Disclaimers: Huh, um, I think I'll go with not mine. I don't think Southern Missouri University really exists, if it does I don't own it. I'm basing it's appearance on Oklahoma State, I don't go there but I've visited so if I'm a little off sorry. I'm still messing around with this idea, I know where it's going but I don't know if I want to continue it. Please leave a view expressing your opinion when you finish this chapter even if its to say 'this sucks take it off the site.' Like I said I'm playing with the idea.


John looked curiously around for the source of the strange beeping noise that abruptly started in the previously silent room. He reached over and grabbed the cell phone as it sang its shrill song on the table.

"Richie's cell phone, this is his secretary Muffy speaking. How may I help you?" he asked in a high falsetto.

A female voice laughed on the other line. "Is he sleeping or slacking?"

"None of the above," John answered in his natural baritone. "Hang on, I'll see if I can find him." He opened the door and stuck his head out into the hall. "Hey, Ryan! Phone!" he yelled spotting Richie down the hall happily arguing about the previous night's football game.

"Who is it?" Richie yelled back.

"He wants to know who you are," John said into the phone. He snorted. "You want me to tell him what?" He smiled wickedly. "She says to tell you she wants to talk to Richard the Lionhearted!" John yelled louder than necessary.

"Oh, God!" Richie groaned blushing as the guys on his floor started teasing him. "Amanda, I hate you," he announced taking the phone from John. "I'm never gonna to live that down."

"Serves you right, going off without telling me," Amanda answered.

"Well maybe if you hadn't completely dropped off the face of the Earth I could have told you."

"I can't believe you let Duncan talk you into this," Amanda said changing the subject.

Richie laughed. "You can't believe it? I'm the one living this grim reality."

"And here I thought you were going to stand your ground."

"I tried!" Richie defended. "But you know Mac, once he gets an idea in his head. . . plus I kinda wanted to. It's not really school that bothers me, it's the fact that Mac's paying for it."

"I do believe that you earned part of the money, Mr. Basketball scholarship."

"So I play ball, Mac's still footing the bill for everything else."

"He wants this for you, Richie. He practically explodes with pride anytime someone asks about you."

Richie felt his cheeks burn at the blunt statement. "Yeah, well. . . Apparently he and Tessa had talked a lot about this," he said softly. It had really been the knowledge that Tessa had wanted him to go to college that had pushed him over the edge and into a dorm room.

"So when are you coming back to Washington?"

"Um, I meeting Mac in Pairs over winter break, why?"

"Because I want to see you, dummy."

"Dummy?" Richie repeated. "Ouch, I'm mortally wounded here, right through the heart."

"Only mortally?" Amanda whined.

"Shut up!" Richie exclaimed after a slight pause, waving away the audience that had collected in his room. "Why did you really call?"

"Are you meeting any nice girls?"


"Cute coeds?"

"What do you want?"

"Do I need to come down there and fix you up with someone?"

Richie rolled his eyes. "I am perfectly capable of meeting girls on my own thank you very much."

"I want weekly updates."

"Peer pressure!" Richie exclaimed. "You and Joe, I'm tellin' ya. If I meet a girl you two will be the first to find out, I promise. But right now, unless she's hidden in my psyc book it's not gonna happen."

"Class troubles?"

"I'm a little rusty on this whole studying thing."

"Look in you psyc class for a cute girl to help you out," Amanda suggested.

"Look, unless you have anything of importance to say in the next three seconds I'm hanging up on you."

"Fine. But I want a girlfriend by the time I see you next."

"Same time next year?"

"Bye, Richard."

"Bye, Amanda." Richie hung up.

"Richard the Lionhearted?" John asked. "Who's Amanda, she sounds sexy."

"Call me that again and I'll kill ya. And she is. But she is way out of your league."

"I want pictures," Kyle, who lived across the hall, announced.

"Later," Richie told him.

"Old girlfriend?" Jeremy, Kyle's roommate asked.

