manicdak: (Ianto Thumb)
[personal profile] manicdak
Title: Jared Gets a Nickname
Prompt: Whisper
Rating: PG
Series: This Thing That Happened This One Time
Content Summary/Notes/Warnings: Llewelyn won't shut-up, Jared finds comfort in chocolate, and Mark just knows.


They pulled up to the building and Jared put the car into park while Amos made no move to exit the vehicle. He only turned to look out the window. Jared followed his gaze, but only saw a rainbow flag and a welcome banner that must have been many weeks old by that point.

“So what’s going on here?” Jared asked.

“Oh...” Amos turned to look at him. “It’s just a student get together type of event thing. There’s going to be refreshments, and probably dancing later. I’m not much for the social things, but my friend always ends up roping me into volunteering to help set up.”

Jared chuckled. Everybody had friends like that it seemed.

“You know what?” Amos suddenly looked at him with a glint in his eye as he grabbed hold of Jared’s forearm. “You should come in with me.”

“Why?” Jared eyed him curiously.

“Because...” Amos frowned. “You want me to meet your friends. Are mine not good enough?”

“I didn’t, I mean I...people might...” Jared sputtered as he pulled his arm away from Amos’s grasp and held onto his steering wheel.

“Think you’re gay?” Amos finished his sentence with a huff as he slumped down in the passenger’s seat with disappointment clear on his face. “Say it as if it’s a bad thing, why don’t you?”

Jared cringed at his habit of blurting out his irrational thoughts in front of Amos, who seemed to have a never ending capacity for forgiving his poor choices of words while making it clear how much they had hurt.

“I didn’t mean that,” Jared said. He had made up his mind. Not only was Amos’s pouty face making him feel only two inches tall, but so was the thought of how incredibly disappointed his parents would also be in him if they were to ever find out how he’d been behaving and the company he’d been keeping. If his mother were to know that he’d even considered being friends with the type of guys that he’d sat with at the beginning of the quarter, who had laughed so openly at Amos and nearly left him stranded without a partner for their class project, Jared knew he’d never hear the end of it. The proverbial “I thought we’d raised you better,” was ringing in his ears before his parents even had a chance to say it.

“Yeah, I know you didn’t mean it,” Amos muttered at him. “But it still sucks that you thought it.”

“Where’s the parking lot?” Jared said.

***

Jared didn’t quite know how “Meet Amos’s Friends” had turned into “Help Set Up” for the evening’s festivities. He thought it might have something to do with the guy that Amos had left him with. There had been a rather long introduction in which Jared had met the man, who was wearing some sort of tuxedo jacket paired with a plain white T and jeans. His blond hair was tousled in that way that was too perfect to be that messy accidentally, and he never seemed to stop grinning...or talking.

“I’m Llewelyn,” he had said, sticking his hand out expectantly at Jared before Amos could even open his mouth. “You must be Jared.”

Jared hadn’t taken his hand. He’d stammered, “Lou Ellen?” instead. As if he weren’t feeling awkward enough, Llewelyn had paused to stare nonplussed at him before bursting out into laughter loud enough to attract attention of the few people milling around the area.

“Oh, god, I always have to explain this,” Llewelyn had said once he’d finished laughing. He’d grabbed Jared by the arm and started walking with him through the building as he talked.

“It’s not two names, it’s one. L-L-E-W-E-L-Y-N. You can call me Lyn if you want though. Less ‘L’s that way. Am I right?”

He elbowed Jared in the side and chuckled as if he'd said something funny, but Jared only nodded and smiled dimly as if he knew what was going on.

“Lyn, huh?” Jared said after a while. “But isn’t that...”

“Oh, Amos warned me you were probably going to say something stupid,” Llewelyn replied before he could finish sticking his foot in his mouth for the second time in less than ten minutes.

“Lyn is not a girls name, mister,” he said. “Contrary to popular belief. Llewelyn definitely is not, has not, and never will be.”

They came to a pause in their walking and Llewelyn sat him down on a sofa in a lobby area and sat himself in a chair opposite.

“Listen, I used to hate my name. Tried to get people to call me ‘Lou’ in school for the longest time. It was a failed attempt. Really, do I look like a ‘Lou’?”

“I guess not,” Jared said.

“Right?” Llewelyn nodded his head furiously at him. “Lou sounds like somebody taking a dump or something, by that I mean it reminds me of plumbers. No offense to any Lous you may know, or any within hearing distance of me right now.”

He turned around in his chair and made a show of waving at the people in the lobby who were paying absolutely no attention to them.

“So,” he said, when he’d righted himself in his seat. “What about you? What do they call you? You’re a baseball player. You’ve got to have some sort of nickname.”

“Uh...” Jared paused to think about it. He couldn’t really remember anybody ever calling him much other than Jared.

“I guess sometimes... Sometimes Dahna calls me ‘Jare’ maybe?”

Llewelyn was once again laughing at him.

“That can’t be a nickname!” he howled. “That’s not even a word!”

“Well...” Jared frowned at him. “My name only has two syllables. It’s not like I need one.”

“Everybody needs one,” Llewelyn said. “The first half of your name doesn’t lend itself to anything interesting, but the second half works. I’m gonna call you ‘Red’.”

“Red, but...” Jared frowned thoughtfully at him. “Don’t these things have to happen organically? You can’t just bestow nicknames on people you just met.”

“Honey...” Llewelyn gestured at himself with both hands. “This is 100% organic!”

