A group of teenagers are chosen to create a special forces unit because of their powers.
JJ looked up at the scoreboard mounted on the wall and took note of the one minute and three seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Marquise Oaks Musketeers were down seventy-five to seventy-one, and if he could sink this shot they'd be one point behind with enough time to score one last basket.
Placing his hands firm against the dirty grip of the orange ball, he took one step back to stand behind the black line marked on the wood and jumped up in the air before the red uniformed defender could block his shot. He heard the cheers from the crowd before he could catch sight of the ball falling out of the bottom of the net and crashing against the wooden floor boards. A smile crept on his face as Chaz ran past him and extended his hand out for them to touch palms.
As the entire blue-uniformed team took their place at the other end of the court to hold off the attackers, he caught sight of the blue-eyed beauty screaming his name. She wore her white cheerleading uniform with the blue trim and her blonde hair bounced as she shook her pom moms in his direction. He gave her a playful wink before he heard the sound of the bouncing ball coming his way.
Buddy Jenkins dribbled the ball between his legs as their faces stood just inches from each other. The kid was one of the best point guards on the east coast, but JJ was determined to stop him. When Buddy took a sharp right, JJ knocked against the pick that had been set behind him. The redshirt flew back, crashing with the player behind him before slamming against the ground. Immediately the referee's whistle blew.
"Oh come on," JJ said, raising his arms up at the man in the stripped shirt. "I barely tapped him!"
The man just shook his head as he pointed towards the inbound line on the side of the court.
"What the hell, man?" The red shirted player stood up behind him, a puzzled look on his face as JJ turned around to see him. "What kind of droids are you on?"
"Look man, it was an accident, alright?" He responded, shaking his head and walking over to guard Buddy from getting the inbound pass.
JJ placed his hands against Buddy's wet shirt as the two traded slight shoves. Buddy was doing everything he could to try and get open, but JJ matched him step by step.
"I want some of whatever you're taking, bro," he said with a laugh. "You just knocked our biggest player with barely a nudge."
"It's just weights, man. You should try it some time."
Behind him, JJ heard the sound of the ball snapping and then hitting the wood. When he turned around he saw Chaz's man had gotten away from him and was running full force towards the basket. JJ knew what was coming next, but for all of their sakes he hoped he was mistaken.
Sure enough, Chaz took off running after him, full speed, making an impossible run and getting to the basket just in time to block the lay up, with the ball bouncing off the red shirt's foot and out of bounds. The crowd erupted in cheer once more, but all JJ could do was look at Chaz and shake his head. Chaz raised his arms and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry," before taking the ball from the referee's hands.
The clock was at a little over twenty seconds now, which gave them just enough time for one more basket. They needed just two points to jump ahead, but the defense was tight. JJ did all he could to lose the two men that guarded him, but it seemed like every step he took was a wrong turn. He managed to lob the ball over a defender and to Chaz's hand, who found himself surrounded by red shirts near one of the corners.
JJ ran around and lost his man to position himself just in front of the in bound line and caught the pass from Chaz. As soon as the defender planted his foot, JJ took off running full speed through the empty lane that led right to the basket. He jumped with all his might, his legs crashing against the low post as he slammed the ball inside the net, holding onto the rim before dropping down.
The crowd stopped and screamed, overcoming the sound of the buzzard. People ran his way, shoving him and placing their arms around him. This was his last year at Marquise Oaks High School, and he was determined to get them the Maryland State Championship. After the perfect season they'd be ranked first seed, and it would be an easy road to the big game.
He pushed around the crowds of people, occasionally using too much force and having to stop and apologize to a poor spectator. When he finally spotted her long blonde hair, he ran her way. Wrapping his arms around her waist from behind, he picked her up in the air and took in the sweetness of her laugh.
"Ahh," she said between giggles as he set her back on the ground. She turned around and draped her arms over his shoulders, placing a sloppy kiss on his lips. "You did it," she said between smooches.
He pulled away and smiled as he lowered his hand and gave her a light spank. She slapped his chest and giggled before he pushed his lips on hers once more.
"How does it feel?" He asked pulling away.
"What do you mean?"
"To be dating the most popular guy in school?" She rolled her eyes and gave him a slight shove before planting one more kiss on his lips and pulling away.
He watched as she walked away, her loose skirt bouncing against the back of her perfect legs.
"Hey, where you going?"
