think it gets any better than that.”

You smiled at how happy he was, although you couldn’t help but wonder if he still struggled with his anxiety. Maybe it hadn’t been as bad since he didn’t remember most of it, but surely it would creep back eventually.

“You had it pretty good,” you smiled.

“I’ve been listening to our music lately since the therapist recommended it,” Josh explained. “I can’t believe how talented Tyler is!”

“You’re talented too, Josh,” you said. He shrugged. There was the anxiety. “Have you tried playing the drums at all lately?”

“No, I’m afraid I’ll have forgotten it all.”

“You shouldn’t have. Drumming is a non-declarative memory, so you should have most of the skills still.”

“Really?”

“If the doctor and my college psychology professors are right, then yes,” you smiled.

“Ok, maybe I’ll try it soon. Would you be there when I do? For support?”

“Of course.”

“Ok,” Josh smiled.

 

It had been a year since Josh was released from the hospital. His memory was getting better, and he was beginning to remember some things that had happened to him before the accident. To celebrate, his parents had decided to host a small get together for close friends and family.

You opened the fridge and pulled out the fruit salad that you had made that morning. Laura had recommended that everyone bring something for the party and you knew there was no way you could get out of cooking considering you were Josh’s wife and all. You had decided on a fruit salad, it was just about the fanciest thing you could make with your lack of culinary skill.

“We have to leave in five minutes,” you called throughout the apartment.

“I’m almost ready,” he answered.

You covered the fruit salad in plastic wrap and set it on the edge of the counter where you wouldn’t miss it. Rocket was running around the living room wildly, his tongue flying everywhere.

“Rocket, come here,” you said.

Rocket ran over and came to a sudden stop right in front of your feet. You took advantage of the momentary calm to clip his leash on before he took off running again. It had taken him awhile to adjust to no longer having a big yard to run around in, but he had eventually learned the best way to sprint around the living room. Meanwhile, Josh walked out of the bedroom and into the entryway.

“How do I look?” he asked, holding his arms out and giving you a spin.

“Very handsome,” you smiled.

“Ok good, I have a lot to live up to.” He walked over and wrapped an arm around you waist before pressing a quick kiss to your temple.

“Oh shut up,” you joked. “Are you ready?”

“Only if you are.”

“Alright, let’s grab the fruit salad and the dog and get going.”

You and Josh were the first ones to arrive, which was fitting considering it was a party for him. Laura hugged the both of you and ushered you inside.

“Don’t you two look so nice!” she smiled.

“Thank you,” you returned her smile. Josh murmured a quiet “thanks”.

“People should be arriving in about ten minutes. Josh, do you need anything to help you feel less overwhelmed?”

“As long as Y/N sticks with me to help me remember people and events that slip my mind, I should be ok.”

“Perfect,” Laura smiled. “Y/N, you’re up for that?”

“Of course, I stuck by his side at parties even when he didn’t need me to,” you joked.

Josh smiled and grabbed your hand. You gave it a reassuring squeeze.

By the time that the party was over, you and Josh were both exhausted. You had spent the past four hours bouncing around from conversation to conversation, and it was evident that it had taken a toll on Josh. He climbed into the passenger seat of the car and immediately leaned it back, closing his eyes.

“You feeling alright?” you asked, reaching over and grabbing his hand.

“Just tired, there was a lot to try and remember.”

“I know, but you did it!”

“True,” he said, his mouth forming a half-smile. “I’m so lucky to have you.”

“I’m luckier,” you said, giving his hand a quick squeeze before starting the car.

“Thank you for not leaving me because I have amnesia.”

“Of course I wouldn’t leave you. Just because you don’t remember me doesn’t mean I don’t remember you.”

“Were you ever worried that I wasn’t going to love you again?”

“Every day,” you sighed. “But I figured if you fell in love with me once, maybe I could somehow trick you into doing it again,” you laughed.

Josh laughed quietly, “Well, I suppose you were successful then.”

“And I couldn’t be happier about it.”

“Neither could I.”

Chapter Text

You opened the visor in your car and flipped the mirror open. Your eyes were puffy and red from the sobbing you had done on the way to Josh’s house, but you knew that Josh would start to worry if you didn’t walk inside soon. Part of you wanted to text him and tell him that you had to stay late and sit in the car until you no longer looked like you were crying, but the other part of you wanted to go inside and wrap your arms around your boyfriend and forget all the bad things that had happened at work today. Regardless, you didn’t want Josh to worry about you.

You were still debating what to do when you noticed movement out of the corner of your eye. The front door to Josh’s house had swung open and he was walking outside carrying two bags of trash. His back was turned to you still, so you hastily wiped away the few remaining tears and made yourself look as presentable as possible.

Josh’s face absolutely lit up when his eyes landed on you. You took a deep breath and climbed out of the car while he walked over and threw the trash bags into the bin on the side of his house. He must not have noticed how upset you looked yet.

“Y/N!” he smiled, walking over to where you were standing next to your car. “I was starting to get worried about you, thought maybe you decided not to spend Friday night with me.”

Your heart clenched a bit when Josh mentioned that he thought you were skipping out on him. The two of you always made it a point to get together at Josh’s house on Friday night to watch movies and order takeout to celebrate you getting through another week of work. Josh knew that you hated your job, and your Friday night celebration gave you something to look forward to each week.

“I would never skip out on you,” you sniffled.

Josh’s eyebrows furrowed as he got closer to you and noticed your splotchy cheeks and puffy eyes.

“Are you alright?” he asked, reaching out and placing a hand lightly on your forearm.

Josh’s gentle voice was enough to cause you to start crying again. You buried your face in your hand and crossed the other across your stomach, a feeble attempt at shielding yourself from view.

“Was it something I said?” Josh said, stepping closer to you. “Or did work go bad?”

Unable to talk, you just shook your head and let your shoulders shake. Josh wrapped an arm around your shoulders and led you inside. He walked you over to the couch and grabbed a nearby blanket to wrap around you, knowing that it would help you feel a bit more secure.

“I’ll be right back, you just sit tight,” Josh said, walking off down the hallway.

You wrapped the blanket tighter around you and pulled your knees up to your chest, trying to make yourself as small as possible. You hated to break down this way in front of Josh, but work today had been worse than usual. Between your boss yelling at you and your coworkers giving you the cold shoulder, it felt like everyone was against you.

“I figured you didn’t want to be in your work clothes, so I brought you one of my big t-shirts that you like. There was also a pair of your sweats that you left here a few weeks ago that I kept forgiving to get back to you, I thought you might want them,” Josh mumbled.

You hadn’t even heard him walk back into the room, your mind had been so spaced off.

“Do you want me to order some food while you get changed?”

“That would be nice,” you said.

“What do you want? Pizza? Soup? Pasta?”

“Pasta,” you mumbled.

Josh nodded and walked over to where his cell phone was sitting on the kitchen counter. You unfurled yourself from the blanket that Josh had placed on your shoulders and shuffled into the little hallway bathroom.

You looked over yourself as you unbuttoned your work shirt. No wonder Josh had been worried, you really did look like a mess. You fixated on each little imperfection in your appearance as you changed. Maybe your coworkers not wanting to talk to you wasn’t so unwarranted, after all.

“Y/N? Are you ok in there?”

“Yeah,” you lied as you kicked off your slacks. “I’ll be out in a second.”

“Ok.”

Josh’s footsteps retreated back towards the kitchen. You turned on the sink and ran your hand under the water to test the temperature. Once it felt warm enough that it wouldn’t be painful, you splashed some water on your face to get rid of some of the splotches. You quickly dried your face and walked back out into the living room.

Josh was sitting on the couch when you returned. He was scrolling through Twitter on his phone, liking the occasional tweet. You walked over and sat yourself down on the opposite end of the couch, a solid few feet away from Josh.

“What are you doing all the way over there?” Josh asked, setting his phone down on the coffee table.

You shrugged and twisted the strings on your sweatpants around your finger idly. Josh raised an eyebrow at you.

“You know I’m not going to let you just sit there while you’re upset, right?” Josh said, scooting a few inches closer to you. “In fact, I refuse to not be touching you because I know you like to be hugged when you’re upset.”

Josh continued to inch closer to you, all the while you stared down at the couch and practically ignored him. You wanted nothing more than to be wrapped up in his arms with your head on his chest, but your mind was screaming so many negative thoughts at you that it was hard to imagine yourself in that position.

Josh reached out and lightly grabbed your wrist, slowly pulling you towards him. You tried to hide the smile on your face, but Josh saw straight through you. Once he saw the smile on your face, he completely wrapped his arms around you and pulled you into him.

“You can’t fool me, Y/N. I know exactly what you need me to do when you’re upset. So do you want to talk about what has you so distressed?”

You took a deep breath and began to tell Josh all about the terrible day that you had at work. Josh made sure you were calm the entire time. He pressed light kisses to your knuckles and the top of your head, ran his fingers lightly along your arm, and played with your hair. When you began to cry halfway through the story, he wiped your tears away with his thumb and allowed you to pause for as long as you needed until you could keep going.

“I’m so sorry, love,” Josh said, squeezing you tightly. “You don’t deserve any of that treatment, especially when you didn’t do anything wrong.”

You shrugged against Josh’s chest, “They don’t really care.”

Josh sighed quietly, “Well you’re here with me now and that’s all that matters.”

You nodded and began to idly draw patterns on Josh’s chest. Josh gently placed a hand on the side of your face and tilted it so that you were facing him. You avoided eye contact and instead stared at his t-shirt collar.

“Love?”

“Hmm?” you hummed.

“Will you look at me?” You bit down on the inside of your cheek and looked up at Josh. “I love you so much, and I know it’s had for you, but can we just try to focus on tonight? You don’t need to face work for a few more days and I hate to see you stressed over it.”

“I can try,” you said quietly.

“That’s all I ask.”

Josh leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on your lips. You smiled and laid back down on his chest.

The rest of the night passed by relatively uneventfully. You and Josh ate way too much pasta, watched movies, and cuddled on the couch. Josh would steal kisses whenever he could, which ended up being quite often. By the time that you were walking back out to your car to go home, the day’s events had been pushed to the back of your mind.

“I hope you know I’m stealing this shirt,” you said as you pulled your bag over your shoulder.

“I knew the second that I handed it you that it was yours,” Josh smiled. “Besides, I’ll find a way to get it back eventually.”

“Sure you will.” You opened the front door and paused in the doorway. “Thank you for everything you did, Josh. I love you so much.”

“I love you too, and that’s why I do what I do.”

Josh pulled you into a hug before kissing you deeply. You eventually had to pull yourself away, knowing that if you allowed yourself to keep kissing him you wouldn’t want to ever go home.

“Let me know when you get home,” Josh called after you as you hopped into the driver’s seat of your car.

“I always do,” you called out the window.

You closed the door behind you and started the engine. Josh waved from his doorway as you pulled out onto the street. As you drove home, you couldn’t help but wonder how you had gotten so lucky.

Chapter Text

Your heart was pounding as you waited for the timer to run down. The decision to buy a pregnancy test had been an impulsive one. You had just gone to the store for groceries, but then you were passing the medical stuff and the fact that you had missed your last period had popped into your head. One thing led to another and you were leaving the store with a pregnancy test buried under bags of chips and vegetables.

Now you were here, trying not to cry as you paced back and forth down the length of the bathroom hoping more than anything else that you weren’t pregnant. Sure, you and Josh had discussed having kids together, but that was a plan for the distant future. You were both so caught up in your careers right now that having a kid wasn’t really something that was a top priority for either of you.

The timer went off, scaring you so bad that you bumped into the towel rack on the wall. Thankfully Josh was at the studio, meaning he wouldn’t come rushing upstairs to see what accident you had gotten yourself into this time.

You had left the pregnancy test facedown on the counter so that you wouldn’t glance at it before time was up and get your hopes up. It was sitting there now, the plain white plastic shining up at you. It seemed to be taunting you, although you were pretty sure that was just the fear swirling around in your mind. Plastic couldn’t taunt a person, it was…well, plastic.

You grabbed the little stick from the counter and held it up. Your hands were shaking, but you told yourself you would turn it over on the count of three. Whatever was on the other side of the stick could change your life forever, or maybe not. You wondered if you would tell Josh you had taken a test if it came out negative. Probably not, it wasn’t worth the stress for him.

You took a deep breath before counting. As soon as the word “one” left your lips, you flipped the test over. Your heart immediately sunk. Two little lines were shining up at you, telling you that you were pregnant. You triple checked the key and read the back of the box at least twice, just to make sure that you had done everything correctly. Surely there had been a mistake, you and Josh had been so careful.

Tears clouded your vision and you angrily threw the test in the trash. You felt sick to your stomach, and you wanted to be as far away from the bathroom as you could right now. A million scenarios of you telling Josh ran through your head, most of them bad. Unable to deal with your thoughts anymore, you crawled into bed, plugged in some music, and hoped you were tired enough to take a nap.

You woke up around an hour later; you were groggy, but you had calmed down significantly. The shower in the master bathroom was running, meaning that Josh had returned home from the studio. Your stomach twisted just thinking about the fact that he was home. As long as you were near him, you would inevitably feel the guilt of not being honest about the pregnancy with him. You decided that the news could wait a bit. There was no harm in putting it off, right?

You decided to head downstairs and wait for Josh to get out of the shower so you could ask him how the studio was. Hopefully he hadn’t been home long, the two of you had been so busy lately that you had to take complete advantage of however much time you could get together. You just hoped you hadn’t wasted precious time by napping.

The water stopped running upstairs and you could hear Josh walking around the bedroom. He came downstairs a couple minutes later, wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. Water was dripping from his dark brown hair onto his chest, and you couldn’t help but stare. Two years of marriage, five years of dating before that, and knowing Josh for another two years before that had yet to stop you from being absolutely blown away by how incredible he looked every time he took his shirt off.

“Hi, babe,” he smiled as he stood at the bottom of the stairs. “Have you happened to see my black t-shirt around?”

“Which one? You have like five,” you laughed.

“The one with the gray pattern.”

You thought about it for a moment, “I think it just went through the wash, so check the dryer.”

“Wonderful,” Josh smiled before disappearing down the hall.

Josh walked back upstairs a few moments later, shirt in hand. You continued to scroll through Twitter, liking fans’ tweets every so often.

“Babe?” Josh called from the bedroom.

“Yeah?”

“Can you come here for a second?”

“Yeah, one second.”

Josh was in the bathroom when you got upstairs, his back turned to you. He had gotten dressed, but his hair was still wet and dripping onto his shirt.

“What’s up?” you asked, leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom.

“What’s this?” he asked, turning to face you.

Color drained from your face as soon as you saw what he was holding. In his hand was the pregnancy test that you had so carelessly disposed of, still showing the positive result. You mentally cursed yourself for not tossing it in the big garbage bin outside. Of all the ways you had envisioned telling Josh, this definitely hadn’t been one of them.

“I-that’s,” you stammered, barely able to get a few words out before you were tearing up.

The stress and fear from before came rushing back, hitting you like a brick wall. Josh was next to you immediately, wrapping an arm around you and giving you support. He led you over to the edge of the bed and sat you down, rubbing your arm soothingly.

“I’m sorry, Josh,” you whimpered. “I was going to tell you eventually but I was so afraid you were going to be mad at me but now you’re mad anyway…”

“Hey, hey, no, Y/N, I’m not mad at you,” he said, taking your hand into his own.

“You’re not?”

“Not at all! The only reason I would be mad is if the baby wasn’t mine. It is mine, isn’t it?”

“It’s yours,” you sniffled. “I thought you were going to be mad because we weren’t planning to have a kid anytime soon and then I accidentally got pregnant.”

“What do you mean you accidentally got pregnant?” Josh asked. “Last time I checked, making a baby is a two-person job.”

You laughed at Josh’s humor, “I guess.”

Josh stood up from the bed and pulled you along with him, holding tightly onto your hands. You quickly wiped a tear away with the back of your hand and looked up at him.

“We’re going to have a beautiful baby and shower it with love and affection and show it what it means to be a Dun,” Josh smiled, pulling you to him.

“And what does it mean to be a Dun?” you asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, the most important part is that you’re automatically a badass,” Josh smirked. “But what really matters is that you’re loved unconditionally.”

Josh leaned forward and pressed his forehead to yours. You closed your eyes and allowed him to hold you.

“I love you,” you whispered. “And I’m glad you’re not angry.”

“I love you too,” Josh answered before pressing a long kiss to your lips. “When did you take that test, anyway?”

“This afternoon. It stressed me out so bad that I had to take a nap to shut my brain off.”

“That explains why you didn’t hide it super well.”

You sighed and pulled away from Josh to sit back down on the bed, “Don’t remind me.”

“I won’t,” Josh said, sitting down next to you and pressing another kiss to your temple. “But I will bother you about getting to the OB/GYN now that we know you’re pregnant.”

“I’ll make an appointment tomorrow.”

“Wonderful. I need to start thinking of baby names,” Josh said, standing back up and walking back into the bathroom.

“We have some time, babe.”

“You may think that now, but these next nine months are going to fly by. Before you know it, we’re going to have a screaming infant in the house.”

You laid back on the bed with a sigh, “You better start talking to marketing about making newborn-sized twenty one pilots merch.”

Josh poked his head out from the bathroom, “Y/N, did you know you’re a genius?”

“I try,” you answered sarcastically.

You reached down and placed a hand on your torso. The afternoon had been a whirlwind of emotions, but you were glad that Josh knew about the pregnancy now. At least that way you two would be able to face whatever challenges came your way together.

“What if we name it Tyler?” Josh said gleefully, poking his head out of the bathroom again.

“We’re not naming the baby Tyler,” you sighed.

“Middle name?”

“I’ll consider.”

“Yes!” Josh cheered.

It was going to be a long nine months.

Chapter Text

You smoothed out your top and looked yourself over again in the mirror. Josh had been adamant that the two of you got extra dressed up for tonight’s date, something that was out of the ordinary for him. Usually it was you trying to convince him to change out of his t-shirts and hats when you went out on a date.

“Almost ready?” Josh called through the bathroom door.

“Yeah,” you answered, leaning forward and fixing a stray hair in the mirror.

Once you were satisfied with your appearance, you turned and walked out of the bathroom. Josh was outside, sitting on the edge of your bed. He was wearing a button-down shirt over a nice pair of pants, an outfit you had seen him wear only a handful of times before. His blue hair was a bit less messy than was typical of him, although you didn’t really mind it even when it was a bit unkempt.

Josh looked up when he heard the bathroom door open. A smile instantly lit up his face as his eyes landed on you.

“How do I look?” you asked, giving him a small spin.

“You look absolutely amazing,” he said, standing up and walking over to you.

“I do?”

“Yes.”

Josh reached out and rested his hands on your hips. You looked into his eyes for a moment before he pulled you into a kiss.

“Ready to go?” you asked once you finally got yourself to pull away from him.

Josh took a deep breath, “I think so.”

“Are you feeling alright?” you asked as the two of you walked downstairs.

“Yeah, I’m ok,” Josh gave you a reassuring smile.

“Ok,” you said, not wanting to press the matter further even though you were worried.

“I’m going to grab a jacket real quick,” Josh said as you were walking out the front door.

“I’ll be in the car.”

You walked out and slid into the passenger seat of Josh’s car. Something about him seemed off, although you couldn’t quite put your finger on what it was. You hoped he wasn’t hiding something from you, although you couldn’t quite be sure.

Josh walked out of the house a few moments later, a jacket thrown hastily over one shoulder. You couldn’t help but realize how much like a fashion model he looked as he walked across the driveway.

“Sorry for the wait, my jacket wasn’t where I thought it was,” Josh explained as he got in the car.

“No worries, you made up for it by practically modeling as you walked across the driveway.”

“Was I?” he asked as he started the car.

“You could have been in Vogue.”

“Then I achieved exactly what I was going for,” Josh smiled before pulling out of the driveway.

The restaurant that Josh had picked for the two of you was extremely nice. So nice, in fact, that it almost made you nervous. Your nearest anniversary was still a few months away, and that was just to mark four and a half years together. Not to mention that the two of you had never been the fancy restaurant type, both of you preferred to sit at home with takeout and watch a comedy you had seen a million times already.

“How’s your food?” Josh asked.

“Really good,” you nodded before taking a sip of your drink. “Although I am confused as to why we’re at such a nice restaurant on a random Tuesday night.”

“I just wanted today to be special.”

“Why?” you asked. “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the gesture, but I feel like I’m forgetting a special occasion.”

“I-uh-I just love you is all,” Josh said with an unconvincing smile.

“I love you too,” you said, trying your best to ignore the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Josh continued to act off all throughout dinner. At one point he reached into his pocket and a look of panic had crossed his face for a moment, but when you asked him what was wrong he brushed it off and said it was nothing. You were growing increasingly worried, but you didn’t want to accidentally ruin the night by forcing Josh to talk about something he obviously didn’t want to share.

After dinner, Josh took you to the bridge where you had gone on your first date. It had one of the best views of the skyline in the entire city and the sound of the river rushing below just added to the atmosphere.

“It’s kind of cold,” you said, pulling your cardigan a little tighter around you.

“We shouldn’t be out here too long,” Josh said, giving your hand a tight squeeze.

Typically Josh would have given, or at least tried to give, you his jacket the second you mentioned you were cold, but he hardly seemed to be paying attention to you at the moment. He was looking anywhere but at you, only serving to worsen your nerves. In fact, you were starting to get a bit annoyed with him.

“The city looks pretty tonight,” you said, trying to make at least some form of conversation. “Don’t you think so, Josh?”

He didn’t say anything and continued to look around.

“Josh?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

That was the final straw for you. You dropped his hand and stopped dead in your tracks. Josh immediately stopped and turned to face you, nervousness evident on his face.

“Ok, what is going on with you?” you asked. “You’ve seemed off all night and I’m worried but I didn’t want to push it because you’re obviously trying to make tonight special, but the spacing off and not telling me what’s going on is really starting to rub me the wrong way. Are you planning to break up with me or something?”

Josh’s mouth curved into a frown, “I’ve really messed this up, haven’t I?”

The pit in your stomach grew a bit larger, “Messed what up?”

Josh dug around in his pocket and got down on one knee in front of you. You swore that you felt your heart skip a beat. Everything that had seemed off that night finally started to piece themselves together.

“Y/N-” Josh started, but then he stopped suddenly. “Y/N…” he repeated.

“Yes?” you asked.

“What’s your last name?” he whispered, looking the most nervous he had all night.

You couldn’t help but laugh a little at how nervous he was. “Y/L/N,” you reminded him.

“Y/F/N Y/L/N, I can honestly say that you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You’ve never given up on me, no matter how bad things get. And when things are good, you’re always ready to celebrate. I love you more than anything else in the world, except maybe my drums,” he laughed. “I never want to lose you, so will you marry me?”

Josh opened the little box, revealing the most gorgeous ring you had ever seen.

“Of course,” you nodded enthusiastically.

Josh grabbed the ring and slid it onto your finger before standing up. You threw your arms around him and kissed him deeply.

“I’m so sorry that I snapped at you,” you said, resting your forehead against his. “You had me so worried.”

“It’s ok. I knew I was acting weird, I was just so nervous about asking you that that’s all that was on my mind.”

“Is that why you forgot my last name?” you smiled.

“I’m so sorry,” Josh grimaced. “Like I said, I was nervous.”

“It’s ok, you won’t have to remember it for long,” you said, pulling him into another kiss.

Chapter Text

“Nope,” you said adamantly. “Nope, I can’t do it. Take me home.”

Josh rested one hand on the steering wheel and looked over at you, “What do you mean you can’t do it? All you’ve been talking about for the past week is how excited you were to get your nails professionally done.”

“I want to get my nails done, but I just don’t know if I can make conversation. You know how bad I am with small talk,” you sighed.

“Do you want me to come in and sit with you? That way we can both make conversation together.”

“I’m not going to force you you to sit there while I get my nails done. I can just do them myself at home.”

“Then I’ll get my nails done too,” Josh shrugged.

“I’m not going to force you to do that either.”

“You aren’t. I’ve wanted to get my nails done for awhile but never got myself to do it. This is the perfect opportunity.”

“Really, Josh, you can just take me home.”

“Not going to do that,” Josh said before getting out of the car.

“Josh,” you called after him, but the door had already closed.

You quickly got out of the car and followed after him, but by the time you got inside Josh was already pulling his credit card out and paying for the two of you.

“Josh, you really don’t have to-”

“Y/N, I’ve already paid. You might as well just go and pick out our colors.”

“You want me to pick a color for you?”

“Of course, you’re the nail expert.”

“Ok,” you said, trying to conceal the smile on your face.

After spending a decent amount of time debating what nail polishes to pick, you had settled on two colors. For Josh, you had gone with black. Since it was his first time getting his nails done, you didn’t want to give him anything too crazy. For yourself, you chose a red to match his current hair color. Black and red also just happened to go along with the current era’s color scheme.

You handed the polishes to your respective nail technicians and took a seat next to Josh. He was drumming absentmindedly on his legs while he looked around at the various tools that were laid out on the table in front of him.

“Do you think they’ll care that I have a lot of calluses on my hands?” Josh leaned over and asked quietly.

“I don’t think so, love,” you answered, giving his shoulder a gentle pat.

Josh nodded and sat up straight again. The nail technicians had gotten up and were gathering a few things from around the salon.

“I think that color is going to look really good on you,” Josh commented again.

“You think so?”

“Yeah, I mean, I obviously like red,” he smiled, gesturing to his hair.

“I know. Do you like the color I picked out for you?”

“I do! I think it’s going to look really cool.”

Josh flipped his hand over and began to examine his nails. They were short and uneven, mostly due to the fact that Josh couldn’t keep them long since it got in the way of his drumming. You were curious as to what they would look like when someone actually made them look nice.

Your nail technicians returned, each carrying a handful of supplies. You quickly wiped your clammy palms on your jeans before resting them on the table in front of you. Josh looked over and copied your movements, causing you to smile.

“I’m excited,” Josh smiled. “How are you feeling?”

“Better since you’re here.”

Josh smirked, his silent way of gloating that he had come up with another genius idea to help you feel better. You rolled your eyes and turned back to your nail technician. She was currently examining your nails.

“Did you want to keep your nails around this length?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” you answered.

“I would ask you the same, but I don’t think your nails can get much shorter even if you wanted them to,” Josh’s nail technician smiled at him.

“I’m a drummer, I can’t really have long nails,” he laughed.

“Understandable,” she smiled as she looked over his hands.

Your attention was drawn back to your own hands as your technician began to rub lotion over your forearms. You relaxed your shoulders a bit, not even realizing that you had been sitting so stiffly.

“Wait, I get an arm massage too?” Josh asked incredulously.

“Yes, love,” you smiled. The technicians were laughing quietly to themselves.

“This is amazing! Why haven’t we done this before?”

Seeing Josh so in awe of everything that was happening made you love him even more, if that was possible. It was also nice because the technicians were so intrigued by Josh’s reactions to everything that you were able to relax and not worry about making forced conversation.

“You wanted this color?” your technician asked, holding up the red that you had picked out.

“Yep,” you nodded.

She tapped the polish against her palm a few times before opening it and beginning to paint your nails. You had always liked watching someone paint your nails, there was something oddly calming about it. Next to you, Josh was just as fascinated by the process as you were.

“How are you feeling?” Josh asked, looking over to you.

“Good,” you smiled.

“Not nervous?” You shook your head. “Good,” he smiled.

Josh went quiet for a little bit, watching as his nails were painted. He made some conversation with his nail technician about the band and his drumming, but avoided mentioning anything too crazy to avoid drawing attention to himself.

“It’s really hard to keep my hands still,” Josh said quietly to you. “I want to tap my fingers on the table.”

“You’re going to have to be patient, nail polish takes awhile to dry.”

Josh let out a small groan, but you just smiled at him.

Fifteen minutes later, the two of you had beautifully painted nails and were walking out of the nail salon and back to the car. Josh was admiring how his hands looked with the polish on them.

“You know, I think I really like this look.”

“I do too,” you said. “Thank you for getting your nails done with me, that was really fun.”

“Of course, I just want you to be comfortable.”

You gasped suddenly, causing Josh to look at you with wide-eyes.

“We should take a picture before we leave,” you said sheepishly, noticing the expression on Josh’s face.

“Of us or our nails?”

“Our nails,” you laughed.

You carefully pulled your phone out of your back pocket and opened the camera. It took a little while for you to get Josh to pose how you wanted him to, but you eventually got a decent picture that you could use for Instagram.

Josh was about to get in the driver’s seat of the car when he paused and looked at you, “Maybe you should drive home. If I do, we might end up with nail polish all over the car.”

“Good point,” you smiled, trading places with Josh.

The rest of your night was spent catching Josh right as he was about to do something that would undoubtedly ruin his nails and watching as he did everything in his power to flaunt his nails while doing basic tasks. Making dinner had been an adventure; every time you asked for an ingredient, Josh would be sure to make his nails very visible as he handed it you. You couldn’t be too mad, though, because it meant that you hadn’t put him through the torture of getting his nails done for nothing.

“You know, I might have to take you with me to get our nails done more often,” you smiled.

“Really?” Josh asked, his face lighting up.

“Yeah, today was really fun.”

“I had fun today too,” Josh said, walking up to you and wrapping his arms around your waist from behind. “Who knows, maybe next time I’ll get glitter on my nails.”

You sighed, “I’ve created a monster, haven’t I?”

Josh planted a kiss on your cheek, “That you have.”

Chapter Text

On June 19th, the headache began. It didn’t seem too out of the ordinary at first, after all you had spent most of the day staring at your computer screen and every now and again the eye strain would cause you to have a headache. You brushed it off as nothing, took some pain medication, and decided to call it a night.

One June 21st, you began to get concerned. The headache hadn’t gone away, in fact, it had only gotten worse over the past few days. Trying to ignore the pounding in your head, you sat down in front of the computer and began to research lasting headaches. Everything you found seemed very minor or very serious. You decided to play it safe and call the doctor the next morning.

On June 22nd, you called the doctor and told Josh what had been going on. He immediately became panicked and shot a million questions at you, the main one being why you hadn’t told him earlier. You calmly explained that you hadn’t wanted to worry him if it had been nothing, and besides, how were you supposed to know that the headache was going to last for days?

One June 23rd, Josh drove you to the hospital. Your headache was still going strong, and no average amount of pain medication was doing anything to so much as reduce it a little. You were beginning to notice other little symptoms too: nausea came and went, your vision had gotten worse, and your balance was terrible. You were clumsy enough already, but now you managed to trip while standing still. The doctor listened intently as you explained these symptoms to him, and the look on his face while you did alluded to the fact that it wasn’t looking good. Josh squeezed your hand tightly while you talked, but you knew it was more to reassure himself than it was to reassure you.

On June 25th, you found yourself back at the hospital. This time, it was for an MRI scan to see what exactly was going on in your brain. You gave Josh a small wave and a smile before you were wheeled off down a long hallway. Fear was swirling in your stomach, but you pushed it down deep and focused on the bright white tiles passing along beside you. The nurses were talking quietly behind you, creating a hum of background noise. The diagnosis wasn’t good, you found out. In fact, it was worse than “not good”. It turns out there was a tumor growing in part of your brain, causing the headaches and the blurry vision and the loss of balance. Josh pulled you into a hug, holding you so tightly that you weren’t sure how you were still able to breathe. You wanted to hug him back, tell him you were ok, but you were in so much shock that you couldn’t do anything but sit there and stare at the wall, wondering where everything had gone downhill.

On June 27th, you arrived at the oncology department of the hospital with a bag and your husband in tow. An overly-positive nurse checked you in and showed you to the room where you would be staying, as if you and Josh had just decided to go on vacation for awhile. You set your things down on the couch at the far side of the room and changed into a hospital gown before crawling up onto the hospital bed and making yourself comfortable. Josh smiled every time you looked over at him sitting on the couch, but you could see the sadness behind his eyes. It didn’t take long before nurses were walking in and out of the room, hooking you up to various monitors and such. Josh sat quietly and watched, his eyes following every nurse that came and went from the room. You wanted to reach out and hold his hand to let him know you were ok, but he was too far and the nurses needed as much space as possible so you settled for giving him a shy smile every now and again. That night, you researched survival rates for tumors like the one you had on your phone while Josh was asleep. You fell asleep with tears in your eyes and fear in your heart.

On June 28th, you met with your oncologist for the first time. The three of you discussed treatment options, going over all the side effects and costs of each. Josh was the one who asked all the serious questions, all you could manage to do was nod along and try to ignore the fear that was causing your stomach to feel like it was collapsing in on itself. You eventually settled on chemotherapy. With how serious your tumor was, it was determined that you would be staying in the hospital for the duration of your treatment. The goal was to shrink the tumor down to a manageable size and remove it through surgery. Josh seemed confident in the decision, but all you could think about was how unlikely to work all of it was.

On July 6th, you and Josh celebrated you getting through the first cycle of chemotherapy. He bought your favorite kind of cake from the grocery store down the street, but you only managed to take a few bites before you felt too sick to keep eating. Josh took your plate from you and finished the cake, knowing that you would feel bad if it went to waste. Once he was finished eating, he pulled a chair over and made himself comfortable by the side of your hospital bed so that the two of you could watch some Netflix together. The two of you had quickly found that binge watching shows was the best way to kill time and distract you from the nasty side effects that the chemotherapy was beginning to have. It also gave Josh an excuse to sit close to you and make as much physical contact as he possibly could from where he was sitting.

On July 15th, you lost the first clump of hair. It scared you at first, you weren’t used to seeing several strands of your hair just resting on your pillow. You carefully ran a hand along your scalp only to look at your hand and see several more pieces of hair wrapped around your fingers. Tears begin to fill your eyes and cloud your vision. Your hair had been something of a security blanket for you, an easy way to hide your face from view if needed. Now it was being taken from you too. Josh quickly noticed you sniffling as you looked down at clumps of hair, and he was at your side in seconds to rub your arm and reassure you that everything would be alright.

On July 16th, you and Josh worked together to shave your head. Josh walked into the room early the next morning, as he always did, with a beanie pulled down almost to his eyebrows. It seemed out of the ordinary, but you were so worried about being bald that you didn’t think much of it. You sat still as Josh carefully ran the clippers along your head, sending your hair cascading down around you. A few tears slipped from your eyes, but you hastily wiped them away to avoid distracting Josh. As soon as it was done, you took a quick look at yourself in a mirror before grabbing one of the many colored beanies Josh had brought and pulling it over your bare head. You were about to scroll through Twitter to distract yourself when Josh said he had something to show you. He pulled off his beanie in one swift motion, revealing his own shaven head. You couldn’t help but crack a smile as you demanded that he come stand close enough to you that you could feel his head. The beanie made a lot more sense now.

On July 23rd, you finally felt decent enough to let people come visit. People that you knew came and went throughout the day, bringing you food and flowers and cards. It was nice to see everyone, but it was also exhausting. You found yourself telling the same stories over and over to different family members. When Tyler and Jenna walked into the room, you were relieved that you wouldn’t have to tell them all about the diagnosis. Josh had no doubt been keeping them updated on every little thing. You started bawling when Tyler handed you a binder, explaining that a couple local clique members had collected notes from people all around the world to give to you in the off chance that one of them bumped into Tyler or Josh. It took them awhile to get you to calm down enough to finally be able to talk again.

On August 4th, you were given bad news. You had gone in for an MRI in the morning to see how effective the chemotherapy was. While waiting for the results to come back, Josh had suggested the two of you play card games. Your entire afternoon had been spent playing every card game that you and Josh could remember the rules of. The two of you were in the middle of an intense game of war when the oncologist walked in. He calmly explained that the tumor hadn’t changed in size and that if treatment was going to be successful, you would need to greatly increase the doses of chemotherapy. This, of course, meant even worse side effects than you were already facing. Josh agreed instantly, and with the way he was looking at you, you knew there was no way you would get away with saying no.

On August 29th, you knew the battle you were fighting was a losing one. The increased dosages were taking a toll on you, and it was getting increasingly difficult to do even the most basic of things. In the back of your mind, you knew that if this dosage didn’t work, you were out of options. You knew that Josh knew it too, you could see the worry hidden behind his eyes every time you looked at him. All you could do was hope.

On September 8th, you knew the battle was over. After another MRI scan, you were informed that the chemotherapy was essentially ineffective. Josh began to shoot rapid fire questions at the oncologist, blocking you from getting a word in edgewise. Your choice was already made, and part of you knew that it had been made since the first time treatment had been ineffective. After numerous attempts to break into the conversation, you eventually had to send Josh out of the room. He looked hurt by your actions, but you knew him being out of the room was the only way you would be able to do what had to be done.

On September 9th, you stopped treatment. Josh had pleaded with you all night to change your mind, but you knew that there had been no other option. The treatment hadn’t been effective, and you could hardly call what you had been doing the past few months “living”. You tried to explain to him that what you were doing was the right choice, but he wouldn’t listen. He ended up going home that night, leaving you all alone in your dim hospital room. It was the first night you had spent alone since your diagnosis. You had forgotten how lonely nights could feel.

On September 10th, Josh came back. His eyes were puffy and the circles under them were dark; it was evident that he hadn’t slept well. He wordlessly walked over and hugged you, burying his head in the crook of your neck. After hugging you for awhile, he began to mutter quiet apologies. You hugged him tightly and told him it was ok. All the two of you could do was enjoy whatever time you had left together.

On September 29th, you knew the end was drawing near. Most of your days were spent floating in and out of consciousness, barely aware of what was going on around you. Josh stayed by your side the entire time, taking advantage of whatever time he could get with you. TV was pretty much out of the question now, you could hardly stay awake for a full episode, so he would tell you stories or just talk about random things from his childhood. He would even sneak a kiss every so often, even though you felt bad because your lips were so cracked.

On October 3rd, you took your last breath. You knew it was coming, so you quickly called him over to your bedside. He laced his fingers with yours and looked at you expectedly, unaware of what was really happening. There were a million things in the world that you wanted to tell him, but you settled for a simple “I love you more than anything else in this world” and reassuring squeeze of his hand before you began to drift away. The last thing you heard was a quiet “I love you too” and Josh’s soft lips on your knuckles.

On October 16th, your funeral was held. It was a rainy day, but it didn’t deter anyone from coming to your funeral. It was an especially hard day for Josh, who seemed to find traces of you everywhere he looked. His hair had long since come back since he shaved it with you and he decided to keep it that way, you had always liked his hair a bit on the longer side. He sat quietly while everyone shared their speeches, twisting his wedding band around his finger. He hadn’t had the heart to take it off yet. Once everyone left, he walked out to the spot where you had been buried. He talked to you for awhile, it helped to loosen the knot that had been tied so tightly in his stomach since the day you died. It was only when it truly began to pour that he laid your favorite flowers next to your tombstone and walked slowly back to his car. He hoped that wherever you were, the weather was nicer than this.

Chapter Text

You flipped through the mail as you walked back towards the house. Most of them were bills, although there were a couple magazines thrown in there. You were about to toss the stack onto the table next to the door, but a bright white envelope with your local medical center’s address glaring back at you caught your eye.

The test results, how could you have forgotten?

Your thumb was under the envelope flap, ready to rip it open, when you hesitated. Josh would want to be there with you when you opened the results. With a sigh, you set the envelope on the kitchen counter and decided to take the dog on a walk to take your mind off of it.

For close to three years now, you and Josh had been trying, and failing, to have a kid. You had tried almost every trick there was to increase your chances of pregnancy: carefully tracking your menstrual cycle, eating certain foods, and a million other so-called “scientifically proven” ways to get pregnant you had found online. You had finally decided to get your fertility tested. Josh had gone first, since it would be easier to test his fertility than it would be to test yours. His test had come out fine, which meant it was your turn.

Josh’s car still wasn’t in the driveway when you returned home. He had left early that morning to go and promote the album at a local event with Tyler. You had passed on going with him because you had been sick for the past few days, but now you found yourself wishing you had pushed through it and accompanied him. Feeling sick at an event was better than the test results eating at the back of your mind.

You tried to ignore the envelope on the counter, you really tried, but it didn’t take long for you to be holding the envelope up the light and trying to read it through the thin sheet of paper. Maybe if you opened it carefully, Josh wouldn’t even realize you had already looked. You were pretty good at pretending to be surprised, right? You had convinced Josh you had no idea about your surprise party even though Tyler had slipped up a few weeks before. The envelope was just barely starting to peel away from itself when you stopped yourself, guilt already eating away at you. You really had no other choice than to wait for Josh.

You were sitting on the kitchen counter with the envelope in your hand before Josh even had the chance to open the front door. He set his things down and looked up at you in confusion.

“It’s the fertility test results,” you beamed.

“They came?” Josh smiled.

“Yes, and I’ve been waiting to open it all day because I knew you would want to be here with me.”

“Do you think you would be able to wait a little longer?” Josh asked, wrapping his arms around your waist. “I just want to relax with you for a little while.”

Josh buried his head in the crook of your neck and closed his eyes. You ran a hand along his hair, it was evident that he was tired. He never slept well before big events like today.

“Josh,” you whined. “It’s been so hard to wait all day. I really just want to know.”

You heard Josh let out a little sigh, “Ok, let’s do this.”

Josh stepped away from you and rested his hands on your thighs. You carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the letter concealed inside. Your heart was pounding as you scanned over the words, hardly processing them as you looked for the information you wanted.

“What does it say?” Josh asked, looking at you expectantly.

“I-I’m infertile. I can’t have kids,” you said, your hand clenching tightly around the paper.

“Are you sure?” Josh asked, taking the letter from you.

You watched him scan over the paper just like you had. His face fell when he reached the diagnosis.

“I’m sorry, Josh,” you sobbed, burying your face in your hands.

Josh gently pulled your hands away from your face so that he could look into your eyes, “Y/N, this is in no way your fault. You don’t need to apologize for anything.”

“But we can’t have kids and I know how important having a family is to you. And now we’ll never be able to have one.”

“No, no, no,” Josh said, pulling you towards him and wrapping his arms around you. You balled your fist around the fabric of his shirt. “Family doesn’t always have to be blood. Family is determined by who you love. And even if we do want to have our own kids, there are other ways of having kids that don’t involve you being pregnant.”

“I just don’t want you to miss out on something you’ve dreamed of doing because of me.”

“Y/N,” Josh said, his voice serious. “The moment that I married you, I knew that all of my dreams had come true. I don’t care if we can never have a family. I don’t care if the next album doesn’t sell well. I don’t care if I never get to travel the world again. Sure, there was a time in my life where those were my big dreams, but that all changed the moment that I met you. You being happy and safe and loved is my dream now.”

You continued to bawl into the crook of Josh’s neck, releasing some of the emotions that were swirling around your head. He carefully led you over to the couch and adjusted the two of you so that you could lay on his chest. Josh was patient with you as you tried to process everything you were feeling, pressing gentle kisses to the top of your head and rubbing your back.

You eventually managed to calm yourself down enough to stop crying. Josh made you some tea to help your, now sore, throat and sat back down on the couch with you. The two of you were a mess of limbs.

“I’m sorry that I’m such a mess,” you sniffled, taking a careful sip of tea. “Today has just been really emotional.”

“I know it has, but I want you to know that whatever happens in our lives I’m going to love you just the same. No sickness or infertility or aging is ever going to change that.”

Josh pressed a careful kiss to your lips. You were so overwhelmed by love that you couldn’t help the tear that slipped down your cheek. Josh wiped it away with his thumb and kissed your cheek where the tear had been.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“Better,” you answered, laying back down on his chest.

Chapter Text

 

Five Years Earlier…

You knocked on Josh’s door, your hands still trembling from the adrenaline. It had taken you close to half an hour to stop sobbing, and even now your eyes would occasionally tear up as your boyfriend’s–well, ex boyfriend’s–words rang through your head. For the time being, you had to be around someone you trusted to distract you.

Josh opened the door a few minutes after you knocked. He was wearing a backwards hat over his curly brown hair, and in his hand was a bag of chips. His eyes furrowed when he saw you, you hadn’t exactly given him any kind of warning that you were going to be showing up at his front door.

“What are you doing over here?” Josh asked, throwing another chip into his mouth. “Aren’t you supposed to be out with Y/E/N today?”

“About that…” you trailed off.

Josh opened the door wider and stepped off to the side, wordlessly inviting you in. The two of you walked upstairs and into his bedroom. You took off your coat and threw it over the back of his desk chair before flopping down on his bed. Josh took a seat in his desk chair and began to spin around.

“So what did he do this time?”

“He ended things because I told him I wasn’t going to have sex with him. I should have known something was up when he said we should drive separately to the park.”

“Wait, he broke up with you because you didn’t want to have sex with him?” Josh asked, a dumbfounded look on his face.

You rolled your eyes and tried to ignore the knot in your stomach that had just tied itself a little tighter, “Yeah, it was dumb.”

You bit your lip and looked down at Josh’s carpet, trying to mask the tears that were already pooling in your eyes. He had never liked your boyfriends, so you hated to cry about them in front of him.

“It is dumb,” Josh said. “But I get the feeling that you don’t think it is.”

You shrugged, “I mean, that’s what you do in relationships, right? You have sex.”

“I mean, yeah, I guess that’s a part of a relationship in some cases. What’s dumb about it is that he broke up with you about it. You were dating for, like, two months.”

“Three,” you corrected him quietly.

“Ok, three, but regardless of how long you’re dating, he should respect your decision to have or not to have sex. It was an asshole move to break up with you over something like that.”

“Here we go again,” you groaned, rolling over onto your back.

“Here we go with what?”

“All of this.” You waved your arms in his general direction. “I break up with a guy and instead of being comforting you just go off about how mean the guy was and how you never liked him in the first place. Can’t you just be my supportive best friend for once?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that wanting you to be treated right wasn’t supportive of me,” Josh retorted sarcastically.

“That’s the thing!” you said, rolling back over so that you could face Josh better. “You say you want me to be treated right, but no matter who I date or how happy I am or how nice he is you find something to nitpick about him.”

“You just haven’t found a good guy yet! Every guy you date is one step above the last on the asshole ladder.”

“Well then who am I supposed to date? Because you obviously have someone in mind.”

Josh immediately shut down, the fire behind his eyes dimming down to near nothing.

“I don’t know,” he mumbled, giving a half-assed shrug of his shoulders.

“Exactly, so can we just go play video games and pretend this never happened?”

“Yeah, let’s do that.”

 

Present Day…

The bell over the door of the little café chimed, drawing your attention towards the door. Yet again, it was some stranger that definitely wasn’t Josh. You sighed and turned back to your steaming mug of hot chocolate, idly running your finger around the rim.

It had been a few months since you had last seen Josh. You had both been so busy–Josh with the band and you with wedding preparations and your new job–that it had been hard to set time aside for you two to properly catch up. Despite this, the two of you still remained close and texted almost daily.

The door chimed once again, and this time you immediately recognized the bright yellow hair of your best friend. His eyes landed you and he waved as he got in line to order his drink. You turned back around and quickly pulled the compact mirror out of your purse, doing a last minute check to make sure your hair was in place and there was nothing in your teeth.

You looked back up just in time to see Josh grab his drink and start to walk over to where you were sitting. Your leg was bouncing nervously but you did your best to otherwise sit still, not wanting to look like an idiot in front of the entire café. Once Josh was closer, you stood up and hugged him once he had set his drink down.

“It’s so good to see you again,” Josh said as he hugged you.

“Tell me about it, it feels like a lifetime since we last got together.”

The two of you sat back down at the table. Josh gently blew on his coffee to cool it down a bit before taking his first sip.

“So how are things going with you?” you asked. “From what I’ve heard, the band is really blowing up.”

“It’s insane,” Josh smiled. “We’re playing shows all over the place, planning huge tours, and making really awesome music.”

“So what you’re telling me is that you’re only going to get busier and harder to spend time with?”

“Unless you have something you can do as an opening act for us, then unfortunately yes.”

“I mean, I had some pretty mean recorder skills in elementary school.”

“Don’t remind me.”

“Regardless, I’m so happy that you’re living your dream, Josh. It makes all those weekends spent listening to you practicing drums worth it.”

Josh rolled his eyes, “Don’t act like you didn’t have fun.” You smiled and shook your head as you took another sip of hot chocolate. “Anyway, how have you been? You’ve been planning your wedding, right?”

“I was,” you said, putting the stress on the second word.

“Oh no,” Josh said. “What happened?”

“I had to go away one weekend for a training, but it ended early so I came home to surprise Y/EF/N. When I got there, I noticed another car in the driveway that I didn’t recognize. Then I got inside and, well, you can guess what happened after that.”

“He cheated on you?”

“Yeah, two months before the wedding.”

“Damn,” Josh said, leaning back in his chair with an awestruck look on his face. “You did always have a tendency to go for the douchebags.”

“I know, and you never let me forget it.”

“I was just trying to protect you.”

“Well you did a pretty shit job of it, now didn’t you?” you laughed.

“I guess so.”

“Looking back, all the warning signs were there. I guess I just chose to ignore them because I wanted someone to love me and with how busy I am, I was afraid I wouldn’t have time for someone else.”

“You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your dreams for someone else.”

“Just because you shouldn’t doesn’t mean you won’t have to.”

“Y/N, you’ve always given things up for the person you were dating. It’s time that you put yourself first and find someone that you deserve.”

“Are you really still going on about this years later?” you asked, slightly exasperated. “I’m still convinced that nobody I date is ever going to be good enough for you.”

“Do you want to know the reason that I’ve always hated the guys you date?”

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted to know.”

“It’s because I’m in love with you and I have been since high school. For years I watched as you put all this effort into guys who didn’t deserve to be loved the way that you loved them. Then, when you inevitably got hurt, they walked away fine and I watched and supported you as you slowly put yourself back together time and time again. All I wanted was for you to be truly happy.”

“You love me?”

“Only took you seven years to find out,” Josh half-smiled, looking down at his coffee.

“Are you embarrassed?” you asked, noticing the color in his cheeks.

He shrugged and avoided eye contact, “Yeah.”

“You don’t have to be,” you said, reaching out and putting your hand on top of his.

He finally looked up at you, his face still bright red, “Y/N, I just admitted that I’ve been in love with you for seven years. Only idiots have feelings for that long when the girl isn’t interested.”

“Josh, I have feelings for you too.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I was actually about to call the wedding off because I knew I couldn’t marry Y/EF/N. Him cheating just gave me an excuse that didn’t involve my whole family being mad at me. Even if you didn’t feel the same, at least I wouldn’t be married to a guy that I didn’t truly love.”

“I guess seven years of waiting really did pay off,” he smiled, a look of disbelief on his face.

“I just have one question for you.”

“Anything,” Josh said, beaming at you.

“Do you approve of my new boyfriend?”

Josh shook his head, “For the first time in my life, the answer is yes.”

Chapter Text

“Did you want to take any leftover pizza?” you asked Tyler.

“Nah, you can keep it,” he said, waving an arm at you.

“Josh?”

“I’m good.”

“Sweet,” you smiled, wrapping the leftovers in tinfoil and sticking it in the fridge.

“See you guys later,” Tyler said, grabbing his bag and throwing it over his shoulder.

“Later, Ty,” you said, walking back over to the couch where Josh was sitting.

“Goodnight.”

Tyler gave a final wave and walked out the door. You looked over at the clock near the TV, expecting it to be well past midnight. Much to your surprise, it was barely 10:30. Tyler rarely left before midnight when the three of you hung out at your place unless he had something important in the morning. As far as you knew, he had no plans for the next day.

“He left early,” you said, kicking your feet up on the coffee table.

“What time is it?” Josh asked, leaning up just enough so that he could see the clock over his chest.

“10:28.”

“That is early.”

“Yeah.”

You mentally cursed yourself for letting the conversation die so easily. Despite the fact that you had known Josh for years, your crush on him never failed to leave you tongue-tied when conversation was just the two of you. The only thing filling the silence was Josh drumming on his legs.

“I forgot to tell him to text me when he gets home,” you said, initiating what would only be a dead-end conversation.

“I’m sure he still will. He always does.”

“That’s true.”

Silence filled the room again. You could feel your heart pounding in your chest, going almost as fast as your head cycling through possible conversation topics. Your mind had settled on bringing up a random fact you had seen on Tumblr a few days ago when Josh interrupted the silence.

“Can I talk to you about something?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah,” you said, having to be extra careful not to trip over your words with all the adrenaline rushing through you.

“Ok, here goes nothing,” he took a deep breath. “Um, I’ve had feelings for you for awhile now and I’ve been meaning to tell you, but every time something gets in the way.”

