My second Bad News Bears story. This one was a request from Evaesis. Kasey and her father are her own OC's. All the other characters are from the Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, and do not, alas, belong to us. xp
Please review. :)
Kasey paused in front of the hotel room door, her hand poised to knock. She pulled her hand back to cover a giggle. They would be so surprised to see her. She pursed her lips and rubbed her lip gloss around to regain her composure.
Cherry lip gloss… not her favorite.
"OK, well, take care. Oh, and here—you like this stuff, right?"
"Dad…" Kasey said, taking the little bag he offered her and reaching inside. Lip gloss. Cherry. Hadn't they had an argument over it when she'd first started wearing it years ago? He'd said she was too young or something… maybe it was a token of forgiveness… or as close as he'd come to an apology.
She hugged him. "Goodbye. Don't make any big bets while I'm gone, ok? You know I can always tell when Rish's in one of his naughty moods."
"OK, I won't," he said with a laugh. "Don't you let any of those boys get smart with you."
Kasey blew her bangs out of her eyes. "They better not try anything unless they want me to get smart with them," she said firmly.
Kasey brought her thoughts up short. This was going to be all good. No negative thinking. She knocked.
She could hear young male voices coming from inside the room, and then an older one saying, "OK, hold that thought—I'll answer it."
Then a middle-aged man opened the door. "Hi," he said. "Can I help you?"
"I'm here to see the team."
The man glanced over his shoulder into the room and then looked back at Kasey. "This team?" he asked with a teasing look in his eyes.
"Are they the Bears?"
"Last I checked, they were."
"Then yeah, this team."
"Well, ok, I guess. I'm Mike Leak, the coach."
Kasey's eyes widened. He'd said Leak. Kelly didn't tell me his dad was a coach! she thought angrily. But she managed to keep her expression fairly contained, and recovered enough to say lightly, "And I'm Kasey Gooding—the friend."
"Kasey!" several Bears exclaimed at once. Then Mike was pushed out of the way and the Bears crowded around her.
"Why didn't you tell us you were coming?" Toby asked.
"Yeah," said Tanner, "We'd o' made sure Carmen was out when you got here."
Carmen stepped forward with what was obviously meant to be a suave look. "Well, well," he said coolly, "if it isn't the girl I've been waiting my whole life for. Where've you been, baby?"
Kelly put a hand on top of Carmen's head and shoved him to the floor. "She's been with your old man, screwball. She's too old for you, so shut up."
"Hey," Carmen exclaimed, looking genuinely shocked. "Kelly, my man, after all I've done for you!"
"Save it," Kelly muttered, forcing his way through the mass of Bears to get to his room farther down the hall. "How's it goin,' Kas," he put in as he went by.
"Is that it?" Kasey asked, trying not to sound as disappointed as she felt.
Kelly shrugged. "You said you were here to see the team, right?" He gestured to the others. "There they are. Couldn't wait for us to get back… you just had to tag along. So have fun. I think I'll get some shut-eye before my snoring roommates do."
"Aw, who ya callin' snoring?" Tanner demanded. Everyone ignored him.
Kasey tried to ignore Kelly's obvious brush-off. "Well, I just got here, and…" Do I sound desperate? she suddenly wondered. Dang, I hope not…
"Exactly. You just got here. Plenty of time. Don't be so clingy."
Kasey winced. I did sound desperate. Crap. "OK, fine. Go get your shut-eye. I need to get settled in my room anyway."
"I'll help you," Carmen offered eagerly.
"No thanks," Kasey said quickly. Company was fast becoming the last thing she wanted. She slipped by the Mexican brothers and hurried away as her eyes began to sting.
"It was nice meeting you, Kasey," Mike called after her.
She would have answered, but she was afraid her voice would betray her tears. Better to pretend she hadn't heard. She could make up for it later. Why, why, why, why, why? Why are boys so stupid? Why did everything have to go wrong right away?
Kasey was nervous and unhappy. She was sitting in the dugout, watching the team warm up. It was almost time for the game to start. She didn't feel as bad as she had earlier, when the team was wondering where Kelly was. She had thought it was her fault that Kelly was staying away.
"Aw, it ain't you," Toby told her. "Kelly's just been an SOB to his dad the last couple days and they're not gettin' along so well. But don't worry; he'll show up. Carmen thinks he's ok."
So she'd tried not to worry, and sure enough, Kelly had come back.
She was able to put some of the drama out of her head by watching Mike Leak coach. She had thought Buttermaker did a fine job with the boys, but Mike was younger and more connected somehow.
