Chapter 7; The Next Step
“And the Lady Bobcats win the game over Lawndale High School,” the announcer called out, “that makes them 9-1 in league and one step closer to this years Mid-Valley League championship!”
Rachel acknowledged the praises from the other girls coming over to congratulate her on a game well played. Since taking over as one of the primary setters, she had become an integral part of the team’s dominant victories.
Rachel narrowed her eyes as she looked over at the team’s bench. The coach was again speaking with someone, the same women that Rachel saw her speaking to a couple weeks ago. She could not make out what was being said, but the coach wore an expression of excitement.
The team happily made their way back to the locker rooms where there was much chatter while the team changed back in to their normal clothes. Andie sat on the bench talking excitedly with her friends while Rachel quietly put on her normal clothes.
Karah walked over and glared at the girls, “coach wants to see you two in her office,” she growled before walking off briskly.
Rachel exchanged a bewildered look with Andie before the two headed for the coach’s office. She was not sure exactly why the two of them would be summoned. Jennifer stood alongside Emily outside of the office; Jennifer had her arms crossed over her chest with a grin on her face; Emily leaned on her crutches and wore quite a proud expression. Rachel furrowed her brow in confusion and opened the door, stepping in to the office, followed by Andie.
Rachel first saw the coach sitting at her desk, but immediately she noticed the unknown woman sitting in a chair to the side of the coach’s desk. The moment Andie saw the woman; she let out an excited squeal and wrapped her arms around Rachel happily, actually bouncing with happiness.
“Girls, please take a seat,” the coach said calmly, her normal stern tone no where to be found, “Mrs. Zimmerman would like to have a word with each of you.”
Andie’s eyes brightened as she looked from Mrs. Zimmerman to Rachel, shaking Rachel’s arm excitedly before taking a seat. Rachel had no idea what was happening, and was apparently the only one who didn’t.
Mrs. Zimmerman got up from her seat and stepped in front of the girls, “allow me to introduce myself,” she said directly to Rachel, “my name is Lisa Zimmerman, and I’m the head girls volleyball and basketball scout for Guttenberg State University,” offering her hand to Rachel. Rachel was still confused, but shook the ladies hand anyway.
Mrs. Zimmerman returned to her seat before continuing. “I’ve been scouting Miss Rhea here for quite some time now,” she explained, “along with another teammate of yours, Miss Winchester, who is a very promising basketball prospect for Guttenberg.”
Rachel glanced at Andie and then back to Mrs. Zimmerman, “that’s great,” she said, “but why am I here?”
Mrs. Zimmerman gave a slight chuckle, “let me start with Miss Rhea,” she stated, looking to the red haired girl, “I’m going to keep it short Andrea, if it’s okay with you we can speak more at your home when I can also speak with your parents.”
Andie smiled and nodded, “yes ma’am.”
Mrs. Zimmerman smiled politely, “I’ve added you to the short list for next years Guttenberg ladies volleyball team,” she explained, “We would like it if you did another campus tour with us, which we can schedule for any time of course.”
Andie got to her feet, nearly glowing with excitement, extending a hand to Mrs. Zimmerman, who shook it in return, “may I?” Andie asked, giving Mrs. Zimmerman a hug after she nodded approval. The coach stepped around the desk to also shake Andie’s hand and give her a hug, uttering her congratulations before Andie returned to her seat.
“Of course I will take another campus tour,” Andie said, trying to calm herself, “you know Guttenberg has been where I’ve been wanting to go since, well, ever.” She laughed.
Mrs. Zimmerman nodded, “I know, but it is policy to continuously offer prospects time on our campus, in order convince them to choose our facility,” she explained, “Alex has been asking me how you’ve been looking for next year, as well.”
Rachel knew Andie had two older sisters, and remembered her mentioning that she wanted to play volleyball where they did. Rachel now knew that they both must have also played at GSU, which is why Andie would want to go there so much.
Mrs. Zimmerman turned her attention towards Rachel, looking her over briefly. The sudden attention made Rachel a little uneasy. “Now you, young lady, have made my job difficult.”
Rachel blinked in confusion, “I’m sorry…?”
Mrs. Zimmerman laughed a little, “It’s nothing to apologize for,” she comforted, “have you considered playing volleyball for a university?”
Andie gripped Rachel’s arm excitedly. Rachel glanced towards her red headed friend before looking back towards Mrs. Zimmerman, “I hadn’t really thought about it…” she said hesitantly.
A smile crossed Mrs. Zimmerman’s face, “Usually prospects need to be applying and being scouted for years to make it this far,” she explained, “but if you would at least consider the offer, I will place you immediately on to the short list of candidates for next years squad as long as your academics meet our requirements.”
“I don’t know…” Rachel lowered her gaze.
“What!?” Andie spoke up, nearly pulling Rachel out of her seat by her arm, “she’s placing a golden opportunity right in front of you, Rach, I’ve been working for years to get here and you’ve got the chance too!”
“You are not committing to anything, Miss Hawke,” Mrs. Zimmerman explained, “candidates who make the short list will gain acceptance to Guttenberg State University, regardless of if they make the final cut or not, and we will continue to track your games and academics until our final selection is made.”
