Colin pokes Alex.
Colin pokes Alex again.
Colin pokes Alex for the third time. Or is it the fourth?
"Alex! I'm poking you!" shouts Colin furiously, repeatedly stabbing his fingers into Alex's upper back.
Alex doesn't even turn around. He simply continues staring at the tournament bracket paper. Who knew he could be so quiet? Had it been at least an hour ago that he was guffawing at Dwayne's bruises, and the fact that Dwayne wouldn't admit to why he had those bruises?
"I'm fully aware that your finger is jabbing me in the back," Alex says in a monotone voice to the point where Colin feels he's doing this on purpose.
"Chris! Help me!" pleads Colin as he swivels around to Chris, but Chris doesn't budge either. After a moment of silence, Chris answers Colin's question by flipping a page in his book.
Colin stomps over to Chris, and looks at what book he's reading.
One Hundred Years of Solitude.
"Well, he might just as well be in one hundred years of solitude," grumbles Colin. He wheels around, facing Dwayne, but doesn't even bother to ask, because Dwayne is sleeping.
"Has the whole world just frozen in time?" screams Colin, slumping back in his chair in a dramatic "giving-up" way.
The door to Spencer's room opens, and Spencer enters, "Are you guys okay? Anyone want coffee?"
"Me," Chris replies.
"Me," Alex replies.
"Coffee?" exclaims Colin, "Drinking coffee at this young of an age can disrupt your circadian rhythm and develop into addiction!"
Even so, Spencer gives Colin an apologetic look and leaves to prepare the coffee.
"Circle Aiden what?" Dwayne inquires groggily, finally woken up. Colin wonders why Spencer even invited the entire team here. Chris came to read. Dwayne came to sleep. Alex came to violently stare at the tournament bracket paper.
"Circadian rhythm," corrects Chris, placing a bookmark in his book, "It basically means your sleep cycle."
Alex finally turns from the bracket, "We're facing Jackson Wills in our next match."
"Is that the name of a person?" Dwayne wonders, and then he stands to ask Alex, "And why are we facing one person instead of a team?"
Chris snickers, "Jackson Wills is the name of the school, idiot."
"Oh," Dwayne sits back down. Colin finds it amusing that Dwayne seems unfazed by any insult or physical pain. Even when Chris's insults are more insulting than 'idiot', Dwayne doesn't seem to care.It's different in some situations, though. Any time someone labels Dwayne as 'short', he explodes in fury, and the offender ends up facing his wrath. Marble Creek already knows not to use the 'S word' around Dwayne.
"What's special about them?" asks Spencer, sitting down with the coffee, "Will they be like Saint Helena?"
"No. Definitely not," Alex replies, "Saint Helena shouldn't have been a strong team, but it had a prodigy and a strong center. That's the basic foundation for a terrifying team. Jackson Wills is different. They are a much more . . . normal team, I would say."
"What does that mean? Are they weak?" asks Spencer. He hands the coffee to Chris and Alex.
"Definitely not," Colin replies, "When Alex said 'normal', he simply meant that the team itself relies more on fundamentals and traditional techniques.
"English please?" Spencer gives a confused smile.
Chris grins, "Basically, they're the opposite of us and Saint Helena."
"Yeah . . ." Alex sighs, "Saint Helena uses a focused solo attack with intense offensive rebounding, while we also use a similar strategy."
Colin smiles. He likes this about Alex. The way Alex isn't afraid or shy of admitting that he's good. The way Alex talks about his talent normally without being a braggart.
Spencer perks up, "Huh. Someone rang the doorbell."
"Better not be Jacob," growls Chris, "I told him not to follow."
Colin listens as Spencer stomps down the creaky stairs down to the first floor. A minute later, Spencer comes back up, grinning
"I looked through the hole in the door. There's a girl out there," Spencer says, "I think Dwayne should open it."
"Why?", Dwayne asks, suspicious, then he seems to realize, "Oh . . . you're too shy to do it, and you want me to do it, I see."
"She . . ." Spencer pauses for a dramatic effect, ". . . was wearing basketball attire."
Suddenly, Dwayne, who was about to march out of the room, stops in place and sits back down, "Nevermind."
Alex laughs, "Still scared they're gonna beat you up?"
"They did not beat me up!" protests Dwayne.
"Really?" Alex counters, "And you said the bruises were from . . . what again?"
"All right, all right," Colin stands up, "I'll just answer the door."
Colin slowly steps down the stairs and goes through a hallway towards the door. Spencer's house is actually quite large even though he has no siblings. After Colin opens the door, he sees a relatively short girl, although a bit taller than Dwayne, and has jet black hair, strikingly similar to Alex. However, the thing that scares him the most about this girl is the eyes. It's as if she's not just staring at him, but staring into him and through him.
"Are you just gonna stare at me?" the girl asks, taking two steps forward and pointing an accusing finger at Colin, "Where's your captain?"
