I sat on the bench fuming, I can't believe that Ashton would tell me to stay out of the fight let alone the fact he was even playing this season. The cockhead was going to get killed, whether it was by the Maverick's or myself was a whole different story.
Out the corner of my eye I saw the movement of someone walking towards me, but I didn't turn to look at them. Certain my anger was up like a clear 'Do Not Approach' Sign, which apparently was blatantly ignored as the person took a seat on the bench beside me. Albeit hesitantly.
"Hi Soraya, how you doing?" they asked in a cautious voice.
"Perfectly fine." I stated through gritted teeth, not even bothering to try and sound truthful. I was so pissed off at Ashton that I was ready to walk out and leave the team to sort their own shit out. I couldn't believe that Coach was letting this happen. He was supposed to look after his players, not let them play when they should be resting a probably still shitty limb.
"Why don't I believe that?" The person asked next, and that was when I turned to look at them, practically jumping off the bench.
"What the hell are you doing here?!" I half shouted as I realised it was Ezekiel who was next to me.
"I'm just here to watch my sister play the sport she loves oh so much." He stated, a lopsided smile taking up his face and all I could do was roll my eyes.
"Sure sure, I know you're just here to watch your 'boyfriend'." I retaliated mockingly, he seemed shocked at my statement for some reason, his eyes blown wide as they shifted around nervously, like he expected someone to be listening in.
"No, definitely here to watch you and only to watch you and definitely not anyone else. At all. Nope just you." He rambled, which was a main clue as to the fact he was lying. Second clue was the fact that he wasn't even looking at me when he said it, his eyes were drawn to Xavier as he messed with his glove obliviously.
"You lying little-"
"Players take the field!" I heard the plate umpire shout, cutting me off, and I shot Zeke a 'we-will-discuss-this-later' look, before grabbing my glove off the bench. Scowl on my face as I jogged out onto the field with the rest of the team. I watched with narrowed eyes as Ashton moved to get ready behind home plate, squatting with his glove up for my five warm up pitches. My focus drifting onto his glove after a moment, as I pitched the first of my five warm up rounds, holding back my speed so the other team wouldn't be as prepared as they thought they were. The ball flew from my hand straight and true every single time as I went ahead with my other four, straight to his glove without a hitch.
When my practice throws were over, the first batter stepped up to the plate, standing ready. It was someone I didn't recognize, but that didn't mean much considering I only knew Pierce.
"Play ball!" The umpire called, and I readied my stance to throw the ball, leaning forward to read the signals that Ashton was sending me; outside low. I frowned at the call, but pulled back and let the ball go, sending it flying straight for his target. "Strike!" The umpire called as Ashton threw the ball back to me, a smirk visible through the cage of his mask. I held the ball tight in my hand, gritting my teeth as Ashton called the signal for another outside, I shook my head, but he insisted.
Growling my annoyance I pulled back and let it fly towards his glove again as an overly outside, outside pitch, its what he called so it's what he got. The batter swung and missed the ball by a quarter of an inch, giving two strikes to me. When Ashton returned to his squat after throwing the ball back, he signaled for an off-pace, inside low. I went with it, pulling my arm back and letting it go, watching at it went exactly how he wanted and where he wanted it.
The ball was hit, but it went straight up, Calen running in from third to catch it and succeeding in doing so.
"One down Cougars!" I shouted to my team after I had the ball back in my glove.
Next up was actually Pierce, his sneer as repulsive even with the darkening bruises on his face. But I ignored him as I focused on watching what the next signal from Ashton would be, my frustration growing as it was another outside low. But it was with a puff of air that I complied, the smirk on Ashton's face growing when the umpire signaled a strike. But it was when Ashton called for another outside that I basically snapped.
Not as in actually snapped, I didn't shout or cuss or punch anyone, I just ignored the signal and did what I wanted... Which was conveniently ditching the ball straight at Pierce's head. I let it go with as much speed as I could muster at his skull, unfortunately he ducked out of the way and it didn't crash into his cranium like I had hoped. But as soon as the ball was in contact with Ashton's glove, I could see he was no longer as happy as he'd been moments before, and to prove it, he was calling time, ripping his mask off and walking over to me.
