He wakes up in a cold sweat and sits up straight in bed. He looks to his side table and watches as the clock ticks to 7:19am.
He hadn’t slept well for about two months now since the tour ended. One would expect the opposite as he was in a bed instead of a cramped tour bus bunk, but Josh felt isolated in his bed. There was too much space and he couldn’t sleep anymore without having nightmares that he couldn’t remember as soon as he opens his eyes.
He’s going a bit stir crazy. He wants to be with people and doing things. This no publicity or socializing in public thing that Tyler is enforcing is getting to him a bit. He’s hung out with Brendon a lot at the beginning after he returned from Broadway, but he got anxious and started feeling like he was unwanted over there all the time. He felt his constant presence was annoying him and Sarah.
Brendon was great, but he was no Tyler, and Josh missed his best friend. Sure they FaceTimed and texted all the time, but Jenna would often interrupt unintentionally and cut their conversations short. Tyler had Jenna and his music and a result of that meant that he had less time for Josh. Josh couldn’t hold that against him though. He was the one who moved to the other side of the country. He was the reason he wasn’t with his best friend.
Josh was alone and isolated and before he realized it he spent almost a whole two months in his house with no socialization with the outside world besides the few calls he and Tyler had.
Impulsively and fueled with desperation he couldn’t quite place, Josh booted up his laptop and booked the soonest flight to Columbus that day. He had to take a detour in Georgia, but it was worth it when he reminded himself that he would get to see his best friend by the end of the day.
His flight was to leave in about four hours so he packed a suitcase quickly and requested an Uber to come drive him to the airport an hour later. He sent Tyler an impulsive text and hoped he’d be alright with him just dropping in about 10 hours later.
When he saw the reply it was when he was waiting to board after being all checked in.
Tyler: Sick! We can’t wait :D Do you need us to pick you up?
Josh let himself smile a bit for the first time in a while it felt like.
Josh: No, I’ll catch an Uber or something, don’t worry about it.
Josh suddenly felt a bit anxious about this spur of the moment trip. What if Tyler didn’t want to see him. He was already imposing on him and Jenna, he didn’t want to make them go out of their way anymore so for him.
He took a bite of the apple he bought, not feeling very hungry but knowing he wouldn’t eat on the plane. Since he haven’t ate since the previous day he knew skipping on any form of breakfast wasn’t in his best interest. He didn’t have much of an appetite these days anyways.
He finished his apple before boarding and listened to music while he slept away the five hour flight to Atlanta. By then it was around 6pm Ohio time. Josh had and hour overlap between flights and grabbed dinner at the least populated restaurant at the airport.
All the stimulation of strangers brushing all up against him and being in between two strangers at that moment felt like hell. He was close to hyperventilating by the time he was able to get off the plane due to his anxiety. He forgot how much being in public wrecked him.
He runs into a few fans on his way out and has to do everything in his willpower to not snap or burst into tears then. He signed a phone case and made small talk for a solid five minutes. He politely denied taking a photo as Tyler would be upset if any more photos went around social media. The girls seemed nice, but even he wouldn’t trust them not to share a photo of him around.
An exhausting Uber ride later and Josh is climbing up to the steps to Tyler and Jenna’s house. As soon as he rings the doorbell the front door swings open and he is embraced in a tight hug from Tyler. He stiffness a bit before relaxing and returning it.
He can’t remember the last time he and Tyler hugged, or even the last time he hugged anyone. The hug lasts a bit longer than it should, but neither man pays any attention to that fact. They hadn’t seen each other in three months basically and were just glad to be in the same proximity again.
Josh missed this. He missed his friend and Jenna and the chill breeze of Autumn in Ohio ent feelings of nostalgia through his entire being. Standing right there is when it fully hit him how much he had needed this. He needs them. There is no place he’d rather be than in his hometown with his best friend.
Tyler is the one to pull away first and drags Josh in before he can start shivering in just his tee-shirt. Jenna is there as well, and is next to greet him as well with a hug. He needed this, he missed them. They are practically family to him. He smiles a bit, and rejoices in not being in solitude anymore.