“You’d have a guaranteed college to go to next year, and I’d be there and some of our other friends,” Andie explained to Rachel, before turning back to Mrs. Zimmerman, “I’m going to take my campus tour next week, maybe Rachel can come with me?”
“I’d be fine with that but I am submitting my cut at the end of the week,” Mrs. Zimmerman explained, “I will need an answer by then.”
“Can I think about this…?” Rachel asked softly.
Andie looked over at Rachel, a bit bewildered by Rachel’s hesitation.
“Thank you for your time ladies,” Mrs. Zimmerman stood up to excuse herself, handing Rachel a business card with her contact information on it, “Miss Hawke, I hope to hear from you soon. And Miss Rhea, I know I’ll be hearing from you,” she chuckled before leaving the room.
Andie turned to Rachel as they exited the coaches office, “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t at least let her add you to her list,” Andie said, “she said it doesn’t mean you are committing to anything, just means you’re guaranteed the option.”
Rachel glanced down at the floor, “I just, didn’t think things would still be this way for this long,” she said quietly, “and by accepting her offer, it feels like I’m just giving up and figuring it’ll be this way forever.”
“Is it really so bad being here…?” Andie frowned, appearing a little hurt, “I mean, I know your home is California, and I’m sure you’ve got friends there, but what about your friends here?”
Rachel glanced up at Andie, a little taken aback, “that’s not—I didn’t mean—“ she stammered, “I guess I’m just still trying to get comfortable.”
Rachel lay on the couch in the Hawke’s living room, staring up at the ceiling. She held her arms upward, turning a volleyball with her fingertips, a habit she had began doing a lot lately to keep her mind focused.
The volleyball slipped from Rachel’s hands and rolled across the floor. She turned her head to see where the ball had come to rest, but returned her gaze towards the ceiling. Rachel clasped her hands together on her stomach for a moment, before fidgeting her shoulders and crossing her arms under her chest.
Rachel sighed and pulled her arms to her side, reaching up to scratch the side of her head. She ran her fingers through her hair and again rested her hand at the base of her ribs. She narrowed her eyes and grabbed hold of her breast with her hand, wincing as she squeezed it.
The door opened and Rachel shot to a sitting position, her arms shooting to her sides. She glanced over her shoulder to see her mother stepping through the entryway. Rebecca looked over to meet Rachel’s stare, before turning to go put her things away as she normally did when she would arrive home.
Rachel stretched her leg out to try to retrieve her volleyball, but found her shorter stature again a hindrance and was forced to get up to get it. With volleyball in hand, she returned to her sitting position on the couch.
The time passed in the living room in silence until Rebecca came and sat down next to Rachel, having already changed out of her work attire and in to some sweats. She pulled one leg up on the couch so that she could turn to face Rachel.
“I got a phone call today,” Rebecca announced to her daughter.
Rachel raised an eyebrow and glanced over, “about what?” she questioned, pretty sure she knew what was about to be brought up.
“Your coach,” Rebecca clarified, “said you had a meeting with a scout from Guttenberg State.”
“Oh… that…” Rachel sighed. She was beginning to hate being right about things.
“Your coach said you practically blew off the scout,” Rebecca explained, bewilderment in her voice, “she said that you were pretty much offered admission to Guttenberg whether you make the team or not and you just told her ‘maybe’.”
Rachel nodded a little, “that about sums it up.”
Rebecca stared a bit in disbelief. She grabbed Rachel’s arm to force her daughter to look at her, “what is wrong with you!?” she raised her voice.
“In case you hadn’t noticed,” Rachel growled, “I’m still a girl.”
“I know, honey,” Rebecca said as she let go of Rachel’s arm and put her arm around her daughter, “but we’re no closer to finding out what happened.”
“Oh stop!” Rachel snapped back, pulling herself away from her mother, “I know we haven’t figured out what to do, but that doesn’t mean I am just going to roll over and die.”
Rebecca sighed, “Being a girl isn’t a death sentence…” she explained, “you’ve been given a chance to continue with a life and a future despite what has happened.”
“Agreeing would be like accepting that this is how it’s going to be,” Rachel sighed, hanging her head, “I don’t want to just give up.”
“We’re not giving up,” Rebecca said solemnly, “when you get back to normal, we will figure out how to get you in to college.”
Rachel looked up curiously. “But,” Rebecca continued, “You need a back up plan, just in case we are unable to find a way.”
Rachel glanced back towards the floor and nodded slightly, processing what her mother was telling her, “I’ll… think about it…”
Rebecca smiled and put her arm back around Rachel, “that’s all I ask,” she nodded. Rachel just leaned against her mother and rested her head on Rebecca’s shoulder.
Travis stood over the bench press, spotting for Rachel as she lifted the weights, “so the scout said you’re so good that she’s interested in you despite not going through the process?” he asked.
Rachel narrowed her eyes as she worked out, “right,” she said sharply.
“And the scout offered you admission into Guttenberg State regardless of if you make their team?” Travis pried.
