During halftime of their district title game Mox found Wendell about to get a shot and he pushed the door open. “Don’t do it Wendell.” He raised his voice.
It got the attention of the other players and Billy Bob and Tweeter were right there next to Mox. Billy Bob seconded Mox’s statement, “Don’t do it Wendell.”
Coach Kilmer glared at the teammates and yelled, “Get out of here! This is none of your business!”
Lance broke through his three friends and yelled, “Wendell don’t do it man!”
Wendell looked between all of his friends and Kilmer yelled, “Don’t listen to the gimp! Take the shot!”
Wendell said quietly, “Maybe I shouldn’t Coach.”
“If he takes that shot you better find yourself another quarterback because I’m out.” Mox growled before he went back into the locker room.
“Fine. Tweeter you take the snaps.”
“I’m out too Coach.” Tweeter said as he went back to his locker.
Billy Bob said, “Me too.” And went to sit next to Tweeter.
Lance stood next to Mox on his crutches and he said, “We only go back out on that field without you.”
Kilmer looked at the team he’d built and said, “You’re making a big mistake. Now why don’t I go out first and then you all follow me back to the field.” He looked around and only got grim looks for his request and he left the locker room. The team could still hear him trying to get them to come out but no one budged.
Mox looked around at his teammates and said, “He said at the beginning of the game that the next forty-eight minutes would affect us for the next forty-eight years. Well that’s not true. Let’s go out there and show them everything we got for the next twenty-four minutes and then go on with our lives. This is our moment.”
Mox didn’t think his speech was that good but the team rallied around him and Lance pressed against Mox’s side and whispered, “That was great baby. Now let’s go show these guys what we’re made of.” Mox barely turned to feel Lance’s lips brush his ear - everything was very subtle that even their oldest friends missed the flirting between them.
The team ran out to the field and Mox and Lance followed. At the bench they noticed Kilmer didn’t come out to the field and BIlly Bob handed Lance the headphones. “Here ya go Coach Lance.”
Lance adjusted them and put ‘em around his neck while Wendell handed Lance the playbook. The defensive coach looked at the team and wondered what happened to Kilmer but everyone seemed in a better mood so he went with it - he didn’t really have a choice. Lance looked over the field and glanced at the playbook before he put it back on the bench. He drew the players in and gave them the first play of the second half.
Bud Kilmer stayed out of view but kept watch over the game from the fence. He watched as the team he built listened to his old star quarterback like he’d been their coach their entire football career. He saw Lance didn’t even glance at the playbook, not even once, but then he thought that everything was ingrained over the last three and half years. The plays he called were updated versions to what was in the playbook and Bud noticed that Lance gave Mox a huge amount of latitude to change the play if he saw fit. Having a student coach your team was admittedly unorthodox, but Bud could give grudging respect where it was due and these were scoring plays.
He watched as during the defense Mox and Lance sat next to each other talking, most likely about the game and what they could do to beat the opposing team. The other players seeming to ignore what was going on between them. He also saw Mox taking care of Lance getting him to drink water and stay off his knee whenever possible and he wondered what was going on between the two. He didn’t have long to wait for it to become clear how they’d changed in the last couple of months.
Soon the game was turning around for the Coyotes. The Coyotes side of the stands were erupting in cheers every time they scored and every successful play and soon it was time for Billy Bob’s touchdown even though he didn’t know it yet. Lance got Mox’s attention and called the play. Mox grinned and gave the play to the team. Billy Bob whined, “This is the play where I act lost isn’t it?”
“That’s exactly it and you can do it Billy Bob. We got faith in you.” Mox said as he looked at Billy Bob and grinned.
“I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.” BIlly Bob chanted as they lined up.
The play went off without a hitch and Billy Bob scored a touchdown carrying three guys on his back. The Coyotes side screamed and yelled in joy and started pouring off the bleachers as soon as the buzzer sounded for the game. Two players lifted Mox above the crowd and everyone was congratulating everyone. Lance made it to the middle of the field where Mox was still being carried around and when Mox saw him he pushed off the shoulders of his teammates. He stood in front of Lance and saw he was dripping with ice water where the bench team dumped it over his head and couldn’t believe how good he looked.
Lance could feel a few shivers start from the ice and his lips were going a little numb so he did the next best thing besides find a blanket - he pulled Mox against his chest and kissed him hard. His crutches fell to the ground but neither cared - they had both made it and were done with football. Lance had his arms wrapped tightly around Johnny and his fingers carded through his sweaty hair and Johnny had Lance by his waist and his fingers clenched in the curls at the back of Lance’s neck. He was fond of Lance’s hat so he didn’t want to knock it off unless it got in the way the of their kissing.
When the two needed air they broke apart but stayed very close and Lance said, “I knew you could do it.”
“I knew you could do it too.”
The pair didn’t really pay attention to the silence around them but then it hit them that they pretty much made out in front of their entire town and both sighed and leaned their foreheads against the other’s. Neither freaked out but they didn’t want to look at anyone’s face right off the bat. Their bit of safety was interrupted by both sets of their parents coming around and Joe nearly yanked Lance out of Mox’s grip - he had been holding Lance up for the most part and Lance stumbled to ground. “Get up boy.” Joe Harbor growled. Sam, Mox’s dad, went to pick up Lance’s crutches and Mox tried to help Lance off the ground. Joe pushed Mox out of the way and said, “He can get his own ass off the ground.”
Lance glared at his dad but got up gingerly after he braced his good knee in the mud. Sam handed Lance his crutches after Lance wiped his hands off and he looked at Joe. He stepped up beside Johnny and said, “Leave these boys alone!”
Joe got in Sam’s face and he yelled, “You knew?”
“No but they’re happy.” Sam growled.
Collette and Mo just looked at each other and Johnny stood as close to Lance as he dared trying to offer quiet support. Jules pushed through the crowd seeing everyone gathered around Mox and Lance and saw her dad and his dad both about ready to come to blows. She saw Lance covered in mud and Mox trying to calm him down without setting off a fight between all their parents. She pushed Joe and Sam apart and she looked at both of them. She started with her dad first. “Leave Lance alone. He’s finally found someone and it looks like it’s long term.”
“I didn’t raise a pansy ass son.”
“He’s not dad. I knew Mox liked Lance and that’s why I let him go. Both of them are more happy than I’ve seen either of them in a long time.”
Joe looked at Jules and said, “How long has this been going on?”
“Since Lance got hurt.”
“That’s been two and half months.” Joe looked at Lance and asked, “What happened to Darci Sears?”
“I’m injured so we’re done. She’s all about status and I guess I was too until I got hurt and learned that there’s more to life than football.” Lance said as he pulled Mox closer to him.
Collette eased around her husband and handed Lance an envelope and said, “I sorta figured things out when this came today.”
Both Lance and Johnny looked down at the envelope and saw Brown’s logo in the corner. Lance pulled the letter open and both he and Johnny read the opening lines. Lance didn’t care that they had everyone’s attention and let one his big smiles show and he pulled Mox around and kissed him. “I’m in. We did it.” Lance said with a shine in his eye.
“That’s great.” Mox said as he rubbed the back of Lance’s neck and he reached up for another kiss. The kisses were much too short but they would make them up later. “I’m proud of you Lance.”
“Proud of you too Johnny.”
Their parents and siblings just stared at the two boys and both could hear Joe growl but they didn’t move. Bud Kilmer knew he’d seen enough and shook his head as he walked back to his office to clean it out. The team had won the district title with the help of a gimp, who knew the game forwards and backwards, and a player who needed the right motivation - obviously fucking the gimp was the right one.