…And he wasn't attached to a bottle. That helped. But he and Kelly still seemed to have a little friction between them. She hoped it wouldn't affect the game.
In the final moments, Kasey's heart was racing. "Oh, come on," she whispered. Then she said aloud, "Go, go!" Then she heard herself screaming, "Run, Carmen, run, you idiot!" Then there was an agonizing moment that felt like a year before the umpire called safe.
Then she was jumping up and down and cheering. She congratulated each of the Bears as they came back from the field. But when Kelly arrived last, he hung back.
Kasey walked after the team, wanting to avoid seeming desperate at all costs.
"He just wants to talk to his father," said a voice, and Kasey was surprised to find Tanner walking beside her. "Don't worry about it. Maybe they'll get things fixed up and we won't have to take all this crap anymore."
For a moment, Kasey didn't know what to say. Then she scowled. "I hope you're right," she declared.
"Party!" Jose and Miguel exclaimed over and over.
Ahmad and Engelberg pulled slices of pizza out of a box.
"I bet I can out-eat any two of you on this pizza," Engelberg boasted.
"I bet you can outweigh any five of us," Carmen quipped under his breath.
Kasey smiled, but her heart wasn't in it. She stole another glance at Kelly. It seemed like he hadn't looked at her once since their little tiff. Not only that, but like he'd been purposely not looking.
"What's up with the cruddy music?" Tanner asked from his place on the floor where he was lying on his stomach and slurping at a coke can.
"Oh, someone else is having a party upstairs, I guess," Mike said. "Anyone have a radio so we can drown them out?"
Kelly rolled his eyes. "Who needs a radio with Jose and Miguel around?"
Kasey quietly backed out of the room. How could things be so great and so miserable at the same time? It was like she was attending a stranger's birthday party… or a going-away party for someone who had already left.
She wandered down the hall, thinking she'd go to bed, but she found herself heading for the elevator instead. She supposed later that she must have decided as long as she had that feeling, she might as well see what it really was like to attend the party of a stranger.
It was loud, and a little scary. But also a little exciting. She gravitated toward the refreshment counter, naturally avoiding the clusters of strangers at the tables and on the dance floor.
"What'll it be, honey?" the bartender asked her.
"Oh… um… I—"
"Listen, hon, it's Al's party and he said whatever happens tonight, it stays right here, so lemme give you a nice tame little starter here. How about this?" he shoved a slim beer bottle toward her.
"Uh… thanks," Kasey said, smiling uncertainly.
"Merry Christmas," he replied, though of course it was nowhere near the holidays.
"Sure." Kasey decided she should get away from the bar, but it would be too awkward to leave the bottle behind, so she took it along. She decided to find a quiet place at a table where she could watch the people dancing.
Her father had let her try a sip of beer a few years ago, just to see what it tasted like, and Kasey hadn't liked it. But it had been a while. Maybe she'd like it now. She absent-mindedly pulled at the top, wanting to sniff it.
"Hey there—let me get that for you," a stranger offered.
The stranger opened the bottle and sat beside her as if he'd been invited. "There you go. I'm Rod. What's yer name?"
"K—er, it's Kay," Kasey said, realizing that keeping her true identity under wraps was probably a good idea, just in case. Not that this guy would remember her name in the morning. She leaned forward and sniffed her beer. It stung her nose. Nope. She wouldn't be drinking that. But she didn't want to put the top on right after the guy had gotten it off for her, so she fidgeted with the cap in her hand.
"So. How 'bout it—ya wanna dance?" Rod asked.
"Um…" Kasey had always hated rejecting people. The song was half over already—maybe it wouldn't be too bad. "OK, I guess."
"You guess?" Rod asked, pouting as he got to his feet again.
"Sure," Kasey said, a little more firmly. It was the best she could do. She quickly capped the beer bottle and took it along, figuring she could use it as an excuse somehow if she needed to get away—or a weapon, if necessary.
Unfortunately, Rod didn't have a clue about when he was wanted and when he wasn't. "Aw, the song's done already," he complained. "We gotta dance the next one."
You call that dancing? Kasey thought. Swing dance wasn't her thing, but even so, she was doing better than her lead. "Oh, maybe not," she said, searching desperately for a good excuse.
"Course if you'd rather go star-gazing or something…"
"…but this is a good song," Kasey said, her entire demeanor changing. She could fake enjoyment pretty well when she put her mind to it. "Let's give it a try."
"Now yer talkin.'"
She was concentrating so hard on not hitting any of the other couples or missing Rod's hand when he failed to catch her that she had no idea Kelly was in the room until she heard his voice right next to her.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he demanded, snatching the bottle out of Kasey's hand, and Kasey out of Rod's inaccurate grasp at the same time.
