"Game day boys, and girl! And I expect a win out of this one!" Coach shouted, his eyes glued to his team list, "Now get your asses on the bus we don't have time to waste."
It was early. Too early to be awake, but I'd already had at least 3 coffee's this morning and been able to sneak out the house before anyone else was awake. In short; I was buzzed. My skin felt like it was vibrating off the bones and I knew that wasn't a good thing, but it helped keep my mind off of the past. I needed a fresh, clear head and this was the only way to get it.
My game shirt was clinging to my body, and my hair was still damp from my shower, but the sports duffle over my shoulder was a familiar feeling. The air was crisp and the dew was still shining on the grass, I don't know why I was noticing these small things, but even the rank smell of the bus seemed amplified.
Almost everyone was already wearing at least half their gear, it was too early to bother with wearing casual, school hadn't even started yet.
"Yo Ash, you ready for this?" Xavier called from his seat beside me, we were up the back on the bench seat, Soraya to my left, she'd chosen to kick up her legs on the empty seat in front of her and Xavier to my right, who was lazing against the window.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world" I smirked, running a hand through my hair and ruffling the damp strands.
"Where the hell is Lovelock!?" Coach's voice boomed over the seats, his clipboard still in hand as he scanned the rows as if he expected Finn to suddenly appear out of nowhere.
"He's late, Coach" Calen called from the middle, "Just texted me, said he had to pick something up first."
"Well how long is he going to be?" Coach demanded,
"He's coming now" Jasper answered instead, and everyone turned to look at him, he was gesturing out the window with his thumb where two people could be seen climbing out of a car in the parking lot.
"Wait who's with him?" Alex asked, and everyone murmured in confusion,
"It's just Alistair," Justin called, "Should have known he wouldn't miss this game" and there was a collective agreeance from the rest of the team and I shook my head with a smirk.
"What took you so long, Lovelock?" Coach glared, as Finn and Alistair made it to the base of the steps, "We were meant to leave 5 minutes ago."
"Sorry, Coach, had to pick up Alistair" Finn shrugged, moving past the coach and picking out a seat behind Calen, leaving Alistair to pat Coach on the shoulder with a grin,
"You know me Coach, couldn't miss this one, now could I?" He stated, offering a wink before wandering down the hallway of the bus and dropping himself into the seat in front of Soraya.
"Wait, why are you here?" She asked, clearly confused, after all he didn't play on the team.
"Alistair comes to most games" Xav answered, leaning across me to slap a greeting hand on his shoulder, "Poor bastard can't stand being left alone at school"
"But what about his classes?" Soraya raised an eyebrow and I let out a laugh,
"Sweetheart, it's called ditching" I stated, "He just skips the day, not like he does work anyway"
Soraya rolled her eyes at the pet name and started pulling her hair up into a ponytail, I'd always found it interesting how girls did that. Janice used to do all these intricate things with her hair before dad died, she'd taught me how to do simple things like braids back then, so I could do the twins hair for them. But I'd never understood how girls were able to style their own hair so simply.
"Hey! I do work" Alistair complained and all three of us gave him a flat look, to which he raised his hands in surrender "Okay, fine, but that's no the point here. The point is that you guys have a goddamn game against the Mavericks for the first time since last year, and there was no damn way I was gonna miss it."
"Wait, what is it that has everyone so tense about this game anyway?" Soraya questioned, and I felt myself icing up at the memory. I couldn't help it, I knew it was stupid, but there was a cloud of unease that I didn't want to face.
"She doesn't know?" Alistair asked, leaning forward on the back of the seat, his expression one of confusion.
"No she doesn't" Xavier replied and I could see him glancing my way out the corner of his eye. They were both nervous, maybe even worried, but I wasn't going to let their fear stop me from playing this game. I needed it. I couldn't live with knowing I'd been too much of a coward to face them, I wasn't and the Maverick's needed to know that nothing was going to stop me.
"I am still right here guys" Soraya cut in, her voice breaking the intense stare that Alistair was trying to use to tell me something. "I would know things if you guys decided to stop being assholes and just told me what is going on."
"Archbishop McCarthy Mavericks" I stated, voice blunt, as I turned my attention way from the guys to look at her as she waited expectantly,
"Yeah I get that, what about them?"
"They're the reason I'm not supposed to be here, why I'm not supposed to be playing this season" I explained, although it only served to make her more confused as her eyebrows moved together in the middle, creating a crease between her brows.
"What?" She voiced her confusion, clearly growing annoyed by the lack of information she was getting.
