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[personal profile] manicdak
Title: Playing Catch
Prompt: Tickling
Rating: PG
Series: This Thing That Happened This One Time
Content Summary/Notes/Warnings: Amos and Jared Take a Study Break. All stories in "This Thing That Happened This One Time" are posted as vignettes and are not in chronological order. One day there will be a list where they are linked in order, but today is not that day. :)

“I need a break,” Jared announced from his reclined position in the grass on the hill where he was staring at a stack of papers in front of him.

Amos looked up from a book that he held in his lap.

“Have you even read anything yet?” He asked.

Jared pouted at him and crawled up into a seated position so that he could look him in the eye. It was strange he thought. Mickey had whined so long and so hard about being paired with the gay kid for their psychology project that Jared had switched with him just to get him to shut up. It hadn’t been a bad experience though. Amos was all business when it came to studying. At least he had stopped cowering like a frightened child whenever Jared showed up to meet with him. He had a sneaking suspicion that Amos thought he was just waiting for the right time to corner him and beat him up. He might have asked him about it, but he didn’t really want to hear the kid’s life story. If he could get him to loosen up just a little bit though, it might make the study sessions that Amos insisted on just a little less rigid and a little more fun. Jared wasn’t going to shrug his half of the project onto the guy, but if he insisted on them working together every step of the way, then Jared didn’t want to die of boredom.

“I have,” Jared said. He held up one piece of paper: a cover sheet and grinned at Amos over the top of it.

“Come on.” Amos rolled his eyes and impatiently tugged at the long striped sleeves he had sewn onto a grey T-shirt that had been spray painted indiscriminately. Amos’ wardrobe was something else. It never quite matched but he owned whatever weird thing he put on in the morning. It was almost cute.


Jared shook his head to clear out his thoughts.

It most definitely was not cute. The miniskirt that Dhana had worn the other day was cute... not the weird ankle socks with the blue pom pom at the heel that Amos was wearing. Jared frowned at himself, suddenly feeling a rush of panic well up in him. Why was he even noticing Amos’ socks in the first place?

“Because they’re weird,” he murmured to himself.

“What’s weird?” Amos looked up from his book.

“Uh, them...” Jared pointed at a couple of football players who were walking down the nearby sidewalk. Amos glanced over then back at Jared with a curious expression on his face.

“Really?” He said. “Do you know something I don’t?”

“No.” Jared muttered in a rush to change the subject. “Do you wanna play catch? I need a break.”

“Okay, I can see I’m not going to convince you to work anymore until you get this out of your system so...” Amos stood up and brushed off his pants. “Let’s go. You’ve got an extra glove in that bag of yours?”

“Really?” Jared couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice as he looked up. The last thing he had expected was for Amos to agree to his idle proposal. “But you’re...”

Amos interrupted him before the words could slip out, and for that Jared was grateful. He knew it would have been a mistake as soon as he had opened his mouth.

“I swear to god, Dawes. If you say ‘but you’re gay...’ This partnership is over and you can write the fucking report and do the presentation all by yourself. Judging by your work ethic, here... That’ll be one spectacular failure that I can’t wait to see.”

“I’m sorry.” Jared hung his head, feeling ashamed at himself. “I wasn’t going to say that... Not really. I was going to say you just don’t seem like the athletic type.”

“Believe it or not, smarty pants, I played baseball up until high school. At which point I was deemed social poison and my one time friends who decided to make my life a living breathing hell for four years, but that was a long time ago. Let’s not go there.”

"When was that? Last year?" Jared chuckled.

Amos smiled at him.

"Try three years ago," he said.

"Shit! You're not a freshman?"

"Nah," he replied.

"Huh." Jared scratched his head at the thought. Despite the revelation that Amos was almost definitely older than him, he still had a hard time not thinking of him as a "kid". He just had that kind of youthful look about him.

“Yeah, yeah.” Amos chuckled to himself. “Maybe I am an old Jewish man after all.”

He reached a hand out to Jared who flashed a flirty grin at him without realizing it. He grabbed hold of Amos and hauled himself to his feet.

