Categories > Movies > Newsies > Gameplan

I

by studentnumber24601 1 review

"Baseball," Kid said, horrified against his will, "is not homoerotic." [Slash, angst, baseball.]

Category: Newsies - Rating: PG - Genres: Humor, Romance - Characters: Jack Kelly, Kid Blink, Mush, Snoddy - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2005-06-17 - Updated: 2005-06-17 - 5585 words

2Original
Gameplan
.one.

Kid looked at himself in the mirror.

What was odd, he noted as he tried a smirk on to see how it looked, was that he felt more effeminate, staring in the mirror trying to look masculine. He frowned and fingered the gold chain around his neck lightly. It had been years since he'd taken it off, he habitually wore it, even in the shower; it was just a simple gold chain with a small charm shaped like the number two hanging on it.

But...

He unclasped it and set it on the bathroom counter, and stared at himself some more.

He looked, he decided, pretty good. Coca-cola logo t-shirt, loose jeans, old, beat-up sneakers.

The eyepatch. He reached up to take it off, then let his hand drop. It wasn't like jewelry. People couldn't tell him only girls wore eyepatches, because no one wore eyepatches. And going out without it would have felt like going outside naked. He'd have been all paranoid and uncomfortable all day, convinced people were staring at him.

Which they probably would be.

Worse, he added. Worse than they'd stare at the new kid on his first day anyway.

So the eyepatch stayed, and he reached for his hat. Dark blue, light grey logo, fairly well worn. He put it on carefully, backwards, and tried not to mess up his hair.

He examined himself again, tried to think of how he looked from the perspective of someone his age, someone who didn't know him. He looked... Well, like a jock. But not a real jock, not someone whose main passion in life was sports. That was why he hadn't gone for the Nike t-shirt. He wanted to come across as athletic, but able to fit into any clique, really. The new kid people would want to talk to, not the one who'd be stuck with the first two people he met until he graduated.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at himself, really looked.
He looked okay. Normal. Not terribly attractive; not ugly, though, by any stretch. Just a normal kid like anyone else in a crowded school hall.

Definitely not gay.

He cast a glance at his discarded necklace, then back in the mirror, then turned and walked out of the bathroom. The Yankees logo reflected back at him until he turned the light off. *

The school was large, and overwhelming, and filled with people who already knew each other, already had friends, and didn't look at Kid as anything other than a new kid who wore an eyepatch. But he kind of expected that; after all, he'd seen new kids before, back at his old school, where he had an established group of friends. No one ever bothered to go talk to whoever was new, because they didn't need to. They already had people to talk to.

Two and a half years of friendships for nothing. Spring semester junior year, and he was suddenly the one on the outside. Kid stared out at the cafeteria, with it's clearly established cliques sitting around what were, doubtlessly, their regular tables, and sighed.

Time to bite the bullet and sit by himself.

Green plastic tray in hand, he drifted through the noisy lunch room and looked around for an empty table, and finally saw one near the back. He set his bag and his tray down and sat, reaching up unconsciously to feel for the charm that wasn't around his neck. He let his hand drop and stared down at the food. Somehow, it didn't do anything to make him feel better, though it did look marginally better than the food at his old school.

That was the feeling he'd gotten from this stupid new school. High school was high school, teenagers were teenagers, but here they had a bit more money to throw around. The teachers all had master's degrees, the text books were up to date, and the sports teams were almost disgustingly funded.

Kid didn't like sitting alone at the lunch table, but the thought of the school's baseball team almost made him salivate. And their team was good, too; his family had done research when they'd decided he should switch schools. The team always was in the top five in the state.

And if Kid could make the team...

He decided to think of it the other way around, as he poked at his lunch. If he didn't make the baseball team, he'd get skinned alive at home and have to deal with lecture after lecture about how much the school cost, how much his car cost, how much gas money for his car to get him to school cost, and what the hell was the point if he wasn't even on the team?

So he'd make the team, then.

It wasn't like they'd given him much of a choice.

"Um... Hey."

