Warnings: Mentions of mental health issues, Tyson craziness
Word Count: 5,032
Summary: Tyson didn't think getting a best friend would change him that much. Except, for when it really did.
Author's Note: First AAR story! Woo? And BIG thanks to xaritomene for guiding me through the process. She's a legend and a lifesaver. I owe her much.
The Humming (Or how Nick Is Tyson’s Terminator)
Tyson always thought that he was weird. Singing songs on the dining room table is pretty much a sign. But he always knew that everyone else thought that they were weird, so by the time he was twelve he wasn’t that worried about his weirdness. It was normal.
So when he finally met Nick, he didn’t really expect any more weirdness to arrive. Seriously, getting a best friend didn’t change you that much.
Except, for when it really did.
Tyson didn’t realise how much Nick had affected him, because fuck it, how was he supposed to notice? All that he cared was that he and Nick were friends and that Tyson no longer felt like an inadequate piece of shit (not that he did normally, but when comparing the two era’s of his life – Before Nick, and After Nick – that’s how he thought about it). So when his dad had said something in passing about how much Nick has changed his behaviour, he had laughed at him and continued to his room. As if.
He didn’t realise how deeply he was in denial until Nick left for a holiday with his family, because, fuck it, if he had, he would have tried to prepare for it.
At first he just thought that he was sulking about Nick voluntarily leaving him behind. Not that Tyson would admit it of course. But, it stung, you know? Seeing your friend wave good bye from the car as he sped off to see family in some ridiculously far off town, leaving Tyson all alone. But Tyson was a man. A manly man, and he could deal. He’d do something completely awesome and wicked and Nick would be so jealous and sorry that he left instead of staying. So Tyson ran home and started looking for things to do. He had a week, a full week (well almost, five and a half days) to do something completely awesome.
His dad was the first one to say something, and it was probably a good idea that he did: Tyson had hung himself upside from the window in an attempt to get his brain to work better by forcing blood into it. Once his dad had finally convinced him that there were better ways to improve brain power – “try vegetables, Ty, I know you don’t believe me, but they do work” – Tyson had sat down and scoffed as many vegetables as he could while trying to ignore the humming in the back of his head, left over from hanging upside down.
The next day the humming hadn’t gone away, but Tyson successfully ignored it in favour of running around town for supplies. He had drawn up a whole plan last night, it was awesome. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do exactly yet, but it was going to be awesome, whatever the result was.
Unfortunately though, he got sent to his mum’s for some reason or the other the next day, so he had to abandon his plans, leaving his supplies left in a pile in the backyard.
His mum was the next to say something. When he had bounced down stairs she had taken one look at him before sitting him down and sticking a thermometer in his mouth. Tyson would have protested but she had almost stabbed his tongue getting the thing in, and he seriously liked his tongue. He wanted to kiss people later on in life. So, he sat through her inspection as calmly as he could and dutifully said that yes he was fine, no he didn’t feel hot, cold, up, down, wrong or even sick. Maybe a bit hyper, but apart from that, fine.
And really, that was all that mattered.
He didn’t mention that the humming still hadn’t disappeared, but it wasn’t hurting anyone so Tyson could ignore it. Mostly. It only bothered him when he was trying to sleep or if he did nothing for too long a time.
But anyways, Tyson continued to attempt to do things that would be awesome and would make Nick jealous but by the time Nick came home all he had done was successfully beat his mum at Monopoly. Once. Don’t look at him like that; his Ma was a mean Monopoly player! He also didn’t realise until Nick had been back for a week that the humming had stopped, but he had just shrugged and assumed that he had ate something weird. Head flu or something, like that person had on that doctor show.
Tyson completely forgot about the humming until it came back a couple of years later, and it was then that he realised that he was fucked.
Nick was by his car, crammed and about to burst with the amount of stuff and rubbing his head as they tried to figure out how to say goodbye. Tyson felt miserable, and betrayed. By Nick. By his life. By his age. But he wouldn’t stop Nick. Nick needed to do the college thing.
