Chapter 13

The next two weeks of practice go by pretty smoothly. Now that Luke's been put on equipment duty, I feel like I can take it easy, but that's before I learn that Charles is as much of a hardass as Luke was, except there are less insults. But at least practice has become a lot more enjoyable and I'm getting a lot closer with the rest of the team.

It's really cool to know how accepting they are of me, even with several guys that are from Texas. Jack and I are becoming a better battery. He's starting to know what I'm going to throw when I'm going to throw it despite me not giving any noticeable signs. It's almost like he reads my mind before I even know what I'm thinking.

It's now February 22nd and I'm getting ready to head out to the busses to leave. The first game of the baseball season is tonight and I'm feeling nervous as all fucking hell. This is my first game as a player for the Stanford Cardinal, my first game as a college player, and I'm the starting pitcher. Talk about pressure.

After my last class of the day, I grab my gym bag and head over to Klein Field. After crossing campus, I walk into the locker room and feel a heaviness in the air. I step over to the lockers and see many of my teammates, but not one of them is speaking. Glancing around at everyone, I walk over to my locker and set my bag down.

Thankfully my locker door has been replaced with a new one and the red painted metal is flawless. I no longer have to look at that ugly word every time I come in here to change. I open my locker and start to undress. "You ready for today?"

Ty's appears out of nowhere once again and is standing at his locker right behind mine. "I guess," I say. "I'm a fucking basket case, though."

"I hear you. It's the first game of the season. Everyone must be feeling pretty nervous because it's an away game. Hell, I can't stop my hands from shaking. Look."

Ty holds his hands up and I see they're both stricken with violent tremors. "Makes me look incredibly calm," I say.

He lowers his hands and goes back to his locker. Shane comes in a minute later and I see his tanned face looks several shades lighter than normal, so I can tell he's nervous without him telling us. The team changes into our warm-ups and we start packing up our bags. "C'mon, you sissies!"

Everyone stops at the sound of Charles' voice. "If you aren't outside in the next ten seconds, you're going to scrub every inch of the locker room with nothing but a toothbrush and your own spit for water! And that includes the toilets!"

We all scramble to grab our bags, knowing Charles will actually go through with that threat if we don't listen to him. We practically sprint out of the locker room and find Charles standing outside with his arms crossed over his chest and the other coaches by his side. "Eight seconds," he says. "Let this be a lesson for the future. Next time, I'm going to make you clean the locker room with your tongues."

Everyone involuntarily shudders at the thought of licking dried sweat and dirt off the locker room floor. "The bus is waiting for us," Charles says.

We all follow behind our coaches, all of us fearing if we say something Charles will bite our heads off. We get to the bus and Charles stands in front of the door, facing all of us. We all stand at attention in front of the former commanding army officer. "For God's sake, loosen up," he says.

The statement takes us all by surprise. "Look," Charles continues. "I know it's the first game of the season and I know you're all nervous and worried. Hell, I am too. But there's only one rule I want you all to follow. Can anyone guess what that rule is?"

"Always say please and thank you?" Ty says.

Everyone, including Charles, gets a small laugh out of that. "Okay, two rules. But can anyone tell me my number one rule?"

There's uncomfortable silence for a few seconds before I decide to step up. "Have fun?" I guess.

Charles smiles up at me. "That's right," he says. "I don't care about winning or losing. If we win and none of you have fun while doing it, then I don't' see it as a win. If you lose miserably but had fun the entire time, that's a win in my book."

The built up tension that's been with everyone since the start of the day slowly starts to lift and I finally feel myself starting to relax. "Now, we have a game to get to," Charles says. "Get your asses on the bus. UC Davis is going down."

There's a collective cheer and we all board the bus. Now that Charles has put us all at ease, the mood in the air is electric. Everyone's talking and smiling and it makes me feel even better. The bus engine ignites and with a few revs, the bus heads north to UC Davis.


About an hour and a half later, the bus pulls onto the UC Davis campus. It feels a lot different here now that were surrounded in aggie blue and gold instead of cardinal red and white. I see a lot of students wearing their school colors standing on the side of the road, booing us as we pass them. Ah, the first away game...

The bus pulls up to Dobbins Stadium, the UC Davis baseball grounds, and comes to a stop. There are already UC Davis fans standing outside the stadium, glaring up at us through the bus despite the windows being too dark to see through. "Let's head on in there," Charles tells us.

The door to the bus opens and we all rise out of our seats and grab our stuff, taking a few deep breaths in anticipation of what's going to happen when we step outside. And being in the furthest seat from the door means I'm going to be the last guy off, so that doesn't make me feel like I'm going to vomit.

My teammates start to step off the bus and a sea of boos and hisses are directed at them. The further I inch toward the door, the more nervous I become and the louder the protest becomes. Ty and Shane step off before me and I'm the last one left. Taking in a deep breath, I step off the bus and my cleats find the concrete.

Many of the boos suddenly die down and I see a lot of fans staring at me with blank faces. I gaze around and slowly make my way toward the stadium and I hear a flurry of whispers around me. "Are you kidding?" I hear a guy ask.

"Is that even possible?" a girl asks.

My stomach drops. I instantly think they know about me and fear races through me. "How can anyone look that fucking hot?" another girl whispers.

And I feel a lot better now. My mouth rises to a smile and a few more people start whispering. All of a sudden, a girl walks out of the crowd and stops near me. "Um...I know you're a Cardinal," she says, "but do you know how smoking you are?"

I smile down at her. I don't care what people think of my anymore, so I want to be honest. "I've gotten a few compliments in the past," I say, "many of them from my boyfriend."

There's a sudden eerie silence around and I see everyone here heard what I said, but I smile anyway. "Thanks for the compliment," I say to the girl. "I'm looking forward to a good match with your team."