You clapped a hand over your mouth to avoid laughing out loud at him. There was no way that a man as gorgeous as Josh could be in love with you.

“That’s actually why Tyler left so early, it was to give me a chance to finally tell you.”

Oh yeah, this was definitely a joke. Tyler was probably on the back porch, waiting for you to confess your love right back to him and then burst inside and laugh along with Josh.

“And it’s ok if you don’t feel the same way, but I figured it was better to tell you and risk things being a little awkward than never telling you and missing an opportunity.”

You were absolutely dumbfounded. If Josh was acting, he was doing an amazing job of it. Part of you was actually convinced that he was in love with you, but you knew that there was no way that was possible.

“Y/N?”

You hadn’t even realized that you had been staring wide-eyed at him until he said your name, pulling you out of your trance. Your mind was scrambling for the right words to say to him without giving away that you felt the same.

“This is a joke, right?” you blurted. Of all the things you could have said, that was the best you managed to come up with.

“What? No! Why would I joke about something like this?”

“There’s no way you could be in love with me,” you said as if it were some well-known fact.

“But I am.”

“There’s no way.”

“Why won’t you believe me, Y/N?”

“It just doesn’t seem possible! You look like that and I look like this and it just doesn’t make any sense. There are too many amazing people that you’ve met for this to make sense.”

“That’s just not true.”

“Yes it is.”

“Alright, fine,” Josh said, obviously irritated. He stood up from where he had been sitting and headed for the front door. “Just forget I said anything.”

You watched silently as Josh pulled on his shoes and walked out the front door, all but slamming it behind him. Your heart immediately sunk, realizing what had just happened. You stood up and began to get ready for bed, barely holding back tears.

 

It had been a few days since Josh’s confession. Tyler had texted and called you numerous times, asking for your side of the story. You ignored him entirely, even thinking about that night was still painful for you. Josh hadn’t contacted you at all, which only made you feel worse.

The credits began to roll on the movie that you had been watching. You moved slightly so that you were better able to see the clock by the TV. It was close to two in the morning, so you decided that you should at least try to sleep. You hadn’t been sleeping as well since your fight with Josh.

You were in the middle of brushing your teeth when you were sure that you heard something. Confused, you quickly spit the toothpaste into the sink and grabbed the baseball bat that you kept hidden under your bed. If someone had broken into your house, you were going to make sure that they knew it was a mistake.

You heard the sound again as you were moving through the kitchen. It sounded more like a knock on the door now that you were closer to the origin of the noise. You weren’t sure who would be visiting you at this hour. The only logical answer was that Tyler had finally gotten fed up with you ignoring him and come to see you himself.

You made sure to take lighter steps as you got closer to the door. If whoever was on the other side of the door was someone you didn’t want to see, you didn’t want them to know you were awake and creeping around by the door. You leaned forward so that you could look through the peephole. Much to your surprise, it was Josh standing on the other side.

Your heart began to race and you took a couple steps back. Having seen yourself in the mirror when you were brushing your teeth, you knew you looked like a mess. There were dark circles under your eyes and your hair was currently messy since you hadn’t been bothered to do it that morning.

Without giving yourself a chance to think twice about it, you reached forward and pulled the front door open. Josh looked about like you did: messy hair, dark circles, and the same shirt he had been wearing at your house a few days before. His eyes went wide when he came face to face with you, as if he hadn’t really been expecting you to be awake.

“Hi,” he said.  

“Hey,” you replied, as if he hadn’t just shown up in the middle of the night after not talking to you for days.

“Do you mind if I come in?”

“Uh, sure,” you said, stepping to the side so that he could come inside.

Josh stepped through the doorway and you closed the door behind him, making sure to lock it again. He stood awkwardly in the entryway, fiddling with the end of his shirt.

“So what exactly are you-” you started to ask, but he cut you off.

“Wait, can I just say what I need to say? Otherwise I’m going to chicken out.”

“Uh, sure.”

“Ok. After what happened the other night, I tried to forget the feelings I have for you, Y/N, I really did. I thought that being apart for a few days would help, but it only made me miss you more. And you obviously don’t feel the same, but I just needed you to know that I meant it.”

“Josh, I do feel the same. That’s why I panicked, it seemed too good to be true.”

“So, you do feel the same?”

“Yeah. And I feel awful about how I acted when you told me. I tried so hard to not let myself get embarrassed that I let what I was afraid of happen to you.”

“At this point, I’m just relieved to hear that you feel the same. I’ve barely been able to sleep the last few nights because I couldn’t stop thinking about how everything happened. There’s so much I could have done differently.”

You reached forward and placed a hand on Josh’s cheek, stroking it lightly with your thumb, “You don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Josh reached forward and wrapped his arms around your waist, pulling you closer to him.

“I need you to promise me something,” he said quietly.

“What?”

“Can you promise to trust me from now on?”

“I’ve always trusted you, Josh. My mind just undermined that the other night.”

“Ok,” he smiled.

The two of you stood silently, looking at one another.

“So are you going to kiss me or what?” you smirked.

“Right,” Josh smiled.

He pulled you into a kiss. As cliché as it was, you felt sparks between the two of you. You were the first to pull away from the kiss.

“Tyler’s not going to be able to stand us,” you giggled.

“Worth it.”

Chapter Text

Josh’s POV

“Come on, man. You can’t stay in here forever,” Tyler said.

“Yes I can,” I grumbled, adjusting myself slightly on the couch.

“How do you expect yourself to move on if you never get outside and look at what else the world has to offer?”

“I don’t know. I obviously had some master plan a few months ago when I made the dumb decision of breaking up with her in the first place,” I said sarcastically.

“Well I’m going out to get lunch in ten minutes. You can come with me or you can stay here and wallow in self pity.”

Tyler walked off, leaving me alone on the couch. He had a point, although taking a shower and getting dressed to go out seemed like a lot of effort at the moment, it was still less effort than making myself lunch.

“I’m going to hop in the shower, don’t leave without me,” I called to Tyler.

“Good choice.”

Tyler shut off the car and hopped out. I pulled down the car’s visor and looked myself over one more time before joining him on the sidewalk.

“You look fine, Josh,” Tyler commented. He must have noticed how nervous I was. “Besides, all we’re doing is getting lunch. You don’t need to look perfect.”

“You never know who you’ll bump into,” I laughed nervously.

I followed Tyler inside and stood quietly while he got us a table. My mind was too busy replaying memories, distracting me from what was currently going on. The last time that I had been here was with Y/N, it was one of the last dates we had gone on before I suddenly ended things.

“This way,” the host smiled, tucking two menus under his arm and walking off between tables.

I subtly scanned the restaurant for anyone I might recognize. One couple towards the back caught my eye, but I was quickly distracted by Tyler stopping right in front of me.

“Woah,” I said, placing a hand on his shoulder to steady myself. “Sorry, Tyler. I wasn’t paying attention.”

“It’s ok,” Tyler said as he slid into one of the benches. I sat down across from him.

“Your waiter will be right with you,” the host smiled before walking off.

“I’m glad you decided to come to lunch with me,” Tyler said. “It’s nice to see you getting out of the house.”

“Yeah, the past week has just been rough for me.”

“Still hung up on Y/N?”

“Yeah,” I sighed.

“What made you start missing her?” Tyler asked, flipping through his menu.

“I just started thinking about how happy I was when I was with her. My decision to break up with her was so impulsive, and the more I think about it, the more I’m coming to regret it. The first few months without her were fine because I was enjoying being single again, but I don’t think it was the right decision.”

“So what are you going to do about it?”

“That’s what I’m trying to decide,” I sighed, going back to looking at my menu.

Tyler made a noise somewhere between understanding and concern. Having decided what I wanted to order, I set my menu down and rested my head in my hand. Loud laughter on the other side of the restaurant drew my attention. It was coming from the same couple that I had taken note of earlier. The girl seemed familiar, but her back was to me so I couldn’t quite tell who it was.

Our waiter walked up to our table, once again drawing my attention away from the couple. Tyler and I both ordered and handed him our menus. He smiled and walked off, allowing me to redirect my attention back to the couple.

“Dude, what are you staring at?” Tyler asked.

“Huh?” I said, turning to Tyler. “Oh, sorry, that girl over there just looks familiar, and I’m trying to figure out who it is.”

Tyler scooted over so that he would better be able to see the couple. He leaned around the corner, looked for a few seconds, and then turned back to me.

“Isn’t that Y/N?” he asked.

“What? No. Her hair is way longer than that.”

“Josh, she cut it right after the two of you broke up. Haven’t you seen any recent pictures of her?”

“Not really, I try to avoid her social media,”

“I’m pretty sure that’s her,” Tyler said, scooting back to where he had been sitting before.

A waiter walked up to the couple’s table; the girl turned to look at him, giving me a chance to see more of her face. It confirmed exactly what Tyler had just said: it was Y/N.

“It’s her,” I said, not taking my eyes off of her. “What is she doing with that guy?”

“You know you two broke up, right? You aren’t together anymore, she’s allowed to see other people.”

“Yeah, but-yeah. You’re right, Tyler.”

“Who knew that finally getting you to leave the house would backfire so bad,” Tyler sighed.

It was later that night. Y/N had been on my mind all day, and I had finally decided that I needed to do something about it. My phone was sitting in front of me, open onto her contact information. I had been sitting there for nearly fifteen minutes, trying to convince myself to call her.

I was about to do it when Tyler walked by, sucking on a popsicle, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” I lied, quickly reaching out and turning my phone off. “Where did you get the popsicle?”

“Oh, Y/N came by and dropped some off.”

“She did?”

“No,” Tyler smiled, seeing my terrified reaction. “I bought them at the store yesterday.”

“Oh, right.”

“Just make sure you’re not doing anything that will ruin the band’s reputation,” Tyler said as he walked off to return to whatever he had been doing.

Now that adrenaline was already rushing through my veins from Tyler’s comment, I decided that now was as good a time as any to call her. I opened my phone back up and clicked on her cell number. My hands shook as I brought the phone up to my ear and listened to it ring.

“Hello?” she answered after three rings.

“Hey, Y/N.”

“Why are you calling me?”

“I, uh, needed to talk to you about something.”

“Ok, but can you make it quick? I was about to take my dog on a walk and now she’s going crazy because I got her leash out.”

“Yeah, no problem.”

“I’m listening.”

“Um, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I think breaking up with you was a mistake, and if you want, I thought that maybe we should get back together.”

I heard her sigh on the other end of the line, a sound that I had heard many times before.

“Josh, I still care about you. A lot. But you can’t just pop back into my life after a few months and expect things to go back to how they were. I’m not going to let you use me just because you started feeling lonely again and then drop me once you get your fix.”

“But Y/N that’s not-”

“Listen. If you can prove that you actually want me back because of who I am and not because you’re just tired of being single, then I’ll consider giving you a second chance.”

“I’ll take it,” I said, plans already formulating in my head.

“Bye, Josh.”

“Bye.”

I waited until I heard her end the call. Once the line went dead, I tossed my phone down in front of me and smiled. I had a second chance.

It felt weird to be outside of Y/N’s apartment building again; I had lived here at one point, after all. She was supposed to be coming outside any minute to meet me, and the anticipation was killing me. My heart was pounding in my chest and my palms were sweaty, making it difficult to keep my grip on the flowers in my hand. They were her favorite kind that I always bought for her on anniversaries, I just hoped it was enough to show that I cared.

The door began to open, and I quickly corrected my posture. Y/N walked outside, looking absolutely stunning as always. I put on my best smile and held the flowers up so that they were clearly visible.

“I bought these for you,” I said, holding them out to her. “I know they’re your favorite.”

She reached out and took the flowers from me, her mouth curving into a half smile, “Thank you.”

I clasped my hands behind my back and waited for her to say something else, but she remained quiet. Instead, she raised her eyebrows at me as if she were waiting for me to say something.

“Well?” I finally asked.

“Well what?”

“Are you going to take me back?”

Her eyes went wide, “Wait, is this how you’re proving that you really care?”

“Well, yeah, they’re the flowers I always got you on anniversaries.”

“Josh, anybody can buy me my favorite flowers. It takes hardly any effort. If you really want to show me that you care, you’re going to have to do a bit more than that.”

I sighed and looked down at my feet, this was the best idea that I had come up with. In hindsight, I should have known that flowers wouldn’t be enough.

“I’ll think of something better.”

“Ok. I do appreciate the flowers though, they’re beautiful,” she smiled

“I’m glad you like them.”

“Alright, well, I-uh-have some more work to do so I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah, see you around.”

She waved and then disappeared back inside her apartment building. It took me a second to get my feet to move and start walking back towards the car. I was at a loss about what to do, but I knew that I couldn’t give up now, not when Y/N was on the line.

“She said the flowers weren’t good enough,” I explained to Tyler as I paced back and forth in front of the dining table. “Anybody can buy her flowers.”

“She has a point.”

“I don’t know what else to do! I was never good at being romantic, but now she wants some big romantic gesture.”

“Well it’s a good thing you live with the king of romance,” Tyler smiled proudly.

“You haven’t been on a date in months.”

“Whatever. Let’s just try to think of something you can do to show her you love her.”

Tyler and I sat at the table for what felt like an eternity, throwing ideas back and forth. Everything we said felt too simple, and I was beginning to think that nothing I did would prove to her that I still cared.

“I’ve got it!” I said, sitting up suddenly.

“What?”

“What if you helped me write a song for her? Then we can perform it.”

“That might work.”

“What are we waiting for? There’s a lot to do,” I said, standing up.

“I’m coming,” Tyler said, sliding out of his own chair.

 

Your POV

You were lacing up your shoes when your phone buzzed on the table in front of you. It was a text from Tyler, telling you that he was outside. You told him you would be down in a minute and got up to find your bag.

Josh had been on your mind a lot over the past week, ever since you had seen him when you were out on a lunch date. You had thought you were getting over him, but you quickly realized the dates that you had been going on were merely distractions for the feelings you had buried deep inside. Despite this, you were hesitant to go running back into his arms; the last thing you wanted was to get hurt again.

Tyler was on his phone when you stepped outside, but he looked up and smiled when he heard the door open. The two of you had kept in touch since the breakup, occasionally meeting up to get lunch or dinner and catch up. You assumed that’s what was happening now, although you had a sneaking suspicion that Josh had sent him to get information out of you.

“Nice to see you,” you smiled, pulling Tyler into a hug.

“You too. You look nice.”

“Thank you. So where are we going to eat today?”

“We’re actually not going out to eat.”

You sighed, “Does this have something to do with Josh?”

“I’m not allowed to disclose that information.”

“So yes,” you laughed.

“Why don’t we just not focus on that right now?” Tyler smiled.

Tyler was quick to redirect the conversation to a completely unrelated topic as the two of you walked down the sidewalk. You didn’t have even the slightest idea as to where he could be taking you, but you figured that something big was happening if it involved a second location.

Tyler stopped walking when the two of you arrived at a park. It only took you a few moments of looking around to recognize it: it was where Josh had taken you on your second date and kissed you for the first time. It also happened to be one of your favorite places in the city.

“What’s going on?” you asked.

“Do you recognize where we are?”

“Well, yeah, it’s my favorite park in the city.”

“Do you know why it’s significant?”

“It’s where Josh and I kissed for the first time because he was too nervous to kiss me on the first date.”

Tyler began to walk forward again, so you quickly fell into step with him. The two of you walked in silence for a little while longer until Josh came into view. He was standing in front of his drum set, smiling widely.

“What’s going on?” you whispered to Tyler, unsure of why Josh had carried his drum set into the middle of a park.

“Wait here,” Tyler said, walking over to join Josh.

Tyler picked up his ukulele and took a moment to tune it while Josh sat down behind his drums.

“We stayed up all night writing this.” Josh smiled proudly.

Tyler began to play his ukulele, followed closely by Josh joining in on the drums. A few people began to gather around, listening as the boys played and Tyler sang. You tried to pay attention to the lyrics, but Josh trying to catch your eye at every moment he could proved to be quite distracting.

The few people that had gathered around cheered and looked at you expectantly. You hardly paid attention to them, however, as your attention was trained on Josh who was looking at you with wide eyes.

“Well?” he said, his mouth turning up into a half smile.

“You stayed up all night to write that?” you asked incredulously.

“Yeah,” Josh answered. “I wanted it to be perfect.”

“It was,” you smiled.

Josh stood up and you half-jogged over to him. You practically threw yourself around him and held onto him tightly. Being in his arms was a familiar feeling, and it was one that you were thankful to have back.

“Does this mean that I’m going to start third-wheeling again?” Tyler asked.

You let go of Josh and turned to face Tyler, but Josh kept one arm wrapped tightly around your waist.

“Yes, but it also means you probably get your apartment to yourself again.”

“Yes! This is totally worth it!” Tyler cheered. You and Josh both stared at him blankly. “Of course, I really did it because I wanted you two to be happy,” he blushed.

“That’s what I thought you said,” Josh smiled. “Now let’s get these instruments out of here before someone kicks us out.”

“Good plan,” Tyler said.

“Josh, wait a second,” you said.

“Yeah?” he said, turning back to you.

You leaned over and pressed your lips to Josh’s. His lips curved into a smile as he kissed you and he wrapped his arms around your waist, pulling you closer to him.

“I’ve missed you,” he said, resting his forehead against yours.

“I missed you too.”

“Yo,” Tyler called. “The drums?”

“Right,” Josh said, letting go of you. He was about to grab his drums when he leaned over to you, “We’ll continue this later.”

“Deal,” you smiled.

Chapter Text

The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon as Jenna and Tyler dropped Josh off in front of his house. The world was quiet, save for the distant sound of cars rushing down the freeway on some early morning adventure. Josh had always preferred the world when it was quiet, it was one of the few times that he felt completely at peace, which was rare nowadays.

Tyler helped Josh get his stuff out of the trunk and carry it to the door. It wasn’t like Josh had packed that much, but he was so tired and ready to flop down in bed with his family that he couldn’t be bothered to make multiple trips between the car and the house.

“That everything?” Tyler asked, his voice quiet. He was just as tired as Josh was.

“Yeah,” Josh muttered with a quick nod of his head.

Tyler nodded back at him in a similar fashion before holding his arms out. Josh walked forward and pulled Tyler into a hug, giving him a couple solid pats on the back. It felt weird to be going their separate ways after so many months on the road together, but all good things must come to an end.

“Say hi to the girls for me,” Tyler smiled.

“I will. Take care of yourself while you’re home.”

“Same goes for you.”

Tyler gave another small nod and walked back off towards the car where Jenna was waiting patiently. He hopped inside and waved to Josh through the passenger window as Jenna pulled out onto the street again. As much as he would miss Tyler and touring, it never quite came close to being home with his family away from the world’s prying eyes.

Josh carried his things inside and set them neatly by the door, knowing that Y/N would more likely than not have a fit if he just left them haphazardly around. The house was quiet. Josh took a moment to take all of it in: the blankets tossed in a heap on the couch, a few plates stacked in the sink that Y/N had yet to clean, Y/D/N’s toys spread carefully across the living room. They were little things, but they meant so much to Josh. All of them were signs of life, so unlike his pristine dressing rooms during tour.

He stood in the entryway of the house for longer than he’d like to admit, admiring the place he called home yet spent so little time in. The sun was still rising, just beginning to throw streaks of color across the clouds outside the window. Josh shook himself from his thoughts and headed towards the master bedroom. The door was already a crack open, so Josh slowly pushed it open and looked inside.

Y/N and Y/D/N were both in bed, tangled up in blankets. They weren’t snuggled up together, but Y/D/N’s hand was reached over so that she was touching her mom’s arm, as if she was afraid she would leave if she wasn’t connected to her in some way. The two of them looked so peaceful, and it made Josh a little sad that he wasn’t home more often to see little moments like this. He especially hated that he left Y/N to take care of her daughter on her own so often.

Biologically, Y/D/N wasn’t his daughter, but he treated her just like he would with his own daughter. Things with Y/N’s ex had ended badly, so Y/N did everything in her power to make sure that he rarely had contact with his daughter. When Josh started dating Y/N, he knew that he wanted to do everything in his power to make sure that Y/D/N had a strong father figure in her life, even if they weren’t related.

Josh’s mind wandered back to the first night that he had met Y/D/N. He had known from the start that Y/N had a daughter, but it wasn’t until they had been dating for nearly half a year that he finally had a chance to meet her. Y/N had opened the door, looking almost as nervous as when she had told him she had a daughter. She explained that Y/D/N was shy, and it might take her awhile to warm up to him. He had been patient, smiling and waving at her to show that he wasn’t a threat as she hid behind her mom.

Y/D/N eventually warmed up to him enough to start holding her own conversation with him. She asked all the important questions: if he had a dog, how old he was, and what his favorite food was. Josh happily answered all of her questions, which seemed to make Y/N happy. He enjoyed seeing this different side of her, when she cared less about what others might think of her and more about making her daughter happy.

Josh had waited patiently while Y/N put her daughter to bed. She looked a bit exasperated when she walked back into the living room, explaining that putting her to bed was already enough of a struggle, but she had wanted to stay up to talk to Josh so badly that it had been ten times more difficult. Josh had held his arms out and Y/N had curled up into them, thanking him for being so sweet with her daughter. They had proceeded to watch a movie together, but Y/N was falling asleep within the first half hour.

For the first time in his life, Josh had felt what it would be like to have a family of his own, and he loved it. Seeing Y/N be so carefree and happy with her daughter had put an indescribable feeling inside of him. As he sat there with Y/N curled up and snoring lightly in his arms, he started to realize what that feeling was: love.

Y/D/N twitched a little, drawing Josh out of his thoughts. Sunlight was just beginning to spill in through the window, casting long shadows along the floor, just barely reaching the bed. The clock on Y/N’s side of the bed read 5:15, it would be a few hours before either of them woke up.

Josh’s mind began to wander again, and he immediately thought of the first time that he had introduced Y/N and Tyler to one another. It was shortly after Josh had met her daughter, and now he said that she should meet one of the most important people in his life. She had been nervous in the car, checking her face in the mirror every few minutes and fiddling with her shirt. Josh had told her a lot of stories about Tyler, and it was very apparent that she was wanting to make a good impression.

Tyler was already at the restaurant when they arrived, sitting on a little bench just inside. He pulled Josh into a hug immediately and then turned to Y/N, introducing himself quickly before pulling her into a hug as well. Josh noticed her visibly relax a little after that, and he soon realized that he had been nervous too.

Dinner went by smoothly, and by the time that Josh was paying the bill Tyler and Y/N were joking around like old friends. They sat at the table long past the time that their bill was paid, talking about all sorts of topics from the band to Y/N’s daughter. Y/N eventually said they should get going since she didn’t want to keep her babysitter waiting, and the two of them said goodbye to Tyler so that Josh could get her home. Y/N kept talking about how funny Tyler was and how she couldn’t wait to get to know him better too. Josh felt that familiar indescribable feeling again, this time it was stronger than before.

Josh’s mind continued to run through memories of the times he fell more in love with Y/N. This time it wandered to the first time that Y/N came to one of his shows. It was a small venue, and Josh had made sure to get her a spot near the front. They had been dating for close to a year at this point, and the only reason she hadn’t come to a show earlier was because of poor timing and locations. When Josh told her that it had finally worked out, she was ecstatic.

Before the show, Josh’s hands were clammier than usual. Tyler tried to calm him down, but nothing he said seemed to calm his nerves at all. He knew that having Y/N in the audience should calm him down, but it was having the opposite effect. Before he had a chance to rationalize the situation in his head, Tyler was telling him that it was time to go on.

Y/N was smiling widely as he took the stage and sat down behind his drums. He stole glances at her as Tyler spoke to the crowd and introduced the two of them. As soon as he started playing, the nerves began to dissipate and he became lost in what he was doing. Every time that he managed to sneak a look at Y/N, she was watching him in amazement. After the show ended, she ran up to him and told him how amazing he was and that he truly had talent. He pulled her into a hug and thanked her for coming, saying it meant the world to him. The feeling was back, and this time he knew there was no denying how he felt anymore.

“Josh?” Y/N called softly across the dark room, drawing Josh out of his own head. “Is that you?”

“Yeah,” he answered quietly so as not to wake Y/D/N.

“You’re home!”

Josh could just barely make out Y/N’s smile in the dimly lit room. He walked over to the bed and sat down on the edge, near Y/N’s knees.

“How was the flight?”

“We can talk about it later, you should try and sleep,” Josh said, knowing that the day ahead would be busy for all of them.

“Why don’t you lay down with me?”

“Ok.”

Josh glanced at the clock as he shifted so that he was laying with Y/N. It was nearly 5:45, had he really been spacing out for that long? Y/N scooted towards the middle of the bed to make more room for him, causing Y/D/N to grumble and shift away from the two of them.

“She’s slept in here almost every night since you left. I even gave her one of your shirts to sleep in since she missed you so bad. It’s pretty cute. She’s convinced it smells like you, but I think it just smells like laundry detergent.”

“As long as she believes it,” Josh smiled, wrapping his arms around Y/N’s waist.

“Yeah.”

Y/N closed her eyes and made herself comfortable again. Josh just laid there, appreciating the fact that he was finally home with the people that he loved most. It wouldn’t be long before he was off again, halfway across the world playing shows. The feeling was back, and Josh knew that it was now or never.

“Hey, Y/N?”

“Hmm?”

“Can I tell you something?”

“Of course.”

“I love you.”

He heard Y/N’s breathing catch for a second as she processed what he had said. Josh had wanted to tell her for months now, but he had been so busy with touring and being away from home that he hadn’t found the right time.

“I love you too,” she smiled, giving his arm a light squeeze.

Josh wrapped his arms a little more tightly around Y/N and whispered it again, as if to reassure himself.

“I love you.”

Chapter Text

Three Months Earlier…

Your phone started to ring again, vibrating loudly against your wooden coffee table. You didn’t have to check your phone to know who it was, Josh had been calling you at least three times an hour for the past few days. Deep down, you knew that ignoring him wasn’t the answer to your problems, it certainly wouldn’t solve anything. You just couldn’t bring yourself to pick up the phone and tell him that it was over, even thinking about how he would react was painful.

The ringing stopped and you let out a breath that you hadn’t even realized you had been holding. You knew you would have to talk to him eventually and explain why you couldn’t handle this life anymore. Of course, this would just lead to a public breakup and being berated with comments from people who didn’t know a thing about you, and isn’t that why you were breaking up with him in the first place?

“Tomorrow,” you promised yourself, but you weren’t so sure that it was one you could keep.

 

Present Day…

You grabbed an oversized sweatshirt from the pile of laundry on the floor and pulled it on over your shorts. You were pretty sure that it had been Josh’s, but you were starting to run out of clothes that hid your baby bump so you decided that the sweatshirt’s owner didn’t matter for the time being. It wouldn’t be long before you had to buy proper maternity clothes; you winced at the thought, you were having enough troubles finding well-priced baby supplies as it was.

“You could just tell Josh that you’re pregnant and you know that he would buy you everything you needed.” Jenna’s words echoed in your head. She, along with your parents, were the only ones that knew about the pregnancy. You figured she was less likely to feel guilty about not telling Josh than Tyler was.

You sighed as you looked over yourself in the mirror, smoothing out the fabric over your torso to see how big it had gotten. Hiding the pregnancy from Josh wouldn’t be possible for much longer, and despite the fact that the two of you hadn’t talked in months, you knew you had to be the one to tell him. A shiver ran down your spine at the mere thought of telling him. He would want to get back together, that was a given. After all, he hadn’t wanted to break up in the first place.

“Why don’t we go get some groceries?” you spoke quietly in the general direction of your baby bump.

The doctor had mentioned that speaking out loud to your baby would be a good way to get it to recognize your voice more easily, and it was a habit that you had quickly picked up. Not to mention that pretending like you were talking to your child instead of yourself made you feel a little less crazy.

You hummed quietly to yourself as you made your way around the house collecting things you would need. Once your shoes were on and the grocery list you had hastily made that morning was in your hand, you headed out the door.

Dark clouds loomed overhead as you walked into the grocery store. You hoped that it didn’t start raining anytime soon; getting groceries up to your apartment was enough of a chore already, you didn’t need to be soaking wet by the end of it too. It wasn’t long before you started wishing that you had asked Jenna to come along with you.

You grabbed a grocery cart and leaned forward on it with your elbows, freeing up your hands so that you could look at your grocery list. As you looked over the things you needed, you began to plot a mental path of where you needed to go to get your groceries, and therefore back home, most efficiently.

“Shouldn’t have caffeine,” you reminded yourself as you looked longingly at the many flavors of coffee and tea on the shelves in front of you.

You were so busy trying to find a good decaf tea that you didn’t notice the tall figure walking down the aisle towards you. The puff of pink hair should have been visible out of the corner of your eye, but apparently the tea had been too enticing to look away from.

“Y/N?” a familiar voice asked.

Your whole body froze. Suddenly, the tea was unimportant.

“Josh,” you forced a smile as you slowly stood up and turned to face him.

He was standing on the other side of your cart, holding his own basket of groceries. His hair was a lot longer than you remembered, and it suddenly hit you that it really had been three months since you had last seen each other.

“So that’s where that sweatshirt went!” he said, gesturing to the oversized sweatshirt you were wearing.

You knew that you should be embarrassed by the fact that you were wearing your ex’s sweatshirt close to three months after the two of you had split, but you found yourself more preoccupied with the possibility that Josh could see your pregnancy belly right now. The sweatshirt did an ok job of hiding it, but one wrong move and the secret was out.

“Oh, is this yours?” you said, trying to casually play it off. “I found it in the back of my closet the other day and thought it looked comfortable.”

You hated this act between the two of you. It was obvious that neither of you really wanted to be talking to the other, but it would have been worse to just act like the other person didn’t exist.

“No worries, you look good in it.”

“Thanks,” you said, hating the fact that you could feel your cheeks heating up. “It’s the only thing that will hide my baby bump,” you thought.

You could have sworn you saw Josh’s eyes linger on your torso for a moment longer than you would have liked. If he could tell you were pregnant, he wasn’t saying anything. Your bump was still relatively small, maybe he would think it was weight gain and be polite enough to not mention it.

“Well, I won’t keep you busy,” he said, rocking on his heels a little. “Nice seeing you.”

“Yeah, you too.”

Josh quickly grabbed a bag of coffee and walked off. A small part of you felt comforted to see that he still drank the same coffee you had recommended to him when you first started dating.

 

A couple of days had passed since the grocery store incident. The weather had cleared up and gone back to being sunny again, meaning that you could sit out on your porch and get some much needed Vitamin D.

Your phone vibrated on the table next to you. Normally you would check it immediately, but sitting in the sun was so relaxing that you figured it could wait a little while. If it was important, they could call.

It vibrated again. Then again. You decided that this was probably a matter that couldn’t wait, so you caved and checked your phone. Three texts from Jenna were shining on the screen.

We have an issue.

Y/N, this is urgent.

Call me as soon as you get these.

Without hesitation, you opened your phone and dialed Jenna. Your heart was pounding as the phone rang. Was this related to Josh?

Jenna picked up after the second ring with a very strained, “Y/N.”

“What’s up, Jen?”

“Ok, hear me out. Josh knows you’re pregnant.”

You felt your heart sink. It was unfortunate, but not unexpected.

“He didn’t think it was his at first, he was convinced that you had gotten pregnant right after the breakup or cheated on him and that’s why things ended.”

You sighed and rubbed your temple. Even though you hadn’t meant to cause him pain, you knew that your avoidance of talking to him had led to him feeling this way.

“And I know you wanted to be the one to tell him, but I couldn’t let him keep feeling that way. He was absolutely heartbroken. As much as he likes to believe it, he still isn’t over you.”

“I don’t know what to do, Jen,” you sighed.

“You can start by talking to him.”

“Is he still at your house?”

“Yeah, him and Tyler are inside talking right now.”

“Ok, I’ll be over in a little bit.”

“Are you ok to drive?”

“Yeah, my baby bump is still just small enough.”

“Ok, drive safe.”

“Thanks, see you soon.”

“Bye.”

Jenna ended the call and you slipped your phone into your pocket. You decided to change out of your tank top into a sweatshirt before you left. Even though Josh now knew you were pregnant, you were still hounded by the occasional paparazzi during your day-to-day life. You figured it was best not to let the news get out to everyone just yet. This time, you made sure to wear a sweatshirt that you knew was yours.

Your hands were shaking before you had even turned the car engine off. You weren’t quite sure what you were nervous about, Josh already knew you were pregnant. Maybe it was because you were going to have to sit down and face all the problems that you had been running from for the past few months. Yeah, that was probably it.

You got out of the car and shuffled towards the door, trying to draw out the time before you had to see anyone for as long as possible. Unfortunately for you, Jenna must have heard your car. She had opened the door and was looking at you expectantly before you had even made it halfway across the driveway.

“Come on,” she smiled, nodding her head slightly. “I made you some infused water.”

You smiled and began to pick up your pace. Even if your real mom was hundreds of miles away, you were glad that you had Jenna to take care of you like one.

Tyler and Josh were sitting at the dining room table. They stopped talking and turned to look at you as you followed Jenna into the room. Tyler beamed at you, but Josh just looked at you with an expression that you couldn’t quite place. Maybe he didn’t even know what he was feeling.

“Here you go,” Jenna said, handing you a glass of water that you hadn’t even seen her pour.

“Thanks,” you mumbled, taking a sip. It tasted faintly of fruit.

The room was quiet. The silence was weighing on you, making it impossible to speak. You knew that it was you or Josh that needed to speak first, but you couldn’t bring yourself to say anything.

“Want to go outside?” Josh finally asked.

“Yes,” you said, just relieved that someone had finally said something.

Jenna gave you a reassuring smile and Tyler flashed you a quick thumbs up as you moved across the room towards the backyard. The two of you took a seat on the edge of the porch, a foot or so apart. Your feet had swollen a little bit during the drive so you unlaced your shoes and set them down next to you. You didn’t bother explaining this to Josh.

The silence was back, but this time you spoke before it weighed down on you too much, “Where do you want to start?”

“How long have you known?” Josh asked, almost instantly. It was like he had been waiting to ask you that very question for years.

“I found out that I was pregnant a few weeks after we broke up, but by that point I had been pregnant for almost a month and a half.”

“So you were pregnant before we broke up?”

“Yes.”

“But you didn’t know you were pregnant when we broke up?”

“No,” you said. You couldn’t help but feel like these questions were a bit obvious.

“If you had known, would you have told me?”

“Of course.”

“So why didn’t you tell me after we broke up? It’s my kid too, you know.”

You took a deep breath, “I was worried. The whole reason that I ended things with you was because I couldn’t handle people watching my every move. I would go to the store to get chips and people would accuse me of buying pregnancy food. I’d wear a new ring that Jenna got for me and everyone assumed we were engaged. People who had never met me before were making assumptions about me and posting them on magazine covers for the world to see. You, Josh, you can handle that. You’ve been trained to handle that. But me, I’m just not cut out for that life. And when I found out I was pregnant, I knew that the news would have to get out eventually. You can’t hide a child from the world. I knew that when I told you, it wouldn’t be long before the world knew, and I wanted to hold onto that peace and quiet for as long as I could. I was going to tell you eventually, but I just couldn’t let go of that comfort yet.”

“Is that why you wouldn’t pick up my calls for weeks before we broke up?”

“Yeah. The longer I put it off, the longer before news broke and the world told me how stupid I was for letting you go. I’m not proud of how I handled it.”

You looked down at your bare feet and wiggled your toes. Josh was quiet for a moment.

“I’m sorry.”

“What do you have to be sorry for?” you asked.

“I should have done more to protect you from the media. It was easy for me to forget that you weren’t trained the same way I was.”

“We both made mistakes, Josh. It’ll be better for both of us if we just move past them.”

“Yeah,” Josh said. He took a deep breath, “So, the baby.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Do you know the gender yet?”

You shook your head, “Next time I go in they’ll be able to tell me.”

“Speaking of that.”

You clenched your jaw, this was the part of the conversation that you had been wanting to avoid.

“You know I want to be a part of this kid’s life, and that includes doctor’s appointments.”

You knew that you had the power to say no. It would be easier to keep Josh away from all of this and live your life peacefully, just your kid and you. You would be able to make all the decisions and stay out of the public eye, but deep down you knew you couldn’t do that to Josh. He was right, it was his kid too.

“I can give you a list of my appointments so you can tag along whenever you’re free.”

“And what about baby stuff? And maternity clothes? How are you going to pay for those?”

“I have a job at a restaurant,” you shrugged.

“And how much is that paying you?”

“Not enough,” you said, your voice getting quieter.

“You’re not going to be able to work throughout your entire pregnancy. Jenna even said you won’t be able to drive much longer.”

“Yeah,” you mumbled, trying your hardest not to cry.

Josh was talking more to himself than you now, or maybe you had just completely tuned him out. You hated that you were unable to support yourself, but you just didn’t have the energy to work two jobs like you had before you were had met Josh and gotten pregnant.

“Are you alright?” Josh asked. He placed his hand lightly on your arm, drawing you back to reality.

“I feel like a fucking charity case,” you whimpered, wiping a tear away.

“You aren’t a charity case. That baby belongs to both of us, which means that both of us are in charge of caring for it. I’d be the worst dad ever if I let you care for that baby without my help.”

You knew what was coming. It was only a matter of time before the words came out of his mouth.

“Do you think, maybe, we should move back in together?”

Asking to move back in together was Josh’s thinly veiled way of saying that the two of you should get back together. You knew that it would be better for the baby to have both parents, but living with Josh meant inevitably throwing yourself back into the spotlight, relationship or not.

“I have to think about it.”

“Take as much time as you need.”

You nodded. Josh stayed sitting next to you as you composed yourself, which you hadn’t expected. The tears eventually stopped coming and you felt calmed down enough to go back inside.

Jenna and Tyler were sitting at the dining room table like Tyler and Josh had been. Jenna stood up when she saw the two of you come inside, walking over to see how you were doing. She must have noticed that your eyes were puffy, she had the tendency to notice things like that.

“Are you guys good?” Tyler asked.

Josh looked over at you and raised his eyebrows, waiting for your answer.

“Yeah, we’re good,” you sniffled. “I just have a lot to think about.”

 

Jenna returned from the kitchen carrying two mugs of steaming coffee. You carefully reached over and took one of them with your free hand, making sure to keep your son supported with the other.

“I forgot how much I missed caffeine,” you smiled before taking a long sip.

Jenna took a seat on the other end of the couch and made herself comfortable, “Let me tell you, it’s much easier to make coffee than all of the special drinks you were supposed to have while pregnant.”

“Tell me about it,” you sighed. “I’m just glad this one is out in the world now.”

Your son was sleeping peacefully in your arms. It was hard to believe that it had already been two months with him in your life. Although you had been skeptical about having a kid at first, it had turned out to be one of the best things to happen to you.

“How are things going with Josh now that you two have a kid to care for?”

You sighed. It had been three months since you had moved back in with Josh to get ready for the birth of your baby boy. Things between you had felt different since then.

“It’s been different for sure. Living with your ex-boyfriend who you have a son with isn’t exactly a situation that life prepares you for,” you laughed.

“Is caring for Y/S/N going ok?”

“Yeah! It is. Josh is really good about making up for lost time and giving me time to rest after I’ve been caring for Y/S/N all day while he’s at the studio or whatever.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Definitely. He’s also been really good about stopping rumors and keeping the media off my back. It’s a lot more peaceful than when we were dating.”

Jenna nodded thoughtfully, “Speaking of dating, what are your feelings towards Josh?”

“It’s hard to tell,” you said. “I’m still scared, I know that for certain. At the same time, Josh cared for me more than any boyfriend has before. I can tell that he really loves me, and I’m starting to think that maybe I still love him too. Not to mention that if things work out, I would love for Y/S/N to have both of his parents at home.”

“Don’t let that be the reason you two start dating again, though. Son or not, you still need to do what’s best for you.”

“I know, and I’m going to.”

“Good.”

Your conversation was interrupted by the front door of the house opening. Tyler walked inside, followed closely by Josh.

“Where’s my little boy?” Josh smiled, making his way over to you.

“Sleeping peacefully, for once,” you said.

Josh leaned down and carefully scooped Y/S/N into his arms. He woke for a second to see what was going on, but quickly relaxed into Josh’s arms. You couldn’t help but smile at the two of them.

“How was the studio?” Jenna asked.

“Fantastic,” Tyler said, walking over and giving her a quick kiss. “I think you guys are going to love the new music.”

“Yeah, if we ever get to hear it,” you joked.

“It’s coming!” Tyler said. “Just making sure that it’s perfect.”

“I’m sure that you are.”

“Should we get going, Y/N?” Josh asked.

“Yeah, we need to get this one home for dinner,” you said, gently running a hand along your son’s head.

You gave Jenna and Tyler hugs before gathering up your things and walking out to the car. Josh dealt with getting your son in his car seat while you threw your bags in the trunk.

“How was hanging out with Jenna?” Josh asked as he got into the driver’s seat.

“It was fun. We talked about a lot of stuff.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Yeah, it is.”

Josh turned and pulled out of the driveway. In the backseat, your son was gurgling happily.

“Y/S/N didn’t cause too much trouble, did he?”

“Not at all, he just slept most of the time.”

“So what you’re telling me is that he’s going to be up for most of the night?”

“Pretty much.”

“Guess it might be another movie night, then,” Josh smiled.

“I have no issue with that.”

You rested your arm on the center console of the car. A million things were racing through your mind as you looked out the window at passing cars. Your thoughts were interrupted by Josh moving his arm so that it was resting lightly against yours.

“Hey, Josh?” you said, your voice shaking more than you would have liked.

“Yeah?”

“Do you still love me?”

You heard Josh’s breath catch. It was a question he hadn’t been expecting and one that you certainly hadn’t planned to ask until the heat of the moment. You were sure that you already knew the answer, but you wanted to hear it from him.

“Yes,” he said after a pause.

“Ok.”

“Why do you ask?”

“I was just curious. The average person wouldn’t have put up with how I treated you throughout the pregnancy and still want to raise a kid together afterwards unless they really cared about me.”

“Oh. Yeah, that makes sense.”

You felt Josh move his arm away from you slightly. Your arm felt cold where his had been.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” you said, heart pounding.

“Ok,” Josh said. He seemed upset.

“I love you too.”

You expected a big reaction from Josh. Maybe he would slam on the brakes or yell in excitement. Instead, his eyebrows only furrowed.

“You do?”

“Yes. And I think we should get back together.”

It felt weird to hear those words coming from your mouth. For the first part of the pregnancy it seemed like it was always Josh hounding you about getting back together. Eventually, he had learned that it was no use and your mind would remain unchanged. Until now, that is.

“You’re really willing to do that?” Josh asked.

You nodded, “I should have realized it a long time ago, but you mean more to me than anything the media tries to say about me.”

Josh finally smiled and took hold of your hand. It didn’t take any words for you to know exactly how he felt.

 

It was now ten. You and Josh had spent the last three hours walking Y/S/N around the house, trying in vain to get him to fall asleep. The two of you were getting fed up, mostly due to your inability to enjoy a nice night together after your confession in the car.

“What do we do?” Josh looked to you.

He was holding your son in his arms and bouncing him gently from side to side. Every time that he stopped moving, Y/S/N’s face would scrunch up and it would only be a few seconds before he started bawling.

“I say we just give up and watch a movie. If he stays up, then he stays up. At least that way we can all relax together instead of parading around the house.”

“I’ll take it,” Josh said.

You followed him into your bedroom. Josh passed your son off to you so that he could find the remote for the TV. You made your way over to the bed and sat down, using your knees to bounce Y/S/N up and down.

He was only a few months old and already starting to look like a little Josh with his dark hair and brown eyes. You were a bit sad that he didn’t have any of your features, although Josh tried to tell you that it looked like he had your nose. It was still so surreal to you that you even had a son.

“You doing alright?” Josh asked from the other side of the room.

“Yeah, I was just admiring Y/S/N. He’s so precious.”

“Yeah, except when he won’t fall asleep,” Josh laughed.

“He’s young, what do you expect?”

Josh walked back over to the bed and made himself comfortable. You slowly rotated yourself so that you could cuddle up next to Josh with Y/S/N in between the two of you. Your son seemed content snuggled up between his parents.

“Wow, he’s not crying,” Josh whispered.

“Don’t jinx it!” you said.

“Right.”

Josh turned on the movie and you made yourself comfortable on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around you and lightly put his hand on your arm. It felt weird to be intimate with him again, but at the same time it felt safe.

Y/S/N fell asleep just twenty minutes into the movie. Neither you or Josh dared to touch him in fear of waking him up again. It was quickly decided that the three of you would be sharing your bed tonight.

“What an eventful day,” Josh said quietly.

“Tell me about it,” you sighed.

“But hey, everything worked out in the end.”

“Yeah,” you smiled. “I guess it did.”

Chapter Text

“His dressing room is this way,” Tyler explained, leading you down a white brick hallway. It looked like the last three that you had walked down.

“How do you find your way around down here?” you asked, fiddling with your ring to keep your hands busy.

“Usually they have signs up, but I guess they don’t tonight,” Tyler said, looking around confusedly. “We’ve played this venue a few times though, so I know my way around.”

“Gotcha.”

Tyler came to a stop at the end of a hallway and held an arm out, “Second door on the right. His name will be on the door. He’s going to be so excited to see you, Y/N, I wish I could see his reaction.”

“Thanks, Ty. And if I don’t see you again before the show, good luck out there.”

“Thanks.”

Tyler walked off down another hallway, leaving you alone. You wiped your sweaty palms on your jeans and walked towards Josh’s dressing room. Just as Tyler had said, his name was printed on a sheet of paper stuck to the door. It was open just a crack, so you slowly pushed it open so as not to alert him that you were there.

Your stomach dropped as soon as you got a good look in the room. His back was to you, mostly because he was currently preoccupied with the half naked girl in front of him. Their lips were pressed together, Josh’s hands freely roaming her body. You recognized the girl, she was a member of the stage crew. She had always been a little too comfortable with Josh in your opinion, now you knew why.

You stood there in shock for longer than you would have liked, watching as they paid no attention to the world around them. Josh didn’t have any idea that you were there, and you decided to use that to your advantage while you still could.

“Who was that?” you heard Josh ask.

Tears clouded your vision as you walked quickly down the bare hallway, wrapping your arms tightly around your body for some form of comfort. There weren’t any signs indicating where Tyler’s dressing room was, so you were wandering around aimlessly, hoping you might stumble across it.

A large security guard stopped you as you rounded one of the corners. He looked stern, but once he saw that you were bawling, his expression softened a bit.

“Are you lost?”

You nodded feebly, “Tyler. I need to see Tyler Joseph.”

“Do you have authorization to be back here?”

You dug around in your pocket for your authorization pass; you had learned a while ago not to wear it around your neck, desperate fans would grab for it.

“This way,” the security guard said, leading you down a hallway that looked like all the rest.

Tyler’s dressing room door was wide open, revealing him walking around and doing vocal warm ups. You thanked the security guard before walking into Tyler’s room and closing the door behind you.

“Woah, what happened, Y/N?” he asked.

You were sobbing too hard to get any words out, so Tyler walked over and wrapped his arms tightly around you. He swayed you slowly back and forth.

“Josh…cheating…” you finally managed to choke out between sobs.

Tyler stopped swaying for a moment, “Wait, he’s cheating on you?”

You nodded against Tyler’s button up shirt that was already stained with your tears. It was a good thing that he wore a suit jacket over it while he performed.

“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch,” Tyler muttered under his breath, although you knew that he didn’t totally mean it.

You held onto Tyler tightly, as if he was the only thing keeping you from spiraling completely. After all, you had just lost what you thought was the most important thing in your life.

Footsteps became audible outside the hallway. If it was Josh, you didn’t want to see him so you squeezed your eyes tightly and turned more into Tyler’s chest. You felt childish, but you knew that seeing him would only cause you to feel worse.

“Tyler,” Josh said. You could tell he was out of breath. “Was Y/N here-” he stopped mid-sentence.

“Yeah, she is,” Tyler said, a venomous undertone to his voice.

“Y/N,” Josh said. You could hear him walking closer, causing you to squeeze Tyler just a little bit tighter.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Tyler said, one of his arms pulling away from you.

“Twenty minutes until showtime,” someone called as they passed the room.

“Please, Tyler, I need to talk to her.”

“Do you see her, Josh? I don’t think you should be around her right now.”

You leaned back from Tyler, wiping away tears despite the fact that they were still falling from your eyes.

“It’s fine. We need to talk,” you said.

Tyler looked at you with raised eyebrows, “Are you sure?”

You nodded, “I’ll make sure to be back here before you have to go on.”

Tyler nodded and let go of you. You walked out of the room with Josh, making sure to stay a solid couple of feet away from him. He started to walk down the hall towards what could only be his dressing room, but you stopped him.

“No, we’re talking here.”

“Don’t you want to be somewhere a little more private?”

“No. I want Tyler to be in earshot.”

“What do you think I’m going to do, Y/N?”

“Doesn’t matter. You lost all the trust I had for you so we’re going to stay right here.”

Josh opened his mouth to protest, but he quickly realized that would be a losing battle. You had made up your mind, and it wasn’t changing.

“Start talking,” you said, crossing your arms.

“I’m so sorry. All of that, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just that being on the road is hard and I get lonely sometimes,” he said, lowering his voice. “I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

You studied Josh, looking for any hint that this was all some prank. He seemed serious, and you wondered how this was the boy that you had fallen so head over heels in love with. Right now, it felt like a stranger was standing in front of you.

“Are you kidding me?” you said, your voice a bit louder than you would have liked. “What do you think I do at home while you’re on tour? Have parties every night? No! I get just as lonely as you do, and I don’t even have anyone at the house with me. You have Tyler, at least. God, Josh. And not a big deal? Did you forget that we’re engaged? Just because you’re some big rockstar doesn’t mean that you get a free pass to cheat on the person that’s going to be your wife!”

Josh sighed, “I didn’t think you’d find out.”

“Ten minutes until showtime!” someone called.

“Yeah, well, surprise. I showed up to the middle of your tour because that’s what people that love–loved–each other do. You’re awful, Josh.”

You turned and walked back to Tyler’s dressing room. The overwhelming sadness that you had felt had been replaced by pure rage. It was hard to believe that you were ever going to marry Josh.

“How was it?” Tyler asked, adjusting his tie.

You mumbled a string of curses under your breath.

“That good, huh?”

“So much for marrying the love of my life,” you grumbled, pulling the diamond ring off of your finger.

“Well maybe the show will cheer you up. I still have a spot saved for you.”

“I’m sorry, Ty, but I can’t stay. Not after what happened. I’m going to catch a cab back to the airport and take the first flight back home.”

“Where are you staying?”

You sighed, “You’re right. I should catch the first flight back home to my parents for awhile.”

Tyler nodded, “You’re free to stay with me when you get back. I can help you get back on your feet.”

“Thanks, Ty. It’s good to know I still have someone who has my back.”

“Of course,” he turned around and smiled at you.

“It’s go time! Tyler! Josh! Let’s get moving!”

“You’re going to do great tonight,” you smiled. “And thank you for everything. It was nice to see you again even if things didn’t turn out as planned.”

“It was good to see you too. Let me know when you get, well, wherever you’re going,” Tyler said, giving you a tight squeeze.

“Will do.”

Tyler grabbed something from beside the door and waved at you before running off down the hall. You took a seat on the couch in his dressing room and waited until you heard their music start blaring in the distance.

You got up and took your time finding your way back to Josh’s dressing room. It was empty now, save for the things that he had requested: snacks, music, and the like. You pulled your wedding ring back out of your pocket and set it on the dressing table next to his discarded shirt. It was one that you had gotten him for his birthday a year or so ago, he had loved it.

You quickly collected your suitcase from Tyler’s dressing room and found your way back outside the venue. It was significantly darker than when you had arrived, but it didn’t cause any problem with signaling a taxi.

“The airport, please,” you said, buckling yourself up.

“On it.”

You leaned back and took a deep breath, finally allowing yourself to process everything that had happened in the last hour.

 

“Can we just try and get this done as quick as possible?” you sighed, shutting the passenger door of the car behind you.

“Come on, grocery shopping isn’t that bad. Besides, it’s more time that you get to spend with me,” your boyfriend smiled, throwing an arm around your shoulders.

“Whatever,” you said, although you couldn’t help the smile on your face. You leaned over onto his shoulder as the two of you walked across the parking lot.

