The Final Chapter
Here we are. The final chapter of 'Am I...?' Words can't express how much I appreciate all the support you've all given me and I thank you all for it. The final count for this story is 293 computer pages and almost 120,000 words. That's the second largest work I've ever completed. I'm so incredibly happy that I've finished something like this and I owe it all to you.
When I first started writing 'Am I...?' I never thought it was people would like it. But reading the comments you all have posted gave me the drive to continue with this story. And I'm glad that I did.
I've never thought what I've written was good before, but now I see that other people think it is good, it's given me confidence in what I've written and what I will write in the future. Thank you all so much for your support. As always, comments and emails about what you've thought of the series are welcomed and very much appreciated.
'Could I Be...?' will be posted soon, so please check in periodically for updates. For the last time, here's the final chapter of 'Am I...?'
My head is pounding, my legs are completely numb, fast and heavy breaths are coming and going from my body, and I can't hear a thing. This is the most intense situation I've ever been in in my entire life. I can feel the adrenaline pumping through my body and beads of sweat are taking form on every inch of my skin.
I finally come back to reality and hear the deafening roar of the crowd, filling every seat in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "C'mon Rusden!" I look up and see Carter Eerie, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He holds a hand out for me and I quickly take it and he helps me off the ground. "Hell of a hit!"
"No kidding!" I yell back at him.
"C'mon! Coach called a time out!"
I follow Carter off the field and surround the rest of my team around Coach Samson. "Alright boys!" he yells. "We have five seconds left on the board, we're down by three, and we're thirty-seven yards from the end zone! We're doing the same play as before!"
Large protests come from all around. "But they'll be expecting that!" yells Tyler Foxworth, a receiver. "It didn't work last play!"
"That's because Rusden wasn't covered properly!" Coach Samson barks. "Plus it's too risky to go for a field goal! This is our last fucking chance, boys! We're going out fighting! Let's go kick some Ravens ass!"
We break the huddle and walk back out onto the field. A hand comes down onto my shoulder and I see Carter walking with me. "You got this, Rusden. If anyone on this field can pull off the impossible, it's you."
I grin as I look at Carter through my helmet. "Thanks Carter. Let's get that ball into the end zone and take home that trophy."
Carter grins himself and smacks me on the butt. We get to the line of scrimmage and I assume my position behind Carter. I look around the stadium and see thousands of fans screaming and cheering in colors of red and white. But looking at them makes my nerves go haywire and I feel my stomach drop.
My hands start to shake and my knees begin buckling. But just as I feel like I'm going to lose, something fills my ear. "You've got this, Josh. I know you can do it. I'll be waiting for you when you come home with a picture of you kissing that Lombardi trophy."
All my shaking stops and I smile to myself. Thank you, Leo...
I ready myself and look to Carter's back. "Ready!" he yells. "Set! Hut hut!"
The ball is snapped back to Carter and thousands of pounds of muscle collide in front of him. As he starts to turn back, I rush forward and grab the ball as he holds it out. I look in front of me and see an opening and I go for it. Sprinting as fast as I can, I charge the gap and barely make it through.
One wall down, a few more to go. While I knew I'd meet more resistance, I didn't expect the cornerback to drop from the wide receiver to try and stop me. He runs at me full speed from the side and dives for my legs. Timing it perfectly, I jump and let him dive completely under me, finding ground a second later.
With the end zone in sight, I dig deep and gather all the speed I can get. I hear defensemen starting to catch up to me, but I take off. The thirty-yard line is gone and I pass the twenty-yard line a few seconds later. The cheers of the crowd are getting louder and louder, but to me it's completely silent.
I glance back for a second and see that not one person is even close to me. I look back and see the end zone rapidly approaching. The ten-yard line flies by me and with five final strides, I plow into the end zone. I come to a sudden stop and look at the scoreboard. Zero seconds left. Ravens: 24 49ers: 27. We fucking won...
I spike the ball down as hard as I can and scream at the sky. I don't have time to react as I'm suddenly tackled from behind. I look back and see my teammates piling on top of me, all of them cheering and screaming. They eventually get off me and I'm helped back to my feet my Carter. "You fucking did it, Rusden!" he screams.
"We all fucking did it!" I yell back.
I feel confetti starting to fall from the sky and see fans swarming the field. Reporters and newscasters surround player after player and I get a good look at everything when I pull my helmet off. Suddenly a reporter I recognize from ESPN runs up to me. "Josh!" she yells. "You just won the Super Bowl for your team! How are you feeling right now?"
"This is one of the greatest days of my life!" I yell over the screaming fans. "I never would've seen myself here ten years ago! But now it's unbelievable!"
"How do you feel about the Ravens? Did you at all feel nervous when you were playing against them?"
"I was incredibly nervous when I first stepped onto the field! The Ravens are an amazing team and they deserved the right to stand on this field as much as we did!"
