The few months since Jenna met Tyler had truly been the best months she could remember ever having. He made everything just a tiny bit brighter, and she walked around with a near-constant smile on her face. She felt good. She felt happy . Not that she wasn’t happy before, but now she felt happy. She was content with life before, but now there was an underlying joy, excitement, in everything. That was Tyler.
“You’re always smiling nowadays, honey,” Jenna’s mother told her fondly. “I’m glad you’ve met someone that makes you happy.”
Jenna grinned. “Me too, mom.”
She was getting ready for hanging out with Tyler and Josh. It was December, so they had decided to go ice-skating together.
Her mother had already reminded her to dress in warm clothes more than ten times, and was just about to do it again. This time Jenna interrupted her before she could start.
“Mom,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I’ll be fine! Look! I’m wearing sweatpants with tights under, two pair of socks, three jumpers, a jacket, a hat, and mittens! I can’t possibly get cold wearing all this.”
Her mom chuckled. “I know, honey. But it’s a mother’s job to worry, and you’re my only child.”
Jenna just shook her head, but she was smiling.
“Have fun, darling! Call me if you need me, I’ll be home all day,” her mother reminded her, giving her a tight hug.
“Bye, mom. Love you!” she said and ran out the door, backpack in hand.
Tyler and Josh were already waiting for her in Tyler’s car. They both smiled as she opened the passenger door and climbed inside.
“Hi, Jen,” Tyler said happily and leaned over the console to peck her lips.
Jenna smiled as he pulled away. “Hi.”
Josh rolled his eyes in the backseat, pretending to be annoyed. “I’m right here.”
Jenna smirked at him before kissing Tyler again, much more passionately just to tease him. “Did you hear something, Ty?” she asked innocently.
Josh groaned in response.
“You’re ridiculous,” Tyler mused as he pulled out of the driveway.
Jenna sat back in her seat, sighing happily. Today was a good day.
It was her best friend that planted the seed of doubt in her brain.
“Josh and Tyler seem awfully close,” Mary started one day, walking home from school. “I’m like, 90% sure Josh is in love with your boy, Jen.”
Jenna laughed. “Yeah, right.”
“I’m serious,” Mary continued, looking at Jenna imploringly. “They’re always touching, and Josh looks at Tyler like he’s the reason he’s alive.”
Mary threw her arms up in frustration. “Jenna! This is serious!”
“You’ve got it wrong, Mary. Josh is not in love with Tyler!” she defended, getting worked up. “Besides, Josh is aromantic, he doesn’t feel that way about anyone!”
“Aromantic, my ass,” Mary muttered. “Well, no matter what Josh’s feelings are, it doesn’t explain why Tyler is so touchy with him. He has a girlfriend! He’s not supposed to kiss his best friend.”
Jenna stopped and turned to her friend, frowning. “What do you mean kiss ? They don’t kiss.”
“They kiss each other’s cheeks, and hold hands! That’s not normal friend behaviour!”
Jenna rolled her eyes. “It’s normal for them!” she said forcefully. “How would you know about this anyway? They don’t even go to our school!”
Her friend turned to look Jenna in the eyes, forcing both of them to stop again. “I just don’t want you to get hurt,” she said softly. “Look. I know how this all sounds, and I swear I’m not trying to break up something that makes you so happy, okay? But they are incredibly close. No one who isn’t a couple act like that. I’m not saying Tyler’s cheating on you, he would never do that. But I think there might be feelings involved that even they don’t know about, so maybe you should talk to them about it before Tyler realizes himself, and break up with you because he’s conflicted.” She paused a second before adding; “And I know this because I see them sometimes. And also because I know people from their school, and they’ve told me everything about them so I know who my dearest friend is so over-the-heels in love with.”
Jenna looked into her best friend’s eyes. She really did look like she meant what she said, she saw concern and sympathy in her eyes. She knew Mary really meant the best. She sighed. “Look, I’m not saying I believe you, because they’ve been best friend their whole lives, and have always been very touchy-feely with each other,” she explained carefully. “They even talked to me about it before. How their relationship is really special, and how they rely on each other and need each other.”
Mary gave her a look ‘ see what I’m talking about ’.
“But it’s not like that,” Jenna continued sternly. “But if it makes you happy, and if you seriously think this might be a problem, then I’ll talk to them about, okay?”
