Cyrus' heart had been racing all day, but it practically stopped when the bell of the door on The Spoon rang and TJ walked in. He hadn’t seen him in five years, and the sight of his face was painful after how much Cyrus had missed him.
TJ’s face lit up when he saw Cyrus. He casually strolled across the diner, his hands in his pocket. It was honestly unfair how hot he was in his button-up top. Cyrus hadn’t been sure if the feelings were still going to be there after so long, but they obviously were still in full force. That could be really bad news.
“Hey,” TJ smirked, sliding into the booth.
“Hey,” Cyrus smiled back. He was trying very hard not to blush. “I already ordered. I got our usual. I hope that’s okay?” He gulped down his anxiety. He really didn’t want to mess this up.
“That’s perfect,” TJ nodded. Cyrus sighed in relief.
“I was really glad you messaged me to meet up,” TJ told him. Cyrus raised his eyebrows.
“Really? I wasn’t sure if you’d want to see me,” Cyrus admitted. TJ’s mouth widened in disbelief.
“Why wouldn’t I want to see you?” he asked incredulously.
“I don’t know,” Cyrus shrugged. “I thought you’d have moved on by now.” A smile tugged at the corner of TJ’s lips.
“That’s kind of a funny story, actually,” he chuckled. Just then, their waitress dropped their food at the table. Cyrus used the opportunity to glance down at TJ’s hands. No ring, so he wasn’t married at least. That didn’t mean much though. He thought he saw TJ’s eyes flick down as well, but he couldn’t be sure.
“What do you mean?” Cyrus asked in response to TJ’s comment. TJ took a minute to respond, already having bitten down into a baby tater.
“I actually just moved back to Shadyside,” TJ said. This time it was Cyrus’s turn to be surprised.
“Really? How come?” He realized it wasn’t really his business, but TJ didn’t hesitate to respond.
“Well, I was living with my boyfriend- ex-boyfriend - in Salt Lake, but he moved out a couple of months ago.”
Cyrus’s face fell. He had to admit he did feel jealous that TJ had been living with another guy, but mostly he felt sad for him. He knew how rough break-ups could be.
“I’m so sorry,” Cyrus breathed. He made eye contact with TJ for the first time that day. TJ’s eyes softened under Cyrus’s gaze.
“It’s okay, I’ve long accepted it by now. It did make me re-think some things in my life, though. I needed a fresh start. That’s how I ended up back here,” TJ explained. Cyrus nodded. That made a lot of sense. “What about you?” TJ asked. Cyrus blanched in confusion.
“What?” he asked.
“Are you seeing anyone?” TJ clarified. Cyrus felt his face go hot.
“Oh, um, no,” he flushed. He saw TJ’s smirk grow wider. “I had a boyfriend during the last two years of college, but when we graduated we wanted to go in different directions. Both physically and emotionally,” Cyrus chuckled. TJ laughed with him. They had always shared a similar sense of humor. There was a beat of silence, and then TJ cleared his throat.
“So what I’m hearing is we’re both single and ready to mingle?” he asked. Cyrus had to fight down a wave of emotions at these words. How did TJ still know how to take his breath away after all these years?
“Yeah, I guess so,” Cyrus nodded. What neither of them said but both were probably thinking is that they were probably the only two single gay guys left in Shadyside.
Walking into their high school’s gym after 5 years was a very surreal experience. It was all set up for their high school reunion. The tables were plastic and the food wasn’t great, but the lights were low and there was an excited, joyful energy in the air.
TJ and Cyrus walked around the space, greeting old friends. As he scanned the room for Andi or Buffy, Cyrus felt TJ’s shoulders bump against his. He was instantly reminded of how close TJ would stand next to him when he flirted with him in 8th grade. Cyrus tried to shake off the thought.
Surprisingly, the first person they ran into that they knew well was Jonah. Cyrus hadn’t seen Jonah in a really long time because he was living on the East Coast. Cyrus had been following his music career though. Jonah’s number one fan from day one! He didn’t know if Jonah was dating anyone, but he didn’t feel the need to know like he did with TJ. Cyrus smiled to think about how smitten he had been with Jonah in middle school.
It was nice talking to Jonah, but he was basically the same person he was ten years ago, so there wasn’t much to discuss. He and TJ wandered around some more, looking for their other friends. TJ ended up getting pulled into a group of his old basketball team, so Cyrus used the opportunity to take a breather. He slipped out the side doors and into the courtyard. It was really dark out now, and he could see the stars. He breathed in the cool night air, appreciating the time to actually process his thoughts. He relaxed as he plopped down onto a bench, his back to the noise and heat of the gym.