"How does it feel to be the first openly gay football player to score the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl?"
I sigh to myself, knowing one of these was coming. "Me being gay doesn't change the fact that I'm here right now. Sure, there may be some people that see it as wrong, but they're entitled to their opinions, just like I am mine. I'm on cloud nine knowing that I scored the winning touchdown, but being gay didn't affect how I played tonight. And it surely won't affect how I play in the future."
"Thank you, Josh. Congratulations."
I thank the woman, shake hands with a few Ravens players, and go and join the rest of my team. They all surround me again and as I'm getting hug after hug, something hits me in the chest. I see Coach Samson pressing the game ball against me. "You deserve this Rusden," he says.
I smile and take the ball and for the first time, Coach actually hugs one of his players. He may be in his fifties, but his grip is still like a vise. I hug him back and let the rest of the guys hug us too.
Once I get my Super Bowl LVII hat and t-shirt, I crowd with my team and coaches around the Lombardi trophy, posing for the cameras. As the announcer confirms we're the Super Bowl champions, what comes next takes me by surprise. "And your Super Bowl MVP: number 28, Josh Rusden!"
And now, this is the second greatest day of my life. I look in awe as I'm handed the Pete Rozelle trophy. I take the heavy trophy in my hands and press my lips to it and hold it high above my head, surrounded by my teammates.
It takes a little while, but we manage to get back to the locker room, where bottles of champagne are popped and spayed all over the locker room. I quickly shower and get dressed in my grey button down shirt, dark jeans, new leather jacket, and favorite sneakers. "Where's the fire, Rusden?" asks Carter, coming out of the showers in a towel.
"I have a flight to get to," I say, finishing tying my laces.
"Now?" asks Robert Kenner, a safety. "I thought we all were headed back to San Francisco tomorrow."
"You all are," I say. "I have a husband in Santa Ana I need to get to. Don't worry. I've already cleared it up with Coach Samson."
"You know, you've mentioned your husband a few times before," says Kenny Tannish, a defensive end. "None of us have ever seen him."
"I want to keep him out of the spotlight, protect him from paparazzi and stuff like that."
"Oh come on," Carter moans. "Just show us a picture of him or something!"
Cheers and jeers come from the other players and I roll my eyes. I dig into my pocket and pull out my phone. After scrolling through my photos, I find the perfect photo of Leo to show the guys. "This is Leo Trigon," I say, turning my phone screen to them.
On the screen stands my Leo, smiling brightly, as beautiful and sexy as the first day I saw him. The guys see the photo and a lot of their mouths drop open. "U-Um...he's handsome..." stutters Carter.
Oh by the way, the photo of Leo was the last time we went to the beach, so all he has on is his bathing suit and having just come out of the water, his perfectly sculpted body is shining, a surfboard under his arm. I look around and smile to myself at what I see. And what I see are a lot of bulges in towels that are getting bigger by the second.
To save all of them, I shut my phone off and put it back in my pocket, knocking them out of their daze. "I need to get out of here," I say. "My plane leaves in a little less than two hours." I grab my carry on bag, my bag with my Pete Rozelle trophy and game ball in it, and my guitar case (I brought it with me to keep me entertained) and start to leave. "Oh and guys? You all might want to do something about those hard-ons."
All the guys look down in shock and try to hide the tents their towels now have. I laugh to myself, give everyone a wave, and head out. As I'm walking out of the locker room, I reach into my back pocket and pull out my beanie and sunglasses and slip them on and reach into my side pocket and pull out my earrings and clip them in (I got my ears pierced in college at Leo's suggestion. I've worn them almost every day since then).
I step out of a side entrance and walk out into the cool New Orleans air. I walk through the Mercedes-Benz Superdome parking lot, where a lot of fans are still celebrating. I need to get through that crowd without getting noticed. Ah well. I'll risk it.
I secure my bag and walk toward the crowd. Having grown a bit more in college, I'm now six foot four, one hundred ninety-five pounds, so I'm a lot bigger than most of the people in the crowd. They take notice of me, but the beanie and sunglasses and lack of good light right now help to hide who I really am.
With an 'excuse me' here and there, I mange to inch my way through the crowd, everyone celebrating too much to recognize me. After almost ten minutes of slow walking, I get out to the street, where more celebration awaits.
Thankfully, I don't need to walk through that. I whistle loudly and get a cab to stop next to me. The driver pops the trunk and I put my bags and guitar in the back and walk over to the passenger side door and climb in. "Louis Armstrong International Airport please," I say.
"No problem," the driver says.
He starts to drive through the streets of New Orleans carefully and manages to get out of the craziness and onto the highway. "Hell of a night, isn't it?" he asks me.
"Sure is," I say. "Is it always like this after a big win?"
"You should see it after the Saints win a Super Bowl. It's five times what it is now. Name's Benji, by the way. Benji Anderson."