They exchange greetings and Josh shuffles over to Tyler, hovering closely as they talk. “It’s good to see you, man. It’s been too long, huh?”
Josh smiles at him, but it doesn’t meet his eyes. “Yeah. Woke up and needed to do something with another human for a change,” he chuckles, trying to play off how truthful those words rang.
Tyler and Jenna share a look as Josh’s facial expression gives a deeper meaning to his words despite. “Well, you’re always welcome here, we missed you, Josh,” Jenna speaks and flashes a sweet smile to him.
Soon after Josh is dragged into the kitchen by Tyler, his hand wrapped around his wrist and Josh is happy with himself for deciding to come.
“Have you seen your parents yet?” Tyler asks as he sits at the table.
Josh pulls out a chair as well. He suddenly feels a bit disappointed in himself at the fact that he didn’t even think of his parents or of Jordan. The whole travel he had a one track mind of only wanting to see Tyler, “No, I probably will in the next few days or so.”
Tyler nods and they fall silent. Usually they pick right back up after being apart, but Josh fears that he’s a bit too far gone. Maybe isolating himself chipped away at him a bit more than he had thought. Maybe Tyler realized how much he didn’t need Josh while he wasn’t there.
Luckily Jenna saves the silence when she comes in a minute later, “I set up the living room for a movie night. Pillows, blankets, and anything else you can imagine,” she beams.
Tyler and Josh looked at her relieved. “Thanks, babe,” Tyler smiles brightly at her.
Jenna returns the smile and turns to Josh, “Why don’t you go pick what movie you want to watch first and Ty and I will make a bunch of popcorn and snacks?”
Josh pushes himself up from the table and agrees, happy to have something to do to get out of the awkward tension that lingered in the kitchen.
As Josh leaves Tyler and Jenna watch as he goes before turning to each other. After a few minutes of nonverbal communication, Jenna moves to the cabinets to grab out microwave popcorn while Tyler conveys his worries aloud, “He doesn’t look too good. He lost weight, Jen. His beard has grown way too long, and he just isn’t taking good care of himself. I’m worried”
Tyler paces and pulls at his hair a bit while Jenna nods, “I know. And it sounded like he hadn’t been around people for a while. I thought he and Brendon were hanging out often?”
Tyler shrugs, “Me too, but he seems a bit out of it. More anxious. I wonder how long it’s been since he hung out with friends. I’m afraid he’s slipping.”
His voice wavers a bit at the end, causing Jenna to redirect her attention from the microwave. She walks over and wraps her arms around his waist before kissing him lightly, “We will help him. He can stay here and we can smother him in attention until he’s back to normal. He’ll be fine soon. I’m sure all he needs is some love and care.”
Tyler nods, Jenna is always able to sooth him, and she always has a reasonable plan. He is eternally grateful for her. She is a saint.
Jenna tears herself away when she goes to grab the popcorn out. Tyler hands her a bowl and he grabs another one for chips that he goes to prepare.
After both the bowls are topped off he gives them to Jenna and grabs a few cans of soda for them all.
He walks into the living room to see the comfy looking floor with heaps of blankets and pillows. Josh is in the corner leaning on the couch behind him while the beginning of a newer released action movie is playing.
Jenna is on the opposite side and had left enough room for Tyler to squeeze in the middle. He takes his seat and drops Josh’s soda can on his lap, sending a forced smile to Josh.
Josh smiles slightly back as a thanks and waits a minute before popping the tab and gulping a bit down.
The three sit there and watch half the movie before all the snacks are in their stomachs.
By the end of the second movie Tyler and Jenna had passed out. Josh watches the credits roll and looks at his friends sleeping peacefully on one another. Josh gets up and puts another movie on quietly before grabbing the discarded bowls and soda cans.
He quietly goes to the kitchen and throws the trash away and puts the dishes in the sink.
Apparently he had woken Tyler as he sleepily stumbles in the kitchen as well, “Can’t sleep?”
