Wednesday 12:32 PM
“Okay, I don’t spend THAT much time on TikTok!”
Cyrus chuckles as the pair walk down the crowded hallway to his lockers. They stand really close together, irrespective of the other students in the hall - as they’ve navigated their relationship, a consistent element of it has always been physical closeness.
“I don’t know, five hours straight seems like a lot to me, Teej,” Cyrus says as they get to his locker. He turns the combination with ease, even though it once used to be a great source of anxiety for him. He sometimes can’t believe his growth from his first day of middle school. “But ignoring that, how do you even have time for that? I’m always drowning in this.” He lifts up the assortment of papers and books in his arms before putting them in his locker.
“Well, that’s because I’m taking easy classes. You’re the one who’s taking all the Pre-APs and advanced ones.” He softens his voice. “You’re doing incredible with everything, Cy.”
Cyrus blushes and smiles under TJ’s warm gaze. He still hasn’t gotten used to it. The hallway is now mostly empty, making the atmosphere around them feel that much more intimate, even though they’re still at a typical American high school.
Cyrus wants to run his hand along his cheek, hold his hand, kiss him, but he doesn’t know where TJ is at. He never wants to make him feel uncomfortable or do anything against his will. Instead, he settles for rummaging around for his lunch in his locker. Cyrus then hears some girls’ voices.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“We just, um, we wanted to congratulate you on the game last weekend. You guys played really well.”
TJ laughs. “Thanks!”
“How did you feel about the game going into it? Were you nervous?”
“I mean, I’m honestly always nervous, but the guys and I felt really good that day so we all kind of vibed off each other, you know?”
“Wow, that’s amazing. You’re so talented.”
TJ laughs again, this time more nervously.
“Um, thank you.”
“Okay, I’ll guess we’ll see you around? Bye!” The girls giggle as they speed walk in the opposite direction. Cyrus finally lifts his head out of his locker to watch them move away. TJ's eyes aren’t on the girls, though. They’re on Cyrus.
“Ready to go? I’m starving.”
Cyrus looks off in the direction that the girls went in nervously. Do all the girls think he’s cute? I mean, I know he is, but I don’t want them to. What if he decides that he’d rather be with some pretty girl who is confident and doesn’t worry about whether their socks match and stress about making sure Mrs. Mitchell likes their essay because if she doesn’t then maybe she doesn’t like me as a person and maybe I’m just not good enough -
“Yeah, let’s go.” Cyrus pulls himself out of his torturing thoughts and puts a reassuring smile on his face. TJ grins back at him, oblivious to the inner turmoil Cyrus is facing. They walk off to the cafeteria together, side by side.
“Five hours though -”
“What can I say? I’m just a master at wasting time and procrastinating.”
The two laugh. Cyrus lets the warm feeling of familiarity wash over him as he tries to forget about what happened earlier. Unfortunately, that cruel and biting insecurity of Cyrus's (one of many) has just seemed to have been fed nicely by those two girls and the encounter they just had with TJ.
Wednesday 4:18 PM
Andi, Buffy, and Cyrus lounge around comfortably in Andi’s room, which is now covered in her latest work from SAVA. It’s inviting and reassuring, which is really what Cyrus needs right now.
“I’m so glad I finally turned that in, I spent weeks trying to get those photos together,” Andi says, sighing with relief.
“But overall, SAVA is going well, right?” Buffy asks.
“Yeah, it’s honestly amazing. I miss you guys a lot, though. And Jonah.”
The three smile sadly at each other. They are all perfectly aware of how andi going to SAVA has changed their dynamic slightly, like a constant elephant painted in an intricate design standing in the room with them. But, like most people, they find it easier to ignore, and they continue to meet up and talk like they did when they went to middle school together.
Cyrus looks down at his hands, particularly quiet today. Andi and Buffy finally agree through eye-contact to figure out what’s going on.
“Cyrus, what’s wrong?” Andi asks him. Cyrus looks up, biting his lip.