Rachel sighed as she continued to press, “yeah…”
Travis raised an eyebrow, trying to put the pieces together, “and you told her no…?” his voice was full of confusion.
Rachel hefted the bar on to the stand and sat up, “I said I’d think about it,” she said as she picked up her towel and draped it over her sweaty shoulders.
Travis watched as Rachel walked around the bench over to where he stood, “why?” he blinked.
Rachel raised her eyes up to meet Travis’, “because.”
Travis raised his hands in confusion, shaking his head a little, “because?” he questioned, “it was all reward for no commitment.”
“I’m just not sure if that’s what I want,” Rachel told Travis, stepping past him to go to get some water.
“Wait wait wait,” Travis chased after Rachel, “but it doesn’t even matter, by agreeing, it just gives you a backup plan, you don’t HAVE to go.”
Rachel brushed Travis off with a wave of her hand as she continued to walk, “there’s more to it,” Rachel grumbled.
Travis blinked, trying to figure out what Rachel meant, “but…”
“Just stop!” Rachel spun around irritably to face Travis, causing him to step back despite Rachel’s smaller frame, “this is my life, my choices, my mistakes, let me make them and just drop it!”
Travis frowned as he watched Rachel walk away. He was used to Rachel being angry at times, but he was not able to wrap his brain around this situation.
Rachel wanted nothing more than to just get her mind off of things for a while as she entering the gymnasium for practice. She had been dealing with her friends all day, being constantly nagged about why she was so unwilling to take the scout’s offer.
As the practice wore on, Rachel couldn’t help but feel eyes upon her. When she’d look over towards Jennifer or Andie, she could tell they had just turned their heads away quickly. A sigh escaped her lips as she served the ball for the practice game the girls were doing.
Scanning the gymnasium, Rachel saw Emily and the coach talking to one another, looking in her direction as well. Emily had been one of the people who hadn’t gotten on Rachel’s case about college, much to both her relief and surprise.
When the practice finally came to an end, the girls began cleaning up the loose balls around the gym. Rachel was happy that she was finally almost to the point where she’d be able to be alone.
She came up to a ball on the ground, rather than just bending over to pick it up, Rachel used her foot to scoop it upwards, bouncing it off the wall, she popped it up into the air with her fingertips. Rachel caught the ball, pretty amused at the move. She looked down at the ball, suddenly finding herself completely lost, not thinking about anything, just staring at the ball.
“That was pretty cool,” Emily’s voice came from behind Rachel. Rachel spun around in surprise, hugging the volleyball to her chest. Emily smiled as she leaned on her crutches, “your hand-eye coordination is remarkable.”
“Thanks,” Rachel responded quietly, “well…?”
“Hm?” Emily raised an eyebrow, “well what?”
“You want to ask me why I didn’t jump on the scout’s offer,” Rachel snapped, “like everyone else has.”
Emily shrugged, “not at all.”
Rachel narrowed her eyes at her friend, “then why’d you stop to talk to me?”
“Because that was a really cool set you just did,” Emily pointed out, “plus I was heading out of the gym and you happen to be right next to the door.”
“You don’t want to lecture me?” Rachel suddenly felt horrible for snapping like she had.
“You’ve got some hard decisions to make,” Emily spoke warmly, “I don’t know what you’re going through, Andie and the coach don’t know what you’re going through, probably your aunt doesn’t even know what you’re going through; so who am I to tell you what to do?”
Rachel nodded, “exactly.”
“I know when I hurt my knee, my whole plan for college was thrown out, and everyone kept telling me what I should do now,” Emily explained, “but it was up to me to sit down and decide what to do next; luckily I have other interests that I could do, or at least tide me over until I found something better.”
Rachel raised her gaze to meet Emily’s normal kind and thoughtful look. She knew what Emily was doing, but could not deny that she knew what she was talking about.
“I didn’t want people trying to tell me what I had to do next, so why should I tell you what you should do next?” Emily continued, “At the end of the day, you’ll decide what you want to do in order to make yourself happy, whether it’s your long term goal or just something to preoccupy your time until you find your true path, just make sure you make your choices before it’s too late.”
Rachel stood in silence as Emily said her goodbyes and headed out of the gym. She looked back down at the volleyball in her arms and gave a defeated sigh. “God damnit,” Rachel growled as she threw the volleyball against the wall.
Freya Parker blissfully listened to her MP3 player as she folded her son’s laundry. Brian Parker’s parents had always been very lenient with their son as long as he kept out of trouble. They also knew that when there was a possibility of trouble, his friends were usually there to keep him from getting in too deep.
Freya was so focused on her work, that she did not notice a few items of clothing that did not seem to be her sons. It was very common for her to get in to such rhythm during her chores that something out of the ordinary did not always get noticed.
She pulled a pink pair of panties from the laundry basket and began to fold them; it was at this time that something in Freya’s mind clicked. She picked up the panties and held them in front of her. They certainly weren’t hers, and the only others in the house were her husband and son.
