Love for Red Sox Nation
Jason came back to the gallery after lunch to find a book sitting on his desk. It didn't have a card, it wasn't wrapped, there wasn't even a note to indicate whether someone had left it for him or Mr Hatch, or had just left it behind in the gallery.
"Hey, Sasha," he called, "why is there a book on my desk?" He picked it up and flipped through it. Further Fenway Fiction. A collection of Red Sox-inspired short stories. It seemed like the kind of thing his parents would send him, except they'd have sent it to his apartment and not the gallery.
"Someone dropped it off for you," Sasha called back.
Jason's first thought would normally be Jennie, but he'd just had a very long lunch with her, and it wasn't like her to drop off presents when she wouldn't be able to see his reaction. Micah, maybe? Mr Hatch? It could be almost anyone - Jason's love for the Sox wasn't exactly a secret.
He went up to the front of the gallery, where Sasha was marking up a high fashion magazine, probably Vogue. "Who?"
"Some guy." She shrugged. "Really tall, cute, bad haircut. He had, like, swimmer's shoulders."
"He didn't tell me his name. He just said to give it to you. He said... wait." She snapped her fingers like she was trying to remember something. "Um, Micah? He said it was from Micah, and I said ok, and he said that wasn't him. So it's from Micah, but someone else dropped it off. That's your boyfriend, isn't it? Doesn't Stef know him?"
"Sort of." Stef (short for Stefan, which he hated, not that "Stef" was any better) was Mr Hatch's partner. Sasha sometimes referred to him as Mr Hatch's kept boy, even though he was a few years older than Jason, because he didn't seem to have any income of his own. Stef and Abe apparently had something of a history. Abe's sister Caralee had tried to give Jason all the sticky details once, and Micah hinted around it, but Jason wasn't sure he wanted to know. "It's a long story. I think you met Citgo. He's one of Micah's friends. What else did he say?"
"Huh. Ok, thanks. I'm in back if anyone needs me."
He took Further Fenway Fiction back to his office, plopped down in his chair, and pulled out his cell phone. He looked through the book again to see if Micah had inscribed it, but he hadn't. Jason called him.
"You got me a book?" he said, when Micah answered the phone.
"You don't like it?" Micah answered. Jason had to smile at the fact that neither of them needed to say hi, how are you, it's me, before getting to the point of the conversation.
"No, I do, thank you. I'm just kind of surprised."
"I've been painting all day, so Citgo said he'd drop it off. He says your receptionist is really cute."
"Tell him she has a boyfriend."
Micah chuckled. "I think he wants to get back together with Lainey. She's so not interested, it's kind of funny."
"So he's over you?" Jason grinned at the phone. Citgo's love life was a constant source of entertainment for him, even knowing that Citgo and Micah had had a thing. The fact they were still good friends might make a lesser man feel a little insecure, but Jason wasn't worried. He knew how Micah felt about him and how Micah and Citgo felt about each other, namely that neither was going to jeopardize the other's relationships. So Jason could tease.
"He'll never be over me. He thinks you're hot, though."
"Yeah." Now Micah was giggling. "He's sitting on the floor making faces at me. You have to see this. It's just Jason, dude, you think he's gonna leave me for your sorry ass? Ack! Shit!" Micah's voice suddenly sounded weirdly distant, and Jason could hear scuffling noises on the other end of the line. He guessed that Citgo had tackled Micah and made him drop the phone.
"Hey," he said. "Hey! Micah! Stop wrestling and pick up the phone!"
Another minute and Micah did, breathing heavily down the line. "My friends are assholes," he said to Jason, and then he yelled "You're not eating my food, you fucker!" at someone on his end, probably Citgo. "Now my canvas is fucked up."
"Micah," Jason said, "I have to get back to work. Don't kill him, ok?"
"I could poison his beer and he'd never know."
"I know you're kidding."
"Yeah, well, he's hot and he can get the good weed. That's the only reason I keep him around. Yeah, I'm talking about you, you pothead," he called out to someone who wasn't Jason. "Call me later and tell me you like the book. When can I see you?"
"Not tonight. Tomorrow. Come over and I'll read to you."
"Fun." But Jason could tell Micah was making a fond face at the phone. He could hear it in Micah's voice.
"I'll get some Sam Adams and we'll watch Fever Pitch and make out on the couch."
"Is that before or after the sex?"
"Both," Micah repeated. "And then again in the morning. And then we'll go out for pancakes."
"And then I'll be late for work."
"Nah, I'll make sure you get there on time. You know what would be cool?" His voice dropped, like he wanted to make sure no one else could hear him. Jason felt himself flushing at the intimacy of it. "In the morning, if we open the curtains, we can fuck while the sun rises. I think that'd be kind of romantic."
"I think I need to get off the phone," Jason said, "before I stop being able to concentrate."
"I'm distracting you?" Micah sounded surprised and pleased.
"You're a huge distraction. And I took a long lunch and I have a lot of work to do. I'll see you tomorrow night, ok? Just you, no crazy friends. Did I thank you for the book? Most people tease me about the Sox."
"You did. You're welcome. I'll let you go. The next time I jerk off I'll think of you."
"Micah. Stop." As much as Jason wanted Micah to get him off, there was a time and place and this was neither. He could hear Jennie laughing at him in his head, teasing him about how uptight and New Englandy he still was. He mentally told her to shut up.
"I'm stopping, I'm stopping. Enjoy the book. I gotta make sure I still have food left."
"Go do that. Goodbye, babe." Calling people "babe" was an affectation Jason wasn't sure he liked, but it felt right to use it on Micah.
"I love you. Bye."
Jason hung up. It still made his stomach jump when Micah told him he loved him. He wondered if he'd ever get used to how good and how weird it felt.
He'd think about it later. He put the Red Sox book in his messenger bag, checked his voicemail, woke his computer up, and got to work.