Past Interlude #7
San Diego, California - 1998




Alex distractedly rubbed his wet hair with a towel, still unable to process the news. He wasn't the only junior in the varsity team but he was the only one chosen as starter. Heck, this was the first time in a decade that a junior stood on the first string. Everything was numb-- the bruises, the sprained fingers, the C+ in his Trigonometry test-- it was all gone, replaced by a warmth at the pit of his stomach.

"Hey, it's Alexander the Great!" Clyde Norton, the quarterback, gave Alex a comradely jab in the kidneys. "You still look like you're shell-shocked, man."

"I think I am," said Alex honestly.

"Don't be," Clyde said, heading for his own locker. "You earned it, man. You work your ass off everyday; everyone knows it."

Alex beamed. The warmth in his stomach spread outward, displacing the numbness. "I don't know who to tell first."

"I remember when I told my dad," said Clyde as he dug through his locker. "We went out got us the hugest steaks on the west coast. Medium rare. Practically still mooing. How're you gonna celebrate, Great One?"

"I don't know yet," said Alex. "I'm going to sleep on it and see if it's for real or just a really good dream. I know it's just a dream if Tiffany Amber Theisin walks in right now. Or maybe the dance team."

"Summers." Clyde rolled his eyes. "You guys make a brother look bad. They still talk about all the times the girl's volleyball team would sneak Remy into the bus for their away games for a little... late-night aerobics."

Now it was Alex's turn to roll his eyes. "It wasn't the whole volleyball team, it was just three and it wasn't every away game, just the ones in the early season."

"Whatever, man. My sister told me the team's winning streak ended when the principal stopped him from going along." Clyde elbowed him. "You should try to get some of that here, Great One. Might boost morale."

"I'll see what I can do," said Alex. He turned back to his locker and threw random items into his bag, not really caring what they were.

"There was that party back when we were freshman." Clyde hooted as he towelled his back down. "The man should hold conferences, y'know? 'How to Lay Every Skirt in a Mile Radius.' It'd sell out even if he charged a hundred bucks. Was it true he had five girlfriends at once and they knew about it but didn't care?"

"Two," said Alex tersely.

Clyde snapped his fingers. "That's it, buddy. You're inviting me to your place and I'm going to get tips from your brother. Yet another advantage to having you on the team."

"Sure thing," he said, but the warmth was already receding.

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