"What in the name of fucking Gilderoy Lockhart was that?" he hissed as he reached me, and I would have laughed at his idea of swearing if I wasn't so fucked off.
"I ignored your call." I answered bluntly.
"I can see that." He growled, jaw clenching tightly, causing his cheekbones to gain definition against the hollows of his cheeks. "Why?"
"Because it was the exact same call as what you gave the first batter, apart from that I really felt like caving in that little shit's head." I stated.
"You can't just do that." He snapped, "This isn't your fight. Now start listening to my calls or-"
"Or what Asshole? What are you going to do? You don't have a say in what I pitch to you, you shouldn't even be playing let alone telling me what to do." I told him. "Don't think of giving me another stupid fucking call again or I'll just ignore it, I'm only throwing outsides to you if they're necessary. Understood?" There wasn't time for him to retaliate as the umpire called for us to hurry up. I sent him one last glare before he walked back to catch again, back muscles tense in what I could only assume was his own anger.
I didn't care.
"Play." I heard the umpire call, so I focused on what I wanted to pitch instead of what Ashton called. Holding the ball in my glove as I got the right grip on it before letting it fly. A change-up pitch. I watched as Pierce swung at it with perfect timing and hit the bloody thing out to left field, where Xav stopped it and threw it in, holding Pierce at second base. I should have remembered half their team are state players.
I looked around at the whole diamond, I also probably should have gone with Ashton's call... But, I've started ignoring him now so why should I stop? Instead, I watched as he called for an inside low, and sent him an inside high. I could hear him swearing from where I was and I tried to hold back a cocky smirk but it made its way to my face anyway.
I watched as his next signal was for an outside high. Well no way in hell am I giving him that, if he wants an outside he can get one but not where he wants it. It was low, and went right behind him and hit the fence.
"Gone!" I shouted as I saw that Pierce had run from second to third, Ashton's catching mask was thrown as he stood up to run and fetch the ball he missed. I ran down to home plate to make sure Pierce wouldn't be tempted to run home, feeling glad when he didn't.
Ashton threw the ball back to me and I walked back to the pitching plate, ignoring the colourful swearing coming from behind me. A few ignored signals later, a strike out with my own decided pitches and a walk I could see that Ashton was getting angrier and angrier as time went on.
"Time!" Ashton finally called in one of the angriest tones I had ever heard, after I had sent him an inside high when he asked for one to go right down the middle.
"Ray! What the fuck are you doing? You've walked someone! You never walk anyone! You're supposed to listen to my calls! You're supposed be too fast and too accurate to do that! What the hell is going on?!" He shouted at me, I just stood with a smirk on my face, ignoring the obvious height difference and the intimidation his anger gave off.
"You know what? I could ask you the same thing." I snapped back, eyebrow raising, "You have no right to decide what is and isn't my fight. I can handle getting hurt and that none of your business. But you can't stand there and expect me to keep throwing pitches that will purposefully hurt you. And if it means that I have to pitch like shit for you to be taken out of catching then I will." I stated simply.
"Don't pull that shit with me, you're a girl and you're playing a guy's sport-"
"And I've played a game already, treat me like you would any other person on your team Ashton. I'm not here because of pity vote, I'm here because I can play and I play well." I cut him off and he shook his head, irritation and anger playing across his face. I knew this game meant a lot to him but I was determined to bench him if that's what it takes.
"Are you on your fucking period? Is that why you're being a moody little bitch? Just get the ball to where I call it, if you don't I'll talk to Coach about swapping you and Xavier over." He stated before walking away and throwing the ball to me. My period? He thinks I'm on my fucking period? Okay, if he thought that was going to get me to want to pitch right then he's thinking wrong.
"Trouble in paradise?!" I heard Pierce's voice carry from third, but I ignored him, my grip on the ball tightening.
"Play!" The umpire called and I watched as Ashton tried to give me a signal, his face set in a glare, but I was already pulling back. Luckily he saw that I wasn't even going to give his signal the light of day and put his glove up. With anger pulsing through my veins I threw the ball with much more force than anticipated; the batter practically flew out of the way, a frightened look on his face. The slap of the ball landing solidly in Ashton's glove echoed over the pitch, his expression etched with a mix of anger and shock. And behind him the umpire looked ready to flinch out of the way, eyes wide in shock as he hesitantly called;
"Strike." But I barely heard him over the buzzing in my ears, my vision slightly blurred from the still present anger.
