isthisthelasttime: ((baseball) keep your head in the game)
[personal profile] isthisthelasttime
I've been trying to post this for an hour or more. Grrrr, LJ. Grrr. Feel my wrath.

Title: And he was a mess and you didn’t know
Pairing: Drew Storen/Stephen Strasburg, Stephen Strasburg/Rachel Strasburg (implied)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: It’s more backwards than it should be.
Prompt: Drew never sees it coming, from [ profile] lovelyracketeer.
Note: I tried something different with this fic. ~1,350 words.

Drew doesn’t see it coming.

The phone call comes at midnight, when he’s tossing around in his bed trying to rid himself of all the thoughts that keep him from sleeping. “Cooler Than Me” sparks his iPhone to life and he almost falls off his bed reaching for it. He doesn’t think twice about answering because he’s been expecting it all night, waiting for Stephen’s voice to greet him on the other end all night.

“Stras,” Drew somehow manages, a blanket binding his legs and making him a little breathless. “What happened?”

Stephen’s quiet words – something about Tommy John, another about rehab – barely make sense in Drew’s brain. He sits up, puts a hand to his forehead and squeezes his eyes shut. Even though he’s wearing a shirt he feels so cold.

“I should go, though. Um. Get some sleep, or something. I can’t really talk right now, Drew, I just wanted you to know because I promised I’d call you and – this is just hard, ok? Can we talk tomorrow?”

If Drew’s eyes were open, tears would probably spill out of them, a testament against his strength and willpower, an embarrassment for the male species. He almost hates himself because he’s not even in Stephen’s shoes right now, but Stephen sounds a lot calmer than Drew feels. It’s more backwards than it should be.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?”

Swallowing hard, choking around the lump in his throat, Drew nods. All he manages before Stephen hangs up is something stupid: “You’re going to be ok.”

Then Drew drops his phone on the mattress, covers his face with an extra pillow and mourns the loss of their best bet for a winning season in 2011.

- - -

Sunday afternoon, before the team leaves for Miami, Drew finds Stephen in the video room. He’s not dressed for the flight, wearing a SDSU pullover and jeans that seem a size too big instead of something worthy of charters, and Drew feels fancy in his slacks and light blue button down. Just seeing Stephen with a frown permanently etched on his face makes Drew want to change into sweatpants and stay behind, let the team take care of the road trip without him.

But he can’t and Stephen locks the door behind him, barely any space between his hand and Drew’s back when he reaches around. It stops a breath in Drew’s throat.

“I’ll be in California before you get back,” Stephen offers as explanation when he molds his fingers around Drew’s jaw and pulls him closer by the beltloops. “Won’t see you for a long time.”

Drew stumbles, puts his hands on Stephen’s waist to steady himself, and mutters, “I’ll miss you.”

It’s not their first conversation about this. They had hashed out the logistics every night between Friday and now and the only conclusion they came to was how they couldn’t visit each other over the offseason, regardless of them being in the same state. They couldn’t carry this relationship into the winter because it wouldn’t be right. They’d have other obligations.

But now Stephen’s closing the gap between them, pushing their mouths together and sliding his tongue along Drew’s bottom lip. He’s making quick work of Drew’s pants, sliding past the waistband, pressing him against the wall. He’s forceful, clearly after only one thing, and Drew’s lightheaded, letting him do what he wants.

In the scheme of things, this isn’t goodbye.

- - -

It’s November and Drew doesn’t expect Stephen to come around. The last time they spoke, he was cryptic and Drew wasn’t up for it, used a Political Science assignment as his get out of jail free card. “Due tomorrow, you know how I procrastinate,” was what he said, and Stephen didn’t even sound affected before he hung up the phone.

Tomorrow, he has another Poli Sci assignment due and he settles in his desk chair, ready for the long evening, a can of Red Bull chilling in the fridge. His phone vibrates an hour later, in the middle of his fifth paragraph, and he curses himself for not putting it on silent. It’s a conditioned response, him reaching for it like the slave to technology that he is, but knowing that doesn’t make him drop it.

Instead, what makes him drop it is the message in the silver bubble, three words by Stephen’s picture.

Rachel is pregnant

- - -

December and it’s pouring, raining so hard the roof sounds like it will cave in. Finals are two weeks away but Drew’s playing Xbox, Call of Duty but not Black Ops because every time he tries the Game Stop on University Avenue there’s never a copy. He has to shout into his headset because the guy he’s playing with can’t understand anything he says over the thunder.

A pile of textbooks litters the coffee table, accompanied by the strategy guide his sister bought him as a mock birthday present. He’d never admit that he uses it – but Jack walked in once to see him flipping through the pages instead of reading his engineering textbook and that was the end of his skills credibility. His roommate is always messing things up.

There’s a knock on his door – short, a light rapping of knuckles on wood - and Drew huffs into the microphone so loud that the guy on the other end yells obscenities. Supposedly Drew distracted him and he shot in the wrong direction; sounds like he’s not being serious. He holds the headset away and calls to the door, “Stop forgetting your key, Jack, it’s getting old.”

No one responds. The knocking just intensifies.

Sighing, Drew puts the headset on again. “Dude, sorry, I got company. We’re gonna have to finish later.”

“You can’t just –”

“Sorry,” he says again, then switches off the console and tosses his things aside. When he opens the door, he can’t even put words together in a coherent sentence. He stammers, he chokes on fragments and then he just lets Stephen in because there’s nothing else he can do.

“I probably should have called,” Stephen says, shaking his head and spattering some rain across Drew’s face, which is covered in shock. “But I wanted to surprise you, I guess.”

Not even Stephen’s eyes, a warmer blue than usual, can keep Drew from blurting, “What are you doing here?”

But Stephen isn’t offended. He locks the door behind himself, sticks his hands in his pockets and shrugs. “I needed somewhere to stay and you are the only person who won’t look at me like I sprouted a second head or something.”

“I – we haven’t even – but you said –”

“I know.” Stephen actually seems to deflate, shoulders slumping even more than usual, the corner of his mouth trembling (but probably only Drew would notice that because he’s spent a lot of time watching Stephen’s mouth, creepy as it sounds). When he continues, “I really need you, though,” he doesn’t even look at Drew.

His chest tightens. This can’t be good. At all.

- - -

Stephen leaves at dawn. Drew is left in bed, fisting his sheets and burying his nose deep into the pillow Stephen used. For all the warmth he felt just ten minutes ago, he’s shaking now. He shouldn’t feel like this, like he was kicked in the stomach, like he was abandoned.

He should feel relieved because for once Stephen admitted that he actually wanted Drew around.

It’s depressing but he can’t stop thinking that now Stephen will go back to San Diego, tend to his pregnant wife and forget all about everything until the spring, when it’s finally convenient to end this hiatus – or whatever it is. Drew doesn’t want to label it; they never even labeled themselves.

Not until it’s six o’clock and practically pitch black outside does Drew finally hear from Stephen again. His ringtone’s still “Cooler Than Me” even though he should have changed it as soon as Stephen had his surgery.

It's a message.

Rachel miscarried yesterday


She’d been pregnant since September but I was scared to tell you

He hadn’t seen that coming.
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