“Okay. Good,” Mary said, looking a bit relieved. “You know I love you, right? And that I only want what’s best for you?”
Jenna smiled and hugged her. “I know, and I appreciate your concern. But I highly doubt there’s anything going on between the two of them, okay?”
“Okay, if you say so.”
They walked the rest of the way home talking about other things, as if their previous conversation didn’t even happen. But it was still on Jenna’s mind when she got home.
She found her mom in the kitchen after only a moment of thinking that she might be in the living room instead.
“Hi, darling! I didn’t hear you come in,” she greeted, hugging her daughter.
Jenna smiled. “Mom,” she started, hesitating. “Do- Do you-”
Her mom turned around to face her properly, putting the dishes down so her hands were free, paying full attention to her daughter.
“Do you think Tyler and Josh’s relationship is more than just being friends?” she rushed out.
Her mom touched her shoulder, making Jenna meet her eyes. “What makes you say that?”
Jenna bit her lip, feeling a bit dumb for even suggesting it. “Well… Mary talked to me about it. She was concerned. I don’t know…”
Her mom seemed to think for a second before replying. “I honestly don’t know, honey. Yes, they do seem very close. But I don’t know them enough to make a judgement like that,” she explained honestly. “But if it’s bothering you, you should talk to Tyler about it. Don’t accuse him of anything you’re not sure of, but gently ask him. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, honey.”
“Okay,” Jenna answered, still a bit unsure, and guilty for doubting Tyler and Josh. “Thanks.”
“Anytime,” her mother said and kissed her forehead. “Dinner’s ready in about forty minutes.”
With a final ‘thank you’ and a thumbs up, Jenna went up to her room to start doing some homework, deciding to leave these thoughts for now.
Jenna wasn’t the only one bothered by the rumors.
Tyler and Josh were lying in the same bed, ready to fall asleep after a day of doing absolutely nothing. But it was Saturday, or well, probably Sunday now, and they were allowed to do nothing for once.
Josh sighed and turned to face Tyler. He poked his shoulder until his friend turned around.
“What?” Tyler asked, on the verge of falling asleep. But when his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he could make out his friend’s face, he frowned. “J, are you okay?”
Josh shuffled onto his back before answering. “I’m fine. I just-” He paused.
Something was obviously bothering him, and Tyler didn’t like seeing his friend upset, so he took his friend’s cheek in his hand and gently turned his face towards his own. “What’s wrong?”
“Is it weird that we’re sleeping together?” Josh blurted.
Tyler ran his hand through Josh’s hair thoughtfully. “I don’t think it’s weird.”
Josh huffed a breath. “Me neither,” he said. “But I- Friends don’t normally sleep in the same bed, Ty. Doesn’t Jenna think it’s weird?”
“Josh,” Tyler said firmly. “It doesn’t matter what other people think. Jenna told us she was fine with it. We talked to her, don’t you remember?”
“We didn’t say explicitly what it is that we normally do,” Josh argued quietly. “And I know it doesn’t matter. I know. But people are talking…”
Tyler turned onto his back as well, letting his hand fall from Josh’s hair to instead grip his hand. “What are they saying now?”
Josh licked his lip nervously. He didn’t want Tyler to get mad, but at the same time…this was something that bothered him. “They- Well, they think that we’re in a relationship,” he said quietly. “Behind Jenna’s back.”
Tyler stopped short. “What?”
“People sometimes talk when they think I don’t hear. They think you’re cheating on her, or that I’m hopelessly in love with you and Jenna’s in my way, or they call me ho-homewrecker,” Josh took a deep breath, noticing that his voice was wavering.
Tyler was bristling. “Well, they’re wrong! I don’t understand how they can think all of those things when it’s none of their business,” he said angrily. “They actually called you a homewrecker?”
Josh nodded, turning slightly to his side to burrow his face in his pillow.
“They’re assholes.” Tyler faced Josh again, squeezing his hand. “They know absolutely nothing. Don’t let them bother you, okay?”
Josh sighed and nodded again, feeling a tear rolling down his face. “I know.”
“Why is it bothering you so much?” Tyler asked gently.
Josh shrugged. “I don’t want Jenna to think I’m trying to steal you or something,” he mumbled. “I’m really happy like this. And I know you and Jenna are really happy too. But I don’t want to ruin anything with being- With being too close to you.”
