in your FACE space coyote! (candle_beck) wrote,
in your FACE space coyote!
candle_beck

your loyalty is not to me



well, rickenbacker asked for some alkie!huston and i know he is a fan favorite, so i gave that a shot, to the tune of 12524 words.

street pov, alkie or non, is the hardest of them all by about a mile, but i soldiered through it.




Sleeping on Drunk Street
By Candle Beck


Street wakes up on the kitchen floor.

Harden is at the table drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, hunched over leaning on his elbow. He looks ridiculously tall from this angle.

Street says hello and his voice comes out froggy and scrapped. He coughs thickly, rolling his head on the tile as pain blooms behind his eyes.

Harden asks if he's okay. Street shoots him a caustic look, struggles to get his hands under his body. It feels like his heart is pumping Drano, toxic-green moss filling his lungs. Muttering faintly to himself, he pushes into a sitting position, one hand going to cradle his head gingerly.

The ten-dollar clock on the wall clicks past a minute or two. Street drags the facts of the situation into his vicinity, clumsily attempting to puzzle them out of the fuzzed agony of his hangover. Drunk last night, plainly way too drunk last night, but where and why and how have escaped him completely.

"What happened to me?" Street asks. He looks up, squinting against the shards of daylight spearing through the trees, and finds Harden wearing a standard smirk, still pretending like he's reading the paper.

"You let Zito buy the shots," Harden tells him. "And then you forgot my name for about an hour. Then we came home and you were gonna make some Eggos but instead you passed out. You remembering any of this, sunshine?"

Street scowls at him, but that makes his headache worse for some reason and so he quits. His features go slack and dumb, making him feel mongoloid or something.

"Don't call me that. Ow, and um." Street puts a hand on his suddenly active stomach. "I'm either gonna throw up or I want those Eggos now." His face twists in confusion, looking at Harden beseechingly.

Harden smirks some more. It's pretty comforting, actually. "Well, you let me know."

That's not terrifically helpful. Street lies back down again, fixes his gaze on the smoke detector and its tiny blinking red light. The tidal roar subsides slowly in his belly, and he spends a little time trying to fashion memories to fit the story Harden has told him. He conjures up an image of Zito grinning maniacally in strobing neon, but that's happened a million times before.

The chair scrapes on the floor as Harden gets to his feet. Street inches his eyes open, watches through his eyelashes as Harden steps over him to rinse his coffee mug out in the sink. Harden leans back against the counter, nudges his foot into Street's side.

"You should go to bed."

Street lets his head loll to the side, feeling his sticky unwashed hair flatten against the floor. "But it's morning time."

"Observant, aren't ya? It's still pretty early and anyway, it's no good for you, sleeping on the floor."

"Why'd you let me then?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, I learned how to drink when I was fifteen years old, I just kinda assumed you'd be able to deal with your own damn self."

Street glares up at him, his face hot. "Clearly not."

Harden snorts. "Clearly."

He sighs in a put-upon way, offers Street his hand. Street gets his legs under and mostly hangs as dead weight, just to see if Harden can pull him all the way up with one arm. Harden can, of course, with absolutely no trouble at all, and Street's head careens, goes plummeting and whipping like a rollercoaster. He sways, clutching Harden's arm for balance.

Harden is good for that kind of thing, Street is thinking foggily. His arm is like smooth warm stone and that's the best thing to brace yourself against, really, the best of all possible options.

Then Harden pushes him away, calls him an effing waste and Street would be hurt if he couldn't see the heated smile on Harden's face, his blue eyes all shrewd and hyperaware. Sometimes Harden makes Street's head want to explode, but it's usually in a good way.

Street makes it as far as the living room. Face-planting into the couch feels like a victory of some kind, an unacknowledged triumph. It's so much nicer than lying on the floor--Richie really knows his stuff.

Street is mostly asleep again, thick black curtains dropping all over the place. Harden comes in and flops on the chair, and Street's eyes are closed so he gets to imagine it all. Harden turns on a college baseball game and the wonderful murmur of it takes Street first into the past, then laterally into a rat's nest of messy overheated dreams.

*

A little while later, Street gets lost in the club.

This is Zito's fault too, taking Street to some retro-disco wasteland with three levels not counting the loft, ten different dancefloors not counting the roof, enough flashing lights to set a whole school bus of kids seizing. Street is already drunk when they get there; pre-game at Zito's place got taken too seriously, Street's mouth sticky and coated. His eyes feel flipped up white, gaping.

There are girls and they want him to drink these pretty pink drinks and Street figures what the heck. He's almost two thousand miles away from his girlfriend, maybe twenty-five miles from the house where he sleeps down the hall from Rich Harden. It's so loud and exciting in here, the girls so warm and soft pressed against his side. Street is a major league ballplayer, and all of this is one hundred percent allowed.

The stupid pink drinks wreck him. He's reeling around, bouncing off people and offering his best grin in apology. Girls grab his belt and pull him into intense rhythmless grinds that make Street gasp through his mouth, clinging to their hips. Guys come up behind him, big hand finding his side and he shivers, scoots away, flashing that same smile.

He gets lost. Zito was here just a second ago. They were going to do some Irish car bombs and then go to the roof, it was all set. But Zito has vanished and Street is some distance away from where he started. Kind of amazingly drunk, right about now.

Fresh air, Street decides, the pulsing body heat making the room swamp-muggy and that must be why he's so dizzy, why his feet won't do what he wants them to. He isn't sure which floor he's on, finds a wall and follows it like a blind man until there are stairs, and a guy puking on the stairs, and a small field of broken glass at the foot of the stairs. Everything seems to be getting progressively more difficult.

But Street makes the sidewalk and the thirty-degree drop in temperature slams into him like cold water. He trembles and hops in place, cooling swiftly with his sweaty hair and face. The street yaws violently sideways, and Street hugs a parking meter, squeezes his eyes shut tight.

"Puck it," he mutters to the curb. His forehead squeaks on the plastic meter window. "Puck the whole mother."

He goes digging for his phone. It's wedged in his pocket with his ID and credit card, his jeans tight and impossibly obstructive--there's no room for his hand in there along with everything else. It's all such a trial.

Street tries to get himself arranged in a more vertical kind of slump, and blinks up at the reaper moon. Suddenly it's very late. Suddenly Street is unbearably tired.

He calls Harden. He's setting himself up to get hurt, he knows, but it's just the only thing he can think of with any kind of consistency.

Harden picks up, sounds distracted. "Huston my son."