“Alright, Smarty Pants...” Jared laughed, reached down into his bag and pulled out his own glove and his spare. He straightened up and threw the spare at Amos, who fumbled it when he caught it.

“Let’s see what you got.”

Jared retreated to a spot not far away and stretched his arms behind his head as he watched Amos staring at the glove and his hands in a perplexed manner.

“Dude,” he shouted across the distance. “It goes on your right hand! I know you’re left handed.”

“Yeah, I know,” Amos shouted back. “It’s the only thing we have in common, but... I don’t think I can use this glove.”

“Weren’t you just giving me a speech about assuming what you can and can’t do?”

“I know!” Amos laughed heartily and tossed the glove back on top of Jared’s opened bag. He walked across the distance that separated them.

“I’m sorry you got stuck with me,” he said. “I actually can’t throw with my left hand. I throw with my right hand. It’s weird. I’m weird. I’m just a whole book of bizarre,” Amos said once he’d arrived at his destination. He had a sudden air of sadness around him and Jared found that he didn’t like it.

“Hey,” Jared said. He reached out and touched Amos’ shoulder. “That’s a book I’d like to read.”

Amos looked sharply up at him and frowned.

“Is that so?”

Jared shrugged in an attempt to pass off his comment as no big deal as a dose of self-awareness came crashing down on him like a tidal wave. He knew he was flirting then, and suddenly he felt like the one who was cowering. He’d spent four years burying those kind of impulses under heaps of denial. Knowing that Amos could dredge them up so easily was terrifying.

“Maybe we should...we should...” Jared gestured with his gloved hand back to their study spot only to notice that the stack of papers he’d pinned underneath Amos’ book had come loose and scattered all over the grassy hill.


Amos arched and eyebrow at him then turned to look as Jared rushed past him in a futile attempt to capture the notes that were fluttering away in the wind. Amos ran after him and placed a hand on his shoulder before he could become more frantic.

“Leave it, Jared,” he said. “I’ll make another copy for you. No big deal.”

“You’re right, you’re right,” Jared said. He couldn’t keep the nervous tint out of his voice as he twisted away from Amos’ grasp.

Amos seemed to sense Jared’s shift in mood and backed off.

“Well, looks like we’re done for the day,” he said as he knelt down and began to pack up his books. “So...we can meet tomorrow. Same place?”

“Okay,” Jared replied.

Jared was late.

Amos frowned to himself and looked out over the hill. He knew things had gotten weird between them the previous day, but he didn't think Jared was going to stand him up. Things had been going much better than expected with him and Amos didn't want to lose the only decent study partner he’d had since he was twelve. For all Jared’s faults and distractions, it couldn’t be said that he didn’t try. He hadn’t even offered the commonplace practice of splitting the project and communicating in e’mail form only until the day of presentation. He’d been fully committed to actually working together the entire time. At least he had seemed to be.

Amos scowled, feeling angry at himself for his own optimism that Jared wasn’t like his friend, Mickey, who had dumped Amos the first chance he got, and who constantly made fun of him from the back row while the rest of the group giggled along. Amos thought he’d been paranoid, but Jared had all but told him it was true the first time they met at the library.

He shoveled his books angrily into his back pack and was about to storm off to take his frustrations out with a press drill and a piece of plywood, vowing never again to take an elective that none of his friends were taking, when he spotted Jared running up the hill.

“Sorry I’m late!” He huffed at Amos once he’d arrived, bent over, hands on his knees in an effort to catch his breath.

“Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of an athlete?” Amos arched an eyebrow at him and didn’t even attempt to keep the biting sarcasm out of his voice.

“Dude!” Jared straightened up and frowned. “I just ran all the way across campus! What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” Amos murmured. “I just...I thought you were blowing me off.”

Jared stared back at him in confusion as if the thought had never crossed his mind.

“No way,” he said. “You’re the only reason I’m going to pass this class. Mick and Davis haven’t even started their project yet. We totally dodged a bullet with them.”

“Okay, sorry,” Amos said, and cautiously put his bag back on the ground.

“Cool.” Jared nodded. Then a grin lit up his face as he reached into his duffel and pulled out a glove. He thrust it toward Amos, who received it reluctantly.