In the end Nick gave him a quick hug, a rough hair pull and he was driving away to the College-that-took-Nick-away (as Tyson had so cleverly named it) and Tyson was trudging inside back to a Life Without Nick.
The first week wasn’t so bad. It was wrong, on so, so, so many levels, but Tyson could deal. The weird humming was happening at the back of his head, but he could successfully ignore by playing with his bass guitar, which he did as often as he could. His dad and mum tried cheering him up, they could tell how shit he was feeling without Nick (because seriously, it sucked without him) and did everything they could to make sure Tyson wasn’t wallowing in despair. They were real cool about it.
But by the second week of Life Without Nick, Tyson wasn’t sleeping right, or doing anything right really, and he blamed the fucking humming. He couldn’t sleep properly, and he kept doing things the wrong way, like putting his shoes on the wrong feet or wearing a shirt inside out and backwards. Small stuff really, but they kept adding up, and by the end of the second week, Tyson was tired, grumpy and seriously missing Nick. Phone calls weren’t cutting it. They weren’t the same, and half the time Nick sounded busy, or harassed, or drunk, or exhausted, so Tyson always felt guilty about calling him and interrupting his new life. By the end of the second week he had stopped.
The third week was even worse. Instead of being unable to sleep, Tyson would sleep too much, and most nights he woke up in the middle of the night, arms shaking, sweaty and panicked. It was like he was one of those war people he had learnt at school, who woke up in the middle of the night screaming in terror ‘cause of the war. It was seriously messed up, and he could tell his parents were getting worried; they kept asking how he was, and he didn’t have an answer for them. He had no idea how he was.
And the humming was officially dubbed ‘The Humming’. It didn’t stop, ever. It was a constant sound, feeling, thought, something jumping around the back of his head, and it started to spread, so at random moments his hands would be shaking, or his shoulders would be vibrating, or he’d feel an insane urge to just run and run until he dropped. He had tried a couple of times, out of desperation. He had ran around the streets for ages, sprinting as fast as he could for as long as he could, but when he had finally dropped to the ground completely wiped, The Humming continued.
It was the first night of the fourth week of Life Without Nick that it got bad. Like, shit falling from the sky and killing puppies bad.
He doesn’t remember much of the actual dream, but he woke up to his dad’s yelling, and he’s clutching Tyson’s shoulders, shaking him while at the same time preventing him from moving, and fuck it Tyson feels wrong. So very, very wrong. He can’t seem to focus his eyes, and he’s shaking and sweating and crying and he can’t stop gasping. His skin feels full of ants and his sheets are digging into his legs and he wants to stop them but he can’t. And the goddamn Humming is everywhere, not just in his head. It’s in his eyes, his fingers, his heart, his soul, and he can’t get rid of it!
It takes forever for the Humming to stop torturing him, for him to stop shaking and gasping, but when he finally does he throws up over the side of the bed and cries some more. His dad sits by his bed, rubbing his back and letting him cry himself out before quickly leaving to grab some water and a towel. He must have drifted off soon after ‘cause the next thing he remembers is waking up in his dad’s bed, with his dad sitting on a chair, slumped against the bed beside him.
When his dad asks him the next morning if he had taken anything – “Because I understand if you did, cause of Nick” - he fiercely shakes his head, clutching at a pillow. If that was what drugs were like, he’d stick to alcohol. His dad seems to reluctantly believe him before calling his mum and fetching him something to eat.
His mum was a force to be reckoned with when she came over, she hugs him and strokes his hair and treats him as if he was a small kid (which to be entirely truthful, is how he feels), before leaving to talk to his dad. He can tell what they’re gonna talk about. Is he on drugs? Did he say anything to either of them? What happened yesterday? Was he all right? What happened? Should they take him to a hospital?
They eventually took him to a GP to have a check up later on that day. He did the light thing with his eyes, checked his temperature and his blood pressure, and all the usual things, and even gave Tyson a couple of jelly beans, which was pretty cool of him. But there was nothing wrong with him apparently. He heard stuff like stress, and tiredness, and something called night terrors, but Tyson knew that they weren’t the cause of...whatever he did last night.
