It was winter in San Diego, but you couldn’t tell from the outside. However, inside the convention center was a fabricated winter wonderland. It was time for the annual San Diego Padres Winter Festival, as Lawson explained to those who hadn’t been on the team the previous year. Livan didn’t understand what it was, but he knew that he and the team would need to be present for interviews and signings with season ticket holders.
Livan had only been in America for a couple of months, and he still had a hard time adjusting to his new home. It was definitely better than Cuba, but it was still a huge adjustment for him. At first, it had been relatively easy because all he had to do was focus on baseball. However, now that the Padres’ season had come to a crashing halt with Ginny’s injury, he didn’t have anything to distract him from how overwhelmed he felt. Though he pretended that he was confident both on and off the field, he didn’t always feel that way.
He was still getting used to having legions of baseball fans know his name, and he wasn’t looking forward to having to sit for hours and interact with them. Unfortunately, Lawson had told him that this was mandatory and there was no way he was getting out of it. Not to mention that Oscar had told him that it would be good for his image.
Livan waited backstage with the rest of the team as he waited for the announcer to bring them out. “Nervous?” Ginny asked, looking like she didn’t want to be here any more than he did.
Forcing a smile on his face, he said, “No way. I was born for this.”
The announcer called out his name and he walked out onto stage to thunderous applause. He looked out at the crowd and saw many families sitting in the crowd, and groups of attractive men and women that quickly caught his eye.
He had never told anyone, but Livan had realized over the years that he identified as bisexual. The closest he had come was when he commented to Ginny about her fans during the season, but he could never reveal the truth. He had far too much pressure on him, far too many people who would tell him to hide that part of himself if he ever thought about bringing it up. After all, there was not a current player in the league that had come out. Everyone he knew of, didn’t feel comfortable talking about it until after they retired. He could never be as brave as Ginny, as he had witnessed the triumphs and hardships of her first season as the first female player in Major League Baseball.
Soon, the rest of the team joined them, and everyone took their seats. The host of the event started asking questions. Thankfully, most of them were directed towards Ginny and Lawson, as they were the big draws. A couple of questions were thrown his way, and he answered them to the best of his ability. Since he had moved to America, his English was starting to get better. However, it felt like there was something new every day that had to be translated or explained to him. He guessed he would have to take small victories on the way to his inevitable greatness in the league.
The Q&A wrapped relatively quickly and Livan stood up with the rest of the team as they exited the stage. They were ushered to the green room where they hung out until their next appearance. He was particularly grateful for the wide assortment of refreshments laid out together. Grabbing a bottle of water, he settled down into one of the couches.
After a couple of moments, he and Ginny were called up for the first autograph session. Ginny frowned slightly, and Livan knew that she was disappointed that she wouldn’t be going out with Lawson. Whatever was going on there, Livan didn’t know or care. They were brought out to the autographing booth, where a large group of fans were already lined up for them. The group cheered as they came out and he and Ginny politely waved to them as they took their seats.
Taking a deep breath, Livan braced himself for the hour ahead. He forced himself to smile as fans approached with their baseballs in hand. Grabbing his pen, he said hello to all of the fans and thanked them for coming out to support the team, just as Oscar had coached him. He couldn’t deny that the kids that came up were cute, and Ginny had much more traffic next to him. A lot of girls and women, and some men, crowded around her. He shared a brief smile with her before they focused back on their fans.
In addition to kids and their families, there were a lot of gorgeous women that came up to them. He smiled at them and appreciated their flirtatious comments. A few bold ones, actually handed their numbers to him. He left them on the table until he decided what to do with them.
About halfway into their signing, Livan was thrown for a loop when another flirtatious fan approached him. However, this one was male, and quite attractive. “Hello,” he said, trying to hide how flustered he felt.
The man smiled at him and asked, “How are you liking California, Livan?”
“Um...it’s...pretty good,” he said quickly, feeling his heart racing.
He glanced over at Ginny, who he could tell had noticed the interaction. The man handed over his phone number and said, “If you’re interested,” with a flirtatious smile before walking away.
Livan quickly grabbed what was left of his water bottle and downed it in one gulp. He forced himself to regain his composure and made it through the rest of the signing without incident. Though he wished that it would be over soon, as his hand was starting to cramp from all of the autographs.
When the time had finally come, he and Ginny stood up and allowed themselves to be ushered back to the green room. They passed Lawson and Blip, who were next for the autograph signings. He settled back into his previous couch, and Ginny settled into the couch across from his.
“Who would have thought that sitting would be so exhausting,” she said, looking incredibly relieved. “I mean appreciate everyone’s support, but I didn’t get into baseball for the meet and greets.”
Livan nodded in agreement. “Me neither.”
She looked over at him with a smirk. “You seem to have a lot of admirers.”
He felt his face flush as he through back to meeting that fan. He looked at the number in his hand and saw that it had the name “Alex” scrawled above the digits. Seeing that Ginny seemed to be analyzing him, he stuffed the number in his pocket and said, “It’s part of the job.” He paused and added, “You have yours as well.”
“Anyone you’re going to call back?” She asked.
He quickly shook his head. “Oscar would probably kill me.”
She frowned at his response and slid off of her couch. Moving over to his, she said, “You can talk to me, we’re teammates after all.”
Livan froze at her words. Every instinct was telling him to not say another word about it, to hide like he always had. However, he felt a sense of trust towards her. After all, they had learned to work well together on the field and he felt more comfortable talking to her than anyone else on the team.
Glancing around the room, confirming it was empty, he asked, “Can you keep a secret? Even from Blip and Lawson?” She nodded, and Livan took a deep breath, attempting to calm his nerves. “I’m bisexual.”
It was the first time he had said it out loud, and the silence unnerved him. He glanced over at Ginny, waiting for her to say something. After what felt like forever, she said, “Thank you for telling me. I’ll keep your secret for as long as you want. Until you’re ready to tell it yourself.”
His relief was palpable, and he felt a huge weight lifted off his chest. “Thanks,” he said. Though he could tell that Ginny had questions for him, he was glad that she kept them to herself.” Instead they just relaxed in the quiet of the green room, and Livan closed his eyes. For the first time in months, he didn’t feel overwhelmed by everything and he was glad that there was one person he didn’t have to hide his true self from.