When I See You Again

By LittleBuddhaTW

Special thanks to Sharon (Sat8997) for editing!

This is a story involving teenage gay males and may include sexually explicit content and adult language. If this kind of material is offensive to you, you are under the age of 18, or is illegal in the area where you live, do not read any further.


I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I stepped off the bus at the Little League compound in South Williamsport. It was like I'd died and gone to baseball heaven.

Just a small town with a population of around 30,000 people, Williamsport is located in Pennsylvania, bordered by the Susquehanna River, and nestled among the beautiful green rolling hills of the northeastern part of the state. Normally a non-descript blip on the map of Pennsylvania, Williamsport's quaint, small-town atmosphere was transformed into a bustling mecca for ten days each summer, with throngs of excited kids and baseball fanatics descending upon it's quiet streets. Whether in town to play baseball, cheer on their children, root for their brothers, or just to escape the insanity of the outside world and take refuge in the greatest of all American past-times, there was something in Williamsport this time of year for everyone.

Despite the overcast weather, the tops of the hills covered in a dense fog, the whole area was bustling with activity. Buses full of luggage and baseball equipment were being unloaded by dozens of rowdy pre-teen boys, their middle-aged team managers and coaches looking tired from the long trip through America's heartland. Even for those teams that flew in, since there was no major airport in Williamsport, they had to rent a bus from Baltimore for the final leg of the journey.

Our team's bus ride took about sixteen hours, so for us, it was an overnight journey. I felt bad for the adults who had to accompany us on the bus. I'm sure they were exhausted after all of the excitement of the past few weeks. We kids didn't help any, either. By the time midnight rolled around, and the bus was cruising along a deserted stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, most of the kids were still wide awake and full of energy, with empty bottles of Red Bull and half-eaten bags of Cheetos littering the floor.

I was content to just sit quietly and watch the scenery pass by, the trees cast in an eerie glow from the full moon. But, as I'd figured, Brennan and the other eleven boys weren't about to let me just sit there and day-dream.

"Hey man, you wanna play 'truth or dare' with us?" he asked excitedly, scooting into the seat next to me.

"Uhhh ... not really," I replied, keeping my eyes focused on the scenery outside of the bus.

"C'mon, it'll be fun!" he insisted, popping me on the shoulder with his fist.

I wasn't thrilled the idea, but I knew that if I didn't give in, he'd keep pestering me all night long, and I was actually hoping to get a little sleep before we arrived in Williamsport. Fortunately, I knew my teammates well enough to know that they had extremely short attention spans, so the stupid game probably wouldn't last more than fifteen minutes.

"Fine, whatever," I grumbled, getting up and walking to the back of the bus with him.

I might as well get it over with, I thought to myself. After all, if I didn't give Brennan a chance to have fun with the other kids, he might get resentful.

Arriving at the back of the bus, well away from the few sleeping adults huddled up together in the front, I got high-fives from a few of my teammates, and settled down on the floor next to Connor, our short, hyper right-fielder. I liked the buzz cut he'd gotten right before we left. Connor was a cute kid, with blond hair, big blue eyes, and braces on his teeth. He also had a slight lisp from the small gap between his front teeth, which caused a fair amount of teasing, but he never seemed to mind. Looking between him and Brennan, it was obvious that puberty hadn't hit Connor yet. Brennan didn't exactly have a deep voice or five-o'clock shadow, but Connor could have easily passed for nine or ten years old.

"Truth or dare, Grady?" Brennan asked, putting me on the spot right off the bat.

"Why do I have to go first?" I complained.

"C'mon, dork, truth or dare?" he asked again. "And remember, no take-backs on dares, and I'll know if you're lying on a 'truth', so you'd better not!"

"Fine ... truth," I sighed, resigning myself to my fate.

Considering the fact that Brennan knew almost everything there was to know about me, he knew just the right questions to embarrass me.

"What girl in class do you think about when you're 'answering the bone-a-phone'?" he asked, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"What?" I asked, not understanding what he was talking about.

"Jacking off, dude!" he laughed. "Who do you think about when you're jacking off?"

I was a little shocked at his question. Sure, we'd talked about puberty and stuff, but that was one subject we hadn't broached yet. I had actually been jacking off for a year or so, but had never mentioned it to Brennan. I was too embarrassed, I guess.

But, the question did make me realize something ... I couldn't think of a time when I'd thought about a girl while spanking it.

What did I think about, then?

"Uhhh ... Jenna Simpson," I lied, for lack of a better answer. She was a girl who I'd heard a lot of guys talking about, and she did have huge tits, so that would probably make sense. There was also a rumor that she'd already had sex, and she was only twelve!

"So you admit that you do jack off!" he shouted, scaring the hell out of me and embarrassing me at the same time.

The whole group was laughing, and I was mortified. The little fucker had tricked me, and I fell for it.

