Adam had never been the type of person to commit to watching tv of any sort; while people at school had talked about the latest episode of Game of Thrones or the latest football game, he found it boring. He could be doing something better. He could be having his own adventures, not watching someone else’s. Sports were the same; playing it must be fun, but watching it seemed strange and uncomfortable.
So how did he get here? Second row of the first D1 college exy game of the year?
Adam had never had much free time in Henrietta: working three jobs, studying endlessly for school, finding dead Welsh kings. It was strange that he did now, so when he did, however, he spent it laying out on the grass. Just relaxing. Thinking about nothing. He could finally clear his mind of so much anxiety and clutter he was constantly thinking about. He didn’t have his first classes until Monday, which meant three more days of this. At moments like those, he could just focus on himself; something that he’d never done before. The sunlight tickled his freckled face and he watched the clouds slowly move over him. He closed his eyes and smiled. It reminded him of the barns, where time didn’t pass and he had everything and everyone he held close in his life right beside him.
“Anyone up there?” a voice said.
Suddenly a cloud went in front of the Sun, and the sudden coldness stretched open his eyes. It wasn’t a cloud, it was a man. He had dark hair and a 5 o'clock shadow under his chin. He was dressed like he was a dad going to the islands for vacation; gray t-shirt under an open floral print shirt and matching cargo shorts. His eyes were a piercing blue yet held a warm sentiment. Adam furrowed his brow and smiled.
“Nah,” he replied casually. He didn’t have the same playful banter Ronan could use with anyone. He figured the man would talk and move on quickly, but he laid down next to him and stared upward.
“So what’s so interesting here?” he asked.
“Nothing. That’s the best part. It’s all calm and relaxing.” The man nodded his head.
“Oh, so you’re one of those? Not into too much action or anything?” Adam broke his gaze from the sky to look at him.
“I mean–” he started.
“Then let’s go!” The man stood, grabbed Adam’s arm and pulled him up. Adam stared at him, not upset but amused. What was happening?
“Um, what? Where? When? Who?” Adam said as the man pulled him along the quad. The man smiled.
“You’re not doing anything, with anyone on a Friday afternoon. You gotta get out.”
“But I already am out–”
“That’s not what I mean! I see you, man. You got any friends yet?”
“That weren’t in your orientation group?” Adam closed his mouth. No, he didn’t. The man smiled weakly.
“Well, that’s gonna change. I’m Eddie. I’m an OL and I’m gonna be your first official friend here.” He stretched out his hand to Adam, for real, not just to pull him again. He thought about a few minutes ago when it was just him and the Sun and the grass, and how peaceful he felt. Well, he sighed, it had to change sometime. Adam shook his hand.
“I’m Adam,” he replied. “Where are we going?”
So two hours later, after hearing about the logistics of exy explained again and again by Eddie, Adam was sitting next to him in the second row of the game. Adam didn’t think this was going to be a very life-changing time, but hey, what else was he going to do?
“Who’s even playing?” asked Adam.
“The Palmetto State Foxes!” Eddie said excitedly. “Their comeback story from last year was incredible. Amazing. It was an underdog tale through and through.” Adam pondered that for a minute.
“The foxes? I just met them a few weeks ago!” Adam replied. That caught him off guard.
“W-what do you mean? How?”
“Oh, me and my friends ran into them at this ice cream shop when they were dropping me off at school.” Eddie furrowed his brows.
“Your friends dropped you off at school?” Adam nodded. The gears in Eddie’s brain seemed to be turning. “What about your parents? Or, oh, uh, sorry dude.”
“Totally fine, I just don’t talk to them anymore really.” Adam shrugged, but he realized how tense he was. Just by the mention of his parents or his father filled him with anxiety. But then he remembered Gansey, who helped him through the trial. Blue and Henry, his ever-noble and supporting friends. And Ronan, his loving boyfriend who would protect and care about him more than anything. He smiled. “My friends are the ones that are here for me.”
“Hell yeah. They sound great.”
“They are.” Eddie cocked his head and smiled.
“Tell me about them.” Adam breathed in and paused a moment.
“Well, Ronan’s my–my boyfriend.” He stammered. “Huh, wasn’t used to saying that out loud. He lives on a farm and he pretends to be a badass. Blue actually is a badass, but she’s the sweetest person ever, until you take away her yogurt. Then, well, anyway. Henry just does whatever makes him happy, because you know, fuck consequences. And Gansey–”
Eddie scoffed, and Adam gave him a confused glance. “Whats up?”
He swiped his hand through the air as if to say, don’t worry about it. “Just a kind of ridiculous name, I guess.”
Now it was Adam’s turn to scoff. “Oh, and Blue is normal?”
Eddie raised his hands in defeat. “I concur. Sorry, keep going.” Adam shook his head and smiled nostalgically.
“I mean his name is Richard. Richard Campbell Gansey the third. If that doesn’t give you an insight on his life, I don’t know what will. I don’t even know how to describe Gansey. He’s like an old teen who’s the smartest person in the room at all times. It’s weird.”
“How’d you meet him?”
“Huh. I didn’t know too many people like that at my high school, or any for that matter.”
“Yeah, private school.”
The brief silence between the two gave Adam the time to panic. What was he doing here? With this random new person? This was so strange. Every brain cell in Adam’s head was screaming at him to leave.
“I need to–” Adam stammered, but as he did the lights started flashing and an orange light lit up an entrance leading onto the field. Eddie and the rest of the crowd stood to cheer and the announcer’s booming voice filled the stadium
“#1, Captain and offensive dealer, Dan Wilds!
“#2, Striker Kevin Day!
“#3, Goalkeeper, Andrew Minyard!”
“Agh!” Eddie said, shaking his hands in excitement. “I fucking love exy! I used to be on a team, you know. Back in high school. Not good enough for the real thing! I almost think college exy is better than professional–”
“#10, Co-captain and striker, Neil Josten!"
“Aw, hell,” Eddie said. “ Josten the best striker in Class 1 Exy, and after everything I figured they would’ve given him some time off! Now we’re toast.” Adam furrowed his brows.
“Whaddaya mean? They’ve only got like 12 players."
“Yeah, but with all the starters from last year? Day, Minyard, and Josten starting? No. They’re gonna destroy."
“Yeah ok, but why?”
“Oh, you really don’t know?” Adam shook his head, and Eddie’s eyes widened. With shock or excitement, Adam couldn’t tell. “Oh, I’ll tell you! So, the best exy college team used to be the Ravens, right? With captain Riko Moriyama, and Kevin Day was his right hand man, they used to do everything together. Of course Riko was #1 and Kevin #2, that’s what they got the tattoos. Oh, wow you don’t even know about those! So the Ravens ruled the court until Kevin Day disappeared one day after an apparent ‘skiing accident’ and…”