Jared laughed. Somehow he felt at ease, and he leaned back against the couch. The gap in conversation suddenly left room for him to notice Amos’s absence.

“Hey, where’s...”

“Amos is over there, of course.” Llewelyn jerked a thumb toward a table behind him without looking where Amos was setting up drinks next to a red head who Jared thought was standing a little too close.

“With the ex,” Llewelyn said.

A surge of jealousy washed up on Jared and he was on his feet and scowling at them before he could stop himself.

“Whoa there, Tiger!” Llewelyn stood up himself and blocked Jared’s path. “Do you know him or something?”

“Why would I know him?” Jared grumbled, willing himself with all his might to calm down before anybody aside from Llewelyn noticed.

“He’s a sport guy too,” Llewelyn said. “He’s on the soccer team.”

“Oh,” Jared muttered.

“C’mon,” Llewelyn grabbed his hand and practically dragged him over to the table for introductions.

“Mark, this is Jared. THE Jared.”

He pushed Jared in front of him and then peeked out from behind his shoulder with a grin.

“You two should talk and stack these cups and...” Llewelyn paused for a breath, scampered over to Amos and began to drag him away.

“Don’t worry, I’ll have him back in a few!” He called over his shoulder, and once again Jared found himself alone with a stranger.

“Don’t mind Lyn,” Mark said with an amused chuckle.

“He’s like a caffeinated squirrel,” Jared replied.

Mark laughed louder. “You know, that’s the most apt description of him I’ve ever heard,” he said.

**

If somehow being alone with the non-stop chatter of Llewelyn had put him at ease, then being alone with Mark Briar was having the opposite effect. Mark was quiet and had busied himself with stacking paper cups and dutifully pouring snacks in to bowls without even making an attempt at small talk, and the only thing Jared could think to ask him was about Amos being his ex.

On top of that, more and more people began to filter in and Jared couldn’t help but feel like all eyes were on him, even if, in his rational mind, he knew that wasn’t the truth. Every glance in his direction, every whisper between friends, felt like it was meant for him. He had resorted to facing the wall, shuffling a stack of cups in his hands and occasionally dipping into a bowl of m&m’s. He knew he wasn’t much of a help, and he wished that Amos would come back. It was, with his back turned, that he heard a familiar voice. It was a voice he knew well, and it didn’t belong to Amos.

“Hey, Terry!” Jared finally heard Mark speak. “What’s up?”

“I brought T-shirts,” he said. “Lyn told me to give them to you, I think... He said to take them over to ‘Red’ and he pointed in this direction. Is he giving people new names again.”

“Not that I know of,” Mark replied.

Jared blanched. He knew there was no way he could run away, so he slowly turned around and sheepishly raised his hand.

“I’m Red,” he said. “Hey, Righty.”

Righty glanced in surprise at Jared, then to Mark. He pointed at Mark’s coppery hair then pointed at Jared.

“Okay, I guess I haven’t graduated ‘Llewelyn 101’ like I thought,” He laughed.

“What are you doing here,” Jared muttered. He grabbed a fistful of m&m’s and shoved them in his mouth.

“Oh,” Righty replied. “Well, my dads are counselors here,” he said. “and they volunteer, and sometimes I come and help out.”

“I thought you had a thing tonight,” Jared said.

“Yes,” Righty nodded slowly at him. “This is the thing.” He opened his arms and gestured at the lobby. “I have to say, it’s kind of surprising to see you though.”

“He’s with Amos,” Mark interjected.

Jared turned to glare at him. Mark clearly knew the implication behind his words and was grinning impishly at him.

“I’m not with Amos,” Jared turned his attention back to his fellow pitcher. “He’s my friend. I told you. Remember? When I borrowed your glove?”

“Right!” Righty said. “I remember that, so Your Amos is...Amos?”

“How many Amoses do you know?” Jared asked.

“I...fair point,” Righty said. “Moving right along from my inability to put two and two together...So, you stayin’ for the dancing, or what?”

“Probably not,” Jared replied. “I was just dropping him off from studying, and came in to meet some friends...”

“Then Llewelyn happened,” Mark interrupted and patted Jared sympathetically on the back. “You don’t have to stay.”

Jared winced at his audible sigh of relief as soon as it escaped him, and shrunk away from the disapproving look Righty was suddenly shooting at him.

“I have a date,” Jared said. “I’m not running for the hills, if that’s what you think.”

“It’s true, actually,” Righty said as if he’d just remembered. “He wanted me and Miranda to double with them.”

“Kinky,” Mark said.

He offered a hand to Jared then, and Jared shook it. “It was great to finally meet this guy Amos is always talking about,” he said.

“Thanks. Nice to meet you too,” Jared said “It’s been real.”

Jared turned to leave, but Mark called out after him as if he’d forgotten something. Jared glanced back and saw Mark emptying the bowl of m&m’s back into their bag. He wrapped it shut with a rubber band and handed it to Jared.

“What’s this for?” He stared down at the bag of candy he was holding.

“Just in case you get nervous,” Mark said.

There was something in Mark’s eyes that made Jared nervous. It was as if he could see right through him. Jared just couldn’t shake the feeling that this Mark person knew exactly what was going on: that he had a crush on Amos that he just couldn’t shake. Jared wasn’t going to admit it though, not then. Not ever, if he could help it.

“I gotto go,” Jared mumbled down at his feet more than to Mark. “Thanks for the m&m’s”

He shuffled quickly away from all of them before anybody could say another word.
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