"I wish," Richie snorted. "Unfortunately she's a little out of my league, too."

. . . . . .

Richie plopped down in the small chair and prepared to be bored out of his mind. He knew how to use computers, he never even really paid attention in class and he still had the highest average. 'Time to work on my creative writing paper,' he thought taking out a pen and spiral. Halfway through class the girl next to him leaned over.

"What happens next?" she whispered. Richie jumped slightly and looked at her. She smiled and pointed at his paper. "What happens to the kid next?" Richie blushed; she was really pretty.

"He gets caught," he whispered back with a grin.

"Oh," she sounded disappointed. "sucks to be him."

"Yeah, well. . ."

"So write so I can be nosey and read some more."

Richie looked down at the paper for a second and began writing again. By the end of class he had nearly finished his paper and had successfully developed a strong crush on the girl next to him.

"That's really good," she said standing up. Now that she wasn't trying to stay quite Richie noticed a southern drawl in her voice. "How'd you come up with it?"

"Just came to me one night," he shrugged. 'The night I broke into Mac's shop,' he added to himself.

"So what happens to him next?"

"I don't know, yet."

"Huh," she grunted thoughtfully, "he should go to juvie and you can play with his emotions 'n stuff. Get him all riled up, into a couple of fights."

Richie chuckled, "Who knows, maybe. Or what if the store owner lets him go in exchange for his silence?" He followed her out of the classroom.

"Then what? OH!" she shrieked with a little jump. Richie chuckled at her behavior. "Maybe he could go back, you know to snoop and figure out what was really happenin'," she suggested.

"Get out of my head!" Richie complained playfully.

"Great minds and all that," she smiled.

"Yeah," he replied lamely for lack of something more intelligent to say.

She looked at her watch, "Aw, dang! I'm gonna be late!" she exclaimed turning and dashing down the hall.

"Wait! What's your name?" he called after her, but she had already disappeared.

. . . . . .

Richie sat on the bench in the locker room wiping sweat off his face and neck. He bent over and took off his sneakers with a groan. His ankle was really hurting, he thought he might have broken it when Johnson ran him over to get to the ball, or maybe it was just a really bad sprain. . . which ever it was it was nearly healed now so it didn't matter.

"Way to keep your head in the game, Ryan!" a senior chided him.

"Leave him alone, O'Neal," John defended him. "His been blabbing about a girl all day."

The rest of the team started laughing. "Uh-oh! Girls can only hinder your game, man."

"It's nothing like that," Richie said pulling off his sweaty tank top, annoyed by his ability to become the center of attention so easily. "I just want to know what her name is."

"She didn't even tell you her name!" O'Neal laughed. "Give her up, man. That's nothing but bad news. You'll probably never see her again."

"She's in my comp sci class, I'll see her Thursday."

"If you say so, shorty," O'Neal shrugged. Richie grimaced inwardly, in addition to being one of the youngest players on the team he was the shortest. But he was also the fastest and had the best hook shot, so he didn't get picked on too much. . . but when he was it took all the control he could muster to keep him from starting a fight.

"I do," Richie said with a smirk appeasing his need to fight by throwing his dirty shirt in O'Neal's face.

. . . . . .

"Hey, Mac!" Joe greeted as Duncan entered the bar. "I was wondering if you were going to watch the game here."

"Where else would I go?" Duncan asked. Joe usually didn't play sports games at the bar, but decided that showing the college games would be a good way to brag about Richie.

At half-time Duncan and Joe went into the back office to talk. But not three minutes into their conversation a waitress came in to interrupt them.

"They're talking about Richie!" Joe and Duncan went back out into the bar.

"Ryan has had an amazing half this game," a TV sports reporter was saying. "35 of Missouri's 48 points have come from him courtesy of this kid's three pointer. As long as Ryan's around there's no doubt in my mind South Missouri's going to play in the Big Twelve. He can probably carry the team to the Final Four. O'Neal is going to have some serious competition for MVP this season."

