-One Year Later-
Tyler's cell phone beeped as he finished getting into full pads in the locker room. The rest of the team was milling out to head to the field for practice. Number Seven shoved his shoulder on the way out and Tyler nodded at him with a snicker as he reached in to grab his phone off the short shelf in his locker.
Matriculating at Virginia Tech had its definite rough patches. It was hard not knowing anybody there, the classes were much more demanding than high school, and being an out football player was less than easy. The first few weeks were the worst. The locker room was basically the stomping ground for fifty-three naked guys. About half of the team treated him like a leper, not passing him the ball during practice and ignoring him entirely on and off the field. His talent spoke for itself, though, and after a few weeks things got better. The tension lessened and eventually most of them became friendly or at least tolerated his existence on the field.
Number Seven, Marshall Davies, became a good friend and treated the remaining ten percent of the team that was hostile to Tyler like the lepers they thought Tyler was. Turned out his little sister was gay, and he went to a few parades with her. According to him, a real man could dance on a float wearing a rainbow t-shirt without losing his manhood. His loud and open dialogue about it helped a good portion of the team come around. Tyler didn't have the heart to tell him that he would never do that himself.
In early Fall he ran into Stupid Stanley at the co-op. He found out that Dave Kim had enrolled at a community college in Mystic Falls but got arrested for drunk driving and got expelled. Stan had shrugged as though it was no big thing and asked if Tyler knew of any good parties. Tyler rolled his eyes and walked away. He hadn't run into him since and heard that he dropped out in the first quarter.
The locker room was emptying out so Tyler quickly accepted the text message on his iphone. The download bar grew and a picture popped up. Jeremy and Anna were on the subway, heads leaned toward each other and their tongues out. A short message was attached.
Tyler's heart clenched. By far the hardest part about going to Virginia Tech was missing Jeremy at NYU. He had football training camp over the summer, so he saw even less of him than he would have if they had said goodbye directly before their departures for college. He lost a lot of sleep the first few weeks they were apart. He missed him every minute but it became more manageable with time. Every text, phone call, and Skype session reminded him that the distance was worth it. They were both where they needed to be, and in a techy/modern way they were still able to do it together.
Turning the phone off, he set it back down and grabbed the red chip sitting next to it. He flipped it between his fingers and exhaled deeply. There was only a short engraving on the front.
6 Months Sobriety
He went to Brook Haven Rehabilitation Center for two weeks during and after spring break last year. His mother hadn't spoken to him for most of the time in between. Besides the hospital burning down and all the deaths that occurred "in the fire"-a story that even made the national news-Tyler's sexuality was the biggest talk of the town. When his mother came back home he could swear that the news of his gayness was more tragic for her than the Mystic Falls Fire (as CNN called it). She paid for his stint in rehab, bought his plane ticket to Florida, and wrote the checks for his outpatient therapy during the rest of the school year and over the summer. All of it was done under silence though.
When he left for college he thought for sure he was going without a mother in his life anymore, but two weeks into November he received a brief text message from her.
I expect you and Jeremy on Thanksgiving. Jenna and Elena are, of course, welcome.
The holiday was painfully awkward, but his mother was nothing if not polite and tolerant. It was hard for her to resist Jeremy's continued flattery and before they left she gave Tyler a hug and a kiss on the cheek and informed him that she would be attending his football games from now on. It wasn't much, but it was a step and he hugged her more genuinely than he usually did.
He flipped his sobriety chip in his hand. He relapsed once over the summer when training with a team that hated him overwhelmed and got the best of him. It didn't help that when he got overly angry he had to actively will himself not to change. His strength was exponentially greater after being brought back from the dead. Unfortunately, he also had to deal with having the new altered ability of changing at will. A will that took a long time to train. He called Jeremy after he had the drink and left before ordering another one. Day One all over again. He started over and began going to AA meetings every Thursday without fail. The constant support helped a lot and he hadn't relapsed since.
Setting the memento back on the shelf, he grabbed his helmet and ran out into the tunnel to head to practice.
