manicdak: (Pierre and Gille guy)
[personal profile] manicdak
Title: An Inauspicious Debut
Prompt: LOST
Rating: PG
Series: This Thing That Happened This One Time
Content Summary/Notes/Warnings: Jared's first game wasn't all he hoped it would be, and he needs someone to talk to.



Jared’s eyes scanned through the list of contacts on his phone in hopes of finding just one person he could unload his anger and frustration on.

His family were in Oregon, too far a distance to travel for the company he craved. He didn’t even know that they would understand. Coming from a family of intellectuals and artists did occasionally have its disadvantages. When it came to Jared and his love of sports, they were often at a complete loss on how to relate. He was the odd duck out.

A dawning realization fell upon him as he perused the list. With the exception of Dahna and a few acquaintances from from the dorm, his only friends were on the baseball team. He could have gone to Dahna, but he knew her solution to his melancholy would be a night out on the town, and he wasn’t in the mood for partying.

There was only one other viable number left on his phone.

****

Amos stood in the door way looking smugly at Jared from where he was leaned against the frame.

“Jared Dawes,” he said. “To what do I owe this visit?”

“Can I...Can I come in?” Jared mumbled at him.

He moved a step forward and halted when Amos didn’t move immediately.

“I’m sorry.” He frowned down at his shoes. “I didn’t mean to bother you. I’ll just... I’ll go somewhere.”

“No, No! Wait!”

Amos unfurled himself and reached out to grab Jared’s shoulder as he turned around.

“It’s just a little bit shocking to see you here after all this time,” he said.

“I’ve been busy,” Jared muttered, refusing to break eye contact with the cement walkway.

“So you can’t call?” Amos said.

He clapped his hands over his mouth as soon as the words escaped then began laughing loudly as he pulled on Jared’s arm and led him into the small apartment.

“What?” Jared said as he peeked into the aprtment.

“Sorry, man. I just really sounded like my mother when I said that. I should call her actually.”

“Yeah,” Jared said.

He stood in the entry way as Amos stepped off to the side and into the small kitchenette. It was more an adjunct to the living room than a real kitchen. He offered a beer, which Jared gratefully accepted, and they settled themselves on the nearby sofa and matching chair respectively.

“So...this is a nice place,” Jared said as he popped the tab on his drink and glanced nervously at Amos who shrugged.

“No it’s not,” he replied with a smirk. “It’s in my price-range while I’m saving some cash, but I know you didn’t come here after all this time to check out my digs, so what’s up?”

“It hasn’t been ‘all this time’,” Jared murmured into his beer. “It’s only been a quarter. I’ve had a full schedule this winter, between school and conditioning. We don’t exactly cross paths around campus, do we?”

“Nah,” Amos agreed. “We could though. I mean...maybe I could come to one of your games or something?”

He leaned forward on the couch and awaited Jared’s reply.

“Sure,” Jared mumbled as he took a swig from his can. “It’s a free country.”

Amos barked out another laugh, accompanied by a wry smile.

“I was kind of angling for a personal invitation there, dude,” he said. “Then I was going to invite you to my show opening next week...or whenever you’re available, but there’s going to be free food at the opening.”

“Geez, I’m sorry,” Jared said. His focus was still intently aimed at his beer can, body language that clearly displayed his nervous discomfort. He hadn’t seen Amos in what seemed like ages, after all. He wasn’t quite sure how to act, or how to broach the subject weighing down his mind without seeming like a totally whiny loser.

“You can come,” he said. “That would be cool.”

“Better.” Amos nodded approval and sank back in his chair. “I’m just curious, y’know. I was beginning to think you were just blowing smoke up my ass about wanting to be friends. I haven’t seen you in a while, so this is kind of sudden.”

“I know.” Jared frowned. “What do you want me to do, Amos? I already apologized.”

“Yeah,” Amos said softly. “I don’t mean to be so distrustful and standoffish. It’s a problem.”

Jared finally looked up at Amos only to notice that he was no longer seated on the couch but instead was lying there, facing away from him with his head lying upon the arm rest as he stared up at the ceiling. He was holding his beer can in place upon his stomach, and Jared watched it rise and fall in time with Amos’s breathing.

Perhaps, he thought, Dahna had been right. Maybe he didn’t try hard enough. It was easy to smile around campus, attempt to charm, and accumulate acquaintances that would wave at you when you passed them by on the way to class. That was no substitute for real friendship.

“You didn’t call me either,” he said.

He could hear Amos chuckle even though he couldn’t see his face.

“Fair point,” he replied. He swung his feet back down onto the floor and sat back in an upright position.

“So, we’re both horrible disappointments,” he said with a slight smile as he offered his hand. “Truce?”

“Truce,” Jared said. He shook Amos’s hand then sank back into his chair and took another long sip, finishing off the rest of his beer.

“I have to say that you’re not the disappointment in this scenario,” Jared said after a moments pause to deposit his can on the small coffee table in front of him.