"Fuck you, Brennan," I muttered. I was not a happy camper right then, and if Brennan hadn't been my best friend in the whole world, I would've been very tempted to smack that grin right off his pretty face.

"Chill out, man, I'm just messing with you," he said, reaching over and nudging me on the shoulder. "We all do it, it's no big deal."

That might have made the humiliation sting a little less, Brennan having admitted that he did it, too -- even though that wasn't news to me -- but I still wasn't happy that he'd intentionally tried to embarrass me. He knew that I was sensitive about stuff like that. Nevertheless, as pre-teen boys are prone to do, I quickly let it go and we carried on with the game.

It actually turned out to be a lot of fun, especially when I realized that every one ended up getting humiliated, not just me. What came as a real surprise to me, though, was when Brennan admitted that he'd made out with Jenna Simpson and felt her up. It not only pissed me off that he'd never told me, but that he'd done it in the first place. I wasn't sure why I felt that way, but I was mad. For the rest of the game, I wouldn't even look at him.

When it was my turn again, I chose the "dare" option, figuring they'd probably make me do something stupid like going up to one of the adults and burping in their ear while they were sleeping, mooning everyone, or something equally immature. What they eventually dared me to do, though, came as a total shock.

"I dare you to kiss, Connor," Josh, our pudgy second-baseman, said with a devilish smirk.

My jaw practically hit the floor, and when I looked over at Connor, he had turned beet red.

"No way!" we both shouted at the same time, then quickly looked toward the front of the bus to make sure none of the parents had woken up from the noise.

"A dare's a dare," Josh proclaimed. "No take backs, remember?"

"C'mon, it's not a big deal," Brennan added. "It's a dare, so you have to do it. It doesn't mean you actually like kissing boys or anything."

As usual, Brennan's logic was sound, but I still didn't like the idea. But, I knew that if I didn't do it, I'd be breaking one of the Cardinal Rules for twelve-year-olds: 'Thou shalt not refuse a dare, or risk being the biggest loser in the world.' It's not like I didn't think I was a loser already, considering I basically had only one real friend, but I didn't want to make it even worse.

"For how long?" I asked warily.

"Three minutes," Josh answered with a smirk.

That was a bit unreasonable, I thought, but I didn't have much of a choice. So, wanting to get it over with as soon as possible, I scooted closer to Connor and leaned in slowly until I felt my lips pressing against his.

Even though it was just a stupid game of 'truth or dare,' it was still my first kiss, and I was terrified that I wouldn't know what to do.

Much to my surprise, it wasn't that difficult, but it wasn't exactly what I had expected, either. It was very awkward at first ... and very wet. I had started off by counting in my head so I would know when the time was up, but after a few seconds, I kind of lost track. The awkward first pecks eventually turned into more than I had counted on, as I felt Connor start to gently nibble at my bottom lip, and his tongue tried to push its way into my mouth. My first thought was to shove him away and call him a perv ... but I couldn't do it.

Millions of confused thoughts were running through my head, and my heart felt like it was about to burst out of my chest. Instead of pushing Connor away like I wanted to, I started to get into it, pushing back with my own tongue until I felt it slip into his mouth. At first, the feeling of his tongue in my mouth, and mine swishing around in his, was very weird ... pretty gross, actually. But, after a few seconds, it felt kind of ... cool, all warm and soft. I didn't notice at first, but his hand was gripping mine tightly, and when I finally did notice it, I squeezed back, and heard a soft whimper escape from his throat.

Eventually, my senses started coming back to me, and I realized that we had to have been kissing for at least three minutes by now, so I pulled away, letting go of his hand at the same time. When I looked at him, he had a dazed look in his eyes and his hair was drenched with sweat. As I ran my fingers through my own hair, I noticed that I was soaking wet, too, and my racing heart hadn't slown down at all.

"Dudes, you two were totally going at it for like ... uhhh ... ten minutes!" Josh announced, shaking his head in disbelief.

I looked over at Connor, who was seriously blushing by now, and looked completely flustered. I was embarrassed, too, and didn't know what to say. Everyone was speechless and was sitting there looking at each other in shock. I just wanted to cry.

"I'm tired, I need to get some sleep before tomorrow," I announced, getting up and walking quickly back toward my seat near the front of the bus before the flood gates opened and I started bawling. I wasn't even able to look at the other kids to get a feel for their reactions. I needed to get away from there, away from all of the looks, and away from ... I didn't know, but I just needed to get away and be by myself. I wanted to go to sleep, forget about everything, and hoped that everyone else would forget about it by morning. Something had just happened. Something that I'd both hated and liked at the same time, and that freaked the hell out of me.

It was just a stupid game like Brennan said, right? That's all everyone would think ... at least, that's what I kept telling myself, over and over again.

As I was wrestling with all these conficted thoughts, Connor suddenly plopped down in the seat next to me.

"I'm really sorry," he whispered.

I looked over at him and saw a sad look plastered on his baby face. He looked like he was about to cry, too.

