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Message Man

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josh breaks through the crowd, following brendon, who approaches the table already and sits opposite to hayley, ashley and tyler. this damn tyler. is he actually going to talk face to face with this mysterious poet he's been obsessing over since this night?

he still can't believe he's actually sitting there, not caring about anything, with his sleepy head down, like a normal, definitely not popular teenager. it feels weird to see somebody from internet living like a normal, casual person, especially when he's going to be in your school the whole year.

the trio doesn't seem to notice them both. ashley plays with hayley's hair, while hayley is looking at the window, and tyler still sits dazed, being here physically, but not mentally.

"hello, tyler," brendon speaks up, when josh sits beside him at the table.

"hi," the chocolate brunet says barely audibly, without looking up. now josh can say, that this is the guy he was listening to the whole previous night. nobody could have the same small voice. he remembers it perfectly.

"did you even get some sleep tonight, buddy?" brendon chuckles and looks knowingly at josh, who only rolls his eyes.

"um, i'm not sure." tyler answers, finally breaking his gaze away from his lap and looking up at the boy sitting in front of him. or more like two boys.

tyler doesn't even notice brendon, when there's flaming yellow color burning his eyes. the boy looks at josh, without even blinking or moving. it might make josh uncomfortable, but he can finally perceive his features more precisely.

he looks at him with big, brown eyes, which get bigger and bigger with every single second, shaded by long, dark eyelashes and a strand of puffy, fluffy, chocolate brown hair falling down on his forehead. josh could never think, that he would look like that before, but now with his small, pixie nose and full, uncommonly perfect lips he can't imagine tyler joseph from last night looking differently.

he stares at him hypnotised, what feels like a whole minute, even though only a few seconds have passed. josh doesn't know, if his yellow hair attracted the boy's interest, but he definitely isn't looking at his hair. he is looking straight at his eyes, like nothing else around exists, his porcelain face looking like a delicate sculpture. but josh can't catch a sight of his facial expression anymore, because his eyes are unbelievably brown.

josh doesn't even know, what are they doing. he knows, that they are looking at each other, but he has never done something like that before. it's just a casual exchanging glances, but it feels intense, it feels heavy. he never looks in the eye this way, when he talks to somebody. he just focuses on a conversation, nothing else. now it's different. maybe because they are completely motionless.

josh needs to stop, but he doesn't want to stop. he hates to admit it. it's dangerous. this kid started it and he has to end it, right?

but josh has lost his contact with the world too long ago, and he wants to see brendon, to look at ashley and hayley, to see, if they are talking to him, or laughing at him, or at them both. now he doesn't hear anything, besides voices in his head ordering him to keep looking.

however, tyler doesn't seem, like he's going to look away. his gaze is glued to josh's face permanently, and first it was okay, but now josh is starting to be afraid, if everything is alright with him. they have probably been in that state for at least 5 minutes.

josh blinks for the first time, since tyler looked at him, and looks around. nothing has changed. ashley still braids hayley's short hair and brendon watches them. apparently not as much time has passed, as josh had thought, but a short moment has never been so long before.

he looks at tyler's face. his eyes widened even more, he looks as if he saw a ghost a second ago. what else is strange with this boy?

josh finally decides to do something with it, to beat off this frightening thought from tyler's mind, anything what made him look so petrified. he didn't plan this. he didn't even want to speak to him earlier, because this kid pissed him off, even though he'd never met him. he will only say his name, so he knows, who he will fight with later.

"hi, i'm josh." he speaks up, after what feels like ages, smiling.

tyler doesn't turn his gaze away, only starts blinking uncontrollably, like waking up from serious dream. his face expression changes from stony to frightened to terrified. it would be good, if josh knew, what does that mean. but he doesn't, and he feels embarrassed.

ashley laughs at something hayley whispered to her, still playing with her hair and her back still based on tyler's arm, and says, as if nothing ever happened, "did you know, how soft is hayley's ha-"

"tyler!" brendon interrupts, looking at the kid running away from their table and disappearing in the crowd.

"what?" ashley turns around and notices the place beside her is empty. she looks at brendon, at hayley, and then at josh, as if she's waiting for answers, but instead says, "i'm sorry, he's sometimes like that. i'll go find him."

