Tim tells Bochy he's not coming back to the park, he can't make it in. He knows it will be a madhouse, people on the street, people in the bars, BART slowed to a standstill by pedestrians, traffic nothing but a honking metal road.
But he does go back.
He watches the post-game coverage, and then he starts watching the replay of the game, and then, when the clock on the microwave says 3:05, he grabs his keys and leaves.
The streets aren't deserted, exactly, but they're pretty empty and most of the people still out down by the park are focused on how they are getting home--girls carrying their shoes, guys holding up their buddies. He sees one guy talking on his phone, stop, vomit in the street, then keep talking, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. No one seems to notice when he makes the turn into the players' lot.
The night attendant, Jesus, lifts a hand as he presses the button to raise the gate. "Congrats, Mr. Lincecum," he says through the window. On the little tv in his cage, he's watching the replay, too.
"I didn't have anything to do with this one, man," Tim says.
"Nah, but you helped us get here, okay?"
Tim waves at him and pulls in.
It's almost as deserted inside the clubhouse. The players' cars were almost all gone, and he sees none of them around. There's a couple of cleaning staff running carpet steamers in the clubhouse itself, and another guy folding up plastic tarp and shoving it into industrial-sized garbage bags. Tim waves at them without speaking and drifts down the long hallway to the dugout.
It's clean and empty. Most of the lights are off, but the runners along the first and third base lines at the club level are still on, displaying their message -- NL WEST DIVISION CHAMPIONS -- to an empty house. Tim shoves his hands in his pockets and looks up at the lights, watching their animation, imagining the sound of the crowd.
He hadn't wanted to leave, but Bochy hadn't been interested in what he wanted. He'd pulled Tim aside in the first inning. "Go home," he'd said. When Tim had opened his mouth to protest, Bochy shook his head. "If this goes south, we're going to need you tomorrow. Go home."
So he'd gone, and by the time he'd pulled into his garage, the team was already winning. Fucking Bochy.
Tim sighs. He wishes he could have been here, jumped around on the field, gotten doused with champaign. Wilson got to be here, and wouldn't that have been something, to get to see him in the clubhouse again, wet and hyper and happy? Tim misses him. And Cain and Bumgarner, Tim thinks he could have had a moment with them, the other two who were with him in 2010, looking at what they've done this incredibly crazy year. And Sanchez, who has done so--
Brandon, wearing one of the grey NL Champions shirts, his hair wet.
"Hey--" Tim says and before he can say anything else, Brandon has grabbed him up and is swinging him around by the waist. He smells like champaign and beer and sweat and joy.
Brandon sets him down, but doesn't let him go. "I saw your car," he says. "I thought you weren't coming back."
"You know. The traffic." Tim shifts a little, trying to break Brandon's grip, but his arms are locked, and Tim is pressed up against him, body to body, Brandon's heat soaking through Tim's clothes.
"I wish you would have been here," Brandon says. Tim opens his mouth to say "me, too," and Brandon kisses him, a real kiss, backing him up against the wall, his hips pushing into Tim's, his arms still tight around Tim's waist.
"Mmmph," Tim mumbles. "B, we shouldn't--" he tries, but Brandon won't have it, and Tim just has to give in and hook his arms around Brandon's neck and kiss back, because he should have been here and he's sorry he missed it and he's glad, so glad, to be here now.
Finally, Brandon pulls back just a little, with his mouth not his hips, grinning and panting. Tim grins back. He can't not. For all his disappointment at not being here earlier, Brandon's joy is infectious. "I'm happy to see you, too," he says.
"I love you," Brandon says and kisses him again.
It's like being doused with cold water, the way they doused Maddy with the contents of the cooler after the game, shocking and thrilling at the same time. Tim can hardly breathe. Brandon relaxes his grip and tips his head to look into Tim's eyes.
"I don't care if you say it back," he says. "I just wanted you to know."
"No, I--" Tim pauses, trying to catch his breath. He hangs his head for a second, inhaling, exhaling, feeling Brandon's sure hands on his back, seeing the glow of the light from the banner boards on his shoes. Then he lifts his face and looks right into Brandon's eyes. "I'm saying it back," he says. "I love you. I am in love with you."
This time, he's the one that does the kissing, slow and careful and thorough, so that Brandon can let the words sink in. When it's over, Brandon tips his head to Tim's shoulder, his damp hair falling against Tim's cheek. His hands are on Tim's hips, steadying them both.
"Just so you know," Brandon says, his mouth warm on Tim's neck. "This is pretty much the best day I've ever had."
Tim tips his head back against the wall and closes his eyes. He strokes Brandon's arm down to his elbow then back up again, once, twice, again. The orange lights from the banners flicker on the inside of his eyelids. "You and me both, B," he says.