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Second Shot - 5. Chapter 5: Shot Across the Goal

The soccer team learns something new about Jason that will affect his college soccer career.

The ride home seemed much shorter to Jason. Probably because their date was over when they got back. Much as he wanted to hang out more with Peter, he knew that wasn’t possible. Peter had to pick up his sister then go to his mom’s. Meeting the family was something neither was ready for.

“I had a great time Pete.” Jason told him once he was parked in front of Peter’s apartment. “Thanks for planning it out like you did.”

“Wish it didn’t have to end so soon.” Peter lamented.

“Me too.” Jason wanted to kiss him goodbye, but wasn’t sure if he should. Throwing his caution out, something he seemed to be doing a lot of lately, he leaned forward. “Can I kiss you before you leave?”

“You better.” Peter laughed. “I think my clever planning deserves some reward.”

Their lips touched, sending a wave of excitement through Jason’s body. Too soon it was over.

“If I don’t go and get ready, I will never make it.” Peter leaned in for one last kiss before s sitting back.

“Thanks again.” Jason smiled despite his disappointment their date was over. “Call me when you get home?”

“You going to come over?” Peter asked hopefully.

“No, I can’t,” Jason didn’t hide his disappointment. “Darryl and I have dinner every Sunday with guys on the team. I can’t cancel now without making them suspicious.”

“Oh.” Peter didn’t sound any happier hearing it than Jason felt saying no.

“How about tomorrow? I can come by after practice.”

“Dinner and some futon fun?” Peter joked.

“Sure.” Jason could already imagine what their night would be like.

“Awesome!” Peter put his hand on the door handle only to have Jason lock the door.

“One more kiss?” He asked when Peter looked over at him.

Peter rolled his eyes, but still leaned over. “Insatiable Soccer Boy.”

After they separated Jason said, “I didn’t hear you say no Karate Kid.”

They both laughed as Jason unlocked the door. As he opened the door Peter said. “I’ll text you later to see if you’re done with dinner.”

Goofy grin on his face, Jason nodded. “Can’t wait.” He said when the door closed.

Jason’s giddy mood lasted until 10:58 the next morning when he read the note on the blackboard of his European Politics class reminding everyone of Tuesday’s test. Taking out his iPhone, he quickly sent Peter a text before class began.

“Problem w/ tonight, forgot Poly Sci test 2morrow I need to study 4. :( Can we talk after class?”

When the teacher launched into his lecture, Jason’s phone shook.

“Sure, be done @ 12, next class @ 1. Call me.”

Before he could send the simple, ‘k’ response, he got a second text. “Better yet, lunch?”

Jason’s smile was so big he was afraid the professor was going to say something. “Sure, call u when done.”

Stuffing his phone back in his pocket, Jason quickly opened his notebook and began scribbling notes. Most of the class was a review session for tomorrow’s exam. Jason made a note of the areas he needed to focus on, but overall felt he understood the material.

Class ended early allowing Jason to check his phone before leaving. Earlier, Peter sent one word, ‘Awesome’ followed by a happy face.

“Done with class a bit early, call me when u r done.” Jason sent back, turning the ringer back on.

Excited about lunch as he was, he didn’t know what class Peter had, what building or even where they were going to meet for lunch. Rather than walk toward somewhere only to turn around, he wondered aimlessly toward the front of the building.

His phone vibrated before it rang and he almost dropped it in his rush to answer it. Realizing he was looking desperate he let it ring twice before sliding the bar across connecting the call.

“Hey.”

“So, big test?” Peter asked.

“Yeah, sorry. Totally forgot about it.” Jason tried to keep his smile in check. “I guess I had other things on my mind.”

“Must have.” Peter didn’t laugh making Jason wonder if he was mad. “Does this mean I won’t see you tonight?”

“First things first.” Jason said. “Where are you and where do you want to meet?”

“Turn around.”

Jason did as told and found Peter, phone to his ear, standing about 20 feet away. The grin on his face told Jason he was not upset. Remembering he still had the phone on he said, “Gotta go, call you back.”

This time Peter laughed as they both hung up.

“I figured we could meet here.” Peter said. “As for where we should eat, I brought food, so pick a place and let’s go.”

“How about the sub shop on Otis street?”

“Perfect, my next class isn’t too far from there.” Peter motioned for Jason to lead the way. “So is this all I get to see you today?”

“Wow, you are greedy.” He joked. “But I never said that. What I said was I need to study for a test.

“You could study at my place.” Peter gave him a hopeful look.

Jason stared at him, trying to look as skeptical as possible. “We both know I won’t get any studying done. Well . . .” he caught himself. “I won’t get any studying done for my test.”

“Seriously, I’ll be a perfect angel.” Peter replied. “I’ll make some dinner, then we can study. Think of it this way, we won’t have to go far to take a study break.”

In spite of his best attempts to stay on message, Jason had to laugh at how cute Peter was being. “It’s those breaks that worry me. I really need to do well Peter. If I don’t . . . .”

Nodding, Peter interrupted, “I know, you might not be able to play. I understand.”

“I wish I could, really.” Jason left unsaid, ‘If you only knew how much.’

“Okay, how about this.” Peter looked over with a serious expression. “I make us some dinner, we take a short - stress short - pre study break, then we go to the library to study together. We can be there by 7:30.”

If they made it to the library by 7:30 that would work Jason thought. Any resolve he had to say no melted when he looked at Peter’s eyes asking him to say yes.

“Sure, that works.” Jason agreed. “BUT!” He paused for effect, “We really need to be at the library by 7:30.”

“Promise.” Peter said. “At the library by 7:30, not a moment sooner.”

Jason didn’t get the play on words for a moment. When he did, he stopped forcing Peter to turn around. “I promised by 7:30,” he reminded Jason. “I get to keep you the rest of the time.”

