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    Sasha Distan
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Direct Confusion - 27. Chapter 27

It’s not early enough to be early, but the space next to Derrick’s Merc is empty, as it normally is, and I sit there having killed the engine, gripping the steering wheel just a little bit harder than necessary. Like the first time Erin and I slept together rather than had sex, I have no idea why I’m nervous now. This is my school, my space in the parking lot. I am captain of one of the school’s top sports teams, everybody knows my name. I have strode in through those double doors every day this year like it’s the most natural thing in the world to walk as though I own the place. And yet now, I’m scared to get out of the car.

“Luke?” Cherrie is sitting on the hood of the Merc. She waggles her fingers at me. “You can’t still be daydreaming in there.”

“Sorry.” I blink and get out of the Dodge. “Morning.”

“Hey.” Derrick turns to me from where he has been chatting with a few of the guys from our teams. “I was wondering when you’d show up.” Derricks gives me a thorough once over. “Well that’s a look.” He fingers the hem of my over-shirt. “Is this…?” He voice drops. “Are they Greg’s?”

“Yeah.” I breathe. It’s such a sweet comfort to be in the presence of my best friend. “Yeah, they’re Greg’s. What d’ya think?”

“Looks good.” Derrick smiles thinly. “Please don’t run away and join the army, ‘k?”

“No worries. Can we talk?” Derrick follows me for a little way, and the guys are joined by some of the cheerleading squad. Cherrie and Heather start up a little hips shaking dance routine and the parking lot rings with wolf whistles and laughter. It’s just the beginning of another normal day. “Der… I’m sorry.”

“Hey…” Derrick reaches out and wraps his big arm around my shoulders, pulling me in close. He smells familiar and safe. “You’re good.”

“How’s Jim?”

“He’s got a bruised ego to go with his bruised face.” Derrick laughs gently. “The team had to forfeit half the events, because Jim couldn’t swim, and you weren’t there. He tried to have a rant at me when we got there to support you guys, and that didn’t go so well for him.”

I arch an eyebrow at my friend.

“No, I’m not going to tell you what I said to him.” Derrick knuckles my shoulder firmly. “You’re such a gossip!” Derrick sighs. “We’re never going to be close like we were Luke, but I think in time he’ll come round again. He’s a moron, but not a total idiot.” Derrick taps the brim of Greg’s cap with one finger. “You OK?”

“Yeah…” I feel much less than OK. “I don’t know what I’m going to do about the team.”

“And what does the team need to do exactly?” Derrick frowns at me. “You guys are putting in an extra practice before the game tomorrow right?”

“It’s not that…” I exhale, hooking my thumbs into my pockets. “Are they still gonna listen to me?”

Derrick rolls his eyes and punches my shoulder.

“You are kidding me, right? Not that long ago a bunch of your straight teammates kissed each other to keep you with them.” Derrick shrugs. “You just need to reassure them, that’s all. Your position’s secure enough Luke. Try not to worry.”

We return to where most of the soccer team are lounging in some form on my car. Chase is sitting on the hood with a ball spinning on one finger, trying to look cool. He is succeeding. When they see me, there is a general shuffling and smiling, and then a few whistles of appreciation for my borrowed army duds.

“Hey boss! Head’s up!” Chase throws the ball at me one handed, and he’s got a good aim. I head it up, step sideways and scoop the ball as it falls, controlling the speed with a few little keep-up kicks before knocking it back up to my head. Three short bounces and a classic little roll across the shoulders before I hold the ball and tuck it under one arm. Mitch whoops and Bruno whistles so sharply a few of the other guys wince. “Nice show boss!”

“You guys got some energy before school?” I grin at them. The warm sweet sensation creeping into my chest is so delicious that I can’t help myself.

“Yeah!”

“Alright then!” I throw the ball to Bruno. “You can take the other side. Get behind your man and let’s play some soccer!”

To a man, the whole lot takes off running for the field. We dump our bags and coats, Derrick and Porter stand on what we are defining as the side lines and the team splits fairly evenly as the girls come over. Pom-poms arrive from nowhere and we have a proper audience for our game of kick-about. I get Mitch for my squad, which I’m more than pleased about, but Bruno grabs Chase and keeps him. We run around like lunatics, no one keeps score, and every time anyone gets a goal it’s awesome. No one sticks in any one position, and Chase’s protégé scores a tidy little goal against his mentor and then punches the air like he has a grudge against it. By the time Derrick shouts that school is starting, we are all breathing hard and everyone is smiling. Potenski jabs my shoulder as we grab our bags.