“Oh?” Amos arched an eyebrow. “Bad day at the office? I see.”

“You could say that.” Jared’s brow creased as he thought about that afternoon’s debacle and the reason he had sought out someone to talk to in the first place.

“So, tell me about it,” Amos said. He curled his feet beneath him on the couch and leaned heavily forward on the arm rest, fully focused on Jared, an expression of intent concern on his face.

“It’s just...” Jared looked away from Amos, not sure that he would be able to speak while looking directly into his eyes. Instead he turned his gaze toward the ceiling and grabbed his hair in frustration with both his hands.

“It’s so much pressure. I have to be good. No. I have to be great. They gave me all this money to go here, and what do I do? I fuck up. My first time out, and I seriously pitched the worst game in my life. It can’t be like that, Amos. I have to be better than that, or what am I going to do? Drop out? Go back to Oregon and hunt ducks?”

“Really?” Amos murmured. “That’s the go-to profession in Oregon?”

Jared couldn’t help the laugh that erupted from him despite his growing frustration.

“See,” Amos said. “First of many smiles tonight. I promise.”

“I hope so,” Jared said. He poked the empty beer can on the table with his foot and glanced over at Amos.

“Got any more of that?”

Amos nodded, stood, and returned with the refreshment.

“So,” he said as he handed it over. “How bad was it?”

“Ugh, you’re going to make me spell it out?” Jared frowned.

Amos didn’t reply. He only curled back up in his spot on the couch and waited for Jared to continue speaking.

“I lost the game, okay,” he muttered.

“Really?” Amos said. “It was all on you? Last time I checked, baseball was a team sport.”

Jared sighed and focused his attention back on his beer.

“We were up two to one, and they put me in the top of the ninth to close the game,” he murmured. “I walked two guys and then gave up a three run home run. I guess if I wanted to throw equal blame around I could point at the guys not scoring any runs in the bottom of the inning, but that’s not really fair. It’s my loss. That’s how they’ll mark it on my record. And I have nobody to unload on because all my friends are on the team and they kind of hate me right now.”

“Yeah, that’s rough,” Amos said with a nod.

Jared glanced up at him curiously.

“You’re not going to tell me that they don’t hate me or something? Or that it will be fine. There will be other games, or whatever. It was just nerves?” he said.

“Apparently you already know that,” Amos replied. “Is me spewing platitudes at you really going to make you feel better.”

Jared cocked his head to the side and paused to consider it.

“No,” he said then lofted his beer. “Probably not. Supplying the underage kid with alcohol, no questions asked, kinda does though.”

“Oh, man, I forgot!” Amos said.

“It’s alright. I won’t tell if you won’t. You’ve still got a few more months until the big two-one too, If I remember right,” Jared said.

“True,” he replied. “You got me there.”

Jared sighed in return. Despite the beer and the company, he still wasn’t feeling much better, and Amos could tell.

“Okay, enough of this moping,” Amos said.

He roused himself from the couch once again and walked over to Jared’s chair to sit on the arm rest and point at the TV.

“You know what always makes me feel better?” he said. “Shutting myself in my room and hitting the Playstation for hours at a time. Let’s just forget all about the pressure and disappointment for a while. What do you say?”

“That sounds good,” Jared said. He was acutely aware of how close Amos was sitting next to him, and so intent was he on the feeling that he nearly jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

Amos seemed not to notice as gave Jared a pat on the back, jumped from his seat, made his way over to start up the gaming system, and asked what game Jared preferred. Jared answered noncommittally and moved to sit on the floor beside Amos in a spot within reach of the controller.

“So,” Amos said as they waited for the game to load. “You remember when my birthday is?”

He glanced sideways at Jared, who was attempting to hide a sudden and embarrassed flush.

He turned away and coughed into his hand to compose himself before facing Amos.

“Yeah, well...I may be a terrible friend who never calls you, but I’m still a friend.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Amos said.

“You better,” Jared muttered. “You can’t really count on me. Nobody can.”

Amos didn’t reply with words. Instead he scooted closer and wrapped one arm around Jared’s shoulder in a sideways hug. Jared resisted the urge to whirl around and check for someone watching when he knew that nobody was there. They were alone. There was no real excuse for him to deny the comfort of a simple hug.

He leaned into the embrace and rested his head against Amos’s.

“Thanks, man,” he said.

“Any time,” Amos replied. He released Jared as the sound of the game filled the room, demanding their attention. “Any time.”

ilu Dak

Date: 2011-05-13 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] potatoe1988.livejournal.com
Yesss, thank you for participating! These guys are sweet. I totally didn't even think of that interpretation of the prompt, either. Kudos.

Date: 2011-05-14 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
great story. stumbled across is via the slash pile and it is really really and truely amazing. thank you for that. makes one great substitute for hot chocolate on a bleak and unfriendly saturday.

kiki

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