A/N: Dearest FarDareisMai2, wishing you a wonderful birthday today.
These boys wanted to give you a little love of their own, so I hope
that they can help make your day extra special.

Thanks to SorceressCirce for prompts and beta'ing.

As always, the boys own me, not the other way around.

ooOoo

crowd

"C'mon, Edward, you can do this... come on..."

My eyes keep flickering between the scoreboard – tied at twelve – and my boy. The last game of the season is riding on him now. Time's up, so if he misses this kick, we're in overtime.

I know he can do this, though. No one's a better placekicker than my Edward.

Biting my lip, I sigh. No one knows he's my boy, and that's something that I aim to change after today.

The whole stadium erupts into loud cheers as the ball sails right between the posts.

We rush the field in chaos.

clench

Edward's holding on tight to Riley and Demetri as they carry him on their shoulders into the locker room.

He's laughing, riding that high that only comes from winning a game.

The guys are all around him, clapping him on the back, hugging him, ruffling his hair.

Things I want to do, too, but never really have in the past. At least, not around the team or anywhere public.

When I try to reach him, he glances my way, shaking his head minutely as he maneuvers away from me.

I close my eyes, my jaw tight as I breathe deeply.

confusion

I try again and again; each time he evades me with an imploring glance.

It's getting harder and harder to understand. I know he's wanted to come out for months now, but he hasn't done it because of me.

I've been the one too scared to move. He's hidden himself away for my sake.

Now I'm ready to finally do it, and he seems determined to prevent it.

It's almost as if the team knows I'm trying to talk to my boy, because every time he isn't actively avoiding me, a teammate interferes.

Another loud whoop, and Edward disappears again.

shrug

I'm going through the motions of showering and changing, keeping my eye on Edward in hopes of getting my chance.

He's joking around with the guys. I wonder if any of them can see what I see. If they can tell he's purposely being distant with me, like I can. If they recognize the stress in the lines around his eyes.

He's three lockers away.

That's all.

Pulling my shirt over my head, I turn to him.

His eyes catch mine; again he shakes his head, his shoulder lifting slightly as if to say, "Sorry, I don't know what to do."

brush

His hair's falling in his eyes, and I ache to brush back the wayward strands.

Edward's eyes narrow slightly, as if he can hear my thoughts.

I wonder if I'm as easy to read to anyone else.

Taking a step toward him, his gaze flits around the room nervously before settling on me again.

Another shake of his head.

I want to scream, "Enough of this shit!" but I can't.

Mike steps between us – ignorant as ever – and places a hand on our shoulders, blathering on about the game. I couldn't care less right now in the face of coming out.

catalyst

I'm only vaguely aware of the rest of the team as they joke around.

Edward's walking back into the room – I corner him, needing to talk to him. To touch him.

His eyes widen, gasping as I step closer.

"Not now, Emmett, please. Not here," he hisses, eyes darting around again.

Something leaden settles into my chest – hurt, rejection, worry.

He looks at me, silently pleading.

Anger like I've seldom known swells up. Anger at him, at myself, at the goddamn world for having planted the seed of fear to begin with.

"Emmett, please... you don't want to do this. They'll-"

courage

At the sight of his concern – his fear for me – my anger burns, fanning a flame in me that's been dormant too long, spurring me on to do what I know I need to.

I owe it to him… and to myself.

"Fuck them!" I yell, waving my arm behind me, indicating the room at large.

Edward's eyes widen further in shock, his mouth agape.

I step closer, wrapping my fingers around his upper arms. Staring down at him, I sigh.

Somewhere, I register the sudden quiet, but my focus is on him.

"You're what's important to me, baby," I murmur.

tick

Edward's hands rest on my arms; his eyes flicker between mine with uncertainty and hope.

I smile softly, my fingers brushing his cheek gently as I whisper, "I love you, Ed, and I'm so fucking proud of you. I'm done hiding."

"Em..." he sighs, his cheeks flushed. "I can't believe you... I love you, too."

He pulls me closer, kissing me tenderly at first before becoming more insistent.

For several minutes, the only sound outside our bubble I can hear is the tick-tick-tick of the clock above us.

That changes when I straighten up, smiling.

Slowly, the voices filter through.

timid

Most of the guys don't appear to care. Mike scowls, his demeanor a complete turn-around from before. "Fucking fag! Get the hell out of here!"

