Mike stood in the shower on rubber legs, letting the warm water relax his muscles. As the leadoff runner in the four by one hundred, he’d tried to give the team an advantage by busting his ass on the track. He thought he was fast enough. He wasn’t. Thankfully, Hayden was faster than the other team’s anchors to give them the win.
After toweling off and dressing, he threw his uniform into his bag, and rubbed a hand through his wet hair. Water droplets splattered his face, and he closed his eyes against the mini storm.
“Good race today.” Hayden said. He sat on the bench next to Mike to remove his spikes.
“Sure.” Mike shoved his shoes into his bag and shook his head. “I bobbled the handoff.
And I wasn’t fast enough.”
“You handed off second by three-tenths of a second. You’ll get faster.” Hayden pulled out his street clothes and laid them on the bench by his shoes. Stripping off his uniform, he wrapped himself in the white locker room towel. “And we’ll practice the hand offs. Don’t worry about that.”
“Yeah.” Mike sat to put on his shoes.
“It’s tradition to go eat after meets. We’re going to Sammy’s Subs.”
“Okay.” Mike stood and slammed his locker.
Hayden sighed. “Just say it.”
“Really, man? You couldn’t have said something?” The anger he’d pushed aside to focus on the race exploded. “You see my girlfriend with another dude, and you say nothing? What if that had been Molly? You would have wanted to know.”
Hayden returned his glare with a nod. “Sorry.”
“That’s it?” Mike threw his bag on the bench. “Well, I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from you I already know you don’t follow the bro code. Your last best friend learned that.”
Hayden stood, his face red. “If I thought she was cheating on you, I would have said something.”
“For all you knew, she was. The only reason you didn’t tell me was because Molly asked you not to and you can’t tell her no.” Mike flexed his fingers, but throat punching a guy wearing a towel wasn’t cool.
“After we saw them at the restaurant, Molly told me how Cindy’s mom set her up, and that she didn’t know how to get out of it without upsetting her dad. She said Cindy would tell you and we didn’t need to get involved.” Hayden blew out a breath. “And yes, I kept quiet because Molly asked me to. But that’s how relationships work. You trust each other. And sometimes you do things for them because it’s what they need, even if it’s not what you want for yourself.”
Mike stared at Hayden, gritting his teeth. “You should have your own Dear Abby advice column in the paper.”
With his weird old-man-in-a-teen-body ways, Hayden was right. But it still sucked. Mike sat back on the bench, leaning his elbows on his knees and rubbing his head. “She told me everything. And you’re right, she wasn’t cheating.”
“I didn’t think she would.” He joined Mike on the bench. “You might not see this, but she’s almost as crazy about you as I am about Molly.”
“No one’s that crazy, Hayden.” Mike leaned his head back against the locker. “Besides, she said Tavis has a boyfriend so I’m not too worried about him moving in on her.”
“Hmph. That makes things easier. Why the sudden approval to date?”
“I don’t know. But Cindy said going out with Tavis was just a way to get her parents used to her dating so we could go out together.” He turned his head toward Hayden. “I take back what I said. She does sound crazy.”
Mike glanced around at the empty locker room. “Who knows, maybe she’s right.” He stood and shouldered his bag.
“So, we good?” Hayden asked.
Mike smirked. “Yeah. Cindy said I couldn’t hit you because it was her fault you didn’t tell me. She’ll be glad to know I kept my word.”
Hayden laughed. “Thanks. I’ve taken enough punches to the face this year. Tell Molly I’ll be out in a minute. I wanna take a quick shower.” He walked toward the stalls at the end of the locker room, whistling.
Mike turned to leave. Then he looked down at Hayden’s pile of neatly folded clothes.
He understood why Hayden didn’t tell him about Cindy and Tavis and talking to him about things had helped him chill out.
But, like he’d told Cindy, sometimes guys had to do something to show their feelings.
Mike grabbed Hayden’s clothes and track uniform and tucked them in his own bag.
“Show don’t tell,” he said, and Hayden would definitely be showing. “Now, we’re good.”
Mike left the locker room, smiling as Hayden whistled in the shower.
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