Josh thinks Tyler is good band-mate potential. Tyler is driven and has the creativity to make it. Josh has just met the dude not too long ago and he knows this deep within his bones already. He sees roaring crowds and worldwide tours in Tyler’s eyes, and he wants in. He wants a spot in that vision.
He had only met Tyler once before his old friend Chris offered him his spot in their band, and he jumped at the opportunity. It’s not like Josh had much going on anyways, and even if it went nowhere Josh had always loved to play the drums.
Tyler had so many good songs already written, and most of them had great potential for the drums. Tyler had a ton of songs that he created just on his piano with the intent of finishing later but decided he wanted to use them to make a new album with Josh instead. He broke out his book and flipped through which ones he thought would work best together on an album, and handed them to Josh to see if he thought drums could mesh and combine nicely. Most of them Josh agreed could be edited to contain drums, some he had to turn away upon seeing very tiny potential in, but most Josh thought could work. He was shocked he had so much of a say in this, but he wasn’t complaining.
Josh had his work cut out for him, but the thought exhilarates him. He was ready to create a new album about as soon as he joined the band, but it was daunting. Josh was even a little worried because he was still having trouble playing a few of the songs on the other self-titled album.
Josh had a lot of practice to do but the buzz of excitement bursting through his brain makes him want to jump out of his seat and drum until his fingers are numb just so he could come close to being as advanced and astonishing as Tyler. He has no idea how Tyler has managed to come up with all these songs already when he is only as old as Josh, but all he knows is that it’s hugely inspiring.
Tyler had put a new beat in Josh’s heart, and it was maddening how hopeful it made Josh. Josh could see a future when he looked at Tyler. A future of touring and playing and living so freely and passionately. A future where Twenty One Pilots had its name in lights, and everyone knew their name.
Tyler had so much potential and dedication, that Josh knew he had to give his all to try and live up to what Tyler deserved. He deserved a fellow band-mate who could keep up, and contribute all they had into making his dream into a reality. It was a dream Josh was starting to share.
Tyler has notebooks scribbled with song lyrics on every page, filled with the old frail paper of inner emotional revelations. He showed Josh this a week after they agreed to try and make this band work together.
It had millions of verses and choruses that could potentially be a hit, “These could be hits with the right beat, don’t you think?” Tyler had asked while excitingly flipping through the sheet music and humming some out in potential rhythms.
Josh had immediately agreed, Tyler's lyrics were phenomenal, they gave listeners an anthem to survive on, and Josh needed to make it happen. He needed Tyler’s voice to be heard. Josh knew this message needed to be said, this was the difference he wanted to make in his life.
Josh made a vow to himself then and there, that he would not let himself fail Tyler, that he would practice day and night if that was what it took to make this work. He would stay up past unreasonable hours if it meant that he could have a constructive comment to input. He desperately wanted to contribute to Tyler’s genius.
In hindsight, it wasn’t the most healthy or mature promise he had made to himself, Josh has always found self-care a little harder than others. Josh was always one to rush headfirst into something with no regard on how it could negatively affect himself later on. He did what needed to be done, and that’s all that mattered. As long as he achieved his goal and no one else besides him was hurt in the matter, so be it.
Band rehearsal, for this reason, was surprisingly mature and productive. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it shows in their intensity. Even in just everyday rehearsals, the intensity in Tyler’s voice and firecracker hits of Josh’s sticks on the drums sends a shiver down Josh's spine. It just goes to prove how much potential there is, Josh thinks.
It’s a gorgeous day out, but Josh and Tyler prefer to be in Josh's shed where there is all of their rehearsal equipment. Josh had revamped the shed and soundproofed it years ago. Now, the shed was where they rehearsed whenever they had time when working around their day jobs. It was a haven for Tyler and Josh both, a place they could pound everything out and lose themselves to. It was exactly what they needed.
Their schedules had lined up and by the grace of God, they both had two days off in a row together and agreed to dedicate that time to perfecting their newest songs. Tyler had come over that afternoon and they had spent the past ten hours pounding out different sounds and tweaking what needed to be fixed. They stopped once for food but were dedicated to getting this finished.
The hardest part in Josh’s opinion was creating the right drum sequence that complimented Tyler's voice, lyrics, and cadence he had already created. Matching up drums to a song that was mostly directed and thought up to be played by piano -and piano only- was about as difficult as it sounded. And once Josh had finally come up with a sequence that closely resembled what Tyler already had, then Josh had to play it a ridiculous amount of times back to Tyler, before getting the approval that it would do and it didn’t sound too wrong compared to the original version and sound from what Tyler had pre-existing in his head. Tyler was definitely a perfectionist, and ever so slightly resistant to let drums invade on his piano pieces.
It annoyed Josh slightly, but he wanted it to be as perfect as it could be as well, and he understood where Tyler was coming from. If he had created a song and had cherished the exact sound of it in his head for almost a year, he would be very hesitant to change the basis of how it sounded as well.
So that night as Tyler is wrapping up and packing, ready to go home and sleep, get refreshed for a new day tomorrow, “We only got through two songs today, Josh.” Tyler stood up and turned to face Josh, arms crossed, “I wasn’t expecting it to take this long, we have a gig in less than a month, and it needs to be perfect when we introduce you as the new member.”
“I know, I thought converting your songs and editing the drums in would be easier than this.” Josh set as he set his drumsticks down. He leaned back a little and scrubbed a hand over his face. “It has to get easier once I get used to playing at this level, and you become accustomed to hearing your songs through a drum set.”