Jason shook his head. “I need to watch myself around you, you’re tricky.”

“Guilty as charged.”

Dinner and studying went as well as Jason could expect. They didn’t quite make the library by 7:30, but it was only a few minutes off. His offer to drive Peter home so he could get a goodnight kiss was eagerly accepted. They decided it best that Jason not come inside so they said their goodbyes in the car.

“You know I have an overnight away game Thursday.” Jason reminded him between kisses.

“What does that mean?” Peter asked.

“That after class Wednesday, I won’t be able to see you again until Friday.” Jason noticed Peter’s disappointment immediately.

“That totally sucks.” He said. “I have to teach two classes tomorrow night, a lunch time class Wednesday, but nothing after that. I was going to suggest we reschedule tonight’s plans for Wednesday night.”

Jason didn’t try to hide his disappointment. “Yeah it does suck, but I won’t be back until late Thursday night.”

Peter leaned over, kissing him again. “We can figure something out for the weekend.”

“Hmm, kiss me again like that I might forget how disappointed I am that I have a game.” Jason smiled.

Doing as requested, Peter kissed him again before going inside.

The bus ride home from their game seemed to take forever. One of Coach Slewman’s many rules was, ‘no cell phone usage on the bus rides,’ even coming home. Jason never understood why the ride home was included in that rule. Going to the game yes, coming home? No idea. Coach always had a few things to say, but never more than fifteen minutes, if that.

Text messaging, however, was allowed. Putting his earphones in, he turned on the iPod feature and checked his messages. Two from his brother Dean, one from his dad, one from Wendy and one from Peter. He saved Peter’s for last.

Dean wanted to used his skis later this month, then sent the second to ask about the game. Since skiing was another no no during season, Jason sent back, “go for it.” Dad’s text, he still couldn't believe how well his dad adapted to new technology, also asked about the game. He replied to his dad and brother with the results of the game. They won, Jason scored and assisted.

Wendy wanted to know if he had plans next weekend - the weekend after Thanksgiving. Before agreeing to anything he asked why she wanted to know. That was guaranteed to get a smart reply, but that was how they interacted.

Finally he got to Peter’s, before opening it, he checked to see what everyone was doing. Last thing he wanted was for someone to be reading his messages. Darryl was behind Jason, asleep or pretended to be at least. Everyone else was too far away to see anything without his being able to close the screen.

“Hey stud, thinking of u. How’d the game go? Call me when u get home.”

Reading the message, he couldn’t hold back a smile, which coupled with his suspicious look around was bound to attract attention. He shut the screen just before Myers walked down the aisle.

A senior - Myers lost his position to Jason midway through the season. He resented Jason and never let an opportunity pass to bust on him. He felt Jason got his spot because the team was going no where this season and Coach wanted to get Jason some more playing time before his junior year. His demotion, however, was based as much on planning for next year as it was on Jason being a better player. Slower and less athletic, Myers didn’t give the team the same scoring chances. Had he not insisted on being a striker, he might have kept a starting spot as a defender.

Once Jason started at forward, the offense took off and the team won all but 2 games. Unfortunately, even with today’s win, their record did not qualify them for the playoffs.

“Whatcha doing Tellerfag.” He called out, his jet black hair covered by a Graydon baseball hat.

Jason shook his head. This being the last game of the season, Myers didn’t worry about being kicked off the team. Ignoring the comment he stuffed his phone in his pocket.

“I asked what you are doing.” Myers put his hand on the back of Jason’s seat, waking up Darryl.

“Why do you care?” Jason stood up to confront his teammate,

Myers, about 4 inches shorter than Jason, glared up at his teammate. “So defensive.” He taunted. “First you look around to make sure no one is watching then, you read something that makes you smile. Email from your boyfriend?”

If he didn’t know it was just an insult, Jason might have worried Myers knew about Peter. As it was, Myers calling him gay only confirmed Jason’s fears that being gay was considered the worst thing you could be on a sports team.

“Actually it was from your mom. She caught your dad in a bra and panties, Said she needed a real man and wanted to know if I was free to show her a good time.” Jason wasn’t sure where that came from, but it had the desired affect. The entire bus broke out laughing. Myers’ fair skin turned so red, Jason could see it even in the bus’ dim lighting.

“Fuck you douche bag!” Myers yelled. For all his bravado, Myers hadn’t tried to punch Jason yet.

“Ouch, that one hurt.” Jason taunted.

Not getting the reaction he wanted and seemingly getting the worst of it, Myers balled up his fists. Jason didn’t like his position, standing up in his seat. He had no room to maneuver. Darryl stood up, as did a few of the other underclassmen Jason was good friends with. Two seniors who were close with Myers, stood up as well only to be pushed down by the hulking figure of Coach Slewman.

“MYERS!” He clapped a meaty hand on the senior’s shoulder causing him to face his coach. “Just because the season is over and you are a senior, doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. Do something stupid like this again and I’ll see you don’t graduate.”

“Whatever fat man.” Myers slapped the hand off his shoulder. “You had it out for me all year. You gave my spot to this dork and expected me to take it quietly.”

“Watch what you do next son.” The coach said calmly. “You lost your spot because you didn’t produce. We needed a spark and Tellerman gave it to us. Your whiny attitude after you were benched is what cost you more playing time.”

“Do you know who my father is?” Myers sneered. “When he finds out about this he’ll have your job.”

“Son I have been coaching here for 20 years.” Jason noticed the two assistant coaches were standing right behind the head coach. “Go ahead, tell your dad whatever you want. If he is half as smart a man as I know him to be, he’ll wonder what the hell happened that you ignored everything he tried to teach you.”

Myers’ frustration could be seen in his face. Nothing he did went according to plan; not with Jason, now not with the coach. Jason scanned the bus at the stunned looks on everyone’s face.