He stayed at his mum’s that night. He could tell that his dad had completely freaked out last night about what happened, so Tyson didn’t blame him for foisting him off to mum. Mum’s were better at dealing with the emotional shit right?
The house was really quiet when he got there. Bailey was staring at him curiously and his mum insisted that he just rest. Which was kind of nice but still annoying. Eventually he just slouched himself to his room and sat on the bed fiddling with his guitar. It was the only thing that could kind of get rid of The Humming.
He slept fine that night. He guessed that he was too exhausted from the previous night to not just sleep, but it was a relief not to wake up in the middle of the night having a fit or something. His mum was also relieved, he could tell when she came into his room the next morning with breakfast. Which was really nice, but he still felt like shit and didn’t feel like eating much. She forced him to though, the awful mother that she is.
He doesn’t realise how lucky he was that night when the he woke up screaming the next. He thrashes and gasps and moans and fucking cries for ages and ages, the Humming slowly tearing at his soul until he’s left an empty husk on the bed, his mum rubbing his back and cradling his head in her lap. There’s puke beside the bed and his fingers are digging so hard in her sides it must hurt, but she sits there and holds him and tells him it’s going to be okay, but although he wants to believe her he can’t because he feels so bad and The Humming is still there and he wants Nick ‘cause he would know what to do and even if he didn’t Tyson would feel better that he was around.
The episodes, or night terrors, or whatever they are continue for the next week. He wakes up every night thrashing and yelling and crying and he can’t stop it, and he can tell that everyone’s worried, and he is to if he lets himself think about it, but he doesn’t ‘cause then it’d be bad, and all he wants is for Nick to be back cause Life Without Nick was sucking. The Humming keeps getting worse. His hands shake when he tries to play bass and he shivers as if it’s the middle of winter and he’s starting to get headaches, and he thinks even his mum is starting to clue in on The Humming cause she asked what it was once, the morning after, and Tyson had to think fast to make sure she didn’t know. If she knew then, he was fucked. As long as The Humming wasn’t real to everyone else, he could continue to tell himself that it was all in his head and that it wasn’t serious.
And then the best thing that ever happened in Tyson’s life happened: Nick came back. Tyson hadn’t heard from him in what seemed like a life time so when he saw Nick’s car outside he had forced his tortured body to leap out the door and tackle Nick to the ground. ‘Cause, fuck it, fuck it all! Nick was back! Nick was back, and he was giving Tyson weird looks but Tyson didn’t care ‘cause as soon as Nick hugged him back the Humming stopped. It stopped! For the first time in a whole month, it stopped! And that was the moment Tyson knew that he was fucked. That if Nick ever left again, Tyson wouldn’t survive, because Nick made The Humming go away, and if The Humming never left Tyson was doomed.
His parents must have seen the change, cause for the first time in ages Tyson was right! He didn’t feel wrong or edgy or sick! They didn’t have to wake him up in the middle of the night or stop him from accidentally strangling himself with the sheets. It was wonderful! Just to make sure, he spent as much time with Nick as he could, helping Nick unpack his stuff and sleeping over at his place and generally being Nick’s shadow. Nick must have noticed, he must have what with Tyson’s almost stalker-ish mannerisms and his sudden need to just touch Nick, but he didn’t say anything, which just made him a better friend in Tyson’s opinion. And that’s how it worked from then on. Tyson refused to separate himself from Nick for any time longer than necessary, because Nick was the Terminator of The Humming and Tyson was fucked.
Even after getting signed up, and touring and becoming an internationally recognised band, it didn’t change. It was him and Nick, no matter what, because even though Nick was around him constantly, he must have been scarred for life or something because he’d still have nights where he’d wake up yelling and thrashing, with The Humming clawing revenge on his soul, and the only thing that would properly calm him down was Nick, and wow, it had freaked out his past girlfriends. Most of the time, they’d dump him the next morning, or if they were really nice about it, they’d try to stick it out, but in the end it’d just be too much to deal with and they’d be really sorry about it and would leave. Tyson always felt bad, but he couldn’t help it so he had no choice but to let them go.