Kid looked up abruptly; someone was standing at the table, looking confused. Then he did a double take, because said someone was male, and beautiful. Light brown skin, brown eyes, perfect curly hair, and all topped off with a lavender button down shirt and slightly flared jeans. Most boys couldn't pull of lavender ever, let alone with girly looking jeans.

Kid told himself to stop thinking like that immediately, thought of the necklace he wasn't wearing, and said, "Hey."

"Uh... This is where I always sit."

"Oh, sorry." Kid shrugged and smiled sheepishly. "I'm new."

"I figured. Can I sit?"

He nodded, and let out a breath. "Kind of relieved to not be sitting alone, honestly."

"Well, I'm not exactly the best company."

"You seem fine so far."

The boy raised an eyebrow, but kind of smirked, and Kid tried very hard not to find it attractive.

"Uh... My name's Kid."

"I'm so sorry."

He laughed and reminded himself very firmly that there were more important things than boys in the world, and thought of the extremely well funded baseball team. "It's a family name," he said, by way of explanation.

"Ah, got it. Of the it-sucks-but-is-unavoidable variety?"

"Yep." Kid cleared his throat. "So... What's yours?"

"Michael. Um, Meyers. Michael Meyers."

"Well... I'm so sorry," Kid answered.

"Yeah, I know. I swear, if I ever hear anyone mention Wayne Campbell, Austin Powers or Saturday Night Live again..."

"Promise not to," Kid said.

"Well, good then." Michael turned to his meal, and Kid turned to his and decided the safest thing to do was to not look up at Michael.

Michael didn't look at him either, though, he noticed. Because he couldn't help but look.

And Michael also tore through his food, then got up and left Kid alone at the table without saying goodbye. He put his tray away, got a pass from the lady at the edge of the room with the passbook, and disappeared down a hallway.

Kid swallowed hard, choking down food he didn't even taste.

Probably, just as well.
*

Other than the beautiful Michael, the high point of Kid's day was gym class. Kid wasn't exactly a jock; his family obsession with baseball aside, Kid could really have taken or left sports. Football seemed pointless, hockey too bloody, soccer bored him to tears, and basketball did nothing for him. Baseball, though...

The gym teacher was an overweight man named Coach Bernstein. And the first thing he'd asked Kid, upon discovering there was a new kid in his class, was if he played sports.

"I play a little baseball," Kid had said modestly.

"Yeah? Where do you play?"

"Where do you need me?" He shrugged. "I've played kind of everywhere."

"Yeah?"

Kid nodded.

"Where are you best?"

"Catching or shortstop," he answered automatically.

"Can you hit?"

"Left-handed, yeah."

"Are you any good?"

And so Blink had said yes, and trotted out the stats from his last season.
Coach Bernstein had nodded and asked for his phone number. There had been a call waiting for him by the time he'd made the fifty minute trek home in his too-expensive new car.
*

Kid slid into place at the new school slowly but naturally. It started with gym class, and people finding out he was a baseball player; eventually a couple of guys on the baseball team talked to him some about the sport, and one kid—Jack Kelly—had started trash talking the Yankees, which had lead to a rather heated argument, and somewhere in between yelling that damn it, Derek Jeter deserved that kind of money, it wasn't buying championships, it was team building, and comparing memories of the awe of seeing their favorite team on the field in person the first time, Kid found he had a group of friends.

Jack Kelly was about the closest one, but there were a few others who went with him, seemingly everywhere he went. They called him Cowboy, and he'd given them all nicknames too—things like Specs and Skittery and Bumlets—and eventually, Jack had started calling him Blink, because of his eye. Kid had shown them his eye one day in study hall, after a few days of being pestered about it; and as always when he took the eyepatch off, people were freaked out.

But having done it once, gotten it out of the way, he didn't have to do it anymore. And after that, he was Kid Blink, potential baseball player, and he couldn't wait to try out.