I secure my bag and jog to catch up to my team, leaving the stunned crowd behind. I manage to find them a few seconds later starting to walk into the locker room. "You disappeared for a second," Shane says.

"Sorry," I say. "Some girl told me I was hot and I told her that I get similar compliments from Zane, who I labeled as my boyfriend."

Shane sighs to himself. "You sure you wanted to do that? There might be a few pissed off people when that runs through the grapevine."

"I don't care anymore. If people think me being gay is wrong, they can go and fuck themselves on one of my bats. I want to be open, and I will be open."

Shane pats my shoulder. "Just show that crowd that a gay guy can kick some ass."

I smile at him and we make it to the locker room. Charles gathers us together and we all face him. "Boys," he says, "this is the first game of the season. Not to mention this is an away game, so there's a crowd out there against us. But you shouldn't let that pressure get to you in the least.

"You all remember what I said outside Klein Field, right? You're supposed to be having fun out there, not focusing on winning. Winning is secondary to having fun. Never forget that while you're on that field playing your hearts out. Understood?"

"Yes, Coach Higgins!" we all reply with pure enthusiasm in our voices.

"We have some time before the game starts. Get out there and warm up a bit. Some basic drills. Infield defense, bunting, sprints, stuff like that. Show that crowd that the Cardinal won't go down easily."

"Yes, Coach Higgins!"

We all grab our mits and a few bats and we head out of the locker room and into the dugout. The field is well-maintained, bright green grass covering the plain, fresh dirt coating the infield, and brand new chalk outlines define the field the field. The starting players, including myself, walk onto the field and hear boos coming from behind us.

We see that the stands are very filled and the game doesn't even start for about an hour. There isn't a single hint of red in the sea of blue and gold, so we're really alone here. The guys and I take the field and start going through some of our warm up drills. Jack takes a bat and goes to home plate with a bucket of baseballs.

Wesley Garter (a first baseman and junior), Peter, Sam Maxell (a third baseman and senior), Alejandro, and I take our infield positions and Jack is just about to start, the boos suddenly get a lot louder. I look at the crowd and see that standing in the front row are several guys with a very large sign.


All the guys with the sign are glaring at me, but they aren't saying a thing. Guess word got around faster than I thought. "Swanson! Get your head back in the game!" I look at home plate and see Jack with the bat resting on his shoulder. "Don't let the assholes in the stands distract you or get to you! You know that you can play! So c'mon!"

I sigh to myself and look back at Jack and punch my glove. Jack tosses the ball up and with a metallic clang, the ball suddenly shoots to my right. Pure instinct takes me over and I jump to my right and extend my left arm and turn it to the ball. There's a loud smack and I feel the ball in my glove.

Gravity takes me over and I start to fall back to Earth, but I manage to turn my body over and grab the ball out of my glove and throw it as hard as I can toward first. I land back first on the grass and I hear the loud thump of a ball hitting leather. I sit back up and see the ball in the glove of Wesley, and it makes me smile.

I get back to my feet and look back at the group of guys with the sign. All of their faces are blank and their mouths are hanging open. I smile at all of them and hold up a choice finger, which makes their mouths drop even more open. Laughing a bit, I look back at Jack, ready for the next ball.


After a few more drills, we're all just about ready to start the game. The head umpire calls the players of both teams to the field, so we grab our gloves and jog out of the dugout and get to the field. The UC Davis Aggies jog out of their dugout and I see that their team has about thirty-five members, roughly the same as us.

Both teams line up and face each other and the head umpire stands between both teams. "Okay, listen up!" he says. "I don't want any dirty play here today! We're here to play baseball! My word is law on this field! If you argue with me, I throw you out! Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir!" everyone replies.

"Greet each other."

We face our opponents they face us. "Let's have a good match!" we all say.

"The Cardinal is batting first," the umpire says. "Aggies, take the field. Dismissed!"

We all go back to our dugouts and find Charles sitting on the bench. "Jack, you're batting first," he says.

"Got it, Coach Higgins," Jack replies.

"Batting second is Alejandro, third is Peter, and fourth is Eric. If we get past Eric, I'll tell you the remaining line up. Are you all ready?"

"Yes, Coach Higgins!"

"Get out there and kick some ass!" Charles shouts.

Seeing the fire in Charles' eyes makes the small ember in my gut ignite into an inferno. Jack slips his batting gloves on and grabs a helmet and his metallic bat. He walks out of the dugout and there's a large amount of boos as soon as he steps onto the grass. We all press ourselves against the fence and watch Jack step into the batter's box.

Alejandro walks over the batter ready circle and takes a few practice swings. The Aggies starters take the field and for the first time tonight, the crowd cheers at seeing their team. The starters scatter and I see the pitcher. He looks to be about three years older than me and about my height with a thick beard on his face and a head of shaggy blonde hair.

The umpire walks behind the Aggies catcher and lowers his mask and shouts some of my favorite words. "Play ball!"

Jack holds the bat up and stares at the pitcher, ready for the coming pitch. The Aggies pitcher looks at the catcher and shakes his head once, then another time, finally ending with a nod. He straightens back up and takes a deep breath. He cocks his arm back and throws the ball toward the plate.

Jack swings the bat and I hear a loud clang. The ball flies over the heads of the pitcher and the second baseman and lands between him and the center fielder. Jack sprints toward first and makes it with plenty of time to spare. Signs are looking good. First pitch was a hit and we have a runner on base.

But for Alejandro and Peter, it's a different story. Alejandro got a hit, but it was quickly caught by the shortstop, so Jack had to scramble back to first. The pitcher struck Peter out after five pitches, tricked by a nasty curveball. With two out in the top of the first, I'm up. I grab my wooden bat and with my gloves and helmet on, I step onto the field.

I hear a lot more boos for me than my other teammates and I see several more signs in the stands.