Street grins hard and fast, almost painful. "Hiya Richie."

"How's the night treating you, man?"

"Punching bag," Street mutters, mind fragmenting and eyes closed again. "Kickin' the crap outta me."

Behind Harden's voice Street can hear videogame sounds, tinkly music and clicking sounds. Harden with his legs crossed on the coffee table and his neck at an extreme tilt pinning his phone to his ear with his shoulder, maybe bitching back and forth with Crosby in that casually cruel way the two of them have. Street yearns for it, that empty spot on the couch next to Richie.

"Where the fuck did you even end up?" Harden asks, that thoughtless, pointless kind of cursing that Street never once found cool before he joined this team.

Street takes a look around, warehouses and freight haulers unhooked from their cabs, spooky-looking pieces of giant metalwork like fangs and claws. There's a kinda marshy smell in the air, raucous laughter from the black-eyed punk kids smoking cigarettes and stuck like barnacles to the wall outside the club.

"This looks like San Francisco," Street reports.

"On your own then, fuck if I'm picking you up."

"That's not why," Street says, surprised that Harden would even think that. Street knows to keep his troubles to himself. "There are other reasons."

"Really." Harden swears absently and Street can tell it's at the game. Harden's only half paying attention, but then, Street is pretty drunk. "Bust 'em out then."

"Well." Not so fair, putting Street on the spot like this. "It's helpful, when a person is in a, a, a state of mind that perhaps they would rather not be in, helpful sometimes if there is another person who is more like they would like to be, so that they can see. And take after. You see what I mean?"

"Nope," Harden says cheerfully. "Goddamn you're drunk."

Street scowls at the moon all askew and sharp-looking. "Hey now, Richard. That's not buddies. That is enemies."

Harden laughs. "Christ. What can I do to get you home as soon as possible? I need to see this show live."

"Oh, well. I need a cab company to call, and, well. Maybe our address, too."

"I'll send you a text." Harden is still kinda laughing, snickering away and Street likes the sound of that better than any of the music he's heard tonight.

"I, uh." Street stops, dizzy. He's scared all at once, like a man with a shotgun has just turned the corner and started picking off the punk kids one by one. He keeps seeing Richie so clearly in his mind's eye. "Thanks."

"Yeah yeah. Double-time, soldier, and don't you dare sober up."

Harden hangs up without saying goodbye. It's a terrible habit of his and for some reason Street finds it absurdly charming. It's like the story of his life, at this point.

The spins are still hitting him hard, and Street kinda slides down the parking meter, shoes in the gutter and knees bent to his chest. He tips his head back on the metal pole, chilled by the steady blasts of wind off the water, waiting for his phone to buzz and wishing he could hold his breath across all the minutes separating him from Rich Harden.

*

They go out on the road. It's blistering in the Midwest, feels just like home. Half the team goes to dinner at a barbecue joint with white cloth napkins, which Street thinks is oxymoronic, wrong in a couple of different ways. But there's cornbread that falls apart when you pick it up and red sauce at the corners of everyone's mouth. There are stretching longhorns made into trophies and hung on the walls.

Street drinks Southern Comfort with Joe Blanton and Nick Swisher, the three of them flushed, lit-eyed and laughing too loud at the end of the table. Bobby Crosby looks on disapprovingly, eyebrows all pulled down. Street sticks his tongue out at him, nyah nyah.

It's only eight o'clock when they spill out on the sidewalk, and Street is listing. The guys loiter in a loose knot on the sidewalk, halfheartedly hailing cabs and talking about what they're gonna do next. Street skulks at their edges, wanting to tug on sleeves, straighten collars. The best part about heat like this is how it feels at night.

Then Harden is there, an arm suddenly materialized around Street's shoulders. Street jolts in surprise but that's just his reflexes being shot. He blinks at Harden, eyes caught dark blue in the shadowy streetlight.

"Night's shaping up," Harden says, slurring ever-so-slightly so that Street knows he's buzzed too. "You hanging in there?"

Street shifts his feet to better feel the weight of Harden's arm. It's too heavy and too hot, smothering him. Street might be addicted or something. "Heck yeah."

"Fuck, we have to do something about that mouth of yours."

Street's eyes become huge. He boggles a little bit, twitching closer mostly unconsciously. His hip knocks into Harden's, muffled thunk that Street feels way more sharply than he should. Harden is smirking at him, and Street is having the bad thoughts all of a sudden, all that stuff he left behind in high school.

"What. What're you gonna do with my mouth?" Street asks in a secret-code whisper, a lowering scrape.

Harden grins at him, tipping his head down and casting his eyes deep in shadow. A tingly coil of fear or heat or some kinda thing happens in Street's stomach.

"Dirty it up a bit," Harden says, the corner of his lip curling up like he knows exactly what's happening inside Street.

Street doesn't dare move, or breathe, or think. There are possibly cries of danger clamoring bright-red in his mind, but he doesn't have to pay attention to that; he's really drunk again.

Then Danny Haren stumbles hard into the two of them, most likely shoved by one of their no-good teammates, and Street is knocked clear. Street goes slewing into a parked car and its alarm explodes, whanging hugely all around him. Street shouts in surprise, yanks away and trips and sprawls backwards on the sidewalk. His head cracks down against the pavement and he blacks out for maybe four or five seconds.

The world comes shuddering darkly back into view. Street can hear his teammates before he can see them, Harden saying, "Huston you asshole wake the fuck up," and Zito in the background, almost lost amid the howling car alarm, laughing in a way that sounds helpless.

Street's eyes flutter open. Harden and Haren are kneeling to either side of him, the others an indistinct smear of faraway denim trees. Harden smiles when Street looks at him and so of course Street has to smile back. His head hurts way more than he feels is reasonable.

"You're ridiculous, you know that?" Harden says. He and Danny latch arms over Street's body, pull each other up standing.

"Wasn't my fault this time," Street argues weakly, still with that brainless smile on his face. "I mean. I wouldn't pass out on the street."

"Ha," Zito calls from somewhere to the right. "Because that's your name!"

"Oh my lord," Street mumbles, and lifts his hands imploringly. Danny and Rich each take one, haul him onto his feet. Danny claps him on the shoulder, shakes him in general relief, and then Street can't catch his balance, tottering until Harden steadies him, a hand on Street's hip and Harden's eyes hooded, unreadable.

"Concussed yet?" Harden asks. Street is on a tilted axis, angled towards him.

"Doubt it. Might be better off, though," Street answers, pretty sure that that makes some kind of sense. "Can't be held accountable."

