Free Fiction Friday: October 3, 2014:

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Second Shot – The Senior Year: Chapter 38

 

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“Stop worrying.” Ethan said. He shook his head, but the Wi-Fi connection distorted it on Blake’s screen. At least the audio was clear. “I doubt he’s going to freak out.”

“I’m not worried about him going off on me, that’s not Brett’s style, but I’m not looking forward to moving out if it comes to that.”

Ethan’s face tightened and Blake braced for his response. “It doesn’t matter if he’s unhappy, that’s his deal. He needs to get his knuckles off the ground and move into the twenty-first century. Why do straight guys all think they’re at risk of being hit on by gay guys?”

“I don’t think he’s that bad, Eth.” Or maybe he was and Blake didn’t want to believe Brett was really upset. “But I think I make him uncomfortable.”

“Why are you defending him?” The way Ethan’s eyes narrowed told Blake they’d crossed the Rubicon. “He’s the one with a problem, not you. What does he have to be uncomfortable about? Do you stare at his junk when he gets changed? Do you grab his ass constantly? What?”

“You know I don’t do that.” Even if he found Brett attractive—and he didn’t—he wouldn’t do those things.

“Good, because if you did, you’d have more to worry about than Brett feeling uncomfortable.” When he winked, Ethan seemed to relax and reined in his anger a bit. “But still, you can’t defend him. If he’s uncomfortable, that’s on him.”

“I guess.”

“You guess? What’s there to guess about? He’s wrong.”

“Sometimes things aren’t black and white, Eth. He’s my friend. We were good friends last year. I like him.” And he wanted Brett to like him as a friend too.

“You won’t be able to have everyone like you. That’s true whether you’re gay or straight.”

“I know, but when you’re friends and then suddenly you’re not…” Blake shrugged and looked down. He recognized his answer played into Ethan’s point, but it didn’t make it easier to accept.

“Blake, I get it.” Ethan paused until Blake looked up. “Good friends are hard to come by and losing them over something that shouldn’t matter is even worse. but keep reminding yourself this isn’t your fault.”

“Yeah, I know.” He’d tell himself that, but he wasn’t sure he’d believe it.

“Besides, maybe everything will be fine.” The small nod did nothing to reinforce the hollow sounding words.

“Guess I’ll find out soon.” Blake checked the time at the top of his laptop. “Brett will be probably be back soon, so I should probably get going.”

“Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” Ethan suddenly looked the way he always did when it was time to hang up. “Call me after?”

“Sure.” His mind already started to drift to what would happen when he confront his roommate.

“Okay. Miss you. Wish I could be there in person instead of just on Skype.”

He missed Ethan as soon as left after each visit, but at that moment, Blake really wanted his boyfriend sitting next to him instead of in Pittsburgh. “Yeah, I know. Would be nice when it’s over to be able to come see you instead of just calling.”

“It’ll work out, you’ll see.”

The assurance did nothing to allay Blake’s fears. “Thanks. I wish it was Friday night already.”

“I know. I look forward to coming to see you and the days seem to drag until I get there, then they fly by.”

Blake nodded. The silence continued as neither really wanted to end the call. Finally Ethan shifted in his seat.

“I’d better let you go.” The words might have said it was time to hang up, but the tone said, ‘please don’t go.’

Blake would have gladly kept talking except he could almost feel Brett walked toward their room. As difficult as he expected their chat to go, he knew that if Brett saw Ethan on the computer screen, it would be even harder.

“Yeah, I need to clear my head before Brett gets home.”

“Okay.” Ethan paused again and it seemed to Blake that they were each hoping the other would say goodbye first. Finally Ethan spoke. “Bye.”

“Bye. I’ll call you later.”

Reluctantly, he reached for the disconnect button and ended the call. If he hadn’t, they might have gone on for another hour. He shut his laptop and walked over to flop onto his bed. Lying on his back, he stared up at the ceiling for a few seconds and then closed his eyes. He tried to imagine how the talk with Brett would go, but what he wanted and how he expected seemed to fight for supremacy in his thoughts.

When someone put a key in the door, he opened his eyes but otherwise didn’t move. His heart pounded and he had an unsettled feeling in his gut.

“Blake?”

He turned toward his roommate who stood with his hand still on the door. “Hey Brett. Something wrong?”

“Wrong?” He shook his head and entered their room. “Just surprised to see you here. You don’t usually get back this early.”

“We have a game tomorrow so we had a short practice. I skipped the team dinner to…to talk to you.”

“Me?” He put his book bag on the desk and eyed Blake warily. “Why?”

“Look.” Blake sat up and swung his legs over the bed. “I’m not sure how to say this right so I’ll just say it. You seem weird around me lately. Is there something going on you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Brett’s refusal to meet his gaze told him a different story from the words.

“Yes you do.” His stomach churned and he swallowed to try to calm himself. “You’ve been avoiding me since I…since I told you. You wear a towel to get changed all of a sudden and you usually don’t come back until I’m asleep. It’s like we’re strangers.”

“Aren’t we?” Brett finally turned toward him. “I mean, you let me think you were someone else all last year.”

His fears suddenly roared to life, and Blake turned away. “I’m still the same person.”

A muffled ‘hmpf’ was the only response. The room was so quiet Blake thought he heard his heart pounding. Finally he’d let it go long enough.

“At least I know where we stand.”

He stood up and grabbed his laptop and shoved it into his bag. Avoiding looking at Brett, he searched for his phone and found it next to his books. As he pushed his phone into the pocket of his cargo shorts, he heard Brett move.

“I’m…I don’t…I just need some time to work this out.”

“Work this out.” Blake bit his lip and nodded several times. He kept his focus on the desk rather than look over. “Gotcha.”

“Please don’t be mad. This is just a lot to deal with.”

Blake snorted. “Right. A lot to deal with.” He turned to face his roommate. “I’ve no idea what there is to deal with. I’m still the same person I was last year, I’m just dating someone now. I’ve never hit on you, stared at you, made you feel uncomfortable. Ever. And I’m not going to start. But since you want your space I’ll talk to Jason and Darryl and see I can stay there and if they agree I’ll talk to the housing department.”

“Blake.” Despite the anguish in his voice, Brett refused to look at him.

“What, Brett? You want me to go, but don’t want to hurt my feelings? You want me to say it’s all good? That I’m fine with you being weirded out around me? What?”

Brett closed his eyes and shook his head. When he didn’t answer, Blake headed for the door. “I’ll let you know once I get an answer from Darryl and Jase.”

He pulled the door shut and resisted the urge to lean back against it. Right then he needed to put some distance between himself and Brett and their room. The stairs were closer than the elevator and less used so he pushed open the fire door with a boom and took the stairs two at a time until he reached the lobby. Ignoring everyone in the area, he made it outside before he let the crush of hurt slow him down.

Half in a daze, he walked over to a large oak tree and sat with his back to the trunk. It took several minutes of deep breathing to calm down. Finally he felt enough in control and fished out his phone. He tapped his foot as he dialed the number and waited until someone answered.

“Hey, Jase? Can I come over and talk?”

 

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