|Room Service |
The knock on the door isn't a surprise: Buster'd ordered room service twenty minutes ago--pasta and salad--and opens the door without even looking through the peep hole.
It's Lincecum, which is a surprise.
They see each other almost every day at the stadiums, in the gym, on the plane. And every fifth game, they work together like a couple of world class plow horses, pulling the Giants toward their second consecutive post-season, but Buster hasn't really seen Tim, really talked to him, since three weeks ago at the family fun meet and greet.
"Can I, um. . . " Tim gestures to the room.
"Oh. Sure." Buster steps back and shuts the door after him. "What's up?"
"Nothing. Just thought I'd see if you want to hang."
"Yeah!" Buster says. "I mean, yeah. Cool."
Tim smiles. "Cool." He goes over to the bed and sits down. "Whatcha watchin'?"
"Some thing about the Rolling Stones, I think," Buster says, keeping his eyes on the screen. The last time they'd really talked, about more that what signs Buster was putting down or what the happening on the field, they'd agreed (sort of) that Tim would come back when he knew what he wanted to say. And now he's back, reclining on Buster's bed, and it looks like what he wants to say is. . . nothing.
Buster would be lying if he didn't admit that he's a little disappointed.
"I'm more of a Beatles guy myself," Lincecum says. He's sitting against the headboard and he's flipped his shoes on to the floor.
"Yeah? Why?" Buster sits on the other side of the bed, also resting up against the headboard, crossing his ankles.
Tim shrugs. "My dad, I think. He thought the Stones were just, like, vulgar, or something."
"The Stones? No way." Buster chuckles as Mick Jagger flaps his way across the television screen.
"Right?" Tim laughs, then they both fall silent, listening to the narrator talk about the excesses of the Stones lifestyle.
Buster wants to say something. Wants to ask Tim what he's doing here. If he wants to make out. But that's impossible. He put the ball in Tim's court three weeks ago. If Tim has decided to put the ball in his pocket and walk away, well. . . Buster will just have to deal with that. His wife will certainly be disappointed.
He's just thought that--Kristen will be disappointed--when Lincecum tips toward him, pressing his shoulder against Buster's and causing Buster's brain to freeze.
"You mind?" Tim asks.
Buster turns his head to look at Time. Tim is looking back, his eyes calm and unwavering.
"No," Buster says.
"'Cause if you mind, I'll move." There's a twitch at the corner of Tim's mouth that means he's hiding a smile.
"No, I don't mind," Buster says again.
"You're sure?" Again, the twitch.
"I'm pos--" Buster says, and then Tim's mouth is pressed against his, firmly and briefly.
"What about that?" Tim breathes. Their faces are so close together that Buster can only see Tim's eyes. "You mind that?"
Buster doesn't even have a chance to say no, he doesn't mind, before Tim is kissing him again, slipping his tongue into Buster's mouth, his long fingers on Buster's throat.
Buster's witnessed countless feats of Tim's athleticism--Tim catching come backers hit at over 100 miles an hour, Tim leaping over the rail of the dugout, Tim climbing the outfield wall to catch a ball in BP--but he's still amazed when somehow Tim ends up straddling his lap without breaking the kiss.
Buster's hands come up, slide up the back of Tim's shirt, feel the smooth warmth of Tim's skin, and pull him close. He feels Tim's arms slide around his neck. They're chest to chest, now, groin to groin, Tim rubbing against him. His arms go all the way around Tim's waist almost twice. He's so light. Buster rolls him easily and lands between his thighs.
Tim laughs up at him. "Nice one."
"You don't mind, do you?" Buster asks, pushing Tim's t-shirt up.
Tim laughs again. "Fuck off," he says and tilts his face up for another kiss.
Buster leans down, and--
--there's a knock at the door.
Room service. Fuck.
Buster collapses on top of Lincecum, whose breath whooshes out. "Jesus," Tim squeaks.
"I gotta get that," Buster says, pushing himself up, rubbing his hands over his short hair.
"Sure." Tim nods.
Buster staggers to the door, trying to tuck his erection into hiding. "Hey," he says to the bellhop, stepping aside to let the cart by.
"Good evening, sir." The bellhop pushes the cart all the way in and sets the food on the desk. Buster can tell when he notices Tim, who's sitting upright on the bed again, his t-shirt down over his belt. He's trying to look interested in the Rolling Stone documentary, but his hair's a mess and the bed's all fucked up and it couldn't be more obvious what they'd been doing. Buster feels his face go red.
"I'm sorry, sir, do you need another set of silverware?"
"No," Buster says, folding money into the bellhop's hand. "We're good, thanks."
"Have a good night, sir," the bellhop says. Buster doesn't think he's being sarcastic, but he's still relieved when he shuts the door behind the guy. He flips the door bar, and turns back to Tim.
"Have a good night, sir," Tim says, flopping onto his side, propping his head up on one hand.
"I was," Buster gripes. "You want?" He holds up a dinner roll. Tim nods and catches it easily.
"So. . . " Tim picks at the roll. "You done this before?"
Buster swallows the carrot he's chewing. "Room service?" he asks, but he knows what Tim means. "A couple of times. Not since last year."
"And, um. Your wife knows?"
Buster nods. "Since high school."
"Oh." Tim's roll seems like the most fascinating thing he's ever seen from the way he's staring at it.
"What about you?" Buster asks.
"You remember that friend of mine who was staying with me? Jason?"
"From college?" Buster says. He doesn't really remember--Tim's always got someone coming in from college or high school. For someone so quiet, he's remarkably good at keeping in touch with people. Buster doesn't call any of the guys he used to hang with in high school.
"Yeah," Tim nods.
Buster chews, waiting for the rest of Tim's sentence. Then it hits him. "Oh!"
Tim smiles at the bedspread. "Yeah," he says again.
"You had a boyfriend?" Buster says. He can't believe Tim's audacity. It's one thing to have the occasional guy on the side, it's another to have a live-in boyfriend whose picture ends up in the human interest stories labeled as a "friend."
"More like a friend with benefits," Tim says. "It wasn't, like, serious."
"He lived with you!"
Tim shrugs. "He needed a place to stay."
"So you're. . . " Buster doesn't know how to say it. It seems stupid, since five minutes ago they were making out, but it never occurred to him that Lincecum might be gay.
"Nah," Tim says. "I mean, I don't know. Maybe. But not right now."
Buster nods. Tim had scooted on the weed bust last year--it hardly dented the fans' feelings towards him, and the league had mostly overlooked it--but everyone had done something like that when they were young, weed, drinking, whatever. Even the other guys on the team had pretty much laughed it off, on the condition that Lincecum didn't make getting busted a habit.
But coming out? Buster could only imagine what would happen. Even in San Francisco, baseball was an aggressively hetero sport.
"So," he says. "Not with anyone. . . " he makes a gesture at the room, wondering what it is about Tim that makes him incapable of finishing a sentence.
Tim shakes his head. "Not since A ball a coupla times. Too complicated."
"Not like this," Buster says.
Tim falls onto his back and smiles up at the ceiling. "Right," he says. "Not like this." He tosses the roll into the air a couple of times and catches it. He hasn't taken a bite. Toss. Catch. Toss. Catch.
"You want me to go?"
Buster thinks about it, really thinks about it, for the first time since he saw Lincecum curled on his bed in Chicago. What is happening here, what it might mean, how complicated it might get. He should say yes. He shouldn't be fucking around with his ace. It's only his second year in the Bigs, for fuck's sake; he's lucky to be here at all, and now he's taking this chance. He should say yes, and let Tim leave.
"No," he says.