“If you want me to stop the bus and let you off, tell me,” the coach said. “Otherwise take your seat and be quiet. When we get back to campus, we can discuss it.”

His eyes narrowing, Myers seemed to shake his head. Or he could just have been shaking, Jason couldn't tell. The focus of Myers’ anger, however, shifted from him to Coach Slewman. As Myers walked back to his seat, Jason sat down. His coach spared him half a glance before returning to the front of the bus with the other coaches.

“What was that about?” Darryl asked.

“Yeah what happened? Eric Nesmith, another sophomore striker asked, sitting in the seat next to Jason.

All the seats around him filled up instantly. Great, he thought, now he couldn’t respond to Peter.

“Beats me.” Jason shrugged. He really didn’t know why Myers picked that moment to pounce. “I was reading a text from my brother next thing I know, Myers is all up in my grill.”

“He is mad because you took his spot.” Davis Brophy said. “But you deserve it Jase. Totally.”

“No one promised us we would start all four years.” Darryl pointed out.

The others voiced their agreement.

“Whatever,” Jason shrugged again. “I know I didn’t do anything other than try to play hard. We all want to start.”

“Yeah, but you and Darryl are the only sophomore starters.” Eric reminded him.

“Not to sound too stuck up, but we didn’t start at the beginning of the season. We worked our asses off to earn our way onto the starting lineup.” Jason said.

“Playing together for so long didn’t hurt.” Matt Hopkins commented. Just a freshman, he saw a good bit of playing time even if he didn’t start.

From the signs on the Turnpike, they were still about an hour from campus. Jason knew he couldn't ask everyone to leave so he could text Peter. Instead he settled back, joining the conversation that he was the center of.

When the bus finally pulled in front of the field house, Jason watched Myers and his friends bolt out the door.

“Good riddance.” Eric said softly. “He was always such an asshole. ‘Do you know who my father is?’ is his favorite expression.”

Everyone laughed at Eric imitating Myers’ voice.

“Who is his father?” Matt asked, causing everyone to laugh harder

“Tellerman. Minger.” Jason heard the coach call out from the front of the bus. “My office before you leave.”

The pair exchanged looks of, ‘what now’ before grabbing their bags.

“See you guys.” Darryl called out. Jason could hear Matt still asking who Myers’ dad was as he stepped off the bus.

“What does he want now?” Jason asked, more annoyed than ever that he couldn't get off a text.

“Guess we will know in a minute.” Darryl opened the door to the coaches’ wing.

The door to Coach Slewman’s office was open, but they still knocked softly, waiting for permission to enter.

“Come in and sit down.” The older man said without turning to look at them. “Minger, shut the door please.”

Leaning back, Darryl flicked the door shut.

“Nice game and season boys.” He offered them each a bottle of water when he turned around. “My only regret is I waited until mid season to set you two loose full time.”

Settling into his worn chair, he peered over the desk at his players. “I know you both want to get back to your apartment, but I want to speak to you both about next year. Yes I know this season just ended, but it is never too early to start planning for the next.”

Jason nodded. He really didn’t understand why this couldn't wait for next week, but he kept silent.

“As you know, next year we are going to be thin on returning seniors. Only Rivas, Jurgens and Johnson started this year and frankly Rivas probably won’t keep his spot if Hopkins plays like he did the last few games. That means the juniors, especially you two are going to need to step up and take a leadership role.

“One of the reasons I started you both was to see how you would handle things. Performance wise, you were both all I expected and then some. But I needed to see if you could get the respect of your peers.

“Watching you two interact, I am impressed by how you work together. You both have a sense of team. Despite it earning you five laps that play of yours is a perfect example of what I mean. Tellerman could easily have taken a shot, but instead you gave it up hoping Minger could score. You are both in it for the win and not the personal glory. I need the rest of the guys to buy into that.

“Next season we are going to have a young team. Right now you both are the de-facto leaders by virtue of your playing time this year. That and you are viewed as inseparable. I want you to keep harping on the concept of team next year. My new team captains need to set a good example for the rest of the players.

Jason exchanged goofy smiles with Darryl once he realized what he heard.

“Just so you know,” their coach added. “Your teammates overwhelmingly voted for you two.”

“I didn’t vote yet.” Darryl told the older man.

“I didn’t ask for your vote.” Coach Slewman half scowled. “I had an inkling who the other would pick so I am asking you two last. Tellerman, who do you want to be captain next year?”

“Darryl.” He pointed to his best friend.

“Darryl, do I need to ask you or should I just mark down Tellerman?” The coach shook his head at the absurdity of this exercise.

“No way coach, I am voting for me. Jason’s a head case.” Darryl deadpanned.

“Me?” Jason mock protested. “You can’t decide if you want to sweep or score and I am a head case?”

“I am going to mark down a vote for Tellerman from his best friend and fellow head case, Minger.” Coach noted. “There, the votes are all in. You two are captains. First time in school history two juniors were the only team captains. You both deserve it, just don’t make me regret it.”

Jason nodded gravely. Team captain, wow. He never expected that, especially not as a junior.

“Now,” Their coach continued. “As team captains, I expect you to keep the underclassmen focused during the offseason. I want you two to keep them in shape so coming into practice next summer we are in better shape than this year. I saw you doing your training last spring. Include as many of your teammates as you can. With what we have returning, we have a good shot at the playoffs and more. I don’t want conditioning to be an issue.”

“Yes sir.” Darryl responded.

Jason nodded his understanding. Captain? His dad was going to freak, Dean too. He couldn't wait to tell them; and Peter. Jason’s stomach tightened. What if the team finds about him and Peter? Would they follow him if they knew he was gay? Would they even want him as a teammate let along captain?

“Tellerman!” The coach’s booming voice brought him back from his thoughts.

