Disclaimer: They are not mine.

Pairing: Heero/Duo, Quatre/Trowa
Warning: AU, sex, language, Duo POV, angst

Author Note: This story sort of took over my life a couple of weeks ago... and a few friends I was able to con into reading drafts for me. *grin* This story so matches this 80s request Kanzanhanzai made. Behind the Wheel lyrics. Enjoy!

Watch Me Spin
Part 3
By Merith

Saturday afternoon I spent at one of the other coach's houses, watching a game on ESPN. Several team support staffers were in attendance and a couple of the players. It was a typical jock setting, complete with beer and chips, big screen tv and rowdy behavior. But it was different in subtle ways. Beers were nursed, and most limited the intake. The junk food was inhaled sparingly, and the mock fights didn't cause destruction.

I was able to lose personal life thoughts in work mode, for despite appearances, not one of the support staffers nor the players took their eyes off the tv screen to who was doing what, and what the stats were on the field. Another gathering was being held showing one of the other games, where those invited sat taking notes on who did what and who the injured were. Monday would find most of the coaching staff closeted, watching hours of taped games, looking for weaknesses that could be exploited, planning strategies for the next upcoming games.

It wasn't until close to quitting time Tuesday that I even let thoughts on my problem crowd my mind. Work had been that demanding, with a game on Sunday, and practice and planning on Monday, it didn't leave time for much of anything else. I was going over weekend scores, inning by inning, to determine the line up for the away game on Thursday. The word bottom appeared more often than I'd ever seen it for scoring. And each time I read the word, I'd think of Greg. Though I'd pushed off thinking about things, I did stop and pick up papers every day just to read his by-line. I wasn't sure if I should be happy or not that he hadn't mentioned my name once.

The private line to him was ringing before I gave it another thought. If I had, I would have let a week pass before mending the bridge.

"Duo?" Quatre sounded surprised, pleased and relieved. And I felt like a schmuck for not calling him sooner.

"Yeah, buddy," I answered, a bit subdued.

"I'm sorry," we both said at the same time. I stared at the phone for a moment and laughed.

"Duo? What are you sorry for? It was my fault. I shouldn't have." Quatre sounded really contrite.

I was smiling, and actually happy for the first time in days. "Tell you what then, buddy. I'll sit here and let you suck up to me, then I'll do my apology bit and we'll move on to why I'm calling, k?"

That made Quatre laugh. "Whatever, Duo. I might be sorry for pulling that stunt but you're still an asshole." Yeah, things were good between us. "So, why are you apologizing?"

Drawing in a deep breath, I leaned back in my chair and propped my feet up on a box I had just for that reason. "You were right."

Complete silence wasn't what I'd expected. "I... I don't know what to say, Duo. I'd apologize again, but don't think that will help." I chuckled. "How did you come about that discovery?"

"After I left your place, I did a lot of thinking. And..." I still wasn't sure how much I wanted to tell him. Such a failure wasn't something I was proud of. "I came to the conclusion I needed help. I decided that I can't do it on my own."

"Are you asking me to help?" his tone was a little fearful, and a lot puzzled.

"No," I fought to keep the amusement from my own tone. "Just the number of that f... shrink you suggested."

"Oh!" he exclaimed. I heard a rapid shuffle and knew he was looking in his day planner. "Chang Wufei, here it is..." He read off the number and I jotted it on a pad. "If you want, I can give him a call, and see if he can schedule you an appoint this week?"

"This week?" I tapped my pen on the pad. What the hell, I'd already admitted I had a problem, fixing it should become priority, right? "Uh, sure Quatre. But we're flying out tomorrow and won't be back until early afternoon Friday. This week might not work." I was already flipping through flights and game schedules for the next couple of weeks.

"Why don't I see if he has any openings for late Friday afternoon, or evening? And if he does, I'll book it. If not, I'll find something for you next week, okay?"

