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    Aceinthehole
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Tales of the Underground: Crestfallen - 7. Eli the Mentor

I quickly got up determined to catch Jayden, but he moved like a snake through the crowded hallway. At one point I got so close I reached out to grab him, but was shoved back by an army of kids almost double my size. Finally I lost him in the rush and made my way to my locker. Why am I acting like such a spaz over a guy I only really met today? I mean I didn’t even realize he was in my class on Monday, and now I’m going completely out of my way to talk to him? I need to get my head on straight.

As I yanked opened my locker door and started to pack my bag, a strange Idea hit me. I pulled the drawing from my folder and pinned it against the inside of the door using a small spare magnet I had. I looked at it and giggled to myself before contemplating taking it down. Suddenly I felt a presence over my shoulder, and quickly spun to find the stranger with green eyes from a few days ago.

His eyes seemed to burn a hole right through me “What did you do?”

“No, not this speech again” I spit “This isn’t any of your business”

“This isn’t a game kid, I told you to leave him alone. Now I find out he’s your varsity mentor? Are you insane?” My blood began to boil as he lectured “You really want to hook up with him that bad?”

“You’re so dense dude.” I spit biting back the anger “I don’t care for him anyway at all! I asked my coach to not pair me with him, but we make the most sense on paper! I hate to admit it but he’s right, he was a varsity athlete as a freshman, I’m a varsity athlete as a freshman. He’s a gay athlete at a time where it’s not cool, and so am I. We can actually help one another here, and I don’t give a shit what some you think about it.”

The stranger rolled his eyes and shook his head “You’re wrong about him. He’s gonna drag you down with him.” He sighed as his gaze shifted from me to the picture on the inside door of the locker, then slowly zeroed in on the signature “Jesus Christ Jayden Sanders?” he mumbled

I slammed my locker door shut “How do you know him?”

“Don’t worry about that…just avoid that family too.”

I banged my hand against the locker frustrated with his nerve “Who the hell do you think you are? I don’t even know you, and you’re acting like my mom or something.”

I felt another presence standing over me. I looked up to see my varsity mentor peering over me. “Eli” the stranger muttered

“Why are you fighting with rookie? The whole freakin hallway can hear you two.” He growled

“You know why” the stranger bit back

“No I don’t” he responded shutting down the conversation

“So you’re really just gonna let this happen? You know he hangs around Matty’s little brother, or whatever that freakin drawing in his locker means” he spoke as though I wasn’t even there

“I didn’t even know Matty had a brother until now” Eli said frustrated that he even needed to have this conversation “I don’t know what you mean by let this happen either, we got assigned to one another by our coaches. We don’t have a choice”

“History’s going to repeat itself and you’re just going to stand by and watch it happen” the stranger pleaded

I could feel Eli growing sicker and sicker of talking as the seconds passed “You’re not making any fucking sense Jacob”

“I’m not making any sense? How do you not see any of this? Kid what’s your goal?” Jacob asked, his attention suddenly diverting to me

“My goal?” I repeated confused

“Why do you fight?” he asked in a slow mocking tone

“Because I want to be the best I guess”

“See!” Jacob shouted “He’s just like him and I know you see it too. So here you are again, with some stupid kid with an unrealistic dream of being the best. Worst of all this kid actually has a chance of doing something with his life, but with his stupid crush and your inability to deal with your emotions, you are going to be his end. New flash Eli, the last time you were a part of a story like this it didn’t end well!”

I couldn’t help but gasp at the cruelty of his words. I watched anger rage across Eli’s face but he let it all escape in the form of a sigh “I knew you blamed me for what happened”

“No Eli, I don’t blame…”

“It’s fine at first I blamed me too” he interrupted “but lately I’ve been blaming you.” Jacobs eyes widened as Eli’s words grew colder “Where were you that day? You always told each other you would be there to the end, but at his end where were you?” Jacob opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out “Exactly. You’re all talk. So how about you stop harassing Aidan because for whatever reason you see Jamie in him? How about you leave this to me and my mentee.”

“No Eli, I didn’t mean it like…”

“Just stop talking” Eli interrupted again “Whether I like it or not rookie has become my responsibility. If you think I would let him fall into darkness then I guess you never really knew me.” Jacob sighed and began to walk away “and one last thing” Eli called out. Jacob looked up with hope in his eyes “Keep my name out of your fucking mouth” As he began to disappear into the crowd I felt Eli’s eyes switch to me.

