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Second Shot – The Senior Year: Chapter 32


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“Damn, that eye looks like it’s getting worse.” Blake reached out to touch Jason’s injured eye, but pulled his hand back before he made contact.

Loosening his towel, Jason let it drop as he removed his boxers from his locker. Given how little it hurt, he didn’t understand all the fuss. “It’s fine. Everyone acts like they’ve never seen a black eye before.”

“Jase is right,” Darryl said, pulling on his shirt. “That ain’t nothing.”

Jason groaned. “Here it comes.” His comment drew a blank stare from Blake.

“When we were thirteen, Jase and I got jumped. You shoulda seen his face then. That was a black eye. It’s a wonder he wasn’t scarred for life.”

“Does everything have to get back to that?” He turned away from his best friend and continued to get dressed. “It was like ten years ago.”

“Seems to have stayed with him.” Blake shrugged and opened his locker. “Not that you should forget it, I mean.”

“You had to be there.” Darryl sat on the bench and searched through his gym bag. “It was a defining moment in my life.”

Jason stared at the back of the metal locker. “I’ve had a few of those lately.”

The row went quiet and he regretted the comment. Once he put on his shirt he turned to Blake. “When is Ethan getting here?”

His friend smiled and Jason thought he looked flushed. “Um…anytime now. He’s probably at your place already.”

With school about to start, people—including Blake’s roommate—started to move into the dorm. Which meant Jason’s house was going to be busy again this weekend.

“No worries, he knows to text Pete when he gets here.”

“I really appreciate you letting us stay with you.” Blake had gotten dressed in record time and glanced rather obviously at his watch a couple times already. “Not sure when we’d see each other if you didn’t have the guest room.”

“No problem, ” Darryl answered first. “Just ask Ethan to keep it down this time, okay?”

Blake’s face turned crimson quicker than Jason thought possible. While his friend stumbled for an answer, Jason took a swipe at Darryl who didn’t stop laughing as he ducked. “He’s kidding, Blake. No one heard you two last time.”

“Well, I was kidding about having heard you before, but I don’t want to hear you this time, so I’m serious about asking him to keep it down.”

“Stop, D.” He stepped between the two. Not that they were fighting, but he knew how embarrassed Blake had been asking if they could stay over. “This is Ethan we’re talking about. If you tell him to be quiet, he’ll do the opposite just to spite you.”

Darryl’s eye opened wider and Blake snorted behind Jason.

“Listen to the man, Darryl.”

Jason turned around to comment, but stopped when he saw his brother standing at the entrance to the row of lockers. “Hey, Dean.”

He watched Blake’s smile disappear to be replaced an instant later by a new, forced one before he turned around. “Hey, Dean.”

“Hey, guys.” Dean moved a few steps closer and stopped. “Um…Jase, can we talk.”

“Yeah, sure.” He twisted toward Darryl. “But let me take D and Blake back to the house, I’m their ride today.”

Blake waved his left hand. “I can walk, it’s no problem.”

Jason considered insisting he’d drive them, but his brother looked like he needed to talk sooner than later. Digging though his bag, he pulled out the keys and tossed them to Darryl. “We’ll meet you home.”

“You sure?” He glanced at the keys and then at Jason.

“Yeah, we can talk on the way.” It would also be less awkward than showing up, saying hello to Ethan, and than walking out seconds later.

He motioned with his eyes for Darryl to leave and was relieved when Darryl nodded and grabbed his bag. “See at home, Jase.”

Blake raised an eyebrow, but turned when Darryl approached. “See ya.”

“Catch you in a few, Deano.” Darryl punched him lightly on Dean’s shoulder as he past.

His brother’s lack of reaction to his less than loved nickname told Jason he made the right decision. When the others had enough time leave, he put the last of his dirty clothes in his bag and looked up. “Ready?”

Dean nodded but didn’t speak as he followed Jason out of the gym.

Adjusting the strap on his bag, Jason moved to his right so they could walk side-by-side. “So what’s going on?”

Dean kicked a stone, then twitched his head to the side. “It’s about, you know….”


“Yeah. You told me to be smarter than you, but I don’t really know how to do that.”

Despite the mood, Jason snorted. “Being smarter than me shouldn’t be too hard. Have you seen my GPA?”

“Not like that.” He smiled and bumped their shoulders together. “I don’t know what to do about her.”

“It might be better to ask Dad, or someone else. I’m not sure how objective I can be.”

“Dad’s the one who suggested I talk to you.” He half turned, but kept walking. “He said it was important to find out how you feel.”

“Honestly? Based on what she said to you, I pretty much don’t want to be around her. I’m always going to wonder what she really thinks and whether her reactions around me are just an act.”

“But that’s what I don’t get. Why would she pretend? We just met, it’s not like she couldn’t find someone else.”

Jason stopped, grabbed his brother’s arm and turned him toward the field house. When Dean gave him a confused look, he pointed toward their grandparent’s name across the top of the field house. “That’s why. That and you’re not half bad looking, I guess.”

“But Pop and Grans put their money in a charitable trust. We’re not getting it.”

“She doesn’t know that.” He turned and started walking again. “But I’m not saying that’s the only reason, but I’m sure it’s part of it.”

“So what should I do?”

Jason had been prepared for this question. “That’s for you to figure out.. But let me say this. The school year hasn’t even started yet. You haven’t seen a tenth of the available girls. Why rush into this with her? You’re smart, good looking, play soccer, a bit immature—” he smirked when Dean frowned at him “—but you’re totally a nice guy. You don’t need to settle down with the first girl you meet.”

“Pete was the first guy you dated.”

“Different circumstances. I never had questions about his feelings about Darryl being black, or you being straight. Wondering what she really thinks about me being gay can’t be a great way to start.”

They walked for up the hill, past the student union. With classes starting in a few days, the sidewalks were busier than they’d been the last three weeks. Neither spoke until they were alone.

“I don’t know what to do, Jase. I like her, but if she isn’t cool with you, or Pete, or Blake, being gay…I wish I could find out for sure.”

Jason thought about it for a minute then put his arm around his brother. “Maybe you can.”


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