People walked around the entrance of the store, pushing carts full of groceries and a variety of other things that they sold. You and your boyfriend fell into single file in order to avoid getting in the way of everyone else.

“Should we get a big cart?” he asked, his hand resting on the handle of a cart.

You looked down at the handwritten list of groceries that the two of you had made before you left the house, “Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff to buy.”

You fell into step with your boyfriend as he pushed the cart through the rows of produce. He scrutinized a couple apples while you ticked things that you had already picked up off the list.

“Which of these looks better to you?” he asked, holding up an apple in each hand.

“Definitely that one,” you said, pointing to the one in his left hand.

“Ok,” he said before dumping it into the bag and putting the other one back. “What’s next?”

“Let’s see,” you said, skimming through the list. “What about popcorn?”

“Oh yeah, we need that for tonight.”

“Ok, I think that’s in aisle seven.”

You folded the list back up and fell into step with your boyfriend. He was humming quietly to himself.

“Wait, this aisle,” you said, grabbing his arm as you spotted the popcorn.

“Ok,” he huffed as he wheeled the cart around.

“Sorry. I thought it was in aisle seven, but I guess it’s in six.”

“You’re good,” he smiled. “I didn’t even have an educated guess to make.”

The two of you stopped in front of the popcorn section and began to look over your options. There were so many to choose from, you weren’t sure how you would choose.

“Hey, I think I’m going to go a couple of aisles over and pick up some coffee. I’m trusting you to pick out a good popcorn,” he said.

“I don’t know, that’s a lot of pressure,” you laughed.

“I believe in you,” he said, giving you a quick kiss on the cheek before walking off towards the coffee aisle.

You were trying to decide between buttered and caramel popcorn when you heard footsteps at the end of the aisle. Thinking it was your boyfriend returning from his coffee adventure, you looked up with a smile. Instead, it was someone much worse.

“Y/N?” he said, his red hair sticking out at all angles from under his beanie.

It felt like your tongue had grown to ten times its normal size, rendering you unable to speak. After a few seconds of staring blankly at him, you managed to utter a quiet, “Hi, Josh.”

You hadn’t seen Josh since you surprised him on tour and then promptly ended your engagement when you learned that he was cheating on you with a member of the stage crew nearly six months ago. This had led to you moving back home for a while to process the breakup around people that would take care of you.

“How have you been?” he asked.

You glanced down at your hand that was gripped so tightly around the shopping cart handle that your knuckles were white. Josh took notice of this.

“Good,” you answered.

It was only a partial lie. The first month after the breakup had been awful. You barely left your room and spent most of your time watching movies and ignoring the world around you. With time, you had gradually gotten better and when you finally made the move back to the city that you loved, everything had fallen back into place.

“That’s good,” he nodded. He was avoiding eye contact. “So, I’ve, uh, been trying to get a hold of you.”

“I know,” you said. There was no point in trying to hide it. You lost count of how many times you had immediately hit the ignore call button when his name showed up on your screen.

“I’m really sorry about what I did to you. It was just wrong and awful and you didn’t deserve to be treated like that. There hasn’t been a day since it happened where I haven’t thought about what I did.”

You were uncomfortable. There was nothing you wanted to do more than leave right then, but it didn’t seem right to just walk away while Josh was in the middle of his grocery store monologue. It shouldn’t have mattered considering how much worse Josh had hurt you, but it still didn’t sit right with you. Besides, you hadn’t picked out popcorn yet.

“Is there anything that I can do to make it right?”

Where was your boyfriend? It shouldn’t be taking him this long to pick out coffee, and you could really use him right now. If Josh knew you had moved on, it would shut him down immediately.

“I really don’t think there is, Josh,” you said.

“Please, Y/N. There has to be something I can.”

“Josh, I-,” you started to say.

Josh’s attention was directed to something behind you. His face immediately drained of color and he looked somewhere between shock and confusion. You started to turn to see who or what it was, but your question was answered by the bag of coffee that was tossed in the cart and the hand resting on your upper back. Your stomach dropped and you bit down on your lip.

“What’s going on?” your boyfriend asked.

“Tyler?” Josh asked, his voice much higher than normal.

Your grip loosened on the shopping cart, although you still wanted nothing more than to be anywhere but here.

“How long has this been going on?” Josh asked.

“About two months,” Tyler answered.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I think you know why.”

Josh sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. You hated that you felt guilty, even though you hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Tyler,” Josh said before walking past the two of you.

Tyler moved his hand from your back to your arm, rubbing it gently, “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” you took a deep breath. “I just feel bad, I guess.”

“You have no reason to feel bad. If he wanted to keep you, he should have acted like it.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Are you doing ok?”

Tyler shrugged, “It’s weird, but we’ll work it out.”

“That’s good. I would hate to get between you two.”

“You won’t, and that’s a promise.”

You smiled at Tyler who in turn pressed a quick kiss to your temple.

“So what popcorn are we having tonight?” he asked.

You sighed, “I never really got around to deciding.”

“How about this kind?” Tyler asked, grabbing the caramel popcorn that you had been eyeing earlier.

“Yeah, that’s good.”

“Perfect,” Tyler said as he tossed it into the cart with the rest of your groceries. “What next?”

Half an hour later, you and Tyler were loading your many bags of groceries into the back of his car. It hadn’t seemed like that much in the store, but now that you were putting it in the car it seemed excessive. You already knew that putting it all away was going to be a pain.

“How did we end up with so much?” you asked as you put another bag in.

“This is why we usually don’t shop together, we just enable one another,” Tyler laughed.

“Yeah, we probably shouldn’t do this again.”

Tyler put in the last bag of groceries and shut the trunk. While he put the cart away, you hopped into the passenger seat and searched through the radio stations for a good song. Tyler joined you in the car not long after.

“Hey, Ty?” you said as he started to pull out of your parking space.

“Yeah?”

“Do you really think you and Josh are going to be ok?”

Tyler sighed, “It will be rough at first, but I think everything will be ok in the end. We’ve been through worse.”

“Ok, I just feel like I’m personally responsible.”

Tyler reached over and grabbed your hand as he drove through the parking lot, “You are in no way responsible for any of this. Josh is an adult who can make his own decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions. You don’t owe him anything.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” you said.

Tyler squeezed your hand and smirked, “I know.”

 

Tyler’s POV

I sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled my shoes on. My hands were already shaking a bit as I tied the laces. Josh and I were supposed to be meeting for lunch in twenty minutes, and I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation that we would inevitably end up having.

I hadn’t talked to him at all since the incident at the grocery store last night. Y/N had been worried all night, asking me constantly if he had said something. I hated to see her so upset over something that wasn’t even her fault.

“Ty!” she called up the stairs. “Don’t you need to leave soon?”

I turned to look at the clock on her bedside table. Sure enough, if I didn’t leave soon I was going to be late to meet Josh. The last thing I wanted to do was piss him off even more.

“Coming!” I called back.

Y/N was in the kitchen, making herself something for lunch. She smiled at me as I reached the bottom of the stairs.

“Are you feeling ok?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I smiled, even though it was a lie.

“Good,” she said. “I’m glad.”

I walked around the counter and wrapped my arms around her waist. She leaned her head against mine.

“I shouldn’t be gone too long, maybe two hours at most.”

“Take as much time as you need.”

I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before walking off towards the door.

“Good luck,” she called after me.

 

Josh’s car was already in the parking lot of the restaurant when I arrived. I checked my hair in the rearview mirror before getting out of the car. His car was empty, meaning that he was probably already inside.

Sure enough, Josh was sitting on one of the benches just inside the restaurant’s doors. He smiled at me when he saw me, although it didn’t reach his eyes. We were silent as the hostess led us to the table and handed us menus.

“What are you going to get?” Josh asked shortly after we sat down.

I was a bit taken aback by the simplicity of his question. Part of me had been expecting some loud outburst the first time that he spoke to me. Instead he seemed totally calm and not at all upset. I wasn’t sure which was scarier.

“Umm,” I said. “Probably a burger.”

Josh nodded and continued to look over his menu.

“What about you?” I continued, not wanting to be rude. It felt like I was walking on eggshells.

“Most likely the same as you. Number eight looks good.”

I scanned the menu for the burger he was talking about and took a moment to read the description.

“Yeah, that does look good.”

Josh didn’t say anything else. In fact, he was quiet until the waiter arrived at our table and took our orders. Once he was out of earshot, Josh turned back to me and folded his hands on the table.

“So how did it happen?”

“How did what happen?”

“You and Y/N.”

Right. Don’t be dumb, Tyler.

“Um, well,” I stammered, trying to think of the right way to phrase it. “She came back to Ohio shortly after the tour ended and moved in with me while she looked for a new place to live, but we developed feelings and she ended up just staying in my house with me.”

“Oh.”

I nodded, “Listen, Josh, I know you’re probably upset that I stole your ex-”

“No, Tyler, it’s fine. Really. Cheating on Y/N was the worst thing that I could do to her and because of that I don’t deserve her. Everything just kind of hit me all at once last night and I didn’t know what to say when I saw you two together.”

“So, you’re not upset?”

“I mean, of course it still hurts to learn that the girl that you were in love with is now dating your best friend. But at the end of the day, what I did was wrong and she’s happy now. That’s all that matters.”

I nodded, unsure of what to say. Josh was reacting to the entire situation way differently than I had anticipated.

“Besides, if she’s going to be with someone else then I’m glad it’s you. She doesn’t deserve to be hurt again, and I know you’re going to treat her the way I should have from the beginning.”

It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Josh wasn’t upset, meaning that I no longer had to hide my relationship with Y/N. Lying to him had been one of the hardest things for me to do.

“So we’re good?” I said, extending a hand across the table.

“We’re good,” he smiled, shaking my hand.

 

Your POV

Tyler had been gone for close to two hours now. You were growing more worried with each passing minute, wondering what things were like between the two of them now. The last thing you wanted was to drive them apart, your relationship with Tyler just wasn’t worth that guilt.

You decided to make yourself a cup of tea to calm your nerves. Tyler had said he would be gone for two hours at most, meaning that he should be home any minute now. You were anxious to hear how things had gone.

Your tea had just cooled down to a reasonable temperature when you heard Tyler’s car pull into the driveway. You practically spilled your drink on yourself in your rush to get to the front door and greet Tyler.

“How was it?” you asked the second that he had stepped inside.

He smiled, “It was good.”

Seeing Tyler smiling made you happy, “Define good.”

“He’s cool with it. He realizes how messed up cheating on you was and he’s happy that you’re with someone that’s going to treat you right.”

“So I’m assuming the reason you were out so long is because you two were just getting along and having a nice lunch.”

“Yeah,” he beamed.

You set your tea down on the table in the foyer and threw your arms around Tyler. He held onto you tightly and buried his face in your neck.

“I’m so relieved,” you said.

“Me too, we don’t have to hide our relationship anymore.”

You finally let go of Tyler and took a step back, picking up your tea in the process.

“So will you stop worrying now?” Tyler asked.

“Me? Stop worrying? Never,” you smirked before taking a sip of tea.

Chapter Text

“This is it,” you told yourself. “You’re going to tell Josh how you feel and things are going to be different. Maybe good, maybe bad, but they’re going to be different.”

You took a moment to look at all the pictures of you and the boys that you had hanging around your mirror. They had walked into your life nearly five years ago, and things had been better because of it ever since then. Of course, it hadn’t taken long before you fell for one of them. Those kinds of things just had the tendency to happen when you had two extremely amazing and attractive best friends.

Confidence surging through you, a rare feeling, you headed out to your car. You knew that this was something that you needed to do in person, things were too easily lost in translation over the phone. Not to mention that it gave you an opportunity to admire Josh in person, possibly for the last time. If things went bad, you weren’t sure what was going to happen between the three of you. But after some guidance from Tyler, the two of you had determined that this was a necessary risk.

Josh’s car wasn’t in the driveway when you arrived at his house, but you decided to try the door anyway. Sure enough, there was no answer. Not wanting to make the twenty minute drive back home if he was going to be back soon, you decided to shoot him a text to see how long he would be.

Stopped by your house because I need to talk about something serious with you. Home soon?

You decided that it would be best to wait in the car where it was warm rather than his doorstep where you felt like your fingers were going to fall off if they were out of your pockets for too long. Your phone buzzed almost as soon as you shut the car door behind you.

Needed to pick up some groceries. Home in ten. Everything cool?

You smiled at the text, even though it didn’t have any significant meaning. Maybe it was just the fact that he cared.

Everything’s cool.

You decided to check up on Twitter and see if you had missed anything important while you waited. Your timeline was more flooded than usual with tweets from the clique, meaning that something major had happened. The boys hadn’t mentioned anything huge lately, so you decided to do some investigating.

All of the tweets seemed to lead to the same ultimate conclusion: lots of evidence was pointing to the fact that Josh and Debby were back together, or at least a lot more comfortable than they had been previously. Photos of a party that the boys had gone to about a week ago had just been released, and it didn’t take any reaching to see the chemistry between the two of them. You vaguely remembered Josh and Tyler asking if you wanted to accompany them, but you had passed because you had never been a fan of the party scene. Now you were wishing more than anything that you had gone.

You tried to swallow the lump in your throat as you scrolled through more tweets. Surely Josh would have mentioned that he and Debby were back together, right? Or maybe this was all just the beginning of their relationship rekindling and he didn’t want to jinx it. Whatever it was, you knew that you couldn’t tell him how you felt now. You wondered how you had even thought that was a good idea in the first place.

You threw your phone down on the passenger seat and pushed your palms into your eyes as a futile attempt to get them to stop watering. If anything, that made your vision worse. With an exasperated sigh, you turned the car on and decided that you would have to drive home crying, not that it would be the first time. The longer you waited in Josh’s driveway, the higher the chance that you ran into him and had to explain why you were sitting in your car crying.

 

You slammed the front door behind you, locked it, and walked over to the couch, plopping face-first onto it. Now that you were home, you allowed yourself to completely break down and sob. Josh had texted you asking where you had gone, but you had ignored him entirely. Maybe he would forget that you had even texted him in the first place.

Your phone started ringing about ten minutes after you had gotten home. You didn’t even bother looking at who was calling, you weren’t going to answer. All you wanted to do right now was lay on your couch and feel bad that the universe had screwed you over. You wondered if Tyler knew about Debby, you had always thought maybe the boys kept secrets from you. It was mostly anxiety talking, but every so often you were pretty sure you caught them talking behind your back.

It had been nearly two hours since you got home and you had still yet to move from the couch. Normally you would have asked Tyler and Josh to come over on your day off, but they were the last people that you wanted to see right now. Instead, you had settled for laying on the couch for hours and letting negative thoughts run their way through your mind.

There was a knock on your door, startling you out of your thoughts. You started to get up to open it, but figured it was probably Josh or Tyler. On the off chance it was a package, you could get it later long after the delivery man had left.

Another knock, this time followed closely by, “Y/N, I know you’re home.”

It was Josh’s voice, you would have recognized it anywhere. He sounded worried which would have normally made you open the door in seconds and pull him into a hug, but now you couldn’t help but feel like he deserved it for the way he had made you feel, even if it was indirect.

On the other end of the couch, your phone started to ring. You knew it was Josh calling, he always called if you didn’t open the door right away. Not wanting him to hear it, you quickly lunged for it and turned off the sound. It had rung once, but it should have been quiet enough that Josh didn’t hear it. Maybe he would think you were napping and leave.

After a few minutes, you heard Josh’s car pull out of the driveway. You let out a sigh of relief and laid back down on the couch, pulling the blanket up around yourself once again. This type of behavior wasn’t something you could do forever, you knew that, but for the time being you needed to be alone with your thoughts.

 

You were in the middle of making dinner when your phone started to ring again. Hoping that it might be one of your parents, you walked over and looked a the name shining on your phone. Much to your dismay, it was just Tyler. Even though he hadn’t done anything wrong, you knew that he would ask a million questions about Josh, and that wasn’t a situation you felt equipped to handle at the moment.

Not wanting to deal with your overthinking for much longer, you decided to head upstairs, get ready for bed, and watch a movie before falling asleep. Maybe an idea as to how to deal with this situation would come to you while you were sleeping.

Your movie had barely started when you heard the front door open downstairs, which seemed unusual. Deciding that this wasn’t an issue you could just ignore, you rolled off your bed and dug around until you found the baseball bat that you kept hidden under it. Now that you were armed, you crept towards the front door.

Much to your surprise, it was Tyler standing in your entryway. The two of you looked at each other in shock: you hadn’t expected to see him in your house and he hadn’t expected to see you creeping towards him with a baseball bat.

“So you are alive,” he said.

“Of course I’m alive,” you grumbled, swinging the baseball bat down to your side. “Why are you in here? The key I gave you is for emergency purposes only.”

“With how you’ve been acting today, I would say this is an emergency.”

“It’s not an emergency, I’m fine.”

“Y/N, you’ve been ignoring every call and text that Josh or I have been sending your way. Not to mention that you didn’t even answer the door when Josh showed up.”

“I just wanted to be alone today, is that such a crime?”

“It wouldn’t be if you hadn’t texted Josh that you needed to talk to him about something serious and then cut off all contact.”

You had to admit, that had been a little stupid of you. Not wanting to admit that to Tyler, you shrugged.

“Josh has been freaking out all day, thinking he did something wrong. What is this all about?”

“He’s not here, is he?” you asked, leaning around Tyler as if to check that Josh wasn’t hiding behind him.

“No, it’s just me. Josh doesn’t even know that I’m over here.”

You sighed and pushed your hair back from your face, “I went over to Josh’s house to tell him how I felt, but he was at the grocery store. I was on Twitter to kill some time, but then I saw all these photos of him with Debby at the party you two went to, and everyone was speculating that they were back together. I thought maybe he hadn’t mentioned it, so I knew that I couldn’t tell him how I felt. I left without telling him and then shut everyone out because I felt like an idiot.”

Tyler held his arms out and you eagerly accepted his hug. Of course, telling Tyler everything that happened caused you to start crying again.

“Hey, it’s ok. You’re not an idiot for having feelings. Josh and Debby aren’t together, I can tell you that. They just spent some time catching up, and I guess photos made it look like more than it was. They spent maybe ten minutes together at that party.”

“Really?” you sniffled.

“Yeah. He told me afterwards that he would have rather stayed at home with you and me and watched movies.”

This made you smile, “Ok.”

“And I still stand by what I said, you should tell him how you feel.”

“Maybe I will,” you said, although you weren’t sure you would be able to build up the same level of confidence that you had that morning.

Tyler held you at arm’s length and looked into your eyes, “It’s a necessary risk.”

“I feel like you know something that I don’t.”

“Maybe I do, maybe I don’t,” he smirked. “But I do know that I want you to be happy.”

“Thanks, Ty,” you smiled.

“Alright, you look like you could use some rest and I should get back to Josh and let him know you’re fine. Sorry for breaking into your house.”

“No worries,” you waved him off. “It was necessary.”

Tyler nodded and walked back out the front door, making sure to lock it. You grabbed your baseball bat and headed back upstairs, already formulating how you were going to tell Josh.

 

You hopped out of your car and closed the door behind you. The sun was shining today, but it was still colder than you would have liked. You only knocked on Josh’s door twice and your fingers already felt frozen.

Josh swung the door open a few moments later. This time, you had the foresight to tell him that you were on the way over before you left your own house. It would be harder to chicken out that way.

“Hi,” Josh smiled, looking almost relieved to see you.

“Hey,” you said, still feeling a bit embarrassed about how you had acted yesterday.

“Want to come in?” he asked.

“Yes, please. I’m freezing.”

Josh stepped out of the way and you made your way towards the living room. You took a seat on the couch, followed closely by Josh.

“I just want to start by saying I’m sorry for how I acted yesterday. I let my emotions get the best of me, and it didn’t go over very well.”

“It’s alright, we all have those days sometimes. I’m sorry if I bothered you, I was just worried about you.”

“Which is understandable,” you smiled. “Anyway, the thing that I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Right.”

You took a deep breath. It was now or never.

“I-um-I have feelings for you, Josh,” you mumbled, looking down at your feet.

You could feel your cheeks going bright red, and you didn’t want to see the look on Josh’s face.

“You do?”

“Yeah. I have for a while, actually.”

“I have feelings for you too.”

You turned to look at him, hardly believing what you were hearing.

“For real?”

“For real.”

“That’s awesome,” you smiled.

Josh looked a little confused at your choice of words, but smiled nonetheless.

“So, uh, what now?” he asked.

“I guess we’re…dating?”

“Yeah, that sounds right,” his smile grew wider.

You nodded.

“So, can I kiss you?” he asked.

“Yeah, that would be good.”

He leaned forward and pulled you into a kiss. You smiled against his lips. Tyler had been right, this was a necessary risk.

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, Mr. Dun. She didn’t make it.”

Josh felt his stomach drop straight down to his feet. The nurse wordlessly led him back to your room. He looked over you, taking in your appearance one last time: all the fine lines that come with age, the gray streaks in your hair that you had always hated, everything that he had loved about you.

He felt numb as he drove home, paying just enough attention to not hit anyone as he drove. This wasn’t how things were supposed to happen. The two of you were supposed to grow old together, die together even. But some idiot had ruined all of that, taking you away from him far too soon. How would he tell your kids? They were going to be heartbroken. Kids weren’t supposed to have to experience their parent dying.

The house was eerily quiet. He had always hated it like this, only the sounds from outside filled the house now. Even when the kids had moved out to start their own lives, he had always had you to keep him company. Now he had nothing.

Rage flowed through him, his fists clenched so tightly that his nails were leaving marks in his palms. He grabbed a plate and threw it against the wall, shattering it into bits and pieces that fell to the ground. Throwing things wouldn’t solve anything and it certainly wouldn’t bring you back to him, but for the time being it was the only thing that made him feel a little bit better.

 

“I don’t know what I would do if anybody tried to take you away,” Josh whispered, pulling you a little further into his chest.

“Nobody is going to take me away,” you reassured him, wrapping your arms around him.

Josh leaned down so that his forehead was pressed to yours. You looked into his brown eyes that still managed to shine in the dark of your bedroom. The two of you had developed a bad habit of staying up far too late just talking about life now that you lived under the same roof, but you didn’t mind the tired feeling in the morning. It served as a reminder of the night before.

“You’re beautiful, did you know that?”

“I did, because you tell me every day.”

Josh seemed pleased with that answer, his mouth curving into a smile before he leaned down and kissed you.

 

It had been a few years since you had been taken from him. Josh spent most of his days alone, playing his drums to try and mask the pain that still ate away at him. Some days were worse than others, those were the days when he barely got out of bed. Your kids were worried about him, but they knew there wasn’t much that they could do. You had meant too much to him.

“I don’t know why I breathe,” Josh sighed, tossing his drumsticks to the ground.

He regretted not spending more time with you when he had the chance. All those years spent touring, thinking the two of you would have plenty of time in your old age to be together with no other worries. Even though he knew you never would have let you stop touring, he wished that he had gone against what you said and just come home to you.

 

“I would do anything,” Josh said.

“I know you would, but touring the world and keeping the fans happy is what I need you to do right now,” you answered.

One of your kids sprinted through the living room, followed closely by another one. You watched them carefully, making sure that they weren’t getting in to too much trouble.

“The kids?” Josh asked.

You nodded. Your daughter came running up to you and launched herself into your lap.

“Dad!” she smiled, taking up the entire screen.

“Hi, darling,” Josh smiled. “How are you?”

“I’m good. How is Uncle Tyler?”

“He’s good. We just finished a performance so he’s getting some rest and talking to Aunt Jenna.”

Your daughter nodded and then ran off to find her siblings. In the next room, you could hear the faint sound of your kids talking about something or other.

“There’s only a few weeks left until you come home,” you smiled at him.

“I know, then we get an entire four months to just be together and not worry about anything else.”

“I’m looking forward to it. The kids miss you, and so do I.”

“I miss you too. Sometimes I wish we were still 28 and you would come on tour with us and get to see every show.”

“I do too, but times change. Now we have three little blessings in our life.”

“I can’t argue with that.”

The calm discussion that you had heard earlier had escalated into full on yelling. There was a brief moment of silence before one of the kids burst into tears.

“I better go deal with that. Get some rest and I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Good luck. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

You ended the call and walked into the next room to solve whatever dispute was happening.

 

Josh’s time eventually came. He lived close to twenty-five years without you, each passing year hurting just a little less than the last. All of your kids came home to spend his final moments with him, an opportunity that they hadn’t had with you.

He embraced death with open arms, knowing that it would finally take him back to you. It was a moment that he had been waiting for ever since the day that you left him.

 

“I will love you until we’re buried,” he whispered.

“I’ll love you even past then,” you answered.

Josh laced his fingers with yours and leaned down to kiss you.

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Chapter Text

“Yes!” you cheered as you crossed the finish line seconds before Tyler.

“That’s bullshit!” Tyler said, gesturing his Wii remote wildly at the TV.

“It isn’t bullshit, you’re just mad that you lost.” You crossed your arms and didn’t even try to hide the smug look on your face.

“What’s going on down here?” Josh asked, appearing at the bottom of the stairs.

You immediately sat back down on the couch and tried to hide the blush on your cheeks. Hopefully Josh hadn’t heard you yelling just a few moments ago.

“Y/N beat me at Mario Kart because I got stuck on a corner,” Tyler grumbled.

Usually you would argue and say that it was because you were just more skilled, but you held your tongue. Josh looked between the two of you.

“That sucks, little bro. You shouldn’t worry about it though, it’s just a game.”

Just a game. You shouldn’t have been so excited about winning in the first place. Josh walked off to the kitchen, leaving just you and Tyler.

“Congrats, I guess,” he grumbled.

You shrugged, “Thanks.”

“Want to go up to my room?”

“Yeah.”

You followed Tyler up the stairs to his bedroom and took a seat on his bed. He sat down in his desk chair and began to spin around.

“You’re not still pouting about Mario Kart, are you?” you asked.

“No,” he lied.

“C’mon, Ty, it’s just one game. Besides, it isn’t the first time you’ve lost.”

Mario Kart had been a big thing between you and Tyler for as long as you could remember. In elementary school, you would come over on weekends and the two of you would spend all day in front of the TV doing race after race and keeping score. Josh would join in every so often, but he had stopped once he entered middle school.

“I know. I guess what Josh said just rubbed me the wrong way. It is a game, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win.”

“Well that’s Josh. He’s just your dumb brother.”

“You don’t think he’s dumb,” Tyler said, stopping his chair so that he could look at you.

“Shut up,” you said, grabbing a nearby pillow and lobbing it at him.

You had liked Josh for close to a year now. Even though you had known him since you were in second grade, you had only recently started to actually take interest in him. Tyler rolled his eyes every time you brought him up, but that didn’t stop you.

“Can we make a rule?” Tyler asked.

“Depends.”

“You can’t date Josh.”

“That’s not fair!” you said, your voice raising slightly.

“Hear me out. He’s my brother. If you two start dating, every time you come over here you’re going to want to hang out with him. All of a sudden I’m just going to be the dorky music kid again while you hang out with football players and cheerleaders.”

“I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Y/N, can we please just make that rule?”

“Fine,” you sighed, sticking a hand out. “It’s a rule.”

Tyler wasn’t paying enough attention to see your fingers crossed carefully behind your back. The only reason you agreed was because you thought Josh had no interest in you. If given the chance, you knew you would take it no matter what Tyler said.

 

“I’ll see you after class, Tyler.”

You smiled at him as he walked off down a different hallway. As you were walking towards your next class, you noticed one of the other girls from your grade leaned against her locker. Ever since you started high school, she had made it her mission to make you feel awful on a daily basis.

“Y/N!” she smiled at you as you grew closer. You suddenly wished you had put your headphones in after saying goodbye to Tyler. “Where’s your boyfriend?”

“He’s not my boyfriend,” you said, knowing immediately that she was referring to Tyler. People had been spreading the rumor that the two of you were dating since middle school.

“You’re right, who would want to date someone with a face like that?”

A few of her friends sniggered. You were about to snap back at them when their attention directed to something behind you. One glance over your shoulder revealed that it was Josh, seemingly on the way to his own class.

“Hey, Y/N. You look beautiful today,” he smiled, flashing a quick wink before continuing down the hallway. It was his subtle way of shutting the other girls down without completely stepping in.

You smiled and walked into your biology class, making sure to take out your headphones once you sat down.

Much to your surprise, Josh was waiting outside your class when the bell rang. It wasn’t something he normally did, mostly he would just smile at you in the hall when the two of you passed each other.

“Hey,” he smiled, falling into step with you.

“Hi,” you said, a bit more nervously than you had intended for it to come across.

“Did those girls leave you alone after I left?”

“Yeah. You really didn’t need to do that, Josh. I can stand up for myself.”

“I know, but isn’t it easier to have someone step in from time to time?”

“I guess.” You spotted Tyler up ahead, leaned up against the wall and spacing off. “There’s Tyler. I’ll see you around.”

“Later,” Josh said, jogging to catch up with another football player.

“Were you walking with Josh?” Tyler asked.

“Yeah, he stepped in when some girls were bothering me earlier.”

“Really?”

“Is that weird?”

Tyler paused before shaking his head, “Let’s go get lunch.”

 

Josh had started to walk with you after classes more often. You were slowly getting more comfortable with him and opening up about things you usually only talked to Tyler about. The only downside to this was that Josh seemed to be more comfortable dictating what you could and couldn’t do.

“You know, you shouldn’t wear shirts like that,” he casually mentioned one day.

You looked down at the shirt you were wearing. It was a plain V-neck that was well within the school’s dress code. Your mom had even let you wear it out of the house, and she was usually a stickler about those types of things.

“What’s wrong with it?” you asked, pulling it up a little higher.

“It could attract other guys’ attention.”

“Why does that matter?”

You tried your best to put on a defensive front, even though your heart started pounding at his comment. Maybe he didn’t want anyone else to steal you away from him.

“Because I said it does.”

“I can wear whatever I want,” you said, spotting Tyler across the cafeteria. “Later, Josh.”

 

“That’s it,” you sighed, kicking off your nice shoes and pulling on your beat up Vans. “I’m going to Tyler’s!” you called to your mom.

“What happened to your date?”

“It’s been an hour and a half and he hasn’t showed up, so I don’t think he’s coming. I’m not about to let a Friday night go to waste either.”

“Ok, be safe!”

You dialed Tyler as you walked down the sidewalk. It only took him a couple rings to pick up.

“What do you want?” he asked. You could tell by the sound of his voice that he was eating.

“Are you home?”

“Of course I’m home. I never leave.”

“Ok, good. I’m coming over.”

“Alright.”

You ended the call without saying goodbye and wrestled your headphones out of your pocket.

Josh was the one to open the door when you knocked, looking a bit surprised to see you. Maybe he knew about the date that you were supposed to be on, they were both football players.

“Is Tyler in his room?” you asked.

“Yeah, he’s been up there for most of the night.”

“Ok, thank you,” you said, all but pushing past Josh.

Sure enough, Tyler was on his bed when you burst into his room. He was bent over his laptop, watching something intently.

“I could have been changing,” he said without looking up.

“You knew I was coming.”

You walked over and plopped yourself down in his desk chair, kicking your shoes into the corner of the room.

“I thought you had plans tonight.”

“Yeah, a date. I got stood up.”

“What?” Tyler asked, shutting his laptop and turning to look at you. “You got asked on a date and didn’t tell me?”

“I didn’t want to tell anyone in case this happened,” you said, gesturing to nothing in particular.

“I’m sorry, Y/N. Boys are jerks.”

“It’s fine, I’m not upset. Just mad that an hour and a half of my Friday night was wasted when I could have been hanging out with you.”

Your phone began to buzz wildly in your pocket. Tyler raised his eyebrows as you fished it out and looked at who was calling you.

“It’s him,” you said, answering the call and bringing your phone to your ear. “Hello?”

“Hey, this is Y/N, right?”

“Yeah, the one you were going to take on a date tonight.”

“I know, that’s why I called. I’m really sorry about standing you up, it’s just that Josh found out that I had asked you out and he made a rule that none of us were supposed to do that. I was going to call and cancel but it totally slipped my mind.”

“No worries. Thanks for telling me.”

“No problem.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

You hung up the call and tossed your phone on Tyler’s desk.

“What did he say?”

“Close the door.”

Tyler reached across his bed and shut his door so that Josh wouldn’t hear you if he walked by. You leaned closer to Tyler so that you could speak more quietly.

“He said that Josh made a rule against any of the football players asking me out. It’s like he’s trying to control my life, telling me what to wear, who to talk to, and now who to date.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Get revenge.”

 

You had spent the last week figuring out just how you were going to get your revenge on Josh when the opportunity fell right into your lap: a party. Tyler and Josh’s parents were going out of town, meaning that Josh was taking the opportunity to invite everyone that he knew over while the house was empty. You and Tyler usually hung out at your house in the peace and quiet while this happened, but you knew that this was your chance.

“How does this look?” you asked Tyler, making sure that it was visible on camera.

“Just as good as the other thirty outfits you showed me,” he answered, obviously growing bored.

“Tyler, please. I need to make Josh jealous.”

“I don’t want to think about you making my brother jealous,” he winced.

“Does this actually look good? Just give me a straight answer.”

“Yes, it looks good.”

“Perfect. I’ll be over in ten.”

You shut off FaceTime and grabbed your shoes from beside your bed. Your mom was downstairs, reading a magazine in her favorite armchair.

“You look nice. Where are you off to?”

“Just going to Tyler’s house,” you smiled. It wasn’t technically a lie.

“It’s a shame that you and Tyler are so close. The two of you would make a cute couple.”

You wrinkled your nose at the thought of dating Tyler. He was basically your brother at this point.

“Love you, Mom,” you said, walking over to give her a quick hug.

“Have fun.”

“I will,” you smiled before disappearing out the door.

“Shocking that you didn’t change your outfit again before coming over here,” Tyler said as he opened the door.

“Shut up,” you said, giving him a light shove.

Josh was walking around downstairs, picking up valuable items to be stowed away for the duration of the party. You ignored him and walked up to Tyler’s bedroom.

“When is everyone showing up?” you asked.

“I don’t know,” Tyler shrugged. “Josh doesn’t include me in the planning process. My plan is to just hide away up here while everyone causes destruction downstairs.”

“You’re not going to come downstairs?”

“And wade through a pool of drunk teenagers? No thanks.”

“Suit yourself,” you sighed, although you were relieved that you would have somewhere to escape to if things got out of hand.

You and Tyler sat in his room talking for a couple hours before you started to hear the party picking up downstairs.

“That’s my cue,” you said, standing up from Tyler’s desk chair.

“Be safe, and I’ll be up here if you need me.”

“Thanks, Ty.”

You looked over yourself one more time in the mirror before slipping out of Tyler’s room. There was the telltale sound of it locking behind you, a smart decision on Tyler’s part.

The downstairs of the house was filled with people from school. You recognized most of them, but you were pretty sure that none of them had even the slightest clue who you were. This was mostly due to the fact that Josh’s friends were seniors, and you were only a junior.

You spotted Josh on the other side of the room. He waved at you, but you simply turned and walked off in another direction. You didn’t chance looking back at him, but you were pretty sure that you ignoring him would rub him the wrong way. After all, he was one of the few people that he said you could talk to.

The boy that had stood you up was in the kitchen talking with another football player. A plan already formulating in your mind, you walked over and inserted yourself into their conversation. It was so unlike you, but you knew that it would get Josh worked up. The second football player walked off as he noticed you nearing them.

“Hey,” you smiled.

“Hey, Y/N.”

“How’s it going?” you leaned casually against the counter.

“Pretty good. Listen, I’m really sorry about-”

You cut him off, “Like I said, no worries. It’s in the past.”

“Ok,” he said, looking relieved.

“Hey, you want to go dance?”

You gestured over your shoulder to where a few people were bobbing to music in the living room.

“Yeah,” he smiled.

You grabbed his hand and led him into the living room. Josh was still standing off to the side, leaned against the wall and watching the crowd of people. His eyes landed on you, specifically your hand that was currently holding someone else’s as you made your way through the living room. That paired with the fact that you were wearing the shirt that he specifically told you not to was going to be more than enough to get him mad.

The two of you adjusted your hands and started to sway to the music. The look on Josh’s face let you know that he could easily see the football player’s hands on your hips. You wondered how long he would let this go on before he stepped in. Just to make sure it was working, you leaned forward and whispered something about a test you had next week into your dance partner’s ear. Josh wouldn’t be able to tell that from where he was standing, though.

Apparently this was all he could take. He was making his way through the crowd before you had even leaned back from whispering. His hands were balled into fists as he walked up to you.

“Can we talk?”

“Sure,” you smiled sweetly, stepping away from the football player.

You followed Josh into the backyard. It was quieter out here, with only a few people sitting in the grass and enjoying their drinks.

“What was that about?” he asked.

“What was what about?”

“All that! With the guy I specifically told you not to go near.”

“You don’t control me, Josh. I can do whatever I want. Just because you’re my best friend’s older brother doesn’t mean you get to push me around like I’m your younger sister too.”

“You think this is because you’re friends with Tyler?”

“Well you haven’t really given me any alternate explanation,” you huffed.

“I’ve been doing this because I like you. I was waiting for the right moment to tell you, but I was afraid someone else would get to you first if I didn’t do something about it. It was already close enough when I had to tell that one guy to stand you up.”

You barely even heard the rest of his explanation, your mind had gotten stuck after “because I like you.”

“Wait, you like me?” you asked. “That’s why you turned into an ass all of a sudden?”

“I would hardly call it being an ass,” he mumbled.

“You were being an ass,” you said. “But lucky for you I happen to like you too.”

“Yeah, Tyler might have slipped up about that,” he smirked.

“I’m going to kill him!” you grumbled.

“Don’t worry about that right now. Why don’t we go dance?”

“Wait, there’s one more thing.”

“What?”

In a brief moment of bravery, you grabbed Josh’s shoulder and pulled him into a kiss. He grabbed your waist and pulled you closer, deepening the kiss. You eventually started to giggle, causing Josh to pull away.

“What are you giggling about?” he smiled, one arm still wrapped around your waist.

“I just can’t believe this is happening.”

“Believe it,” Josh smiled, pulling you into another kiss.

Your rule with Tyler suddenly popped into your mind. You pushed it to the back of your mind, deciding that it could wait for another day. Right now, Josh was the only thing on your mind.

“So, dancing?” Josh smiled.

Chapter Text

You heard the front door close, signaling that Josh had left. Wanting to make the most of your time before he got back from the grocery store, you practically jumped off the couch and ran into the downstairs bathroom. The pregnancy test you had bought was buried under at least three towels, not that you had needed to hide it. You couldn’t even remember the last time that Josh had gone in the downstairs bathroom.

Cardboard packaging fell to the floor as you ripped open the little box. Your heart was pounding as you took the pregnancy test. Maybe missing your period had been a fluke and it didn’t mean anything. Maybe you were seriously sick and it was messing up your body. That seemed manageable compared to having your ex’s baby.

You should have known that continuing to live with Josh after the breakup was a bad idea. The two of you couldn’t stay apart for long. You told yourself that you needed to work on finding a new place, but when you ended up in bed with Josh that same night you would remember why you kept putting it off. Of course, now you were here pacing the bathroom while you waited for your pregnancy test results to come back. Evidently things hadn’t gone the way they were supposed to.

You were racking your brain for an explanation as to how this could have happened. Every time you two had sex you made sure that he was using a condom, no matter how much he tried to convince you not to. You weren’t going to take any risks, although evidently that hadn’t exactly worked.

Things suddenly clicked into place as you remembered a night right around a month ago. Tyler had thrown a party and Josh had decided to bring you along since he didn’t want to go alone. You had both had a little too much to drink and hooked up when you got home. At the time all you had cared about was getting straight to it. Now you were facing the consequences.

Your timer went off and you grabbed the pregnancy test. Just as you feared, you were pregnant. In your frustration, you threw the test at the ground, causing it to bounce around the tile floor. You knew you should have moved out when you had the chance, even if that meant moving back home with your parents who had never believed you could make it in California. It would have saved you a world of trouble.

You wondered how you would explain this to your family. It was already bad enough that you were living with your ex because you were unable to support yourself anywhere else, but now you were pregnant with his baby. It was like having a giant sign over your head that pointed out to everyone that you had no self control and couldn’t keep your hands off of your extremely attractive ex.

You scooped all the cardboard packaging and pregnancy test off the floor and carried it outside to the big trash can around the side of the house. The last thing you wanted was Josh finding out before you were ready to tell him.

Josh returned from the grocery store about half an hour after you had taken the pregnancy test. You had already decided to wait to tell him, it would be better to first discuss the situation with someone who was less likely to yell at you out of fear and frustration.

“I got some food for dinner tonight,” he said, setting the grocery bags on the counter.

“Cool,” you said, continuing to scroll through your phone.

You wondered if Josh would notice you acting differently. It wasn’t as if your difference in behavior was intentional, but now that you knew you were pregnant with his baby it was like a wall had gone up. You were feeling so many emotions towards him, and yourself, that it seemed safer to distance yourself as much as possible for the time being.

“What did you do while I was gone?”

“Not much.”

“Are you feeling alright? You’re not talking much.”

So he had noticed.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“If you say so.”

Josh continued to put groceries away. Curiosity eventually got the better of you and you walked into the kitchen to see what he had bought.

“Hungry?” Josh asked, grabbing a box of crackers to put away.

“No, just looking.”

You eventually went back to looking at your phone, although you remained leaning on the kitchen counter. Josh finished putting away groceries and then walked up behind you, snaking his arms around your waist. Despite the fact that you couldn’t possibly be more than a month pregnant, you still worried that Josh would somehow know you were pregnant.

“So neither of us have anything to do right now,” he leaned down and whispered in your ear. His breath was hot against your neck as he leaned down and pressed soft kisses to it.

“Josh, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Come on, I bought more condoms at the store,” he stopped kissing your neck for a moment to speak.

“Not today,” you said, removing his arms from around your waist and walking back over to the couch.

Josh followed you, “Are you sure nothing is wrong? First the not talking and now you don’t want to have sex?”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you? Because you sure aren’t acting like it.”

You stood up from the couch and spun to face him, “I’m pregnant, alright? That’s why I’m acting weird, because our drunk asses thought it would be more fun to not use a condom and now we’re going to have a fucking kid.”

“You’re what?” he said, sitting down on the other end of the couch.

“Pregnant, Josh. You know what that means, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know what it means, Y/N,” he snapped back. “I just can’t believe that we-damn it.”

“Tell me about it,” you said, sitting back down.

“What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know. Our situation is fucked up enough as it is.”

“Well it wouldn’t be if you could have just found another place to stay.”

“Don’t you dare try to pin this on me,” you growled.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that I was the financially unstable one here. Oh wait, I’m not!”

“You’re the one that took me to that party in the first place because you didn’t want to go alone!”

“I didn’t ask you to get drunk,” Josh said.

“Well you didn’t exactly ask me to stay sober either.”

“It doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t have been in the same house after the breakup.”

“Being in the same house wasn’t the problem! The sex was the problem!”

“You’re the one who always initiates it!”

“Oh really? Because last time I checked I wasn’t the one walking up behind you, wrapping my arms around your waist, and pressing kisses to your neck!”

Both of you were standing up by this point, voices raised so high that you were sure someone on the street could hear you.

“I’m going to stay with Tyler for awhile,” you grumbled, heading straight for the door. Hopefully Tyler would have clothes for you to borrow.

“We still have to figure out what to do with the baby,” Josh said, much calmer now.

“Well I don’t think either of us are really in a position to be discussing that right now,” you huffed before slamming the door behind you.

You got in the car and headed towards Tyler’s house. Of course, right when you thought you might be able to make things between you and Josh work again, this happened. It served as a nice reminder as to why the two of you broke up, you seemed to argue about everything.

You just hoped the baby was one thing you could agree on.

 

Six Months Later…

Light was shining through the window on the far side of the room. You blinked your eyes and pulled the cover up over your head as memories of the day before came rushing back. Josh had gotten upset about something, you retaliated, the two of you fought, and you went to Tyler’s. It was the same endless loop that the two of you seemed to be stuck in.

You pushed the fight to the back of your mind and rolled out of bed. Your sweatshirt was still on the ground from where you had thrown it yesterday. It was one that Tyler had bought for you when your bump had just started to get too big for your normal clothes. Now it was one of the few things that still fit you.

“Good morning,” Tyler said as you walked into the living room. He was sitting on the couch eating a piece of toast.

“Morning,” you grumbled as you shuffled into the kitchen.

Tyler watched as you made yourself some cereal and poured a cup of coffee from the pot that he had made earlier that morning.

“How are you feeling?” he asked as you took a seat in the armchair.

“Great,” you smiled sarcastically.

“Have you talked to him at all since last night?”

You shook your head and took a sip of coffee, “Why should I? He was the one that started the fight.” Tyler tilted his head to the side, his mouth turning down slightly. “We have an appointment for the baby today, we’ll talk it out then.”

“What happened between you two, anyway?”

You sighed and took another bite of cereal, “I asked him if he would run to the store for me because I was having another weird pregnancy craving and he accused me of being lazy. We fought for awhile and then I started crying because of my crazy hormones and it came back to the whole debate of whose fault the pregnancy is.”

“You guys know it takes two people to get pregnant, right?”

“I know,” you snapped. “I just don’t want to let him win. Trust me, Ty, I’m getting just as tired of the arguing as you are.”

Tyler didn’t make a comment, just leaned back and took a long sip of his coffee. You had heard his opinion of your relationship with Josh countless times by now.

“I just wish things could work out between us. Things were fine before the pregnancy.”

“You also didn’t have to agree on anything other than when to have sex.”

“We made other decisions together!”

“Name two.”

“Well we decided what groceries to buy and…um…”

“Exactly my point, Y/N.”

Your phone buzzed on the chair next to you. A quick glance at the screen revealed that it was Josh texting you, meaning that it couldn’t be ignored.

“What’s that?” Tyler asked around a mouthful of toast.

“Josh,” you grumbled, picking up your phone with your free hand.

We need to talk. Will you come home?

“What does he want?”

Give me fifteen minutes.

“To talk.”

You stuffed another spoonful of cereal into your mouth.

“Are you going to?”

“It’s not like I have a choice, I have to go home eventually. Might as well go now, right?”

Tyler nodded. You carried your dishes into the kitchen and cleaned them up before running upstairs to grab your clothes. Tyler was still on the couch when you returned downstairs.

“Hey, Ty?” you said, one hand rested on the handle of the front door.

“Huh?”

“I just wanted to say thanks. For everything. It means a lot to me that someone still has my back.”

“It’s no problem,” he smiled.

You forced a quick smile in return and headed out the door. Your hands were already beginning to shake as potential conversations with Josh ran their way through your head.

 

“I’m home!” you called, slowly closing the front door behind you.

“Hey.”

You followed the sound of Josh’s voice to the office. He was sitting at his computer, messing with some program that you didn’t recognize. You took a seat at your desk and spun around to face him.

“Let’s just get this over with,” you huffed.

“Listen, I’m really sorry that I called you lazy. I know that being pregnant is a lot and I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

“Ok, great,” you shrugged.

Josh’s eyebrows furrowed, “Do you… accept my apology?”

“Why should I? It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Of course it means something, Y/N! Otherwise I wouldn’t have said it.”

“Does it, Josh? Because I’m pretty sure by next week we’ll be fighting again and this same sick cycle is just going to keep repeating.” Josh sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. You swallowed the lump in your throat and continued, “I’m tired of fighting with you, but at this point I don’t know how to make it stop. No matter what we try, things always end up the same.”

Josh leaned back and his chair and looked up to the ceiling. You pulled your sweatshirt sleeves down over your hands. It was something you had been doing to comfort yourself since you were little.

“What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know,” you sniffled.

The familiar tight feeling had returned to your chest. All the uncertainty surrounding your baby made your head spin. If you thought about it for too long, you usually ended up an anxiety-ridden mess. Josh was rarely of any help in those cases.

“I’m terrified, Josh.”

“Hey, now,” Josh said softly. He scooted closer so that his knees were on either side of yours. You allowed him to grab your wrists and push your sweatshirt sleeves back so that he could properly hold your hands. Finally, he gently lifted your chin up so that he could look into your eyes. “Y/N, I want you to know that whatever happens, no matter how much we fight or yell or swear that we hate one another, I’m always going to have your back. You’re not going to be alone in any of this. And I’m trying to be better about not arguing with you, I really am. There’s a lot of stuff I’m trying to work out, and I always end up taking it out on you.”

“I know, and my pregnancy hormones are no help,” you half smiled. “I just wish things would go back to how they were.”

“What, when we were hooking up?” Josh let out a breath of air. Maybe it was meant to be a laugh.

“No, um, before that.”

You could hear your breath shake as you inhaled. This was the first time that you had openly admitted still having feelings for Josh. It had become apparent to you not long after the breakup happened. All of the anger had just been you trying to convince everyone else, and yourself, that you no longer cared.

“When we were together?” he asked. The confusion on his face was evident.

“Yes.”

“So what are you saying?”

You laughed quietly and shook your head. Josh had always been oblivious to this sort of thing.

“I still love you, Josh. I miss being with you.”

“Why? All I do is upset you and cause you pain. That isn’t fair to you.”

“No relationship is perfect,” you shrugged. “Besides, we only really started fighting after the breakup. Everything before that was petty arguments.”

“All of our arguments are petty,” he smiled.

“Whatever,” you rolled your eyes. “I just admitted that I’m in love with you, can we focus on that?”

“I think it’s only fair that I admit that I am also still in love with you.”

You couldn’t help the smile that spread across your face. Without hesitation, you grabbed Josh’s shoulder and pulled him towards you so that you could kiss him. He let go of one of your hands and placed it on the back of your neck, pulling you closer. It felt nice to be kissing him again without the fear that this would be the last time.

“Josh,” you whispered, breaking the kiss for a moment.

“Hmm?”

“Our appointment is in ten minutes.”

“Shit.”

Chapter Text

“Finally,” you sighed as you flopped dramatically onto the bed. “I was beginning to think that this moment would never come.”

Josh laughed as he walked out of the bathroom. The two of you had been out an event all day talking to people, walking around, and promoting the new album. As much fun as it was, you always ended up exhausted afterwards.

“Well now we have the whole night in front of us to do whatever we want.”

“Good,” you said, rolling onto your side and snuggling up with a pillow. “I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

Josh walked over and laid down next to you on the bed, resting one hand lightly on your hip.

“And here I was thinking that you would actually watch a movie with me,” he laughed.

“What movie?” you asked, looking at him over your shoulder.

“Whatever you want.”

Your mouth widened into a smile, “I’ll think of one while I get ready for bed.”

You walked into the bathroom so that you could wash your face and change into comfier clothes for bed. It was nice to finally be out of your event clothes and in one of Josh’s oversized t-shirts.

“I’ve decided what to watch,” you announced as you walked back into the bedroom and took a seat on the bed.

“Which is?”

“A Marvel movie,” you beamed.

“Again?”

“Yes. That way I won’t miss anything that I haven’t seen if I fall asleep, which I inevitably will.”

“Fair enough,” Josh said, grabbing the TV remote to turn on the movie.

“I know, I’m a genius.” You made yourself comfortable on your side of the bed.

“What are you doing all the way over there?”

“Laying down?”

“Are you not going to cuddle with me?” he asked, sticking out his bottom lip.

“Alright, I’m coming,” you smiled, scooting over and resting your head on Josh’s chest.

“Thanks for watching a movie with me.”

“Of course. There’s no better way to celebrate another successful event.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 

Sure enough, you had fallen asleep barely half an hour into a movie. You woke up the next morning now sleeping on your own pillow with Josh nowhere to be found. He had probably woken up early to go running, a part of his morning routine that you rarely joined him in.

You reached over and grabbed your phone, deciding that getting out of bed could wait until you finished checking social media. Josh had posted on his Snapchat story at some point while you were asleep, so you decided to see what it is that he had to say.

Much to your surprise, the Snapchat was a picture of you asleep on his chest. His face was just visible in the corner of the screen, the smile on his face was evident. He had written a caption that said, “Spent all day at an event with this one only to have her fall asleep twenty minutes into the movie we’re watching. Wouldn’t want it any other way.”

You hardly paid attention to the sweet caption that he had written, instead you were scrutinizing your appearance in the photo. Your hair had partially fallen in your face and your mouth was wide open. Even your skin didn’t look good since it was still somewhat shiny from the product that you had used on it. Thankfully the next Snapchat on his story was just a picture from his run, not another of you looking terrible while you slept.