“Yes sir?”

“You look worried. Are you ok?” Coach Slewman’s eyes narrowed.

“Yeah sure Coach.” Jason lied. This was not the time to out himself.

“Good,” The man nodded crispy. “Don’t make me regret picking two underclassmen as my team captains.”

“Don’t worry Coach,” Darryl assured him. “We won’t let you down.”

Jason could almost feel the daggers being tossed at him from the look on Darryl’s face.

“We won’t.” He added emphatically.

“I didn’t think you would.” Coach Slewman stood up, extending his hand across the paper covered table.

Tentatively the two shook hands with him.

He pumped their hands vigorously, smiling as he spoke. “Congratulations boys on an honor well deserved. Now go home, I have a bit of paper work to do before I can officially wrap up the season.”

“Night Coach,” Jason said, first out the door. He vaguely heard Darryl add his goodbye.

“Jase wait up.” Darryl chased him down. “What’s up? You didn’t look happy.”

“Happy? Stunned is the better word D.” Jason was happy, sort of. Take away his secret, being captain was a big deal. “In case you missed it, he doesn’t see this as just an honorary title. Coach expects us to get results from the guys.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Darryl’s mood deflated a tad. “Way to kill the euphoria of the moment Jase.”

Jason turned to his friend, concerned he ruined a great moment. Darryl stood with a pensive look on his face that lasted a second before he broke out laughing. “Gotcha.”

Relieved Jason laughed back.

“You’re right Jase, it is gonna be a big responsibility, but we can make it work. Minger and Tellerman have always made it work.”

“Haha, correction,” Jason said. “You always make it work D, I just help.”

“Whatever dude.” Darryl punched him playfully. “You are the driving force, not me, I just ride your coattails. I mean look, you are already thinking about what we need to do. Me? I am thinking about how to bask in the glory.”

Jason laughed at this assessment.

“You sure you want to link yourself to me? I could bring us both down hard.” Jason warned.

Darryl nodded vigorously, his good mood unfazed. “So far you never failed me. Why give up a good thing now?”

“Mooch.” Jason laughed.

“Grandpa”

“Slacker.”

“Geek.”

“Doofus.”

“Dork.”

Realizing Darryl was going to have the last word, Jason held his hand up, “Co-captain.”

“Co-captain.” Darryl repeated, grabbing the hand with a smack as the two bumped shoulders. “Wouldn’t be right any other way.”

Tossing their gear in Darryl’s car, they drove back to their apartment, each content to keep their thoughts to themselves.

Jason let Darryl shower first, that way he could send Peter a text. His brother, dad and Wendy had sent new messages. Dad and Dean congratulating him, Wendy asking if he wanted to go to Philadelphia to do some early Christmas shopping. Ignoring them for the moment, he wrote to Peter first.

“Home, finally. We won, drama on the bus ride, then coach made me & D co-capts 4 next year. :)”

He put the phone on the bed so he could find clothes to change into after his shower.

“Awesome Jason! :) Call me?”

“Let me shower first then will call.” He wrote back, waiting for Darryl to finish. Jason was still worried about what would happen if the team found out about him, he forgot to answer Wendy. Captain, he thought. It could ruin the very chemistry Coach Slewman expected him to promote. Would his teammates really follow a fag? Should he decline now or just keep his mouth shut and hope no one found out? Maybe Peter had some thoughts.

Darryl rapped on the door, breaking his thoughts. “Done Jase, it’s all yours.”

“Thanks man.” Knowing he could call Peter after he was done, he practically bolted for the shower.

Standing under the spray, absently washing himself, he couldn't stop thinking about what if everyone found out. Maybe no one would find out, so why worry. Yeah, but what if they did? Would he have to quit the team? He didn’t want to, that much he knew.

When he started to put the body soap in his hair, Jason realized he should concentrate on getting finished and get out.

Before he called Peter, Jason remembered to reply to Wendy. Much as he wanted to keep the entire weekend free to spend with Peter, he knew he had to go with Wendy, it was what they had done since Junior year in high school.

“Duh, of course I am free, it’s what we do rite? :)”

Next he sent his dad and brother a short text to let them know coach made him co-captain. “D & I were picked co-capts for next year - coach told us when we got back. How f’ing cool is that?!?!” Had it been just to Dean he would have spelled out ‘f’ing,’ but he figured his dad might show his mom and then she would complain about his language. Even f’ing might draw a rebuke, but it wouldn’t be so angry.

Figuring any reply he got from those three could wait, he found his ear piece and called Peter. As always where Peter was involved, he could feel his chest thumping in excitement.

“Captain Tellerman I presume?” Peter answered his phone.

Jason wondered if Peter could tell he was smiling. “Co-Captain actually, but captain works too.”

“That’s awesome Jason, congratulations.” Peter sounded genuinely happy for him.

“Not sure it is awesome. I am concerned about it.”

“Why?” Peter asked.

“One, coach expects us to motivate the team. He doesn’t see this as an honorary title.” Jason felt his phone vibrate.

Dean sent back, “Fuckin sweet bro! u rock!”

Seeing how excited others were already, he felt stupid worrying. “But the big reason is what happens if they find out I am gay?” The last word was almost a whisper.

“Why do they have to find out? We said we would be careful.”

“I know.” Jason admitted. “But I am just worried we won’t be able to keep it a secret.”

“So,” Peter didn’t seem bothered. “Jason, your teammates liked you enough to make you co-captain. Do you think they will suddenly hate you because you are gay?”

Jason sighed. “Yeah, I do.” He explained what happened on the bus. “Myers thought calling me gay was the worst insult he could think of. What else should I think will happen if the team finds out?”

“Sounds like Myers is a jerk.” Peter noted.

“Yeah, but still.”