Freya narrowed her brow and looked back at a few of the other pieces of laundry that she suddenly realized couldn’t be Brian’s. She pulled her earbuds out and walked in to the living room where her husband, Jason, was sitting in his favorite chair reading a book.
“Uh, dear…” Freya said weakly as she approached Jason’s chair, “I, um, well, about Brian…”
Jason didn’t look up from his book, “what’d he do now?”
“Well, I found these in his laundry,” Freya said, holding up the panties she discovered.
Jason glanced over the top of his book briefly. He paused before lowering his book, “those were in his laundry?”
Freya bit her lip and nodded, “mhm.”
Jason clenched his jaw and closed his book, “great,” he said, setting his book aside and getting to his feet, “now I’ve got to kill him…”
The Parker parents knocked on Brian’s bedroom door. They could hear the sound of shuffling inside before eventually a hectic “one sec!” came from inside. A little more shuffling about until the door opened up.
Freya and Jason exchanged glances before entering Brian’s room, “Brian, we need to have a talk,” Jason said flatly.
Brian blinked, turning a little pale, “did I do something wrong?” he squeaked.
When there was not immediately a response, Freya cleared her throat and shot a look to Jason. Mr. Parker sighed and put his hand on Brian’s shoulder, “we know you and Katie are in a relationship and all…” he trailed of, “but, well, um, I mean…”
Brian blinked and tilted his head, a bit confused what his dad was trying to talk about, “what about Katie?” he asked.
“What I’m trying to say, well…” Mr. Parker again seemed to struggle to find the words, “Your mother found Katie’s, uh…” He gave a pleading look to his wife.
Freya raised an eyebrow at Jason and held up the girl’s panties she found in the laundry, “we found these in the laundry,” she said, “we are concerned you and Katie may be rushing your relationship some.”
Brian’s eyes went a little wide in surprise, “what? Those aren’t Katie’s.” he quickly answered, biting his lip unsure what to tell his parents.
Mr. Parker furrowed his eyebrows and raised a finger, turning some to his wife in a bit of confusion. Freya lowered the undergarments, looking at Brian a bit anxiously, “Brian Ross Parker, if I find you’ve been cheating on that girl…!”
“No!” Brian quickly defended, realizing he had no way out, “they’re mine…” he said, reaching out and taking them from his mother.
Brian’s parents turned and looked at each other, a bit mystified at what they just heard. Freya motioned expectantly with her head towards Brian, but Jason put up his hands defensively, “this isn’t the talk I was in charge of.”
Freya took a breath and turned back towards Brian. Brian however did not let her say anything, “I can explain,” he said as he looked between his parents, “I have magical powers.”
“Brian…” Mrs. Parker began.
“I can prove it!” Brian interrupted, “just watch…” He closed his eyes and stuck his arms straight out to his sides so that his parents could watch. Before their very eyes, their eighteen year old son changed shape. His waist narrowed as he gained definition in his hips, his hair grew long down towards his round bottom. His chest grew large and he shrank half a foot in height. Moments later, Brittney now stood where Brian had been. She looked at her two shocked parents and gave them a nervous grin, “ta-da.”
Both Freya and Jason stared at Brittney. Freya, wearing the more shocked expression, stepped up to Brittney who was now only an inch taller than she was, “B-Brian…?”
“Hi mom,” Brittney smiled and gave a slight wave, “although I had thought while I was like this I should be called Brittney—you know, to blend in.”
Freya’s mouth hung open as if she wanted to say something, but no words came out. She raised a finger and poked Brittney’s breasts in bewilderment.
“Mooom—“ Brittney said with a touch of embarrassment, taking a step back and covering her large breasts with her arms.
“How…” Freya stammered, looking Brittney over, “how did this happen to you?”
Brittney hesitated as she did not yet have an explanation yet for how it happened, “I don’t even know,” she said, with a smile and a shrug, “just one day I was able to change.”
Jason looked between Freya and Brittney, his gaze on their chests; he raised his finger turning to Freya, “shut it!” Freya prevented him from saying anything, “How did you pay for those clothes?”
“Oh!” Brittney tilted her head a little, “I’ve saved up my allowance for a while, plus Katie has helped me pay for stuff as well.”
“Katie?” Jason spoke up, “who else knows about this?”
“Oh, just Katie and Rachel,” Brittney smiled reassuringly.
Jason nodded and proceeded to walk out of the room past Brittney, “I feel it’d be best if you limit your time as a girl.”
Brittney slumped her shoulders, but found herself embraced by her mother, “its okay honey,” Freya smiled warmly at Brittney, “no matter what happens, your father and I will always love you.”
Brittney’s mood brightened as she wrapped her arms around her mother and hugged her tightly. Freya’s eyes widened as her child’s large breasts suddenly pressed against her own.
“I’m glad you agreed to take Mrs. Zimmerman’s offer and come with me,” Andie said as she drove. Rachel sat in the passenger seat looking out the window, her arm holding her head up. “What helped you decide?”
“Wisdom is a burden,” Rachel mumbled, “my cup runneth over.”
Andie smiled, “Emily?”
“She’s beat some logic into me before too,” Andie laughed.
