The heat in the small van started to take a toll on Tyler. They had been driving for at least three hours at this point, and he was in desperate need for a break. He had made an attempt at sleeping earlier that afternoon, but after slowly sinking more and more in the uncomfortable chair with his sweaty back sticking to it, he gave up. He instead decided on leaning his head against the window to at least find a bit of coolness for the next three hours.
A comfortable silence had been shared in those hours. Josh was driving, and the rest of their small crew were in the other van, driving in front of them. No doubt they had slept well the night before, while Tyler had only had a scarce three hours. Tyler wished he could just fall asleep.
He shifted in his seat, tilting his head towards Josh, who was focused on the road in front of them. Judging by the wet spots under his armpits he was also suffering from the heat, the sun shining brightly on the roof of the van.
Tyler’s eyes focused on the other boy’s face, a frown visible under the sunglasses he was wearing. Josh licked his lips, still focused on the road, gripping the steering wheel tightly with his hands.
The van suddenly came to stop, causing Tyler, who was still half laying down in his seat, to hit his head against it.
He rubbed his head in pain. That’s what you get from staring.
“Oh shit, Tyler, are you okay?”
Josh had turned his attention to the boy in the passenger seat. They had stopped at a traffic light.
“Uhm yeah, it doesn’t really hurt..”
Tyler shook his head, looking over at Josh, who had a worried expression on his face, looking kind of shocked at the same time.
“I thought you were asleep...”
Josh laughed, a breathy laugh. A warm feeling spread through Tyler’s chest. Josh’s expression relaxed.
“Not anymore, I guess”
They stared each other in the eyes, probably longer than was necessary.
Tyler’s heart picked up pace, beating against his chest.
Drops of sweat were trickling down from Josh’s forehead, giving his face a sheen. He could see the other boy was tired. Still, something sparkled in his eyes, visible through the sunglasses. Tyler couldn’t make out what it was though.
A car honked behind them, pulling them out of their trance. Josh quickly turned his attention back to the road. The traffic light had switched to green. Tyler vaguely thought to have seen his cheeks turn pink.
“I need to stop for gas soon,” Josh sighed after 10 minutes. They hadn’t talked ever since passing the traffic light. Tyler glanced at the blinking red light on the dashboard.
“Yeah. And I think I could really use a break from sitting in this way too hot car.”
Josh simply nodded, focusing on the road once again.
Tyler simply let his head rest on the window. He was tired.
Tyler didn’t know how long it had been since Josh’s announcement that they had to stop soon. It was probably only a couple of minutes, but he had still managed to fall asleep. Sadly, seven minutes of sleep don’t really make you feel more rested.
He awoke to the car door on the drivers side slamming shut. He rapidly blinked his eyes, adjusting to the bright world around him again. The faint sound of gas being pumped into the car was heard. Tyler looked around him in search of the other van. When touring, it was usual for them to lose each other on the road from venue to venue, so it didn’t surprise him when he couldn’t spot it at the gas station.
The passenger seat door opened and Tyler got out and stretched his body, arms up in the air as his back cracked from being stuck in an uncomfortable position for too long.
“Hi Josh” He yawned, shifting his attention to the other boy who was rather focused on not spilling gas.
“That’d be 60,95” The cashier seemed annoyed and tired. Tyler didn’t blame her though with this heat.
Josh sighed, grabbing his wallet from his back pocket.
Tyler on the other hand was on the other side of the convenience store, scanning through the rack of magazines and newspapers located against the wall. He liked reading magazines sometimes, and thought about maybe buying one, although he was fairly disappointed by the limited amount of choice at this particular gas station.
One had a cover page loudly announcing the divorce of some sort of celebrity couple. He couldn’t give less of a shit about that. Next to it was one for little girls and some other for boys about videogames and what so more. He used to read those when he was a little kid, and for a moment doubted if he should buy it just for fun, but quickly decided against it.
Josh, in the meantime, was trying to find his credit card in the mess of cards and coins that his wallet was. The woman at the cash register seemed unfazed.
They were the only people inside the gas station besides the cashier, and the low humming of the fan in the corner of the room (which totally didn’t function properly and totally didn’t help cooling down the sauna-like atmosphere) was the only thing that could be heard.
Tyler’s eyes fell on a magazine with posters and interviews from bands. There was a great possibility that he had bought one before, although he couldn’t remember for the life of him. The magazine had some band Tyler had only vaguely heard of before on the cover page. He sighed, picking it up from the magazine rack. It was at least something to keep him entertained for the rest of the ride.
“Come on Tyler”
Josh had walked towards the exit. He looked like he was really done with being there and with the irritated cashier, who had made him seemingly irritated as well.
