A/N: Wow, I haven't written anything for FFN in a while! Apologies to everyone who's Story Alert-ed my other stories, I have honestly no idea when I'll get back to them! Anyway! I got into TVD recently, and I've become obssessed with Jeremy. Then, a search for Jeremy fics/shots led me to Jeremy/Tyler shots instead, and that led to a potentially unhealthy obssession with Jeremy/Tyler stuff. This was supposed to be my attempt at writing my first-ever slash-y oneshot, but writing slash is a LOT harder than it seems (kudos to SnowWhiteQueen21 and MsManaXxX and all the other amazing slash writers out there who make it look SO easy!) and, well, my attempt at writing slash came out a heck of a lot tamer than I intended it to. And I think I've ranted long enough, so I'm gonna shut up now.
Jeremy Gilbert brought the bottle of whiskey to his lips. He tilted his head back and took a long swig of it, letting the drink burn his throat.
With a sigh, he lowered the bottle, staring blankly out at the lake.
He was tired. He didn't want to think anymore. He was tired of thinking.
He was hurting. He couldn't even breathe anymore.
Was there something wrong with him? Was he jinxed? He had to be. That was the only explanation he could think of. There was no other way to explain why everyone he loved left him.
His parents, Vicki, Anna, they were all dead. And he had pushed Elena and Jenna so far away that they had given up on him, and simply looked at him despairingly, helplessly watching him self-destruct.
He took another swig of the alcohol, squeezing his eyes shut as the tears built up again.
No. He refused to cry again.
But he did, doubling over, shaking violently with sobs.
Whenever Tyler Lockwood had a problem, he ran. And he had been running every night for the past seventeen days.
Sure, he spent the days playing the role of the Mayor's mourning son perfectly, just as his mother played the mourning wife. But now he had so many other things that were expected of him, and it was far too much for him to handle.
So at night, as soon as Carol Lockwood was passed out from all the alcohol she consumed, Tyler put on his running shoes and was out of the house before you could say "Mayor Richard Lockwood".
He didn't have to think when he ran, which was why he did it. He simply plugged into his iPod, turned on Bon Jovi and let his feet lead him wherever they would.
Tonight, they had led him to the lake, a place he hadn't been to in a while.
He slowed down to a walk as he reached the lake, walking along the edge of it.
He stopped, hands on his hips, heavily breathing in the night air. He sat down on the grass, put his hands behind him, leaned back with his eyes closed. After a moment, he opened his eyes and took in his surroundings.
It was a fairly cloudless night. The sliver of the crescent moon didn't provide much light, but it was reflected in the dark waters of the lake, along with the dozens of stars that looked as though they were drowning.
Bon Jovi was suddenly inappropriate for such a serene night. He took out his earphones and turned of his iPod, shoving it into a pocket.
He closed his eyes again and lay down on the grass, letting the light breeze cool him off.
It took him a moment to realize that the sounds he was hearing weren't normal nighttime at-the-lake sounds. Someone was crying. And it wasn't just…crying crying. This was crying-so-hard-you-can't-breathe crying.
Tyler immediately sat up, looking around. He spotted the silhouette of a figure sitting by a tree a little way from him, hugging his or her knees – it looked more like a 'him', Tyler thought – trembling violently, crying.
The compassionate bone within Tyler's body that he tried to hard to suppress ("The Mayor's son is not a wuss, Tyler, and don't you dare act like one!") made him get up and approach the figure.
"Hey," he called out, "you okay?"
The figure grew still and silent, stiffening. A hand swiped at his eyes, and he slowly looked up at Tyler.
Jeremy looked like hell. His brown eyes were bloodshot (though Tyler wasn't sure whether it was from the crying or from the nearly-empty bottle of alcohol lying on ground), his nose was red and runny, his shaggy brown hair was falling into his eyes and all Tyler wanted to do was tenderly brush away those strands of hair and…wait, what?
"What do you want, Lockwood?" Jeremy spat, turning away. His voice was hoarse and raspy, and Tyler could tell that he was struggling to maintain control of himself, but his quivering voice and trembling hand belied him as he picked up the bottle and drank from it.
Tyler was surprised by how much that one question stumped him. "I…I heard someone crying and I thought…"
"I don't want your pity, Lockwood," Jeremy said bitterly, taking another sip of the whiskey.
Tyler suddenly got very angry. Was everyone in this goddamned town trying to kill themselves with alcohol? Without another thought he reached out and grabbed the bottle from Jeremy.
Jeremy protested, getting to his feet unsteadily. "What the hell?" he demanded, reaching out a hand to steady himself against the tree.
"If you're trying to kill yourself, Gilbert, there are other ways to do it," Tyler commented, hypocritically drinking from the bottle. "And you're way too young to be drinking."
"Who the hell do you think you are, my mom?" Jeremy snapped.
Rolling his eyes, Tyler sat down on the grass. "I heard about your uncle," he said simply. "I'm sorry."
Jeremy gave a wry, bitter smile. John Gilbert was the last thing on his mind, but he wasn't about to open up to Tyler freaking Lockwood. He sat down on the grass as well, but only because everything was spinning and he felt like he would pass out if he kept standing.
"I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time before," Tyler went on. "I never knew you had it so – "
"Would you just stop talking?"
Tyler looked at him in surprise.
"If I wanted to…share my feelings…with anyone, it wouldn't be you. Not even if you were the last person on earth."
Tyler clenched his teeth. Why did that hurt him so much? "Look, Gilbert, I was just trying – "
"So STOP TRYING," Jeremy interrupted. "Just…leave me alone."