“It’s not me that is having a problem playing the drums correctly!” Tyler ran his hands through his hair. He knew that he was being stubborn and making it harder for Josh, but Josh was too sweet and easy to yell at. He regretted the words the moment he saw the hurt flash on Josh’s face, but couldn’t bring himself to apologize.
“Woah, Woah,” Josh started and put his hands up placatingly, “I’m trying here, Tyler. You just gotta give me a moment to catch my breath.”
“Yeah, well we got that gig soon and it’s going to blow if we can’t even play any new songs.” He said it softer, but the disappointment still sat heavy in the room.
“We will be ready by then, I promise.” Josh tried to reason, even though the promised seem daunting to him. He thought by the slight relaxation of Tyler's face that his reassurance helped, but reassurance can only go so far with Tyler when he is stressed like this.
Tyler nodded a little solemnly. They looked at each other as if they both knew there was nothing more they could do or say to each other tonight.
“I'm gonna call it a night, we are both exhausted and need to sleep and cool down. I'll see you tomorrow morning.” Tyler said, and Josh reluctantly agreed.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”
Tyler quickly grabbed his things and pulled open the shed door and walked through without even a look back.
Josh sat there silently for a moment before standing up. His muscles cracked and he stretched upwards relieving some of the pressure on his back. He sat the drumsticks still clutched in his hands down in their holder and took a deep breath.
He forced himself out of the shed and into the dark nights' fresh air. He followed the trail up to his apartment. He let himself in and passed through the kitchen. His stomach rumbled a bit but he decided that sleep sounded more appealing than cooking. He headed down the hall to his room and crashed onto the bed.
He tossed and turned until he was comfortable and shut his eyes. He knows he needs sleep, but Tyler's expression doesn’t leave his mind and he tries tossing onto his other side as if that would help him get Tyler's disappointment out of his head.
All he could think of was about all the times he messed up. Tyler was right, he was so much further behind than they had expected. He needed to step up his game. He was a little shocked to find out how much the thought of failing this- of failing Tyler- scared him.
Practice was all Josh could think of, and he figured that sleeping was counterproductive to getting better like Tyler wanted him to, so Josh sat up and rubbed the tiredness out of his eyes before forcing himself up and standing.
Josh walked back out and down the hall, stopping before going out the kitchen door again. He looked around for something quick and easy to grab for a snack, settling for an apple. He bit into it as he walked out the door and down the pathway back to the shed. He took a few more bites before setting the apple down on the desk they had in the studio and dumped hand sanitizer on his hands, trying to get rid of the sticky juice from the apple, before heading over to his drum set.
Josh sat back down and picked up the drum sticks again. He started the intro of one of the songs he had messed up on earlier and played until he messed up again. Stopping and starting all over again every time he missed a beat until he finally got it down perfectly in one go through.
He ran through all the songs they had worked through so far until he did them all perfectly three times each.
What Josh failed to do though, was to check the time. Four hours later he had finally worked through the songs they had finished writing and he still couldn’t ease the pit in his stomach whenever he thought of Tyler’s disappointed face.
He moved on to the unfinished songs and tried to create the drum portions of Tyler's songs by himself.
This proved to be difficult without Tyler there to hum along or say whether he liked it or not, so Josh was left to constantly second guess himself. Everything he came up with was met with Josh echoing Tyler’s voice back that it wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t good enough.
He drums and his hands go numb. He is to far gone at that point to even care much anyways. He just keeps his hands clenched around the drumsticks, and burst all the sounds in his head. The fear of failure and of Tyler's disappointment fuel him to keep going.
The sunrise comes up quicker than Josh thought it would, but he drums through that as well.
Tyler woke up in his bed and let out a deep sigh. The sunlight had woken him up, and he cursed his cheap blackout curtain that obviously did not work. He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his face. He checked his phone that read it was coming up at 9 in the morning. He stood up and pulled on an outfit that he found sprawled around the floor. He worked his way to the bathroom and relieved himself before brushing his teeth and straightening his hair down.
He grabbed his wallet and phone before heading downstairs into the kitchen. He made himself a quick bowl of cereal and sat down. He sent a text to Josh informing him he would be leaving to be heading over soon.
He washed his bowl and spoon before heading to the front door and grabbing his keys out of the dish. He hopped in his car and made his way over to Josh’s. When he got there, he parked and checked his phone to see that Josh hadn't responded to his text. He briefly wondered if Josh was still sleeping, but a faint echo of drums quickly proved that thought wrong.
He walked down the path to the shed door and stopped before entering. The song Josh was playing sounded faintly familiar, but he couldn't place it. He could tell that it wasn't one of the songs they worked on yesterday.
He pushed open the door. For a second he thought Josh might not have heard him enter, but the door squeaked and Josh looked up blearily.
“Hey,” Tyler started.
“Hi,” Josh croaked out. Tyler wondered if Josh had gotten much sleep last night. “Is it morning already?” Josh asked.
Tyler’s mouth fell open a little bit, but he quickly recovered and tried to assess the situation. “Yeah dude, it’s about 9:30.”
“Damn, I didn’t realize it was that early,” he said chuckling lightly.
Tyler noticed he was still clutching the drumsticks. He walked towards Josh and scrunched his nose at the half-eaten apple on the table that was rotted by this point.
“You get any sleep last night?” Tyler prompted.
Josh shook his head, but let Tyler pry the drumsticks out of his hands, he looked down and saw himself clench and unclench his hands, but couldn't feel it. “I tried, but I couldn’t stop worrying about how far behind we are.”
