Story:Assist or Rebound
Assist or Rebound
Written by Shataivian
Tuesday, January 21st. Seattle, Washington. Las Vegas vs. Seattle. The score at the end of the night: Las Vegas Wildcards 111, Seattle Summit 126.
“It’s technically a double-double...”
12 assists, but only 15 points. She tried to set everyone up for the best plays but the chemistry just wasn’t there. That, and they were up against Seattle: a team Lisa knew that Vegas hardly ever beats on their home court.
She’d been doing a lot of thinking. A lot of rethinking. A lot of panicking. A lot of worst-case-scenario-believing. Having just spoken to Jason and Damario only two days prior, the idea of “getting the upper hand” seemed a bit farfetched. Besides, if she just ignores it, it all goes away.
All of this thinking may had played a role in her only scoring 15 points. At least, that’s what Lisa was telling herself. Maybe the lack of chemistry between her teammates has something to do with her lack of chemistry with others off the court. It’s a stretch, but it makes sense, right?
It has been a while, but after the game, Lisa could see a familiar face in the crowd. Despite everything, it was a good feeling to see Jason there, waiting for her. She washed up and waited until the crowd had all left before meeting with Jason.
“You’re here,” Lisa said through a soft smile. Jason returned the smile and nodded. “Then why did you fly out to Vegas the other day? If you were just gonna meet me here, why didn’t you wait until today to talk?”
“Damario couldn’t make it,” Jason said, the smile dropping from his face. “Besides, I was kinda hoping to have you to myself tonight.” After everything the two had been through? Jason still wanted to spend time with her, alone? Doesn’t he know that would anger her? Doesn’t he know that Lisa would yell at him for that? A statement like that would surely push them away further.
“That was sweet of you.”
They strolled around for a while and found themselves in a familiar park. It was snowing the last time they were there. Almost a year ago when the dominoes started to fall. Lisa was even wearing the same white winter coat from last year.
“It’s weird being here and not seeing it covered in snow,” Lisa said with another soft smile.
“Oh. That’s right. Took a second,” Jason chuckled, though, he vividly remembered last Valentine’s Day. The walk had been mostly silent. Lisa barely looked up past the ground. Jason wanted so many times to break the silence, but never had anything to say. Lisa was so closed off, her arms were wrapped around herself. “Are… you cold,” Jason asked.
“No, I’m…” She stopped. She looked up at Jason, and the two finally made eye contact. “Yeah! Vegas is so much warmer than here,” despite the weather being much warmer than last year, a cool 49°.
“Really? Well, um, do you want to go inside somewhere?” She started to fidget with her hands.
“Actually, I kinda don’t want to be out in public right now. Would it be okay if we go back to your place?”
Now what? What was Jason supposed to do with this? Were they really that much back on good terms with each other that she’d want to come over? Stammering the whole time, Jason gave his approval.
His new place was much smaller than his condo. The divorce left him with just enough to still continue to live in Seattle. Lisa, like she had been there before, plopped herself onto his couch. She landed with a thud and cried out.
“Oh yeah. I remember this couch,” she grumbled. Jason laughed.
“Yeah, unfortunately I got stuck with this thing.” This was the same couch Lisa had slept on the year before. It was all fashion with none of the comfort. Even the color didn’t seem to work: an odd sea green color that stood out as much as it’s chaise-like shape and tufted cushions.
“You don’t have anything more comfortable than this?”
“Sorry. Not unless you’re planning to go to sleep.” Jason laughed, Lisa did not. Jason slowly stopped laughing and composed himself.
“Can I ask you something,” Lisa squeaked out.
“Would it be okay if I stayed the night?”
“And sleep on this,” Jason gestured to the couch. Lisa didn’t answer. “Whoa, you’re serious.”
“I moved out. Back home. I moved in with a teammate. It’s only temporary but… I feel more alone than usual.” Jason nodded, knowing full well that she meant that. He sat down beside her and placed his hand on her leg.
“Lis. Listen, I know it’s been a rough year, but you know I’ve got your back, right?” Lisa nodded.
“That’s why I’m here.” Her hand slid over to his and grabbed it. Lisa kept her gaze down on the floor, but her hand had his full attention. “It’s been so emotionally stressful. It would be so nice for something to feel good, even for just a moment.” She squeezed a bit harder, her body going rigid. “I want to be back around people I can feel safe around.” She rotated and buried her face into Jason’s chest, practically forcing him to hug her back. He rested his jaw on her head and squeezed her back. With his free hand, he ran his fingers through her hair. He hadn’t seen it this long since back when the two first met. He massaged her ears and rubbed her back, Lisa keeping her face buried. Every so often he could hear a muffled sniff or two. When she finally unburied her face, she looked up at him, eyes glistening from the tears that had yet to fall. “Jason. Would it be okay… if just for one night…?” She squeezed even harder.
Jason pulled away and sat straight. “we throw caution to the wind,” Jason asked, finishing her sentence.
“It doesn’t have to mean anything, but… But I think we both could use, you know, some comfort.” Jason snickered to himself. “It would just be nice,” Lisa continued. “To be with someone I actually care about and who cares about me.”
“Now, where have I heard that before,” he said to her. Lisa dropped her head. “Lisa, what happened between you and Damario?”
“You already know,” she said in an almost huff as she sat properly in her seat.
