A/n: so I'm a total sports fan and have been meaning to write a sports-oriented story for a while, but didn't really have my plot straight until now. This story was actually inspired by a story from an author on this site that goes by lovelyhead. Swish is an amazing read, and I would recommend it to you, but unfortunately some idiot decided to plagiarize it, and to protect her work she decided to take it down.

That being said...

DO NOT PLAGIARIZE.

It causes authors to take down amazing stories like that one and ruins it for everyone. I've been plagiarized myself, and can assure you it is not a good feeling. Perhaps if that issue is taken care of, we can restore this community to the thriving refuge for writers it was before. Because honestly—I still love it.

Sigh. Ranting aside, I hope you all enjoy this and tell me what you think in a review (:

Happy reading!


It was the Ninth inning.

Two outs, bases loaded, and score dead-even at three runs each.

I shifted awkwardly, bumping elbows and knees with the person beside me. They didn't notice.

The number of people cramming the stands had long surpassed regulation limit—parents, friends, aunts and uncles—all stacked like human-sardines as they screamed and roared for their favorite team.

Body-heat was only thing keeping me from completely freezing my ass off in the chilly night air, yet even knowing this I tugged at my scarf, suddenly very warm despite the temperature. I wasn't the only one; the fluorescent lights revealed several damp faces amidst the multitude of floundering spectators. They looked like worms, wiggling and squirming about like that.

"Pfft."

I huffed out a startled chuckle at the observation, belatedly realizing that I was one of those 'worms' as well, and no doubt a very bright one with all the green and gold I was decked in.

The school band played spiritedly from the row ahead of me, yet I could barely distinguish the pounding drums and high-pitched cymbals from the constant yelling and occasional vender shouting,

"Popcorn, popcorn. Get your popcorn here!"

"Peanuts, thirty percent off!"

"Hotdog anyone?"

It was pure and utter madness.

And I loved every second of it.

The bright lights and adrenaline, the boisterous masses—I felt as if I had died and gone to baseball heaven. One day I would love to compete in a match like this, but for now, I was content watching Vinny.

I would get my chance soon enough. Besides, Vinny was prodigy, hitting a grand total of thirty-five home runs last season alone. A player as talented as him only emerged every fifty years or so.

Or, at least that's what everyone says.

It was considered a great honor watch to him play, which is why practically the entire city was present. I wouldn't be surprised if even the president of the United States himself decided to make an appearance.

"Hey, batter, batter, batter!" A guy from the opposite team heckled obnoxiously.

I rolled my eyes at naive man.

As if Vinny would fall for such an amatuer distraction.

He was too deep in the zone. The only thing standing between him and winning this championship for us was the pitcher.

I bit my lip.

Vinny Finch couldn't disappoint, this game was crucial.

It was The Game.

The one that would finally decide which team was superior; the Rosemary Prep Rockets, or Drewmoore High Gators.

I began nibbling at my nails nervously, wincing when Jayda squeezed my arm a little too tight.

"Ease up would you?" I hissed from clenched teeth. I was already wired as it was, and her cutting off my circulation was not helping in the least.

"Sorry," she whispered back, yet didn't loosen her hold, "It's just so nerve-wracking. What if he misses?"

I wanted to snap at her, boldly proclaim that my brother would never strike out at such a dire moment—but I was feeling a bit anxious myself. My stomach was a knotted mess, and I fidgeted in my seat.

C'mon...C'mon.

The pitcher was a sophomore from Rosemary's that went by the nick-name Striker, standing an impressive six and a half feet tall with hulk-like arms that appeared capable of crushing metal. He was a mountain, not at all fitting the profile of the typical pitcher—I would know, being one myself—yet that's what made him all the more dangerous.

For the first time in my brother's entire baseball career, I was well and truly scared.

"Aye, number five!" A student from the row behind us hollered crudely. He was thin as a rail with greasy hair that deserved a good washing, "How about hitting the ball this time huh? We actually want to win this game!"