It had really freaked out everyone while on tour as well. Tyson had gone back to the bus early from a party once for some reason and had fallen asleep on the seats at the back of the bus. He’d woken up screaming at some random hour in the morning and scared the shit out of everyone. Nick had known what to do though; he’d wrapped himself around Tyson’s flailing limbs and yelled at someone to get some water and a bowl, and once he had those he had told everyone to get lost. Tyson didn’t remember much apart from that, throwing up into the bowl, and Nick holding him close and telling him to calm down. Afterwards, Nick had guided him to his bunk, laid him down and had joined him, yanking the curtains shut and holding him close for the rest of the night, making sure that he was all right.
The next morning, everyone had demanded to know what happened and Tyson had just sat there holding himself while Nick quietly explained about Tyson’s neurotic episodes. They still didn’t have a name for it, but Tyson knew it was because he was fucked. He had decided that The Humming had been around his whole life, but with Nick’s arrival it had been forced away, and now it took its revenge, like some bad horror movie.
But either way, everyone learnt how to deal with it, and they knew what to do if Nick (by some miraculous horror) wasn’t there to calm Tyson down. After a while, Tyson was even able to recognise whether or not he was going to freak out and was able to slip into Nick’s bunk so that Nick could start the calming down process. He still freaked out, but it wasn’t as bad as it usually was.
The Humming was still a secret. He hadn’t told anyone, not even Nick. He didn’t want people to think that he was any more fucked up then they all ready thought he was. He didn’t mind the general – “Oh yeah, that Tyson Ritter guy? Yeah, he covers himself in glitter and does some weird stuff” – but he didn’t want to be the guy that everyone thought should be in a loony bin, that’d be too much. But Nick kept giving him looks, and he hadn’t asked about it after that one time, but Tyson was worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret if Nick just came out and asked now. Tyson didn’t want to lie to him, and a part of him didn’t want to keep it a secret any longer. It was so hard.
And tonight was going to be bad night, he could tell. His hands had been shaking all day and he had dropped his guitar twice now, and he could practically feel The Humming preparing itself. He waited until almost everyone was in their bunks, because although no one really cared that he slipped into Nick’s bunk on bad nights, it was, like, the principle of the thing. So when Mike was the last one awake and he was brushing his teeth, Tyson hurried down to Nick’s bunk and poked the curtain open.
“Nick?” he whispered.
“Ty, come on in.” Fuck, he knew. Nick was getting almost as good as he was at reading the signs. Tyson slid himself into Nick’s bunk, glad that Nick had decided on a bottom bunk. Top bunks weren’t good for thrashing; Nick had all ready fallen out a couple of times when trying to calm Tyson down.
Tyson quickly positioned himself between Nick and the wall of the bus and buried himself under the covers as Nick shut the curtains. An arm quickly wrapped itself around his shoulder. “How are you feeling?” Nick asked softly.
“Like shit,” Tyson mumbled, pressing closer to Nick’s side, breathing in his scent. “Can I...?”
“Yeah.” Tyson quickly wrapped his arms around Nick’s waist, fingers clutching each other to lock him in. He was always hesitant about doing that ‘cause really, he didn’t have a right to, didn’t have a right to ask Nick to do any of this, and sometimes Tyson thinks that it’d be easier if they were gay ‘cause then they could be, like, a couple and Tyson wouldn’t feel like a shit friend every time he needed Nick to come over and hold him instead of letting him spend time with his girlfriend.
“You’re thinking too hard Ty,” Nick murmurs, the hand not currently wrapped around his shoulders coming up to smooth the lines on his forehead. “Calm down, you know it makes it worse.”
“Sorry.” Tyson swallows and pushed his head further into Nick’s stomach, ‘cause, fuck, Nick just knew him too fucking well.
