Read Divisions (Dev and Lee) Online

Authors: Kyell Gold

Tags: #lee, #furry, #football, #dev, #Romance, #Erotica

Divisions (Dev and Lee) (2 page)

BOOK: Divisions (Dev and Lee)
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Chevali Firebirds 2008 Schedule

9/7, week 1: at Crystal City (L, 24-35)

9/14, week 2: Kerina (W, 31-24)

9/21, week 3: New Kestle (W, 24-10)

9/28, week 4: at Hilltown (L, 0-3)

10/5, week 5: at Aventira (W, 10-3)

10/12, week 6: Millenport (W, 21-0)

10/19: bye

10/26, week 8: Gateway (W, 10-9)

11/2, week 9: Highbourne (L, 17-20)

11/9, week 10: at New Kestle (W, 14-10)

11/16, week 11: at Hellentown (*)

11/23, week 12: at Port City (W, 35-18)

 

12/1 (Mon), week 13: Pelagia

12/8, week 14: at Yerba

12/15, week 15: Freestone

12/22, week 16: at Kerina

12/29, week 17: Hellentown

 

*
documented in 'Heart'

Heart (Bonus Story)

 

Heart (Hal)

 

In the sixteen (eighteen if you count Yearbook Club) years I’ve been a reporter, I’ve developed instincts for a story. You pick out the key part of it, the pitch, first. In this case: recently out gay football player’s struggle to make peace with his family. Then you build out the story with the details that make it unique. You include the boyfriend, and the adorably stupid things he does to try to help. The boyfriend’s family, which might maybe explain the adorably stupid things. The way the stupid things turn out, which is perhaps not such a surprise when you figure that all the people involved are supposed to love each other. And then finally you get to some conclusion, which ideally will leave the reader with a good feeling. The guy’s family comes to accept him, everyone’s happy. They don’t come to accept him, but he’s got his boyfriend and he’s okay. The mom accepts him but the dad doesn’t; there’s hope. Something like that. Doesn’t matter what happens later as long as it feels like the end of a movie.

So I’ve got all that down. I’ve got everything I need for this story. Except the most important part: the heart. Why do the people involved do all this? I could just say “love” and be done with it, and honestly that’d probably be good for most of the people who will read this. But it wouldn’t be good enough for me, because I’ve been married. I know what you’ll do for love, and what you won’t.

I’ve taken lots of notes on the plane ride from North Hicksville to Hellentown, and I’m sitting with the boyfriend and his father (boyfriend’s father, not the player’s) in the owner’s box at Yonder Field (It’s technically called Blue Yonder Field for Blue Yonder airlines, but all the reporters love to stand outside and say “let’s take in a game at Yonder Field.” Reporters are weird.). The owner, Demitrios Ponaxos, is up front with a bunch of his family and business associates, lots of cougars with some weasels and a mouse mixed in, and he let us in at the request of the visiting team’s owner, on condition that we stay in back and “don’t root too loud.”

As the teams come out onto the field, they all cheer, and we three foxes keep our cheering muted. Lee, the boyfriend, and Brenly, the dad, are red foxes. Me, I’m a swift fox. More subtle in a lot of ways, not that the reds would see that as a plus. But anyway, they’re watching Devlin Miski, the Siberian tiger who’s sleeping with young Lee—

Shit, that sounds bad. He’s not a teenager or anything. He’s like twenty-four, I think. Miski’s twenty-four and they were in the same class. But at any rate, they’re watching Devlin and the Chevali Firebirds take on the Hellentown Pilots. Big game. The UFL South might as well be a two-team division, and these are the two teams, coming in tied. It’s only mid-season, but bragging rights and tiebreakers are at stake here.

So everyone in the box is watching warmups, and I’m kind of half-listening while I try to work my notes into a story. Like I said, I’ve got all the elements, and I can write this thing and sell it, no problem, but that damn heart is still bothering me.

I didn’t realize I was missing anything until I was asking Lee why he went all the way up to North Bumfuck to confront his boyfriend’s father, and his ears went splayed and his eyes got this kind of gleam in them and he said, “I had to.”

So now I’m sneaking a glance at Lee, in his too-big Firebirds polo shirt that he changed into on the jet—the owner, Corcoran, keeps a small stack of ‘em for, I guess, occasions like when one of his passengers might’ve spent the night in jail in a torn shirt and not had time to change. Even with the baggy shirt, which hides most of his waist, Lee’s visibly in good shape, better than either me or his dad. He’s probably the one with the least reason to be excited about being in an owner’s box—as a recently fired pro scout, he’s been on the sidelines of games more times than I have, and more times, I think, than his father’s been to any games, period. But he’s still on his feet, craning his neck to look down at the field, and when he spots his tiger, his tail goes thwack back and forth and he gets this huge grin on his muzzle and he nudges his father. “There he is, number 57.”

