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A Different Kind of Love

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No one really knew what to call them.

They didn't know what to call themselves either.

But they were fine with it. They could deal with the weird looks and the whispers and the close minded people sneering at what they have. As long as they had each other, none of that mattered.

 

*

 

They were best friends, Josh would say. Though the words didn't feel quite right.

We're dating, Tyler tried out. But that word didn't really fit either.

Sure, they kissed sometimes. Sure, they cuddled frequently. Sure, they were always touching each other in one way or another. But that was just how they were. They didn't think much of it. They didn't understand why people made such a big deal.

Jenna knew that they had something special. When people tried to go up to her and ask about them, she'd shrug and say, "Its just Tyler and Josh being Tyler and Josh."

She was their biggest supporter and they were both incredibly grateful for it.

"I love you guys, and you two love each other. There're different types of love out there and someday people will realize that."

They were both so thankful that Jenna Black was apart of their lives.

 

**

 

Things got more complicated when Tyler realized he loved Jenna too. Though, in all honestly, he's the one that made it complicated.

He cried. He felt dirty. He felt like he wasn't being fair to Josh. He felt selfish.

Josh noticed. Of course Josh noticed, he always knew when Tyler was out of it. It's become a sixth sense to him. When Tyler started to isolate himself, he intervened.

"What's up, man?" He asked after managing to get them in a room alone.

And Tyler couldn't take those concerned brown eyes. He broke down right there, crying as he tried to explain how he also loved Jenna. He was convinced that Josh would be disgusted, that Josh would want to leave right then and there. He said as much.

But Josh pulled him into a hug and held him tight. Automatically, Tyler melted into the embrace. He sobbed softly into the older boy's shoulder.

"Do you really think I'll leave you for such a dumb reason?" Josh understood the anxiety, but he couldn't say he wasn't slightly hurt. "Tyler, we're not even dating."

"But we have something." Tyler tried to argue weakly. "We... We are more than friends, Josh. You know that. I... I - you can't love two people at the same time. And I love you Josh, I really do."

"I love you too, Ty. And I love you enough to say that that's complete and utter bullshit."

Tyler pulled back and rose his eyebrows. It wasn't that often he heard Josh swear.

"It is!" Josh spread his hands out as if he could show exactly how shitty it is. He sighed and dropped them, rubbing his mouth instead. "What does Jenna say all the time?"

"What do you mean?"

"I know you know what I mean. What does Jenna say all the time?"

Tyler ducked his head and mumbled, "'There are different types of love'."

"Exactly." Josh pulled Tyler back in and lightly kissed him on the nose. "We love each other in a way that other people don't understand. That's ok. And you love Jenna. That's also ok. Honestly you couldn't've have fallen in love with a better person."

"You're. Not mad?" Tyler tried to process this, but it was difficult. After going through all of the worst case scenarios in his head this felt too... easy.

"I'm not mad." Josh repeated, voice soft and soothing. "People are weird and confusing. Emotions are even more weird and confusing. You can't go through life thinking things are going to be cut clean. Love isn't just platonic or romantic. It's so many different things. There're so many different sides to it. You can't expect to feel just one way and one way only for just one person. It's unrealistic."

Tyler let his head drop on Josh's shoulder. He almost cried with happiness. They stood there, hugging each other silently. The world around them almost melted away.

 

***

 

They were on a couch; Josh curled up next to Tyler, legs tangling together. They were lying in peaceful silence before Tyler broke it.

"I think I figured out the perfect thing to call us."

"What?" Josh titled his head so that he could see Tyler's face out of the corner of his eye.

"Brofriends. It's like boyfriends, but... we're bros." Tyler tilted his head so that he could see Josh's reaction to the word. Their faces weren't even an inch apart.

Josh smiled brightly and gently bumped his forehead against Tyler's.

"I love it."

 

****

 

"Did you ever tell Jenna?"

Tyler sighed and idly played with his hands. "No."

Josh frowned slightly, before nudging him on the shoulder. "Why not, man?"

