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I'll be there for you (When the rain starts to pour)

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Baker winced as he got out of the car, barely resisting the urge to slam the car door behind him, and leaned against the door.

He was sweaty even after his shower, his skin felt cold and clammy, his hair probably looked like something furry had died in his head, and his shirt was sticking to his body unpleasantly.  Overall he was aware he looked like shit.

 

He was more grateful than ever that he had turned down Jarvis' offer of driving him home, he didn't want his friend — or anyone truth be told — to see him like this.

 

He psyched himself up for the short walk from his car to his couch, because there was no way he was making it to his bed in his condition and had just managed to talk himself out of counting to a hundred to move when another car pulled up on his driveway. 

 

"Nick?" Baker questioned in genuine surprise as the running back turned off the ignition and hurried out of the car and towards him, a concerned frown on his face, "Is everything okay? What are you doing here?" 

 

Nick unsurprisingly didn't answer, instead ducking under his arm to help carry Baker's weight, pulling him away from the car he had been using as an impromptu crutch.

 

"Nick?" Baked prompted, stubbornly not moving from his spot. He was fine .

 

The running back huffed in exasperation, "I'm helping you inside, what does it look like I'm doing?" He said, insistently tugging at his arm until the quarterback reluctantly leaned some of his weight on him.

 

"I don't need any help," Baker lied through his teeth, biting his tongue when the movement jostled one of his ribs painfully.

 

"Uh-huh," Nick said unconvinced, not saying anything when Baker clutched at his side with a wince, "Just let me help you inside, Bake."

 

The quarterback sighed dejectedly — wincing again as the movement once more caused an unpleasant twinge on his side — and nodded his head, willing his tired body to cooperate with Nick and get inside his house.

 

He talked Nick out of taking him to his room, wanting to maintain at least some of his dignity, and was instead helped to his couch in the living room. By then he had dropped any pretense of not being in pain and had clutched Nick's arm when a wave of pain had flared up, releasing him once he had become aware of doing it. 

 

"They give you something?" Nick asked as he sat next to him, careful not to jostle the couch too much, "Or do you need me to get you something?"

 

Baker quickly tamped down on his anger, he knew it was most likely the pain making him cranky. And Nick's question sounded sincere enough, snapping at him wouldn't solve anything.

 

"I told them I didn't want anything," he answered dutifully, reaching for the TV control as slowly as he could and avoiding looking at his friend.

 

Nick frowned, "But you're in pain."

 

Baker shrugged, switching on the TV, pretending to be engrossed in the basketball game they were showing. He could feel his teammate's confusion as they lapsed into silence. 

 

Baker was aware he was being an asshole, for once forcing Nick to take the lead in the conversation and being needlessly oblivious. Hopefully, his friend would take the hint and finally leave Baker alone to wallow in his misery.

 

He didn't, instead, Nick shifted his eyes from Baker to the TV and back, narrowing his eyes when Baker still didn't acknowledge him after a couple of minutes of silence.

 

"What's wrong with you?" Nick finally asked bluntly, shifting so he was facing Baker.

 

Baker grinned, changing tactics, "I'd like to think that as my friend you wouldn't judge me on my flaws," he snarked.

 

Nick gave him a blank look, "Baker, I'm serious."

 

"Hi serious, I'm—" A hand covered his mouth quickly, and perhaps that had been a tad too childish, but it seemed to be working.

 

"And don't even think about licking my hand," the running back warned, "I'll take my hand off your mouth and you're gonna tell me what's going on with you, we clear?" 

 

Baker raised an eyebrow as if to say 'am I?' and Nick seemed to understand.

 

"Or I'll call Jarvis," the shorter man threatened, his grin turning smug when Baker's eyes widened. 

 

Baker's response was muffled by Nick's hand, but the quarterback was confident his teammate managed to understand the general message amid all the curses.

 

"I'm fine," he reiterated as soon as Nick's hand left his mouth, "They're not broken, and I'll miss two sessions but I can play next week." 

 

Nick gave him an appraising look, eyes drifting to his sides where the bandages bulged under his tee, "Bruised ribs are still painful, why didn't you take the pills?" 