Tyler waved the magazine in the air.
“Let me pay for this first”
“Sure. I’ll wait outside”
Josh had taken off his shirt when getting back in the car.
“It’s way too hot,” He had reasoned, shrugging.
Tyler agreed with that. For the following hour it seemed like Josh’s mood had lifted slowly, the annoyance from earlier washing off. He had at some point turned on the radio, which was now playing a Taylor Swift song, and he was humming along softly.
Tyler glanced over at Josh, lifting his eyes from the magazine he was reading. The other guys’ torso was shiny from sweat, even though he was now not wearing a shirt.
He had to admit that he looked kinda hot.
Josh laughed awkwardly, a blush creeping on his cheeks.
Tyler quickly looked away, now also blushing. He did not mean to say that out loud.
He blamed it on the heat that made him feel dizzy and tired.
Tyler had finished reading his magazine, and really wished he could fall asleep.
Instead he was pondering about what he had thought and said earlier. Why did he say that? Did he mean what he had said? He did.
Did he have feelings for Josh in a more than friends way? If yes, did he ever feel that way about other guys?
His brain was a mess.
Josh had turned off the radio at some point, together with removing the sunglasses from his eyes with a large yawn. The sun had begun setting, leaving the sky full of pinks and oranges fading into purple. Tyler stared at it, letting out a soft sigh. He pulled up his legs on the seat, wrapping his arms around them and resting his head on his knees for comfort.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Josh said quietly, breaking the silence.
The road they were on was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Except for the usual farm every once in a few miles, and some lonely trees in the grassland surrounding them, there were no obstacles blocking their view.
Tyler simply responded to Josh with a nod, knowing that he would understand, even though he was not looking his way.
Another short silence followed, leaving both of them in their own thoughts while admiring the beautiful show that slowly swallowed the earth in darkness.
In silence, a hand softly and unsurely made its way to Tyler’s hand.
They linked their hands over the console for the rest of the drive.
An hour earlier, Mark (a guy from their crew) had texted them that they would reunite at a specific diner near a small town that Tyler honestly couldn’t remember the name of.
Josh pulled up to the nearly dark and almost empty parking lot, immediately noticing the other van, and parking next to it.
Tyler felt his heart sink a little at the loss of contact when Josh turned the engine off and opened the door to get out of the car.
Sure, they had held hands before, but this time it had felt different.
Tyler breathed in the smell of hot summer evenings and emission gasses coming from the cars on the highway as he opened the door on the passenger seat side. Josh had already made his way to the entrance of the diner, lit up by an old neon sign reading “Daisies’”.
He quickly caught up to Josh who had opened the door, but hesitatingly waited for the other boy to arrive.
They entered the diner, Josh gesturing to the other boy to go in first.
“What a gentleman!”
Tyler couldn’t keep his snarky comment for himself, although it was mostly a cover up for how the simple gesture had flustered him.
The apple crumble pie that was served looked like it was at least a month old. Tyler looked at it with disgust, already deciding that he was definitely not gonna eat that.
Josh on the other hand had ordered a burger which seemed to be more fresh than the pie, although judging by the yellow looking lettuce also wasn’t that fresh. Josh didn’t seem to care though, and had already guzzled most of it within a minute.
Tyler felt a bit anxious and angry, although he didn’t know why. They had met up with the rest of the crew and had stuffed themselves in a booth that was way too small for 6 guys to fit in. Tyler had the luck of sitting in the middle, crammed between two other dudes. Josh sat opposite of him, but didn’t seem to mind the close contact with the people next to him.
Josh wiped the corners of his mouth off with a napkin, letting out a sigh. He had finished eating his XL burger (it was advertised like that, although Tyler would call it more of a medium size), and was now licking his lips.
Tyler tried to focus on the pie below him, and, although it looked quite disgusting, decided on taking a bite. Or so was the plan. When trying to take a piece from the cake, he came to the conclusion that it was frozen. He let out an irritated groan.
“I’m still hungry,” Josh announced. Slumping back on the bench. One of the other guys simply rolled his eyes, the rest not really caring about Josh’s remark and continuing the conversation neither Tyler or Josh were paying attention to.
Tyler copied Josh’s motions and pushed the frozen pie his way. He wasn’t that hungry anyways.
Tyler tilted his head back and let out another sigh. There was not really much use in getting mad at a piece of pie. He was just tired and confused about the earlier events today. His feelings were super confusing right now, and he definitely needed some time to think about things.
“The pie is frozen?!”
Tyler looked up and laughed at an angry Josh, who was now only holding one half of the shitty plastic fork, the other half stuck in the piece of pie.
