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CHALEX WEEK 2020: DAY 1

 

The game was almost over, only 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The tigers just intercepted the ball at the 35-yard line, that’s it, only 35 yards, and they have a touchdown. Charlie comes running out onto the field. He’s breathing heavy, not because he’s tired, but because he’s stressed. Its a tie game, 21-21. Sure, if he gets the ball close enough, they can kick a field goal for 3 points and win the game, but that’s not what he wants, he wants a touchdown. He knows he can do it. And not only does he know it, but 6 voices in the stands know it too, Estella, Tyler, Luke, Jess, his dad, and of course his boyfriend of almost 7 months Alex. They are all screaming and cheering for him. His breathing gets a little slower. 

He yells to the center to snap the ball, he catches it and looks to throw it to Beecher, he hesitates slightly. That was a mistake, he gets sacked by the other team’s linebacker, number 52. They lost yardage, now its 12 yards to a first down and 37 yards until the endzone. He gets back up again and the offense huddles up to discuss a play. He gets back behind the center and he snaps the ball. He hands it off to their running back, he earns them 8 yards before he’s knocked down by number 52. Now its only 4 yards for a first down, but 29 yards to a touchdown. It’s 3rd and 4, so Charlie calls a play where he runs the ball because he is a dual-threat quarterback, he’s amazing at running the ball and throwing it.

He runs the ball, but he’s tackled just before the first down. Damnit. Coach Kerba calls a time out. The team runs over to the sidelines.

“Saint George, what the hell”

“I’m sorry, I thought I could get it.”

“Sit down, we’re gonna go for three”

“With all due respect sir, no,” Charlie says confidently.

The other players gasp, nobody, especially someone like Charlie, tells Kerbs no.

“Excuse me,” Kerba said angrily “you will sit down when I tell you to sit down son.”

“Please coach, I have an idea. Beecher, you wanna bake some cookies?”
“Hell yeah” Beecher replied happily, the rest of the team was extremely confused, but Zach knew exactly what this meant he smiled wide and laughed. Coach Kerba glanced over and Zach nodded to him. Even though he had no idea what their plan was, he had faith in the 2 players, and he had come to trust Zach’s judgment in these situations. 

“Fine, but y’all are doin’ a shit ton of extra stuff at practice on Monday if this doesn’t work out.

“Yes sir” Charlie and Beecher responded at the same time.

Charlie and Beecher quickly point out which players they needed and as the ran out on the field, told them to set up like a normal lateral throw route.

 

The stands were filled with noise and confusion. Its 4th down, why aren’t they kicking it? There’s 1 minute left on the clock, what if they mess this up and the other team has enough time to beat them? 

Down on the field, charlie sets up behind the center, and Beecher sets up just slightly behind where he normally does. The other team doesn’t notice this, but luke does.

“Ahhh shit, they’re bakin’ cookies!!!” he says excitedly, jumping up and down a little, like a 5-year-old on Christmas.

“What does that mean,” Estela asks him. She usually knows more than the rest of them since she’d watched Monty play almost all of her life, she was the only one in her family who went and supported her brother. When she was little, she would even sneak out and walk all the way to the field where he was playing. Then once he started playing in high school, for away games, she would catch a ride on the cheer bus, or one of Monty’s baseball friends would offer to take her. She always made it to all of his games, even if sometimes he didn’t even notice she was there. She loved football and knew basically all there was to know about it, except this apparently.

The rest of the group was just as confused as she was, maybe a bit more.

“You’ll see”

 

Back on the field, the center snaps the ball on Charlie’s command, Beecher doesn’t run a normal lateral route though. Instead, he runs behind Charlie, Charlie tosses it behind himself and Beecher catches it, then Charlie runs a lateral route to the endzone, Beecher throws it to Charlie, and he catches it for the touchdown. The stands erupt in cheers, they did it. Luke is probably screaming the loudest. Alex is screaming just slightly quieter than Luke, but still loud.