"You're a pushy top, you know it?" I groused. "Friday sounds good. I'll have my cell with me, just let me know when and where." I hesitated, but asked anyway. "So, what happens at these ...sessions?" Visions of a Sigmund Freud-like hooker kept flashing me, and was so not what I needed.

"From talking to Wufei, the initial visit will determine how your sessions will be conducted. He tries to find out what setting you're most comfortable in to talk about what you need to in order to move to the next step." Quatre paused, and added with a slight laugh, "I had no problems talking to him at his office, but I think you might like a more relaxed environment."

"Uh huh," I mumbled, now seeing Sigmund wearing a smoking jacket with a martini glass in one hand while perched on a lounge chair. "And he asks you about your sex life?"

"Of course. He's not clinical about it, but he doesn't force you to give up details you don't want to talk about," he started to sound distracted. "I imagine it would depend on what your problem is, and what he thinks you need to work through it."

Doctor Ruth wearing a bustier and matching panties complete with stockings and garter, joined Sigmund on the lounge, and I groaned. "Quat, please, stop talking! Make the appointment, let me know when and where to show up and I'll be there."

"Alright, Duo," he sounded surprised. "I don't want to cut you short, but I have a meeting I must attend in less than five minutes, and I can't find the contract under discussion."

"Look on the coffee table," I told him, sketching out a passable Sigmund Freud next to the shrink's number.

"It is there! How'd you know? Nevermind, I have to go!" He hung up in the middle of his goodbye, and I replaced the receiver.

Quatre made a point of having a traditional tea daily, and I'd joined him more than a few times to munch on crackers and sip imported tea not to know his habits. Not once in all the years I've known him had he let an hour go by while at work that he didn't have something in hand to look over, review, revise or rewrite. If he had an important meeting late in the afternoon, he would have been reading documents for that meeting while at tea. As simple as that.

After landing in Phoenix, I picked up a voice mail from Quatre. My appointment was on for Friday at four. Keeping it casual and relaxed, Quatre had said. Meeting my new shrink at a trendy coffee shop in the market district wasn't exactly promising, but sounded better than some stuffy office.

Friday, I missed my flight.

I was running late, as usual, and the hotel the team stayed in had mixed up information. It took longer than I thought to straighten out. And then there was an accident on the freeway. I promised the cabbie double the fare if he could get me to the airport on time, but no matter what street he turned down, traffic was not our friend. I still gave him a healthy tip, bluffed my way through security, and ran for the gate. I arrived just in time to see the plane begin taxiing away.

The next flight was two hours later, putting me in San Fran just after two. It would be cutting it close, but as long as I could avoid the bridge, I'd make it. Since my talk with Quatre on Tuesday, I'd come to the decision to make this counseling thing work. I was going to be paying this guy a shitload of money, and not that I couldn't afford it, but if the end result mattered - and it did - then I'd have to do something. Sitting there staring at some monkey-suited guy wasn't going to get me there.

The problem was, just what did I tell him? I should have asked Quatre more questions about what to expect, what kinds of things he would want to talk about. Did I have to go into my childhood history? I remembered some of Intro to Psych, and it seemed like that's what all psychiatrists asked about. Was it only the sexual stuff he wanted to hear?

Did it matter that when I was six, I used to watch my babysitter bang her boyfriend on the couch? Or when I was ten, the boy that shared my room in foster-care used to jack-off in front of me and taught me how to give blow jobs? Was it the fact that my step father sodomized my older brother almost daily while I heard it all in the next room of our tiny trailer? That when I was eight, the fucker touched me, and when Solo tried to stop him, he beat the shit out of him? The bleeding was so bad, my brother didn't have a chance.

And digging into my little bag of failed relationships, my first real crush was a jock on the track team. I was all about baseball, but double lettered for him, wanting nothing more than to run at his side. He was my best buddy for two years, and when I got the courage to finally tell him, he shoved me into a wall, hit me and told me to never go near him again. I was already on Varsity, but quit the team before nationals. It didn't matter any more.

