AN: This was a product of college basketball withdrawal sprinkled with hypomania, which I guess is the only time I ever write anything nowadays. I was nervous to post this, so I hope you enjoy it. Especially if you don't even like basketball. If you do like the story, let me know. Or if you don't. Or if you find some error I missed in one of my billion edits.
When reading, consider this: John Amaechi was the first (and only, so far) NBA player to come out in 2007, only after retiring in 2003. The only openly gay current professional athlete is Gareth Thomas, a rugby player.
I've been watching my roommate for like the past twenty minutes, at least. He's been knocked out since we got back to the dorm, maybe ten-o-clock. I can't sleep. It's one-thirty.
He's sprawled out all over the tiny bed, his feet at the wrong end. His face's been turned away from me for a while now, and he's not moving too much. I'm almost convinced he's not waking up any time soon, but I keep triple checking. I refuse to be that kid caught jerking off at basketball camp.
It's a pretty stupid idea, I know. But it'll definitely get me to sleep. Besides, as soon as the thought popped into my head my mind's been a fucking porno loop. Now I'm hard, and I gotta, so where else am I supposed to go? The bathroom? Might as well do it in the hallway.
Still, though. This is Brandon. I've known him since I was like ten. We play AAU ball together. I'd never fucking live this down if he woke up. But he hasn't even twitched in the past ten minutes, and I think I'm gonna go for it. I decide to keep lying on my back instead of facing away from his bed, just so I can make sure he's not waking up or anything.
I'm still kinda watching him when I've got my hand on my dick, which makes me feel sorta weird. Not bothered enough to stop or anything, though. Somehow I keep the porno loop running while I watch him sleep, but to be honest I don't really know right now which images I'm jacking off to. His exposed skin looks soft, and thinking about that definitely makes me feel weird. I close my eyes, pretty sure by now he's not waking up. That helps a lot, and I just go for it, blocking Brandon from my mind. Of course, then I hear his mattress creak and covers shift, so I stop and take a look. He's turned onto his back now, but still facing away from me. There's a pillow under his arm that he's clutching tightly to his side. It moves up and down with his chest while I watch him. It's painful, at this point, how bad I need to come. Biting my lip, I start. I close my eyes after maybe five minutes, when he hasn't moved again. I'm so close, right at the edge, when I hear a quiet snort that snaps my eyes open.
That's when he just starts cracking up, the pillow covering his face and muffling his laughter. "Motherfucker," I groan. Brandon uncovers his face, glancing at me. He's still shaking with laughter, and I swear to god I've never seen him laughing harder. Dude never smiles, practically.
"Sorry," he says when he's caught his breath again. "Sorry. I just sort of woke up, man, and there you were." He tries to hold in the laughs and fails big. "Didn't mean to interrupt."
"Apology accepted," I say, hiding under my own pillow. "I'm gonna go kill myself now."
He's giggling now, I swear. There's no other word for it. "Hey, Chris...Christian. It's cool. I won't tell nobody." I keep my head covered, waiting to fall asleep or pass out from no oxygen. "You can even finish if you want. I'm not even here."
I move the pillow, looking at him. "Uh. No, I'm cool. Sorry man, won't happen again. I was just..never mind. Sorry."
Brandon grins at me, but doesn't say anything else. My face feels hot and I don't think I'll ever get to sleep now. He sits up to look at the time. "Damn. I don't even 'member falling asleep," he mumbles. His voice still sounds scratchy and tired. Scratching his face, he says, "I probably can't get back to sleep."
"Least you got some sleep. I'm dead tired and haven't fallen asleep all night." He grins again. His teeth are nicer than mine, and I had braces. "Maybe you should try jacking off," I joke. "Works for me. When I'm alone, anyway."
"Yeah?" he asks. "Maybe I should." I snort, but out of the corner of my eye I can see him shifting around under his covers. He kicks his boxers off, onto the floor. When he looks at me he laughs, I guess at the way my face is all screwed up in confusion. He turns to the ceiling and closes his eyes, his hand clearly moving under the covers. My mouth drops open a little, and I just move my eyes back toward the ceiling. I'm feeling weird, a mix of shock at his boldness, anger for the way he just so casually decided to go at it, and left over embarrassment. Plus, I'm hot. Really hot.