She turned just her head. "You better go hit the showers if you want any chance at getting lucky tonight," she said as she disappeared through the double doors.
He chuckled as Chaz came up behind him and wrapped his arm around his neck.
JJ pushed him off, smiling as they walked to the locker rooms. Once he finished showering, he walked out and pulled on his favorite pair of white basketball shorts and a navy long sleeve shirt, which he rolled up to his elbows. He reached for his phone while he waited for Chaz to finish showering. He looked at the bright screen of his black smart phone, but as he scrolled through his notifications he couldn't find anything from his dad. Just some texts from friends about the party and a congratulatory text from his mom. He put the phone away when he heard footsteps coming his way.
"Man, what a game. I'm so hyped right now," Chaz said as he turned the corner, wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. Droplets of water from his blonde hair fell on JJ's legs as he walked by.
"Chaz, what was that out there?" JJ said as he stood up from the bench. "We're supposed to be careful. Now everyone saw you make an impossible run to the basket. Seriously, man, people were staring."
"Me?" He asked, pulling a pair of basketball shorts out of his locker. "You're the one that knocked Stephen Fisher down on his ass with a nudge. Dude is like two-hundred pounds."
"Mine was an accident. You just did it for the glory of making the game-winning block. We're not going to win like that this year. We don't need the attention."
"Alright, dude. Chill." Chaz pulled on the red t-shirt over his head and shut his locker before picking up his bag and slapping his hand against JJ's shoulder. "It won't happen again. Now come on, we can catch the end of the soccer game before the party."
As they turned out of the locker room and into the hallway, they found Buddy and Stephen blocking their way out to the fields. Buddy's dark arms were crossed over his chest, covering the logo on his red t-shirt.
"What do you two want?" JJ asked, adjusting the strap of his bag on his shoulder.
"I'll make this quick and simple," Buddy said, walking his way. "Stephen here got his hands on a video of the last few minutes of the game. You give me the name of the whoever is selling you the stuff and you won't get a surprise test from the school board next week."
JJ and Chaz looked at each other and broke out in laughter. "You're insane," Chaz said as they tried to walk between them. Buddy's muscular arm reached out to JJ's chest.
"Don't you want to know you if you can beat us on even ground? Bet your daddy won't be happy to have his son's perfect record tainted by needles."
JJ wrapped his hand around Buddy's arm and pushed it off his chest, making sure to look him right in his dark eyes. "Call the damn school board." He walked past them and slammed open the double doors, Chaz following behind him. "We're clean."
JJ picked up his pace as they passed the tennis courts on their way to the light at the end of the concrete pathway. He could hear the sound of whistles and cheering coming from the field, but the noise only made him want to punch Buddy's face in even more.
"Hey slow down, JJ," Chaz said, speed walking to catch up.
JJ turned around, making Chaz run into him. "I told you they noticed," he said, exhaling the breath he'd been holding in.
"So what, man?" Chaz replied, opening up his arms. "They think we're taking steroids. They'll call the freaking board, we'll get tested and we'll be done with it. It's not like they can find out about us from our pee."
JJ paced around to clear his head. He knew Chaz was right. If his dad hadn't made him so paranoid the past few weeks he probably wouldn't even be bothered right now. Hell, he might even enjoy seeing Buddy's smug face when the test results were announced.
"You're right," he said, kicking the lose pieces of concrete on the pathway. "It's just my dad has been going on about the war like crazy. He says some of his buddies in the senate told him some stuff and that I should be careful."
Chaz gave him a pat on the back as they started walking toward the field again. "It's alright, man. You know how your dad gets with these things."
"I just can't wait to leave for school," he said, a smile growing on his face.
As they walked, he could begin to make out girls running around the grass in white and black uniforms. Occasionally a group of kids would appear running around the track the surrounded the field. He heard a door crack open from behind him.
"JJ," he heard Emily's voice as he turned to look. "Where are you going? Aren't we going to your house?"
"Don't tell me you boys are backing down from our bet already?" Martie Thompson said from besides Emily, her brown hair still tied back with her blue cheerleading ribbon.
"Oh, you know I'd never do that to you, baby," Chaz replied with a stupid smile.
"Ew," both girls said simultaneously, making JJ chuckle as he gave Chaz a playful punch on his shoulder.
"We're gonna catch the end of the game before the party," JJ said. "Come on, I'll even let you sit next to me."
