Timothy’s Terrible Prompt Stories - 42. Prompt 360 Why do I even bother? (III)
Another one for team Rob.
Back in the café, and later during lunch, Rob has his say.
A Rob POV chapter
“Why do I even bother? You’re determined to take anything I say the wrong way.”
Ryan looked half furious, half resigned, and Rob decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“OK then, explain to me why you made a fuss about my brother and his boyfriend joining us?”
“This get-together is for the baseball team and their supportive fans. All the non-players here are involved with helping during games or practices. We’ve never let general fans join, apart from girlfriends of the team members and helpers.”
Rob nodded, conceding the point.
“Eric and Nelson aren’t helpers and they’ve never joined us before. I bet they were only here to provoke us.”
Rob saw quite a few heads nodding at Ryan’s shrewd observation. The guy was clever, he had to hand him that.
“I don’t give a shit about them being a couple, as long as they keep their gay stuff out of sight, but I sure as hell ain’t gonna let you change the unspoken rules of the team.”
Rob waited a couple of seconds to see whether Ryan had anything to add, holding his gaze with arms folded across his chest. He felt the tension of the whole group rising, and just before it could break into shouting or people leaving, he launched his counter-attack.
“I agree about the unspoken rules, Ryan, and you’re brave for speaking your mind.” Rob left unspoken the ‘standing up to one of the popular jocks’ modifier to the word brave.
“But you’re wrong about Eric not being a helper as well as a fan. You know all those baseball statistics the coach hands out? The ones you enjoy showing off and comparing with everyone?”
Ryan nodded but shrugged, as he had no clue where Rob was headed. But the blond jock soon had him ripped out of his ignorance.
“My brother does part of the leg work. He’s got this computer program and he’s been doing my scores for years. When our coach realized that last year, he asked me about it. Eric volunteered to do the same for everybody, so I take home all the notes Stuart and Milly write during the games.”
Rob waved his hand at the two juniors sitting at the next table. The dark-haired girl blushed at having everyone’s attention on them, but her boyfriend hugged Milly closer by the arm around her shoulders and simply winked back at Rob.
Mitchell asked the obvious questions, “Why haven’t you told us this before now? Or invited Eric to join us?”
“Because he didn’t want anyone to know. He’s shy and hates getting attention. Being the only freshman in the group and not knowing anyone but me would make him feel awkward. Having Nelson here, as well as knowing Jazz and Carolyn, made Eric agree to join us, but he still didn’t want you to know about doing the scores. Only since Ryan insisted on making an issue out of it…”
Rob gave the second baseman another glare and was pleased to see him squirm. Suddenly he was the one getting disapproving looks for his behavior. Served him right.
“Anyway, I doubt Eric and Nelson will be joining us again, cuz they probably didn't feel very welcome, what with all their 'gay stuff' being scrutinized. But if you can all keep your mouths shut about the number job, I’m sure he’ll go on calculating the scores for the baseball team next year.”
There was a chorus of reassurances from everyone, and then the conversations moved on to something else. When no one was paying attention to them, Mitch leaned in once more.
“You’re not fooling me, Rob. I know you asked them here to make a point.”
“Yes, but which point?”
“Hmmm, at first I thought you wanted to pick another fight with Chris and Ryan. Or make them apologize to your brother before you apologized for hitting them.”
“Nah, Eric would be embarrassed, and he doesn’t know what they said. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve already learned their lesson, and I’m fairly sure they won’t make the same mistake again. Me neither for that matter.”
“So what was your point?”
“I’m sure you can work it out for yourself, Mitch. Eventually.” Rob smirked and stood up. The rest of the group was also getting ready to go over to the school. First bell would ring ten minutes from now, and most of them needed to drop by their lockers for books.
