A/N: I'm still focusing most of my efforts on 'You Get Me Through', my 90210 Teddy/Ian story, but this hit me the other night and I had to write it.
He's sitting at his desk. He rubs his temples with his thumbs, trying to alleviate the stress that he's allowed to manifest inside of him. He realizes that no amount of self-massaging is going to make any difference, so he stands and goes into the kitchen. He brews a cup of coffee beneath the modest light of the counter. It's too early in the morning for this, even for him, a self-declared morning person.
He pours enough vanilla CoffeeMate in the cup to change it to the honey tinge that he enjoys, and he sits down at the dining room table now, sipping it. He looks out across the beach. It's at that time of the morning when it's technically morning, but the moon would say otherwise, glimmering in the sky. He sighs, setting his head down on the table.
Normally, he's ready for training season. Usually, he jumps at the chance to be back around his teammates, the guys that really get him because they get the sport. But he doesn't feel prepared. Paula is breathing down his neck about publicity, about getting his name out there for MVP consideration. But that's not him, and he realizes it in the non-night, not-quite morning, because he'll be damned if he has an epiphany at a convenient time.
He just wants to play football. But it isn't that easy, not when you go pro, and certainly not when you're actually good at it. He hates that this is his life now. He briefly considers if firing Paula would provide a solution, but he sighs and takes another sip of his coffee. It will only put her out of work and mean more hours wasted searching for an agent who would invariably be worse at their job. Paula's crazy, but necessary.
So how did he go about playing football but staying out of the public spotlight? How did he just do his job and then go home?
"Hey, cutie. What are you doing awake at the Devil's Hour?"
He looks up, stunned out of his inner turmoil. Holden, the man he had been sharing his bed with for the past month and a half, is standing there at the other end of the dining room table, rubbing his eyes. He's cast in the soft glow of the kitchen light that Sean had forgotten to turn off, and he's dressed in one of Sean's old college hoodies. It wipes away every train of thought that had been bustling through Sean's mind.
Holden walks closer, around the side of the dining room table until he's standing beside Sean awkwardly.
"I…couldn't sleep." Sean replies, focusing down on his mug, because there's something in the air, something that's filling his chest and he doesn't understand what it is.
"Well, I would ask you to come back to bed, but there's no way you're getting any sleep after downing a cup of coffee. So…" Holden trails off, and then he pulls the chair beside Sean out from under the table and plops down.
"What are you doing?" Sean asks, raising an eyebrow as Holden adjusts comfortably in the seat.
"We're going to talk about what's keeping you up at night. And I know it's not the sex, because that should have you so wiped out you can't wake up, not the other way around."
"You don't have to do this." Sean mumbles, fumbling with his mug, empty now.
"Do what?" Holden asks, grabbing the mug from Sean and trying to hold his gaze.
"I don't know, listen and…care, I guess." He replies.
Holden sighs. "We're dating, aren't we Sean?"
"I mean, yeah I've taken you out to dinner and I call you and we hang out here and we…well, we have sex so…"
"So yes, by the dysfunctional way forced upon us by your occupation, we are dating. So that means I'm not sticking around for the sex. I'm sticking around for you. Because I care about you. Why are you acting like this? It's very out of character, Mr. Macho."
Sean shrugs. "I guess I just don't want to weigh you down with my problems."
Holden sighs, and now he grabs Sean's hand, running his thumb over the back of it. Sean looks at him, into his eyes, and he realizes he can get lost in them, in their warmth.
"That's what you're allowed to do when you're with someone, Sean. It's what you're supposed to do."
He nods, because of course Holden's right. He doesn't know what it is about now that has him so unfocused. He's normally perfectly fine around Holden, normally in charge of the situation, even. He eyes his hoody, hanging off of Holden's body. That may have something to do with it.
He licks his lips, and Holden swallows. "So…are we talking about this, or what?" Holden prompts.
So Sean talks about it. All of it. The stress, the frustration, the indecision: all of it that comes with his job. And Holden listens. When he's done, Holden sits there and just studies him. Finally, just as Sean is becoming unnerved, he speaks.
"You're going through an identity crisis."
"What do you mean?" Sean questions. It isn't the answer he expects.
"You've always wanted to keep things private. You've always wanted to play football, or at least I'm assuming since you were old enough to care about your future. It's just that now you're starting to realize that you can't have it both ways, and that's bothering you."
Sean nods. Yeah, that sounds about right.
"There's something that happened in your life that caused it, I'm sure…"
Sean studies Holden's hand in his, their fingers wound through one another's. He swallows the lump in his throat.
"…but it doesn't really matter what that is. What matters is that you figure out what you care about more: your privacy, or football?"
Sean shakes his head. "I guess that's what I'm having trouble with."
Holden nods. "I understand. It'll take some time to figure out, but you'll figure it out, I'm sure. The good thing is that the media doesn't seem to pry too much into anyone's personal life until they think the person has something to hide."
Holden falters as that last sentence ends, and Sean realizes why. He realizes that Holden is thinking of himself. But Sean squeezes his hand, and Holden is smiling at him again.
"Let's go back to bed."
"You sure? I mean, I can stay and talk for hours." Holden replies. It makes Sean smile.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I'm tired."
They head back upstairs to Sean's bedroom, and Holden removes himself from Sean's hoody before they tangle together in the sheets.
"Hey, babe?" Sean begins.
"Yeah?" Holden asks, rolling over to face him.
"Thanks for that." He says.
Holden smiles, and it's outlined perfectly in the moonlight, shimmering dimly into the bedroom. "Anytime, hot stuff."
He presses a quick kiss to Sean's lips before rolling back over. Sean feels an explosion of energy inside his chest, and then he wraps an arm back around Holden, pressing the other man's back to his chest.
Flashes of years down the road in this same position dance behind Sean's eyes before he falls asleep.