35 - One front-row ticket to the football locker rooms, please?

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"Hurry up, we're going to be late!" 

Madden had been impatiently yelling the same shit at me for the past five minutes as if nagging was going to make me actually move faster. He'd been ready to leave since before I even got up, decked out in seemingly every blue and yellow piece of clothing he owned. They were the colours of Tanner's team, and he wanted to show his support by dressing to match like a pint-size mascot. 

"Mate, I'm going as fast as I can. Just go chill in the car and I'll be there in a sec," I said. This is karma kid, for every minute you've made me wait over the years. 

"Ugh! What else do you need? I'll just get it," said Madden. So all I need to do is go at a snail pace and you'll actually offer to help? Interesting.  

"Nothing for me, but have you got your jacket?" 

"I won't need one. I'm not cold." 

"Now. You're not cold now, but you will be later. Go get it." 

"But it's black, not blue and yellow. It won't match!" he argued. "I really don't need it. I'm fine." 

"I won't be coming all the way back for it." 

"Nope, all good. Let's just go!" said Madden defiantly, taking my hand and dragging me outside.  

"Alright. On your stubborn little head be it then," I said, backtracking to check the door was locked. "And don't you let me hear you complaining about being cold later. Capiche?" 

"Understood," he said, jumping into the car so energetically I was surprised he didn't knock himself out hitting his head against the roof. 

I, on the other hand, was a little slower getting into the car, like I had been all morning. I felt apprehensive about stepping back into Tanner's domain. We had spoken every day since our first coffee date, just as we used to. It felt as natural as it always had, but something about going to his game today didn't and I couldn't figure out why. I think my mind was just adjusting to feeling calm now I had explored all my past issues that were keeping me a nervous wretch. Like it just wasn't used to feeling reasonably okay all the time and was going through withdrawal, tempting me to make an issue out of nothing just to fill the void. 

I think Tanner was nervous to have Madden and I there watching him, too; like he needed to measure up to the player I remembered him being as a teenager, as well as the big game he talked to Madden when he made the rookie mistake to compete with a child. He'd always been an incredibly competitive person, which I always assumed was one of the reasons why my relationship with Camden was so hard for him to accept. 

I guess he won that competition in the end, despite losing a few heats along the way. Tanner was always going to come out on top though, once I sorted my own shit out. 

Madden was jumping around in his seat, playing with my phone and trying to find the perfect song to pump him up before we got to the ground. I don't think we had listened the whole way through a single song, which was frustrating the hell out me. He usually wasn't so indecisive, which is why I had no issue handing him the musical reigns, but I guess he was just too excited to sit back and chill out today. Thankfully, I received a text message while he was scrolling through, distracting him enough to just let the song play. 

"It's Tanner. He says, 'Hey, friend and young'un'. Wait, what does that mean?" Madden asked. 

I chuckled. "Young'un means young one, so you." 

"Oh. Right. Okay, well he says, 'Hey, friend and young'un. You guys are still coming, yeah? Can't do this without you, and need the little man's coaching if I want to win today'." Madden laughed. "How am I supposed to know what he should do? He's played for like fifty more years than I have!" 

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