Characters: Bikky, Ryo, Dee.
Setting: Somewhere in the middle of the manga.
Summary: Bikky’s about to start a new school, but one thing is making him a little nervous; will he be good enough to make the team?
Word Count: 1665
Written For: Challenge 163: Ball at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
A/N: Not sure how realistic this is in terms of the American school system, so if I got anything too badly wrong, I claim that FAKE is set in an alternate version of New York anyway ;)
The move up from Junior High to High School was fraught with uncertainty for Bikky, and he’d been stressing about it on and off over the summer vacation.
It was a bigger school, so there would be more kids, most of them older, but that didn’t bother him; he could hold his own against all comers and he certainly wasn’t afraid of bullies; they’d pick on him at their own risk.
Lessons would be harder, which bothered him a bit because he already found certain subjects a struggle, though he’d done better in his last year at his old school. He thought he’d probably be able to keep up his passing grades if he paid attention in class and kept trying his best, so that wasn’t what was bothering him either.
Neither was the fact that his new school was further away so he’d probably have to take the bus most days; he was perfectly capable of using public transport, or even his bike.
What was really bothering him was the love of his life; or one of them, anyway.
He’d been on the team at his old school, but now there’d be a lot more kids from a wider district, all trying out for places, and while he knew he was good, would he be good enough to beat out that much competition? There were only so many starting places on the school’s teams, and as a freshman, he’d be way down on the coach’s list. It was the older kids who’d be most likely to make first string, taking the places left open by seniors who’d just graduated. Being an alternate, a back-up player just in case someone got injured during the season, would be better than nothing, and would at least put him in a good position for advancement in his junior year, but what if he wasn’t even considered promising enough for that?
So he practiced as much as he could over the summer, pickup games with friends whenever possible, shooting hoops alone when no one else was available. Hell, he was so determined to get in as much practice as he could that he even roped the perv into one-on-one games at every opportunity.
Secretly, Bikky had to admit that Dee was good. He might even have had the potential to go pro if he’d been a bit faster and hadn’t already been set on a career with the police. Games between the pair of them were heated and hard-fought, each of them determined to beat the other, and their win-lose ratio came out about even, with Bikky winning just slightly more often. Not bad considering that Dee was stronger and a good eight inches taller than the boy.
The games were less serious and more fun when Ryo and Carol joined them to play two-a-side, Ryo playing on Bikky’s team and Carol on Dee’s. Ryo wasn’t anywhere near as good as Dee, but he improved a lot and as the start of the new school year approached, he’d occasionally take Bikky on, even though he never succeeded in beating his foster son. To Bikky it was all good, and gave him valuable experience.
The first semester at his new school started and Bikky was plunged headlong into the endless round of lessons and homework. He still got out on the basketball court as much as he could, but Ryo insisted that homework took priority so he had to get that done before he could head out for a quick game.
Tryouts were looming almost before Bikky knew it. He’d taken to spending most of his lunch break on the outdoor courts, wolfing down his lunch in the last few minutes, or on his way back to classes. He couldn’t afford to waste any opportunity to practice; it could make the difference between getting picked and getting rejected.
On the morning of the big day, Bikky was almost too nervous to eat breakfast, but he forced down some cereal, his stomach too full of butterflies for anything more substantial. The day dragged, but finally the bell went at the end of his last class and he hurried to the locker rooms with a bunch of other boys to change for the tryouts.
He sat on the basketball court bleachers watching as groups of kids tried out against each other, showing what they could do, each of them hoping to impress the coach. Finally, Bikky’s name was called, along with the remainder of the freshman hopefuls. This was it. Swallowing his nerves, he stepped out onto the court and took the ball. This was what he was born to do, and he was gonna show them all.
Playing basketball was what made Bikky feel most alive; he was focussed and intent, giving it everything he’d got. This was his one chance to prove that despite his age, he was good enough to play alongside kids three or four years older. He’d grown two inches over the summer, which certainly didn’t hurt his chances; he was already above average height for his age, but he lacked the adolescent gawkiness of most of his peers. He was fast, flexible, had excellent balance, and jumped for the hoop like he had springs in his boots.