“I’m sure skipping sleep is going to help catch us up,” Tyler scoffed and shook his head amused.
Tyler noticed the look of hurt flash across Josh’s face and sighed. He can’t get upset with Josh, he obviously has worked himself through the night trying to get better. Tyler was just annoyed that his day of rehearsal was going to have to turn into Josh’s self-destruction recovery day.
He set Josh’s drumsticks in their spot and ushered Josh up, “Come on, let's get you to bed.”
Josh blinked blearily at Tyler and shook his head after a moment of deciphering. “No, I’m fine, let's rehearse. I worked on a few new things I wanted to run by you.”
Tyler looked at Josh dubiously, he wanted to protest and make Josh go get some rest, but Josh was smiling and insisting. And Tyler would be lying if he said he didn’t want to rehearse, so he nodded his consent, and walked over to the sheet music on the table.
“Okay,” He began with a grin, “Show me what you got.”
It was a few hours later when Tyler began to doubt allowing Josh to continue playing. He was missing beats this way and that and his eyes were dropping every other second.
Tyler rolled his eyes and stopped singing. “Okay, this is getting nowhere, you are obviously too tired to be doing this right now.”
Josh started to respond and insist otherwise, but Tyler cut him off, “No, it’s okay. We can just go inside and watch a movie, and you can get some rest, and if your up for it later maybe rehearse some more.”
Josh looked at Tyler before admitting defeat and nodding, “Okay, yeah, sorry.”
“It’s okay, let's just go in and relax for a little.”
Josh nodded and stood, his back audibly cracked, and Tyler felt bad that he hadn’t insisted on this hours ago.
They ushered out of the shed and down the path to the front door. Tyler opened it and waited a few seconds for Josh to stumble through, practically tripping over himself with how tired he was.
Once they both got inside tyler headed straight for the living room and squatted down in front of Josh’s movie collection.
He turned his head to look at Josh just hovering in the middle of the room, not quite sure what to do with himself. “Go get some comfortable clothes on, I’m gonna pick a movie.”
Josh nodded slowly, processing everything a little slower, “Okay.”
Tyler turned back to the movies and Josh turned away. He settled on Fight Club, briefly remembering Josh say it was his favorite movie.
Tyler had managed to put the movie in and get comfortable on the recliner when Josh came in. He looked at the movie on the screen and smiled at Tyler, “My favorite movie?”
Tyler shrugged not quite sure how to respond, he could be nice sometimes.
Josh just ignored him and walked to the couch. He collapsed on it and pulled the blanket at the foot of the couch up and around him. Tyler grabbed the remote resting on the armrest and pressed play.
It was about twenty minutes through the movie when Josh spoke softly and nervously, “Sorry I ruined practice today by not taking good enough care of myself. I just- I have always had really bad anxiety, and when you were yelling yesterday about how behind we are, I just couldn’t stop worrying about it.”
Tyler looked at Josh, a little shocked he was still awake, but mostly with how blunt and open he was being with him. Josh looked like he wanted to say something more, to continue apologising, but realized he didn’t have anything else he wanted to say.
“I get it, and it’s alright. Just-” Tyler took a deep breath and thought on how to word it properly, “Just next time, tell me or let me help. Don’t do this to yourself again.”
Josh nodded, and sat there quietly not quite sure how to respond, he was disappointed in himself mostly and was relieved that Tyler was not angry anymore.
Tyler noticed Josh looking a bit uncomfortable and felt the need to clear the air a bit better, “I know I can get angry and insensitive sometimes, but it has no weight, okay? I just say things and most of the time it's me taking my annoyance out on others, you just gotta know when I’m saying the truth or not. This wasn’t about you, and I’m sorry you took it that way and that I took my annoyance out on you.”
Josh nodded, “It’s okay, sorry I let it get to me.”
“It’s okay, getting to know each other's antics and reactions will take time. We are still getting used to each other.”
Josh nodded, “Right”. Josh looked like he was about to say something else, not completely sure Tyler wasn’t upset anymore, but whatever it might have been was interrupted by a huge yawn.
“Get some rest, I’ll just be here and chill.”
Josh nodded and laid back down on the couch, “Okay, thanks.”
“No problem, dude.”
It turned out that all the worrying and hard work paid off, because now they are selling out huge arenas and they are playing almost every night, and they are hitting the charts. People know their names now (or at least the name of their band), and Josh and Tyler have even been spotted and swarmed by fans out on the streets. Josh has lost count of the autographs.
It’s amazing, and Josh sends a prayer every day about how grateful he for Tyler and he having been blessed with such an amazing life. It is their prime years, and they are living the life they had both always dreamed of. Tyler and Josh had really bonded a lot more over the last two years of traveling and Josh can honestly say Tyler is the best best friend he has ever had.
He wouldn't trade his life for the world- he feels like he already has the world anyways.
But sometimes, Josh wishes he wasn't so anxious. He wishes that before any show they do larger than 100 people, that he wouldn’t throw up from nerves. The acidic taste in his mouth almost burns through the pure happiness he has felt this last year.
He wants to be over the nerves, he wants to be calm and collected. He wants to be put together so that he can be there for everyone who is relying on him. So he can be a solid and perfect demonstration for the fans. He can’t do that if he is throwing up and practically having an anxiety attack every night before the show.
He knows that he isn’t cut out for this, at least not what Tyler deserves, whether or not Tyler thinks so. He knows he needs to get his act together, to get help or something, but he’s afraid.