At least college was better, but not without its own set of sexual problems. I had to keep my orientation secret while playing for the team, or risk losing my scholarship. Seeking company of my own kind by traveling to the City, hanging out in the parks and engaging in a quick fuck weren't the events that led a lasting relationship. After the accident, it didn't matter who I was with, where.

I had to believe Murphy loved me. The plane landed in San Francisco just before three, and even sprinting like I was in a track meet didn't make up lost time. The cab driver was new to the city, and discovered his sure fired short-cut was up a one-way. I tossed money at him, and ran up nineteenth. A few minutes before four, my cell rang. I didn't stop running, but glanced at the caller-id and shut the ringer off. It wasn't a number I recognized and the coffeehouse was in sight.

Outside its doors, I skidded to a stop and pulled an old shirt from my bag. I wiped the sweat off as best I could, given the circumstances, and smoothed down the hair. At least it was still in its braid, mostly. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door and walked in.

When Starbucks hit the mainstream, it gave coffee shops a new look and taste. Back in the fifties and sixties, coffeehouses were dark, smoky things where bad poetry was spoken in beatnik fashion. During the hippie generation, coffeehouses all but died out. Except in San Fran were nothing dies, it metamorphoses. This particular coffeehouse was a fucked up blend of Bob Kaufman and Martha Stewart.

Shifting my bag from one hand to the other, I rubbed my palm on my jeans, and looked around. Of the dozen people or so sitting around the mixed-matched chairs, tables and even a sofa, I suddenly realized I had no fucking clue who I was looking for. Alright, it shouldn't be too hard. His name was Chang Wufei, and he used the traditional formation to his name. That would definitely make him Asian. Another scan of the room, and I narrowed it down to a potential three. Two were quickly crossed off my list - one was asking the counter-girl for directions to the Art Museum, and the other had his tongue down some chick's throat.

I walked over to the third man, more than a little impressed. All this time I'd been thinking this shrink had to be someone old, someone maybe a little scuzzy, but this guy, shit. He sat in an armchair by a corner table with one of those planner things laid out writing in it, and sipping his coffee or tea or whatever the fuck he was having. He looked about my age, but it was hard to tell for sure. Dressed nice, but not formal business - casual chic. He looked up when I approached and I forgot why I was there for a moment.

The fucker had the most god-damned gorgeous blue eyes I'd ever seen.

He only blinked at me, waiting. For what I wasn't sure, but those blue eyes raked me head to toe and he put down his pen and smiled. That prodded me.

"Hi, I'm Duo Maxwell," I introduced myself, sticking my hand out. He continued to smile and took my hand. It wasn't so much a shake as a squeeze and caress, with his fingers lingering on my palm. Well, alright then. This guy was a professional. "Sorry for the delay, but I missed my flight and then the one I did catch was late, and the cab got stuck in traffic, and I ran, but..." He blinked in rapid succession and frowned, trying to follow my words. I took a deep breath and ended with, "could I sit down now? I must have ran the last five blocks and I'm not eighteen any more."

His eyes widened, and he looked around the room quickly. Nodding his head, he gave me a small smile. "Please, have a seat. Can I order you something to drink? A water? Some coffee?" If anything, his voice made him even more appealing. I couldn't help gaping at him.

"Uh, no," I barely whispered and dropped into the chair. He frowned at me again, and I pulled myself together. "I mean, yeah, let me get something. I'll be right back." And I fled, leaving my bag sitting on the floor by the chair.

I had to get a grip, and fast. This man was supposed to be my doctor, and it didn't matter that at some point in the not too distant future, he'd be fucking me. He was a professional, and I needed to act like one as well. Okay, I needed to act like his patient at the very least. From the corner of my eye, I knew he watched me placing my order. While it was being made, I disappeared down the hall to the men's, hoping he still watched.

Wishing I'd brought my bag in with me, I did a quick wash, straightened my hair some more, unbuttoned the top two buttons on my polo shirt and tucked it into my jeans a little neater. It would have to do. Not the best first impression, but I'd be better prepared by our next session. Smiling, I left the bathroom and picked up my fancy latte drink on the way back to the table.

