To Get To First Base

The car is a beat-up Honda, once painted forest green, and now reddish brown with rust. It sputters comfortably in the quiet spring morning, coughing in harmony with the chirping birds and a faulty lawn mower somewhere down the street. Inside, a young man is tapping his long fingers against the leather steering wheel in increasing impatience. He leans on the horn with a sigh, and watches with amusement as a flock of crows startles and flies away.

The house he is stalling in front of is a nice house: a little small and in need of a new coat of paint, but generally cozy-looking. A frayed Italian flag above the porch flutters gently in the warm spring breeze. A few seconds after the car horn honks, a boy runs out of the front door, still putting on his leather jacket. He is in a hurry and stumbles over the last porch step. Once he's regained his balance, he does a short and elaborate bow before walking the rest of the way to the car and slipping in.

"Hey, Tony," the driver says in greeting.

Tony pauses, his seatbelt half way across his chest. He stares at the driver. "Oh my god. What happened to you?" He purses his lips as though trying to keep from bursting into laughter.

The other boy rolls his eyes, and pulls away from the curb roughly. "Fucking allergy season." He shakes his head in disgust at Mother Nature's grave transgression.

Tony lets out a quiet snicker. "Poor wickle Sean-y poo has some wickle allergies?"

Sean rolls his eyes and takes one hand off the wheel to throw a rude gesture in Tony's direction. Keeping his eyes on the road he reaches for a box of tissues on the dashboard, and dabs carefully at his obnoxiously red nose. "Ow," he says plaintively.

Tony laughs again. "Man, you need those nice tissues. The ones with lotion in them. My mom buys those for us when we're sick."

"You mama's boy," Sean says with a smirk. "Lotion tissues... Jesus..." He shakes his head, grinning.

They drive for only a few blocks before pulling up at another small, well-lived house. Tony leaps out of the car before Sean can honk, and strolls up to the porch. Sean watches from the car, peering out the passenger's seat window.

Tony greets another boy at the door, slapping a friendly hand on his shoulder, and giving a casual wave to the boy's mother who lurks just inside. Then he nods his head towards the car, rolling his eyes in an apology. Tony and his friend walk back down the steps, across the lawn and into the car.

"You better not be blaming me for being late," Sean says as they pull away again. He smacks the back of Tony's head lightly, and then turns his head to look at the new passenger. "Don't listen to him, Michael. It's all lies, everything he says."

Michael grins and giggles.

"Hi, by the way," Sean adds as an afterthought.

"Hey," Michael says. He smoothes his sweating palms against his faded jeans, and licks his lips.

Tony raises an eyebrow. "Mushy, don't tell me you're nervous."

Michael looks at him, wide-eyed. "No!" he says. "Well... I mean... yeah, I guess a little bit." He shrugs guiltily and looks out the window.

Tony chuckles. "It's just the first game. It doesn't have any effect on, y'know... anything." He trails off.

"Oh no, see, whether or not they win their first game affects all sorts of things," Michael says, shaking his head vigorously. "It determines right off the bat -- excuse the pun -- who they'll play for their next game, what the odds of getting to a tournament are, how the line--up for the season is going to work out, not to mention the team's morale -- "

Sean and Tony look at each other and laugh.

"Since when are you a baseball fan?" Sean asks.

Michael giggles and doesn't answer.

"Since his boyfriend plays on the school team," Tony says, nudging Sean with his elbow. He drops the girly mimic and rolls his eyes. "He's been talking about it nonstop. 'Baseball this,' and 'baseball that,' and 'Kid likes the Yankees!' and 'Kid is so pretty,' and 'Kid plays first base!' and --"

"Don't forget 'Kid and I got to first base!'" Sean says, grinning wryly.

Tony and Sean cackle maliciously from the front seat, while Michael buries his head in his hands.

"Am I really that obvious?" he asks mournfully.

"You're doing everything but bat your eyelashes at him, bambino. You should just ask him out already." Tony shakes his head with a fond smile.

Sean grimaces. "Ew. Young love." He parks the car not very gently against the curb. "Here we are."

Michael sits up straight, and presses his nose to the car window. "Oh god. We're here. Oh no. Oh my god."

Tony unbuckles his seatbelt, reaches into the back, flicks Michael on the forehead and climbs out. "C'mon, there are pretty boys in tight pants holding phallic symbols, just waiting to be admired," he says, and starts off in the direction of the baseball diamond.

Michael lingers a moment longer, and then hops out. "You coming, Sean?"

Sean, who is busy blowing his nose, and rubbing at one of his eyes angrily, shakes his head. "No way. Too much pollen."

Michael pouts thoughtfully for a moment, and then catches sight of his crush doing warm--ups and bounds off without a word. Tony doubles back, however, and sticks his head through the still-open car door.

"Hey, stupido, didn't you hear me mention cute boys and phallic symbols?" he asks.

"Yeah, I heard you. Plenty of pitching and catching going on over there, that's for sure," Sean says, holding a tissue to his nose. They watch as Michael finds a seat near the field, and waves shyly to a lanky blonde who's tossing a ball underhand to some of his teammates. Kid waves back, ceasing to pay attention to the game of catch, and subsequently getting hit in the face with a baseball. Sean and Tony laugh in unison.

After a moment, Tony sighs and gets back into the car. "Are you sure you don't want to watch?"

"I can watch fine from here." Sean gives a loud sneeze and grabs more tissues. "Hey, close the door if you're just going to sit there," he says.

