a/n: i dont know if I can continue drawing for kotc ahhhhh. If you notice that my speed of posting has increased, it's because ive given up on drawing for kotc, unfortunately. Hmm maybe I'll draw the ending scene. I don't know.
Either way, with or without the art, I hope you enjoy the chapter! ^_^
That bread is going to be the end of me, Chris fiercely tells himself as he stares at a suspicious loaf of bread with disdain.
The day before, Alex had suggested that everyone should arrive at morning practice early, to surprise Jacob, who was back from his studies and ready to coach. He also said that everyone could bring their own breakfast. Chris had asked his parents if he could go, and they agreed.
Of course, halfway to the gym that morning, Chris realized he forgot his breakfast. Too lazy to double back, he continued onward, convinced that his teammates would be nice enough to share.
He was . . . mostly wrong. First, he was wrong that only the boys team would be there, because when he arrived, the girls team was there as well.
When he asked Alex about it, Alex had replied that he invited Thea, (whose name didn't end up being Alexandria, to Dwayne's relief), and that Thea invited the girls team.
Second, he was wrong about his team being breakfast-compassionate. Spencer ignored Chris when asked about sharing, Dwayne straight-out denied him, and Alex tried his best to be a little tactful about it. The only person who had a bit of kindness was Colin, but his food looked terrifying.
"Why are you looking at the bread like that?" asks Colin, munching on his half of the demonic stone.
"I'm not going to eat this demonic stone," harrumphs Chris, leaning back, feeling his stomach grumble in disagreement.
"Hey! That's highly nutritious bread! It's whole grain with flax seeds and many healthy superfoods, allowing a very balanced breakfast," Colin shoots back, continuing to chew his demonic stone with rigor.
"No matter what you say, that still looks like a demonic stone," grumbles Chris, pushing it a bit further away from him.
Colin shrugs, "Have it your way. You can just go hungry."
"I'd rather do that than give myself food poisoning," Chris smirks. Colin sighs, probably too exasperated to reply.
Towards the end, Alex has a change of heart and gives a bit of his breakfast to Chris, so Chris is able to eat a little bit.
"Why do we even have to come this early?" asks Chris, between chews, "Couldn't we have eaten breakfast at home?"
"I wanted to increase teamwork building, so I thought having breakfast together could help," Alex says sheepishly. He grabs a basketball and starts warming up in a way that looks much more professional than Dwayne's weird jumping-jack/squats routine.
Eventually, Spencer and Dwayne follow Alex to warm up on the half-court, leaving the other half for the girls, when the Crazy Trio then arrive.
"Wow, I almost forgot about you guys," Chris laughs, while in reality, he actually did.
Brady grins, "No sweat! We're easily forgettable!"
"Did you really have to sound so proud of that?" Hunter elbows Brady
Josh seems like he's about to say something, but Alex interrupts him.
"Hey, the girls said they'd play some basketball with us. Come on!" says Alex. Five girls already stand on the court, and Alex grabs Dwayne and Chris. He also motions for the crazy trio to come on to the court.
"Wait, that makes six of us," Chris observes.
"I'm not playing," Alex says cheerfully, "I want to watch to see how you guys do!"
More like, how terrible we do without you, thinks Chris.
"Same here!" says Jacob, who had just arrived.
Chris grins, "Jacob! Did you get any smarter at college?"
"Hopefully," he laughs. He looks like he wants to say more, but he is interrupted. Chris begins to feel a trend in this interrupting.
"Can we get on with this?" grumbles the largest of the girls team. She has shoulders nearly as wide as Spencer's, but she isn't nearly as muscular as Dwayne. Her light brown hair is short, and her eyes glower with such untamed force that Chris fears that this girl is going to be more fierce than Dwayne.
As Chris thinks this, Dwayne himself is hopping around with a wide smile on his face, and switching between squats and jumping-jacks, like an idiot.
The crazy trio seem unfazed and almost as giddy as Dwayne.
"Alright," Alex says, "I'll ref the game!"
"What does that mean?" Spencer, from the sidelines, shouts.
"Are you so stupid that you don't know the abbreviation for referee?" Chris shouts back.
The scary girl from before speaks up, "Are you clowns quite done?"
"I'm sure they are," Alex says, "Who will jump for the boys?"
"I will," says Chris.
"And I will for the girls," says the scary girl.
"Go Bella!" shouts Thea, "Kill him!"
That's a pretty extreme battle cry, thinks Chris dryly.
Bella and Chris line up in the middle of the court. With one hand, Alex holds the ball out above their intersecting hands.