If he tells Tyler, Tyler might kick him out, or insist on postponing shows for him to get better, and that scares Josh the most. This is the time of his life, and he would burn the world down before he lets this get taken away from him.
So that's why Josh is wiping his mouth on his arm, swiping the vile off his mouth as he reaches to flush his stomach contents down. He stumbles over to the sink and washes his mouth out and scrubs his hands before looking up.
He sees his bloodshot eyes and is grateful that he wears red eyeliner as it is. His hair is damp from sweat, but he runs a towel through it and ruffles it with his hand after to get it to fall correctly.
There is a knock on the door and Josh quickly plasters a smile to his face before opening it. It’s Tyler standing there leaning on the door frame with a concerned look on his face. “Everything alright?”
Josh nods, “Yep, just a few last-minute preparations. Need the bathroom?”
Tyler nods, “Yeah, got to fix this damn face paint,” He says and gestures to a mark on his neck that is all worn off. “We go on in 15 by that way,” he informs before closing the door on Josh.
Josh nods even though Tyler has already shut the door and walks over to the lounging area and grabs a bottle of water. He can still taste the bile in his throat and is thankful he is only the drummer and not the lead singer.
He swallows a bit of water and runs shaky hands through his dyed red hair and reminds himself that he needs to dye it again. He looks down at his shaky hands and holds them against his thighs, he worries lightly that Tyler is going to notice and worry, he needs to calm down.
He knows once he gets on stage he will be fine, as soon as all his senses are taken over by the noise, he will adapt into his stage persona and be the drummer he was meant to be. He just has to get there.
Tyler exits the bathroom and gives Josh an odd look but doesn't say anything about his appearance if he had noticed anything and Josh is grateful.
Tyler grabs and chugs a Redbull and flashes him a shit-eating grin, “Ready?”
Josh nods but his stomach twists with nerves. He mentally scolds himself and tells himself to calm down, he has done his dozens of times before. He will be fine.
He forces a grin on his face, and claps Tyler on the back, “Let’s do this,” He forces out, and it sounds believable to him so he hopes it's even more believable to Tyler.
They jog up to the stage entrance and go on stage to screaming and adoring fans, and Josh wonders what he was even worried about in the first place.
It is two nights later and he’s barfing into the toilet again. His head is pounding this time though and he wonders if he is actually getting sick or if it's the lack of food he has eaten today. He takes a mental note that his theory of not eating much before a show so that he wouldn’t throw up was the wrong way to go about it. His hands are shaking, his head is pounding, his stomach is twisting, and his breath is coming out faster than he thinks it should.
He knows he should get up and force some water, food, and something for the headache down his throat before the show, but the idea of sitting and relaxing on this tile floor until he absolutely has to get up and get ready is winning.
He lays his pounding head on the floor and takes a sigh of relief. He knows is just nerves, and that he’s not really sick, but in some twisted way he wished he were sick so that he would know he wasn’t overreacting to some imaginary thing he made up in his mind.
He doesn’t hear the knock on the door, but he sees the shadow of the door opening out of the corner of his eye. He forces himself to sit up and look at Tyler.
Tyler is standing there with a mixed look between concern and amusement. It's one he wears quite often around Josh, and he knows the silent question that goes along with it.
“I’m fine,” Josh answers before Tyler can ask. “Just a headache and nausea. Be good in a sec.”
Tyler scoffs and shakes his head, “Yeah, tell that to the wretched toilet bowl and the sweat running down your forehead.”
Josh moves to stand up and Tyler offers a hand. Josh looks at him surprised, especially since he is scolding him. He takes his hand anyways and allows Tyler to pull him to his feet. Josh releases Tyler's hand and flushes the toilet. He washes his face off and rinses his mouth out, a little ashamed to have Tyler watching, but also a little relieved someone is there with him.
Tyler gives Josh a once over after Josh finishes before he starts dragging Josh towards their dressing room, “Why don’t you get some rest, I’ll wake you a half-hour before the show.”
Josh almosts takes him up one it but shakes his head, “It’s okay, I just need an Advil or something.”
Josh walks over to where the water is setting and cracks it open before taking a swig. “I should get ready anyways.”
Tyler looks a bit dumbfounded, “Dude, I’m not sure what your thinking, but you just threw up and you're shaking all over. I really think you should chill and lie down for a bit.”
Josh shakes his head again, “It’s okay, I get this way before a show all the time, just give me a while to calm down and I’ll be good.”
“All the time? Josh, that's not good. Do you know why or have any idea of what's happening?”
Josh bit the inside of his cheek, he was afraid Tyler would react like this. He shouldn’t have said anything, but his head is pounding and he feels that with the right push he could fall down any second.
Josh gives up and walks over to plonk himself down on the couch. “I don’t know, I just get really anxious before the shows for no goddamn reason. I don’t mean to but I just hyperventilate myself into a nervous-puking wreck. I need to chill out and calm down, I just can’t sometimes, and it sucks! I just hate being the guy who can’t get his shit together enough to actually succeed at his dream.”
Josh took a deep breath and almost instantly regretted his outburst by how it made his head pound even worse, but also because of how sad Tyler looked. He looks down at his hands and tries to get them to stop shaking.
“Josh, if you're having anxiety attacks, that is most definitely not your fault. It just means something has to change, it’s your body telling you that something isn’t right.”