“Jenna knows you’re not going to steal me away. She knows we don’t like each other like that,” Tyler told Josh softly. “And she loves you. You’ll never lose either her or me, okay? I would never ever let you go, you mean so much to me, you hear?”
Josh smiled faintly. “I know.”
“Good,” Tyler said, kissing Josh’s shoulder. “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
A few weeks later, when Jenna and Tyler were just hanging out at Jenna’s house, she decided to just ask him about Josh. It kind of gnawed at her, so she decided to just let it out.
“Is Josh in love with you?” she asked nonchalantly, glancing sideways at Tyler’s reaction.
His eyebrows shot up to his hairline, and he coughed once before he started laughing. “Sure he is,” he said teasingly, shaking his head.
Jenna rolled her eyes at her boyfriend.
“He’s aro, Jenna. And we’re best friends,” he said patiently. “You know that, don’t be silly.”
She shrugged. “I know. I just-” She paused, not really knowing how to voice her ridiculous concerns without sounding like an asshole.
“You just what?” Tyler asked curiously, turning his whole body to face her.
Jenna shook her head. “Nothing. Doesn’t matter.”
Tyler just raised an eyebrow at her, but didn’t push it. “If you say so,” he said instead with a shrug, leaning forward to kiss her cheek. But he miscalculated the distance and fell into her lap, making both of them laugh. “Oups.”
“You idiot,” she said fondly.
Tyler smiled up at her sheepishly.
Jenna smirked and leaned down. “What were you trying to do, huh? Trying to do this?” she asked teasingly, kissing his cheek slowly. “Or this?” She kissed his chin. “Or this?” She kissed his jaw. “Or maybe this ?” she mumbled against his lips.
Tyler kissed her back eagerly. “Something like that, yeah.”
Both of them soon forgot all about Josh, lost in their hungry kisses.
Even though Jenna had asked Tyler about Josh, she couldn’t get it completely off her mind.
She subconsciously started to look more closely into all interactions between the boys, looking for everything that might not seem 100% platonic. And well, she found a lot. They held hands, they kissed each other on the cheek, or shoulder, or hand, or temple, or forehead. They said ‘I love you’ to each other, they paid for each other when they ate or did anything outside of their houses, they looked at each other like the other meant the world. Jenna knew no other boys who acted like that.
But when she thought about her own friends she could cross out half of the things on her mental list of ‘things platonic friends don’t do’. And when she noticed that she’d actually made a subconscious list she wanted to smack herself. She had promised herself to let this go!
She declined Tyler’s offer of watching a film together that day, claiming she felt a bit sick, and burrowed herself under the covers in her bed.
She felt guilty for noticing these things, she felt guilty for even considering that there was something more between them, but most importantly she was ashamed that she let it go this far even though Tyler had said that there was nothing between them. Tyler had told her that even the thought was ridiculous, and still she was worrying? What did that say about her? That she couldn’t trust her own boyfriend? That she couldn’t trust her own friend? She felt disgusted with herself.
She covered herself fully with the duvet and thought that maybe the lie about feeling sick wasn’t so far off, after all.
It all really came crashing down on a Saturday when Jenna was having lunch with a few of her friends. There had been a while since they all saw each other, the whole gang, after school, and had decided to go for lunch.
So far it was good. They were complaining about school, teachers, parents, siblings. They talked about how one of them, Sandy, had gotten a tattoo last week and how her parents had ‘ Totally overreacted! And now I’m grounded! Like, what the hell? It wasn’t even that big! And not scandalous at all! Sometimes I just don’t get their deal… ’.
The topic strayed from problems to more fun things, like crushes and boyfriends. Amanda had been kissed by her crush, finally . They’d been dancing around each other for literal months . And since Jenna was the only one in a steady relationship, it was inevitable that they would turn their curious gazes on her.
“So, Jenna,” Sandy said teasingly. “How’s your man?”
Jenna blushed, smiling happily. “He’s good! We’re good!”
“Yeah? Have you...you know,” Sandy continued, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. “I mean, it’s been a few months now…”
Jenna hid her burning face behind her hands, but nodded all the same. “Well, yeah,” she squeaked.
Her friends gasped dramatically in unison, not actually surprised, but pretending to be for the effect.
“Oh, shut up!” Jenna said, giggling. “It’s not like you’re surprised.”
They all laughed.
“Was it good?” Mary asked her, smirking.
Jenna’s face burned up again, and she groaned. “Oh, come on, guys! Give me a break!” she said, but she was smiling.
