Chapter Nine

Weeks passed with limited contact between the boys. Jeremy went out of his way to avoid Tyler, doing his best to process the newfound knowledge that werewolves existed and that he had indeed been the presence of one. Tyler did his best to place himself in Jeremy's path. And had to adjust to the sting he felt when the younger man would do his best to remove himself from his path.

Like before, he had to adjust to admiring from a distance and fighting his instincts to run to the taller man and wrap his arms around him. Though his curse had not been activated, the instincts of a the wolf emerged in subtle ways. Mason explained that while he may never fully shift, there would always be pieces that lurked beneath the surface. Anger, mood swings and the unbearable need to be close to his mate were part of those instincts.

Mason had done his best to keep Tyler calm, but could do little to soothe his nephew's heartache. It didn't help that not was Mason quickly become closer to Jenna, he would spent hour and hours at her house, which meant he would come home reeking of the Gilbert house and its inhabitants. The first time he came home with wisps of Jeremy clinging to him, Tyler had burst through his bedroom door and taken the stairs three at time because had thought the younger man had come to talk to him. Needless to say, he had to fight the surge of disappointment and need every time the scenario played out again.

School was even harder. He would see Jeremy every day and every day Jeremy would manage to either avoid him or ignore him. After the first week, Tyler gave up and decided to give Jeremy space. It was particularly hard on days when Jeremy would be sketching something, sitting alone at one of the tables outside of the school. It was such a day when Tyler found that he could no longer stand to see the younger man and have no contact.

Coming up to the table, he saw the startled look and surprise in Jeremy's face. He moved to take a seat but stopped himself when he saw Jeremy flinch. Instead he decided to stand. Silence hung between the two, neither sure what to say. Finally, Tyler broke the silence.

"I miss you Jer, every day," Tyler said, his eyes never leaving Jeremy's orbs.

Jeremy closed his eyes and took a deep breathe. "I miss you too, every day," he parroted.

Tyler smiled a little. "Then let's stop missing each other. Let's be in each other's lives, like we used to," Tyler said.

Jeremy shook his head. "I just don't know if I can deal with this Tyler. What I saw down there … are you like Mason?"

Tyler swallowed audibly and then nodded, giving confirmation to Jeremy's biggest fear. Jeremy sighed and then gave his own nod, one of acknowledgment.

"I'm sorry Ty, I just don't know if I can trust you. You kept this from me and I feel like…I feel like I can't trust you anymore. I just don't know if I can handle anymore weird in my life. My life is too full of weird," Jeremy said, his voice tired.

"What do you mean Jeremy? How is your life full of weird?" Tyler asked, desperate to understand. "What do you want to know? What can I tell you to make things okay between us?"

"My life is full of weird. I can handle weird. I just need to know everything. I need to know that Jenna is safe and that I'm safe too. So please, just tell me, what are you? What is Mason?" Jeremy questioned.

Tyler took a deep breathe. "I'm a werewolf, kind of," Tyler said.

"Kind of? How can you kind of be a werewolf," Jeremy said, standing from his seat. "Give me one good reason why I should listen to this. I mean, werewolf, not the craziest thing that I've ever heard. But kind of?"

"I can't tell you. I want to, I really do. But Mason needs to have a conversation with Jenna before I tell you anything. We're not evil Jeremy. I swear," Tyler said, coming around the table to stand next to him.

Jeremy scoffed before turning on his heel and heading for the parking lot. "Not a good enough reason Tyler. How can I trust?" he said over his shoulder.

Tyler panicked and took off after him, ignoring the looks some of his classmates were shooting the two. "You want a reason to trust me," Tyler said. "You want a reason to trust me?'

"That would be a start," Jeremy muttered, feet away from his jeep.

"I love you, Jesus Christ, I love you," Tyler said, his face completely serious, the words bursting from his mouth. He had known he had felt this for weeks, the separation only assuring him of his feelings.

Jeremy paused at the door of his car, his eyes roaming around the parking lot, taking in the attention the duo had drawn to themselves.

"Tyler, people are watching," Jeremy said, his voice low.

"Let them watch. I don't care who hears. I mean it, I don't care," Tyler said resolutely.

Tyler shook his and through his hands up the in air, turning slowly in a circle. "I don't care. I love you Jeremy Gilbert. I love you. And I don't care who knows," he replied, turning towards the parking lot. "You hear that Mystic Falls. I love Jeremy Gilbert. I, Tyler Lockwood, am gay for Jeremy Gilbert," he screamed, ignoring the shocked looks and whispers before he turned to Jeremy. "I love you," he said, his face the picture of sincerity.

Jeremy's mouth remained open, shock across his handsome features. Tyler stood in front of him, his face full of apprehension. Tyler felt sick to his stomach, he couldn't handle the rejection, if that was what was to come from this.

"You're not saying that because of the mating bond, are you?" Jeremy whispered, vulnerability seeping through his words.

"I admit, I wouldn't have considered this before the bond," Tyler said, not missing the way Jeremy flinched at his declaration. "But what I feel for you has nothing to do with it. I love you, because of all quirky, crazy things you do, not because of some feral imperative."

Tyler stepped forward and gently placed Jeremy's hands within his own. "I love you because when you smile, I feel like I'm watching the sun rise and set at the same time. I love you because when you laugh, you laugh with your whole body. I love you because the entire time we were apart, all I could think about was how much I wanted to touch you, to hug you, to kiss you. I love you Jeremy Gilbert. I swear it, I do."

Jeremy took Tyler's words in slowly, a smile spreading across his face. "You love me," he asked, his smile growing bigger when Tyler nodded his head and offered his own smile. "I love you too."

"Yeah?" Tyler asked, laughing. Jeremy nodded before repeating his earlier endearment. "So does this mean…are you and I okay?"

Jeremy nodded his head. "Yeah, we are. We're going to have to take things slow, like really slow. And there are things I should tell you, about the weird. And I have a lot of questions. Seriously, a lot. But if you're in.." Jeremy said, interrupted by Tyler's outburst.

"I'm in. God, am I in," he said, leaning in and placing his lips on Jeremy's, wrapping his arms around the younger man. He relished the feel of his lips, desperate to memorize the feel, his earlier fear at the thought of never having a similar chance fueling his actions.

Catcalls brought both boys back to reality, causing the men to jump apart. Classmates and even teachers had stopped, many shocked, by the display. Flashing a bright smile, Tyler grabbed Jeremy's hand and led him to his car, deciding they would come back for Jeremy's jeep later. They had things to discuss and considering their earlier actions, in the parking lot was probably not the best place to continue their conversation.

As they pulled out of the parking lot, Tyler at the wheel, he thread his fingers through Jeremy, content for the first time in weeks.

AN: So sorry for the delay! There has been a passing in the family and I am just getting back to writing. Is there anyone out there still even interested in this story? If so, read and review!

Also, I was hoping someone might be able to hook me up with an Ao3 invite. This purge on has me all kinds of paranoid and I would like to place my stories on a more friendly site. Any help would be appreciated!