Just the things that Count
Brian could count all the times that he had been on the recieving end of a bad beat down. Mostly at the hands of The Law. He could still remember their first face to face interaction after he made it into VGHS on the viral clip alone. God he felt like such a noob back then, thinking The Law actually meant the sincerity dripping from his voice. He wasn’t as shocked as he should have been when poor Chiba met his final fate at the edge of the dumpster, more lost in his dispair when he realized that this was his life now. He was still more than glad he got to beat the smug dick’s face before signups too, would do it again even with the expulsion.
“Earth to BrianD.” He heard Ted call as he and Ki pulled up in Ted’s new car, something he got with the money from the new internship at EA working to test and help develop new Racing Games for home consoles and Arcades. Brian snapped out of his self pity tto offer his best friend a nod and tired smile. “You ready for our dinner party?” the asian man offered him a high five that he only barely missed.
“Huh? Oh yeah, dinner.” the brunette gave a weak chuckle and gave Ki a friendly hug. He felt his phone buzz in his pocket and knew exactly who it was. A text from Jenny, most likely offering up some new info about playing with a professional FPS team and sharing some secrets with Brian, because even at the end of the day and their inevitable breakup from the thousands of miles difference, she still cared for him and liked knowing that she was helping him rise through the rapidly growing ranks of FPS players at VGHS. He was just glad Ted was offering to pay the bill for their little get together.
“Brian, are you sure you’re okay?” Ki asked him as Ted left to clean up in the bathroom of the small diner they all gathered at, leaning over the table with her too concerned looking eyes at the way the other man’s arm twitched towards his pocket. “We’re here for you, if you want to just rant or vent.”
Part of him hated how easily she could see through him, while the more sane and rational part was incredibly glad he had such good friends. He smiled weakly at her and chuckled. “Yeah, thank’s Ki; this isn’t exactly something that can just be talked over though. I’ll work though this slump, but i’m glad you care.” he took a deep swig of his drink to fill the silence while Ted made his way back to the booth.
“So Brian, how’s your senior year at VGHS treating you?” Ted opened as he threw back his own soda. Brian gave his friend a playful glare, rolling his eyes.
“So far so good. Got a leg up on the rest of the varsity team with Jenny’s help from France.” he chuckled softly, taking the initiative to lapse into some much needed small talk and catching up with his friends that he needed to do.
Another text buzzed his phone and he had to read it. Sure enough it was from one Jenny Matrix. He smiled some as he opened it to see Jenny talking about new plays and some interesting new stuff the team had been testing for Field of Fire. He couldn’t help the sting in his chest at how much he missed her, but he couldn’t keep being so selfish tto keep wanting her back. She was better off with the pro’s and they both knew that.
“More Jenny?” Ted asked as he picked up the check for their burgers and shakes. He could tell that his friend had been going through a rough point in his life in the last year. Ted knew he hadn’t been able to be there for Brian as much as he wanted tto be in the past few months but he was trying his best between the job and the relationship. The gentle hand on his arm kept him from prying too much or going too overboard on the friend angle.
“Yeah, just a new update on some cool stuff they’re putting in FoF. Some new high tech guns and other neat vehicles and game modes. it’s actually pretty cool.” he grinned. Too much of his time had been spent wallowing in pity and self hatred and ‘what could I do differently?’s to not appreciate what Jenny was doing for him.
“That’s actually pretty neat.” Ted laughed as they made their way to the nearby arcade to enjoy the new stuff they had advertised. There was also a new attraction of the newest development in video gaming in the form of full-immersion gaming. The trio was scared of the idea, but couldn’t deny the interest it would bring to the new horizons.
They all passed the rest of the day in their usual antics as they roamed around the arcade, reminiscing on their usual life with occasional shouts of anger or joy at a game gone horribly right or wrong.
Brian blinked at the still intimidating man across the desk from him and took in the shocking information. “You actually want me to be someone’s welcome buddy? You put that much faith in me?” he blinked again, eyebrows disappearing into his hairline. Principal Calhoun nodded again, rolling his eyes at the kid’s confusion.
“Yes, BrianD. Not to the faith part.” The Principal sighed and took another long sip of coffee to try to erase the student in front of him. “We’ve got a promising new student who signed up and no one else really fit’s the bill.” he waved his free hand and tapped something on his keyboard, pulling up the new student’s profile and turning the screen around to the new varsity team captain.
“Alright then, sir, what’s his dedicated genre?” Brian studied the new student just so he didn’t forget him tomorrow whne he was supposed to show up. He waved himself through the rest of the information to try to get a better understanding of it and be a better welcome buddy to the new student than the rest of them.
“He hasn’t given us a specified one yet. One of those prodigies in the system, so to speak.” Calhoun shrugged, setting his coffee down and leanign on both elbows to level a stern stare at the senior across from him. “So you know how much this could mean to you too, with a new prospect to recruit for the JV team to be your new protege and all.”
