I sigh as I stir, fighting to stay asleep. His arm wraps around me, pulling me back against his chest & I relax into him. He kisses my shoulder repeatedly, & I turn to look over my shoulder, smiling when his lips press to mine.
Two & a half weeks ago, we had a fight, trying to deny what we couldn't have- our love for each other. We’d both hurt each other, but events had ended with us finally admitting what we wanted.
“Can we stay here forever?” I ask.
He chuckles. “At some point, we’re gonna have to emerge,” he replies. “Terese won't let us stay up here forever.”
“I wanna see how long.”
“Don't test her, Pipes.”
“Because… if we’re going to be able to be happy together, you need to start showing her why,” he replies. “And that means no more pushing the boundaries.”
“So you're saying you don't want to spend the rest of our lives curled up in my bed?” I ask, rubbing my butt against his crotch & he groans.
“We can stay here for a while,” he replies. “Just not forever.”
We spend the next few hours lying in my bed, talking & never leaving each other's embrace.
“I love you,” he says, tucking my hair behind my ear.
I smile. “I love you too.”
He leans down & captures my lips. We stop when there's a knock on my door.
“Ignore it,” he whispers, before kissing me again.
There's another set of knocks. Louder.
“I should get that,” I whisper.
“No,” he replies, shifting to hover above me.
“Piper?” Paige asks.
Tyler lowers himself, his chest lightly pressing against mine as our lips meet.
“Piper,” Paige says. “Can I come in?”
I try ignoring her, but… I can't. A small part of me says this isn't right. I push Tyler away. He groans as he rolls over, dropping onto his back beside me & runs his hand over his face.
“Piper?” Paige asks.
“Whatever happened to staying in here forever?” Tyler whispers.
“Come in,” I call put to Paige.
A few seconds later, the door opens & Paige slowly peeks round the corner.
“Hey,” She says.
“Hey,” I reply.
“I just wanted to come let you know… it's almost time to go,” Paige replies. “So… you should come eat something before we go.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Okay, but… you should come.”
I shake my head.
She comes & sits down on my bed. “You do remember what day it is, right?”
“We’re fine in here.”
She frowns. “Pipes. Until I came in here,” She replies. “You were in here… alone.”
“No, I wasn't.”
“Can't you see him?” I reply. I turn to him as I continue, “He's right-”
But he's not there.
I look around the room, trying to work out where he could have gone.
“Piper,” Paige says, placing her hand on my arm.
And it all comes crashing back- the argument we’d had on Halloween that ended with me declaring I’m done with him- with us- & storming out of the garage. And then getting the late night call from Mark- tears falling as he tells me Tyler had an accident. The three days spent by his bedside, crying & pleading for him wake so I could beg him for his forgiveness. Three days of hope, only to end in the cruellest way.
Paige pulls me into her & I cling to her arm as I cry. I never got to tell him I’m sorry. Never got to tell him I love him.
And now I never will.
Paige & I follow Mum & Dad into the funeral home. Getting ready & the trip here are all a blur. I stop in the doorway, kicked in the gut at the sight of his smiling face in the slideshow at the front of the room. I won't ever get to see that again. Won’t get the chance to be the reason why he’s smiling. Paige wraps an arm around me.
I don't even remember seeing Aaron & Mark walk up to us. Or what they said. All I remember is bursting into tears & Aaron pulling me into a hug.
Mark & Aaron insisted I sit with them- Aaron to my right & Mark to my left, with Paige beside him. I look at them while we wait for Jack to start. I watch as Mark stares at the slideshow, tears filling his eyes… & Paige. She slides her hand over his left wrist to his left hand, pushing it between his clasped hands. He turns to look at her, & she gives him a sad smile. He leans over, her eyes closing as his head approaches hers, his forehead resting against hers. That's the one good thing to come out of this- losing Tyler pushed Mark & Paige back together. Things weren't working out between him & Steph- the surrogacy attempt had ripped them apart, & with Tyler dying adding to an already strained situation, they decided to end things. I don't know the details, but sometime over the last week, he & Paige realised they want to be together.
Mark & Aaron speak about Tyler, telling tales of their childhood- spreading laughter & tears throughout the room. Both gave a loving tribute to their baby brother.
“And now, we’ll hear from Piper,” Jack says.
I take a deep breath, exhaling slowly before I get up & cross over to the podium. Jack steps away as I step up. I unfold the piece of paper I scrawled some notes on. I look at the photo on the screen- one of the selfies we took on my birthday at the beach. One of the happiest days of this year. And now he's gone for good.
I look at everyone, & swallow hard. I need to do this.
“Tyler,” I say. “He always knew how to make me laugh. Even when all I wanted to do was cry, he would goof around & make me laugh. The last funeral we went to, he… we talked about our own eulogies. At the time…” I bite my lip, fighting back tears. “At the time, neither of us knew we’d need to have his weeks later.” I sniff. “And… I wanna recite that now.”
I look down at my notes, at the words he said to me… & even though it was from my eulogy, I’d still wrote it down- “He spent the rest of his days pining after her.”
That's what gets me. He did. And now I will.
I grip the podium as the tears fall. I feel Paige & Mark’s hands on me, guiding me back, before Mark’s arms wrap around me as I sink against his chest. I faintly hear Paige reading the rest of my notes as Mark hold me.