"Can I stay here with you for a while?" he asked meekly. Even in the faint moonlight, I could see the poor kid shaking almost uncontrollably.

"I dunno, man. If you do, the other guys are gonna talk," I said. "And anyway, this is Brennan's seat. He's gonna want to sit here."

"Oh, ok," he said, getting up to leave. "I'm sorry."

Fuck Brennan, I thought. He's the one who got my into this.

"Wait, Connor," I said, reaching out to grab his arm. "You can sit here."

"Are you sure?" he asked, looking at me hopefully.

"Yeah, I am," I replied, patting the seat next to me.

After fidgeting around for a couple minutes, I ended up propping a pillow up against the window, and shortly thereafter, felt Connor's head lying against my shoulder. My first thought was to push him away, but by now, I was much too tired. And, it felt somehow comforting to feel his warm body next to me, hearing the rhythmic sound of his breathing, and knowing that at least I wasn't alone in what had just happened.

I woke up the next morning as the bus pulled into a gas station. I looked over and saw Brennan asleep in the seat next to me, and Connor across the aisle lying across two seats, his tiny little butt sticking up in there air and a faint line of drool coming out of his open mouth. I had to admit that it was an adorable sight. But, I felt conflicted -- I was happy that Brennan ended up sleeping next to me after all, but still angry from the night before. How could he put me on the spot like that? He had to know how humiliating that would be, and how much grief the other kids would create for me. It certainly wasn't something a "friend" should do, especially one who'd said he "loves" me. Right?! And what about feeling up Jenna Simpson? Why hadn't he told me about that? He'd never shown any interest in girls before.

Once everyone was awake, we stopped at a McDonald's for breakfast, and I was relieved that no one mentioned the previous night at all. Connor was uncharacteristically mellow, though, and Brennan was totally oblivious. I tried giving him the cold shoulder, but anytime Brennan and I had been angry with each other in the past, it never lasted very long. I was terrible at holding grudges, especially when it came to Brennan. Plus, going to the Little League World Series was something we had been looking forward to for a long time, and I didn't want to spoil things by being mad at each other. I was sure that we'd be cool once we got to Williamsport.


Every team at the Little League World Series was assigned an "uncle," a volunteer who served as a kind of chaperone during the week. Our "uncle" was a sixty-year-old guy with a huge beer belly and short gray hair, named Frank. He met us at the bus, introduced himself, and quickly led us across the parking lot and over to the International Grove -- typically just called "The Grove" -- where we would be staying for the duration of our time in Williamsport.

The inside of The Grove was a boy's paradise. There was a huge game room with ping-pong tables, foosball, an air hockey table, arcade games, a huge television set, and lots of comfy-looking sofas and chairs. "Uncle" Frank led us upstairs to our dorm room, which we were informed was right next door to the team from Chinese Taipei. We would also be sharing a bathroom with them. Mr. Bellinger and our other coach, Mr. Penney, Josh's dad, each had their own small room right next door to our dorm.

Since the parents were pretty much segregated from their kids during the World Series, they would be the only adults around. I thought it was a pretty good rule, since many Little League parents tended to get a little over-zealous and put a ton of pressure on their kids. This way, the kids could just relax and have fun. Since my parents showing up to watch me play baseball was about as likely as Paris Hilton becoming a nun, that wasn't something I had to contend with, though.

Stepping into our dorm room, I noticed that while it wasn't exactly luxurious, it wasn't bad, either. The walls were painted a pale white and the floors were linoleum. It had a rather "sterile" feeling to it, kind of like a hospital room. There were several rows of bunk beds, all of which were freshly made, with crisp, clean white sheets. There was also a large television in the corner, a DVD player and VCR, which were used by most teams to review video footage of the competition so that we could prepare for our games. But, I wasn't sure how much "studying" we would be doing with all of the other fun activities that were in store for us. I also noticed the brand-new, brightly colored uniforms lying on our beds, as well as a selection of new aluminum bats and other equipment sitting in the corner. It felt like Christmas in July ... err, August. It was a lot like what I imagined summer camp would be like, if I'd ever had the chance to go.

"Uncle" Frank gave us a few minutes to choose our bunks and get unpacked. Brennan and I instinctively went for the same set of bunk beds. I knew Brennan would want to be on top, so I tossed my bags on the bottom bunk. I noticed a couple pairs of plastic sandals by the bed, which we were told we should wear when going to the bathroom, unless we wanted to develop a foot fungus. There weren't any dressers to put our clothes in, so we would have to live out of our suitcases. I put mine at the foot of the bed, right next to Brennan's.

Once we had a chance to get settled and check out our new surroundings, "Uncle" Frank took us on a tour of the rest of The Grove, which included the mess hall where we would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and as many snacks as we wanted. There was also a large Olympic-size swimming pool, complete with a diving board. From there, we took a brief tour of the Little League Museum, and then walked down the large grassy hill to the stadium area, occupied by Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Volunteer Stadium, where we would be playing all of our games. There were also a couple of smaller practice fields and batting cages for us to use.