That last one is the one that surprises me the most, because that's actually a threat. I shake my head out and continue walking to the batter's box. The umpire gestures me in and I step into the chalk rectangle with the catcher and umpire right behind me. "So you're the gay guy that the team and I heard about."

I gesture back and see the catcher looking up at me. I sigh to myself. "Yeah, I'm that cocksucker," I say with spite in my voice.

"Hey, I didn't call you a cocksucker. If you're gay, that's fine and you can live whatever life you want. I actually feel a little ashamed to have fans with those kinds of signs in the stands."

"Yeah, they hurt a bit."

"For me too. My younger sister's gay and my family and I love her and her girlfriend. Seeing those signs make me feel like they're directed at my sister. I almost want to climb up there and rip them in two."

"The signs or the people holding them?"


Wow. This guy's actually a good guy, despite him being an Aggie. "What're you two talking about?" the umpire asks us.

The catcher and I look back at him. "You haven't seen those signs in the stands?" I ask. "They're pretty harsh."

The umpire looks back and sees the signs for the first time. I see his fists clench and he looks back at us. "Excuse me..." He slips his mask off and walks over in front of the stands. "Hey! Get those signs down right now!"

I almost drop my bat at seeing this umpire. There are a large amount of protests from the crowd, and they only seem to make the umpire even more pissed off. "If you don't rip those signs up right now, the Aggies forfeit!"

I see the Aggies looking up at the crowd, filled with their classmates and some local community members. They all make faces that look like they're begging them to put the signs down. It takes a second, but numerous rips fill the stands and I see the signs turn into confetti one by one. I scream a silent victory at what I see taking place.

With all the signs down, the umpire walks back to his position. "Sorry about that, boys," he says. "I should've noticed it sooner."

"Don't worry about it," says the catcher.

The umpire smiles and lowers his mask and resumes play. I look back at the pitcher and can hear the catcher making signs behind me. The pitcher nods once and hides the ball behind his glove. "Strike this faggot out!" I hear someone yell from the stands.

Rolling my eyes, I decide to have a little fun with the fans. I relax my shoulders just as the pitcher is starting to throw the ball. The ball flies to the catcher and I make no effort to try and hit it as it flies into the catcher's glove. "Strike!" the umpire shouts.

The crowd cheers and the catcher throws it back to the pitcher. I keep my shoulders relaxed and keep a light grip on the bat. The pitcher winds up for the second time and I watch the ball sail at the plate and it goes right for the catcher's glove again. "Strike!"

The cheers from the crowd get even louder and I finally tighten my grip on the handle of the bat. I've watched that ball go by twice now and I've memorized what the kind of pitcher this guy really is. He likes to put a little heat on the balls and throw the batter off with a curveball or two. Seeing as he just threw a curve, I know he's going for a fastball.

Digging my feet into the dirt a bit, I keep my eyes focused on the pitcher as he winds his arm back and pivots his body forward. The ball shoots out of his hand and my eyes lock on it. Swinging the bat forward as the ball flies at the plate, I realize one thing about this pitch: Zane's pitches are at least ten miles an hour faster.

The ear-splitting crack of the ball hitting the wood of my bat echoes through the stadium and I see the ball flying out at a great rate of speed. I toss my bat aside and watch as the ball gets further and further away from me. The ball starts to drop and hits the ground, well on the other side of the center field fence.

I smile and take my lap around the infield, the crowd in complete silence as I circle the bases. Jack makes it to home by the time I get to second base and I'm taking my sweet time with this, rubbing it in that a gay guy hit a two run home run in the very first inning of his very first college baseball game.

Coming down the home stretch, I see Jack standing next to home plate with a grin on his face. My foot plants on the white of the plate and Jack snakes his arm over my shoulder. "Great way to start a game, Swanson," he says.

"Seeing the faces in the crowd was priceless," I say.

Jack and I jog back to the dugout, where we're welcomed by our teammates with several back and butt slaps. I look down at Charles and see he's grinning up at me. "Now that's what I was hoping to see out of you, Swanson," he says.

"Thanks, Coach Higgins.," I say. "It felt pretty damn good to put that crowd in it's place."

"And it's going to feel even better when you show them that arm of yours," Jack says.

I look over at him. "With our battery, we'll clean this game out."

And four pitches later, the top of the first ends. Once we get Jack's catcher's outfit on, we take the field. While jogging out there, I grab Alejandro's attention. "What's up, Swanson?" he asks.

"With the third batter, just hold your glove directly in front of your chest," I say to him. "The ball's coming right to you, so be prepared."

He gives me an odd look, but continues to his position and I take the mound, listening to the crowd's boos when they see me stepping onto the mound. Jack squats behind home plate and holds his glove open for me. Deciding to take a note from Zane's book, I choose to trick this crowd and the Aggies.

I throw a few slower than average fastballs to Jack, who seems to catch onto my plan immediately. The head umpire calls the first batter to the batter's box and a boy who appears to be a junior and about an inch shorter than me takes a few practice swings once he steps into the box before squaring up.

Jack holds his mit open and within a second, the jeers from the crowd come back. "C'mon, Waters! This faggot can't throw!"

"He doesn't want to break a nail!"

"He makes a girl look like she can throw!"

Great, we have sexists in the audience too. I look at the batter, Tanner, and see he looks...a little depressed. Maybe he hates this as much as I do. "C'mon, Will! You got this!"

I look back in the audience where the voice came from and sitting in the front row is a boy who seems to be the same age as Tanner (first name Will) with bright red hair, a shorter than average body, and a cute face. Will glances over at the boy and I see a trace of a smile on his face. Oh...I get it...

Feeling myself smile, I decide to let this guy show off for his boyfriend, but I'm not letting him get on base. I'm nice, but not that nice. I set my grip up for a curveball, but keep my shoulder pretty relaxed for a slow pitch, enough for the guy to hit, but not enough to get the pitch out of the infield.