"You know, you really remind me of that gay football player. What's his last name? Rumford? Radson? Rusden! That's it! My kid idolizes him. He seems like a really cool guy."
I smile to myself and take off my sunglasses. "Thanks." Benji looks over at me and his face goes blank. He's so distracted that he swerves the cab a bit before managing to correct himself. "You okay there?"
"Hell no I'm not! You're Josh fucking Rusden! You just won the Super Bowl! And you're in my taxi! Just wait until Julian hears about this! Julian is my son. He's eight years old."
Benji points to the dashboard and I see a picture of a small boy with an angelic face and a bright smile. "He looks like a good kid," I say.
"The best. He's been the perfect child since he was a baby. When he was three years old, he saw you playing in the NFL for the first time. Ever since then, he's loved everything about football. He wants to go pro when he's older and I can tell he might just do it."
I glance over at Benji and see that he looks a bit upset. "Are you okay?" I ask.
Benji sighs to himself and nods a bit. "Yeah, it's just...Julian and I only have each other. His mother died soon after giving birth to him and it's tough trying to support a kid when you're a taxi driver. He needs a lot of stuff so he can play football in the community league, but I can't even spare enough money to get him the right equipment. Signups for the league are in less than a week, but Julian's going to be devastated when I tell him he can't play."
Benji laughs to himself a bit. "Sorry. I know you don't want to hear about my sob story..."
"No, I'm really sorry to hear about you and your son's tough situation right now. I'm sure it's been hard for both of you over the years."
Benji nods again, sadness in his eyes. He stays silent for the last few minutes of the ride and we pull up to the airport and I put my sunglasses back on. He steps out and helps me with my bags and guitar. As he goes back to check the meter, I reach into my bag and pull out my checkbook, writing a quick check. I rip it off as Benji comes back. "Sorry, my company doesn't take checks," he says.
"I know," I say. I hand the check to Benji. "This is for you and your son."
Benji looks down at the check and his eyes widen. "F-F-Fifty thousand?!"
"That's for you and your son to start living a little more comfortably and for you to get your son the equipment he needs."
"I-I can't accept this, Josh. It's too much."
"Please Benji. I know you and I have only known each other about thirty minutes, but I could feel how much you needed help. Plus, I kind of have more money than I need right now, so I don't know what to do with a lot of it. Please accept it."
Benji's eye start to water and he hugs me tightly as the tears spill out. "You have no idea how much this means to me and my son..." he sobs.
I return Benji's hug and hold him by his shoulders. "Make sure I see Julian playing in the NFL in the next twenty years." I reach into my pocket and pull out my pen. "Do you have a piece of paper or something?"
Benji opens the passenger door and rummages through the glove compartment and comes back with a blank piece of paper. He hands the paper to me and I press the sheet of paper against the trunk and scrawl over the blank surface with my pen.
'Julian. I know you will become a great football player. I've never met you, but I can tell you have promise and a lot of potential. Never give up and follow your dreams. Josh Rusden.'
I hand the paper back to Benji and he reads it over. "You know," he says. "Some of my friends aren't fans of you because you're gay. But I think I'll turn them around when I tell them what an amazing guy you are."
I smile at him. "Thanks Benji. You have a cell phone?" He digs in his pocket and produces a phone. I quickly glance around and see that the people unloading their cars aren't paying attention and I quickly slip off my sunglasses. I take Benji's phone from him, hold him around the shoulders and hold his phone in front of us. "Smile."
The camera flash goes off and I hand Benji back his phone. "Now you have proof that you met me when you tell your friends and son."
Benji looks at his phone and smiles. "Thank you so much, Josh. I'll watch every single one of your future games with my son."
"Thanks Benji. Good luck to you."
I pay the fare, grab all my stuff and give Benji one more wave before I walk into the airport. Thankfully, there aren't a huge amount of people here, so I only wait a few minutes in line before I get to the counter. "Good evening sir," says the woman behind the counter. "May I ask for your name?"
I reach into my pocket and pull out my wallet and hand my driver's license to her. She quickly looks at it and looks like she's about to scream. I press my finger to my lips before she has a chance to open her mouth. "I'd really like to not be seen right now," I say, lowering my sunglasses a bit.
She nods and types on her computer, smiling a bit. "O-One coach seat leaving for Santa Ana at 1:15?" she asks.
I put my bag and my guitar on the scale and she takes them and puts a tag on both of them and moves them to the conveyer belt. She finishes typing and looks back at me. "Um...would it trouble you, sir, to ask for...an autograph?"
I smile to myself and pull my pen back out. She quickly produces a piece of paper and puts it on the counter. "What's your name?" I ask.
"J-Jessica!" she says.
She covers her mouth at having yelled her name a little too loudly. I take my pen and write over the paper.
