it's a hotel night. two nights in some the same city means some semblance of a break. a familiar room, even if just for a few nights.
josh sorts through his duffle while tyler maps out the room. the sound of his cane tapping against the bed frame, the walls, the nightstand, is so familiar, josh almost doesn't notice it anymore. he sorts through his socks and puts them in the dresser drawer.
"anything fragile on the desk?" tyler asks. josh looks up.
"there's a glass towards the back on the right side. it's not very close to the edge though. and a dish with some teabags and coffee. looks like plastic though."
"gotcha," tyler says. he begins a careful inspection of the desk.
josh takes a long, hot shower, and stares at the wall. his hair dye is bleeding, yellow dripping down his arms. his fingers are turning to prunes. he turns the shower off.
tyler knocks on the door after the water shuts off.
"dude, can i pee," comes through the door. josh opens it, laughing.
tyler pees, and josh wraps a towel around his head. he brushes his teeth while tyler washes his hands, then putters around grabbing his shampoo from his suitcase, dragging his fingertips along the wall as he goes.
"what's the shower situation like?" tyler asks when he comes back, his hand outstretched. josh takes it, puts it on the knob. "counter clockwise is warm, clockwise is cold and turns it off. and that's the lever for the tub."
"got it, thanks man."
josh kisses his cheek. "enjoy your shower."
"you KNOW it," tyler answers, and starts stripping.
tyler groans audibly when he hits the mattress after his shower. josh laughs, and rolls over to throw an arm over him. he turns over and curls up against josh, bundled under the blankets. josh pulls his arm away, and curls up too.
he's close enough that josh can smell his body wash. the light from the parking lot outside is making him glow.
"i love your eyes" josh says, after a moment of quiet
tyler laughs. "really?"
he smiles smugly. "tell me about them"
"they're brown-", josh starts.
"how poetic" tyler interrupts.
"shut up. they're brown, and gentle, like you know everything but keep it to yourself for the sake of others. sometimes they go in different directions. it's cute. you're always looking around, i never know what you're looking for, but that's okay. if you never find it, that's okay too." tyler's almost at looking him, now. josh loses his train of thought, just for a moment. he takes a second. "oh, and the bags under them are atrocious."
"hey!" tyler laughs.
josh reaches over, touches his upper arm. "it's okay, i still love you."
"wow, thanks," tyler answers, but he puts his hand over josh's on his arm, and closes his eyes. josh leans in and kisses his nose. tyler startles minutely, and crinkles his nose with a smile.
it rains the next day. there's a record store tyler had read about online not far from the hotel, so they head out mid-morning, bundled up with tyler's hand in the crook of josh's elbow. the store is tucked in a quiet part of the city, down some steps into the basement.
"and the sign has some yellow neon on it. it looks really cool in the foggy rain," josh tells tyler. tyler nods. there are raindrops on his sunglasses.
"super spooky?" tyler asks.
"the spookiest. four steps down here, by the way."
the door dings when it opens, and gives way to rows and rows of bins full of records.
"is it big?" tyler asks, ruffling the rain from his hair. a droplet falls on josh's nose.
"it's…." josh thinks for a moment. "it's about the size of your basement in the house with nick and chris." tyler nods. "but there's enough vinyl in here to fill that whole house." a grin splits tyler's face.
"better get going, then," he says. "soundcheck's in three hours." he squeezes josh's arm with a laugh.
josh flips through the bins, with tyler on his elbow, naming the artists and albums as they come. time seems to slow down and speed up all at once, as if nothing outside the shop exists, and time itself is at their whim. tyler's presence is warm beside josh, his hand steady and his smile infectious.
when they eventually reach the W section, josh pulls out a record and smiles.
"what is it?" tyler asks.
josh takes his hand from his arm, and puts it on the cardstock vinyl sleeve. tyler's fingers find the braille embossed into it easily.