Josh looks at him and nods, “Yeah, jet lag. It’s only like 11 in LA.”
Tyler nods and gets himself a glass of water before sitting at the table. He wants to say something, to confront Josh for being so distant and far away. Instead he settled for, “You know, you can always talk to me, right, Josh?”
Josh quickly looks at Tyler before nodding quickly, “Yeah, of course, man. What makes you think I wouldn’t?”
Tyler shrugs and takes a minute to compose his response, “It’s just you seem out of it. I know we haven’t talked as much as we should, but we just got a bit busy and I got too enthralled in writing new music. I guess I let you slip my mind a bit, and I’m sorry for that. I’m here now though, and I’d really like it if we could talk again and go back to how it was.”
Josh takes a seat besides Tyler, “Me too. I just let myself slip a bit I guess,” Josh’s voice cracks. “I should have reached out sooner, but I didn’t connect the dots until this morning. It’s been two months and I’ve barely left the house. I just needed to see my best friend again.”
Tyler reached over and hugs Josh. Josh has a few tears trailing down his cheeks and is trying his hardest to avoid sobbing.
Tyler soothes the other man and waits for him to calm before pulling away. “I’d wish you came sooner, but Jenna and I are so glad to have you back. We want you to stay for a while. As long as you need.”
Josh smiles and pulls Tyler back for another hug. They sit there hugging for a while longer before Tyler pulls away, “Let’s go lay back down. I’ve noticed you haven’t been getting much sleep lately.”
Josh nods and follows Tyler to the living room while they resume their places. This time instead of Jenna curled up on Tyler, it’s Josh.
They lay their entwined together. Josh has his head on his chest and an arm around his waist. Their legs are indecipherable from one another, but they sleep peacefully.
Josh slept through the night for once and instead of waking up from a nightmare, he wakes up to the smell of cooking.
He slowly detangles himself from Tyler, careful not to wake him this time.He walks into the kitchen, following the smell of bacon.
Jenna is standing at the stove making eggs and bacon for the three of them. Josh takes a seat and flashes a smile at her when she glances his way. “Looks like the two of you slept well,” she said, not a hint of malice in her voice. It was just an observation.
“Yeah, thanks for letting me steal your husband last night,” Josh teased lightly. He was truly thankful for her though. He was feeling better already being back with his friends and having finally gotten some restful sleep.
Jenna smiles, “I think you need him a bit more than I do right now. He’s all yours.”
Josh smiles and just sits watching her cook. She finishes up and prepares three plates. She grabs two and silverware to go with before directing Josh to grab his and do the same.
He gets up and stretches before grabbing his plate and following her out to the living room.
Jenna has retaken her seat on the floor and is kissing Tyler awake before handing him his plate with a pleasant, “Good morning!”
Josh plops down on the opposite side of Tyler with his plate and nudges shoulders with him lightly as his own greeting.
Tyler smiles at him and the three sit there and eat, moaning obnoxiously to prove to Jenna how delicious it was as their thanks.
Jenna watches her two favorite boys, “I have a date with my sister, so the house is all yours today. Figured you needed time to catch up.”
Tyler could kiss her a million times right then, she always knows what he needs and is just perfect to both him and Josh.
After breakfast they all clean up and make the living room presentable again before Jenna goes to shower and dress for her day with her sister.
Josh and Tyler have already engrossed themselves in a game of Mario Kart when Jenna comes and kisses Tyler goodbye and hugs Josh a farewell for the day.
Josh and Tyler spend the day just watching movies, playing games, and working on a bit of music.
By the time Jenna gets home that night Tyler and Josh are cuddled on the couch squeezed together. Jenna is surprised neither have fallen off yet.
They are drooling a bit and their chests rise and fall in peaceful harmony and Jenna can’t help but smile and feel thankful to have such a caring husband and a best friend who is so sweet with everyone he comes across.
If Jenna takes a picture of them curled up together on the clutch that day, no one will ever know.