Coach Kerba is shocked when he watches it go down. He’s really glad he went with it.

The other team gets the ball back after the tigers kick their extra point, its 28-21, Tigers. There are only 27 seconds on the clock, and they have the ball at their own 10-yard line. There’s no way they will tie it up. And they dont, at the last minute, their quarterback fumbles the ball, and liberty picks it up at the 25-yard line. There are only 10 seconds left, so charlie goes back out and all he has to do is take the snap and kneel to end the game, so that’s what he does. It’s over, liberty wins the game.

Everyone is so excited, except charlie. He’s extremely nervous, the whole team knew that even if they lost this game, they would still be going to the playoffs, so it really didn’t matter if they won or lost. But Charlie had a big reason to win and do his best. This was one of the biggest games in his whole football career, some special people were there. Not Luke, not his dad, not Jess, Zach, Tyler, or Estela, not even Alex. No, it was a few special people who could decide the rest of his life. Scouts. There were 5 scouts there, Charlie was notified by coach Kerba an hour before the game that they were there, mostly just for him. The scouts were from 5 different colleges, Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma University, University of Texas,  and of course, University of California Berkeley, Alex’s school.

 

After Charlie and the rest of the team got into the locker room and had their hype speech, Coach Kerba had to go talk to the scouts which made Charlie’s heart race. After he was done changing, he walked out of the locker room and met Alex and the rest of his friends in their normal spot.

“Oh my god, that last play was amazing!” Alex said giving Charlie a big hug.

“Thanks!”

“Fun fact: Beecher and I made it up together,” Luke said “we called it ‘going-to-the-beech’, for obvious reasons. But we couldn’t make it work right. Then we showed it to Charlie and he did it perfectly, so of course, we had to name it after him, so we called it ‘baking cookies’, again, for obvious reasons.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said, Alex could tell something was up, so he grabbed his hand and squeezed it, Charlie looked down at him and nodded with a smile, showing him that he was ok.

“So, you guys wanna go to Monet’s after this or-” Tyler was interrupted by Coach Kerba calling Charlie’s name.

Charlie looked over and started to walked over to him. Alex started to pull away from his hand, knowing it was a conversation that didn’t involve him, but Charlie held tightly onto his hand, pulling the smaller boy with him. Alex looked back at the group of friends with a confused look but went along with it anyways.

“Charlie, this is Gerald Barkley, Richard Wilcox, Paul Van Herst, Lincoln Anderson, and Oliver Moore. They are college scouts that would like to talk to you.

Charlie squeezed Alex’s hand with his left and pulled him slightly closer as he shook all of the scouts’ hands with his right. “Hello, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m honored to have you watch me play,” he said. Of course, Alex could tell how nervous he was because he was talking slightly higher than he normally did, nobody else could tell though.

“Oh trust me, I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that the honor is ours, you’re an extremely talented young man Charlie,” Oliver Moore said. He was wearing a burnt orange shirt, signaling to Charlie that he was from the University of Texas.
“Yes, we were interested before, but now that I’ve seen you play, I’m going to send our coach out to the next game to see for himself,” Mr. Wilcox said, he was the scout from Berkeley. He could tell from the hat he was wearing.

“Thank you so much,” Charlie said.

“You’re extremely agile, and from what your coach here told us, you’re very smart.” Mr. Van Herst, Oklahoma university. (He was wearing a maroon coach polo with OU embroidered on the top left of his shirt.)

“Yes, he said you’re the one who called the fake reverse on the last point?” Mr. Anderson, Ohio state. (red clipboard with the logo on the back)

“Yes sir, um my friend Luke Holliday, the Tigers quarterback last season. Um, he and the wide receiver that threw the ball, Beecher, they came up with it. But they couldn’t ever get it to work right, but I could. And I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do it, Sir.” At this point, Charlie was cutting off the circulation in Alex’s hand because he was squeezing it so hard. Alex squeezed his hand in response, then he loosened his grip signaling to Charlie that he wanted to let go of his hand. Charlie complied as he listened to the scouts talk about him. Alex then took back his hand and placed it on the small of Charlie’s back and rubbed it up and down, then his arm settled on his waist. Charlie pulled him closer by putting an arm around his shoulder. 

