stan (stanrosado) wrote in weigh_it,

Stokely: *The sun has set slightly, and it's hard for me to see my notebook, even though I've climbed slightly out of the shade underneath the bleachers. I sit on my book bag, knees bent up to my chest, notebook balancing, pen poised. If I squint my eyes enough I can make out the sketch I have been doing for the past hour and a half; the large oak tree. There is an indention there from years ago when a car crashed into it. The janitor, if I had heard correctly... drunk. My sketch is the tree, but also the mangled car. The body inside is apparent, the blood dripping from the jarred open driver's door. I can't remember if the man died or not, but it makes a more dramatic picture. I add more blood on the ground for effect as the sun sets further and a group of footsteps sound behind me. I don't bother looking up*

Stan: *I'm tired and practice hasn't helped me clear my head. Every time my cleats click on the sidewalk, I can feel myself getting more and more annoyed. I have a paper to write and tests to study for and here I am, still practicing. I'm so absorbed in my own self-pity that I almost miss her.* Stokely?

Stokely: *I tense, and my pen skids across my drawing* Fuck. *I look up, eyes still squinted, focusing in the shadows. I see the jersey, the pads, the helmet, and that's all I need. My face twists into a tasteless smirk up at you as I tap my pen against my knee* Oh, so the pigs have been let out of their pins to feed, have they?

Stan: *I snort.* The pigs have gone, it's only the runt left. *I say, mildly amused at my own desire to make fun of my teammates. I walk over to her, stopping just to the side, trying not to block whatever light is left.*

Stokely: *I turn my attention back to my notebook, folding my legs so that I'm sitting Indian style* You know, *I smile slightly, hands folding over the drawing in a semi-protective, semi-self conscious way* Mothers sometimes become so antsy that they eat their young. They start with the little ones... the runts. *I raise an eyebrow up at you*

Stan: It's a good thing that Coach isn't my mother. *I say and find it hard not to smile at her. I bend down slightly, my helmet touching the ground near her knee.* Drawing? *I ask, almost stupidly. I mentally kick myself, what else would she be doing?*

Stokely: *I chuckle softly, hands fluttering over the page almost nervously. It's not every day that someone randomly comes up to me and begins a conversation. Must be my charm, I think sourly* Actually, I'm devising a bomb. Going to get rid of this place in one big bang... y--they won't know what hit them. *I lift my hands from the drawing regardless, showing my work in all of its gore and splendor* Boredom.

Stan: It'd have to be a really big bomb. *I say, squatting down. I let my helmet clatter to the ground, it's not really mine anyway. It rolls slowly away, I don't really care. I look over her drawing, then back up at her. I arch my eyebrow.* Interesting. There's a lot of ... Blood?

Stokely: Have to catch the public's eye somehow, Stan. *I murmur, fingers, fingernails painted black, tracing over the thick squiggles of my sketch slowly. You smell of grass and sweat and some sort of dark scent that gets stuck to the furniture at home if my step dad's been sitting there for a long time. combined with the grass and sweat, though, it's not so very unpleasant.* I don't really... do this. A lot. It's not very good. *I shrug*

Stan: *I sit back on my heels for a moment, looking at her. I find myself distracted by the way her hair falls on her face. The word pretty comes to mind, then I remind myself to check my thesaurus before using that word to describe her. I lean forward again and look down at the picture.* I think it's good. If that counts for anything. *I pause. Then add hastily,* Not that I know much about art.

Stokely: *I smile slightly at that, having to restrain myself from reaching out and patting you on the back. I do that to Casey... I CAN do that to Casey. Casey's an ally. You're in football padding and you smell like sweat and Man.* I don't think I'd trust anyone who boasted they knew shit about art to comment on my work. I like fresh perspectives. *I speak in a slightly haughty, almost snooty tone of voice, though it's a bit mumbly, a little under my breath for it to register as a real joke*

Stan: *I laugh and stand for a moment, stretching my legs. I look down on her and feel oddly tall, so I squat again, but my knees don't like that so I sit down next to her. I try to think of something witty to reply with, but I can't. I sigh.* Witty replies aren't my, uh, forte. *I say, pronouncing it as fort, like my grandfather does.*