Our fields back home weren't maintained very well, the grass was worn out, and the pitcher's mound was uneven. There were several rows of rusty bleachers for parents to use to sit and watch the games, and a rusty fence for a backstop. However, the two stadiums at the Little League complex were amazing. The fields were immaculate. The grass was the greenest I had ever seen, and there wasn't a single divot. The dirt on the infield and pitcher's mound was a reddish-brown, groomed by the grounds-keepers to be perfectly even and smooth, and the white lines along the base paths and foul lines were drawn as straight as an arrow.

The dimensions of the field were also slightly larger than what we were used to back home, with the outfield walls 225 feet away from home plate instead of the typical 205 feet for Little League fields. "Uncle" Frank explained that since all of the kids coming to the Little League World Series were the best of the best, this was meant to ensure that there weren't an excessive number of homeruns and the games were kept a little more exciting. He cited a few statistics about how more doubles and triples had been hit into the gaps since the fence lines were extended, but my mind was still too captivated by the shear enormity of the place to pay much attention.

There was plenty of seating for spectators, and the seats themselves looked almost new. There were also special booths for the media and official score-keepers, along with spotlessly clean dugouts for the teams. I noticed that there weren't any on-deck circles, as the Little League felt that it was too dangerous to have kids standing out there in the open where they could be beaned by a foul ball. Everyone would have to wait in the dugout for their turn to bat.

In between the two stadiums, there was a large concession area, as well as stands where you could buy all kinds of Little League World Series souvenirs. I was the most excited about getting to trade Little League pins with the other kids from around the world, a long-standing tradition at the World Series. I had brought plenty of our league's pins to trade, and was looking forward to getting some good ones in return, especially from the international teams.

As I stood there and gazed out at the field, taking in the warm afternoon air and the scent of the freshly cut grass, I felt like I had died and gone to baseball heaven. Except for a few quiet "ooh's" and "ahh's" from my teammates, no one said a word. To us, it was almost like being in church. Williamsport was a sacred place.

We had finally arrived, and I couldn't wait to try on my brand new uniform and get out on the field to play.


After touring the Little League facilities, "Uncle" Frank led us to the gathering spot for our official orientation. By the time we got there, most of the other teams had already arrived. The energy in the room was electric, nearly two hundred eleven and twelve-year-olds all running around and chatting excitedly. It took a while to get everyone seated, but finally the director of the Little League organization came up to a small podium and welcomed us to the Little League World Series.

A number of different speakers talked about the history of Little League baseball, the significance of making it to Williamsport, the rules we needed to follow, and how the tournament would work. A couple of the ESPN broadcasters who would be covering the event got up to speak, which was the highlight of the orientation for us, since most of us watched "Baseball Tonight" and "SportsCenter" religiously. They told us a little bit about what they were doing, how our interactions with the media would work, and even answered a few questions from us giddy kids. Despite my dislike of the spotlight, even I had to admit that this was kind of cool.

Other than that, though, most of the orientation was pretty boring, and I just wanted to get out of there and have some fun. As I looked around the room, it appeared as if the other kids were thinking the same thing as me. Finally, after about an hour, we were finally dismissed, and hurried back to The Grove to eat and relax.

"This is so cool!" Brennan exclaimed, as we ran up the large grassy hill, past the looming bronze statue of "The Might Casey" that gazed out on the field, and on toward The Grove.

"We're gonna have girls begging to suck on our tally whackers once they see us on ESPN," giggled Rory, our resident "stud" of a shortstop, who had always been popular with the girls at school.

Rory was a little taller than me, with short brown hair and a pretty decent build for a twelve-year-old. He never wore a shirt unless he had to, and seemed to enjoy showing off the beginnings of his six-pack abs, pecs, and his dark tan. He was also the only other kid on our team with braces, besides Connor. I never really talked to Rory much, though. He was a little arrogant, and besides playing shortstop, he also pitched, and acted like he was constantly in some kind of competition with me. But, even though I didn't care for him that much, I still found myself admiring him more and more often ... physically, at least.

Back at The Grove, we all went through the cafeteria line together and loaded up on pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs. It was our first real chance to try to meet some of the kids from the other teams, but I guess we were all a little shy ... or maybe felt that we shouldn't be conversing with the "enemy." I always enjoyed "people watching," though, and this was a good opportunity.

I noticed the kids from the Japan and Chinese Taipei teams seemed a little uncomfortable with the food, eyeing it suspiciously the whole time. The teams from Venezuela and Mexico were sitting together, chatting away loudly in Spanish. The American kids were acting ... well, like American kids. They seemed to be dividing their time between stuffing their faces, throwing bits of food at each other, and tossing around insults with their teammates, mostly about who was a better ball player or who had a bigger dick.