I pick up my leg and pivot on my heel and let my arm whip forward, feeling the ball leave my hand a second later. Will starts to swing and I hear the light clang of the ball striking aluminum and watch the ball fly up. I hold my glove above my head and let the ball drop right into it.

Will looks a little dejected by seeing his hit so easily caught by me, but I see his red-haired boyfriend with a bright smile on his face. Will glances over at the boy and smiles as well. The next batter comes up and I tune out the boos from the audience. One gift like the one I gave Will is enough. I'm ready to put this crowd in it's place.

Slipping my fingers into a tight four seam fastball grip, I stare Jack's mit down and watch as he gives me the sign, the next batter oblivious to it. My leg lifts off the dirt and my arm flies back before swinging forward. The sweet sound of the wind sailing past my arm fills my ears and the feel of the leather and yarn sliding off my fingers feels so good.

I watch as the ball rockets over the grass, but I don't get to watch long. The ball hits Jack's mit and the batter hasn't even moved. There's complete silence in the air and I see the crowd looks completely stunned. The umpire shakes his head out and comes back to Earth. "S-Strike!"

Jack tosses the ball back to me and I set up for my second pitch. Jack decides to relax my shoulder a bit and chooses on a nice sinker. There's a large risk of a ground ball with the pitch, but I know this batter's going to miss. When I saw him warming up, he swung way too hard and never aimed for the ball. So the sinker is the perfect pitch for him.

Resting two of my fingers on top of the ball and my thumb and ring finger on the bottom, I get into my pitching stance and Jack hold's his glove open for me. I let the ball fly a few seconds later and see Jack was very right. The batter swings about nine inches too high and the smack of the ball hitting Jack's mit fills my ears. "Strike!"

The crowd boos once again, but I've come to accept them. It just knows I'm winning this war. Jack signals for me to throw a change-up and my fingers slide into the grip. With a very slow throw, the batter swings a second too early and Jack catches the ball with little effort. "You're out!"

The batter jogs back to the dugout and the third batter comes out. I see it's the catcher who talked to me while I was at bat and he gives me a quick nod when he steps into the box. I look back at Alejandro and give him a nod as well. He holds his glove directly in front of his chest. I see the catcher looking a bit confused, but he seems to let it go.

Jack doesn't give me a signal, so he's telling me to throw whatever I want. Thinking of a pitch, I decide on a forkball without a wrist snap. I used to snap my wrist whenever I threw a forkball, but when I was told about the long term effects of throwing it like that, I stopped snapping my wrist and found the ball still broke the same way.

I look back at Alejandro and see he's still holding his glove in front of his chest. He doesn't look like he understands what's going on, as does the team, the Aggies, and the crowd, but he's still focused on the game. I look back at the batter/catcher and ready myself. Picking up my leg, I cock my arm back and feel the ball shoot out of my index and middle fingers.

The catcher swings and the sound of metal rings out. The ball flies off his bat and sails to my right. I turn around in time to see the ball land right in Alejandro's awaiting glove. He doesn't even look like he moved an inch and his face is completely blank. "Three outs!" the umpire calls. "Teams switch positions!"

The team and I jog back to the dugout and Alejandro grabs me and pulls me aside. "How the hell did you do that?" he asks. "It's almost like you knew where the ball was going to go."

"Because I did."

Alejandro's mouth drops open. "Wha...?"

"If I throw a pitch correctly and the batter chooses to swing at it, I can make the ball go wherever I want on the field, even right to me."

Alejandro shakes his head in amazement. "Hard to believe you're just a freshman."

I smile a bit and he and I take a seat on the bench and watch as the next batter steps up to the plate.


Several hours later and we're in the bottom of the ninth. For the last seven innings, I haven't let a single person get on base and have cumulated twelve strikeouts. I've used my method of getting the ball to whoever I want on the field to help ease the tension on my arm and have only thrown about sixty-five pitches.

In the last seven innings, to go with my two run home run in the first, we've run up five more runs. Peter hit a solo home run in the third inning, Charlie hit his own two run home run with Cameron already being on first in the fourth inning, and Cameron managed to get Wesley and Sam home and made it to third before Zachary Walker, a right fielder, was struck out in the sixth inning.

The first batter comes out of the Aggies' dugout and walks over to the batter box. Since the start of the game, the hated cries of the crowd have gradually gone down. Maybe they're starting to see me as a real human being and not just some gay guy. Keeping that thought in my mind makes me feel a lot better about the situation.

The batter readies himself and I look to my left and see Ty, who replaced Wesley in the seventh inning and hold my left arm above my head, silently instructing him to be read for a pop fly to him. He nods once and focuses on the batter while I rest two of my fingers on top of the ball in my hand and the rest on the sides.

The batter tightens his grip on the bat and Jack holds his glove open for me. I pick up my knee and swing my body around, my arm following it, and the ball shoots for Jack's mit. Right on cue, the slider starts to dip and moves inward toward the batter. He tries to compensate for the lack of hitting room, but fumbles and the ball connects with the bat close to the handle.

The ball flies up toward first and Ty holds his glove above his head. The ball drops right into the mit and the batter's out. Two outs left. Wait. None of the Aggies have gotten on base all game and I've never stepped off this mound. If I can get the last two batter's out...that'll be my first perfect game.

Just the thought of a perfect game is making my heart race, but I calm myself down. If I focus too much on getting that perfect game, I'll mess up and ruin it. So I'm putting that thought in the back of my mind until that last out is called. Ty throws the ball back to me and the next Aggies batter walks out.

I look to my right and see Shane standing near third base, who replaced Sam in the seventh inning. He's focusing on the batter completely and it looks like he already knows a ball's coming in his direction, so I don't give him a sign. I look back to the batter and ready myself for my next pitch.