I hear him moving around, so I turn a little to peek. He's still covered, mostly, but now one leg is almost totally exposed, halfway dangling off the bed. Looks like he's concentrating hard, eyes still closed, lips parted. I'm hard again. His hand moves slower than mine would, like he's got no issue taking his time with all of this. I try to remember that word, the one for freaks who get off on doing shit like this in front of people. Is it just as weird to get off on just watching? His free hand moves to his stomach while the other speeds up a little.
Fuck it. I wrap my hand around my dick again and stroke, still not as lazily as he does. I don't take my eyes off him this time, though. I focus on his skin again, very smooth looking with a nice medium brown complexion that's darker than my own. He inhales kind of sharply and licks at his bottom lip a little, his head turning to me as he opens his eyes. We both keep going. Brandon's looking at me with curiosity, I think, maybe amusement. Maybe something else. He's smiling a little. All of a sudden his eyes shut tight and he bites his lip. "Fuck," he says quietly, dragging it out. His hand slows and then just stops. I think my dick might break off if I don't come soon. Brandon opens his eyes and watches me again, his teeth releasing his lower lip. It's the same look from before, but his eyes are a little shinier, sort of dazed, and the smile a little different. Afterglow. I take it all in before, a few seconds later, I'm closing my own eyes and finally, finally coming. I don't think it's ever felt better.
I turn to him, when my brain is on again, and he's still watching me. He grins wide. "Think you can sleep now?"
"Yeah," I say. "That should do it." I close my eyes, ready for sleep, and try not to worry about what this is going to mean when we wake up.
If I could, I'd be avoiding Brandon right now. But we're stuck together, roommates and teammates, so it's not like I can. It's not a big deal, I guess. He's not bringing it up, or acting weird, or even looking at me funny. But still, I know I turn red every time I look over at him. Another reason to hate my light skin, along with jokes about being black and needing a tan and the nickname Lite Brite (which Brandon started, by the way). I'm getting paranoid that I'm giving it all away to our group with my awkwardness. He's much better than me at acting like nothing happened.
Watching him work on his shooting, I think soon he'll be better than me as a player, too. I've been ranked at the top of our recruiting class since middle school, a fact that means nothing. Nothing except that I was lucky enough to have a growth spurt before everyone else, anyway. I'm good, but since coming to high school it's been pretty obvious the competition is gonna get much tougher. Dudes I towered over last year can look me in the eye or, worse, look down at me now. I've been getting outplayed by guys I ran circles around. I'm only fifteen, but I don't see my body or athleticism changing too much in the future. But guys like Brandon are still growing, still developing. They got a 'higher ceiling', a scout would probably say. All I can do is work on my game and try to keep the attention of the schools that already want me. I know I won't be number one much longer.
Some kid's making a half assed attempt to guard Brandon at the three point line, and all he's gotta do is a quick jab step to throw the guy off before he steps back to shoot the ball. After it swishes in, the coach talks to them for a second and then they're switching places. He's defending the kid, getting in just close enough with a hand up near the guy's face. Brandon's expression reminds me of last night. There's the same intense stare, the slight squint. Bottom lip between his teeth. I pinch myself to have something else to focus on so I don't get hard. I'm ashamed to say it already happened once today. With Brandon's hand blocking his sight, the kid gets his shot off. Air ball. They both stop to talk to the coach again, and then he's walking toward the bleachers where I'm sitting while coach's trying to fix everything wrong with the other kid.
"He's hopeless," I say when he sits next to me. Brandon snorts and takes a sip of Gatorade.
"His dad's assistant coach at Seton Hall," he tells me.
"Guess we know where he'll be playing in college."
"That'd be cool though," Brandon says. "To just know they got a spot for you somewhere already, y'know? Not have to worry about all this recruiting bullshit." I raise an eyebrow, not sure what he means. "Like all the scouting reports and shit. Fat white dudes watching and asking questions all the time. It's weird, man."