"Hey," Rod slurred, "yer s'posed to ask f'you can cut in…"
But Kelly already had Kasey halfway across the room, and nothing would stop him now.
Kasey did her best to keep up with him. She wanted to explain, but didn't dare say anything. She wasn't going to open her mouth and risk the wrong thing coming out of it again.
Kelly didn't speak either. He skipped the elevator and took Kasey down the stairs.
"Kelly—" she said once, when she nearly fell, but his firm grip on her arm kept her upright, and neither of them spoke again until they got to Kelly's room.
"Carmen, out," Kelly said evenly as they came through the door.
Carmen stared a moment before pulling his magazine around behind his back and slinking backwards out of the room.
Kelly kicked the door closed and set the beer bottle on the bureau.
There was dead silence for a moment—the kind that's worse than fighting. Kasey stood it as long as she could before she said, "I didn't drink any."
"What were you even doing up there?" His voice sounded sharp.
"Checking out the night life," she retorted.
"Our party not good enough for you?"
"If a good party was all I wanted, I'd have stayed in California! If Rish won his race, my dad's throwing a great one right now! But no, I wanted to be here with the stinkin' bad-news Bears, so Dad sent me on a private plane, and what do I get?" her voice had become quite loud.
"No one asked you to come!"
"You asking me to leave?"
Kelly closed the distance between them in one stride. He stared at her in silence until Kasey wondered if he was going to hit her. "Dammit, why do you always do this?"
It was her turn to give him a smoldering glare. "Do what?"
He took her by the shoulders and she winced. Then she felt his mouth pressed against hers. It only lasted a second.
"Oh, that?" she asked quietly.
"Shut up," he muttered. The staring started to get uncomfortable again, but Kelly put an end to it by kissing her again.
This time Kasey put her arms around him and she felt his snake around her. When they broke off they slid into a comfortable hug.
"Sorry about yesterday," Kelly said, so quietly she could barely hear him.
She knew apologizing was something Kelly really hated, so she decided not to make him crawl. "Well… I guess you had other crap to deal with."
"Yeah. So… have you ever drunk before?"
"No. I mean not really. I didn't like it."
Kelly nodded. "It's not really the taste anyway. It's how you drink it. C'mere." He tugged her over to the bed and sat her down. "The trick is to look so good drinking it that no one notices you're not really drinking much and then you get two good things: you get to keep your wits and avoid the hangover while everyone else gets smashed, and you get the reputation for being able to hold your liquor the best."
Kasey giggled. Everything was back to normal.
"So who's this 'Rish' horse?" he asked, reopening the bottle.
"Irish Flame. He's my favorite right now. But sometimes he gets stubborn and won't run his best."
"Huh. Well, here's to Rish. Hope he wins his race." Kelly tipped the bottle upside down, the rim in his mouth.
Kasey gasped and stared until she realized that Kelly wasn't actually drinking. She laughed. "My turn."
"Come on guys, rise and shine…" Mike paused. "Carmen? I thought you were in Kelly's room." Mike knew that Carmen didn't get along well with Tanner, so he couldn't imagine why those two would share a bed—even if there was a pillow strategically dividing it down the middle.
Carmen yawned. "Kelly kicked me out for Kasey," he explained bitterly.
Although Tanner's head was buried under a pillow, they both heard him say, "Only a pansy wouldn't trade you for Kasey."
Carmen ripped the pillow away and smacked Tanner over the head with it.
Kasey called her father to let him know she would be going back to California on the bus with the Bears instead of taking the plane. They all said their goodbyes to Mike and promised to keep in touch.
"She's a nice girl," Kelly told his father.
"I'm sure she is. Just be careful…"
"Careful? Oh, geez, Carmen told you she slept in my room, right? Well, don't worry. Just don't. Ever. And besides… I uh… I know what I'm doing, ok?"
Mike gave a crooked smile. "OK. I'll trust you."
Kelly sighed with relief. He knew he was in for enough awkwardness from his teammates.
Kasey was asleep within a few minutes of driving. She had curled up with the half-empty beer bottle on the seat beside Kelly and rested her head in his lap. Kelly was just thinking how cute she looked when he heard Carmen's voice.
"So, Kelly… Did our runner make it to home plate last night?"
Kelly grabbed his team hat and tossed it in Carmen's face. "For someone who's only been to first base, you sure talk a lot," he snapped. Then he put an arm around Kasey's shoulders and determined to ignore everyone else for the rest of the trip.
Thanks for reading!