The scouts continued talking about offers and the next football season, then suddenly “So, charlie. Who is this young man?” Mr. Van Herst asked, pointing to Alex.

“This is Alex Standall, my boyfriend” Charlie said. As he said this, he internally winced. Not because he was ashamed or embarrassed about who he is, but because he wasn’t sure what this would mean for his offers. Should it affect his chances what so ever? Absolutely not, that would be extremely exclusive and morally wrong for them to do. However, the football culture in this country is known for being not as socially advanced as the rest of the world when it came to sexuality. From what he knew, there were only 11 players in the NFL who were gay or bi, all of which came out after they were inactive. Then, to his surprise, none of the scouts were phased by what he said.

“It’s nice to meet you, Alex,” Mr. Moore said, holding out his left hand to shake Alex’s. It was a small but significant thing in charlie’s mind, just moments before, that same man had held out his right hand for him to shake, but he switched his hands. Making Alex shake with his open hand, the one he wasn’t holding charlie with. Maybe he was overthinking this, but in his mind, this wan an incredible gesture.

Alex shook all of the scouts’ hands.

“So, Alex. You must be very proud of this one,” Mr. Barkely said

“Yes sir. I’m definitely his biggest fan,” now Alex was the nervous one.

“So are you in college?” Mr. Anderson asked.

“Yes sir, I’m a student at UC Berkeley, actually.”

“Ahhh, smart kid, this one.” Mr. Wilcox said, tipping his Berkeley hat. “So that’s a little incentive to go to Berkely, isn’t it?”

“That would definitely be a plus,” Charlie said, trying not to discourage the other scouts.

“You know, Alex. If charlie ends up going to Ohio state, we can actually work something out for you there too. We would even match the cost of your current tuition at Berkeley.”

“Oh really, wow. That’s nice” Alex replied.

“Yes, Texas offers the same thing,” Mr. Moore said.

“So does Oklahoma” Mr. Van Herst quickly said.

“And Georgia” Mr. Barkley added.

Charlie chuckled at that “well that’s very enticiting

“Enticing, but yes. That’s a very nice thing to know.” Alex corrected with a laugh.

“Anyways charlie, here is my card, and a packet here of other people you may want to contact too. Just some longhorn football coaches, alumni, counselors, admissions administrators, just in case. And the people on the first page are all football alumni that live near here," Mr. Moore said, holding out the card and packet.

Charlie reached out and grabbed the packet from him. The rest of the scouts gave him something similar.

“Thank you so much, you have no idea how grateful I am for this, um- these opportunities,” Charlie said nervously.

“It was great to meet you, Charlie, I hope you dont stress over this decision too much.  All of the options you have here and otherwise, are all great options.” Mr. Wilcox reassured him.

“Thank you, sir. I have to go, but thank you” Charlie said shaking all of their hands one last time.

After saying goodbye to their friends at Monet’s, Charlie and Alex made their way to Charlie’s house, there they talked to his dad for a while, about the scouts and the game. After this, Charlie and Alex made their way upstairs to charlie’s room. There, Charlie took a shower and Alex laid on his bed, reading some comic books, The Flash to be exact. As he was reading it he couldn’t help but notice some similarities between Barry Allen (the flash) and charlie. Both extremely kind-hearted, willing to do anything for the people he loves, smart, nerdy, a little awkward. Then, of course, the obvious similarity, being how they continued being the same great people after their mother died when they were young. Alex had always loved the flash, it was one of his favorite comics when he was little, and into that kind of thing. He hadn’t read a comic book since he was 8 years old, but the flash was always his favorite.