Stokely: *I chuckle, head tipping so that I'm looking sideways at you, hair brushing into my eyes* Fort? What, are you a drill sergeant as well as a jock? Holding out on all of us petty high school students? *I grin despite myself, pen slipping from my fingers and falling into the grass. I don't bother picking it up*

Stan: *I shrug, but I'm smiling.* My grandfather is an English professor. He likes to tell us the, *I pause and try to make my voice sound gruff and professor-like* Proper Pronunciation of All Words.

Stokely: *Mock-serious, nodding* Sounds like an over the top, intellectual asshole to me. Good impression, by the way.

Stan: *I grin at her.* Thanks. *I pause and think about my grandfather.* He's not. I mean, I used to think he was. But ... *I sigh.* He was always disappointed in me. *I suddenly admit.*

Stokely: *Uh oh, with the sentiment. I pull back a bit at the dip in your voice, the slump of your shoulders* Disappointed? In you? Fuck, Stan. You're a parents' wet dream, practically...

Stan: *I shrug and shift my shoulder pads slightly, they're starting to bother me. An unwanted weight on my shoulders.* I used to read. When I was little. All the time. Then my dad and I started watching the Bucks and ... *I trail off, the implications are obvious.*

Stokely: *I frown, sniff slightly* Thought you liked football. You're always at it... parading around the halls in your jersey, eating lunch with all of the other superior meat-head nightmares. Dating Delilah. *the last bit is clipped, and holds distinct malice*

Stan: Delilah and I are over. *I say .. And then realize it's the first time I've said that out loud. It must really be true.* And I don't think I'll be on the team much longer. *I won't, I mentally correct myself. But I'm not ready to admit to the certainty of quitting just yet.*

Stokely: *Double take* What? *And, wait, what is this intimacy all of a sudden? You don't know me. I don't know you. We're in the same place at the same time and you're talking about your grandfather and Delilah (you brought her up first) and quitting the fucking football team and...* What?

Stan: *I sigh and wonder what I'm thinking, telling this girl -- Stokely -- about this. Things I haven't really told anyone.* She didn't like it that I was thinking about quitting. Not that we really did anything together. *I pause and shrug.* And, really, how bad would that look? The lead cheerleader dating the former captain of the football team? *I sound bitter, more than I meant, or perhaps I'm even more bitter than I will ever admit.*

Stokely: Oh. *I chew slightly on my lower lip, and it's mainly because you're not looking at me, but maybe a little because of the way the shadow of the setting sun streaks across your face that I study your expression* Who cares what things look like. Who cares what other people think? *And this time I do touch you, only it's not you, it's the bulky shoulder pads, but I rest my hand there anyway* Fuck 'em.

Stan: *I blink, almost surprised. I'm momentarily fixated on her hand, but I don't shrug it off. In fact I find myself cursing the football equipment.* It's hard to pretend you don't care. What people think about me, I mean. *I say, then think for a moment. I want to say something else, about how it's not that I care what people think about it, but that it almost hurts how shallow people really are. I don't know how to explain it, though. I sigh.* It's hard to pretend that you don't care that most of your friends will drop you so fast when you tell them that you won't get into college on a football scholarship and that you have to quit the team to study.

Stokely: I hate to sound like a bad made-for-tv movie, but. *I smile gently, hand dropping from your shoulder, curling around my pen to keep myself occupied. Not anxious, completely at ease, not fidgety... but you're sitting so close* If they drop you for something as pointless as that shit, then they're not exactly your friends. Therefore, they're not worth it. Are they?

Stan: No. *I reply, resigned. I play with the hem of my practice jersey.* They won't understand. I mean. They won't understand why I have to. *I don't look at you.*

Stokely: They're brainless apes who haven't done the crossover step in evolution yet. The only things they're concerned with is beer, pigskin, and getting laid by cute little dainty girls in skirts that show half their asses. *A beat as I mentally shove my head into an ice cooler. I tug my knees up to my chest and smile sheepishly* Sorry... got carried away.