 

That was the question Baker had been hoping his friend wouldn't ask again, it was stupid, and it made no sense even to Baker, but saying no to the pain medication had strangely made him feel better. He had a hunch as to why, but he didn't feel like explaining to anyone, knowing exactly what it would look like. 

 

There was another sigh from Nick, and Baker felt a little guilty to be such a burden on his friend; Nick wasn't very talkative on the best of days, but after a tough game that had been a roller coaster from start to finish the last thing he would want would be to deal with Baker and his more than telling silence.

 

"Look Baker, you've been off for about two weeks or so now," Nick titled his head, "I didn't say anything because I figured I'd give you your space, that or Landry would intervene." 

 

Baker had figured as much, and maybe he'd gone out of his way to avoid Jarvis lately. But it wasn't like the receiver had noticed either, he was too busy worrying about his best friend to notice that something was going on with the quarterback.

And no, Baker was not jealous.

 

"Obviously that hasn't happened," Nick continued patiently, oblivious to Baker's inner turmoil, "So do you mind telling me what's up with you?" 

 

Baker squirmed in his seat, feeling his friend's heavy gaze on him, "I didn't feel like taking pills, it's nothing."

 

"Baker," his teammate said, a tinge of desperation in his voice, "Why are you lying to me? We don't lie to each other, man." 

 

The quarterback whipped his head up to look at his friend, and the worry on Nick's face was enough to make his walls crumble. A sudden wave of regret flooding him, the truth tumbling out of his mouth before he could think about it.

 

"It doesn't feel fair that I get injured and all I need is a pill to make me feel better and when Odell gets hurt he misses the entire season," he admitted, clenching his hands into fists in frustration, "It was my fault he got injured and now he's not here and he's in pain, and Jarvis is in pain too, and the team is hurting now, and everything's going wrong and it's not fair ."

 

Nick didn't seem surprised by his outburst, just confused, "Injuries are never fair, but what does that have to do with you?" He asked, eager to understand what was bothering him.

 

"It's not fair because I should be the one who's injured and out for the season," Baker explained sullenly, "I was the one who exposed him like that, I was the one who made him risk himself. But he's the one who's out, and I'm here."

 

All at once, Nick's expression softened, the running back reached a hand to grab his shoulder, tightening his hold until Baker looked at him.

 

“You know that’s not your fault, man. He doesn’t blame you, and neither does Jarvis or the team." 

 

Baker wanted to scoff, instead, he offered Nick a pained smile, hoping his friend would buy it. 

Nick's expression morphed into sympathy so quickly Baker didn't have the chance to blink.

 

"But you already knew that," the running back softly summarized, leaning on the couch, "You know we don't blame you, so—" He cut himself off when Baker gave him a pleading look, dropping the smile quickly.

 

"So you blame yourself," Nick finished with a frown, "Baker—" 

 

Baker shook his head quickly, "Don't say it, please ."

 

Nick's frown deepened in frustration, he bit his lip harshly.

 

"I don't need—I don't want you to lie to me, Nick," the quarterback said firmly, expression sincere, "I don't want you to tell me it's not true because I know it is, and we don't lie to each other, right?"

 

Baker expected the words to finally make Nick understand. Understand that it was Baker's fault his teammate was hurt and the team was suffering because of it.

But Nick had never been particularly predictable to him, and so it came as a surprise when the running back, instead of saying something, scooted closer on the couch and engulfed him in a hug.

 

It was a brief hug, and it was awkwardly one-sided since Nick had slapped his hands away when Baker had tried to return the embrace in an effort to not jostle his ribs, but Baker could feel how sincerely Nick wanted to make him feel better.

 

"Baker, Bake, listen to me," Nick pulled away, holding him at arm's length and forcing him to look into his eyes, "I'm not the most talkative guy, I don't go around hugging and joking with everyone, y'know?" 

 

The quarterback nodded.

 

"Right, and I don't lie to people, I don't do that shit, right?" 

 

Baker nodded again, faster this time.

 

"So when I tell you, it's not your fault Odell got injured , then I'm not lying, you know I'm not lying, and no one that matters blames you or thinks it's your fault." 