“Missed you Luke.”

“I didn’t go anywhere…” I frown at him.

He shrugs and gestures to my brother’s cap.

“Yeah you did. We don’t blame you boss, but it’s good to have you back. See you at practice!” A bunch of my guys have their lockers and homerooms at the other end of the school and they wave as they depart. The rest of us wander in through the main doors with the cheerleaders in a host of green and yellow varsity jackets and short skirts, laughing and joking and tossing the ball around overhead. When the bell goes we all split and run, because now we’re late.

I make half a handful of excuses to my homeroom teacher, who is used to me disappearing all the time on team business, and take myself down to the sports department. I slam the Coach’s office door open with a slightly manic grin.

“Morning!”

“McBride?” Coach looks up at me with a slightly fearful expression. “What do you want?”

“I came for my jacket.” It’s hanging across the back of a spare chair and I gather it up. I doubt I can wear it and the army shirt, so I simply sling it over one shoulder. “Thanks.”

“And exactly where do you think you’re going to wear it? You’re off the team.” Coach puts down the notes he was flicking through and folds his arms decisively. “You’re not getting back in the locker rooms.”

“Sure,” I raise an eyebrow at him, “Because you can actually stop me?” I shrug. “The swim team can sink for all I care, but I’m taking the soccer team to state championships again, and this time we are going to win.”

“You think that group of guys will be ready for state?” I can’t tell if Coach is trying to goad me or if he is genuinely continuing with his line to get rid of me. I decide not to give a damn either way.

“Yeah, they will. I’ll make sure of that.” I lean on the back of the chair opposite Coach. I know my guys, I watch them play and work and I know that this year, this squad, can be good enough. “I’m their captain, and they’re my team. And you’re going to be damn grateful when I bring you back that trophy.”

“And this gay issue?”

I suddenly realise that as much as I might owe my Coach in time, and advice, and making me captain, he is never going to come close to understanding me.

Not an issue.”

“And what about Jim Bryan?” Coach frowns at me. “If your behaviour gets us banned from the league…”

“Jim Bryan deserved exactly what he got!” I snap. “But I will apologise to him nonetheless.”

“Good. I’m going to have to write you up for detention.” I groan, but I’m not surprise. “Looks like you’re going to be spending all day Saturday sorting out the equipment stores. Be glad I’m not hauling your parents in over this.” I am about to leave, and Coach picks up his papers again before he mutters. “Not like I could get rid of you anyway. The boys wouldn’t play soccer without you.”

I smile secretly to myself as I walk down the corridor. Now all I have to do is convince my boyfriend I love him.

I stick the photo of my brother to the inside of my locker door, and hang his shirt up in there before pulling on my letterman jacket. Jameson was right this morning, and I need to feel like I belong here, and thanks to the best efforts of my team, now I do. I stroke the edges of the seven of hearts and read what Greg wrote on the back.

I am proud of my brother.

I tuck the card into my jeans pocket, touch the brim of my cap quickly, and abandon my locker in order to run across the school to Erin’s homeroom. It might have only been one night since I saw him, but my heart thuds hard against my rib cage when I catch a glimpse of him through the slim window. I grab for my phone.

I’m outside. I screwed up. I’m sorry. I miss you.

It’s an awful four minutes waiting for the bell to sound. I pace up and down the length of ten lockers, sticking my hands in and out of my pockets, and scuffing my trainers on the floor. I am petrified Erin is going to walk out of homeroom and walk right past me. The bell is loud when you’re already in the corridor, and the sudden influx of students makes me scared that I might miss Erin coming by.

“Hey.” Erin’s voice is warm and soft in my ear and I can feel the heat of his body along my back. I don’t dare turn around. “I got my phone confiscated ‘cause of you.”

“Sorry.” I want to close my eyes and forget where we are. I want us to be alone somewhere in the near-dark where I can turn around and kiss my boyfriend and not care about anyone else. I want us to be able to have this conversation when we’re not both already late for class. We never seem to be able to start any important discussion at the right time.

“I’ll live.” Erin’s fingers tickle at my waist. “Jame said he hit you.”

