Wednesday Briefs: Second Shot – The Senior Year – 22
Dean paced the living room of the empty house. Having the place to himself seemed like such a great idea a few hours ago. He’d been about to leave to pick up Hanna for their date, when Jason sent him the text to say he and Peter decided to stay in Harrisburg. Dean had smiled and counted his good fortune. Now that he needed someone to talk to, he wished they’d come back instead.
Driving home, he’d decided to see what Darryl thought. Or at least he’d try to speak to his roommate. Despite their recent heart-to-heart, Dean still didn’t feel entirely comfortable asking Darryl for advice. He’d been ‘Little T’, or ‘Deano’ for too long to believe Darryl would truly see him as an equal.
Then again, Darryl had been really helpful when Dean got dressed. Not even a smirk crossed his lips when he vetoed Dean’s first choice of what to wear. Listening to his teammate had been a good thing as Hanna had complimented Dean on how he looked when he picked her up.
Darryl’s good advice continued through dinner. She seemed genuinely pleased that Dean chose the Italian restaurant and not the ‘pizza joint.’ If only the rest of the night had gone so well.
Having replayed the evening the entire ride home, he’d been eager to talk to Darryl the moment he walked into the house. Finding the place empty only fueled his anxiety. After his fourth time around the sofa, he smacked the cushion and flopped down.
Closing his eyes, Dean relived the moment it all went wrong. Why did Ethan and Blake have to be at the same restaurant? Dozens of places to eat in town and they ended up in the one Dean picked for a first date.
“No,” he said out loud. “It wasn’t their fault.”
“Wasn’t whose fault?” Darryl asked.
“Whoa!” Dean opened his eyes and jumped from his seat. “How….”
Darryl dropped his backpack on the chair nearest to him and stared at Dean. “What’s up with you? And why did you leave the front door open?”
“I did?” He’d been is such a rush to get inside that he must have forgotten to shut it.
“Yeah, you did.” Cocking his head to the side, Darryl looked confused. “You, the one who freaked out last week when someone forgot to lock the door before going to sleep, left the front door wide open and didn’t hear me come in. That isn’t like you. What’s going on?”
“I….” His carefully thought out speech slipped from his thoughts. “I’m….”
“And why are you home? It’s only 10:15.”
“I…um…well…I just am.” Now that he needed to explain, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. Darryl probably wouldn’t react well. No, make that Dean knew he wouldn’t react well at all.
Darryl squinted and then shook his head. He pointed to the couch and said. “No way. Sit.”
Still thinking about the end of the date, Dean almost didn’t hear Darryl’s command. He opened his mouth to protest, but Darryl pointed again.
“Don’t. Just sit down and let’s talk about what happened.”
Until he told someone what had happened, Dean knew he’d never get any sleep. Given that the only other option required he call Jason, Dean let out a sigh and sat down.
“So what happened?” Darryl checked the chair behind him before sitting. “Did she like the restaurant?
“Oh yeah. She said it was a bit nicer than she expected.”
“Did spill your dinner on her?”
“So, what? Did you talk non-stop? Make her pay the bill? Tell her she’s got a triple D chest, but the IQ of wallpaper paste?”
“What?” Maybe he could wait after all.
Darryl spread his arms wide. “I’m graspin’ here, you won’t tell me what happened.”
“You won’t let me.”
“Fine.” Darryl folded his arms and sat back “You talk, I’ll listen.”
“Um…well…dinner went well, or at least I thought so. We’d just ordered dessert when Ethan comes over holding Blake’s hand.” Dean shook his hands in frustration. “What are the odds they’re at the same restaurant, at the same time, as us?”
“Given this isn’t that big of a town, the odds were pretty good you’d run into someone from the team.”
“Yeah, I guess.” He had taken Hanna to one of the more popular date restaurants in town. “Part of me is pissed at them, but I guess it’s better this way.”
“Wait, you’re saying they ruined your date? How?”
“No, I mean they did, but not them.”
“That makes no sense, Little T.” He rubbed his temples. “So they ruined your date, but it wasn’t them. Still make’s no sense. You’re gonna need to spell it out for me.”
“Okay, so the waiter took our order, and walked off. Hanna and I are talking and suddenly Ethan is there, smiling away. Blake looked a bit uncomfortable, but he still said hello.”
“So far, nothing to kill a date.”
“Actually, that’s all it took.” Dean shook his head and frowned.
“Saying hello killed your date?”
“Kinda. So I introduced them. Told her how I’d worked with Ethan the last two summers and that Blake played on our soccer team. She got real quiet and kept looking down. She barely said hello to them.
“I tried to talk to them, but they must have felt uncomfortable, so they left.”
“That was rude.”
“Yeah, kinda.” Dean took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. “I watched them leave wondering if she was embarrassed to be seen with me, or if she knew either of them and they didn’t like each other, or something. When I turned back to her, Hanna was staring at me. So I asked her what’s was that all about?”
“Just like that?”
“Yeah, I was a kinda annoyed.”
Darryl nodded slowly. “And?”
“And she says she doesn’t understand how I can be okay with a gay teammate.”