You switched over to Twitter to try and take your mind off of the number of people that had probably seen the photo. There were enough nasty comments thrown at you even when you were fully dressed up and posing for a photo, you didn’t need to give them more ammo by having them see one you hadn’t even known had been taken. Unfortunately for you, the Snapchat photo had already made its way to Twitter and was being reposted with comments from the few clique accounts you followed. No social media was safe, it seemed.

You tossed your phone down on the bed and rolled back onto your side. It would probably be a good idea to get out of bed and get ready for the day, but you were just too comfortable to move.

The door downstairs opened, followed closely by the sound of Josh closing it and walking up the stairs. He walked into the room a few moments later. His hair was stuck to his sweaty forehead and his face was bright pink. Despite this, he was smiling.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Hey.”

His back was turned to you as he messed around with his headphones.

“You doing ok?” he asked, taking a second to look over his shoulder.

“I guess,” you sighed. “I saw your Snapchat story.”

“Yeah?”

“I look really bad in that picture, Josh. You shouldn’t have posted it.”

He turned around completely now, his eyebrows knit together, “What are you talking about?”

“Did you even look at the picture before you posted it? I look awful. My face is shiny and my hair is a mess and my mouth…”

“I thought you looked beautiful,” Josh said quietly. “I just wanted to show how much I love you.”

You shrugged and stared down at your feet, trying to ignore the mental image of the picture in your mind.

“If you really want, I can take it down,” he said.

You shrugged again, “It’s already spread to Twitter. You might as well leave it up.”

“Ok,” Josh sighed. He was visibly upset, which only made you feel worse about the whole situation. “I’m going to go shower.”

“Ok.”

Josh walked into the bathroom and closed the door. You laid back down and grabbed your phone, deciding to get over your self-loathing and take another look at the picture. It was completely possible that you were remembering it much worse than it actually was.

The second time you looked at the picture wasn’t too bad. There were definitely worse pictures of you that existed, and those didn’t even have sweet captions that accompanied them. It didn’t take you long to realize your mistake in lashing out at Josh. He truly was just trying to be sweet.

You had finally gotten out of bed and changed into everyday clothes by the time that Josh walked out of the bathroom, now clean and dripping water instead of sweat. He avoided eye contact with you as he walked over and tossed his clothes into the laundry hamper.

“Hey, Josh,” you said, nervously twisting your hands together. You hated that you had to apologize to him, although that was only because you were upset with yourself for even lashing out in the first place.

“What?”

“I’m really sorry about what I said earlier. I let my self esteem get in the way of what really was a sweet gesture. You didn’t have to post about me at all, and I should just be happy that you love me enough to tell the world.”

Josh shrugged, “I just want you to see yourself the way that I see you. No matter what you’re wearing or what expression you’re making, I’m always going to think you’re the most perfect person in the world.”

“I know and I love you for that. I’m working on it, I really am, and I need to remember that when you post those pictures.”

“And I need to remember that you aren’t used to having your face spread across the internet the same way that I am.”

You smiled and nodded. Josh walked over and pulled you into a hug, resting his chin on top of your head.

“I love you so much. And I’m sorry again for how I acted.”

“Apology accepted. I love you too, and I want you to remember that,” he said, pressing a soft kiss to your forehead.

“I will.”

Chapter Text

The first time that you heard about their relationship was through an Instagram post. You felt your heart skip a beat when you saw the girl who had taken your place. Just one look at her showed you that she was everything that you weren’t. You sat frozen in place for a while, staring at the picture and wondering if maybe this was all a dream.

The news spread like wildfire after that. Every post you saw seemed to be talking about Jebby. You remembered when those posts were about the two of you, but those days were long past. Now it was like your relationship hadn’t even existed.

You hated to say that you were jealous, because you weren’t. Or at least, you didn’t want to be. Josh was happy now, and that was all you had ever wanted for him. You just wished that it wasn’t with someone who was so much more perfect than you.

It had been about two months since the relationship was officially announced. You had thought it would get easier as time went on, but it was the opposite that proved to be true. Every time that you saw a picture of the two of them together, you couldn’t help but compare yourself to her. It was easy to see why Josh had ended things with you when there were girls like her out there.

You finally got fed up and threw your phone down on the couch next to you. Being filled with self loathing every time you went on social media was proving to be exhausting. All you wanted was for things to go back to how they were a year ago.

 

“What?” you whispered, turning slightly so that you could face Josh.

The plane was quiet, and you had spent the last twenty minutes staring out the window at the city lights down below. Josh was supposed to be trying to sleep so that he wouldn’t be tired for the show the next night, but he had been caught up watching a movie instead.

“I wanted to see your face.”

You didn’t want to smile, but it ended up happening anyway.

“Haven’t you seen it enough?” you asked, turning away from him slightly.

“I could never.” He reached over and grabbed your hand in his own, prompting you to look at him again. “I would stare at you for hours if I could.”

“That seems unlikely.”

“Not as unlikely as you think,” he smiled.

He lifted your hand up and softly kissed your knuckles. You rolled your eyes at him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He knew that deep down, you secretly loved when he was sappy.

“You need to get some sleep so you don’t pass out during the show tomorrow.”

“If I need to sleep, then you do too.”

“I don’t have a sold out show to play tomorrow.”

“But you’re still attending.”

“Ok, fine, we’ll both sleep.”

“Deal.”

Josh shut his laptop and leaned onto your shoulder, keeping his fingers intertwined with yours. You rested your head on your hand and continued to look out the window, wishing that this moment could last forever.

 

All of your friends had insisted that you were much prettier than she was. You knew that they were just saying it to make you feel better, but you went along with it to please them. Deep down you knew you could never be as perfect as Debby, one look at her could tell you that.

Your nights became plagued with imagining situations that would never happen. In your head, you could confront Josh and ask him why she was so much better than you. He would tell you that he still wasn’t over you and she was just a perfect distraction. The two of you would kiss and everything felt ok again, until reality came back and slammed you in the face, that is.

 

Josh’s arms were wrapped tightly around you. In front of you, the sun was setting over the ocean. Tyler and Jenna had disappeared somewhere down the beach. The four of you had been enjoying the weekend break the boys had from shows to relax for a little while.

“Hey, Y/N?”

“Yeah, Josh?” You felt a shiver run down his spine. “Are you cold?”

“No. I just have the tendency to do that when you say my name.”

“Why?”

“I like the way it sounds when you say it,” he shrugged.

“Oh.”

“Is that dumb?”

“Nothing you say is dumb.”

“I would beg to differ.”

“Don’t say that, Josh.”

You felt him shiver again. He bent down so that his head was resting on your shoulder.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” you gave his arms a light squeeze.

“Promise you’re never going to leave?”

“I promise,” you turned and pressed a kiss to his cheek.

 

You eventually grew numb to the videos and posts. Your relationship with Josh started to feel more like a dream than a distant memory. It seemed impossible that he had ever felt that way about you. The only reminder was the occasional throwback photos from clique members who wished you were the one in Debby’s place, but even those were few and far between.

As time went on, it became harder to remember when that girl was you.

Chapter Text

Josh’s POV

“I’m sorry, she’s what?” I looked at Jenna in disbelief.

“Getting married, Josh. It’s not a difficult concept.”

“To who?”

Last time I had checked, Y/N wasn’t even dating anyone. Now out of the blue she was getting married in a few weeks?

“A guy she met at work. They started dating around a year ago.”

“Why didn’t you tell me she was dating someone earlier?”

“Because it’s none of your business, Josh. You’re her ex.”

“You knew!”

“I’m her best friend, of course I knew!”

Tyler walked into the room, obviously disturbed by the amount of noise that Jenna and I were making.

“What’s going on in here?”

“Y/N is getting married in a few months and Josh is upset about it,” Jenna calmly explained.

“Oh yeah, I knew that.”

“You told Tyler?” I asked incredulously.

“Tyler was there when she told us.”

I leaned back on the couch and stared at the ceiling, exasperated.

“I need to do something to stop this.”

“Josh, it’s not your place,” Jenna said.

I turned to Tyler, hoping that he would back me up. He shrugged.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea, man.”

“You guys don’t understand. I need to do this.”

“Why?” Jenna asked.

I sat up so that I could look at her properly. She needed to understand that I really meant what I was about to say.

“Jenna, our breakup was never meant to happen. We were both exhausted and emotional, I was about to leave for tour and we had stayed up too late the night before just trying to spend time with each other. We were having a long discussion about the future and she mentioned how hard it was when I’m away and then I threw breaking up out there without really meaning it, but we talked about it and thought it was a better decision for both of us. I didn’t mean it, that was the last thing I wanted. It really hit me the next day, but Tyler and I were already on the tour bus hours away from home and it was too late. When I got back, she had taken the little things that she always left at my apartment back home. That was the last time I saw her, and I’ve regretted it ever since.”

“Isn’t there a…less destructive way for you to go about this?” Tyler asked.

“When is the wedding?”

“About two weeks,” Jenna answered. “Which reminds me that I need to get my dress picked out.”

“Not if I have anything to do with it,” I mumbled.

Tyler walked over and took a seat next to me on the couch, “Josh, are you really going to go through with this?”

“Don’t you think it seems fishy that she met this guy just over a year ago and they got married this quickly? She told me that we had to be dating for at least three years before we even thought about getting married.”

“Maybe it does, but this is her life. Not yours. And I’m not going to support you barging into her life and trying to ruin her wedding.”

“Fine, then don’t. But I need to talk to her before she goes through with it.”

Tyler sighed, “Whatever you say.”

 

Your POV

Your phone buzzed just as you were laying down to take a nap. Life had been so hectic lately that you took any chance to have some time to yourself. Between work and wedding planning, that time was rare.

You debated not looking at the text, but in the likely scenario that it was someone texting you to clear up something about the wedding, you decided to deal with it before your fiance got his hands on it. He was a good guy, but his opinions about the wedding were questionable at best.

Your stomach dropped when you read the name on the text message. There was still a heart emoji after his last name that you refused to get rid of. With shaking fingers, you slid the text message open so that you could read it in its entirety.

Hey, I wanted to talk to you about some things. Are you free on Friday at noon? We could get smoothies or something.

“So much for napping,” you sighed, extremely aware of the adrenaline that was now pumping through your body.

You took a few moments to think out a good reply. He hadn’t really explained what he had to talk to you about, and it seemed odd that he was just popping up out of the blue after over a year of not talking to one another.

That just so happens to be the only day this week that I’m not busy. The usual place?

“The usual place” seemed so weird to say, as if the two of you were still dating. Smoothies had always been a post-studio tradition for the two of you to celebrate whatever work he and Tyler had gotten done that day. In fact, you hadn’t had a smoothie since the last time the two of you went.

Sounds great. Can’t wait to see you :)

You decided not to answer, despite how badly you wanted to. The conversation could easily come across as suspicious, especially given the heart after his name, and the last thing you wanted was to lose your fiance’s trust right before your wedding.

 

Josh’s POV

I showed up to the smoothie place a full ten minutes before I was supposed to. This was mostly due to a mixture of excitement and nerves. It had been a long time since I had seen Y/N. Hopefully she hadn’t told Jenna that the two of us were meeting up, her and Tyler would definitely disapprove of what I was doing.

I got out of the car and headed inside, deciding that sitting inside would be less weird than sitting alone in my car. There were a couple empty tables, so I sat down at one and pulled out my phone to kill time.

Ten minutes later, Y/N showed up. She was right on time, as she had the tendency to be. I waved at her to grab her attention and her face lit up as soon as she saw me. She walked over to the table I was sitting at and I stood up so that I could hug her.

“How are you?” she asked, hugging me tightly.

“I’m good. How about you?”

“Great,” she smiled. “Want to get something to drink?”

“Yeah, that would be awesome.”

I tried not to stare at her as we walked over to order. She looked just as beautiful as the last time that I had seen her, if not more so. Maybe it was because she wasn’t sleep deprived like she had been when we broke up.

Once we both had our drinks, we sat back down at the table that I had been at before. Y/N hung her bag over the back of the chair.

“So, what did you want to talk to me about?” she asked, twirling her straw idly in her drink.

I opened my mouth to answer her, but my tongue felt tied and I struggled to get any words out. Y/N was looking at me with raised eyebrows, waiting for me to say something.

“I heard you’re getting married,” I finally managed to say.

Her cheeks grew flushed with color and she cast her gaze down at the table, “Yeah, I am.”

“How is that going?” I asked.

She shrugged, “Good, I suppose. Planning a wedding is stressful, especially on such short notice.”

I nodded, unsure of what to say after that. The color was slowly leaving her cheeks.

“Listen, I know you’re probably wondering why you weren’t invited but-”

“No, not at all,” I interjected. “It’s your wedding, you’re free to invite who you want to.”

“Yeah,” she sighed.

Something seemed like it was upsetting her, but I didn’t think it was my place to ask. I knew that if I was going to tell her about how I felt, it was now or never.

“So, um, there’s something else that I wanted to talk to you about.”

It was odd how comfortable I still felt around her. Despite the fact that we hadn’t seen each other in over a year, it felt as if it had only been a week at most.

“Sure, go for it.”

“I think breaking up was a mistake. When I suggested it, I didn’t really mean it. Then you started to talk about it, and you made it sound like the best option and I didn’t want to hold you back. What I’m trying to say is that I still love you, Y/N.”

“Josh, I-”

“I know, this is really bad timing because you’re about to get married but I just couldn’t not tell you.”

I knew that what I had done was terrible, but I meant everything that I had said. This was the best way to try and stop her from getting married without completely ruining her life.

“I have to go,” she said, grabbing her bag and smoothie as she stood up.

I started to say something, but she seemed so flustered that it was evident that she didn’t want to be around me right now. Maybe my plan hadn’t been as solid as I thought after all.

“Bye,” I said meekly as she walked away from the table.

She didn’t turn back once.

 

Your POV

You tossed your bag down next to the door and walked straight over to the couch. Once your face was completely buried in the pillow, you screamed to release all of the tension that had built inside of you. As soon as you had convinced yourself that things were going to be ok and Josh was just a distant memory, he popped back into your life and said, well…this.

You hadn’t wanted to marry your fiance. Not yet, anyway. Sure, he was a nice guy from work but things with him had never been quite like they were with Josh. Josh was exciting and every day was an adventure with him. Your fiance, on the other hand, was so focused on work and getting to the top of the ladder that it consumed him at times. It attracted you at first, but it quickly became more annoying than admirable.

Then came the day when he proposed. You had always wanted to wait for a few years before you married anyone, but your parents had really been putting the pressure to get married on you. It really felt like you had no option but to say yes, despite everything else telling you to say no. You had pushed Josh to the back of your mind and accepted that he would never feel the same again, and now here you were.

Your phone buzzed, and when you grabbed it Jenna’s contact picture was on the screen. You hit the green button and brought your phone to your ear.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Y/N. Did you by any chance see Josh today?”

“Yeah, we met up for smoothies. Why?”

You heard Jenna sigh on the other end of the line, “He’s been acting off and Tyler is super worried about him. I thought he might have come to see you. What happened?”

You explained the conversation that you and Josh had to Jenna. She listened intently as you added your own commentary about how you were feeling and by the end of the call, you had made a decision about where to go from here.

“Thanks for listening, Jen.”

“Of course, Y/N. Good luck. I hope you know that I’m always going to be here for you.”

“I do. Thank you so much.”

“Goodbye.”

“Bye.”

You ended the call and got up from the couch. There was a lot of packing to be done.

 

Josh’s POV

It had been close to a day since I saw Y/N. Tyler and Jenna had found out that I had seen her, although exactly how I wasn’t quite sure. I had spent most of my time at home, feeling awful for causing her so much distress. In hindsight, I should have expected that. You can’t really drop a bombshell on someone like that and expect them to be fine.

There had been numerous times where I had debated calling Y/N to make sure she was ok, but decided against it. She had probably told her fiance all about what happened, and I didn’t want to accidentally make things much worse than I already had.

I set my empty mug in the sink and started to walk back to the living room when there was a knock on the door. Tyler wasn’t supposed to have shown up for another couple hours, so I was confused as to why he had decided to come over early.

I ruffled my hair a bit as I walked over to the door, my socked feet making hardly any noise. When I opened the door, I was surprised to see it was Y/N on the other side, looking extremely nervous.

“Uh, hi,” I said, running a hand through my hair again.

“Hi,” she murmured. “I might have just done something very stupid.”

My eyebrows furrowed, “What did you do?”

“I called off the wedding so that I could be with you.”

“You what?”

“Called it off. All of it. I couldn’t marry that guy, not when I knew you would take me back.”

I couldn’t help but smile, even if it wasn’t really a smiling matter. Despite how happy I was, she still looked very upset.

“All of my stuff is in my car,” she explained.

“We can deal with that later, you should come inside.”

She walked inside and I followed her to the couch where she took a seat at one end. I sat across from her, not knowing how comfortable she was with physical contact yet. There was nothing I wanted to do more than hug her to me and press kisses to her forehead, but now wasn’t the time.

“I feel awful, Josh,” she explained, trying to pass wiping away a tear as itching her cheek.

“Don’t feel awful. You’re doing what makes you happiest, you can’t be blamed for that.”

“I know but I still have to tell my family and everything,” she said, starting to shake. “And-”

“Hey, it’s ok,” I said calmly. “Come here.”

I held my arms out and she scooted closer to me so that she could rest her head on my chest. She held onto me tightly.

“We’re going to work this out together, ok?” I said. “I have your back.”

“I missed you so much,” she sniffled. “So, so much.”

“I missed you too, but you’re here now. And that’s what matters.”

Chapter Text

You were bisexual. It was something that you had known for awhile. Years, in fact. For the longest time you had just acknowledged it and kept it to yourself, figuring that it wasn’t really worth telling anyone for the time being. Not to mention the fact that coming out put you at risk for losing two of the most important people in your life.

Tyler was your best friend. The two of you had met shortly after you moved to Columbus in high school with your family. You were fast friends and spent nearly every waking moment together. It had been hard to leave for college while Tyler stayed home to work on his music, but your friendship had remained just as strong. Once you graduated, the two of you moved in together and had been living in the same house ever since.

Josh was your boyfriend of just over a year. You had liked him from the moment Tyler texted you a picture, effectively introducing you to his new bandmate. This led to you asking for his number and the two of you texting nearly every day and growing a strong friendship because of it. Once you finally made the move home from college, it wasn’t long until you and Josh were officially dating.

Now you were here, finally ready to tell them perhaps the biggest secret that you had kept from the both of them. Terrified didn’t even begin to cover how you felt about telling them. There were so many little things that could go wrong, the worst being that they didn’t accept you. One sentence could lead to you losing your best friend, boyfriend, and house all in one day.

“Are you feeling ok?” Tyler asked as he walked into the living room.

You snapped out of the trance that you had been in and immediately flashed a smiled at Tyler, “Yep, just a little tired is all.”

“You better wake up. Josh is supposed to be here in five minutes, right?”

“Yeah, I should go make sure I look ok.”

You had invited Josh over with the intention of just hanging out with him and Tyler, but that morning you had made the last minute decision to come out to them while he was over. It was long past time, especially with how long you and Josh had been dating. You were done hiding yourself from the two most important people in your life.

You stood in front of the mirror and fixed a couple loose strands of hair. Your hands were already starting to shake at the mere thought of telling them. You leaned against the counter and closed your eyes, trying your best to calm your breathing. Just as your heart rate was starting to calm down, there was a knock on the door downstairs causing your heart to start pounding again.

“Y/N!” Tyler called up the stairs.

You opened your eyes. “Coming!”

Josh was already standing inside as you made your way down the stairs. He smiled the second that his eyes landed on you, prompting him to hold his arms out. You ran into them and hugged him tightly. Despite the fact that Tyler was there, he pulled you into a deep kiss.

“Gross,” Tyler muttered, walking off to take a seat on the couch.

Josh kicked his shoes off and promptly joined Tyler on the couch. He held his arms out once again and patted the spot next to him on the couch, but you opted for taking a seat in the armchair. You didn’t want to be cuddled up with Josh while you were talking about something so serious. Of course, this caused him to pout at you.

“Are you ok, Y/N?” Tyler asked. “You’re shaking pretty bad.”

You looked down at your hands which, like Tyler said, were visibly shaking. Your heart was pounding in your chest and you weren’t sure if you were going to be able to say what you needed to.

“Um, yeah. Just nervous.”

“For what?” Josh asked.

“There’s something that I need to talk to you guys about.”

“Ok,” Tyler said.

The words were on the tip of your tongue. You wanted to say them so badly just to get it over with, but it felt like you couldn’t speak. Josh and Tyler were both looking at you expectantly, waiting for the news that you had for them.

“Y/N?” Josh asked.

“I’m bisexual,” you said, so quickly that you weren’t sure that they could understand you.

“What?” Tyler asked.

“I’m bisexual,” you repeated, more slowly this time. “And I really hope that you two don’t think any differently of me because of it.”

Tyler and Josh both looked deep in thought. You were studying both of their faces carefully, looking for any sign that they disapproved. As far as you could tell, there weren’t any.

“How long have you known?” Tyler asked.

“Since before I met you,” you answered quietly.

“Why would we think any differently of you?” Josh interjected.

You shrugged, “Some people are like that.”

“It doesn’t change my opinion of you at all,” he said.

You couldn’t help but beam now.

“I agree with Josh. It takes a lot to come out to someone, and I’m glad that you trusted us enough to share.”

“I love you guys,” you said, standing up and pulling the two of them into a hug.

“We love you too.”

The three of you sat and talked for awhile until Tyler announced that he had an errand that he needed to run. Nothing between the three of you felt any different, aside from the fact that you felt like you were finally being completely honest with the two of them.

Once Tyler was gone, you walked over and snuggled up next to Josh. Your head was resting on his shoulder, and the two of you were just enjoying each other’s company without Tyler’s offhand comments about you two showing affection.

“Hey, can I say one more thing about you being bisexual?” Josh asked.

“Sure,” you said, trying to ignore the anxious thoughts that were now occupying your brain.

“I would have said this earlier, but I didn’t think Tyler would appreciate it,” he smiled nervously. “But I know you were scared to come out, and the fact that you were brave enough to push through it and still tell us just makes me love you more. It was really brave of you, Y/N, and it inspires me to do things I’m afraid of too.”

You were so overwhelmed with love for Josh that you could have started crying. Instead, you settled for kissing him and hugging him as tightly as you could muster.

“I love you so much, Josh. Thank you for accepting me.”

“Of course. I love you no matter what.”

Chapter Text

Your POV

“I think we need to break up.”

He said it so suddenly. The two of you had been cleaning up the dishes after dinner when he just threw it out there. As far as you knew, things between you were fine and there was no reason for you two to break up. At least, that was the impression you had gotten. Evidently Josh felt differently than you.

“Why?” you asked, already fighting tears.

Josh was avoiding eye contact with you. He had scrubbed the same spot in the pan nearly three times now, even though it had been spotless the first time.

“I can’t be there for you like you need me to. All the times that I’m on tour while you’re sitting at home feeling alone. I know you try to hide the tears in your eyes, but I see them, Y/N. You deserve better than that. Better than me.”

“Josh, I-,” you took a deep breath to try and calm yourself, but it still shook when you exhaled. “That’s not true. I love you more than anything. I don’t want anybody else.”

He shook his head, “It eats away at me every time I leave. No matter what you say, that feeling is still going to be there.”

“Please, Josh, we can make this work.”

Josh finally looked at you. His eyes were watery and you had never seen him look so upset in the time that you had known him.

“We can’t. I’ve made up my mind.”

You broke down sobbing then, completely abandoning the plate that you had been drying off. Josh just stood on the other side of the counter, having finally given up on cleaning the pot. You expected him to walk over and try to comfort you, but he didn’t. He just stood idly by as you sobbed into your hands and shook so badly that it was difficult to stand without leaning on the counter.

Did he really not care?

 

Josh’s POV

“I don’t know what to tell you, Josh. It happened, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Tyler shrugged as he tuned his ukulele.

“I just stood there, Tyler. Y/N was sobbing and I just stood there and watched. How could I be so mean?”

“You weren’t intentionally being mean. That’s a tough situation for you two to be in, and you just happened to handle the situation differently than Y/N did. Y/N broke down while you stood frozen. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“I just feel awful. I should have been more comforting.”

“Shit happens, Josh. You just have to move past it.”

“I guess,” I sighed, adjusting my drums slightly.

“Alright, what do you say we run through the song one more time to take your mind off things?”

“Sure.”

 

Your POV

You opened the shoebox that you had dug out from under the bed and set it next to the pile of photos you had collected. Tears started to pool in your eyes as you tossed them inside one by one, reliving the memories with each picture. You didn’t have the heart to get rid of them, the slight possibility of you two getting back together was still hovering at the back of your mind.

You knew that you should hate Josh for what he had done, but you just couldn’t. Everything that you had been through together meant too much to you to just be tossed aside as bad memories. Your hands shook as you put the lid back on the shoebox.

Somebody knocked on the door downstairs, so you hastily wiped away a few tears and shoved the shoebox under your bed. Your eyes were still puffy as you went to open the door, although you didn’t really care if your best friend saw you in this state. You had already been keeping them updated with everything that had happened since the breakup.

“Oh, Y/N,” they sighed, taking one second to look over you before pulling you into a tight hug.

“Hi, Y/F/N,” you said, holding onto them tightly.

“Why don’t we sit?” they asked, putting a hand on your back and starting to lead you towards the living room.

The two of you sat down on the couch and made yourselves comfortable. Y/F/N dug some tissues out of their pocket and handed them to you, allowing you to dry your eyes.

“So tell me how you’re feeling,” they smiled.

You sighed, “We haven’t talked in what feels like a million days, even though it’s only been like three.”

“Have you reached out to him at all?”

You shook your head, “I don’t want to be the annoying ex that tries to stay friends after a breakup. He initiated it, so if he wants to talk then he can reach out to me.”

“Do you miss him?”

“Of course I do, but I know things are over and I need to accept that. Even though I don’t want to believe him, I think he’s right,” you sighed, wiping another tear away. “We’re better off this way.”

 

Josh’s POV

I sat up quickly, my chest heaving as I inhaled rapidly. My head was still spinning from the nightmare that I just had and sweat was dripping down my back. It must have been worse than I thought.

“Y/N,” I muttered, reaching over to the other side of the bed. It threw me for a second to not feel another person there before I remembered that we no longer slept in the same bed, or even the same house for that matter.

I rubbed my eyes for a moment before flipping over onto my side to get comfortable again. My eyes had only been closed for a few seconds when I opened them again. Images from my nightmare were dancing on the inside of my eyelids, taunting me. It was going to be awhile before I was able to sleep again.

My phone was sitting on my bedside table, so I reached over and grabbed it to use as a distraction. I knew it wouldn’t help me fall asleep, but at least it would take my mind off of what had happened in my nightmare.

It only took a few moments of scrolling through Twitter before I came across the first post about Y/N. I had yet to officially announce our breakup to the world, mostly because I needed to be in a better mental state before I dealt with all of the backlash that it would surely cause.

I didn’t want to look at Y/N’s face, so I turned my phone off and tossed it back onto the bedside table. Every part of me wished that things would have worked out differently. Maybe in another life we would have a second chance, but this wasn’t the one.

I hoped that Y/N would find someone else. They would be happy together, happier than we ever could have been. I was undeserving of Y/N, and maybe someday I would find somebody that would work better with my busy schedule. Maybe I wouldn’t.

The only thing that I knew for certain was that Y/N deserved better than me.

Chapter Text

“Good morning,” you called cheerily as you walked into the studio.

“Morning,” your producer smiled at you.

“I brought drinks for everyone,” you said, setting the drink carrier down on the table in front of you. The small crew descended upon it and grabbed their respective drinks, thanking you as they did so.

“Alright,” your producer said, clearing his throat. “What song are we working on today?”

“Well, I actually had something to talk to you about,” you smiled sweetly, knowing that he wouldn’t like where this was going.

He sighed, “Hit me with it.”

“I was listening to Twenty One Pilots last night, and I was absolutely blown away by Josh Dun’s talent. I want to try and get him to do drums on one of my singles.”

“Y/N, are you crazy? Your career is just starting and you’re extremely lucky that your last EP blew up the way it did. Are you really trying to collaborate with half of one of the biggest bands on the music scene?”

“Please? It’s worth a shot,” you said.

Your producer shook his head, “I will try, but I’m not promising anything.”

“Thank you so much,” you said, pulling him into a hug.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re lucky that I want to see you succeed. Now get in there, we have vocals to record.”

 

It had been a few weeks since you had talked to your producer about getting Josh Dun to drum for your next single. He had been silent on the subject, not even confirming whether or not he was able to contact his agent. You assumed that it had been a lost cause and he just didn’t want to let you down, but a small part of you was holding out hope.

You grabbed the drink carrier from your passenger seat and headed inside the studio. Your mind was so focused on running over lyrics and melodies that you almost didn’t notice the man standing just inside. You stopped dead in your tracks, looking up at the tall figure.

“Hey, you must be Y/N,” he smiled.

You looked between him and your producer, as if to confirm that he was actually there and going to presumably help with your song.

“Josh Dun,” you smiled. “Sorry I don’t have any coffee for you, I didn’t realize you would be here.”

“No worries, I have my own,” he said, holding up his own drink.

You smiled and tried to ignore the nerves. Sure, you had been the one who asked to work with him, but he was still so talented that you didn’t know how you would compare. Not to mention that he was much more attractive in person.

“In other news,” your producer smiled. “The first location for the music video didn’t work out, but it sounds like we were able to secure the second one.”

You nodded, “Ok, that’s fine.”

“And in addition to that, Josh here said he would be happy to be in the music video.”

You spun around to face Josh, who you had otherwise been avoiding eye contact with since your first introduction, “You would really do that?”

He smiled, “Of course. I really like your music, and your last music video was amazing.”

You stifled a nervous giggle and instead put on a confident smile, “Thank you so much.”

“Alright, enough chatting. Let’s get some music going.”

You nodded and followed Josh into the recording booth. His drums were already set up, and he looked so natural as he sat down behind them.

“Do you mind if I take a second to warm up?” he asked.

“Not at all, I need to do the same.”

“Sweet.”

You attempted to focus on your vocal warm ups as Josh drummed away beside you. Being with someone else in the studio was a weird experience, you were so used to just you and a couple crew members.

After about ten minutes of you and Josh making an ungodly amount of noise, his drumming finally calmed down and you felt ready to hit all your notes.

“Ready?” Josh asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” you smiled.

“Then let’s do this.”

Being in the studio with Josh ended up being the most fun that you had had in awhile. Rather than feeling embarrassed every time your voice cracked or did something weird, Josh would laugh along with you. The same went for every time that he did something weird with his drums.

Josh stood up and wiped some sweat away from his forehead, “I’d call that a successful day.”

“Yeah, that went really well,” you smiled.

Josh followed you back out to where your producer was waiting, a large smile on his face.

“That was amazing, you two! Josh, you should join the band full time,” he laughed.

“I don’t think Tyler would be very happy with me if I left him.”

“Fair enough,” he said. “Well, I think we just need a couple more days in the studio and then next week we can start the music video.”

“Perfect,” you smiled.

 

“And we got it!” the producer smiled from the other side of the glass.

“We did?” you asked.

“Yep. I think that’s going to be the one.”

You jumped up and down to show your excitement. Next to you, Josh was standing up from his drumset. In your happy state, you took off your headphones and pulled him into a hug. He hugged you back just as tightly, rocking you gently from side to side.

“I can’t tell you thankful I am that you were willing to work on this song with me.”

“It was my pleasure. Your music is amazing, Y/N.”

“Says the super successful musician,” you scoffed, lightly shoving his shoulder.

“Hey, what do you say we go out to lunch to celebrate?”

“I would love that,” you smiled. “Let me just talk to the guys real quick and then we can head out.”

“Alright, I’ll meet you outside.”

Sure enough, Josh was leaned against his car when you finally made your way out of the building. You tried your best to keep your smile looking normal, rather than the huge grin that you would normally be wearing on your face in a situation like this.

“Where to?” Josh asked, giving the keys around his finger a spin.

“Wherever,” you shrugged.

“You know the restaurant on third street?”

“I love that one,” you smiled.

“Meet you there,” Josh smirked before walking around the side of the car.

You suppressed a squeal before walking off to your own car. It was hard to believe that you and Josh were actually getting lunch together to celebrate, you had thought that even a musical collaboration was a long shot.

Josh pulled up along the curb right before you did, leaving just enough space for you to pull in your car behind him. You parked, took a deep breath, and joined him on the sidewalk.

“Good to see you made it ok,” he smiled.

“You say that like you expected me to get lost.”

“Your producer might have mentioned a time that it took you an extra hour to get to a music video set because you took one wrong turn.”

“It was one time!” you defended yourself. “And did he really tell you about that?”

“He did and it was fantastic,” he remarked as he held the door open for you.

“Thanks. And I can’t believe him. It had been a rough morning, in my defense.”

You and Josh walked up to the counter, ordered, and then promptly found a place to sit down. It was a table by the window, allowing you to direct your gaze to the occasional pedestrian rather than staring at Josh the entire time.

“So are you ready for the start of the music video next week?” Josh asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be. What about you?” you answered, turning to look at him.

“Yeah, I think it’s going to end up amazing.”

“Let’s hope you’re right.”

“Y/N, I saw your last music video. The ideas that you and your team come with are amazing. There’s no doubt in my mind that this one is going to be just as good.”

“You really think so?”

“Yeah, you’re super talented. I admire you for it,” he smiled.

You reached up and pretended to scratch your cheek in a meek attempt to hide the fact that you were blushing. His words probably meant nothing, but they still caused butterflies in your stomach.

“You’re one to be talking.”

Josh smiled and gave a slight shrug of his shoulders, “I guess.”

“Don’t kid yourself.”

“Sorry, it’s still hard to believe,” he said.

“I know the feeling.”

As much as you wanted to stay and talk to Josh long past the time that you two had finished lunch, you had choreography rehearsals to get to that evening. You and Josh said your goodbyes and you got back in your car. It was hard not to smile like an idiot after the day that you had.

 

It was the last day of the music video shoot. You and Josh had been working hard for weeks, making sure that every shot was perfect. It was nice to have someone on set who had done a lot of music videos before, aside from the crew that is.

The two of you had grown even closer because of it. You were regularly joking around on set and causing minor inconveniences for the other. On your off days, you would usually go out and get lunch together and talk about how the video was going.

“Places!” the director called.

One of the makeup artists ran over to where you were standing and did a few touch-ups on your face. You were trying your best not to sweat it all off, but the choreography that they had made for you was a bit more intense than you were used to.

You looked to Josh right as they were about to start rolling. He flashed you a quick wink, causing you to smile.

The takes went relatively smoothly, although every time that you got within a few feet of Josh there was an undeniable energy between the two of you. It became hard to focus, often causing you to forget little bits of choreography or missing the mark by mere fractions of a second. With your director being the stickler that he was, this meant doing it over and over again until it was perfect.

“Let’s try that one more time!”

“Sorry,” you called, giving a small wave.

“No worries. Just get to the mark a little earlier.”

You nodded to show that you had heard him. One of the makeup artists came up and powdered part of your face. You closed your eyes while he did so and ran through the choreography. All you had to do was focus on that instead of Josh and you would be fine.

“Ok. Rolling in three, two…”

The music began to play and you ran through the choreography. It was going well, easily the best take yet. You were close to the end. Out of the corner of your eye you saw Josh stand up from his drum set so that he could take his own place, a part of the video that had only happened a few other times today due to your mess ups.

You took your place across from Josh and finished the last bit of the choreography, which meant getting very close to him. The music began to wind down, signaling the end of the song and, therefore, the video. It was difficult to hide your smile from the excitement of finally getting it right, but you refrained. Even a tiny mistake like smiling could ruin the take in the eyes of your director.

You and Josh stood a few inches apart, your chests heaving from the choreography and drumming. The two of you stood still, waiting for the director to call cut. Or maybe he had already called cut, you were too busy trying to ignore the obvious energy between the two of you.

“Can I kiss you?” Josh whispered, just loud enough for you to hear but not loud enough for the crew to.

“For the video or for real?”

“Who says it can’t be both?”

“Then yes.”

Josh placed a hand on your cheek and pulled you towards him so that your lips met. The director let out a loud hoot and the rest of the crew soon joined in with applause. You smiled against Josh’s lips and you felt him do the same.

“And that’s a wrap!” the director called. So maybe you hadn’t missed it after all.

“How long have you waited to do that?” you asked.

“Remember the first day when I accidentally threw a drumstick across the room?”

“How could I forget?”

“My palms were sweaty because you were so gorgeous that it made me nervous.”

“We got it!” the director called happily. “The music video is done.”

You turned to face the crew, who were all clapping one another on the back and celebrating. Josh pulled you into a hug.

“Congratulations, Y/N,” he gave you another quick kiss.

“It’s all thanks to you.”

Chapter Text

You hated this. The feeling that you got every time that Josh was away on tour. It was indescribable, but there was an undeniable weight in your chest that just didn’t seem to go away no matter how hard you tried. At this point it had become familiar, like an old friend that showed up to fill the hole when Josh was away.

If it wasn’t the feeling in your chest, then it was the headache. Not a real one, but there were so many thoughts bouncing around in your head that it might as well have been. You couldn’t even keep track of all the worries that you had anymore. They just kind of played out one after another until it became a constant in the back of your mind.

You had considered getting help before, but every time you went to call the therapist you hesitated. How were you supposed to explain something to someone that you yourself didn’t even fully understand?

It wasn’t until a really bad day during the last month of tour that you finally confessed how you were feeling to Jenna. She drove over to your house immediately, making sure to stop and pick up your favorite warm drink on the way. When she arrived, she sat on the couch with you and held you close until you were able to stop shaking. She listened to every fear that you listed and assured you that everything was going to be ok.

When she asked if you were going to see a therapist about how you were feeling, you explained how embarrassing it felt. After all, it had taken you months to open up to Jenna and she was one of your closest friends. She tried to convince you that it could be beneficial, but you just nodded along to appease her. Deep down, you knew that it would never be an option for you.

Josh called you a week later and explained that Jenna had told him what was going on. He asked you a million questions about how you were feeling, but you answered each one the same. You didn’t know how you were feeling, the only thing that you knew was your chest was heavy and your mind was full of thoughts that you couldn’t quite place. They were nervous thoughts, and that was about as much as you knew. He said that he loved you and he would be home soon, but even Josh couldn’t take the pain away.

 

It was the day that Josh was coming home from tour. The last time that you had seen him was months ago, and that was just when you and Jenna flew out to surprise the boys halfway through the tour. It had been even longer since you and Josh were at home together, able to sleep in your comfortable bed and watch TV until one in the morning.

You wanted more than anything to be happy about Josh coming home, but today wasn’t one of the days that allowed for that. Instead, you had been stuck in bed all day in some sort of limbo. Your anxiety told you to get out of bed and make yourself look presentable, but your depression fought back and told you to stay in bed.

There were a million things that you knew you should be doing: cleaning the house, walking the dogs, taking a shower. But they all required so much energy, energy that you didn’t currently have.

Downstairs, the dogs started barking. This probably meant that Josh was home. He would probably need help with his bags. He would definitely want to see you as soon as he walked in the door. You should be getting out of bed and running down the stairs to meet him.

But you weren’t.

The door swung open, followed closely by Josh’s voice. You couldn’t quite tell what he said, but he was probably calling for you. It didn’t take long for him to walk up the stairs, you could tell by the sound of his footsteps.

“Y/N?” Josh said softly, pushing the door open slowly.

You sniffled in response, unable to say much else. It felt like your throat was coated in molasses, rendering you unable to speak. Your eyes were no doubt puffy and red. Josh hadn’t seen you in months, and this was how you were going to look the first time that he saw you.

“Hey, what’s going on?” he asked, coming over and taking a seat on the bed next to you.

You shook your head and tried to bury it in the pillow. Josh carefully pulled the blanket back, revealing you curled up in your pajamas.

“Babe, I’m worried about you.”

You rubbed your palms into your eyes before sliding up into a sitting position. This was the first time that you had gotten a good glimpse of Josh. His hair was disheveled where it was sticking out from underneath his beanie and he looked tired. Probably from a combination of sleep deprivation and a long day of traveling back home.

“I’m fine,” you mumbled.

“Y/N,” Josh scoffed. “You obviously aren’t fine.”

This caused you to start crying again. Josh gently reached out and grabbed one of your hands, making sure to hold onto it tightly.

“You know you can talk to me about anything.”

“Can I just…have a minute?” you whimpered.

“Of course. What do you want me to do?”

“Can you, I don’t know, spoon me?” you couldn’t help but let out a little laugh at this. The request sounded so stupid coming from someone in their twenties.

“Yeah, why don’t we lay down?”

Josh kicked off his shoes while you scooted over to the middle of the bed. He laid down behind you and pressed himself up against your back. His arms wrapped around you and you rested your own hand on top of his, lightly tracing patterns on it.

It felt nice to be right next to Josh again, so close that you could feel his heartbeat. You took in his scent, a cologne smell that had grown faint throughout the day. It was your favorite smell, and you always sprayed some of it on one of his sweatshirts in secret before he left for extended periods of time. It helped on days like today.

“I don’t know what I would do without you,” you said finally. Your voice still sounded weird from crying.

“I’m sorry that I have to leave so often.”

“It’s ok. I knew what I was getting into when we started dating.”

“I know, but it still isn’t fair.”

You took a deep, shaking breath.

“Josh, you know when we talked a few weeks ago and I said I didn’t know why my depression and anxiety were so bad?”

“Yeah?”

“I think I know why.”

“What is it?”

You bit down on your lip, not wanting to upset Josh with what you were about to say.

“Well, I thought about it a lot, and I think it’s because I’m afraid that you’re cheating on me. And then I start to think about losing you and what that would mean for me, and it just makes me feel so much worse. My mind just gets stuck on that loop of being alone and hurt and it just consumes me.”

“Y/N, you know that I would never do that to you, right?”

You shrugged.

“Can you look at me?”

You sighed before rolling over so that you and Josh were now face to face. He grabbed one of your hands again and looked into your eyes.

“I would never want to hurt you like that. Ever. I can’t even imagine hurting you like that. And the fact that the mere idea of it is so upsetting to you is hard for me.”

“I hate feeling like this,” you whimpered.

“Listen, we can figure this out together.”

“I don’t know that we can, Josh.”

“We can. Trust me. There’s people that you can talk to, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure you never have to feel this terrible again.”

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

You scooted closer to Josh so that you could bury your face in his chest. The anxiety and depression slowly started to fade, although you knew that they would never totally go away.

“You can beat this,” Josh said. “I know you can.”

Chapter Text

You sat down at your desk and pulled out an old, tattered notebook from the bottom drawer. The pages were worn and creased, covered in pencil marks and scribbles from times when your brain was working so fast that your hand couldn’t keep up. Some of the pages even had tear stains in the margins from particularly hard nights.

The notebook was full of letters to people that had been in your life: exes, friends that had stabbed you in the back, family members that felt the need to make rude comments about you to your face. They were letters that you would never send, of course, but at least it gave you a way to get your thoughts out of your brain and onto paper.

You flipped to the next blank page and wrote “Dear Josh” in neat handwriting along the top of the page. Knowing you, this was probably the only part of the letter that would end up being legible. With a quick crack of your knuckles, you started the letter.

Dear Josh,

There’s a lot of things I want to say to you, and most of them I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to tell you.

I’m going to start with the most important one: you ruined me. I don’t even feel human anymore. My chest feels hollow and everything about me is numb. It’s like I don’t feel anything anymore. You killed me and ripped my heart out.

I thought I knew what love was, but your actions have shown me that my ideas clearly weren’t true. Whatever we had wasn’t love, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this letter to you. Someone who loved me would have never been able to ruin me in the way that you did.

You stopped and took a moment to think. Even though Josh was never going to actually read this letter, you still wanted to avoid making it a mess of thoughts and accusations. Who knows, maybe one day when you were feeling brave you would tear it out and mail it to him.

I had a fire, passion, and desire. Every morning I woke up with a smile on my face because I knew it meant that I would get to spend another day with you. For the first time in my life, I actually felt hopeful and realized that my dreams could become reality.

Now I feel like a robot. Each day is a routine. I don’t talk about my dreams anymore, I just give them the answers that they want to hear. It doesn’t feel like I’m myself anymore, but I don’t know how to fill the hole that you left in me.

I loved you, Josh. More than anything in the world. There wasn’t a single thing that I wouldn’t have done for you. I waited through tours, promotional events, long nights in the studio, and so much more. You were my everything, but it’s apparent to me now that I wasn’t yours.

You paused again, unsure of what you wanted to say next. Your hand moved to the edge of the paper and you began to idly draw little flowers in the margins of your notebook. Josh had always liked when you drew flowers, he said that you always looked happy when you were drawing.

Despite this, you haven’t completely broken me. I know that I’ll get through this, and the hole that you left in my chest will be filled once again. The robotic routine of my life will begin to fade and the passion will return. No thanks to you, of course.

Don’t bother calling,

Y/N

You signed your name in fancy lettering at the end of your note. It felt nice to get all of your thoughts on paper, it helped to lift the weight that seemed to always be pressing on your chest.

The notebook closed with a resounding smack and you tossed it back into the bottom drawer of your desk along with all the other crumpled pages you had thrown in there from time to time. Even if you hadn’t solved anything, you did feel a bit more at peace than you had earlier that morning.

Chapter Text

Josh’s POV

My palms felt sweaty. I couldn’t tell if it was from nerves or the heat of the room. Or maybe the room wasn’t hot and that was just my nerves too.

Stop, Josh. Now isn’t the time.

Everyone turned to watch as the bridesmaids and groomsmen made their way into the room. I took this opportunity to wipe my palms off on my pants. The last thing I wanted was to have gross hands that Y/N had to hold throughout the entire wedding ceremony. Maybe her hands would be sweaty too.

Ok, Josh. Now this is just getting weird. Calm down.

I directed my attention back to everyone walking down the aisle. Tyler had just come through the doorway, arm in arm with Jenna. He caught my eye and nodded, his silent way of telling me that I had this in the bag. Jenna smiled at me and gave me a quick thumbs up. I had to admit, Y/N did a wonderful job at picking out the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Jordan was walking down the aisle now with Y/N’s maid of honor. He flashed me a quick wink which I returned with a smile. Y/N would be walking down the aisle any minute now. I straightened myself out a little bit and took a deep breath.

The wedding march began to play and I nearly jumped. Everyone turned in their seats to see Y/N walk down the aisle. I knew that she would hate it, being the center of attention had never really been her thing.

She rounded the corner and I nearly lost it. My original plan had been to try and conceal my emotions when I saw her to avoid making a fool of myself, but the second I laid eyes on her that plan was forgotten. I was so overwhelmed that I bent down and threw a hand over my mouth.

There weren’t enough words in any language to describe how beautiful that she looked as she walked down the aisle. The way that the light was reflecting in her eyes. How her dress looked on her. The way that she was absolutely beaming. All of it combined was just too much, I couldn’t believe that she was going to be my wife.

Y/N and I had met at the laundromat, of all places. I was waiting for my clothes to finish their wash cycle when she walked in with a laundry basket tucked under one arm. She had spent a fair amount of time loading it all into a washing machine only to discover that she had left all of her quarters at home. I had quickly jumped in and offered her some of my extras, hoping it would spark some conversation between us.

It did, and I ended up sitting in the laundromat with my clean clothes at my feet while I waited for Y/N’s clothes to finish drying with her. My excuse was that I wanted to make sure she didn’t run out of money again, but I was pretty sure she saw through that right away. By the end of the day, we had a date planned for the next week.

I finally stood up again when Y/N was halfway down the aisle. She had started laughing at my reaction, which had also hopefully helped to take her mind off of all the eyes that were on her right now. There had been a few audible gasps when she walked in the room, and there were definitely more than a few people that wanted to be in my position right now.

It hadn’t taken me long to know that Y/N was the one. After a few dates, I was hooked. Her smile was the prettiest thing that I had ever seen and her laugh was contagious. Every moment that I was with her was an adventure. We had seen countless cities together, and now we had the rest of our lives to explore the rest of them.

She took her spot across from me and smiled. My mouth was still hanging open from the shock of seeing her. In a moment of self awareness, I closed it and smiled instead. She just looked so beautiful that I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“You look amazing,” I said quietly. “Beyond amazing, even. Just… flawless.”

“Thank you,” she blushed. Or maybe it was her makeup. “You look very handsome yourself.”

My smile grew even wider, if that was possible.

Oddly enough, the moment that I knew I wanted to marry Y/N was after a huge fight. We had spent the whole day looking at apartments for us to move into and we were both exhausted and frustrated from not finding anything good. Y/N had said that I was being too picky which had quickly led to an argument between the two of us. It was dumb, but both of us being upset with the situation didn’t help anything.

Y/N eventually stormed off to her bedroom, leaving me alone in the living room. I still remembered the pain in my chest when I thought she might break up with me over such a stupid argument. It only took a few minutes for me to knock on her bedroom door and apologize about everything I had said. The thought of losing her had been terrifying, and from that day on I knew I wanted to spend my life with her.

The officiant began speaking, but I was too busy looking at Y/N to pay much attention. She was looking between me and the officiant, and it was evident that she was nervous. Her hands were shaking slightly in mine, so I gave them a light squeeze. She turned to me and smiled.

“Mr. Dun?”

“What?” I said, turning to look at the officiant.

“Your vows?”

“Right,” I smiled nervously. Y/N was concealing a laugh. I cleared my throat and began to speak, “Y/N, wow, where do I even begin? When you walked into the laundromat that day, I had no idea that you would end up being the love of my life. You’ve taught me so much about life and that it can never be taken too seriously. Every minute that I spend with you is an adventure, even if it’s just a late night run to the grocery store for snacks. You love me for who I am, even when I’m not always the most pleasant to be around. I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world to be able to spend the rest of my life with you. Best fifty cents I ever spent.”

Y/N laughed and shook her head. She had always hated that we had met at the laundromat, but I had always said it was romantic.

“Ms. Y/L/N?”

I listened intently as Y/N said her vows to me. Her voice was shaking a bit as she spoke, so I gave her hands a light squeeze every now and again to reassure her. It was hard to not start crying again, but I managed to hold back tears.

“Josh, do you take Y/N to be your wife?”

“I do,” I smiled.

“And Y/N, do you take Josh to be your husband?”

“I do.”

“I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Dun. You may kiss the bride.”

I pulled Y/N towards me and kissed her. Tyler and Jordan were being especially loud as they cheered with everyone else, but I was too focused on Y/N to care.

“Guess you’re stuck with me now,” I smiled at her.

“I would hardly call it being stuck.”

I grabbed her hand and together we ran down the aisle and out the doors. It was hard to believe that I had ended up with someone as wonderful as her, but here I was.

I couldn’t be happier.

Chapter Text

You glanced over at Josh. He was sitting on the far end of the couch, sipping peacefully on his coffee while he watched the movie that the three of you had picked. It was hard not to stare when he looked good doing practically anything.

Tyler, who was sitting in between the two of you, must have noticed because he turned to you and raised an eyebrow. You felt your cheeks go bright red as you turned back to the TV. He already knew about the massive crush that you had on Josh, but you still felt embarrassed for being so blatant about it.

Josh leaned forward and set his mug on the coffee table before getting up off the couch.

“Where are you going?” you asked.

“Bathroom,” he answered plainly as he walked off down the hallway.

“That was a dumb question,” you muttered once he was out of earshot.

You leaned back just to make sure that Josh was really gone before excitedly turning to Tyler and repeatedly tapping his arm.

“What?” Tyler grumbled.

“Did you see how cute he looked when he was sitting there with his coffee? He’s just so attractive,” you sighed.

“He was just drinking coffee,” he shrugged.

“Well, yeah. But he looked really good.”

“Can you stop fawning over every single little thing he does?” Tyler snapped. “It gets annoying really fast.”

“You told me that you didn’t have a problem with it!”

“Well I changed my mind,” he huffed before grabbing his phone and beginning to scroll through Instagram.

“I just don’t see what your problem is,” you said.

“Problem with what?” Josh asked as he walked back into the room.

“Nothing,” you said quickly.

“Alright.”

Josh sat back down on the other end of the couch. Tyler put his phone away and paid attention to the movie once again. You had no idea what his issue was. There had been countless times where you had commented on Josh doing something and Tyler had been totally cool with it.