I gritted my teeth, whirling around to give the loser a piece of my mind ( and he had the audacity to wear school colors too!) when someone else beat me to it.

"Last I checked he's already scored two runs this game," a cool voice inserted curtly from the chair beside him, "In fact, if it weren't for Finch we'd currently be losing, so unless you want to get down there and bat against the best pitcher in California yourself— I suggest you shut your mouth."

The guy took one look at who was next to him, blanched, and did just that, mumbling an excuse about the restroom before scampering off. Jayda snorted, flashing my brother's defender a thumbs-up.

"Nicely handled Landon." She crowed, beaming back at him, "You sure put him in his place, wasn't that guy a senior?"

Landon shrugged, acting all nonchalant, but I knew he secretly enjoyed the praise. He was a freshman like us, though tall for his age, and intimidating an upperclassman was always an accomplishment.

I smiled at him.

"He was." I confirmed, and his grey eyes darted to my face before averting quickly, ears turning an alarming shade of pink.

That couldn't be healthy.

Concerned, I pointed it out and he ducked his head, grumbling something beneath his breath that sounded suspiciously like a curse.

Huh?

Jayda giggled, twisting around to pat his shoulder while waggling her brows suggestively at me.

I made a face at her in return.

Weirdo.

After a while Landon finally lifted his head, but wouldn't look at me for a some inscrutable reason. I shrugged it off, figuring he didn't feel well.

Why else would he face be so red afterall?

"I hate fans like that ass-wipe who sat next me," he divulged, gaze trained steadily on the diamond. I followed it to see Striker step onto the mound, grimacing as he massaged his throwing shoulder. He was obviously worn out, and renewed hope bubbled in my chest.

We could so win this. All Vinny had to do was stay focused.

"They're all for you while you're winning," he continued, eyes never straying from the field, "But the second you make one little mistake they turn into vultures."

I nodded, knowing his words rang true. It's happened to me plenty of times before, as well as he and Jayda while playing, and I could only imagine how many times it's happened to my brother.

But as Vinny would say,

"It just comes with the territory."

It sucked, but not everyone was a loyal fan.

"Well it's a good thing we aren't like that," I murmured absentmindedly. Striker had wound his arm back and I sat up straighter in my chair, "Vinnny needs all the support he can get right now."

The ball sliced through the air at top speed—a knuckle-ball—I realised belatedly, and my eyes widened in horror as it dipped sharply near the plate, sailing straight for my brother's left leg.

Dodge!

Vinny managed to avoid the ball at the last possible second, shooting Striker a venomous look from beneath his helmet visor. He'd nearly taken out his knee-cap!

Our section of the stands booed loudly, while the opposite end applauded.

I scowled.

Real classy Rosemary, cheering because my brother's career could have been cut short.

"Dammit!" Landon swore fiercely. I peeked over my shoulder, startled by his outburst to see his hands fisted tightly on his knees and jaw clenched. His baseball cap obscured his eyes from me, but I was almost certain they were glowing with rage, "He's resorting to foul play."

"Cowards," Jayda snarled from beside me. Her face was flushed with anger as she spat, "Those snobby, private-school trolls always do this when they think they're about to lose!"

I bit my lip, peering at Vinny worriedly. His chest was rising and falling rapidly beneath his green and gold uniform, sweat trailing across his brown skin and hanging off his chin. He looked haggard, yet his eyes never wavered.

He was a true baseball player.

Rosemary had a reputation of doing whatever it took to win, even going as far as physically taking out the opposing team's players. So far this season Striker alone has injured five athletes, yet somehow always managed to remain eligible to play. Some believed it was because his old man was rolling in cash and paid off every referee in the league. Others thought they were simply too scared of him snapping their necks if they so much as opened their mouths to suspend him.

Whatever the reason, he was untouchable, and he was gunning for my brother.

