Now That We're Grown Part 5

78 2 0

I'll admit I never spent a lot of time in gyms. Pilates and dancing kept me fit enough, thank you. I also had never sat watching many basketball games before, unless they were shirts versus skins. In that case, I didn't care who won.

This basketball game, in a gym run by a local medical group, was different. The players all used special wheelchairs, their wheels angled toward the chair, with bumpers and stabilizing bars underneath. Some of the men and women were missing at least one limb, but that didn't slow them down. Their ages ranged as much as the colors of their workout clothes, which reflected no sense of a uniform.

No one coached the group of Iraq and Iran war veterans. Only a few people watched in the bleachers. I figured those folks provided all the coaching and support the vets needed. Dance music bled through the walls from a nearby fitness class, but the cheering patch of fans soon drowned it out.

Gavin looked up, nodding and smiling at me as I sat down on the timeworn wood bleacher. The game had already started.

"Eyes on the game, kid," a man with long, blond hair told Gavin, before laughing and punching his arm.

I soon caught myself shouting out "Go!" or "Yes!" to Gavin. He would grin and keep playing.

The rest of the audience was more animated. I assumed they were family members or other loved ones of the players, since they would shout someone's name when he or she scored. A few wore Army or Navy T-shirts. Unlike many sporting events, no one ever booed or screamed anything negative. It all centered on encouragement and sending out good vibes, a nice change of pace from the high school memories I'd been reliving since coming back to the Big D.

Gavin tossed the ball into the net again, winning for his team. Everyone applauded, as if both teams won.

I didn't notice at first, but the blond man who had teased Gavin earlier was waving from his wheelchair for me to come join them. I did.

"Peter," said Gavin, "this is Eric. He organizes these games."

Eric shook my hand with a firmness that only hinted at the strength in his muscular, tattooed arms. His green eyes glistened with kindness. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"You, too."

"Your boyfriend's pretty good on the court."

I swallowed and watched the dispersing crowd. No one had referred to us that way.

Gavin laughed. "We haven't called each other that yet."

I put my hands on Gavin's shoulders. "I guess we should."

"Yeah," said Gavin. "This is my boyfriend." He reached back and toyed with my left ear.

I pushed his hand away, embarrassed.

Eric slapped himself on the forehead. "Awkward. Sorry. My little brother, Ken, had trouble coming out, so I make a point of showing my support."

"I appreciate that," I told him.

"You're welcome. I think people have to help change happen. Has Gavin told you about our project?"

"He has," I said, "and I love it!"

"It sounds like we're getting a lot of funding, but I'm still hoping for more."

"We can organize some kind of fundraiser in Cedar Springs, at the gay clubs, like maybe a drag show or something."

Eric cocked his head. "I'm gay-friendly, but you don't wanna see me in drag."

"You could be a leather daddy," Gavin said. "You'd totally pull it off."

Eric laughed and checked his watch. "That reminds me. Not the leather part. The daddy part. I have to go pick up my daughter from her dance class. You boys try to stay out of trouble."

"No promises," we both said, before cringing at the unison.

After Eric left, I stayed and talked to Gavin a few more minutes, avoiding Eric's boyfriend comment. Everyone else had streamed out, so I didn't expect a twenty-something blond to approach us, wearing a T-shirt that said, "I can't even think straight."

"Gavin," he said with a sigh, "my brother told me you were going to be here. I didn't even know you were back in Dallas." His T-shirt was an understatement. Between the high-pitched voice and the gesturing, I didn't need gaydar.

"I figured we'd run into each other soon enough," Gavin replied. Meeting a frown on Ken's tilted head, he added, "I should have texted you. Ken, this is Peter."

Ken pocketed his hands in those tight, ripped-up jeans that looked ready to unravel onto the floor. "So, Peter, how do you know my boyfriend?"

Gavin held up both hands. A red flush crept into his brown cheeks. "Whoa, wait a minute, Ken. You and I dated. That's all."

"Maybe you're the only one who doesn't see it." Ken pulled his left hand from his pocket and pointed at Gavin.

"Maybe you're trying to see something that isn't there," said Gavin. "Your brother realized Peter and I are a couple now. Peter's the one I told you about."

Ken furrowed his brow and looked me over. "Oh, the internet pictures. Good job with hurting your best friend."

"Hey," I managed. Not my most articulate defense. Normally, I would come up with a reaction, even if I'm not as sarcastic as Gavin. Then again, Ken seemed kind of psycho, so I didn't want to engage him.

Gavin clasped my hand. "I'm sorry about this, Peter, but Ken and I should talk this out alone. Can we meet back at my place, say about six?"

"Yeah, fine," I said, still not much with the vocabulary. Gavin's hand fell away.

Ken tugged at his shirt. "I can't believe you want to talk to me while you're getting back together with your high school trick."

"You did not just call me that," I told him, before looking back to our mutual interest. I wanted Ken to go away instead. Still, Gavin needed to keep the peace during his project with Ken's brother. "Gavin, I said I'll go."

"And he's okay with that," said Ken, arms akimbo.

Gavin shook his head. "I can speak for myself, Ken. I was trying not to embarrass you."

Ken lowered his gaze. "You think I'm easily embarrassed?"

I replied, "I don't."

Ken raised his hand in a slapping motion, but he dropped it, like an angry mom who checked her temper. "Fine. Gavin, don't bother trying to call and apologize. It's over between us. O-ver!"

Ken strutted toward the exit.

Gavin watched him and stuttered. "It was never.... Okay. Walking away. Good."

I'd never seen Gavin's face so red, even after all the insults hurled at him during our senior year.

I shrugged. "That was something other than fun. Are any of your other exes going to ambush me?"

"What?" Gavin scowled, as if considering that possibility. "No. Sorry, Peter. I'd still like you to come over later. I need to cool off right now."

"From the game, or from Ken?"

"Both. Six?"

"I'll be there, if you want me to be."

He took my hand and kissed it. "Of course, I do."

I kissed his cheek and left in the same direction as my supposed competition, hopefully with less drama in my step. High school trick. Please.

Now That We're Grown: A Gay Romance Short StoryWhere stories live. Discover now