A/N: So...I suck at updating...but that's okay, right? Not everybody's as perfect as those reviewers out there, am I right? Speaking of reviewers...
hockeychick19: Hell yeah, you gotta love the intenseness stuff. Haha glad you liked it, and thanks for reviewing (again)!
kmp: No, you're awesome. I mean, I'm a little awesome, but you're SUPER awesome. Like insanely crazy OVERLY awesome. Anyways, I'm so glad you thought I did the chapter justice, and thank you for the review! You da bestest!
misstwilightprincess: Huh. I don't lie cherry pie much either. Let's do sweet like candy, shall we? Haha. Yeah, the ending was kinda cliff-hanger-ish. But that's okay! Cuz here's the next chapter! Thanks for the review!
Kiteria: Oh, yeah. You rock. Thanks for reviewing like four different chapters, cuz that made my day. Or week, rather. I smiled so big when I opened my email to that. You're legit awesome! I'm so so happy that you like the story, and yeah, I was kinda mean to Kitty in that last chapter. Oh well. She's tough, she'll manage. Anyways THANKS FOR ALL THE REVIEWS!
DarkestShadow98: HI AGAIN! How are you? I feel ya, I couldn't update for the same reasons. Friggin school screwing with my outside life. And yeah, Phillips kinda sucks. Like, majorly. Let's face it, he's just a jerk. Damn, if you let Benny into your life after all that, you really are badass, but then again...Benny, y'know? Just...ugh. I love him. Haha oh my god, I love you. Yup, no lie. You're literally the best. Ever. Like, I can't. I can't even. I literally cannot even. I...I am unable to even. I can't even! I love you! Thanks for reviewing (like always)! ...Kay, bye.
Guest: WEIRD! Rsvbsrkvbrlusvhrslvhrsilhfis lfbesukfbrsukvbeku! was my response to your review, haha. Hmmm...yeah...make the OC just really random and spazzy...I could see it. Everybody needs a spazz in their life...haha. Thanks for reviewing!
Coco Gold: I'm so glad you like my story! That means SO much! And thank you for your review, also!
Guest: Well, it wasn't exactly a hurry...but here's the chapter, anyways! Thanks for reviewing!
FREEDOM OF FICTION: Oh, don't worry. I plan on finishing if it kills me. Even if I die half-way through, I will update from the afterlife. I'm officially committed. Thanks for the review!
Guest04: UPDATE TIME! My life sucks, so I wasn't updating, but now I am. So HERE'S THE STORY! Haha thanks for reviewing!
Guest: Yes, the review button is quite lovely, don't you think? Haha THANKS FOR THE REVIEW. YOU ROCK.
curiousivy8: Thanks, Ivy! I love epicness, and I'm glad you do too. Haha it took me forever to update, but here you go! Thanks for the review!
It takes about two seconds to assess the situation. There's some guy at my feet passed out with a beer bottle, a dazed looking guy about to pass out leaning against the railing at the stairs, and…Kitty's uncle. Uncle Dan, was it? He…he's got her pinned against a wall…and his hand is clenched a fist.
Assessing the situation was easy, but comprehending it took some time. I know that her uncle drinks when the Dodgers win, but what is this? What did she keep from me?
She looks up, and her eyes lock with mine. I see the shame and I see the pain. I just wanna hold her and make that fucking hurt that's written all over her goddamn face go away. But before I can walk to her, I see her uncle raise his fist again.
Oh. Hell no.
I take six steps into the living room and launch myself towards Kitty's "loving" Uncle Dan. He's probably twice as big as I am, but I guess I caught him off-guard because he topples to the floor. I kick him in the gut, seething, before I turn to Kitty.
She's staring at me.
She looks like she doesn't recognize me.
And I realize, she shouldn't. I just beat up her fucking uncle, and my face, my most likely murderous face, is probably anything but comforting to her. Does she think I'm a monster?
Woah. I stop and look at her. I mean, really look at her. I feel all expression melting off my face as I draw a blank. Why? Why was her uncle beating her when I walked through the front door? And who are those other two guys with beer in their hands? But I figure this isn't the best time to ask. Kitty is shaking, staring at everyone and everything in her living room.
Her bottom lip starts to tremble. Fuck. We do NOT need TWO crying episodes in one day. I don't like it when girls cry. They're emotional and irrational and almost always ready to snap. Give me the fucking Beast any day. Just NO crying girls. And especially NO crying Kitty. I thought I wouldn't have to deal with this, with her being all badass and shit.
But just my luck, huh?
I gather Kitty up in my arms and sling her bag over my shoulder. For the second time that day, I find myself carrying a pretty, emotionally exhausted girl bridal style.
"Where," she croaks, "where are we going?"
I shush her, cuz her voice sounds worn and pretty bad off. "C'mon, baby," I tell her. "Just go to sleep."