Harden raises his eyebrows, lets the corner of his mouth curl again, and Street remembers suddenly that right before Danny crashed into them, they were doing something really similar to flirting. Street's whole body rushes with heat, quick hard shiver. His head is still just killing him.

"Interesting hypothesis," Harden says, sounding as regularly cool as ever, all smoke and shine. "We should test that one out."

"Oh my lord," Street says again, his blood racing. He's staring at Harden, and Harden is smirking right back.

"Are you girls coming, or what?" Crosby calls out the open window of one of the cabs the guys have wrangled.

Harden looks over and Street sees his jaw tighten briefly, glassy sheen of irritation passing over his eyes. Harden is still drunk too, Street has to keep reminding himself, and not as adept at maintaining his poker face. Street really should find some way to take advantage of that.

"You shut your cocksucking mouth, Bobby, we'll come when we're ready," Harden says without any real malice, but Street still flinches backwards. Everything is hitting so close to home tonight.

Harden glances back at him, half-smiles. "C'mon, I bet you need something for that headache," he says, and Street thinks woozily that Harden is sorta like magic sometimes. It's not even restricted to a baseball field, just as clear here on this damaging Kansas City sidewalk where the night is still young.

*

There are beers floating like Halloween apples in the melting ice, red cooler with a white lid propped open. Street fixes himself up a plate of sushi and cold cuts from the spread, but he has no appetite for anything not in liquid form, half his beer gone before he's done stabbing apart a cucumber roll with a chopstick held like a dagger. Mark Ellis tells him to stop playing with his food, and Street rolls his eyes, says, "Okay, mom," keeps his hands busy mashing rice together into little quadruped shapes.

He's three beers down by the time they get to the airport. It wraps him up in a muzzy grayish cloud, happy and bumbling as he follows his teammates' backs through the long terminals. He buys a pack of Reese's Pieces, tugs too hard and it bursts open, candy rattling like loose buttons all over the waxy tile. Street scoops up as many as he can before five seconds is up, disappointed with and amused at his incompetence both at the same time.

He's still eating Pieces off his palm as they board the plane. Too sweet, sticky in the back of his throat, and Street slouches into an empty row, licking at his hand. He thinks they're going home; he hopes so.

Minutes pass with Street's head leaning on the thick window, watching the baggage handlers loading their luggage into the bottom of the plane. They look miserable, sweating in the final sinking blasts of the sun. Street spends awhile wondering what he'd be doing with his life if he couldn't pitch.

He maybe falls asleep a little bit. He dreams of Mikey from his high school team, Mikey with his flat handsome face always sunburned across the bridge of his nose, heavy shoulders and legs, blonde hair falling forward and he was always shoving it back, sliding his catcher's mask on, dropping into a crouch behind the plate. Mikey drove a pick-up the bruised dented color of an old apple, and when Huston Street was sixteen years old, he'd had sex for the very first time on a blanket spread across the truck bed.

He hasn't thought about it in years. Whenever anybody asks, he says he lost his virginity to a girl named Daisy after the Sadie Hawkins dance, but that was two months after Mikey pushed him flat on his back and tugged open his fly. Street has almost forgotten, weirded out by the whole thing. There was a miasma of bad thoughts infesting his head that spring, every time Mikey went barreling down the baseline with his helmet flying off and his dark eyes blazing, every time he came out to the mound and folded his hand around Street's hip. Street was confused, turned all the way around and his head was on backwards now, his stomach screwed up all the time. He knew he wasn't gay, but none of this stuff made sense if he wasn't gay.

Street let Mikey take him out into the hill country. He's dreaming about it now, the obscured roll of the land salted with fireflies, that little clearing by the river that only Mikey knows about. Street's dreaming, getting all mixed up again. He's drinking SoCo with Mikey and Mikey pushes his hand through Street's hair, palms his face. Street is sixteen and terrified again, turned on beyond all reason by the solidity of Mikey's body against his own. Mikey's mouth is on his stomach, sturdy catcher's hands sliding up Street's legs. Street is deeply frightened, like how he thought he might actually die when it was happening, how he was sure he was going insane because nothing in the whole wide world is supposed to feel this good.

Scared, way too scared and he jerks awake. His neck is bent and stiff, forehead numb where it rests on the window. Street straightens with a little whimper.

"Are you awake now?"

A startled half-cry breaks from Street, whipping his eyes over to find Rich Harden sitting in the aisle seat, headphones hanging loose around his neck.

"Jeez, Richie," Street says, rubbing his face. "Spooked me."

"Yes." Harden nods, mouth twisted as he looks down. There's a pair of drinks on the fold-down tray, one most of the way empty and the other sloshing full.

Street points. "That for me?"

"Maybe. If I like you enough."

Street smiles, dreadfully endeared to him. It's been almost four months since he met Rich Harden, and Street has yet to tire of any part of him. He flips the latch on his tray and Harden passes the drink over, flapping white napkin square clinging to the bottom.

Jack and Coke and it's good, strong enough to make Street's eyes water, his throat seizing up. There's a great diaspora of warmth migrating to every corner of his body, and Street grins big at Harden, blinking back tears.

"Thank you, that was wonderful," Street says.

Harden's face comes into focus and naturally he's smirking, watching Street like he's a dog doing tricks. Street wishes he would slide over into the middle seat, close enough that their knees can knock together.

"You're still such a lightweight," Harden tells him. It's weird, it sounds like a compliment. "You get buzzed quicker than anybody I ever met."

"Well, it's cost-effective. Anyway, I had some beers before."

"Yeah, and then you passed out."

"I took a nap, where's the crime."

Street fiddles with the tray latch, twisting it back and forth. He thinks of that dream he had, his legs over Mikey's shoulders and Mikey half-smiling (it could even be called a smirk), eyes glowing madly blue even though Street is like ninety-eight percent sure his eyes were brown. His face is burning and he's not sure if he should blame that on the liquor or the memory. Hopefully Harden won't see.

"I got a theory, you know," Harden says, leaning towards him. "You spent, what, three-four months in the minors? Fuckin' wonderboy, yeah yeah yeah, the point is it's not time enough to build a tolerance. We roll pretty hard, as you've noticed. You were unprepared."

Street nods, seems pretty sound to him. The minor leagues are largely a blur, the hangover of losing his last College World Series dragging after him, half the summer spent dying of loneliness in Midland and driving the six hours home to Austin almost every day off.

"And did you even drink in college?" Harden asks, eyebrows up.

