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State Champions

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Jude was excited to be sitting in the stands with his sisters. Stef and Adam were sitting with the parents, Lena was sitting with Monte and the other senior staff while Brandon and Jesus were unable to attend. But no matter, everyone was so excited to be in the State Championship game for California where Anchor Beach was playing for the championship for the first time in school history.

Since joining the baseball team as a freshman, Connor had been a force for Anchor Beach’s team and each year the team had gotten better and better. Last year they had made it all the way to be one of the final four teams playing, but this year was even better. Connor was being scouted by several colleges and he had gotten more and more attention at each game. But now they were in the championship game and Jude was excited to cheer his boyfriend on to victory.

The game was still a half hour away but Jude was enjoying watching the team warm up. It still surprised him that he actually enjoyed watching Connor play. Well, enjoyed more than just watching Connor. Over the last five years of attending his games, Jude had actually come to appreciate the game for itself and it made Connor very happy when they would watch a game together or even better when they went to a Padres game. In fact, Connor was so happy about Jude’s interest in baseball that when Jude would say something baseball related, it would almost always get Connor frisky, something Jude had used to his advantage on more than one occasion.

“What are you smiling about” Marianna interrupted Jude’s thoughts? “You have a very satisfied grin on your face.” Marianna teased her brother and Callie laughed at his reaction. Even after all this time, Jude still blushed when he was teased about Connor but he recovered quickly.

“Just thinking how strange it is that I actually like baseball now” Jude said with a smile.

“Yeah, I never understood how you go so interested in baseball” Callie teased. Marianna laughed as Jude blushed yet again.

Deciding not to respond, Jude instead focused on the field. He was watching the Anchor Beach team warm up and finally spotted Connor, number 23, talking with the guys as they stretched and ran around. Jude smiled, god he loved seeing Connor in his baseball uniform…well in the baseball pants to be honest! He laughed to himself and remembered the first time Connor had caught him staring.

Flashback to Freshman year

Jude and Marianna were walking out of school at the end of the day when Jude’s phone went off.

Connor: Hey Babe!
Jude: Hey! Where are you?
Connor: Practice ran late and I didn’t want to miss the ride home so I am on my way. Will have to grab a shower later!
Jude: OK – meet us at Marianna’s car.

“Connor’s on his way” Jude told his sister. “Practice ran late.”

“I can tell” Marianna laughs and points as they see Connor running towards them still in his baseball uniform.

“Thanks for waiting guys” Connor smiles at Jude. Jude smiles at the surge in his heart and thinks that he can’t believe he is so in love with this guy. Here he is all sweaty, covered in dirt, and to be honest, definitely in need of a shower, but even so Jude’s heart still soars when he sees the blonde boy who has been his boyfriend for over three years.

“Connor” they hear someone yell from the field. Jake, one of Connor’s teammates and the first baseman, is walking towards them “you forgot your phone!”

“Dang” Connor says “be right back.” Connor turns to walk over to Jake and Jude can’t help but stare. Somehow between the last season and now, Connor’s pants suddenly became much more…interesting. Jude had a rather large smile on his face when he felt Marianna slap his shoulder “Enjoying the view?” she said giggling.

Jude didn’t even bother turning around “Definitely” he murmured as he watched Connor and Jake talking. Marianna laughed again “Well I do admit that the uniforms are one of the reasons I go to the game.”

“Mari” Jude said not taking his eyes off of Connor “wait in the car.” She laughed again and went to start the car.

Jude watched as Jake looked over at him and smiled and said something to Connor. Connor looked back at Jude and smiled at his boyfriend, a giant, light up the world smile that always made Jude weak at the knees. Connor headed back towards Jude with his newly recovered phone in his hand and his smile turned more into a major smirk. He was definitely up to something.

“Hey” Connor said with a twinkle in his eye and that special grin that he had on whenever he was feeling particularly cocky. “It seems Jake thinks that you were seriously checking out my ass. Said it looked like you were hypnotized to be exact” Connor’s smile got even worse. “Maybe I should wear them more often.”