Finding the right position on the ball, I balance myself on the pitcher's plate and aim carefully at Jack's mit. Gripping the ball tightly, I let loose and throw the cutter right at home plate. The ball swerves right and the batter tries to reach for it and I hear the ringing clang of the bat striking leather.

I see the ball fly up toward the left side of the field and am thankful to see it cross over the foul line, but Shane isn't letting it get away. His eye is honed on the ball and he stares it down as the ball attempts to go into the first few rows of the stands. Shane takes his eyes off the ball and charges up the fence to the stands and holds his arms out.

The ball drops down and Shane barely manages to catch it before dropping back down to the dirt and holds his gloved hand up in triumph. The team cheers for him and he even gets a small bit of applause from the crowd for his feat. He tosses the ball back to me and I snag it, ready for the last out.

The next batter comes out and he stands in the batter box. Taking a few deep breaths, I see Jack giving me the sign for a curveball, a good pitch for a hard hitter like this guy. Bringing my arm back and lifting up my leg, I shoot my arm forward and let the ball fly. The ball dips and the batter tries to lower himself to hit it, but swings a few inches too high and the ball lands right in Jack's mit. "Strike!" the umpire yells.

Two strikes left. Jack tosses the ball back to me and gives me a sign for a knuckleball. I haven't thrown one this game, so it'll be something this guy won't be expecting. Giving him a nod, Jack holds his glove open and gets ready for the unpredictable path of the knuckleball.

Finding the placement for my fingers, I lift my knee past my waist and feel my shoulder rotate around. The ball slides out of my fingers and sails toward the plate. Within a millisecond, the wild path of the ball takes form and I see the batter trying to follow it, but he can't and he doesn't even swing the bat as the ball flies into Jack's mit. "Strike!" the umpire yells again.

One more ball. All of a sudden, the crowd starts to cheer and I see a lot of people watching me for some reason. "C'mon, Swanson!" I hear. "One more strike!"

I look to my left and see Ty grinning at me. "It's all you! Let's bring home that perfect game!"

Shane has a faint smile on his face and is keeping an eye on the batter. Cries and screams come from the Stanford dugout and I see my teammates and coaches cheering me on. I look back at Jack and he gives me a single nod, but no sign, and holds his glove open. I take a few breaths and my fingers find their favorite grip.

I see Will, whose red-haired boyfriend is in the crowd, watching me intently from the batter's box, ready for me, and I return his stare with one of my own. Within a second, the air becomes completely silent. The boos of the crowd, the cries of my teammates, the hum of the stadium lights, even my own breath disappears from my ears.

Breathe in, breathe out. My body brings my arm back and I feel my left foot leave the ground. Gathering all the strength I have, my arm whips forward like never before and I feel the ball rip out of my fingers. Everything seems to move in slow-motion as the ball sails at the plate. The batter swings for the ball and a single sound fills me ears. THUMP!!

Dirt flies out of Jack's mit and the umpire holds one fist in front of his stomach and the other high in the air. I raise my arms to the sky and scream as loud as I possibly can. A fucking perfect game! As I scream, I feel bodies slamming into me from all sides and I see my teammates and coaches sprinting from the dugout and onto the field.

The noise from my teammates gets a lot louder and I hear what sounds like applause. I look over at the crowd and see a lot of them on their feet, all of them clapping and staring down at me. Looks like I earned their respect, and it feels pretty damn good knowing that.

The celebration on the field finally calms down and we all line up and face the Aggies. The head coach of the Aggies suddenly defects himself from the line and stands in the middle of the space between the two teams. "I would like to both personally thank you for an amazing game and personally apologize for the behavior of our fans. The Aggies do not share the same attitude of those of our crowd. It makes me feel a little ashamed to have fans like those."

"Well, it's not my decision whether or not to accept your apology," Charles says. "It's our star pitcher's."

The head coach looks over at me, awaiting an answer. "I saw the faces of your players when they heard the insults targeted toward me from the crowd," I say. "All of their faces were filled with regret and embarrassment. From that, I knew they didn't have the same opinion of me as the crowd did at the start of the game. There's nothing to forgive and I had a great time playing today."

The Aggies head coach smiles slightly before turning to his team. "Now that, boys, is what a man should sound like! Take a lesson from Swanson right here! He had nothing but respect for us the whole time he was pitching beautifully!" He looks back to me. "You're a hell of a player and an even better man. Thank you for a fantastic game."

He holds his hand out in front of me and I gratefully take it. "Will!"

I look to my right and see the red-haired boy from the stands walking onto the field. The Aggie who smiles whenever he looked over at him, Will, separates himself from the Aggies and walks over to him. "Dan, what're you still doing here?" he asks. "I thought you had to get to bed early for that tutor you have tomorrow morning."

"I know, but I wanted to stay behind and wait for you."

Will smiles and Dan smiles back at him. "So are you two going to kiss?" I ask. Both boys look over at me in shock. "Yeah, I can tell. My gaydar's going off the charts when I'm looking at you two. So are you two going to kiss?"

Will and Dan's faces turn a bright red and they both look down at the grass. "I don't think you need to worry about your team not accepting you," I continue. "They all seem to accept me, and I'm not even part of their team."

Without warning, Dan reaches up and grabs Will's face and pulls his lips to his own. It takes Will a second, but he eases into the kiss and takes Dan into his arms. I look over at his teammates and see not one of them has a disgusted look on their face, but dozens of friendly, admiring smiles.

The two love birds pull apart and smile at each other. Will looks back to his teammates. "And if any of you have a problem with that, you can find yourself a new starting shortstop."

The Aggies look at one another before looking back to Will. There's a sudden clap and I see the catcher who I talked to during the game clapping. There's a domino effect and the rest of the Aggies join in, along with the Cardinal and myself. Will and Dan both smile at the applause they're receiving.