"Oh, well, I wasn't twenty-one yet," Street says, kinda hazy and distracted, staring at Harden's hands for some reason.

Harden snorts. "Now that's just adorable."

"What?" Street looks up, feeling dizzy all of a sudden. Harden is smiling cleanly now, evenly. Street struggles to remember what the heck they were talking about. "And, um, Lacey doesn't. Drink, I mean. I mean, sometimes she does, but like, glass of wine at dinner kinda thing. We don't go to bars hardly ever."

"Ah." Harden sits back, steeples his fingers like Mr. Burns. His eyes are lidded, mouth gone small again. "Whipped into sobriety, a sadly common fate."

Street laughs through his nose, sounding pretty dumb to his own ears. "But you know what? She's missing out. Sincerely. Because this is great."

Feeling oddly like he's giving in to something, Street reaches out, bumps his fist on Harden's shoulder. He wants to open his hand, lay the flat of his palm on the side of Harden's neck, but he's pretty sure that's just the drunk talking.

"It's great, Richie, yeah? I mean, I kinda like this better than anything I've ever done before."

Harden tips his head to the side, resting against the seat, and gives Street a look that tightens his skin, all shadowy blue calculation. "That's how it's supposed to be. Rookie year and all."

Street grins. "I been waiting my whole life."

"Yeah," Harden says, looks away down the aisle of the plane. "Me too."

The plane jolts, wrenches briefly in the air. Muddled fear climbs Street's spine, seeing Harden clutch the armrest. Neither of them likes flying, which is probably why the drinks were so strong. Harden glances at him, shifts a caustic little smile.

"And then you die in a fiery plane crash," Harden says wickedly.

Street's eyes pop, and grabs Harden, winds a fist in his shirt. His heart is thundering insanely loud in his ears, bolt of adrenaline as he says without thinking, "Taking you with me."

Harden nods, a wild light in his eyes, voice hoarse as he answers:

"You fuckin' better,"

and Street has sorta lost the plot, not wholly certain which level they're talking on. He can't find it in him to care, bumping his T-shirt-wrapped knuckles over Harden's collarbone just to feel the muffled thud of bone on bone.

*

They stumble home from the road trip and sleep for about twelve hours, and the next day Street finds two postcards from New York City waiting for him in their overcrowded mailbox. Lacey is there with her mom and grandma and aunts, and she's drawn a stick figure couple holding hands and grinning at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, the little man wearing a teeny little A's cap. Street tapes the postcards up next to the photographs on his wall, thinks that he should give her a call but then he remembers that it's almost dinnertime back east and she's probably out already, so he goes to get a beer instead.

Street used to talk to his girlfriend on the phone for a minimum of four hours a day. His college roommates learned within a week to kick him out, leaving him to pace the bat-filled night, lie in the hallway at three in the morning just murmuring at each other, both of them mostly asleep but not ready to say goodnight yet. That untouchable first-love feeling, when sleep became a nuisance and nothing that happened to him mattered except when he was telling her about it.

But they've grown up. You can't be in love like seventeen years old forever. Street misses Lacey every day, but it doesn't feel like he's ripped in half without her anymore, and that's probably for the best.

Beer acquired, Street goes out onto the patio. Harden is flat on his back on the grass, playing his Nintendo DS and sucking on a Chupa-Chup, and Crosby is floating aimlessly around the pool on an inflatable raft, bouncing softly off the sides. Street sits cross-legged next to Harden, cradling his beer because the grass is too long to set it down.

Harden has the DS positioned to block the sun, a square of shadow like a Zorro mask right across his eyes. He glances over at Street, switching the Chupa-Chup to the other side of his mouth, his cheek squirreled.

"Any mail worth writing home about?" he asks, and Street rolls his eyes because that was almost a pun and puns suck.

"Mostly junk, and, like, nine Netflixes that I put on the kitchen table," Street answers.

Harden grins up at the game, white plastic straw bit between his teeth. "I think the plural of Netflix is still Netflix."

"Says who?"

"Says me, like three seconds ago. Are you having brain problems or something?"

Street tries to shoot him a glare, but he's pretty amused and it's difficult to hide. Harden is smirking, obviously knows he's got Street on the run.

"You're both retarded," Crosby offers in a bored tone, one hand and one heel trailing in the water. "You don't pluralize Netflix, you just call them fucking DVDs."

Harden lowers the game, and his eyes immediately scrunch against the sun, his mouth screwing down into a knot. He takes out the lollipop and pushes up on an elbow, glowering at Crosby. Crosby has sunglasses on and Street can't tell if he's looking back.

"Was someone talking to you?" Harden asks, a sneer breaking momentarily on his face before he tamps it down to something more subtle. "Oh, but I guess you're waiting on that package from Enzyte, huh? Can't come soon enough, can it?"

"Fuck off." Crosby's voice stays lazy and unconcerned, pushing off the side of the pool with his foot, spiraling slowly away from them.

Street drinks his beer too quickly, not liking the wiry tension skittering between Harden and Crosby. It's been there as long as he's known them, but that's still not all that long.

Harden glares at Crosby for a few seconds more, but Crosby's not giving him the fight he wants, so he gets to his feet, ruffling his hair clean. Harden turns his head to the side and spits candy-pink, looks down at Street.

"Come on."

Street scrambles up, not sure what Harden wants but content to follow him inside. He kills his beer and leaves the bottle on the patio table, looking over his shoulder to see Bobby Crosby with his sunglasses pulled off, watching the two of them with a strange distorted expression on his face. Street is lost, feeling green and stupid and entirely in the dark.

Harden is in the kitchen, staring into the open refrigerator, wedge of chilled light cast over him. Street reaches over the door to snag another beer, goes to sit at the table. Harden continues staring into the refrigerator.

Street picks at the label on his beer, asks, "How come you and Bobby got this place? 'Cause, um. You don't seem to like each other very much."

Harden's head bows almost imperceptibly, the angle of his neck steepening. Street drinks some beer and thinks that he shouldn't have asked.

"We like each other fine," Harden says, kinda emotionless but that only makes him sound more sincere. "We said last year we'd get a place together again."

There's a pause, and Street wonders if that's all he's going to get. It definitely only feels like half the story.

Then Harden says, "We fight a lot, but that doesn't mean we don't still want each other around."

It takes Street off-guard, throws him slightly. He's pretty sure that's exactly what fighting a lot means. But things aren't as straightforward out here, and he doesn't really trust his instincts when it comes to personal stuff between other people.