"did i say something wrong?" josh asks, because he feels guilty. why would somebody run away from him? he's sure he only said hi to him and nothing else. people always cling to josh, never the opposite, so what the hell was wrong then?

he realizes tyler might know about josh's conversation with brendon this morning. even though brendon didn't mention it to anybody, tyler could have overhear it. fantastic. by his stupidity he gained not only a youtube opponent, but the guy, who already hates him in real life. there's no other solution, tyler must've hear josh.

ashley already runs through the hallways, asking students, where did tyler go, because it's obvious they saw him running fast here, but they tell her he went upstairs, and, to ashley's misfortune, this school has a few levels. she has to seek for him in every hallway.

"tyler?" she shouts, still running and opening every classroom and bathroom, but finding no sign of tyler. she climbs the stairs again, missing two or three steps every time, just to be quicker to catch tyler. who knows, what idea might come into his mind.

she reaches the last bathroom at fourth floor, and if tyler isn't there, then she will have a big problem. tyler always likes to hide from all this school chaos and the fourth floor is never so crowded, so she really hopes she will find him here.

she enters the bathroom and opens every stall, but all of them are empty.

she begins to panic. she starts to feel, that it's her fault. it's obviously her fault. she didn't stop him, because she was too busy laughing with hayley. she promised to take care of him and now he may be doing anything and she can't do anything.

she takes her phone and dials tyler's number, even though she knows he won't answer the call, but it's better to try, than to regret later. and she has done the right thing. he answered.

"tyler! tyler, where are you?" she asks quickly. "just tell me, where you are."

"gym bathroom," tyler answers quietly, his voice sounding slightly broken. ashley's heart aches.

"wait, but which one?" she asks again, but doesn't get an answer, as tyler hangs up and she hears an empty signal. she hurries through the hallway and down the stairs, missing a few steps at once again.

she has to pass the cafeteria to get into the gym area, but she has no time to look, if her friends still sit there and how they'd react, seeing her pushing the crowd and rushing with horrified expression. all she thinks about now is tyler.

ashley notices tyler in the second gym bathroom, nestling on the floor against the wall, with knees against his chest. she sighs loudly in relief and kneels down beside him.

"tyler, you scared me to death," she says softly, stroking his hair. "what happened to you?"

he looks up at her, but doesn't say anything. it's like he wants to say "guess what". at least he's not crying, but his puffy eyes prove, that he's just stopped.

"you're not going to tell me?" ashley sits beside him and straightens his knees.

"you seriously don't know?" he finally speaks, with hoarse voice. ashley doesn't turn her gaze away from his eyes. "it's him."

"what?" ashley looks at him with questioning look.

"ashley," tyler gives her a pleading look. "it's josh. the josh i have been watching every day since last year. i can't believe it, i just hope it's a dream, because it doesn't feel real," he says quickly without letting ashley speak a word. "when i saw him i felt like i might die, my heart was beating so fast, that i thought everybody had been able to hear it. i can't believe, ash, i can't believe it. why him? why me?"

ashley zones out for a few moments, still twirling tyler's hair in her fingers, before blinking again, as if some realisation just hit her. "oh my god, tyler." she looks at him with wide eyes. "tyler... tyler! oh no. oh my god. he told he moves out... it's him?" she covers her mouth with her hand.

"um... yes? you know, what he looks like! how could you not know that?"

"i mean, i saw him a few times earlier, and yesterday with hayley."

"what?" tyler almost shouts, but then realizes they aren't alone in this school and repeats, whispering this time, "what? why didn't you tell me?" he looks her in the eyes, at the verge of crying again. "i panicked really bad. you'd know, how i would react, i know you would, and even if you wouldn't, why wouldn't you tell me? you know, how important it is to me." he sniffles and closes his eyes. he's losing his words.

"tyler, i didn't know it was him," she tells him. "i thought he had had pink hair?"

tyler sighs loudly. "yes, but he apparently dyed it. he often does it. but he still has the same face. if i dye my hair yellow today, you won't know it's me tomorrow, too?"

"ty, i am so sorry, it wasn't on purpose. i really didn't know. i was distracted by this whole chaos and everything." she says that so softly tyler can't not believe her. besides, he's too nervous to argue with her.

"okay... okay. i just can't believe it's real. is he really there, or am i imagining that?"

"yes, he is." she smiles apologetically.

tyler hides his face in his knees, and no matter, how muffled his voice will be, he begins to speak. he has very much to say. "i was so tired today i nearly collapsed at this table. and then i just looked up and it was enough to give me a heart attack. my whole life passed in front of my eyes. he looked at me for so long, what did that even mean? it felt like time had stopped, because i think i was in shock for very long, i couldn't blink, i couldn't move."

"it's fucked up. i'm sorry, tyler. i understand you," ashley whispers.