 

"But—"

 

"I'm for real, man, how many times have I gotten injured on a run after you handed me the ball? Or how many times has Jarvis gotten injured when he had to jump to make a catch?" Nick shook his head, "It's football, man, shit happens, injuries or hits, and there’s nothing we can do about it but help each other recover."

 

The quarterback's shoulders drooped, “Are you saying I should be more helpful to Odell right now?” He asked half-heartedly, moving around to try to ease the pressure off his ribs.

 

Nick gave him a deadpan glare, but his lips twitched in a ghost of a smile.

 

Baker returned the smile, “Thanks, Nick.”

 

His teammate finally relaxed on the couch at Baker’s words, recognizing the lighter tone on his voice. “Don’t worry about it,” he waved off, and then frowned again as something occurred to him, “And how come Landry didn’t talk to you before I did?”

 

In true Nick Chubb fashion, his friend had been direct to address what Baker thought was a glaringly obvious issue, though the running back didn’t appear to be too concerned, which was a good sign. Probably.

 

“I’ve been kind of avoiding him,” Baker confessed, squirming when Nick turned surprised eyes to him, “And he’s been busy with Odell too, so it hasn’t been that hard.” 

 

All the running back had to do was raise an eyebrow in response, and Baker rushed to explain, “I haven’t been completely avoiding him or anything because then it’d be like, super obvious. It’s more like I’ve been giving him some space, you know? He gets more time to be with Odell after practice and days off without me there to distract him.”

 

Most people would assume that Baker and Nick wouldn’t get along, since Nick was known for being a quiet and reserved guy while Baker was loud and outgoing, and people tended to think that would mean they wouldn’t have the patience for dealing with the other. 

That was completely wrong, much to the relief of both of them. 

 

They had known each other since college, and despite not being in the same team and being rivals they had maintained a healthy professional relationship with each other throughout their college careers, and once they had both been drafted by the Browns they had agreed to move past whatever college rivalry they had been a part of and instead focus on their team. 

Being rookies they had bonded over the experience of being new to the team and had more often than not ended up hanging out outside of practice to deal with the loneliness that came from moving to a new city by themselves. They had developed an easy friendship, and Baker was one of the few guys in the locker room that could get Nick to open up.

 

Unfortunately for Baker, being Nick’s friend also came with the running back’s ability to see right through him, so it wasn’t a surprise when Nick didn’t immediately accept his excuse.

 

“Did he tell you he needed some space?” Was what Nick settled for, and Baker cringed.

 

“I figured he would appreciate it.”

 

“Baker…” That was another thing. Nick would call most of the guys by their last names in person, or use their full names when talking about them to someone else, it was truly a testament to how comfortable around Baker he was that he referred to the quarterback by his name.

 

“I know,” the quarterback groaned, “I know now, and I’ll text him and talk to him soon, okay?”

 

Nick smiled, satisfied, and laid back on his couch to watch the basketball game.

 

Baker settled too, grateful despite himself for his friend’s words and intervention, and tried to watch the game too, enjoying the comfortable silence.

 

“Do you want to talk about Landry?” Nick asked, almost reluctantly, not taking his eyes off the screen from the Clippers vs Warriors game.

 

“We just did,” the quarterback smiled in confusion, tilting his head to the side, maybe now that he wasn’t so conflicted he could ask for some painkillers because his ribs were starting to seriously bother him.

 

Nick side-eyed him unimpressed, “You know what I meant.”

 

Baker didn’t, and one look was enough to show Nick, the running back grimaced.

 

“I meant that you two are like, y’know,” he gestured with his hands, looking remarkably uncomfortable, and Baker frowned even more, “Good friends.”

 

“Sure,” he answered, blinking in perplexity, “We get along pretty well, he’s great.”

 

His teammate just stared in silence, as if waiting for Baker to say more. Baker didn’t know what.

 

“Okay, I'mma say it and I'm not judging or anything, k?" Nick paused, waiting for the quarterback to nod before continuing, "Does Landry know you're pining after him or what?"