Tony obliges, and the slamming of the car door brings a sudden, unexpected silence to the thick atmosphere.

"Anyway," he says, just to be saying something.

"Yep." Sean shreds an unused tissue gently, eyes fixed on his lap.

"I'm trying to think of more baseball innuendoes," Tony says, after another moment ticks by. "Pitching and catching, getting to first base... and then the pants and the bats are just innuendoes in themselves."

Sean stares thoughtfully out of the windshield. "How about 'I'd rather play than watch?'" He turns to Tony and gives him a devilish grin.

Tony laughs loudly. "That's good. I like that. That's definitely good." He smiles, and looks back over at the diamond, where more people are taking seats.

"Hey, if you wanna go, y'know... watch the game..." Sean trails off.

Tony shrugs. "Nah, I'd rather stay - y'know. The car is fine. I can see from here."

"'Kay."

"Yeah. Anyway..."

Sean blows his nose.

"So," Tony says, "prom is coming up."

"Yeah."

"Excited?"

Sean snorts derisively. "Why would I be excited about prom?"

"I... I don't know." Tony laughs. "Um, so, got a date?"

Sean stares at him, holding a tissue to his nose. "Um. No?"

Tony smiles, and then looks back out the window. "Okay."

"Why? Do you?"

"Nah. I'm not sure if I'm going to go."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Well, I'm not," Sean says.

"You're not?" Tony asks.

"No. I mean... prom? No. No way." He shakes his head.

"You'd look hot in a tux though," Tony says, before he can stop himself.

Sean lets out a laugh, a real laugh, and then goes quiet again. "Thanks."

Tony shrugs, and smiles at the window.

"You... wouldn't look so bad in a tux yourself." Sean suddenly finds himself fascinated with piling his used tissues in a pyramid on the car floor.

"Thanks."

"Yeah."

The game begins and both boys turn their attention to the field for a while.

"Tony, do you even like baseball?" Sean asks, when he notices that Tony is as distracted as he is.

Tony grins. "Nope. I'm just here for Michael. Y'know, moral support."

"Right."

"Also, y'know. Baseball pants," Tony says.

Sean laughs. "Yep."

"So do you think Kid is gonna ask Michael out?" Tony asks. "I mean, they seem pretty into each other."

"Maybe they'll go to prom together," Sean muses.

"That'd be awesome. Probably the first boys ever to attend together," Tony says.

"That's lame." Sean's voice cracks, and he clears it a couple times and coughs into a tissue.

Tony waits for him to finish coughing. "What's lame?"

"Them being the first boys to go to a school dance together. I mean... y'know. You'd think it would've happened before now."

Tony nods mildly, and watches as Kid tags someone out. Michael stands up in his seat and cheers, along with a few other baseball fanatics.

"Tony?"

"Yeah?"

Sean sniffles quietly. "If, um, if they don't go to prom together... Kid and Michael... would you want to...? I mean, like, if they don't end up getting together, we could still... like..." he trails off helplessly.

"Are you... I mean, um. Are you asking me to prom?"

Sean shrugs and looks away quickly. "Yeah, whatever. It's not like... I mean, we're just friends and stuff, so it wouldn't be like..."

"Right, no. Definitely. Um." Tony smiles into his lap.

"We might have to dance together though," Sean says. "Just to shock people. And get our picture taken and crap. Be in the yearbook."

Tony laughs. "Yeah, definitely. Do a little bump and grind on the dance floor. Sneak off to the bathroom halfway through."

He and Sean grin at each other.

"Just friends though, right?" Sean asks after a moment.

"Um, yeah. I guess," Tony says.

"Unless..."

"Yes?"

Sean shrugs. "Unless you don't want it to be just friends."

Tony plays with the zipper on his jacket. "Yeah."

"Yeah?"

Tony smiles vaguely.

"Hey, Tony?" Sean says suddenly.

They look at each other again. Sean studies Tony, his face neutral, his eyes searching for something. He reaches a conclusion, and leans over quickly to brush his lips against Tony's. The car is suddenly filled with the quiet thump of racing heartbeats, and the little electric spark that passes between the two boys. They stay where they are, their lips still touching, until Sean pulls away. He watches Tony, watches the gentle tinge of pink that creeps up Tony's neck, watches the way Tony's dark eyes search his face, watches the way Tony's hands clench and unclench against his thigh.

Tony licks his lips. His hand stills, and then reaches out to touch Sean's. The same electricity makes a shiver run down Sean's spine. He is suddenly aware of the feel of his clothes against his skin, of the heat of the car that presses down around them, and of the warmth of Tony's palm on his fingers. They look at each other again, and some kind of understanding passes between them.

The second kiss is like the first: barely a kiss at all. But Sean finds himself pushed forward, feels his neck turning ever so slightly to the side. Tony's breath comes in a little gasp, and Sean finds that he is holding his breath, letting his head swim in the lack of oxygen and the rush the comes with the electric spark. Their lips lock, and stay that way, and both boys wonder why they hadn't tried this before.

The battered old car seems stuck in one moment while the afternoon slides by faster than they realize. When the baseball game ends, Sean and Tony part from each other reluctantly, slipping back into their roles for the drive home. Michael is giddy with joy, drunk on the spring afternoon, the chirping of the birds, and the fire of new love. He babbles on in the back seat, and Sean and Tony share a secret smile when he mentions the upcoming prom.

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