Wednesday Briefs: Second Shot – The Senior Year – 13
Second Shot – The Senior Year – 13
Matt squinted, but didn’t say anything. Then he nodded, his lips squeezed tight.
“Can I get you something to drink?” Peter asked, but Jason didn’t wait for the answer.
Judging by Matt’s face, it probably wouldn’t be a fun chat. On the other hand, Jason didn’t need to hunt down his teammate.
Changing into a pair of khaki cargo shorts, Jason realized he’d come up to stall. Frowning, he left the room.
He found Matt, cradling a glass of water, sitting on the second hand couch Pete had brought with him. Peter’s absence didn’t surprise Jason.
“Pete said he needed to go get food.” Matt looked at him sheepishly.
The silence lingered uncomfortably long. Jason didn’t make an attempt to end it. He walked over to a chair facing the couch and stared in Matt’s direction. If Matt came to talk, then he needed to start talking.
Finally Matt let out a loud sigh. “I know I kinda fucked up today.
“It’s more than a fuck up, Matt. You tried to hurt Blake.” Letting out some of the pent up frustration, he stood up and spread his arms out. “Why would you try to hurt your own teammate? And why Blake? He’s always been a good guy.”
“Not always.” Matt’s words, whispered under his breath, stopped Jason’s rant.
Tilting his head up, Matt cast a defiant stare. “I said he hasn’t always been a good guy.”
“Please.” Matt seemed less contrite then when he arrived. “Don’t tell me you forgot he called you a fag the first day of practice.”
“That’s what this is about?” Having lost his momentum, Jason sat down. “You’re still mad about that?”
“No, Jase. You said let it go and I did. But he’s…he’s….”
“He’s gay.” Matt nearly flinched. “He’s been hiding it since he came to Graydon.”
Matt not liking gay people made more sense than what Jason just heard. “And that’s a reason to try to break his ankle?”
“C’mon, you know I had it under control.”
Jason hadn’t seen the tackle, but ‘control’ wasn’t a word Darryl used. Regardless. Shaking his head, he refused to be derailed again.
“So you say. But that doesn’t explain why you’re mad.”
“Damn right I am.” The veins in Matt’s neck pulsed as he growled out the words.
“Why?” He resisted the urge to throw a pillow. “What did he do that’s so bad?”
“He’s been lying to us all this time.”
“So? I didn’t tell people I was gay at first.”
Matt waved a hand at Jason. “That’s not it.”
“Then make me understand.”
“You and Pete –mostly you–shoulder a lot responsibilities being an out couple. And you being the team captain and all, you’ve been pretty visible.”
“And that’s Blake’s fault how?”
“He should have stepped up and helped you.”
That was the problem? “You’re mad because he didn’t come out sooner?”
“Yes!” Matt stood up and faced the window just as a thunderstorm started. “Not only did he call you a derogatory name, he’s never manned up. How can I respect someone who’d let one of his best friends, someone he looked up to, do all the heavy lifting, while he sat back and kept safe. He should have come out and helped.”
“It doesn’t work like that, Matt. Everyone comes out at their own pace…..”
He spun around, cutting Jason off. “You didn’t.”
“But I wish I could have.” He shook his head. This wasn’t about him. “Just because I got outted, doesn’t mean Blake needed to come out sooner.”
The twinge of anger never left Matt’s eyes. “He talks about how much he looks up to you….” Matt shook his head and squinted. ” I should have figured it out sooner, but what he said to you the first day threw me.”
“I still don’t get why you’re mad.” Jason realized he’d crept forward in his chair, his voice almost a shout and sat back. “I’m fine with him, why aren’t you?”
“You’re too nice, Jase. You stuck up for him when you should have had him kicked off the team. Instead, you took some of the blame – never figured out how that worked.” Matt picked up his glass and drained the last of his water. “Bottom line, he’s been hiding behind you when he should have standing beside you. Worse, he’s a closet case who pretended to hate gays to keep people from figuring him out.”
Drop by drop, with each word; Jason’s anger toward his friend fell away. A bit of shame replaced the ire. “Gotcha.”
“So you agree?” Matt’s voice sounded hopeful, but guarded.
A nervous laugh broke from Jason’s throat. “No, but I…I appreciate your friendship.”
“Always. But why….”
“Don’t I agree?” When Matt nodded, Jason smirked. “Because I told him not to come out.”
“Yeah.” Jason saw that day clearly in his mind. “He told me the truth the day after our run in and I told him to wait until he felt ready.”
“Really?” Matt finally sat down again. “He still should have stepped up. It would have been fine. He had friends he knew he could count on.”
“Like I had?” He didn’t need to mention Jordan’s name. The trial was coming up and everyone on the team avoided the topic.
“Oh, yeah.” The words were soft, almost hushed. “Gotcha.”
Sensing an opening, Jason moved in. “So lay off, please?”
“Sure, I won’t go after him again, but…I’m still pissed.”
Jason opened his mouth but shut it before speaking. Instead he nodded. There’d be time later. A minute passed and he got up, nodding toward the kitchen. “You wanna stay for dinner?”
Jason grinned. “Pete. I only cook for people I don’t like.”
Finally, after a trying day, a small smile slowly grew across Matt’s face. Jason’s friend Matt returned. “Yeah, I’m staying.”