"Last time we played them, their catcher, Luke Pierce, shattered Ashton's ankle." Xavier explained, his voice tinted with anger and I felt the need to comfort my friend despite the situation, but Alistair jumped in to continue the story.
"Xav had just hit a home run worthy ball, Ashton had been on first at the time, he ran for second, third, had a clear run home, but Pierce was blocking." Alistair elaborated and Soraya followed the story with a growing frown. "The slide was inevitable, the ball wasn't even in the infield yet, but he couldn't have made the run any other way. Pierce knew that, and when Ash went down for the slide he took a fall too. I guess it could have been an accident but I swear the way he dropped his knee onto Ashton's leg wasn't natural. The crack was heard all the way in the dugout."
"Hell, I heard it out on second base" Xavier cut in, "I fucking saw him hit the fence. It was over 5 meters away, but I guess he was going fast enough that his body just carried him. Doctor's said he must have hit his head on something when he rolled, but no one knows whether it was the home plate or Pierce's boot. But somehow he ended up with a concussion and a 3 inch cut along his head"
"There was fucking blood everywhere and Pierce didn't even bat an eyelid." Alistair bit in, his voice aggressive and harsh.
"Wait a second, how long has it been since this happened?" Soraya cut in, she seemed to be picking up on some of the anger that was soaking the air,
"Two and a half, maybe three months before tryouts." I replied, calculating the months briefly in my mind, it really hadn't been that long ago but it felt like an eternity.
"Then what the fuck are you doing playing this season?!" She snapped and a few heads turned from the front of the bus, "It takes two months before you can even put your bloody weight on a broken ankle and you go and decide that playing a sport was a good fucking idea?!"
"Look, I'm fine, practically good as new." I stated, giving her a lopsided grin, despite the fact that I knew that I shouldn't be playing this season, leave alone playing against the team that sabotaged me last time.
"You're not good as new, you can't catch a fucking outside low without hurting yourself." She snapped harshly and my grin slipped,
"I can catch fine."
"No you can't, why do you think I don't give you outside lows anymore?!"
"Ash, she's right, you're a bit weak on your left foot still, even I noticed it" Xavier cut in, his tone full of worry, "Maybe you shouldn't catch this game?"
"I have to catch this game, Soraya needs to pitch because no one's seen her before and no one else can catch to her" I stated, "And you need to use outside lows. It's their weakness, so don't fucking not do them because you think you need to go easy one me."
"That's bad idea man" Alistair pointed out, his brows creasing into a frown,
"I don't care if it's a bad idea, I know my limitations. So don't go around thinking you have the right to tell me what I should and shouldn't do!" I snapped, my anger boiling into a burst. Hurt flashed across Alistair's face, but I ignored the emotion and turned the Wifi on without another word. Neither Soraya nor Xavier made another comment on the matter, however, Soraya's heated glare made her opinion crystal clear.
The day had heated up by the time we made it to the field. It was still half an hour from game time, but we could see a couple Maverick's warming up their throws on the far side of the pitch.
"Listen up!" Coach called, "This is a tough game and I don't want anyone slacking off, do you understand? That mean's outfielders awake and infielders on your toes! Is that understood?" There was a grumbled response from a couple but Coach silenced them with a look. "Good. Everybody grab a glove and start warming up, Klarence, Kingston, go warm up together."
One glance at Soraya and I could tell she was still angry, but it wasn't her place to be mad at me for my choices. I was playing and there was no way I could even stomach sitting this one out. That would be showing weakness to a team that we couldn't afford to give an edge to.
"Hurry up, Ass, we don't have all day." Soraya shoved her shoulder against mine roughly as she passed into the dugout.
"Someones in a mood," Alistair stated with a smirk as he looped his arm over my shoulder and began pulling me towards the benches, clearly already over my outburst on the bus. "Best not to keep the Princess waiting."
"I don't feel like Princess is what I'd be calling her" I replied with a smirk, dropping my duffle under the bench with a 'thud'. Soraya glared at me as she pulled out her glove, and I shot her a wink.
"Get your asses moving! We have a game to win!" Coach shouted and everyone piled out of the dugout and onto the strip of grass out behind the fence. Immediately pairing off to warm up their arms.
"Nothing to fancy, remember, Ray?" I called over to her, ignoring the way the small wind stuck my shirt uncomfortably to my back and letting a smirk decorate my face as she tossed the first ball with a hard glare on her face. It flew true and landed neatly in my glove with a soft 'thunk'.