“Yeah, got it.” Brian nodded with a half shrug. “Wow him into joining a team, hopefully FPS got it.” he couldn’t help but appreciate the grudging respect Calhoun had started giving him after the huge match with Napalm. It was a much needed change in his self-esteem for sure. He waited for a response from the principal but just got an annoyed glare.
“Well? Waiting for a good word? You’re not getting it kid. Now if you wouldn’t mind Control-ALT-Deleting yourself from that chair and out of my office, please?” Calhoun rolled his eyes again, letting a chuckle out as the kid left. He wouldn’t admit it, but the kid had grown on him like a bad fungus. He would be sad to see him leave this year but it was a good thing to see him grow up like this.
Brian paced in the courtyard at lunch, expecting the new student any time now. Ki and the rest of the FPS team chowed down at their lunch table. “Brian, what’s got you in a tizzy?” Games spoke up around a bite of apple. He watched their captain pace for the last 15 minutes.
“Just...Got a new kid I’ve got to show around the school, and from what Principal Calhoun says, the guy’s kind of a big deal.” he sighed as he took a seat at the unofficial head of the table that they had added for him due to his ‘pro’ accomplice.
He almost jumped out of his chair at the hand on his shoulder a few minutes into his meal, and he definitely managed to spill the mashed potatoes on his lap in his moment of panic. He whipped around to find a face that had been burned into his mind right in front of him.
“Mr. Doheny, I presume?” The kid asked with an accent Brian couldn’t place. God he hadn’t heard that name in years. He was so used to everyone just calling him BrianD he almost forgot his own last name.
“Yeah, but around here I’m just Brian.” He waved a hand dismissively as he looked down at the potatoes in his lap, rolling his eyes. “Mind if I finish my lunch and we’ll get the tour started?” he asked, a pleading whine entering at the last syllable.
The kid laughed, and a strange part of the brunette was reminded of Jenny and instincttively hurt. “Yeah, I’m kind of starving myself. Mind if I join you guys?” he asked, more to the rest of the table than Brian himself. The group agreed immediately because, hey, newbie at the table means the sophmore’s weren’t being poked fun at by the rest of the group. Brian was immediately surprised at how easily the new kid fit in with the FPS gamers.
After the tour he was more surprised that nothing had exploded under the Law’s infulence in the school. Definitely surprised at the Kid’s easy nature, and how he didn’t choke up explaining anything to him like he did other people. “And here’s your room and key.” he handed the keys over and couldn’t help taking another too-long glance at the newbie’s stark white hair. “So is that natural…?” he blinked as the question slipped through his brain’s filter without a thought.
The kid cracked, full blown hysteric, knee-slapping, doubling over in pain, tear’s running down his face laughter. Brian blinked in confusion, then looked at his watch, now starting to time this outbreak. When the kid, Chase, he reminded himself as he watched him recover from his now 1 minute and 41 second breakdown. “Oh man I can’t believe this. I tell you my accomplishments in gaming and all, this ‘impressive story of rags to riches’ so to speak and my hair is the first thing you think of?” he giggled a bit, looking more like the kid Brian kept thinking of him as instead of the ‘super impressive’ prodigy he had been playing at for the past half hour.
“Well, i mean yeah?” Brian started, rolling his eyes. “Considering I got in here taking out the school, nay the world’s best player in Field of Fire in history to that point. So honestly, the story didn’t leave too much of hero-worship so to speak.” he chuckled, “But on the other hand, yeah, you’re pretty cool, both as a person and as a gamer. And I do respect that and VGHS is lucky to have someone like you in it’s rosters.” He nodded, offering a friendly hand to the new student sitting on the floor.
“Huh, I guess I’m so used to people seeing the accomplishments first and the person second.” he blinked with a smile. “Thanks again, Brian.” he grinned as he pulled on the offered hand with a surprising amountt of strength for such a skinny kid. “I’ll see you around sometime?” He smiled wider when Brian nodded in agreement.
“Yeah. See you around.” he grinned with a wave over his shoulder as he turned to make FPS practice.
Jenny blinked at the text she got from Brian in response to her last one. She had just finished practice with the team and told her Ex the latest news. She honest-to-god didn’t expect Calhoun of all people to saddle his possibly least favorite student with such an important task. Although to be fair at this point it was Brian or The Law, and she knew the latter choice was a no-go, even if the guy did change a good bit after the napalm incedent. She turned at the sound of her teammates cheering her on for her last well-placed headshot, and she responded back easily with thow well they worked together. She couldn’t be happier, having the time of her life with the Panther’s team and even though the training was brutal it did help her learn from her mistakes.
/ yeah, Calhoun’s treated me less like dirt since we won the napalm thing. still treats me badly most of the time but I can tell he’s warming up./ the text came back within a few minutes. She rolled her eyes and smiled at the mental image of Brian scowling at the phone thinking of Calhoun.