He sat there for a minute thinking about Andi and Buffy. He really missed them, and it didn’t help that this set-up reminded him of that day 9 years ago at Andi’s house when they had said goodbye to their middle school years. Exactly 9 years ago, to be exact, he realized with a shock. It had been their last night before Andi said hello to SAVA and Cyrus and TJ had been official. Another pang struck Cyrus’s heart when he thought about the first time he had reached for TJ’s hand. As if he had summoned him with his thoughts, Cyrus heard a familiar voice behind him.
“Mind if I join you?” TJ asked hesitantly. Cyrus turned around to see him standing there, his hands awkwardly at his sides. Cyrus shook his head and motioned to the spot next to him on the bench.
TJ crossed around to the front, maintaining eye contact with Cyrus the whole time. He sat down and leaned forward to look at the stars. Cyrus tried to keep himself from staring. TJ was absolutely beautiful. How had he ever let him go?
“Doesn’t this remind you of something?” TJ asked suddenly, echoing Cyrus’s thoughts. They locked eyes again and Cyrus knew he was thinking of the same moment.
“Yeah,” Cyrus agreed. They grinned dopily at each other just as they had almost a decade ago.
“It’s crazy to think that was 9 years ago,” TJ noted. Cyrus cringed thinking about how awkward he was in middle school. He was still pretty awkward though. Some things never change.
“We were babies!” Cyrus laughed. TJ smiled, but his eyes were sad. It broke Cyrus in half. “Do you- regret any of it?” he asked. He realized his hand was inching towards TJ’s and he drew it back. TJ shook his head furiously.
“No, no. Of course not!” he said. Cyrus breathed a sigh of relief. “The four years with you were honestly the best of my life,” he added. Cyrus looked up at him with wonder.
“Honestly, I feel the same way,” Cyrus breathed. “Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic, but nothing’s felt the same since I left. I mean, I’m grateful for all the opportunities I got, but it’s not as fun when you don’t have someone to enjoy them with.” Cyrus wasn’t sure where these words came from, but he couldn’t take them back. They were true at least. TJ listened patiently, leaning back against the bench. He paused thoughtfully. When he was sure Cyrus was done talking he cleared his throat.
“Why did we lose touch?” he asked. It was a good question. There really wasn’t any reason for them not to be friends. Well, other than the fact they still had feelings for each other.
“I don’t know,” Cyrus shrugged. “Why did we break up in the first place?” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. TJ didn’t seem uncomfortable though, only pleasantly surprised.
“I don’t know,” he chuckled. The two guys smiled at each other, subconsciously leaning in. Suddenly, a mischievous grin lit up TJ’s face.
“Cyrus-” he started hesitantly, bracing himself. “Should we try dating again?” TJ asked experimentally. Cyrus paused for a minute, not sure if he heard TJ right. He blew out a deep breath, trying to process how fast everything had happened.
“Yes,” Cyrus grinned. They looked at each other dazedly as their hands found each other, adjusting to the fact that they were no longer single. Obviously, the universe thought they were meant for each other.
“C’mon,” TJ urged after a minute. He stood up, pulling Cyrus with him. “I bet there’s some people waiting for you in there.”
He wrapped his arm around Cyrus as they made their way back through the gym doors. Cyrus could only think about how unfair it was that TJ was still so much taller than him.
When Buffy and Andi turned around and saw Cyrus, they all three squealed. They wrapped each other in a huge hug, bouncing up and down as if they were still middle schoolers.
Cyrus had worried it would be awkward to see them again, but they started chatting as if no time had passed since they had last talked a month ago at the opening of one of Andi’s art galleries.
“Hey, guys!” Marty called with a wave as he walked towards them. He came to stand next to Buffy, and she grabbed for his hand. Cyrus quirked his eyebrow at this but he didn’t say anything. He hadn't realized they were still together. “It’s good to see you, Cyrus,” Marty commented. “I wasn’t sure if you were coming. What are you doing here?”
Before Cyrus could respond, he felt his boyfriend materialize from the shadows and take his hand.
“He’s with me,” TJ beamed. Cyrus grinned up at him. Marty, Buffy, and Andi all gaped at this new development.
“This is new,” Andi noted. Buffy nodded with a huff.
“It is for us, too,” Cyrus responded. They all chuckled, reveling in the fact that their friend group had finally come full circle