10. Basketball.
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"So, how are things going with Preethi?"


The hallways of Lower Griffith High School were swollen with students shoving their way to their next class. Randy was on his way to gym, and he had happened to run into Sarah Chang, so they decided to walk together. Sarah was pretty keen on talking to him about the fight with Nikki. It might've been almost a week or so ago now, but it was still fresh in the minds of the student body, and Sarah had undoubtedly become a minor school celebrity since she witnessed the scrap firsthand.

"Yeah, I know Nikki tore up your tickets, but did you ever end up asking her out at all?"

"No..." Randy scratched the back of his head.

"Well, are you planning to?" she nudged him. "You can't just put it off or whatever. I mean, don't you know how early they sell prom tickets?"

"We're nowhere close to that." he wove that off. "And... I don't know. Honestly, I guess I just can't think of a good thing to ask her out to at all."

Though he had said "honestly," he was only telling a half-truth. It was mostly because he wasn't thinking about Preethi all that much any more. Sure, he still liked her, but he wasn't sure if it was a crush... honestly, if he had a crush on anyone, it'd be...

"Ugh, did you hear what they're having the girls do today?" Sarah's voice cut through his thoughts.

"Oh, what?"

"Zumba." when Sarah saw Randy's blank expression, she clarified. "It's like, this dumb dance thing."

"Dancing?" he asked. "Oh, is this like, when that instructor lady comes in? Why don't the guys have to do it?"

Sarah snickered. "I'm sure they'll let you if you want to."

"Yeah, y'know, good idea." Randy said. "I've always wanted more people to think I'm gay." 

Gym class. Somehow, Randy had managed to miss Nikki during attendance, so he kept talking with Sarah up until the boys and girls had to split. One half of the gym was cordoned off for the Zumba class, which was being run by a pretty lady in pink and black execise gear. The boys got to do freestyle basketball, which just meant that they wheeled out a cart of basketballs and told the boys to play however they felt like. Like most of the non-athletic boys, Randy just kinda dribbled his ball around waiting to leave.

Bored out of his skull, he took a look around the gym. Huh. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a few guys walking up to the other side of the gym and talking to the female instructors. Those few brave souls - mostly class clown types - joined the girls in Zumba. Randy didn't understand why until he saw what the dancing was like.

"That's more than a little sexual for school, isn't it?" he tried his best to look discreet as he glanced over at the wall of girls.

A lot of them, including Sarah, just kinda stood still and hoped the instructor didn't notice. But a number were getting into it, shaking and dancing, really enthusiastically... Randy wondered where Nikki was. Was she dancing? Probably not. Maybe she was though, who knew, maybe she liked dancing. She had on those tight yoga pants this morning...

Mm... imagine her shaking it in them...

"What's up, Randy."

The teen nearly fainted, spinning around to see Nikki bouncing a ball behind him. She glanced over his shoulder at where he had been looking.

"What, do you want to join them or something?" she asked. Normally, coming from her it'd be intended as a jab at his masculinity. But going off her tone, it seemed like she was just innocently curious if it was something he'd be interested in. He couldn't blame her really.

"I might moisturize and pluck my eyebrows, but I'm not like... that." Randy bounced his ball again. "How'd you get out of doing Zumba?" he asked.

"Coach is the only teacher who likes me." she replied. "So he let me switch."


Well, he was happy he'd get to spend the class with her... but a little disappointed he wouldn't get to watch her dance.

"Come on, lets play together." she laughed. Bouncing the basketball against the gym floor, she shifting into a swaying stance, the same one she'd use in a real game. With all the casual ease of breathing, she started dribbling the ball back and forth between her legs, stepping and weaving around. A few boys stopped their games to look on, impressed. It was kind of like a dance... ironic, since she had started playing to avoid doing that. "Wanna do a game of horse?"

"I dunno... I'm really bad at sports."

"If you haven't noticed, you're tall." she said, coming to a stop. She palmed the ball in one hand. "That's all you need. How bad could you be?"

A shot and a miss. A shot and a miss. A shot and a miss.

A shot from a foot away from the basket. Still, a miss.

"Okay, I see now." Nikki snickered. Embarrassed, Randy walked to where the ball had rolled and bounced it her way.

"I'm just no good at this." he said, scratching the back of his head. 

"Yeah, cause you spend all your time playing video games or whatever. Hey, watch this!"

She dashed to the half-court line and crouched down, bouncing the ball up and down a few times. As she held up the ball to judge her shot, a few guys walked up to watch her... some of them looked like they were checking her out. Randy crossed his arms, unable to ignore the pangs of jealousy in his gut.

Nikki raised and lowered the ball, bouncing it once or twice, then hopped up and let it fly in one swift motion. It soared through the air, easily sinking in the net with a swhoosh. Some of the guys cheered, and Nikki walked back up to Randy as he caught the ball on the rebound.

"Nice shot." he said. He didn't know a whole lot about basketball, but he could tell what she did was pretty impressive. She had a proud look on her face.

"Come on." Nikki gestured for him to move in front of her. When he did, she held her arms out, shifting her weight from side to side. "Here, try and get a shot past me." 

Randy stepped from side to side, holding the ball close to his chest.

"No, no, you gotta dribble!" she laughed. "Bounce it up and down."

"I know what dribble means..." Randy murmured. Suddenly, a few guys stepped up behind him, two tall kids he recognized as troublemakers. Much like Nikki though, they were the athletic kind, the type the school ignored.

"Hey Nikki." one called out. "Why don't you play with us?"

"Yeah, we actually know how."

Nikki blinked, straightening out. Then her face twisted into a scowl, one Randy recognized - that was what she used to give him when she was about to cut loose.

"Fuck off, dickhead." her voice got low and gruff all of a sudden. She stared down the second one to speak, who took a step back. Walking up to Randy, she pulled the ball from his hands. Randy was stunned. Christ, why was she so mad?

"No need to be such a bitch..." he spoke more quietly this time, but still seemed defiant.

She thrust the ball forwards as if she was gonna break his nose with it. He stepped back again, a bit further this time. Nikki had a half-crazy sneer on her face, another expression Randy recognized. It had been a while since her face got like that.

"What was that?" she growled.


"That's what I thought." dribbling the ball, she walked back up to Randy's side and bounced it right into his hands. In a much sweeter tone - which had become her normal voice the last few days, Randy just now noticed - she said to him, "Come on, let's play!"