Harden finally takes a beer out of the refrigerator, comes over to sit across from Street. Scowling at the bottle like there are insults to his mom written there, Harden says, "Anyway, it won't last. He's a fucking punk but I'm pretty much over it."

Street nods, not understanding anything. He rolls his beer between his palms, chilled glass slipping and icing, happy to have something to occupy his hands, something to bring to his mouth when he can't think of anything to say. He sneaks little looks at Harden, the sad downward slant of his face, flickers of blue, all roughed up under the eyes like he hasn't been sleeping much. There's a lot of stuff Harden isn't telling him, probably, but Street's never been the type to pry.

They drink their beers and then they drink some more. Street is smiling again, and soon enough, Harden is smiling back.

*

It's Zito again, stupid Zito taking Street out and getting him loaded and then becoming irrevocably distracted by girls. He's abandoned Street at the bar, left him friendless. Street needs to stop saying yes when Zito asks him if he wants to go out. It's tough; Zito has a running tab at half the bars in town and he always buys all the drinks.

Street leans heavily on his elbow on the bar, trying to catch the bartender's eye but it's not working because everyone around him is calling and waving forcefully. Street can't compete with that, feeling small, tucked in a corner. There's karaoke going on in the background, horrible caterwauling for the most part. Street's ears are ringing, his head engaged in a series of tailspinning spirals.

Then suddenly there's a girl pressing against his side. Street jerks, almost falls off his stool trying to give her room, but she just nudges in close again, smiling at him. She's got dark hair in tangled curls around her face and neon-blue glittery eyeshadow, her outfit low-cut enough that Street keeps getting really discombobulated.

"Hi," she says like they're the oldest of friends. Street smiles, uncomfortable.

"Hello. Did you. Would you like to sit down?" He slides off the stool and she gives him a surprised grin, blinking fast.

"Aren't you something?" she says, taking the stool with one hand keeping her skirt at the very edge of obscene. "Where do they grow boys like you?"

"Um. Texas?" Street offers, not all the way sure what she's asking him. She has an arm wrapped around his neck and he keeps thinking that he must know her, even though she's not remotely familiar.

"Southern boy," she says approvingly, batting her eyes and the blue glitter shimmers and makes Street think of Rich Harden.

"No, I'm a Texan," he corrects, stiff-shouldered under her arm. "'s a diff'rent thing."

She sorta rolls her eyes, turns and shouts loud enough that Street winces, "Jerry, get your butt over here!" The bartender flaps his hand, making change for a guy who looks like a vampire, and then heading their way.

The girl (Street really should get her name, stop thinking of her as the Loud Girl in the Trashy Dress) orders vodka and cranberry for them both. Street gets his wallet out without thinking about it, but she pushes his hand down.

"It's on me, baby," she tells him, and Street realizes with a violent start that she's hitting on him, like, a lot.

"Oh, um," he says, and she tips her head against his shoulder, soft hot hair brushing on his neck. He's feeling kinda lightheaded from the perfume she's wearing, nothing too strong unless the girl wearing it is wrapped around you like a spider monkey. Street coughs weakly.

"Here," she says, handing him a drink that glimmers blood-red in the dim inconstant light. "Ready?"

Not really seeing any other options, Street says, "Yeah," and the girl counts one-two-three-go and they slam back the drinks in unison. They're strong, strong as all get out with the cranberry juice sticky-dry and tart trying to protect his throat, not working so well. Street gasps, shakes all over. He can hear the bangles and bracelets on the girl's arm rattling right near his ear, badly turned around for a second, not sure where he is or why or how or any of the important stuff.

"My lord," he manages, and she's looking up at him like she wants to do possibly illegal things to him. Street's face is blistering hot.

"You are really just about the cutest thing I have ever seen," she tells him, licking her lips even shinier. "You wanna go somewhere and talk about that a little more?"

Things like this never used to happen to Huston Street.

So he reels a bit, and shimmies out from under her arm, stumbling backwards. He's got a huge idiotic grin on his face, panicked out of his mind on the inside. He wants to laugh, or run, or throw up, or something. The girl gives him a look that's somewhere between bemused and pitying, still way more heated than Street feels is appropriate.

"Gay?" she asks resignedly, and Street's head kinda falls off for a second, but he gets it back together, wipes the gobsmacked look off his face.

"No! I'm not, I got a girlfriend." Street latches on to that, realizes in a blast that that's what he should have been saying the whole time. "I got a girlfriend! Um, I'm sorry, but I can't . . . you know. Or anything. Um. Thanks, though."

And then he runs.

He doesn't run. He walks swiftly. He bumps into a bunch of oversized frat boy types and they shove him around for a second like he's back in freakin' middle school, but then Street is wriggling free, bolting for the door. The fresh air stuns him, wracks right through and sets him shivering.

Without much forethought, Street claws for his phone, his fingers damp and uncooperative. He scrubs his hand on his jeans and fumbles until he's got Harden's number ringing, an especially severe strain of déjà vu coursing through him as he blinks up into the muddy streetlight.

"Richie," Street says when Harden picks up, hissing like it's confidential information. "You gotta come pick me up."

"You fuckin' drunk, what've you got into now?"

"This was not my fault," Street insists, sure of it like he's sure of what to throw on 3-0. "I was attacked."

"Who the hell would attack you?" Harden asks, very obviously not taking him seriously.

"This girl, with this dress," and Harden busts out laughing. Street stomps his foot. "Richie!"

"Oh man, where are you? I'll come, this has got to be fucking hilarious."

Street has to ask the bouncer checking IDs where exactly they are, which earns him a searingly disgusted look, and he relays it to Harden, slinking back to the curb feeling drunk and dumb and totally hopeless.

Some amount of time passes with Street sitting on the curb, taking deep breaths and trying to sober up so that Harden won't make too much fun of him. It doesn't help much, cold wind bristling in his lungs but his head stays febrile, overrun. He keeps trying to figure out why the girl would think that about him, just because he didn't want to hook up with someone who hadn't even bothered with introductions.

If people want to sleep around they can, Street's not trying to judge anybody. But he's not like that. He's been with Lacey since he was seventeen years old. He doesn't want any other girls, or at least, not enough to do anything about it.

Harden pulls up across the street, hollers out the open window for Street to come over so he won't have to turn around. It's a lot to ask, the traffic sparse but still terrifying. Street skitters, froggers his way across and clutches at Harden's arm through the window.

"Thank you, Richie, thank you so much for coming."