“Hey thanks tha…”

“No, don’t look at me like that” Eli began “We’re not friends. Like I said you’re my responsibility which means I HAVE to look out for you. I’m not doing this because I want to, but because if I don’t then I risk getting benched”

“Aww you’re like a bodyguard” I teased

“Don’t talk to me like were friends rookie” he said beginning to walk away “Just prove your worth my time”

“I will” I nodded “and thank you Eli maybe you won’t be such a bad mentor after all” I shouted in a serious tone

He pretended not to hear my words but I could tell they meant something to him. I lifted up my bag and headed out to the car. As I climbed in I locked eyes with Brooke.

“Eli and Aidan siting in a tree…”

I tried to zone her out as her sang, but her singing only grew louder “Shut up Brooke! He’s just my mentor!”

“Mentor today, boyfriend tomorrow, or so you hope!” She teased

“You’re such a jerk. Two gay guys can be friends without dating you know!”

“They can…but not you and Elijah Warren, you’ve had a crush on him for a year now!” she continued

“You’re just jealous because he’s cuter then any boy you’ve ever got with!” I lashed out

“Oh please, I don’t even know what the kid looks like!” She shot back “and you wish you got cuter guys. You’ve still never even had a boyfriend”

I slouched deep into my seat and put on my headphones to drown her out. The heavy music hit me like a sack of bricks, and my soul was ignited. When we finally pulled up to the gym, I jumped out and ran in eager to get started. That session was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. I left everything in the warehouse. Today I have more to work for then just myself. I have to prove to Eli that I’m a capable student, but more importantly I have to prove to Jayden that he’s right, that I’m capable of being a true warrior.

“Aidan, that enough for one day” my coach heeded

“No one more” I repeated, like I had been all night. He let me continue and as I finished my last combination I felt a weird sensation fill me. Suddenly my head started to grow light, and as I threw one last punch my body followed it, and I collapsed onto the mat in exhaustion.

“Ahh shit” one of the trainers yelled grabbing a garbage can

As I tried to get back up I felt my coach force me towards the can and I immediately started throwing up “Good, good, get it all out kid” he encouraged “You did good today. I’ve never seen someone work so hard in this gym” I fell back down to my ass and sat there dazed by the series of events “You’re gonna reach that next level soon, you just proved to everyone here you’ve got the motivation. Your hunger for it is refreshing you got that?”

I nodded my head to the best of my ability but could barely move. When Perry pulled up a few of my trainers helped me to the car and I collapsed into the back.

“He’ll be okay, just get him water and sleep when you get home” the lead trainer instructed

“What happened? Is there something wrong?” I could hear the panic in Perry’s voice grow, something I had only heard once before

“Nothing, he just pushed past his limit today. I never believed there were actually people with motivation and strength like this kid has. Drive carefully, he’s something special.”

“I wouldn’t put up with him if I didn’t believe that” Perry joked calming down. As he started to pull away he took out a water bottle from his bag and tossed it towards me. I stared at it but was too tired to actually grab it. “Oh sir what are we going to do with you?”

“Keep pushing me” I squeaked out

“Why sir?” he prodded knowing the answer

“For the glory” I replied before falling asleep

When we finally pulled up to my house Perry went to help me out, but I found the strength to walk on my own two feet. That night I didn’t even have the energy to shower, I just went straight to my bed and passed out. I woke up the next morning feeling the best I ever had. I felt clean, light…new. I looked at myself differently. I saw the potential lying inside and was determined to pull it out. It doesn’t matter if I need a 100 more nights like last night, I’ll take them all on with a smile if that what it takes. I quickly showered and got changed for school. I ran out towards the car and away we went. I zoomed through all my morning classes without seeing or talking to anyone I knew, however it was like a new me. I paid attention, and participated when I needed to. When it was time for lunch I was surprised to see Jayden sitting in his new found seat.

I took a breathe and sat next to him “Hey guys”

Ivy gave me a strange look “Where have you been all day?”

I looked over and returned the stare “What do you mean?”

“I usually see you like every morning, but today you were MIA. What gives?” she pushed

“Oh nothing, I just got to school a little later than usual. I had a small hiccup at the gym yesterday.”