'To Jessica. Thank you for being a fan and I wish you the best for the future. Josh Rusden.'
I hand the paper back to her and she smiles widely at it. "T-Thank you so much!" she says.
"No problem," I say. "Thank you for your help."
I wave and secure my backpack and head to security. At least the lines here aren't too long, being almost midnight. I manage to get to the security gate and take off my belt and shoes and backpack and put them into a bin and step onto the mat in front of the gate. "Please take off your sunglasses sir," says a man in a security outfit.
Shit. I really hope I don't need to keep these off for long. I quickly take them off and put them in my bin on the security belt and step back onto the mat. The security guard doesn't seem to have noticed yet, mostly because I'm keeping my head low. "Step through," he says.
I walk through the gate and get back to the belt and quickly grab my stuff. Finding a bench, I sit down and start to slip my sunglasses back on. "Dad look! It's Josh Rusden!"
God fucking damn it! I look over and see a boy who seems to be about twelve. He and his dad are staring at me, wide-eyed. Unfortunately for me, the boy yelled loud enough for a lot of people to hear it. Within seconds, I'm surrounded by a lot of people screaming at me, yelling 'autograph!'
It's impossible for me to move, but I manage to get a hand up to me mouth. I whistle as loud as I can and everyone quiets down. "Okay, yes!" I yell. "I am Josh Rusden!" There are a few more yells and cheers before I get them to quiet down again. "Okay, here's the plan! Let me get to my gate, and I'll sign whatever you want me to sign and pose for whatever picture you want!"
The crowd of several hundred people screams. They part a path for me and I grab my stuff, finish getting my shoes and belt on, and start to walk to my gate. As I'm walking, the crowd of people walking behind me gets larger and larger. I finally get to my gate and see that the crowd is freaking gigantic. Good thing I love my fans.
I have about an hour and fifteen minutes until my plane arrives, so I think I can make it in time. Person after person hands me blank pieces of paper, actions shots of myself, magazines, and even some flesh. I sign everything and take several hundred photos with people. About twenty minutes before I need to board my plane, I sign the last item and pose for a few more photos.
I fall back into my chair, exhausted. I've never signed that many things before, but it feels good to know that I've made a lot of people happy because of it. My plane is finally ready and I grab all my stuff and stand in line. It takes a few more minutes, but I get onto the plane, stuff my bag underneath the seat in front of me, and buckle in.
As I'm looking out the window, I think back over the last ten years. It's 2023 and I'm now twenty-eight years old. I played football in college all four years, and I loved every minute of it. With the Cardinals, we won two Rose Bowl's games and won two National Championship games. I managed to get a degree in business, so I have something to fall back on after I retire from football, which isn't anytime soon.
As the plane starts to move, I succumb to the exhaustion from the Super Bowl and the autographs and fall asleep.
I wake up several hours later, at a little after six in the morning, hearing the flight attendant say we've started our decent. I stretch my arms and legs us much as I can, considering I'm still in my seat. I look out the window and see the clouds disappear and watch as the familiar terrain gets closer. The plane touches down about ten minutes later and we all start to walk off.
I slip my sunglasses back on, feeling a little too tired to sign any more things. I get to the baggage claim, grab my bag and my guitar, and walk out to the parking lot. I find my car, a black 2023 Range Rover Sacrifice, and unlock it. I get my stuff into the trunk and climb into the driver's seat. The engine ignites a few seconds later and I head home.
Thirty minutes later, I pull into my driveway, next to the black and grey custom made motorcycle, and shut off my car. Cracking my joints as I step out, I go to the trunk, get my bags and guitar, grab the morning paper, and walk to the front door of my beautiful two-story house.
I quietly unlock the door and walk in to the dark house and shut the door behind me, locking it again. I set my stuff down by the door and walk into my kitchen to start a fresh pot of coffee. As I'm waiting for the coffee to be made, I sit down at the kitchen table with the newspaper and see the headline.
'49ers Super Bowl Champions! Phenomenal Last Second Touchdown By Rusden!'
I smile at the photo of me and my team, surrounding the Lombardi trophy and the second photo of me screaming at the sky after my touchdown. The beep from the coffee machine comes and I take off my beanie, ruffle out my hair, and climb out of my seat. I start to pour myself a cup off coffee, savoring the smell. "I thought I smelled coffee."
I grin heavily and turn around. And standing in his t-shirt and basketball shorts with fresh bedhead is my husband. He runs up to me and I grab him and hug him tightly, spinning him around as I do so. "I missed you!" Leo says.
"I was only gone two days!" I say, laughing.
"Still! Two days is a long time!"
Leo releases me and kisses me. I smile down at him. "Want some coffee?" I ask.
"Sure. With sugar please."