“No. Like, what happened-happened? The guy doesn’t seem like the type to do something like that to you.”
“So, what? You’re taking his side now? I thought you of all people would be happy we broke up.”
“Admittedly,” Jason heavily sighed. “As much as I’d like for him to disappear, I don’t think you’re doing the right thing.”
“He was being paid.”
“Okay. Let’s back up for a second.” Jason grabbed Lisa’s knees and swiveled her around so that they were facing each other. “Do you really think that Damario, DAMARIO, is a hired goon?” Lisa let a snicker slip. “Come on. Why do you think your dad introduced you to him?”
“’caused he’s soft enough to be manipulated,” Lisa said without hesitation. Jason nodded and shrugged.
“True. But you met him last year, right after the incident with your neck. I came over, your dad and I had a fight, then doubt was planted in our minds. How soon after did you meet Damario.” Lisa thought for a moment.
“Maybe a month later?”
“Right! And you were still thinking about me?” This caused Lisa to scoff but eventually admit to it. “So, if David really wanted to get rid of me, he’d have to get you to stop thinking about me. In comes Damario: a feline, a doctor who specializes on the brain and mind, and is about my age. David knew I was your type and went with the closest person he could find to fit the description.”
“Okay, but he still took money from him.”
“Yeah? And didn’t you say just the other day that your dad couldn’t even handle the expenses of fixing up your old apartment? Damario is a practicing doctor. How much could your father possibly offer him that would convince him to take such a risk? And, you know what, it wouldn’t even matter. All he needed to do was offer any amount of money to have some insurance against Damario. He could have offered him a single dollar and he’d be ‘paying him.’”
“Fine,” Lisa shouted. “But he knew what he was getting himself into. He knew that’s what my dad wanted from him.” Jason shook his head.
“No, I don’t think so. He’s a psychiatrist, right? And you were having a really hard time then. I’m willing to bet the original intention was to help you. At least, maybe part of the intention was. He probably asked him to help you out, saw how you two got along, and suggested you two get close. Didn’t other people suggest the same thing when they found out you two were spending time together?” Lisa slowly nodded. Her friends had egged her on when she mentioned she was working out with him way back in April. Even her agent was suggesting the idea. It made sense that her dad would, too. “I’d believe that over your dad being some crime boss going ‘I’ve got this job, see.’” Lisa laughed at the voice Jason used to say that. “He probably asked him to ‘do this’ and ‘not to do that,’ as, like suggestions. ‘Hey, can you do me a favor and keep her from her mother? I don’t want her getting hurt.’ Sound reasonable?” Lisa sighed. “When I spoke to him, Damario told me how your dad kept pushing, and the more he said no, the more ridiculous the pleas became, until David was finally sending him money. In fact, let me ask you this. What if Damario didn’t take the money? Would that have changed anything?”
Lisa took a long time to contemplate this new scenario. If Damario hadn’t take the money, wouldn’t that make him more trustworthy? But then there’s the possibility that he considered the job in the first place, which means that the relationship would be built off of a lie, which means he has the ability to lie to her about something just as serious as this, which means how could she trust a man who only met her because money was involved, which means…
“I don’t think it would have changed anything,” Jason said, knowing exactly the path her mind was taking. “All he had to do was offer and he had Damario right under his thumb. With me, it was my doubt and wanting to do the right thing that kept me under his thumb. But you. You overthink everything. The worst-case scenario becomes the absolute truth for you. That’s how he keeps you under his thumb.”
“Why are you helping him!” Jason furrowed his brow at the sudden interruption. “You were fighting with him! You two were fighting over me! Don’t you want him to lose?!” With a nod, Jason began to speak softly.
“When you and I spoke, you told me how happy he made you. And despite the fact that the two of us have known each other for over five years now, and you only knew him for a few months, you still chose him over me. This person is special to you. I wouldn’t be a good friend if I let you run away from something like that over all this nonsense.”
“But now there’s a potential for you and I to be something. Isn’t that worth pursuing?”
“To be honest, now I know what you were going through. ‘When things go wrong with your wife you can always come back to me. You’ve got me on the back burner like some sort of consolation prize.’”
A powerful quote that had once come from her. Lisa shot out of her seat and retreated to the other side of the room. She was saying and doing all the things that she’d deemed worthy of rejection. She kept her back to him as he approached her and placed his hands on her shoulders.
“Lisa? Would I be correct in saying that you were hoping for things to go south with him?”
“Of course, not!” She spun around, swatting his hands off her shoulders, but stopped the moment she was fully facing him. “He’s… sweet… and kind… and…” She chuckled. “Even this. This is the most vulnerable I’ve felt in a while. I’ve never felt like this with him. It always felt like an act, like it was something I was supposed to do.”
“I think… you two should talk.”
“Then I need to figure out exactly what to say to him.”
So much to think about. After a pause Lisa looked up at Jason with him looking down at her. The two were practically standing chest to chest.
“Would it still be okay… if I stayed the night,” Lisa asked. With a reluctant sigh, Jason nodded. It’d been such a long time since the two had spent any time together without stress or fighting. Some peaceful time with a good friend could be therapeutic, for Jason as well. Though, his place wasn’t set up for more than one person. Cramped and uninviting, Jason needed to come up with an actual place for Lisa to sleep for the night, and he couldn’t have her sleeping on that couch again. It was uncomfortable, after all.