It was early evening by the time we finished dinner and had played a few games of foosball and air hockey. At about seven o'clock, Coach Penney rounded us up and sent us upstairs to get showered and settled down, since we had a long day of practice ahead of us. What I didn't realize until I was gathering my things for my shower was that this would be my first time showering with any other kids, and I suddenly got very nervous about being naked in front of everyone.

Fortunately, though, the bathroom wasn't large enough for everyone to shower at the same time, so only a few of us went in together at a time, while the rest waited back in the room for their turn. Of course, I went with Brennan, feeling a little more secure that way. A few butterflies started to flutter around in my stomach, though, when I saw Rory walking to the bathroom with us. For some reason, the thought of showering together with Rory was both a little exciting and a little worrisome.

Why did I want to see Rory in the shower so badly? I didn't even really like the kid!

My self-questioning didn't last long, though. After all, Brennan said that it was normal, so it wasn't worth worrying myself over, right?

Walking into the shower area, I sure got an eyeful as I noticed several of the kids from the Chinese Taipei team in there already. I couldn't help but stare as I looked over their small, naked bodies, all wet and soapy. They looked like little kids, appearing much less developed than the rest of us. I also noticed something else -- their dicks looked strange to me, not like mine or Brennan's. I was also a little taken aback to see them smacking each other's little butts and playing a game of "grab the wiener." That wasn't something I could ever have imagined doing with any of the kids on my team, but they acted like it was totally natural. They weren't even hard like I probably would have been ... or was about to be if I kept watching them.

It wasn't long before they noticed us, though, and as I was lathering up my hair, I saw them staring at us, talking to each other in hushed tones. Even though I couldn't understand exactly what they were saying to each other, I had a pretty good idea, since their eyes were focused on our little pricks. It made me feel a little embarrassed, but being there with Brennan and Rory, I had to try to be cool and act "normal."

Nevertheless, when I noticed Rory rinsing his hair, I had to take the opportunity to sneak a peak at him. But, that was short-lived, as I noticed myself getting a little too "excited" at the sight of his smooth, toned body, his small, round butt, and the light dusting of curly brown pubic hair that had started sprouting up around the base of his dick. I certainly didn't want to get caught with a woody in the shower, so I looked away and tried to focus on getting myself clean as quickly as possible, while thinking of old ladies and grapefruit ... my trick for getting rid of an unwanted boner. Brennan wouldn't have thought twice about popping wood in the shower, but I had no idea how Rory might react, and I wasn't eager to attract any negative attention from any of my teammates after the previous night's little "incident."

So, I quickly finished washing, gave a friendly nod to the Chinese kids, who smiled shyly back at me, and bolted from the showers, drying myself as I traipsed across the wet tile floor. When I got back to our room, the other kids were in the middle of a massive pillow fight, jumping around and screaming like little barbarians. I needed some peace and quiet in order to get into my "zone" for the upcoming week, so I put on a pair of shorts, a warm-up jacket, grabbed my backpack, and headed out to take a walk around the complex to get a little air.


The cool night air felt good to me as I walked down the path toward Lamade Stadium. The lights were all on in the stadium and cast a pale glow over the surrounding area. Except for the faint sounds of screaming boys coming from The Grove behind me, and crickets chirping in the night, it was a quiet evening.

I made my way toward the large statue of "The Mighty Casey," the great slugger of baseball lore, which I thought might give me some much needed inspiration for the upcoming tournament. It was a quiet spot away from the bright lights of the stadium, and I was looking forward to sitting there and thinking for a while, just being by myself and going over some strategy in my mind.

When I arrived, though, I noticed that I wasn't quite alone. Someone else was sitting in my spot!

"Hey, what're you doing out here?" I asked, as I approached the boy, trying to act as "cool" as possible.

The boy looked up and I realized that he looked a little familiar. I'd seen him sitting off by himself at dinner time. He was about my height, but built slightly thicker. He had short, sandy blond hair, mostly covered up by the yellow and red baseball cap he was wearing, which also partially shielded his eyes. He also had a slightly larger-than-normal mouth that made him look kind of like a monkey ... but in a cute way.

"Hi, I'm David," he answered in a near whisper, his voice containing just a hint of teenage rasp. Either he had a sense of the sanctity of this special place, too, or he was just shy. I was betting on the latter.

"I'm Grady," I said, giving him a quick wave and a half-hearted smile. I still wasn't thrilled with him sitting in my spot.

"Sorry, I was just leaving," he mumbled, getting up off the ground and brushing a few loose blades of the newly cut grass off his pants.

"No, you don't have to leave," I blurted out, feeling a little guilty that I may have come across as being a rude asshole.

I pulled a large beach towel out of the backpack I had brought with me and spread it out on the ground.

"You can hang here with me, if you'd like," I said, sitting down on the towel and patting the spot next to me.