When they all just stared at her, waiting for an answer, she gave in.
“Fine, you vultures,” she said playfully. “It was good. I don’t have much to compare it with, but it was good. He’s very sweet.”
“Now, enough about me,” Jenna tried. “Anything interesting going on?”
Her friend Clara cleared her throat awkwardly. “Well, except for the ‘Josh rumors’… Not much.”
Jenna looked up. There was only one Josh they could be talking about. “The ‘Josh rumors’? What are you talking about?” There was an edge to her voice that made all of them avoid her eyes. “Are there still rumors about him and Tyler?!”
Mary sighed, tapping her fingers against the table, opening her mouth to try to gently change the subject before someone got mad for real. “It-”
“Well he’s not exactly helping himself, is he?” Clara blurted out, looking around the table with an eyebrow raised.
Jenna bristled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Olive asked him out,” Clara explained. “He said he was ‘ not interested, kind of ’,” she made air quotations, “and then blushed and looked around nervously as if he said something he wasn’t supposed to.”
“He’s aromantic! He was uncomfortable!” Jenna defended, feeling bad about telling them without his consent, but she didn’t want them to think badly of him.
“That’s not all,” Clara said, giving Jenna a look. “Olive, of course, asked if he was already taken. You know what he said?”
Jenna just glared at her, while everyone else looked at Clara curiously.
“He said ‘ it’s complicated ’!” She looked at all of them with wide eyes. “Guys! With all the rumors going around, he said ‘ it’s complicated ’. Like, come on ! The way he and Tyler is together, and then he says that? No offence, Jenna, but there is definitely something going on there,” she concluded, looking straight into Jenna’s eyes.
Jenna didn’t know what to say. Maybe being aromantic was complicated, but- It did seem possible. Obviously, she knew she should trust her boyfriend and not these stupid rumors . She knew that! But at the same time… It didn’t seem too far-fetched, either.
“Jenna?” Mary questioned softly, touching her hand.
Jenna shook herself out of the shock. “I- I can’t believe you!” she said and hastily stood up. “You know absolutely nothing ! I’m leaving.”
She took her bag from under the table and walked out, not without shooting Clara another venomous glare. They knew absolutely nothing! How could they sit there and talk about her boyfriend and his best friend like this? Her friend. Josh was her friend too .
The more she thought about the conversation, the more she realized how little she knew as well. Yes, they did talk to her about how their relationship was special and all that. But she realized that she had no idea of exactly how special it was. She agreed to give them space to be with each other as long as Tyler spent time with her too, but she had no idea what they did while alone. She knew nothing.
She cursed herself, while waiting for the bus, for not taking the car this morning. It was cold, and she was- She was crying . She hadn’t even realized, but now that she touched her cheeks her fingers came off wet. I’m pathetic , she thought angrily.
When the bus finally showed up she sat herself as far back as she could, looking out the window. She had no idea of where to go right now. She really didn’t feel like going home to have her mother smother her, but she left all her friends at the restaurant. The only person left to go to was…Tyler.
She decided that she would have to talk to him anyway, and now was probably as good a time as any. Plus, the bus went right to his bus stop.
Jenna tried to dry her tears as best as she could before knocking on the Josephs’ door. She didn’t know who was home, and didn’t really feel like showing herself to Tyler’s parents and siblings in this state.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Mrs. Joseph opened the door.
“Jenna, darling!” she gushed. “I didn’t know you were stopping by!”
Jenna laughed awkwardly. “Me neither, actually,” she told Kelly. “Um. Is Tyler home?”
“Of course, darling. Come on in,” Kelly said kindly, stepping aside to let Jenna in. “They’re in Tyler’s room.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Joseph.”
She wasted no time getting up the stairs, and didn’t notice Kelly’s use of the word they . She burst into Tyler’s room, feeling the confused tears starting to fall once again, and was met with…two surprised and shocked faces.
She stood there, staring, for a second before composing herself. “Oh. I’m- I’m sorry. I did- didn’t know Josh was here.”
Tyler was sat resting comfortably between Josh’s legs, leaning against his chest, with a laptop on his lap, and Josh’s arms hugging his waist.
When Tyler shook himself out of the initial shock he put the laptop away, Josh retracing his arms from Tyler, and sat up properly. “Are you okay?” he asked, concerned. “Are you crying?”
“Jen, what happened?” Josh asked, worried.