It wasn’t long before you caught yourself staring at Josh again. He was just tapping idly on his legs as he watched the movie, the coffee that he had been drinking was now long gone. Tyler was in just the right spot that you could stare without Josh noticing.

“Geez, Y/N. Will you stop staring at Josh?”

You felt the color immediately drain from your face. Josh was staring at Tyler in confusion, but Tyler was too busy glaring at you.

“What the fuck, Tyler?” you said, immediately standing up. Tyler followed suit.

“You’ve spent like half the movie just staring at him instead of paying attention. Why don’t you actually do something about it and tell him that you’re practically in love with him rather than just sitting there?”

Your heart was pounding and your mind couldn’t seem to decide which emotion was the most prevalent right now. Tyler had just exposed what you considered your biggest secret for no reason in particular, right in front of the one person you wanted to keep it from.

“You’re in love with me?” Josh asked, now looking at you. He, too, had gotten up from the couch.

“I mean, I wouldn’t call it love,” you said, although it wasn’t entirely true.

“You told me she wasn’t interested!” Josh said, now turning on Tyler.

“What?” you all but screeched.

Tyler’s jaw was clenched tightly and he was avoiding eye contact with either of you.

“How long has Tyler known that you like me?” Josh asked. It was obvious that Tyler wouldn’t be answering any questions at the moment.

“Four or five months, maybe,” you shrugged.

“Dude!” Josh yelled. “Why did you lie to me?”

“Wait, you like me too?” you asked.

“Yes! I have for like three months, but Tyler told me you weren’t interested so I didn’t pursue it.”

You bit down on your lip to stop from smiling. Despite learning that Josh reciprocated your feelings, you were still angry at Tyler for bringing it up like he had. There was a lot to be worked out between the three of you.

“Will you two stop?” Tyler finally snapped.

“Ok, what’s your deal, man?” Josh asked.

“My deal is that I love her too, alright? That’s why I lied, because if you knew that she felt the same then you two would end up together and I would be stuck as the third wheel who was still in love with her.”

Your felt your breath catch then. Never in your time of knowing Tyler had you suspected that he had feelings for you. He had hidden it extremely well, especially considering how often you had expressed interest in Josh.

“Wait, what?” you asked.

“I love you, Y/N. And I have for awhile. That’s why I snapped earlier. I put up with you talking about Josh for a long time, and tonight was just… too much.”

“I’m so sorry, Ty. I had no idea, otherwise I wouldn’t have talked about him so much.”

“You talked about me a lot?” Josh asked, a slight smile on his face.

“Yes, but now isn’t the time,” you said. “What are we going to do?”

“Well it’s pretty evident that you don’t share my feelings,” Tyler said, flopping back down onto the couch.

Josh looked between you and Tyler a few times, “I do love you, Y/N, but it just isn’t fair to date you when Tyler has feelings too.”

“Right,” you nodded. It felt like your stomach was sinking straight down your torso. “Right, that makes sense.”

“Don’t let me be the reason you two aren’t together,” Tyler interjected.

“Are you sure?” Josh asked.

He shrugged, “Yeah. It sucks, but there’s no reason for you two not to be happy together just because I happen to have feelings for Y/N. It doesn’t sit right with me.”

“But lying did?” you asked.

“Listen,” he said, turning to you. “I’m not saying I’m proud of how I handled things. There were a lot of emotions running high at the time. And I’m sorry about snapping at you earlier, that wasn’t cool of me. Also for lying, that was a dick move.”

“It’s ok,” you said. “I get it.”

“Just don’t do it again,” Josh added,

There was a pause in the conversation. You shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.

“So,” Josh finally said. “Are we going to like…” he pointed between the two of you.

“Yeah,” you nodded. “I think that’s a good idea.”

“Great,” he smiled.

The two of you sat back down on either side of Tyler.

“We cool?” he asked, holding out a hand on either side.

“We’re cool,” you said, giving him a high-five and a fist bump.

“Yeah, we’re cool,” Josh said, doing the same.

The three of you turned back to the TV. You quickly realized you had no idea what was going on in the movie, as it looked completely different to the last time that you had been paying attention.

“What the hell did we miss?” you asked.

“A lot, apparently.”

“Eh, it wasn’t that good of a movie, anyway,” Josh chimed in.

“Agreed,” you and Tyler said in unison.

Tyler began to look for a new movie. Meanwhile, Josh reached over the back of the couch and tapped your shoulder. You looked at him, and he held out a hand. Smiling, you reached over and held it. Everything that had happened in the last hour felt surreal.

“Are you guys holding hands behind my head?” Tyler sighed.

“Maybe,” you said.

“Get used to it, dude,” Josh added.

“As long as you’re happy.”

Chapter Text

You stared at yourself in the mirror, scrutinizing every little bump and dip. It only took a few moments for you to get frustrated and storm off into the closet. The same oversized sweatshirt that you had been wearing all week was sitting on the floor from yesterday. You picked it up and pulled it on. It was the only item of clothing that you didn’t hate how you looked in, mostly because it hid everything you didn’t like.

Jim followed close behind you as you walked downstairs, looking up at you with his best puppy dog eyes. You had yet to take him out on a walk, mostly because you knew that you would feel extra self conscious the second that you stepped out the door. He looked so cute though. Maybe a short walk wouldn’t be so bad?

He ran circles around your feet while you grabbed his leash from the closet. It was amazing to you how big he had gotten in such a short time. You could still remember when he was just a little puppy, able to fit in your arms.

“Come on!” you called.

Jim hopped up and happily walked out the door in front of you. He led you down the driveway and around the corner without hesitation. It was the same path that you took every time you went on a walk. There had been a couple times where you had tried to switch things up, but Jim always ended up leading you down the same roads. You pulled out your phone and took a video of him sniffing at some brightly colored flowers, Josh would probably appreciate seeing his dog.

Josh.

It had been almost a full twenty four hours since you had heard from him last. That wasn’t unusual, tour always had kept him busy, but your mind never failed to provide worst case scenario explanations. Maybe he had hurt himself at last night’s show and they forgot to give you a call. Maybe the tour bus had broken down in the middle of nowhere and he had no cell service. Maybe he was cheating on you.

Maybe he was cheating on you.

Once the idea had been planted in your mind, you couldn’t seem to get it out. It wasn’t the first time that you had suspected Josh to be cheating, although you never had any solid evidence to support it. Most of the fear came from your own self doubt.

It wasn’t like he would have a difficult time doing it. You were miles away and completely dependent on him and Tyler for updates as to what was going on. Lying was easy when you didn’t have to do it to someone’s face. Not to mention that there was no shortage of girls for him to choose from. Girls that were funnier than you. Prettier than you. Thinner than you.

Why wouldn’t he cheat?

You held back tears as you rounded the last corner before you got to your house. Jim followed close behind you, occasionally tugging at the leash when he found something particularly interesting. You just tapped your foot impatiently and hoped that you could make it to the house before you broke down entirely.

Jim wagged his tail happily as you unclipped his leash and threw it unceremoniously back into the closet. You needed something–anything–to take your mind off of Josh right now. A movie would have to do, at least it would give you a couple hours of peace. Jim also seemed more than willing to curl up next to you and keep you company.

You only made it about fifteen minutes into the movie when all the tears that you had been holding back finally let loose. The movie was supposed to make you feel better, but instead you just ended up comparing yourself to all the actresses on screen. If you looked like them, you were sure that you wouldn’t have to worry about Josh cheating. But you were just you.

Your phone began to buzz and Tyler’s contact photo shined up at you. You paused the movie and took a moment to compose yourself: wiping away snot, drying a few tears, and clearing your throat so that it didn’t sound like you were sobbing. A million reasons as to why Tyler was calling you instead of Josh raced through your mind, but you pushed them aside.

“Hello?” you answered. Your voice sounded weird, but you knew that you could blame it on bad connection if Tyler questioned it.

“Hey, Y/N!”

“What’s up?”

“Long story, actually. The whole reason that I even called was so that Josh could talk to you.” Your heart skipped a beat. “Basically his phone stopped charging yesterday so he was trying to conserve battery but then it died completely and we thought we would be able to get it fixed in town but they said it’s completely shot and he’ll have to get a new one. Anyway, I–or he, I guess–would have called earlier, but I was waiting on a call from the label and yeah, I’ll just shut up and let you talk to Josh.”

“Thanks, Ty,” you giggled.

“No problem. Here he is.”

You heard Tyler pass off the phone. Josh cleared his throat and you felt your heartbeat speed up significantly.

“Hello?”

“Hi.”

“Man, I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear your voice again,” Josh sighed.

“Sounds like you’ve had a crazy 24 hours,” you sniffled.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “Hey, are you doing alright? It sounds like you’ve been crying.”

“Probably just the connection,” you said, although Josh’s concern had caused you to start crying again.

Your phone started to buzz again and you looked down to see that Josh was requesting to FaceTime you. If you didn’t answer, he would question it, so you bit the bullet and hit accept.

“Why’d you lie to me, babe?” Josh seemed genuinely disappointed that you had lied, which only piled on top of all the things that had you feeling terrible.

“Because I’m crying over something dumb and I didn’t want you to worry.”

“If you’re crying over it, how dumb can it be?”

“I cried when we got Jim. That’s a dumb thing to cry over.”

Jim perked up at the mention of his name. He must have noticed that you were in distress, because he stood up and began to lick at the tears that were on your face. You scratched his back as he did so.

“Those were happy tears, so what’s going on with you?”

You got Jim to lay back down before you began your story. “I was just…” you paused to take a deep breath. “You hadn’t texted and I was wondering what you were up to and my self esteem was already low to begin with so when the idea of you cheating popped into my head I just couldn’t get it to go away. There’s just so many girls who are better for you than me. Models and musicians and so many other people.”

“Did you really think that I was cheating?”

“I mean, no. Not when I really think about it. But my anxiety just wouldn’t stop forcing the idea on me.”

“Y/N, I love you more than anything. I know you struggle with your self image, but I want you to know that I think you’re perfect. There’s not a single thing that I would change about you. Every night that I’m away, I wish that I was back home with you.”

“Really?”

“Yes, and if I could bring you on tour with me, then I would in a heartbeat. But you have work and our beautiful son to take care of,” he smiled.

“Yes, our beautiful hairy son,” you laughed, giving Jim a pat on the head.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

“And I know you don’t think of yourself as the model type, but man would I pay good money for a magazine with you on the cover.”

“Shut up,” you said, already blushing profusely.

“I’m going to be home before you know it and I’ll be sure to make up for all of the lost time.”

“I can’t wait for you to come home.”

“Me too,” Josh looked away for a moment, obviously distracted by something behind the camera. “Alright, Tyler wants his phone back. Pretty sure Zack is expecting a call from him soon.”

“Ok. Make sure to get that new phone as soon as possible! And have Tyler keep me updated, please.”

“I’ll make sure that happens. Take care of yourself, ok?”

“As long as you do too.”

“I will.”

“I love you, Josh.”

“I love you too, babe.”

You waved at the camera as Josh ended the call. Talking to Josh had lifted a huge weight off of your chest. Anxiety still creeped itself into the back of your mind, telling you that he was lying, but you pushed it aside and focused on everything that you and Josh had talked about. He loved you as you were, and that was enough for you.

Chapter Text

“Hi, my name is Y/N Joseph and welcome to my cooking show!” you announced as you set a mixing bowl on the counter. “And today I’m going to be teaching you how to make our family recipe cookies. First, you’re going to need two whole sticks of butter.”

You danced your way over to the fridge and grabbed the butter from one of the shelves. When you spun back around, you noticed that Josh was holding his phone up and recording the “cooking show” that you had jokingly put on for him.

“Josh!” you squealed, throwing your arms up to hide your face. “Stop!” you laughed, mostly from embarrassment.

“What? It was cute,” he smiled as he typed out a caption.

“It was dumb is what it was,” you sighed, dumping the butter into the bowl and sticking it in the microwave.

“What is going on out here?” Tyler asked, emerging from his bedroom with messy hair and tired eyes.

You began cracking up as Josh turned around and smiled, “We’re making cookies.”

“And that requires screaming why?” he asked, rubbing one of his eyes.

“Josh was filming me giving a cheesy cooking show intro. Sorry for waking you up, bro,” you explained.

“No worries, I shouldn’t have taken a nap in the first place,” he grumbled, taking a seat on the stool next to Josh.

“I see another audience member has joined us!” you announced, slipping back into your cooking show persona.

Tyler laughed and shook his head. There had been countless times as kids when you had gathered your younger siblings in the kitchen and forced them to watch your cooking escapades. These were usually ended promptly by your mom arriving home and wondering why half of the food was spread out across the counter.

“Yeah, I need to learn how to make our family recipe,” he snorted.

“I was always best at making cookies, anyway,” you retorted, grabbing the bowl of butter from the microwave.

Josh and Tyler made conversation while you added more ingredients to the bowl. You offered them some of the dough from time to time, just to make sure that you were on the right track. Tyler would occasionally sing along to the music that was playing as he scrolled through his phone.

You were in the middle of adding flour to your bowl when one of your and Tyler’s favorite songs came on. It was a duet that the two of you had been singing together since you were kids, complete with choreography.

“Ty!” you said, momentarily abandoning your cookies. “It’s our song!”

He looked up from his phone and raised his eyebrows in question, “Do I have to? I woke up like twenty minutes ago.”

“Yes,” you said, walking around the counter and pulling him up by his wrist.

You sang your part of the song as you mixed flour into the dough. When it switched to Tyler’s part, you looked at him hopefully. Reluctantly, he began to sing which made you smile. Josh sat and laughed as the two of you danced around the kitchen and performed.

The song ended and you grabbed Tyler’s hand, pulling him into a bow. You looked up just as Josh stopped filming and began to type a caption.

“Josh!” you squealed again, running over to see the video that he had taken.

Sure enough, you and Tyler were dancing around on his screen. The video was now accompanied by the caption, “Saturday with my favorite Josephs.”

“I can’t believe you,” you huffed.

Josh wrapped an arm around your waist and pulled you into his side so that he could press a kiss to your temple. Tyler was shuffling slowly down the hall back towards his room.

“Where are you going, Ty?” you asked.

“I have to meet a friend for lunch in half an hour.”

“Ok.”

You grabbed Josh’s forearm and pulled him further into the kitchen with you. He leaned against the counter while you finished adding the last few ingredients to the cookies.

“What should we do today?” Josh asked.

“Well it’s going to take me awhile to finish baking all of these, so we need to find something fun to do here.”

“There’s plenty to do, like watch a movie,” he shrugged.

“We always watch movies.”

“Well, yeah,” he said, moving so that he was standing behind you with his arms wrapped around your waist. “It gives me an excuse to cuddle with you for an extended period of time.”

“That does sound nice.”

“Exactly,” he pressed another kiss to your cheek.

“Ew,” Tyler muttered as he reappeared in the kitchen.

You rolled your eyes, “Don’t you have a lunch to get to?”

“Yeah, thankfully,” he scoffed sarcastically.

“Drive safe,” you called after him as he headed for the door.

“I will. And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do while I’m gone!”

He shut the door, leaving just you and Josh in the quiet of the kitchen.

“Ok, I think these are ready,” you announced. “Want to try some?”

Josh grabbed a spoon and scooped up a large amount of cookie dough, “That’s good!”

“Really?” you smiled hopefully.

“Yeah, you got it perfect yet again.”

“Now to see how well they cook,” you sighed, carrying the bowl over by the stove.

Josh headed to the living room and began to search for a movie for the two of you to watch. You stuck the first batch of cookies in the oven before joining him.

“What movie are we watching today?” you asked, settling into his arms.

“I was thinking this one,” he said, gesturing to the movie description on the screen.

You read it over, “It sounds good.”

“Great,” he smiled, hitting play on it and then wrapping his arms around you.

You continued to get up periodically throughout the movie to take cookies out of the oven and put in another batch. After the original ones had cooled, you brought a small plate of cookies into the living room to share with Josh. He paused the movie and took the plate from you.

“These look amazing, babe!”

“Thank you,” you smiled. He started to take a bite of a cookie, but you held out your hand and stopped him, “I need to film your reaction for Snapchat. It’s only fair since they watched the whole process.”

“Ok,” Josh grinned as you pulled out your phone. You gave him a thumbs up once you started recording and he took a bite. “This is amazing!” he said, eyes growing wide. “You really outdid yourself this time, Y/N.”

“Thanks,” you blushed.

Josh pulled out his own phone and leaned next to you on the couch. He still had a cookie in one hand as he began to film the two of you. You pulled your hood up and kept your eyes off the camera, hoping that if you pretended like it wasn’t there it wouldn’t stress you out.

“So Y/N just let me try the finished cookies. They turned out awesome, despite all the distractions while making them.”

“Hey!” you said, lightly shoving his arm.

“Anyway, now we’re just going to watch a movie and relax.” You nodded. “But there’s one more thing I wanted to say.”

You turned to look at Josh, still trying to ignore the camera. His mouth slowly turned up into a smile.

“What?” you said, growing anxious.

“I love you.”

Your eyebrows immediately shot up and your breath caught. Josh loved you? Sure, you had been wanting to tell him that you loved him for months, but you were notorious for falling for people way too fast.

“I love you too,” you beamed, resting a hand on Josh’s cheek and pulling him in for a kiss.

He stopped recording and watched the video back. You felt your cheeks warm up as you relived the dorky reaction that you had to hearing that he loved you.

“I think this might be my favorite video that I’ve ever taken.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty good,” you said, leaning over so that your head was on his shoulder. “You didn’t just say it for the video, did you?”

“No, I really love you,” he said, grabbing your hand and shaking it back and forth a little.

“Good, because I really love you too.”

Chapter Text

Your feet made hardly any noise as you walked down the hallway towards Josh’s practice room with two plates of food in hand. He had been working hard all morning practicing and you decided to do something nice for him by making him lunch.

Much to your surprise, the only sound coming from the other side of the door was Josh talking to someone on the phone rather than the usual sound of his drums. You weren’t one to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, much less your boyfriend’s, but the bit that you heard caught your attention.

“I can’t tell Y/N that!”

Josh’s voice was muffled, but you could still clearly make out what he was saying. He sounded frustrated, although you weren’t sure why yet. It was quiet as the person he was talking to answered.

“What if I just say that I’m in love with my ex?”

It was like you could hear your heart snapping in half. Your grip on the plates loosened, but your reflexes kicked in just in time to avoid spilling food all over the hallway. The blood rushing through your ears distracted you from the rest of the conversation.

You were still standing in front of the door in shock when it swung open, revealing an equally as shocked Josh. A look of panic quickly crossed his face before he spoke.

“How long have you been there?”

You debated telling him what you had heard. Part of you wanted to break up with him first before he even had a chance to. Instead, you decided to play dumb. After all, maybe there was more to the story than what you had heard.

“Not long, I was just trying to figure out how to open the door when my hands were full,” you smiled sweetly.

You could practically see the relief in his expression, which only made you more upset.

“What’s this?” he asked, redirecting the conversation to the plates that you were holding on to.

“I made you lunch! You’ve been working hard all day so I figured you might be hungry,” you shrugged.

“That was nice,” he said. “You want to go eat in the living room?”

“Sure.”

Josh took one of the plates and followed you back into the living room. You tried to ignore the sense of dread in the pit of your stomach as you bit into your sandwich.

“How has your morning been? I feel like I’ve barely seen you,” Josh asked with a laugh.

“It’s been good,” you answered. “Just been watching TV and sending a few emails for work.”

Josh nodded and took another bite of his food. You were unsure of what to say around him now that you knew there was a clock counting down to the end of your relationship.

“Sounds like an exciting morning.”

You decided to bite the bullet and get the breakup conversation started. There was no point in making tense conversation until Josh got brave enough to do it himself.

“You feeling alright?” you asked, hoping it would prompt him to confess.

“Yeah, why do you ask?”

“I guess you’ve just seemed off lately. A bit more distant than usual.”

He shrugged and picked idly at the hem of his shirt, “I guess I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately.”

You reached out and rested a hand on his leg, trying your best to play the role of a supportive partner, “You know you can talk to me about anything.”

“I-um,” he muttered, avoiding eye contact with you. “I’m still in love with my ex, Y/N.”

Turns out that hearing it a second time didn’t make it hurt any less. You pulled your hand away from Josh’s leg.

“So what does that mean for us?” you asked, even though deep down you already knew.

“It means we’re over, Y/N.”

You bit down on your lip so hard that you winced. Not even knowing what was coming had prepared you for the sting of actually hearing the words leave his mouth. There were so many things that you wanted to say and insults you wanted to throw at him that you knew would hurt much worse than what you were currently feeling, but you couldn’t bring yourself to say it. Instead, you set your plate down and stood up.

“I’ll have Tyler come pick up my stuff later,” you muttered as you pulled your shoes on.

“Y/N, we can talk about this.”

“What is there to talk about, Josh?” He opened his mouth to say something, but quickly closed it again. His lips were pressed tightly together. “Exactly.”

You walked out the front door without another glance back.

 

It had been a few days since the breakup. You and Tyler decided that you should stay with him for awhile until you figured out where you wanted to go from here, although what you hadn’t told him is that you were holding out hope that Josh would realize his mistake and take you back.

“You alright over there?” Tyler asked, waving his hand in the general direction of where you had been looking.

“Huh? Oh, yeah,” you smiled sheepishly, pushing the daydream you had been having to the back of your mind.

Tyler went back to reading on his laptop and you took another bite of pasta. Your mind wandered back to a random memory of you and Josh together. The familiar hollow feeling returned to your chest as you thought of how happy you had been. You couldn’t help but wonder if he had felt the same.

“No,” you said, breaking the silence. “I’m not alright.”

Tyler closed his laptop and set it on the couch next to him. He turned so that he could more easily face you, “What’s going on?”

“I just don’t understand what happened,” you said, pulling the blanket a bit tighter around you. “He would tell me that he was in love with me and that I was the only one for him, but then he turns around and says he’s in love with his ex?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Y/N.”

“I mean, there’s only two options here. Either he was in love with her the whole time we were together or he fell back in love with her and I don’t know which one is better.”

“No matter what his feelings towards her were, I don’t want you to doubt for a second that he was in love with you. I wish you could hear the way that he would talk about you.”

You shook your head, “It doesn’t even matter. I obviously didn’t mean as much to him as he did to me.”

Tears were beginning to brim in your eyes so you pushed your palms deep into them, hoping to stop them. You hated to cry over something–someone–so stupid.

“Y/N,” Tyler sighed, scooting over so that he could sit next to you.

He moved the bowl away from where it was tucked in between your legs and chest and pulled you into him. You clutched onto the fabric of his shirt and clenched your jaw so tight that it hurt, anything to stop from letting out a sob.

“I really shouldn’t tell you this,” Tyler muttered.

“Tell me what?”

“He’s not in love with his ex.”

You let go of Tyler’s shirt and leaned back, eyebrows furrowed together in confusion. A hot tear made its way down your cheek, but you hastily wiped it away.

“What do you mean?”

“He lied. He’s not in love with his ex at all.”

“Then why did he break up with me?”

“I think that’s something that you need to talk to him about. Trust me, it’s not what you think.”

You nodded, although you were still unsure of what exactly what was going on, “Can you text Josh to see if he’s home?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks, Ty.”

You ran upstairs to quickly fix up your appearance while Tyler waited on a response from Josh. A million questions were making their way through your mind and it was taking a lot of concentration to not overthink all of it. Josh had lied to you about why he ended things, now you had to figure out why.

You raced back downstairs, “Any answer?”

“He’s out right now, but he said he would be back in ten.”

“Ok,” you nodded. “That gives me some time to practice what to say.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“I don’t really see any other option, Ty. I need answers or this is going to eat at me forever.”

“I wish you luck then.”

You looked down at your watch. If you left now, you would get to Josh’s right around the same time that he would.

“Thanks,” you smiled. “I’m going to need it.”

 

Josh’s car wasn’t in the driveway when you arrived at his house. You wondered if maybe you had beat him home until you realized that he was probably parking in the garage now that your car didn’t occupy the space.

You got out of the car before you had a chance to rethink what you were doing. There were too many questions that you needed answered for you to not do this. Your stomach sank as soon as you knocked on the door as all the fear came rushing back.

“Coming!” Josh called from inside the house. His expression immediately changed when his eyes landed on you. You forced a lopsided smile. “You’re not Tyler.”

“I’m not, but I would like to talk to you.”

“About what?” he asked, eyebrows furrowed.

You sighed, “I know you lied to me, Josh. You aren’t in love with your ex.”

His eyes widened in recognition. He bit down on his lip and opened the door wider as a silent invitation for you to come inside. You walked in and took a seat at the dining room table.

“How did you find out?” he asked, taking the seat across from you.

“Tyler told me this morning.”

Josh let out a long breath of air, “I should have known he was going to do that.”

“In his defense, I was in the midst of a breakdown and he was trying to make me feel a bit better.”

You pursed your lips and looked to the table, wondering why you had just openly admitted that this breakup was tearing you apart. It was evident that Josh wasn’t having the same issue.

“I’m sorry for lying to you.”

“Then why did you do it?”

“It was easier than telling you the truth.”

“And what is the truth, Josh?” He bit down on his lip again and turned so that he wasn’t looking at you anymore. “Did you cheat on me or something?”

He shook his head, “I would never do that.”

“So what is it?”

His eyes were brimmed with tears and he was still not looking at you, “I broke up with you because I’ll never be good enough for you. You deserve someone so much better than me who isn’t going to hold you back from living your dreams. And I lied because it was easier than admitting how inadequate I felt.”

“Is that really what you think, Josh? That you’re not good enough for me?”

He nodded, prompting you to get up and take a seat next to him on the other side of the table. You reached out and lightly put a hand on his shoulder, “You know that I don’t think that at all, right?”

He shrugged.

“Josh, I love you more than anything. There’s nobody else on Earth that I would rather have by my side. You make me a better person every day. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have even started chasing my dreams in the first place. You inspired me to do that, so thinking that you’re holding me back is just… it’s not true at all.”

He finally turned to look at you, “But there are so many people out there that could treat you so much better. I’m constantly working and on tour and I hate knowing that I have to leave you behind.”

“I don’t care, Josh. I’ve never cared. All that matters is that at the end of the day or the tour or whatever it is, you come back to me. Sure, there are hard nights but one look at you reminds me exactly why I do this. I love you and I don’t think that’s ever going to change whether we’re together or not.”

“I love you too. And I’m so sorry that I ever let my head get the best of me. I should have just talked to you about this rather than creating some elaborate lie and making you feel worse.”

You reached a hand up to his cheek and brushed a tear away with your thumb, “I forgive you. But while we’re getting these things out of the way, there’s something that I need to tell you.”

“What?”

You sighed, “You’re not going to like hearing this, but I overheard part of your phone conversation where you said you were in love with your ex. At least, that’s what it sounded like from what I heard. I started panicking and tuned out after that until you opened the door. I lied about not hearing anything, but I didn’t want to accidentally take anything out of context. I should have told you and I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok, we both did things that we shouldn’t have and in the future we know to just be upfront about it.”

“You’re right,” you smiled.

You pulled Josh towards you and kissed him deeply. It was like you could feel all the hurt beginning to melt away.

“So we’re ok?” Josh asked, his forehead pressed to yours.

“We’re ok,” you reassured him.

“I’m so sorry for what I did. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell you that enough.”

“You’re forgiven, Josh. Just don’t do it again.”

“I would never,” he smiled and pulled you into another kiss.

Chapter Text

You checked your phone again, hoping that maybe this time his name would be on your screen. If it was any other day, you would have brushed it off as Josh being busy and that would be that. Your day would have gone on as normal.

But this wasn’t any other day.

You had woken up to a voicemail from Josh that morning. Normally the phone call would have woken you up, but in your tired state you had left your phone in the living room the night before. This was a decision you would come to regret, even if you hadn’t done it on purpose.

The voicemail was short, maybe thirty seconds at most. It started quietly, but you could just make out the sound of what could only be Josh crying. This was followed by a whisper of, “I need you right now.” You had felt terrible the second that you head heard it, knowing that Josh had been in pain and you hadn’t been there to comfort him. Had you answered the call, you would have been over to his house in seconds.

Of course, that was what you had done immediately after the voicemail ended. You had gotten into the car without a second’s hesitation. All that was on your mind was getting to Josh and making sure that he was ok. That would be followed by a profuse apology for being an idiot and leaving your phone out of earshot.

Unfortunately for you, he didn’t answer the door. You stood outside in the cold until you could hardly stand it anymore, holding out hope that he was just being slow. It wasn’t until you could barely curl your fingers into a fist to knock again that you got back in the car and headed home again.

Hey, I got your voicemail. I’m so sorry that I didn’t hear your call last night, left my phone in the living room like an idiot. Just wanted to check in and make sure you’re ok. Text back soon, please. Love you!

That was the text that you had sent nearly three hours ago. He still hadn’t answered, and you were beginning to wonder if maybe you had done something wrong. The worry was pressing down on your chest like a weight and you knew there wouldn’t be even a bit of relief until you heard from him.

Your phone buzzed and you lunged for it, but it only turned out to be an email notification for something you had ordered. Good news, to say the least, but it wasn’t the news that you were looking for. You were trying your best not to be the overbearing partner, but calling Tyler to see if he knew anything was very tempting.

A car door slammed outside, sending you running across the house to try and get a glimpse of who it was. You should have expected it to just be another of your neighbors’ friends. If Josh wasn’t answering your texts, then he certainly wasn’t going to show up unannounced at your house.

That was the final straw. You weren’t going to spend the rest of the night jumping at any little noise in hopes that it was Josh and being worried sick about him. Knowing that he was safe was worth the risk of him being mad at your for a little while. You just hoped that Tyler would provide some reassurance.

“Please pick up,” you muttered as the phone rang.

“Hello?” he answered after a few rings.

“Ty, hey. Do you have a minute to talk?”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“Have you heard from Josh lately?”

“Last time I talked to him was last night, why?”

“I’m worried about him. He called me in the middle of the night last night and he didn’t seem like he was doing too well. Not to mention that he’s been kind of off for the last few days. I figured he would talk to me about it if it got serious, but I’m starting to think that isn’t the case.”

“Weird, he seemed fine when I talked to him. Did you try calling?”

“I went over to his house this morning but he didn’t answer. I’m honestly at a loss for what to do. What if I upset him?”

“I don’t think that’s the case at all, Y/N. I’d say just give it until the rest of the night and see if he reaches out. He probably just needs some space for now. Trust me, I’m just as worried as you are.”

“Ok, you’re right. Thanks for the advice.”

“Of course. And let me know if he calls, alright?”

“Yeah, definitely.”

“Take care of yourself.”

“Thanks, bye.”

“Later.”

You hung up the call and tossed your phone onto the coffee table. At least you knew that you weren’t the only one that Josh was currently ignoring, which was a bit reassuring. It didn’t ease the worry about how he was doing right now though. All you could do now was wait.

 

It was half past midnight and your eyelids were starting to feel heavy. You had spent most of the night watching TV to try and take your mind off of Josh, but it hardly helped. Your mind was constantly wandering back to him. There were numerous times when you almost texted him again, but you stopped yourself. He would reach out when he was ready.

You started to reach for the remote but your path quickly changed when your phone buzzed. By this point you had learned not to get your hopes up too much, but deep down you were still holding out for a text. Your tired eyes scanned the screen a couple times before you fully processed what it said.

Can I call?

You were wide awake in seconds. Adrenaline was pumping its way through your veins as you hastily typed out a response.

Yeah

Your phone started ringing seconds after the text delivered. You answered instantly, eager to hear his voice and know that he was alright.

“Y/N?”

“Josh, hi. Listen, I’m so sorry about missing your call. I’ve been so worried-”

“Can I just talk for a second?”

Your mouth slowly closed as you pressed your lips together. Was he upset with you?

“Sure.”

“Actually, forget it.”

You felt your heart sink.

“Can you just come over here instead?”

You instantly relaxed and let out a breath you hadn’t even realized you had been holding. There was no time to be wasted.

“Yeah, I’ll be over as quick as I can.”

“Do you have your key?”

“I do.”

“Alright, feel free to let yourself in. I’ll be in my room.”

“Ok. I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Josh ended the call and you continued to run around the house gathering up a few things that you needed. You were still worried, but at least you had spoken to him. Tyler would want to know, but that could wait.

Josh’s house was dark when you walked inside. Normally Jim would come running up to you and circle your legs, but he was nowhere to be seen. Each step further into the house only made you more concerned.

Just as he said, Josh was in his room. It was a mess with clothes thrown all over the floor, not to mention that it didn’t look like Josh had left his bed since the day before. He lifted his head to see you as you walked into the room.

“Hey, Y/N.”

“Josh, what’s going on?” you asked, looking around at the room. Jim ran up to you and nudged at your legs. You idly rubbed his head, but you remained focused on Josh.

“It’s been a rough weekend.”

You walked over and sat down next to him. His hair was a mess and there were bags under his eyes. He never slept well when he was distressed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” you asked, running a hand through his hair.

“I will,” he sighed. “I just wanted to start by saying I’m sorry for ignoring you. It wasn’t the right thing to do, especially after I called last night. I didn’t want to worry you but I had convinced myself that you didn’t care about me, so I never answered.”

“Hey, it’s ok,” you said, pulling him towards you so that he could rest his head on your stomach. “I know it’s hard and I feel awful for not hearing your call last night. I would have been over here in seconds and if that in any way made you feel like I don’t care, I want you to know that it wasn’t my intention at all.”

“I know.”

“I’m so sorry, Josh.”

“Don’t be. You didn’t mean to.”

You nodded and continued to play with his hair. Your job right now was to listen to Josh, not whine about your own problems.

“So do you want to talk about what’s been going on?”

Josh sighed, “Yeah.”

“Ok. I’m ready to listen”

Josh nodded against your stomach. He took a few deep breaths before he started to speak, “I guess I’ve just felt… worthless, lately. I don’t deserve the life I have and I feel like I’m just taking the place of somebody who deserves it so much more than me.”

“You know you’re one of the most talented people that I know, right? And the thing is, you don’t let any of it go to your head. You’re still one of the most compassionate and loving people I know.”

“Really?”

“Yes. You’ve worked so hard and gone through so much to get to where you are now that you one hundred percent deserve to live the life that you have right now. You mean so much to so many people.”

“Sometimes it just gets hard for me to remember that.”

“It gets hard for all of us, which is why I always try and remind you how much you mean to me.”

“I appreciate that.”

“We’re going to get through this together, love. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it.”

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

You and Josh ended up laying in his bed for the rest of the night, cuddled up together. He talked through everything that he had been feeling and you listened, occasionally interjecting with your own comment. Eventually the two of you got too tired to even keep your eyes open, so you decided to get some sleep and continue the conversation in the morning.

“Thank you for caring about me,” Josh murmured as you began to drift off to sleep.

His head was buried in the crook of your neck so that you could feel the heat of his breath on your collar bone.

“Your welcome,” you smiled, rubbing your fingers lazily along his arm. “Thank you for doing the same for me.”

“I’ll never stop.”

Josh began to snore shortly after. You pressed a kiss to his knuckles before closing your own eyes. The worry was finally gone now that Josh was here next to you, safe and fast asleep.

Chapter Text

You stared down at your beaten up shoes. Had you made the wrong choice in wearing them? Josh’s parents might think that they were gross. There were plenty of other, nicer, shoes that you could have worn. Why didn’t you pick one of them?

“Are you doing alright?” Josh asked, reaching over and grabbing your hand from your lap.

You looked over to him and nodded, hoping that it would reassure him. He glanced at you and gave your hand a light squeeze.

After six months of dating, you had finally gone home to Ohio with Josh to meet his family. Luckily for you, only his parents would be home this weekend. You weren’t so sure that you would be able to handle meeting all of his siblings at the same time too.

“They’re going to love you, I promise. My mom hasn’t been able to stop talking about you since I sent her some pictures of us.”

“T… t-hat’s good to hear,” you said, forcing your mouth into a lopsided smile.

“And you know that at the end of the day, I’m always going to have your back.”

Josh turned off the main road onto a little side street. You felt your heartbeat begin to pick up as rows of suburban houses came into view. Your grip on Josh’s hand grew tighter.

“This is it,” Josh said as he pulled up against the curb.

“It’s nice,” you said.

The house was about how you had pictured it with brick walls and brightly colored siding. A nice manicured lawn was out front and you could practically picture Josh and his siblings playing out in the yard during the summer. It matched all the childhood stories Josh had told you perfectly.

“Ready?” Josh asked, shutting off the car.

“Yeah, let’s go.”

Josh wrapped an arm around you as you walked up the pathway that led to the front door. You took deep breaths and nervously tapped your fingers against Josh’s torso. He removed his arm from around you once you reached the porch so that he could knock. You fiddled with the end of your shirt.

His mom was the one to open the door. She smiled widely once she realized that it was the two of you.

“Josh! Y/N! I’m so glad that you made it.”

Josh stepped inside so you followed suit. She pulled him into a hug and then turned to you, still holding her arms out widely. You hesitantly stepped forward and allowed yourself to be pulled into her embrace.

“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Y/N. Josh has told me so much about you. You’re even more beautiful than your pictures. I’m Laura, by the way.”

“Thank you,” you smiled. “It’s nice to finally m… nice to finally m-meet you too.”

Josh’s dad appeared around the corner. He also began smiling once he realized that you and Josh had arrived.

“I was wondering when you two were going to arrive!”

He pulled Josh into a hug but settled on giving you a handshake as he introduced himself. You tried your best to keep your arm stiff and give him a solid handshake.

“Where’s all your stuff?” Laura asked.

“Still in the car,” Josh explained. “I just wanted to let you guys know that we made it.”

“Why don’t we go carry it in?” Bill asked, clapping a hand down on Josh’s shoulder.

Josh nodded and followed his dad back out the door. You wanted to go with him, but didn’t want to appear rude.

“You two made it just in time for dinner,” Laura said, beginning to walk down the hallway. You followed after her. “Josh mentioned that you like pasta, so that’s what I made.”

A variety of foods were laid out on the kitchen counter. Laura had pulled out all the stops for tonight’s dinner, and you weren’t sure whether to be flattered or terrified.

“T… t-his looks amazing,” you smiled.

“You think so?” she grinned. “I was so worried that you wouldn’t like the food that I made.”

“Are you kidding? It smells amazing in here.”

She waved a hand at you, “Oh, stop flattering me.”

Your head turned towards the front door as you heard it swing open again. Josh and his dad were carrying your luggage through the door.

“Y/N, do you want to come upstairs with me so you know where my room is?”

“Sure,” you smiled, pushing away from the counter to walk towards Josh.

You took your bags from Bill and followed Josh’s lead in kicking your shoes off at the bottom of the stairs. It was a bit awkward to get your bags up the narrow staircase, but you eventually managed to do it without damaging anything.

“That’s Jordan’s room,” Josh explained, pointing to one of the closed doors. “Then Abigail’s, Ashley’s, and mine.”

He pushed the door open and you finally got a good look at Josh’s childhood room. There was a small drum set pushed into a corner between his bed and a wall, next to a small tv on a stand. The desk in the far corner was covered in papers and band stuff. It was just big enough for you and Josh to stand in the middle of the room with your luggage without bumping into anything.

“This is nice,” you said, walking over and taking a seat on his bed.

“Not as nice as my house back home,” he said, pushing your suitcases into the bottom of the closet.

“Yeah, well you bought that after you got super famous.”

“You’ve got me there,” he smiled. “So what do you think about my parents so far?”

“They’re really cool! Your mom was so s…s... nice to make dinner for us.”

“She loves to cook for everyone. There’s a reason that she always hosts holidays.”

“Josh! Y/N! The food is getting cold!”

“You ready?” Josh asked.

You nodded and stood up from his bed. He followed you back out into the hallway and down the stairs.

Bill and Laura were already filling their plates with food. Josh grabbed you a plate from the cabinet and the two of you followed suit. There were so many different things that you weren’t sure if you would be able to get it all onto a single plate.

Once everyone had their food, you took a seat at the dining table. Josh took the place next to you and Laura sat down across from you, giving you a smile as she did so.

“So, Y/N,” Bill started. “Josh tells us that you have been going on tour with them.”

“Yeah, I have. It’s been really fun to s… s-pend time with the boys and see Josh in his element.”

“I know what you mean,” Laura chimed in. “Watching him and Tyler perform is truly something else. I remember when they were playing tiny shows here in Ohio and now they’re playing sold out shows all over the world.”

“Mom,” Josh sighed, although you could tell that she was really proud of her son.

Laura shook her head, “He always gets embarrassed when we talk about him.”

“I know what you mean. He gets embarrassed when I t… t-alk about him too.”

This earned Josh a look from his mom, causing you to giggle.

“Why don’t you tell us more about you, Y/N?” Bill chimed in. “Josh has been talked about enough these days.”

Josh smiled and shook his head. You pushed around some of your food.

“Um, well I grew up in Y/H/N. Before I m… m-et Josh, I had gone to college and gotten a degree, but I wasn’t really interested in getting a job in that field yet.” Josh reached over and rested a hand on your leg. “I was actually working in a record shop while I was figuring out what I wanted to do, which is when I met Josh. We really hit it off and before l… l-ong I was joining them on tour and helping out with that. I don’t know what else there is to tell,” you laughed nervously.

Josh gave your leg a reassuring squeeze and smiled at you. His parents seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say, which was nice.

“Well, you seem like a great fit for Josh and I can see that you make him very happy.”

“Thank you,” you grinned.

 

The rest of the night went by faster than you had expected. The four of you sat around swapping stories--many of which involved Josh doing embarrassing things as a child--, playing card games, and eating the dessert that Laura had graciously made for you. You were laughing so hard that your stomach hurt and you were slowly beginning to feel more relaxed.

Bill and Laura finally announced that they were going to bed, so you and Josh decided to do the same. He laced his fingers with yours and practically pulled you up the steps. You were so tired that you collapsed on his bed at the first opportunity.

“Today was fun,” you smiled, burying your face into his pillow. “I like your family.”

“From the looks of it, they like you too,” Josh smiled as he hopped out of his jeans.

“Can I wear your s… wear your s-shirt to bed?” you asked.

“Of course,” he answered, stripping his shirt off and tossing it over to you.

You changed out of your clothes into Josh’s shirt. He finished pulling on his sweatpants and then walked over to flip the light off. The only light in the room was from the streetlamp out on the street.

“How are we going to do this?” you asked, looking down at the twin bed that you were sitting on. It was much different than the king bed you were used to being in when you slept over at Josh’s.

“Um.” You could just make out the shape of Josh slowly making his way across the bedroom. “I guess we’ll have to-”

He stopped speaking as he bumped into you sitting on the bed.

“Josh!” you giggled, reaching up to rub your arm. “That hurt.”

“Sorry, I thought you were already laying down.”

“No, I was waiting for you. Did you want to be by the wall or should I?”

“I’ll go by the wall.”

Josh slowly climbed past you and slid under the covers. Once he was settled, he held his arms out so that you had space to get comfortable. You crawled under the covers and snuggled up next to him.

“Thank you for coming with me to see my family,” he said, wrapping an arm around you.

“Of course. T… t-hey’re so nice. I see where you get it from now.”

Josh leaned forward and pressed a kiss to your temple. You smiled and wrapped one of your hands around his forearm, holding him close to you.

“Goodnight, Y/N.”

“Goodnight, Josh.”

 

Chapter Text

You jumped around the bedroom as you pulled your jeans up over your hips. Josh was going to be here to pick you up in less than ten minutes, and like always you had put off getting ready until the very last minute.

Once your jeans were zipped up, you skipped over to the closet and began to hastily flip through all your shirts. It was tempting to just throw on one of his comfortable hoodies, but you wanted to at least look somewhat decent. There was a lot to live up to with Josh walking next to you, after all.

You settled on a gray sweater and quickly grabbed a pair of socks before you darted into the bathroom. Your hair--by some miracle--looked halfway decent already, so you fixed up a few pieces and called it good. Five minutes later, you were happy with your appearance and rushing down the steps two at a time.

Josh knocked on the door as you were finishing lacing up your shoes. You looked over yourself in the mirror before you pulled it open.

“Hey,” he smiled. “Wow, you look amazing.”

“Thanks,” you grinned, taking a deep breath to mask how out of breath you were. “You want to come inside for a second? I just have a few more things to grab.”

“Sure,” he said, stepping inside and closing the door behind him.

Josh followed you towards the living room as you looked around for your jacket. You snuck a few glances at him while he wasn’t paying attention. He, of course, had dressed up in a nice shirt and one of his worn jackets. His hair was done perfectly, as per usual, and his stubble was shaved down to the perfect length.

“Found it!” you smiled triumphantly, emerging from your bedroom.

“Ready to go?” he asked, turning to look at you from his place on the couch.

“Yeah.”

Josh stood up and wrapped an arm around you, leading you out to the car. You giggled as he pulled open the passenger door for you and dramatically gestured for you to get in.

“Thank you,” you said as you adjusted yourself in the passenger seat.

He walked around the car, rubbing his hands together to keep them warm. You wondered why you two had decided to go out for a walk on a cold day like today, but you were just happy to spend time with him.

Josh got into the driver’s seat, smiling at you as he did so. You rubbed your hands along your legs, half from the nerves and half from the cold.

“Ready?” he said, looking to you as he started the engine.

You reached over and took hold of his right hand, lacing his fingers with yours. His fingers were freezing, but you didn’t mind.

“Ready.”

 

A light layer of snow covered the path that you and Josh were walking along. Your feet made crunching sounds as you wandered between the trees, hand in hand.

“You’re really beautiful, did you know that?” Josh said, squeezing your hand a bit tighter.

“Thanks,” you mumbled, turning to look at him. You didn’t even care if he noticed that your cheeks were bright red.

“I love when you blush,” he laughed.

You felt your entire body tense at the mention of love. Josh had already told you that he was in love with you, but you had yet to do the same. He had been understanding when you told him why you didn’t want to say it yet, but you could tell that it hurt him.

You wanted to tell him. If you could, you would sit him down and tell him every little detail about why you loved him: his laugh, the way his eyes sparkled when he was talking about music, the freckles on his face. They were all pieces of a whole that you were hopelessly in love with, and that terrified you.

Your jaw clenched as the memories came back. You tried to push them away, but every time they just returned to the front of your mind. Josh quickly took notice of what was going on and stopped walking.

“What’s going on?” he asked, turning you so that you were facing one another.

“Nothing,” you shook your head. “It’s fine.”

“Hey now,” he said, unlacing his fingers from yours so that he could put his hands on your arms. “I’ve seen your jaw clench like that before and I can assure you that whatever you’re thinking about isn’t nothing.”

You avoided eye contact and looked down at the ground. Josh had seen you at your worst, but you still found yourself hesitating when it came to talking about your past. There had been countless times where you thought you could trust someone, only for them to turn on you when you least expected it. You were reluctant to give Josh the same power.

“It’s just… that word,” you sighed.

“What? Blush?” he said. “I mean, I get some people have weird things about certain words but-,” he began to ramble.

“No, Josh,” you smiled, reaching up and placing a hand on the side of his face. His brown eyes stopped moving and locked to yours. “The other one.”

His eyebrows furrowed for a moment before they relaxed again in recognition, “I’m sorry, Y/N. I forgot.”

“No, no,” you said, rubbing your thumb lightly against his cheek. He smiled at the gesture. “It’s ok. It was an honest mistake and besides, I’m kinda weird when it comes to rules.”

He reached up and grabbed your hand, once again lacing his fingers with yours, “You’re not weird at all. A little complicated, maybe, but not weird. Besides, most people haven’t had to go through even half of what you have.”

You smiled, “Thank you for being so understanding.”

“Of course,” he said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Anything for you.”

You pulled him towards you so that you could kiss him. Never in your life had you been with someone as understanding as Josh. He took the time to learn all the things that you were uncomfortable with and did his best to make sure that he didn’t upset you. You knew that you weren’t always the easiest to deal with, but Josh never made it feel like an issue.

Josh pulled away from the kiss and smiled at you, “Are you ok?”

You nodded, “I am now.”

“What do you say we finish up this walk, grab some food, and head back to your place to relax?”

“I would like that.”

 

You and Josh were laying on your backs, staring up at the ceiling. The fireplace was roaring--thanks to Josh--keeping your feet warm. Fast food wrappers were littered around the two of you, a result of going a bit overboard with ordering.

You hadn’t been able to get the word love out of your mind since Josh had said it earlier that day. Anytime that you weren’t immediately distracted by something else, your mind returned to the idea. Every part of you wanted to tell him that you were in love with him, but every time you went to get the words out you hesitated.

Josh shifted closer to you, distracting you for a moment. He smiled as he reached over and laid his hand on top of yours. You returned his smile and turned back to looking at the ceiling.

You wondered why you were so scared of telling him how you felt. He had already told you that he was in love with you, so it wasn’t like there was the fear of not knowing if he felt the same. Maybe it was because being in love was so vulnerable: a position that you never wanted to be in again. After all, Josh wasn’t the first boy that you had thought you were in love with and look how that had turned out.

“What are you thinking about, Y/N?” Josh asked, breaking the silence.

He was rubbing circles on the back of your hand, occasionally running his hand along your forearm.

“You,” you answered honestly.

He sat up so that he was now resting on his elbows. One of his eyebrows was raised as he looked down at you.

“Me?”

You sat up so that the two of you were at an equal height, “Yeah.”

“What about me were you thinking about?”

You shrugged, “Just a lot of things, I guess.”

He smiled, reaching over so that he could nudge you a bit, “Like?”

You chewed nervously on your lip and avoided eye contact with him, “Just stuff.”

Josh’s eyebrows immediately furrowed in concern. He fully sat up now and scooted closer to you so that he could rest a hand on your leg.

“Did I do something wrong? You’re making me nervous, Y/N.”

You shook your head. You wanted to tell him that it wasn’t that at all and let him know that everything was alright, but your throat felt like it had closed up entirely.

“Y/N?”

“Give me a second,” you finally managed to mutter.

You sat up and turned to face Josh, scooting even closer to him. Your legs were a tangled mess of black denim. He reached out and took hold of both of your hands, eyebrows still knit tightly together in confusion.

It was only eight letters. Why were you having such a hard time saying it?

You reached out and traced a hand along Josh’s jaw. His stubble was rough on your fingertips, but you didn’t mind. You had always preferred him with a bit of scruff. A smile tugged at the corner of his lip.

“There’s something that I want to tell you,” you said, still not meeting his eyes.

He nodded quickly, obviously eager to hear what you had to say. You bit down on your lip again as you looked up to meet his eyes.

“I love you.”

You watched as Josh visibly relaxed, a smile slowly spreading across his face. For a second, you swore that he was starting to tear up.

“Can you say that again?”

“I love you,” you smiled.

Josh reached out and put his hands on either side of your face, causing you to giggle.

“I love you too,” he grinned.

You had never seen Josh look so happy before. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of your chest now that he knew how you felt. Sure, anxiety still hovered at the back of your mind, but seeing Josh’s reaction was more than enough to fight past it.

“I love you,” you repeated again. “So much and I’m so sorry that it took me so long to tell you.”

Josh shook his head, “Don’t be sorry. You needed to take your time and I was more than ok with that. Hearing it just means that much more to me now.”

You smiled and pulled him into a hug. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, you found a new way to fall in love with him. Life wouldn’t be the same without him in your life.

He pulled you into a quick kiss when you finally let go of him. You couldn’t help but smile again when you saw that he was still beaming.

“The most amazing person in the world is in love with me,” he said. “I can hardly believe it.”

“Believe it,” you said, reaching up to brush a strand of his hair back from his forehead.

“I love you,” he said.

You smiled. Hearing that was never going to get old.

“I love you too.”

 

Chapter Text

You grabbed the box of tea from the top shelf and ripped open one of the little packets. The water began to swirl with shades of brown as the tea bag hit it. Normally the smell would be pleasant and welcoming, but your congested nose hadn’t really allowed for smelling things lately.

You leaned against the counter as you waited for the tea to steep. Your head felt like it was pulsating, but it had been such a constant over the last few days that you hardly seemed to notice. It was beginning to feel like this sickness was never going to go away, and it was starting to drive you crazy. You had already had to cancel on Josh a few times because you barely felt like getting out of bed.

Your phone began to ring loudly in the living room, only adding to the pounding in your head. With your tea in hand, you slowly shuffled towards the couch to see who it was. Josh’s contact picture was half poking out from under a blanket. You shoved it aside and grabbed your phone, hitting the green call button as you did so.