Jude looked at Connor as he came up and wrapped his arms around Jude’s waist. The days when Connor was taller than he was were gone as they were now the same height, but it didn’t matter. No matter what, they still fit together perfectly. “Jake talks too much” Jude said looking at Connor smiling “but…if you want to wear them more often, I, as your thoughtful and supportive boyfriend, certainly would not object.” Jude was still smiling as he leaned in and kissed Connor. They were just getting started when Marianna hit the horn from right behind them. Breaking apart, Jude looked over at Marianna’s smiling face with his trademarked “death stare” while Connor laughed. They got in the car, “Thanks Mari – great timing as usual” Jude said.

Connor laughed quietly as Marianna looked in her mirror at her brother. “Of course Judicorn” she said smiling even more as Connor snorted when she used his old nickname “gotta be there for my brother!”

Back to the game

The stands were starting to fill up when a group of about ten girls came in all dressed in Steele Canyon colors, the opposing team who was from nearby Spring Valley, just outside San Diego. It was definitely a Southern California showdown.

The girls all sat down just a few seats from Jude, Callie, and Marianna and started talking. Mostly they were talking about boys and Jude got the impression that several of them were dating players when he heard on of them say something that caught his ear.

“I know they are the rival team, but damn, those Anchor Beach boys do look good!” one girl said. “I know” said another “gotta love those baseball uniforms” said another. “I wish our team wore the white pants” said a third “they really show the goods!”

They were all laughing about the boys on the field when Jude saw Connor come out of the dugout to speak to Jake. Connor had taken off his hat but was standing there with his back to Jude and the stands when the first girl said very loudly “OMG. Check out number 23!!” All the girls started laughing and giggling and making comments. Most Jude couldn’t hear but he did hear a few.

“You could bounce a quarter off that!” “Lord, thank your momma for a butt like that!” “I think I am in heaven because nothing on earth looks that good!” Were just a few of the comments the girls were saying.

Jude had looked over at them several times and they were definitely getting rowdy. Several of the girls were taking pics of Connor with their cell phones and Jude was definitely not happy about that, but it was hardly the first time it had happened. He looked over at Marianna and Callie and saw that they were both getting very upset and ready to snap. He realized that they had never been in a position to hear people talk that way about Connor before. Jude had heard it so many times before; whether eating out or at the movies or watching his games. Connor was, to put it simply, a magnet for attention. Sun kissed hair, an athlete’s body, a model’s good looks, smart, funny, and a personality that lit up a room – he was definitely the whole package. But after five years, Jude was totally comfortable that this particular package belonged to him and him alone!

He smiled at his sisters and said “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it!” He turned back to the gossiping girls and waited. The moment would come, he knew it would because it always did.

Connor finished talking with Jake and looked up in the stands for Jude and saw him sitting in the stands with Marianna and Callie. He waved at them and they all waved back before he went back into the dugout.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jude saw that the girls had noticed their waves and they were suddenly whispering together. “The bait is set” he thought.

Turning towards his sisters he said, loudly “Connor looks excited for the game tonight. Going to be a great game for our captain!”

Callie looks at Jude confused, why is he talking so loud and why did he stress Connor’s name. Marianna on the other hand, caught on much quicker “Well you would know that Jude, wouldn’t you?” she said just as loudly.

“Well” he replied keeping their conversation very clear to those around them “he is my best friend. What kind of bro would I be if I didn’t support him?”

Marianna smiled and looked back at the field, “this is going to be good” she thinks. Callie looks at Jude confused trying to remember the last time Jude called himself Connor’s best friend instead of boyfriend, and she was certain that she had never heard Jude call himself a “bro.”

Jude sat back, waited and smiled.

“Uh, hey” he heard one of the girls say. Looking over he sees a blonde girl in a very tight red shirt and jean skirt (tacky and trying too hard honey!) leaning towards him. He smiles “Hi! Great night for the game isn’t it?”

“Yeah” she said looking back to her friends. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop (“right” Jude thinks) but do you know number 23?”

“You mean Connor Stevens” he asks innocently “our team captain and power hitter? Yes I know him.”

“Connor, huh” she says smiling as Jude hears one girl say “I would power hit that.” Several of the other girls laugh.

Jude just turns back to the field as the game starts. He looks back over to his sisters. Marianna has been whispering in Callie’s ear and the light goes off as she looks at Jude and smiles in understanding, but still looking uncertain.

