Characters: Bikky, OCs, mentions Carol, Ryo, Dee.
Setting: A few years after Like Like Love.
Summary: After Bikky’s first pro basketball home game, the press want to talk to the Clippers’ rising star.
Word Count: 1444
Content Notes: Nada.
Written For: Challenge 8: Babylon 5 Episode Titles at ficlet_zone, using ‘Rising Star’.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo had warned him it would be like this, so had Carol, and Dee, and his new teammates, and the coach, but despite all that the reality was way beyond anything he’d ever imagined. As the team trooped off the court after winning the first game of the season, reality hit him full in the face. The sheer number of reporters crowding around outside the locker room, waving microphones, and cameras, and notepads at him, all asking questions and demanding a piece of him at the same time, was beyond daunting.
The rest of the team filed past, herded along by the coaching staff and disappearing where the press weren’t allowed to follow, but the head coach held him back; he was the one all these people wanted to interview, the new young player who’d scored the winning point. Despite his height, six feet six inches in his bare feet last time he’d been measured, Bikky suddenly felt small and lost. Who was he really? Just a mixed race kid with an overwhelming love of basketball, who’d been fortunate enough to be drafted by a pro team right out of college. He wasn’t the first and he wouldn’t be last, but from the way the reporters were flocking to him, ready to record his every word for posterity, anyone would think he was the second coming.
What was he supposed to say to them?
“How does it feel to be the Clippers’ new young rising star?” someone, a woman, shouted from the back of the crowd.
“If I ever figure that out I’ll let you know,” Bikky replied, the words out of his mouth before he even had time to think. His answer drew laughter from the whole crowd.
Then a microphone was thrust so close to his face it almost seemed as if the reporter was trying to shove it up his nose and Bikky drew back a bit.
“You’re the player who scored the most points in the game,” the man started to say, but Bikky shook his head.
“You’ve got the wrong guy; that was Toby Mendez.” He was on the opposing team.
“Sorry, I should have said the most points for the Clippers.”
“That’s the aim of the game, and it’s what I’m being paid to do. Can’t win at basketball game without scoring points.” Bikky wasn’t really sure what the reporter had been asking, or even if it had been meant as a question. Maybe he’d just been stating a fact. Maybe he’d thought Bikky didn’t know.
“Looked like you were having fun out there tonight,” someone else said; he couldn’t make out who’d spoken among the sea of faces.
“Of course I was, it’s basketball! If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be playing. No amount of money can compensate for being in a profession you don’t like. I’m one of the lucky ones though; I get paid for doing something I love. Too many people have to take any work they can get just to make ends meet. Not everyone gets their dream job, but I have, and I couldn’t be happier. I had to work hard to get where I am, but it was worthwhile. I still have days when I think this has to be a dream, but if it is, I don’t wanna wake up!”
“Do you think earning the big bucks is going to change you?” an attractive young woman asked.
“I hope not, in fact I’m sure it won’t. My foster father, Ryo, he raised me right. Taught me to respect others, work hard, be careful with my money, and always do my best. Besides, if I ever get too big for my boots my wife will cut me back down to size in no time at all.” Bikky’s smile softened. “I’ve known Carol since I was four years old and even back then I knew she was the one. I don’t ever want to do anything to disappoint her. She and my dad are the most important people in my life, and always will be.”
“Is it true your dad’s gay?” someone shouted from off to the side, at the same time as another reporter, this one in the front row, asked, “How long have you been married?”
Bikky chose to answer the second question and ignored the first as if he hadn’t heard it. What business was it of anyone else’s whether or not Ryo was gay? “Just over a year, so at least we got to celebrate our first anniversary before this crazy whirlwind started. The worst part is gonna be not having her with me next week when we travel to our first away game. I know I’m gonna miss her like crazy, but I’d never ask her to ditch her job to come with me; her career’s as important to her as mine is to me.”
“So you got married while you were still in college?”
“That’s right. Carol worked full time, supporting us both through my last two years; I wouldn’t be here without her. Hell, I wouldn’t have made it through high school without her and Ryo helping me study. I always struggled with academic subjects, used to skip a lot of school when I was younger, before my dad died and Ryo took me in. Ryo was way stricter than I was used to, always making sure I did my homework and ate my veggies. He told me they’d make me grow up big and strong; guess he was right.”
“You’re from New York, right?” Yet another reporter, somewhere in the middle of the crowd.
“So were you a Knicks fan growing up?”
Bikky laughed. “Not a chance! Bulls all the way, although I guess not if the Clippers are playing them; then I’d better be rooting for my own team or I’ll be in big trouble.”
That drew more laughter from the throng.
“How are you liking L.A. life?”
“I’m loving it, who wouldn’t? All this sunshine sure beats freezing through a New York winter, where the public basketball courts are more like ice rinks when they’re not knee deep in snow. After four years of college here it was a relief to get drafted by a local team so I get to stay in California.”
“Any advice for kids who want to grow up to be like you?”
“Yeah, the same things Ryo taught me; work hard, do your homework, don’t skip school, and make sure to eat all your veggies and drink your milk, because those things are full of the vitamins and minerals a body needs to grow strong and healthy. Oh, and if you don’t understand something, never be afraid to ask, because that’s how you learn.”
With that the coach called an end to the interview and hustled Bikky into the locker room to shower.
“You did okay out there; for a moment I thought you were gonna clam up but you handled the press pretty damned good for your first try.”
“Thanks, coach. It’s just weird, I’m not used to people wanting to know every little thing about me, can’t quite get my head around it.”
“You’re a star in the making, kid; you’ve got real talent or you wouldn’t be here. You’ve got a shot at goin’ right to the top so you just keep doin’ what you’re doin’ and we’ll all be happy.”
“I intend to. I’ve dreamed about playing pro basketball since I was a kid and I’m not gonna screw it up now I’m here. I won’t let the team down.”
“That’s what I like to hear. Good game tonight, kid; now go get cleaned up, there’s still a lot more games to win between now and the championships.”
Bikky stripped out of his kit and plunged into the steaming shower spray, feeling tired and dazed and on top of the world. His first game as a pro and his team had won! What was it that first reporter had called him, the Clippers’ rising star? Something like that. Maybe some day he’d be as famous as some of his basketball heroes, which would be way cool, but he was determined not to let it go to his head. He didn’t want fame and fortune to change him, turn him into someone he wouldn’t recognise, but he was sure Carol and Ryo wouldn’t let that happen.
They’d both always believed in him, and done all they could to help him chase his dreams. He owed them everything he was, and he’d repay them in the best way he knew how, by being the kind of man they could be proud of.