“How does she do that?” Rachel asked, glancing over to her red headed friend.
Andie shrugged, “got me,” she said “if we lived in some crazy comic book world, I’d believe she had magic powers.”
Rachel went silent again as she continued to watch the landscape go by. It was only an hour’s drive, but for some reason, it felt like it was dragging on and on, and Rachel knew the visit would be a couple days with just Andie and herself.
Andie bit her lip, hating silence, but knowing that something was bothering Rachel. “So, do you think you’ll consider going to Guttenberg next year?”
“Maybe,” Rachel shrugged slouching in her seat, “I mean, I don’t have many options any more.”
“I hope you do,” Andie said, a little nervous with her speech, “I don’t want to sound greedy, but I’ll be there, Jennifer, Emily might go, and I hear Travis is being looked at for Football too.”
Rachel glanced over to Andie.
Andie frowned a little, “I mean, it’d just be cool to have a group of good friends right from the start of college.”
Rachel paused, “yeah, it would…” she said, straightening up in her seat a little as she saw that they were approaching the university.
Andie’s smile returned with Rachel’s response, “Rachel Hawke, welcome to the next step.”
Night had fallen over Winslow Hall, a large H-shaped dorm building broken into two wings, one for the girls and one for the boys. Each floor of Winslow Hall was split in to four apartments, which had three rooms which each housed two students.
Andie had gone over the various things they would be doing the next two days. Primarily they were expected to attend some classes they were asked to sit in on, along with prepaid meals at the various eateries on campus. They were also going to be able to observe volleyball practices and a game in a couple days before heading back to school.
Students visiting the college were allowed to stay in the dorm to help them better see student life on campus. A couple of the girls who had a room next to the one Rachel and Andie shared insisted they hung out for a little bit. The two girls were also involved with sports; A tall brunette girl who was apart of the volleyball team and a stockier, but still very pretty blonde girl who played softball.
Rachel sat quietly on a couch hugging her knees to her chest, resting her chin on her arms as she listened to Andie and the other girls chat. One of the college girls got up as there was a knock at the door. Rachel glanced over to the door and watched as she came back with a pizza, putting it on the table in the middle of the living room.
Rachel got up and took a slice of pizza, “thanks,” she said softly, returning to her seat on the couch, sitting more normally now.
“Oh, look, she speaks,” the brunette said with a smirk.
“Huh?” Rachel looked up with a bit of surprise, moving the pizza from her mouth.
The blonde girl rolled her eyes, “you haven’t spoken a word since you got out here,” she said, “every time we ask a question to the two of you, you glance to Andie and she answers.”
Rachel hesitated a moment and shrugged, “I’m just here for Andie,” she stated, “she’s the one trying to make the team.”
Andie laughed, “don’t act like you aren’t a candidate,” she patted Rachel on the back, “Rachel didn’t even try to get in but the scout practically begged her to agree to be considered for the team.”
The volleyball girl seemed fascinated by this fact, “Mrs. Zimmerman sought you out after the fact?” she questioned, “that’s pretty remarkable.”
“I guess,” Rachel admitted, “I’m not expecting much to come from it though.”
After the conversation had dried up and the girls had finished eating, the girls headed off to their separate rooms. Rachel sat on the dorm bed leaning against the wall, watching Andie put some of her clothes in one of the dressers.
“Do you really think I have a chance at making the team?” Rachel asked, lowering her gaze to the floor.
“Of course!” Andie said without hesitation, “everyone who makes it this far in the scouting period has a strong chance, and you were requested to be added to that group.”
Rachel nodded her head quietly, keeping her gaze on the floor. She looked back up to see Andie had removed her shirt and was in the process of removing her bra. “What the heck, Andie!?” Rachel quickly turned her gaze away, putting her hand up to block the view.
Andie turned in confusion at her friends detest, “what?”
“What’re you doing?” Rachel snapped back.
Andie tilted her head, “I’m changing into my pajamas.”
“This—is our room…” Andie blinked, “it’s not like you haven’t seen me change before.”
“Just warn me next time you do something like that,” Rachel said.
Andie continued to change into her clothes for the evening, “Y’know—“ she said, sitting next to Rachel on the bed, now in her fleece pajamas, “if you live in the dorms, you’re going to be rooming with someone.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to be comfortable with it,” Rachel snapped back.
“What about in the locker room?” Andie raised her eyebrow.
“Can you remember any time in the locker rooms when I actively looked around?” Rachel said dryly, “When I’m in there, it’s head down, eyes to the floor, in and out as quickly as I can.”
Andie put her arm around Rachel and leaned her head on Rachel’s shoulder, causing Rachel to look at her friend in bewilderment, “it really bothers you, doesn’t it?” Andie asked kindly.
Rachel raised her eyebrows with a look of obviousness, “is that so odd?”
“No no!” Andie quickly said, “I know Allison when I first met her was like that until her and—until she came out.”
Rachel’s eyes drifted to the side for a moment, “I’m not…”
“I know I know,” Andie smiled, keeping Rachel from needing to finish her thought, “just know I’m on your team no matter what happens.”