Time Square was deafening. Jeremy was glad he wasn't claustrophobic, because there was absolutely no room for personal space. Anna held his hand to keep from getting separated as they made their way closer to the stage where CBS or ABC or something was broadcasting live for New Years.
The reigning queen of 'single ladies' everywhere was hosting and was on a separate side stage getting ready to announce the next act. New York was flooded with tourists this time of year, but the energy was higher than ever below the lights and flash. Jeremy looked down at Anna as they found a spot by a large blue glittering pillar that they purposefully headed for. She looked like any other college freshman rocking blue jeans and a t-shirt. Like many others, she was wearing a masquerade style green mask with big feathers on it. The year was painted across the mask over and over in tiny black paint. Since the death of her mother there were deep slumps with Anna. Jeremy did his best to dig her out of them when they came, but she had as many bad days as she did good. Today was a good day. She smiled up at him and he gave her a lopsided grin.
Surprisingly, he discovered that he missed Jenna and Elena much more than he expected himself to when he went off to school. It was hard not being around family, but he made friends fast and the classes were unreal. He had good professors and a genuine interest in the material. For the first time in years, he stopped taking naps in classes. His aunt and sister came up one weekend and Anna came up from New Jersey. The four of them stayed out all night two nights in a row and though they regretted the lack of sleep for the rest of the week, Jeremy was surprised at how much closer he felt to his family after spending weeks apart.
Elena was doing really well and thinking about transferring out to a new school next year. Jeremy suggested that she consider NYU and was caught off guard by how much he meant it. He didn't know if Elena would ever want to stray too far from Mystic Falls and her vampire boyfriend, but he found that he really would like to have her closer. Jenna was all for it, but that could have been contributed to her desire for a little more privacy now that she and Alaric were engaged. Jeremy wondered if he would have a few baby cousins soon.
He Skyped with Vicki sometimes and she seemed more present than he remembered. According to her-and Tyler verified this through Matt-she quit smoking pot and had started drinking only socially at parties or special events. Jeremy was proud of her. The girl he grew close to in an important time in his life was erratic and hopeless. The woman she was becoming now was someone who could stand on her own two feet. For the first time in their entire friendship, he stopped worrying about her.
Their diva host had the silver microphone in hand and her voice was carrying over the massive crowd. "Alright, everybody! Here with last year's hit, it's the pop princess with attitude singing last year's hit, 'What the Hell'!"
Jeremy gawked at the stage and pointed as his eyes darted around. "Is she fucking kidding me?" He mumbled.
Anna laughed hysterically at his side. The lights on the main stage alternated in random bright colors and bobbed around the stage where the pop star ran up with a mic in hand and started bouncing with the tune of her song as the music started.
"Hey, it's your favorite song."
Jeremy turned around and smiled at Tyler.
"What took you so long?" He asked.
Tyler pointed across the way to a different pillar. "I forgot and went to the green one."
Jeremy's musical nemesis pouted as she sang, and the music pulsed around the group of noisy half-drunken New Years Eve partiers:
Love hurts whether it's right or wrong
I can't stop
'Cause I'm having too much fun
'Yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah,' Tyler mouthed mockingly.
Jeremy fought to keep a straight face.
"Shut up." He warned and grabbed the open sides of his coat. Tyler grinned at him and stepped closer. Jeremy would never get used to the quickening of his heartbeat when Tyler was near him. Tuning out Avril-fucking-Lavigne, he leaned down and kissed him through a smile while they waited for the New Year and the fireworks that would follow.
A/N: Well, that's it, guys! I want to thank all of you again for reading, reviewing, and subscribing! Also, a big thank you to my beta, ImYourChristianMingleBuddy, not only for helping me with the story but for inspiring it. This story sort of happened by accident. I was attempting to sway her to the Jyler side by asking her to make a vid for them. She made one with La Roux's 'In for the Kill', I loved it, and somehow 220+ pages came out of it. lol She has since made a bunch more Jyler vids and is as obsessed as I am, so everyone won. You can check out that video and the others by following the link on my profile page! Hope you enjoyed the ending, everyone! Cross your fingers for some Jyler friendship scenes this season on TVD! : )