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The Tower City batting cages were located off-site at the arcade and fun complex. The cages were booked for the baseball players to use as they wanted from four to six after school. Desmond mounted his position, gripped the bat, the ball machine buzzed to life and fired the ball. Desmond swung. The ball bonked against the aluminum and clanged against the back fencing. Desmond stepped down and Harry stepped up.
Kyane sat on the bleachers looking over the batting cages. Her feet dangled off the edge. “Woo, go sports,” Kyane said. She clapped through a bare hand and half palm; the other half held a small plastic cup of soda. She never took her eyes off the action.
“The sport is called baseball,” D13 said through Kyane’s headphones.
“Thanks, Alexa. It’s like a sarcastic joke thing,” Kyane said. She rested her arm on her backpack.
“Yes, and so was mine.”
“Needs work, Die.”
“How so, Kyane?”
“I think you need to get inflection in your voice.”
“I will download the latest drivers to do so. That was also a joke, was it funny?” Kyane just gave a weak ehh. “What are you doing here?” D13 asked.
“Two birds with one stone. This is kind of a date thing, and I need to figure out tapping into the speed thing.”
“What speed thing?” D13 asked.
“The millennium fury punch move thing sensei can do. I need to figure out how to do that.”
D13 brought up the classified video from the mall and watched Shaotoro’s fight with Nyansa. “I see. I can scan it and break it down so we can perform it as Dieous.”
“I think sensei will see that as cheating but do it anyway. I want to know everything that he does to do it. But these pitching machines are kind of like that too.”
“I can scan that too. My feedback would be good to help with his at-bat ratio.”
“Thanks Die, but I kinda want to watch for myself.”
Desmond pointed his bat at Kyane and winked. Harry smacked the ball. They switched. “So, Kyane. It’s like official, and, stuff now,” Harry said.
Desmond swung. The ball clicked against the back fence. “As official as taking her to the dance,” Desmond said. He shook his hands out. Harry took over. “I just needed to work my charm.”
Harry swung. The ball dinked the tip of the bat and fell to the ground. “Was that before or after you complain about what a pain she is?”
“She apologized for being a pain. If you can believe it.” Desmond stepped up and smacked the ball. “She’s also really holding up after we were attacked at the mall on our date.”
“Yeah. She usually, like, shrank away, now she can keep up with you.” Harry hit the ball. “I am impressed with her. You were not always this dedicated to making it work.”
Desmond swung and missed. “I’m trying to make a change.”
“Change your stance. You can take this next ball.”
Desmond moved his stance, swung, and clobbered the ball.
“So why do you want to change with her?”
“Well she could kick my ass,” Desmond said.
“So, you’re into that?” Harry missed.
“It’s good to have a girl who can stand up for herself. And we have a click thing.” Desmond connected.
“Click thing?” Harry connected. “What kind of click thing?”
“We go together well is all I guess.” Desmond swung and connected again. “I mean we also have things in common.”
“Aside from the wanting to sleep with you, like every other girl you’ve gone after.”
“It’s not like that.” Desmond swung and missed. “We haven’t gone that far yet. Close to that far, even.” Harry swung and connected. “Like we haven’t kissed or held hands. We beat those dinosaur guys up together though.”
Harry leaned on his bat. “Ahh, young love. The love that makes you beat up scary people in costumes together. As far as the government is saying anyway.”
Desmond connected. “I don’t see you mackin ‘on any honeys.” He shuttered over saying those words.
“I have a thing in the works.” Harry stepped up, he connected. “Now it’s been in motion since middle school, but it’s left the station.”
Desmond took over. “I think you’ll have to just realize that Mark just isn’t into guys.”
“I wasn’t sure until I saw him. But I hadn’t really thought about anyone. Plus, he does theater and stuff. I have to hope that is a sign.”
“Something will work out,” Desmond said.
“I hope. Is it weird talking about this stuff when like dino-monsters are out and about? Like, what’s been going on with Jamie after everything? Has he gotten any more information we can use to find Dieous and get answers? I don’t do my stalling work for free.”
“We know he works with the military.”
“I thought we already knew that, man,” Harry said.
“I don’t know then.” Desmond swung at another ball. It flew. “Maybe we just need to act like it’s normal or something. I can’t focus all the time on sports with other stuff, so we just kind of have to act like nothing’s really wrong then, maybe.”
Harry leaned on his bat. “That is quite wise of you. I’m shocked.”
“I guess it’s just something I’ve been thinking about it lately.” Desmond checked his phone. Harry looked at him. The ball flew by. “We were going to check on Jamie at the hospital anyway. I can ask him then.”
“You better!” Harry said. Another ball flew past.
“Do you want to join us, dude? He would like to see you.”
Harry swung and missed a ball as it zipped by him. “No, I’m good,” he said. “I need to be available to cover for you and get some practice in it.” He missed a second ball. He laughed. “Just have fun on the strangest date ever.”
Desmond slipped out of the cage. “I don’t think it’s a date. I don’t have any presents to give her.” He walked past Kyane. She jumped down and they exited the park.
They walked to the hospital. It was seven blocks away from the batting cages. Up three streets, and across four. Kyane asked the question she really wanted to on the second block up. “So how do you see the balls?”
Desmond choked and coughed up some spit. “Umm, what? You’re being all vague and stuff on purpose, aren’t you?”
“Ohh, no,” Kyane said. Her eyes widened when she realized what she said. “When you’re in the batting cage, those balls fly at you like that, how do you see them coming? Or know when to swing?”
“I mean it isn’t a hundred percent solution, but you feel it out-don’t go to that obvious place with that,” Desmond said.
“Okay, feel out how?”
“The pitcher, or machine, or whatever throws the ball. It can only do, like, so many things, right? You gotta let it hit a rhythm, like a beat to a song you know really well.”
“I get that.” She closed her eyes. The image of her sensei using millennium fury played in her mind. She then tried to overlay as many different songs over the barrage as she could imagine finding one that fit. She scrolled through her in-mind catalog until she felt the collar on the back of her jacket get pulled and yanked off the sidewalk.
“What the hell?!” Desmond said. “Do you want to join Jamie in the hospital?”
“Sorry, no.” She adjusted her collar back. “But it would mean you’ve seen him more than me. So if I was in here you couldn’t hold that over me.”
“I wasn’t planning on doing that again. You’re paying for it and coming. Now.”