Usually, when Tim's relationships go south, he understands why. Either the other person wants to get too serious (Jason, the last three girls he dated) or wants him to come out (Jason, Michael, Seth) or can't handle the travel schedule (pretty much everyone) or just doesn't like him enough (Amy). He doesn't enjoy breaking up with people, or being broken up with, but he usually knows why it's happening.
But this time he has no clue.
The last time he saw Buster in a non-game capacity, Buster was jerking him off and kissing him at the door. Everything seemed to be going fine.
What if his wife really isn't cool with it? Tim thinks, suddenly. His drink clunks onto the tabletop loud enough that he hears it over the really awful music. Normally, he wouldn't be caught dead at a trendy bullshit club like this one in Miami Beach, with Burrell and Wilson and the other party animals, but he couldn't face the sanitary emptiness of a hotel room and the silence of his cell phone tonight, so when Wilson had pounded on the door, bellowing "Timmy!" at the top of his lungs, Tim had almost jumped up in relief.
He's wrong about Buster's wife. Even after everything, Tim's pretty sure Buster wouldn't lie about something like that. Besides, Kristen had come up to him in the clubhouse and made all those allusions to them getting together. That can't be it.
But if that's not it, Tim doesn't know what it is.
The biggest problem with being closeted is that he has no one to talk to. He doesn't have an understanding wife, and Jason isn't about to be sympathetic to Tim's troubles fucking married guys. And his dad...no. His dad is awesome and doesn't care one way or another who Tim fucks, except that he wouldn't be happy if he found out it was someone on the team. "It's a mistake, Tim," he would say, in the same tone of voice he used when Tim bought the condo, which he'd thought was overpriced. So...no one.
Tim fishes an ice cube out of his nearly empty glass and sucks on it, considering. Burrell and Sanchez are wooing women on the dance floor -- thank God Burrell's famous, Tim thinks, because he can't dance for shit -- but Brian flops down next to him, draping one arm over his shoulders.
"Dude, she's looking at you."
He follows Wilson's nod and sees the brunette, a stunning curvy girl in a very small dress and very big hair, who is staring at him like he might be made of chocolate. He almost chokes on the ice. She smiles. He smiles back, sort of, and ducks his head. "Get me out of here," he mutters to Wilson.
"What? She's hot."
"Wilson, man. Come on." That's another thing about this awful club: it makes him feel like a fake. He's wearing a button down and jeans and sneakers--road clothes--and somehow he feels like a more of a poser than any of the guidos prancing around the VIP lounge, like he's the one who's inauthentic. And everyone's looking at them all the time, watching everything they do. "Come on," he says again.
"Yeah, yeah." Wilson starts sliding out of the booth.
He's gone home with women from bars in the past and it's been fine, but there's always that awkward moment afterwards when he's trying to figure out what to say. He's never been great with strangers, and strangers that he's just had sex with are even worse. They always seem to want something from him when all he wants is to be alone and think about what just happened.
He never goes home with men from bars.
Tim thinks that he should take a lesson from Burrell, maybe, who is right at home in a crowd of women, smiling at them, making them laugh. He looks like a prince with a harem, if harems were made up of girls in mini skirts. Tim doesn't think they are.
Or Wilson, who is now regaling the small clump of people near the end of the table with some story about a giraffe or something while he maneuvers them out of the booth. Tim can't hear exactly what he's saying over the music and doesn't know why Brian would be telling a giraffe story, but Brian is standing on his tiptoes, one hand stretched high over his head. There's really no other explanation.
Brian's not as good with the ladies as Burrell--no one is--but he's got an appeal, even with the lumberjack beard. Hiding behind his shoulder, Tim is grateful for his showboating. He's even more grateful for Brian's sudden dedication to sexual purity, which is the only reason that Wilson would be willing to leave a club full of women on a whim.
"I'm swearing off sex," Wilson had announced on the bus that afternoon, to the amusement of everyone within earshot. "I'm on a chastity fast."
"Doesn't a chastity fast mean you're not having any chastity?" Tim had asked.
"Semantics!" Brian declared. "I'm living a life of purity!"
"Alright," Tim had said. There is never any point in arguing with Wilson, which the bevy of girls around him find out when he follows Tim into the cab over their caws of protest. Tim sort of feels bad for them.
"What's with you?" Wilson asks once they're rolling.
Tim has been looking at the abrupt end of the lights along the beach where the land meets the water and hardly hears him. "Huh?"
"What's with you? You've been acting..." Wilson swirls his hands around in the air.
"Oh." Tim pauses. "Nothing."
"You're a fucking liar," Wilson says. "Anything serious? Your pops okay?"
Wilson's dad died when he was just a kid--cancer--so Tim is relieved that he can say that his own personal dad is fine.
"So then, what is it?"
This is the problem with Brian Wilson. He's a showman, a loudmouth, a clown, and then he'll turn to you and look at you with his big blue eyes and say "what's wrong" and you'll feel like you can tell him anything.
"Nothing," Tim says again. He fakes a laugh and slaps Wilson's knee. "I'm just tired or something."
Even in the darkness of the back of the cab, Tim can tell that Brian is squinting at him, not believing him. Sometimes, he wishes he were a better liar.
"Alright, dude, whatever. Gimme some sugar."
"Wait--" Tim gets out before Wilson's hooked his arm around Tim's neck and pulls him crosswise on the seat, so that Tim's back is nestled against Brian's side, Brian's arm slanting across Tim's chest, his hand coming to rest on Tim's waist. Tim struggles briefly, hands flailing toward the open window, but Wilson has no intention of letting go, and Tim has learned from long years of losing fights to his older brother that the easiest way out of some things is through them, so he stops resisting and lets Brian keep him close.
It probably looks really gay to the cab driver, Wilson with his arm around Tim and his other hand on Tim's shoulder holding him in place. It probably looks even more gay when Tim gives in and pulls his knees up, resting his cheek on Brian's shoulder and hugging Brian's arm to his chest.
Tim closes his eyes and decides that, just
until they get to the hotel, he doesn't care.