I know what he means, but I think I'm a little more used to it maybe. It doesn't faze me anymore. My family's been all about me and my hooping for so long now. I've been playing above my age group in AAU ball since sixth grade, and we moved out to Baltimore County to be closer to a private school with a great basketball program. I'm supposed to get into a big basketball school, like North Carolina, Kentucky, or Kansas, and then I'm supposed to get into the league. It's been the plan forever. But Brandon, nobody's planning anything for him. I've got parents that can move to the county just for basketball while Brandon's living with his grandma in West Baltimore, playing in a shit public school. Or, he was playing there our freshman year. He got kicked out right at the end, fighting I think. He's supposed to switch to a private school, still in the city, but they're trying to work out financial aid. I think it's the best thing that could've happened to him, for real. Until this year, basketball was just something to do for him. But now he'll have a coach who will care about his grades and how hard he's working at his game, even if it's only to keep the school and program looking good. They're college hoops factories, these places, the same way some colleges are like NBA training camp. He's gotta learn to play along now.
He shrugs when I say that to him. "I'm not a play along kind of guy, man. I don't know."
"If you wanna make it you gotta play along. The dude from your team this year, Tyrell? You think he got into Georgetown not saying and doing everything right? Tons of guys can ball, man. They ain't all gonna make it. You have a shot."
Brandon tosses his empty bottle in the air over and over, silent for a while. It's strange, I think, to be having this conversation with him. We've been cool as long as we've known each other, but not real close or anything. He's pretty quiet, not in a shy way, but more like he's either thinking about stuff or just isn't interested in talking to you. Plus, like I said, he's hardly ever smiling so most people just leave him alone. It's what he wants, probably. So it's weird, him talking with me like this. But I guess it's no weirder than what went on in that dorm room. That kind of shit breaks barriers, I guess.
"Still," he says, after he drops the bottle. He looks at me as it bounces down the bleachers. "It doesn't bother you to be ranked like that? Judged and shit? Strangers who are grown ass adults talkin' shit about how we play? There's some pissed Maryland fans on the internet, mad at Ty and trashing him for choosing the Hoyas. Like they own him or something." He laughs a little, but he doesn't really look that amused.
"Doesn't matter. You only need to worry about what you can control. What they say or think about you is nothing. Show them, B."
He nods, looking down. He's biting his lip again, and at this point I think getting turned on is an automatic response, like the dude with the drooling dogs. Lucky for me, coach calls everyone over to center court. We all crowd around to listen, and I stand where I won't be able to see Brandon's face. Just to be safe.
They're letting us ignore curfew, sort of, and watch the NBA playoffs finals in the lobby, but Brandon and I decide to watch on my laptop in our room instead. The Nuggets are playing and Brandon's a big Melo fan apparently, so he's really getting into the game, groaning and cursing and cheering. I'm paying attention, trying to, but I'm really distracted thinking about how normal he's acting about all of this. What happened, I mean. Watching him, it's bothering me how...bothered I am by it while he's not at all. Is he better at hiding it, maybe? Or was it really no big deal for him, 'cause he does semi-gay shit all the time? Is he even gay? Are we ever gonna talk about this, so I can ask? I'm not even sure I could talk about it.
The weirdest part, though, is for the first time I'm really sitting around wondering if I'm gay. I feel like I should know, right? But I never thought about it, really. I can admit I've had some thoughts that made me pause, but they're pretty easy to write off. I mean, there are some guys who've made me feel funny but I can't remember ever thinking about being with one of 'em like this.
I almost wish it hadn't happened. I don't have time to be confused about all this shit, not if it's gonna mess me up this way.
"Do they even wanna win? Jesus," Brandon spits. "They get a fat ass paycheck for this. Ain't right."
"So I guess you'll turn yours down when you go pro, huh?"
"I'm just saying, if I'm gonna get that much money just to play ball? I'm at least gonna work hard enough to earn some of it."
"I respect that, man." He frowns and chucks his pillow at me. "I was serious!" I protest, throwing it back. Smiling a little, he turns back toward the screen. It's undeniable, I think, that I'm at least a little gay. I mean, here I am looking at my friend and definitely thinking that I like how he looks. Thinking about it instead of watching the game! Even now, with his lip curled in disgust at Denver's botched play, I'm thinking it.
"Okay?" Brandon asks. I got caught staring. I cough and shake my head 'yes'. I don't know what I'll say if I open my mouth. "What's wrong?"
"I said I'm fine!" He smirks.
"Your face's all red, man." I shrug, but he doesn't look away. His expression is a mix of concern and suspicion. "What's up? Tell me."
