(Epilogue) Rule 22: A Bro Admits When He's Wrong

Start from the beginning

Eliza waved at us while her mom rushed to the stage. Carter smiled and waved back. I gave her a thumbs-up, our inside joke that meant, "I love you."

That was when I felt my phone buzz, and my stomach flipped over. It was here. I'd gotten the email. This must have been what Leonardo Di Caprio felt like every time he went to the Oscars.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and saw that I had an email and one text message from Austin, saying good luck. Austin had been drafted onto the New England Revolutions right after he graduated from the University of Massachusetts, lucky man. I knew he wanted me on his team.

"What's the word?" Asked Carter, leaning over to me.

"About to find out," I said, opening up my email. It shocked me that Carter cared about this. But maybe he was just bored, trying to make conversation.

I clicked on my message from the Major League Soccer Association.

Dear Mr. Maguire,

We are pleased to offer you a 5-year long position as a starting forward on Toronto FC beginning this summer. Please see the additional attachments for salary details and how to communicate with your coaches. Welcome to the MLS!

I stopped breathing. Starting forward?! On Toronto FC, the highest ranked team in the Western Conference?!

I gave my phone to Carter, and he scrolled through the message.

"That's a shitload of money, dude," he whistled. "This is an amazing offer for a rookie."

I shook my head, and held it in my hands. It was amazing. But also not. "I can't do that to Eliza," I said. "I can't move to Canada."

Carter stayed quiet.

"You know, if you want, an assistant coaching position just opened up at Stanford. It's not MLS, and it's not LA, but at least it's California," he finally spoke.

I sighed. This was a lot to think about. "Thanks," I put my head in my hands again. Then looked up at him. "What made you decide to tell me that?"

Carter shook his head. He watched his mom and his sister up on stage. "I feel bad, I guess. I mean, I knew this was eventually going to happen. Ever since high school. You and Eliza, yeah you care about each other, but you're different. You want different things. You need different things to make you happy. I didn't want to see either of you get hurt."

There he was. Carter O'Connor, basically the reincarnation of the Wise Albus Dumbledore.

I shook my head. I knew we were different too. But I thought that would be okay, and it wouldn't end up mattering that much. But differences, especially in relationships, are like moldy cheese: they get sharper with age. Most of all, though,... "I can't see her marry someone else," I whispered. That would have killed me. For the first time in years, my eyes started to get a little watery.

Carter nodded. "People trade teams, right? Maybe in five years you can get to L.A. Eliza would wait for you."

"I don't want to make her do that," I said. At different times, long-distance had taken its toll on both of us. I knew we couldn't do that anymore. But how could we decide who would give up their dream?

How could anyone ever decide that?

I turned to Carter, and asked him advice for the first time in 5-years. "In high school, when you knew Eliza and I would eventually want different things, what did you think? What do you think I should do?"

Carter looked back at me, and I realized how much I'd missed him. So much had happened since high school, but Carter still new me better than anyone else did. And I knew him better than even Eliza could.

"I think you should play soccer," he said. "It's what you've loved since you were three. For your whole life, soccer has been your constant. It's a game, and it's fun for you, but it's also a challenge. It's you against an opponent, and it's you against yourself. Training for it made you stronger, mentally and physically. You've invested your whole life into soccer, and now you have a chance that's one in a million. You owe this to yourself, and you owe it to the people who have been cheering for you since day one."

Carter swallowed, then continued. "You've put 5 years into this relationship. And it was great for you, it really was. But it was also complicated, in more ways than one. And Nick, the best relationships...Aren't complicated."

Carter paused, and looked down at his hands. "But if you want to stay with Eliza, I would understand. I know you guys can't breathe without each other. If you guys could honestly make it through this moment, right here, without abandoning your dreams and still be completely happy, I would support that. Because then I would have been wrong about everything. And I want to be wrong, Nick."

It hung in the air between us. But he never was.

____

5 years even later:

I stood in L.A Saturn's Stadium with my hand over my heart and L.A's colors on my chest. It would be my first major league game with this team.

I'd given up a lot to get where I was today, but I'd gained a lot too.

And as the bright lights in the stadium shone down on me, I scanned the seats for the ones I'd purchased that night. Right on the half-field line, 20 rows up.

They'd come.

They were standing next to my parents, who were back together and looking healthier than ever. I hadn't seen either of them in five years, since I'd left Chicago with a broken heart, and two friendships that would last a lifetime.

And there she was, next to her brother. She wore a yellow and blue MAGUIRE jersey, and a smile that touched me all the way down on the field. She'd even agreed to go out with me again, that night, after the game.

Eliza was here. Of course I'd seen all the movies she'd worked on; the Incredibles 2, Cars 5, Frozen 2, The Secret Life of Cats--Revenge of the Mouse.

They were both here. Cheering me on, as I knew they always would be. As I would always be doing for them. Finally, without any complications.

It had all started with a pizza, and that's the way it would end—every Friday night, with Carter coming over to Eliza and my place, for as long as we could all stand each other. (And that's assuming a lot: Eliza once filled my entire locker with limes. That was in high school, and everyone knows that pranks only improve with age.)

________________________________________________

Thanks for reading :)It really means a lot that so many people cared so much about this story. It really is finished now, and I hope you all liked this!

**Also** if you really loved this story, i'm going to be writing a kinda-similar one soon! Follow me if you're not already so you can get updates!!

The Bro CodeRead this story for FREE!