" stevie wonder ," he reads. " talking book ." he grins hugely, and josh feels warm. "that's so cool. we should try that," he says. he reads it over again, slower this time. he goes to hand it back to josh, who instead guides his hand to slide it back into the correct spot. "man, that's such a cool idea," he says, more to himself than anyone else.
"my mom had a copy of that when i was a kid," josh tells him. tyler's hand is back at his elbow. "i remember her explaining what braille was to me, because i didn't know at the time." tyler smiles this little, genuine smile. his eyes are crinkled up behind his glasses, josh knows this.
"foreshadowing, dude," tyler says with a laugh. josh squeezes his hand on his elbow, and they keep flipping through the alphabet.
before every show at a new venue, tyler and josh walk the whole thing. mostly to help tyler map out his surroundings for the next night or two, but also as a moment to ground themselves before the show. the act is meditative, almost.
tyler taps his cane along the edge of the wall as they meander down the hallways in the basement. josh notes doors that matter and doors that don't, where the bathroom is, and where the stairs to the stage are. tyler doesn't talk much during this, just absorbs the information given. josh loves to give him these moments. moments where he feels safe enough to sink into his own head for a little while.
when they make it back to tyler's dressing room, josh kisses his cheek softly. he can see tyler starting to readjust his disposition into that fitting for a performance.
"let me know if you want a hand with your paint," josh tells him. he nods and touches josh's arm, follows it down to hold his hand.
"thanks man," he says, and squeezes josh's hand.
the show goes about the same as every other show they've done so far. after, josh lays on the floor in his dressing room in the dark until tyler knocks on the door and calls his name.
"come in," josh calls, and hears the door open and shut. he hears tyler's cane tap, tap, tap, until it bumps his foot.
"hey," he says. tyler crouches, and then lays down next to him.
"hey," tyler answers.
"good show?" josh asks. sometimes a show that's mundane to him isn't so mundane for tyler. sometimes it's the reverse.
"yeah," tyler answers. "the crowd was really loud. almost didn't want to wear my inears."
josh smiles. a loud crowd is everything for tyler.
"i hope they keep that up for tomorrow night, then" josh says. tyler reaches for his hand, holds it gently.
"yeah," he says. he runs his thumb back and forth over josh's hand, slow and steady. "me too."
tyler sucks josh off in the hotel shower that night. it's good, tyler's hands all over while while he works his mouth over josh's cock. josh loves tyler's mouth. he lets out a moan, hands buried in tyler's hair, and lets his back hit the shower wall. he comes, and exhaustion settles into his bones. he reaches for tyler, pulls him up for a kiss, reaching for his hard cock. tyler moans into his mouth, high and throaty. he comes not long after, and leans into josh, mouth soft on josh's collarbone.
they sleep like the dead, tangled up together in stiff sheets.
there's a meet and greet scheduled before the second show, organized by some local radio station. it's held in some back area of the venue, tucked away from the dressing rooms.
tyler wears his sunglasses for meet and greets, something about not wanting to be distracting, he confided in josh one night. he has them on now, black wayfarers that are sliding down his nose from the continuing rain.
"dude, wipe your glasses off," josh points out when they get inside. tyler makes a face, and wipes them with his shirt.
"better?" he asks. josh makes a show of inspecting them, humming audibly.
"it'll do." tyler cracks a smile.
"my hair look okay?" he asks.
"you're fine, you look great," josh tells him, trying not to sound too fond. it doesn't work. tyler swats his arm. he's smiling fondly too, but josh will never tell.
the fans are kind, if timid, telling their stories and thanking them. tyler smiles every time, listening intently as they speak. taking in hand the art and letters and gifts they arrive with. they ask for hugs, always. josh keeps a hand on tyler's back as he embraces them, and he's not sure whose benefit it's for. what he does know is that tyler reaches for him behind their backs in pictures, and that it makes josh feel warm every time.
they sort through the gifts from the fans in tyler's dressing room. there are several letters addressed to the both of them, which josh sets aside to read aloud, and one written in braille, which he hands to tyler, saying as much. tyler grins, reading the front before opening the envelope. josh continues sorting while he reads, making an art pile and a letter pile and a miscellaneous pile.