Josh shook his head, hearing Tyler’s silent undertones message. “I don’t want to leave the band, Ty. This band is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. I’ll Figure something out, just don’t kick me out or anything rash! I promise I’ll get better, you don’t have to worry about me.”
Tyler scrunched his face up in confusion, “I don’t want to kick you out of the band or anything, Josh. I just want to help. I don’t want you hiding stuff like this from me because your scared. I just want you feeling better.”
Josh nodded, he knew Tyler was right. He knew Tyler was telling the truth. Josh knew he needed help, and he knew Tyler was honestly offering it, free of charge, but that didn't help his humiliation. “I just, I don’t know what to do sometimes when I get worked up like that. I let it go too far and I can’t calm myself down.”
Tyler nodded and walked over next to Josh on the couch. He sits next to Josh and bumps shoulders with him in solidarity, “Come to me. When you get like that, come to me and I can help. I can talk you down or something. We can make this work.”
Josh nodded, he knows he is probably a bit too far gone, and he is afraid that even Tyler can’t save him from his own anxiety, but he’s desperate, and Tyler is always surprising Josh with how amazing he is. It makes Josh have hope that maybe he is wrong, maybe Tyler is right and maybe Tyler can save him. Maybe there is hope left.
Josh nods and gives Tyler a smile that doesn’t fully meet his eyes, but it radiates appreciation, “Thanks, I hope you’re right.”
Josh looks down again, and his hands are still and no longer shaking, and he is shocked to realize he doesn’t feel like he has to throw up anymore.
It’s been a month and Tyler is always there when Josh starts to lose to his anxiety pre-shows. Josh still sometimes throws up from nerves, but Tyler is always there trying to help. It isn’t miraculously fixed overnight and Josh’s anxiety is still as present as ever.
Josh and Tyler are getting a little frustrated with each other. Tyler is frustrated with Josh because he feels like his help is doing nothing, he feels his efforts are going to waste and that Josh doesn’t appreciate his help.
Josh is upset because he isn’t getting better and he hates that he feels the way he does. His anxiety is getting to him more than it ever has. He is pissed that he has upset and disappointed Tyler by not improving as much as they both wanted him too.
“I can’t do it, Tyler! It is not working, I’m not worth the effort, my anxiety is always going to be my downfall.” Josh yells.
“Stop fucking blaming yourself! It’s not your fault. You just have to live with it! And stop saying you’re not strong enough because you are. You got to stop carrying all this weight on your shoulders and start moving forward!”
Tyler is yelling now too, but he isn’t angry at Josh, he just wants his best friend to be happy with himself, and there is nothing else Tyler can try to do to help him. He’s tried everything he feels like, and none of it has worked.
“But it’s my mental inadequacies I need to fix, it’s me. My anxiety is apart of me, and I’m messed up because of it!” Josh is shaking and he’s close to tears, but he isn’t losing his tone. He is still fighting tooth and nail, just for the wrong point.
Tyler takes a deep breath and runs his hand through his hair. “I think you need to see a therapist,” He bursts out. It’s been on his mind for about a week now, and what better time to bring it up then the present. Tyler has tried, but he can’t be the only one keeping his friend from falling. Tyler needs help helping Josh, and Josh needs professional help.
Josh took a step back at the odd outburst and actually considers it. He knows Tyler is right, but he is still so worked up and takes it the wrong way, “You think I’m so messed up that I need professional help?!”
Tyler’s face morphs into concern and he takes a deep breath. Of course Josh took it that way. “No Josh, of course not! I just think you could use an outsiders opinion. And maybe a professional would be able to give you more tips on how to deal with this more calmly.”
“So you're giving up on me?” Josh asks and his face looks like a kicked puppies.
Tyler's face immediately softens and he walks up to Josh and grabs him by the arm gently, “No. No, I’m not, I just think that I can’t be the only one that is here for you. I can’t be the only one, Josh. It’s too much. I love you, and I want to help you, and I’ll always be here, but I just can’t be the only one baring this.”
Josh looks a bit upset but nods anyway. He knows Tyler is right, and he has thought about therapy before, but his own stigmas towards it and his own ignorant viewpoints have kept him from doing it. He knows he needs to get over it, especially if he wants to stay in the band. “Okay, I’ll try it.”
It’s been almost a year since they fought about Josh doing therapy, and Josh has been doing better with everything. He isn’t throwing up anymore, and his bad days are fewer and further between. He hasn’t had a full-blown anxiety attack in about three months and he believes he is through the worst.
Tyler and he are back to normal. They are there for each other when they need one another, but those cases are fewer as well. They are living their lives together and are coexisting on a tour bus. Touring life is fun, and existence, in general, is good.
Tyler has been spending a lot of his time out with Jenna, a new girl Mark had introduced to them, and Tyler has fallen head over heels for her. Josh likes Jenna, she’s a sweetheart and is good for Tyler. They make a cute couple and have been going steady for a while now.
Josh is just a little upset because he hasn’t seen Tyler as much anymore. He is always off spending time with Jenna, and when he does see Tyler it’s always with her, or for band stuff only. He just misses his best friend a little.
He was sitting on the couch in the bus while Tyler and Jenna were off walking around exploring the city. He was alone in the van as everyone else was out getting ready for the concert tonight or just exploring as well.
He has been resting in the van though because he hadn't slept well last night, up to late playing Mario Kart with Mark. He had slept in later than he would have planned too, and by the time he woke up, everyone was gone. So for the past two hours, he had been awake and just scrolling through different social media platforms.