"But…" she trails off.
She pauses. "Thank you Benny. I think that's the third time you've come to my rescue since I met you. Just…thanks."
I grin and tell her that it's no problem, and she relaxes in my arms and lays her head on my shoulder.
"Goodnight, Benny," she mumbles into my shirt.
"Night, Kitty," I whisper back.
I carry her to my house and knock on the door. Mama seems surprised to see me…and, well, Kitty, too.
"Benny-" she starts, a dangerous and suspicious edge to her voice, but I cut her off.
"Mama," I say, and she glares at me for interrupting her. "Lo siento, mama, but can I please go put her down first? I promise I'll explain everything, but Kitty's had a…a rough night. Por favor?"
She hesitates, but seeing the bruises on Kitty's face and her ripped shirt and the tear streaks that have dug trenches through the dirt on her face, she nods. "Sí, but hurry."
I smile thankfully at her. "I will, Mama."
I go up the stairs to my room and lay her down softly on the mattress, careful not to wake her up. I'm amazed she even went to sleep in the first place. Once I'm sure she isn't gonna wake me up and go all "feministic liberal 'I can take care of myself, Benjamin' Kitty" on my ass, I walk back downstairs. Mama's waiting at the kitchen table for me.
"So?" she prompts.
I sit down across from her, and I tell her everything. From how Kitty and I met when she was unpacking the boxes to finding her in the tree house (although I left out the…undressing incident) to the movies to finding her at the mercy of her uncle just now. Mama just stares at me. "She didn't have anywhere to go, Mama," I whisper. "I had to help her, and I thought maybe she could stay with us. Because she sure as hell can't stay with her uncle tonight."
Mama glares at me. "Language, Benjamin!"
"Lo siento, Mama, but please? I don't want her waking up mañana in another tree house. I wanna make sure she's safe. Por favor, Mama? Please?"
I half-expected Mama to make me throw Kitty out. She's kinda over-protective that way. But she just laughs. "Claro que si," she tells me. "Of course she can stay here tonight."
I smile in relief. "Gracias-"
"But," she interrupts, "you'll have to find somewhere else to sleep, Benny.
"Okay, Mama. Umm…Kitty has a sleeping bag, may I please sleep in that in my room? Just in case?"
Mama smiles and nods to me. "Sí. Now go to bed, baby. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Mama," I grin and kiss her on the cheek before stumbling drowsily up to my room. I hadn't noticed how late it was until now, or how tired I am.
I sift through Kitty's bag and unroll her sleeping bag. I change out of my swim trunks and into my pajamas before crawling into Kitty's sleeping bag.
As I flip the switch, I whisper into the darkness. "Goodnight, baby."
I wake up in an unfamiliar (yet somehow very familiar) bed. I've managed to wrap myself up in the comforter so I feel like some kind of luxurious, dressed-up mummy from Ancient Egypt.
Fine. I'm awake. I tell myself to get up, even though there's something unexplainably soothing about this bed. Maybe it's the mattress? I shift around a bit, but there's nothing strikingly amazing about the mattress. Well, maybe it's the pillow? I move my head, but it's not the pillow either. Then it hits me.
It's the smell.
The bed smells strangely like grass and dirt and hard work, but also like…clean…like soap and deodorant and maybe just a hint of aftershave…or maybe that's laundry detergent…but the thing is…it smells like…like…
The bed smells inexplicably of Benny.
I tentatively open my eyes to find myself in a completely unfamiliar room, and I start to panic. Where the hell am I? Then, I spot Benny lying on the floor in my sleeping bag, and I remember the events of last night. I remember the pool, and I smile, but then I remember what Squints did, and the movies, and Phillips, and the Dodgers, and lastly, I remember Uncle and his friends. I groan and plop back down on the bed.
Come to think of it, the mattress is actually very comfortable…I could just die here now…
Unfortunately, I think I woke Benny up. He sits up and crawls out of the sleeping bag. His undershirt has ridden up his very nicely toned stomach, and I almost smile, but then I remember the inevitable explaining that will have to come.
"Kitty…" he whispers, "baby, what was that?"
I sigh and pat the bed next to me, and he sits down. "Well…" I start, but before I can continue, Benny's mother walks in. I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed or more red in the face before in my life.
I expect her to glare at me, or to start making accusations. At the very least, I expect her to throw me out the window and disown Benny. I don't even consider the idea that she might already know I was here. "Ma'am, I'm so sorry, I-"
"Sshhhh Kitty," Benny hushes me. "She already knew you were here." Benny smiles at his mother and she smiles back.
"Morning, baby," she says softly to Benny.
He grins back at her. "Good morning, mama."