"Jesus Christ, get in the car, you drunk motherfucker." But Harden's smiling, cap pulled down over his eyes but that even grin showing plainly. Street is so happy to see him, he doesn't even have the words.

He tells Harden about the girl, the maddening dress and the vodka and cranberry she bought him and the arm she hung on him like a scarf. It really doesn't seem all that funny to Street, but Harden keeps laughing, so he guesses it must be.

They get back to their house and the lights burning through the tree cover spark little fires in Street's belly, thinking home without being in Austin for the first time in his life. He's smiling at their house, tripping on the edge of the driveway and Harden tosses an arm around Street's shoulder, gets him steady on his feet.

"See, you can't be all hella wasted like this and not expect people to try to take advantage of you," Harden tells him.

"That doesn't seem very fair," Street mumbles, watching his feet so he doesn't trip again. "Other people are allowed to get drunk. Like, Zito. Very drunk an awful lot of the time."

"Yeah, but Zito doesn't mind when people take advantage of him."

"Probably nobody thinks he's gay, either," Street comments to the welcome mat that came with the house. His mind is torn cotton, wisps and shreds of the night coming to him out of sequence.

Harden stops mid-reach for the doorknob. He slides his hand from Street's shoulder onto the back of his neck. "Somebody thinks you're gay?"

Street's face heats, creeping twisty thing happening in his stomach. Harden's hand feels very rough, very very warm rubbing at the knobs of his spine.

"Oh, well," Street says, staring miserably at Harden's shoes. "That girl. If you shoot them down they think you're gay. But I'm not. I mean-" and he stops, because he thinks he might have been about to say I used to be, but that doesn't make any kind of sense. It's sort of terrifyingly ludicrous, actually.

Street blinks, flummoxed. Harden huffs an odd sighing laugh, and takes him inside, down the dark hallway to Street's room. Harden sits him on the bed, gives him an uncharacteristically hesitant look, like he's not sure if he should stay. Street gazes up at him, hearing on a loop in his mind, the cutest thing I have ever seen, his brain feeling swollen and unwieldy.

"Huston," Harden says, and then pauses, a welter of expressions passing over his face and making Street dizzy. Then Harden's mouth curls, standard smirk back in place. "You're gonna feel like shit tomorrow, and I don't wanna hear about it."

"No, 'course not. 'm not a whiner."

The angle on Harden's smirk sharpens, and he looks away. "All right, well. Get some sleep, huh? Sloppy fuckin' drunk, I swear."

Street smiles at him. He doesn't know why, but Harden can say the worst things to him as long as he's got that look on his face, that hard perfect cut of his mouth, half-sneer and half-laugh and Street gets this idiotic thrill every time he sees it.

He keeps the picture of it locked in his mind after Harden has turned off the light and left him alone in the dark, believing hazily that if it's the last thing he thinks of before falling asleep, it'll stay with him all night.

*

Back on the road, they're in Anaheim, where it's all cartoon characters and theme restaurants, and Street doesn't even know what's in the drinks anymore, wrecked head and shaky hands and he feels wonderful.

He and Rich Harden are in a hotel room. There's a road trip bag on the floor and Street can't remember which of theirs it is; they both have those black wheelie guys. He doesn't know whose room this is supposed to be.

Harden passes him a plastic cup shining with carbonated amber. They're both sitting against the headboard, almost-empty bottles of liquor and mixers crowding on the little table by Harden's elbow. They're watching HBO, something about a brothel and for the life of him Street can't figure out if it's a reality show or not. Some of the stuff the girls do makes him blush so bad he can't even watch, and Richie's snickering at him.

"Don' make fun of me," Street keeps saying. Harden keeps answering, "Quit askin' for it," but Street doesn't think he is. He's just being normal. Drunk, but normal. Drunk and normal, possibly.

"This was smart," Street says, nudging Harden's knee with his own. "Ditching the guys and all. I mean, I like 'em, I'm not saying that, but, well. It's hard keeping track when we're all out together, you know? I mean, I already got enough to worry about just with the being drunk part, and then there's like six different people trying to talk to me and it's all loud and stuff and, um. Where was I going with that?"

Harden visibly bites his lower lip, his eyes wide with held-back laughter. "You can't expect other people to be following that shit, man."

"Not very helpful, Richie," Street says, trying to scowl but he doesn't think it's really working because Harden just looks more entertained. "Can I have another drink?"

"I feel like I should have cut you off two weeks ago, for the good of mankind."

"What? I don't think that makes sense."

Harden laughs, shakes his head. His face is flushed, eyes set so bright and clear in contrast. "God forbid we stop making sense."

He gets the bottle from the table and leans over to top Street up, but then his balance goes, and Harden slips, slumps over onto him. Street barely keeps his cup from sloshing over, feeling Harden huff in surprise, chin hard on his shoulder.

"Whoa," Harden mumbles, drops the bottle on the bed and Street catches it before it can topple, his reflexes assuredly catlike. He sets the bottle and cup on the table for safekeeping and Harden plants a hand on Street's stomach, pushes himself back up.

"Uh, sorry about that," Harden says, weird glittering look in his eyes.

Street shakes his head, his mouth dry all of a sudden, terribly aware of Harden's hand still braced on his stomach. "'s okay."

"No, I just-" and Harden stops, looks really confused for a second, lines pulling across his forehead. He's close; they're very close to each other.

Street's gaze goes from Harden's mouth to his eyes, searching for some kind of clue. There's a stretching hot thing happening in his stomach, his shoulder feeling bolted to Harden's. Harden's hand tenses on his stomach, fingers pressing in hard and making Street suck in a breath between his teeth.

"Richie," he says, voice all trembling and young-sounding and Street hates that, this stupid-kid feeling that follows him around everywhere, and so he darts forward and kisses Harden on the mouth, hard and unmistakable.

Harden gasps and then kisses him back, opening Street's mouth expertly with his tongue stroking hot and deep. Arousal goes flooding through Street and he's scared all of a sudden, terrified because he's not actually ready for this, not at all. It's too good, way too hot, Harden pressing against him, huge heavy hand sneaking a thumb under the edge of Street's shirt, and Street can't think clearly enough to pull himself away like he knows he should.

But then Harden pulls away instead.

Tears away and Street swears he heard a ripping sound like cloth, and then they're staring at each other, damp panting mouths and boggled eyes. That unbelievable blue, and Street is thinking for the first time, beautiful, and it rings kinda hollow, and he wishes he knew how to curse.