"Are you sure?" he asked, looking like he couldn't decide whether to sit down or run away. Something about the look on his face reminded me of that day Brennan found me in the corner of kindergarten class.

"Yeah, I'm sure," I assured him.

I pulled a couple of Cokes out of my bag, and a bag of Sour Patch Kids, which I offered to him. As we sat there looking at the stadium, I kept trying to get up the nerve to strike up a conversation with him.

"So, what team are you on?" I finally asked. I wasn't sure what had come over me, or why I suddenly wanted to try to get to know him, just minutes after I was wishing that he would get out of my spot. Considering the roller coaster of emotions I'd been on lately, perhaps it wasn't so out of character for me, though.

"Southeast," he answered. "From Alabama."

"Cool," I said. Apparently, my conversational skills still needed some work.

So, we just sat there in silence for a few more minutes, looking out over the ball park, as millions of thoughts raced through my head. I really wanted to talk to this kid, try to find out more about him, but I couldn't find the words.

"So ... uhhh ... you having fun so far?" I asked, trying to get the conversation back on track.

He paused for a few moments before he answered. "It's alright, I guess.".

"How can you not like this place?" I asked, shocked by his response. "It's like a baseball paradise, man!"

"I dunno," he sighed. "I guess I don't like my teammates too much."

"Why not?" I asked.

"I'm not, like, the best player on our team. I almost lost the regionals for us when I dropped a ball out in center field," he replied. "And I strike out more than anyone else. So, the other guys fuck with me all the time, call me names, smack me around a little ... stuff like that."

"Doesn't your coach do anything about it?" I questioned him.

"Yeah, he tries, but he can't be there all the time," he answered, his voice seeming more and more distant as he plucked a dandelion from the ground.

I felt so bad for him, but I didn't know what to say. Even though I wasn't exactly the coolest kid on my team, everyone was pretty nice to me because I won games for us. So, I decided to go out on a limb.

"Well, you can hang out with us, if you want," I offered.

David appeared to be deep in thought for a few moments. "Thanks, but that's alright. I'll be fine."

"Seriously, man, it'd be cool. I want you to, really," I said, trying to sound as convincing as possible. I really needed him to agree, because I needed time to get to know him, to try to figure out why I was so ... fascinated by him.

"I'll think about it, okay?" he conceded, giving me a small smile.

Once that was settled, and I could breathe a sigh of relief that I just might get that chance to get to know him, the conversation finally opened up and we started to talk about my favorite topic -- baseball. We talked about our favorite teams, our favorite players, and the amazing seasons both of our teams had experienced. He said that all of his teammates knew who I was already, and were all anxious to get a crack at hitting my fastball. I was pretty confident that I wouldn't have too much trouble, and told him as much, which gave him a good laugh.

As the conversation went on, I found myself getting more and more comfortable with David. After we'd talked about baseball for a while, we moved on to other topics. He was very easy to talk to, and not as shy as I had originally thought ... at least not around me. I told him all about Brennan and about my life back home in Michigan. He told me how lucky I was to have someone as close as Brennan, and I had to agree. He said he didn't have a best friend, but had always wished for one. For a moment, I was tempted to offer to be his best friend for the week, but I figured that might be a little weird, considering we had just met only an hour or so before. Plus, Brennan already occupied that place in my life, and I would have felt like that was betraying him.

Eventually, David began to tell me about his life back in Alabama, which, as it turned out, wasn't much better than mine. His mom left when he was eight years old, and his dad had to drive a truck to make ends meet, meaning he was hardly ever at home. He was pretty much raised by his fifteen-year-old brother, although I wasn't sure how good of an influence he could be when he said that his brother was hardly ever at home, either, out partying and getting drunk with his friends almost every night, and fucking any girl he could get his dick into. He'd already gotten two girls pregnant, both of whom ended up getting abortions. He also had a younger brother, Dalton, who was three years younger than him, and the closest thing he had to a best friend. He said he was worried about leaving Dalton all by himself, but he didn't have much of a choice.

By the time he'd gotten done telling me about his life, I was pretty much in shock. Listening to David talk, I realized how lucky I actually was. Sure, my life wasn't the greatest, at least in terms of the parents I'd gotten stuck with, but it could've been so much worse. Listening to him talk, he seemed like such a nice, sweet guy. He was smart, funny, and cute, too. It didn't seem fair to me that nice people got stuck with shitty lives. And even though my family life wasn't any better, at least I had Brennan and Mr. Bellinger. They more than made up for my parents.

Without any warning, I suddenly had the urge to hug him. So I did.

"What's that for?" he asked, a little surprised, but he didn't push me away.

"I dunno," I sighed, keeping my arms around him and squeezing even tighter. "I just felt like hugging you."

When I eventually let go, we fell into another awkward silence. Even though it felt right at the time, I knew that hugging another boy like that wasn't something twelve-year-old boys were supposed to do. I wanted to say something to try to explain myself, but as usual, the right words failed to come to me.