“Hello?” you said, followed by a little sniffle.

“Y/N!” Josh said cheerily. “How are you doing?”

“Great,” you answered sarcastically.

“Oh, still sick?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I was wondering if you wanted me to come over and keep you company? I haven’t been able to see you in a few days and I want to make sure that we get a chance to relax together before we leave for tour.”

You sighed, “I don’t know, Josh. I really don’t want to get you sick right before tour. Don’t you think it would be better if you stayed home?”

“No, I don’t think that would be better.”

The hurt was evident in his voice. You chewed on the edge of your lip as you tried to think of something to say.

“Come on, Josh. I’m just going to complain the whole time and it’s not going to be any fun for you. Do you really want to deal with that?”

“You know that’s not what this is about.”

“Then why don’t you tell me what this is about since you seem to have such a good idea?”

“You’re scared of me seeing you when you’re not at your best. I just want to take care of you and make sure you aren’t dealing with this alone.”

You should have known Josh would know exactly what was running through your head.

“I’m fine. Really.”

“Are you really telling me that you don’t want me to bring you a nice, hot drink and some lunch? Then we can just watch TV and cuddle on the couch and if something comes up, I’ll be there to help you handle it,”

“I already made some tea,” you said quietly.

“Y/N…”

“Ok, you can come over. But you can’t be mad at me if you get sick!”

“I would never. See you in a few?”

“Drive safe.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

You sighed and tossed your phone back down onto the couch. It would still be awhile before Josh got to your apartment, so you decided to at least make an attempt at not looking like you had just rolled out of bed.

“It’s unlocked!” you called from your position on the couch.

The door creaked a bit as it swung open, and a few moments later Jim came running into the room. He jumped up onto the couch and began to lick at your face, but you threw up an arm just in time to avoid getting slobber all over your face. Josh walked into the room shortly after, carrying a bag of food and a warm drink just like he had promised.

“I hope you don’t mind that I brought Jim along. I figured I would be over here for awhile and cuddling with him always helps cheer me up.”

“I don’t mind at all,” you grinned as you scratched at Jim’s ears. “What did you bring for me?”

“Your favorite soup and a latte.”

“You’re too kind.”

You slowly pushed yourself up to a sitting position, giving Josh room to sit at the end of the couch and making it easier for you to eat. Jim immediately curled up in Josh’s lap.

“Is it still warm?” Josh asked.

You nodded as you scooped up another spoonful of soup, “It’s perfect.”

“Great. Traffic was kind of bad on the way over so I was afraid it would get too cold.”

“Not at all. Thank you for bringing me all of this, by the way. I haven’t felt good enough to go grocery shopping, so I’m running out of food options,” you laughed.

Josh reached out and lightly rubbed the side of your leg, “It was no problem, I just want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself.”

“Well, I appreciate it.”

Josh told you about all the things that he had been doing over the last few days while you ate the rest of your soup. You were happy to just listen to him talk; it was easier than trying to think with the pounding headache that was still bothering you. It helped that he always managed to be interesting when he spoke, no matter what he was talking about.

When you finally finished your food, Josh cleaned everything up so that you wouldn’t have to get up from the couch. You began to look through Netflix, searching for a movie or TV show that you and Josh had yet to watch together.

“I brought you a cold washcloth,” Josh announced as he walked back into the room. “For your forehead.”

You rotated a little bit so that you could see him, “You did?”

“Yeah.”

“Come get snuggled up with me and then I’ll put it on my forehead.”

You sat up so that Josh would be able to position himself under you. The movement made your head hurt, but you knew it would quickly go away again once you stopped moving so much. Once Josh had made himself comfortable, you laid back down on his chest. Jim came over and wedged himself between you and the couch.

“Here,” Josh said, carefully placing the washcloth on your forehead. “How is that?”

“Perfect,” you smiled.

Josh grabbed the remote and pressed play on the movie you had picked, taking extra care to keep the volume low so that your headache wouldn’t hurt worse. You adjusted your head a little bit so that you no longer had to crane your neck while you were laying on Josh’s chest. Unfortunately, this caused the washcloth to slip down your head and onto Josh’s chest.

“Damn,” you muttered quietly as you picked it back up and placed it on your forehead.

The washcloth stayed in place for about a minute or so until it started slipping again. You sighed in exasperation as you repeated the same pattern of picking it up and placing it on your forehead.

“Hey, I’ve got it,” Josh said as he held the washcloth to your forehead.

“Are you sure?” you asked. “I can adjust if I need to.”

“No, it’s ok. I want you to be comfortable.”

“Thanks.”

Josh pressed a gentle kiss to the top of your head and wrapped his arm a little tighter around you. Jim moved so that his head was now resting across your lower back.

“As much as I hate to admit it, it is a lot better to have you here,” you said.

“One of these days, you’ll learn that I actually have good ideas sometimes.”

“You wore a bucket hat in a music video,” you giggled.

“And I looked great.”

“You did, but it was still a questionable decision.”

“Maybe, but spending time with you is never a questionable decision.”

You and Josh spent the rest of the night curled up together on the couch. There were multiple times that you fell asleep in the middle of a movie, but whenever you woke up Josh was still holding on tightly to you. Jim even managed to still be curled up with you in some way, no matter where on the couch he ended up. The only times that the two of them left your side was when you needed Josh to get you something and Jim decided to follow and investigate.

“You should get in bed soon,” Josh said as he ran a hand along your hair. “You need the rest.”

“Will you stay over here tonight?” you mumbled. “Just in case I need you.”

Josh smiled and gave you a gentle kiss, “Gladly.”

Chapter Text

“Do we have to?” you sighed, staring down at your shoes.

“It’s Valentine’s Day, don’t you want to go out and do something nice together?”

“I like spending time with you, but aren’t you going to miss our tradition of sitting at home and watching action movies? We can just go out for our anniversary tomorrow.”

Josh walked over and grabbed your hands, slowly pulling you up so that you were standing.

“Too bad the reservations I made are for tonight.”

You laced your fingers with Josh’s and stuck out your bottom lip, “Reservations can be cancelled.”

Josh reached up and placed a hand under your chin, tilting your head up just a bit to look at him, “We’re going out to dinner.”

He placed a kiss on your lips. It was like he knew exactly how to get you to do what he wanted.

“Fine, but can we at least watch a movie once we get back?”

“I think I could be talked into that.”

“I like this shirt,” you said, resting a hand on his chest. “It’s nice to see you dressed up.”

“I could say the same about you. I don’t get to see you out of my sweatshirts that often.”

“It’s your lucky day then, isn’t it?”

“Every day is my lucky day when I’m with you.”

You scrunched up your nose, “Ok, this is getting too cheesy for me.”

Josh laughed and pressed another kiss to your cheek.

“We need to get going, anyway. Otherwise we’ll miss our reservation.”

“Oh no!” you said sarcastically. “What would we ever do instead?”

Josh sighed and wrapped an arm around your waist. You quickly leaned over and grabbed your coat from where it was thrown over the back of the couch.

“Ready?” Josh asked.

“Ready.”

 

“This is where I was meant to be,” you grinned as you returned from the kitchen with ice cream in your hand.

Josh was sitting on the couch, still wearing his button down shirt and jeans. You had been quick to change into his clothes as soon as you two had returned home from dinner.

“That was fast,” Josh laughed as you ripped the plastic off the little tub.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment all night.”

Josh’s expression faltered for a moment, but you brushed it off as nothing.

“I’m going to go get changed.”

You watched Josh walk out of the room, admiring him as he went. Once he had disappeared into his room, you redirected your attention back to your ice cream.

“What movie do you want to watch?” you asked as Josh sat back down on the couch.

He had changed into a loose t-shirt and basketball shorts, an outfit that he never failed to look amazing in. As soon as he had made himself comfortable, you scooted over and snuggled up as close to him as you could muster with your ice cream.

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” he laughed, wrapping an arm around you.

“Infinity War? There’s nothing like having your soul crushed on Valentine’s Day.”

“Sure, if that’s what you want.”

You set your ice cream down on the table and turned to face him, “Are you feeling alright?”

He shrugged, “Yeah.”

“Come on, Josh, we’ve known each other for almost five years. I know something’s going on.”

You reached up and ran a hand along his cheek. It made him smile every time you did it.

“No, it’s fine. I don’t want to make things weird.”

You pulled your hand away, “Why would it make it weird?”

“Well, I-,” he sighed. “Did you enjoy dinner?”

“Dinner? Of course I did. The food was good and I got to spend time with you and just enjoy your company.”

“Are you sure? I feel like I just dragged you out of the house when you didn’t want to go. It kind of feels like I did this really nice thing and you didn’t really care.”

You changed how you were sitting so that you could face Josh a little bit better, “Oh, Josh, I’m so sorry. I never meant to make you feel like that. I know I made a fuss about going out, but I had a really good time. I got to see you all dressed up and we had a chance to just talk about whatever we wanted without any interruptions. I couldn’t have asked for a better Valentine’s Day.”

Josh seemed relieved by your answer, “That’s good to hear.”

“I will always be thankful for all the stuff you do for me.”

Josh tightened his grip so that he could hug you. You felt bad that you had ever made him doubt his Valentine’s Day plans, but you were glad that it hadn’t caused a huge argument.

“Do you want any?” you asked as you grabbed your ice cream from the table once again.

Josh shook his head a little and laughed, “Sure.”

You got up and grabbed another spoon from the kitchen so that you and Josh could share. He was quick to pull you close to him as soon as you took a seat back on the couch.

“Hey,” you giggled as he pulled you into his side. “I don’t want to accidentally get ice cream on you.”

“Wouldn’t be the worst thing you’ve spilled on me.”

“That was one time!” you whined. “I was just trying to bring you a nice smoothie while you were practicing. How was I supposed to know that you were going to be coming around the corner at the same time?”

“It’s ok, it’s a good memory.” Josh pressed a kiss to your forehead.

“Is there chocolate on my forehead now?”

Josh rubbed at a spot on your forehead and smiled, “Not anymore.”

“Good. Now why don’t we start the movie?”

Josh grabbed the now empty ice cream tub and carried it back into the kitchen. While he was off the couch, you took advantage of the space to lay down and make yourself comfortable.

“What are you doing there?” he asked.

You turned to look over your shoulder, trying your best to look as innocent as possible. Josh was looking at you with one eyebrow raised and the slightest hint of a smile on his face.

“Laying here,” you grinned.

“Are you going to leave space for me?”

“I would never.”

“Fine,” Josh shrugged.

You watched as he walked around the couch and sat on your legs. After a moment of contemplation, he laid on you completely and wrapped his arms around you.

“Comfortable?” you laughed. Josh nodded against your chest. “Good, I’m glad.”

“I like being close to you,” he mumbled.

You rubbed a hand long his back, “I like being close to you too.”

“I’m kinda glad that I told you how I felt a year ago.”

“Yeah,” you laughed. “I’m kinda glad you did too.”

Josh adjusted himself so that he could look at you from where he was laying. You remembered a day a month ago or so when you had told him you would never get tired of looking at his eyes. That was still true.

“And um,” Josh averted his gaze for a moment before locking eyes with you again. “I just wanted to tell you that… I love you.”

You were so taken aback that the only thing you could think to do was pull him into a kiss. He rested a hand on the side of your face and pulled you deeper into the kiss. There were too many emotions floating around your head for you to be able to think straight.

“I love you too,” you said once you finally pulled away.

“Was it too cliche for me to tell you on Valentine’s Day?” he smiled.

You grabbed your phone to check the time. The clock read 12:00 on February 15th.

“How do you keep doing this?”

“Magic, I guess,” he laughed.

“Happy one year,” you said as you brushed his hair back from his forehead.

“Happy one year.”

He laid back down on your chest and you wrapped your arms around him once again.

“I love you.”

“I love you too, even if you’re a dork sometimes.”

You sighed, “I can accept that.”

Chapter Text

You pulled your sweatshirt hood up over your head as you slowly made your way downstairs. The sun was just barely beginning to come up over the hill, throwing spots of orange across the wooden floors of your kitchen. It was quiet, and you were happy.

The coffee machine hummed as it brewed your morning drink. Small puffs of steam rose from the mug, curling slowly into the air. You leaned against the counter and watched cars move along the distant freeway as you waited for the coffee to finish brewing.

With your fresh mug of coffee in hand, you headed back upstairs to the bedroom. Before you crawled back under the warm covers, you opened the window just enough that you could watch the sunrise without making the room too bright that it would wake Josh up. The two of you had a flight later that afternoon and he would need all the rest he could get.

Upon noticing that you were awake, Jim trotted over to the bed and stared up at you. You knew that you wouldn’t be able to resist his puppy dog eyes, so you moved your legs and gently tapped the empty space next to you on the bed. He happily jumped up and rested himself across your legs.

You loved mornings like this, when you could just stay in bed and enjoy the sunrise with a warm cup of coffee in your hands and the love of your life next to you in bed. It made you forget about all the stress and responsibilities that you otherwise had to deal with on a day to day basis.

“Y/N?” Josh whispered. His voice was hoarse from sleep. “What are you doing up?”

“Enjoying the sunrise.”

You turned to look at Josh. His eyes were still glassy from sleeping, but they were shining in the morning light. Your eyes followed his tattoos as he reached his arms up to stretch them out a bit, admiring the way the colors moved as his muscles did.

“Without me?” he laughed once he finished his stretch.

You reached over and brushed some hair away from his face. His hair was curlier than you were used to since he hadn’t dyed it in some time and you had quickly grown to love his natural color.

“Just because I didn’t want to wake you.”

By this point, Jim had noticed that Josh was awake and made sure to give him his morning kisses. Josh laughed and pulled Jim into his chest so that he could rub his belly.

“There’s coffee downstairs, if you want some.”

“Later,” Josh answered. “I’m too comfy to get up.”

“I can grab you some.”

“No, it’s ok. I want you to stay here.”

You smiled and took another sip of your coffee.

“What time is it, anyway?”

“Just before six.”

“Early,” he mumbled.

“You can go back to sleep.”

“But then I miss out on time with you.”

You shook your head, “We’re going to spend all day together.”

Josh moved closer to you so that he could wrap his arms around your waist and bury his face in your neck, “Starting now.”

You moved your free arm so that you could trace patterns onto his bare back. He hummed in contentment as you slowly ran your fingers along his spine and around his tattoos. Jim, not wanting to be left out, wedged himself in the free space between you and Josh.

“What a clingy dog,” you laughed.

“And husband,” Josh chimed in.

“You know, there are worse things in life than people who love you.”

“Agreed.”

You and Josh sat quietly while you slowly finished your mug of coffee. He slipped in and out of sleep, occasionally beginning to snore quietly against your shoulder. There was something oddly comforting about feeling his rhythmic breathing against your skin.

Once your mug was empty and the orange colors were beginning to fade from the sky, you slid down the bed so that you were fully laying down again. Josh noticed the movement and adjusted so that you now had an opportunity to lay on him.

“You’re oddly warm,” you laughed as you laid down on his chest.

“I’m under three blankets and I’ve had two heaters right next to me for the last half an hour.”

“Yeah, I suppose that does help.”

Josh played with your hair as you laid on his chest, enjoying his company. His hands were rough with callouses from countless hours of drumming, but you didn’t mind.

“I don’t want to leave,” he mumbled,

“We don’t have to get up for a couple of hours, love.”

“No, I mean the house. Don’t get me wrong, I love touring, but I’m going to miss these days with you. We can’t have mornings like this on the road.”

You rolled onto your stomach so that you could look Josh in the eyes, “It’s only a few months and then before you know it, we’re back home again.”

“Can I say something cheesy?” his mouth curled up into a grin.

You sighed, “What?”

“I know I said I would miss being here, at the house, but I’m home whenever you’re next to me.”

“Wow, that was cheesy,” you giggled.

Josh reached out and rested a hand on the side of your face, pulling you towards him. He gently placed his lips on yours, kissing you slowly. You practically melted into his hand, letting out a soft whimper when he finally pulled away.

“Good thing you love cheesy.”

“You’ve got me there.”

He pressed another quick kiss to your lips before laying back down. You sighed and rested your chin on his chest, just so that you could continue to admire him. He noticed you staring and smiled.

“Enjoying the view?”

“That obvious?”

“I haven’t seen you look at anything else for a solid minute,” he said, tucking some hair behind your ear.

“What can I say? You’re nice to look at.”

“You are too.”

“Dorky,” you giggled.

“You said it first!”

“Maybe I did.”

The two of you were interrupted by Jim making his way onto Josh’s chest and pushing you out of the way. You giggled as you tried to reclaim your spot next to Josh, but Jim wasn’t so willing to share.

“Maybe that’s a sign that we should get out of bed,” you said, starting to move towards the edge of the bed.

“No,” Josh said, catching your arm before you got too far. “It’s not even seven yet.”

“We do have a flight today, you know?”

“Yes, but I don’t think another hour or two in bed will kill us.”

“Ok.”

Josh moved Jim out of the way, allowing you to cuddle up with him again. He held you close to him and pressed a kiss to the top of your head. The room was slowly growing brighter with sunlight and the world was beginning to wake up, but you still felt completely at peace in bed with Josh. All of your worries were still far from at the forefront of your mind.

“I love you, Josh,” you mumbled into his chest.

You listened as his heartbeat picked up a little at your statement, despite the numerous times that he had heard the very same statement from you. He moved a hand to your lower back and began to draw little circles.

“I love you too, Y/N.”

Chapter Text

Josh frowned as he screwed up his solo in Lane Boy yet again. No matter how hard he tried, the rhythm just never quite came out the way that he wanted it to. His mind was focused on other things today, it seemed.

“Are you feeling alright today, dude?” Tyler asked before taking a sip of water.

“Yeah, I’m ok. I just can’t seem to get Y/N off my mind.”

“Is everything ok between you two?”

“Oh yeah, better than ever. I, uh, I actually think I’m going to propose.”

Tyler’s eyes went wide and he immediately set down his water bottle so that he could pull Josh into a hug.

“That’s awesome! Do you have a plan yet?”

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Josh laughed. “I only decided to do it last night.”

“Well, you must have some ideas?”

“I was thinking maybe at a show or something. You know, since we met at one of the first shows that we played in Columbus. I thought it might be kind of cool to come full circle.”

Tyler reached up and ran a hand through his hair. After a moment, he began to nod slowly.

“I think we could make that work. What if you did it right after Trees? When all the confetti is still falling from the ceiling?”

“Tyler, you’re a genius!” Josh grinned. “That’s perfect.”

He shrugged, “I have good ideas sometimes.”

Josh walked over and took a seat behind his drums. Proposing to Y/N was still on his mind, but he was relieved that Tyler knew about his plans and would be able to help him. It was hard for him not to smile as he thought about spending the rest of his life with his favorite person.

“There’s so much to do,” he sighed as he picked up his drumsticks.

“Don’t worry,” Tyler smiled at him. “We’re going to get this figured it out and make sure it’s perfect.”

 

You watched as Josh squinted and leaned closer to his computer. After a moment of staring, he leaned back against the couch cushions with a small shake of his head. This same pattern had been continuing for the last twenty minutes, but any time you asked what was going on he brushed it aside,

“You alright, Josh?” you asked. You wiggled your foot a little so that it would tap against his leg.

He looked up at you, his eyes widening a little in shock, “Yeah, I’m ok.”

“Are you still looking at the same stuff?”

“Yeah.”

“And what is that again?”

His mouth curled up into a small smile, “Nice try.”

“Come on, Josh. I’m just curious what you’re scrutinizing so carefully.”

“I’m just looking at drums and seeing if there’s anything new that I want to add to my kit. It’s nothing you’d be interested in.”

“Sure it is,” you said, starting to scoot closer to him. “I love hearing you talk about drumming.”

He pulled his laptop a little closer to him, “It’s for my tour drums. I would show you, but I want you to be surprised along with everyone else.”

“Fine,” you sighed as you scooted back away from him. “But will you at least come cuddle with me soon? I miss you when you’re on the other side of the couch.”

This made Josh laugh a little, “Gladly.”

He scrolled through a few more pages, bookmarking a few along the way, before he closed his laptop and snuggled up next to you.

The rings that he had been looking at still sat in the back of his mind as he watched TV with you. He wanted to make sure it was perfect, considering you would be wearing it for the rest of your life. At least, he hoped that would be the case.

“Are you alright?” you asked, turning to look at him.

He smiled at you before placing a gentle kiss on your cheek, “Better than ever.”

 

“Do you think Y/N will like it?” Josh asked as he twirled the ring between his fingers.

“You’re the one who’s supposed to know,” Tyler laughed, “But I think you picked a good one.”

“Do you mean the ring or Y/N?”

“Both.”

Josh smiled and nodded before passing the ring back off to the jeweler to get wrapped up in its little box. His mind was already racing with worries about proposing, despite the fact that the show was still a couple weeks away. Figuring out where to hide the ring from Y/N was a much more prevalent issue.

“I talked to Brad last night and told him what was going on. He said he would be sure to be there to get pictures of the proposal,” Tyler said.

“And what about Mark?”

“We can talk to him at rehearsals tomorrow.”

Josh nodded, “Ok. That’s good.”

Tyler reached over and gave Josh a couple pats on the back, “It’s going to be ok, man. This is all going to work out.”

“I hope so,” Josh tried his best to muster a smile.

The jeweler returned with the ring, which was now nestled inside a small velvet box. Josh slowly opened it to really get a feel of what it would be like for Y/N when he proposed. The ring somehow looked even better surrounded by the red satin.

“Yeah, this is it,” he said as his worries began to melt away.

Josh handed over his credit card and turned to Tyler with a huge smile on his face.

“I can’t wait to see the look on Y/N’s face,” Tyler said.

“You and me both.”

“Alright, you’re all set,” the jeweler smiled as he handed Josh’s card back to him.

“Thank you so much.”

“Have a nice day.”

Josh slipped the box into his pocket so that it wouldn’t be visible to anyone they might bump into on the way back to the car. The last thing he wanted was a clique member accidentally letting the secret out before the hometown show.

 

“How was rehearsal?” you asked as Josh shut the front door behind him.

“Really good,” he smiled. “I think this tour is going to be the best one yet.”

He walked over to where you were sitting on the couch and gave you a quick kiss.

“I’m glad to hear that. Also, I just finished making dinner so feel free to grab some and join me on the couch.”

“I’m going to put some stuff away and then I’ll do just that.”

You hit play on the TV show you were watching and waited for Josh to get done putting things away. With tour just around the corner, you and Josh tried to take as much time as you could to just relax together and enjoy one another’s company. Alone time was hard to come by on the road.

“How was your day here?” Josh asked as he took a seat on the couch.

“Pretty uneventful,” you shrugged. “I just worked on packing stuff up for tour and making all the necessary preparations.”

“Sounds exciting,” he laughed.

“Hey, not all of us get to be in the band.”

He rolled his eyes but a quiet laugh still escaped his lips. You grabbed the TV remote and paused the show that had been playing so that you would better be able to hear Josh.

“Remember the shows you were playing when we first met?” you smiled. “Kinda crazy to think about where you were then versus where you are now.”

“And you’ve been there for me every step of the way.”

“Four years,” you let out a wistful sigh. “Easily the best four years of my life.”

“I’m so happy that you get to go on tour with us now. It was hard being away from you for weeks at a time.”

“It was what had to be done at the time, but hey, look where we are now.”

It was hard not to smile as you thought of how far you and Josh had come. When you first met, you were both still kids who were trying to figure out where you were going in life. Now, Josh’s career was going better than ever and the two of you got to travel the world together.

“I love you, Josh.”

He smiled, “I love you too.”

 

“Where is the ring?” Josh asked as he frantically patted down every item of clothing in the room.

“You lost it?” Tyler asked.

“Not intentionally!” Josh snapped.

“Alright, dude, take a deep breath. Where do you last remember having it?”

“I know for a fact that it was in the pocket of my jacket when we left the house. Then I got here, took my jacket off, and now I can’t find the ring.”

Tyler walked over to the other side of the room where the jacket was slung over the back of the chair. He grabbed it and began to feel around in the pockets.

“Is this it?” Tyler asked, holding up a little velvet box.

“Yes,” Josh sighed, snatching it out of Tyler’s hands. “Where was it?”

“In your jacket pocket.”

“What? I swear I checked in there already.”

“You probably missed it because you’re so panicked. We have this all planned out, Josh. It’s going to be fine.”

He nodded, “You’re right. There’s just so many things that could go wrong.”

“They won’t.”

“Where’s Y/N? I want to make sure she doesn’t accidentally see the box in my pocket.”

“Brad is keeping her distracted right now. You probably won’t see her until the actual proposal.”

Josh immediately tensed up at the thought of proposing. Being on stage drumming in front of thousands of people was already daunting enough, but now he had to put his heart on the line too? He was beginning to wonder why he had thought this was a good idea in the first place.

“Actual proposal,” he repeated. “Right.”

Tyler smiled and shook his head a little, “Y/N is going to say yes. You two are more in love than any couple I’ve ever seen before.”

“That’s as long as I actually work up the courage to propose,” Josh laughed nervously.

One of the tour crew members popped her head into the room. She seemed relieved to see both of the boys in Josh’s dressing room, although her eyebrows furrowed for a moment when she spotted the box in Josh’s hand.

“Five minutes,” she said before quickly disappearing again.

Josh and Tyler turned to one another. Tyler nodded and threw an arm around Josh’s shoulder, leading him out of the room.

“Let’s get out there and do what we do best.”

 

You watched as the boys headed back towards the stage after finishing the last part of Trees. Confetti was just beginning to fall from the ceiling, casting a reddish light over the room. Normally you would be out in the crowd, enjoying the moment with the rest of the fans, but tonight Mark had insisted he got a shot of you watching from the side of the stage.

Tyler and Josh took their place at the front of the stage, their arms wrapped around one another. You waited for Tyler to say the final bit of speech that he always did at the end of the show, but instead he said something much different.

“Y/N,” he said, turning to look towards where you were standing. “Can you come join us on stage for a moment?”

You turned to Mark, as if to confirm that this was supposed to happen. He gave you a little thumbs up, so you took a deep breath and walked out on stage. Cheers immediately erupted as you became visible to the thousands of people crowded into the arena. You gave a small wave towards them; being on stage wasn’t really something that you were used to.

“What’s going on?” you mouthed towards the two of them.

Just as you were about to reach the two of them, Josh reached into his pocket and dropped to one knee. You stopped dead in your tracks and tried not to start crying. The crowd had started cheering so loud that you autonomously brought a hand towards your ear to deafen the noise a bit.

“Will you marry me?” Josh asked.

You could barely hear him over the noise, but you nodded furiously. His smile grew even bigger as he pulled the ring out of the box and slipped it onto your finger. Once he had stood back up, you flung yourself at him and wrapped your arms around him. Confetti was still floating down around you, landing on your arms and head.

Knowing that the two of them still had to finish the show, you gave him a quick kiss and ran back offstage. You watched with pride as they took a final bow and came running offstage towards you.

“Did that really just happen?” you asked once Tyler’s mic had been turned off.

“Yes,” Josh smiled, walking over and resting his hands on your arms.

“We’re going to get married.”

“We’re going to get married.”

You wiped a tear away before throwing your arms around him again. The two of you had already experienced so much together, and now you had the rest of your lives to do so much more together.

“I love you so much, Josh. That was perfect.”

“I told you,” Tyler chimed in.

You were too busy having your face buried in Josh’s shoulder to see the look that he had undoubtedly given Tyler.

“I love you too, Y/N.”

“Alright, lovebirds. Let’s get our stuff and get out of here.”

You let go of Josh, but he kept an arm wrapped around you as you walked back towards his dressing room. It was hard not to admire the ring that now had a permanent place on your finger. Getting to spend your life with Josh was like a dream come true.

You wouldn’t change it for the world.

Chapter Text

“Y/N!” Tyler called from the living room.

You rolled over in bed, groaning to yourself. The clock on the bedside table read 11:30. That was to be expected, you had gone out again last night and stayed out way later than you should have.

“What?” you called back.

“Get up! People are going to be here in like half an hour.”

“Fine, but I’m not happy about it!” you answered.

You got out bed and headed towards the bathroom. The smell of alcohol was still highly evident on your shirt, a result of forgetting to change into a proper pajama shirt when you finally stumbled home. It fell to the floor in an unceremonious heap as you stripped it off and tossed it into the corner of the bathroom.

You wondered who was coming over. Tyler hadn’t mentioned having company, which he was usually pretty good about considering you were roommates. That meant that the plans had been last minute, most likely meaning that it was Josh who was coming over.

Josh .

Whenever you two were together, you always seemed to be pushing one another’s buttons. It had been like that ever since Tyler had introduced the two of you a couple years ago. Things between you had been normal at first, until the one fateful day that you learned just how fun it was to see Josh mildly annoyed. Your relationship hadn’t been the same ever since.

You pushed the thought from your mind and instead directed your attention to getting ready for the day. One glance in the mirror told you that you looked just about as bad as you currently felt. A shower would help you feel--and look--a little better, you hoped.

“Who’s coming over today?” you asked as you arrived downstairs.

Tyler was in the kitchen, making himself some toast. You walked over and leaned against the counter.

“Josh for sure. There were a couple other people that said they might be able to hang out today, but they didn’t have a definite answer.”

“Great,” you muttered.

“Hey, maybe you two will get along today.”

“Yeah,” you scoffed. “And the sun will set in the east too.”

“Come on, Y/N,” Tyler said as you made yourself some cereal. “I know you two could get along really well if you tried.”

“But it’s just so much more fun to press all his buttons! I mean, you’ve seen the face he makes when I sit too close to him, right?”

Tyler sighed, “Many times.”

“So you get it!”

Tyler grabbed his plate of toast and moved into the dining room, “No.”

“Fine, I’ll try to be civil for you, Ty. But if he makes one comment that rubs me the wrong way, it’s game over.”

“As long as you try to be nice.”

“I think your definition of nice is different than mine,” you huffed as you sat down at the table.

“You know, I think you two could really get a good thing going if you weren’t at each other’s throats every second of the day.”

You snorted, “Ty, you aren’t really implying what I think you are, are you?”

“I’m just saying, there may be a deeper meaning behind why you two are always pushing the other’s buttons.”

“Definitely not. I could never imagine being any type of intimate with Josh.”

“Sure,” Tyler said before taking a bite of his toast.

You idly stirred your cereal around as you thought over Tyler’s words. Thankfully, he was too busy looking at his phone to notice the color that was now in your cheeks. The relationship between you and Josh wasn’t anything other than your stereotypical love-hate friendship.

Right?

 

“Josh is here!” Tyler called up the stairs.

“Ok!” you answered.

You grabbed a sweatshirt from the back of your desk chair and pulled it on as you headed down the stairs. The boys were already in the living room as you arrived downstairs, and Tyler had done you the honor of leaving an empty spot on the couch next to Josh. With a sigh, you made yourself comfortable at the end of the couch.

“You’re awake,” Josh smiled. “After how much you drank last night, I thought you would have been sleeping your hangover away.”

“Trust me, that’s what I wish I was doing.”

Tyler shot you a look from the other end of the couch, but you ignored it. Josh, on the other hand, seemed amused by your comeback.

“Glad we’re on the same page then.”

Tyler sighed and ruffled his hair, “I was really fooling myself when I thought you two were going to get along today, huh?”

“Probably,” Josh laughed.

You slowly began to stretch out your legs so that your feet were pressed against Josh’s thigh. The second that he noticed, he pressed his tongue into his cheek and slowly turned to you. He raised an eyebrow, but you simply smiled at him.

“Y/N.”

“Yes?”

“What are you doing?”

“My legs were getting tired from being bent, so I decided to stretch a little.”

“And that involves touching me, why?”

“Well, you’re kind of taking up the whole middle of the couch, so I don’t really know how you expect me to sit here and not touch you.”

“Tyler is doing it just fine.”

You looked to Tyler, who simply shook his head a little. He obviously wouldn’t be of any help in this situation.

“Fine,” you huffed, swiveling your body so that your legs were now rested on the coffee table. “Better?”

“Yes.”

You crossed your arms and tried to mask the fact that you were disappointed you could no longer annoy Josh. Meanwhile, he had turned to Tyler and began to talk about a festival that they had played together recently. Since there wasn’t much you could contribute to the conversation, you leaned back against the pillows and closed your eyes.

“Feeling alright, Y/N?” Tyler asked.

Apparently you hadn’t been as well rested as you thought, considering Tyler’s voice had pulled you back from the edge of being asleep. You slowly blinked your eyes open and leaned up so that you could see him.

“Still don’t feel great after last night,” you laughed.

“That’s because you were plastered,” Josh chimed in.

“You drank just as much as I did.”

“At least I could walk straight at the end of the night.”

“Hey! It’s not my fault that the sidewalk was wobbling.”

Josh mocked what you were saying, so you reached out and shoved his arm. He barely moved, which only added to your annoyance.

“You want to try that again?” Josh asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No,” you huffed as you crossed your arms.

Tyler had pulled out his phone in an attempt to block out the feud between you and Josh. He looked up when he realized that you two had stopped fighting.

“Are you two done now?” he asked.

You threw an arm into the air, “I’m not the one causing the problem.”

Josh’s eyebrows shot straight into the air as he turned to look at you, “Are you implying that I am?”

“It’s not an implication when what you’re saying is fact.”

“All I said was that you got really drunk last night, then you turned it into an argument.”

“No, I said that we drank the same amount and then you had to make a comment about me not being able to walk.”

“Because you couldn’t!”

“I’m getting lunch, do you two want anything?” Tyler announced, putting a temporary end to the debate.

“Where are you going?” you asked.

“The sandwich place down the street.”

“I’ll just have my usual.”

“Me too.”

“Great,” Tyler said. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”

“You’re just leaving us here?” you asked.

“Aw, are you scared of not having Tyler here to back you up?” Josh teased.

“No,” you retaliated, although you weren’t sure how truthful it was.

“Try not to tear each other’s heads off while I’m gone,” Tyler said before disappearing out the front door.

The house became eerily quiet as soon as the door shut. You adjusted yourself a bit to try and get rid of the uncomfortable feeling that had formed in your stomach.

“I’m surprised it took him that long to get fed up and leave,” Josh said, breaking the silence.

“Yeah, that might be a record.”

You and Josh shared a look and began to laugh. If there was one thing that never failed to unite the two of you, it was annoying Tyler.

“Are you actually feeling ok? You were in pretty bad shape last night.”

“Yeah, I’m ok,” you smiled, although you were a bit skeptical at his change in demeanor. “I just had a lot on my mind and needed a break from all of it. And everyone knows that drinking to forget is always a healthy coping mechanism.”

“You making questionable decisions isn’t really new information.”

You shot him a look and tried to ignore how much his statement had actually hurt you.

“Not all of us are as well-adjusted as you, Josh,” you retorted, adding a hint of anger to your tone.

“I’m not trying to take a dig at you, Y/N.”

“Then what was the point of that statement?”

“I’m just saying you don’t always take care of yourself like you should and it worries me.”

You should have known that any moment of peace between you and Josh would quickly be ended by some snarky comment.

“When have you ever been concerned about me? You just like to push my buttons and laugh when I get upset. We have a love-hate relationship, Josh, that’s just how it goes.”

“Y/N, I-”

You cut him off, “I just don’t understand why you’re even pretending like you care right now. Tyler isn’t here, it’s not like he’s going to see you being nice to me and think any more of you.”

“Can I just-”

“No, I’m not done talking,” you huffed. “I’m tired of you acting like you’re so much better than me and know so much more about the world just because I’m a few years younger than you and Tyler. It doesn’t mean that-”

“Can you just shut up and let me say what I need to say?”

“Why don’t you come over here and make me?”

Josh answered by leaning forward and pulling you into a kiss. You were surprised at first, but you quickly relaxed into it and rested a hand on his chest. His heart was pounding so hard that you could feel it against your fingertips. When he finally pulled away, you couldn’t think of anything to say.

“God, I’m in love with you and your attitude,” he whispered.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that,” you giggled.

Josh moved back to where he had previously been sitting just in time for Tyler to open the door and walk inside. He was whistling to himself, completely unaware of the entire exchange that had just occurred between you and Josh.

“It’s so quiet in here,” he said as he set the food on the coffee table. “I’m surprised you two aren’t arguing.”

“Yeah,” you said, sharing a knowing look with Josh. “Me too.”

Chapter Text

“Not so fast,” Josh said, scooping your daughter into his arms and throwing her over his shoulder.

Your daughter squealed in delight as Josh paraded her around the playground. She frowned after Josh set her back down, but she was quick to join the other kids in playing lava monster on the play structure. Josh joined you on your blanket in the grass, breathing a little harder than when he had left.

“I swear she grows more and more every day,” he said as he reached for your water bottle.

“I know, soon enough she’s not going to be my little girl anymore.”

Josh wrapped an arm around you and pulled you into his side, rubbing your arm as he did so, “She’ll always be your little girl, no matter how old she gets.”

You nodded and patted his leg to show you heard him. Your daughter was now on the top of the play structure, waving excitedly to you.

It had been a couple weeks since Josh had returned home from tour, and you had quickly grown accustomed to carefree days with him and your daughter. You knew that it wouldn’t last forever and soon he would be back on the road, but you were trying to make the most of what time you had.

“Look out!” Josh called to your daughter as the kid deemed the “lava monster” started to climb towards her.

You laughed as your daughter squealed and quickly dodged the kid. She gave a thumbs up to Josh before grabbing another little girl’s hand and running across the wooden bridge that connected the structures.

“We should probably head back to the house soon. I need to start making dinner,” you said.

“What if we pick up something on the way home? That way we can just sit here and relax a little longer.”

You nodded and leaned into Josh’s shoulder, “I like that plan.”

He gave your arm a light squeeze and pressed a kiss to the top of your head. You had to admit, you had been hesitant to let Josh into your life when you first met him. After everything that had gone down with your last boyfriend--your daughter’s biological father--you had been cautious about diving into another relationship.

It had only taken seeing Josh around your daughter once before all of your hesitation was gone. He had been so good with her that it was hard not to fall for him on the spot. Your feelings had only grown since then and when he had told you he loved you on the morning he returned home from tour, it had been one of the happiest moments of your life.

“You know, I was thinking about when I leave for tour again-”

“Stop,” you interrupted him. “I don’t want to think about that right now.”

“No, hear me out.”

You turned to look at him and tried to ignore the knot in your stomach. Josh being away on tour for weeks at a time was easily one of the hardest parts of your relationship, especially since you had to stay home so that Y/D/N could go to school. Sometimes you wished that you could just drop everything and the three of you could spend life on the road.

“I’m listening.”

“Y/D/N still has a few weeks before she has to go back to school, so what if you two came on the road for a week or two? I know you’ve been wanting to come along for awhile and I’m sure she’d like to see what a big concert is like.”

You smiled, “That would be amazing. Y/D/N would love that.”

“She’ll be spoiled rotten with Jenna and Tyler around too.”

“No kidding,” you shook your head. “She’ll love every second of it though.”

“So, do you want to do it?”

“Of course. Was that even a question?”

Josh smiled and you pulled him into a kiss.

“Gross!”

You sighed and turned towards the direction of the noise. Your daughter was standing at the top of the play structure once again, staring you and Josh down.

“Aren’t you playing a game?” you laughed.

“Yes, but I was just checking on you and Josh!”

Josh laughed, “Sorry, kiddo!”

She threw her hands up in exasperation and turned around. You and Josh both started to crack up as soon as she wasn’t looking.

“I see she has your mannerisms,” Josh remarked.

“Hey!”

“I’m kidding,” he said, pressing a kiss to your cheek. “I love you.”

You rested your head on his shoulder, “I love you too.”

Your daughter came running over and plopped herself down on the blanket right at your feet. She motioned for your water bottle, which you happily handed over. You and Josh both watched her as she gulped down nearly half the bottle.

“Thirsty?” you laughed.

She nodded before twisting the cap back on and sighing happily.

“Are we going home soon?” she asked.

“Do you want to get going soon?”

She nodded and moved a little closer to you so that she could lean against your legs. You ran a hand along her hair.

“Alright, let’s get packed up.”

Y/D/N pulled on her little backpack while you and Josh worked on packing up the blanket and other various items that you had brought. Once you had everything together, you started to walk towards the car.

“Josh,” your daughter said, patting his leg lightly.

“Yes, kiddo?”

She answered by holding her arms out to him. In one swift motion, Josh scooped her into his arms so that she could rest her head on his shoulder. You couldn’t help but smile at how cute the two of them looked. Josh noticed you smiling and walked a bit closer to you so that he could hold your hand.

 

“Jimmy!” your daughter called as soon as you had opened the door.

She ran forward and wrapped her arms around the dog’s neck. You could still remember the exact look on her face when Josh had brought Jim over to your house for the first time. She had spent the entire night following him around and petting him whenever he would let her.

Jim craned his neck so that he could lick your daughter’s face. She giggled in delight and gave him a couple pats on the head.

“Come on, Y/D/N. We need to eat.”

You daughter stuck out her bottom lip, but followed you into the kitchen nonetheless. Josh scooped her up and set her on the counter so that she could watch as you arranged all of the food that you had picked up on the way home.

“Can I have some milk?” she asked.

“Sure thing, love,” you said, starting to turn towards the fridge.

“I’ve got it.” Josh rested a hand on your arm and you lightly tapped it to show you had heard.

“Thank you.”

“Where is my food?” your daughter asked, leaning over to look at all the containers.

“Right here,” you said, pointing to one of them.

She grabbed it and dragged it across the counter towards her. You kept an eye on her while you looked through everything else, just to make sure she didn’t try to go hopping off the counter by herself.

“Are we eating at the table?” she asked.

“Yes, but wait just a moment and Josh will help you down, ok?”

She nodded and idly kicked her legs while she waited for Josh to finish getting her some milk. You grabbed a couple plates and began to carry the food into the dining room.

Your daughter took off at a run for the dining room as soon as Josh set her on the floor. You laughed as she went whizzing by you, carrying her food in one hand. She quickly climbed up into a chair and opened her food.

“My milk!” she exclaimed as she dramatically grabbed her head.

“I’ve got it, kiddo!” Josh called from the kitchen.

“Thanks, Josh!” she answered.

You took a seat next to your daughter, who was patiently waiting for everyone else to arrive at the table. It helped that Jim was sitting right next to her, hoping for a piece of what she had decided to get.

“You can start eating, if you want,” you said as you handed her some silverware.

“I want to wait for Josh to sit down too.”

This made Josh smile as he walked into the room and set her milk down next to her food. He set his own food down and took a seat next to you at the table.

“Ok, everybody. You can eat now,” your daughter announced.

“Thank you, Y/D/N,” you laughed.

She nodded and took a long drink of milk. Jim was still watching her carefully, occasionally sniffing at the ground when he thought he saw something fall.

“Are you going to ask her about what we talked about?” Josh asked you quietly.

Your eyes widened in recognition and you quickly swallowed your food, “Right. Hey, Y/D/N?”

Your daughter turned to you, “Yes?”

“Josh and I were talking earlier today. As you know, he has to leave for tour again in a few weeks.”

Her face immediately fell, “Already?”

You hated to see her so upset about Josh leaving, but you knew your question would immediately replace her sadness with excitement.

“Yes, but he was wondering if you would want to go on tour with him for a week? We would get to see him perform live and ride on the bus and everything.”

Her eyes went wide, “Will Aunt Jenna and Uncle Tyler be there too?”

Josh was the one to answer, “Yes, they both will be there.”

“And Jimmy?”

“And Jim,” you laughed.

“Wait,” she said, eyebrows furrowing. “What about school?”

“It would be before you start school, so you won’t miss anything important.”

She stood up in her chair, temporarily forgetting that she was still at the dinner table, “I want to go! Can we leave right now?”

“Hey, sit down, crazy,” you smiled. She immediately plopped back down in her chair. “We can’t leave yet, but we can start preparing stuff.”

“I have to pack,” she said, throwing a hand against her forehead. “And tell all my friends!”

You reached out and rubbed her shoulder, “We have plenty of time, love.”

She nodded, “Ok.”

You and Josh shared a look. Her reaction had been even better than either of you could have imagined.

 

“Do I have to bring a pillow on tour?” you daughter asked.

She was staring down at the piece of paper that she had deemed her packing list. It was currently covered in a variety of items ranging from a hat to the little plant that she kept on her dresser. There were definitely some edits that would have to be made by the time that it actually came time to pack.

“Nope, they give you those,” Josh answered.

The two of you were sitting on the couch. He had one arm wrapped around you and Jim was leaned on your legs. Your night had been spent alternating between helping your daughter come up with her packing list and watching bits of the TV show that the three of you always watched together.

“Ok, no pillow,” she muttered to herself.

Josh turned to you with a smile on his face. You gave him a quick kiss while your daughter was distracted since she would no doubt start to lecture you if she saw.

“I’m too tired to keep going,” she whined as she set her paper down on the coffee table. “Can we watch more TV?”

“Sure,” you said.

She walked over and made herself comfortable in Josh’s lap. He wrapped his free arm around her to keep her from falling off of his lap. She leaned her head against his chest and you started up the TV show again.

“Your heartbeat is loud, Dad,” she said.

You and Josh both turned to look at one another, as if to confirm that you had both just heard her correctly. Josh’s eyebrows were furrowed, but there was the slightest hint of a smile on his face.

“What was that, Y/D/N?” you asked.

“I told Dad that his heartbeat is loud. It’s like right in my ear!”

Josh was now absolutely beaming. You had known that he had considered Y/D/N like his own daughter for awhile now, but she had always stuck to calling him Josh. Until now, that is.

“Dad?” Josh asked.

Your daughter made a face at the two of you. “Are you guys deaf? How many times do I have to say Dad before you understand what I’m saying?” she groaned, as if it were the most casual thing at the world.

“Sorry, kiddo. Too many concerts must have ruined my hearing,” he laughed.

“Yeah, same here.”

She sighed dramatically and went back to laying on Josh’s chest. You and Josh shared another look. He was still smiling widely, and for a moment you swore that he was tearing up a little bit.

Your daughter ruined the moment by chiming in with a, “Pay attention! You guys are going to miss something important, otherwise.”

“Sorry, love,” you laughed.

You smiled and leaned against Josh’s shoulder. Everything about today had been so perfect that it was hard to believe it was your life, especially after everything that had happened.

You wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Chapter Text

You grabbed the stack of papers from the mailbox, quickly flipping through them to see if there was anything that couldn’t immediately go into the recycling bin. There wasn’t much worth saving, so you headed for the side of the house to dump all the junk mail.

Your attention was quickly brought to a dog sprinting across the street, dragging its leash behind it. Without a moment’s hesitation, you began to run after it.

“Hey!” you called, followed immediately by the realization that you had no idea how to grab its attention. “Dog!”

The small creature stopped and turned to face the direction of the noise. Now that you had grabbed its attention, you bent low to the ground and began to furiously pat on your legs, hoping that it would be convincing enough to get it to come to you. Its head cocked to one side as it examined you.

“Come here, dog,” you called, pitching your voice up to entice it.

The dog suddenly broke out into a run towards you. It stopped just in time to avoid running into you, but was quick to put its paws on your legs in an attempt to lick your face.

“Hey,” you giggled, rubbing the dog’s back. “Stop.”

The dog started to circle you and you took advantage of its momentary calm to grab its leash. Now that you actually managed to catch the dog, you weren’t entirely sure what to do next. You bent down and checked his collar, which did have a phone number and name on it.

“Jim,” you said, reading it out loud. “Interesting name for a dog.”

You started to walk back towards to house to dial the number and find the dog’s owner, but you were quickly interrupted by someone calling a now familiar name.

“Jim! Where are you, bud?”

A figure rounded the corner at the end of the street and frantically looked around. He obviously hadn’t spotted you and what you assumed to be his dog standing in your front yard.

“Hey!” you called back. “Are you looking for your dog?”

“Yeah!”

“Here!”

You stepped out of the way to reveal the small golden retriever who had decided to take a rest in the shade behind your legs. The figure started to jog towards you.

You managed to get a better look at the stranger as he got closer. He was wearing a light gray shirt that was now mostly soaked with sweat, presumably from running after his dog. A few dark brown curls stuck out from under his backwards hat. It was hard to get a good look at his face with the sunglasses he was wearing, but he seemed decently attractive. Despite all this, what really caught your attention was the tattoos that covered his arms.

“How did you find him?” he panted, resting his hands on his hips.

“Jim?” you asked, as if you had somehow found some other belonging of this stranger. “He just came sprinting down the street and since he had a leash on, I figured I should step in and help.”

“I appreciate it. We were just out on a nice jog and then he managed to get away from me and he was gone.”

“Yeah,” you laughed. “He did seem like he was on a mission to get somewhere.”

“I’m glad you managed to catch him. I’m not from around here, so had he gotten too far, I don’t think I would have known where to start looking for him.”

“Where are you from?” you asked, hoping that the stranger wouldn’t mind you asking.

“Ohio,” he laughed quietly. “A long way from here.”

“Yeah, no kidding. Your dog seems to like it here though.”

“I don’t blame him, it seems like there’s a lot of things here to like.”

You pressed your lips tightly together in an attempt to not smile too big. The stranger seemed amused by this, because he began to smile too.

“You know, my friend and I are playing a show in town tonight. I could probably snag you a ticket if you wanted one. Although it might be hard to fit into your busy schedule of rescuing dogs.”

“I think the neighborhood can survive without me for one night.”

“Great,” he smiled. “Do you think I could get your number? You know, for the ticket information.”

“Right,” you laughed. “My phone is inside but if you have yours…”

You finished your sentence with some sort of weird pointing gesture. Thankfully, the stranger seemed to understand what you were going for and passed his phone to you.

“Death Cab for Cutie, good band,” you commented, noticing the music that was currently playing in his headphones.

“You like them?” he asked, his smile growing a little.

“I do,” you nodded as you entered in your contact information.

“That’s awesome.”

“Alright, here.”

You passed his phone back to him and he read it over.

“Y/N. That’s a nice name.”

“Thanks,” you smiled.

“Well, I should probably head back so that I don’t miss soundcheck. I’ll be in contact with you about the show details. And thanks again for finding my dog.”

He held out his hand, which you stared at in confusion for a moment before realizing you were still holding Jim’s leash. You sheepishly passed it over and tried not to freak out too much about the way it felt when your hands brushed against each other.

“I look forward to seeing you and Jim again.”

“We look forward to seeing you too.”

The stranger turned and started to jog down the sidewalk, but you stopped him one last time before he got too far.

“Hey!”

He stopped and turned to face you.

“I never caught your name.”

“Josh,” he smiled.

“Josh,” you repeated to yourself. “Nice name.”

He laughed, gave you a small wave, and then turned back around. You stood on the sidewalk and let everything that had just happened sink in for a moment before heading back inside.

After all, you had a show to get ready for.

Chapter Text

You rested one hand on the doorframe and leaned out into the hallway, “Hey, love?”

“Yeah?” Josh called back from the living room.

“Do you need anything?”

“I’m ok!”

“Ok, let me know if you do!”

You heard Jim’s toes click along the wooden floor as he came running at the sound of your voice. He pushed the partially-closed door open with his head and trotted over to where you had taken a seat on the floor.

“Hi, bud,” you grinned as you scratched at his ears.

Jim laid down on the floor next to you and rested his head on your leg, watching as you sorted through boxes of stuff. You and Josh were moving into a new house and only had a few weeks left until the lease was up, meaning that your time had been spent sorting through stuff and packing away what you wanted to keep. Things had been going well until Josh got into a car accident, throwing a wrench into your plans.

You had been terrified when you got the call that Josh was at the hospital. Tyler had picked you up that afternoon and taken you straight to the hospital so that the two of you could wait until Josh got his diagnosis. He had ended up with a moderate concussion, a shattered wrist, and a couple fractures in his leg. It wasn’t ideal, but you were just happy that it hadn’t been worse.

A few pictures fell into your lap as you were switching some folders around. You picked them up and flipped through them, smiling as you did so. They were pictures of you and Josh when you went to Hawaii with Tyler and Jenna. The pictures were silly, mostly you jumping onto Josh’s back or doing cliché poses with Jenna, but they brought back good memories. You decided to show Josh, hoping it might help him feel better.

Josh was sitting on the couch, staring up at the ceiling as quiet music played from his phone. He was idly tapping his good hand along the pillow that was resting on his chest. Unfortunately, with his concussion, it was just about the only thing that he could do until he got better.