“S’all right,” Nick mutters, settling himself down so he could sleep. Tyson accommodates quickly, sliding down further in the bunk so that he can still bury his head into Nick’s stomach, because it’d be way to intimate if he did the same thing to Nick’s chest. As curious as he is about the whole gay thing (he may or may not have seriously contemplated it at one point, well...maybe a couple more times than one, but who was counting) he knew that Nick wouldn’t want to try, and it was only years of friendship that allowed him to do this now.
Tyson sighed softly and shut his eyes. He hated falling asleep knowing that he’d wake up soon freaking out and generally scaring the shit out of everyone, but the longer he denied sleep, the worse it got, so what was a rock star supposed to do? Reluctant he clenched his eyes shut and tried to ignore the way his heart raced in anticipation.
The next thing that he’s aware of is Nick’s arms holding him in place and his voice saying over and over that it was all right. Tyson groaned and yelled and shook as The Humming attacked him. Nick was there, fuck it, he was always there, holding him, talking to him, helping him, and Tyson started to cry as it kept going and going. He hated this, he hated this, he hated this! He gave a choked yell as The Humming leapt to his heart and tried to burst it into a million pieces, and he tried to claw at his chest to just make it fucking stop but Nick held his arms down and held him tighter as it continued.
When it finally, finally, ended, Tyson’s weakly clutching Nick’s waist and he knows that he’s crying and he knows he’s going to be sick, but thankfully Nick’s prepared and he’s got a bucket ready and he’s holding Tyson’s hair back as his stomach rebels.
When he’s done, Nick drops the bucket on to the floor and cradles Tyson’s head and helps him drink some water before letting him lie down, and Tyson thinks that Nick is wonderful, not that he isn’t always wonderful, but at moments like this he was the model of wonderful, and Tyson should really make him an award or something ‘cause-
“Ty? Ty? Come on man, snap out of it.” Nick’s hands were gently rubbing his back. “Seriously, Ty, you don’t have to make me an award, really.”
“I said that out loud?” he asked weakly, wincing.
“Yeah, don’t worry though, I all ready knew you loved me.”
Tyson nodded as strongly as he could, which wasn’t that strong really, and sighed. “Forever Nicky.”
Nick smiled, and Tyson didn’t know how he could tell in the near dark that they were lying in, but he could. “Yeah.” Tyson felt a hand through his hair and he sighed again, eyes closing and muscles loosening. As awful as the fits were, this was always kind of nice.
“Tyson?” He hummed in acknowledgement. “I know I’ve asked, and I respected your choice about not telling me years ago, but, seriously, what’s ‘the humming’?”
Tyson tensed, his eyes shooting open, not that’d Nick would be able to see. He – fuck, he didn’t want to tell Nick. If he did – if he told anyone – he’d have to admit that he had a problem, that there was something wrong with him, that The Humming was real, and if he finally did, then he didn’t know what he would, should do. It had been so long.
“Ty?” Nick sounded sort of desperate. “Please, I know you don’t want to talk about it but...fuck, you don’t know how hard it is, to watch you fall apart, over and over again, all these years. Having to come to your place in the middle of the night and calm you down while your girlfriend is freaking out in the hallway. Having to hold you down to stop you from hurting yourself, and make sure that your puke makes it into the bucket.” Nick’s grip becomes tighter. “You don’t realise how hard it is Ty! And, to hear you keep saying that this ‘humming’ is the cause and not knowing if it’s something that I can fix or not drives me nuts!” Nick stopped, taking a deep breath. “Please, Ty...stop keeping me out. I won’t, I won’t think any less of you, or, or anything, just...tell me.”
Tyson bit his lip and tightened his fingers around Nick’s waist. “Nick...Nicky...I don’t...I can’t.”
“Don’t say that you can’t tell me, because there’s nothing stopping you!” Nick’s hands tightened on his back, making him wince and look up. He could only see a vague shadowy shape but his mind could imagine Nick’s face. “Please, Ty.” Now Nick’s voice sounded kind of broken, and Tyson couldn’t hold it back any more, especially when Nick asked like that.