At the top of the second inning the girl in red has moved over and is now sitting just a few seats away from Jude. “So, I heard you say you were number 23, I mean Connor’s, friend” she starts off with a big smile for Jude. A smile that he can tell she uses to get boys to do just about whatever she wants. Objectively, he has to admit she is pretty, hot even - by objective standards. Most of the boys at Anchor Beach would be falling all over themselves for her attention and she knows it. He has seen girls flirt to get what they want and while no girl at Anchor Beach would do that with him, she didn’t know better and he just smiled back.

“Yep. Been best friends since 7th grade!” Jude says smiling. “Connor has been the star athlete of Anchor Beach since his freshman year. Several colleges are here at the game just to see him.”

“So…are those girls yours and his girlfriends?” she asks a little too casually.

She is startled by the barks of laughter from Callie and Marianna. “God no!” Jude laughs. “They are my sisters!”

“Oh, sorry!” she replies. But before she can say anything else Jude finishes “besides Connor doesn’t have a girlfriend anymore.”

Red shirt slips back to her seat with her friends, whispering what she learned, and they start giggling again. Jude looks over and sees Callie looking at him, trying to be disapproving, but she can’t keep a straight face while Marianna is doing everything she can to not lose it all together.

Another inning goes by when red is back, this time with a friend. A good looking brunette wearing jeans and a loose shirt cut up artfully so that it is hanging on by some key sections. Gotta give it to her, she looks good in her outfit, it suits her.

“I am so sorry, I realized that I didn’t introduce myself earlier. I am Alexis and this is my friend Layla. We go to Steele Canyon, but think it’s great that both teams are from SoCal, don’t you?”

“Oh sure” Jude says pleasantly “I’m Jude by the way, and these are my sisters Callie (she waves) and Marianna.” “Hi” “We all go to Anchor Beach. Well, I do, they graduated from there.”

“I am curious” Layla asks “you said your friend doesn’t have a girlfriend anymore. I would think the girls at your school would be all over him!”

“Not really” Jude said. “I can honestly say I haven’t heard one girl at our school ask about going out with him in over a year.”

“To be fair” Marianna chimes in “he does have a particular type, and of course anyone would have to be willing to put up with all the baseball and soccer stuff he does too.”

“A type” Alexis says looking at Layla “what type?”

“Well, I can’t say for certain” Marianna says dramatically “but I know that he definitely has a thing for brunettes.”

Callie looks away from her brother and sister and these girls. This is wrong on so many levels, but she has to admit that it is fun. She looks over at Jude and sees him smiling as he pulls out his phone and starts typing.

Jude: What’s wrong? Don’t wanna play?
Callie: You two are evil
Jude: You try dealing with this every other week, see what you do
Callie: Is it always this bad?
Jude: Actually, this is pretty mild. Sometimes it's much, much worse!

“So” Layla says smiling while Alexis looks very unhappy “what else does he like?”

“Well, the beach of course, skateboarding, video games, typical stuff. He also is pretty funny” Jude replies.

“Does he surf” Alexis says with a smirk “I love to surf.”

“He does” Jude says “loves it actually.”

Alexis looks at Layla and smirks. The air between the two girls is getting a bit chilly Jude thinks turning back toward the game.

“You know what” Alexis says loudly to all of her friends “I think in the name of good sportsmanship and SoCal pride, we should show some support for both teams!”

The other girls look at her confused “What do you mean” Layla asks? “Well, I think we should cheer for both sides next inning” Alexis says. The girls all giggle again and start working on their cheers.

Jude smiles again.

The girls all cheer loudly for Steele Canyon but a great play by Jake and the third basemen Tommy results in a double play that sends Anchor Beach to bat. And first up…Connor Stevens.

Jude, Callie, and Marianna all jump up and start yelling “Go Connor!” as he takes his warm up swings and the Steele Canyon pitcher gets ready to throw.

“Woo Connor” Alexis, Layla and the other girls cheer “Go number 23!!”

“You guys are really cool” Jude says with a beaming smile on his face. “I mean, that is really nice of you. Being so supportive. I mean especially considering that he plays for the other team.”