“Hey, love, look what I found,” you said, handing him the photos.

You took a seat on the edge of the coffee table while he flipped through the photos. His mouth slowly curved up into a smile as he looked through them.

“I forgot about these,” he said. “We should frame them in the new house.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah. They would be nice in the office.”

“Alright, I’ll put them in the frame pile,” you said, taking them back from him.

You walked back into the office and placed the photos into one of your many piles. It seemed that no matter how much work you did, you could never make a dent in all the stuff that needed to be sorted.

“If I get through three more boxes, then I can take a lunch break,” you muttered to yourself as you looked over the room. “Then I should be able to get the rest of the room done after dinner and move on to the bedroom tomorrow.”

Happy with your plan, you grabbed one of the unsorted boxes and began to look through it.

“Do you want some lunch?”  you asked as you walked into the living room.

“What are you making?”

“Sandwiches, probably.”

“Sure, I could use a sandwich.”

You hummed along to Josh’s music as you made some lunch for the two of you, making sure to cut up some of his favorite fruit and grab him a soda from the fridge. It was pretty obvious that he was having a hard time being stuck inside on the couch, so you tried your hardest to make things comfortable for him.

“Here you are,” you said, handing him his food.

Josh slowly pushed himself up to a sitting position with his good arm and cracked open his soda. Once he had made himself comfortable, you took a seat on the opposite end of the couch and began to eat your own food.

“How is packing going?” Josh asked.

You watched as he took a piece of turkey from his sandwich and tossed it to Jim. He happily caught it and swallowed it in a single go.

“Pretty good,” you shrugged. “I think I’ll be able to get the office packed by the end of the night and start on the bedroom tomorrow. We should be good to go by next week.”

“I’m really sorry that you have to do all this alone.”

“It isn’t a big deal, Josh. It gives me something to do rather than worrying about you all the time.”

“Yeah, but I feel awful because you’re doing all this work and I’m just sitting here on the couch not helping at all.”

You sighed and set your food down on the table so that you could scoot closer to Josh. He set his food down too and held out an arm so that you could lay down next to him.

“Josh, the most important thing to me is that you’re healing and getting rest because that’s what you need right now. I really don’t mind packing things up.”

He idly rubbed his thumb along your lower back, “Are you sure?”

You turned his face towards you and looked him straight in the eyes, “I’m sure.”

“Thank you so much, Y/N. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He used his good arm to pull you a little closer to him for a kiss. You moved your hand a little further back so that it was in his hair.

“You know,” Josh whispered. “I may be injured, but all the important parts are still working.”

“Joshua Dun!” you gasped, leaning away from him.

“What?” he smiled innocently.

You could tell your cheeks were bright red just from the mere heat that was radiating from your face. Josh staring straight at you wasn’t helping either.

“Later,” you giggled, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “I still have lots of work to do.”

“Will you at least stay here for awhile longer? This is the best I’ve felt all day.”

“Yeah, just let me grab my food. I’m starving.”

You started to lean over Josh to grab your food when you noticed that the plates on the table were now empty. Josh looked to you with wide eyes.

“Jim!” you screeched, already clambering off the couch.

Sure enough, Jim was behind the couch munching on the sandwiches that you had made for you and Josh. Thankfully they didn’t contain anything harmful, but it was an annoying situation nonetheless.

“Jim, you bad boy,” you mumbled as you cleaned scraps of half-chewed sandwich off the floor. “I’ll be back in five minutes, Josh. I’m just going to make myself another sandwich.”

“Can you make me one too?”

“Of course, love.”

Five minutes later, you returned to the couch with two fresh sandwiches in your hands. Josh  smiled as you handed him his food and made yourself comfortable next to him.

“Thank you.”

“No problem.”

“Hey, can I ask you a serious question?” Josh asked.

“Sure.”

“Do you think I’ll ever be able to drum the same again?”

You sighed and brushed some of his hair back from his forehead. Ever since you had heard that his wrist had been shattered, you had been wondering when this question would come up.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of physical therapy and practice to get back to where you were, but in time I think you’ll be able to get your skill back.”

“I just hate that I can’t do anything about all of this,” he mumbled. “Some idiot just threw a wrench into my entire life.”

“I know. It’s unfair, but all you can do is try to make the best of it, love. Sitting here and pouting isn’t going to magically change what happened.”

“You’re right.”

You nodded and took a bite of your sandwich. Jim was sitting right next to the couch, staring at you hopefully.

“No, Jim,” you giggled. “You’ve had plenty!”

He stomped around a little bit, but eventually got the memo and laid down in the armchair. Josh turned to you with a smile on his face.

“You alright, love?” you smiled.

“Yeah, I’m just thinking about how happy I am.”

“But you just said…”

“I know what I said,” he sighed. “But then somebody told me that there’s no use in pouting so I decided to focus on the things I love instead.”

“Wow, that person is so smart.”

Josh laughed and shook his head, “Yeah, they are.”

You giggled and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He wrapped his arm around you and pulled you a little further into his chest, causing you to squeal as you nearly dropped your sandwich.

“Sorry,” he muttered, pressing a kiss to the top of your head.

“It’s ok, I just don’t want to have to make a third sandwich.”

“Agreed.”

“Alright, I need to finish my food and get back to work.”

“Can’t you just lay here all day with me?” he pouted.

“Not if you want to get moved out on time.”

“Fine.”

You laid with Josh until you both finished your lunch. It was a bit awkward to get yourself off the couch with plates in your hands, but you managed to make it work.

“Just let me know if you need anything,” you said, pressing a kiss to Josh’s forehead.

He caught your arm with his good hand and pulled you in for a proper kiss, making you smile.

“Will do.”

“I’m glad you’re here, Josh.”

He grinned and and traced his fingers along your arm as you walked back towards the kitchen, trying to keep contact for as long as possible. You smiled at him.

“I’m glad I’m here too.”

Chapter Text

“Y/N, please,” I said, catching her arm as she headed for the door.

“Don’t touch me,” she muttered, pulling away from my grasp. “I already told you it’s over.”

I looked into her eyes. They were shining the same bright Y/E/C as when I had first met her outside of a venue a few years back. She had been hurriedly talking on her phone with tears streaming down her face and I had asked if she wanted to come inside until she calmed down. We had ended up talking until the very last moment before I had to get on stage and the rest was history.

“We can make this work, I know we can.”

She reached up and brushed her hair back in her hands. I wanted to reach forward and place a hand on her tear-stained cheek, tell her that it was ok, and pull her into my chest, but those days were over.

“That’s what you don’t understand, Josh. We can’t.”

“You didn’t even give us a chance.”

“I did, Josh. And it didn’t work. It’s over, just stop trying to fight this.”

“Fine, then just go. Please.”

She grabbed her things and left without another word. I stood and stared at the door waiting for… something. A knock. A phone call. Anything. Anything to let me know that she wasn’t gone for good.

I lost track of how long I ended up standing there, frozen in place. It wasn’t until Jim came and began to paw at my feet that I finally managed to get myself to move. All I needed was to take one deep, shaking breath. Then another. And another.

The bucket of dog food rattled in my shaking hands as I pulled it down from the shelf. Jim wasn’t running circles around my feet like he usually did at dinnertime. He just sat there, watching me carefully as I filled his bowl to the brim and tossed the bin back into the cupboard.

I started to walk towards my office, but stopped myself before I had even made it halfway down the hall. My feet carried me to exactly where I needed to be: standing in front of the fridge. My hands moved without conscious thought, grabbing the bottle of vodka from its place buried behind cookbooks that were touched just as rarely as it was.

I unscrewed the cap, bypassing the need for a shot glass to instead take a swig straight from the bottle. The alcohol burned the back of my throat, but I didn’t mind. The burning was good. I could feel it.

Feel something .

I took another long drink of alcohol before sliding slowly to the ground. The tile of the kitchen floor was cool against the back of my legs, providing a stark contrast to the sticky, summer air that filled the rest of the apartment.

My head was already starting to swim and my vision was growing blurry at the edges. Alcohol burned the back of my throat as I threw the bottle back again. I just needed to shut my mind off. Fill it with something other than memories of her.

Her .

I thought back to the night her dad died. We had sat on the kitchen floor, right where I was now, for hours while she cried into my chest. I had sat with her and stroked her hair, telling her that I was there. That I would never leave her. Never leave her side.

Maybe that hadn’t been so true, after all.

Jim walked over to where I was rested on the ground. Tears had started to form in my eyes, but I wasn’t so sure if that was because of the situation or the alcohol. He climbed into my lap and laid down, trying his best to fit his entire body onto the space on top of my legs.

“I’m fine,” I exhaled, scratching at his ears. “I just need a moment.”

He turned and looked up at me, wagging his tail slowly against my legs. I screwed the top back on the bottle and set it on the tile next to me. My head was swimming so I leaned back against the cabinets, closing my eyes. Visions of Y/N danced behind my eyelids. I snapped them back open.

What had I done wrong?

I wiped away a tear with the back of my hand. Jim adjusted himself on my legs, pushing himself further up against my chest. My arms felt heavy as I moved them up to rub at his back again. The back of my throat still felt raw, but the pain was slowly beginning to subside. Some of it, anyway.

If only the pain of her leaving would fade that fast.

“I’m alright right here on the floor, bud,” I slurred. “It’s ok.”

Just a moment. That’s all I needed. Then I would be fine.

Chapter Text

You slid your laptop into your bag and pulled it up over your shoulder, muttering quiet apologies to people as you brushed past them. Today’s lecture had been boring, as most of them were, but you were just glad to be done with it until next week. The only exciting part had been that Josh had sat a few rows in front of you, meaning that you had been able to stare at him instead of paying attention for most of the class.

You turned your music up as you followed the stream of people out of the lecture hall. Dark clouds filled the sky outside, but it wasn’t raining which you were thankful for. There was nothing worse than arriving back to your dorm soaked from the knees down.

Your roommate was nowhere to be found as you returned to your room. They had the tendency to stay out during the day, and as long as they made it back by the next morning, you didn’t really stress yourself over their whereabouts. Besides, who were you to complain about having the room to yourself?

You grabbed your laptop and took a seat at your desk, already flipping through pages of your anatomy textbook to find what pages you had to read. Your browser had just finished opening when there was a knock on your door. Figuring it was your roommate who had forgotten their keys, you quickly got up and opened the door.

It wasn’t your roommate.

“Hi,” the boy smiled, pushing his curly brown hair back from his face. “I’m glad this is the right room.”

“Uh, hey, Josh,” you returned his smile.

You and Josh hadn’t spoken much since the fire alarm incident last week, aside from a few shared smiles as you passed each other in the hall or glanced at one another in anatomy class. The whole situation had already been written off as a fluke in your mind and you had returned to admiring him from afar.

“What’s up?” you asked, breaking the silence that had formed between the two of you.

“I was just wondering if you wanted to study with me in the lounge,” he shrugged.

“Oh, um, yeah! Let me grab my stuff.”

Josh took a small step inside your room as you gathered up your study materials. His eyes wandered over all the posters and photos that covered your side of the room. It was hard not to feel at least a little embarrassed.

“Alright, I’m ready,” you said as you desperately tried to balance all your belongings in your arms.

“Great. Do you mind if we stop by my room?”

“Not at all.”

You followed Josh down the stairs to the third floor. He snapped his fingers as he walked down the hall, finally stopping at a door towards the end. Two name tags were stuck on it, although Josh’s was starting to peel away at the edges.

“You can come in, if you want.”

You took a small step into Josh’s room, too nervous to venture much farther. His roommate was sitting on one of the beds, tapping at keys on an electronic keyboard. He had headphones on, so he didn’t immediately notice when you walked into the room.

“This is my roommate, Tyler,” Josh said, gesturing to the boy on the bed. He looked up and waved at you with a smile. “This is Y/N, we have anatomy together.”

“Nice to meet you,” Tyler said quickly before sliding his headphones back on.

“He’s not big on talking,” Josh said quietly to you as he grabbed a textbook. “But he’s cool.”

You nodded and looked at the stuff on Josh’s wall. It was mostly posters for bands that you had never heard of before, but there were a couple pictures of his family and friends scattered around. Tyler’s side was a lot cleaner than Josh’s.

“Alright, let’s get out of here,” Josh said, grabbing his keys from where he had tossed them on the bed and walking out of the room.

You and Josh headed downstairs to the lounge that was on the first floor. There weren’t many other people there, so you had no problem snagging a couch. It only took a few seconds for it to become covered in textbooks and papers.

“What are you working on?” Josh asked.

“Just the reading for anatomy. Not very exciting.”

“Is any homework exciting?”

“I guess not.”

Josh pulled out a folder that was covered in a variety of stickers. Most of them were for bands or local radio stations. You thought Josh had mentioned something to you about working at your school’s radio station, but you couldn’t be sure.

“What is that?” you asked as he pulled out sheets of music.

“A lot of stuff,” he laughed lightly. “Some of it is for classes, but there are a couple pages from music Tyler has written. He wants me to figure out some drums for it.”

“That’s really cool. Do you mind if I take a look?”

“Go for it.”

You grabbed a nearby page and began to look over it. The word “Forest” was scribbled across the top in messy handwriting, accompanied by a few other little notes. The sheet music didn’t really make any sense to you since you weren’t a drummer, but it was still nice to look at.

“I had no idea you were a musician,” you said, handing it back to him. “I just thought you liked music.”

“I mean, I do,” he grinned. “But I’ve also been playing drums since I was little. Tyler and I have been talking about starting an actual band, but we’re not sure that we can do it with just two people.”

“Sure you could. Plenty of people perform on their own, so why couldn’t you two do something just as good?”

Josh seemed to like that answer, “You have a point.”

You smiled and flipped to the assigned reading in your anatomy textbook. It actually seemed like it might be decently interesting, unlike most of the other chapters you had been stuck reading over the last few weeks.

“Have you finished the lab for anatomy?” Josh asked. He was still sorting through his papers.

“Yeah, I finished it up last night.”

“How was it?”

“Not too bad, all things considered.”

“Do you think you could, maybe, help me out with some of it? I tried to finish it last night, but I got stuck on labeling the diagram.”

“So that’s why you wanted to study with me,” you laughed.

“No!” Josh smiled, rubbing at his arm. “I swear, I actually just wanted to study with you. It also just so happens that you’re really good when it comes to anatomy.”

Don’t make a dirty joke, Y/N.

“I’m just teasing. I’ll totally help out.”

“Thank you so much.”

He grabbed his laptop and began to open his lab report. You, meanwhile, skimmed over the assigned chapter and wrote down some of the bolded terms and their definitions. Midterms were drawing near and you needed to make sure that your notes were as comprehensive as possible.

“Alright, here’s what I have so far,” Josh said, setting his laptop down between the two of you.

You scooted over a little so that you would better be able to see what was on the screen. To your surprise, Josh did the same so that your legs were now pressed up together. It was hard not to smile at even the smallest amount of contact.

“What you have so far looks right,” you said. “What were you having troubles with?”

“I was just getting the arm and leg muscles mixed up in my head.”

“Did you try using the textbook?”

“Yeah, but that diagram looked totally different and I couldn’t tell what was what.”

You spent the next twenty minutes helping Josh figure out which muscle was which and how to tell them apart for future reference. Thankfully, he seemed to be picking it up pretty quick.

“I think you should teach the class,” Josh laughed. “That taught me more than our professor ever has.”

“I took anatomy in high school so most of this is just a repeat for me, but thanks.”

Josh grabbed his laptop and scooted away from you, leaving your leg feeling a lot colder than it had been. Now that he no longer needed your help, you went back to reading through the textbook.

The two of you stayed in the lounge for the next couple hours, occasionally asking each other for help or taking study breaks that involved telling high school stories or things that had happened in your other classes. You were genuinely enjoying time with Josh outside of class, and you were hoping that maybe this wouldn’t be the last time you two studied together.

“Well,” Josh said, shutting his laptop. “I’m starving so I think I’m going to head to the student union to grab some food.”

“Oh, ok. Thanks for inviting me to study with you.”

“Yeah, it was fun. We should definitely do it again sometime.”

“Agreed.”

Josh grabbed the rest of his things and started to walk back to his room. You decided to stay in the lounge for a little while longer, at least until you finished the reading, before heading back to your own room to make some food. Of course, this plan was short lived because Josh was quick to grab your attention again.

“Actually, would you want to come with me to grab some food?”

“What were you going to get?”

“Not sure yet. I’m open to suggestions.”

You smiled, “Yeah, let me just drop my stuff off in my room.”

“Meet you back here in five?”

“Yeah.”

Josh walked off and you quickly gathered up your things. Maybe you wouldn’t have to admire him from afar, after all.

Chapter Text

You had heard the rumors.

They were whispered phrases, tumbling from the lips of your fellow residents as they passed one another in the halls. Some sort of greeting. Or a message. You weren’t entirely sure which.

You caught all these phrases, taking them into your mind. Turning them over and over, searching for some sort of hidden meaning among the words that you had somehow missed. When finally you felt as if all your avenues had been exhausted, you added the new phrase to the bottom of your list, hoping that among the others some sort of obvious clue would be revealed.

It never was.

Your notebook was plain and black. Small, by most people’s standards, but perfect for what you needed it for. It was nondescript, just so long as the pages remained hidden from view, not that anyone ever got the chance to look. The journal remained in the inner pocket of your Dema-issued jacket. Or in your pillowcase, when you finally put away your materials for the night and decided to get some rest. The notebook was never left unconnected from you. It was too risky.

The visible strip of sky outside your window was orange tonight, with a few bits of yellow mixed in among the clouds. You took a moment to admire it, wondering if this would be the last night you got to enjoy this particular view. Not that you would miss it, the memories that surfaced as you sat at your small desk were mostly negative.

Your eyes scanned over the hastily scribbled list in your notebook. The phrases were burned into your mind, with the exception of the last couple that you had picked up today, but still you looked them over. There had to be something you had missed, some connection that had flown under your radar. You weren’t sleeping enough. Your brain was fried.

Still, there must be something. There was always something .

Ten steps. Pause. A little longer. Ten more steps.

Your heart was pounding in your chest as you carefully counted Nills’ steps. He was the slowest of the bishops, notorious for taking his time to carefully look inside each cell and examine its resident. Most people feared him for this habit, but you took it as an opportunity. Any bishop that took their time looking inside the dim cells would be less likely to notice you.

You waited until he had rounded the corner and made it past the first couple cells, guaranteeing that he wouldn’t see or hear you. Once the echo of his steps began to quiet, you slowly shifted yourself out of bed. The comforter lightly rustled against your sheets, making you pause for a moment, waiting with bated breath to tell if the steps were coming back towards you. They only seemed to grow more distant, so you exhaled and continued to move.

Your jacket felt heavier than usual as you pulled it on over your plain shirt. It was too warm to be wearing in your tiny cell, even with the window cracked to let the cold night air in. Still, you had no idea what lay waiting outside of Dema’s walls.

Trench .

You recalled the word from your list. It was what they called the area outside, though it seemed to you to be nothing more than a name given to make the place seem more real. For all you knew, nothing laid outside the walls but wasteland and despair.

You laughed quietly to yourself as you packed your things - making sure to grab your notebook where it was tucked away in your pillowcase - thinking about how desolate this whole plan seemed when you really thought about it. All this work could have been done for you to spend a week away from the harsh rule of the bishops, only to be dragged back. Or worse.

But even that seemed better than spending your remaining days in this tiny cell they forced you to call home.

 

Clouds obscured most of the sky as you made your way across the courtyard. Every few seconds you found yourself turning around, checking for any fellow residents or bishops who may be following you. Your backpack beat monotonously against your back as you walked, quickly, along the uneven cobblestones.

You weren’t entirely sure where you were going, but you kept moving east. The more distance that you put between yourself and the bishops, the more likely it was that you would make it out of here. That was all that mattered right now: getting out of here. If you let your mind dwell too much on how you would survive once you reached the other side of the wall, you noticed that your pace started to slow.

You couldn’t go back. It wasn’t an option. So you pushed the thoughts from your mind and pressed forward.

Unfamiliar buildings rose around you as you entered Nico’s sector of the city. It was darker here; torches didn’t line the courtyard here as they did in Nills’ sector. All of the windows were shut tight, curtains drawn so that nobody could see in. Or out. Your footsteps seemed to echo more here, so you slowed your pace and moved closer to the wall, trying to stay out of sight.

A flash of light up ahead caught your eye. It shifted against the wall, creating new shadows against the plain facade of the nearest building. The light continued to grow and it wasn’t long until the echo of footsteps hit your ears.

Someone else was out here. Moving. Towards you .

Fearing the worst, you shrunk back into a particularly dark corner, waiting for the figure to show themselves. A resident would be easy enough to hide from, but a bishop… well, that was an entirely different story. The mere thought of the consequences was enough to send a chill down your spine, but it also reignited the fire beneath you that pushed you to keep going and finally escape this place.

The figure rounded the corner and you allowed yourself a moment to take in his appearance. He wasn’t dressed like anyone else in Dema. His clothes were covered in bits of yellow tape, adding the only patches of color to his otherwise plain outfit. A yellow bandana covered the bottom half of his face and the torch threw shadows across whatever was left uncovered, keeping any of his distinct features hidden from view. You had never seen this man before, and yet you recognized him on sight.

A bandito.

So the rumors were true.

His eyes scanned the courtyard as he moved quickly along the cobblestones. You watched him just as carefully, wondering if he was aware of your presence. If he was, he hadn’t shown any signs of it.

He stopped a few paces away from the statue that stood in the center of the buildings, turning slightly so that you could just make out the profile of his face. The torch flickered steadily behind him, unaffected by the light wind that rustled the surrounding trees.

“Do you want to come with me or not?”

His voice startled you. You pressed your palms flat against the wall behind you, slinking back further into the darkness. Your breath was uneven as you inhaled, trying to calm your shaking hands.

“Who are you?” you asked, putting on a false sense of confidence. Hopefully the facade would work.

He fully turned towards you now. The torchlight shifted again, but he now held it closer to the front of his face. You could more easily make out his exposed features now. His eyes were soft, so unlike the eyes of everyone else in Dema.

“I think you know.”

You swallowed. “And why should I trust you?”

“Realistically, you shouldn’t, but you’re running out of time and options. They’re coming.”

You reached up and adjusted the backpack on your shoulder where it had slipped a bit. Your air of confidence was quickly deteriorating.

“And where would you take me?”

“Somewhere safe. Outside the walls.”

Were you really considering this? Following some solitary stranger outside the walls on the promise of something that had no evidence of existing?

Yes, it seemed you were.

“Show me your face,” you stated. If you were going to go with this mysterious figure, you at least wanted to get a good look at him. “And tell me your name.”

“Only if you do the same,” he answered, just as coolly.

“You first.”

He started to reach for the bandana that covered his face when torchlight flickered along the wall at one end of the courtyard. The stranger took notice of this. His hand immediately dropped to his side as he turned towards the light, studying it.

“One of yours?” you asked.

He shook his head, slowly at first, but it quickly became more frantic.

“We need to go. Now. Are you coming or not, Y/N?”

You were so panicked that you didn’t even take notice of the fact that this stranger knew your name. He watched you with wide eyes, waiting for answer before he left.

“I’m coming. Lead the way.”

The stranger held a hand out to you. You strode forward and linked your hand with his, taking a moment to appreciate the warmth of his skin and the torch in his opposite hand. His eyes roamed over your face, taking in your features.

“Josh, by the way.”

“Alright, Josh. Let’s not waste any time.”

 

You followed the man - Josh - through tunnels below Dema that you hadn’t previously known existed. Your chest was still heaving from your sprint through the courtyard, but your pace had slowed now that you were somewhere safer. Josh stayed a few steps ahead of you, lighting the way with his torch. You turned to scan the blackness behind you every now and again, looking and listening for any sign of the bishops.

“Wait,” Josh said. He stopped moving and the echo of your footsteps grew quiet before stopping completely. “Before we go any further, we need to cover you.”

“Cover me?”

The phrase sounded familiar as you said it out loud. Perhaps it was one of the more recent ones you had picked up on. You would have to check later, once you finally reached wherever it was you were going.

“In yellow. The bishops-”

“Can’t see yellow,” you finished with him.

Josh reached into a small bag and pulled out a roll of yellow tape. He began to apply it carefully on your body: around your arms, a leg, a few bits and pieces on the pockets of your jacket. Anything to make you look less as if you had just come from Dema.

“You know a lot,” he said as he finished a band of tape around your left bicep.

“You learn a lot of things if you look in the right places.”

His eyes met yours, studying them for a moment. After a brief silence, his eyes crinkled slightly at the corners. You assumed he must be smiling - that, or he was skeptical - though you couldn’t be sure because of the bandana that still covered most of his face.

“Earlier,” you started before clearing your throat. “In the courtyard. You said my name.”

His eyes dropped back down to the tape on your arm. He ran his fingers over it, making sure that it was pressed smooth against the fabric of your shirt. You shifted a bit at the contact.

“Y/N,” he repeated nonchalantly.

“How did you know it?”

He sighed as he tucked the tape back into his bag, giving his head a slight nod as a signal to keep moving. You fell into step with him, this time matching his pace rather than lagging behind.

“We keep track of people of interest. People who might want to escape and join our ranks. Tonight was far from the first night that we’ve come across each other’s paths.”

Reassurance and uneasiness wrestled in your mind, struggling for dominance over your emotions.

“What do you mean by that?”

He shifted his torch from one hand to the other, allowing his other arm to rest.

“What I was doing tonight - it wasn’t a rescue mission. I was doing rounds in Nico’s sector, looking for any distress signals. Yellow flowers in window sills, people up late doing research, that sort of thing. You were someone of interest. A couple inside informants let us know that you had been collecting information.”

“And here I was thinking I was being discreet.” You allowed yourself a small laugh. It was nice. Comfortable.

“You were to the average person. We just have people that are hyper aware of these actions. Those are the ones you can’t so easily slip under the radar of.”

“So you bumping into me tonight, that was coincidence?”

“Yeah. Tyler won’t be happy that I didn’t finish my rounds, but I think the addition of another bandito will be enough to soothe him. Solo rescue missions aren’t really in our repertoire, we tend to stick to bigger groups. Harder for stuff to go wrong, you know?”

“Tyler,” you repeated the name. “Is he the leader of the banditos?”

Josh shook his head, “We don’t really have a leader, although Tyler will take on the role if it’s necessary.”

There was light up ahead, hardly more than a speck in your vision now, but it was a reassurance nonetheless. Could it possibly be morning already? You had lost track of time as you moved through the dark tunnels, following the light of Josh’s torch.

“I have one more question,” you asked, hoping he wouldn’t mind.

“Feel free to ask as many as you want. I know life is a lot different out here.”

Your mouth curled into a slight smile, “The name of the place we’re going… what is it?”

Josh turned to you, meeting your eyes once again. The chocolate color of them was evident, now that you stood only a foot or two apart.

“I thought you would know.”

“I do,” you answered plainly, suddenly realizing the truth behind all the information you had collected. “But I want to hear it from you. Confirmation that it’s more than a rumor, I suppose.”

Josh nodded and turned his gaze away from you. After a moment, he answered you. The word rang out clearly along the stone walls. Clear and simple and familiar.

“Trench.”

Chapter Text

The first breath of air that you took outside of Dema’s walls was exhilarating. Your lungs filled completely, welcoming the fresh air despite the slight sting from the cool wind. Josh allowed you to remain still for a moment, giving you time to look out at the expansive landscape before you. The sun was just beginning to rise, throwing a blanket of golden sunlight across the hills.

“It’s beautiful,” you murmured, more to yourself than anyone else.

Flat plains gave way to rocky hills in the distance, cutting up out of the landscape and contrasting against the pale sky. The quietness of it all unnerved you, but the nerves seemed to melt away as Josh reached out to rest a hand on your back.

“Come on, we still have a ways to go and their search won’t stop just because we’re outside the walls.”

“Wait,” you said, catching his arm as it began to drop back to his side. “We had a deal.”

“A deal?” Josh asked, one eyebrow raising.

“Before we left, I wanted to see your face to know if I could trust you. If I’m going to turn back because I don’t, I’d rather it be here than out in the middle of that field.”

“You’ve come a long way if you don’t trust me,” Josh laughed quietly.

He pulled the bandana down around his neck, revealing the smile that you had only been able to imagine up to this point. You tried not to stare at his face as you carefully took in his features: the gentle way that his nose curved, the now-familiar crinkles around his eyes, the slight stubble that covered his chin after a long night in Dema.

“I think that’s a face I can trust,” you said, finally pulling your gaze away from everywhere else to meet his eyes.

He pulled the bandana back up. “Good, now let’s keep moving.”

 

It had only been a week since you and Josh had arrived at the camp after his impromptu rescue mission. Your dark Dema-issued clothing had made you instantly recognizable to the banditos - just as the yellow tape had made Josh recognizable to you - and they had welcomed you with open arms. It almost felt like coming home, though you had never been to this place before.

Trench. The name was familiar to you now, and just as comforting to hear as Dema had once been, long ago before you learned the true nature of the place.

The sky over Trench tonight was pink as you took a seat around the fire, maybe a little closer to Josh than would have been considered friendly. He smiled as you adjusted yourself on the dirt, pushing up your sleeves to compensate for the heat of the fire.

“Y/N,” he smiled as you sat down. “How has your day been?”

“Rough.” You smoothed down a bit of tape on your leg that had come loose during the day’s work. “Life here is different, to say the least, but I’m slowly getting used to it.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“What about you? Rumor is you’ve been on a couple rescue missions.”

You hated the nights Josh went to Dema, no matter his purpose. Despite the short amount of time you had spent together, his solo rescue mission had created a bond between the two of you that wasn’t easily broken. Whenever the two of you weren’t working or outside the camp for one reason or another, you were at each other’s side.

“I’m tired, but the work we’re doing is important. The more people that we can get out of there, the better off we are.”

“Are you trying to rescue everyone?”

Josh turned to you, eyebrows furrowed slightly. “Why wouldn’t we?”

“Well, if you rescue everyone, then what do the bishops have to lose? They’ll just come at us full force and take back whoever they can. It just seems like a vicious cycle.”

“We can’t rescue everyone, that’s a given,” Josh sighed. “But that doesn’t mean that we won’t try.”

Josh’s face had fallen at the mention of not being able to save everyone. Feeling guilty for even bringing it up in the first place, you reached out and gently took one of his hands in your own. You lightly traced your fingers along the back of his hand, taking extra care to be gentle around the cut he had received last time he went to Dema.

“You’re doing good work, Josh. Even saving one life is better than saving none.”

He nodded slowly, eyes still focused on the fire in front of him. His grip on your hand grew a little tighter, desperate for the contact.

“I’m going back tonight.”

Your stomach flipped. “Again? You’ve already been so many times this week.”

He finally met your eyes again. You could tell this was hard for him, especially when he knew you were so worried about him.

“There are more people to save. I can’t sit idly by while I know I have the power to bring them here.”

“I’ll come,” you said plainly. “I know Dema better than anyone.”

Josh shook his head, “You escaped hardly a week ago. They’ll still be looking for you. Not to mention that you don’t know the tunnels yet, in case you get lost. It’s just too risky, for the time being.”

“Then I better start learning the tunnels, because I plan to accompany you someday. You’re not the only one who wants to save people.”

Josh’s mouth curled up into a smile, “I would like that.”

“But since you are going without me for the time being, I want you to take this.”

You pulled your hand away from Josh’s, trying not to frown too much at the lack of warmth that he had been providing. He eyed you carefully as you reached into your jacket and pulled out the tiny, black notebook that you always carried with you.

“What is this?” he asked, taking it carefully from your hands.

“All the information that I gathered when I was planning my escape. There’s all sorts of information in there: walking patterns of the bishops, phrases that I picked up on, passageways that I noticed people slip through when they thought they were alone. That sort of thing.”

Josh began to thumb through the pages, his eyes widening in surprise as he read over the things you had scribbled down. He was the first person to actually see the content of the book, you had been too scared to let anyone onto your secret within Dema. Now that you were here - outside the walls - it didn’t seem so risky.

“Y/N,” Josh murmured. “This is impressive. You managed to gather all this information inside the walls?”

You nodded, “Like I said, you can learn a lot if you look in the right places.”

“How long did this take you to put together?”

“Months, probably, of getting maybe a piece of information or two every few days. I started collecting information in the middle of winter with the plan of escaping when the weather got nicer and I had a better chance of survival. The information started to come more often as it got closer to my planned escape. I think they were starting to suspect that I was leaving.”

“Survival?” Josh asked. “Didn’t you know that we were out here? That we would help you?”

You shrugged, “I didn’t believe anything that I hadn’t seen with my own eyes. I wanted to believe it, but I refused to give myself false hope if there was nothing outside the walls.”

Josh nodded and continued to flip through pages, examining all the notes you had taken. He finally reached the page where you had written down the various phrases you had heard, quietly whispered as residents had passed one another in the hall. It always seemed intentional, as if you were meant to hear it.

“Wait,” you said, stopping his hand before he turned the page. “I had a question.”

“What about?”

“This phrase,” you pointed to it for emphasis, “what does it mean? I’ve figured most of the others out because people have been saying them, but not this one: sahlo folina.”

The heads of nearby banditos swiveled towards you as you uttered the phrase. You scanned each of their faces, noticing the worry that was etched onto most of them.

“It’s a distress signal, of sorts,” Josh explained. “You say it when you’re in need, hence the response you’ve created.”

You muttered a quiet sorry to those around you, who simply smiled and brushed it off. They seemed reassured that you weren’t actually in distress, just simply curious about the inner workings of the banditos.

Before Josh had a chance to keep looking through your notes, Tyler came wandering over. He was dressed in his typical camouflage coat and his mouth was set in a hard line as he looked down at the two of you.

“Five minutes,” he said sternly.

“I’ll be ready.”

Tyler turned and walked off, most likely to collect the rest of the group that would be accompanying him and Josh to Dema tonight. Josh shut the notebook and rested it on his leg.

“This is invaluable, thank you for letting me take it,” he said.

“Just don’t lose it, alright?” you smiled, trying to lighten the heavy mood that had set in.

“I’ll keep it in my bag, right next to the tape.”

You watched the firelight dance in Josh’s eyes as he stared down at the small fire. A nearby bandito threw a couple more sticks onto the fire, reigniting the flame. The warmth on your hands became more evident.

Josh must have felt you staring, because he slowly turned to you and met your eyes. You held his gaze, as tempting as it was to send him a message by glancing down at his lips. He had enough on his plate for the time being, your confession could wait.

“Be safe for me, would you?” you asked quietly.

Josh reached out and grabbed both of your hands, holding on to them tightly.

“Funny, a week ago I believe you weren’t willing to trust me at all.”

You shot him a look, bringing your elbow around to lightly bump him in the shoulder without releasing his hands.

“Maybe I’m still not, just in a different way now,” you grinned.

You lightly pulled on his hands until he was close enough that you could wrap your arms around him. His hands were rested on your back, clutching lightly at the fabric of your jacket.

“Please be careful, Josh,” you whispered into his shoulder. “I don’t want to lose you.”

“You won’t.”

 

You watched the sunlight creeping over the distant ridge, just beginning to bathe the fields in golden sunlight. Trench was still eerily quiet, not yet filled with the daily commotion of the banditos. A light wind rustled the few plants that dotted the landscape, but that was all. It was unsettling, the silence.

You had barely slept all night, too worried about Josh to get much rest. When you did manage to fall asleep, it was all nightmares or tossing and turning uncomfortably. As soon as the sun had started to come up, you had called it a night - or rather, a morning - and got out of bed to watch the sunrise instead. At least that gave you something to focus on, rather than just the nerves.

It was a rare occurrence that a rescue party wasn’t back before sunrise. Their missions didn’t take nearly as much time as doing rounds of a sector, and longer time away never boded well for the condition of the rescue party. Then again, Tyler - who was much more of a leader than Josh made him out to be - was the one in charge of this rescue, and he had yet to fail.

Tears brimmed your eyes as you thought of what could have possibly happened to Josh. You pushed them away, trying desperately to rationalize the situation in your mind, but the combination of lack of sleep and a fresh wave of emotion overcame you and the tears began to slip down your cheeks. With a sigh, you bent your forehead to your knee, hoping that it would hide your tears from anyone who happened to pass by.

“Sahlo folina,” you whispered quietly, audible to nobody but you.

The sun was only halfway up the horizon, the sky still pink, when there was a clamor at the edge of the camp. You stopped what you were doing and turned in the direction of the sound, scanning for movement. Of what, you weren’t yet sure.

Then he came into view, torch in hand and face a little more beat up than you remembered. His eyes locked to yours and you saw his shoulders drop in relief. Next to him, Tyler didn’t look much better. Something had happened.

Not wanting to make a scene, you allowed Josh to put his things away and come over to where you were waiting outside your tent. Now that he was close, you could see the deep purple bruise under his eye and the small nick above his eyebrow. As for the rest of his face, it was still covered by the yellow bandana.

“What happened?” you asked, reaching up to rest a hand on the - hopefully - uninjured side of his face.

He pulled the bandana down, revealing another cut on his lip, thankfully with a centimeter or two of clearance from where you were resting your hand.

“Turns out not everyone is eager to see their friends leave.”

“People from Dema did this to you?”

He nodded slowly, “But I’m fine. This is the worst of it.”

“Promise?” Your eyes switched between his, looking for any indication that he could be lying.

“Promise.”

You rubbed your thumb gently over his cheekbone, “You had me worried. I thought you weren’t coming back.”

He reached up and grabbed your hand from his face, lacing his fingers between your own.

“I’ll always come back for you.”

Josh’s gaze was so intense that it was making your cheeks hot. Deciding that now was as good a time as any, you broke eye contact for a moment to glance at his lips, hoping it would send the right message. The sight of the cut made your stomach twist in discomfort.

“It won’t hurt, you know,” Josh whispered.

His expression was soft as you brought your eyes back up to meet his. One of your eyebrows raised slightly.

“What won’t hurt?”

He moved closer to you so that his lips were practically touching yours. The grip that he had on your hand tightened.

“If you kiss me. The cut won’t be a problem.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, you closed the gap between you two and pressed your lips to his, taking extra care around the cut. His free hand moved to your waist, pressing your body to his. You eventually pulled yourself away, remembering there was a whole group of people not too far away. Josh’s grip on your waist didn’t loosen.

“I should have gone with you,” you said, reaching out to fiddle with one of his sweatshirt strings. “I could have helped.”

He shook his head, “It was too risky. The safest thing for you was to be here, away from the bishops and with plenty of people.”

“I’m not going to sit idly around forever, you know.”

Josh sighed, but his mouth curled up into a smile. He pressed a gentle kiss to your forehead and wrapped both of his arms around you, pulling you further into his chest. “I know.”

You stood there like that for a moment, arms wrapped one another and simply enjoying each other’s presence. It was odd to think how fast Josh had gone from being a stranger to someone you trusted with your life.

“Thank you for getting me out of Dema,” you said quietly. “I don’t think I’ll ever thank you enough.”

“I could say the same to you.”

You leaned back to look at him, making the confusion on your face evident. He reached into the pocket of his sweatshirt and pulled out your notebook, which was a bit more tattered now than it had been.

“You knew of a tunnel that allowed us to get out of there and back to the area we knew. It saved most of us from getting dragged back to Dema.”

You smiled, happy to know what your information had come in handy more than once.

“Looks like we’ve got a pretty good team going here,” you said.

“Yeah,” he answered, pressing one more gentle kiss to your lips. “I think we do.”

Chapter Text

Wind whipped against your cheeks as you walked down the leaf-covered sidewalk. It wasn’t raining, which you were thankful for, but you would give anything to not be outside at the moment. Thoughts of your comfortable couch and a nice warm blanket clouded your mind, keeping your nearly numb legs moving along the pavement.

You didn’t see the man coming until he was right in front of you, leaving you just enough time to make a half-assed attempt at twisting out of the way. Despite your effort, you still bumped straight into the stranger and fell onto the damp pavement. Your cheeks were burning from embarrassment before you had even made eye contact with him.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” he said. “I was looking at my phone and didn’t even see you coming - here, let me help you out.”

He held out a hand which you gladly accepted. You could just see the lines and colors of a tattoo on the skin that peeked out from beneath his jacket sleeve.

“You weren’t the only one not paying attention,” you answered with a laugh.

The stranger turned out to be one of the most attractive people that you had ever had the pleasure of bumping into. Dark hair was just visible beneath his hoodie and his face was covered with just the right amount of scruff. Not to mention that you had always been a sucker for guys with glasses.

“Yeah, but I didn’t end up ass-first on the pavement.”

“You’ve got me there,” you sighed, trying to ignore how damp the back of your pants felt.

“What do you say I buy you a coffee to make up for it? There’s a little place called Starbucks that I know of only a couple blocks from here. If you aren’t busy, that is,” he said, pushing his hands further into his pockets.

“You’re not from around here, are you?” you asked, raising an eyebrow.

“That obvious?” he sighed, his shoulders dropping.

“Anyone whose best offer is Starbucks after knocking someone to the ground definitely doesn’t know the best local coffee shops.”

“Ok, new offer. You show me your favorite local coffee shop and we get to know each other over some coffee?” he bit down on his lip and raised his eyebrows in question.

How were you supposed to resist that?

“Sure, I’ve got some time to kill,” you smiled.

“Great,” he said, falling into step with you. “Josh, by the way.”

“Y/N. So, Josh, what brings you to this city?”

“I’m a musician, actually.”

You nodded. He didn’t look familiar, so you brushed it off assuming that he was some up-and-comer traveling the country in search of his big break.

“Do you play any instruments?”

“I’m a drummer, mostly. Although I can play a mean trumpet.”

“Multi-talented, huh?” you smiled. “Might need you to play some music for me sometime so you can prove it.”

You shifted slightly so that you could nudge his shoulder with your own in a vain attempt at flirting. He seemed to receive it well, bumping back into you slightly.

“You better watch out or your ass is going to end up back on that pavement,” he laughed.

“Hey, you need to make up for the first time before you go knocking me over again!”

“Speaking of which, how far away is this coffee shop of yours?”

“Just a couple more blocks. It’s right near the arena.”

Josh nodded, although you weren’t entirely sure that he knew what you were talking about.

“How long have you lived here?” he asked.

“All my life. I’ve never really had the desire to leave, I guess. It just feels like home.”

“I can see why,” he said, looking up at the orange trees overhead. “It’s a nice city.”

“You thought Starbucks was the best coffee it had to offer!” you laughed.

“Hey, I said it’s nice. I didn’t say I know everything about it.”

“Whatever,” you rolled your eyes. “We’re here.”

Josh quickly stepped forward so that he could open the door for you. You smiled and thanked him for being such a gentleman.

“What do you recommend?” he asked, looking up at the chalk covered menu on the wall.

“Literally anything. It’s all amazing.”

You were trying not to trip over your words, but with Josh standing so close to you it was hard not to become hyper focused on the body heat radiating off of him. It was tempting to just reach out and touch those beautiful hands of his. Drummer, was it?

“Alright, I’m ready,” he said with a smile, walking off towards the cashier.

“Me too,” you said, snapping back into reality.

A few people gave you odd looks as you and Josh took a seat near the window. It seemed a bit weird, but hey, maybe he was a bigger musician than you realized. Just because you had no idea who he was didn’t mean that other people wouldn’t.

“So, Y/N, what do you think of our date so far?” he smiled.

You could basically feel yourself melting under his gaze. How was it that you had somehow managed to literally bump into one of the most attractive people on the planet?

“I think that you’re very fun to spend time with,” you answered.

“That’s it?”

“Ok, so maybe you’re fun to look at too,” you giggled, immediately hiding your face. It wasn’t like you to be forward, but there was just something about Josh.

“I could say all the same about you, too.”

You peeked at Josh through your fingers. He was looking at you with raised eyebrows and the hint of a smirk. Slowly, you put your hands back into your lap

“Sorry, it’s been awhile since I’ve been on a date. Longer still since it was with someone I was this interested in.”

“So you’re saying you’re interested in me?” his smirk grew.

“I - well - yeah, was that not obvious?”

“I just wanted to hear you say it.”

“Cocky,” you muttered, shaking your head.

Josh only laughed at this, but quickly became distracted by the barista arriving with your drinks. He set your mugs down in front of you with a smile before quickly walking off.

“If this isn’t as good as you claim it is, I’m making you pay me back,” Josh joked.

“Hey! Then you just have to find a different way to make up for knocking me over.”

“I could easily do that.”

You smiled and took a moment to look out the window. The sign outside the arena was flashing different signs for bands that were playing in the upcoming weeks. You watched as it continued its rotation, hoping that someone you liked would be playing there soon.

You nearly spit coffee all over the table as an all too familiar face flashed on the screen. This, of course, caused Josh to turn to see what it was that you were looking at.

“I was wondering when you’d find out,” he laughed, turning back to you.

“You’re playing a sold out show at the arena?” you asked, bringing your voice down to a near whisper. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I told you I was a musician,” he shrugged.

“Lots of people call themselves musicians! Not everyone is a musician who plays sold out shows with over ten thousand people!”

“Surprise?” he smiled innocently.

You shook your head, hardly believing what you were hearing, “And here you were giving me shit about paying you if you didn’t like the coffee.”

“Which is fantastic, by the way,” he said, taking another sip.

You smiled, glad that he was still acting just as much like an idiot as before you knew that he was famous. Now all you had to do was try and keep your cool - or at least, as much cool as you had before, if any - around him.

“Better than Starbucks, right?”

“Easily,” he said.

“Now you have a reason to come back and see me, since I’m assuming you’ll be gone tomorrow.”

“Trust me, I had plenty of reason to come back before we got to the coffee shop.”

You bit down on your lip to try and hide your smile.

The two of you ended up sitting in the coffee shop for what most have been close to two hours, just talking about life. You learned lots of stories about going on tour while Josh heard all about your completely average day to day life. There were numerous times that you had to stop yourself from completely tuning out and just admiring his face, although he didn’t really seem to mind.

When the two of you eventually had to leave--Josh did have a sold out show to play that night--he offered to walk you home. Figuring it was better than walking alone, you gladly accepted this offer.

“This is it,” you said, holding a hand out to your plain apartment building.

“It’s nice,” he said, looking up at it.

“Yeah, right. I’ve seen nice apartments and this is not one of them,” you sighed.

“It could be worse.”

“Yeah.”

“So, when do I get to see you again?” he smiled.

“I don’t think I’m going to be the one with the scheduling conflicts,” you laughed.

“My people will be in touch with your people, then,” he winked.

“Josh, I don’t have people.”

“Wow, not being famous must be so hard.”

You rolled your eyes and laughed, “Whatever. Don’t you have a show to go play?”

He took a step closer to you so that there was no more than a foot of space between you, “Well I was hoping that maybe I could get a kiss before I left.”

“I’m not one for kissing on the first date,” you giggled, although the offer was tempting.

“For good luck?”

You sighed, “I can’t argue with that.”

He wrapped a hand behind your neck and pulled you into a kiss in one swift motion. You placed a hand on his chest, although that was more to steal his body heat than anything.

“Wow,” he said, finally pulling away. “There’s no way tonight can go wrong after that.”

“Shut up,” you laughed.

“I’ll see you soon, alright?”

“I’m holding you to that.”

He smiled and gave you a quick wave before taking off at a jog down the sidewalk. You turned and walked inside your warm apartment building, unable to keep the smile off of your face.

Maybe ending up ass-first on the pavement wasn’t such a bad thing, after all.

Chapter Text

“Tell me. You wouldn’t before, so I need you to now.”

Your mouth was set in a hard line. Josh stood on the other side of the table, his mouth hanging partially open in disbelief. Papers sat scattered on the dining table in front of you, ripped out of old spiral notebooks that you had never once suspected. You had always believed Josh when he told you they were old lyric notebooks of Tyler’s, never once questioning why he was the one holding on to them.

Josh’s eyes were brimmed with tears, “I - I can’t.”

“Can’t?” You swallowed hard. “Or won’t?”

Josh’s lip quivered and he brought his hands to his forehead, squeezing his eyes shut as he did so. Your hands were shaking as you reached out and grabbed the nearest sheet of paper. You took a moment to breathe deeply and clear your throat before you began to read.

“I’m not sure that I love Y/N anymore. I don’t see her the same way when I look at her.”

Josh sniffled.

“How long ago was that?” you asked.

“Two months,” he exhaled.

You ignored the tear that had slipped down your cheek and skipped ahead a few pages. Josh was unable to look at you now; his eyes were still squeezed tightly shut. You began reading again.

“I met a new girl. Her name is-,” your voice faltered as you tried to read out the name Josh had written. The name seemed so familiar in Josh’s handwriting, though you had never met her. You skipped over it. “She makes me feel electric. I haven’t felt like that with Y/N in months.”

“Y/N, please,” Josh muttered.

“I think I might see where things go with this new girl. I’ve never felt like this before and I don’t want to let it go.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re not sorry, Josh,” you said. Your knuckles were white where they were gripping the edge of the notebook. “If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have done this .”

“I had to put it all down somewhere and I couldn’t tell Tyler-”

You threw the notebook down onto the table in your frustration, “Of course you couldn’t tell him! You knew what you were doing was wrong, but you still went ahead and did it anyway.”

“I never expected it to go that far-”

“You slept with her , Josh!”

“Y/N, it was one time. I was drunk and my judgement lapsed and things happened. I wish I could take it all back, I really do.”

“Then explain this,” you said, gesturing to the notebooks that were scattered across the table. “You regret sleeping with her, but obviously you don’t regret leading me on.”

He leaned his back against the wall, covering his face with his hands again. It pained you to see him like this, breaking down into sobs right in front of you. You dropped your voice back to a normal level, trying to talk through the lump that had formed in your throat.

“Why did you let me find out like this, Josh? Why couldn’t you have just told me when you started having doubts?”

“I didn’t want to hurt you.”

Hurt me?” you scoffed. “Were you just planning to lead me on forever, then?”

“I hadn’t figured it out yet.”

“Do you want to know what the worst part of this whole thing is, Josh?”

A tear ran down his cheek, but he hastily wiped it away with the sleeve of his sweatshirt. He was refusing to look at you still.

“What?” he croaked.

“That, despite everything you did to me, I still love you.”

“Please don’t say that,” he whispered.

“My knees still get weak when I look at you. You put butterflies in my stomach, even when I know you’ve cheated on me. All I want right now is to be wrapped in your arms and let you press kisses to my forehead and have you tell me that everything is going to be ok. And this whole time,” your voice faltered, “you were running around behind my back feeling that way with someone else.”

“We can fix this.”

You shook your head violently, afraid that if you didn’t you might cave to his words. Your lips were trembling.

“We can’t. I won’t . I’m not going to spend the rest of my life with someone when I can’t trust them.”

“Y/N, please, I love you. I can make things right.”

“You had your chance to make things right, Josh! You could have told me you didn’t love me anymore and let me deal with that heartbreak. That would have left an opportunity for reconciliation in the future, but this? We can’t come back from this.”

Josh put his hands down on the table, steadying himself. You cast your eyes down to the table, where one of the notebooks had fallen open on an entry from the week before.

I saw her again last night. Y/N thought I was out with Tyler. There’s something exhilarating about knowing I’m going behind her back, although I can’t help the tug of guilt that I get. Maybe it will get easier with time. Or I’ll finally tell Y/N the truth.

“Can you please just say it to me? I need to hear it from you.”

Josh bit down on his bottom lip.

“I don’t love you anymore, Y/N.”

Expecting the words didn’t make them hurt any less. You rested a hand on the wall to support the weight that your shaking legs could no longer hold on their own.

“I’m so sorry,” he added.

You pressed your lips together, fighting your final urge to accept his apology and run back to him. It took you a moment to finally move your feet and step away from the table. Josh stayed where he was, bent over the table with all the notebooks in front of him.

“Bye, Josh.”

You grabbed your bag and keys and stepped out the front door. The rest of your things could wait until later, once you felt confident that you wouldn’t feel tempted to give Josh a second chance. What he had done was unforgivable, you knew that.

You just wished it didn’t hurt so bad to leave.

Chapter Text

You stared out the windows at the far end of the room, admiring the distant Los Angeles skyline. Jim was laying on your chest, blowing hot air onto your collarbones every time that he exhaled. His fur was soft beneath your fingers as you ran your hands along his back, making him slowly thump his tail against the couch in contentment.

It wasn’t often that you got to enjoy lazy mornings, but you and Josh had just arrived back from the South American leg of the tour and were enjoying the free time before you moved on to Canada. As much as you loved tour life, it never quite beat sitting in your living room and watching the sunrise.