“Yeah.” I am so tense, every muscle tight and it almost hurts to breathe. “Erin, I’m so sorry. I was so wound up and I don’t have a single good excuse for what I said to you.”

“I forgive you.”

“Erie?” I spin around under his hands, and we are pressed together in the corridor from sternum to knee and I don’t want to look anywhere else other than his eyes.

“I love you Luke. That hasn’t changed.” Erin takes my chin in two fingers and leans forward. The brim of my cap pokes his forehead and we both chuckled softly. “Incompatible hat.” He flicks the brim upwards just a touch, tilts his head and then we kiss. It’s soft and sweet and Erin tastes like apples and maple syrup.

“Pancakes for breakfast?”

“Yeah…” Erin shrugs inside his jacket. “I got lunch for you later.”

“Yeah?” My boyfriend is blushing gently, just the way I know will lead to good things for me later on. “How often do I tell you that you’re awesome?”

“Not often enough.”

“I love you.”

“Good.” Erin shakes the brim of my cap. “Looks good on you, I think Greg would’ve approved.” Erin smiles it me. “We’re late for class. See you at lunch?”

“Meet me on the bleachers?” I tug the front of Erin’s t-shirt. I blink. He’s wearing my shirt, the one I gave him after the party. “I’m so lucky to have you.”

“Yes, you are.”

*

The morning passes quickly, and even I can recognise that for the first time since Thanksgiving, I am actually engaged in what I’m doing. We have moved on to a new unit in English and I find myself racing through the book to catch up, getting involved in the discussion with my peers and hoping that Jameson might have the same assignment soon, because it will be fun to work on.

I see the guys from the team everywhere, and in the space between classes we have ten second conversations about anything and everything that pops into ours heads. Potenski tells me his sister wants to provide us with donuts for half time, Chase simply shouts to me before a teacher threatens to confiscate his soccer ball, Mitch gives me a high five as I pass him on the way to Math. It’s good to be back to normal.

Erin is already waiting for me halfway up the bleachers and I take big steps from the abandoned baseball diamond to reach him. My culinary talented boyfriend presents me with a beautifully spiced cold lamb sandwich and a small box containing a salad which is miraculously still completely fresh.

“I missed a good dinner then?”

“Yeah. I figured you’d be hungry after the swim meet.” Erin looks a little embarrassed by his assumption. “I’m sorry about what I said too Luke.” My boyfriend shrugs. “I think sometimes Jameson talks a lot of sense.”

“Your brother really does have no sense of personal space, physical or otherwise huh?” I lean against Erin’s shoulder and he wraps an arm around me as we eat. “I shouldn’t complain, without his meddling we wouldn’t even be here.”

“And how’s that?” Erin arches an eyebrow at me.

“Well it wasn’t until after I’d kissed him that I worked out I liked you way better.” I clamp a hand over my mouth, but I’m much too late. There is a tense moment of silence, and I am expecting Erin to get up and walk away any second. I’m lucky not to have been dumped yesterday, but this is going to put me across some invisible line into the realm of being a total douche.

Erin stares at me slack jawed for a moment, before breaking out into peals of laughter.

“What?”

“You should see your face!” Erin can barely breathe through laughing at me. “Like Jame can keep secrets from me, any better than I can keep them from him!”

“You little fucker!” I drop the remains of my lunch and launch myself at my boyfriend. Ten seconds of scuffling later I have him pinned on the concrete bench beneath my full weight. “That was mean.”

“You deserved it.” Erin isn’t struggling underneath me, and he reaches up to wrap a warm hand around the back of my neck, biting his lower lip and blushing. “You deserve this too.”

I kiss my boyfriend on the bleachers under a pale blue wintery sky. We stay in place until the mixed group of our friends and teammates interrupts us, and I sit with Erin practically in my lap and nursing a semi while we chat and laugh. My life isn’t perfect, but as my fingers touch the top of the illustrated playing card I’m still carrying in my top pocket, I do realise that my life is pretty damn good. Erin flashes me a smile full of heat and promise over his shoulder.

Nearly perfect is just fine by me.

Remember to come and join us in the discussion forum for questions, answers, and all sorts of silly supposition.
Copyright © 2014 Sasha Distan; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

Nice to see Luke and Erin back together--I was pretty worried about that! Also to see Luke dealing with Greg's death in a healthy way.