Jenna couldn’t take it. Josh was so nice to her, he would never go behind her back with her own boyfriend. His own best friend.
Tyler rushed over to her and hugged her tightly, kissing the top of her head. “What’s wrong?”
She just shook her head, ‘ not now ’.
Josh stood up from the bed a bit awkwardly. He walked up to the pair and hugged them both, whispering, “I hope you feel better soon, Jen,” in Jenna’s ear, before quietly leaving the room, and then the house.
Tyler released her slightly to look at her. “Tell me what happened,” he said gently, not demanding an answer, but showing her that she could tell him if she wanted.
She sniffled and dried her tears uselessly, they were still falling, albeit slower now. “My friends… They- They’re so stupid!” she got out heatedly.
“You know the rumors about you and Josh, right?” she asked, meeting his confused gaze.
“Yeah, obviously. What about them?” he asked, frowning. He knew there were rumors about them running around his school, but Jenna didn’t go to his school. It was slightly concerning that apparently Jenna’s whole friend-group knew about them. But maybe they had friends in his school? It wasn’t that far-fetched.
Jenna huffed, sitting down on the bed and hugging her legs to her chest. “My friends believe that you’re cheating on me with Josh,” she told him, rolling her eyes. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but Clara said that Olive had asked Josh out, and that he’d told her that his relationship status was ‘ complicated ’, and they basically took that as confirmation that you two had something going on.” She huffed a breath, frustrated. “Obviously, I know it’s not true. But it’s still...bothering me. I don’t know. They make me second-guess everything, even though I know I shouldn’t.”
Tyler was rubbing her back soothingly while listening. He didn’t tell her that he had no idea who this Clara was, but he had an idea about Olive. If it was the same Olive as the one in his and Josh’s English class. When did she have time to ask Josh out? He didn’t even know that she liked him.
Mostly he was furious that these rumors bothered both her and Josh. He was furious that Jenna’s own friends would believe something like that. And he was furious that the rumors started at all, not to even talk about spreading that far. “I don’t really know what to say,” Tyler said honestly. “But that’s shitty, Jen. Your own friends said that? What the heck?”
“I know,” she agreed, wiping the tears from her eyes. “It makes me really mad, actually.”
“Yeah, no shit,” Tyler muttered, frowning. “This is bothering Josh as well. He talked to me like two weeks ago about how he was worried that you would hate him.”
“I would never hate him,” Jenna said, eyes wide. “He’s like the sweetest person ever! I know he wouldn’t do anything like that.”
“He knows that, too,” Tyler assured her, kissing her temple.
Jenna took a deep breath before opening her mouth. “I- Please don’t be mad,” she pleaded quietly, not meeting Tyler’s eyes.
He furrowed his eyebrows, but nodded.
“I mean- Your relationship isn’t exactly normal,” she started, staring at her knees. “And well… I was just wondering- God , it sounds so bad! -what do you do exactly?”
Tyler looked at her questioningly. “What do we do when?”
She shook her head. “No, like… I want to know the ‘dynamic of your relationship’,” she made air-quotations. “I know you’re awfully close, but like… I honestly don’t know how to say this without sounding like a complete asshole.” She sighed.
“I just- Do you kiss?” she asked bluntly.
Tyler cursed himself when he blushed. “Oh,” he said stupidly. “Um. You, like, want to know how we are around each other?”
“Yeah,” Jenna confirmed, looking guilty.
Tyler shook her head at her. “No, it’s okay, Jen. You have a right to know, to worry.”
“I don’t want you to think that I don’t trust you.”
“I know you trust me,” he assured. “But uh. Well… We- Um. We cu-cuddle. You know? And… Well, we kiss occasionally. Just a peck on the lips, if one of us is feeling bad or anxious or whatever, for comfort. Josh likes kisses. He’s really cuddly and touchy.” He hated himself for stumbling over his words and sounding so unsure. No wonder Jenna was wondering if he was hiding something, he wouldn’t trust anyone sounding like that either!
But Jenna nodded, listening.
Tyler continued. “And, um, we hold hands. Kiss each other on places that are not our lips, but you know that. Like, the cheek or whatever.” He paused for a moment, thinking. “And we- Well, um. We sleep in the same bed together? I don’t know, Jenna. We care for each other. We’re… Affectionate, I guess. I don’t know… This really doesn’t sound like a friendship, does it?” He shook his head. “Are we together? Are we?”
