Title: Trying Out Life
Author: Beth Pryor
Summary: Jimmy Brooks makes some decisions about his life moving forward starting with the episode "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Posted years ago but updated and expanded to completion.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, and no money is being made from this venture.
Chapter 1: Father Knows Less
The car ride back home was completely silent. Jimmy stared out the window. He didn't really pay attention to what he was seeing, but it wasn't like he hadn't seen the same scene every day for the past year. He thought, for all that time, that what had happened today was his dream, that it would make it all seem at least somewhat ok. It hadn't. He wasn't sure what had happened, but suddenly, he was very unsure of everything. He knew that his dad just wanted the best for him, and he wasn't angry about that. They just didn't see eye to eye anymore, literally and figuratively. He remembered when they had both had the same goals and dreams. He remembered a lot of things, but he had long known that it didn't help anything. His thoughts were interrupted as his dad pulled the Lexus into the driveway and opened the door. Luckily, his dad knew better than to ask if he needed help, but he did glance back to make sure that Jimmy was following. He was.
Mr. Brooks took a seat in the kitchen and waited for Jimmy to join him. When he had, Jimmy turned to his dad who still did look angry. He decided to be the first to talk.
"Dad, I'm sorry about all of this. I didn't mean to raise my voice with you back there. I just get so frustrated."
"I know that you do, Jim. That's why I thought you would want to get back on the court. I know you need an outlet, and it's always been sports. I don't understand."
"I want things to be like they were, but they aren't. And they won't ever be. Everything changed that day. And I don't just mean the chair. If I had walked out of that hospital, I still would have been a different person. My best friend in the world had a hand in this. Spinner set me up. He told Rick that the prank had all been my idea. Maybe he didn't know exactly what was going to happen, but he knew Rick was upset. And then he shot me. He fucking shot me, Dad. Can you understand that?"
"Jimmy," his dad started, eyes wide.
"No, Dad. I'm not done. I don't want to be an angry or depressed person. I found other ways to express myself. Playing with Craig and Marco has been really good for me since everything has gone on."
"I want you to be happy, Jim, but I'm worried about you. Sometimes I feel like you're doing things just to spite me and the things I want for you."
"Maybe I am, Dad. Maybe I want to use this as a chance to try some new things."
"I'm really good at it. I'm not saying I want to drop out of school and become an artist or anything, but I want to try."
"And does Ellie Nash have anything to do with this?"
Jimmy looked over at his father. Mr. Brooks was slightly smiling. "I don't know. She's great and has been exactly the person I need in my life right now. But I don't know how fair that is to her. Plus, there's Hazel, and she's been right beside me the whole time. I don't know if I could have been that strong had the tables been turned. I don't want to hurt her after all she's been for me."
"Yeah, that must be a tough decision for you, Jim."
"Everything is a tough decision for me right now. I didn't mean to break down today. I just didn't want to let you down. I didn't want to let me down."
"So this is easier?"
"No. It's harder. Maybe you don't believe that, but think about it. If I play basketball, how is that a stretch of who I am? It's who I've always been."
"But you still can."
"That's the point, Dad. Maybe it's not who I want to be anymore. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, and while it sucks, it might not be all bad."
"What are you saying, Jimmy?"
"I'm saying that this is my chance to make some changes in my life. I don't want to stop playing basketball, but I don't know if I want to dedicate my life to it anymore."
"You want to draw pictures?"
"Yeah, and play in the band and try other things that I've never done before."
"What about University?"
"So I won't go on a basketball scholarship, but I still want to go."
"And the Paralymics, you're just forgetting about that?"
"For now, yeah. There's always a chance that I'll want to try for that some day, but not today."
"Jim, I didn't mean to put pressure on you."
"It's your job, Dad. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I understand why you do it."
"Yeah. You just want what you think is best for me. I thank you for that, but I have to decide what's best for me now."
"You're just a kid."
"Yeah, a kid who's faced his own mortality at the hand of his best friend. Kinda makes you grow up a little faster, you know?"
Mr. Brooks was silent for a moment before he answered. "Yeah, I guess so. Jim, I'm really sorry."
"It's not your fault."
"Maybe not, but I haven't exactly been supportive of you through this. I just wanted you to be back. Do you know how helpless it makes me feel to see you? I'm supposed to protect my family, to make sure that they're safe and provided for. I couldn't keep you safe, Jimmy."
"Dad, you couldn't have stopped this."
"No, but every fiber of me wishes that I could have."
"I love you, Jim."
"Thanks, Dad. I love you, too."
"So tell me about your art."
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah, if it's important to you, it's important to me."
"Let me get my bag."
"I'll be in here. Are you hungry, son?"
"Uh, yeah, I am."
"I'll order pizza or I could cook something."
"Um, the number is on the fridge," Jimmy smiled.
"Yeah, good idea."
Jimmy nodded and turned to get his backpack out of the backseat of his dad's car. He was in disbelief in what had just transpired between his dad and him, but it had happened. He'd yelled and cursed at his father. But he had made himself understood, and his dad agreed with him. He felt empowered, and for the first time in a long time, even more than the past year, he was excited about his future. He retrieved the bag and came back into the kitchen where his dad was still waiting. Jimmy handed over his sketch book.
"Go ahead and look through if you want, I'll be right back. I need to check on something in my room."
Jimmy entered his room and looked around. It was basically a reminder of the past, all the posters and trophies everywhere. He shook his head and reached for the phone. He paused as he decided which number to call. Finally, he punched in the numbers and waited for someone on the other side of the line to pick up.
"Hello?" the voice asked.
Jimmy didn't speak right away.
"Hello?" the voice inquired again.
"Yes, is Ellie there?"
"Just a moment."
Jimmy closed his eyes and waited for her to arrive.
"Yes, who is this?"
"Oh, gosh, Jimmy. Sorry, I didn't recognize your voice."
"It's no big deal. So, what's up?"
"I just wanted to say thanks."
"Just for being a friend."
"You're welcome. Oh, God! I almost forgot. How was the tryout?"
"I didn't do it."
"I don't think it's the direction I want to go right now."
"Are you sure? I mean, this has been a big deal for you."
"Yeah, but I'm not sure. I think this is the time to try something new."
"Is it too late to sign up for that drawing class?"
"Oh," Jimmy said, not having considered this option. "Well, maybe I can sign up next term."
"Jimmy, don't be angry with me, but I signed your name."
"I thought that you might change your mind."
"Well, lucky for you I did," Jimmy smiled.
"So you're not mad?"
"Nah. It's good to know someone has my back."
"Yeah. So the first class is Tuesday night. I'll bring you the information packet tomorrow."
"Sounds great. I'll see you then?"
"Sure. Have a good night, Jimmy."
"You, too, Ellie. Bye."
Jimmy held the phone until he heard her hang up. He turned when his dad knocked on the open door.
"Sorry, I need to make a call."
Jimmy shook his head slightly.
"You think that's smart?"
"Probably not, but I wanted to talk to her. And she signed up for a drawing class at the gallery. I wanted to see if I could still get in on it. Turns out I can," he stopped. "If that's ok with you?"
"Yeah. That's fine with me," Mr. Brooks said as he handed Jimmy the sketch book. "The pizza will be here in a few minutes. Wanna set the table while I change?"
"Sure." Jimmy agreed as he moved toward the door.
His dad didn't immediately leave.
"What?" Jimmy asked.
"Those are really good, Jim."
He smiled back at his dad. "Thanks."