"So, did you mean it when you said I could hang out with you?" he suddenly asked.

"Uhhh ... yeah ... I did ... mean it, that is," I stammered.

"Cool," he said, smiling.

"Maybe we'd better head back," I suggested, looking at my watch and noticing that it was already past nine o'clock, and our curfew was at ten.

"Yeah, I guess," he sighed, picking himself up off the ground.

As we walked slowly back toward The Grove in silence, we both kept stealing glances at each other, cracking up each time one of us was caught looking. With the hug having gone over pretty well, I was tempted to reach out and hold his hand, but I couldn't gather up the courage to do it. I figured that might be pushing things a little too much. But, I was still satisfied with the way things had turned out so far.

In just a couple of short hours, I had gone from being annoyed at David's presence in "my spot," to feeling practically giddy that I had met him. I never took the initiative in trying to make friends, having always been satisfied with having just Brennan in my life. Now, though, I was practically floating. I was full of energy, there was a weird tingling sensation in my stomach and for those few moments, baseball was actually the furthest thing from my mind. All I could think about was when I could see David next.

When we got back to the dorms, we went our separate ways, and I headed back to our room, where I found everyone laying on their bunks and watching a DVD. I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash up before bed.

"Where were you, man?" I heard Brennan ask from behind me. "I was lookin' for ya."

"Out for a walk," I replied, with my mouth full of toothpaste.


"I made a new friend," I announced.

"Really?" he asked, sounding slightly surprised.

I finished spitting the last mouthful of toothpaste into the sink and rinsed my mouth out, taking a moment to look at myself in the mirror before answering.

"Yeah, I ran into him when I was out walking. He's on the Southeast team. His name is David, and he's really nice," I said, turning around to look at Brennan.

"You're not gonna ditch me for him, are ya?" he asked with a laugh, although I knew him well enough to know that it was forced.

"Dork," I said, rolling my eyes.

"You should introduce him to the team," he suggested.

"Yeah, I told him he could hang out with us. It sounds like the other guys on his team aren't very nice to him," I explained.

I waited nervously for Brennan's response. I didn't want him to get all weird on me.

"Sure, that's cool," he said with a shrug.

"You know, I was thinking ... I wanna get a buzz cut like Connor's," I blurted out. "It'll keep me cooler."

"Are you serious, dude?" he asked, looking shocked.

"Yeah, I am," I said. "Think your dad will do it for me?"

"Probably. I'll go get him," he said, then turned and headed back toward the room.

Thirty minutes later, I was standing in front of the mirror again, this time checking out my new haircut. I wasn't sure what possessed me to do it. It was one of those impulse things, I guess. It looked kind of cool, though, and Brennan sure seemed to like rubbing my head now ... about every two minutes ... as did the rest of the team.

That night, as I crawled into bed, I had a new hair cut, a new friend, and tomorrow was going to be another fun-filled day.


As I sat down at the table with the rest of the team and started digging into my bowl of Frosted Flakes, I looked around the mess hall at the other hundred or so kids who were already awake and ready to go for the day.

"That's him over there," I nudged Brennan, pointing over to a corner of the room where David was sitting by himself, eating a banana.

Brennan immediately got up and walked over to David, tapped him on the shoulder, and motioned for him to follow him back to our table. David looked a little scared and confused at first, but when he looked toward our table and saw me waving at him, he slowly got up and started making his way over.

After introducing him to everyone, he sat down next to me and continued to slowly eat his banana. As I watched him, a couple of dirty thoughts ran through my mind, and I almost ended up choking on my own Frosted Flakes. He asked if I was alright, and I just told him I was distracted by something else ... which was true, in a way. What exactly I was distracted by, I wasn't about to tell him, both because it was totally gross, and I was embarrassed that I was even thinking that.

I tried to get him to talk, but it was like pulling teeth to get him to open up and say anything. If my emotions hadn't been in such a constant state of turmoil, my rational self would have concluded that he was either still tired, or he was nervous being around everyone. Of course, being the mess that I was, I immediately began to worry that maybe he didn't want to be friends anymore, maybe that hug last night had freaked him out, or I was pushing him too hard by asking him to come sit with us. Maybe he wanted to sit alone, and I was just being a nuisance.

When we finished eating, the coaches and our "uncles" began herding us over to where the ESPN crew had set up so we could record our introductions that would be shown at the beginning of each game. Needless to say, I was terrified of being in front of a camera, but Brennan held my hand (literally) the whole time we were waiting in line. When it was my turn, I got up there and repeated what I had practiced about fifty times already.

"Hi, my name is Grady Davis, I'm a pitcher, and my favorite Major League player is Roger Clemens," I recited from memory.

