GRIP

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Balance Check

“Hey, are you heading home?” Skylar asked, as they arrived back at their gym.

Declan grabbed his bag and climbed out of the van. He was exhausted, and hadn’t placed much importance on where he’d sleep that night. He couldn’t stay at Gable’s, and he was too tired to drive back to Crest. He had considered sleeping at the gym, but that wasn’t really an option he was too partial towards.

“I, actually, don’t know.” Declan shook his head.

Skylar’s face lit up, “Well, you could stay the night at my place?”

He considered his suggestion. It would save him the drive, and didn’t sound like the worst of ideas. He thought about it for a while, and finally obliged.

“Won’t your parents mind?” He asked as they walked towards Skylar’s car, “I don’t want to impose.”

“Nah,” he placed his bag in the trunk, “My mom works nights at the hospital, and my dad… Well… He’s not in the picture… He died, remember?

Declan grimaced, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not a big deal… I thought I told you?” He shrugged.

Declan decided against probing any further. He’d seen Gable’s home life, and the extent of how an unstable environment could affect someone. Much like Gable’s strong façade, it was feasible that Skylar’s innate happiness stemmed from the lack of a stable upbringing.

It was then he realized how lucky he truly was; He had two loving, supportive, parents, a brother, a good home. He’d had a great childhood, though not incredibly affluent, his parents had always given him anything he asked for… Why then was it, then, that he felt unfulfilled? Unhappy? They’d never wronged him, but there he sat in Skylar’s car on his way to his broken home wanting… Expecting more.

The car ride was a short one, as they pulled up to a two story house near a park. It was a quaint house; not too big, not too small. It seemed like a nice enough neighborhood; definitely nicer than Declan’s.

“Are you hungry?” Skylar smiled at him.

“Hell yeah,” Declan nodded pitifully.

They ate a healthy dinner, with help from Coach Johnson’s meal plan. Vegetables, chicken, and rice. It was a light meal, but filling. Definitely a long shot from the burgers and pizza Declan used to love indulging in, when he was obese.

“I’m really proud of you, you know,” Skylar confessed, “You have come such a long way, and you never give up. I’ve seen the fire with which you look at me; It’s like you want to be better than me, and I really admire that.”

“I just want to be as good as you.” Declan shrugged. It was true, seeing his friend make every skill look so effortless really motivated him. He wanted that fluidity… That artistry.

“You will be,” he reached over and messed up the teen’s hair, “gross,” he teased, “your hair is greasy as fuck!”

“Yeah, I just got done working out, asshole,” Declan chuckled.

They looked into each other’s eyes for what seemed an eternity. Every time they made eye contact, it was electrifying. It was involuntary, but his body moved towards Skylar’s.

Skylar saw the fire in Declan’s eyes and neared him. Their faces were inches away; they could both feel the heat radiating from each other. Skylar’s lips reached out towards his, but before they made contact, Declan leaned back, and sighed.

They sat in silence briefly, before Skylar broke the tension.

“So, do you want to shower first, or?” he asked dejectedly, as he walked over to the laundry room, in order to defuse the moment. Neither acknowledged what had happened.

“I’m indifferent.” Declan shrugged.

“Alright, then, you first.” Skylar flashed him a smirk, and tossed him a towel.

Declan caught it, and proceeded to the bathroom. However, he wandered around the unfamiliar lay out aimlessly. He’d completely forgotten that he was in someone else’s home.

“Upstairs,” Skylar chuckled, I’ll follow you; I have my own bathroom.” He led him up the stairs, and into his bedroom. It was fairly big, again, definitely bigger than Declan’s. His queen bed took up the majority of it, and sat upon a large area rug. His wood floor felt like the studio floors at the gym.

“Shit, I forgot my bag downstairs,” Declan turned to exit the room.

“Don’t worry, I’ll go get it,” Skylar obliged.

“Alright, I’ll get in the shower.”

Skylar ran down the stairs and grabbed their bags. He noticed Declan’s phone vibrating furiously. As he opened it, he saw who was calling. Gable. His jaw clenched and he ignored the call. What Declan saw in him, he’d never understand. It was evident that Gable was using him, but he didn’t want to believe it. It hurt him knowing how much he personally cared about Declan, but they’d never be together because of Gable.