At lunch Rob stood by the doors and scanned the room until he spotted Eric. He and Nelson were sitting with Tony and Maria, and Rob nodded with satisfaction. For once Jasper wasn’t having lunch with his best friend; instead the redhead seemed to be deep in conversation with Mitchell. Most likely about pitching, but maybe not. Rob didn’t mind Mitch taking an interest in Eric and Nelson, the senior was calm and clever and his girlfriend was sweet if a bit giddy at times. She didn’t go to West Hill High but was in a private girls-only school a few miles away.
Rob kept looking around until he found the dark-haired guy he was searching for. Casually making his way between the tables he managed to get there before anyone else could grab the free chair opposite the other senior.
“Hi Trevor, OK if I sit here, or are you expecting someone to join you?”
Surprised dark orbs rose from the smartphone in front of him to meet Rob’s blue eyes, but the GSA president was as collected and polite as ever.
“Certainly, Rob. I’m always pleased to have lunch with another GSA member.”
His voice wasn’t loud, but somehow it cut through the buzz of conversations around them. Rob grinned; yeah Trevor was a damn smart guy. He knew Rob had joined the GSA to make a gesture, and that sitting with Trevor at lunch meant he wanted to spread the news as fast as possible.
“So who is manning the GSA office now?”
“The Vice and the secretary. They live too far away to do the morning stint, so they have the lunch-hour duty. They’re a couple and spend their breaks together anyway.”
Both of them ignored the furtive glances and the interest from people around them, pretending it was normal for them to have lunch together. Rob got out his bag of sandwiches; he had decided to bring his lunch in order not to waste time in the line.
“Cool. By the way, I’d like to sign up for monitoring duty at the Junior Prom. I didn’t want to say anything this morning.”
“Yes, I know what you mean. Thanks Rob, I’ll put your name on the list. Do you want to do the early or the late stint?”
“Hmm, I think I’d prefer the six-to-nine job, but I’ll hang around till the end. Or at least until Eric wants to leave.”
Trevor nodded and took a bite of his own sandwich. Both of them ignored the topic of Nelson as Eric’s boyfriend.
“Congratulations on your home run, by the way. I hear it was spectacular and clinched the game.”
“Thanks, I was lucky to have two bases loaded. You don’t watch our games?” Rob was fairly sure he’d never seen Trevor at any of their home games.
“Unfortunately, I usually work during the weekend, and home work takes up the rest of my time.”
“Where do you plan to apply?” Rob was fairly sure Trevor had good enough grades for college, perhaps even for a scholarship. His fellow senior confirmed the assumption, and they discussed the merits of various places for the next ten minutes.
Rob let the GSA president finish his food and water before he brought up the next topic. After all, he didn’t want the poor guy to choke or something.
“So, are you taking anyone to the Senior Prom?”
This time every single conversation within earshot faltered, and Rob wanted to smirk at the expectant hush and Trevor’s momentarily shocked face. He so did love to rattle confident or stubborn guys, and Trevor was a lot more fun to tease than Eric. Particularly, since he rallied beautifully.
“Well, I thought I was going stag. How about you, Rob? You going to ask anyone?”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to rub it in, but you have to know your break-up with Melanie is…” He didn’t finish the sentence, but waved his hand to indicate the whole school. Rob rolled his eyes and nodded. The buzz of people talking, gossiping more likely, gradually resumed around them.
“Well, to be honest I haven’t decided yet. But anyone I asked to the Prom would be in the friend zone and not a date. I’m done with dating for now.”
“Even casual dates, no-strings-attached? Friends with benefits?”
Now it was Rob's turn to be glad he hadn’t just taken the sip of water. But he did his best to shrug carelessly.
“I’m not sure such a thing happens with chicks in high school. But in college perhaps?”
“I wouldn’t know. No experience with college – or girls.”
They stared at each other for a moment. Rob broke down laughing first, with Trevor following close behind and high-fiving the hand Rob held up.
“You’re cool, dude. We should get together more. And let’s make sure both the Junior and Senior Prom is a good experience for everyone; gay, bi or straight.”
“Sure, Rob. My pleasure.”
Sorry about the long wait, but I hope Rob made up for it.
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