"we have the best fans," tyler says, breaking the silence. josh smiles, and hands him a small, thin canvas.
"check this out," he says. "it's a painting."
it's a painting of the two of them, with relating imagery from the most recent album cycle, but done in such thick, heavy paint, that the texture of the image comes off the canvas. josh can see string pressed into the paint too, and other found objects to make the image three dimensional.
"whoa," tyler says quietly, his fingers carefully mapping the whole piece. "is it of us?"
"yeah," josh says. "there's a rabbit down here--" he nudges tyler's fingers. "--and a dog over here," he points out. tyler's smile is infectious. "that's me," josh says.
"i know, i can feel your hair," tyler answers. josh laughs.
"and that's you," he finishes. "you can probably feel the hat."
tyler hums an affirmative, absorbed in feeling out all the little details.
josh goes to start reading out the letters, but tyler still has his hands on the little painting, taking in every detail. he puts the letters aside for later reading.
his head falls to tyler’s shoulder, and tyler leans into him. he’s still absorbed in the details of the piece, watching his fingertips move is mesmerizing. josh knows those fingertips, those hands, better than so many people, he thinks. tyler probably knows josh’s better than anyone’s, too. the thought makes him warm inside. he kisses tyler’s shoulder absentmindedly, and tyler then kisses the top of his head in return.
the show is electric. tyler looks like he’s alight, every time he comes up to josh’s platform, josh feels like he’s looking directly into tyler’s heart. he screams, he sings, he inhabits the stage like he owns it.
learning the stage was a process. lots of repetitive walks arm and arm, and then, with just his cane, and then without, with josh calling directions from the seats. tyler got it rather quickly. his route from his mic, to his piano, to josh’s kit becoming as familiar as breathing. josh knows he has some light sensitivity, so the front and back of the stage are clear, and when the glowing mic hangs it front of his face, he won’t let it smack him in the nose.
the crowd is even louder than last night. when tyler climbs josh’s kit on the second stage, perched on his kick drum and vibrating with the lyrics flowing through him, their bellows are enough to drown his voice. josh can see it change tyler, can see him feed on the sound and throw it back to them, rowdier onstage, more chatty between songs.
at their bow, he touches josh’s face with his hand, a little stroke on the cheek. josh laughs, and tyler just grins this huge, blinding smile, and josh fights the urge to kiss him right there.
tyler wanders in at bus call with wet hair and a dopey smile on his face, and drops his cane on the floor by the couch. he drops down next to josh and leans into him, closing his eyes.
“sleepy?” josh asks, reaching for tyler’s cane, and folding it up for him. he places it next to tyler.
“mmhmmm,” tyler mumbles, but it’s a soft mumble, a happy mumble.
“we have beds, you know,” josh says. “we’ve upgraded to those finally.” he fights back a yawn.
tyler nods, and leans into josh further, pressing a lazy kiss to his jaw. josh kisses him back, a quick peck.
“c’mon dude,” he says again, moving to stand up, and dragging tyler up with him. tyler’s hand finds his cane folded up next to him, and he lets josh drag him to the bunks, and crawls into josh’s. josh knows it’s entirely intentional. he climbs in behind him, and pulls the curtain shut. the darkness is a blanket, an equalizer.
tyler's eyes fall on josh's sometimes. as if he's looking right at him. he wonders what it'd be like if tyler wasn't blind. it doesn't matter, not really, because that's not how things turned out. he'd be different, though. things would be different. would they have met? would the band have happened? he's glad things turned out the way they did. a small sacrifice, he supposes, though he's sure tyler has moved on from thinking about himself that way.
"josh?" tyler asks. josh blinks.
tyler scoots closer, and puts an arm around him. "i love you," he mumbles into josh's chest. josh closes his eyes, and tucks himself closer to tyler.
“i love you too, ty.”
the rain continues. they sleep.