Author's Note: I don't even know where to begin on how late this chapter is. Basically when I created the outline for this story I had envisioned this chapter as being this huge sports extravaganza. But shortly after finishing and posting the fourth chapter I realized I can't write sports for shit. So I've been far from ignoring this fic for the past five months - if anything it's been the bane of my existence. I think this is the fourth rewrite of this chapter, which only got done when I figured out a way to get around my severe lack of knowledge of how soccer works. Most of that mask was a mythology dump so I apologize in advance.
I have huge gaps between my classes with nothing to do during them, so hopefully I'll be able to update this fairly frequently from now on! Thanks again to my beta Icelilly. And thank you everyone so much for the kind and constructive reviews!
"I don't get it," Michelle sighed, staring at the players darting around on the field. Unlike the other students, she wasn't particularly interested in the game itself, and only agreed to come because everyone else was going.
In all honesty, she was surprised at how excited her friends were getting. Sure, Alfred was into sports in every sense, but Arthur and Leon weren't exactly athletic types, and what little she knew about Toris seemed to place him outside that category as well.
"We're winning. Nothing else to get," Alfred stated, before joining Arthur in yelling at the referee, who had just awarded the opposing team a penalty kick.
"But I would still like to understand how this works…" Michelle stopped talking, realizing that no one was listening. Bored, she scanned the stands and recognized a handful of the students from Junior High and Elementary School. World Academy W was one of a handful of privately operated schools that saw students from all sorts of different backgrounds and cultures. The high amount of financial aid allowed a lot of students who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to attend, resulting in easily one of the most diverse groups of schools in the entire city.
Each School system was assigned one of four letters – V, W, Y, or S – and a student could go through their entire educational career up to college under one banner or opt to switch during the transition from Junior High to High School. After the hellish, angst-fueled existence that came with the Junior High experience, many students were eager to start over at a new location surrounded by a largely different group of people.
Michelle was no exception. After Francis had spread that rumor about her hooking up with him underneath the bleachers, school had become a living hell. It didn't help that all her best friends were guys, which all the girls used as ammo to assert that she was a huge slut.
So when it came to transferring school systems, the decision had been a no-brainer…
"So I was thinking about transferring to the S school," Alfred mused, picking at the tray of fries in front of him.
"If you say it's because S stands for 'Sexy' I will punch you in the face," Arthur grumbled, nursing a bruise on his arm that had almost completely healed.
"No! It's because S stands for 'Spectacular'!"
"You make terrible life decisions."
"But seriously though," Alfred grinned, deflecting Arthur's half-hearted hitting, "I'm pretty much set in sticking with the V school through High School too. Coach says I'll have my pick of positions on the freshman football team!"
"But aren't you already, like, the Quarterback?" Leon asked, looking up from his history textbook.
"Other positions are important to! And put that thing away dude. We aren't in school right now. We don't need to lug our textbooks around everywhere."
"Your parents aren't overachieving Asians," Leon groaned, stealing one of Arthur's fries (Stealing one of Alfred's meant almost-certain death). "Which means I'll be staying with the V school too. Throwing myself into a new school could affect my grades."
"I thought briefly about switching to W, but if I did there wouldn't be anyone to keep this asshole in line," Arthur playfully showed Alfred, who nearly choked on his fries, "besides, if I did go I would be all by myself, which would suck."
"Well, I would be there to," Michelle added quickly. Alfred stopped chewing, and everyone stared at her in surprise.
"Wait, you're leaving?" Leon asked, putting his textbook down, "But we were talking about joining a club together in High School. What happened?"
"That happened." Michelle motioned behind her, where she could hear Francis talking to a group of girls whom had treated her particularly badly. "I know Francis and all those girls are staying with the V school, and I can barely stand to be around them for the rest of the semester – much less four more years. I talked to Matthew and Carlos about it, and they're both going to W and told me about all the clubs and programs they had there. Not to mention it would be a shorter commute for me every day…"
"But you can't!" Alfred exclaimed, "Without you, who'll tell Arthur when he's being too controlling and British?"
"You seem to have that covered," Michelle laughed as Arthur flipped him off, "And it's not like I'm moving to Africa or something. I'll still be living in the city. You guys could come over to my apartment to hang out or something."
"Your grandfather hates me though." Arthur shook his head, "Ignore us. You should do whatever you want."
Alfred and Leon nodded in agreement and that seemed to be the end of it. Michelle went through the rest of the semester keeping her head low. It wasn't until the summer vacation was just within her sights when she found out what had happened.
"It looks like there's a good chance Abel will be the captain of the soccer team," Matthew said, as Michelle and Alfred sat across from him pouring over their notes for their last History exam.
"He's going to W too right?" Michelle asked absentmindedly.
