Zac sighs and rests his head back against the locker. He should have known he wouldn’t be able to hide in here for long. Coach enjoys tormenting far too much to let his absence slip by.
“Greenberg! Get your ass out here or you’ll be running laps the rest of the month!”
Zac rolls his eyes. He knows that’ll probably wind up happening no matter what he does. He’s always running laps. Always . And practicing. And getting better. But Coach can’t see that. So he always winds up riding the bench. He’s a little tired of it.
He gets up and makes his way out of the locker room and down the the field. The others are already practicing. When he goes to join them, Coach puts a hand on his arm, “Where do you think you’re going Greenberg?”
“To practice,” he says.
“Oh no,” Coach says. “You’re late, so you’re doing laps.”
“I’d be doing laps even if I wasn’t late,” he mutters.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” Zac says. He sees the pitying looks Danny and Scott send his way, but ignores them. He doesn’t need their pity. He’s going to be great, no matter what anyone else thinks.
He knows he’s really only on the team because of his dad. Coach thinks he owes it to him to help out his son since he can’t be here to do it.
Not that his dad is dead or anything. He’s alive and well. Just living with his new wife and their kids in Indianapolis. He’s too busy writing and making YouTube videos to visit often. And Zac feels too weird about the whole thing to ask to come stay with him.
So no, his dad is fine. He’s also Coach’s brother, and asked him to give Zac a shot. He’s not sure why Coach agreed if all he wanted to do was yell at him and never let him play. But here he is. Bench riding for life. No one could ever accuse Coach of having any favoritism for his family, or at least not when it comes to Zac.
Zac endures it, for some reason he isn’t sure of anymore. At first he’d started playing lacrosse for his parents. His dad wanted him to and it made his mom happy. Then his dad left and his mom stopped coming to his games. He never played, and his mom was able to take weekend shifts and make more money. He can’t fault her that.
Playing lacrosse has never been his passion though. It was always for someone else, but never himself. His real interest lies elsewhere. In the theater. Ever since he was younger he’s always been fascinated by acting. He saw his first live play when he was 7, and remembers being amazed by all the people on stage. They captivated him more than anything else ever has.
So he has to wonder why he’s still putting up with this. He doesn’t need the constant stress. Not when he could be focusing on something he actually loves.
It takes another argument with Coach for something in him to snap. He’s yelling about Zac’s laziness and inability to play. Zac releases he shouldn’t have to worry that.
“Greenberg!” Coach calls after him. “Where the hell do you think you’re going? Practice isn’t over!”
“I know,” Zac says, turning his head to look at him. He can’t keep the smile off his face. “But practice is only for people on the team.”
Coach’s brow furrows, “You’re on the team, Greenberg. Did you hit your head?”
“No, I was on the team. But considering all I ever got to do was ride the bench and be yelled at by you no matter how much effort I put in, there’s no point. I don’t need this. I have better things I could be doing with my time.”
“What are you saying?”
“I think he’s saying he quits Coach,” Stiles chimes in.
“I’m not asking you!” Coach snaps at him. “I'm asking Greenberg.”
“Oh he has it right,” Zac says. “I am quitting. I should have ages ago.”
“Look, if this is about playing, I can give you time on the field…”
Zac shakes his head, “No. I don’t want it. I’m going to do what’s best for me, and what makes me happy. And that’s not lacrosse.”
“Then what the hell is it?” Coach asks him.
Zac smiles, “Theater.”
Coach groans, “Oh god. Have you been watching High School Musical again? Is that what this is? Do you want us to support your love of theater and break into song on the field?”
“I wouldn’t mind that,” Danny says. When Coach and Jackson look at him, Danny shrugs. “What? It could be fun.”
“We’re not doing that,” Coach tells him.
Danny shrugs, “It helped the Wildcats.”
“We’re not the Wildcats!”
“Clearly not,” Stiles says. “Although, come to think of it. Zac does look like Zac Efron.”
Coach squints at him, “I don’t see it.”
“Do you think he has a Gabriella in theater?” Stiles asks.
Jackson shakes his head, “No, but I think he has a Troy on the team, and he’s Gabriella.”
His eyes land on Danny, and Zac tries not to react. He’s been doing his best to keep his growing feelings for Danny a secret. He’s not going to let Jackson ruin it now.
“None of this matters,” Zac says. “I’m quitting the team. End of story.”
He hefts his bag further up his shoulder, turns around, and starts walking away. He can hear Coach calling after him, but he ignores him.
Danny jobs up to him, and Zac slows his pace, but doesn’t stop.
“I hope this all works out for you,” Danny tells him.
“Thanks,” Zac says.
“Anytime. And if you do want to go out sometime give me a call.”
Zac smiles, “I might just do that.”
Danny grins and runs back towards the field, where Coach is yelling at everyone about getting back to practice.
Zac feels lighter already. He’s not going to have to worry about Coach breathing down his neck, at least not outside the classroom. He’s free to be himself. Something he hadn’t been able to do for awhile. He can’t wait to figure out exactly who that is.