Stan: *I laugh and have to look up at you. I'm smiling.* It's okay. You're right. I suppose I fit into that category myself. *I say and glance down at the uniform, the same thing I've worn for four years. Then I look back up at you with a half smile.*

Stokely: *My mouth twitches into a likewise smile, and my shoulders relax from their bunched up state... I hadn't realized that I was holding my breath* You're worth ten of them. *Ah, shit, shit...* The, uh. Uniform. Doesn't look... too bad. Though. I guess.

Stan: *I feel my face flush and I'm thankful of the approaching dark.* Thanks. *I want to say something nice back, but I can't think of anything that doesn't sound manufactured. So I don't. Instead I try for a joke.* You want to try it on? Really. *I tease, and fine myself smiling easily at you.*

Stokely: *I snort, rolling my eyes* Thanks, but no thanks. I can smell it from here. *I grin jokingly, stretching my legs out, shoe tapping against your cleat by accident. I jerk it away* I feel bad enough seeing you in it.

Stan signed off at 10:02:38 PM.

Stan signed on at 10:07:35 PM.

Stan: *I laugh.* It's even worse after games. *I shrug, watching her foot.* It's not all it's cracked up to be. *I mumble.*

Stokely: *Sarcastic, biting* I never would have guessed. Put on a clown suit and get my head smashed by fellow teammates. FUN. *I shake my head* I don't know how anyone could stand it...

Stan: *I shrug again.* I like it. I mean. I used to like it. *I have to stop and think.* It's not the same as it used to be. All anyone cares about it winning. I don't suppose I do ... Any more.

Stokely: *I pick at a blade of grass, leaning back slightly, frowning a little* How did it use to be, then? Why is now so different?

Stan: I don't know. *I say, because I'm not sure I want to tell her.* Something changed over the summer. I mean, something changed in me. *I don't know why I'm telling you this, but I can't seem to stop. No one's ever asked before.* I still love it. I wouldn't miss the Bucks for anything. But ... *I chew on my bottom lip, not sure if I really want to tell her.*

Stokely: *I'm silent for a minute as a wait for you to continue. Enough light is gone so that the outer field lights switch on, and I blink the dancing white spots that appear on your face away* But? *I reach forward without meaning to, fingers brushing your wrist. It's something that concerned mothers or sisters do on television. It's something that makes complete sense.*

Stan: *I look down at her hands on my wrist. I fight the urge to move my hand. I don't look at her when I finally speak.* Football scouts, from the Bucks, and some out of state schools, came to practices over the summer. *I squeezes my eyes shut for a moment. I don't want to talk about this. The only people who know are Coach and my parents ... And Delilah, but she was drunk.* I'm not good enough to get into any of the schools I was by playing football. And. *I stop, open my eyes. My voice is strained and my hand reflexively closes into a fist.* They also told me I'd never make it in the pros.

Stokely: Oh. *There's no reply I can come up with... nothing to say to that. You look like a kicked puppy, like a kid whose lolli has been snatched out of his fist. I'm not the comforting type. The only trick I know is what I've heard from therapists that my mother's forced me to go to, and all they do is sit there and ask in a creepy robot-like voice, 'and how does that make you feel'?* Stan. *I don't move my fingers from your wrist, and I concentrate my gaze on your neck (still sweaty) rather than your face* You didn't have to tell me that.

Stan: You asked. *I turn and look at her.* The only other person who asked was drunk and didn't really want to know. *I shrug, trying to play it off. But I'm really relieved to have told someone.* It sucks, but at least my grades never really have. *I finally say.*

Stokely: You've never, uh. *My brow furrows, and here it comes.* Never wanted to talk to me before. That's why I. Was wondering

Stan: *I shrug. You're right.* Things change. People change. *I don't know what else to say, short of the fact that I never really noticed how pretty you was. And I'm not quite sure you want to hear that. Or that I really should be the one saying those things.*

Stokely: Yeah. Yeah, they do. *My fingers drag away from your wrist, warm and pulsing. I wipe idly at an ant that had been crawling around on my notebook, and then close it, the cover filled with scrawled doodles and bits and snatches of other people's poetry. I sigh softly and then begrudgingly say,* Shouldn't you, like. Be out on the town or something? With friends?

