Chapter 40: Less People, Less Collateral Damage

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[A/N: Song for the chapter:
- Demi Lovato // Catch Me]

"What do you want Ash?"

I glanced up from the diner's counter and scoured the lit up menu overhead. The last time I came to Ruby's Diner with Tyler, I made the mistake of ordering something cheap and awful. But since he was offering to pay, a slow grin crept onto my face as I recited my order.

"Two cheeseburgers, onion fries and a choco–"

Tyler laughed and cut me off. "And a chocolate milkshake with cream, sprinkles and marshmallows, yes I get it Ashley. You can stop drooling everywhere. It ain't cute."

"Excuse me?" I arched both eyebrows.

His smirk stayed intact until I gave him a dark look.

"What I meant was," He cleared his throat as I narrowed my eyes. "I get that you're hungry but can you please find us a table?"

"That's better," I flashed him a fake smile before I rolled my eyes and pushed myself off the counter, shooting him a smirk as I trudged towards the same table we sat at last time - the one that overlooked the parking lot.

Minutes later, Tyler flopped down onto the padded seat in front of me and propped his head up with his right arm arm. He absentmindedly started tracing patterns all over the checkered tablecloth with his left hand. We both stared out of the window, too exhausted to bother with any small talk since we'd just spent an hour with Dr Jillian, listening to Tyler dig up memories from his past. The session wasn't particularly intense since she only asked him to recall good memories so it was pleasant to hear things I had never known about my best friend. For example, I had no idea that she used to get Tyler to dress up in his father's suits and play wedding games.

We left Dr Jillian's office chattering about Taylor instead of wallowing in a heavy silence like the past two appointments, which was fantastic. Tearing my gaze away from the densely packed parking lot, I focused on the relaxed smile on his face and mirrored it.

"So what did you think about that session?" I broke the silence and turned my body to face him.

Since the table was quite small, our knees brushed and my kneecaps were now wedged between his legs. Tyler made no attempt to move away and I bit back a giddy smile.

"I guess it was kind of fun," He mused quietly with a smile. "Dr Jillian didn't ask any heavy questions and it was more focused on me rather than Taylor's death. I liked that."

"You did?"

He nodded and pushed his hair out of his eyes. An hour hadn't even passed, yet Tyler was still in a surprisingly good mood so here we were; getting lunch at the closest diner we could find - which happened to be the same one he took me to many weeks ago. Even though it had only been his third session, things were really starting to look up for him. He wasn't cranky or in a foul mood and was actually joking about with me - I mean, he did try to trip me up before we entered the diner.

"You handled yourself pretty well," I smiled, squeezing his arm reassuringly just as a waiter broke off his next response.

A tanned arm reached out to slide two ceramic plates in front me that were steaming with my mouthwatering lunch. Not bothering to thank the waiter, I instantly dug into my food whilst Tyler chuckled at my enthusiasm.

"Two cheeseburgers, onion fries and chocolate milkshake for you ma'am," The waiter flashed me a toothy grin when I glanced up with half the burger inside my mouth; and slid two more plates in front of Tyler. "And a hamburger, fries, chocolate milkshake and a large slice of banana cake for you sir."

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