Then Benny's mother's face sort of hardens, but just barely. It would be invisible if you weren't waiting for it. "¿Te prometo que no hice nada anoche?" she prompts. Unfortunately, I didn't understand a single word of that. If I marry Benny someday, would I have to learn Spanish? God, that would be a disaster.
Benny goes bright red. "Sí, Mama. Te lo prometo."
Benny's mother smiles again. "Okay!" she chirps. "I'm off to work. Adios, baby."
Benny's mom leaves and Benny turns back to me, and he looks at me expectantly.
I look at the floor. "He doesn't ever beat me when he's not drunk," I offer, like somehow that will make it all better.
Benny sighs, exasperated. "That's not the point!" he practically screams. "The point is that I found you getting beat up by your uncle last night and YOU NEVER EVEN TOLD ME ABOUT IT!"
"I'm sorry!" I sob. "Benny, you have to believe me! I'm so sorry. I wanted to tell you, but I didn't know what you would do. He loves me to death, I promise! He'd die for me! But he's not himself when he's drunk and I don't want to be taken away from him! I've already lost my mom and dad. I don't want to lose him too."
"But Kitty-" Benny starts to interrupt me, but I still have one last point to make. I look up and face him straight in the eyes.
"If I'm taken away from him, I'll have to move somewhere else! To wherever the next-of-kin is. And then I'll lose you, too! Baby, I couldn't risk all that." That does the trick. I see Benny's face sorta soften.
"Kitty," he tries again. His voice sounds strangled with unvoiced emotion. "Does your uncle even know about this? Does he know what his friends do? Does he know what he does?"
I look back down. I can't explain why it's so hard to look in his eyes, but I feel like I'm betraying him if I do. I shake my head. "No," I whisper. "He doesn't. He wakes up the morning after and doesn't remember a thing. I never thought to tell him, because dammit Benny, I can't face him and tell him these fucking horror stories. That would just make it real, and my life's messed up enough."
"Baby, what's happened to you?" Benny asks, lifting my face to meet his. "Why is your life so messed up? C'mon, I need the whole story."
I almost break down. I almost start sobbing completely. But I don't, because I owe this, at least, to Benny. "When I was 8, my parents got divorced," I start, my voice thick. "They were always fighting, and one day they decided they needed a break. They realized how much simpler life was without the other one stressing them out, and they just…split. But I always knew both my parents. They'd always take me places or buy me things and try to get me to tell the other that I liked them more. They spoiled me, and they bribed me, and I was torn. I couldn't help it. I liked them both the same. But then, a year and a half later, they started getting along again. They started talking about getting remarried. Three weeks before the would-be wedding, my mom got killed in a car crash. She got hit by a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way. She was killed instantly. My dad, well…he didn't take it too well. He got worse and worse, more and more depressed, and he got into some shady stuff. Six years after my mom's death, my dad was put in jail for drugs and for armed robbery. For the first time, I actually had no one. I was 11 when I left to live with my uncle, but I never had the heart to tell him he beats me. My mom, his sister, was all he had left, too. Neither of us need anymore pain."
"Kitty," Benny warns.
"I know, I know. You're right. I have to tell him. I'll tell him tomorrow when he's…conscious. Promise."
Benny smiles. "Good." Then he leans down and kisses my cheek. "C'mon. We're late for baseball."
I smile and roll out of bed, before scraping my hair back into a ponytail. "You're right. We are late. Because I have a surprise for you. A reward, actually."
Benny's eyebrows furrow at me, and I laugh at his confused face.
"We're wasting time! You'll love the surprise, I promise!"
He grabs me by the hand and we both sprint out the door together, laughing. "Alright. Let's go."
When we reach the sandlot, the boys just stare at us, grinning stupidly.
"Well, well, well," singsongs Ham. "Here come the lovebirds."
Squints grins. "Why're you late? Were you two smoooochinng?"
Kitty blushes as the other boys laugh and she flips Ham off. I guess Ham told the boys what happened. "Better not piss me off," she warns. "Because I have a surprise. And today is probably going to be the best day of your life."
All the boys stop laughing, and Ham regards her cautiously. "That…could be taken the wrong way…"
"GOD, HAM! You're so disgusting!"
Ham shrugs, and asks, "So what exactly are you planning?"
Kitty ignores Ham and turns to me. "So Benny, remind everyone who your living hero is. Like, the one that's not Babe Ruth…cuz he's dead..."
"Very good! And what team does said living hero play for?"
"The Dodgers." I narrow my eyes at her. I have no idea where this is going…
She grins. "And who, exactly, is the niece of the owner who can get into Dodger stadium while the team practices and who knows the exact bus routes for getting there?"
My eyes go wide. "Oh my god. You're serious?"
She smiles at me. "You saved me Benny. This is just me repaying the favor." Then Kitty turns to the other boys. "And y'all are welcome to come, too."
