by Noel Goddard
Fandom: Friday Night Lights
Original Pub. Date: December 2006
Summary: This was my 2006 Yuletide story, and it was written for beth666ann. The Coach enlists Jason to help Matt with his adjustment to QB1.
"Jason? Jason, honey, are you awake?"
He drew his eyes away from the trophies on his dresser. For the one-thousandth time, he thought again about how they would never be joined by any others. His whole life had ended in that one instant. He lost his future in football; he lost his best friend and his girlfriend all in one moment of stupid anger. Maybe he could go back to school, maybe continue to play basketball with other guys who were crippled. He was never, ever going to be whole again.
Sighing he said, "Yeah, Mom. What do you need?"
She carefully opened the door to his new room, "Coach Taylor is here to see you."
Jason sighed inwardly at the thought. The last thing he wanted right now was any more reminders of everything that he had lost. "Sure, Mom. I'll come out to the living room."
Before Jason could even move, Coach Taylor stepped around his mother into the room. "No need, son. I kinda followed your mom up the hall."
Jason smiled weakly. The last thing He really didn't want to talk to the coach in this place that wasn't even really his room, surrounded by these trophies that weren't really his. "Sure, Coach. I hear that the team is doing better, pulling together."
Coach Taylor smiled weakly, "Well, son, that's why I'm here. They're trying to hold it together, and we're certainly better than we were right after the game where..." His voice trailed off.
Jason just nodded.
Coach Taylor continued nervously, "See, I was hoping that you could give me some help with a problem."
Jason laughed a short, bitter laugh. "How am I going to help the team now, Coach? Do you need me to come play mascot again to get them all fired up? Because that was so fun for me last time."
The coach shook his head. "I know that was hard for you, but it meant the world to everyone, not just your teammates, but the whole town."
The two men stared at each other for a long moment as that thought hung in the air between them. It was Jason who finally broke the silence, "What do you need, Coach?"
"I'll be honest with you, son. Partly, it's for the team, and partly, it's for me. Matt's coming along nicely as QB1. He'll never have the arm that you have, but he's smart. He can think on his feet out there and the guys are learning to respect that. Lately, though, he's been getting...distracted."
Now Jason was curious. "Distracted? All Matt's ever wanted was a chance to actually play. What on earth could distract him?"
From the look on the coach's face, he could guess what the problem was. "Saracen's got a girl? He didn't hook up with his drill team girl, did he? That would definitely not be smart."
The look on the coach's face only became more stricken. "No, no, nothing like that. I think he might actually like the girl, and well, it's distracting him from practice, from studying the playbook, and just plain distracting him."
Now, Jason was curious. "Well, Coach, he is QB1 now. The girls are going to notice him, and it's nice that he's got someone he really likes. Who is it, anyway?"
The coach was going to worry the brim of his cap to death if he kept this up. "Who it is isn't important. I was just hoping that maybe you could talk to him. Explain to him how important focus is. Maybe talk to him about waiting awhile to see if he really likes this girl. Maybe until after the football season. If they're both still interested then, then at least it wouldn't distract him on the field. You know, Lyla, as a cheerleader, knew not to distract you during games, during the season."
Jason's face shut down again. "Don't mention her. Ever. That's over and in the past."
The coach studied his face for a long moment, "Whatever you say, son. I'm sorry I brought it up. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, after all. I just thought..."
Jason thought about it for a minute. "No, coach. I want to do what I can to help. I'll talk to Saracen, but you've gotta tell me who the girl is."
The coach stared at his feet and spoke quietly, "It's Julie."
Jason sputtered, "Julie? Your Julie? No wonder you're tied in knots."
Coach Taylor shot him a look.
"Sorry, Coach. I'll talk to him, I promise. Just tell him to come by after practice tomorrow."
The coach looked grateful. "Thank you, son. I really appreciate it. You're doing a good thing for the team...and for me."
Coach Taylor turned to leave. Jason called out, "Coach, I need to tell you something."
Jason stared past the coach into thin air as spoke, "I just thought. Well, I thought you should know that my folks have...well, they've hired a lawyer. He wants me to...well, he wants me to blame you for the accident. I told him that I wouldn't, but I still thought you should know."
Coach Taylor nodded and spoke with a gravelly voice, "Thank you, son. I appreciate the warning. I'll tell Matt to come over tomorrow afternoon. Have a good evening."
Jason looked back at the trophies that mocked him from the dresser. Not only would he never have any more of those again, he would never have Lyla again. Apparently, his life from now on would just be Jason Street - poster child for how not to live your life. Great. Just fucking great.
