Wednesday Briefs: Second Shot – Senior Year – 14
Second Shot – The Senior Year – 14
Tugging at his collar, Jason wondered why the shirt and tie suddenly felt so constricting. He’d worn them often enough in the past. Shifting his eye to his left, he saw Peter staring blankly into the mirror.
Since the spring they almost managed to forget the attack. Nine months healed most wounds. To Jason, it felt like he had the old Peter back. Almost. The occasional nightmares were the worst, at least for him. When Peter screamed in his sleep, Jason felt the utter helplessness of seeing Peter in the hospital all over again. The disappointment ran a close second.
Every time Peter saw his martial arts teammates he put on a good face. He’d ask about their training, the chances for the new season and the like. But privately Jason knew what it cost his boyfriend. No one wanted to compete more than Pete, but that would never happen again.
“You look nice.” Peter’s smile matched his tone. Another brave face.
Usually Jason smiled back and did his best to keep up the charade. This time he couldn’t quite do it. The first tear cracked his walls. When he couldn’t contain the second, he tried to turn so Peter wouldn’t see. He had waited too long to move.
The hand on his shoulder, meant to comfort, only reminded him of all the bad things that happened. He’d tried to keep a perspective, remember they agreed no one was to blame. That lasted less than a heart beat.
Days like this, when they couldn’t pretend it didn’t happen, when they had to confront the harsh reality, always taxed Jason’s resolve. Letting Peter see how much he hurt, knowing he had a hand in Peter’s injury, felt like Jason launched a new attack on the man he loved. He knew the affect it had on Peter. But some days….
“Jase.” The hand on his shoulder became two and Jason felt himself being gently pulled around. He tried to resist, but Peter didn’t let go. Finally he allowed his body to turn, but wouldn’t meet Peter’s gaze.
“It’s okay, babe. Really.” Peter’s strong hand pulled Jason into an embrace. The tears became a steady stream and he pulled his hand up quickly to cover his face. “Sheesh. It’s not your fault.”
Before he could move back, Jason felt a hand cup the back of his head, pulling him closer. The words registered, but it didn’t matter. Peter could say it wasn’t his fault, forgive him forever and back, and still Jason wouldn’t believe it.
Guilt never helped, he knew that, but it refused to let go. A little more backbone and the attack wouldn’t have happened. Had he been just a bit stronger, less shallow, Peter wouldn’t have been alone that awful night. Jason should have told his mother to fuck off, consequences, and money, be damned.
Instead he wavered. Considered the options. Tried to find a way to have both and almost had neither. When Peter needed him most, he waffled. Worse, he lashed out and accused Peter of being unsupportive before storming off. How could it not be his fault?
A pair of soft lips brushed his ear and Peter nuzzled closer. “I know what’s going on inside your head.”
Another kiss only made Jason feel worse. Despite all the pain Jason caused, Peter still loved him. He didn’t deserve it, even if he desperately wanted it.
“I’ve said this before, but I’ll keep saying it, no matter what you did or didn’t do, you didn’t cause Jordan to attack me. You’re not to blame. Not then, not now, not ever.”
The logical part of his brain told Jason he didn’t contribute to what happened. Jordan planned and carried out the attack without ever including Jason in the equation. But it was nearly impossible to overlook that had he just stood up to his mother that one time, they’d have stayed in that night.
Jordan needed a perfect storm to carry out his plan. He needed Peter alone, distracted, and vulnerable. Jason handed his ex-best friend all that and more. If he didn’t cause the attack, he made Peter susceptible to it and in Jason’s mind there wasn’t much difference.
He managed to stem the flow of salty tears, though not before he left a wet mark on Peter’s dark blue suit coat. Even then he couldn’t find his voice.
Peter pulled back enough so he could touch his forehead to Jason’s. “Jase, please look at me.” When Jason didn’t move his eyes off the carpet, Peter added, “Please?”
The plea worked into the word forced Jason to find the will to meet Peter’s needful stare.
“I love you, Jase. Totally and completely.” A tear formed at the corner of each of Peter’s eyes, but he never turned away. “You can’t blame yourself. It’s not healthy. I’ve been through enough counseling to know. But more importantly, it hurts me so much to see you do this to yourself. So much.”
Jason sniffed, finding the voice he’d lost since he saw Peter’s fake smile. “I don’t want to hurt you. I love…I love you too much to…hurt…you…again.”
“Good, because it would totally suck if you didn’t love me back.”
Jason laughed at the reused line. Staring at Peter’s smile–a real one this time–he regained his control. “I’ll always love your backside.”
Peter rolled his eyes and tapped the side of Jason’s head. “Perv.”
“Maybe. You’ll have to wait til we get home to find out.”
“No, I already know. When we get home you’ll just remind me how much I enjoy that side of you.” After wiggling his eyebrows, Peter smoothed Jason’s hair. “Okay Dauphin County Courthouse, ready or not, here we come.”
Jason breathed in deep and let it out with a rush. He could do this. For Peter he would do it.