 

Baker jerked back so fast that he nearly fell off the couch, his ribs twinged in protest but he ignored the pain in favor of gaping at Nick, his mouth opening and closing with no words coming out.

 

Nick, to his credit, waited patiently for him to gather his thoughts, only looking down at his ribs in mild concern. 

 

" Pining?" was what Baker finally asked, not sure what else to say.

 

"I can use another word," Nick suggested helpfully, shrugging with one shoulder, "But that's what you're doing, Bake."

 

The quarterback shuffled a bit, trying to lean closer to his friend without moving too much. Nick leaned closer as well, looking intrigued.

 

"Do you mean like… missing? Or…"

 

"Sure," the running back shrugged again, "Missing, longing, desiring, wanting—" 

 

Baker, to his horror, could feel himself blushing, "What?"

 

Nick gave him the look again, and Baker made a valiant effort to stay silent, but he couldn't stop himself from rambling.

 

"I don't know what you're talking about Nick, we're friends, we hang out as friends, and we like each other as friends."

 

"Hey, I said no judging, remember?" his teammate raised an eyebrow, "And if that was your best attempt then you need to work on your lying, dude, that was weak." 

 

Baker grumbled a protest but relaxed at his friends' words. He felt guilty for not trusting his friend not to judge him, but he wasn't quite ready to accept his… 'pining' for Jarvis, let alone have someone else know about it. 

 

"He doesn't know then," Nick commented after a while, not even pretending to pay attention to the basketball game anymore.

 

"He doesn't," he agreed readily, "Just you." 

 

They fell into a contemplative silence, and Baker wondered a little hysterically how he had found himself in this situation.

If someone had told him about this when he was drafted… He probably would've still signed the contract, but it was a weird situation nonetheless.

 

“Are you going to tell me I should tell him or something?” Baker wondered, trying not to be too obvious in his panic.

 

Nick hummed, “Wasn’t planning on it, but I can do it if you want me to.”

 

The quarterback nodded, from anyone else it would sound sarcastic, but this was Nick, and Nick didn’t say something unless he meant it. 

 

“So you just happened to come by when I was getting out of my car?” He asked in an effort to not-so-subtly change the topic.

 

“I wanted to check up on you,” the running back explained, but his entire posture changed, “On your ribs.”

 

“Thank you,” Baker answered sincerely, attentive eyes focused on Nick’s sudden stillness, “I’m glad you dropped by, you know you’re always welcome to hang out here.”

 

Nick gave him a grateful look, and just like that things clicked into place for Baker.

 

He let out a delighted whoop, “Are you hiding then?” He asked in disbelief, trying not to giggle at his friend’s scowl.

 

“I’m not hiding,” Nick immediately glowered, “Who would I be hiding from?”

 

Baker couldn’t contain a giggle this time as he answered, “Kareem Hunt.”

 

Nick’s shoulders sagged as he bent to hide his face in one of the pillows, “He’s everywhere, man, I don’t even know how he knows where I live.”

 

Baker patted his shoulder in sympathy, despite his obvious amusement at the situation, “He just wants to be your friend, your running back buddy.”

 

“I don’t need any more friends, I have enough,” Nick grumbled, poking him in the chest without looking up, “There’s you, Denzel, Myles, and Taywan, why do I need more?”

 

“Our squad has fifty-three players,” Baker began, “Not counting the practice squad and coaching staff, and you’re friends with four of us.”

 

The running back finally glanced up, “I also get along with Landry and Beckham, and Hooper, Higgins—"

 

The quarterback shrugged, “I’m not saying you have to do something you don’t want to, but Kareem is putting a lot of effort into befriending you, is all.”

 

Nick tilted his head consideringly, “So I should talk to him and stop avoiding him?”

 

“Uh-huh,” he nodded quickly, “Or text him, I’m sure he won’t mind.”

 

“A’ight,” the running back accepted, and fished his phone out of his pocket, “I’ll do that then.”

 

It was Baker’s turn to smile in satisfaction and he turned back to the game, content to just hang out with his friend and watch basketball.

 

They stayed in silence again, with the occasional sound of Nick typing, until there was a knock on the door, and both players quickly looked up, first in the door’s direction and then to each other.