“I know his number.” His father’s tail is wagging too, sympathetically, and he sounds amused.

So that’s the thing, right? I’ve interviewed gay athletes before. Talked about relationships with a lacrosse player who’d had one and a basketball player who’d had a dozen, by his count. And at the time, I thought about their relationships the way I thought about mine: physical attraction supplemented just enough with mutual tolerability.

I don’t get the physical attraction part, but I don’t expect to. Not how I was born. I look at Lee and I think, good-looking guy. I don’t picture him naked, I don’t
want
to picture him naked. He reminds me a bit of Cimarine, but then I just picture
her
naked (one of the memories of her I’ve worked to keep), and that’s it.

But the way he’s acting, it’s like those teenage crushes they write songs about. And I realize I never thought about gay guys having that. Hell, I never really thought most guys had that. Thought it was a girl thing, mostly. Certainly Miski didn’t seem quite that affectionate, but maybe he’s just restrained, maybe he was just nervous about the game.

So it nags at me. To really get across their relationship in this article, I feel like I need to understand that. When Lee talks about his boyfriend to his father, I listen.

“They’re almost a top ten defense this year. He’s not the biggest playmaker, but he’s really making a difference.”

This gets one of the weasels to turn around. He sizes up Lee’s Firebirds shirt and sneers. “Sure, when you play bottom-ten offenses, it’s easy to run up the stats.”

“You guys think you’re a top ten offense?” Lee jibes back.

“Ninth in passing yards, eighth in passing touchdowns.”

“Sixteenth in rushing.”

The weasel waves a paw. “You guys can’t stop the run anyway.”

“We held Bixon under a hundred yards. Only time anyone’s done that all year.”

“We’ll take care of him, no problem.”

Lee laughs. “Good luck. He’s brutal. You guys need a better inside presence if you’re going to have any chance.”

I just grin. Football is always like this. The two teams rack up their statistics, they have good days and bad days against other teams, but until they get onto the same field, you never know how it’s going to turn out. That’s why they play the games, like we say in the “Cliché Tribune.”

“Inside presence.” The weasel’s smugness flickers. “We got a lot of inside presence.”

“Sure.” Lee grins at his father. “Who’re your starting defensive tackles?”

“Bowman,” the weasel says. “And LeClair.”

“Bowman,” Lee says. “Second year. Drafted too high, starting because you have a lot of money tied up in him, not because he has starting talent. You’re probably already talking to teams about where you could get anything back for him in the off-season. I’d try Pelagia, personally. And LeClair’s okay, but he’s on his ninth season and he’s had four concussions. He’s lost a step.”

I know the stare and false bravado the weasel gets now, the feeling when someone realizes he’s overmatched, that the game isn’t turning out the way he’d predicted from the stats going in. “We won the division last year.”

“You won a shitty division last year.” Lee grins.

“We’re leading it again.”

“Tied. For another…” Lee checks his watch. “Hundred and ninety-one minutes. Give or take.”

“Want to put a wager on that?” The weasel reaches for his wallet inside his suit jacket.

“Ah, you got me there.” Lee spreads his paws. “Just got out of jail this morning. I’m broke.”

He looks our way while the weasel tries not to look shocked, but his father doesn’t make a move toward his wallet. What the hell, I think. I pull out a twenty, reach out and hand it to him. “Here,” I say. “I owe ya. For that thing that time.”

He flashes me a grin. “Sure,” he says, taking the bill and holding it out to the weasel. “There. Twenty?”

The weasel looks at it like he ordered filet mignon and Lee handed him a hamburger. “Lemme see if I have anything that small,” he says, and eventually fishes a twenty out of his billfold. “Hardly worth it,” he mutters.

They put the twenties together up on the edge of the counter by the small sink in the back of the box. The weasel goes back to his seat to brag to his friends about how he took down that uppity Firebirds fan, with a jerk of his thumb and a sharp laugh.

Lee just sits back and stares down at the field. After we stand for the national anthem, he sidles down the side of the box, trying to get a better view of the field and the starters. This is part of it, I think, part of what holds him and his tiger together. But it’s still eluding me.

I take the chance to plop myself down next to his father. Brenly’s in his mid-forties, if I judge the slight grey on his muzzle and ears right. “Good kid you got there,” I say.

His look is suspicious at first, but he wipes that away with a smile. “Yeah, he is. Don’t know how much credit I can take for that.”