Tyler tried to look anywhere but at Josh. He finally conceded and looked, slightly guiltily, into his eyes. "I'm..."

"Afraid?"

"Terrified." Tyler leant on the lockers behind him, looking at the closest clock. Counting the seconds as they went by.

1... 2... 3... 4...

Josh took his hand and rubbed a few circles in his palm to help ground him. Tyler appreciated the gesture greatly.

15... 16... 17... 18...

"You can't just hold it in, y'know."

"I know, I know. It's just... What if she doesn't like me back? Love me back? What if she thinks this is weird? What if she doesn't want to hang out with me anymore? What if-"

Josh squeezed his hand, stopping his train of thought. He went back to rubbing small circles in his palm.

30... 31... 32... 33...

"This is Jenna we're talking about. Jenna, Tyler. If she doesn't reciprocate your feelings, she sure as hell isn't going to let that be a reason for your friendship to break apart."

"I know... I know..."

Josh kissed him on the cheek. "And I know you know. You just need to hear it sometimes."

50... 51... 52... 53...

"What did I do to deserve you?" Tyler sighed, bumping Josh's shoulder with his own.
"You exist."

A small laugh. "You're such a sap, Jish."

"I'm your sap, Ty."

57... 58... 59... 60.

The bell rang and they (reluctantly) separated and went to their first classes of the day.

 

*****

 

Tyler knew that Josh was right. He knew that he couldn't hold it in forever. It would be best to just tell Jenna, instead of waiting for it to slip out at the worst time.

So when he saw Jenna walking down the hallways, he didn't hesitate to wave her over.

"Hi, Tyler." She smiled, eyes glittering like the ocean.

Tyler felt his chest tighten in a way that was completely unfamiliar. It was kind of uncomfortable, but it was also really... warm. "

I... I." He took a deep breath. "I have something to tell you, but can we talk about it during lunch?" He ran his words together, voice rising into a squeak by the end of the sentence.

Jenna looked vaguely bemused, but mostly fond. The tight feeling in Tyler's chest increased.

"Yeah, of course. I'll see you in an hour then." She flashed a brilliant smile before scampering down the halls to her next class.

Tyler stared after her, almost in a trance.

He shook himself out of it and ran to his next class as well, heart beating faster than ever.

 

******

 

To say that Tyler was nervous would be the understatement of the year. He was constantly shifting in his seat, his eyes darted across the crowded lunch room, and he was rubbing his face and neck.

Josh held his free hand. He was just as nervous as Tyler, but he was a lot better at hiding it.

Jenna saw them before they could see her. She slid into the seat across from them, snorting slightly as they jumped.

"So? What'd you want to tell me?" She squinted her eyes. "And why're you two so nervous?"

Of course she could tell.

Of course.

Tyler opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He looked at Josh desperately.

Josh cleared his throat a little, before saying, "Tyler likes you. A lot. Like, a lot a lot-"

"I think I love you, Jenna." Tyler cut in, barely saying the words loud enough to be heard.

Jenna's eyes were wide. She didn't say anything.

Tyler started to freak out. "I-I'm so sorry if you think this is weird and I totally u-understand if you don't want to be my friend anymore. I shouldn't've said anything, I-"

He was cut off by Jenna leaning over the table and kissing him on the forehead. His breath caught in his throat. She pulled back and smiled shyly before asking, "May I...?"

Tyler barely nodded, not really understanding what she was asking, before suddenly she kissed him full on the lips.

It was nothing like the first kisses he saw on TV or in the movies. No tongue, no intensity. It was quick, chaste. Similar to the kisses Josh would give, but completely different.

There was... a spark. A shift. Tyler was hyper aware of his surroundings; of Jenna's lips on his, of Josh's hand squeezing his lightly in assurance, of his heart pounding and his face heating up.

Jenna pulled away and giggled at Tyler's dumbfounded expression. He heard Josh laugh too.

Tyler didn't know what to say. At all. He touched his lips briefly, before a huge smile spread across his face.

"I guess that means you like me back?"

Jenna nodded, smile matching Tyler's. "I've been waiting for you to say something, honestly."