I was shaking by the time I finished, but Brennan was there to slap me on the back and tell me I did fine. Even Rory had a few kind words for me. I looked around for David, hoping to see him before we had to start practices for the rest of the day, but he was nowhere to be found, which, of course, got my mind going again. I wanted to smack myself for getting so worked up, but it was like I had no control over my emotions.

The rest of the day was spent practicing, both at the batting cages, and on one of the smaller practice fields. I was supposed to be starting our first game the next day, so Mr. Bellinger didn't work me too hard. I took a few swings with the bat, practiced fielding a couple of ground balls off the mound, and worked with our first and third basemen on fielding bunts. As a pitcher, I was pretty good at fielding my position as well, not just hurling the ball at upwards of 75 mph.

After we had fielded a few bunts, I noticed an ESPN producer guy walk over to Mr. Bellinger and start talking with him. A few minutes later, Mr. Bellinger and the guy walked over and asked if I'd be interested in filming a brief segment with Orestes Destrade on "Little League ABC's" to be shown on ESPN during their coverage of the World Series. My initial reaction was to tell them "No fucking way!", but if it meant getting to meet the former Major Leaguer, it was hard to say no. Plus, I'd watched those short clips the previous year on ESPN, and I knew I wouldn't have to do any talking; just field a couple of balls and that would be it. So, I agreed ... albeit a bit hesitantly.

Since I wasn't the only one involved in fielding bunts, they asked Rory to come along, too, and play first base. He wasn't even a first baseman, but I suppose they thought he looked photogenic or something. I was sure Rory would be thrilled about being on television, although I would have much preferred that they took Brennan along with us. I thought he deserved it more.

Fortunately, filming the entire segment only took about twenty minutes. Orestes Destrade stood there with his massive hand on my shoulder and gave his explanation of how to properly field a bunt, while I just stood there with a stupid grin on my face. We shot two different kinds of plays, both with me fielding the ball and throwing to Rory at first base, and with Rory fielding the ball, and me covering first base. Despite being nervous about the camera, and a little intimidated by the hulking figure of Orestes looming next to me, I didn't fuck it up, and it only took us three takes of each play to get it right.

"Hey kid, I hear you've got a cannon for an arm," Orestes said once we finished shooting.

I blushed a deep shade of crimson. "Yeah, I guess so."

"Go get 'em, little man," he said with a smile as he turned to leave.

By the time we got back to our room that night, I was exhausted. It had been a long day of filming and practicing, and not really anytime to hang out and have fun. Mr. Bellinger assured us that we'd have plenty of time for that, as our practice schedule wouldn't be too intense once the actual tournament began.

When we headed off to shower, I was a little glad that it was Josh who was going with Brennan and me, since his chubby tummy and boy-tits didn't really do anything for me, so hopefully I wouldn't have to worry about popping a boner. As it was the night before, there were a few kids from the Chinese Taipei team already in there, and I gave them a small wave as I took my place under the shower head and started soaping up.

"You like play PS2?" I heard a small voice speaking from behind me in broken English.

I turned around and saw an adorable little Chinese kid standing there, buck naked. He had a buzz cut like me, but was several inches shorter, with jet black hair, small almond-shaped eyes, and caramel-colored skin. I'd never really thought about Asian boys before, but he was a cutie ... even if he only looked about ten years old.

"Uh ... yeah, a little, I guess," I answered.

"You play with us sometime?" he asked, his adorable little eyes looking hopeful.

"Yeah, sure," I agreed. "Come get me whenever you want."

"Yay!" he answered, then turned around quickly and started running back toward his teammates, speaking rapidly and excitedly in Chinese.

"Hey, what's your name?" I called back after him.

He stopped and turned around. "Chen Yu-tse!"

"Uhhh ... what?" I asked, not really sure I would be able to pronounce that one.

"My English name is Jacky," he said with a grin.

"Cool, I'm Grady," I said, as he turned back around and ran off to be with his friends.

I was continually amazed by these little Chinese kids who seemed to be so out-going and didn't seem to care at all that they were much more under-developed than us American boys. In my twelve years, I had never been one to make new friends, with the exception of Brennan, but in the past couple days, I'd already befriended David, and it now seemed like I was making friends with the whole team from Chinese Taipei. And, if David didn't want to be my friend anymore, as I was starting to suspect since I hadn't seen him since breakfast, I wouldn't mind hanging out with the Chinese Taipei team. They seemed like they would be a lot of fun.

By the time we finished getting cleaned up, I was too exhausted to even think about going to look for David, so I just made my way to bed and passed out. I needed to get a good night's sleep, anyway, since tomorrow was going to be our first big test on the field, and I had to bring my best stuff to the mound.

I really wanted to crawl into bed with Brennan. I could've used his comforting after the long day we'd had. But, even though that would have been "normal" for us, I wasn't too naive to know that our teammates would have thought it was weird. Would Brennan have cared? No, but I would have. I already thought I was weird enough, so I didn't need anyone else reminding me. I'd just have to make do on my own for the time being.

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This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.

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