It was midnight. Or maybe it was three. He couldn't tell anymore. The minutes felt simultaneously like hours and like seconds.
Staring up at the ceiling in the dark, he had already kicked his comforter off of his bed. His room was sweltering. The night air was filled with chirping cicadas, his own heartbeat, and the thoughts that wouldn’t go away.
It didn’t hit him right away, not necessarily. He and Liam got trapped in the supply closet, made a game out of it, and the day was saved. Even if he didn’t get to play in the tournament, he had to admit, that time with Liam was something he’d never forget.
But then... It happened. They had been sitting down, talking about the day, and Liam opened up about why he moved to Miami. About how he had been sent to live with his grandma, away from his parents and his brothers. And it happened. Bobby suddenly was aware of every inch between them, of his heart in his chest, and how much he wanted to hold Liam's hand.
He didn’t have to worry for long, as they were rescued only moments later. And Bobby did his best to forget.
But when he laid in bed, and grabbed that tennis ball Liam gave him, he broke. He couldn’t keep pretending.
Bobby liked Liam. Like, in the way he was supposed to like Monyca. It was the inevitability he had been trying to avoid since elementary school. After years of ignoring cute boys, shutting off any possibility of getting emotionally attached to any of them beyond the surface-level friendships he had, he had finally reached his limit.
He liked Liam. And he doubted that Liam liked him back. So he was stuck, unsure of where to go or what to do next. He didn't want to keep fighting this alone, he wanted to scream, wanted someone to hear him. And in the back of his mind, he knew his mom would be okay with it. Her coworker and closest friend was a lesbian, so it's not like she would disown him, right? And she had always told him to be open about what he was feeling and thinking. She had never reacted badly to him being honest with her before, so it shouldn't be a big deal, right?
But when he thought about telling her, even in his imagination, the words wouldn't come out.
And then there was Danny and Ziggy. The two of them didn't even know Bobby's dad died. They had never really talked about anything deeper than movies, video games, and tennis. Besides, they all thought he was so cool for being able to get with Monyca. The thought of being seen as a phony was honestly more scary than being seen as gay. Maybe. He didn't know what he was afraid of, maybe everything. Nothing was making sense at all. All he knew is he wanted to wear Liam's sweatshirts in the winter, hold hands under a blanket while watching movies, and stare up at the stars on summer nights with his head on Liam's chest, just listening to his heartbeat.
He was a sap. He was a big, dumb, romantic sap and he couldn't help it.
But there was Monyca. He knew it wasn't fair to string her along like this, the right thing to do was obvious. But the right thing is never easy, and trying to imagine the scenario, once again he goes tongue tied. There's so many words he should say but he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to say any of them. He couldn't pretend he wasn't being a bit distant. It was taking the easy way out and he knew it. If she broke up with him, then she would save him the trouble of having to explain everything in his head. He could tell his friends she was interested in someone else, or decided she wanted to be single again, or whatever reason got them off his back the fastest. If he broke up with her, he'd never live it down. At least, not without spilling his guts.
Ironically, the only person he wanted to go to was Liam. He was possibly the only one who would understand. But, unfortunately, that wasn't even on the table.
With another breath, Bobby set the tennis ball back onto his night stand. That silly little artifact was a symbol for everything he liked about Liam; he knew exactly how to make Bobby feel better, he was able to have a calm head in stressful situations, and he was one kick-ass tennis player.
Before he knew it, possibly because of emotional exhaustion, he was out. Curled up in bed, the thoughts of Liam snuggling comfortably into his subconscious, he finally let himself be comfortable.