The downside of having a group of friends was that Michael wasn't one of them. He only had one class with Michael—history—and they sat on opposite sides of the room. And now having friends, Kid no longer sat alone at the lunch table, though he noticed that Michael did. Every day. He sat down, wolfed down lunch, and hurried out of the cafeteria.

Kid wondered why, but didn't think too much about it. Michael was definitely more attractive than any of his friends, but he wasn't at school to develop a new crush; he couldn't let things get in his way.

His family kept reminding him of how single minded he had to be, if he wanted to play professionally. He had to get good grades, he had to weight train all through the off season, and if he didn't make the team, there'd be hell to pay.

So instead of staring at Michael across the room in history class, he stared down at his Yankees Student Planner, because one of the odd things about Kid was that if there was a product out there with the Yankees logo or Derek Jeter's face on it, he probably owned it.

Kid had been at the school for three weeks when the history teacher announced they'd be doing projects in pairs to prepare for their upcoming unit exam; making posters and giving a presentation on that unit's various topics. His name was at the end of the list for partner choices, because he was new and instead of alphabetical, it was written in at the end. But as the teacher read down the list and asked who students would like a partners, he wasn't chosen; he only had two friends in the class, and they worked with each other.

She read off names and made notes in her book, and Kid sighed and waited to be paired up at random, because that was what would happen to students without partners. At least until, "Michael... Michael, who do you want for your partner?"

Michael shrugged. "Whoever," he said.

"Who wants to be Michael's partner?" the teacher said to the room at large.
No on spoke up, one of the students snickered, and Michael rolled his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. He didn't look disappointed, Kid thought. Just kind of disgusted.

Kid cleared his throat and raised his hand. "Um... I will," he said.

"Oh, well, good!" the teacher chirped.

Kid looked across the room at Michael, who was studying him right back. Kid fought to keep down the slight blush that wanted to be creeping across his cheeks, and Michael raised an eyebrow. Kid shrugged.

The teacher told everyone to partner up and get to work, and Kid walked quickly across the room to sit at the now vacated desk next to Michael.

"You want to work with me?" Michael asked, sounding a bit surprised.

"I... I dunno, I didn't want to not have anyone to work with," Kid answered.

"Yeah, well... Thanks, I guess."

"Sure. Um..." He looked down at the project guidelines they'd been given and saw their topic was 'leisure and lifestyle of the 1900-1910.'

"Did we even cover this?" Michael asked.

Kid didn't even think before speaking. "The Yankees were founded in 1903."

"Um... Well, that's a start." Michael gave him a weird look. "Why do you know that?"

"I dunno. They're my favorite team."

"What do they play?"

Kid stared at him.

He knew it wasn't polite to stare, and somewhere in the back of his mind that registered, but the politeness his mother had trained into him failed him at the realization that someone didn't just know who the Yankees were, he literally knew nothing about baseball. Kid hadn't realized people like that existed.

"Baseball," he said finally. "They're a... really famous baseball team. They've won more world championships than... Than any other team in any sport."

"Oh." Michael didn't sound too interested. "So I guess we're gonna have to go look up some information."

"Yeah, I guess," Kid answered, trying to get over the shock that someone hadn't heard of the Yankees.

Michael raised his hand and asked if they could go to the library, and the teacher wrote them out a pass; as they started out of the room, Jack—working with Skittery—grabbed Kid's sleeve and stopped him. He glanced at Michael, who rolled his eyes. "I'll meet you there," he said and walked out.

Kid looked over at Jack, who raised an eyebrow. "You wanted to work with him?"

"I didn't want to have no one to work with," he said again. "Why? What's wrong with Michael?"

Jack and Skittery exchanged glances. "He's a fag, Blink."

Kid Blink, well, blinked. "Oh," he said.

"You didn't know?"

"No."

"Oh, well." Jack shrugged. "Guess you're stuck with him now."

"Guess so."

"Sucks to be you," Skittery put in.

Kid shrugged. "Then I'd better go... Get this over with."

"Good luck," Jack said disdainfully, and Kid walked out of the room, his head spinning slightly.