He climbed up the stairs, into his room, and walked towards the bathroom. The door was slightly ajar. He looked into it and saw Declan’s backside in full display. For having been morbidly obese, his body was surprisingly defined. His bottom was nice, high, and looked tight. His back was muscular, and his calves were the most prominent part of him. He felt his member twitch slightly. He moved his hand to stroke himself, but stopped himself, before he got anymore carried away. He walked into the bathroom, and placed Declan’s bag on the counter.

“Here’s your bag,” he informed the teen.

“Thanks,” Declan called out, “I’ll be out soon.”

After Skylar took his turn under the warm water, he dressed out in his room, but Declan dared not look at him. Skylar could tell how much he respected him, and it annoyed him.

“Where can I sleep?” Declan yawned.

“We can share my bed?” Skylar suggested, trying to underplay any innuendo he might detect.

“I don’t think that’s the best idea,” He frowned. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to sleep next to Skylar, he did… More than anything.

The passion between them was undeniable, to the point where he wished Gable didn’t exist just to be able to explore this possibility. He couldn’t, though, and it pained him, “I don’t mind sleeping on the floor, or a couch?”

“I’ll get you some blankets,” Skylar obliged, visibly dejected, yet again.

It pained him to not be the object of Declan’s desires. Unrequited love was the downfall of many people, and he feared it’d be his.

As they laid there, talking about random ongoings at the gym, Skylar’s curiosity began to overpower the conversation. At times, he’d push for more details of Declan’s family, others he’d try to pry into his and Gable’s relationship. It wasn’t that Declan was a particularly closed off person, in fact, it was quite the opposite, but… He knew Skylar’s intentions, and the less he knew, the better.

“Alright, I have another question,” Skylar announced during laughs.

“I might have an answer,” Declan smirked, his head laying on his hand, body turned upwards to his teammate.

“I heard Coach said something about Grapevine a few times,” he began, “and I’ve just always wondered…. What happened in Grapevine?”

Declan’s jaw tightened. The Grapevine incident had led him to quit gymnastics, and eventually gain all the weight he’d worked his ass off to lose.

It had happened so abruptly that at first all he could really remember was landing and then walking out of the gymnasium. Bits and pieces began to fall into place as he recounted the event.

“Well, it was back when I still did all-around,” Declan sighed uncomfortably, “I had just come off a disastrous rings rotation, and was going into vault. I was third to go.”

Skylar listened intently, his eyes searching Declan’s as if trying to watch the memory spring forth from his teammates eyes.

“I chalked up, warmed up with the rest of the guys in my subdivision, and waited for my turn,” Declan continued, “Once the guy before came off the podium, I walked on, and waited for the judge to clear me. However, they were taking an eternity with the previous guy’s score. I waited and waited, and finally a judge gave me the go ahead, or so I thought. I zoned out, went through the motions in my head, and before I could stop myself, I went for it. I threw the one and a half, landed, and saluted. Much to my chagrin, the judge, invalidating my vault. I was given a zero, and even though Coach tried to protest the score, the zero stood. I threw a fit, and was consequently removed from the gym.”

Skylar’s eyes widened, “Are you shitting me? So, they didn’t even let you finish?”

Declan shook his head, slightly chuckling, “Nope. Then again, I didn’t really stick around to see if they’d let me finish. The moment I crossed the doors into the parking lot, I hopped in my parent’s car, and left.”

“I don’t blame you,” He shook his head, “I would’ve done the exact same thing. That’s so… Anna Pavlova.”

“Don’t remind me…” Declan looked at him, and they shared a hearty laugh.

They exchanged a few more arbitrary anecdotes, before going to sleep. Declan slipped into a deep slumber quickly, but Skylar stayed up well after he’d gone to sleep just watching him breathe.

He was beautiful to him. His long eyelashes, his shaggy raven hair, his jawline… Everything about Declan was perfect to him, but Gable was a nagging reminder of the inevitable; he’d never have the opportunity to be with him, because he was far too obsessed with the jock.

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