Tyler studied Jeremy. His lips were pulled into a tight line, and Tyler was pretty sure he could see tears running along his cheeks. Something tugged at Tyler's heart; he felt bad for Jeremy. But if Jeremy didn't want the olive branch that he was offering, then there wasn't much else Tyler could do but leave.
So he stood up, leaving the bottle behind. He took a couple of steps away, but stopped and turned back. "You know, Gilbert, losing a bunch of people doesn't give you the right to act like a total dick to everyone who's trying to help you."
And he left.
Jeremy picked up the bottle and drank from it until every last drop was gone.
Carol Lockwood had passed out particularly early tonight.
As Tyler ran to Everyday, he wished his mother would stop drinking. He didn't understand why she was drinking so much more than she had been when Richard was still alive. Sure, they had had problems in their marriage, but was she really more miserable now? Was that why she was drowning herself in alcohol every night?
Tyler frowned. He turned the volume up a little louder. He didn't want to think now. And he most certainly did not want to think about his mother and her drinking problems.
He glanced around, wondering where his feet had taken him tonight. He swore silently as he recognized the surroundings, shivers running along his spine.
He was in the cemetery.
He slowed to a walk, tempted to turn around and go back the way he came. He hadn't been to the cemetery since his father's funeral, and he hadn't visited his father's grave.
It's My Life started playing. Annoyed, Tyler turned off his iPod. He took a deep breath as he entered the cemetery and sought out his father's grave. He might as well make his peace now and get it over with, he thought.
He found the headstone and stared at it for a moment, reading the inscription.
1963 – 2010
Tyler snorted. Loving husband and caring father. Sure. Appearances were everything, he thought, something Richard never failed to remind him.
It seemed appropriate somehow to sit down, and so he did, making sure he wasn't sitting on the grave itself, because that was just creepy.
He stared at the headstone again. He wondered what he should have been feeling. Grief came to mind. After all, he pretended that he was grieving. And maybe he was. He didn't know.
It struck Tyler that it hadn't exactly sunk in that Richard was dead, that he wasn't around anymore to remind Tyler about how much of a failure he was, to rub in the fact that he couldn't do anything right, that he wouldn't amount to anything, to blame his mother for all of Tyler's shortcomings, and to punish her for it…
He involuntarily squeezed his eyes shut, nails digging into his palms.
All that was over now, he told himself as he reached a hand up to wipe away the tears. His father was gone now, and things would be better.
"Your dad was a bit of a dick, you know," a voice said softly from somewhere behind him.
Tyler didn't have to look up to know who it was. "You don't have the right to say that, Gilbert," he replied coldly.
Jeremy shrugged, even though he knew Tyler couldn't see it. "Sorry."
Tyler didn't bother to reply to that. He stared at the headstone with a greater intensity, not the least bit curious as to why Jeremy was there.
"You were right," Jeremy said. "Last night."
Tyler frowned slightly. "What do you mean?"
"About how I push everyone away," he replied, his voice softer now.
Tyler wasn't sure what to make of that. "Oh."
"I'm sorry. You were just…trying to help…which was really strange, 'cause you're a Lockwood and all."
Tyler rolled his eyes as Jeremy went on.
"And I was acting like a total douche."
Tyler shrugged. "You were wasted."
Jeremy gave a little laugh. "Yeah, well, I'm sober now."
"What were your parents like?" Tyler finally asked quietly, breaking the silence that had befallen the two of them.
For a long moment there was no reply, and he wondered if Jeremy was gone. Just as he began to turn around to look for him, Jeremy answered.
"They were good," he said. "They loved us. We were always close. But…you know the saying, you never really know what you have until it's gone?"
Tyler hesitated. Sure, he'd heard it, but he had a feeling it applied to him in a different way than it did to Jeremy.
But Jeremy wasn't waiting for an answer. "That was the way it was with Elena and me when they were gone. It was just…" He broke off.
Tyler looked back, eyes searching for Jeremy. He found him a few feet away, looking down at his feet, shaggy brown hair hiding his eyes but not the pained expression on his face.
"I'm sorry, man."
Jeremy looked up. His eyes met Tyler's, and even in the dark he could tell that Tyler meant it. He nodded in acknowledgement. "Me too."
They fell into a silence again, but this time it wasn't awkward. There was an understanding between them now, or at least a semblance of it.
Tyler stood up, brushing the dirt off himself. A moment later, he heard Jeremy's footsteps drawing nearer to him, and then he felt the younger (but taller) boy next to him.
"Ding, dong, the witch is dead," Tyler said with a bitter smile.
Jeremy glanced at Tyler, hands in the pockets of his jacket. "That bad?"
Tyler shook his head with a little sigh. "It's over, man. It's just…over." But what happens next? he added silently.
They shared another moment of silence, and Jeremy noted the lack of hostility between them.
"You hungry?" Tyler asked, eyes still fixed on the headstone.
"Not really," Jeremy answered. "What about you?"
Jeremy nodded again.
"Wanna go get a drink?"
Tyler thought about it. He didn't really have much to lose. He shrugged. "Why not?"
"You mind if I make a stopover at my house first? I, um…I need to shower."
"Sure. I wondered what stank."
Tyler frowned, looking at Jeremy, who glanced back at him, a smile playing on his lips. Tyler rolled his eyes, unable to stop himself from smiling back.
The two boys turned away from the grave and made their way out of the cemetery.
Reviews are love, dearies, and spur me on to write more! 3