He was wearing an amused half-smile when I got back and sat down. That planner thing was nowhere in sight and he leaned forward watching me take my first drink.

"So, where do you want to start?" I tossed out, fiddling with my cup lid. He drew back, and didn't answer, a little frown on his face. "I mean, Quatre didn't tell me a whole lot of what to expect, but I assumed you'll want to hear about me growing up, and my sexual history - all that crap." He kept staring at me, and I picked up my cup in a hurry, spilling a little on the table and over my hand. "Shit!" I cried and stuck my fingers in my mouth.

"Here," he said, picking up a couple of napkins, and pressing them over the back of my hand. "Don't suck on it. That will make it burn worse." He was holding my hand in one of his, dabbing the back with the other. "It doesn't look too bad, but if you think you need it, I can see if they have some ointment behind the counter."

"No," I croaked, and cleared my throat. "No, it's okay." His hands were soft, the nails manicured, but his grip was tempered strength. This Chang guy, there was more to him than his outer skin. No wonder Quatre wouldn't shut up about him. I should have made this appointment a month ago.

He examined my hand, brushed a fingertip over the top of the reddest spot and looked up at me. "Does it still hurt?"

I shook my head, staring at him. "Guess being a doctor, you had to learn stuff like that." He gave me an odd look and opened his mouth. I waved my other hand in the air. "I know... you're not that kind of doctor, but even a psychiatrist has to learn some medical stuff, right?"

"Yes, but I don't think..."

"Even if you're specialized in sexual therapy and all." He really did have the most gorgeous blue eyes. They widened to nearly filling his face and I realized where we were. "Oh, shit. I'm sorry. I mean," I looked around quickly. "I don't think anyone heard us. I didn't mean to... okay, I'll stop talking now."

"Listen, Duo," he said, setting my hand down and leaning closer as if it were a possibility over that tiny table. "I really don't think I'm the person you're looking for..."

If I blew this, I didn't think I'd be able to go through it again. I grabbed his hand, and held tight. "Hey, don't leave. I know I haven't made a good impression so far, being late for our appointment, looking like hell and then spilling shit." I swallowed, forcing myself to not beg. "I really didn't mean to be so loud with what you do, but I've never done anything like this and don't know what to expect. So, could you give me another chance?"

He shifted around on his chair, but didn't remove his hand. He looked at me, at our clasped hands and then out the window. "I have to be honest with you, Duo. I'm pretty sure I'm not the one who," he turned back to me, and stopped speaking suddenly.

At his words, I felt like I'd been kicked. He was rejecting me. I was ready to tell him everything about me and he was telling me he wasn't the one. "I... see." I was breathing hard through my nose, and let go of his hand; mine were trembling and I was afraid he'd notice. "I'll just go now." I started to push my chair back and he caught my cuff.

"Wait," he said softly. Half-way out of my chair, I looked at him. "I might not be the one who can help you, but maybe..." He dropped his eyes from mine. "Maybe I can at least listen."

I sat back down. "Okay. Quatre told me you'd listen and come up with a plan to help, if you could."

He frowned slightly. "What else did Quatre tell you?" His hands were wrapped around his coffee cup, and he held it to his lips, prepared to drink.

"Just that you were good, the best in the business." I thought back to the half dozen times Quat had mentioned this guy to me. "He said you specialized in sexual problems gay men typically have, and helped work them through whatever their hang up was so they could have sex, or whatever."

"You're having problems with sex?" he asked, staring at me over the brim of his cup, disbelief in his eyes.

It was my turn to look away. "Uh, yeah," I muttered, pulling at my collar. "Didn't Quatre say anything?"

"No, not to me."

Shit. And here I thought I wouldn't have to go into it. "I'm a top," I started, darting a glance and him. He nodded, and took a drink, watching me. "I can't bottom. I mean, I never have and when I tried..." I flashed him a rueful grin. "I about busted the guy's jaw."