 

Bring on the next chapter! :)

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Perfect...again. I was as nervous as Luke was...so great to see him as close to back to normal as could be expected...and he is right ..he is lucky to have Erin. Thanks for such a feel good chapter...and I loved how comfortable Erie is with himself now, at this school. I have a big smile on my face that should last for awhile...cheers...Gary

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Wonderful resurrection of Luke! He has truly great friends and a very understanding boyfriend. I liked the brave confidence Greg's clothes and the talisman of the card gave him. Very powerful things! Our state of mind can be greatly affected by these tangible things having such meaning to us. Really effective and realistic device. Thanks Sasha! Lovely job.

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I was going to raise hell if this was the last chapter. I am happy that it isnt. I cannot wait to read more!!

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Nice to see Luke back up to snuff. He needs a bit of swagger to add to the sweet side of him. he's doing great with his bf and those two really are perfect together! I loved the pic you painted of the spur of the moment game. I really want to see that Coach get fired! he's a douche. now how does erie keep salad fresh till the next day? was the dressing on it? lol

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On 08/21/2014 07:34 AM, ColumbusGuy said:
Nice to see Luke and Erin back together--I was pretty worried about that! Also to see Luke dealing with Greg's death in a healthy way.

 

Bring on the next chapter! :)

we knew Luke would make it out eventually, huh?

 

just one chapter left my friend.

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On 08/21/2014 07:36 AM, Headstall said:
Perfect...again. I was as nervous as Luke was...so great to see him as close to back to normal as could be expected...and he is right ..he is lucky to have Erin. Thanks for such a feel good chapter...and I loved how comfortable Erie is with himself now, at this school. I have a big smile on my face that should last for awhile...cheers...Gary
welcome *hug*
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On 08/21/2014 09:17 AM, Cole Matthews said:
Wonderful resurrection of Luke! He has truly great friends and a very understanding boyfriend. I liked the brave confidence Greg's clothes and the talisman of the card gave him. Very powerful things! Our state of mind can be greatly affected by these tangible things having such meaning to us. Really effective and realistic device. Thanks Sasha! Lovely job.
you're right; having an object to remind us of a place or person is very powerful way of remembering, or keeping that person with us. Luke needed to feel that to give him the confidence to do what he knew he needed to. reward: Erin snuggles.
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On 08/21/2014 12:40 PM, randyjuan said:
I was going to raise hell if this was the last chapter. I am happy that it isnt. I cannot wait to read more!!
Just. One. More.
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On 08/21/2014 04:00 PM, Cannd said:
Nice to see Luke back up to snuff. He needs a bit of swagger to add to the sweet side of him. he's doing great with his bf and those two really are perfect together! I loved the pic you painted of the spur of the moment game. I really want to see that Coach get fired! he's a douche. now how does erie keep salad fresh till the next day? was the dressing on it? lol
Erin has magical powers when it comes to food.

Little kick about games should be like that, and it's all about feeling happier, better, closer with your buddies - it's never about who wins.

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I'm glad Luke and Erin are back on track. Erin bought Luke lunch, that was sweet (and sounded delicious - i have a weakness for cold lamb sandwiches). Luke is one lucky man and not just for the sandwiches.

It's sad that Luke has lost a friend in Jim (or at least someone he thought was a true friend) but it has shown him that he has real friends that respect him (Derrick is a good man). The soccer match must have eased Luke's nerves quite a lot.

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I have really enjoyed how you have used Jameson's character in this story in his interactions with both boys. The romance is sweet but in some ways he is the most interesting character of all. Another great story. Thanks

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The clouds part and sunshine returns to Luke's world...

I knew that Luke and Erin would be okay and that Luke would rediscover how much his Team loves and respects him because even you aren't malicious enough for it to be otherwise, but the manner in which it was done is beautiful. After watching Luke gird himself in Greg's things in the last chapter we see he still has that small bit of doubt. But while nothing is the same most things are as they were. His parking space waiting for him. Derrick and Cherrie are right where they should be and the guys arrive just as always... though Erin and Jameson are missing things are right. Sadly, the trouble with Jim has caused problems for the swim team but that's not where Luke's heart resides...

Obviously Erin understood Luke didn't mean the words he said and had already forgiven him, afterall, he brought lunch. Luke is very fortunate but that good fortine is not one sided, Erie is equally lucky.

I missed seeing Jameson's response to the reunion but then this was probably exactly what he intended.