Pointing to the direction Chris is facing, Alex says "Boys!"
Chris and bella squat lower, preparing for a huge jump.
Pointing to the direction Bella is facing, Alex says "Girls!"
Just for safety, Chris squats even lower, to increase his jumping power.
With a flick of his wrist and fingers, Alex throws the ball high up in the air, and Chris jumps like the hundreds of times he's done before. At the same time, Bella jumps up, and Chris is surprised that she's keeping up with him. Don't underestimate her. With an involuntary grunt, Chris swings his arm up to slap the ball backwards, but to his horror, Bella gets the first. Her hand is like a hammer, smashing the ball forcefully towards the girls' point guard.
And the game begins.
Dwayne immediately falls back, readying himself for defense. Chris notices the girls getting in a strange formation. For safety, he falls back, too. Josh, Brady, and Hunter split up, each of them guarding one of the girls.
The girls' point guard sends a pass towards Bella that is relatively slow, and Chris manages to intercept it.
"Attack!" Chris shouts, dribbling forward. I'm the shooting guard. I'm the one who can't dribble as well as the point guard, but can still dribble well enough to be called a guard.
He navigates around one girl and finds an opening. But the reason I'm called shooting guard . . .
Chris jumps, and as he momentarily sees everyone underneath him, he knows that during that one second, he is the King of the Court.
. . . is because I shoot.
The ball flies up in a strangely high arc, and lands in the hoop with a splash. 2-0. The girls waste no time retaliating. Dwayne is a strong defender, but no matter what he does, he's only one player, and Chris and the Crazy Trio can't compare to his reaction speed.
The ball flies from the girls' point guard to the shooting guard, and suddenly, the ball flies into the hands of the smallest girl there—Thea.
~ ~ ~
Thea loves the touch of the basketball. She isn't ashamed to admit this. It's not the actual touch that makes her happy, though. When the ball lands in her hands, she can feel every single pair of eyes in the room land on her. Thea doesn't know if this males her a bad person, but she completely adores that kind of attention. The more eyes that are watching her, the better she players. When the pressure encloses around Thea, she uses it to explode. In basketball, if you're a short player, you need to do a lot to be noticed.
Tall players like Bella or the noodley guy on the other team are easily noticed. But for small players like Thea or the shorty on the other team, it's a lot harder.
Alex had once told her that she was really similar to Dwayne, on his team, who was also a short player. Both of them are small, and both of them adore attention and holding the ball.
But this Dwayne, from what Thea notices, seems to be a giddy idiot.
For some reason, he plays right in the middle of the defense. He's so short! Why does he play as center?
The ball flies into Thea's hands and she speeds around the noodley guy with ease. Too easy. Alex has a team with terrible defenders like this? Thea knows it's unfair thinking like this because Alex himself once said that Thea was a much better ball handler than he is.
When she comes up against Dwayne, she fakes left, and Dwayne somehow follows closely behind her. Then, she fakes right, sure that he can't follow, but he somehow does. She fakes right again, and Dwayne continues following her. She's sure that after another fake, she'll get around him, but she's wrong.
Dwayne smiles, "You think just like Alex. Too much faking."
Thea growls. The other players are starting to enclose around her. Angrily, Thea throws the ball over to Bella and retreats out of the three-point line to get open. Thea knows that this is the only way how basketball can be played. You're given one shot to burst in and score. If you mess it up, you start back from the start and try again.
Suddenly, Bella smashes through the front line of the boys' defense.Thea admires this part about her. Bella doesn't need help to attack. She simply needs to dribble forward. Thea, on the other hand, needs to cut in and recieve a pass. Someday, she'll be able to play as terrifyingly as Alex. She had seen Alex play before. Like Bella, Alex can get past the wall, but unlike Bella, who uses force, Alex weaves around defenders articulately, as if he's dancing.
Thea knows she doesn't play aggressively enough. She tried playing point guard before, but when she wasn't a ball-hog, she'd only pass. She wasn't able to find the in-between.
Bella, who had smashed through the boys' wall, comes up against Dwayne, who seems like a dwarf facing Bella. It's only then that Thea notices that Dwayne's name sounds a lot like 'dwarf'.
Dwayne pushes against Bella with all his might and seems to prevent her from doing anything. She has an open shot, though! Thea thinks, Why doesn't she shoot?
Finally, unable to make a good opening, Bella throws the ball towards the goal haphazardly. She is about to jump up to get it, but somehow, Dwayne gets the ball.
Dwayne didn't even jump, though! How did he get the ball?
How come he can get the ball, but I can't?