Michael, who was so gorgeous, but who didn't know who the Yankees were, was gay. And Kid's own friends saw that as a reason to avoid him.

That, Kid thought, was not good at all.

But still, he walked into the library, and saw Michael standing by the rack of encyclopedias. "Hey," he said.

"You actually came?"

"I... We have this project to do, why wouldn't I?"

"Kelly didn't..."

Kid shrugged. "He told me you're gay."

"Oh."

"Are you?" Blink asked. He knew how rumors could go, get blown up, and then never really blow over. He'd been through it. There was no reason to assume it had been true; maybe Jack just didn't like Michael.

"Yes," Michael said matter-of-factly.

"Oh."

Well, then. Kid shoved his hands into his pockets. "Okay," he said. "So... About this project—"

"If it bothers you, then A, you can go to hell; and B, you can probably get reassigned to another partner. It's happened before."

"It doesn't bother me."

"Really?" Michael sounded skeptical.

"Really. It's... It's not a big deal or anything, is it?"

"Well..." Michael trailed off, then gave Kid a sort of a knowing smirk. "Don't you know? All of us gay kids, we're boy crazy. We just want to jump anything with a dick and legs."

Kid raised an eyebrow, and laughed. "And you all sing show tunes in the shower, right?"

"Oh, absolutely." Mush paused. "Wait, I actually do. Fuck you."

"Yeah, well... I sing along with the radio in the shower, so if that makes me gay..." He trailed off, and now he was blushing.

But Michael laughed. "Oh, don't go and be nice to me, now. Baseball players aren't allowed to be nice to guys like me, it'll just ruin your reputation."

"I've been here three weeks; I don't have a reputation to ruin."

"Well, it'll get you a reputation. And not a good one, like you want. Besides," Michael said conspiratorially, "if you're nice to me, I might get a crush on you. And what would you do then?"

"I dunno. Be flattered?"

That seemed to catch Michael off guard, and he stared. Then he broke into a wide grin, and Blink felt his heart rate speed up. Michael, he decided, had an amazing grin.
*

They had a week to complete the project. Friday afternoon, with the project due on Tuesday, Michael and Kid were walking through the hallways, discussing how to arrange their poster. Mostly, Michael was doing it, because Blink's hand-eye coordination stopped at sports, and he really had no artistic talent at all.

"Kid, hey, Kid!"

They stopped walking as Jack Kelly caught up with them.

"Hey, Jack," Kid said, and glanced at Michael, who leaned against the wall and didn't say anything. Kid looked away quickly; the way Michael was so casually posed, he looked amazing. But then, Michael always looked kind of amazing. Not that Kid thought about it.

"I'm having a party tomorrow. You wanna come?"

"Uh..." Kid glanced over at Michael again, thinking it was pretty impolite to invite one of them and not the other, when they were both standing right there. And anyway, he was supposed to get together with Michael on Saturday to work on their project. "What time?"

"Like... Four or five in the afternoon."

He was supposed to go to Michael's at three thirty. He bit his lip. "I've kinda... Got this project to do ."

"What?"

Another glance at Michael, who was watching the whole thing impassively.

"I'm supposed to... To be at his house to work on our project," Kid explained.
Jack laughed. "So, blow him off."

That sounded a little bit too much like a euphemism for Kid's comfort, but he ignored it, like he always ignored how good Michael looked. "It's a big part of our grade," he said.

"So, he won't care." Jack turned to Michael. "Well ya, Mush?"

"Fuck off, Kelly."

"Mush?" Kid asked.

Kelly laughed. "His dick," he said, and held up his pointer finger, pointing at the ceiling... then slowly lowered it, let it hang down.

The blowing almost-euphemism was better, Kid thought. But he got the limp penis metaphor anyway, because it was pretty blatant. He didn't think Jack was that capable of coming up with a non-blatant metaphor.

Michael cleared his throat. "Yeah, that's about what happens when I think of you, Kelly." He looked over at Kid. "I'll see you in the library. Do what you want."

And Michael, looking angry, stalked off.