“Nothing, nothing, I’m just . . . I don’t know what to do.”
“Well, that’s what we’re here for: to help you figure it out. What do you need?” Buffy says, smiling at her best friend.
Cyrus sighs. “TJ and I have been dating for a while now, right? But ever since we’ve started school this year, we haven’t been as . . . open about our relationship at school. And I don’t want to say anything to make him feel pressured to do anything but, I kind of want people to know, you know?”
“Do you think that he doesn’t want to be public about it?” Andi asks.
“I don’t know! I mean, over the summer, we were mostly close hanging out at home. We never really went out just the two of us - it was always with you guys, or Jonah and Marty. And now, he always has girls coming up to him. Like today, when we were at my locker, these girls came and started complimenting him and he was acting so cool about it.” Cyrus sighs. “Like, they’re the kind of people he should be dating. What if he’s embarrassed about dating me?”
“Come on, Cyrus, TJ is head over heels for you. He’s never left your side and he cares about you a lot. Just because some girls try and flirt with him doesn’t mean that he asked for it or that he likes it.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he’s not embarrassed about you. You guys just need to talk. Take it from someone who’s been in a relationship with zero communication: it never ends well if you don’t tell each other how you’re really feeling,” Andi says, laughing slightly as she thinks about her past relationship with Jonah.
Cyrus mulls this over. He knows they’re right, it’s the kind of stuff he would preach about to them when they were the ones having relationship troubles. How does all of his common sense and relationship advice seem to go out of the window when he’s the one dating someone?
“Thanks, you guys. You’re right. I’ll talk to him tomorrow.”
They smile at him and pat his knee. Buffy hops up from where she was sitting.
“Can we go to the Spoon? I haven’t eaten since lunch.”
Andi and Cyrus look at each other and then Buffy, smiling. They step out of Andi's chaotic room and walk towards the front door.
“I suppose you two are waiting for another installment of tater theater, aren’t you?” Cyrus asks.
“Right, I forgot, I’m still mad at you for leaving us on that cliff hanger with Bethesda and Jonathan,” Andi responds as she turns around and folds her arms.
“We ran out of baby taters!”
“Because you ate most of them!” Buffy replies, mocking his tone of voice. Cyrus rolls his eyes at her and Buffy and Andi laugh.
Thursday 4:07 PM
Cyrus walks nervously down the gym hallway. He doesn’t often make it down here - the only times he gets remotely close to anything related to physical activity at school now are when he’s with TJ. It’s empty right now; the squeaking of athletic sneakers on the gym floor echo into the hallway. Cyrus spots TJ coming down the hall with a few of his friends.
Cyrus, breathe, it’s just your boyfriend, TJ. He likes you. You’ve known him since middle school. There’s nothing to be stressed about, you’re just going to ask him -
“Hey, Cy!” TJ is bounding up to him, leaving his friends. They turn left into another room, leaving Cyrus and TJ alone in the hallway. TJ stops close to Cyrus and smiles at him widely. “How was your day?”
“Good, how about you?”
“Eh, it was fine. Sorry I was a little late, I just had to talk to Coach about something.”
“No, you’re fine, don’t worry.”
They begin to walk. Their hands brush together in a manner reminiscent to how they used to before they were dating. Cyrus looks down at them, then up at TJ. To Cyrus, his expression is unreadable, which is unusual. Cyrus has always known what TJ’s hidden from everyone else. They’ve always been the one person the other can go to openly about anything.
“Can we stop? I need to talk to you,” Cyrus says suddenly.
They reach a convenient stopping point and Cyrus turns around to face TJ head-on. He has to be honest, and standing face to face creates the vulnerability he needs to summon.
“Okay, this is kind of out of left field, I know, but this summer was really great and I’ve had so much fun with you, but ever since school started we’ve not been as open about our relationship, which is fine, I mean, I don’t mind, but I can’t help but want more? I just want people to know that you’re my boyfriend and I know you could go out with any girl here and that would be more normal and that would be better for you . . .”
