Free Fiction Friday: Second Shot – The Senior Year – 40
Free Fiction Friday: November 14, 2014:
Second Shot – The Senior Year: Chapter 39
The perfect weather did little to lift Blake’s mood as he and Ethan walked across the quad toward his dorm. Ethan’s presence should have helped, but his boyfriend didn’t approve of them slipping in to get some things while Brett was out.
“I’m not pretending it didn’t happen, you know.” Blake wondered why he tried again. “We’re holding hands on campus. How is that avoiding the issue?”
“You’re avoiding him.” Ethan lacked any of his usual happy go lucky demeanor.
“No, I’m not.” He stopped until Ethan turned to face him. After the hard played soccer match early, Blake was tired. And that usually meant cranky too. Taking a deep breath, he held it for a few seconds, and then let it go. “Really, I’m not. I just want to get my stuff now so we don’t have to worry about it later.”
“So if Brett’s there, you’ll confront him?”
Blake looked down. “No.”
“Right.” Ethan twisted again and faced the dorm. “Just because you’re out doesn’t mean you’re standing up for yourself.”
Blake resisted the urge to release Ethan’s hand and walk off. Five weeks ago, when soccer started, his only worry coming back to school had been making the starting team. Coming out, having a boyfriend, holding hands with a guy while walking around campus, and fighting with his roommate never made his radar. He and Brett had been good friends their freshman year. They kept in touch all summer and even made plans for what to buy for their room once the year started. Nothing went as he expected.
“Jesus, Ethan, can you cut me some slack?” He slipped his fingers from Ethan’s and walked toward the front entrance.
“Whoa. Slow down.” Ethan ran up, got in front of Blake and put his hands up. Blake tried to turn, but Ethan held him by the upper arms. “I’m sorry.”
Blake refused to meet his boyfriend’s gaze. “Being out is still new for me. I know you want me to be more open like you and I’m trying, I really am. I just…I can’t do everything you do all at once.”
“Oh, geez.” Ethan dropped his hands. Blake finally looked up and the water at the edges of Ethan’s eyes. “I’m so sorry. I keep pushing and pushing. You’re doing so great already. It feels so good us being an ‘us’ that I forget how new this is to you. I’m really sorry, Blake.”
“It’s okay.” He reached for Ethan’s hand and was pleased that his boyfriend didn’t pull away. “I think…I wish I could be more in your face about this, but I’ve been hiding it so long, I just don’t want to create waves.”
“You don’t need to be out, loud, proud, and in everyone’s face, Blake. Just being who you are is enough. There are so many kids who need to see guys like you come out. Guys who are just like them. It helps for them to know they’re not alone.” He leaned in and kissed Blake’s cheek. “You’re doing a lot already by being out and proud. Leaving the loud part to me.”
Kissing in public, even a peck on the cheek still made Blake uncomfortable. He knew Graydon was a safe, accepting place, but even Graydon had its share of assholes. Corralling his uneasy feeling took effort, and being nervous about running into Brett didn’t help. But he’d come out—leapt out with a flourish really—and there was no going back. Especially if being half out meant losing Ethan.
“I’m good with you doing the loud all by yourself.” He winked and when Ethan smiled, he nodded toward the building. “C’mon. Let’s get my stuff and go back to Jase’s.”
They didn’t hold hands as they walked through the lobby to reach the elevator, but Blake thought they might as well have. He didn’t know that many people in the dorm, but it seemed everyone knew him—more than a few even greeted him with a smile. Jason warned him that people would point him out, but Blake never believed it.
He might be a starter this year, but Blake knew he wasn’t a star. Jason made all conference last year and if he kept scoring like he had so far, he’d probably make all American for their division, or at least an honorable mention. Beyond that, given who their grandparents were, Jason and Dean were Graydon royalty. And of course, what happened to Peter still had people talking. Blake just played on the soccer team.
Living in the dorm was supposed to give him a bit more anonymity than the ‘team house’ or even the campus apartments. His freshman year he managed to blend into the background and that worked for him. Blake didn’t want the spotlight. Darryl joked all the time that only goalkeeper and strikers liked being the center of attention.
Coming out changed that. He suspected some of it came from Brett talking to others in the dorm. That almost made him regret telling his roommate, but he knew he’d made the right decision.
They got off the elevator, said hello to three more people he didn’t really know and made it to his room. As he slid the key into the lock, Blake tried to remember the weekend he and Ethan spent in his room just a few weeks ago. It felt so long ago now.
This time, however, the anxious feeling that gripped him had nothing to do with excitement. Despite what he’d said to Ethan, Blake didn’t want to see his roommate. The idea of Brett returning to their room while he collected his things left Blake on edge. Partly because Blake felt like he brought a powder keg with him. Ethan had no problem standing up to Matt during the team dinner, and Matt could be scary. Brett wouldn’t frighten Ethan in the least.
“This won’t take long,” he said, as much for himself as for Ethan.
“Can I help?”
“Nah, I just need a few things.”
He opened his closet and pulled out two shirts, a pair of jeans and a pair of shorts and stuffed them in the bag he’d brought with him. Then he bent down and leaned forward looking for what he’d really come for—his heating pad. After the game, his back felt tight and if their last few times with Ethan were any indication of what tonight would bring, Blake might need the pad to walk in the morning.
Shifting a couple things, he saw the cord in the back corner. As he reached for it, he heard the telltale sound of his fear come to life. Before he could crawl out of the closet, the door opened.
“Whoa!” Brett said.
“You must be Brett.” Ethan’s words were just shy of a challenge. Forgetting the pad, Blake stood up quickly
“Hey, Brett.” He moved closer to Ethan “Sorry, I just came to get a few things. Um…this is Ethan. My…boyfriend.”