"So, see you tomorrow." Jack grinned and gave Kid a friendly smack on the arm, then walked off.

Kid stood there and watched him go.

It wasn't that he didn't want to go to Jack's party, it was that he'd rather have worked on the project with Michael, because Michael was nice, and funny, and gorgeous.

But then he thought of his necklace again, and shook that thought off. He was at this school for a reason, after all; he couldn't let the fact that he liked Michael—/not like that,/ he told himself firmly—get in the way. Going to Jack's party was the much smarter choice.

He just didn't want to have to tell Michael that. But he didn't have a choice, and he dragged his feet the whole way to the library.

Michael was sitting at one of the old wooden tables, his notes out in front of him, reading something in an impossibly thick tome. Kid slipped into the seat across from him.

"You're friends with some real jerks, Kid," Michael said, looking up.

"Michael... I—"

"Let me guess; I won't be seeing you Saturday?"

Kid let the quiet hang in the air for a minute, then said, "Yeah."

Michael looked down at his book. "You know, they weren't called the Yankees for the first three years. They were the New York Americans. It was the press that nicknamed them the Yankees. As an insult."

"I know," Kid said, then, "How did you know?"

"I looked it up."

"Why?"

"For our project. I also know Derek Jeter's average for the last ten years, and Alex Rodriguez's birthday, and how many home runs he's hit since he was traded to the Yankees."

"That, uh... That doesn't sound like it's got much to do with the project."

"It doesn't." Michael looked over at him, studied his face. "It's because I like you and you like the Yankees."

"Oh." Kid really didn't know how to react to that.

"Flattered?" Michael asked wryly.

"Yeah." Kid stared down at the table. "About Jack's party, I—"

"I don't want to talk about it," Michael said.

"Okay." Kid stared down at his hands. "I, um... Well, how about we do it Sunday instead?"

"My mom's hosting a baby shower for one of her friends on Sunday. So my house is... Not exactly going to be fun to hang out at."

"You could come to my place." Kid decided it was just best to ignore what Michael had said. "It's kind of out of the way, but I could pick you up and we could stop for dinner on the way home."

".../What?"/

"Um, to make up for me being a jerk and blowing you off for the party. Not as, like... Not as a date or anything. Just to ease my guilt."

Michael hesitated. "You really shouldn't be nice to me, Kid."

"I'm nice to everybody."

"Yeah, I noticed. It's kind of frustrating, knowing you're only nice because you're nice to everybody."

"I'm not just nice because I have to be," Kid answered defensively. "You're a pretty good guy, okay?"

"I know I am."

"Okay, then." Kid paused. "You know, um, I've never had a girl look up baseball stats for me before. It really is flattering."

"For all the good it'll do me," Michael answered. "But I'll take you up on your offer for Sunday. Besides, I wanted an excuse to not be in the house for Mom's baby-mania anyway."

"Then it all works out," Kid answered.
*

Saturday afternoon, Kid got trashed; Saturday evening he spent puking in Jack's bathroom. He hadn't meant to drink so much, but one of the rules for achieving his goal was to not let partying get in his way. So Kid had never really partied much before—and so he hadn't thought about how much he was drinking and accepted everything that was handed to him.

The puke was a lovely shade of pink, and he swore never to drink Hawaiian Punch again. With or without the vodka.

Given the state he was in, driving was definitely out; and anyway, Jack lived far closer to Michael than Kid did, as Kid lived almost an hour from everyone. So he spent the night and woke up the next morning feeling as though he'd been run over by a truck and, he discovered upon looking in a mirror, looked about the same.

He took a quick shower before leaving Jack's house and struck out for Michael's, wishing his clothes didn't still stink of spilled alcohol and vomit. He didn't think that would be a great way to make a good impression on Michael's mother, or her baby-crazy friends, who had already gathered by the time Kid knocked on the door.

The woman who answered it looked like Michael, in that she had brown skin and eyes, though her hair was straight instead of curly. She was wearing pastels and from what he could see, there were baby quilts hanging up in the foyer and ribbons and balloons hanging from the ceiling.