He chuckled. "Why'd you do that?"

I fussed with the napkins on the table. "Don't I have to start at the beginning, or something? Isn't that how it usually goes?" I knew I was hedging, but I wasn't so sure I wanted to just jump into talking about it. At least not like this.

"Let's start at the problem. And if you feel comfortable telling me more, then you can." He touched my hand, drawing my attention to his face. "Duo, it's important to me for you to only tell me what you feel you have to. Only what you must, okay?"

I got the feeling he was telling me the truth that it was important to him. And that feeling made me want to tell him everything – even if I didn't want to. "Quatre told me you'd say something like that. Being comfortable is how you want your patients to be." He gave me another little frown. I was getting the idea he didn't like the fact Quatre had told me all these things. Well, whatever. He was at least willing to listen to me now, and I was going to take advantage of it. "So, you want to hear why I cracked Greg's jaw, huh?" I made one of those mental notes to send an apology to the guy.

"If you feel like talking about it, yes." Damn, he was smooth.

Where to start? From meeting Greg, from his hand down my pants, or … "It was sort of one of those things. I thought I could prove to Quatre and Trowa that I didn't need help. That I could get close enough to let someone fuck me, you know?" I glanced up from shredding napkins to see him almost choke on his coffee. He waved me on. "But when it came down to it, I got… I don't know – scared?" My shoulder lifted a bit. "I couldn't talk myself into it."

"And hitting the guy was the only way to ..." he seemed to be searching for the right word.

"I guess not, but he was about to, well," here I stopped. I'd never talked about my sex life in detail to anyone, including Quatre. I hadn't told Greg it was my first time. "He didn't know what was up. He didn't understand I wasn't enjoying myself any more."

"It's okay," he soothed. His fingers touched the back of my hand, and he left them there.

Shaking off the morose feeling hanging about, I tossed out, "Yeah, so I hit Greg, and felt bad. But the guy's really nice." I shrugged. "A total top too, so it wouldn't have worked out anyway, even if I could have gone through with it."

He nodded. "I see." He stared at me, a moment before asking, "Is it important to share positions in a relationship? Once you get past the issue you're having, I mean?"

I frowned at him. "You mean, take turns and all that?" He nodded again. "Hadn't really thought about it all that much. I've always been a top, you know. Guess it'd depend on what it's like from the other side." I grinned and he smiled.

"But if your partner were to want to trade, would you?" I thought I'd just answered that question, but he stopped me from responding. "What I'm trying to ask is, would you be willing to work things out with someone, even if it wasn't what you initially thought it to be?"

Ah, mud made clearer. "It still depends on the situation." I scowled down at the table thinking about it. "I've never been in a relationship - not the lover kind. So, I'm not sure how I'd react. I'd like to think if I found someone I wanted to be with for more than a few hours," I darted a glance at him to gauge his reaction. His expression remained neutral, so that was a good thing. "I'd work my ass off to keep him happy. As long as I was happy, I mean."

"That's what I was hoping to hear." He leaned back in his chair and took another drink from his cup. That surprised me. Why would he want to hear that unless it's a positive thing from a doctor's perspective.

"Why do you think you have issues with being a bottom?"

Crap. Family history and all that shit. I looked out the window, picked up my latte and set it back down. I glared at him. "Shouldn't you be taking notes?"

"Do you want me to?" he only blinked at me.

I shrugged. "Doesn't matter to me, but I thought all doctors did."

"I'm not like all doctors." And he smiled.

"I see that." I grinned at him and looked away. "Actually, if we can put that question on hold for a bit, I'd appreciate it."

He nodded. "Okay, so what do you want to talk about now?"

"Not sure. Like I said, I've never done this before so I don't know what you expect."

"I'm not expecting anything of you, Duo." He looked at his watch and back to me. "If you want to talk, talk. Tell me whatever you want, whatever's on your mind. I'll listen."

"You have to be somewhere?" I asked, pointing at his wrist. "I can reschedule, or something. Just let me know."

