Coach Redux: Tales from the Miracle Season 1.3

          It happened all the time these days, and Kevin was constantly surprised.  He’d lost track of the number of times he and Sean had shared a locker room, or even the open showers at a meet.  They’d bunked together at away meets when Jim wasn’t there.  But sometimes the guy would move, and Kevin suddenly wasn’t sure whether he wanted to punch him or latch on to Sean’s mouth with his own and never let go.  Well, except to breathe.  Can you breathe like that?  Speaking of breathing, Kevin remembered to take a deep breath in as Sean bent over in front of him to grab his iPod from his backpack before stashing it overhead.  He hadn’t had a moment to himself in the weeks they’d spent in London, and his nerves were…well, they were strained.

          Kevin wasn’t sure when he had first noticed, really. He’d had girl friends, of course…but the fact he’d never had a girlfriend never seemed to be that big of a deal. He never really thought about it, and was happy to play wingman in the crushes of his friends. Maybe it was middle school, when sports teams had really become a thing and the sort of cliques he’d seen in movies (Elena had been obsessed with Clueless and he’d watched it at least 5 times in the theatre and drive-in) became much more real than celluloid. Jim made him try almost every sport Nabiscoding High had to offer: baseball, football, soccer, even lacrosse, but nothing seemed to fit. 

          He didn’t think of himself as a snob, but all the guys trying out for those teams all seemed to already know each other, like they’d spent their entire prepubescent lives working together towards the moment they all got to play.  As such, they had in-jokes and stories and weren’t necessarily super welcoming to outsiders like himself.  Plus, all those guys at once, in the locker room joking around and their smells and their…Ugh.  He needed just a few minutes to himself.  Just five. 

          Anyhow, when Jim had suggested wrestling, Matt and Eddie had both seemed eager to try out as well.  It’d helped that he’d had some guys to practice with before tryouts.  Eddie was a mean son of a bitch, so he was grateful for someone not afraid to throw punches.  Matt was just a big softie, but he was definitely big.  Kevin had kidded with him that he wasn’t sure high school even had a weight class for the likes of the guy.  Matt had laughed it off, like he laughed at everything.  He envied him and Wyn’s take on life.  Now there was a relationship that was going to last forever. 

          The day of the tryouts, Kevin was more relieved than nervous. It was the last of the barrage of sports Jim and the gang had twisted his arm to try out for. When his name was called, though, Kevin had winced inwardly.  In a manly way.  So, so manly.   His small size but wide frame made him tricky for some kid named Josh, whom he’d been paired with, to latch ahold of and force a submit.  He’d won easily, and made the team.  Finally, a sport that fit his build.  And while there was a team, of course, he liked that for the most part he could focus on the match at hand, just him and whatever opponent he faced, and through a ton of training and a lot of will, see himself on top.  For whatever reason, the guys that tried out for wrestling didn’t seem to be the same overly boisterous, closed off group of guys that had filled the other teams.  They seemed more serious, somehow, and more about pushing each other to succeed.  Kevin was surprised as time went on to find that he really enjoyed it—something Jim never, ever let him forget.

          The first day of practice placed him against some kid he’d never met before named Sean Kennedy. Yeah, this Sean.  A serious red head, freckles spilled out of the shoulder straps of his singlet down his shoulders and arms. Coach had paired them because they were close in weight, but Sean was much taller and leaner, while Kevin was never going to be called either of those things.  His shoulders widened right about the time he woke up to discover he’d turned from kid into a gorilla. He was short, wide, and hairy enough for probably a dozen of his classmates by the time he was 14. Wide shoulders and lots of lifting had kept him seriously solid, a fireplug of a kid. He won matches by leveraging his size and strength, whereas Sean had used his lithe body to twist and contort out of holds–and to get Kevin into them.

          He’d been lying on top of Sean, close to pinning him, when he felt the telltale heat in his crotch signaling he was getting hard. He tried but failed to keep it from growing.  Breathing in Sean’s scent right above his neck as he writhed beneath him, those freckles undulating under Sean’s light dusting of red hair–Kevin was transfixed. Thankfully, he managed to channel the embarrassment and used the growing sweat to force Sean to slip into a pin.  Kevin won a few seconds later. He reorganized himself as he stood up and no one was the wiser. Sean gave no indication he felt anything.   

          Later that night, though, Kevin was plagued by constant mental reenactments of the scene on the mat, many of which ended very, very differently. He woke up sweaty, twisted in his sheets, and breathing heavy.  After that, it was like a switch had been flipped. He’d never noticed guys before, not in that way. But now, he’d steal a glance here or there and his mind would wander. He seemed to be the only one suffering this particular ailment.  Sean, Jim, even Matt all seemed unaffected by the close contact and the sweat and just…everything of it all. Thankfully, he’d been friends with Jim, Matt, and even Eddie for thousands of years, so they felt more like brothers.  Well, for the most part.  Besides, it seems Kevin had a type, and they didn’t meet his criteria.

          Looking up the aisle, though, he saw a guy who definitely did.  The twenty-somethingish dude was looking his way with a mildly panicked expression.  The lady who’d boarded before them looked like she was trying to decide where to sit, and clearly the dude did not want her to choose the seat next to him.  He had a cute face, though his hair was too slicked and well parted and the glasses made him look like some early 90s stereotype of a nerd.  His eyes seemed kind, but his mouth didn’t seem like it laughed easily.  He wondered, briefly, what it would feel like to brush his thumb across those lips, what it would take to make the man laugh in the same way Jim made him laugh.  Shrugging his shoulders as he snapped out of his daydream, he took his seat in the aisle as the woman chose the seat in front of the guy with the glasses, and some twerp and his mom took the seats next to the man. 

          The prodigious woman then promptly reclined the seat as far as it would go, and Kevin snorted as he imagined the look on the guy’s face.  Sean looked at him in askance, and Kevin tried to explain as he best he could without giving anything away.  Sean chuckled for a second after he was done, hopefully never noticing that Kevin had very purposefully spent the entire conversation looking out the window just to his left to keep from staring into those blue eyes.  Kevin grabbed the book he planned to read out of his bag and Sean put his headphones in as the stewardess began the safety instructions and the conversation was done.  Silently, Kevin thanked her for keeping him from saying or doing something he might regret. Then, of course, Sean’s legs spread a tad wider and pressed up against his own as his eyes fluttered closed and a small natural smile rested upon his lips.

          Kevin started to sweat.

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