“Jase,” Peter rarely called him ‘Jase,’ so it made his smile. “You can’t worry about ‘what ifs.’ First, no one may find out.”

Jason wanted to believe that, but had a premonition his secret would come out.

“Second, even if it does come out, who is to say your friends will be assholes like Myers?”

“Well . . . .” Jason tried to think of a good counter argument.

“Listen, if you want to play what if, try this; what if they don’t care once they find out?” Peter waited for an answer. When Jason remained silent he continued. “It would really suck if you turned it down, everyone found out and no one cared, wouldn’t it?”

Jason had to concede that made sense. “Yeah, that is true.”

“Of course it is.” Peter encouraged him. “Don’t over think this. Figure out how you will deal with it IF it gets out. Be ready to manage the fall out rather than preempt it by not doing things.”

Jason felt a bit better already. Vibrations from his phone diverted his attention.

Dad; “Your mom and I are very proud of you son. You worked hard and deserve this honor.”

“I guess you’re right.” Jason said meekly.

“No Jason, I am right.” Peter told him. “Trust me.”

“Trust you?” Jason laughed. “We only had three dates.”

“You trusted me enough to come out to me and kiss me.” Peter point out. “And you’re a damn good kisser I should add.”

The memory of kissing Peter made him aroused. “Can I argue that is different?”

“Sure, but it took more trust to tell me you’re gay than to believe you can handle this.”

“Why do I have to be the dumb one in this conversation?” Jason almost used the word couple, but even he thought it too soon to suggest they were a couple. They barely discussed dating.

“Because you are the cute one. I need to be better at something.” Peter joked.

“Ha, you are the cute half, the smart half, the more confident half, should I go on?” Jason asked.

“Sure, so long as you keep referring to me as your other half go for it.” Peter laughed.

Jason realized he was acting like they were already a couple again. Why did he do that?

“We should get to spend the night together first before we call ourselves a couple don’t you think?” Jason asked.

“Not unless you feel it necessary.” Peter’s voice held no hint of humor.

Wow, Jason thought, he is ready to be exclusive. He ought to be scared by the prospect, but it made him smile.

“I suppose I don’t,” he offered. “I mean it’s not like I’m still looking.”

“You were looking before?” Peter wisecracked.

“No,” again he was at a loss for words. “I just meant, I don’t need to see other people to know how great you are.”

Now it was Peter’s turn to be quiet. Jason knew he just pushed the envelope a little further, more than he intended. That seemed to be a common theme whenever he was around or talking to Peter.

“Damn,” Peter finally managed. “You think I’m great already?”

The hint of doubt Jason detected told him that for all Peter’s confidence, he still felt insecure where Jason was concerned.

“Nah,” Jason started. “I think you’re amazingly wonderful AND great.”

“Damn,” Peter laughed. “Those are some expectations to live up to.”

“See that you do.” Jason deadpanned. “I’m risking an awful lot being with you.”

Peter’s silence told Jason his attempt at humor left him with another case of foot in mouth disease.

“Sorry Peter,” he added quickly. “That was stupid.”

“No, no.” Peter said in a quiet voice. “It was honest. You are taking a risk on me.”

“You’re worth it.” Jason couldn't believe he just said that. It was true, but he never expected to voice it this soon.

“You really think so?” Again Peter’s insecurity was coming through. Jason sensed this the night they first kissed.

Without any hesitation he answered. “Totally. I don’t remember being this excited about someone before.”

“Excited about someone isn’t the same as worth taking a risk you know.” Peter said.

“True,” Jason nodded even though Peter couldn't see him. “But it was going to take a very special person to make me take any kind of risk in this area. You have me taking bunches of them because you’re worth it.”

“Wow.” Peter said before going silent.

Wendy’s text made Jason pause before speaking. “Just checking handsome. Hadn’t heard from u so needed to confirm.”

“You sure you’re okay?” Peter asked.

“Sure? No. But how can you ever be sure?” Jason answered. “I’m, however, at peace with myself. If you told me last week we would be having this conversation or that I would even be thinking about it, I would have said you were nuts. That tells you how much I think of you.”

“Why?” Peter kept pressing him. Before Jason could ask why he was so insistent, Peter added, “I don’t mean to push you on this, but I don’t want to invest my feelings only for you to say, sorry, too risky.”

Jason knew he had a point. So far he, Jason, had been vocal in his fear of being outed. Getting close to Peter would only magnify that risk. It only stood to reason that if the stakes got too high, Peter would worry Jason would bail on the relationship.

“I can’t promise you that won’t happen.” He said with as much honesty as he could muster. He owed that much to Peter. “I’m not planning on it, but I can’t say for sure I won’t change my mind if faced with that pressure.”

“Fair enough.” Peter didn’t sound happy, but he didn’t sound angry either. “I appreciate that you are being honest.”

“Look Peter.” Jason began. He had broken every rule he tried to follow so far. That alone ought to tell him to trust his gut. “So far you’ve made me break every rule I set for myself; made me want to I mean. I told you before, I was all in, it’s how I am. I set myself a goal and don’t go half way.”

“Jason, listen to what you just said.” Peter warned. “If you won’t go half way, you’re saying you are prepared to come out. At least that is the logical conclusion of that line of thought.”

Peter’s words struck him like a wake up slap in the face. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right and I’m not ready for that. But I also know that is how I am. I’m going into whatever we’re doing knowing I won’t be able to limit how close we get or don’t get. If we really like each other, I won’t be able to hold back and say, only this far but no more.”

“And knowing that you still want to keep seeing me.” Peter cut to the ultimate question.

“Absolutely.” Jason said it with no hesitation, hoping his words carried his lack of doubt.

“Nice.” Peter finally sounded happy again. “I just needed to be sure Jase. You and I are a lot alike in that regard. I don’t start something without planning to finish. I’m at the point where either we both want to see where this goes with no limits or I back out.