 

“Expecting someone?” 

 

Baker shook his head, already making as if to stand to open the door.

 

“‘S okay, I’ll get it,” Nick quickly said, pushing him back gently and throwing his phone back on the couch, “You sure you don’t want some pills, though? It’ll help with—oh.”

 

“What?” Baker asked, trying to look at the door, “Who is it?” 

 

Jarvis Landry came into the room then, "Hey, Bake," the receiver greeted warmly as he entered the room, Odell one step behind in crutches and Nick trailing behind them.

 

Jarvis gave him a gentle hug, and Odell offered him a fist bump as he sat on the opposite side of the couch so he could lean his crutches comfortably on the arm of said couch.

 

Baker's mouth had run dry. He'd told Nick he would call them but this… this wasn't exactly what he had expected, he wasn't ready yet.

 

Some of his panic must've shown on his face because Nick's eyes widened slightly. 

 

"Landry!" Nick barked, making them all jump. The running back winced and tried again, his voice softer, "I, uh, can I talk to you for a second?"

 

Jarvis gave Nick a puzzled look, but nodded, throwing a quick smile Baker's way before leaving into the kitchen with Nick. 

 

Now left alone, Odell turned to him with a small smile, his eyes betraying some wariness as his eyes drifted down, first to the bunched up bandages under his shirt and then to where Baker’s hand was clenched into a fist.

 

The receiver cleared his throat, looking almost hesitant as Baker’s gaze snapped to him, “How you’ve been?” Odell asked quietly, “I saw you get hit, Jarvis said they’re not broken?”

 

Baker swallowed, “Nuh-uh, just uh,” he cleared his throat, “Just bruised.”

 

Odell nodded slowly, “That’s—That’s good, man, I’m glad it’s not serious.”

 

They could hear the low murmuring of Jarvis and Nick from the other room, and Baker hated that his self-doubts had led to his teammates — his friends — feeling uncomfortable and unsure around him. He took a deep breath.

 

"Look, I'm— I want to apologize," he started, holding up a hand when Odell made as if to interrupt him, "Hear me out, please?" He waited for a nod to continue, "I don't know if you've noticed but, uh, I've been avoiding you lately."

 

Odell snorted and interrupted despite having already said he wouldn't, "A little hard not to, you used to text me at least fifteen times a day, now it's down to zero." 

 

Okay, so maybe Baker hadn't been as subtle in his attempt to avoid Odell as he had been with Jarvis.

 

The quarterback rubbed the back of his neck in shame, "That's what I wanted to apologize for. I let the media get to me, I started listening to them instead of to you guys, and I was so busy blaming myself I left you alone when I was supposed to support you."

 

Odell didn't say anything, just stared at him wide-eyed. 

 

"I'm really sorry, Odell," Baker finished, looking at him imploringly, "I was a terrible friend and teammate, but I promise I won't do it again. I'm here for anything you need now."

 

The receiver was still looking at him in silence, and Baker briefly wondered if he expected him to say more before quickly deciding that it wasn't the case; Odell looked surprised, not expectant or angry.

 

Odell cleared his throat again, swallowing repeatedly before speaking. "Baker, bud, I'm sorry you felt that way, man. I didn't know, and I understand why you did what you did. To be honest, I thought, I thought you didn't care about being friends if I wasn't useful on the field anymore." He laughed bitterly at the end, gesturing to his knee with a grimace.

 

Baker gave him a horrified look, "No, no, I would never. I'm so sorry, Odell, I never meant to make you think that. I was so sure you were mad at me, or that Jarvis was mad at me, or that you wouldn't want to see me, that I decided to avoid you instead so you couldn't avoid me." 

 

Hell, Baker was a terrible friend, how could he let Odell think that? 

He was supposed to be a leader, to be a friend and someone the team could rely on, and instead, he was hiding while his friend was in pain and thinking that Baker valued him only for what he could do as a player. 

 

"I'm so, so, sorry," he repeated sorrowfully, "I don't know how to fix this, but I can start by promising that I won't do this again. Next time something like this happens I'll talk to you immediately."