The boys and I all cheer, insanely happy. Holy shit, I think. I'm actually going to meet Maury Wills. He's only my hero. He's on his way to beating the record for most bases stolen! Besides the Great Bambino, this guy is the shit. I worship this guy. So Kitty loads us all on a bus.
"They'll be practicing in about a half an hour. Let's go, boys," she tells us.
I practically jump up and down on the bus all the way to the stadium. Meeting Kitty is obviously the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me. And not just because she's taking me to meet my idol. The boys and I barely stop talking all the way to the stadium on the bus, but when we finally reach Dodger Stadium, we all go quiet.
Kitty grabs my hand and leads us all to what would normally be the ticket booths. There's a security guard standing near them and Kitty walks straight up to him.
He smiles at her. "Kitty! What a pleasant surprise! I've barely seen you all summer."
Kitty grins back. "Hi, Joe! Yeah, I've been watching these boys play baseball all summer. Speaking of baseball, ten passes, please?"
"…so, what'd these boys do to deserve this?"
Kitty hauls me forward. "This boy, Benny, just about saved my goddamn life. And his idol is Maury Wills, so I thought I'd take the boys to meet him. Speaking of which, could you call Maury and let him know I'm bringing guests?"
"Sure. No problem. And uh…Plan LTP?"
Kitty's face suddenly lights up. "Oh my god, I forgot about that! Yes! Oh god, definitely! They'll love this!"
Joe smiles. "I'll get right on that." Then Joe pushes a button and tells us, "Go ahead. They'll be expecting you."
Everyone's silent as we walk through the hallways of Dodger Stadium. It feels almost real, considering we have our baseball gear on because we came from the Sandlot. This is amazing. I know instantly that this is what I want. Forever. This is where I belong. Cheesy, I know, but so true. I live for this feeling.
But that's nothing compared to when we step on the field.
I swear my heart stops. I imagine someone announcing my name. Benjamin Rodriguez. I smile so big I swear my face splits in two. Kitty looks at me, and she smiles, too.
"Just wait for Plan LTP," she whispers.
I look at her and nod before I realize I have no damn clue as to what "Plan LTP" was. I do a double take. "Wait, what's Plan LTP?"
"You'll see, Benjamin. And you're gonna love it."
Suddenly, I see the team. They're doing batting practice. I see the 1962 Dodgers. I see Frank Howard and Johnny Roseboro and…and…Maury Wills…Oh. My. God.
"Kitty," I scream excitedly, shaking her shoulder. "Look! Look, Kitty! It's Maury Wills!"
Kitty laughs and starts towards the players, but I, and the rest of the Sandlot team, hang back. This is just all too…unreal. It's a lot to process. Half way there, Kitty turns and sees us still standing here. She rolls her eyes in a sorta dammit, Rodriguez. C'mon, would you way. She marches back, grabs my hand, and hauls me forward. Ham wolf-whistles when she grabs my hand, and Kitty picks up a spare baseball near her on the field and chucks it at him. Luckily, he ducks, because that woulda hurt.
"Maury!" she calls, and the one and only Maury Wills turns towards us. "I hope Joe called you," she laughs.
Maury's face splits into a grin and he drops the bat to walk towards us. "Of course, Kitty! I take it these are the LTP boys?"
Kitty nods, and hauls me forward. "And this is Benny. Well, it's Benjamin Rodriguez, but I call him Benny. He saved my life. For real. That's why I decided to reward them. We're umm…we're also going out…" she blushes, plucking the baseball Maury Wills was holding out of his hand. Then she turns and chucks the baseball at Ham, who was in the middle of wolf whistling. Maury laughs as Ham dodges Kitty's throw.
"I see your throw hasn't deteriorated. You still the best damn pitcher on the diamond?" Maury asks Kitty. Kitty shakes her head.
"I wish," she tells him. Then she pulls Kenny forward. "Maury, you gotta see DeNunez here. He's amazing." Kenny grins (and I swear he blushed) and shakes Maury's hand.
"Oh my god!" Kitty yells suddenly. "Benny! Benny is friggin' incredible in a pickle. Truly rubba legs. And he's fast, too." Kitty drops her voice to a stage-whisper. "You're his idol, Maury."
I can feel myself go red, but Maury just grins. "You have good taste," he tells me as he shakes my hand. "You just don't get it any better than me and Kitty, here. But we might just have to put those rubba legs to the test, huh?"
Kitty laughs. "And now," she announces, "is when I explain Plan LTP. Boys!" All the Dodgers players jog over, grinning and calling out 'hello's to Kitty. "It's time for Plan LTP. Or, in other words, Plan Let Them Play. Stupid name, I know, but it gets the point across." Kitty turns to me. "Grab a bat, Rodriguez."
A/N: So...what'd ya think? Lemme know using that there review button! Thanks for reading!