“I wasn’t planning to talk about this, this soon, but it sort of happened. Hopefully I didn’t freak you out.”

Jason hadn’t expected this conversation to ever happen while he was at Graydon, much less this soon after meeting someone. “You didn’t freak me out, but my feelings are stomping on my logic sensors.”

“Ha, feelings have a way of doing that.”

“Can we still try to be careful?” Jason voiced his lingering fear.

“Of course! Absolutely.” Peter reassured him. “I just wanted to know you weren’t going to use me to get off, but keep your distance emotionally. I’m not asking you to come out, hold my hand and kiss me on the quad.”

Jason smiled. “Take this as I mean it, but holding your hand and kissing you on the quad sounds so nice.”

“Maybe someday we’ll get there.” Peter told him.

“If we do, hopefully my life isn’t in ruins.”

“Think positively Jason.” Peter said. “If it happens that your secret gets out, it doesn’t have to be terrible. No one is sending me hate mail and I’m pretty open.”

Peter had a good point. It was 2008 after all. Gay people were on TV, in congress, getting married. Sure there were assholes, but being gay wasn’t the rarity it once was. Everyone knew gay people it seemed.

“I hope I won’t have to deal with that, but if I do, hopefully my ending can be as good as yours.” Jason realized he was hoping for a lot.

“So when do I get to see you again?” Peter asked.

“Un duh, tomorrow.” Jason laughed.

“Damn, I was hoping you could sneak out tonight and come see me.” Peter said. Jason could tell he was only half joking.

“Don’t tempt me.” He pleaded with Peter. “We just got through saying we were going to be careful.”

“I know, I know, but can you blame a boy for trying?” Peter said. “It’s your fault you know. If you weren’t so damn hot, I might not want to see you so much.”

“So you only want me for my looks?” He joked.

“No, I want you for your body too.” Peter started laughing, which made Jason snort.

“How shallow.” He teased. “Hopefully when the lust for my body wears off you’ll find other things that hold your attention.”

“Too late,” Peter replied quickly. “Found a few things already.”

“What is your schedule like tomorrow?” Jason wanted to see when they could meet.

“Sadly I am busy until about 7:00.” He didn’t try to hide his disappointment. “I have no classes tomorrow, but I teach at noon and then at 4:00 and 5:00. But in the morning I promised my sister I would go with her to Harrisburg to pick up some furniture she bought. Between teaching classes tomorrow, Mister Lee, the owner of the dojo I work at, is going to help me with some of my training.”

“Sounds busy.” Jason observed. “But you will be free for dinner?”

“Depends on who is asking.” Peter laughed. “I might have a date with this incredibly great guy who just got voted co-captain of his college soccer team.”

“Wow, he sounds like some catch.” Jason tried to sound impressed. “I guess I can’t compete with that.”

“Yeah, he is pretty great.” Peter continued. “Oh wait, I mean you are pretty great.”

“Whatever.” Jason felt himself blush. “So are we on for dinner?”

“Of course doofus.” Peter laughed. “Shall we meet at say 7:00 p.m., my place?”

“Are we eating in or going out?” Jason asked.

“If we are trying to be careful, eating in will be safer wouldn’t you say?” Peter’s question led Jason to wonder if that was the only reason he suggested they stay in.

“I hear the cook is pretty good so I’m down for that.” Jason smiled again despite being on a phone.

“Excellent.” Peter yawned. “Call me sometime tomorrow if you’re free?”

“Sure.” Now it was Jason’s turn to yawn. Noting it was already 11:30, he said, “Can’t wait to see you tomorrow.”

“Same here.” Peter told him. “See you then.”

“Night handsome.” Jason forced himself to get out the last word.

“You too Jason.”

Hanging up the phone, Jason wondered again what he was doing, only this time he had an answer; he was trying to be happy and live his life and not a lie. Now if only it didn’t backfire on him.

Thanks again to Anyta and a special shout out to those who encouraged me to get this up sooner than later. I ain't one to name names and if I was I wouldn't because I am sure to forget a few. But thanks for the support.

Please remember - comment go to eFicition discussion forum, or here - I'm not picky.

Andy

Copyright © 2011 Andrew Q Gordon; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

It's so unfortunate that Jason is experiencing such fear by being both gay and a sports star that it leads him to say things to Peter like "I'm really sticking my neck out just to be around you" or something similar to that. Those words sound so hurtful but at least he's cognisant of that and is trying to convey his stress at being in this situation to the man with whom he's in love.

 

My only bone to pick with your writing thus far is your ending a sentence in a preposition outside of dialogue (I know it's necessary in dialogue but it isn't necessary in prose). Now given, sometimes ending with a preposition improves the sound of the sentence. However, I think more often than not that a slight reordering of the sentence to include the preposition elsewhere will improve the flow of the read.

The following sentence still makes sense without the preposition: "Where will she be meeting you at?" The sentence retains its meaning without the word "at," so the word should be removed from the end of the sentence. "Where will she be meeting you?" sounds better aloud and looks better on paper in my opinion. This is just an example but dangling prepositions always draw my eye.

 

douche bag
= one word not two

 

“Come in and sit down.” The older man said

 

I would use a comma and not a period. "Come in and sit down," the older man said...

 

don’t go half way
= "halfway" is one word not two

 

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On 12/24/2010 09:28 AM, Kavrik said:
It's so unfortunate that Jason is experiencing such fear by being both gay and a sports star that it leads him to say things to Peter like "I'm really sticking my neck out just to be around you" or something similar to that. Those words sound so hurtful but at least he's cognisant of that and is trying to convey his stress at being in this situation to the man with whom he's in love.