Cyrus stops rambling and is overcome with an intrusive thought. Quietly, he whispers under his breath: “I’m not good for you.” He looks up at TJ with frightened eyes. TJ seems to be overwhelmed with the amount of information just given to him. TJ moves forward, trying to grab Cyrus, as if his mind going into overdrive is causing him to barely be able to stand.
“Cy . . .”
“I’m sorry, I have to get going. Forget this.” Cyrus takes off, walking as quickly as he can.
“Cyrus!” TJ calls after him, trying to get him to stop. But Cyrus is gone, his internal commentary much stronger than any external presence, even his own boyfriend’s. The exit door closes with a resounding bang, leaving TJ alone in the hallway. The squeaking sneakers are still going. He takes a deep breath and walks in the opposite direction, determined to fix things.
Friday 8:43 AM
Cyrus slams the door to his stepmother’s car shut and makes his trek into the building. His breath is heavy. He doesn’t want to encounter TJ (preferably ever again, but he’ll settle for these next four years). He gets lost among the other students chattering away with their friends.
He berates himself inside his head for how he dealt with the situation yesterday. Wow, Cyrus, you didn’t even ask him anything, you just rambled on and on incomprehensibly, and then left him there when you realized the truth about your relationship. About yourself. Nice one -
Cyrus looks up to see TJ standing there in front of the school. The other students move around him, leaving an isolated space for him and Cyrus. TJ smiles softly, his green eyes glimmering knowingly.
“Can we talk?”
“Teej, I’m so sorry for yest -”
“Cy, stop. You didn’t do anything wrong. I shouldn’t have let you go like that.” TJ grabs his hands in his, holding them in between the pair. “You’re incredible, Cyrus. Girls don’t interest me but most guys don’t either. In fact, there’s only one I wanna be with.”
Cyrus scoffs, making light of the situation. “He must be a pretty cool guy then.”
“The best. He’s smart, witty, one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and he’s always been there for me. I’ve always been proud of him and I’ve been wanting to hold his hand in the halls ever since we’ve started high school. I didn’t want to make him embarrassed.”
They laugh softly. Cyrus’s eyes are welling up a bit, listening to TJ talk about him so positively. TJ’s always been the one to believe in him when no one else has, when even he himself hasn’t.
“He’s more than good enough for me. I don’t even deserve him. but now, I hope I can kiss him, right now, in front of everyone like in some corny romance movie that he knows I hate but I know he loves.”
Cyrus looks down sheepishly and smiles. He bites his lips as he looks back into TJ’s glowing face and nods a bit. TJ leans down slightly and meets him a soft kiss. There is no crescendoing music, no fancy light illuminating the scene. Most students don’t even give them a second glance. Because the love and adoration and appreciation the two boys have for each other at this moment is better than some artificially made TV show.
TJ and Cyrus move apart, grinning ear to ear. TJ sticks his hand out, much more confidently than he did on the bench all those months ago, and Cyrus takes it. Their hands swing in between them gently, a comfortable movement for the pair. Cyrus lets himself be taken away by his warm thoughts, rolling over his mind in lightly crashing waves. All he can really process is that this feels right. It’s what he’s wanted for a while and it’s so relieving for him to have this dream-like fantasy be brought to fruition.
“Is this okay?”
Cyrus is broken out of his thoughts suddenly by TJ’s voice. “Huh? Oh, yeah. It’s perfect.”
“You know, because I could say something on the morning announcements, something along the lines of, ‘Excuse me, everyone, Cyrus Goodman is my amazing boyfriend,’” he suggests, chuckling slightly.
“I think I’ll pass on that one, thanks, for both of our sanities.”
“Thank god.” TJ breathes out deeply. He turns to look at Cyrus. “But you know, if you wanted me to, I would have.”
Cyrus smiles softly. “I know.”