Harden's throat ducks as he swallows, and then he's pushing off the bed, running his hands over his face and hair and breathing out unsteadily. Street's eyes flick involuntarily down Harden's body, seeing his chest hitch.

"Sorry," Street croaks, because obviously he's done something wrong. His face is so hot it feels like he's melting.

"No," Harden says, one hand still covering his eyes. "Don't, uh. Don't say that."

"What, what should I say?"

Harden winces, takes his hand down and forcibly meets Street's gaze. "Nothing. It's just, you're drunk."

Street fists a hand in the sheets. "I'm always drunk."

"Which is a whole other thing, but no, I mean, you, you shouldn't do this for the first time if you're drunk."

"It's not the first time," Street hears himself saying, and then recoils, shocked and appalled. He and Harden gape at each other for a second.

"You-" Harden tries, stops short. His eyes are begging at Street, and Street shakes his head, jerks his gaze away, mortified. He hears Harden take in a careful steadying breath, say like he's measuring each word, "Anyway, you have to be sober."

Street swallows hard, staring down at his hand wrenched in the crumpled sheets. He's not going to want this when he's sober. Maybe he will--maybe that will be worse.

"I, I'm not really-" Street starts to say haltingly, and Harden makes a rough joyless laugh, cuts him off.

"Yeah. That's kinda exactly fucking why."

Street glances up to find Harden watching him with a crushing expression on his face, all regret and resigned longing, a slow burn of contempt and anger running underneath. Street wonders what it'd feel like to have Harden lying on top of him, if his chest and stomach would feel like rock or velvet or what. It occurs to him that he wants to have sex with Rich Harden really badly, and now he's terrified again.

Harden must see something of it in his face, because he sighs, says in a softer voice, "It doesn't work if we only ever do it drunk. Trust me, man. I've tried that before."

Then he goes into the bathroom. Street can hear the water running, picture Harden bent at the waist splashing water on his face, trying to get that hectic color to die down. Street is a little shellshocked, his mouth feeling swollen and sore, his mind a hurricane. He keeps thinking about all the sex he wants to have with Rich Harden; it just blows him away.

Harden comes back out, picks his sneakers off the floor and gives Street a tightly awkward smile. His eyes are lidded and he's swaying faintly, licking his lips unconsciously as he looks at Street on the bed.

"Talk to me tomorrow," Harden says, sounding all hoarse and wrecked. "If you still want. And, we'll. It'll be okay." He nods at nothing, looks away and repeats absently, "It'll be okay," and then Harden leaves.

*

Street avoids Harden for the next week.

It's not as difficult as he might have assumed. He spends a lot of time hiding behind Zito and Haren and Blanton. He holes up in the video room for hours, sticks to the bullpen all game long, never goes out to dinner and bars with the boys anymore. Street basically pretends that he has no friends, and acts accordingly.

He's only getting away with it because Harden is letting him, Street knows. Harden carries a worriedly expectant look on his face the first day after, glancing at Street and trying to catch his eye, but Street never looks back and Harden figures it out pretty quick, sneers and sets about pretending that Street doesn't exist. Street isn't sure if he should be grateful or heartbroken. He's so screwed up.

Street stays drunk as much as he can. Messy grin on his face, dull sparkling eyes, unreliable hands, and Harden won't touch him when he's drunk, won't talk to him ever again, so Street is safe. As long as he stays lit, he's safe from all of this.

It's only works halfway, though, because when Street's drunk he can't stop remembering what it felt like, kissing Harden in that filthy way, and Street can't really breathe at those times. He wonders what Harden would do with him if Street gave him free rein. He wonders so much, flat on his back on a hotel bed with his hand down his shorts and an arm tossed over his face.

He hasn't spoken to his girlfriend in days and days. She can always tell when he's drunk, and she'll never say anything, just get that disappointed tone in her voice that makes Street want to buy her puppies, makes him feel just awful. Street already has enough stuff making him feel bad.

They fly back home after a night game in Arlington, a three and a half hour flight but Street still manages to be a shambling mess by the end of it, slack-faced and muddy-eyed in the last row of the plane. Zito has been drinking with him like usual, terrible influence that he is, and he takes care of Street when it turns out Street can't really walk. Zito carries both their bags, keeps an arm protectively slung around Street's shoulders and tells the coaches he's whacked out on Robitussin, which no one believes, of course, but it's all about plausible deniability.

Street is just kinda staggering in the midst of his teammates, staring down at his feet because he can hear Harden and Crosby ragging on each other somewhere up ahead, too close. He doesn't really know what's going on with him, inside or out, but after awhile his head clears and he finds himself riding shotgun in Zito's car, heading into the hills.

"Oh, um. Are you driving me home?" Street asks even though that is clearly what Zito is doing.

"Nope, Mexico," Zito says. "Leaving you there, too."

Street tips his head against the window, oily slick feeing in his throat, snakes writhing in his belly. "But I don't know anybody in Mexico."

"Wear it," Zito says, then glances over at him. "You still drunk?"

"Um." Street presses his fingers against his eye, his neck, seeking his pulse and having no luck. "Kinda."

"You went on a little bender there, didn't ya?"

"No," Street says. He's not like that. "Just, trying to figure some stuff out."

"Oh yeah, I hear being constantly fucked up is real conducive to that."

"Well," Street says, staring at his hands. "Better than the alternative, I guess."

"What? What alternative?"

"Um," Street says again. He doesn't know; he just said it hoping it would appease Zito. Zito sorta laughs, shaking his head.

"Anyway, that ice you're on is getting pretty fuckin' thin. You should be aware."

And that gets Street riled, trickling anger slipping under his skin. He glares at Zito. "It's at least half your fault, you've been buying me drinks all year."

Zito laughs, genuinely amused and it makes Street's stomach clench. "Let me tell you how completely not my fault it is. I buy everybody drinks, but not everybody uses it as an excuse to dabble in a little alcoholism. That's all you, buddy."

Street wraps his arms around his middle, eyes fierce and narrow. He's not like that. Harden calls him a drunk but he's only ever kidding, Street is sure of it. Street isn't an alcoholic, he's just a lightweight--he just needs some looking after.

He doesn't say anything. Zito pastes an incredibly irritating smirk on his face and turns up the music, some of his emo nonsense that Street has spent all summer pretending to like. Street rests his head on the window again, cool on his forehead and it's such a small blessing and yet so crucial at the moment. Street just needs a moment.

Sick and uneasy on his feet as he climbs out in his driveway, but Street's only physically drunk now, his mind clearer than it's been since the game they played in Texas, what feels like three days ago. He thanks Zito for the ride even though he's still kinda mad at him, and Zito waves him away, says, "Goodnight, little fuck-up, we'll get back to it tomorrow."