Rachel looked back to her friend, “thanks…” she said softly. Andie smiled and pulled Rachel up next to her, rubbing her arm for comfort. Rachel rested her head against Andie, finding comfort in her friends support.
While Andie and Rachel were spending two days in Guttenberg, every other student still attended their normal classes.
“So…” Katie blinked, “they think you have magic and are okay with you turning in to a girl…?”
“Well, I don’t know if ‘okay’ is the right word,” Brian smiled awkwardly as he rubbed the back of his head, “I guess my mom is more okay with a part time daughter than my dad is.”
Katie smiled and shook her head, “I’m kind of impressed you managed to keep it from your parents as long as you did,” she explained, “and I’m happy you didn’t let them know about Rachel.”
Brian laughed a little, “give me a little credit,” he said, “there’s no way I’d let them know about—“
“Hawke!” a voice growled as Katie and Brian exchanged bewildered looks. They turned to see William stomping up towards them.
“Huh?” Katie questioned.
“Where is Ryan Hawke?!” William snapped, looking angrily between the two.
“Ryan’s in California,” Brian responded quickly, “since August.”
“You dumbasses,” William glared, “Ryan’s been running around dressed as a girl.”
Katie gave a concerned glance towards Brian, then took a defensive step towards William, “listen here,” she said angrily, “Ryan and Rachel have nothing in common aside from being cousins, so you need to leave Rachel alone before she just ends up kicking your ass!”
Brian looked at Katie in surprise, as a blanket of disappointment came over him. He knew Katie was right, it really did seem like Rachel was an entirely different person than Ryan.
William narrowed his eyes at Katie as he took a couple steps back, “Oh, I’m going to prove that Ryan is still here all right,” he continued to walk backwards, “just you wait.”
“Just you try,” Katie spoke up to the retreating William, “every inch of her body is female.”
“And when I get my proof--!” William was suddenly cut off as he fell over backwards, having tripped over his own feet. He quickly hurried back to his feet, turning back towards Katie to finish his though, “when I get my proof, I’m going to expose him.”
Katie huffed as she turned back to Brian, letting out a little annoyed scream as she put her forehead against Brian’s chest.
Brian cautiously put a hand on Katie’s back, “you don’t think he’s actually going to be able to prove anything, do you?”
Katie looked up at Brian with an exasperated expression, “the guy is a moron,” Katie snapped, “the only reason he thinks they’re the same person doesn’t even have anything to do with the situation.”
“I just don’t want anything to happen to Rachel,” Brian said longingly, “even if she isn’t our friend anymore.”
“Rachel can handle anything that buffoon tries,” Katie said reassuringly, “she’s a big girl.”
Rachel had to admit, after two days of running around campus with Andie, she really enjoyed herself and had pretty much come to the conclusion that she did want to attend this college and join the volleyball team. She had only expressed a mild interest in the university to Andie.
Rachel and Andie found their seats behind the team’s bench. Their final night at Guttenberg State University saw them in attendance for one of the schools volleyball games. They had been able to watch practice the day before and now they were able to see an actual game.
Rachel recognized a few girls on the volleyball team which she had met prior, including the brunette girl from the dorm room, along with Andie’s older sister Alexis.
Shuffling in next to Andie, Rachel saw Mrs. Zimmerman join them behind the bench. She smiled at the two girls, “did you enjoy your visit?”
Andie beamed, “of course!”
“Miss Hawke?” Mrs. Zimmerman asked curiously, peering past Andie, “do you think you might want to join us next year?”
Rachel hesitated; she gave a slight shrug and nodded a little, “I think I would.”
“Wonderful!” Mrs. Zimmerman exclaimed happily, “Well Future Lady Griffs; time to check out your team in action.”
As Rachel watched the university volleyball team in action, she suddenly realized that her abilities, which made her a star player on a high school team, were just basic at best. Every girl there was probably the best girl in their school, and all of them were taller than Rachel. The shortest girl on the team was an inch taller than herself.
Rachel’s stomach sank. She had finally decided that she wanted to be apart of the team, but now she questioned if she even had a shot at it. Sure she was apart of the next phase of recruitment, but only a handful of spots would be available when it all came down to it.
Rachel sank in her seat, “they’re so good…”
“I know, right!” Andie said excitedly. She glanced over to Rachel and noticed the distress on her friend’s face, “what’s wrong?”
“What if I don’t make it?” Rachel asked solemnly.
Andie nodded understandably, “it’s possible we might not make the cut,” she explained, “but I still plan to come here, they could use us as substitutes if someone gets hurt.”
Rachel lowered her gaze and nodded.
The game ended with a victory for the red and gold Guttenberg Griffons. Mrs. Zimmerman got up with Rachel and Andie and led them to the locker room. Rachel quickly diverted her gaze towards the ground when she saw some of the girls were already changing clothes. Andie noticed this and comforted Rachel by placing a hand on her shoulder blade.
“Great job Lady Griffs!” Mrs. Zimmerman called out to the locker room happily. There was a sudden cheer from the girls as they greeted Mrs. Zimmerman.