It was alright, he was a little lonely, but he could appreciate his own company. That is until he sees a post on twitter that is speculating that Tyler was planning on leaving after the Blurryface tour and that he would be better-going solo.
Posts like these usually didn’t affect Josh much, he and Tyler had such a good bond and he trusted Tyler to talk to him about any thoughts he had about the bands future. But lately, he and Tyler haven’t had any serious or emotionally weighted talks about anything.
Sure, they have small talk, and basic conversations, but Josh can’t remember the last time Tyler confided in him about anything. He is starting to think Tyler is cutting him off or just getting bored with him.
Josh stands up and makes his way into the kitchen area of the van while thinking about the post. Maybe Tyler just doesn't have time for him anymore, or maybe he’s sick of him. Josh knows he can be a bit much, he knows that Tyler had been exhausted with him not too long ago when Josh first started seeing his psychologist, and he still felt a bit bad about putting his friend through that. Josh had kept Tyler up long hours into the night just rehashing everything he was thinking and what his psychologist said in response. He wanted to run everything she had said by Tyler and get his opinion on what he was doing and thinking as well, always an open book with him.
Maybe he had bothered him too much. Maybe Tyler realized how many better people there are out there, maybe Jenna has shown Tyler a whole new world and he realized how much better he would be off without him.
Josh grabbed out a mug and poured himself a glass of water. Water spilled over the edge of the glass by how much his hands were shaking. He shakily brought the glass to his lips and he took a gulp to try to calm his nerves.
He moved to put the glass on the table, but at the same moment the tour bus door opened and Jenna and Tyler entered laughing about something. Josh’s hand slipped and the remaining glass of water fell and broke all over the floor.
Josh took a step back to avoid stepping on the glass but ended up stepping on a shard anyways. He released a holler of pain and brought his foot up and held onto the counter for support, trying to get a good look at his now injured foot.
Jenna and Tyler turned to look at Josh in concern and walked closer, “Oh honey,” Jenna started as she carefully stepped around the pile of glass. Josh recoiled unintentionally and Jenna gave a look of hurt.
Josh instantly felt bad and started to apologize, “Sorry, sorry. I got it, I’ll clean it up, it just slipped.”
“I’m not worried about the mess, Josh. Look at your foot! We need to get that cleaned and bandaged.” Jenna reassured.
Tyler stepped up and helped Josh maneuver to the couch again so Jenna could clean up his foot. Jenna told Josh to brace himself as she removed the small shard from his foot and put gauze to where it was bleeding.
Josh winced at the pressure, but Tyler rubbed his arm comfortingly. After Jenna was done, she got up and was probably about to mention doing something, but she must have noticed Tyler’s look that said ‘we need a little time alone’ and excused herself to go get them all food.
Tyler got up and Josh followed, making sure to be careful on his injured foot. Josh walked to the kitchen and grabbed a towel and bowl before walking to where the mess was.
He knelt down and Tyler followed suit. They both started carefully picking up shards of glass in silence, but Josh broke it awkwardly, “You don’t have to help me clean up this mess, I was just an idiot and dropped it.”
“You just dropped it?” Tyler asked accusingly as he plonked a piece of glass into the bowl.
Josh hesitated but spoke anyway, “My hands were shaking and the door opened and I dropped it.”
“Were you having another anxiety attack?” Tyler asked quietly. It was quiet as if it were a taboo topic now, and Josh had to wonder when they grew so far apart that they couldn’t talk about this anymore.
Josh nodded, not quite sure if he wanted to elaborate. Especially not if Tyler was uncomfortable with it now. Josh still wasn’t quite sure why they grew apart, but he wasn’t about to mess it up by throwing all his problems on him as soon as they started talking like this again.
Tyler seemed to understand the unspoken hesitant that Josh presented as he prompted him to continue, “You know, you can always tell me if something bothering you.”
Josh nodded and looked up at Tyler. They had most of the glass picked up now but it was still slippery from the water. Tyler had stopped and was looking at Josh too. “I was doing so well with controlling my anxiety and then I see this dumb post and my mind spirals, and I know what I’m thinking is false, but it still wrecks my head up, ya know?”
Josh stops, not quite sure if he wanted to continue, and also not sure how much Tyler wanted to hear.
“What was the post about?” Tyler asked.
Josh shook his head but spoke anyway. “It was this dumb post about you giving up the band and going solo, and how you’d be better for it.”
Tyler scoffed, “I think I would go insane if I had to do all this by myself. And it definitely would be much worse. Your drumming is what makes Twenty One Pilots so great.”
“You wouldn’t be all alone, you would still have Jenna.” Maybe there was a little resentment in Josh’s voice, but could you blame him?
Tyler nodded, “Yeah, but where would I be without you, Josh? I know I’ve been a little distant lately and I’ve been sending a lot of time with Jenna, but I’m always here if you need me, Josh. I wouldn’t be where I am in life without you. ”
Josh nodded, “I know, I just don’t want to bother you with my little petty problems.”
Tyler shook his head, “You help me with my problems all the time, I like to be here and help you.”
Josh nodded, “I appreciate it.”
They both went back to picking up the spilled glass and Tyler suddenly let out a laugh, “Who’s dumb idea was it to have real glass cups on a moving bus?”
All Josh could do was laugh along with his best friend. .
Josh hadn’t really had any anxiety attacks since that one day on tour. He has taken up boxing, and it has really helped him release all of his spare energy and anxiety.