The girls walked their way. When Emily reached him, he wrapped his arm over Emily's shoulder and placed a kiss on her cheek. The two walked together onto the asphalt track, leaving Chaz and Martie behind.
"Why do we have to stay and watch?" Emily asked, dodging the kids that ran around them.
"We've gotta support our school, babe."
"The school? Or Shay?"
JJ chuckled at her comment. Emily always worried too much. Her and Shay had been friends back in middle school, but that seemed like ages ago now.
"We've got to support the school and Shay," he said, squeezing her closer to him as they walked behind the opposing team's goal. "She's the team's captain, after all."
She rolled her eyes and they walked in silence up to the metal stands. They made their way through a line of people who moved their legs for them to pass to an open spot, leaving room for Chaz and Martie. Out of the corner of his eyes he caught sight of Zack Harley hanging out with some on his loser skating friends beneath the bleachers. His greasy blonde hair hanging out of the black beanie on his head. He pulled his phone out and sent him a text about the night.
From: JJ Hayworth
To: Zack Harley
We good for tonight? 11 pm.
Before he could put his phone back in his pocket it vibrated in his hand.
From: Zack Harley
To: JJ Hayworth
Ya. I got u.
JJ looked down at Zack who looked up at him and nodded before breaking out in laughter. The kid's brain was fried from all those times he enjoyed his products. JJ shook his head at the thought of having to invite him. But he knew he had no choice. Zack was the only dealer in town that wouldn't shoot you and run away with your cash.
"Who was that?" Emily asked as JJ put his phone in the pocket of his shorts.
She nodded as a giggle escaped her mouth and all JJ could do was shrug and join in her laughter. They watched the game in silence as the ball was kicked from one end of the field to the other. Chaz and Martie sat beside them, sharing a fountain drink that surely had some form of liquor mixed into it.
There were only five minutes left on the scoreboard and the Musketeers lead by two goals. He watched as a girl on the sidelines shook out her black hair before placing it on top of her head and tightened it into a ponytail. She looked up and smiled, her cheeks rising to touch her dark eyes before she walked to the middle line to sub in.
Emily rolled her eyes as Shay ran out onto the field, touching palms with some girl whose name JJ didn't know. The moment that girl walked on the field sparks began to fly. Suddenly the pace was much quicker than before. She dribbled past defenders with such ease, it was no wonder the coach had her sit out for a while.
"You're staring," Emily said, her eyes focused ahead.
"Oh, come on," he said. "I'm just watching the game."
"Can we go now? It's not like they're going to lose. Everyone knows Shay controls the game."
JJ turned to face her, making sure to speak as low as possible. "You can't say those things here, Em. Someone could hear you."
"Hear me?" She said. "Everyone saw you and Chaz out on your game. I could hear people whispering behind me."
JJ smacked his hands against his thighs and turned his attention back to the game. Emily was so frustrating sometimes. Maybe I should end things for good this time.
People jumped on their feet and began to scream as Shay dribbled her way between two defenders, giving herself an open look at the goal. Right as JJ stood, he saw her strike the ball and watched it hit against the back top corner of the net. The crowd roared as Chaz put his arms around Martie to celebrate. When JJ looked to Emily, he found her sitting against the cold metal, completely uninterested in the game. The whistle blew, signaling the end of the first girl's soccer playoff game.
Emily reached for his hans as they descended the steps of the bleachers, back onto the asphalt track. They walked down to to the player's bench, searching for Shay. When they found her, Chaz and Martie went up to her and congratulated her on the win.
"Hey, stranger," she said to him as they approached her.
"Looking good out there," he replied, feeling Emily's grip tighten around his hand.
"You're coming tonight, right" Chaz said to her, while she gathered all her stuff into her backpack.
"Yeah, just have to go home first."
"Cool, we'll see you there," JJ said.
She walked away from them and they made their way to the parking lot. While it was completely full during the school day, only a handful of cars remained spread out under the fluorescent light poles. Chaz and Martie left together in Chaz's car to go pick up some drinks, and JJ and Emily drove home to JJ's house in silence.
They walked underneath the brick archway and JJ swung open one of the double doors. All the lights in the house were turned off, so they walked to the kitchen and set their bags down on the granite island.
"Mom? Dad?" JJ said, looking around the kitchen.
All he could hear was the sound of water splashing from the waterfalls in the pool. "I guess they decided to stay in the city."
"Let's go out to your room," she whispered.