“At least some.”

“You have kids?”

I shake my head. “Cim always wanted to wait ’til we were stable. She’s got a cub now.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Nah, it’s okay.” I wave it off. “Not sure what I’d do with one anyway.”

He laughs. “That’s what I thought. You figure it out.”

“Has he always been…” I gesture toward Lee, ears perked down even though the glass is so thick even us foxes can’t hear through it.

Brenly raises his eyebrows, and twitches his ears toward me. “Interested in football? Gay?”

“Sure, either of those.” I watch Lee’s total absorption, one paw on the glass, his tail flicking back and forth.

“I got him into football early on. I used to watch with my father, and I thought it would be something he could enjoy that would give him something to talk to the other boys in school about.”

“One of those kids.”

Brenly nods. “He took to it pretty quickly.”

“He’s a smart kid.”

“Yeah.” There’s pride in that one word, so I guess Brenly takes a bit of credit for his cub. “As for the other thing…I didn’t introduce him to that.”

I laugh. “That’s good. This’d be a very different kind of story, then.”

He smiles. “No, he just…he came back from college and he was very…flamboyant.” He taps his muzzle. “No, that’s not the right word. He was just…open. Wore pink triangles all over, dressed a little more flashily. But he didn’t lisp or anything like that.”

“Most gay people don’t.”

“I know.”

There’s a short silence while we try to gauge which one of us won the “see, I’m not homophobic” battle. I think he has an edge on account of he’s here with his gay son. “So you don’t know what triggered it?”

“Never talked to him about it.” Brenly flicks his ears toward Lee, then back to me. “I suppose you just know, don’t you?”

“I don’t,” I say. “But that’s how I understand it. They were really sweet on the plane, weren’t they?”

A flicker of a smile, a short nod. He waits until he realizes that I’m expecting him to say something, either in agreement or disagreement or just acknowledgment. So he says, “I’m glad to see him happy.”

“Is he a happy kind of guy?” I flick my own ears toward Lee, at the glass. He’s keeping still, but…I guess “quivering” is the right word. Tail twitching, ears flicking, barely restraining himself from jumping up and down. “In general, I mean.”

Brenly follows my gaze and watches his son thoughtfully. “I don’t know that I would say that. He was angry a lot of the time. But, well.” He taps the armrest between us. “He’s a fox. He turned that anger into action and he has ways of getting what he wants.”

“Now that he knows what he wants.”

“Exactly.”

On the TVs around the box, we see the coin flip. Hellentown wins, and Lee cheers with the rest of the box. “We get the ball first,” one of the cougars says, and of course Lee’s happy. His tiger will be on the field first with the defense. Brenly and I stand to get a better view of the first few plays rather than watching the screen.

I admit I haven’t been keeping up with the whole league like I did when I was full-time. But the Pilots haven’t changed much. Still got a top-five QB, a lion who can create plays when he needs to. Still got an effective running game, splitting time between a power back and a finesse back (elk and deer). And they’ve got a new tight end, a young rabbit, first time I’ve seen a rabbit play that position.

The Firebirds’ defense has stepped it up this season, though. I’m not ready to give Miski all the credit for it, whether or not he is the main difference between this year and last. The rookies on the D-line miss their assignments sometimes, but they make up for it with energy and enthusiasm, and if you ask any coach in the league, they’ll say they’d rather have that problem.

Not to downplay what Miski’s done. Since replacing Mitchell after that leg injury, he’s really grown into the starting linebacker role, to the point that some people say he’s one of the better outside linebackers in the league. Others want to wait and see. Pretty much everyone agrees that if he keeps up this level of play all year, he’s going to have some big contract negotiating to do in the off-season.

I watch him on the first two plays, where the Pilots try to establish the run; he joins the Firebirds’ star linebacker Gerrard Marvell in the pile that limits the running backs to two and three yards. Third down, the lion drops back to throw and lofts the ball halfway down the field. The Firebirds’ corner swats the ball away from the receiver, and the Pilots punt.

Chevali’s quarterback—Aston, the wolf—is not top-five. But he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot and he’s got a good arm. He’s not accurate, but his misses are usually low or out of bounds, not the kind of misses that turn into picks. The wolverine at running back gets compared unfairly to Gateway’s wolverine (Bixon, the one Lee was talking about), which is kind of like comparing me to the star of that new vampire movie because we’re both swift foxes. But Jaws is better than average, and when you factor in his durability, he’s probably top-five in the league. Maybe number six, depending on if you count Yerba’s tandem as one.

BOOK: Divisions (Dev and Lee)
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