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The sea was calm.  Their boat was anchored off Catalina; it bobbed rhythmically to the movement of the waves.  Jared looked at Jeremy against that backdrop of calm and all he saw was a man in turmoil.

“I’m having my tongue pierced,” Jared said, to break the ice.

“Great,” Jeremy answered without taking his eyes off the water.

Jared shook his head.  He let it go – for now.   He had spent enough time with Jeremy to know when those gears in his head were working overtime.   He had stuff to mull over and Jared had a pretty good guess on what and who was currently occupying Jeremy’s thoughts.

There had been tension between Jeremy and Landry after they broke up, yes, but it was nothing like the distance Jared saw between them when they travelled from Miami.  Jeremy had not gone into details, but Jared had sensed that something had happened between them after their second play-off match against the Heat.

As Jared stared out at the wide expanse of sea in front of them, he remembered his conversations with Landry at a place so opposite where Jeremy and he were at right now.  He had not told Jeremy yet, but he was in LA a couple of days ago to visit Landry.

Landry and Jared had gone out for dinner and ended up at a bar.  The house band was playing, conversation was buzzing around them and Landry, who was usually the bundle of energy, sat in silence. Jared had to start the conversation – about how things were, what Landry had been doing since they started the off-season.

“Jenni and I were wondering if Elaine and you could join us for dinner when we all get to New York,” Jared started, not really caring for subtleties.  He was curious about Landry’s girlfriend.  It came as a total shock to him considering he knew what had gone on between Jeremy and Landry – what was still going on between them.

“Maybe never – unless you party like she does,” was Landry’s answer. “We broke up.”

“You’ll get over it, bro. ”  Jared asked.

“It’s not her – and you know it, Jared,” Landry said with sadness in his voice.  “I’m not over him.”

“Then do something about it,” Jared replied.

“I don’t think he wants me anymore,” was all Landry said.

“What?” Jared asked in surprise.

“When I was in Taiwan for Nike, Jeremy and David Lee came to the party together,” Landry stated.

“Well, he helped Jeremy with the basketball camp,” Jared reasoned.  He really couldn’t picture Jeremy with David.  Besides, Jeremy had not mentioned anything.

“Don’t you think I wouldn’t see when a person is interested in Jeremy? Lee was interested in him and it looked like Jer was into David as well,” Landry said in a flat voice.

“I thought we’d have a shot at getting back together after – well after…” Landry’s voice trailed off.

“After what?” Jared wanted to know.

Landry hesitated.  He looked away, like he was remembering something.  “On the the yacht, during the event, we… connected… or I thought we did,” he sighed.  “He left.  I saw him with Lee afterwards.”

Jared was quiet.  This was really hitting Landry hard.

“My sister is razzing on me,” Landry continued.  “You know how much she loves Jeremy.”

Bro, judging by how you’re looking – it’s clear you love Jeremy, too, thought Jared.

“I don’t even care anymore that she tweeted that I named my IPad Jeremy Lin,” Landry sighed.  “This is one big mess and it’s my fault.”

“Come on, bro, it can’t be that hopeless,” was the only thing Jared could say.

Landry just shrugged.

***

Looking at Jeremy now, Jared saw the same sadness he’d seen in Landry’s eyes..

The easy smile you’d usually see on Jeremy’s face still appeared – just rarely – and his eyes never seemed to light up like they used to.  They’d been on this boat for hours.  Jeremy was usually quiet – but today he was too quiet.

“How’d it go with your basketball camp in Taiwan?”  Jared asked.

“Great,” Jeremy answered, a smile finally creasing his face.

“You had David with you to help?”

“Yeah, he was great with the kids,” Jeremy said turning to look at Jared.

 

Oh hell, Jared decided, I might as well jump into the fray.  “I heard you ran into someone in Taipei.”

Jeremy looked surprised.  “You talked with Landry?” he asked.

“A few days ago – I dropped by LA to say hi,” Jared replied.

“I haven’t heard anything from him,” Jeremy finally shared.  “… at all since Taipei,”

“He is under the impression that you’ve moved on,” Jared said.

“What?” Jeremy asked.   “Oh… well…” he uttered.   “David was giving me time to decide.”

At Jared’s raised brows, Jeremy shook his head “We never… especially after…”

“After what?” Jared prodded , like prying open an oyster,  he thought.

“Landry and I had a moment,” Jeremy said, his face turning pink.  “But he just disappeared and he had not contacted me since.  Besides, he has a girlfriend.”

They were quiet for a while.

Jeremy continued to stare at nothing.  “I don’t love David, if that’s what you’re thinking.  He’s a good friend, despite his feelings for me.”

“So you still love Landry,” Jared concluded.

Jeremy looked at Jared and nodded – pain obvious in his eyes.

No need to force it at the moment, Jared thought.

For the rest of their fishing trip, he had tried to avoid talking about Landry.

 

Jared had hoped Jeremy and Landry had patched things up before the off-season. They were both like younger brothers for him – he wanted them to be happy.  People called their special bond a bromance, but Jared had always suspected it was something more.  He hadn’t been really surprised to find out that they had become more than friends – somehow Jared knew and felt it – maybe even before Jeremy and Landry did.

How could two of the smartest people he knew be so – clueless?  They were obviously still in love with each other.

He was never one for interfering with people’s relationships, but he decided enough was enough.  Jeremy and Landry obviously need help.   So as he travelled back to Indiana a plan started to hatch in his mind.

They will never know what hit them, he thought.

 

Jump to Chapter 17: Always