 

And he would, he swore to himself, he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. He would talk to his teammates the next time before any of this happened again.

 

Odell looked touched by his words, and then the receiver did something unexpected — he raised his right arm, and Baker, recognizing the gesture for what it was, immediately threw himself at him in a hug, making them both wince in pain. 

He wasn't sure who started laughing then, but by the time Jarvis and Nick joined them in the living room drawn by the sound of their laughter Baker didn't care much to find out. 

 

He was laughing almost hysterically at that point, and he could hear Odell doing the same. Baker could only laugh harder at the picture the two of them made; clutching their ribs and knee respectively and not letting go of each other as they wheezed uncontrollably. 

 

“Jesus,” Jarvis huffed, smiling widely at them, “What are you two doing?” 

 

It took them a couple of seconds to be able to answer once they had stopped laughing, and all the while Jarvis smiled at them fondly, Nick’s bright eyes and small grin showed that he was as amused by the situation as the receiver.

 

“We were catching up,” Odell explained lightly, directing a grin Baker’s way, “I was just about to invite myself to watch the rest of the game,” he gestured to the TV, where the half-time show for the game they were showing was just starting, “And Bake was about to agree and get us some popcorn.”

 

The quarterback beamed, “You’re staying too, right? Nick? Jarvis?” He looked up at them hopefully, giving them his best puppy eyes. And was rewarded when they both nodded, causing him to grin even wider.

 

“I’ll get the popcorn!” Baker offered before anyone else could say anything, ignoring Nick’s protests as he jumped up from the couch and dashed into the kitchen, already reaching for a bag of popcorn.

 

“You’re taking pills first, right?” Nick questioned as he joined him in the kitchen, “And stop jumping around or you’ll hurt yourself.”

 

Baker blinked, “I don’t have the pills, but I can get them from the doctors tomorrow.”

 

“I got ‘em,” Jarvis said, walking into the kitchen and holding up a small bottle as he stared at Baker with concern. “I heard that you’d turned them down, but I know what bruised ribs are like, figured I’d drop by with ‘Dell and give them to you.”

 

Nick gave him a knowing look as Baker valiantly tried not to melt under Jarvis’ worried look, “Thanks, Jarvis.”

 

The receiver nodded with a smile, familiar enough with his kitchen to get him a glass of water for the pills, offering the glass to him, “I also got the prescription, so you know when and how many to take.” 

 

Baker could feel Nick’s eyes on him, but he focused on the offered pills, swallowing them with a grimace. 

 

“Hey, J, could you pass me a bowl?” He asked, waiting until the receiver turned to look for one to return Nick’s look. The running back gave him a thumbs up, exiting the room to give them privacy. Baker swallowed his nerves. 

 

He waited as he watched Jarvis get everything ready, and briefly wondered how it was so natural to have the receiver in his kitchen, knowing where everything was and moving with a familiarity that betrayed how many times he’d been there. 

 

“Jarvis?” Baker finally forced himself to speak, realizing his friend had been giving him time to gather his thoughts when the receiver turned to him immediately. He swallowed again. “Ah, I wanted to apologize, for avoiding you these last couple of weeks, and for avoiding Odell.”

 

Jarvis smiled kindly, “It’s okay, Bake, I know you wouldn’t have done it unless you had a good reason. And since things are okay between you and Odell then it’s all good.” 

 

The quarterback blinked, “You’re not gonna ask why I did it?”

 

His friend’s smile dimmed, “I think I already know, Bake, it’s not hard to figure out what was going on with you when Odell was avoiding the sport talk shows and reporters just as much as you were trying to.”

 

Yeah, that… that made a lot of sense, and it explained why Jarvis hadn’t confronted him earlier. The receiver had been giving him some space, knowing it would be better for him to work through the situation by himself. 

 

“Well, I’m still sorry,” he offered after a while, “I shouldn’t have shut you out like that without any explanation. I thought that as long as I wasn’t around as much you wouldn’t worry about me and focus on Odell, or that you’d be happier without me around because I had— because Odell got injured."

