One of the things I didn't look forward to during lunch break was to pick what food to eat for lunch. I meant there were just a few options to pick on, and none of them were appetizing to look at. I was with Tay picking what food to eat, while he already ordered his chosen delicacy.
After settling with some crappy beef stew with vegetables, we searched around the cafeteria to look for available seats. Tay tapped me and found an available table beside the window panel. We walked towards it, and to my dismay, I recognized a familiar head when we were passing through the path.
Caden was seating with his gang. All of them wearing the identical letter B embossed pin on their coats. He saw me looking at him to my chagrin and tried to make a room for one person – which I assumed for me. I simply ignored him and went to the table that Tay had found.
Not looking back, we settled our food trays on the table.
"Isn't that guy who asked you yesterday?" Tay asked while he dipped his spoon to his soup and tasted it.
I nodded at him weakly. To be honest, I was bothered by their attention to me. There was something about Caden that I couldn't pinpoint. Let me correct that – I had this feeling that their group or gang was up to no good. I do hope that I was wrong.
"What's his deal anyway?"
"Actually, that's my question also. They are recruiting me to their fraternity. I assumed fraternity since he mentioned that their group is all about brotherhood. But he didn't elaborate what their group does."
I took a bite on my beef stew, and just like what I expected, the food was bland, so much for paying 100 bucks for this crappy food.
"Oh, by the way, we have an exhibition match against L.O.M.S. Hope you don't have fencing practice later this afternoon. Our school will be hosting it."
L.O.M.S. stands for La Orden Memorial School - the only public school in our town.
"We don't have practice today despite the impending pocket tournament next week. Coach Valdez wants us to take this day to internalize the winning attitude for next week's game. You know how he is."
"That's great! So come and watch the game!"
"About that, I was planning to go to the library and finished my essay projects which are all due tomorrow. So I dunno, Tay." I showed my sorry face which I hope would be effective to him.
He showed me his stupid puppy face instead where he distorted his face and pouted at me. Oh boy.
"That's unfair, Tay. You know I can't say no to that face."
"So is that a yes?" He blinked repeatedly expecting for my positive answer.
Shaking my head and dreading the mountain of works I would be doing tonight. I said yes to him, unfortunately.
We continued munching on our bland taste food when Tay looked behind me with a curious face. I turned around and found Yuno holding a food tray and behind her was Monica. They smiled at us which I returned.
"Hey, Yuno!" I greeted my stepsister.
"Do you have room for two?" Yuno asked while glancing at her friend.
"Yeah, sure!" Tay and I moved and let the two girls slide on our seats.
After placing their food trays on the table, Yuno and Monica started digging on their foods.
"By the way Yuno, I didn't know you're acquainted with Rayven," Monica asked as she continued munching at her food.
Yuno chuckled at her and wiped her face before answering her. "I'm not just acquainted with him. Rayven and I are stepsiblings."
Tay and Monica froze after Yuno's revelation and yelped in surprise.
"Hey, Rayven! I know you have this stepsister. But how come you've never introduced me to her." Tay pointed out to me while giving me these accusing eyes.
"Yuno, this is Tay – my best friend since seventh grade. Tay, this is Yuno – my stepsister, so please shake your hands, so we can all get acquainted."
Tay and Yuno shook their hands while I played with my food since I could no longer finish it.
"I assume Monica that you already knew the name of Tay and Rayven since your part of the school newspaper," Yuno asked her friend which she nodded in reply. Monica was always there covering the sports-related games of La Orden Academy, so yeah we did know her. Then Yuno recalled to us how she and Monica officially met last night.
"So are you going to cover our game later against L.O.M.S.?" Tay inquired to Monica.
"Yeah, I won't miss it. Though I have this feeling you will be kicking their ass again, is that right?"
"Oh yeah, definitely!" Tay exclaimed then he looked at Yuno who was busy eating her food.
"Hey, Yuno, what don't you come to the exhibition game later? Rayven will be watching too."
"Sure. I have no plans later so count me in!"
Tay gave her a thumbs-up sign, and we spent the remainder of our lunch break talking about how crappy the food of the academy's cafeteria.
Yuno and I found an available area to sit among rows of occupied bleachers. I didn't expect it to be a full house. I also spotted some non-La Orden Academy spectators. We were compressed beween L.O.M.S. students and some teachers of the academy, cheering for their bets.
