manicdak: (Pierre and Gille guy)
[personal profile] manicdak
Title: Salami Pretzels
Prompt: Empty
Rating: PG
Series: This Thing That Happened This One Time
Content Summary/Notes/Warnings: Comfort Food and the wise little brother.



The summer was going to shit not even a week into his return to Oregon. He would have been happy to have spent the free time training at the gym or lying in miserable regret in his room for the entirety of break, but somehow Dahna had convinced him to venture outside. Not only that, but she had dragged him to a get together with all their old high school friends. If Jared hadn’t been too wrapped up in his own drama, he might have wondered why she was so determined to relieve the “Good Times” from back then.

The entire evening had been a huge realization that he just wasn’t the same person he had been when he’d left for California two years previously. He couldn’t get into the stupid video game his friends were playing among piles of empty beer cans without remembering the first game he’d ever pitched in college and how he and Amos had played games all night in an effort to make Jared feel better about how terrible he had played.


On top of that, the slurs they threw around with ease and without thought made him extremely uncomfortable. He couldn’t remember why he’d ever liked those people in the first place. They were the same kind of asshole kids as the ones that were harassing his brother. It chilled him to think that maybe he had been that kind of asshole too without even realizing it.

When Brooks had entered high school being a dancer had made him a target, and standing in constant defense of his best friend D’Von, who had recently come out didn’t help. Brooks never hid though, and he unflaggingly stood by D’Von’s side. Not like Jared, who had panicked and chased his best friend and lover all the way to San Fransisco with no way to contact him over the summer.

He’d retreated to the kitchen and buried himself in pretzel nuggets wrapped in salami that he’d found in the fridge, his favorite and weirdest comfort food, and that was where Dahna found him.

“What are you doing?” She asked. “Everybody’s looking for you.”

“Salami Pretzels.” He grumbled and held one out to her. She turned her nose up at him and waved away the salty treat with her hand.

“I’m a vegetarian now,” she said.

“Since when?”

“If you were paying attention,” she said, “Since last semester. I don’t know where the hell you were last year. I feel like I barely saw you.”

He contemplated telling her that most of his time that wasn’t baseball or school devoted was spent loitering around the art department or having sex with Amos, but wasn’t in a sharing mood. In the middle of his former friends kitchen while they were arguing over Halo in the next room wasn’t the right time or place to let his friend, who had been his last serious girlfriend, in on his big secret.

Jared had a feeling she wasn’t going to take it well.


“You mean you were looking for me,” he muttered. “Those guys don’t give a shit.”

Dahna glanced behind her in the direction of the living room and then shrugged at Jared.

“So you wanna go somewhere else?” she asked. “This is kinda boring anyway.”

“I want to go home.”

He pushed himself away from the counter without returning the lunch meat to its proper place and trudged toward the front door.

“Aren’t you the party pooper,” Dahna said as she wandered after him. “What’s your deal?”

“My deal is that I don’t want to be around anybody right now,” he said. “I’ve got to concentrate on pitching and my studies.”

“You concentrate on studies?” She laughed. “Since when?”

“Since always,” he said. “I think you have me confused with you.”

“Ha, ha.” She rolled her eyes and elbowed him as she passed him by on the way to the front door.

“Seriously, Jared,” she said. “Do you just want to watch a movie or something? Boring for a Saturday night, but you look really down...”

“Nah,” he said. “You can do whatever you want. I’m just going to go home.”

“Are you sick, or something?” She moved to stand in front of him and block him from the front door.

“Something like that,” he said. “Don’t push it Dahna. I’m not really in the mood.”

He pushed her aside and headed out into the night.

***

Dahna had chased him out to the car and demanded a ride to her friend, Andrea’s house, in hopes of a more adventurous weekend. She’d informed him that he was being a shit and that she wasn’t giving up on him. She was determined to cheer him up if it was the last thing she did. Jared had told her that it just might be.

His house felt imposing when he arrived. The Victorian home loomed large amid the trees without any lights to welcome him aside from the lamp that illuminated the street. Jared’s parents were obviously not home, and, though he had been anticipating some alone time to ruminate on all the ways he was indeed a “shit”, he felt somewhat disappointed. He didn’t necessarily want to be alone, he realized. He just didn’t want to be around things that reminded him of the jerk he had been and was trying desperately not to be.

It was with some relief that he noticed from the kitchen window that the lights of the converted guest house were on. He grabbed a couple of drinks from the fridge and headed out back to see what his brother was up to.

He found Brooks in his studio practicing a routine with D’Von. He didn’t want to disturb their concentration, so he took an unobtrusive spot on the wall until he was noticed. Despite Jared’s wish to just watch and not interrupt, he managed to distract in only a few short moments of entering.

Brooks called for a break, removed a towel from the wall mounted barre, and mopped the sweat from his brow.

“What’s up, Bro?” he said as he approached Jared’s spot on the wall.

D’Von merely waved and disappeared into the ‘media room’.

“Hey!” Jared pushed himself up from the wall and pointed past Brooks. “You guys going to watch movies? I’m in!”

“You’re ignoring me.” Brooks crossed his arms impatiently over his chest and gave Jared his patented ‘truth extracting’ stare.

It very nearly made him want to spill ever single one of his confessions right there on the dance floor.

“You’re ignoring me.” Jared stubbornly suppressed his inclination to share his actual feelings with anybody.

“Fine.” Brooks shrugged and gestured toward the cameras he had set up around the room. “We’re going to review tape and see what needs improving. Feel free to join us.”

“I’ll make the popcorn.” Jared had meant it as a jest, but he could tell by the look Brooks was giving him that it had fallen flat. Once again he felt like he was the younger brother. In some ways he was sure that he was.

“Are you actually interested?” Brooks said. “Because you hardly ever come back here unless it’s to commandeer my television because there’s a big game on and dad is watching the National Geographic channel in the house. You know, because dance lessons wouldn’t be the worst thing you could do. It might even help you out. I hear some professional athletes do it.”

“Brooks,” Jared said. “I’m a pitcher. Have you seen some of the fattos that pass for pitchers in the big leagues? I barely have to be in shape.”

“Hah-ha.” Brooks rolled his eyes. “You and I both know that’s not true. Now, what happened to your night out on the town?”

“It was a night in with salami pretzels and Halo.” Jared shrugged. “I was bored, and I never get to see my little brother.”

“Salami pretzels?”

Brooks stepped back and gave Jared an appraising look. He didn’t ask what was wrong, even though Jared could tell he knew something wasn’t right. If he would have asked, Jared had a feeling that he would have told.

“Okay,” Brooks spoke. “Give us an hour. I know you think dancing is boring, but we really need to...”

“I do the same thing.” Jared smiled wanly at him and patted his shoulder. “I understand all about reviewing the tapes, Brooksie.”

“Okay, good.” Brooks nodded. “Then we can watch whatever movie you want. How’s that?”

“Sounds good.” Jared’s smile widened into something a little more enthusiastic. It wasn’t until then that he realized that it had been quite a while since that kind of expression had crossed his face.
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