I go back to the coffee and finish pouring my cup and pour Leo a cup too. I add sugar to both his and my cups and set both down on the table and sit back down next to him, both of us reading the paper. Over the last ten years, Leo's grown two inches, but that's the only change he's had. His smile is still perfect, his body is still immaculate, and his eyes are still as dark blue as the first day we met.
Leo and I have been married almost five years now, and every day has been wonderful. Leo's a mechanical engineering major and owns his own motorcycle shop where he and his employees make custom motorcycles. It's become California's number one motorcycle shop and is growing in customers by the day. I help with the business and financial aspects when I'm not working with the 49ers.
After college, I was a first round draft pick and was drafted by the 49ers. Throughout college, Leo and I stayed together and we were both out and proud, and still are. We got married two months after we graduated and it was the greatest day of our lives.
In the ten years we've been together, a lot of things have changed. For one, gay marriage is now legal in eighteen other states. While not legal all over the country, it's still a huge amount of progress. The stock market has improved and unemployment is below six percent. We're still recovering a bit, but we're getting there.
As we read the paper, I hear small footsteps coming down the stairs. I look up and smile at the two small beings walking into the kitchen. "Daddy!"
I rise out of my chair and kneel down as two bodies run into my chest. "Hey guys!"
Securing them both with both arms, I lift my kids up, letting them both hug me around the neck. These two are Leo's and my pride and joy. In my left arm sits Aiden. He's four years old and has Leo's jet-black hair and dark blue eyes. In my right arm is Jade. She's also four years old and has my dark brown hair and grey eyes.
Jade and Aiden are twins. Leo and I wanted kids not long after we got married and we asked our friend, Courtney, if she would be a surrogate mother for us. She said yes and nine months later, Aiden and Jade were born. Leo and I have loved them every minute they've been our kids. They see Courtney on a monthly basis so they can know who their birth mother is.
I walk over to the table and sit them both down. "Daddy! We watched you on TV last night!" yells Aiden.
I make a face at Leo, who knows their bedtime is nine on school nights. "They wanted to watch you play," he says. "And I'm glad they did, even though they went crazy after that touchdown you made."
"We went over to Grandma Rachel and Grandpa Jacob's and saw Uncle Ryan, Uncle Nate, Grandma Penny, and Grandpa Paul!" Jade yells. "A lot of other people were there too! It was a lot of fun!"
I laugh a bit. "Do you guys want breakfast?" I ask.
"Yeah!" they both scream.
"You don't need to do that," says Leo. "You were on a plane for five hours. I think you need a break."
"I'm really fine," I say. "I slept on the ride home. Who wants pancakes?"
Both Aiden and Jade raise their hands and Leo does too after a second. Within a few minutes, the smell of cooking pancakes is in the air. Leo and I spoil Aiden and Jade sometimes, but not too often. They're incredibly smart for their age, having started speaking at ten months, and forming complete sentences by the time they were a year and a half.
I get the pancakes cooked and hands them to my family. Aiden and Jade hungrily devour them and Leo eats them quickly too. I learned to cook a little a few years back, and it's really come in handy. Leo clears the plates for me when we're all done. "Go upstairs and get ready for school," I say to my kids.
Aiden and Jade jump out of their seats and scurry up out of the kitchen and I hear them run up the stairs. "They've really come to like preschool, haven't they?" I ask Leo.
"They like it more than the weekend," he replies.
"You heading into the shop today?"
"Yeah. I have a bike I need to finish and it's giving me a bit of trouble. But I should be able to finish before the kids' school lets out, so I can pick them up."
"I'll drop them off then."
"No you don't, Mr. MVP. You must be exhausted. You're going up to bed."
I laugh and give Leo a kiss. "Yes sir."
He smacks my butt as I'm getting up. I grab my bags and carry them upstairs and walk into Leo's and my bedroom. I set everything down, undress, and climb into bed in my shirt and underwear. I lean over to Leo's side of the bed and smell his pillow, taking in his scent. It's only been two days, but I missed the smell so much it hurt.
Leo's comes into the room a minute or two later and comes to my side of the bed. He leans over and kisses the side of my head. "Sweet dreams," he says.
His voice is like a lullaby, because I'm out not a second later.
I wake up a few hours later and stretch my arms above my head. I climb out of bed and hear my phone vibrating in my pants. I reach in the pocket and pull out my phone and see a text from Leo on the screen.
'About to pick up the kids from preschool. Want to meet for lunch somewhere?'
I see the time on my phone says 11:30, so Aiden and Jade should get out of school in about thirty minutes.
'Sure. Want to meet at Guy's?'
'That's good. Meet you there in about forty-five minutes.'
I shut off my phone and head to the shower, where I quickly wash up and rinse myself off. Once I'm dry, I put on a clean t-shirt, fresh dark jeans, some socks and my sneakers. I have about twenty-five minutes before I'm supposed to meet Leo and the kids, but Guy's is only a ten-minute drive away, so I have some time to kill.