I wasn't sure if Ashton had figured that he had stepped over the line, but I think he did when the next pitch was the same speed. Unfortunately, it was called a ball due to being just over the inside side of home plate, making the batter jump fully out the way.
"Soraya! Calm down! Deep breath! Nice and easy now, let's go!" I heard Xavier shout from the outfield, and I took his advice to heart, sucking a deep intake of oxygen into my lungs before letting it out slowly.
When I got ready to look at Ashton I set the path of the ball towards where his glove was, the middle of the plate and as the batter brought his bat around to bunt I was moving forward to field it. It went right down the third base line, and my feet carried me to it without hesitation. I picked it up with my bare hand before pelting it to first base, making the third and final out for the innings.
"Ray! Move!" I heard Ashton shout before I was being spun out of the way, my breath hitching as my body was shoved off the third base line. But it wasn't until a split second later that I realised what had happened and by then, Ashton had already taken the hit. The force of Pierce running into him full speed knocked them both to the ground.
"Side!" I heard the plate umpire shout, signalling the end of the play. But the world had moved into slow motion. The crunch of spiked cleats hitting flesh was horribly audible and then Pierce was pushing himself up moments later.
"Fucked that one up, didn't ya Casanova." Pierce snickered, his lips stretched into smirk as he walked away. Leaving Ashton coughing in pain on the ground, blood staining dots through the ripped holes in his jersey.
"Fuck, Ashton are you okay?" No, he was not fucking okay, that was a stupid question but my worry was drowning out my anger like a knife to the chest as I kneeled down next to him. He was bleeding. Proper bleeding, with blood and everything. He was bleeding because he saved me. The guilt hit me liked a rock. This was my fault.
"Just peachy, Sweetheart." He answered with a wince, already moving to sit and I glanced up to see Pierce still smirking as he took his helmet off in the dugout, brushing dust off of himself like it was nothing.
"He did it on purpose." I stated with a frown, returning my attention back to Ashton, and steadying him with a hand on his shoulder.
"Yeah, I noticed." He replied, shutting his eyes for a moment as he let out a long breath of air, and I realised he was readying himself to stand.
"Come on, let's get you on the bench, you're out for the rest of the game." I told him.
"I'll be fine." He grumbled stubbornly as he pushed himself to stand. I didn't offer a hand and watched as he tried to step without falling. He went to put weight on his ankle and I caught him as he started going back towards the ground.
"Put your arm around my shoulders."
"No, I can walk in by myself-"
"No you can't, now stop being a stubborn little shit and let me help you." I snapped. He shut up and I picked up his catcher's mask before walking him into the dugout, arm around his waist to steady him. Alistair met us at the gate, helping to get Ashton to the bench beside Zeke.
"Fucking prick." Alice muttered as he gave Ashton a quick once over for injuries, reaching to grab the first aid box out from under the bench.
"Alright, Chris on for Ashton! Change immediately!" Coach called,
"Is he okay?" Xavier called as he enter as the last one into the dugout, and conveniently the first one in the line up to bat.
"I'm fine, Xav, just go kick their asses." Ashton replied with a lopsided grin, one Xavier returned with a thumbs up, grabbing his batting gloves out of his bag and a bat off the fence. He shot one last concerned glance in our direction, before walking out onto the field. Zeke looked almost worried to see him go out there, but Xav was standing confidently as he took his position at the plate. Pierce was catching, clearly un-phased by the fall, and a player I didn't recognise was pitching.
"Soraya, you're up next." Fynn called from the other end of the cage and I stood up to grab my own gloves.
Xavier made a hit off the third ball pitched to him and our team shouted in excitement as he made it to second base. Zeke and a couple of the guys were up at the fence as I took my position at the plate, ignoring the catcalls from the other team, before the umpire quieted them. I locked my eyes on the ball in the pitcher's hand and shifted into a bunt the moment it left his hand.
I was gone before the ball had even hit the ground.