He sighed in relief and leaned on Josh, resting his head on his shoulder. "You were right."

"Not gonna brag, but I always am." Josh jokingly pointed a stern finger at Jenna. "You better treat my bro right, or you'll have to answer to me."

She sat up straight and said with a look of complete seriousness, "Of course, Mr. Dun."

They both burst into laughter and Tyler soaked in the wonderful sound.

He felt like he was home.

 

*****

 

It should've been hard, finding a new rhythm with an extra person, but it was so easy. Jenna just fit. A missing puzzle piece none of them knew was missing.

Tyler was like a puppy around her and it amused Josh to no end.

Tyler and Josh were in synch in a way that left Jenna in awe.

She and Josh were already good friends and they grew even closer through their mutual love for Tyler. Different types of love, but love nonetheless.

It was perfect.

 

****

 

Josh didn't understand people's fixation on their relationship. He knew that it wasn't common. Or conventional. But he still couldn't wrap his mind around how other people reacted to it. They loved each other, what was so wrong about that?

 

The first time he heard someone call Jenna a whore, he had to be pulled away.

"Let it go, Josh." Jenna's voice was soothing, but Josh could see the hurt in her eyes. "They don't understand."

"S'not an excuse." He practically growled, but he let himself be led away. He respected Jenna enough to not cause an even bigger scene.

Tyler was calm. Scarily calm. A blank face and trembling hands.

When they were all in a less populated part of the school, he punched the nearest locker and broke down crying.

Josh was instantly holding him, wrapping his arms around him and letting him cry into his shoulder. Jenna hugged him from behind, her head resting against the back of his neck as she whispered consolingly. Tyler didn't know what to do with his hands so he just hung them limply at his side.

"I... If-" He tried to speak, but his throat closed up and ached with his tears. He took a few deep breaths, focusing on Jenna's soothing words and Josh's strong arms. He eventually whispered, "If any one of us is a whore, it'd be me."

"Oh, Tyler..." Jenna breathed, moving her head over to his shoulder. "Please don't say that."

"I-it's true, though." His voiced hitched. "I'm the one at the center of this relationship. I'm the one that loves you both."

"Tyler, we all love each other." Josh unwrapped one of his arms so that he could stroke Tyler's hair. He looked at Jenna sadly and she returned his gaze. "Yeah, Jenna and I don't love each other like we love you, but that doesn't devalue it."

"Josh and I want you to be happy, Tyler. We know how happy you are with us. There's nothing wrong with happiness."

"You can't listen to what other people say. I know, I sound like a hypocrite for saying that. I was this close to decking that guy. But Tyler," Josh shrugged his shoulder, forcing Tyler to look up at him. "You can't let other people make you feel bad about what makes you happy."

Tyler stared at Josh's face, at his brown eyes filled with so much love it made his heart hurt, before smiling through his tears. He leant forward and pecked Josh on the lips. "Thank you." He whispered.

He spun himself around and did the same to Jenna, though their kiss was much deeper.

They all broke the hug and walked down the hall, holding hands.

The odd looks they got were a lot easier to ignore.

 

***

 

They were careful around their parents. All three of them knew that they wouldn't approve.

They all thought that Tyler and Jenna were dating and that Josh was just Tyler's friend.

Nothing more.

Tyler and Josh had to make a conscious effort to not be too handsy. It was hard, definitely. Their natural state of being was holding hands or cuddling. Jenna also felt weird being affectionate with Tyler while Josh had to hold off.

The three of them together mastered the art of keeping one ear open and acting natural.

They'd be cuddling on one of their beds, completely tangled with each other, before one of them would hear a noise.

By the time one of their parents opened the door to check up on them, Josh would be sitting on the opposite side of the room laughing at a joke Tyler didn't say. Jenna and Tyler would still be on the bed, sitting a respectable distance from the other with the only thing linking them being intertwined fingers.

The parent would smile and mention something about the time or homework, before walking out of the room and closing the door behind them.

Josh would count off half a minute before climbing onto the bed again and they'd resume cuddling like nothing ever happened.