"Ball!" The umpire bellowed, lobbing the ball back to Striker who caught it effortlessly in his glove.

He smiled, nodding discretely to his catcher, and my chest tightened with dread. Something was about to happen. Something bad. His smile was too relaxed. The catcher's nod was too quick. Even his coach was grinning. Everything about this situation screamed trouble, and I just wanted to leap out of my chair and screech uncontrollably.

Something's wrong.

I whimpered.

"You alright Bird?" Landon whispered, catching the sound. He'd been calling me that since fifth grade, when he'd finally figured out my last-name was originated from the small, feathered creature.

How'd he even hear me from way over there anyway? Jayda hadn't noticed, and she was sitting right next to me.

"I'm...fine." I managed to force out. My throat was closing, and the words sounded slightly garbled.

Something's wrong.

He frowned, but didn't get a chance to press further, because Striker had thrown the ball again. It was a red and white blur as it shot out his hand like a bullet from hell.

A bullet that abruptly curved into a forward arch, aiming straight for Vinny's head.

I had never seen anything like it in my entire life. The speed. The precision. It was a demon pitch.

Move.

Vinny didn't budge, meeting Striker's gaze with eyes of fire, and with sudden alarm I realized he was attempting to hit it.

No!

The word stuck in my throat.

His shoulders squared, fingers tightening around the handle of his trusty black bat. He was going to stand up to Striker. He wasn't going to let him intimidate him into backing down.

No.

This was insane.

He can't!

I jumped to my feet, ignoring the complaints of the students and parents behind me as I bolted for the the aisle.

No. No. No. No. Stupid, duck.

DUCK!

With a sickening crack the ball slammed against his temple, sending his helmet flying as his body crumbled to the ground like a wet napkin.

.

.

.

Silence.

.

.

.

Birds chirping.

.

.

.

A baby crying.

Then the stadium was suddenly exploding with with screams and shouts of outrage. Striker stood on the mound, features slack and face drained of all color. His dark eyes darted around the stadium, taking in the chaos as the rest of Drewmoore's baseball team came scrambling onto the field like ants.

"Vinny."

His name came in a hushed whisper as I stood, staring at the field, but not really seeing.

"Bird!"

"Kye, oh my God!"

Landon and Jayda were suddenly beside me, each wearing matching expressions of shock and horror.

"Vinny." I repeated hollowly. My hand lifted of it's own accord, reaching out to the men in white vests as they loaded the motionless body of my brother onto the stretcher and wheeled him to the waiting ambulance. The noise it made was piercing to my ears, masking the hysterical shrieks and wails of the fans around me.

"The demon pitch hit him." I murmured, "Right in the head."

"Kye..." my best friend trailed helplessly.

Her bottom lip wobbled and then skinny arms were smothering me in an embrace I didn't feel. I was numb.

"Fucking bastard." Landon growled. His face had morphed into the visage of a wild man on the hunt for blood. And if I were to be honest, it frightened me a little. I had never seen Landon look that menacing before.

Taut skin stretched over gnashing teeth, the sounds emitting from his throat those of a feral animal. He was absolutely livid.

I was absolutely mesmerized.

We attempted to make our way onto the field, but there was no breaching the masses, so we were stuck watching from a distance.

Watching as my father bundled my mother into his arms.

Watching as his teammates lunged for Striker only to be blocked by coaches and referees.

Watching as the ambulance sped off into the night.

A single tear dripped down my cheek, ice-cold from the frigid wind blowing against my face.

Vinny died that night.

The ball had hit him with such monstrous force it fractured his skull, and he was officially pronounced dead at 9:13 pm. Rosemary was disqualified and by default Drewmoore won the championship. However, that victory was nothing compared to the loss of their beloved team caption.

The loss of my seventeen year old brother.

That was three years ago. I haven't touched a baseball since.


a/n: Remember to review!

Next update in a week!

~Live and learn