The applause dies down after a minute. "Okay," says Charles. "We have to get back to Stanford. Plus, we have to show off our perfect game pitcher to everyone back at campus."

I feel myself blushing a little and we thank the Aggies again before making our way back to the locker room. Once in the locker room, everyone suddenly surrounds me and I feel incredibly nervous. "Um...what's up, guys?" I ask.

"You know what day it is, right?" asks Shane.

"Um...Friday?" I guess.

The guys all glance to one another with confused faces. "You really don't know what the date is?" asks Jack.

I shake my head and Charles pushes himself through the crowd. And in his hands is a small cake with a single candle in the center. "What guy honestly forgets his own birthday?" he says.

My mouths drops open and I see everyone smiling at me. "H-How did...?" I start.

"I know every birthday of every player on this team and every student in Florence Moore Hall," Charles says. "I've been saving the date on yours for a while. Now, blow out this candle and make a fucking wish."

I roll my eyes and feel myself grin. I take a few steps forward and stare down at the candle. I close my eyes and make a silent wish. I wish my life doesn't change in the least...

Taking in a breath, I exhale and the single flame goes out. All of a sudden, I feel hands on the back of my head and I open my eyes in time to get a face full of cake. The cake falls to the floor, but much of it stays on my face. The entire locker room breaks out laughing and I feel myself joining in.

Wiping some of the cake off my face and I turn around and see Ty and Shane grinning behind me. "So you two did that?" I ask.

"Guilty as charged," Ty says.

Using the cake that's in both of my hands, I slam both of my hands into Shane and Ty's faces, smearing cake all over their skin and causing even more laughter. Even Charles' shoulders are quivering as he eats some of the cake on his own hands, getting a little on his face. "Okay," he says. "While the freshmen and I go wash up, you guys get on the bus. We'll be there in a few minutes."

Many of the guys give me a pat on the back or steal some of the cake on my face as they leave and Shane, Ty, Charles and I head for the bathroom to wash the cake off our smiling faces.


Another two hours and a face wash later, the bus pulls back into Stanford a little before 11:00. Everyone is exhausted as we step off the bus with our stuff. Once we're finally off, we form a semi-circle around Charles. "You played well tonight, boys," he says. "A lot of you shined tonight, one of you more than anyone."

Charles glances at me for a second before looking back to everyone. "You all deserve a good night's sleep after the effort you put in today. Get back to your dorm or apartment and get some shut eye. We have practice next Monday at 4:00. Don't forget. Dismissed."

The team starts to scatter and Charles and I head off to Florence Moore together. "You did a damn good job today, Eric," Charles says.

"Thanks, Coach Higgins," I reply.

"When I'm off the coaching clock, call me Charles."

"Okay, Charles. By the way, I didn't see Luke today at the game."

"Until he can prove himself worthy of gaining my trust and respect again, he's not to step foot outside of the Stanford locker room when practice goes on and isn't allowed to come to any game we have, home or away."

It seems a bit harsh, but I choose not to argue with Charles. We get back to the dorm a few minutes later and walk inside. "Good night, Charles," I say.

"Night, Eric. Rest up that arm of yours this weekend. If it's hurting on Monday, tell me and I'll give your arm an extra day off."

"Thanks, Charles."

I head over to the elevator and ride up to the fourth floor. I pull my room key out of my pocket and unlock my door. While I expect to find Josh sitting in his bed or at his desk, I spy my boyfriend comfortably laid out on my bed. I find that he's asleep and much of his face is obscured by the hood of his sweatshirt and seeing him so peaceful makes me smile.

I quietly step over to the side of my bed and shake Zane's shoulder a bit. "Wake up, Sleeping Beauty," I whisper. "Prince Charming's home from the ball game."

Zane's eyes slowly open and his blue and black irises meet my own and his face slowly smiles. "A dream come true," he quietly says. "How was the game?"

"I'll tell you about it tomorrow. Right now, all I want to do is take a shower and fall asleep with my beautiful boyfriend. Where's Josh, by the way?"

"I asked him if he could spend the night with Leo and he didn't hesitate to take up the chance." Zane sits up in my bed and gives me a light kiss. "Happy birthday, Eric."

"You knew too?" I ask.

"Of course. After my birthday, I asked Charles to give me yours and I've been saving the date ever since. And now that you're back, I can finally give you your birthday present."

Zane rises off my bed and as soon as he stands up, he grabs the collar of my uniform and pulls me to him, locking his soft lips to mine. He wraps his arms around my taught back and presses himself close to me and I feel his tongue nipping at my teeth. Granting him access, Zane's tongue slowly slides into my mouth and the soft, warm flesh swirls with my own tongue.

Zane's mouth tastes like mint and cinnamon, a clue of hours of gum chewing. It tastes fantastic and I increase the pressure between our mouths, trying to get a better taste of him. He pulls away and I see his mouth covered with our saliva. "If you come with me across the hall, I can give you your birthday present," he whispers.

I smile down at him. "Lead the way."

Zane takes my hand and grabs a few of my toiletries before he and I sneak across the hall and into the bathroom. We quietly step over the tiled floor and walk to the back of the bathroom to the secret handicap shower. Zane opens the door and gestures me in. As I walk in I start to undress and kick off my cleats and socks.

I watch as Zane follows my lead and starts undressing himself. As he slips his t-shirt off, I see a new tattoo on his stomach. "You got a new tattoo?" I ask.

"Yeah, I got it two weeks ago. You haven't seen it yet because we haven't had sex since before you started baseball practice."

I see the tattoo is small and simple, a pointed cross, but it's beautifully done. "I like it," I say. "And I think we can solve the no sex problem."

