30/30 - Among US
by nw's chick
Disclaimers and other information in "Opening Credits"
Perfect football weather, everyone around them said as they passed.
"This is a perfect date?" Bruce's tone was clearly derisive.
J'onn grinned, pretending to sigh. "It is different, you can't argue with that!"
"Who would think of a college football game as a perfect date?" Bruce was glaring at the chosen form of his lover with suspicion.
Shrugging, "Someone who is a fan of college football. C'mon, get into the spirit of things! It's a beautiful day, it's supposed to be a great game, and we should be back from the requisite date early enough for you to catch up with your night work."
Frowning, Bruce looked at his watch, a cheap grocery store Seiko, to fit in with his 'costume.' "Well, the game doesn't start for hours. What are we supposed to do until then?"
"According to my research, this school is famous for tailgating. We could join up, bum some beer off of people... On second thought, never mind..." J'onn never got tired of teasing him. "Are you hungry? There's supposed to be a great stand selling steak sandwiches around here somewhere..."
J'onn dragged Bruce around the charming campus, never relenting in his hunt for the elusive steak sandwich.
Bruce had to repress the urge to pout. It wasn't so much that he minded being here; he just preferred to spend time with J'onn alone. The swarms of people here were disconcerting, to say the least. Of course, his annoyance was only heightened by the fact that J'onn blended in perfectly. They were both wearing jeans, shirts, and sweatshirts emblazoned with the school's logo, but J'onn's brunette ponytail, lean but not slim hips, and curvy soccer-momish body made the Martian seem just like any other woman wearing the school colors on campus.
There were times when, no matter how good his cover was, Bruce could just feel how poorly he blended in.
When they finally found the steak sandwich vendor, Bruce recoiled in disgust. "You are kidding. That must be at least 80% cholesterol!" He tried to use his stern voice, but that was a waste of time with J'onn.
Rolling her eyes, J'onn grinned at him wickedly. "Right, and escargot is soooo healthy. Now, c'mon! Don't be a spoilsport! After we get some food, we'll go find the band. Oh, and the cheerleaders are performing around here somewhere too! We can find them, then listen to the band, then follow them to the game. It'll be great!"
Bruce sighed internally. They did find the cheerleaders, and the band, and J'onn cheered along with the crowd as they made their way to the stadium.
"I could have gotten us a skybox, you know," Bruce grumbled as they elbowed their way up the stairs to their seats.
J'onn sighed. "That's not the point, silly! Fifty yard line, home team side, right in the middle of the lower section! Best seats in the house. I checked."
Bruce let out an infinitesimal sigh. The stadium was old, one of the oldest in the country, so for seats there were benches with closely packed numbers for each 'seat.' Bruce resisted a mumbled protest as he had to wedge himself in between his lover and a stocky guy with a huge drink, a plate of nachos, a portable TV, and a pair of binoculars dangling from his neck.
Stop being such a grump! J'onn teased him through their bond. Can't you enjoy the pageantry at all?
It's not my thing, really. I mean, look at all these people! They're all so... so... Instead of words, Bruce transmitted an impression, a feeling, of being alone in the middle of a crowd, of being surrounded by a mass of people who he could never be a part of, people who were normal in ways he could never even dream of being. All these people had families and jobs and hobbies and gripes and pet peeves and friends and ex-boyfriends or girlfriends and watched sitcoms and debated the news and bought mutual funds. He had no frame of reference with which to understand them.
J'onn responded with a warm wave of understanding. Before he tried to form words with his thoughts, he let his consciousness snuggle up to Bruce's, dispelling his sense of isolation. Of course I know what you mean, Bruce. When I first came to Earth, everything I saw and heard and sensed just... confused me. I wore the face of the people I was surrounded by, but they were as foreign to me in every conceivable way as could be.
It took time for me to understand humanity well enough to feel comfortable amongst them. What I learned was, though, I didn't need to understand them to feel comfortable. I could wear their faces, and talk as they did, and say what they expected of me, and no one would think me in the slightest way odd.
J'onn paused, obviously composing his thoughts. Bruce respected the silence, letting his own thoughts drift over what J'onn had already said.
Today, you get to be like me, in a way. Certainly, these people are as alien to you as they are to me, but we both are undercover among them, so to speak, infiltrating their ranks. Look around you, Bruce. There are 80,000 people here! The game is less than 30 yards away from us! We are part of this, alien or not. We are part of this game, this experience... We get to pretend, for a time, that we belong here with everyone else.
Along with the words, washes of emotion and concepts not framed in expression spilled into Bruce. He looked around, at the coziness of the stadium, at how rapidly it had filled up with humanity, at how close they were to the action, at how everyone blended together in a unit, extensions of the teams they came to watch win. He could feel from J'onn what something like this meant, the chance to be a part of a society, to be one among many who were alike, even if it was undercover.
Smiling, Bruce turned to watch the band play the national anthem, squeezing J'onn's soft hand in his affectionately.
They watched the kickoff, cheering with the rest of the home team crowd, getting to their feet at the end of the first quarter as the receiver ran long to just catch the pass right before falling into the end zone. They booed the ref when he penalized them 15 yards in a questionable call few in the stadium could see well enough to judge. They jumped up and down at the interception.
During halftime, they stood in line with dozens of others to get hot chocolate, and a soft pretzel to share, getting back in time to see the home team's band do a little dance that looked goofy and funny.
They cheered with the crowds, they watched the bands, they groused about the TV time outs, they made a bathroom break (during which J'onn considered morphing into a male just so that he wouldn't have to wait in the long line for the ladies' room), they screamed when the final seconds were ticking down and the team was fighting for each yard that would get them closer to field goal range, they gave everyone around them high-fives when they ended up winning in the last minute, and they sang along with everyone else as the band played the fight song and the alma mater.
Driving back to the small airport the private jet was waiting, Bruce held J'onn's hand, resting on J'onn's thigh, and was grateful that the link between them made any words of apology for lack of faith in J'onn's pick for a perfect date unnecessary.
Just as they were about to reach the car rental drop-off, Bruce pulled over enough to grab J'onn's face, a little ruddy from the day and the excitement, and kissed her. They lingered for ever-stretching moments, just comfortably tasting each other.
Resting his forehead against J'onn's, Bruce smiled with his eyes closed. "Do you suppose," he whispered, as if it were a secret, "that there is anything wrong with me, that I have more in common with a Martian than with other humans?"
J'onn playfully grinned, his tapers fingers toying with the tendrils of hair around Bruce's ears. "I can't think of a think wrong with that. Certainly works well for me."
"You may be biased."
"Yes, but I don't see anything wrong with that, either."