“I’ve got a couple potentials here for next year’s squad,” Mrs. Zimmerman announced, “Andrea Rhea, little sister of our own Alex Rhea, and Rachel Hawke.”
Almost immediately Rachel found herself surrounded by the girls from the team greeting Andie and herself. She was taken aback a bit by the sudden inferiority she felt with all the other girls around her. A lot of the girls were pushing six feet tall, over half a foot taller than Rachel. She immediately flashed back to when she was younger and everyone was much taller than herself.
Rachel greeted the girls who came up to her, but quickly sank behind Andie while she talked with some of the girls. A hand placed itself on Rachel’s shoulder and she turned her head to see a red volleyball uniform. She looked up to see Andie’s older sister Alexis.
“Andie told me you were a shy one,” Alexis laughed, “but she also says you’re amazing on the court.”
“I guess,” Rachel shrugged; she couldn’t help but see the physical similarities between Andie and Alexis. If Andie were stretched a few inches taller, blonde, and without the freckles, you would immediately have Alexis.
As Rachel had learned, Alexis was one of two older sisters Andie had, both of whom had played volleyball for Guttenberg State. Alexis was the middle sister, who graduated Andie’s freshman year of high school. Their eldest sister, Addison, graduated two years before Andie started high school.
“Guess I’ll see for myself,” Alexis said with a small smirk, “we don’t have a game Thursday so I am going to go up to see my little Bobkittys win the league championship.”
Rachel raised her eyebrows and nodded a little, “cool,” she said, unsure what to say. She watched as Alexis rejoined the girls chatting with Andie and Mrs. Zimmerman, struggling to process everything she was having to deal with as Rachel, and her internal struggle to not lose her identity of Ryan in the process.
“It was that good, huh?” Allison asked as she hopped on to her bed and lay on her back, letting her head hang upside down off the edge. She watched as Rachel and Andie also entered her bedroom.
“It was great!” Andie exclaimed as she immediately tossed herself into Allison’s bean bag chair, “even Rachel had a good time.” Rachel raised an eyebrow at the mention of her name. She looked around Allison’s room and eventually found a stool to sit on. Rachel had tried to limit her willingness to go to any of her female friends houses, and was in fact in Allison’s house for the first time.
She had to admit that she was a bit surprised at the lack of things in Allison’s room. Aside from a couple movie posters, the walls were bare. All of her furniture was also fairly bland as opposed with the more feminine things some of her other friends had. The most distracting thing in Allison’s room was the Buster Bobcat costume on a mannequin in the corner of the room.
“Rachel? Have a good time?” Allison blinked, a big smile spreading across her upside down face,” I’ll believe it when I see it!”
Rachel shrugged, “It was cool,” she admitted, “I’m pretty sure I would like to go there.”
“My god!” Allison’s eyes went wide as she rolled on to her back and turned so that she could sit cross legged on her bed, “I’ve never seen Rachel so emotional about something!”
Rachel furrowed her brow, “huh?” she blinked confused.
Andie grinned, “I know, right?” The two girls laughed as Rachel slumped a little bit.
“Give me a break,” Rachel sighed, “got a lot on my mind.”
Allison raised her eyebrow and tilted her head. A thought crossed her mind and she grabbed Rachel’s arm, pulling her on to the floor. She faced Rachel away from her and sat her down at the edge of the bed.
Rachel glanced back over her shoulder to see Allison sitting right behind her, with her head practically in Allison’s lap. Allison turned Rachel’s head forward again and began to braid Rachel’s hair, “tell us what’s on your mind.”
Rachel sighed, she had learned by this point that trying to stop a girl when it came to messing with her hair was pretty futile. “It’s just the game tomorrow,” Rachel admitted.
“Just be confident,” Andie spoke up, “all we have to do is win and we get the league championship and our spot in the playoffs.”
“And if we lose?” Rachel asked flatly, narrowing her eyes as she stared forward.
“Even if we lose, Tempest would still need to win their game,” Andie explained, “and if league ends in a tie, we could still win.”
Rachel looked wryly towards Andie, giving a half hearted shrug, “I just want to make sure we look good in front of the scout.”
“You’ve already done that,” Andie pointed out, “win or lose, just go out and do your best.”
“I guess.” Rachel sighed. She noticed Allison was no longer messing with her hair, figuring that Allison had finished and she was probably now sporting a braid down the middle of her head.
Rachel was surprised as she felt Allison suddenly slide her body between Rachel and the bed. With legs sprawled out on either side of Rachel, Allison wrapped her arms around Rachel under her breasts and rested her head against the back of Rachel’s next, “you’re going to be amazing!”
“Allison…?” Rachel blinked, “what are you doing…?”
“Being a hopeless flirt?” Allison giggle, nuzzling the back of Rachel’s neck.
Andie tilted her head, “you okay, Rach?” a smile slowly coming over her face when she noticed Rachel tolerating it.
Rachel sighed and hung her head, “I’ve learned it’s easier to just let Allison do what she wants rather than to fight her,”
“Yup!” Andie threw herself back into the beanbag chair in a fit of giggles.