Stan: *I miss the warmth of your fingers on my skin, and I shrug. I do that a lot around you. I don't feel that I need to make as many excuses.* I have a paper to write. And a test.

Stokely: Oh, right. *Back on familiar ground; school. I fiddle with my pen, always a nervous habit.* Government, right? We had one last week. It was a bitch... *I have to force my mouth to close in order to stop my yammering on. It's not that I know your schedule, I think. It's just. um.*

Stan: I hate that class. I can't seem to remember everything. History, and even English, are easier. *I try not to stare at her lips, but it's not working. I force myself to look away.* I suppose it's good that I'm not planning on going into politics.

Stokely: Who knows. Look at all of the pricks sitting in the White House right at this very moment. *I smilesmirk up at you, and reach over to tap my pen against your knee in slightly hesitant friendly manner* Y'might stand a chance.

Stan: *I laugh out loud, a carefree laugh.* Right. I'd rather ... I don't know, teach? *I don't know what I want to do with my life, except leave this god forsaken town.*

Stokely: Yeah? *I study you for a minute in your ridiculous get-up, and nod* Yeah, I can see you teaching. As long as your students didn't fall asleep or make mince meat out of you, that is.

Stan: They'd feed me to the dogs on the first day. *I shift, and suddenly remember that I'm still in my uniform. I don't want to go, but even I know I'm starting to smell.* I ... I should go. Change.

Stokely: Oh. Yeah... I should probably *...get home...* leave, too. Sometimes the police cruises around here looking for trouble makers. *I make a face, thinking I should gather my things together and shove them into my book bag. I don't move.*

Stan: *I bite my lip and look at her. I open my mouth, then shut it. I try to force myself to stand up, go to the shower. But I don't move.* We're just causing so much trouble. *I try to shove the idea of asking you to wait for me out of my head.*

Stokely: We sure are. Soon you'll start selling crack in pens like Zeke Tyler and I'll be fornicating with the teachers like that one girl... what'shername. *I pause for a beat and then reach for my book bag, fingers shaking just a little. And that's probably just from the slight wind that's picked up. Strands of hair fly into my eyes and I try to push them away, not looking at you*

Stan: Then we'll start cheating on tests and stealing lunch money from the kids. *Without really thinking, I reach out and brush the hair off your face. I realize what I'm doing, I drop my hand. I tell myself to move, to go, before things get anymore weird, but I don't move.*

Stokely: *I freeze, hand hovering over my notebook. I duck my head, certain that my ears are bright red and my cheeks are blazing. Your fingers are warm and steady.* I, um. *think, think, think...* Have you ever seen the film Metropolis?

Stan: I. Vaguely. My grandfather used to teach a science fiction class and I think he talked about it. *I study her carefully. I want to touch her face again.* Why?

Stokely: *I don't meet your eyes, but instead my fingers trace and retrace the cover of my book* It was, uh. Considered the first actual full-length science fiction film. Black and white. Silent. German. It's about this enormous city... beautiful. Perfect and shiny. But underneath there's this entirely different world... run by workers. The workers stay inside this hell hole for the main purpose of keeping the beautiful, perfect world on top the way it is. Without them, the world would crumble. They kill themselves doing it. But... but, you know what, Stan? *I look up at you, smiling a strange little smile* They rebel. They get their day. The little people finally speak out, and that's what matters. And, um. Lots of awesome special effects and shit... but. I guess that's my weird way of saying... things'll get better. We won't always be the *...weirdos...* odd-men out.

Stan: *I blink, listening to your words echo in my head. And then it all makes sense. I understand what you're getting it. I look at you, realization in my eyes and it takes all of my self-control not to kiss you. I take a deep breath.* Don't you mean odd-people out? Equal rights and all. And. *I stop, trying not to trivialize what you said.* It makes sense. But not everyone needs us. The team can get by without be, in spite of what some people think.