Zane grins at me and slips off his pants, leaving him standing in his boxers. I strip off my sweaty uniform shirt and reach for my tight, white uniform pants with several dirt stains on them. I pull them to my ankles and kick them off before I'm left standing in my jockstrap. "I like the jockstrap look on you," Zane says. "Makes you look much more sexy."

He bends down quickly before crossing the distance between us and cups his hand over my junk. I start to swell at Zane's touch. "Let's get that cup out of there," he says. "You're going to hurt yourself if I don't get that monster out of there."

Zane reaches inside the confines of my jockstrap, not afraid to graze over my pubic hair as he pulls my cup out. Now my semi-hard cock is making the soft fabric of my jock get bigger by the second. Zane reaches behind me and I hear him turn the shower nozzle. The showerhead comes to life and Zane and I are initially hit by cold water, but it quickly warms up.

Zane's soft hands run over my body, feeling every sore muscle and hair there is. "You're stiff aren't you?" he asks me.

"In more ways than one," I say, glancing down at my jock.

"I think I can help to relive both kinds. Hope you like your first birthday present."

Zane produces a bar of soap from his hand starts to lather it over my skin, suds and bubbles quickly being produced. He starts to rub away the dirt and sweat of my game with his light and delicate touch. He spends a generous amount of time on my chest, lathering up my chest hair and going over my nipples more times than necessary.

The water quickly soaks through both of our underwear and I can see the outline of Zane's hard cock though his boxers. My own member rises to full strength and tugs at the wet fabric of my jock. "Turn around for me," Zane says.

I turn my back to Zane and he presses the bar of soap to my back and quickly soaps up my skin. The bar of soap starts to get lower and lower before it reaches the top of my ass. "Let's just get these off..."

Zane grabs the waistband of my jockstrap and with a swift pull, slides them to my ankles. My cock stands out in front of me and I feel the bar of soap press against my butt cheeks. Zane carefully massages my butt with the soap and I breathe deeply at his touch, how he's so gentle like I'm a precious work of his art.

The soap slides between my cheeks and lathers up my crack. I involuntarily moan at the gesture. Zane's hand slides from my butt, around my hip, and finally grips me in a tight squeeze. "Looks like someone's happy..." he whispers.

"Only because you're getting me excited," I reply.

Zane's soaped up hand slides up and down my engorged cock, causing me to reach for the tiled wall to try and try and hold myself up. Zane other hand reaches for my open ass and his fingers effortlessly slide into my ass, causing my body to jerk. "Sorry, was that too hard?" he asks me.

"Not even," I breathlessly say. "It felt great. Keep going."

The two fingers inside me slowly slide out and force themselves back in. Zane keeps up the steady rhythm while his hand slowly jerks my hard cock. His fingertips graze over my prostate and I feel pre-cum mixing with the soap. I don't know how he does it, but Zane's taken me to another world.

Zane's fingers suddenly leave me and his hand releases my cock. "Why'd you stop?" I ask.

"Because I want to give you your second birthday present," he replies.

He spins me back to face him and the water spray quickly washes off the suds and bubbles. Zane drops to his knees and is face to face with my cockhead. He grabs my hard shaft again and inches slowly toward it. My cock slowly slides into Zane's warm mouth and I groan in pleasure as I feel his tongue lap at my cock.

I slide further and further into Zane's mouth and I grab his head to make sure I don't fall. Zane reaches around me and grabs both of my cheeks tightly and with a final push, all nine inches of me is inside Zane. "Holy fuck..." I breathe out.

Zane giggles while still on my cock and he starts to slide off my shaft, but quickly swallows me again. God, it's been so long since I got a blowjob from Zane that I actually forgot what it felt like. Now, I'll probably never forget the feeling. Zane's going at a smooth and steady rhythm, making sure he's giving me as much pleasure as he can.

To help Zane with the blowjob, my hips start to hump at the air and with Zane sucking me, I start to face fuck him. With both of us working in unison, it makes the feeling that much better. He grips my butt even tighter and pulls me a little closer to him, forcing just a bit more of my cock into his hungry mouth.

I hear a gurgle and slide out of Zane's mouth. "What's wrong?" I ask.

He takes a second to catch his breath. "Have you ever tasted your own pre-cum?" he asks. "I would drink it by the gallon if I could get it in stores."

"No, it never interested me before. Is it that good?"

Zane slowly rises back to his feet. "You tell me."

He grabs my head and forces his tongue into my mouth and for the first time I taste my own pre-cum. Zane was right. This actually tastes pretty good. A bit salty with a touch of sweetness to it. I ravenously lick at Zane's tongue, trying to get the natural taste of both him and me on my taste buds.

Zane's hands release my head and he goes right for my most sensitive area: my chest. His hands rub over the wet hairs and worked skin, sending me those little shocks I've come to love and welcome. The water from the showerhead soaks my hair and I can barely keep my eyes open as I watch Zane take me over.

Sliding over my chest, Zane's hands find my nipples and he lightly grazes the sensitive skin, causing even more delicious pre-cum to drip out of my cock. Taking each nipple between his index and thumb, Zane pinches both of my nipples in a tight vise, and I almost scream out from the shock, pain, and pleasure.

My knees start to buckle and I reach behind me and plant my hands on the tiled wall. Zane's fingers release my nipples for a second before his hands clamp down on both of my pecs and his fingertips dig into the hard muscle. "S-Stop!" I scream.

Zane's hands pull away and he look up at me in concern. "Are you okay?"

I take a few seconds to get some air. "Had you done anymore, I would've cum right there."

Zane smiles lovingly at me. "Well, I know what'll get you to cum no problem. Just do me a favor and lie on the floor."

Confused for a second, I step out of the path of the shower spray and lie and the warm tile, my hard cock resting just above my stomach. Zane walks over to the toiletries and grabs a small, clear bottle, which I instantly know is lube. I smile and start to lift my legs up, ready for Zane to fuck me. "No, put them down," he tells me.