I check my phone and see I have several voicemails and a lot of text messages. My family and friends have called and texted me, congratulating me on the win last night. I want to call them all back and thank them, but I decide to do it in person when I see them next time.
Looking at the clock, I head downstairs and grab a helmet and a pair of keys and walk outside. Leo's custom-made motorcycle sits in the driveway. I got my motorcycle license back when I was twenty-two, so I can legally ride. I put on the helmet and straddle the bike and turn it on with a loud engine roar. Once I'm backed out, I head to Guy's
Guy's is a local restaurant that's pretty popular in town. They serve classic American food and the food is really good too. I get there as Leo is pulling into the parking lot and I pull in next to him. As I'm taking off my helmet, Aiden and Jade hug me on both sides of the bike. "Guys, I can't move with you both hugging me," I say.
They giggle and let me go. I turn off the bike and clip my helmet to the handle bar. Leo, the kids, and I head inside and see that's it's fairly crowded. "There's there MVP!"
I see Guy, the chef and owner of Guy's, standing in the kitchen, a bright smile underneath his thick beard. All the diners look up and see me and everyone applauds, making me turn red. I know a lot of these people on a personal basis, so none of them ask for autographs anymore. "Guy, can we get the usual?" Leo calls to him.
"Cheesesteak, hamburger, two grilled cheeses, two Cokes, and two bottles of milk?" he calls back.
"That's the one!"
"Be ready in about fifteen minutes!"
We find a table and Leo goes to pay and get the drinks for us. "Um...I have some bad news to tell you guys," I say as Leo's sitting back down. They look at me in concern. "I need to head up to San Francisco tomorrow."
"Daddy..." Jade whines.
"I know sweetie," I say. "But I need to go be with my teammates for a parade. But don't worry. I'll be back when you come home from school on Wednesday."
"But you were just gone," says Aiden.
"I don't like it either, bud. But I have a responsibility to my teammates. After that, I'm completely free." Aiden and Jade both start to pout. "I'll bring back some chocolate from Confection."
Both their faces light up at the mention of me bringing back chocolate. "Just make sure you're free this Friday," says Leo.
"What's going on Friday?" I ask.
"We're all going out to dinner to celebrate you winning the Super Bowl."
"Oh, you don't need to do that for me."
"Like I don't. Josh, what was it I told you ten years ago when we were in high school and that whole incident with Gerald happened?"
I smile to myself at remembering what happened in the parking lot of the hospital. "That I need to be more selfish," I say.
"That's right. Now we're all going out to dinner this Friday and we're going to have a good time."
Leo smacks my arm across the table, making both Aiden and Jade squirt their milk out their noses, which makes Leo and me laugh. I love my family so much...
San Francisco was great. Riding down the street with the rest of my team, people on the streets cheering and throwing confetti everywhere, it was a lot of fun. I get the chocolate I promised for Aiden and Jade (getting some for myself and Leo as well) and fly back home. I spend the next two days taking Aiden and Jade to school, picking them up, playing with them, and relaxing. I missed doing this...
It's Friday afternoon and I'm getting ready to go out to dinner with my family. As I'm getting dressed, Leo comes out of the bathroom wearing a towel. "Where are we going for dinner?" I ask.
"I've told you thirty-two times already," he says smiling. "It's a surprise."
"C'mon. I can't even get a hint?"
"I give you a hint, you get it right."
Leo takes his towel off and finishes drying his hair, his monster cock swinging between his legs. "By the way," I say. "When I showed my teammates that picture of you coming out of the water the last time we went to the beach, all of them were hard within a few seconds."
Leo laughs loudly at thinking my teammates getting hard-ons seeing him without a shirt on. Leo goes to put on some clothes and I finish tying my tie. I grab my blazer and slip it on and wait for Leo to finish getting dressed. I go to check on Jade and Aiden and see how they're doing? "You ready, bud?" I call through Aiden's door.
"Almost!" he calls back.
I turn and walk over to Jade's door and knock on it. "You ready yet, sweetie?"
"In a few minutes!" she calls through the door.
I go back to Leo's and my room and find him finishing getting dressed. I help get him his belt and jacket and he quickly slips them on. After taking a few more minutes in the bathroom, he and I step back into the hallway where we find Aiden and Jade, dressed and ready to go. Aiden's wearing a sport coat, dress shirt, clip-on tie, and nice shoes and pants. Jade's wearing a black dress with several white bows on it and her hair's tied back into a ponytail.
Both of them look wonderful. "You look very handsome Aiden," Leo says.
"And you look very beautiful Jade," I say.
Both of them smile and walk down the stairs with us. We walk out and climb into my Range Rover, me in the passenger seat. As Leo turns on the car, a small hand comes from the back seat. "Wear this, Daddy!" Jade says.
In her hand is a blindfold. I look at Leo, who only smiles at me. "I meant it when I wanted this to be a surprise," he says.
