Leo sucks at Lacrosse.
At the very least, he lacks native proficiency with the sport. His athletic interests have been combat-focused: boxing, martial arts, acrobatics. He doesn’t have a gymnast’s muscles, but in the armor it doesn’t matter. Out of the armor, he’s built for a stand-up fight rather than paced endurance, to hit hard rather than to move quickly. His aggression is tied to his adrenaline, so any time his heart rate on the field gets high enough, he starts looking for someone to take down. The stick in his hand isn’t helping.
There are a handful of roles in the game. Leo is placed on defense to start with. The helmet is uncomfortable, the gloves and stick are unfamiliar, and the shirt and shorts make him feel like a dork. He buckles down, takes orders, obeys the callouts as best he understands them, and generally tries not to fuck up too badly.
He’s surprised at the end of the practice match to find people slapping him on the back, congratulating him, and commenting positively. There was plenty of “you could do better”, but all of it is followed by “and here’s how”. In a school attended by the scions of superheroes, Leo reflects, it stands to reason that helpfulness is a habit.
A couple of the exchanges do surprise him.
“Hey, uh, Link–” “Leo.” “Leo, are you gonna try for captain?” “Why, is there a problem with the one we have?”
“Thought you and the captain would have problems.” “Why?” “Uh…”
He sits alone at the edge of the bleachers, wiping sweat off his face, trying and failing to keep his hair in any kind of presentable shape. The captain takes a seat next to him.
“You’ll be a natural after plenty of training,” Trace jokes.
Leo grunts. “Sorry.”
“I dunno. Just felt like I was awful. Wasn’t trying to make you look bad for inviting me. So, sorry.”
Trace hits him on the shoulder. “Get the fuck out of here with that. You did fine.”
Leo grunts again, but smiles. It’s nice to hear.
“Hey, man. I’ve been meaning to ask you. You just went along with the invitation. You were an easy sell. Too easy. What’s the deal?”
Leo thinks about how much he wants to admit. “Well. Two things, I guess. First, I see this as a way to get to know you better, build that cross-team cohesion.” He’s not talking about the lacrosse team, and Trace knows it.
He stumbles over the rest, helped along only by the patience of the other boy in listening. “Uh, I mean, I could be a big inconvenience too. ‘Game called on account of police arresting a traitor, Gardner team now down a defender again.’”
Trace frowns, but doesn’t say anything. Leo feels obligated to fill the silence. “Which is the second reason, I guess. I’m not here to upstage you or any shit like that. The opposite. It’s… nice to be on a team where I’m not giving the orders. Where it’s not me that has to be up front. I can just, y’know, sink into the crowd, do my thing, contribute, and go home.”
This reason hits Trace pretty hard - Leo can see his face twist as he absorbs and recognizes these emotions. “Well, you won’t get to do that shit for long,” he promises sternly. “I’m gonna expect everything you have to give. If you slack off on this field, you’re gonna hear about it. You hear me, rookie?”
Leo manages a wry smile. “I hear ya, captain.”
author: Bill G.