"I'm supposed to meet with a client in an hour, but I'd like to call and cancel." My cheeks warmed; I was sure it was because of me.

"I'd hate to mess up your plans, man. I miss half our appointment because I was late. It's not someone else's fault."

He was shaking his head. "No, Duo. I'd like to spend more time with you." He gave me a rueful sort of smile. "I have to confess, I've enjoyed this far more than I should."

"Then, I guess it'd be alright." I suddenly wasn't sure where to look any more. "And I'm kind of glad we'll be spending more time together." I heard a sort of coughing noise, and saw his face turn red.

"If you'll excuse me a moment?" He looked at me expectantly and when I nodded, he pulled a cell from one of his pockets. A couple of buttons pushed later, and he spoke into the phone. "Marci? Great, glad I caught you. Listen, I need you to cancel my meeting with Julian." His eyes met mine and I played like I wasn't listening.

"I know what time it is. Tell him I'll see him on Monday. We can meet for lunch and he can show it to me then." He plugged his other ear with a finger. "What? No, I will not meet with him this weekend. Because the man's a temperamental artist, and I don't feel like putting up with it." I looked out the window, wondering what kind of client he was seeing, and wondered why it bothered me.

"Thanks. I owe you." I glanced back at him, expecting the call to be over, but he continued to talk. "The opening isn't for another two weeks. We've more than enough time." I vaguely wondered if doctor offices opened branches or something, and if that's what he was referring to. Maybe I'd have time to ask later. Maybe I would make plans to attend or something. "Use the Monachelli as the center piece, then. And tell Sondersen he can go to hell. I don't need his contribution that much." Frowning, I left off pretense of not listening and watched the expressions play over his face.

"And Marci, remind me to give you a raise on Monday." He looked up to catch me staring at him. "Listen, I'm going to have to go. We can discuss this first thing. Bye." He closed the phone and slipped it into his pocket, his eyes never leaving mine.

"Is something the matter?" he asked, still watching me.

I shook my head, dismissing the overheard conversation. It wasn't my business who the hell he was seeing, and if he wanted privacy, he would have left the table, right? "Nah, you just sound busy."

"Sometimes it's a little more crazy than others." He frowned down at his cup, tilting it up. I noticed it was empty. "Seasonal changes, patronage problems and demanding clients, it's been rather a hectic week."

"Maybe I should be the one listening to you," I joked, smiling.

"Maybe, someday you will," he murmured, keeping his eyes on me.

Fuck me. What the hell did he mean by that? I felt myself fucking blush like a girl and ducked my head.

"You're on staff with the Giants?" he asked, the tone of his voice changing.

"Yeah, so Quat did tell you something, after all." I grinned and he raised a brow, looking pointedly at my shirt. Shit. I was wearing a team polo. "Oh, yeah." I scratched at my head. "Forgot I was wearing it and didn't have time to change."

"You look fine." His eyes were telling me he liked what he was looking at. "What do you do?"

"I'm a baseline coach, and in a pinch, the batting coach." I leaned forward, wanting to tell him about my job, wanting him to be interested.

"What's a baseline coach do exactly? I can guess at a batting coach." He was smiling, encouraging me to talk.

I spent some time telling him the more humorous aspects of my current position, of knowing the players to the extent I could send one to steal home and know he'd make it. And then there's the bickering and fighting. We talked about some of the better known personalities of baseball, and I'm not saying just the players. Some coaches were more well-known than their players ever were.

At one point in there, he'd gone up to the counter and got us both fresh drinks. I liked the view watching him; both the coming and going. I know I wasn't imagining him deliberately touching me when he handed the drink over. I'd done that sort of thing enough to know how it's done. When he settled back in his chair, I gave him a knowing wink. Yeah, that's right buddy, you might be my doctor, but I know the score here.

"Why a coach? How come you don't play?" he asked softly.

"It's kind of a long story," I started, glancing out the window and seeing the street lights come on.

"We have all night, if you want," he offered.