Tyler has insisted on doing a media blackout when they are taking some time to work on music. It’s mostly Josh enjoying time off, and Tyler trying to get back into the habit of writing and spending time with his newly-wife.
The tour had only recently ended and Josh is still in Columbus, Ohio, getting all his visiting with his family in and helping Tyler start the creative writing process before he flies back to L.A in a week. He is currently crashing in Tyler and Jenna’s spare room as he didn’t want to impose on his parents for a week.
He is chilling with Tyler down in the basement/studio. It is currently in the process of being remodeled to be a sleek new recording studio that Tyler is totally nerding out about, but Josh hasn’t seen Tyler this purely excited about anything since they formed the stage dynamics for the Blurryface tour.
It’s a mess in the basement and Josh is about to suggest moving upstairs away from the construction and sawdust when his phone in his back pocket buzzes.
From Debby <3: Hey, just heard that your tour is over. I’m about to start filming a new show in L.A soon and will be kicking it there for awhile if you want to meet up at some point xo ;)
Josh’s heart literally skips a beat and his mind and breath races. He hasn’t heard from Debby in about a year when she was just wishing him luck for the beginning of the tour, and now out of the blue, she is here wanting to meet up with him. They had a great thing going on for a while back then, and he never really found anyone else.
This text is just showing him how much he is still helplessly in love with her. They amicably split up over three years ago because they both had their own things going on and didn’t have enough time for each other. She was also younger then and needed to grow up a little, and admittedly so did he.
But now she’s here sending him a winky face and wanting to meet up again, and Josh just doesn’t know. He loves her and wants to be with her, and he has never been as happy as he had been with her, but it’s just sudden and too much. And how should he reply?!
“Hey, you alright?” Tyler asks.
And Josh isn’t sure if he’s asking because he noticed the drop and look of horror on his face, or maybe it's his shaking hands or his fast hyperventilating breath, but he is having a freaking anxiety attack and no, he is not alright.
But all he can do is shake his head vigorously and push his phone with the open message on it into Tyler’s hands. Tyler looks down and reads over the message twice before looking back up into Josh’s frazzled appearance, “What are you going to say?” Tyler asks.
Josh can’t speak, it’s like his mind is racing so fast that he can’t let his mouth catch up to his brain, so he shakes his head and abruptly turns away to go up the stairs and out of the basement.
Tyler is calling after him, still holding his phone, but Josh doesn’t care. He needs fresh air. He races all the way to Jenna and Tyler’s patio and lets himself out onto it, leaving the door open for Tyler who is still chasing after him.
He wants to keep moving, but the patio ends so he is forced to take in a deep breath of fresh air instead,gripping the rail. “What’s running through your head?” Tyler asks and hands Josh back his phone.
Josh looks back down on the text and his breath quickens again at how much weight one text could hold.
That could be Debby wanting to get back together again, and he would want to do that, he would, it’s just getting into a relationship and trusting someone like that all over is a lot, especially now that he is just getting his anxiety under control.
He still doesn’t feel like he can speak, and he feels horrible because he wishes he could inform Tyler on what's rushing through his head, but he really doesn’t think he can right now. All he can do is keep shaking his head and keep trying to get his breathing under control.
Thankfully Tyler seems to understand, and just rests his hands on Josh’s shoulders instead, “It’s okay if you can’t talk right now, let's just get you calmed down and maybe watch a movie until you feel like you can talk about it.”
All Josh can do is nod his head, but it feels like a huge accomplishment anyways. Josh is so grateful that Tyler always knows what to do and what the right thing to say is. Tyler leads them into the living room and he pulls up a movie they had recorded through their provider and heads to the kitchen to get snacks while Josh makes himself comfortable.
It takes all of a newer action movie and most of Fight Club (It’s a classic and Josh’s favorite, of course Tyler put it on for him) before Josh feels ready to talk.
“I miss her, and I want to be with her. It’s just- There’s just-” He tries.
And Tyler, bless his soul, always knows, “I know. There are just so many unknowns in life and it’s scary.”
Josh nods, Tyler had nailed it on the head. “I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know how fast I want to take this. I haven’t talked to her in so long and we have both changed so much. I don’t want to ruin it either.”
“I think,” Tyler stated, “I think, for now, you just tell her you will be flying back to L.A in a week and would love to meet up for coffee or even dinner.”
Josh nods, “Yeah that sounds reasonable I suppose.”
Tyler laughs and shakes his head, “What would you do without me?”
Josh laughs as well, “Probably would be hyperventilating into a paper bag.”
Tyler knocks his shoulder in fondness and they continue to watch the rest of the movie. Josh pulls out his phone and sends Debby a text back.
To Debby <3: Hey, long time no talk. Flying back in from Columbus next week and would love to meet up for dinner whenever you’re available :)
Josh is in Columbus, visiting again, and he’s only slightly upset to be here. It’s not like he isn’t happy to see his best friend and family, but he would rather be in L.A with Debby. They have been back together for a few months, and Josh just misses her more than ever. So what, call him a romantic.
He has only been here for two days, and they were so far spent only with his parents. He was ready to go see Tyler though, it had been about two months, and he was antsy to be in the same proximity as Tyler and Jenna.
What he doesn’t expect is to walk in on Tyler and Jenna arguing. “What the hell is this even about, Tyler? You can’t just accuse someone of that with no preamble!”
“It’s not an accusation if it’s true!”
“Oh, just shut up already! You and I both know that this is just you taking your stress about the upcoming album out on me!”
Josh stopped and tried to catch the door before it slammed shut behind him as not to draw attention to himself, but he was too late.