I've some conflicting thoughts about Coach. Not sure if he's truly backward in his approach to the PDA's or if he's crazy like a fox and pushes Luke's buttons to force him to mature. Probably closer to being an idiot but still...

Okay, so there is one more chapter to go and then the window into the lives of these people will close. I know I've said it before but Sasha, with Kitt's help, you have brought us living, breathing people, they in turn have shared this small portion of themselves... lives that are angst ridden, beautiful, painful and pure...

I am wonderstruck...

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On 08/21/2014 08:44 PM, Bucket1 said:
I'm glad Luke and Erin are back on track. Erin bought Luke lunch, that was sweet (and sounded delicious - i have a weakness for cold lamb sandwiches). Luke is one lucky man and not just for the sandwiches.

It's sad that Luke has lost a friend in Jim (or at least someone he thought was a true friend) but it has shown him that he has real friends that respect him (Derrick is a good man). The soccer match must have eased Luke's nerves quite a lot.

Soccer is goof for the soul, apparently.

Cold lamb sandwiches: not as chewy as roast beef, not as boring as chicken.

Everyone needs a Derrick. I know everyone love Jame (me too), but you're correct in your assessment that Derrick is a good man.

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On 08/21/2014 09:06 PM, Rndmrunner said:
I have really enjoyed how you have used Jameson's character in this story in his interactions with both boys. The romance is sweet but in some ways he is the most interesting character of all. Another great story. Thanks
the original title of this story was "The Jock, The Cheerleader and His Brother" - so Jameson really is the most important character after the narrator. I'm glad you like him. He needs fans.
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On 08/21/2014 11:38 PM, dughlas said:
The clouds part and sunshine returns to Luke's world...

I knew that Luke and Erin would be okay and that Luke would rediscover how much his Team loves and respects him because even you aren't malicious enough for it to be otherwise, but the manner in which it was done is beautiful. After watching Luke gird himself in Greg's things in the last chapter we see he still has that small bit of doubt. But while nothing is the same most things are as they were. His parking space waiting for him. Derrick and Cherrie are right where they should be and the guys arrive just as always... though Erin and Jameson are missing things are right. Sadly, the trouble with Jim has caused problems for the swim team but that's not where Luke's heart resides...

Obviously Erin understood Luke didn't mean the words he said and had already forgiven him, afterall, he brought lunch. Luke is very fortunate but that good fortine is not one sided, Erie is equally lucky.

I missed seeing Jameson's response to the reunion but then this was probably exactly what he intended.

I've some conflicting thoughts about Coach. Not sure if he's truly backward in his approach to the PDA's or if he's crazy like a fox and pushes Luke's buttons to force him to mature. Probably closer to being an idiot but still...

Okay, so there is one more chapter to go and then the window into the lives of these people will close. I know I've said it before but Sasha, with Kitt's help, you have brought us living, breathing people, they in turn have shared this small portion of themselves... lives that are angst ridden, beautiful, painful and pure...

I am wonderstruck...

*hug*

xxxxxx

 

there are no words.

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Omg, thank God L&E made up!!!

 

And good for Luke for handling Coach like that! And of course his teammates are there for him. What happened to his swim team? They're just following that tool, Jim?

 

No matter - everything is looking up for L&E now, and that's all that counts.

 

I'm really going to miss this story after you post the next chapter. :(

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On 08/24/2014 02:03 AM, Lisa said:
Omg, thank God L&E made up!!!

 

And good for Luke for handling Coach like that! And of course his teammates are there for him. What happened to his swim team? They're just following that tool, Jim?

 

No matter - everything is looking up for L&E now, and that's all that counts.

 

I'm really going to miss this story after you post the next chapter. :(

I'm sorry sweetie. I'm sure you can always come and visit them though. Maybe we'll even put out a paperback edition so they can come live on your bookshelves.

Luke heart was never really in the swim team, he'll cope without them.

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And there in lies the route of happiness.

Perfection is overrated. Trials and tribulations keep us sane, humble, firmly in touch with reality. Light at the end of the tunnel for Luke.

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On 08/31/2014 06:05 AM, Yettie One said:
And there in lies the route of happiness.

Perfection is overrated. Trials and tribulations keep us sane, humble, firmly in touch with reality. Light at the end of the tunnel for Luke.

flaws make things beautiful.
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