“What kind of hiccup?” Henry pressed

“Nothing I just worked a little too hard” I began “I guess I found my limit and tried to push past it”

“How’s the reality that you’re human just like the rest of us treating you?” he teased

“Lovely” I smiled back “I’ll break my limit and chase the next one soon enough though”

“You’re gonna need to if you’re adding wrestling to the list” he added

“Tell me about it” I sighed, I felt Jayden’s eyes on the side of my head and quickly turned towards him “What?”

He nervously diverted his gaze to his food “nothing, why?”

“I felt you staring” I giggled

“Oh sorry” he nervously laughed along

“So I met one of your brother’s friends yesterday, he’s kinda weird though” I joked “Well maybe they’re friends, it was kinda unclear”

“Oh” he muttered growing uncomfortably quiet, the smile quickly faded from his face as he poked at his food.

“Sorry” I quickly spit unsure of what I had gotten myself into “I shouldn’t have said that, I guess I just thought it would be interesting” I felt Ivy giving me a hefty kick to stop talking “to talk about”

“It’s cool” he muttered not looking up “my brother’s just not with us anymore” I could feel a combination of sadness, and uneasiness radiate off of him

I felt guilt immediate begin to hit me, as I realized how badly I had put my foot in my mouth “I’m so sorry man” I involuntarily rambled

“No it’s cool you didn’t know” he stopped playing with his food and grabbed his bag “I gotta go get ready for class”

“No come on dude, lunch just started” I pleaded

“No, it’s cool” he sighed “besides I’m not hungry”

We watched as he made his way to the door “you really are bad at flirting” Henry teased

“I wasn’t flirting” I spit defensively

“Nope, but you were trying” he continued “You called him cute yesterday remember?”

“Shut up” I replied standing up and chasing after him

“Where are you going?” Ivy called out

“To check on him!” I shouted back running towards the door

I pushed my pace faster as I saw him climbing the stairs “Hey wait up!” I yelped finally reaching him, he turned but didn’t say anything “Come on man, it’s too early to get ready for class, just come hang out”

He slowly shook his head and looked down “Look I’m not like you guys, I’m not friendly. I don’t do too well in a group. “ He went to take another step but grabbed onto his hand. The second our skin touched, my heart felt as though it shifted into a second gear. He looked down at our hands and we both quickly let go of one another.

“Don’t say that, you seem really cool. We all want to get to know you more ya know?” I gave him a light smile but my words didn’t seem to connect “Look I’m really really sorry if what I said hurt you. I honestly had no idea”

He quietly sighed “It’s okay, I don’t blame you. I just wish my brother got as much sympathy as everyone else when everything happened.” Everything? I mowed over in my brain, what’s everything? Jayden caught me in thought and began walking again “Look I’ll see you in history”

“No wait!” I pleaded “Is this why you got so weird after Eli stopped at the table?”

“Nope” he let out disappearing around the corner

I shook my head and returned to my lunch table.

Curiosity filled Ivy’s eyes as I took my seat “So what happened?”

“I’m not sure” I muttered “He just needs to be alone right now I guess”

“So if it comes down to dating Eli or Jayden which one would you chose” Henry immediately nudged

“Dude!” I yelped looking over to Ivy for support, but I could tell by the look on her face that she was equally curious “Jayden’s not even gay” I mumbled

Annoyed at my stalling Henry threw a plastic fork at me “Let’s just say for the sake of conversation he is, and they’re both into you! Who are you gonna chose?”

“I just…I…I” I stuttered “I don’t know”

Henry rolled his eyes, while Ivy slouched in her chair, both disappointed with my answer. I really don’t know, Eli is such a dick but at the same time that kind soul has to be buried in there somewhere, and Jayden is so damn cute but I really just met him. Please God don’t make me choose!

2016 Ace
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Love it! Except the part where Jacob comes in. If it were not for him getting Eli involved with racing. Then Eli wouldnt be who he is in this story.. Anyway, i hope Aiden picks Jayden. They seem like a cute couple. As for finding out the Jayden is Matt's younger brother is a bummer. The pain he must have felt when Aiden said those things.

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Love reading this, having just finished Velocity. I know exactly who Aidan will end up with 😊 Good story so far 

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So Jayden is Matts' brother....interesting. So many broken characters needing fixing, I can see Aidans' got his work cut out for him.

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