Jenna and Tyler both spun to stare at Josh with a deer in the headlights look. Josh smiled sheepishly, hoping to ease the tension.
Tyler just sighed angrily and turned on his heel to march down to the basement, leaving Jenna and Josh there in awkward silence.
Jenna wiped a few tears off her cheek as she turned away to head into the kitchen, and Josh followed curiously.
“Sorry you had to walk in on that,” Jenna whispered, and her voice sounded wrecked. Josh wondered how long they had been screaming at each other.
Josh just shook his head and smiled his forgiveness. He took a seat at the table and looked at Jenna starting to pace. “Couples fight, I get it.”
Jenna nodded but sighed. She resigned herself and took a seat at the table instead as well. “He accused me of not being happy.” She threw her hands up exasperated. “Who is he to tell me how I’m feeling?”
She was getting a bit angry and upset again, and he knew he had to help, to try and say something to make it better. “I don’t know, Jen. I’m sure you were right and he’s just a bit stressed out.”
Jenna sighed and wiped more tears away before nodding defeated, “I guess, I just- we just never had petty fights before, and usually, if Tyler tries to lash out I can see where it’s coming from and fix it before he can even think of escalating it, but today. I Just- I don’t know. I lashed back because it just came out of nowhere and I lost my self-control and lashed right back at him.”
Josh nodded, “I don’t know yet, Jenna. How about I go talk to him and see if I can get him to get back into his right head space.”
Jenna nodded, still upset and not fully convinced, but she was drained and had no energy left to do anything else with the situation herself, “Okay.”
Josh nodded and stood. He walked over and bent down to give her an uncomfortable hug that he hoped reassured her some and went over to the stairs to go and solve whatever the hell exploded out of his best friend.
He descended the stairs and heard chords from Pet Cheetah playing. He took a deep sigh and entered the studio. He went over and plopped down on the couch right beside Tyler who was sitting there dejectedly staring at his hands.
Josh nudged Tyler’s shoulder to let him know that he was there and was willing to listen whenever he was ready.
I took a few minutes of comfortable silence of Tyler just finishing his thoughts before he spoke. “I should not have said any of that to her.”
Josh just gave a small bitter chuckle, “Yeah, probably not, but what's said is said.”
“I’m not good for her.” And if that wasn’t vague.
“I wouldn't necessarily say that.” Josh is a little confused about where this is going, but he knows Tyler. And Tyler likes to beat around the bush a little bit and then reveal what’s been plaguing his mind. Josh just has to sit and let Tyler unravel his mind.
“I’m not giving her what she deserves and wants. She can’t possibly be happy with this. With me, with our life.”
“What makes you say that?”
Tyler just leaned back and ran his hands through his hair anxiously, “We aren’t moving forward. I mean as a couple we aren’t. Like we got married and stopped moving forward. I know we both aren’t ready for kids yet, but we are not doing anything new with our relationship.”
Josh shook his head and mentally face palmed himself, of course, this is what was bothering Tyler. “There are more ways to move forward in life than just having kids, Ty.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m just never going to be good enough. It feels like I can never do anything enough for her.”
“Has she expressed any disposition about where you guys are currently at in your lives?”
Tyler let a breath out angrily, “No! But it’s not the way it was supposed to be! We are supposed to be just as excited and in love as we were the first day together. We are supposed to be perfect, and I shouldn’t be so unsure about her happiness!”
Josh shook his head, “I think you just gotta trust her, Ty. Jenna is a very outspoken and outstanding woman, and I know for a fact that she would just come right out and say if she was upset or bored with something. I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
Tyler nodded, “Yeah, your probably right.”
Josh sat there and let Tyler process everything going on right now. Tyler just says for about her moment but eventually came around to whispering, “I think I just am scared of disappointing her. I just got so stressed about disappointing the fans and then it spiraled and I suddenly couldn’t stop thinking about disappointing Jenna.”
“No one is disappointed in you, Tyler. Most certainly not Jenna, and if any of the listeners are, then they are not true fans.” Josh took a second and reflected on all the times they have had conversations like this. It always came down to pleasing the fans. “You can’t please everyone, no one can, but you and Jenna, that has nothing to do with any of this.”
Tyler nodded, “It’s just a bit hard trying to separate all of the pressures and different emotions.”
Josh nodded and clapped a hand on Tyler’s shoulder, “I know. But you can do it.”
“How?” Tyler asked sounding a little resigned, but also brave. He was tired, but this whole downfall almost seemed like the spark of a revolution with how much determination Tyler spoke with.
“Well, I’d start with going up there and apologize to your wife first, and then maybe take her to dinner.”
“You think that she’ll forgive me?”
Josh nodded, “I think she’s more angry at herself right now for lashing out at you than at you being dumb.”
Tyler let out a watery chuckle, but Josh took it as a win, “Your probably right. Thanks, Josh.”
Josh smiled at Tyler and bumped his shoulder playfully, “Anytime. Now go up there and fix your crying wife. Take her to a nice dinner or a movie or something, I’ll stay here and try and work on the album.”
Tyler laughed again, “Okay, try not to mess anything up.”
Tyler and Josh both stood up and looked at each other, Tyler looked nervous, so Josh gave him a supportive clap on the back, “Go get her.”
Tyler flashed him a smile and gave him a hug before he parted upstairs. Josh took a big sigh and flopped back onto the couch. He knew he said he was going to work on the album, but a nap seemed to take more precedence at this point right now.