Stokely: *I nod, notebook in book bag, pen in small compartment, zippered up, right, check. Got this easy stuff down, man.* They'll get over it after a good cry, I'm sure. Some other sorry guy'll be around to take your place. um. *A quickly darted glance in your direction* No offense. I don't mean to sound so... you know. *I gesture vaguely*

Stan: That I'm that easily replaced? *I shrug.* I'm not that great. Really. *It almost hurts to say that, but I suppose it helps to have already heard it from people who know better than I do. I lean forward and wrap my fingers around the mask of my helmet, slowly pulling it toward me.*

Stokely: You're not that bad, either. *I listen to the dragging of the helmet across the grass and watch the muscles in your forearm and wrist flex. I have to force myself to continue.* So I've, uh. Heard.

Stan: *I smile to myself, inwardly pleased to hear you say that.* Thanks. But I'm not good enough. *I almost sigh again, but I don't.* I need to find something to be good at, I suppose.

Stokely: There's always time. You never know. *I shrug slightly, thinking faintly that I never shrug, what'm I doing...?* It could be staring you right in the face, and you'd never know it...

Stan: *I blink and my breath catches. I cough, trying to cover up whatever the feeling is in my stomach.* It could be. *I need to stop looking at you, I need to go. Change. Eat dinner. Do my homework. But none of it sounds as appealing as talking to you.*

Stokely: *I'm hardly paying attention to you anymore. I'm tipped forward slightly, hands on book bag, sort of staring off into space. It feels wonderful to be able to talk aloud and know that someone's listening. It feels wonderful to be able to have someone listen, period.* I painted this picture once when I was little... finger-paints and everything. It was supposed to be a picture of what we liked the most. Other kids painted puppy dogs and rainbows and their moms. Know what mine was? *I smile to myself, arms wrapping around my middle* I big, green gooey monster. Three eyes. Five arms. Flies swarming around its head. The teacher asked me what it was, and I said it was my friend. I can't remember what I named it. She, uh, the teacher... didn't hang it up on the wall with the others. She said she lost it. *I chuckle softly, from the memory, from the shock that I actually told you that... I've never told anyone. Never.*

Stan: *I still can't stop looking at you.* She was shocked by your creativity. *I say, smiling at her. My tone shifts, and suddenly I'm serious again.* There's so much that teachers just don't understand. My history teacher tried to let me pass a test. A test that I'd clearly failed, just so I could play in the next game. I wouldn't let him.

Stokely: *I finally look up at you, eyebrow raised* You were offered a free ride and you didn't take it?

Stan: *I nod.* I tried. Not to take it. But Coach. He persuaded the teacher. Who apologized the next day when I yelled at him. But Coach ... I don't think I've ever forgiven him. *I sigh. Then realize I'm talking about me again.* I'm sorry ... I didn't mean to take away from what you were say. I do that. Talk about myself a lot. I mean.

Stokely: You're more interesting. Which isn't saying a lot, but hey. Work with what you have. *I smile, listening to the crickets chirp. I should... you should...*

Stan: I'm not that interesting. I'm just ... I don't know what I am. *Late for dinner. Late for the showers. But I can't make myself leave.* You're ... You're different. I admire that. *What am I saying? What does this girl -- woman -- do to me?*

Stokely: You're strange, you know that? *I shake my head at you, openly amused* You have everything. Ev-er-y-thing. I'm. Just... Stokely. *My smile twitches a little bit on my mouth... just Stokely*

Stan: Everything? I suppose. But maybe I don't want it all. *I look at you and reaches out again, brushing more hair out your eyes. I let my hand linger for a moment, then drop it.* You're more than Just Stokely. You're smart. You're the only person here who see us for who we really are. And you're unique, you're not like everyone else. *And you're pretty. I add, biting my tongue.*

Stokely: *I credit myself with the fact that I don't come that near to choking on my own spit when your fingers brush skin this time. I smile despite myself, but that quickly turns bashful.* Usually if people say something like that, they want to copy my test... but they always back away when I tell them to eat shit and die, asshole. *I regard you seriously for a minute, my head tilting slightly* You're different than them, though. You're *...fuckIdon'tknow...* okay.

