Run to the other side.
Back and forth, up and down the court. I panted hard, wiped the sweaty hair from my face, and turned back around to face the rest of the dimly-lit court. The burning in my lungs let me know it had been about three hours since I started. I love that ache crawling up my legs into my arms. It lets me know everything's ok. Everything is right.
Just a couple more rounds. The noise of the basketball hitting the floor resounded throughout the empty gym. Breaking into a sprint, I raced down the court to the other basket, enjoying the new adrenaline rush. At the last second before the shot, I switched to my left hand and dunked the layup.
I grabbed the rebound before it touched the ground and was about to run back to the next basket. But when I turned around, about two feet from me stood a boy. Immediately I noticed that he was at least three inches shorter than myself. Then I took in his black hair, hard brown eyes, and completely black attire. He was staring at me with this look of exasperation, like I'd “done it again”, whatever “it” was.
“You reek of demigod.”
It was so silent with the exception of my ragged breathing that I wondered if he had really spoken. Or was I hearing things? But he seemed like maybe he was expecting a reply of some sort. So I gave a short nod, shifting my weight and holding the ball in one hand. My head was going faster than it could really process. His voice is soft, melodic. I think it's intoxicating me. Suddenly I was so self-conscious about my appearance: old basketball shorts, a t-shirt like five sizes too large, sweat pouring off me, hair probably sticking flat to my head. Ughhh. He didn't say anything more, just stood there looking me over like I was supposed to do something.
So after a few more seconds of strangely not-weird silence, I continued to run down the court to make my layup. He stayed put, watching me rebound and run back. I finished my rounds and I'm not gonna lie, I showed off a bit. I'm not even sure why. But I felt my gut wrench, and for some reason in this case it meant I had to jump higher and do reverse shots until my head was spinning.
His presence was like a wet wool blanket on my back as I grabbed my bag and shoved the basketball into it. I thought about showering in the locker room, but with him here it would feel weird. So I pulled the strap over my shoulder and turned to acknowledge him as I headed for the double doors hidden in the darkness.
“Wait!” I stopped my exit and looked back to see him speed-walking towards me, obviously trying not to run. He shoved his hands uncomfortably in his jacket pockets, the previous cool cover lost behind uncertainty. “Aren't you gonna ask how I know? About you being a demigod and stuff?”
I shrugged and pushed open one of the heavy metal doors, allowing the cold night air to evaporate some of the sweat from my heated skin. “I wasn't planning on it,” I answered as I stepped out onto the pavement and held the door for him. As my fingers gripped that door and I stared down at my black and white shoes breathing in the freezing air, for whatever reason there was panic raging inside me that he wouldn't follow me out. That I'd be closing it on him standing there. Like butterflies on steroids in my stomach.
But I heard his footsteps against the sidewalk and was able to release my breath. The door closed heavily behind us, and before I could begin walking he brought himself quite close to me, so that I couldn't move forward. I think he was trying to be assertive. It was working. Which is weird, because he had to look up to give me his current stern glare. “You're sweating,” he said simply. I didn't even process it. I pried myself away from thinking of the fact that I could feel his breath on my face. “A lot. There might be monsters around. Even I could smell you.” He swallowed and glanced away for a second, and I could've sworn I saw a light colour tinge his cheeks. But in the dark there's no telling what was real and what was my imagination's fantasy.
“I appreciate your concern.” That almost came out a whisper. I shuffled back a little to release myself from the tension of closeness. “I'm not dying tonight, if that's what you're worried about.”
He sighed, but didn't move. I scratched my head, unsure of what to do. “But... I could use the company, if you're not doing anything at the moment.”
And thus is my meeting of Nico di Angelo.