There were more than a few times where they heard something but nothing ever happened. They would hold their position for as long as they could stand. Muscles tense with agitation. Anxiety filling the room.

It was paranoid, yes.

But it was better safe than sorry.

They usually didn't like to hang out around home.

 

**

 

Jenna pressed a featherlight kiss on Tyler's cheek. He was sleeping, curled up on a couch with Josh wrapped around him.

"Hey." Josh mumbled sleepily.

"Hi."

"When d'you say your parents are comin' home?"

"Around 6 or 7. It's 5 now."

"'Kay." Josh shifted slightly to fight off his limps going numb.

Jenna smiled fondly as she pulled out a math book from her backpack. "Comfortable over there?"

He sighed contently. "Very." He stared at what he could see of Tyler's face. He looked peaceful. It was nice.

"Josh? Can I ask you a question?" Jenna tapped her pencil against the book in her lap.

"Shoot."

"How would you explain your feelings for Tyler? I know that you don't love each other romantically, but... you do have something."

Josh shifted again so that his could support his head up with his hand. He looked at Jenna questionably, "Does it bother you?"

"No! Of course it doesn't." She shrugged. "I'm just curious. We've never really had a chance to talk, just the two of us."

Josh looked back down at Tyler, eyes softening. "Well... I don't really know how to explain it, really. I hate to say that he completes me, I'm a full person without him. He just... makes me feel like something more. He's so easy to be around, he's so understanding and so smart. I feel safe whenever I'm with him."

He sighed. "It's hard to explain that without it sounding really romantic, but. Even just thinking of liking him like that is weird beyond belief. A lot of times he feels like an extension of my soul - a part I could live without, but now that i have it I don't want to. I don't know if I'm making sense..."

"No, you're making sense." Jenna reassured. "It sounds so beautiful, the way you describe it."

Josh laughed as quietly as he could so as not to wake Tyler. "It feels pretty beautiful sometimes."

"It's almost like you're soul mates."

"Platonic soul mates? Can't really say I've heard of that before."

Jenna giggled, "First time for everything, I guess."

She scribbled a few things down, before Josh asked,

"How would you explain your feelings for Tyler? I'm curious too, I've never really felt that type of thing."

"Never?"

"Never ever. That need for physical intimacy that you and Ty have is something I've never had the urge for or experienced. Yeah, Ty and I can be really intimate, but the furthest we've gone are pecks on the mouth. Even those are pretty rare."

"Huh. Well..." She set her pencil down and stared at the ceiling while she thought. "When I'm with him I feel like I'm a cloud. All light and airy. But there's also a lot of anxiety. I worry about him sometimes, I know you do too. He's so happy around you, though. I want to make him happy too. I want to protect him, to keep him happy. And even when that doesn't work out, I want to do anything I can to cheer him back up. The way he looks at me sometimes... I feel like I'm a queen. I want him to feel like he's royalty, too. That he's just as important to me as I am to him."

"He loves you so much, Jenna. Ever since you've come along, he's been happier than ever. Thank you for that."

"No problem, I'm glad to hear that." She got up from her seat and kissed Josh on the forehead, much to his surprise. "Thank you, too, Josh. You're just as important to Tyler as I am to him, even if it's in a different way. He doesn't have the same spark without you."

"I don't really have the same spark without him, either." Josh let his head fall back onto the couch and he nestled his head into the back of Tyler's neck. He yawed as quietly as he could. "What time is it?"

"5:20. It's ok to take a nap, I'll wake you before anyone comes home."

Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, quiet snoring filled the room.

Jenna smiled fondly at the two boys sleeping peacefully on the couch.

She went back to her homework.

Sitting there, with the best two people in her life only a few yards away, she felt like everything will be alright.

 

*

 

No one really knew what to call them. They knew exactly what to call themselves.

Happy. In love.

They didn't bother justifying or explaining.

They didn't mind the odd looks and acid words. They might as well have not existed with what little weight they had.

They were happy. They were at home with each other.

And nothing in the world could take that away from them.