The thunderous cheering coming from the gymnasium each time a set of girls were announced was like nothing Rachel had heard before. Her time on the wrestling team never saw the team contending for a league championship. A win would wrap up the division championship for Goldthwait. If the team were to lose, it would then depend on whether the second ranked team won their game or not.
Rachel’s name was announced and she followed Jennifer into the gym. After the girls finished their initial cheer, Rachel took a moment to look around the bleachers. She was amazed to see every seat taken. She started to note people she knew in the stands; Travis, some of her former wrestling friends, Brian Katie and Karina, Alexis Rhea and Mrs. Zimmerman, even her mother was there with Brett and Evan.
“Winchester is first to serve,” the announcer called out. Rachel took a deep breath as she focused her mind on the game at hand. The first game very quickly turned in favor of Goldthwait leading to victories in the first two matches.
“Great job Rachel,” Jessie grinned as she slapped Rachel on the back.
“Not over yet,” Rachel said sternly.
Jessie was a taken aback, “what’s with the attitude?” she snapped back, “We’ve got this.” The coach switched up the hitters and defenders, giving Andie and Rachel a team fresh off the bench.
The second string girls were not as proficient as the girls that were just on the court. As Goldthwait lost the third match, Rachel let out a frustrated yell. When the team began to fall behind in the fourth game, Rachel found herself getting more aggravated.
“C’mon guys!” Rachel yelled as they fell another point further behind.
“We’re trying!” Madison called back, breathing heavily from running cross court in the previous play.
“Well try harder!” Rachel turned and yelled back at Madison. Andie stepped in front of Rachel to try to take her focus off of the other girls. Madison exchanged a look with Karah, who gave a scowl in Rachel’s direction.
“Damn it nine!” Rachel yelled at Mary, the tall sophomore who was covering Jennifer’s position, who failed to block a point from being scored.
“Moperville South wins the fourth match,” the announcer called, “this takes Goldthwait into a final fifth game to decide the game.”
The coach called the girls over, putting much of the initial starters back in to the game. As the girls began to head back on to the court, the coach grabbed Rachel by the shoulder.
“Rachel, if you don’t drop this attitude, you’re going to be sitting on the bench,” the coach scolded her player.
“But—“ Rachel began to defend herself.
“No,” the coach quickly cut her off, “if you’re going to help lead this team, you need to be a positive influence on the other girls.”
“This is an important game!” Rachel spoke up.
“Yes, it is,” the coach responded back seriously, “and I can’t afford to have you sitting on the bench in the final match.”
Rachel huffed a breath through her nose as she faced the coach.
“If you keep acting the way you have, I’m putting Karah in for you,” the coach told Rachel, “do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal,” Rachel said through gritted teeth and turned to walk back out on to the court. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She knew that winning the division championship with the scout present would help her chances in making the Guttenberg University team.
“Lets go Lady Bobcats!” Andie called out as the girls took their positions.
“Be smart, we got this,” Rachel said solemnly, trying to keep things positive. Jessie smirked towards Li and rolled her eyes at Rachel’s sudden change. “We can do this, we can do this,” Rachel muttered quietly to herself as the game progressed with the Bobcats leading the match.
“Goldthwait wins!” the announcer called out excitedly as the volleyball hit the ground, “the Lady Bobcats win the Midvalley League title!” The gymnasium erupted in noise as people began to flood on to the court.
Rachel’s head was buzzing as she took a step back. She felt her knees give way as she fell in to a sitting position on the hard wood floor. She watched in shock as all the players began hugging their friends and family.
A pair of legs stepped in front of Rachel. She looked up at the beaming face of Andie, who offered a hand to help her up. Rachel grinned up at Andie and took her hand. Andie pulled Rachel to her feet and the two girls embraced.
The two girls separated, “Allison was right,” Andie grinned, “you do have a cute smile.”
Rachel gave a slight chuckle as she pulled her smile back to her normal demeanor, “tell anyone and I’ll have to kill you.”
The two girls laughed a little as Rachel was practically tackled off her feet by Buster Bobcat. “You guys were awesome!” Allison called from inside the costume.
“Thank you,” Rachel said calmly as she returned Allison’s hug. Rachel watched as Allison gave Andie a big hug and the two began to talking to other people.
Rachel turned to find herself face to face with Karah, who narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips together. She gave a huff and stuck her hand out to Rachel, “don’t screw things up for us in the playoffs, okay?”
Rachel blinked a little in surprise. “Thank you,” she said, taking Karah’s hand and shaking it.
“I didn’t—“ Karah began to protest.
“Thank you,” Rachel repeated. Karah hesitated as she stared at Rachel suspiciously. Karah smirked as she shook her head and rolled her eyes, leaving to go talk to some of her friends.
“You were never that passionate at other sports.”
Rachel turned to see her mother smiling at her. “I wasn’t as good at other sports,” Rachel said as she gave her mother a hug.
“I’m glad you were able to find something to make you happy during all this,” Rebecca happily hugged her daughter.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not resigned to this life,” Rachel retorted.
“Have hope,” Rebecca smiled, “we’ll get you through this.”