"Oh, um... Can I help you?" she asked.

"I'm... My name is Kid, I'm supposed to be meeting Mich—"

"Mom/, is that Kid? /Hey/—hey." Michael ducked into view, then made a face. "Ught, what did Jack /do to you, make you sleep in a barn yard?"

"I don't think so, but I don't really remember much," Kid answered. "Sorry about the stench, I promise it's just my clothes. I'm clean." He looked at Michael's mom, who looked both disgusted and suspicious. "And sober, very sober."

"Smooth, Kid," Michael laughed. "I'm out, Mom! Bye!" He picked up a coat and his bookbag, and dashed out the door before his mom could object.

The ride to Kid's house was rather awkward. "Um... I really am sorry about the stench," he said after a few awkward minutes.

"Was it fun?"

"Until I puked."

Michael smiled. "I didn't picture you as the drinking-till-you-puke-type."

"I didn't picture myself that way, either." Kid frowned a little. "I don't know why I did it."

"Peer pressure?" Michael suggested. "'Cause I know how much the baseball team guys mean to you... I know you want to fit in."

"Not that bad. I'll, uh... I'll change as soon as I get home. Into something clean and not gross." He sighed. "My mom is gonna throw a fit when she gets a whiff of this."

"Sorry."

"Well, it's my own fault. Though I guess if I tell my dad it was a baseball thing I could get off the hook."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. My dad's really... Into baseball."

"That where you get it?"

"Yeah. And my grandfather."

"So it's a family thing?"

"Yeah."

"Like your name," Michael mused.

"More like that than you know." Blink turned from the residential road onto the highway that led to his home town, and muttered something under his breath.

"What was that?"

"You try merging when you've only got one eye."

"Oh. Are you... Are you blind? Or—"

"Yeah, born that way."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to ask something so personal."

"It's no problem."

There was an awkward pause. "So... What was that about your name?"

"What? Oh." Kid laughed a little. "It was my grandfather's nickname, when he played in the major league."

"Your grandfather played? No wonder your family is obsessed..."

"Yeah. It's really sad, though, because only two months after he was called up from the minors, he messed his back up."

"Was it okay?"

"No. He couldn't play anymore. Short career. But hey, at least he spent the whole thing as a Yankee."

"That why they're you're favorites?"

"I'm pretty sure I'd be disowned if I liked anyone else. God forbid I ever date a Red Sox fan."

"I... I think I read something about the Red Sox. And Babe Ruth, right?"

"Right!" Kid answered, feeling a little too excited to hear Michael talk about his passion. But Michael was still pretty confused, and so Kid launched into a long explanation of Babe Ruth and the Curse of the Bambino, and even though Michael didn't seem very interested, he didn't ask Kid to stop talking.

By the time they pulled in to Kid's driveway, Michael looked a little overwhelmed, but he was still smiling.

Kid's house was nice; his family wasn't wealthy, but they were far from poor, and his mother was a firm believer that there was a place for everything, and god help anyone who didn't put things away in their proper place. He let them in, and was immediately greeted by a shrill, "Kid Christopher Ballatt, where have you been?"

"I, uh... I called last night, Mom," he said, as she marched into the room, hands on her hips.

"Yes, but you were slurring your words so badly I didn't understand a thing you—" She sniffed the air. "What were you doing last night?"

"Well... uh... A couple guys from the team and I..."

"Hey hey, Kid!"

Kid's father and grandfather flooded into the room and his mother shushed them irritably.

"What were you saying?" she demanded.

But heartened by the male presence in the room, he repeated, "A couple of guys from the team asked me over for a few drinks, so..."

"Oh, I gotcha!" his father chuckled. "Boys will be boys, right? Hey, who's your friend? On the team?"

"What? Oh... No, this is Michael, we're doing a project together. Uh, Michael, that's my mom and dad and grandfather."

Kid's family turned to study him, and he glanced at Michael and winced a little. Michael was wearing two rings and a necklace, and his backpack had a rainbow patch on it.