Stan: If it makes you feel any better, I don't want to cheat off of you. *I shake my head slightly.* I'm not that different than them. *I say, gesturing toward the school.* In fact, until Delilah and I broke I was one of th -- *I stop. I tilt my head, thinking.* At least, I thought I was.

Stokely: Yeah. Me too. *I study you, and really, you would look a lot more... a lot less...* You look horribly ridiculous with all that on. Have I said that already?

Stan: *I laugh.* I do? I mean. I do. It's hot and. *I close my eyes, not really sure why I'm doing this. I pull the practice jersey over my head, then the pads. I'm wearing an old t-shirt understand. OSU Buckeyes written across the front. It rides up my chest as I pull my gear off.*

Stokely: *Breath hisses through my teeth as I exhale too quickly. With the. And the. Skin. I turn my head with a strange mix of shouldn't look, shouldn't look... but every other part of my body but my neck, it seems, wants to. So very badly. I mumble softly, fingers plucking nervously at my own black turtleneck,* Better?

Stan: Much. *I say, looking at my discarded clothing.* I'm almost glad I won't need to wear that again. Such a pain in the ass. *I fiddle with my shirt, pulling it down.* Heavy shit. *I add, pointing down at it.*

Stokely: I b-bet. *I tug at a strand of my hair, thinking, hoping all form of intelligent speech hasn't left me just yet. I think this is the most I've spoken to someone all week. In numerous weeks. In... a long fucking time. It's thrilling; in a sort of frightening way.* I hope they, um. Haven't locked you out of the building. Or something.

Stan: *I blink a few times, I hadn't considered that.* I don't .. I don't know. I suppose I could just ... Shit. *I laugh.* If they have locked me out, I'll get to walk home. My keys. They're in my jeans. In the locker room.

Stokely: *I chuckle softly... snigger... which turns into full out laughing. It feels good. It feels damn good. I rock to the side slightly, shoulder brushing against your own, and I reach out a hand to steady myself, palm just above your knee, still laughing.*

Stan: *I stare at your hand, and just for a moment, my finger brush over your knuckles, then I pull my hand back, and return to fiddling with my hem.* Oh, come on. It wasn't that funny. At least, not as funny as when I locked my keys in my car.

Stokely: *I laugh harder, head wagging back and forth in disbelief, though I pull away from you slightly, fingers moving, but still resting on your leg* I thought... they only did that... in movies!

Stan: *I pretend to be offended.* No. See. I was ... Well. I was late -- I don't remember what for. And I forgot close the trunk. I left my keys in the car ... And didn't realize I'd done it until the trunk closed. *I look at her, trying to look pathetic and sad, but I fail and start laughing.*

Stokely: Ohgod... *I snigger, snort, and that only makes me laugh harder. I attempt to say something, something sweet and charming like, 'you utter dumbass!' or 'they let you walk out of the DMV with a license?', but instead I settle for shaking my head, grinning, and reaching up reflexively to pat you on the cheek in an older sister sort of reprimanding way. Instead, I just touch you, laughter dying on my lips, eyes searching your face. I smile, want to say 'thank you', but instead I murmur* Y'should get walking. *I don't move.*

Stan: I could try the door. *I suggest. As I gesture toward the door, my hand brushes your knee.* It might still be unlocked. And then I could take a nice football free shower.

Stokely: Yeah. Sounds like a plan. *I let my hand drop from your cheek as I tear my eyes away, looking across to the building.* So.