Now it was Jenna’s turn to comfort Tyler. “Hey, no. Ty. You’re not together unless you specify it, okay?” She looked at Tyler until he nodded. “And you don’t have feelings for him, do you?” She held her breath as she waited for his answer. She tried so hard not to be jealous of Josh, but he’d been there long before her, and they were so close, closer than her and Tyler, that she sometimes couldn’t help it.
Tyler shook his head, frowning. “No. I mean, I really do love him. But not like, romantically.”
Jenna nodded. “And that’s okay. Do you think what you’re doing is...romantic?” she asked.
“Well, no. We’re just being affectionate. I don’t- It’s not- It’s not romantic. It’s just comforting, safe,” he explained. But he looked kind of lost. “I don’t think Josh would agree with doing anything romantic, really. He doesn’t like that kind of stuff. I mean, he likes kissing. But like, sexually. Or something. I don’t know. That-that’s his .”
Jenna hummed, secretly pleased that he didn’t feel anything like that towards Josh, though she tried not to be. There was still a lingering nagging at the back of her head that she couldn’t be 100% sure about Josh’s feelings, but she tried to ignore it for now.
Tyler rubbed his forehead against her shoulder in frustration and sighed. “But like… I guess we’re still not…normal friends. You know?” he concluded at last.
Jenna couldn’t help but feel a bit bitter at that, but it almost immediately got eaten up by the guilt and shame of even having that feeling in the first place. She had no right to feel jealous or bitter about anything that made Tyler happy! Not when it didn’t come in between their own relationship, which it really really didn’t.
So she rested her head on his shoulder, one arm around his waist, and said; “It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re happy, it doesn’t matter.”
Tyler sighed again and kissed the top of her head. “I guess,” he mumbled, lips still pressed against her hair. “As long as it’s not bothering you.”
“It isn’t,” she said, and realized that maybe it wasn’t that much of a lie anymore.
It did bother Tyler, though. What was a relationship between friends that was a bit more affectionate than normal? From the books he’d read, if fiction was reliable enough to go by, it meant that they were secretly in love and would later realize and get together and live happily ever after.
Tyler rolled his eyes and snorted. If there was one thing he was sure about, it was that they were very much not in love. He started to understand the frustration his friend felt about how everything was about romantic love all the time.
He flopped onto his bed, just staring up at the ceiling. He didn’t blame Jenna for asking, or for even doubting his and Josh’s intentions with each other. He probably would too. But now he was the one confused. Never had he felt unsure about anything regarding Josh. They were TylerandJosh , JoshandTyler , inseparable, and that was that.
Now though… With the rumors flying around, and Jenna’s questioning, he was forced to think ( Dangerous , a dark part of him chuckled) about their relationship, forced him to come to conclusions and forced him to deal with them . Only, he didn’t have any conclusions, which mean that he was left confused and frustrated.
He groaned internally. This was why he avoided thinking too hard about things. He’d just have to talk to Josh about it. Later.
Eventually Tyler decided to do some research instead of talking to Josh. And since he didn’t know what he was looking for, it was frustratingly difficult to find anything useful. But after looking through aromantic sites and tags he found something called ‘queerplatonic relationships’. He had never heard the term before, and looked a bit more deeply into it.
The more he read about it the more he liked the term, and the more he felt like it was a label that described his and Josh’s relationship pretty well. It was intimate, but not in a sexual or romantic way. And although some of the things they did together could be seen as sexual/romantic to other people, it wasn’t to them.
But then again, they had never talked about this. Never specified that this is what they were, what they had.
He sighed. Why was everything so complicated?
Of course, he hadn’t known that this was a thing before, so maybe Josh didn’t either? It was something he felt like he wanted to have with Josh. It wasn’t like a label would change anything, but it would make it feel more real, more solid. More meaningful.
He texted Jenna about it. Because that’s what he did when there was something he needed help with, if he couldn’t ask Josh.
I kinda need ur help w/ smthn. Can u come ovr?
Cuz that doesn’t sound suspicious AT ALL
But sure I’ll be there in 10
Jenna knocked on the front door a few minutes later and was let in by Tyler’s dad. It was Friday so they didn’t really mind that she was coming over.
She hurried up the steps, not knowing what Tyler wanted from her. The first text had sounded like...like Tyler wanted her to come over to have sex. But the second one almost completely erased that suspicion. Almost .