He licked his lips nervously, trying to steady himself. “I...I...it’s hard to explain but...” His fingers clenched around Nick’s waist.
“We’ve got all night Ty.” Nick’s hands loosened and returned to stroking his back.
Tyson sighed. “It...It’s this thing. Feeling. Sound. Thing. In my head. I don’t know how to describe it exactly. Humming is the best way...I just...I get agitated. Edgy. Hyper. But everywhere. My head races and I start to shake and I can’t stop it.” His voice cracked. “It’s...it’s fucking awful, and nothing works to stop it. It’s like I’ve been slipped something and my body’s about to explode.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen. Do you know what causes it?” Nick asks, still gently stroking his back.
“Not really...kind of...I’m not sure.” He rubbed his eyes, feeling tears spring up. “It just...comes, and I’ve tried all this type of shit, medicine, foods, and nothing works.”
“You been to the doctor?”
“Yeah, heaps, they think it’s some psych problem I’ve got, but no one’s ever figured the cause.” He sighed shakily and pushed his head into Nick’s stomach. “Please, Nicky, I don’t want to talk about it.”
Nick sounded hurt. “Why not? It’s not that bad, I mean it is, but it’s not like there’s tumour or something growing in your brain, so what’s with the secrecy?”
Tyson flinched and curled his legs up. “Cause...cause if I do tell...it mean’s its real. That...that it’s something I’ve got to fix, that I need help, that there’s something wrong with me, and if there’s something wrong with me you might – you might...” He swallowed, making himself stop.
“I might what?” Nick’s hands were still gently stroking his back, albeit they were slower.
“Leave,” he whispered. “I couldn’t – I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t survive Nicky. If you left. I wouldn’t. You’re the only thing that makes it stop.”
Nick’s hands stopped, and with them, Tyson’s heart. He’d said too much. Nick was going to freak out, he’d think that Tyson was a freak, or mentally fucked, or too much work, and he’d try and be nice about it but he’d eventually want space and then Tyson wouldn’t be allowed to do this, and The Humming would come back, and Tyson didn’t know what he’d do if he ever had to go through days, weeks, months of this. He’d break. He’d shatter. He would fall into the dark abyss that was Life Without Nick and-
He blinked. “’Why’?”
“Why?” Tyson frowned and looked up, trying to see Nick’s face. “Why am I the only thing that makes it stop?”
Oh, that was what he was talking about. “Um...I dunno...” Tyson thought about telling Nick about what happened while he had been at college, but decided against it. It’d be too much too soon. It was a miracle Nick hadn’t shoved him out of the bunk yet. “You just do?”
Nick was silent for a moment before he sighed explosively and nodded, or at least, it sounded like he nodded. “Okay.”
“Okay?” That was it?
“Okay.” Nick shifted and turned on to his side, tucking himself close to Tyson. “We don’t know the cause of this ‘humming’ and we don’t know why and we can stop it.” Nick pulled the sheet up over their shoulders. “But what we do know is that it sucks, and that I can stop it.”
“Most of the time,” Tyson inserted, quietly.
“Most of the time,” Nick agreed, nudging him to turn over on to his side. “So here’s what we’ll do. First, we sleep. Second we find someone for you to talk to-”
“No arguments Ty.” Nick’s voice was unusually firm. “You said that you’ve been to doctors and stuff, but I doubt you’ve actually done proper therapy.”
“No buts Ty, you’re going to talk to someone. Talking to me doesn’t cut it.” Nick gently nudged his side. “And after we find someone, we’re going to make sure that you and I are never that far apart.” He gave a quiet laugh. “Not that we ever are.”
Tyson grinned hesitantly. “Yeah.” He wavers for a moment before wrapping an arm around Nick and burying his face into Nick’s collar bone. “Thanks Nick.” And his voice did not just crack. “For everything.”
Nick hugged him back. “You’re welcome.” He poked the back of Tyson’s head. “Now get some sleep.”
“’Kay.” Tyson settled himself more comfortably beside Nick’s body. “Night Nicky.”