I caught sight of Xavier running to third, a clear safe pass. Pierce was after the ball by the time I made it to first, his catching mask on the ground. I watched in confusion as he pulled his arm back to throw the ball to third even as Xavier's foot hit the base. The third basemen caught the ball easily, throwing his arm back into an unnecessary tag that collided with Xav's abdomen, hard enough to knock him to the ground with a thud. His helmet rolling off.
"Safe!" The umpire shouted, before following up with; "Time! Retrieve the helmet."
But I don't think that would have mattered to Zeke, who stood at the fence looking very much ready to make a dash onto the field. But Xavier didn't seem to notice and it worried me a little to see that Zeke could be actually be falling for Xavier a little too hard. After all, Xavier did seem fairly straight when he was flirting with me not too long ago.
When Xavier had his helmet back on, the umpire called time back and I was forced to focus as Jasper stepped up to the plate. Swinging the bat around a few times, grin on his face as he pulled up his batting stance. From what I knew he was a big hitter, and had been playing for a few years now, so I wasn't surprised when the ball flew out over my head and into the outfield.
Xav made it home easily and I followed shortly after, Jasper stopping at third. The gate was already open by the time we reached it, the rest of the team giving enthusiastic congratulations as we made it to the bench.
"Hey, are you alright?" Zeke asked as he moved towards Xavier and I, attention clearing on Xav instead of his sister and I rolled my eyes in amusement.
"Yeah I'm fine, just winded." Xavier stated, Zeke moved to kneel in front of Xav who was sitting on the bench, his right hand sitting on Xav's thigh. It was a bit cute and I had to hold back a smile.
"You better be alright, you're pitching." I cut into the conversation, kicking Zeke's ass so he would stop touching Xav like he was. I watched as Calen was struck out and Finn was tagged out and moved to put my catching gear on only to realize I didn't actually have any. Which was conviniently when a chest plate landed in my lap.
"Better gear up, Ma Colombe" I looked across to see Ashton sporting a grin as he leaned against the fence.
"What the hell does that even mean?" I asked bluntly, taking the chest plate up and putting my arm through the strap. It was so much bigger on my body than it had been on his.
"You're gonna have to adjust that a little bit" He stated, amusement clear in his voice.
"No shit" I stated, dragging one of his leg guards off the bench towards me and strapping it on, tightening the clasps. I repeated the same thing on the other leg and pulled the chest plate off again to fix the size issue. I put my chest plate back on before picking up my catching glove and mask. I honestly didn't know what to do for calling the pitches, Ashton must have noticed because as I walked past him to go out onto the field he grabbed the strap on the chest plate to pull me back.
"Hey, trust yourself and if it's the wrong call then you'll remember for next time. You're a new player, you can't expect to know everything about everyone. Trial and error, and if Xavier really disagrees with your call he'll just do what you did to me and ignore your call. You'll be fine." He told me, resting a hand on my waist and leaving us both with confused expressions. He quickly removed his hand before I turned and walked out of the dugout.
The rest of the game flew by quickly, we ended up winning by one run and on the long bus ride home everyone was singing 'we are the champions' while Ashton was staring blankly at the road ahead. I moved to sit on the empty seat in front of him, turning to look him dead in the eye. "I'm sorry for my shitty attitude, I went overboard." I apologised.
"Is that an apology from the one and only Ray?" he asked, it was probably meant to have a joking tone to it but it was as flat as his expression.
"Your ankle will be fine, I'm sure of it." I told him, he laughed dryly in response. "Ass... come on, as much as I hate your dickhead side I prefer him over this sulking bullshit. What's wrong?"
"I just really need that scholarship, baseball's all I've got." He said quietly.
"Then rest up, no playing for a while and be careful." I told him before standing up to walk away.
"Hey, sorry for using your period as a horrible reason for your attitude. I shouldn't have played, should have listened to you." He stated, and I was half shocked. Did Ashton just apologise to me? What the hell?
"I may not look like it, but I do know things." I told him. "You should probably care about not getting injured again."
"Well, I care more about my mum killing me because I'm playing." He responded. I smirked as I let my hair out of the messy ponytail it was in and tugged it into a half-respectable bun and saying my response.
"You can't say that she doesn't have a good reason too."