by Synchronik

Tim drives.

They get up at dawn and pack their stuff, careful to make sure that they get their clothes into their own bags.

"Who's is this?" Tim asks, holding up a t-shirt. It's blue, which means it's probably Brandon's, but he doesn't seem to recognize it.

"Mine, I think," he says.

Tim holds it to his nose, carefully, but it only smells of the hotel's organic laundry detergent. "It's clean." He tosses it to Brandon, who sniffs it, then pulls it on. It fits; definitely his shirt.

They haul their stuff down to the lobby, the straps of their duffels criss-crossed over their chests like ammunition. Tim goes to the front desk to check out while Brandon loiters a few steps behind, trying hard to look nonchalant and not like someone's boyfriend.

"How was your stay, Mr. Lincecum?" the front desk girl chirps, her voice innocent of any knowledge of who Tim is.

"Um, fine. Thanks."

She types on the computer. "Are you a loyalty rewards member? Your stay could earn you--"

"No," Tim says. "Um, no, thanks." He tries to smile, but it feels like a grimace on his face.

"It only takes a--"

"Thanks, but no," Tim says.

The clerk smiles and does some more typing. "Okay, here you are." She hands him a thick stack of papers. "Come see us again soon."

"Will do." Tim folds the stack of papers and shoves them in his back pocket. "Ready?" he asks Brandon.

Brandon surprises him by reaching out and touching his hair, the long strands where it comes out from under Tim's battered Washington Huskies cap. They don't touch much in public, not even in the early morning emptiness of a hotel lobby. "Let's go," he says.

They throw their bags into the trunk of Tim's Mercedes. "What about your car?" Tim had asked two days ago, when the idea of driving back together had come up.

Brandon shrugged. "Valerio said he might want it."

"Won't you need it, though? When you...get back?"

"Nah." Brandon pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it on the floor. "It's a piece of shit. I'll borrow my sister's or something."

"Okay," Tim said. "Um. Okay."

Brandon stopped unbuttoning his jeans. "Unless it would be a hassle. You don't have to--"

"No," Tim blurted. "No, it's fine."

Now, Brandon slides into the passenger seat and tilts it back as far as it will go, hooking his hands over the back of the seat and stretching. Tim hands the valet a twenty dollar bill and pulls the door shut. He feels like he should say something, but he doesn't know what, so he says nothing, just inches the car forward until he can pull out onto the street.

He hadn't meant to stay the whole time. He'd come down for a few days, which turned into a week, which turned into the whole six weeks, spending his days lying by the hotel pool and ordering room service. Sometimes he went to see Brandon play, but not too often. People would wonder.

He wondered. Every day after Brandon had left for the park, Tim would lie back and thing to himself what am I doing here? I should go. And then he would do exactly nothing about that thought.

His dad thought he was on vacation in Hawaii. Zito thought he was in Seattle. Wilson knew he was in Arizona, but thought he was at some spa outside of Mesa, although Tim wasn't sure why Wilson thought that, because he didn't say that. Only Brandon knew where he really was. Or, Brandon was the closest to knowing.

Brandon sleeps, his arms folded across his chest, chin tucked in, brow furrowed in a way that it never is when he's awake. Tim keeps glancing over. He's so...touchable. His soft hair, the sweet curve of his mouth, the sweep of his lashes on his cheek, his broad hands that are so good with the ball. Tim wants to pull the car over and wake him up by nuzzling into his neck.

He's embarrassed by the thought and thrilled by it at the same time. He'd thought, for a while, that it would never happen for him again, the overwhelming desperation of love. And now it has. He hasn't said it to Brandon. He hardly thinks it to himself. There's no point in thinking about it or saying it because it's doomed. There's no future. Maybe they can have a good time for the rest of the off-season, but after that? Brandon might not make it up again this year. Or he might be traded for someone with a consistent bat. Or he might get tired of being a secret. Or keeping a secret.

Or Tim.

So Tim doesn't say anything. He didn't say anything two weeks ago, when Brandon had joined him at the pool, walking past the admiring glances of the women in the lounge in his swim trunks, the sun on his shoulders.

And he didn't say anything the week before that, when he'd woken up in the middle of the night to Brandon flicking channels on the hotel flat screen, the volume on mute. "Sorry," Brandon had murmured, his hand on Tim's head. "You want me to turn it off?" But Tim didn't want the T.V. turned off. Instead, he rested his cheek on Brandon's warm thigh and let the shows flicker on the backs of his eyelids until he feel back to sleep, Brandon's fingers moving slowly in his hair.

And he didn't say anything four days ago, when he'd been lying naked on the bed, belly down, arms and legs spread wide, while Brandon scraped his beard gently between Tim's shoulderblades, scratching itches Tim didn't even know he had.

And he doesn't say anything now.

He just drives.

Brandon wakes up when Tim pulls over for coffee, sighing and stretching, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands.

"Are we there yet?" he asks.

Tim smiles. "You want something?"

"Red Bull," Brandon says. "And Combos."

"That's fucking disgusting."

"Doritos?" Brandon says.

Tim laughs and gets out of the car. The gas station is one of those modern corporate ones, shiny and sterile, the counter manned by an older woman in a yellow and red uniform. Tim presses the button on the coffee machine for a mocha, and buys Brandon's snacks, adding in a box of Fig Newtons for health reasons. The clerk rings him up without saying a word.

Brandon's leaning up against the car, hands in his pockets, when Tim comes out.

"Here's your Red Bull." Tim holds out the bag. Brandon closes his hand around Tim's wrist and draws him in. Tim glances over his shoulder, but there's no one else in the parking lot and the woman behind the counter is glued to her People magazine. Brandon slides one hand around Tim's waist and slips the other into Tim's hair. The kiss is heavy and slow and makes Tim wish that his hands weren't full with snacks and coffee so that he could put one hand up under Brandon's t-shirt and feel the warm skin of Brandon's belly under his palm.

"Morning," Brandon murmurs against Tim's mouth.

"Get in the car," Tim says, but he's doing a shitty job of hiding his smile.

Brandon goes around the back of the car and gets in, taking the plastic bag of treats with him. Tim gets in on his side. As he fastens his seatbelt, he can see that the woman behind the counter hasn't looked up.

"Sweet," Brandon says, holding up the package of Fig Newtons. "I haven't had these in years."

Tim smiles and backs out of the parking space. Brandon grins at him, his mouth full of half-chewed Fig Newton. "Cookie?" he asks. It's fucking disgusting, but Tim laughs anyway. They head east, into the rising sun.

The End

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