I relent and put the blindfold over my eyes. Leo pulls out and we head off to our mystery destination.
About twenty minutes later, the car comes to a stop and I hear the gearshift move to park. I reach up to my blindfold. "Don't take it off yet!" Aiden yells.
I stop my hands and laugh. I hear Leo, Aiden, and Jade climb out of the car and I hear my door open. Leo takes my arm and helps me out of the car, hearing Aiden and Jade giggle as I'm being led up a flight of stairs. A door opens in front of me and a blast of cool air hits me. Leo walks me down what feels like a long, carpeted hallway.
We suddenly stop and Leo lets me go. "Take off the blindfold," he says.
I reach up and slowly take off the blindfold. What comes next makes me jump out of my skin. "SURPRISE!!"
I find myself standing in the middle of a beautiful restaurant, a restaurant I've been to many times before. Standing with me and my family are Mom, Dad, Penny, Paul, Ryan, Nate, Mark, Shawn, Brian, Justin, Danny, Coach (who I now call Tony), Creswell (who I now call Adrian), Julie, Selena, Heather, Nelson, George, Gerald, many of my former teammates from college, several of my college friends, and dozens of others.
Above all of them is a large banner, in colors of red and white.
'Congratulations Josh! You're our MVP!'
Everyone cheers loudly as I start laughing at the top of my lungs. I look at Leo. "Did you do all this?!"
"You deserve all this, Josh!" he yells over the cheers.
I take his face in my hands and give him a hard kiss. Within seconds, all of my friends and family surround me. I hug them all, thanking them all for being here. "Sweetie, we're so proud of you!" says Mom.
"You were fantastic, bud!" says Dad.
"Watching you was so much fun!" says Penny (Leo's mom).
"I've never been that excited before in my life!" says Paul (Leo's dad).
Mom and Dad are still together after more than thirty years of marriage. Both in their mid-fifties, they still look great, Mom's hair a bit greyer and Dad's fully grey. Dad's still a doctor and Mom's still a lawyer. They still live in the same home I grew up in and I visit them as much as I can.
Paul and Penny are also still together, both of them looking like they haven't aged more than a year. They often come over to the house to see us and to play with Aiden and Jade. Paul may still look scary, but you should see and hear him when he's playing with Aiden and Jade. I think Paul and Penny being with each other keeps them both young and happy. "Hey little bro!" Ryan says, hugging me tightly.
"I couldn't believe it when you made that touchdown!" says Nate.
Ryan and Nate are still happily married after almost ten years. They both still work with the Dodgers, but they've both been promoted in their positions. Ryan's now the team doctor and Nate's now the head of marketing for the team. Their son and my nephew, Cole, who is by Nate's leg, is six years old and really takes after Ryan. "Way to go, Josh!" Mark yells.
"That play was awesome!" says Shawn.
Mark and Shawn are still my closest friends and Mark now has a thin beard and Shawn keeps his hair slicked back at all times. Mark played football throughout his time at USC and he helped to win a Rose Bowl for the Trojans. He found his calling at college in computer programming and sold his first program for forty-four million dollars. He used that money to open Presley Tech, which is now the United States' leading producer in recreational technology.
Julie's last name is now Presley. She and Mark have been married for about five years now and have been incredibly happy together. Julie isn't a trophy wife, although she's still incredibly gorgeous. She majored in computer science and now helps Mark with developing new products and they now have a four-year-old daughter, Ally, who is perched in Julie's arms.
Shawn decided to focus on his studies and didn't play football, but graduated Harvard at the top of his class. During his time there he majored in politics. Two years after he graduated, he ran for governor of California. He won by a landslide and was one of the youngest governor's ever to take office. He now has the highest approval rating of any governor ever to take office in California.
Heather married Shawn two years ago and the two are expecting their first child together. She majored in English and is now a best-selling author. Her first book 'Married to Politics' sold thirty-seven million copies around the world. She's currently working on her second novel. "It's been so long, Josh!" says Brian.
"It was amazing to watch you!" says Justin.
Brian and Justin got married after college and have been together ever since. Brian now wears contacts his hair is a little longer and he has more tattoos while Justin now wears glasses and has a goatee. Brian pursued his musical dream throughout college and graduated with five more instruments under his belt. He and his band have since gotten back together and have skyrocketed in popularity. He's since won three Grammys and two American Music Awards.
Justin completed his audio engineering major and has since opened his own business. Robinson Records is now one of America's most powerful record companies, having made almost three hundred million dollars in just five years. His best signed artist is Brian's band and their marital relationship does not interfere with their work, although the two have done it in every recording room Justin has multiple times. "It's great to see you again!" Danny says.