/That’s gr8. :) glad to hear thing’s aren’t going awful for you. Couldn’t have been as bad as my experience as your welcome buddy./ she hashed out, grinning at the awful way she worked it, more intent on getting him and Ki out of her hair. She stopped as the other members of the team crowded around her with matching grins.
“So, newblood Matrix. Since you’ve proven to be a good asset to the team, how about we bring you into the team tradition. We want you to go airsofting with us tomorrow after practice.” The captain grinned widely, offering a friendly hand to the blonde.
“Oh wow. S-sure!.” She nodded, almost too eagerly.
“Great! We could totally use a new sniper after the last one bailed on us.” Jacob nodded and and pulled the younger woman into a tight hug. “Oh this is going to be so fun.” he shouted and jumped happily to their captain’s mild annoyance.
“We’ll see ya tomorrow, Matrix.” the rest waved at her and walked out with their jackets. She turned to the buzz on the metal bench of her phone.
/ yeah, really cool kid though. like, gaming genius. and get this, he’s got weird naturally white hair. like no dyes or anything. and he might just be the next big varsity choice. could even be the first freshman on the varsity team if he’s half as good as i’ve heard him talk about. anything new with you, Jen?/
/wow. seems interesting. I’m surprised Law didn’t mess with you guys during your little tour. How did the new kid like VGHS?/
/Yeah, i was on constant alert for that jerk. still expecting a surprise visit from him sometime. Chase loves the school though, even though I’m sure I could have done the tour better. He’s a very attentive kid./
/That’s great brian. And sorry for not answering your last question. whoops. just got a new thing going on with the team. they just asked me to join their IRL airsoft team. so that’s gonna be fun. anything new with you? no new people in your life?/
Brian’s breath hitched in his throat at the last text from Jenny his mind automatically flashing to the kid he just met and how he hoped that he’d be a pretty constant fixture in his life. He needed new friends in the school, and he loved the idea of possibly having a protege to leave the school. He was interrupted by a knock on the doorframe as he worked up the next few emails to the team with their plays for the week.
“Well well well, what have we here? One prestigious BrianD taking another thing from my legacy.” The ever familiar voice that hauntted most of his nightmares chimed in.
“What can I do for you, Law? Here to try to make my life misreable again?” he asked as he finished off the emails and hit send. He turned to the blonde menace to his well-being and most of his life.
“No siree, BrianD. I can’t help but notice that The Man had given you new-kid duty and not me.” Law chuckled as he took a seat on Brian’s couch. “And actually i wanted to apologize for the last few years.” Brian blinked owlishly at the sudden change of character.
“What?” He literally couldn’t say anything else he was so stunned.
“Yeah. I might have taken the whole...revenge thing a bit too far.” Law shrugged and reached into his coat pocket and handed out a jakob’s soda for each of them. “I might have let it consume too much of me, and I know I did some incredibly stupid things because of it.” he sighed, taking a long drink. “You’re a good kid Brian. And you’re good at what you do. I looked you up after you beat me, took a good bit of searching, but damn. good job at those state invitationals for your freelance team by the way.”
Brian almost couldn’t believe he was having such a civilized conversation with his mortal enemy. He thought of reaching for his phone and texting Jenny but this late in the day she was probably getting ready for the next day’s training. “Th-thank’s law. I really appreciate it.” he blinked again. “What brought on this change of heart, exactly?” he raised an eyebrow as he took another drink of his own soda, surprised the Law guessed his favorite flavor of all things.
“Just saw how much trust Calhoun put in you with this new kid. And that made me realize there’s more to life than making you or the rest of this school miserable. That and Calhoun has officially made me a new teacher for the FPS group of newbies and I wanted to ask you to help me outt. I don’tt know really anything about being a teacher.” The Law answered with a surprising plea for help.
“Oh. Wow. That’s actually pretty cool, man.” Brian grinned, holding out a fist for a bump. “Yeah, I can help out, get the team in for a little demo time or even private tutoring one on one with one of the JV’s.” he offered, blinking yet again in confusion as the Law of all people pulled a notebook out of his pocket and wrote some things down.
The rest of the night continued in some sort of weird friendship vibe between the two, Law bouncing ideas off of Brian and Brian offering up his own back and forth. At the end of the night when Law made note of having to leave for getting a new class itenerary set up or whatever teachers do when they want to be good.
/ You’ll never guess who just asked for my help. AND apologized for something. The LAW just stopped by to apologize for how he treated me, turns out Calhoun made him a teacher now for the freshman FPSers and he wanted the Varsity team’s help. So that’s new. lol/ he smiled as he hit the send buttton on the text, adding a quick /sorry if i woke you/. Thing were looking up for him. And hopefully they’d stay that way.