"I see," Kid's father finally said. "Well, then, you boys had better get to work." He stood aside to let them pass, and Kid's mother frowned a little as they walked by.

But Kid's grandfather cleared his throat and said, "Nice to meet you, Michael." And that made it a little better.

Kid led the way up this room self consciously. "Sorry about them," he mumbled.

"Your mom cares about you a lot," Michael answered. "She was worried."

"I did call home, told her I'd be gone overnight..."

"Once you were already drunk?"

"Well, once I realized I was too drunk to do any driving. In here." He pushed the door to his room open, and they stepped in. He glanced around and wondered what Michael thought of it.

Thanks to his mother's good influence, the place was spotless. And it was certainly themed. His pillows and bedspread both proudly bore the Yankees logo; his sheets were tucked back and it was easy to spot their pinstripes. His walls were dark blue, with grey trim and curtains, and there were posters hanging up, which were all framed or matted, and which all showed off various Yankees players.

Most of them were Derek Jeter.

"Uh... I swear, I'm not quite as obsessed as this place makes me look," he said. "My mom is nuts for decorating and matching and all, she designed it, I swear."

Michael laughed a little. "Wow, you got the hots for Derek or something?" he asked, noting a collage of magazine cutouts that had been put together and framed, and hung above Kid's desk, and the large poster above his bed.

Kid turned bright red almost instantly. "I don't," he said. "I just... Admire him, you know. He's a great player. Best in the game, I swear."

"Yeah, I read that." Mush peered at the poster. "He's got awful hair."

"What?"

"I mean, he's kind of cute, if you like athletes with vacant looks on their faces. But his hair."

"What's wrong with his hair?" Blink asked defensively.

"Um..." Michael gave the poster another look. "It kind of looks like he grew a Chia Pet on his head."

"It does not!"

"It really does." Michael smiled a little. "He's cute when he has the hat on, though."

"Well... if you say so. I wouldn't know."

Kid sat down on his desk and Michael took the desk chair, reached over and picked up a magazine off his bookshelf. Sports Illustrated. Michael thumbed through it for a moment, then laughed.

"...What?" Kid asked warily.

"Nothing." Michael flipped another page, but was still grinning at something.

Kid peered over his shoulder; it was an old article, from when A-Rod had first been traded to the Yankees.

"What?" he asked again.

"They'd make a cute couple, is all." Michael bit his lip and looked up.

Kid stared at him, horrified. "They'd what?"

"Well, look at the picture!" Michael yelped, and handed the magazine to Kid, who was bright red again as he studied it. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were sitting next to each other in an interview in one, Jeter leaning forward to speak and Rodriguez relaxing back in his chair. And on the next page was a picture of them in uniform together after a victory, grinning as they high-fived with both hands.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Kid finally said.

"Really? Because everything I've seen of baseball has been kind of homoerotic. I mean, I didn't see much because I only go so far for a crush and it made me feel kind of brain dead. But I did see some special on ESPN and it kept showing teams winning and jumping on each other and grown men slapping each other's butts, and that's not supposed to make a guy think?"

"Baseball," Kid said slowly, horrified against his will, "is not homoerotic."

"Then why are you blushing?" Michael asked reasonably.

"I..." Kid trailed off. "I'd better change, these clothes stink."

Michael didn't call him on changing the subject, and offered to wait outside while Kid changed. But that, Kid said, would be ungracious; instead he grabbed a change of clothes and went to change in the bathroom, leaving Michael the luxury of his room, and he hadn't even realized he'd pulled out his faux-Yankees jersey to wear until he put it on.

He ran a comb through his hair and glanced in the mirror. He looked, he decided, like a baseball player.

Definitely not gay.

He strutted back into his room once he was sure the blush had faded and he looked cool again, but stopped short. Michael had glanced around his room some more, looking for anything interesting and not baseball related, apparently.

Because when Kid opened the door, Michael was holding up his necklace, peering at it.

"Number two?" Michael said. "You do seem to have a bit of a fixation with Derek Jeter."
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