by Synchronik

As soon as the plane touches down on the runway, well before the seatbelt sign is off, Buster is up out of his seat and popping the latch on the overhead that holds Lincecum's day bag.

"I got it, Timmy," he says, holding up a hand when Tim makes a move in protest.

"Asskisser," Huff says. "He's gonna get a swelled head."

"He should have a swollen head," Sandoval says, leaning over his seat to give Lincecum a high five. "Swollen like a fruit. Good job, Timmy."

"Thanks, man," Tim says, slapping Sandoval's palm. He is not saying it to Buster, but Buster doesn't care.

He swipes Tim's room key from the travel coordinator, too, ready with a smart comeback in his head in case someone says something, but it's too late at night and everyone's too eager to get to their own rooms to notice that Buster takes Tim's bag and Tim's key and then opens the door to Tim's room and ushers him inside.

"Listen," Tim says when the door is closed behind them. "I'm really tired, so maybe we could do this later? Like, never?"

"I'm sorry," Buster says.

Tim plops down on the corner of the bed, his hands between his knees. "Okay. Apology accepted. Again. Good night."

"No." Buster crouches down in front of Tim, hands on Tim's knees. He so familiar with this position, looking up into Lincecum's face, it feels like second nature to him. Sixty feet or six inches, what's the difference? He wonders what sign he needs to put down to get Lincecum to meet his eyes. "Tim, hey."

Tim rubs a hand over his face and finally, finally, looks him in the eye.

"I'm sorry," Buster says again. "I had a little freak out. I should have...I don't know. Said something."

"It's fine," Tim says, although his tone doesn't match his words. "I get it. We're cool."

"We're cool," Buster says.

Tim nods. "Yep. No problem. Apology accepted. Really." He bugs his eyes out at Buster. "So, thanks, you know. For doing it."

Buster watches him carefully, as carefully as he did earlier that night (that was yesterday, Buster realizes as he catches the time on the digital clock next to the bed). "And now we're good."

Tim nods again, his head going up and down like one of those creepy bobbleheads. "So good I can hardly stand it."

Buster reaches up from his crouch and puts his hand in Lincecum's hair.

Lincecum jerks away so fast that Buster is left with a few strands of hair around his index finger. "Whoa!"

"I thought--"

"I think you should leave," Tim says. He's fallen back on the bed on one elbow, and Buster's practically between his knees, but he couldn't be farther away.


"GET. OUT." Tim's voice sounds clogged and thick, but his face is hard and clear.

Buster stands, pushing off Tim's knees. "I'm sorry," he says again. "I'm going, I swear. I'm next door, though, and I'm going to leave the connecting door unlocked. I'm doing that as soon as I get in there. So if you want to, you know, talk or something. Okay?"

Lincecum stares up at him and doesn't say a word.

"Okay," Buster says. "Here's your key." He sets the key down on top of the television cabinet. "I'm just right through there." He points at the door.

Again, nothing.

Buster lets himself out of Tim's room and into his own. The first thing he does is turn the lock on the connecting door on his side, pressing his hand against the wood for a minute. He stares at the knob and counts to ten, then twenty. He knows it's pointless-- Tim's not going to come through that door--but he can't stop hoping.

The End

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