"Yeah. His family lives really close to the High School so his parents wanted him and Laura to go there instead."
"That's nice." Michelle added, turning the page and skimming the section on the United States Bill of Rights.
"You're not joining the soccer team are you Alfred?"
"Nope, I'm still joining the football team. I told you that."
"Yeah, but the W football team is so difficult to get on to-"
"Wait, what?" Michelle looked up, shooting Alfred a questioning look.
"Matt I told you not to tell her!"
"Sorry," Matthew hid behind his book with a large picture of a Polar Bear on the cover.
"What is he talking about Alfred? I thought you were going to World Academy V?"
"Yeah, well, about that…"
"Hey, what's going on?"
Michelle looked up to see that Arthur and Leon had arrived at their table. Matthew seemed to have sunk even deeper behind his book.
"The jig is up," Alfred muttered, shooting Matthew a glare, "Matt blabbed."
"Whatever do you mean Alfred?" Arthur sputtered, looking at Michelle nervously.
"Oh my god you guys are going to Academy W too?" Michelle exclaimed.
"Well, my brother is going there, and when we were talking about schools he mentioned all the programs they have there," Leon explained, apparently unfazed. "I figured I would probably excel more there than here, so I decided to go with him."
"Honestly, I just didn't want to go to school with my brothers," Arthur admitted, scratching his head sheepishly, "and because two of my best friends were already going there…"
"Leaving me all alone!" Alfred snapped, "The three of you and the blabbermouth over here-" Alfred pointed at Matt, who was still hiding behind his book, "-were all ditching me! Even if they offered me the position of Varsity Quarterback, it would suck because I'd be without you guys!"
"Which is why we didn't tell you," Leon reasoned, glancing over the textbook in front of Michelle, "to protect Alfred and Arthur's poor egos. I didn't even know they were going until last week."
"Wait." Michelle frowned, "If that's the case, why didn't I know you were going?"
"Because you're a terrible listener," Leon shrugged, "I think I told you, like, three times."
"You really are a terrible listener," Alfred snorted, "I'm honestly surprised that you noticed what Matthew said just now - especially considering he's just so damn forgettable."
"I can't hear that often enough," Matthew snapped his book closed and stood up, "Study Hall is almost over and I need to ask my Science teacher something before class."
"But that's beside the point," Michelle reiterated, "I mean, the two of you switched schools partially because you were gonna miss me!"
"Well, yeah, basically," Arthur mumbled, his face turning red.
"You guys are so sweet! And now we can all be pathetic together!" Michelle gushed, and pulled all three boys into a hug despite their fevered objections to the word 'pathetic.'
Michelle later concluded that 'pathetic' was probably the wrong word for it. In reality it was the bond that they had formed over the years they attended school together. That bond only grew stronger once they became friends as close as they were now, and none of them could bear the sight of one of their own hurting.
If they hadn't transferred along with her, Michelle honestly wondered how she'd be able to cope. The whole reason she had transferred was to receive a fresh start, but just a few rows below, she spotted Francis and his clique cheering for Antonio. Snorting in contempt, she looked away.
"Please tell me you're not thinking about that idiot," Arthur interrupted her thoughts.
Michelle realized that she had been staring and felt her face turn red. "Only about how much he annoys me. I probably shouldn't be dwelling on that though."
"I see," Arthur replied, clearly unconvinced, "The first half is over. This game isn't very good though."
"Everyone seems to be enjoying it though. Even just a few minutes ago we were screaming and shouting just like the rest of them."
"You always cheer for your team, no matter how they're doing on the field! But honestly, this game is starting to get boring. We're crushing them. If we were more evenly matched it would be a lot more exciting," Arthur sighed, "Though I suppose it's better to get out of the gate with a win."
"Well we have Antonio and Abel," Alfred pointed out, "None of the other team's players stand out that much."
"I'm just surprised Antonio and Abel haven't killed each other," Michelle interjected.
Alfred gave her a surprised look, "What do you mean?"
"Are you serious? I thought this was common knowledge," Michelle replied, "Abel used to be a member of Antonio's clique but had a huge falling out with them back in Junior High. No one's entirely sure why, but it was all pretty ugly from what I've heard."
"Maybe they're getting along because it's soccer?" Arthur shrugged, "Wars have stopped for that sport."
"Maybe, I have no idea."
"People don't end friendships and start hating each other for no reason," Toris pointed out.
"Yes, but that would be between them then wouldn't it?"
Michelle jumped and turned to see Ivan standing nearby. "You guys having fun?" he asked, wearing his usual grin.
"Um, sure, I guess." Arthur responded hesitantly. The rest of the group merely eyed him in silence.
"That's good. I hope there aren't any fights in the second quarter," Ivan looked down onto the field as the cheerleaders cleared the field after completing their routine.
