Lucas had called Emmanuel all day that next week. Of course Emmanuel had not picked up a single phone call. He didn't want to talk to any of them. If was clear what they all thought of him. He had simply taken his pills like he was supposed to and basically avoided everyone. Even people that were not on his team... or former team.
Come Friday, he took his gear and headed out to the appointed stadium not meeting at the field and using the team bus like he had done the last month. He just wanted to get this over with. Upon arrival, he was once again the center of attention. He heard murmurs until someone decided to shout:
"Oh she made it." followed by bursts of laughter.
"Shut up, Bobby!! My God!" The familiar voice of Lucas rang out.
"Thank you for coming" Lucas said in a lower voice as he got closer to Emmanuel
"No it's okay. I owe this team this much" Emmanuel said
"I tried calling you, you know?"
"Oh yeah about that... I'm sorry this week just wasn't the best for me"
"Oh I totally get it... oh looks like the other team has arrived. Are you ready for this?" Lucas asked
"As ready as I'll ever be" he replied
"Ok then" Lucas said smiling "come on, coach wants to talk to us" he said finally as they both went to rejoin the team.
Coach gave the expected motivational speech and urged the team to play better than they'd ever played. With that the team took to the pitch.
In one moment of strength, the team put one up against a clearly superior team and went on the defensive. That day Emmanuel made a season high of 11 saves in one game including a penalty shot in the 83rd minute. After that penalty save, a wave of joy and relief filled the team happiness overshadowed their ignorance of 'transgender' for a split second resulting in two teammates hugging Emmanuel.
The team was too happy with him to be awkward at that time. The match ended 1:0 securing the Royals a spot in the championship.
Emmanuel got a few nods which he returned after the game had ended. He walked to the dressing room to pick up his bag before anyone else got in. He wasn't in the mood for any more drama. As he walked out of the building, half the team was standing outside. One of them began:
"So Danny is hosting a party at his house to celebrate this win. The team thought you should come"
Emmanuel was stunned at first but then said:
"I'm not a part of this team anymore remember?"
"But you are. Every thing that has happened these past months, all these victories? The truth is we couldn't have done any of it without you so it is only right that you join in the celebration"
"Are you all serious?" Emmanuel asked on the verge of a smile
"Yes. Starts at 9:30. Lucas will text you the address. Please be there" the boy that Emmanuel had never talked to spoke with honesty in his voice
"Okay. I'll be there" Emmanuel gave in finally
"Great. And thanks for today. From the whole team"
Emmanuel just smiled and nodded and left.
Come 'dress up for the party time', Emmanuel didn't know what to wear. He finally realized that most of his jeans were now tight at the hips. In truth he was overjoyed. It had begun. Just in time.
He finally decided on some jeans, a white t-shirt under some blazers. He had contemplated a pair of sunglasses but decided against them in fear of looking like a douche bag.
Arriving fifteen minutes late, he realized that almost nobody had come. At least almost nobody from the team. There were three faces he recognized apart from Danny's(the host)
They welcomed him quite warmly which was followed by him picking out and tasting every light drink in the place.
The place was quite lavish. Apparently Danny's folks had done well for themselves.
Over the next couple hours, the team arrived one by one with the last arriving at 11:00.
The party really kicked off at midnight with the music and the booze. It felt as though everything was alive that night although that might just have been the booze.
Lucas caught up to him later that night and literally introduced him to almost every girl in the place. Emmanuel began to get clues that they were trying to get him laid. That perhaps if he had sex and enjoyed it, he would want to stay a guy but he feared that too so he rejected every girl. Over the next hour, 8 girls had flirted and basically opened their legs to the Royals star keeper.
Sadly, they had all been rejected. Lucas was getting tired realizing that there was no hooking Emmanuel up tonight. He went to be with his girlfriend.
Emmanuel went to the bar to get a few more shots down. As he was turning, he hit a guy and the guy's drink spilled all over Emmanuel's shirt.