“I was wondering where you were this morning,” Josh said, interrupting your daydream.

You turned around so that you were facing Josh. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs, wearing nothing but the shorts that he always wore to bed during the summers. His hair was a messy pile of curls on top of his head, still pressed flat from where he had been laying on his pillow.

“I was watching the sunrise with Jim,” you answered, giving Jim another scratch on the head. “You can’t get a good view from the bedroom.”

Josh wandered over to where you were sitting and bent down so that he could press a gentle kiss to your lips. Jim, once he realized that Josh had woken up, rolled onto his side so that his belly was clearly exposed to Josh for rubs. You shifted your knees so that Josh would have a place to sit on the couch.

“Have you made breakfast yet?” he asked as he rubbed Jim’s tummy.

“Not yet. I was waiting for you.”

Josh grinned, “How thoughtful.”

“Plus, you’re way better at making eggs than I am.”

“I can’t argue that.” Josh moved his hand from Jim to your leg and began rubbing small circles into your thigh. “Did you want to get started now?”

“Not if you keep doing that,” you smiled.

Josh pulled his hand away from your leg and stood up, raising his hands over his head to stretch. You took a moment to admire the way his muscles moved, not even caring if your gaze lingered. He took notice of this.

“What are you doing?” he asked. His cheeks were already growing pink.

“Just looking at my husband,” you said, holding a hand out to him. He walked over and laced his fingers with yours. “Is that such a crime?”

“I guess not.”

You used Josh’s hand as a support for you to pull yourself off the couch. At the same moment,  Josh decided to help you a little by giving your arm a solid tug. This, of course, caused you to fall right into his chest.

“Was that on purpose?” you asked. One of your hands was still splayed out on his chest.

“Maybe,” he grinned. With his free hand, he tilted your chin up so that he could kiss you. This one was more forceful than the last, and you found it hard to pull yourself away from his embrace.

“Come on, idiot. Let’s make some breakfast.”

Josh kept his arms wrapped around you as you made your way to the kitchen. Jim’s toenails clicked on the wood floors as he followed after you, hoping to get a portion of whatever you and Josh ended up making.

“So, darling, what should we have for breakfast?” Josh asked.

“I was thinking eggs, toast, and coffee.”

“That doesn’t sound too difficult to make.”

“I didn’t think so.”

Josh finally unwrapped his arms from around you and began to gather the things he would need to make eggs. You, meanwhile, grabbed your phone and connected it to the bluetooth speaker. No cooking was complete without music, especially if that music was from a playlist that you and your husband had been making together even before you started dating.

Once the music was playing, you danced your way into the kitchen and began to brew the coffee. Josh was very particular about the way that he liked his coffee, and it had taken you almost the entire five years you had been together to finally perfect his preferred technique. He even claimed that he liked it better when you made it, but you were pretty sure he was just flattering you.

“Do you need any help, Josh?” you asked.

He was still cracking eggs into the hot pan, all while Jim sat patiently by the counter staring up at him.

“I think I’ve got it. Did you make the toast already?”

“I was going to wait until the eggs were almost done so that it’s still warm when we eat.”

“Oh yeah, that makes sense.”

You leaned against the counter next to where Josh was standing so that you could have a better view of what he was doing. He was quick to wrap his arm around you and pull you into his side, leaving his other arm free to stir the eggs with. You shifted so that you could wrap both of your arms around his middle and lean into him.

“You’re awfully touchy this morning,” you smiled up at him.

“I’m just taking advantage of the time I have with you that doesn’t involve a full bus of crew members watching every bit of affection I give you.”

“Yeah, that is nice, isn’t it?”

“Very nice.”

Josh took the opportunity to kiss you again, but you interrupted it by giggling halfway through.

“What?” Josh smiled, joining in with your laughter.

“I’m just not used to this!” you said. “It’s… nice.”

“Just nice?”

“Ok, more than nice, but I wasn’t going to just say that.”

Josh shook his head and returned to stirring the eggs around the pan. You leaned into him again and idly began to run your fingers along his side. Your touch made Josh jump a little.

“Are you ok?” you asked, stopping your movement.

“Yeah, I’m ok. That just tickles.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. I’m too ticklish for my own good, anyway.”

You resisted the temptation to run your fingers over his side again and instead went to start on the toast. The eggs were almost ready and you wanted to make sure that they didn’t get cold before the toast was done.

You listened to Josh’s quiet singing - something that didn’t happen often - as you waited for the toast to finish, well, toasting. He didn’t seem entirely aware of it as he stood over the stove, pushing the eggs around the pan. Jim was still sitting next to the counter, holding out hope for a chunk of egg.

“I think these are almost ready,” Josh announced. “How’s the toast and coffee coming along?”

“Coffee will be done in a few more minutes and the toast should be popping up at any moment.”

“Perfect.”

You grabbed the two jars of jam from the fridge, you and Josh could never agree on just one kind to buy, and set them on the counter next to the two plates you had grabbed earlier. The rest of the breakfast preparations went by in a flash, and before you knew it you and Josh were sitting out on the deck with your breakfast.

“Don’t you think you should put on a shirt? We are on the deck, after all.”

“It’s nothing you can’t find on the Internet,” Josh smiled as he took a bite of toast. “Besides, are you saying you want me to cover up all this?”

Josh gestured to his torso with his half-eaten piece of toast. Now it was your turn to blush and cast your eyes away from him.

“Not saying that at all,” you mumbled. “Just didn’t know if you would care if the neighbors decided they wanted to come outside for breakfast too.”

Josh shrugged, “I don’t mind.”

You tore off a small piece of your toast and held it out to Jim, who had been resting under the table while you ate. He happily took the bread from your fingers and swallowed it in one go. Next to you, Josh leaned back in his chair so that he could rest one arm on the back of yours. His hand lightly traced your shoulder as you took a long sip of your coffee.

“Thank you for waiting to make breakfast with me,” Josh said. “This was really nice.”

“Yeah, we should do this more often.”

“It’s just too bad we’re not home more often.”

“I know, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take advantage of the times that we are.”

“You’re right.” Josh leaned over and pressed a kiss to your cheek. He left a bit of jam behind, which you quickly wiped away with the back of your hand.

“Gross,” you giggled.

“Sorry,” Josh mumbled around another bite of toast.

“Hey, Josh?”

“Yes, Y/N?”

“I love you a lot.”

“I love you a lot too.”

You smiled and leaned into Josh’s shoulder. Lazy mornings were definitely something that you could get used to.

Chapter Text

You watched as the clock on your bedside table switched from 2:59 to 3:00, marking the precise three hours that you had been laying in bed. You had tried every technique that you knew for making yourself tired, but every single one had only led to wasted time. If you weren’t going to sleep, even after three hours of trying, you decided that you may as well make the most of whatever time you had before the sun came up and there would be responsibilities for you to attend to.

You glanced towards Josh’s window as you shuffled towards the far side of your room. His window was open just a crack, no doubt to let in the summer breeze. He was always commenting about how he liked to listen to the frogs outside when he was trying to sleep. If only the same thing worked for you.

You squinted at the sudden bright light from your ceiling light. There were a couple half-finished sketches sitting on your desk, so you decided to work on those for a little while. That would at least get your blood flowing and - by some miracle - might make you tired again. You played some quiet music from your phone as well, just so your room didn’t feel quite so eerily quiet.

Your sketch was almost complete when something smacked against your window. You whipped around to try and catch a glimpse of whatever it was that was launching an attack on the side of your house. There weren’t any trees outside, meaning that it was more likely than not an animal. Or, worse, a person.

You turned your music up a few notches, hoping that it would drown out the noise if it were to happen again. A minute or so passed peacefully, until the same noise happened again. This time, it happened twice in a row.

“Ok, what the hell?” you muttered, deciding that this incident warranted an investigation.

You slid your window open and pushed your face up to the screen that separated you from the outside world. Down in the grass, you spotted a figure waving up at you. He was barely illuminated by the streetlight that stood out by the sidewalk, but it was just enough for you to recognize that familiar puff of pink hair.

“Are you insane?” you called down. “I thought I was about to get murdered.”

“Sorry!” Josh answered. “Now get your butt out here!”

“What? Why?”

“We’re going on an adventure! And bring your skateboard.”

You sighed and looked down at your loose pajama shorts and oversized t-shirt. An outfit change was definitely in order before you followed Josh out to, well, wherever he was taking you. Athletic shorts and a sweatshirt you had stolen from Josh a number of years ago would have to do.

Josh was skating idly around the street when you finally joined him, carrying your own skateboard tucked under one arm. You took a moment to watch him move so effortlessly over the pavement - a skill you hadn’t totally mastered yourself - and imagined what it would like to be on there with him. Skateboarding wasn’t really an activity for two people, but you could dream.

“Ready?” Josh asked, sliding to a stop in front of you.

“Hold on, you have to give me some more details before we go anywhere.”

You resisted the urge to put your hand on his chest, right over the decal on his sweatshirt. His eyes met yours and you bit down on your lip to keep a straight face.

“What details do you want?”

“First of all, why did you start pelting my window with rocks at three in the morning?”

“I woke up from a nightmare, decided to skateboard a bit to get myself to calm down, saw your light was on, and decided you might want to come along since you obviously weren’t sleeping either.”

“And you couldn’t text me because…?”

“There’s no fun in that,” he grinned.

You sighed. “Alright, Dun, where are you taking me?”

“Around.”

“Around?”

“Yeah.”

You tried to look annoyed, but it was near impossible with the smile that Josh had on his face. He reached out and placed a hand on your shoulder, squeezing it lightly.

“Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then follow me.”

Josh immediately took off on his skateboard, meanwhile you fumbled you catch up. Your head was still reeling from having Josh’s hand on your shoulder and the way that his eyes had been staring into yours. Sure, the two of you had had your fair share of flirty moments before, but there was something different in the air tonight. Then again, maybe it was just the fact that the two of you were out at three in the morning. That would make any experience feel different.

“We must look like a pair of crazy teenagers,” you said, once you finally caught up to Josh, “skating around in the middle of the night like this.”

“Yeah, except both of us are well into our twenties,” he added with a laugh.

You smiled and skated past Josh, enjoying the way that the wind was blowing through your hair. The only sounds were the steady roll of your skateboard wheels along the pavement and cars driving down the distant freeway. Having Josh with you also took off the edge of being out alone at night, allowing you to feel completely at ease.

You eventually came across a house that had a number of different brightly colored flowers in the front yard. Josh nearly crashed into you as you made a sudden stop in front of it, wanting to take a moment to admire all the different plants. There were more flowers than you knew the name of, but that didn’t make them any less beautiful.

“What are you looking at?” Josh asked. He rolled over to where you were standing, but didn’t step off his skateboard like you had.

“Just the flowers,” you said, leaning over a little so you could get a closer look. “I've never seen them before, even though I’ve lived here for years.”

“I know the lady who lives here. She’s friends with my parents. Her and my dad are always talking about gardening.”

“I didn’t know your dad was into gardening.”

“You’d be surprised.”

You stood and admired the flowers a little longer until you decided that you didn’t want to keep Josh waiting. The flowers would still be there tomorrow, if you felt so inclined to come back and look at them. Just as you were about to get on your board, you noticed that Josh was staring at you out of the corner of your eye. He averted his eyes as you turned to look at him.

“Why were you staring at me like that?” you smiled.

“Like what?”

“Come on, Dun, don’t play dumb,” you said, reaching out to push lightly at his arm.

“Ok, ok,” he giggled, ducking away from your hand. “The light of the street light made you look really nice.”

“That’s the best compliment you could come up with?”

“Yes.”

You laughed, “What a terrible compliment.”

“Hey! I was under a lot of pressure with you standing there looking like that.”

You looked down at the outfit that you had thrown together just before leaving the house, “Yes, a mess.”

“A cute mess.”

Josh was still standing on his skateboard, meaning that you had to look up at him more than usual to meet his eyes. There was a smirk on his lips as he met your gaze, followed by a lip bite as you looked up at him.

“Are you going to kiss me or what?” you smiled.

Without another word between the two of you, Josh stepped down from his skateboard and pulled you towards him. You started to lean in, but Josh went the same way and you ended up bumping your nose straight into his. 

“Ow,” you giggled, using your hand that wasn’t currently tangled in Josh’s hair to rub at your nose.

“Sorry,” Josh laughed. His arms were still wrapped around you, holding you close to him.

“Don’t you know you’re always supposed to go right?”

“I got nervous.”

“It’s ok, come here.”

You leaned in again, this time making sure that you weren’t going to bump into one another before pressing your lips to his. They were surprisingly soft and seemed to fit perfectly against yours. It didn’t take long for you to start smiling against his lips.

“What?” he whispered, pulling back slightly. “Did I mess something else up?”

“No, I just can’t believe we’re making out in front of your mom’s friend’s house at three in the morning.”

“Well, when you put it that way,” he smiled.

You pressed another quick kiss to his lips before grabbing your skateboard from where it had ended up discarded on the ground. Josh did the same.

“Come on, we should get home. People are going to be waking up for work soon.”

“Good call.”

You allowed Josh to lead the way home since he actually knew where he was going. There were a few times where he tried to hold your hand as you skated next to one another, but it only ended with one of you nearly face planting into the pavement. After your numerous failed attempts, you decided to save hand holding as a walking activity.

Your heart sunk when your house came into view. Spending the last hour with Josh had completely made up for your three hours of failed sleeping attempts, and you weren’t looking forward to having to get back in bed alone. Thankfully, Josh walked you to your door, just as unwilling to put an end to the night so soon.

“Thanks for skating with me,” he smiled.

“Thanks for bringing me along. I think it was just what I needed.”

“I think it was just what both of us needed.”

He hooked a finger under your chin and pulled you into another kiss. This one was more gentle than the last few, but just as sweet.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. “Maybe I can take you on a proper date or something.”

“I would like that.”

“Goodnight, Y/L/N.”

“Goodnight, Dun.”

You waited for Josh to make it to the sidewalk in front of your house before stepping through the front door. The climb up to your room felt like forever, even with the light spilling out from under the door to remind you just how far you had to go. Your pajamas from earlier that night were still on the floor, making getting changed an easy task.

Josh was standing by his own window, fiddling with something on his bedside table. You stood and watched him for a moment, hoping you could catch his eye before you got in bed. Right when you were about to give up, he turned and noticed you. He smiled and blew a kiss your way, which you pretended to catch.

You shut your light off and crawled under the covers, letting the first kiss you shared with Josh play over and over again in your head. No matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t wipe the smile off of your face.

You fell asleep just as the clock hit 4:00.

Chapter Text

You sat in your car, staring at the half-lit sign that hung above the door of your local Guitar Center. There were only a few people inside, mostly employees who were lazily moving about. One of them was standing on the other side of the door, wiping it down with some cleaning solution. Hopefully he hadn’t seen you sitting alone in your car for the last five minutes.

“Ok, come on, Y/N. You’re never going to learn a new instrument if you don’t buy it in the first place.”

You finally shut your music off, knowing that the longer you let it play, the more likely you would be to turn around and go home. The guy that had previously been cleaning the door had disappeared, so you took this as your opportunity to get inside with the least amount of human interaction as possible.

You felt overwhelmed the moment that you stepped in the doors. There were countless different instruments sitting all around the floor and hanging on the walls. Despite the fact that you had already done your research about all the different types of guitars - and decided which one was the best fit for you - your head still felt like it was spinning. The confusion must have been evident on your face, because you had hardly been in the store for more than a minute when an employee was asking you if you needed help.

“What? I’m sorry,” you said upon noticing the employee. The words that had come from his mouth had been muffled in the midst of your confusion.

“I asked if you needed help,” he said. There was the slightest hint of a smile on his face. “I can point you in the right direction, if you need it.”

You took a moment to size up the stranger. He didn’t look to be much older than you, a year or two at most, and his hair was a mop of brown curls on top of his head. The shirt he was wearing was a plain baseball tee, not unlike most of the other employees in the store. You tried to find a nametag on it somewhere, but a quick glance around the fabric yielded no results.

“Um, yes. That would be great, actually,” you said, giving him what you hoped was a grateful smile. “I have a guitar picked out, I just have no idea where to even begin.”

“Great, let’s take a look at what you’ve got.”

You grabbed your phone from your pocket and opened your photos. The stranger took a step closer to you so that he could look with you, leaving hardly any space between your shoulders. Your muscles tensed in an attempt to keep from brushing up against him, but you still felt your face getting hot just from his close proximity.

To your dismay, the first photo to pop up when you opened the app was one of you and your friend at a concert you had recently gone to. Your tongue was hanging out of your mouth as you leaned into your friend, both of your faces illuminated by the purple lights in front of you. You hastily slid the photo away and took a moment to take a deep breath before you looked for the actual photo you needed.

“Sorry about that,” you said, trying to turn your shaky exhale into a laugh.

“No worries,” the guy smiled. “I have worse pictures than that on my phone.”

You shook your head a little as you quickly swiped through your recent photos, looking for the screenshot you had taken of the guitar you had decided on. After a solid thirty seconds of searching, you found what you needed and passed your phone off to the employee.

“This is what I’m looking for,” you said.

He brought your phone a little closer to his face and read over the details of the guitar. After a moment, he began to nod and passed your phone back to you.

“I think we have that in stock. Let me go grab it for you real quick.” He started to turn and walk away, but paused and looked back at you before he had gone more than a few steps. “And feel free to take a seat over there, if you want.”

“Ok,” you smiled.

While he went off to get the guitar you wanted, you decided to wander around the store and take a look at all the other instruments. The store was relatively empty, aside from a couple guys having a heated discussion in the piano section. You decided to stay far away from them, not wanting to get somehow dragged into the crossfire.

“Hey, there you are,” a familiar voice said. You turned around to face them. The guy from before was standing a few feet away, holding a guitar case in one of his hands. “Got your guitar.”

“Oh, awesome,” you smiled, reaching your hands out to take it from him. “Thank you so much.”

“Did you want to try it out first? Might be a good idea before you sink a couple hundred dollars into that thing.”

You took a moment to consider his offer. Although you had done your fair share of research, trying the instrument out in person didn’t sound like such a bad idea. Plus, it would buy you some more time with the attractive Guitar Center employee.

“I don’t really know how to play guitar, but I’m sure I could give it a shot.”

“I can help,” he smiled.

“You play guitar?”

“Well, no, but I’m sure together we can figure something out.”

You couldn’t help but laugh as you took a seat on a nearby stool. The employee grabbed another stool and dragged it over so that he could sit across from you. You could practically feel his gaze on you as you reached down and grabbed the guitar from its case, resting it carefully across your legs.

“I’m Josh, by the way,” he said, breaking the silence. “I probably should have mentioned that a little earlier.”

“Y/N,” you smiled.

“Alright, Y/N, let’s hear you make some music.”

You hesitantly adjusted the guitar in your arms and strummed it a couple times. It sounded beautiful, even with your complete lack of knowledge about how to play a guitar.

“Very nice,” Josh nodded.

“That wasn’t very impressive,” you said, glancing up at him for a moment. “But thanks.”

“Do you know any chords?”

“Not really. I really am just starting out, that’s why I needed the guitar in the first place.”

“Do you want me to show you some?”

“I thought you weren’t a guitar player?”

“I’m not, but my friends have shown me some chords here and there.”

“Ok, show me what you’ve got, Josh.”

He scooted forward a little, once again leaving just the tiniest bit of space in between your knees. You pressed your lips together to keep from smiling and tried to focus on what Josh was about to show you.

“Do you mind?” he asked, gesturing to your hand.

“What?”

“I need your hand, you know, to show you the chords.”

“Oh, right,” you said sheepishly, holding your hand out toward him.

He gently took your hand in his own - which was covered in calluses, you noticed - and placed your fingers in the correct spots. You tried to focus on what he was showing you, but it was hard when your hand was practically tingling where his skin met yours.

“Try that,” he said, finally pulling his hands away from yours.

You dug your fingers a little harder into the strings and carefully strummed the guitar again, listening to the difference in sound. Josh smiled, obviously pleased that he was able to teach you something. It was hard not to stare when he had a smile like that.

“Look at me, learning stuff before I’ve even left the store,” you smiled.

“Here, I’ll teach you another one.”

Josh had just barely started rearranging your fingers before another employee walked over. You immediately pulled your fingers away, prompting Josh to look up at you with furrowed eyebrows. It wasn’t until his coworker cleared his throat that he realized what was going on.

“Someone needs help with drums,” he said plainly.

“Can you help them out? I’m kind of in the middle of helping someone right now.”

“No, because you were hired to help people with drumming. None of us have anywhere close to the amount of knowledge that you do in that area, so you need to go help. I can handle the guitar stuff, since I actually know what I’m doing.”

Josh sighed and turned back to you, mouthing a quick apology before standing up and heading to the other side of the store where all the drum equipment was. You watched him go, already regretting not getting his number when you had the chance. At least you knew where he worked.

“So, what are you thinking about this guitar?” the new employee asked, sitting down where Josh had previously been.

“I think I’m going to get it,” you smiled, already putting it back in its case.

“Great, I’ll meet you up at the front.”

The new guy walked off, leaving you to finish locking up the guitar case on your own. You sat for a moment, debating just sitting around and waiting for Josh to come back, but ultimately decided against it. Seeing him one more time wasn’t worth potentially coming across as a creep.

The bickering duo was at the counter when you arrived, buying something of their own. From the sounds of it, whatever debate they had been having earlier had finally been put to rest in favor of friendly conversation. You listened in while waiting for them to finish their transaction.

“Is it going to be ready by the show on Friday?” the first one asked.

“They said it would be, but I’m not so sure. Is it the end of the world if it isn’t?”

“No, but having merch at shows would be a nice step forward for the band.”

“We’ll get there, Tyler.”

“Alright, you’re all set. Have a nice day.”

The two guys thanked the employee and walked off, still talking about whatever show they had on Friday. You pushed the conversation from your mind and leaned your guitar up against the counter. Thankfully the employee remembered what guitar it was, meaning you didn’t have to try and rack your brain for the name you had already forgotten.

You covertly glanced around the store as he rang you up, looking for any sign of Josh. Unfortunately, you couldn’t even hear his voice, let alone see him. When you were handed your copy of the receipt, you figured that whatever tiny chance you had with him had been squashed entirely.

You stuffed the receipt into your pocket, scooped up your guitar case, and headed for the front door, already fumbling around for your car keys. Your hip had just come into contact with the door when someone called your name, stopping you dead in your tracks. The voice was familiar.

“Y/N! Hold on!”

You turned to look over your shoulder, only to see Josh half-jogging towards you, holding a small sheet of pink paper in his hand. He came to a stop just in front of you and held the slip out towards you. His chest was heaving slightly.

“In case you ever want to have a jam session or something.”

You smiled and took the paper from his hand, keeping it held securely between your fingers. Your mind was already running wild with possibilities of what “something”s you and Josh could do together.

“I’ll definitely be taking you up on that offer,” you grinned.

“I’m glad,” he said, very obviously sharing your excitement. “And good luck on learning guitar, by the way.”

“Thanks, I’m going to need it.”

“You’re going to be great at it, I’m sure.”

You were about to say something else when one of Josh’s coworkers called him over. He dramatically rolled his eyes before giving you a little wave and returning to his job. After a slight adjustment of all the things in your hands, you pushed the door open again and crossed the parking lot to your car.

You definitely hadn’t expected your trip to Guitar Center to be that successful.

Chapter Text

“There’s something I have to tell you, Y/N.”

You didn’t like your mom’s tone of voice when she said it. She was speaking quieter than normal, a clear indication that what she was about to say was inevitably going to upset you in some way or another. Already bracing yourself for the worst, you set down the spoon you had been mixing with and turned to lean your back against the counter.

“What’s going on?” you asked. Your mind was already racing with possibilities.

“Your cousin Sam was involved in a car accident yesterday. He was rushed into emergency surgery, but his injuries were too bad and he didn’t make it.”

Your hand flew back to grip the counter, keeping your shaky legs steady. The information hadn’t fully processed in your mind yet, but your stomach was already twisting so bad that you thought you might puke straight into the sink. You didn’t have the chance to see your cousins often because of busy schedules, but when you did get together you were always laughing and enjoying one another’s company. You and Sam had always been particularly close because of your similarity in age. Now that he was gone, something felt off in the world.

“He died?”

“Yes. Your aunt called me earlier today to let me know.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Mom.”

“Of course. Do you need anything from me, sweetheart?”

“I think I’ll be ok. Josh should be getting home from his meetings soon and he’ll be able to take care of me. Should I start looking at plane tickets home?”

“Not yet. It won’t be long until a funeral is planned and you can schedule around that. Just focus on taking care of yourself right now. I know this is hard.”

“I will,” you said, already beginning to feel the lump that was forming in your throat. “You should do that, too.”

“I am. Your dad and I are going over to see your aunt and uncle later today.”

“Can you let them know I’ll be keeping them in my thoughts?”

“Of course. Call me if you need anything, ok?”

“Ok, Mom.”

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”

You slowly pulled the phone away from your ear and set it on the counter, never letting your eyes leave the spot on the floor that they were glued to. Your entire chest felt hollow, void of any emotion other than shock. Tears prickled at the corners of your eyes, but you simply wiped them away and turned back to the food you had been making for dinner. There would be time for crying later, when Josh was there to hold you close and calm your shaking body.

The music you had turned on to help distract yourself was still playing when Josh walked through the door, carrying a number of folders in his arms. His mouth was drawn in a tight line, the polar opposite of what it usually was when he returned home after a long day. You waited in the kitchen, not wanting to overwhelm him by demanding his attention the moment he walked in the door.

“Hi, love,” he said once his shoes were off and he had joined you in the kitchen. 

You smiled as he wrapped an arm around your waist and pulled you into his side, pressing a gentle kiss to your lips. His fingers rubbed small circles into your hip.

“Hi. How were your meetings?”

Josh sighed and tilted his head so that it was resting on top of yours. “Terrible. Tyler and I had to fight with management practically the entire time because they weren’t doing what we asked them to. Tyler was more upset than I was, but seeing him that angry affected me too. I’m just glad to be home and relax and not have to worry about anything for awhile.”

You bit down on your lip and nodded, keeping your eyes away from Josh’s. After hearing about his hard day, there was no way you were going to dump all the stuff about your cousin on him. He just wanted to have a relaxing night, so that’s what you would give him.

“Dinner smells delicious, by the way.”

“Thanks,” you smiled, giving the bowl in front of you one final stir. “It should be ready in an hour or so, once I get it in the oven.”

“Do you need help with anything?”

“Nope. Why don’t you grab a drink and sit on the couch for awhile? I’ll join you once the food is ready.”

“Alright, let me know if you need anything.”

Josh gave you another kiss before grabbing something to drink from the fridge and walking off to the living room. Once he was gone, you stopped and leaned forward onto the counter, burying your face into your hands. Seeing Josh had brought on a fresh wave of emotions about your family, but you were determined not to let him see, at least for now. Maybe you would be able to talk to him later tonight, once the stress of the day was no longer the first thing on his mind.

You finished up dinner and stuck it in the oven, taking the time to regulate your breathing and keep the tears out of your eyes. Once everything was cleaned or cooking, you grabbed your own drink from the fridge and decided to join Josh on the couch. He had already made himself comfortable and turned on your favorite TV show.

“Is there room for one more on the couch?” you smiled.

“Always,” Josh smiled, adjusting his position slightly and holding an arm out for you.

You took a seat next to Josh and curled up under his arm, making sure to lay in such a way that you would still be able to drink without spilling it all over Josh or yourself. When you were settled, Josh wrapped his arm a little tighter around you. You felt calm curled up next to him; maybe it would be enough to keep you from breaking down for the rest of the night.

“How was your day here?” Josh asked. “I forgot to ask earlier in the midst of talking about the meetings.”

“It was good!” you lied, putting perhaps a little too much forced excitement into your voice. “My mom called so I got to talk to her for a little while, which was nice. Jenna also stopped by for a little while. I’m going to lunch with her on Tuesday.”

“That will be fun. Where are you going to go to lunch?”

You reached over and grabbed Josh’s free hand, idly playing with his fingers. “Not sure yet. We’re going to see how we feel on the actual day.”

“Makes sense.”

You nodded and leaned further back until your head was leaned on Josh’s shoulder. He brought his other hand up and brushed your hair back out of your face so that he could see you a little better.

“What did you and your mom talk about?”

“Oh, you know, normal stuff. How things are at home and all that.”

Josh nodded. You watched as his eyebrows furrowed for a moment, then relaxed again. He turned to you, making sure to meet your eyes.

“What’s going on with you, love?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re not acting quite like yourself. I don’t how to explain it, but I can tell that something is bothering you that you’re not talking about.”

You shook your head, maybe a little too much, “No. No, I’m ok.”

You tried to force a smile to go along with it, but your lip began to quiver. Josh took notice of this and wrapped both of his arms around you, completely enveloping you. You reached past him and set your drink on the side table next to his so that you could totally wrap your arms around him and hold him close.

“I’m sorry,” you mumbled into his chest. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to break down because I know you’ve had a hard day but- Josh, I don’t know what to do.”

“Hey, don’t apologize for being upset,” he said, though you could hear the worry in his voice. His hand started to move along your back, rubbing it gently. You kept your face buried in his shirt, trying your best to hold back sobs. “I don’t want you to ever hide anything from me, ok? Even if I’ve had a bad day, my main priority is taking care of you. I can forget about my own problems for awhile to help you with yours.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, so why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”

“When my mom called, she told me that my cousin Sam got in a bad car accident and,” you paused to take a shaky breath, “they took him in for surgery, but he didn’t make it. I don’t know what to do with myself, Josh. How do you move past something like that?”

“Oh, Y/N,” he said, tightening his grip around you even more. “Losing family is hard, I know, but it’s going to be ok. You don’t need to make sense of anything right now. Sometimes it’s ok to just be upset.”

“It’s just so unfair. He was so young and was going to go so far in life and that was all taken from him. And I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to him because I just assumed I would see him at the next reunion, but now my whole family just has this hole in our lives. I’m angry and sad and confused.”

Josh tucked your head under his chin, moving you slightly so that your ear was right over his heartbeat. His arms were still tight around you, reminding you that you weren’t alone in any of this. He was going to be by your side.

“Life just doesn’t make sense, sometimes. Terrible things happen and we lose people we love, but it doesn’t mean that they’re gone. Your family isn’t going to forget him anytime soon and I bet he’s still watching over you, ready to laugh along with all your jokes just like he did when he was alive. And you still have all your memories together; those won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”

You nodded against Josh’s chest. It was rising and falling steadily, giving you something to match your own breathing to.

“Thank you, Josh. That means a lot. Really.”

“Your welcome. Just don’t beat yourself up for feeling a lot of different emotions, ok? It’s ok to feel them.”

“I’ll try not to.”

“Now I vote we spend the rest of the night right here on this couch cuddling and eating snacks and watching whatever terrible TV our hearts desire.”

“Am I allowed to cry?”

“Crying is encouraged,” Josh said before pressing a gentle kiss to the top of your head.

“Ok.”

Josh began to find a TV show for you two to watch while you readjusted into a more comfortable position to watch TV. Your heart still felt heavy, but Josh’s encouragement and the simple knowledge that he was going to be there to comfort you was enough to put a small smile on your face. 

When the oven eventually went off, Josh immediately got up and went to the kitchen to finish making dinner so you could remain curled up on the couch. He came back a few minutes later, carrying two filled plates and fresh drinks for the both of you.

“Thank you,” you smiled as he carefully rested your plate on your lap.

“Of course.”

You waited until Josh sat down and got comfortable before starting the TV show again. It had only been on a few minutes before you paused it again and set your fork on your plate.

“Are you ok?” Josh asked. He had made a habit of asking every time you did something that seemed a little off.

“Yeah, I just… wanted to say thank you again.”

“For what?”

“For noticing that I was upset and asking about it, even though I tried to brush it off. It means a lot that you care about me that much because a lot of people wouldn’t do that for me.”

Josh’s mouth curled up into a smile. He reached out and grabbed one of your hands, squeezing it tightly. “It helps that your emotions are easy to read,” he laughed quietly. “But you know I care about you, Y/N, and I would do anything for you. And although I didn’t agree with the decision, it means a lot that you were willing to stop worrying about your own problems to take care of me after a stressful day.”

“I think we both need to be a little bit more selfish about our problems,” you laughed.

“Yeah, maybe.”

“I love you, Josh.

“I love you too, Y/N.”

You both leaned forward and gave each other a quick kiss before going back to watching TV like nothing had happened.

Chapter Text

A slight drizzle of rain started to coat the driveway as you stood on your porch, watching the last few party guests make their way back to the cars. Some of them were stumbling, but all of them had someone sober to drive them home. You had made sure to check with everyone before they left to make sure that nobody was driving home unsafely.

When the doors of the car were closed and the headlights of the car had turned on, you finally turned and walked back inside. Only a few people were left in your living room: some of your childhood friends who had come in from out of town and Josh Dun, also known as the boy you had been in love with since you first moved to Columbus. Or, as he was more commonly referred to, your best friend. It hadn’t been Josh’s intention to spend the night at your place since he lived close by, but after a few too many drinks he had ended up being too sick and way too drunk to get himself home safely, so you offered up your room for him to stay in.

“We should get up to bed, shouldn’t we?” one of your friends mumbled.

“Probably not a bad idea,” her husband answered.

You waited until the two of them had gotten up the stairs before turning your attention to Josh. He was passed out on your couch, one arm resting over his stomach and the other hanging over the side, his mouth partially open. Not wanting to disturb his rest just yet, you started to collect some of the discarded cups that had been left on your coffee table. You didn’t want your house guests to wake up to filth and, if you were being honest, you didn’t really want to either.

“Y/N?” a muffled voice carried over from the other room.

You quickly set down the bowl you were washing and hastily wiped your hands on your jeans as you walked into the living room. Josh was awake now, though the expression on his face indicated that he would rather still be asleep. After his eyes landed on you, he collapsed back into the couch cushions.

“Where am I?” he asked. His eyes slowly fluttered closed again.

“You’re at my house. You said you were feeling sick earlier so I offered to let you stay here. I can take you home, if you want.”

Josh quickly shook his head, only leading to a pained expression. A frown tugged at the corner of your lips. Although he had technically brought this upon himself, you hated to see him in this state.

“Here,” he mumbled, rolling onto his side.

“Alright. Let me finish cleaning some stuff up and then we can get you into bed.”

You waited a moment for Josh’s response, but you were only met with snores. With a sigh, you made your way back to the kitchen to finish washing the last few plates.

Josh was still fast asleep when you finally finished cleaning everything to your liking. From the looks of it, he hadn’t moved an inch since he initially passed out. You took a moment to admire how peaceful he looked, knowing that in just a moment you would end it and force him to deal with his drunken state once again.

“Josh,” you called softly, hoping that it would be enough to wake him up. As should have been expected, Josh didn’t even stir. Even with a slight increase in volume, he showed no acknowledgment that you were even in the room with him. It wasn’t until you reached forward and started to lightly shake his shoulder that he finally blinked his eyes open.

“What?” he asked. His eyes were wide as he rolled onto his back to look up at you. 

“Hey, it’s ok,” you said, letting your hand linger on his shoulder in hopes that it would provide some comfort. “You just need to get up to bed.”

“Where am I staying? The guest room?”

“No, I have guests. You’re going to sleep in my bed.”

“Where are you going to sleep?” he asked, rubbing at one of his eyes.

“Down here on the couch.”

“No, you’re not. I’m not going to steal your bed.”

“Josh, you feel sick. I’m not going to make you stay down here while you feel awful.”

“I’m fine,” he frowned, crossing his arms across his chest for emphasis. “I can sleep down here.”

“Joshua Dun, I am not going to let you sleep down here and I really don’t feel like putting up a fight right now.”

Josh studied for your face for a minute, though you couldn’t be sure if it was because he was shocked or trying to form a coherent answer. Just as you were about to say something else, he slowly started to get himself up into a sitting position and off the couch.

“Thank you,” you mumbled, already walking around the couch in case Josh went stumbling headfirst into the coffee table.

“I got it,” Josh said, holding a hand out towards you when you started to reach for him.

“Are you sure?”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Ok.”

You followed Josh up the stairs towards your room. He collapsed down on your bed the second that it was in his sights, immediately burying his face in the covers.

“Sorry it isn’t made,” you said. “I didn’t really expect anyone but me to be sleeping in it.”

“You mean you didn’t expect to have a sexy guy spending the night?” he mumbled from beneath the blankets. Even with his face hidden, you could perfectly picture the smug smile on his face.

“You’re lucky I’m tired or you would be getting roasted right now. Also don’t look over here, I’m changing into pajamas.”

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, Y/N/N.”

“Yeah, because somebody doesn’t know how to knock before entering rooms.”

“It was one time!”

“And look at what the consequences were.”

“I play shirtless in front of people all the time. What’s the big deal?”

“The big deal is that you choose you play shirtless in front of people. I was just trying to change my clothes!”

You tossed your dirty clothes into the hamper and shut the closet door. Josh seemed to be feeling better - or at least, more sober - based on the back and forth you two were having. It was a nice change from earlier when he was passed out on the couch, hardly able to say more than a few words at a time. Not to mention that having some alone time with him was nice after a whole night of being separated despite being at the same party.

“And I look good while doing it.”

“Hey, do you want something more comfortable to sleep in?” you asked, redirecting your conversation.

“Do you have something for me to wear?”

“I think I have some old clothes of yours that you’ve left here at one point or another. Let me check.”

Josh pushed himself up to a sitting position while you rifled through your dresser. You eventually came across a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt that looked more like something of Tyler’s than Josh’s, but it would have to do. 

“Try these,” you said, tossing them in his direction.

“Ok.”

Josh immediately started unbuttoning his top, making you turn around in embarrassment. As badly as you wanted to take a look, there was no way you were risking Josh seeing the flushed color of your cheeks. Instead, you made a quick excuse about brushing your teeth and slipped into the bathroom so that he could finish getting changed.

Josh was staring at the ceiling when you emerged from the bathroom, now wearing the pajamas you had provided him with. The shirt you had given him was a little tight, meaning that your assumption it belonged to Tyler had most likely been right. His previous clothes were sitting in a messy heap towards the end of the bed.

“You’re back,” he smiled.

“I was only in the bathroom,” you laughed.

“Yeah, but I missed you.”

You swallowed hard and tried not to think too much into his words. Despite him being a little more sober now, he was still way too drunk for his own good, which meant that he was also most likely too drunk to really think about what he was saying. This conversation would be a fuzzy memory, if that, in the morning.

“Do you need anything else before I go downstairs? Some water or something?”

“I think I’ll be ok. I’d rather not put anything else in my stomach.”

“Ok. I’ll see you in the morning, Josh.”

“Wait.” Josh said it just as you reached the door to your room. Your fingers had just barely brushed the handle when his words made you stop dead in your tracks.

“Yeah?”

“Can you stay here? Just for a little while longer? I still feel kinda sick.”

Your hand immediately dropped away from the handle. Even if he hadn’t been sick, you would have stayed just because he asked.

“Yeah, I can stay.”

Your heart fluttered as you took a seat on your bed. Josh was still sprawled out on the other half, though he shifted a little as you joined him, giving you a little more space. You leaned back against the headboard, making sure to keep yourself upright so you weren’t tempted to fall asleep next to him.

“Thanks,” he said softly.

“For?”

“Not leaving.”

“I’m not going to leave you when you feel sick.”

“No, I mean,” he paused to swallow. “Not leaving for good. I know I haven’t exactly been the best friend to you over the years, so it means a lot that you never gave up on me.”

A sad smile tugged on your lips. You and Josh had been through your fair share of arguments over the years, but you knew you loved him too much to ever fully let him go. It wasn’t uncommon for you to wonder if holding onto him so tightly was the right decision or not.

“I’m never going to give up on you, Josh. You’re my best friend.”

“Just your best friend?”

“Well, yeah,” you said. Your fingers began to play with the hem of your sleep shirt, which just so happened to be an oversized Twenty One Pilots shirt from the early days of their career. “What else would you be?”

Josh blinked a couple times at the ceiling, letting the silence between you steadily grow. You were beginning to think that he had fallen asleep with his eyes open when he spoke again.

“I don’t know. Your neighbor or something,” he laughed.

“Right,” you joined his quiet laughter, feeling the tension release from your shoulders.

Josh’s eyes squeezed shut for a moment as he brought another hand up to his stomach. You scooted forward so that you were a little closer to him.

“Are you ok, Josh?”

“Yeah, I just- another pang of nausea,” he said, pushing his head a little further back into the bed.

You reached out and placed a hand on his bicep, rubbing your thumb in small circles. “Are you going to puke? Should I grab a trash can?”

“No, no. I’ll be ok as long as I don’t move. You’re still staying here, right?”

“Of course. I won’t leave until you want me to.”

Josh opened his eyes for a moment and looked at you, “Then you’re staying here forever.”

“I have to sleep at some point.”

“Who says you can’t fall asleep next to me?”

“A lot of people. Or rules. I don’t know,” you said, scrambling for an excuse. He was just drunk and wanted comfort from someone. You weren’t about to let yourself fall asleep next to him and make something out of it that didn’t really exist.

Josh reached over and grabbed your wrist with his free hand. His touch was gentle, but you could still feel every callous on the palm of his hand. “Please.”

There was a pause, quiet enough for you to hear your shaky intake of breath.

“Ok.”

“You should get comfortable.”

“Not until you start feeling better. If I get comfortable, it’s just going to be that much harder for me to get up and grab you something to throw up into.”

“But you’re not leaving?”

“I’m not leaving.”

“Good.”

You expected Josh to pull his hand away from you, but he kept it wrapped gently around your wrist. His other hand was still resting gingerly on his stomach, as if it would somehow make the nausea go away.

“You’re the best person in the world. Did you know that, Y/N/N?”

“Thanks, Josh.”

“I mean it. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

You brushed a couple pink strands of hair out of his face. His eyes watched you as you did so.

“You would find someone else to take my place.”

And it wouldn’t be the first time, either.

“Nobody could take your place.”

You held back a laugh. Why were you even having this conversation right now, anyway?

“People have before and I’m sure they will again.”

“They didn’t take your place. Not really.”

“You’re just saying that.”

Josh’s eyebrows furrowed, “I don’t ‘just say’ things.”

Not wanting to start an argument, you decided to redirect the conversation. “How are you feeling?”

“Better. I think I can move now.”

Josh finally let go of your arm and moved to a normal position on the bed, You followed suit and started to get comfortable on your side of the bed, but a hand reached out and rested gently on your upper arm.

“You’re not going to lay that far away, are you?”

You rolled more onto your back, allowing you to look over your shoulder. Josh was on his side, facing you.

“I was giving you space.”

“I don’t want space. I want you close to me.”

You wanted to allow your heart to flutter at his words, but each time it started to you reminded yourself that he was just a drunk person seeking comfort and you were readily available.

“I’ll come a little closer,” you said, rolling so that you were now facing him and moving a few inches forward.

“Closer,” he pouted, reaching out to rest a hand on your hip.

“Josh,” you sighed, grabbing his hand and moving it away from you. “I’m not going to cuddle with you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re drunk and you want to be close to someone and I just so happen to be here. I’m not going to let this night mean something to me when it’s something you’ll barely remember in the morning.”

“I’m not as drunk anymore,” he protested.

“But you’re still drunk.”

“Not too drunk to know I’m in love with you.”

All the air in your lungs was gone in an instant. A million things began to piece themselves together in your mind, but you could only focus on Josh. His expression was sincere as he looked at you, quietly waiting for some kind of reaction.

“Josh, I love you too but… I need to hear it from you when you’re sober. Just to know that you mean it.”

“I just said I’m sober enough to know how I feel.”

“I know you did, but I need you to do this for me.”

Josh was quiet. The air between you smelled of alcohol, reminding you why you needed to do this. There was still a chance that this whole ordeal would be forgotten in the morning.

“Can I at least kiss you?” he asked. His voice was hardly more than a whisper.

“In the morning, Josh, if you still feel the same.”

“I’m always going to feel the same.”

“Then it won’t be a big deal to wait.”

“Ok.” 

You paused for a moment, waiting to see if he would say anything else. When he remained quiet, you asked, “Are you going to be able to sleep ok? Or are you still sick?”

“I think I’ll be ok.”

You reached forward until you found his arm, then let your fingers run along it until you found his hand. Gently, you interlaced your fingers with his and rested it in a place that was comfortable for both of you. His mouth curled up into a small smile.

“Goodnight, Josh,” you said, giving his hand a light squeeze.

“Goodnight, Y/N.”

*     * *

You were the first one to wake up the next morning. Sunlight was pouring in through the windows and the clock on the bedside table read 10:30, much later than you usually woke up. That wouldn’t have been a huge concern if it hadn’t been for your guests, who you silently hoped had slept in later than you so that you still had time to make breakfast for them.

You started to stretch, but were stopped when your back pressed up against something firm. Shortly after, you became aware of the weight that was pressing into your waist and feeling of fingers interlaced with your own. Panic flowed through your body as you recognized the colors of an all-too-familiar tattoo. Slowly, you began to unravel yourself from where your limbs were tangled with Josh’s without waking him up. Memories from the night before began to flood your mind, both making your heart flutter and filling your stomach with dread.

Once you were out of Josh’s arms, you quickly slipped into the bathroom and shut the door behind you. Your chest was heaving, so you took a moment to steady your breaths before doing anything else. It was just one night of being cuddled up together; that was far from the worst thing you two had done together.

You took your time washing your face and getting ready for the day, trying to stall as much as you could before you had to walk back into the bedroom and face Josh, if he was even awake. There was no telling how much of the night that he would remember and you weren’t entirely willing to find out.

Eventually, you ran out of things to do to get ready and decided to make your way back into the bedroom. You slowly opened the door and started to tiptoe into the room, but when you looked up you realized Josh was already awake and staring at the ceiling. His eyes snapped to you as soon as he heard the door open.

“You’re awake,” you said plainly, dropping your feet so they were resting firmly on the ground. “How are you feeling?”

“About how you’d expect,” Josh laughed, running a hand through his hair. “My head is killing me.”

“That makes sense. You were pretty out of it last night.”

“Yeah. Everything is fuzzy, but stuff is slowly coming back to me.”

Equal parts relief and panic flowed through you at his statement. You avoided eye contact as you shuffled over towards the closet to look for something clean to wear.

“How are you feeling this morning?” he asked.

“I’m ok. Tired, I guess, but not hungover like most people will be.”

“I’m jealous.”

“We can get you some medicine when we’re downstairs to help the headache. And breakfast will help, once I get around to making that.”

“You don’t have to do that. I live just down the street and I already feel like I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

“It’s fine, Josh, I swear. I’m making breakfast for my friends, anyway, so you might as well stay and let someone take care of you.”

“You know I’m not very good at that.”

You looked at him over your shoulder, raising one eyebrow, “I think drunk Josh would beg to differ.”

“Was I a pain last night?”

“In a lot of pain is more like it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. Last night was… well, it wasn’t the worst night we’ve spent together.”

Josh didn’t say anything else, so you waved at him to close his eyes while you got dressed. He made some comment about you stepping into the bathroom to change, but you simply laughed and told him that you had done more than enough for him so he could cover his eyes for the sake of you not having to go back in the bathroom again.

“Do you want me to see if I have any more of your spare clothes?” you asked. “Or are you going to wear the old stuff?”

“I’ll probably just wear the old stuff, but I’m sticking with the pajamas now because they don’t reek of alcohol.”

“Good call.”

“Um, can I ask you something kind of weird?”

You finally fully turned around to look at Josh. “Weird, how?”

“Personal, I guess.”

“Sure.”

“Did I, um… confess anything last night?”

“What do you mean?”

Josh rubbed a hand along the side of his face, once again squeezing his eyes shut. “Like, I don’t know. You know what type of things people usually confess.”

“Like your feelings for someone?”

Josh bit down on his lip and slowly released it from between his teeth. “Yes.”

“You might have mentioned something.”

He sighed and leaned back into the headboard, “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” you said. You made your way over to the bed and sat down, keeping a considerable amount of space between you and Josh. “I guess, to keep things fair, I should remind you that I said I felt the same.”

“You did?”

“Do you not remember?”

“I remember bits and pieces, but it’s fuzzy. Do you mind, um, running me through it?”

You explained to Josh what happened the night before, from him asking you to stay upstairs with him to asking you for a kiss. His ears continued to grow more red as you walked him through the details.

“I’m really sorry that I was acting like that,” he sighed. “That’s… wow.”

“It’s fine, Josh. Like I said, not the worst night we’ve had together.”

“Yeah,” he laughed. “But, I guess what we should focus on here, you feel the same?”

You broke eye contact and looked down at your bed. “Yeah, I do.”

“Does that embarrass you?”

“I guess,” you shrugged. “I mean, you were obviously drunk last night and I’m not entirely sure you meant what you said. I just thought you deserved to know since I told you all the things you said to me. Now we can both be embarrassed.”

You continued to stare at the bed, but Josh reached out and hooked a finger under your chin, bringing your eyes up to meet his. 

“What’s embarrassing about two people being in love with one another?”

“You mean, what you said… you meant it?”

“Every word.”

You hesitantly started to move forward, but Josh caught your cheek and quickly closed the space between you. His free hand came to your hip, guiding you closer to him until you were straddling his lap. Your kisses were eager, but you had no intention of taking this any further. Not yet, anyway.

“I told you I would kiss you if you still felt the same in the morning,” you said, smiling against Josh’s lips.

“And I told you I would always feel the same, right?”

You nodded before pressing your lips to his again.

Chapter Text

“Good morning, sunshine,” a soft voice called.

You grumbled and turned your face further into the pillow, blocking out the light that was pouring in from the nearby window.

“Five more minutes,” you mumbled.

Josh laughed quietly. “If you wait five minutes, your breakfast is going to get cold.”

Breakfast? You were intrigued. Slowly, you blinked your eyes open and let them adjust to the light. Josh - who was shirtless, no less - was standing next to your side of the bed holding a tray of breakfast, a mug of coffee and all. Next to him, Jim was sitting on the ground wagging his tail quickly across the carpet. He was holding a rose in his mouth.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Josh smiled.

“You made me breakfast?” you beamed, quickly pushing yourself up to a sitting position.

“With all your favorites.”

Josh carefully placed the tray over your lap while you reached over and took the rose from Jim’s mouth. You tried to pet his head as thanks, but he only tried to lick your hand. You laughed and invited him to join you on the bed.

Once the tray was settled, Josh walked around and took a seat next to you. He wrapped one arm around your shoulders while you looked over the things he had made for you. He hadn’t been lying when he said he cooked all of your favorites.

“This is a lot of food,” you said as you picked up a piece of fruit. “We’re going to be eating my favorite breakfast for a week.”

“I was hoping that you would share with me,” Josh said, pressing a kiss to your cheek.

You jokingly tapped a finger to your chin, pretending to think it over, before passing Josh a piece of bacon. He ripped off a small chunk and tossed it to Jim, who was doing a very good job of sitting patiently at the end of the bed.

The two of you talked while you ate the food that Josh had made. You were impressed by how well he had cooked everything. He had even managed to make your coffee just the way you liked it, which was something that even you struggled with sometimes.

When you were finally finished eating, Josh carried the tray downstairs to be cleaned. You, meanwhile, laid back down and called Jim over. He quickly made his way across the bed and curled up in your outstretched arms, resting his head on your shoulder. His tail was thumping loudly against the bed.

“Uh oh,” Josh laughed as he walked back into the room, “it looks like somebody stole my spot.”

“There’s room for you in here,” you said, patting the empty space next to you.

Josh got on the bed and, after a bit of adjusting, managed to find a way to cuddle with you without disturbing Jim. Though your arms were around Jim, you managed to rest a head on Josh’s shoulder.

“Thank you again for making me breakfast this morning, I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the day.”

“It was the least that I could do after everything you’ve done for me.”

“I love you, Josh.”

“I love you too.”

Josh turned his head so that he could give you a quick kiss. You pouted when he pulled away, which you earned you another kiss or two or three.

“Alright, I need to go get ready,” you said, slowly shifting out from under Jim. “We still have plans for the rest of the day.”

“Are you finally going to tell me what you have planned?”

You turned to Josh with a sly smile, “Nope.”

Josh dramatically sighed, but you only smiled and slipped into the bathroom. If everything went as planned, this was going to be the best Valentine’s Day yet.