The door to Tyler’s room was half-way open, and when she opened it to see her boyfriend sitting with his laptop in his lap her previous suspicions flew out the door. She felt a bit guilty that she had assumed her wanted her for something like that when he sat there with his laptop looking completely wrapped up in whatever he was doing, his bottom lip red from biting it.
She ignored the part of her that felt slightly disappointed.
His head shot up, and his face lit up when he saw her. “Jen! Hi!” he said, smiling widely. “Come here, I need your...advice, I guess.” He patted the mattress beside him.
She walked over and climbed into his bed beside him, looking down at the screen. “Queerplatonic relationship?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Tyler confirmed thoughtfully. “Read it.”
She did. And she understood. “This is what you and Josh have, isn’t it?” she asked carefully.
Tyler shrugged. “Well, it’s what I want us to have. But we haven’t specified anything,” he explained. “Like, I didn’t know this was a thing, and I’m not sure if he does either? But I’d like to ask him about it.”
Jenna nodded thoughtfully, pressing a chaste kiss to Tyler’s jaw. “So you need to propose to him?” she said with a playful tone.
Tyler laughed. “I guess so,” he agreed. “I kind of have an idea, but it’s really silly…”
Tyler had told his plan to Jenna, who had agreed with amusement that it was a good (and quite hilarious) idea.
So a couple of days later, after asking Josh if he could bring Jenna over to his house, and after receiving a thumbs up in return, he took Jenna by the hand and went by the supermarket (getting an amused and questioning look from the cashier) before finally pulling up his car outside Josh’s house.
He just sat there, staring, for a few minutes before Jenna interrupted his racing thoughts.
“You okay, Ty?” she asked gently.
He exhaled shakily. “Nervous as hell, but okay,” he answered with something that could have been a smile had his eyes not looked quite so serious.
Jenna just smiled softly and kissed his nose. “It’ll be okay,” she assured him. “Now come on. He’s waiting for us.”
Tyler took a deep breath as Jenna climbed out of the car, and then followed her. Not forgetting his very important backpack, he hurried after Jenna who had already rung the doorbell. Just as he caught up to her the door opened to reveal a very smiley Josh.
Jenna hugged him before she moved inside, taking her shoes off and then setting off towards Josh’s room. Tyler relaxed slightly just from seeing Josh, and hugged him a bit tighter than normal.
“You okay, Ty?” Josh asked when Tyler pushed his face into his neck.
“Yeah, I’m alright,” he answered, letting go of his friend and taking his shoes off.
Josh still eyed him with concern, but let it go when Tyler took his hand and steered him to Josh’s bedroom.
Jenna was already sat on Josh’s floor, phone in hand, when they entered. “Took you long enough,” she remarked, raising an eyebrow at Tyler.
Tyler decided to ignore her comment and instead lay down in Josh’s bed.
Watching his two friends with suspicion, Josh sat down next to Tyler’s head on his bed, running his hand through his friend’s hair absently. “Was there a specific reason for you to come here, or..?” he asked.
“Not right now,” Tyler mumbled against the mattress.
Jenna just shrugged, looking like she knew something Josh didn’t. He ignored the sparkle in her eye, passing it off as one of those weird things between Tyler and Jenna. “Um, okay,” he said instead. “What do you want to do then?”
They decided to play Mario Kart, because why not. Also because everyone knew how to play that. But still.
A few rounds in, Jenna subtly nudged her boyfriend’s side, giving him a meaningful look.
Tyler swallowed and awkwardly cleared his throat, nervousness coming back in full force. “Um, Josh?”
“Yeah?” Josh was a bit too focused on the game to notice Tyler’s anxious fidgeting.
Tyler tried to turn his focus back on the game, where Josh was leading against Jenna. “Have you heard of queerplatonic relationships?” he asked, trying to sound casual.
“‘Course,” Josh answered. “Why?”
Tyler felt Jenna subtly shifting a bit closer to him in silent support and relaxed a bit. “Have you ever been in one?”
Josh’s eyes shifted to Tyler for a second before going back to the game where he was so close to winning. “Um. No. Have you?” he asked back, surprised that Tyler knew about QPRs. It wasn’t something generally spoken about outside the aro-community.
“Um, no,” Tyler said, shifting slightly. “But, uh, have you ever thought about being in one? Like… Um, yeah.”