When the coach blew the whistle, Bikky knew he’d done the best he could; now he just had to wait. Returning to the locker room to get changed, he headed home, saying a silent prayer to anyone who might be listening that his best had been good enough.
Tryouts had been on the Friday; a list of names of those picked would be posted on the bulletin board on Monday morning. The weekend had never seemed longer or passed slower, something that would normally have delighted Bikky but which in this case left him seething with impatience for the school week to begin. When he woke up on Monday, he could scarcely believe the long wait was coming to an end.
He showered and dressed in double quick time, snatched up his book bag and headed for the door.
“Bikky, breakfast before you leave, please,” Ryo told him firmly. “And you haven’t got your lunch either.”
“Aw, Ryo! The list goes up this morning!”
“I know, but it’s no use you arriving at school before the doors are even open. Sit down and eat; the list will still be there, with the same names on it, whenever you get there.”
Sighing heavily, Bikky did as he was told, shovelling scrambled eggs and toast into his mouth, washing it down with gulps of milk.
“You’re supposed to chew your food, not inhale it.” Ryo sounded amused. “You’re as bad as Dee!”
“Am not!” Bikky protested through a mouthful, eyes horrified at the thought.
Ryo just chuckled and shook his head, turning his attention to his own breakfast.
“Can I go now?” Bikky asked at last, shoving his empty plate away.
“Yes, you can go.”
Bikky bounded from his chair, snatching up his bag again and heading for the door.
Pausing, Bikky glanced back. “Thanks, Ryo. See you tonight.”
“Have a good day.”
“We’ll see. Kinda depends.”
“There’s always next year…” But Ryo was speaking to the closing door; Bikky was already gone.
There was a big crowd around the bulletin board by the time Bikky arrived at school; it wasn’t just the results of the basketball tryouts on display, but those of all the other sports teams too, and it took Bikky a while to find the right list. He scanned down it, looking for Goldman and feeling a crushing sense of defeat when he didn’t see his name, before remembering that he’d enrolled at his new school as Victor Maclean. He looked down further.
“I’m in! Woohoo!” Punching the air and bouncing with excitement, Bikky shoved his way back through the crowd, ecstatic, then had to turn around and go back to make a note of the practice schedule, which he’d forgotten to check. From now on, he’d be working even harder, keeping his grades up and training with the team, and then there would be the games themselves…
It didn’t matter; he’d fit everything in somehow. He couldn’t wait to tell Ryo the good news. He was only supposed to call his dad at work in an emergency, but surely this counted, didn’t it? He felt like he’d burst if he didn’t tell someone. Punching speed dial two on his phone, because one was reserved for Carol, he waited impatiently for Ryo to pick up.
“Hey, Biks, what’s the news?” Ryo asked without preamble.
“That’s great, I’m proud of you! We’ll celebrate when you get home.” A loud bell ringing almost drowned out Ryo’s last words.
“Gotta go, Ryo, classes are about to start. See you tonight!” Bikky hung up before Ryo could answer.
“I gather he made the team?” Dee asked from where he was sitting across from his partner.
“Was there ever really any doubt?”
“The brat sure thought so. Looks like you’re goin’ to have a pro basketball player for a son in a few more years.”
“He could really do it, couldn’t he?”
“Damn straight! He’s got the talent and the determination; the way he ran us into the ground over summer’s proof of that. Don’t tell him I said this, but you’ve raised a good kid. You should be proud of him.”
“I always have been,” Ryo admitted, “and I’ll still be proud of him no matter what career he chooses. As long as it makes him happy.”
“So, we partyin’ tonight?”
“That’s the plan; I’ll let Bikky choose where we go for dinner.”
“Probably the pizza place.”
“More than likely. I’ll just have to cook something healthier for dinner tomorrow,” Ryo laughed, settling down to work. Happy for his son, he knew Bikky wasn’t the only one who’d be on a high for the rest of day.