"Oh my God I'm so sorry"
"No it's totally cool don't worry about it"
The good news is the blazer would survive but the shirt was totalled
"No your shirt is runined.. here let me." He brought out a handkerchief and handed it to Emmanuel who used it to clean a little of his shirt
"It's alright. I'll get a new one"
"Yeah but tonight you won't end up looking as gorgeous as you were before. I really am sorry" he said with a cheeky smile.
Emmanuel's brain froze as his heart ceased pumping
"Oh my God he's gay" Emmanuel thought. Half thinking of running away.
The guy picked up on Emmanuel's current state and then said:
"I'm so sorry I thought you were gay. I mean I've seen how you talked to all the girls in this place. I mean you couldn't be less interested so I just thought..." he said sounding utterly embarrassed
"No I can see how you could have thought but I'm not." Emmanuel said.
"Well I'm sorry to have bothered you. And sorry about the shirt"
"No worries" Emmanuel said with a final smile
As the guy turned to leave, Emmanuel's mind went on a quick roller coaster ride and he thought "why not?"
"Wait!" He called out followed by the guy's quick turn "It's rude to spill your drink on someone and not tell them your name" Emmanuel said smiling
"Andrew. And it's also rude not to ask after telling someone your name" Andrew said
"Emmanuel." He replied
"Nice to meet you Emmanuel" he said again as he turned to leave
"I could do with the company. It is a rather dull party for me at this point" Emmanuel called out again
Andrew let out a chuckle "walk with me?"
Emmanuel smiled as they walked outside.
Following that the two talked about everything, laughed about everything and in a moment of a gamble, Emmanuel told Andrew everything.
He told Andrew everything that had gone on these past few months. Andrew just nodded to all of it and even hugged Emmanuel sometimes when it looked like he was going to tear up. Andrew took it all really well asking questions where he didn't understand. Emmanuel tagged his calm as related to him being gay. Sometime in his life, he must have experienced rejection. They hugged more often than not and Andrew occasionally tried to calm Emmanuel down (who was feeling surprisingly emotional crying a river). He then asked if Emmanuel was going to change his name which Emmanuel replied:
"My second name maybe but I'm going to keep my first.. sort of.. I've decided to go as Emma"
"Fitting name for someone as beautiful as you" Andrew said with a smile
Emmanuel looked somewhat perplexed before speaking:
"How is it that I was so lucky to have met you?"
"How were WE? How were we so lucky? You're the one I've been searching for. I'm sure of it" Andrew said
"I feel the exact same way. To think all this started with you spilling wine on me"
"Right I totally forgot about that. Come on, we should go get you a new shirt"
"Your shirt is obviously ruined. You need to change it"
"You're not just trying to get me home now are you?"
"No. Although that wouldn't be a bad idea" they both laughed
"So how then?"
"Come on" he said. Emmanuel got in his car and he drove for about 15 minutes before stopping at a building. The sign said "ANDREW'S"
"No way!" Emmanuel exclaimed "this is yours?"
"But you're like 19. Oh my God I didn't ask" Emmanuel said with a 'sorry' kind of face
"It's okay. You're not even far off. I'm 20"
"Still you own this?" Emmanuel asked sounding surprised
"Actually my dad funded it but yeah.. I do"
"Oh really? Cool dad"
"Yeah he wanted me to be a doctor but I refused so he let me choose a profession"
"And you chose business"
"That's a fancy way to say I sell clothes" Andrew said
"you are too modest"
"Yeah I guess so."
"But still what are we doing here?"
"Well if you're going to be a girl, my girl..." he made a quick pause as he smiled "you'll need to dress like one"
"Hmm your girl? You're confident too, aren't you?" Emma said smiling coyly
"You're not gonna reject me are you?" Andrew said taking a step forward
"I wouldn't dream of it" Emmanuel said before pulling Andrew's shirt and kissing him. Both parties holding tightly to each other. When they finally broke away with extraordinarily wide grins, they then knew that they had been made for each other
As the first rays of the sun hit the horizon, Andrew said stretching his hand:
"Come on Babe, let's go inside"
And Emma took it.
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