 

My only bone to pick with your writing thus far is your ending a sentence in a preposition outside of dialogue (I know it's necessary in dialogue but it isn't necessary in prose). Now given, sometimes ending with a preposition improves the sound of the sentence. However, I think more often than not that a slight reordering of the sentence to include the preposition elsewhere will improve the flow of the read.

The following sentence still makes sense without the preposition: "Where will she be meeting you at?" The sentence retains its meaning without the word "at," so the word should be removed from the end of the sentence. "Where will she be meeting you?" sounds better aloud and looks better on paper in my opinion. This is just an example but dangling prepositions always draw my eye.

 

douche bag
= one word not two

 

“Come in and sit down.” The older man said

 

I would use a comma and not a period. "Come in and sit down," the older man said...

 

don’t go half way
= "halfway" is one word not two

Wow, who knew Douchebag was one word? Not spell check, it still shows it as two. But the URBAN dictionary says it is one - so much for spell check to help me with my favorite insults. :blink: Dangling prep-a-what??? That stuff was never my strong suit - no excuse, just don't read this with a fine tooth comb, I readily acknowledge I will make those kinda mistakes, same with speech tags, I know it is; comma, quote, speech tag beginning in lower case - boy do I know that - are you reading this Anyta??? I appreciate the heads up, I try to catch stuff like this when I edit before posting, and when writing new chapters. I just don't always succeed. The idea with Jason saying stupid or even hurtful things to Peter is to show how the conflict inside can make his say the wrong thing. That you saw that - well I guess it worked :P
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The flirty moments between Jason and Peter are so sweet and light, and then stand in such sharp contrast to their deeper, more serious discussions about Jason's need to keep things secret . . . I like it :)

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On 01/05/2011 06:16 AM, Sara Alva said:
The flirty moments between Jason and Peter are so sweet and light, and then stand in such sharp contrast to their deeper, more serious discussions about Jason's need to keep things secret . . . I like it :)
Thanks, I was trying to show their romance at first before - well why spoil what's to come. Hopefully you will like what is to come. Andy
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That whole dialog between Jason and Peter reminded me of when I first started seeing Curt. I had just come out of a disaster relationship (and so had Curt), so I told him I wanted to take it very slow at first.

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On 01/22/2011 07:10 AM, TrevorTime said:
That whole dialog between Jason and Peter reminded me of when I first started seeing Curt. I had just come out of a disaster relationship (and so had Curt), so I told him I wanted to take it very slow at first.
That you can see aspect of your life in this story makes me happy, the idea was for it to be true to life but entertaining, and by true to life I mean people will read it and say just what you did, it reminded me of . . . Thanks for reading Trev and taking the time to comment.
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And "Karate Kid" makes the first appearance here.. :) :) WOW! i really love the names.. tbh, i thought of karate kid before Soccer boy.. but that's probably because i'm not that used to the term "soccer".. :P lol.. I agree with pete.. "Feelings have a way of doing that." :D

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On 02/02/2011 07:28 AM, Frostina said:
And "Karate Kid" makes the first appearance here.. :) :) WOW! i really love the names.. tbh, i thought of karate kid before Soccer boy.. but that's probably because i'm not that used to the term "soccer".. :P lol.. I agree with pete.. "Feelings have a way of doing that." :D
Jason isn't very original, what can I say. Peter has the greater wit of the two - though I think you would agree, Darryl is better than either :P
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I know I've said this over and over again, but your knack for dialogue stuns me. It's so good and real--it really makes your characters come alive. It just flows--like the bit where him and Darryl churn out names. hehe.

 

Darryl is great too--I imagine he has some stories, eh! :P

 

Okay, lol, read some of the reviews above and I just wanted to add a :P hehe.

 

Kay, now need to do dinner. :) Later.

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On 06/04/2011 09:24 AM, AnytaSunday said:
I know I've said this over and over again, but your knack for dialogue stuns me. It's so good and real--it really makes your characters come alive. It just flows--like the bit where him and Darryl churn out names. hehe.

 

Darryl is great too--I imagine he has some stories, eh! :P

 

Okay, lol, read some of the reviews above and I just wanted to add a :P hehe.

 

Kay, now need to do dinner. :) Later.

Okay so I had to go back and read this to figure out what you were talking about - I think the last two names might have been meant for me - :P Darryl was the best friend everyone wants but so few have. That's my take and I'm sticking to it. :)
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Well written, Jason and Peter's relationship is very sweet. I like that they can be together and it doesn alway have to be physical.

 

 

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On 06/19/2011 11:51 PM, K.C. said:
Well written, Jason and Peter's relationship is very sweet. I like that they can be together and it doesn alway have to be physical.

 

My goal was to not have them hop in the sack bing bang boom. Maybe I'm weird, but I don't think people who are looking for dating material have to do that. I wanted it to be they both wanted to but also wanted it to be right. Let's see how sweet and good they are together :P
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So all the lovely dialogue couldn't get me out of my funk for this chapter. I just felt so terrible for Jason. I mean here he is getting this awesome, incredible thing - the co-captain - and he can't even enjoy it because people are so closed-minded! Throughout the whole congratulations from all his friends, it's all I could think about.

 

It'd be like getting a promotion or raise at work while constantly wondering if someone else was getting fired. He should be able to enjoy his success, not have to worry about whether his teammates will accept him.

 

The sad part is he's right, there's every chance they wouldn't accept him. It's so silly and stupid that he doesn't get to be who he is without fear. ARGH *RANT RANT GROWL*

 

And yeah, I hope the contractions get better like you said. They're really distracting. Especially since the dialogue is one of your strongest points. (and is so good it's making me jealous!)

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On 06/21/2011 03:59 PM, Chey_D said:
So all the lovely dialogue couldn't get me out of my funk for this chapter. I just felt so terrible for Jason. I mean here he is getting this awesome, incredible thing - the co-captain - and he can't even enjoy it because people are so closed-minded! Throughout the whole congratulations from all his friends, it's all I could think about.