“I told you...”

“Nah, dude,” Jared said. “I was waiting for Righty to get out of class so I could borrow his old one. That’s why I was late.”

Amos slid his hand into the well worn leather, then opened and closed it a few times to gauge how loose it was.

“I like this one,” he said.

Without further ado, Jared thrust a baseball into the webbing of Amos’ new glove and jogged himself a few yards away.

“So,” Amos shouted across the distance as he lifted the ball from its cradle and threw it at Jared. It landed in in his glove with a satisfying thwack.

“You know a guy who calls himself ‘Righty?’,” Amos said.

“Yeah.” Jared returned the ball.

“He has this whole philosophy behind it, but I’ll let him tell you about it when you meet him.”

With Jared’s last comment, Amos’ hands fell from a throwing position to his sides as he paused to digest it.

“C’mon. What’s up?” Jared called out.

Amos approached him so that he wouldn’t have to speak as loudly.

“You want me to meet your friends?” Amos posed the statement as a question.

“Sure,” Jared shrugged. “Why not?”

“I dunno,” Amos muttered. “It kind of implies that you want to hang out with me outside of school projects.”

“Of course I do,” Jared said with a soft chuckle as if the thought of not doing so was so foreign a concept as to be laughable.

“But Why?” Amos frowned.

“Because...” Jared paused. “We’re friends right? That’s what friends do.”

“We’re friends?”

“Sure!” Jared said. “Unless you don’t want to be, and you’re secretly just putting up with my stupid freshman ass until this quarter is over.”

“No,” Amos admitted. “I just never expected you to want to get to know me.”

Jared laughed loudly, placed one gloved hand and one bare hand on Amos’ shoulders, turned him around and marched him back to his catching position.

“You need to stop expecting the worst out of people,” Jared said.

“Yeah, but this way I can never be disappointed,” Amos replied as he turned around and found that he was only inches from Jared, whose hands were still resting lightly on his shoulders. The only thing separating them was the glove that Amos held at chest level.

He looked up and found that Jared was giving him a rather intense stare, and felt like his sharp intake of breath could be heard for miles the way it sounded in his head.

“I rather like being pleasantly surprised,” he murmured.

Jared didn’t say anything for a long moment, then he shook himself out of his trance-like state by releasing Amos’ shoulder with a rough pat and retreating backwards a few steps.

“C’mon, throw it,” he said, trying to divert attention away from the awkward tension their proximity had provided.

“I’ll go long.” He turned his back to Amos and peered over his shoulder.

“Over the shoulder?” Amos grinned at him. “Alrighty, Willie Mays. If you say so.” He tossed the ball high and as far as he could without aiming it at any of the random passers by. Jared predictably stumbled over his feet as he tried to run and watch the arc of the throw behind him. He landed in a heap not too far away from where the ball fell back to earth with a loud thunk.

Amos quickly jogged over to where Jared had fallen.

“Are you...” his impending enquiry into Jared’s well being was thwarted by the image of the man rolling around in the grass spewing out a stream of laughter.

“C’mon.” Amos offered a hand up and a smile as soon as Jared came to a stop and took a shaky breath.

He looked at Amos’ hand then up into his eyes and a devious grin spread across Jared’s face. He grabbed hold of Amos’ hand and was easily able to pull him to the ground. Amos tumbled down next to him with a startled gasp of surprise and was instantly met with Jared’s hands, lightly pinching at his sides inciting Amos’ own stream of giggles.

“Oh my god, that tickles! Stop it!,” he howled with laughter and tried to push Jared’s hands away.

He didn’t get anywhere until they were both lying breathless next to eachother staring up at a bright blue sky.

“So,” Jared said after a quiet moment. “We should probably get back to work, huh?”

“Probably,” Amos replied.

Instead of standing up, Amos put his hands behind his head and sighed contentedly.

“Or maybe we could just stay right here for a while and watch the clouds?”

“Yeah,” Jared said. He followed Amos’ lead and put his own hands behind his head, but he turned his head slightly and watched Amos instead.

And Amos pretended not to notice.

February 2013


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