"I don't think Antonio and Abel would really fight though," Michelle responded, surprised that she managed to find her voice. She glanced back quickly at Toris, who seemed to be doing his best to blend in with the other students.
Ivan shook his head, "Oh not them, I was talking about Mike Denson and that player from the other team," Ivan frowned slightly when the others stared back blankly. "Don't tell me you didn't notice? Denson looked like he wanted to beat the crap out of him."
"Really?" Michelle asked, peering down onto the field. Sure enough, Mike was standing on the side of the field, glaring daggers at one of the opposing team's defenders.
Michelle heard a call from higher up on the bleachers and turned to see Natalia waving her brother over. Nodding to the group, he continued up the steps to go meet her.
"I wonder who that other player is. Did he foul Denson without anyone noticing or something?" Alfred frowned, choosing not to acknowledge what had just happened.
"I doubt it. Denson wasn't on the field very long and he's a starter, so someone on our side would've noticed something like that," Arthur glanced at Toris, "He went to the same Middle School as you did right? Did that other kid go to your school too?"
"Well yeah, Mikkel did, but I didn't see that much of him," Toris squinted, "The other guy might've gone to our school. It was big. I don't recognize him though."
"Let's just hope this doesn't mess up our lead," Alfred sighed, "It would suck if we lost this game because there was fighting on the field."
"Who is that guy, and why does Mikkel look like he's going to kill him?" Lukas asked as the first half ended and the cheerleaders took the field for another sub-par routine. Most of the students didn't seem to notice, but Lukas could see his friend become very tense when the opposing team switched in a new defender.
"I think he went to the same Middle school as us," Tino replied. "I don't know his name though. Berwald, you know Mike the best, do you know-"
"Yea'" Berwald interrupted, looking almost as tense as Mikkel had on the field, and added very slowly, "Lutalo Patel. He was on the soccer team with Mikkel."
"That's right," Tino snapped his fingers, "But wait, if that's the case why does Mike look so angry?"
"Bad 'lodd there'" Berwald replied, "I 'ope he doe'nt pick a 'ight. 'snot worth it."
Lukas frowned, remembering how Mikkel avoided telling him anything about his soccer team. Lukas hadn't felt the need to bring it up again since they reconnected, but he couldn't help but feel out of the loop.
Whatever had happened didn't seem to bring about any gossip. Out of the three Tino seemed to be the only one worth talking about, what with his connections to Ivan Braginski. For a loudmouth, Mikkel had become pretty good at keeping his mouth shut. If Berwald's body language was any indication he didn't like this Lutalo kid any more than Mikkel did, but he didn't elaborate any further. Lukas was even starting to doubt that Berwald was even out of the closet by how tight lipped they all were about everything.
Whatever the reason, Lukas heard alarm bells go off in head when he spotted Lutalo walking down the sidelines and making an obscene gesture towards the other team. A few people from the stands let out angry calls, but no one on the field seemed to notice aside from Mikkel, who began to make his way over to the other side of the field.
"Fuck, this can't be good," Lukas muttered, darting up and pushing past people walking up the bleachers as he made his descent. They can't get into a fight here of all places.
By the time Lukas got to them, however, Mikkel and Lutalo were already in each other's faces.
"Clearly I didn't get the message across clearly the first time!" Mikkel hissed.
"Like you could intimidate me," Lutalo chuckled, looking over his shoulder and back at his team. None of them seemed to notice his absence yet, but some of his classmates in the stands didn't seem particularly thrilled about what was happening.
"Mikkel, whatever it is, let it go. You're in the middle of a game," Lukas tried to reason calmly as he tugged on Mikkel's arm.
"Yeah, better listen to your boyfriend faggot."
"What did you just call me?"
"Just ignore him!" Lukas snapped, noticing that the other players had finally begun to notice what was happening.
"Lutalo, what are you doing?"
Lukas turned to see a short-haired girl holding a clipboard making her way over towards the trio. The rest of the team remained on the bench eying the boys warily.
"Nothing Japera, I was just-"
"Inciting a fight with my friend," Lukas finished, shooting Lutalo his iciest glare, "in addition to referring to both of us using a slur."
"Seriously Lute?" Japera yelled, grabbing him by the arm, "On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize. This type of behavior is not tolerated and will not happen again."
"Thank you," Lukas nodded to Japera before turning to Mikkel. "Now go back to the sidelines. Your team is wondering what you're doing."
Mikkel nodded, before shooting one last glare at Lutalo and heading back to the bench. Once there, he was immediately bombarded with questions from his teammates.
Lukas turned to go back to the stands, listening as Japera dragged Lutalo back to the bench.