 

It'd be like getting a promotion or raise at work while constantly wondering if someone else was getting fired. He should be able to enjoy his success, not have to worry about whether his teammates will accept him.

 

The sad part is he's right, there's every chance they wouldn't accept him. It's so silly and stupid that he doesn't get to be who he is without fear. ARGH *RANT RANT GROWL*

 

And yeah, I hope the contractions get better like you said. They're really distracting. Especially since the dialogue is one of your strongest points. (and is so good it's making me jealous!)

First the bad news, the contractions don't really get better for another 8 or so chapters, that's when someone started to read/beta for me. Perhaps I'll go back and fix those one day very soon. Shouldn't take too much time go tweak that stuff. Right? :blink: As for enjoying it - well on THAT issue .... er never mind, you'll just have to read it and find out 0:)
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One question first, the boys are living the year 2008, did u start writing this then or is there another reason for that specific year?

 

Nicely raised stakes on Jason. Making everything even harder for him. I like that. You are not taking the easy way out. :) But, very soon as the boys wonder too they have a commitment discussion. In a way it was necessary since Jason had so much to lose and they both needed to be on the same page.

 

I am interested to find out the root of Peter's insecurities.

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On 07/25/2011 01:39 AM, Marzipan said:
One question first, the boys are living the year 2008, did u start writing this then or is there another reason for that specific year?

 

Nicely raised stakes on Jason. Making everything even harder for him. I like that. You are not taking the easy way out. :) But, very soon as the boys wonder too they have a commitment discussion. In a way it was necessary since Jason had so much to lose and they both needed to be on the same page.

 

I am interested to find out the root of Peter's insecurities.

No I started this in 2009 - the very end of it - but I set it back because I wanted to end it around the time I finished it. I was off about a year LOL. As for making it easier, when is it EVER easy? As someone once told me, if relationships were easy everyone would be in one. :P
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Just read the news about Robbie Rogers who stopped his football career and then came out. Some of the comments he has made about how impossible it is to be gay and play soccer at the same time just shows that this story is spot on. So sad.

Great story in so many ways, can't wait to see how it ends. My only objection (to this chapter) is that you let them kiss in the car outside Peter's apartment. Way too risky even if it's away from campus and other parts of town frequented by people who know Jason. Kissing in any public place is not being careful.

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On 03/31/2013 10:09 AM, Timothy M. said:
Just read the news about Robbie Rogers who stopped his football career and then came out. Some of the comments he has made about how impossible it is to be gay and play soccer at the same time just shows that this story is spot on. So sad.

Great story in so many ways, can't wait to see how it ends. My only objection (to this chapter) is that you let them kiss in the car outside Peter's apartment. Way too risky even if it's away from campus and other parts of town frequented by people who know Jason. Kissing in any public place is not being careful.

Okay so now I'm worried. I won't say why, but about chapters 12-16 you might be tossing stones at me - just saying - :whistle:

 

Yes I know that them kissing that close to campus wasn't the wisest thing, but I wanted to show that Jason is very taken with Peter - so much so that he doesn't always take the proper precautions or better said, forgets to take them. Peter is out so he isn't going to be naturally inclined to be careful. What Pete might think is safe might not be safe at all. SO I suspect you can see where this is going. lol

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I'm really liking this story so far! It has a nice build up. I'm hoping we get to see a little more of Darryl though, I don't feel like I know him that well yet even though he is a major figure.

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On 11/13/2013 10:00 PM, Voleuse said:
I'm really liking this story so far! It has a nice build up. I'm hoping we get to see a little more of Darryl though, I don't feel like I know him that well yet even though he is a major figure.
Like I said in the other responses, for some odd reason I missed all these - I hope you got a chance to read it all and that Darryl got more of his due. :)

 

Thanks for the review - and sorry for the late late response.

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Lots in this chapter. Very realistic confrontation on the bus with the arch-enemy. Could be an area of problem later. But then the co-captaincy! Wow! A pity he couldn't be totally bombed by this but thinking always it might turn sour. So know that feeling. Poor Jase! Loved the conversation between Peter and Jase on the phone - so good. Also the dialogue with Darryl. I haven't been noticing a problem with contractions - maybe you fixed them. And the hanging prepositions - you really have a grammar fundie on your case here - shame! Anyway, while it's correct what that person says, it's not always natural and may sound artificial to follow the rules. Just want to say that I know quite a bit about grammar being English major and teacher, but your story swings and I don't find anything major that jars horribly. Great writing of a great story. Thanks.

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On 04/10/2016 03:45 AM, Jaro_423 said:

Lots in this chapter. Very realistic confrontation on the bus with the arch-enemy. Could be an area of problem later. But then the co-captaincy! Wow! A pity he couldn't be totally bombed by this but thinking always it might turn sour. So know that feeling. Poor Jase! Loved the conversation between Peter and Jase on the phone - so good. Also the dialogue with Darryl. I haven't been noticing a problem with contractions - maybe you fixed them. And the hanging prepositions - you really have a grammar fundie on your case here - shame! Anyway, while it's correct what that person says, it's not always natural and may sound artificial to follow the rules. Just want to say that I know quite a bit about grammar being English major and teacher, but your story swings and I don't find anything major that jars horribly. Great writing of a great story. Thanks.

HA! You caught me with my great flaw - grammar. In my published books, I have awesome editor. I've also learned a lot from them over the last 5 years. But yes, it is always a struggle.

 

Remember, when I wrote this (and I'm stunned it's so dated already) there were no out collegiate players, or pro. Now? every day another first. I think in another 7 years this will be practically historical fiction. What was so 'cool' then, is fairly common now. Nice to see I could see the future :D

 

-AQG

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