"It'd put you to sleep long before then." To prove the point, I raised my cup and took a sip of barely diluted caffeine.

He shook his head. "I doubt it. But give it your best shot."

I made myself comfortable in the chair, but glanced at the couch on the other side of the room, thinking how much better that'd be than where we were. The thought of inviting him to my apartment crossed my mind, but hints of Greg overshadowed it.

"I went to college on a baseball scholarship," I began. "I knew young what I was, you know?" My eyes flicked upward and he was nodding. He knew. "In my third year, I was approached by a scout from the pros." Shrugging lightly, my lips twisted. God it still rankled. "It wasn't the first time, but it was with a team I wanted to be associated with, and they really meant business."

He was still listening, like he said he would from the start. I'd fallen silent, remembering all that shit. "You don't have to tell me," his voice was low. Maybe it was the knowing look in his eyes, like he'd either seen it or experienced it before, but it was enough to prod me into talking again.

"Jealousy and bigotry can be ugly things." I took a deep breath. "You know what a baseball bat can do to a knee, Doc?" He visibly winced. "Yeah, that's what happened to me. One of the seniors on the team thought he'd have a better chance with me out of the way, you know." The sound of the bat breaking on my leg was what I remembered the most. The pain I'd never forget, yeah, but that sound - there's nothing like it in the world. "I was in the hospital for three weeks. Had to have the knee replaced."

"What happened to the other player?"

My teeth gritted together hard enough I thought I'd crack one. Biting out each word, I told him, "They deemed it an accident. He was benched for the rest of the season."

He shifted on his seat and gave this jerky little negative nod thing. "What of you, then? It hardly seems ...right."

"Fuck no, it wasn't!" I hadn't meant to shout, and looked around quickly before ducking my head low. "Sorry, it's just that... well, it still gets me, you know?" He nodded. I offered a humorless smile. "The school let me ride out the rest of my scholarship as long as it remained sport related."

"At least there was that."

For a long moment, I sat silent. Once, more years ago than I cared to think of, I'd been told to be grateful for what I had, not what I could have had, but sometimes it wasn't enough. Sometimes it just fucking sucked. Quietly, trying to make him understand how dark it'd been then, I told him, "If it hadn't been for Quatre, I think I would have shot myself."

"Because you couldn't play any more?" his question was soft and I almost didn't hear it.

I stared at the liquid in my cup. "That was part of it. The bitterness of what could have been, you know." Looking at him, my lips twitched with a hint of a smile. "Like everything else in my life by then, two steps forward, one step back. Just gets tiring after awhile."

Understanding, clear and sharp, peered out of those blue eyes. "I know." And I believed him.

My hand was on my leg, fingers rubbing absently as if to rid it of some phantom pain from years ago. "If it'd been my own fault for blowing out the knee, it might have been a little easier to take, but fuck, when one of your own teammates does the job for you..." I left it hanging, and shook my head. The weeks spent in traction, the months in physical therapy, and the pain that lived on. A free ride hadn't been worth it.

"So you changed your major, your focus in school?" he prompted, edging me from that black hole.

"Yeah, I went into physical education with an emphasis on sports injuries." He was watching me again. "I know everything there is to know about all things physical." I smirked. Let him think whatever he wanted on that.

"You'll have to teach me then," he threw right back. Damn, he was good.

"How about you? When'd you decide to become a doctor?"

"I didn't, but we're not here to talk about me. I'm listening to you, remember?" He looked at his watch again. "Tell you what, why don't we move this to one of my favorite restaurants, and I'll buy dinner."

I looked down at my clothing and shook my head. "I'm not really dressed to be seen in decent places."

"Who said anything about a decent place?" He laughed when I looked up surprised. "What you're wearing is acceptable. There isn't a dress code." He stood and pulled a couple ones from his pocket. "If I wasn't starved, I'd run home and get out of these clothes."

Picking up my bag, I straightened slowly, making a deliberate rake of my eyes. "I'd like to see you out of those clothes as well."

on to part 4

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