Josh held off his answer for a second, just to pass the finish line and grin at Jenna who finished two places behind. “Well, yeah. It would be nice, probably.”
Tyler turned to face Josh, who turned to face Tyler. Jenna sat herself a little bit behind Tyler, but still close enough to show him her support.
“So, um,” Tyler started, cursing himself inwardly for being so nervous and awkward about this. He groaned audibly and rolled his head to try and chase some of the nervousness away (it didn’t work). “Jenna and I- Or, well, mostly I. -have been, like, thinking? About our relationship?” Tyler looked up at Josh, trying to telepathically convey his thoughts without having to speak.
Josh tilted his head to the side, scrunching his face up in confusion. “You and Jenna talked about your relationship?”
Tyler snorted and grinned for a split-second before turning serious again. “No. About our relationship. You and me.”
Josh’s eyes widened with worry. “Okay,” he said slowly.
“And I thought that our relationship kind of is like a queer platonic one?” Tyler said, but it came out more as a question. “Like, I looked it up. And it said something like ‘intimate non-romantic relationship’. Like, a platonic relationship that is very affectionate and stuff. And I don’t know, it sounds kind of like us?”
Understanding and realisation flashed across Josh’s eyes, and the beginning of a smile tugged at his lips. It looked like he tried to hold it in, though. He nodded at Tyler, agreeing. “Yeah, it does.”
Tyler just continued to stare at Josh, his face so open and vulnerable. But if Josh was completely honest he didn’t exactly know what Tyler meant with all this. Obviously, he had his suspicions (and hopes) about it, but he wanted Tyler to be a bit more clear and maybe stop staring at him like that, because it was starting to unnerve him a little.
Jenna came to the rescue with a small nudge of her shoulder against Tyler. He snapped out of it, searched Josh’s face for a few seconds, then turned to Jenna with a questioning glance. Jenna nodded at him, and then Tyler turned back to Josh. “Close your eyes,” he ordered softly, confidence making its way back into his voice.
“Okay,” Josh answered suspiciously, but did as he was told. He heard a zipper being unzipped and some rustling, and felt the bed move when Tyler moved off of it.
“You can open your eyes now.”
Josh did open his eyes and had to turn around to face Tyler again, as he was now stood on one knee on the floor, arms behind his back. Josh raised an eyebrow at him and opened his mouth to ask what the hell he was doing, but Tyler pushed his finger against his mouth to silence him.
“Shhh,” he said, before he composed himself and cleared his throat. “Joshua William Dun. Will you do me the honor of being my zucchini?” As he said the last word he presented Josh with, can you believe it, a zucchini.
Josh stared for a second, looking from Tyler’s nervous but hopeful expression to the zucchini and back. Then a sudden laugh escaped his throat, but it was short lived as he tried to compose himself. When his expression was back to playful seriousness he cleared his throat. “Tyler Robert Joseph, it would be my honor,” he said, and then proceeded to take the zucchini from Tyler’s hands and took a huge bite out of it, chewing and swallowing.
The look on Tyler’s face was priceless, and then he burst out laughing, collapsing on the floor, Josh soon following.
Jenna just looked at them with fond exasperation.
When they finally calmed down Josh wiped his eyes on his shirt and said, “Of course I’ll be your zucchini, you absolute dork . By the way, I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be done, but I’ll accept it.”
“Excuse me?” Tyler said, mock-hurt. “That is the only way it’s supposed to be done!” He took a bite of his own of the zucchini just because it added something to what he had said. Then he scrunched his face up. “Ugh. That is not nice.”
Josh laughed at him. “I know. But seriously, Ty. Thank you for asking me, and y’know. Looking it up and I don’t know,” he said looking down at his hands. He didn’t know exactly what he was trying to say, but Tyler seemed to get it, because he surged forward and hugged Josh.
“Of course. I wanted some kind of word for us, you know I like my labels. Because it was kind of starting to get to me. Everyone’s comments,” he explained quickly. “And I found this, and I kind of liked it. Because I love you, man. And I want you to know that.”
“I do know that,” Josh assured him, nuzzling his face in Tyler’s neck. “And I love you too.”
Jenna smiled softly at them and decided that she didn’t care about anyone’s comments anymore, because they knew what they were, and they were happy. That was the only thing that mattered. And when Tyler and Josh reached out for her to include her in their hug, she knew that there was no better feeling than the pure love she felt right now.