Callie, drinking her diet coke nearly chokes to death at Jude's double entendre. Marianna, luckily wasn’t drinking at that moment, but she reacted almost as badly, turning her laughter into a cough. Jude looked over at his sisters with an innocent look “you two okay?”

Callie gave him the death glare because she wasn’t capable of speech yet but she couldn’t keep the sparkle out of her eyes. Marianna just started laughing and said loud enough for the girls to hear “Sorry sis, but that was funny. Why don’t we go get some water and wash our faces?” Standing up, she lifts Callie and they start down the stairs. “Can you bring me a coke?” Jude calls out to them sweetly.

The rest of the game goes great. By the sixth inning Anchor Beach has pulled into a four run lead and they manage to extend that to an 18-6 win to take the state championship.

The stands go wild and everyone is cheering. Jude is jumping up and down screaming along with his sisters and they head down to meet up with Stef and Adam and find them with Lena. Everyone is cheering and Jude smiles at seeing Adam so excited.

Looking at the field they see their team all celebrating and then Connor is hoisted up on the team’s shoulders as they find out he is the game’s MVP. Not surprising since he hit three homers that brought in nine runs alone!

They all stay to watch the award ceremony while most of the opposing team’s fans head out. Jude doesn’t see Alexis or Layla or any of the other girls and maybe it’s for the best. While they were disrespectful, they are probably harmless.

The team heads over to the stands to celebrate with Anchor Beach and Jude is watching for Connor when he hears someone say his name “Jude!”

Turning around, he sees Alexis and Layla walking towards him. Sighing, he smiles, “why didn’t you just go home” he thinks?

“So Jude, we were wondering if you could introduce us to your friend Connor? Based on what we saw today, he is probably going to be a real player someday and it would be cool to say we met him before he was famous!” The girls both smile that smile that says that they have other motives in mind. Jude debates sending them off when he hears his name, this time from a voice that still sends his heart racing. “JUDE!”

Jude looks over and sees Connor heading towards him and he waves with a smile on his face. Looking back at the girls he says “sure – wanna meet him now?”

The girls both agree and the three of them walk towards Connor. Seeing Jude with these two girls slows Connor down. “Why is he with them?" he thinks and they don’t look like they go to Anchor Beach. Oh no, he realizes exactly why they are here and shakes his head. It's happened before when people would make comments about Connor's looks or body in front of Jude and he knows that it doesn't bother him as much anymore, but it still does. He really doesn’t like it when people make assumptions about anyone, but especially about the two of them. At least he has gotten better and doesn’t react like he did at first, but he still doesn’t like it.

Connor however, really doesn’t care. He is used to people checking him out, girls and guys, and while it is flattering, the only one that matters is Jude. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. Getting a big smile on his face, he knows what to do to make Jude happy.

Connor smiles his patented smile as he walks up to Jude. “Great game!” Jude says smiling. “Thanks babe” Connor replies grabbing Jude’s waist and pulling him in for a deep, lasting kiss as he feels Jude’s arms wrap around his back. They kiss for just a few seconds before breaking apart and smiling at each other. “Did you have a good time” he asks Jude.

“I did” Jude replies “Met some great people too.” He looks back at Alexis and Layla who both are standing there with their mouths open and jaws on the floor. “This is Alexis and Layla, both from Steele Canyon, but really nice. They even cheered for you in the name of sportsmanship. Girls, this is Connor Stevens, my boyfriend.”

“Nice to meet you” Connor says to the girls smiling while keeping both hands on Jude’s waist.

“uh…um…yeah. Nice to meet you too.” Alexis stammers. Layla doesn’t seem to be able to respond, she just keeps opening and closing her mouth.

“They were very nice” Jude says “said they wanted to meet you before you got famous so that they could say they knew you before.”

“Aww, how sweet” Connor replied with a smile. “Thanks girls, I appreciate it that's so nice of you. Jude, I gotta go hit the locker room and change, meet you at the car in 30 minutes?”

“Sure thing” Jude replied kissing him again before letting go. “See you at the car.” Connor turned and started walking away and then stopped and looked back at his boyfriend. Connor looked Jude right in the eye and smiled, “enjoy the view” he thought knowing Jude would.

“Damn I love baseball pants” Jude said out loud.