He let out a chuckle before reaching around behind him to give her ass light squeeze. They picked up their bags and walked out the glass doors that led to the backyard, their arms wrapped around each other. Walking down the stones peeking through the grass, they made their way past the lit up pool and into the pool house.
Stacks of red cups and soda bottles were already set up on the kitchen counter, and the fire place burned blue and orange. JJ ran past the couches and up the steps, taking them two at a time. When he reached the door, he swung it open and walked into his room, looking around at the posters of NBA players on the cream colored walls.
He threw his bag down on the floor and sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for Emily to set down her bags. She undid the blue ribbon in her blonde hair and walked his way, swinging her legs over his so that she straddled his lap. His hands traveled down her back as she leaned in to plant a soft kiss on his lips, tucking her hair behind her ear. Her blue eyes were starring right through him, making him want her.
"We gotta be quick," he said between breaths. "People will be here soon."
"People?" She said with a playful smile. "Or Shay?"
He shook his head and let out a chuckled, grabbing her leg and swinging her off of him as he stood up from the gray covers. JJ paced around as she looked at him with a confused look on her face.
"You're unbelievable, you know that?" He said, pacing faster now. "I mean, hell, Emily." His hands smacked agains this hips. "What has gotten into you? Why does it bother you so much that I talk to her?"
She sprung up from the bed a placed one hand on her hips and ran her other hand through her hair. "Talk to her? You do much more than just talk to her, JJ." She let out a sigh. "You talk to every girl in school like I don't even exist."
"They talk to me! What the hell do you want me to do about it?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe not go over to their house while I'm out of town?"
JJ stopped pacing and looked up at her, thinking of what to say. "What?"
"Two weeks ago when I went to that cheering competition. Martie heard some people in her English class talking about how one of the saw you leaving Shay's house Friday night."
JJ was silent again, just watching as the crease in her brow turned to her biting her bottom lip. He knew that look well. She was trying to hold back tears. Maybe this was the time, he thought. Maybe he should just use this to end things with her for good. He would be off to college soon. It'd be much more fun without a girl constantly nagging him.
"Em," he said. Before he could say the words, he remembered the way she would drape her legs over his as they drove in his truck. Belting out the lyrics to whatever Maroon 5 song was on the radio. "Em, I told you about that day." He walked toward her touching his hands to her elbows, but she moved out of his reach. "Babe, I texted you. Told you I missed history that day because coach had me go to the trainer's office to check on my knee. I went over there for like five minutes just to get the homework."
"What text?" She said, walking past him in frustration. "I mean really JJ, homework? On a Friday night? You don't even do homework during the week. You're lying. I never got that text. Just some of you saying Chaz was coming over to play video games for the night."
He sighed and chuckled. He'd never get her to believe him, he thought, shaking his head. Then he looked up at her, and narrowed his eyes to make her think her accusations had angered him.
"Unbelievable. I sent you the damn text, Emily. Here," he said, pulling the phone out of his pocket and typing in his password, holding it out for her to take. "You want to turn into one of those girls that checks her boyfriend's phone? Go ahead. I've got nothing to hide. But I'm getting really tired of this shit."
His upper lip began to sweat as she uncrossed her arms and reached her hand out to the phone. Before she actually got her hand on it, she let out a sigh and lowered her head.
"No," she said softly. "If you say it was nothing, then I believe you." She went to sit at the edge of the bed, running her fingers through her hair. "The hotel we were at probably just had some bad reception or something."
JJ's shoulders relaxed as she said the words. He locked his phone and put it back into his pocket as he walked to sit beside her on the bed. He put a hand on her thigh and leaned dow to kiss her forehead.
"I can't keep doing this, Emily," he said.
She pulled away and looked up at him, tears building in her blue eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know what has gotten over me. People at school, they just talk so much." She paused to wipe her tears. "They say I'm stupid for not seeing things. That you run around with any girl you want while I wait for you to call me back."
"And you believe them over me?" He said, making sure to speak softly so that she wouldn't burst out into tears. He didn't need that before the party.
"I did," she sighed. "And it was stupid. I won't do it again anymore, babe. I promise."
He raised his hand to wipe away a tear that had rolled down her cheek. Then he leaned forward and touched his lips to hers. He was gentle at first, but then he used his tongue to part her lips. She grabbed his neck and pulled him on top of her, the two of them falling down onto the bed. Just as he wrapped his hands around the bottom her her blue shirt, they heard a knock at the door, followed by Chaz's obnoxious voice.