After he finished his apprenticeship in France, Danny went on to study German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and about a dozen other cuisines. The restaurant we're all in right now, Universal, is actually his. It features food from all around the world and every single thing on the menu here is amazing. It's one of the few restaurants in the United States with three Michelin stars and, as stated by several Michelin critics, should be given five Michelin stars.
Selena finished her internship in London and went to become a management major at the University of Virginia. She and Danny met again three years ago, just as Danny was about to open his restaurant. She's now the manager of Universal and she and Danny are going to get married in the fall. "It's great to see you again Josh," says Tony.
"It really is," says Adrian.
"That game was great," says Nelson.
"I've never been on the edge of my seat so much," says George.
"I couldn't help but notice the scar on your upper left arm," says Gerald. "I still feel bad about that..."
Tony and Adrian still teach at Franklin High School. Leo and I kept in touch with them through college and they're still great friends of ours. Nelson is now the maître d of Universal and George's catering company has taken off, now working exclusive private Hollywood parties. Gerald is living a very comfortable life with his son, Derek, who is now attending Franklin and is the star of the baseball team.
As I'm seeing more and more of my friends, large arms encircle me and lift me up. "What's up, Rusden?"
I look down and see my former Cardinals teammates, holding me above them. "Apparently me!" I say.
They set me back down and hug me one by one. Some of them, like me, went on to play for the NFL and I've played against a lot of them, and lost to a few of them. Many of them now live happy and comfortable lives. Along with them are many college friends of mine and Leo's, including our former roommates, Eric and Zane.
After a while of mingling and catching up, food is finally served, all courtesy of Danny. It's fantastic as usual, despite me not knowing how to pronounce a lot of the names of what I'm eating or even knowing what I'm eating (I think one dish had a bug on it, but I ate it anyway. It tasted like chicken).
For the next three hours, there's a lot of talking, dancing, and just having fun. By eleven o'clock, many of the guests have gone home and Aiden and Jade seem to be fading. "I think we need to take the little guys home," I say to Leo.
He looks down at them and nods. "Sure looks that way. C'mon. Let's get them to bed before they keel over."
Leo and I both pick up one of our kids, thank the remaining guests for being here today, and head out. We get Aiden and Jade buckled into the car and I climb into the passenger seat and Leo gets in the driver's seat as I've had a few beers (Leo doesn't drink anymore, which I'm incredibly proud of him for).
We get home a little before midnight and get our sleeping kids out of the car and carry them into the house. We nudge them a little when we get to the top of the stairs. "Aiden, Jade, you need to get to bed," I say.
All I get is response is a groan from both of them. "Since you're so tired," Leo says, "you don't need to brush your teeth tonight. Just dress into your pajamas and you both can get to bed."
It takes them both a minute, but they fall from our arms, give us both a hug and kiss goodnight, and stumble off to their rooms. Leo suddenly stifles a yawn. "I think we need to get you to bed too," I say.
Leo nods in agreement. I wrap my arm around Leo's waist and we walk into our bedroom together. We both start undressing and putting our clothes away and get ready for bed in the bathroom. In the reflection of the mirror, I can see Leo's struggling to keep his eyes open as he brushes his teeth.
Leo manages to wash his face and floss, but needs help getting to bed. I get him into bed and go to turn off the lights, feeling tired myself, the buzz of excitement from tonight starting to wear off. The room darkens, the only light coming from the moon through the windows.
I slide into bed next to Leo and pull the covers over both of us. Once we're covered, I take Leo's tired face in my hands and kiss him hard. He smiles at me when I pull us apart. "Any reason for that?" he asks.
"Just a thank you for tonight," I say.
"You don't need to thank me, Josh. Seeing you happy is the only thank you I need."
"No, I do need to thank you. Leo, for the past ten years, you've done nothing but make me happy. Through college, me starting in the NFL, and up until now, you've never left my side."
Leo wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me a little closer to him. "Josh, I never will leave your side. You've made me the happiest person in the world just by being next to me. You've made me so happy over the ten years we've been together, and I know you'll keep making me happy in the years we have to come."
I smile and kiss Leo again. "Thank you, Leo. I know you're going to keep making me happy too."
"I love you, Josh."
"And I love you, Leo. I always will."
I hug Leo and pull him as close as possible and kiss the top of his head. After a minute, I can hear Leo's steady and deep breathing, so he's asleep. As I start to doze off myself, I think back over the last ten years.
Would I go back and change a thing that's happened to me? Absolutely not. Do I regret any of the decisions I've made with Leo over the years? Not in the least. Do I wonder what it would have been like for me had I been straight? Not at all. Am I perfectly happy with the way my life is right now, with Leo, Aiden, Jade, my friends, family, and everyone else in me life? Yes, I am.
Sleep takes over as I nuzzle my head close to Leo's, who unconsciously hugs me tighter. I smile to myself as I fall asleep in the arms of Leo, my husband, my soul mate, the one my heart desires, and the one person I love more than anything in the world.