Jasper's on him, growling as he pushes him hard into the lockers. "That's my brother you're talking about! Shut your fucking piehole, Newton."

Riley and Demetri pull Mike out of the room, promising bodily harm if he keeps it up.

Jasper turns to me and grins. "About fucking time, man."

I rub the back of my neck, wondering how long he's known. I'm relieved at his reaction – acutely aware of the ramifications of my actions.

direct

"Thanks, Jazz. Umm..." I mutter, staring at my feet.

Edward's hand rests on the small of my back, his thumb rubbing gently.

Sighing quietly, I glance at him. His smile bolsters me. Raising my head, I look at Jasper.

"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't say anything, bro. I-I want to tell them myself."

Jasper walks up to me, hugging me tight. His mom might have married my dad, but he's my brother in every way that matters.

"No worries, Em. I got your back," he says.

"Thanks. How... how did you know? How long have you known?" I ask.

simple

Hearing Jasper explain how he'd slowly pieced things together over the years makes me want to hide. Granted, that apparently doesn't work well for me, but still...

Jasper shrugs, clapping my shoulder. "No worries, man. Like I said, I got your back – and so will Mom and Dad. They love you."

I wish it was as easy as that...

Edward wraps his arm around my waist, hugging me sideways. He whispers, "Look around, Emmett."

I do, staring into the face of each and every one of our teammates.

I groan, turning to Edward. "I'm sorry... guess I kinda outed you..."

warm

His laughter's infectious, soothing.

He rolls his eyes, grinning. "Yeah, you kinda did. Not exactly how I thought it'd happen, but that's okay. As long as you are okay, that is."

Glancing around the room again, I notice that most of the guys have gone back to what they were doing. The few who are still paying attention walk up to us, each in turn letting us know they're behind us.

Looking at Edward, I smile as I realize my fears of how the guys'd react were unfounded. I know this isn't over, but for now I count myself lucky.

touch

It's strange to think that not fifteen minutes ago, I was still in the closet, unable to watch Edward or touch him the way my body craves.

Now, as we finish packing our bags, everything is different.

Everyone knows.

He's moved next to me, chatting excitedly about whatever pops into his head.

Innocent touches – not so innocent looks.

I watch him, trance-like – awed.

As he zips up my bag for me, the urge to hold him becomes too much. I pull him to me, nearly crushing him in my need to make sure this is real.

That he is real.

trace

The others file out of the room, heading to the bus, but I'm barely aware of it as I hold Edward in my arms. His face is nestled on my shoulder, his breathing even, his countenance peaceful.

When we're all alone, he lifts his head and smiles at me. Before I can say anything, his lips find mine and everything else is forgotten.

He pushes me backward slowly, until my back hits the lockers and his body's tightly pressed against mine.

Feeling him like this, after what I did... it's freeing.

It also makes me wish we were home already.

flex

"Hey, you two, some of us would like to go home."

Jasper's head peers around the door, bursting our bubble.

My arms tighten around Edward, who rolls his eyes, grinning. His gaze locked on mine, he directs his words to Jasper. "Keep your shirt on; we're coming."

I barely hear Jasper mutter, "Yeah, I bet you are… and it's not my shirt I'm worried about staying on," before he raises his voice. "Get a move on, Em. We're expected at dinner tonight."

I groan.

With a sigh, I let Edward go. Grabbing our bags, we follow Jasper to the bus.

sweet

For the first time in too many months, Edward sits next to me. Before we'd gotten together, we had sat wherever we wanted to, but after, both of us had been too worried about being found out to want to risk being that close.

Now, however, we have no such considerations to make, and that simple freedom – that victory – has me wondering why I waited so long to do this.

Edward doesn't let me mourn the wasted time, though.

"Thank you," he says.

I look at him questioningly.

"For doing this," he explains quietly, gesturing around to indicate the team.

lace

Wrapping my arm around his shoulders, I pull him to me. He twines our fingers together. I kiss his forehead, murmuring, "Thanks for standing by me, babe."

He kisses me tenderly. "Anytime, Emmett."

He lays his head on my shoulder, closing his eyes. Before too long, his breathing's evened out and he's asleep.

I watch him for a while, grateful for having him in my life.

He's already agreed to come with me when I tell my family. Between his support and Jasper's, I know I can do this.

Eventually, I fall asleep, my head resting on his, feeling content.