I look up at Zane, lost. He pours a little lube into his hand and reaches behind himself. I see him rubbing the lube on his hole and I put the pieces together. "I-I'm going to fuck you?" I ask.

"That's right."

This is really new for me. Whenever Zane and I have sex, I'm always on the bottom because I love the feeling of Zane being inside me. But me penetrating the guy I love? I'm scared he might get hurt because of my size. "Zane, you don't need to do this," I say.

"It's not because I need to do this, Eric," he says. "It's because I want to. I've been the one giving the pleasure in all the times we've made love before this. Now, I want you to give the pleasure to both of us."

"But...what if I'm too big for you?"

Zane walks over to me and stand over my body for a second before lowering himself down and sitting on my waist. "You don't need to worry about that. I've been preparing this for weeks and have slowly been opening myself up for this. So, I'm ready."

Before I can say another word, Zane lifts off my waist and grabs my cock and positions my head at his hole. I can feel the heat coming off of him and he slowly starts to lower himself. I feel the soft folds of Zane's flesh start to wrap around my swollen cockhead and I see Zane's face scrunch up in pain the more of me he takes.

Inch by inch, Zane envelops my cock and he manages to get halfway before he stops. "I just need a second to rest," he quietly says.

"Take all the time you need. You're doing great."

"Was it this painful for you?"

"It hurt at first, but when I got used to it, it started to feel amazing. Wow...did being inside of me feel this fantastic?"

"Absolutely. It felt even better knowing I was inside the guy I love more than the world."

I smile up at Zane. He takes a deep breath and starts to lower himself again. He's a lot smoother this time and after another minute, he takes the last few inches of me inside of him. He's breathing deeply and slowly and he slowly opens his eyes. I don't see a bit of pain in his black and blue eyes. There's nothing but pure love and lust.

I gaze lovingly at Zane and he smiles down at me. "Ready?" I ask.


Zane takes in a deep breath and slowly slides up my cock before coming back down. A loud moan escapes his lips and I feel his body lock up. "Are you okay?!" I ask in worry.

"Y-Yeah, I just wasn't expecting it to feel so...good."

Before I can take another breath, Zane slides off my cock and impales himself with my member, this time making both of us scream in ecstasy. I grab Zane's hips and lift him off me before forcing him back down onto my cock, which seems to slide deeper and deeper with every thrust.

I've only been inside Josh before and that was pretty good. But with Zane, who I absolutely love, it feels wonderful. I'm supposed to be with him. He's supposed to be with me. We're meant to be together. We're meant to unite as one together. We're destined to love one another. And we do.

Zane bends down as much as he can and I mirror his movements. Our lips meet in a feverish kiss and our tongues dance as my cock slides in and out of Zane's hot, tight ass. With the kiss, me making love to Zane, and our love for one another, I've never felt this way before. It's almost impossible to describe, but if I could sum up how this feels in one word, it would be 'right.'

Pressure slowly starts to build and I use one of my hands to jerk Zane's hard cock. His and my moans echo off the tile walls and the temperature rises with the pressure in my balls. "Z-Zane, I'm going to cum soon," I quietly say when I pull away from his mouth.

"Cum inside me," Zane whispers back. "I want to feel you shoot inside me. F-Fuck, I'm about to cum too!"

Zane and I increase the speed and force of our humps and jerks. I feel Zane's balls scrunch up against the base of his cock and I feel my own cock start to swell. "I-I'm cumming!" we shout in unison.

I give Zane a few more jerks and he forces all of me inside of him. Suddenly, everything becomes silent. I watch as Zane's cock explodes white, hot cum out of the head and I feel my cock emptying inside of Zane, coating the walls of his insides. Zane's cum shoots out with enough force to hit the wall behind my head and coats my face, chest and stomach.

Zane collapses into my chest, both of us breathing heavily from exhaustion. Zane's cum stick to both of our wet bodies, connecting us even further. He lifts his head off my shoulder and looks down at me. I feel his cum sliding down my face and it makes me smile. Zane's teeth flash and he light presses his lips to mine, his cum swapping between our mouths.

I wrap my arms around Zane and almost don't want to let go. "Thank you," I say. "You know how much I love you?"

"Not as much as I love you."

Zane and I kiss for several minutes more before washing the cum off both of our bodies and cleaning up a bit. We sneak back across the hall once we're dried off with our clothes and I lead Zane to my bed. He and I fall in together and as I start to wrap the covers over both of us, Zane stops me. "Wait," he says. "There's one more birthday present I want to give you."

Zane bends over the side of the bed and comes back up a few seconds later with a folded piece of paper. "Here," he says, handing the paper to me. "I know it isn't much, but I hope you like it."

I slowly unfold the piece of paper and see it's contents. On the paper are two faces, both of them laughing and looking incredibly happy together. Every detail is perfect. The hair on both guys, the cap on one of them, the piercings on the other, the dimples on the tall one, the perfect teeth of the shorter one, and the obvious love between them. Zane's captured how we feel when were with one another without missing a thing.

My mouth tilts up and I feel myself grinning at the sketch. I look over at Zane, still smiling. "I love it," I say. "And I love you, Zane. Thank you for such an amazing gift."

"I drew what I saw with both of us. Whenever I'm with you, Eric, I feel complete. I never want to leave your side and I never want to be apart from you. I love you."

I smile even wider and press my lips to Zane's for a second. "This has been an amazing day," I say. "With us winning at UC Davis, me pitching my first perfect game, being here with you..."

"Wait, WHAT?!" Zane interrupts. "You pitched a fucking perfect game?!"

Looks like I won't be going to sleep for a little while. But seeing Zane's face fill with wonder and love as I'm telling my story makes fighting my exhaustion worth it.



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