Meet and Greet |
Buster hears her voice from clear across the clubhouse, even though he's talking to a couple of little kids who are just as cute as can be, their eyes big in their faces, dumbstruck to be talking to Buster Posey. He loves young fans--they don't want anything from him except maybe an autograph. It's them he thinks of when he feels like saying something sarcastic or mean-spirited to the press.
But his wife's voice cuts through his brain like a shard of ice, mostly because of what she says.
"Tim Lincecum, you get over here right now!"
Kristen is a Southern girl, a Georgia peach, and she has that Southern woman way of sounding both scolding and affectionate at once. Lincecum, who is from Washington and has no defense against Southern women, slouches across the room and into her friendly embrace.
Fuck, Buster thinks, watching. He should never have told her.
But secrecy wasn't really an option. That's their deal, the deal they've had since the tenth grade when she caught him making out with Jonathan Rickman in a car behind the dumpsters after a game. "I don't mind about the boys," she'd said back then, "but you can't be lying to me, Buster. I won't have it."
So when he'd gotten home and she asked him about what had happened after she interrupted him with Lincecum, he'd told her the truth. And now. . . fuck.
"Excuse me," he says to the mother of the two little boys, gesturing for one of the club staff to come over and see to them. He's already signed their jerseys, but he tells the guy to give them photos and balls, too, because he feels like shit abandoning them but he cannot leave Tim alone with his wife. No man deserves that.
"Buster!" Kristen wraps an arm around him. Her other arm is firmly entwined with that of Lincecum, who looks both embarrassed and miserable. "We were just talking about you, weren't we, Tim?"
Lincecum mumbles something.
"I was just sayin' how glad I was that the two of you have been hanging out on the road," Kristen continues. Buster wants desperately to be somewhere else. This is not happening. His wife is not trying to hook him up with one of the pitchers. "It's so nice," Kristen says, "to know that Buster has friends on the team, people he can spend time with. People he can trust. Isn't it, honey?"
Buster's not sure what the question is, but he agrees anyways. He knows better than to disagree. They haven't been married for that long, but he's known her for years and years, and he knows when he's lost a battle. This one was over before it even began.
"Maybe you'll be a good influence on him," Kristen says to Tim, jostling his arm. Tim smiles sickly at her.
"I, um. I have to get back." He leans toward the table where people are bunching up to talk to him. "So. Good to see you." He slides his arm out of her grip and eases away. Kristen watches him go.
"Oh, honey," she murmurs, once Tim's out of earshot. "You're in trouble."
Buster stares at her. "I'm in trouble. I'm in trouble? I'm not the one propositioning people at the meet and greet, honey."
Kristen is still watching Tim, who has slid behind the table and is signing something, smiling up at a fan in that professional friendly-but-not-too-friendly way they all learn. "I was helping you, and you know it," she says out of the corner of her mouth. "But you don't need any help from me. He's got it bad."
"Hey, can I talk to you?"
Buster turns away from his locker. He's been waiting for this for hours, since the family fun meet and greet ended and his wife left for home. He'd gone through his whole workout with one eye on the mirrors, waiting for Lincecum to say pretty much exactly those five words. Now, Buster realizes that he should have thought of an answer.
"Sure," he says. "Of course."
Tim glances over his shoulder. He's wearing a hoodie, a grey one that looks soft. His hands are shoved in the pockets. He stares at the floor for a long minute. "I don't know what to say," he admits, finally.
"Me either," Buster says. He wants to grab Tim and kiss him and maybe pin him down on a bed or something, those aren't words, and describing those things to Tim the way he looks right now?
Buster doesn't think it will help.
But he wants Tim to stop looking so miserable and weird around him, that's for sure. "How about this?" he says.
Tim lifts his eyes cautiously.
"You think about it," Buster says. "What you want to say. And I'll think about it, too, and when one of us comes up with something, we'll say it. Cool?"
"So. . . right now we're talking about not talking?"
Tim looks amused, but Buster thinks about it for a second. "Basically, yeah."
Tim rolls his eyes, which means he feels better and that Buster's said the right thing and lifted whatever weight was on him. "All right," Tim says. "I guess."
"Okay." Buster slaps Tim on the shoulder, a friendly slap. "See you later."
"Yep." Tim ambles away. "Hey, Buster," he calls from the doorway. Buster turns. "Good talk, man," Tim says, and flips him the bird.
By the time Buster stops laughing, Tim's gone.