Stan: *I decide I should stand up. I push up from the ground and stand.* I should go. My parents might. Send out the national guard. Or something. *I hold out my hand, offering to help her up.*

Stokely: *I hesitate for a moment, smirking smugly, refraining from sniggering more.* A locksmith, too. *I take your hand, aiding by pulling myself up, backpack in tow. I absently brush the grass off of my clothing... black and green wasn't meant to be. Not on me.*

Stan: Right. *I say with mock annoyance. I realize I'm still holding your hand. I find that I don't want to let go.* I should. Check. *I feel self-conscious.*

Stokely: *Your skin is very dark compared to mine... brown against white in the horrible lighting, though my black nail polish seems to bring it all together. I nod vaguely. I can feel your the pulse coming from your thumb, where my own fingers are snug against it.* I should probably, uh. Start for home. Though I'm sure it doesn't matter. *I mumble the last bit, pushing at my hair.*

Stan: *I arch my eyebrow and again fight the urge to invite you to go somewhere. I promise myself I will. Tomorrow. I take a deep breath.* It doesn't matter?

Stokely: *Oh, fuck. I flinch a little at that, because I hadn't meant to say what I did. It was fine when we were talking about your troubles, your football, your aspirations, but me, I'm different. Different, and that's not how things are supposed to happen.* Parents. *My hand slips out of yours, and I sling my book bag over one shoulder, eyes not meeting yours* You know how they can be.

Stan: *I watch your face carefully and bite back other questions. I touch your arm as I speak.* I do. *And then, before I can stop myself, I go on talking.* If you ... Ever want to go. I mean. Get away from them ... Um. You could. I mean. Since I'm quitting the team, I'll have more free time. *I fumble my way through the sentence, feeling my face color. My hand is still on your arm.*

Stokely: Stan... *My fingers twist together until they're one mass of wiggling pale things, and I fight hard not to stare at you, so I end up looking back and forth, fingers, face, fingers, face. Your hand is large and warm, but.* If you're worried about what your friends'll say once you quit the team... what do you think they'll say when. When they find out you're friends with. With me? *My stomach slowly creeps up into my throat, and I have to swallow it back down.*

Stan: You. You told me that I shouldn't care about what other people think of me. And you're right. *I takes a deep breath, letting my hand drop to my side.* And. I'd like to talk to you more. I like. I like talking to you. *I knows I'm flushed, but I thinks that it's worth it this time.*

Stokely: *I speak quietly, regarding you solemnly* I like talking to you, too. *Headlights sweep over us, someone driving past. I blink in the sudden brightness, but smile slightly all the same.* So, um. I guess I'll see you around, then...

Stan: *I bite my lip, then swallow.* Yeah. Tomorrow or something. *I try to sound vague, relaxed.* Be careful. *I add, suddenly worried about you walking home.*

Stokely: Gee, thanks, dad. *I take a step backward, lips turned up in a crooked smile.* You, too. I hope it's not a long walk home...? just in case. y'know.

Stan: *I laugh, but it's strained. Not because I'm worried about the keys, but because ... I'm not sure why. Maybe something to do with the dad remark.* It's not long. Not short either. But. *I shrug.* Next time. *I almost stop myself, next time?* Next time we should try for a well lit area. *I bend down and pick up my helmet, shoulder pads and jersey. I clutch them to my chest.*

Stokely: Yeah, like. School. When it's actually in session. *I stand a few steps away from you, but I can't seem to bring myself to turn around and actually walk away. So I stand. And smile.* So.

Stan: Right. I'll see you tomorrow. Right? *As if I wouldn't. We both have school the next day. I take a step back, toward school.*

Stokely: Right. *I resist the urge to wave... der, big dork.* Tomorrow. *...if you're not busy. or prone to forgetting. or whatever.*

Stan: See you, then. *If you still want to be seen. With someone -- someone like me. I turn away and take a few steps and look back at you. Willing myself to keep going.*

Stokely: *I turn slowly, head ducking, watching my sneakers as they fall on the grass. When I walk past the oak tree, my fingers brush over the dent, and I turn slightly, eyes catching yours. I smile, and think of finger-paints, and if I close my eyes, I imagine that I can feel blood coating the rough bark of the tree.*

Stan: *I watch you walk away and then pull myself back. I stumble toward the door, replying the events in my head. Forcing myself not to look back. I tug on the locker room door, not sure if I'm relieved to find it unlock. I turn and watch you for a moment, then slide into the barely lit room.*

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