Jeremy hated sitting on the bench. He wanted to be on the court. The Knicks had reached the play-offs, but it looked like the universe was against them.
Jeremy’s joy from two days ago – finally being able to jog and train one-on-one with their trainer – was forgotten.
They lost the first match. Tyson was still suffering from the flu and needed to play despite being sick. Shump got injured during the team’s first play-off match against the Miami Heat. He had a torn left ACL and lateral meniscus. When his teammate and friend went down, Jeremy could not help but re-live his own injury – but he knew that Shump was in more pain – his injury more severe.
The team was understandably quiet during practice this morning. Their Rook was more than just a team member – he was a defender and brought so much energy to the team – even in practices – his absence was greatly felt.
So tonight, they play the second play-off match against the Heat without one their most important players.
Jeremy lay on the bed thinking of Murphy’s Law – “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Well, everything was going wrong for the team.
The Knicks suffered yet another loss to the Heat AND Stat hurt his hand tonight when he slapped it against the fire extinguisher. Seeing him bleed like that – that picture will forever be etched in Jeremy’s mind. They had not heard anything about Stat’s condition, so everyone was on edge on the way back to the hotel – most of all Landry.
Landry was devastated for scoring only two points during the whole game. He couldn’t get his shots in, so Coach benched him for most of the match. Jeremy tried to be a supportive teammate and encouraged him as much as he could. He is still my teammate, Jeremy thought. So despite the underlying emotions between them, Jeremy tried to focus on that – they are teammates and teammates support each other.
It’s been a month since their break-up and his knee surgery. The recovery period and rehab had kept Jeremy in New York and away from Landry – and the team. The team’s physiotherapists had been working with him back in MSG. When Jeremy could walk again, the Coach felt that he could learn a lot by observing the team during matches, so Jeremy had been travelling with them since over a week ago.
He never thought he would miss his teammates that much, but he did. It still irritated him that he could not play, but his progress had been steady enough that he can now practice with some of them on the court. I wish I could do more, Jeremy thought.
Jeremy was saying a silent prayer for his team, Stat and Shump when the knock on the door disturbed his thoughts.
Jeremy opened the door – to Landry.
“May I come in?” Landry asked. Jeremy merely nodded.
Jeremy had barely closed the door when he felt Landry push him against the door.
“Landry, what…” Jeremy started to say – shocked by the physical contact.
“Shhh…” Landry said, as he raised his hands to cup Jeremy’s face. He lowered his forehead to Jeremy’s, their faces so close. Jeremy could feel Landry’s breath on his mouth – close, but no lips touching. He felt a tug in his heart at the intimacy.
“Seeing you in those suits have been driving me crazy…,” Landry whispered, just before he bridged the gap between their mouths with a kiss.
There was so much emotion in that meeting of lips. It stunned Jeremy at first, but Landry coaxed his lips into submission. Landry was destroying him. Jeremy could feel his lips swell at the aggressiveness of their kiss. When Landry pulled back to catch a breath, Jeremy could see the emotion in Landry’s eyes – desire – and pain.
Jeremy had barely taken a gulp of air, before Landry once again sought his lips – demanding his response – Jeremy could do nothing but respond. He took and tasted Landry.
It’s been so long, Jeremy groaned to himself. He could feel Landry’s body against his, pushing him against the door. Landry’s solid body against his feels like– like it used to feel, Jeremy thought. It felt like coming home – a familiarity that was both wonderful and frightening.
Landry had one hand on Jeremy’s nape and the other at the base of his back, gripping like he did not want Jeremy to go. Jeremy’s own hands took hold of Landry’s waist – simply holding onto him.
Somehow they moved from the door towards the bed without breaking the kiss. When Jeremy felt his back touch the mattress, a warning bell rang in his head.
“Wait,” he gasped as they kissed. But Landry was not listening – he was busy trailing kisses down Jeremy’s neck now, causing a tingle to spike through Jeremy’s spine.
“Landry, stop,“ Jeremy managed to say.
Landry brought his lips back to Jeremy’s, murmuring “I need you,” against Jeremy’s lips. Then why did you let me go? Jeremy thought, his heart sinking.
With all the concentration he could muster, Jeremy reached up to place his hands on Landry’s chest and pushed. The action forced them apart.
“Stop,” Jeremy protested in between heavy breaths.
Landry looked surprised, hurt – and angry. He sat up on the bed. The temper sparked in his eyes, his jaw clenched.
Jeremy stood up to put more distance between them – to slow the beating of his heart and to gather his thoughts.
“Isn’t this what you want?” Landry asked, not understanding. “You can’t deny that you want me, Jeremy.” Landry said.
“No, I can’t deny it after that, can I?” Jeremy answered, sitting on a chair. He needed to be honest. He wanted to be honest.
“But I feel it’s the only thing we have left. I want more than sex, Landry. I want more. I want everything – and you can’t give it to me.” Jeremy said, his voice clear.
Landry had his face buried in his hands. Jeremy waited for him to say something.
“This is it, then? Just like that? We’re done?” Jeremy could hear the hurt and anger in Landry’s voice. He hated causing that pain, but he had to – for his own sake.
“There hadn’t been us for a while, Landry,” Jeremy said softly. “THAT was your choice. I am just your teammate now, nothing more.” He stood up and walked to the door to open it. “You should go and rest. Madison Square Garden waits.”
Landry stood up and left without a word.