"But Japera they're friends with a fucking homo-"
"There is a time and a place for calling out gross crap like that Lutalo, but not on the field, and especially not in a place like New York City. Honestly, you're such an idiot-"
Lukas clenched his teeth and continued towards the bleachers. Stopping momentarily, he bent over as if he had dropped something on the ground. He whispered a chant quietly to himself, absentmindedly running his fingers through some kind of dust that covered the grass, and then stood up and made his way back to his seat.
"What was that about?" Tino asked, and Lukas saw Berwald tense as people nearby leaned in to listen to his response.
"Just an asshole from the other team trying to start a fight. It's all taken care of, no damage done." Lukas explained. Berwald relaxed, while the others seemed mildly disappointed that there hadn't been more to it than that.
The second half started up again, and Lukas frowned when he saw Lutalo among the players that had reentered the field. The crowd on both sides seemed confused by this development as well, but before anyone could make a fuss, Lutalo collapsed onto the field and began vomiting.
"Gross," Tino gagged, as Japera ran onto the field with two men that Lukas suspected were the coach and some sort of physician.
A moment later the vomiting stopped – at least for Lutalo. Japera stumbled away from the others and began vomiting as well, eliciting groans of disgust from the stands.
"So then they both got suspended?" Tino gasped. The game had ended in a rousing victory for World Academy W, and Tino had accompanied Lukas and Berwald in congratulating Mikkel.
"Yeah. Apparently they had been drinking right before the game started," Mikkel grinned, "Probably why that asshole was so bold in trying to start a fight with me. Idiot."
"So ju't ig'ore 'im fr'm now on," Berwald grunted.
Mikkel shot him a sheepish grin before punching him in the arm playfully, "Yeah, next time I'll leave it to you so you can grunt at him until he collapses from a migraine."
As Mikkel and Berwald quickly descended into an argument about which one of them was the better fighter, Lukas noticed Kiku eying him from a few feet away.
"I'll catch up with you in a minute guys!" Lukas yelled, and Tino nodded. Lukas bounded over to Kiku, whom Lucas could tell was upset once he was close enough to get a read on him.
"I saw what you did on the field," Kiku said, "I don't care what the fight was about, but to use magic in a sporting event-"
"Trust me, it was warranted," Lukas responded, "And I only did a basic vomiting spell which should have warn off almost immediately with no side effects. The alcohol in their systems was all them. It probably would have happened in a few hours for Lutalo anyway."
"Luckily no one noticed this time," Kiku glared, "Just don't do it again."
"You're not the leader of this club Kiku," Lukas replied coolly, "I'm not planning on doing that kind of thing again, but it's none of your business if I did. Now if you'll excuse me I have a celebration to attend."
Lukas turned and made his way back to his friends, who were waiting for him by the gate as the crowds began to file through.
"What was that about?" Mikkel nodded toward Kiku, whose unhappiness was now very clear for a long distance.
"He was just telling me to pass on the message not to be so hotheaded next time."
"Well he can blow me," Mikkel snorted, "He's not the boss of me. Besides, the coach already told me as much anyway."
"That's what I said," Lukas smirked, "He's just anxious because it's the first game. I'm sure he'll let it go."
"And we won our first game!" Mikkel shouted, with a few of his team makes shouting in agreement as they passed by, "So what should we do to celebrate?"
"What do people normally do to celebrate their sports team winning?" Lukas asked.
"Let's flip over some cars!" Tino shouted gleefully, before recanting when he saw his friends' shocked expressions. "I'm only joking."
Lukas turned to see Emil, along with Sadiq and the rest of their friends, standing a few yards away.
"Yeah?" Lukas shouted back, smirking at his brother's annoyed expression. A moment later, Emil made his way over to the group.
"A bunch of people are going to this pizza joint downtown. You guys up for it?"
"You bet we are!" Mikkel flashed a smile and gave a thumbs up, "We need to refuel for the next game!"
"There aren't any girls here, you don't need to act like a bad cartoon," Emil deadpanned, before turning back to rejoin Sadiq. Mikkel hung his head in mock shame as his friends began laughing at his expense.
As nightfall hit, the field was completely empty. Signs of life still bore on its surface in the form of trash and disturbances in the AstroTurf. As such, there was no one to bear witness as the dust near the bleachers began to glow and collect itself.
And there was no one to witness the dust morph and grow, beginning to take shape. A few minutes later, the field was silent once more.
The only break in the silence was the single utterance of, "Where am I?"
Author's Note: Thanks for reading this far! Feedback is appreciated, even negative feedback!
Not all the characters have assigned names so I had to look up common names for each language or country. Cuba is Carlos Machado and Zimbabwe is Japera Ncube. I picked Zimbabwe to be Lutalo's friend because human rights in general there are pretty terrible and anti-gay rhetoric is incredibly strong (and she was the only character I had named that I wasn't planning on using).