 

Jarvis gave him a knowing look at his choice of words, "I'll never be happier without you around, Bake, you're one of my best friends," he grimaced, before adding, "And I know you've talked to Odell about it, but I still want to tell you that neither of us blames you for what happened, and if you need me to tell you again I will, or Odell will until you believe us." 

 

Baker nodded, at a loss for words, "Thank you, Jarvis," the quarterback repeated, and pulled him into a hug, his friend humming in acknowledgment.

 

The quarterback hadn't realized it, but he'd grown so accustomed to being near his receiver, either at training or somewhere else, that not being near him had felt like something was missing, it was unsettling to see how much he relied on Jarvis now.

 

“Y’all done with the popcorn?” Odell's voice reached them from the living room, neither of them needed to look at him to know he was smiling, “Half-time show is almost over.”

 

They separated at that, Jarvis getting the bowl and some glasses and waving off Baker’s offer to help carry them, and joined Nick and Odell. The receiver grinning at them while Nick furiously typed on his phone, barely sparing Jarvis a smile when the receiver handed him a drink.

 

“Is Kareem coming too?” Baker asked curiously as Nick continued typing, getting comfortable next to Odell and Jarvis while being careful not to spill anything.

 

Jarvis raised an eyebrow at him in surprise, “Did you invite him too?”

 

“He didn’t,” Nick answered for him, pursing his lips, “And neither did I, but yeah he's coming.” 

 

Odell and Baker shared a grin just as the sound of a car door slamming shut reached them, followed by silence and then a knock on the door. Nick cursed under his breath.

 

“This is your fault,” the running back accused, glaring at Baker, “I was happy avoiding him and not talking to him and now he’s here knocking on your door, and he’ll probably want to come in and watch the game with us, and talk.

 

“The horror,” Odell mocked, “He’ll want to be social, what’s next, joking?”

 

Nick threw him a dirty look even as he got up to open the door. The three players in the room all grinned when Kareem’s familiar voice reached them seconds later.

 

“They’ll be best friends in a week,” Baker mused, “Three weeks tops.”

 

Jarvis shook his head with a smile, “Nick’s gonna kill you.”

 

“He’ll have to go through Myles,” the quarterback said with a confident smile, even as his mind raced with ways to rope the defensive end into helping him, “And Kareem’s gonna be distracting him too.”

 

“I’m gonna distract who?” Kareem asked as he walked into the room, a resigned Nick trailing behind him, “‘Sup guys? Didn’t know everyone was here,” he nodded first at Baker and then at Jarvis and Odell.

 

“You’ll distract the Steelers’ defense with your running game and we’ll be back home with a win,” Baker smiled winningly, “Do you want popcorn?” 

 

Kareem gave him a suspicious look but accepted the offered snack with a murmured thanks and settled in the empty couch without a word, looking up at Nick expectantly. 

 

Nick offered him a tight-lipped smile, flipping off Odell behind his back when the receiver snorted and sitting stiffly next to Kareem. He looked straight ahead at the TV as if it was the most interesting thing he had ever seen, making Baker hide a smile behind his hand.

 

Soon enough they were all invested in the game, and though at first, it had been a little awkward with neither Kareem nor Nick talking, Baker, Jarvis, and Odell had kept the conversation going until first Nick and then Kareem had felt comfortable enough to start participating. All in all a success.

 

Baker sighed in contentment as the Warriors scored again and tied the game, leaning his head on Jarvis’ shoulder and grinning at the receiver when he turned to look at him. The quarterback expertly ignored the butterflies in his stomach when the receiver grinned back and pretended not to notice Nick’s knowing look from the other couch. 

 

This thing he felt whenever Jarvis was around would go away soon enough, Baker wasn’t going to worry about some little crush, it was nothing. Jarvis was just a really good friend and Baker had to remind himself of that. 

Just then, as if to prove him wrong, Jarvis shifted so he could lean his head on top of Baker’s, an arm coming up to wrap around the quarterback and pull him closer while the other one grabbed some popcorn.

 

The quarterback closed his eyes in frustration when the fluttery sensation in his stomach returned tenfold. 

 

It seemed he had a huge problem. Fuck .