“Hey, you look a little lonely on that bed”

“I am, its missing something. Something six feet tall, dirty blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, ripped.”

“I’m six foot one, but close enough,” he said sitting on the bed next to Alex, wearing nothing but his boxers.

“You’re six feet, but nice try,” Alex said leaning in for a deep kiss. Charlie pulled Alex onto his lap pressing his tongue on the seam of his lips, urging him to separate them. Alex complied letting Charlie’s tongue wander into his mouth. He was now straddling the younger boy, his legs wrapped around his waist. Charlie’s arms were supporting his back, holding him closer. 

“Mmm, mmm. Wait,” Alex said pulling away. “As much as I LOVE doing this, and as much as I would love to continue doing more of this, I have a long drive to Berkeley in exactly-,” Alex glanced at the clock, “Ewww, in exactly 5 hours” Alex groaned and leaned his head on Charlie’s shoulder. 

“Ok, I guess we’ll continue this next weekend”

Alex crawled off his lap and stood next to the bed.

“Somethings bothering you,” Charlie said, not even looking at Alex.

“What do you mean?”

“Ever since we talked to the scouts, something’s been bothering you, I can tell. Or have you forgotten?”

“Its nothing, really. But I just, the idea of you living so far away… I just I dont know if I could do that”

“Hey, Alex, sweetie. I’m not going anywhere you’re not.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, if you want to stay at Berkeley, I will go to Berkeley, if you want to go to OU, I’ll go to OU, or UT, or OSU, or Georgia, I promise.”

Just then, Alex remembered another similarity between Barry Allen and Charlie. Both of them sacrifice anything and everything for the people they love. Sometimes even their future or their happiness. “You can’t do that,” Alex said

“I can’t do what?”

“You can’t just change everything and do everything for me, you should go wherever you want to and I shouldn’t be the only thing you base your decision on,” Alex said while laying on his bed.

“Why not?” Charlie said, turning around quickly to meet Alex’s eyes.

“Because you shouldn’t. It should be your decision, this is your life, your career.”

“But you’re a part of my life now, and I want you to be a part of my life for a long time. Plus, this decision is REALLY hard, all of those schools are really great for football.”

“All but UC. when luke was drooling over you about the scouts, he mentioned all of them being amazing for football, except for Berkeley.”

“Well, I love luke, but he’s not the smartest person,” Charlie said putting his arm around Alex 

“Well I know that, but still. If going to Ohio State, or Georgia or OU is the best way for you to have the best chance at the NFL or whatever your goal is, then you should go there.” Alex was leaning on Charlie’s shoulder.

“I love you so much, but if I’m good enough to make it, UC Berkeley is still good enough to draw attention to me.”

“But what if-”

“No, I've made my decision like you said I should, okay,” Charlie interrupted.

“Charles, I love you more than you could ever know, but why should you have to sacrifice this for me.”

“I’m not sacrificing anything, and I’m offended that you think that I would” Charlie laughed

“I’m being serious.”

“Me too. You know two Hall of Famers played at UC, Les Richter, and Tony Gonzalez. Plus two current NFL quarterbacks who are amazing did too, Aaron Rogers and Jarred Goff. That’s more than some colleges can say, so yeah, I’m being serious too. I will still have just as much of a chance going to UC as I would going to OU or any of the other schools. Plus this way I stay closer to you, my dad, my other friends It’s not just you, okay.” Charlie laid down and pulled Alex down with him.

“I just-”

“I know.” charlie said pulling Alex closer, then pulling the comforter over the both of them. “Now let’s just go to sleep”

“Fine, but-”

“Shhhhh, no more talking”

“I was going to say I love you but ok, I'll just shut up,” Alex said jokingly.

Charlie giggled “you can say that I suppose”

“Charles, I love you so much.”

“I love you so much too alexander”

They shared a deep kiss, then they fell asleep...Charlie was the big spoon.