Joe looked at Duncan, who was beaming. "You got yourself a hell of a boy there, MacLeod."

"I didn't teach him how to play," Duncan shrugged. "He didn't even tell me he went to try out. I didn't find out until after the fact."

*Eight Months Earlier*

The offer he had made to Richie was the farthest thing from Duncan's mind as he slightly jogged up the stairs to Richie's apartment.

"Hey, Mac," Richie greeted him at the door, having felt his presence.

"What's the big secret?" Duncan asked following Richie into his small kitchen. Richie turned around to face him and leaned heavily on the counter.

"This will explain everything," he said handing Duncan a folded piece of paper.

"What is it?" Duncan asked.

"Just read."

Duncan unfolded the paper and read it. Richie watched his face intently waiting for his reaction. Waiting for Duncan to say something was more nerve racking than waiting for the letter. Rejection from strangers was easier to take than the possibility that Duncan might laugh at him. . . or take back his offer, say it was all a big joke.

"When?" Was the first word Duncan could muster after reading the letter.

"Remember a couple months ago when I left for a week and wouldn't tell anyone where I went?" Richie said sheepishly. "I was in Missouri."

Duncan's face broke into a wide grin. "Richie, this is great! Why didn't you tell me?"

Richie looked away. "I didn't want to get everyone's hopes up, in case I didn't make it."

"But you did!"

"Well, there's one problem. . . I can't accept their offer unless. . . unless I can, um, you see I kinda. . ."

"Richie, spit it out," Duncan chuckled.

"I can only do this if your offer is still good," Richie blurted looking at Duncan briefly before averting his gaze again.

"Richie, that offer stands for as long as it takes for you to take me up on it." He put his hand on Richie's shoulder.

"I'll pay you back, it might take me a while, but I will," Richie promised awkwardly.

. . . . . .

*South Missouri University, present*

Richie wondered around outside making college memories. 'Who would've ever thought I'd end up here?' he thought to himself. 'Richie Ryan, college ball player, talk of the NCAA, dream achiever. . . girl finder!' He stopped wondering and froze staring at a familiar head of dark hair bent over a French book. As he strode across the grass to the shady tree she was sitting under he tried to come up with something to say. Smiling he skirted the tree, careful not to attract her attention, and came up behind her and read over her shoulder.

"Can I help, you?" she asked angrily looking up at him.

"What happens next?" he asked innocently flashing her a smile. "If you can read my homework, I can read yours."

She blushed and looked back at her book. "I fail my test," she answered. "French and I don't get along so good."

"Apparently you and English don't get along so well either," he smiled again. "I can help you, if you want."

"You takin' French?"

"No, but I speak it pretty well."

"Good enough for me." She scooted over to give him half the tree trunk to lean on.

He sat down and began explaining the rules of conjugation. Over an hour passed and it was starting to get dark.

"I can't see anything," she complained after a minute.

"Me neither. Why don't we call it a night?" Richie stood up and offered her his hand.

"Thanks for helpin' me. It all makes a little more sense now."

"Good, 'cause that's what I was going for."

"I better get going," she said resting her books on her hip.

"Yeah, me too. So, I'll see you tomorrow right?"

"Yeah, do you finish that story? I'd like to see how it ended."

"Yeah, I'll, uh, I'll bring it."


"Yeah, so I'll you around," Richie began backing away.

"Yeah, later."

. . . . . .

"Earth, to Ryan, come in Ryan." John waved his hand in front of Richie's face. Richie didn't blink. "Wow, man you are gone. You saw that girl again, didn't you?"

"Yeah," Richie sighed.

John laughed. "Man, you have got it bad! You haven't blinked in, like, an hour."

"I'm sorry that my blinking schedule doesn't coincide with yours," Richie said coming out of his stupor and throwing his pillow across the room hitting John in the face.

"So what's her name?"

"Her name?" Richie repeated lamely. "I, uh, don't know. I was so busy trying to impress her I didn't think to ask. Guess I'll find out tomorrow."