Looking at the field, both teams were huddling for their game plan in this game. Tay's team was wearing green jerseys while their goalkeeper was wearing a red jersey to differentiate himself among his teammates. The opposing team was wearing blue jerseys while their goalkeeper was wearing a neon green color jersey.
Then the crowd erupted when the referee whistled to officially start the game. Tay was playing the forward position. He was one of the primary attackers of their team, plus he was assigned as the team's captain.
The opposing team was very aggressive in defending their field. But Tay was good at this. He could analyze the opponent's positions and found some ways to score on the net.
Fifteen minutes had passed but no one has scored yet. Players were running around the field looking to pass the ball and searching for gap holes on their defenses.
I could see Tay whispering to his teammates giving suggestions where they all nodded and passed the ball to each other.
After a few passes, they found an opening in which one of the Tay's teammates quickly kicked the ball to his captain where he successfully received and swiftly ran to the opposite side, targeting the opponent's goalpost.
Everyone on the bleachers stood when they saw Tay nearing the net while the L.O.M.S. players were too behind from him. But their goalkeeper was ready for him. He crouched his body reading Tay's movements.
Looking at the goalkeeper while running with the ball, Tay kicked the ball. The goalkeeper waited for it and did a last-minute jump to block the ball from passing, but the ball went through and hit the net.
Yuno and I exclaimed while Tay celebrated his point with his teammates where they exchanged some patting. Both teams took a break to compose themselves again for another round of passing.
"Wow! I know you've said that Tay is good. But I didn't expect him to be that 'good.'" Yuno was looking impressed at the La Orden Academy's ace football player.
"Told you. But let's not be too complacent. Football is a very long game. Anything could happen."
We heard the whistle was blown again, and the players resumed back to the field. Tay patted the backs of his teammates, his way of encouraging them.
Few minutes went by but both teams deflected each other's passing. Then another long pass went on for a very long time until one of the opponent's player made a mistake, creating an opening for the home team.
Tay's team took this opportunity and formed a formation where Tay will try to score again from the net. But the opponent's captain saw this and hastily ran to block them from passing. Tay and the opponent's captain tried to outsmart each other when Tay said some words to him and charged forward. His opponent aggressively blocked him and intentionally elbowed his eyes. I winced at this and clasped my mouth. The crowd made a booing sound as well.
The referee saw this exchange and called for a foul. I saw Tay nursing his right eyes. Some of his teammates gathered around to check on him, but he just waved them off.
After that heated exchange, the opponent team scored equalling the match. By the end of the game, Tay's team successfully defeated their opponent with a 2-1 score in favor of their team.
The crowd was clapping their hands to the home team and after that, people started leaving their seats. It was congested on my way out, and then I realized I couldn't find Yuno among the crowd. I scanned the vicinity, but she was nowhere to be found. I sent a text to her asking where she is. Then she quickly replied that she had something to do. She added that I could leave for home already since she didn't know what time her errand will end.
But before that, I went to the men's locker room first. I had to check on Tay after that physical exchange earlier.
Entering the room, I found Tay sitting alone on the bench while his teammates were already inside the cubicle taking a shower. He was carefully touching his right eyes while looking at his face on his phone.
Shaking my head, I grabbed the first aid kit from the cabinet and went to him.
"So how's your eye?" I sat across him and opened the kit.
"You should let the doctor examine it."
"It might hurt like hell. But this thing will just pass."
Snorting at him, I picked the ointment for bruises from the kit and opened the lid. "Here let me, since you're too proud and diagnosing yourself without a medical degree." Tay just chuckled at me and let me spread the ointment cream around his eyes.
The bruise was turning purple around his eye already. I made sure to lightly spread the cream around it since I knew it was still tender from the attack.
That was when I realized that we were each other's breath also. I could feel his breath on me, and I'm pretty sure that he could feel mine. I tried to regulate my breath while circulating the ointment around his eyes. When I was done, I shakily closed the ointment bottle, and I could feel that my heart was pumping faster than normal.
I forced myself to put a smile before him. "So are you okay now?"
"I should be the one asking that question. You look pale. Are you okay, Rayven?"
I simply nodded at him and returned the kit from the cabinet.
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