"That good enough for you?" She called back sarcastically as I send the ball back in her direction,
"Was perfect, Princess. " I mocked with a laugh, however, when I looked up I noticed she was no longer paying attention to me, instead, her focus was over my shoulder. A frown creased my brows and I turned to glance behind me, only to see, with a tinge of annoyance, a small group of Maverick's walking past the rest of the team in our direction.
"Surprised to see you here Klarence, heard you were playing this year, but thought it was a load of crock," Pierce stated when they were closer, his lip tilting up in a sneer, "Figured you'd be to much of a pussy. Sure scream like one."
"Wouldn't miss it for the world" I replied, stepping forward as my frown morphed into a smirk. Out the corner of my eye I noticed Xavier and Alistair edging towards us. " But don't you think you're a little out of your depth if we're going to be talking about pussy's? After all, wouldn't want your boys knowing that your mum's is the closest one you've ever been to."
There was a collective stutter from the team, Pierce's face edging into a flaming red and I swear I heard a snicker behind me. But it was impossible to tell whether it was from Soraya or one of the guys.
"Watch your mouth, Klarence." Pierce hissed, moving into my personal space, his breath hitting my face in a noxious plume. "Remember the last time you couldn't hold your tongue?"
His words hit me hard enough to throw my smirk into a glare and have my fingers curling into a fist at my side. But before I could react to his threat, he was being shoved backwards and I saw a cascade of purpling red hair as Soraya's fist connected with the side of Pierce's jaw. The force of the blow sent him sprawling into the dirt with a hiss.
"What the fuck?!" He exclaimed with a shout, his friends immediately surging forward to attack, just as Xavier and Alistair slid in to block their path. I pulled Soraya back from the commotion automatically, using a grip around her waist that pinned her arms to her side, to pick her up and push her behind me. She was clearly unhappy with the treatment, but I ignored the harsh words and the clawing at my arm.
"Ashton! What the hell are you doing?!" She growled,
"Keeping you out of this." I replied with a glare in her direction, "This isn't your fight. Stay out of it."
Her expression was immediately one of hurt, but I ignored it as Pierce made it passed Xavier's left. I couldn't have her involved in this, especially not with something that could and would get her hurt.
"Klarence! Get out of the way of that little bitch!" He shouted, his jaw already beginning to purple.
"What? You're going after a girl now?" I replied in a condescending tone, my right arm reaching behind my back to cage Soraya away from him. "I didn't think you could go any lower. Guess it turns out that a coward, is always going to be just that."
"I will fucking end you!" Pierce screamed, launching himself forward. I immediately threw my free arm up, red tinting the edges of my vision, and shoved it towards his face. There was a loud 'slap' and 'crunch' sound, but I'd managed to miss any of the weaker bones in his face. He stumbled from the impact, but a harsh whistle blew before he could attack again.
The umpire was red in the face as he harshly continued to blow into his whistle, the noise high pitched and painful.
"That is enough!" He finally shouted, "Before I bench both teams! Sort it out on the diamond!"
His words were final. No one was brave enough to defy his commands and the Maverick's began pulling away from our team, their expressions angry and dis-coloured with bruises. Alistair and Xavier immediately split away to head towards us with mirroring expressions of concern. Xavier's cheek was bright with an already forming bruise, but he didn't seem to care. Alistair, on the other hand, appeared perfectly fine, a grin even set on his face. Fighting was his outlet. Xav and I had baseball; Alice had the boxing team.
"I didn't think they'd start a proper fight with us" Xavier spoke first,
"Yeah, figured they we're a bunch of cowards myself" Alistair put in, and I slowly began to relax, only then realizing I still had Soraya trapped behind me. But instead of releasing her I pulled her back around the front, a frown on my face.
"What the hell! Let me go." She complained, a glare harshly on her face as I clamped my hands down on her shoulders,
"Well if someone hadn't decided to get a little aggressive, they probably wouldn't have." I stated, an eyebrow raised.
"Oh please, you were about to hit him yourself." She snapped, her arms crossing over her chest.
"That's not the same thing." I replied, dismissively
"What? Because I'm a girl?" She seethed, reaching up to hit my hands off her shoulders with a glare. Xavier and Alistair, had conveniently taken this moment to disappear, leaving me alone with a very pissed off Soraya.
"Because you could get hurt."
"And what? It doesn't matter if you get hurt?"
"I won't get hurt."
"Yeah, bet you were thinking that last time you played them." She stared with a huff, turning away from me with a defiant glare as she roped a few loose strands of hair back into her ponytail.