Not much later they were both laughing.
Only 30 minutes later, Josh and Tyler pulled up to the taco bell parking lot. Tyler had complained about being hungry, and since the food at the diner just wasn’t really great they had decided to get tacos. The rest of the guys were already headed towards the motel they were staying in for the night.
It had started raining during their stop at the diner, so both boys had decided to go through the drive through and eat their food in the van. Hence why Josh turned off the engine after parking in the empty parking lot.
They ate in silence, the only sound being from the radio softly playing music in the background, and the rain falling on the roof. Tyler looked out of the window, the raindrops trickling down the glass, distorting the view of the lights coming from the lantern poles. It made him feel safe.
He looked over at Josh, who was still eating his taco and was also looking outside.
Tyler admired him, his eyes, his nose and his perfect lips. The soft glow of the lights outside engulfing him. It was nothing different than how he usual was, but it seemed like suddenly Tyler saw everything different. A thing had changed over the course of the day, like a realisation suddenly hitting him, although he couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was.
Josh suddenly glanced up from the spot he had been staring at.
“Oh my god, I love this song” he said, turning up the volume of the radio to a point where you’d be deaf if you’d sit in that car for too long.
Tyler covered his ears, being startled, as Josh loudly started to sing along to a song Tyler quickly recognized as Stereo Hearts.
“Noo Josh, stop!” He attempted to reach for the volume button, but it stayed at an attempt as Josh pushed away Tyler’s hand.
“Don’t you dare! This is my jam!” he said, trying to sound mad, but failing. He looked Tyler in the eyes, his eyebrows furrowed but the glinster in his eyes giving away his facade.
Tyler on the other hand couldn’t stand the loud music of this horrible song. Still he stared Josh straight back in the eyes.
“Put the volume down or I will walk away . ” He wasn’t sure if he meant it or not, but he would not let Josh know that.
“You won't,” Josh teased, smirking.
A new wave of confidence hit Tyler, as he opened the car door blindly, not losing eye contact with the other boy, whose face now clearly faltered, as he hadn’t suspected Tyler to actually proceed with what he’d said.
It was still pouring outside, and the cold outside air quickly engulfed the car, the sound of the rain getting louder.
Tyler turned around, now taking in a deep breath since he wasn’t looking forward to getting soaked, but would also never give Josh the satisfaction of being right.
Getting over his hesitation, although still not knowing what the fuck he was doing, he stepped out of the car, immediately getting drenched by water. He walked away, a few meters, before turning around, now being the one smirking.
“Are you gonna put the music down now?” He yelled.
Josh was quiet for a few seconds, a bit shocked, but quickly recollected himself.
“Nope” He wasn’t gonna lose.
“Too bad for you, I won’t come back then”
Tyler turned around and proceeded to keep walking. He started shivering a bit because of the cold rain which had now really soaked all his clothes.
He heard a car door open, a sign of his victory, but he kept on walking.
Mere seconds later a hand grabbed his.
“Then I will come with you”
Josh was still partly teasing, although part of Tyler knew that wasn’t completely true.
Tyler for a second debated whether he should just wrench his way out of Josh’s grasp and continue walking, but decided against it.
He turned around to face the other guy, their eyes locking.
His brain became blank, his surroundings fading away.
He didn’t know why or how it happened, but before he could stop himself he moved forward, pressing his lips to Josh’s. This definitely surprised the other, but it merely lasted a second.
After realising what he was doing, he quickly pulled away, yanking his hand out of Josh’s grasp as he turned around.
“Fuck, I’m-I’m sor-”
Josh grabbed Tyler’s shoulders and turned him back again, pressing his lips to Tyler’s.
Now it was the other’s turn to get caught off guard, but he quickly melted into the kiss.
Their lips worked in sync, chapped while wet because of the pouring rain.
Tyler linked his fingers behind Josh’s neck, deepening the kiss as he pulled their bodies closer.
All he felt was love, a feeling of never getting enough of the other, because how could he ever not love Josh, getting lost in his eyes, the freckles littering his face, his lips, everything.
Josh was the first to pull back, needing to breath. They locked eyes again. He took a moment to collect himself. Tyler stared at him, his hair stuck to his forehead because of the rain.
“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to do that”
“Let’s do it again, shall we?”
And so they stood there, soaked in rain and lost in each other, in the middle of a nearly empty taco bell parking lot. The world seemed to have slowed down, there and then, as if nothing else mattered.
The show that the band was supposed to play the next day got cancelled, due to both the drummer and the singer catching a cold. Quite sad, but in reality that drummer and singer had never felt more happy in their lives.