I exhale, loudly. For the second night in a row, I give in. "I've just been thinking about what happened and all."
"Yeah?" His face is pretty blank.
"What was that?"
He laughs. "Huh? Whatchu mean?"
"I mean...are you gay?"
"I guess," he says. Just like that. "That all?"
"Is that all?" I snap. "For real?"
"What's the big deal?" He's looking like this is all pretty funny. I don't even know what to do. "You gay?"
"I guess," I say, which makes him laugh again.
"So okay, then. We cool?" He's grinning. I nod, and he looks back to the game. What the fuck.
"What the fuck?" I ask out loud, not really to him. He sighs and looks at me again.
"Don't worry about it so much," he says. I'm getting lessons on accepting myself from Brandon Powell, here. This is fucked up. And, oh Jesus, he's getting up now, coming over to my bed. "Move over," he demands, but he's smiling. I press myself closer to the wall, making room for him to sit next to me. He watches the game, silent. I concentrate on not concentrating on how good he smells. It's harder than it should be. There's a commercial break, and he looks at me. "Hey," he says. "You gonna be alright?" The way he's smiling, you can't help smiling back.
"I'm good. This is just...a little new." We're both propped up against the wall and I can feel his arm touching mine. "I've liked girls, I mean."
I nod. Brandon's chewing his lip again, but I'm actually more interested in the way he's looking at me. It's the kind of look that says a person is maybe thinking about you naked. His eyes are brown, like the way honey looks in the jar, and they're fixed on mine. Bold as fuck, he leans over and starts kissing me. I don't really hesitate to respond. I can't even worry about this being weird or anything, 'cause it feels too good. He's crawled on top of me, with one hand on my chest pressing me down to the mattress while the other goes up my shirt a little, resting on the side of my stomach.
The girlfriend I had for most of last school year was 5'4'' and maybe 110 pounds, at the most, so it's a definite change having a heavy dude on top of me, almost the same size as I am. It's also weird to be kissing someone who's so into it, not having to worry about messing up anyone's long, relaxed hair or sticky-sweet lip gloss. There's no scent of hair products or body spray that smells like cake and chemicals. Just his deodorant and soap, and the natural smell of his skin. Breathing him in like that, plus the way he's kissing me, I moan. I can't fucking help it.
Brandon smiles against my mouth before giving me one more kiss and pulling away. He's got both hands working on taking my jeans off, and I'm twisting around trying to help and shimmy out of them. We get the pants off eventually, and we're both laughing as he slides back up to attack my neck. I freeze for second, worrying about leaving behind evidence, but then I feel his hand on me, rubbing my dick through my boxers. I shouldn't be surprised, but it's not like I was thinking about why he needed my pants off. I'm not thinking about anything but what he's doing, right when he's doing it.
He's gotten out of his baggy shorts on his own, and is taking care of himself and me at the same time. We're kissing again when he slips his hand into my underwear. He touches lightly, just kind of resting his fingers there, before he wraps his hand around me and strokes slowly. The same way he did when I watched. I reach down to push his hand away from himself, feeling like I should be doing my part. It's not much longer before I'm done. I would be embarrassed except he comes too, only a few seconds later. I'm breathing like I played two basketball games in a row, in the whole time, and we both just lie there unsure of what to do about the mess. Looking at each other we both crack up, 'cause what else can we do? We manage to get clean and catch the last few minutes of the game, Brandon whooping in excitement as Melo makes the game winning basket.
Our week at camp ends and the rest of the summer goes pretty much normally. Brandon and I win a tournament with our AAU team in July. School starts too quickly, and everyday for the first two weeks of the semester Brandon complains about his school's uniform. Over the school year I grow two more inches and he grows about five, suddenly standing just slightly taller than me. But I bet he's still growing.
More importantly, he blows up at his new school, absolutely dominating the competition and getting noticed by schools all over the country. When sophomore year ends I get an offer from UNC that I jump at pretty quick, and Brandon changes my nickname to Jordan. My ranking drops to two, then to ten, and Brandon climbs the list all year to crack the top twenty. He and I hang out more, always trying to beat each other at one-on-one or some video game, but nothing like at camp happens again. We don't talk about it anymore, either. But sometimes I see him looking at me, smiling a little, and I know he's thinking about it 'cause I do the same thing.