Jason was ready the next afternoon. He was all ready to tell Matt to focus on football and forget about Julie because football could be his ticket out of this town. It could be his ticket to fame, fortune, and even more girls. Jason was ready to lay out what had been his future on a fucking silver platter for Matt Saracen to take.
The knock came at his door, followed by his mother's voice. "Jason? Jason, are you awake?"
"Yes, Mom. Is Matt here?"
The door opened and there they were. "Why yes, honey. Were you expecting him?"
"Yeah, Coach Taylor told me yesterday that Matt was coming over. Matt, you wanna go out in the yard with me?"
Jason could already tell that the kid was uncomfortable. The last thing he needed was to have this conversation in front of the shrine. Jason needed to do this out in the open or he was gonna lose it.
Jason could feel Matt's eyes on his back as he rolled down the ramp by the back door and out onto the patio. Jason looked around at the yard. With some help, he might be able to use the pool again someday, but the basketball hoop was over in the grass. They would have to pave over the backyard for him to ever be able to use that.
Matt spoke first, "So, Coach asked me to come over here this afternoon. He said that you...you wanted to give me some advice."
Jason continued to stare out at the yard. "Actually, Coach Taylor came and asked me to talk to you. Seems he thinks you're not focused on the game."
Matt stuttered, "The game is all that I've ever wanted. I never, ever thought I would even have a chance to play, much less be QB1. I go to school all day, then practice, then work, then home to do homework. I stay awake at night studying the playbook until I fall asleep. He's got me watching tapes of you and tapes of all the great college QBs. What else am I supposed to be doing?"
Jason turned to look at the kid. He was only a sophomore, but he seemed so much younger right now. The things that Jason could tell him about enjoying all the things he had...
Jason cleared his throat and set out to do what Coach Taylor had asked of him. "Matt, football is all there is in this town. If you do well, you could be the big man in town. Hell, you could get a scholarship to college to even get out of this town. But, in order to do that, you have got to stay focused on football. Don't let anything stand in your way."
Matt started to look defensive, "You didn't stay focused. You went to parties and had friends. Hell, you had Lyla."
"Had being the operative word there, Saracen. Now it's time for you to go for it. I'm living proof that it could be gone in a second."
Matt shook his head, "Exactly, man. The football could end next Friday on the field when some dumbass tackles me. But this thing with Julie could go on even after that."
Jason tried to play dumb, "Julie who?"
Coach was right; Matt was smart. "You know who. That's why Coach wanted you to talk to me. He hates that Julie and I are together. So he asked you to talk me out of it. Didn't he?"
Jason nodded, unable to come up with a good answer.
Matt was just getting started. "Man, you know what? You're right about the things you had. Yeah, playing football is over, but you could still come back to school. You could have friends. Hell, you could still have Lyla. She loves you, man. You could even still have football. You could go coach somewhere. "
Jason was angry. Who was this little shit? "Are you done?"
Matt was angry. "No, no I'm not. We've all given you space because Lyla said that's what you needed. But I think that you need someone to kick you in the butt because you need to stop living in the past and starting living now."
Jason thought about it. Maybe Saracen was right. He still didn't know if he could forgive Lyla and Tim, but sitting around here certainly wasn't fixing anything. "You know what, I think you might be right."
Matt just swallowed and went back to looking nervous.
Jason thought about it for a minute. "Do you think maybe Coach was trying to kill two birds with one stone by us having this talk? I mean, if anyone knows that I needed a kick in the butt, it's him. Plus, regardless of what he thinks about you taking out Julie, he is right that you can't let it distract you from the team if you're gonna stay QB1."
Matt thought about it. "You know, you're probably right. Coach is real smart."
"Yes, yes he is. I think I'm gonna go talk to my folks about getting back into school. Hey, do you want to stay for dinner? I'm sure my folks wouldn't mind."
A smile flashed across Matt's face briefly, followed by a sad look. "Naw, I gotta get home to my Grandma. She doesn't like to be at home alone after dark. Maybe we can have lunch when you come back to school?"
Jason smiled for the first time in a long time, "Sure thing, Saracen. See ya' around!"
Jason watched as Matt headed around to the front yard and was gone. Yeah, Coach was one sneaky bastard. Jason decided that was okay, because he was pretty sure that Saracen was gonna stand up to the Coach now and take Julie out this weekend. Yep, he was gonna have to get back to school, because he sure couldn't miss seeing the look on the Coach's face.
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