"Wh-wha-wh-wh-what? Captain, yes, um he's upstairs," Colin stutters, "How'd you know we were here?"
"Some tall guy told us you'd be here," the girl replies. Colin nods. Either she is referring to Jacob . . . or a stalker.
"Uh, I'm Colin," Colin says, placing a hand out in front of him for a handshake. The girl ignores him and walks straight past him and up the stairs.
"H-hey, you can't just barge in like that!" Colin follows her up the stairs. Colin hears the girl say 'Hi', which is followed by a series of crashing noises-- either the result of her stomping around, or the result of Dwayne falling off his chair upon seeing a player from the girls' basketball team. Maybe both.
Colin gets upstairs just in time to hear Alex say, "Thea? What are you doing here?"
The girl, who Colin supposes is the one named Thea, replies, "Come on! There are these suspicious looking weirdos outside the gym and Bella sent me out the back door to get the boys' basketball team to scare them away!"
"Why doesn't the girls' basketball team scare them away themselves," mumbles Dwayne.
"Oh hey, you're the weirdo in the gym yesterday!" Thea says, excited, "Can I kick you again?"
"Woah, woah, woah," Alex stands up, "No kicking. I'll come with you. Do you all want to come?"
Colin shrugs, "Sure."
Dwayne sits back, "No thank you."
Chris gives no response, and Spencer also decides to stay.
"Looks like just me and you," Colin says as Alex and Thea start down the stairs.
They walk a few blocks down, since Spencer lives really close to the school. They go into the gym through the back door. Immediately, Colin is hit by a huge sense of power he had never felt before.
The girls' team's practice is like nothing he'd ever seen. He had thought the boys' team practices were well coordinated, but the girls' team had at least ten times more people. On one side of the court, players are playing a scrimmage, while some frequently switching off. On the other side, less experienced players practice rebounding, layups, passing, and dribbling.
A tall and slightly muscular girl walks up to them, "Just two of them?
"Bella, there are only five of them total," Thea crosses her arms, "And none of them look very intimidating anyways, except for Alex, but only when he's sad."
"Sad?" Alex inquires.
"Mind your businiess," Thea shoots back at him.
"Anyways, do they confront the door knockers?" Thea asks, turning back to Bella.
"Sure," Bella replies, and points to the front double doors, "Watch your step. I think someone spilled their water.
Colin and Alex walked around the court and went to the double doors. They opened it up, and sure enough there were three guys sitting out there, but they didn't look as scary as Colin predicted. In fact, they actually looked like they were from school. Colin had expected tall men with short, cropped hair and black attire and suitcases.
Two of them were sitting down. The other seemed to be collapsed on the ground.
"You guys?" Alex exclaims, "Come on in, and get Josh some water or something. I think he's having a heatstroke."
The collapsed guy, who is probably Josh, gets up, "I'm fine. Just tired. Anyways, it was about time someone opened the door. We were about to leave."
"Who are they?" Colin asks.
"They used to be on the boys' basketball team. Josh, Hunter, and Brady," explains Alex, pointing at each one left to right.
"We're here to re-join!" says Hunter. He flicks his long, brown hair back.
"We couldn't stand watching you idiots play with a five-man team, so we're going to play with you kids now!" declares Brady, who has so little hair up on his head that Colin can barely tell if his hair is blonde, white, or nonexistent. Brady has slightly wider shoulders than the other two in the trio, although Josh is the tallest.
"You're joking," Alex blinks, "Didn't you all quit?"
"Well, we're back! Sorry for abandoning you, bro," Brady replies. He ruffles Alex's hair, which is definitely something Colin would never do, but surprisingly, Alex doesn't react. He simply nods.
"All right. We need more players anyways. And by the way, you're not the captain anymore. I am," says Alex, "And we have a college student as a coach, so we're not in great shape."
"Where is Jacob anyways? Haven't seen him in a while," Colin wonders.
"He still has a life, you know," Alex grins, "He is a college student after all. He's majoring in computer science, I think."
"All right," Brady says, "Since the girls have the gym, where do we go?"
"Spencer's house. He's one of the players. Just go down Stanton street a few blocks and turn left on Wildemont. He's the one with the white, two-story house and two small trees in the front yard," Alex says.
"Got it. Where will you be?" asks Josh.
"In the gym. I'm going to attempt to negotiate a mutally agreed practice schedule for both teams," says Alex ruefully, "But I might come back with a black eye or two."
"Yeah, I think they only let us in because they wanted us to help them," Colin chuckles.
"Alright, Colin, you can go with them," Alex says, "I've got this handled."
"What are you two still doing in here?" shouts Thea from the court, as she charges toward the two of them. Josh, Hunter, and Brady had already left, probably precognitively sensing the danger.
"Who is she anyways?" Colin asks, "You two seem very familiar with each other."
"She's my little sister," Alex sighs, "See you soon, Colin."
He closes the door and Colin flinches as he hears crashing noises from inside. No need to ask what's happening.
Dwayne and Alex are unfortunately in the same club now.