Street stands there watching Zito's taillights shrinking away from him, and he says quietly to no one at all, "I'm not a fuck-up."

Then he goes inside.

He goes looking for Richie.

The living room is dark and so is the kitchen, a chair knocked over and Street sets it upright on autopilot. The refrigerator is open and he's got a beer in his hand before he checks back in and realizes what he's doing with a mild sense of horror, drops the bottle to clatter on the shelf. He hightails it to the hallway, his heart beating fast.

There's a bar of light under Harden's door, faint tinny sounds of an action movie all explosions and screams, and Street leans on the door for a long moment, breathing careful and even, imagining a force-field of calm building around him.

He knocks, and there's no answer, so he has to knock again. From inside Harden calls, "Get lost, Bobby, fuckin' done with you."

Street's eyes fly down the hall to Crosby's door, which is shut and dark underneath. Street is petrified that Crosby will come out to see what all the yelling is about, ruin everything forever, and so he says fast:

"It's me, Richie, it's Huston," and then suffers the most excruciating moment of suspense he's ever experienced, before Harden pulls the door open.

Street just looks at him for a second, sure his eyes are enormous and his face totally freaked out but unable to help it. Harden gives him a thin suspicious once-over, jerks his head to invite him in. Street almost trips over an inconveniently placed block of air, but manages not to look too foolish.

Harden goes over to his bed, hits pause on his laptop and drops the room into an abrupt silence. He stands half-turned away from Street, face angled down. Street's back is to the door, a manic fluttering ache happening in his chest and stomach. He forces it away. He can do this, people do this stuff all the time.

"I, I'm sober now," Street says. His fingers aren't even crossed.

Harden glances at him. "No you're not. Zito practically had to carry you off the bus."

"That was a while ago, though." Street swallows. "I'm sober enough, Richie."

Harden rubs the back of his neck, his shoulders falling on a sigh. He sits down on the edge of the bed, looks up at Street with a tense scowl on his face.

"Look, I got the fucking message, all right? You kinda made it really clear all week. I won't try anything again, so you don't have to stay away from me anymore. It. It never fucking happened, fine."

Street takes a step forward, hands closed in fists. He doesn't like anything about this moment, the bitter curve of Harden's mouth and the reckless fear jagging all through him, all the ways this could end in tragedy. Street just wants to get past it, get to whatever's coming next.

"You misunderstand," Street says in a weird small voice. Harden's eyes narrow.

"Do I."

Street nods, over-eager. He can feel crazy things stuffing themselves into his throat, so many he can't even decide.

"I've been drunk all week because it makes some kind of sense when I'm drunk," Street says.

"What does?"

"Wanting, um. You. And all that stuff."

Street's courage fails and he can't keep looking at him, red-hot embarrassment coursing through. He trains his gaze on the carpet, digging his teeth into the inside of his lip. He can't imagine how dumb he looks, can't understand how people just talk about stuff like this.

The bed gives as Harden gets to his feet, and Street's eyes dart up involuntarily, breath catching in his throat. Harden is studying him so intently, peeling back layer after layer and Street wants to squirm. He wants to run, but he's had enough of that for one lifetime.

"It's gotta make sense when you're sober," Harden says. Street stares somewhere to the left of him.

"Maybe it does," Street tells him, a small piece of elastic pulled quiveringly taut in his heart. "Maybe I stayed drunk because I knew it would."

Then Harden is right there, lifting his hand like he'll touch Street's cheek and Street flinches back, a burst of air shocked from him. Harden smirks, something so sweet and fond in his eyes that Street's knees feel honest-to-god weak.

"Goddamn it, Huston," Harden says in this low roughed-up voice that shivers down Street's spine. "Tell me right now, yes or no."

It's remarkable. Street doesn't even have to think, says without hesitation, "Yes," and then Harden's hands are on his face and they're kissing again, those wild life-stopping kisses with Harden's mouth open against his. Harden is walking him backwards and Street hits the wall with a thwack, wraps his arms around Harden's neck and kisses him some more.

They're like that for awhile, necking desperately against the wall and after all this horrific grown-up stuff it's pure relief to be doing something so juvenile again. Harden's hands are up under his shirt, scuffing hot on Street's ribs, and he's sucking on Street's lower lip, pressing bites and mumbled curses along the underside of his jaw. Street's body is arched up and he might have one leg hooked around Harden's hip but he's trying not to think about that, he might die if he thinks about that. His skin is becoming slick and feverish under Harden's hands and mouth.

Harden pulls away, gasping and laughing. "Holy shit, you fuckin'-" and then he licks another dirty kiss out of Street's mouth, grinds his hips down and Street is moaning deep in his throat, trying to catch his breath.

"Tomorrow, too, right?" Harden asks, slurring with his lips at Street's ear. "Not just right now."

"No, all the time, every day," Street says like he's hyperventilating. He can feel Harden against him, fit into the offered line of his body like he belongs nowhere else.

Harden grins. He looks so happy, palms Street's hiked knee and runs his hand up his leg, clever fingers so hard and sure tracking the inside seam of his jeans. Street is gasping almost constantly, groans jerked out of him.

"What about Lacey?" Harden murmurs, ducking his head to mouth at Street's throat. Street keens, head tipped far back on the wall.

"What. About. Bobby," Street manages, just kinda taking a stab but it pays off when Harden twitches, laughs in astonishment against his neck.

"Fuckin' touché," Harden breathes out, and Street pulls his head up, fastens their mouths together again. It's unbelievable how good all this feels, every inch of Harden against him.

Street breaks away, "Oh, oh my lord," because Harden has thumbed open his jeans, slipped his hand inside. Street is only clinging to him now, hiding his face in Harden's shoulder. The world funnels down to the two of them against the wall, Harden's huge rough hand molding around him, and it's so close to perfect, almost everything Street could ever hope for.

And the only thing he's missing is nothing he'll be without for long. Now that he knows Street's in it for good, Richie is probably dying to fuck him drunk.

THE END











Endnotes: I can't decide if the title is perfect or completely nonsensical. Help me, would you.

Also, this story wins for Least Amount of Actual Baseball in a Baseball Fic. Because Street didn't start pitching drunk until Colorado, you see.

And yes, I laughed my ass off writing the line, "Probably nobody thinks he's gay," about Barry Zito.

Tags: harden/crosby, harden/street, mlb fic
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