"i repeat, i can't believe it's happening. it just isn't possible! why has he moved from vegas," he does a pause. "to columbus, to this school, when there's me? i feel like i'm in some movie and i feel like he knows everything i do, that he planned all of this. i wouldn't even be surprised if he was standing behind these doors and listening to me. well, i don't care anymore," he says in one breath.

ashley, with closed eyes, gently rubs his arm, because he's still visibly shaking. she can't imagine, what does he feel, because she's never been in even similar situation, so she only has to believe tyler and understand his feelings.

"do you want to go out here?" she breaks the silence.

tyler hesitates a little, before answering, "yes. just please, don't make me go... there."

"sure, tyler. do you want me to take you home?"

"you don't have to, i'll go alone."

"are you serious? you're shaking and you're still very tired. i don't want you to collapse in the middle of the street." she stands up and gives him her hand to take it and help him stand up as well.

they leave the bathroom; tyler covering his face with his hands, and ashley literally holding him and making him walk, whilst telling him to stop crying.

tyler doesn't think about people seeing him cry, because nothing worse can happen anyway now. he doesn't look ahead and doesn't look at his feet, while he walks down the stairs.

he can tell they made it to cafeteria, because he can hear much louder voices and ashley saying, "i'm taking him home. tell teachers a nurse let us go."

she doesn't wait for any responds, just hurries faster through the labyrinth hallways and receives weird looks towards her and tyler. she gives them her warning glance in return. they know there's no use messing with her.

"tyler, we are outside now," ashley says, when they finally leave the building. suddenly tyler straightens his body and starts to walk without any need to be pushed.

he opens his eyes. yes, they are outside. tyler doesn't want to look back at the school right now.

his chest is still tight and he has a little problem with breathing, but fresh air gradually reduces the rests of his panic attack.

he doesn't know, what's next. nevertheless they are going to see each other every day. if josh is brendon's friend, it's even worse. why can't he hang out with people, that don't know and don't care about tyler's existence? but no, he chose brendon, who provokes ashley every break and tyler has to watch it every time.

he's more and more suspicious, that josh for some reason knows him and it's all perfectly planned. on the other hand, it's impossible, but it's also scary.

a person, who he's been stalking for almost 2 years, every day, goes to the same school as him. he feels guilty, it feels wrong. tyler thought, that he might have moved even to europe, and that made him feel terrible, but now he actually has him at his fingertips. he should be grateful and jump in his boots, but all he feels is insecurity.

but that's enough. he panicked really bad a few minutes ago, and that was already too much. he needs to focus on his calmness right now, because that's why they left the school; to forget about previous events at least for the rest of the day, not to recollect them.

they make their way to tyler's house quietly. it should be empty, because his parents are at work, and all siblings must be in school.

without any word, they run upstairs to tyler's bedroom and decide to watch some movie. tyler opens his laptop, slightly embarrassed, when youtube page appears right after he opens the browser. ashley smiles awkwardly at him, and then he closes the page and starts searching for some not bad movies.

they end up watching "she's a man", cuddled on tyler's bed. none of them brings up the topic, which brought them to the house this early, and tyler thinks that's good. he doesn't want to annoy ashley more. even though she would never admit that, there's no possibility she isn't fed up with tyler sometimes.

during the movie tyler calms a little and even laughs during some funny parts, but when they end watching, ashley tells him she should leave him alone now and let him sleep. "i'm surprised you haven't actually doze off in my arms yet," she laughs, whilst standing up and making her way to the door.

"i'm surprised a bit, too." he gives her a shy smile.

"see you tomorrow, okay? i'll call you later." tyler nods. "don't worry your little head about anything. rest, ty guy." and with that, she smiles and closes the door behind herself.

telling tyler not to worry? that's easy for you to say, ashley. he's been worrying since the second he looked up from the table, just not as much as a few hours ago.

he has to do something with that. otherwise it will destroy him from inside. he didn't have any problem with that earlier, because everything, what had been burdening him, he told ashley. but now, he thinks, that it's enough. ashley is tired too. she doesn't seem to have her own problems, she just deals with tyler every day. he wants her to rest, as well.

that leads him to take his laptop again and open the tumblr page this time. he planned to post some pictures of flowers he had taken this morning, but this time that will wait. he types something for a few minutes, reads that again and again, then removes, types again, and reads again. finally, he decides to write something simple, what wouldn't reveal his true self. he hits send. that's it.

"help me, somebody please."

03 sep, 4:27 p.m.