Chapter 18:

The Dawn of a New Week

Would You Paint My Dunk

Silence filled the classroom as I patiently waited for people to come. The only sound in the vicinity was the ticking of a clock, counting each moment of silence as time passed.

After a few minutes, a few boys entered the classroom, talking to each other as they put down their bags.

One of them was wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and long sports pants. Another had a blue shirt on, a backward yellow cap, and blue jeans, and the other guy was wearing black pants and a black shirt with a graffiti image on it.

Excited to make new friends, I stepped forward and greeted them.

"Hello, good morning!"

"Oh, hi!" The guy in the blue shirt replied.

"What are you guys talking about?"

"We were talking about games. What do you play, big guy?"

"Uh, I play basketball..."

"Cool! Do you play using a keyboard and mouse or a joystick?"

Wait, what? I was thinking about real basketball games, I never thought about basketball video games. Ah crap, how should I answer?

Before I could respond, the guy in the black shirt interjected. Soon they were talking to each other, ignoring my existence.

"Bro, you are not playing games the right way when you use KBM. Joystick is the way to go.”

The blue shirt guy tapped the black shirt guy’s shoulder.

"Well, some pros are actually keyboard players, you know? Don’t judge them for using keyboards…"

"But again, it's harder on KBM, you can't move halfway like you can with the joystick analogs. For example, you can either do a tilting attack by walking or a running attack by running in Kapow Brothers.”

Kapow… Brothers??? I never heard of that game… And what the hell does tilting attack mean?

The white hoodie guy quickly chimed in.

"Kapow Brothers? It's such a cool game, who's your main character?"

"Dowzer!" The black shirt guy replied passionately. "He's crazy to use."

"Ha-ha, right. I played the Electro-Mouse."

"ROFL, that mascot character! Oh my God!"

"I mean, I love those nimble little guys, compared to that dragon character…"

"Ah, that reminds me of the Monster Hunt series. The dragons are too bulky and slow."

The blue shirt guy grinned and interrupted them.

"Monster Hunting series, huh? I love that game... You know, I played that game when I was a kid..."

Listening to them talk about video games made me feel like I was walking in a chasm whose path was completely shrouded in darkness. I put my hands out in front of me, trying to figure out where I was going. There's nothing to see, everything is black.

I was completely blind, and I was completely lost.

I closed my eyes and marveled at the scene unfolding before me. I realized that I'm in a vast amethyst-colored space, with glittering particles that sparkle alternately.

Their sound faded, filling the atmosphere with serenity. Slowly, their presence dissipated, like a speck of dust blown by the wind. Left alone, I began to wonder why I bothered to talk to them.

What am I trying to do here? To follow my mother's advice? To prove something? To find where I belong?

As the question played in my head, I began to remember their faces: Brandon, Tony, Carlos, Sean, and Jessica.

A sense of Deja vu filled my mind, reminding me of a similar scene that happened last week. It made me realize that I have found where I belong.

Opening my eyes, I saw the three of them grouped at the front table, continuing their discussion without me. I snorted, knowing that I never belonged there in the first place.

After a few minutes, a ton of other students entered the class, and the atmosphere became rowdier as time went on. The boys talked about games and actresses, while the girls talked about boy bands and cake. I knew nothing about the subject, nor was I interested in it.

Shortly, a male teacher entered the room. The classroom, full of chatter, fell silent as the instructor began his lesson.

Two hours passed quickly, marking the end of the class. And now, the boring routine of university days repeated itself as I went to another class in my schedule.

Sigh… It’s so boring! Well, I guess there’s a basketball club this evening, I hope I can kill my boredom there…

The clock turned twelve as the class ended. And now, the time has come for me to eat in the cafeteria. However, before I could move out of the class, I received a message notification on my phone.

Probably it’s just another phone carrier advertisement…

And I was wrong. Looking at the phone, I got a message from her saying she was in trouble.

"Keith, can you go to D1208? I'm being hit on by my seniors! Help!"

As I read the message, I suddenly remembered that she escaped from the same thing yesterday, only to attract another today.

Is she a boy’s magnet? How come she keeps getting hit on like this? Should I save her?

Pondering if I should save her or not, I thought that there was nothing bad to make her owe me. After all, she is my friend, and I want to keep her from being hurt.

Deciding to save her, I descended the stairs like a boulder rolling down a mountain and headed for her building.

Although it's in the same university, the D building is located at the back of the university block. The long distance between the building and the crowd slowed me down from reaching her location.

With many students walking in the way, I bumped into several of them as I tried to get to her location. Since time was of the essence, I could only apologize by repeatedly saying, "I'm sorry!" as I rushed forward.

Suddenly, I started thinking that this is just like a slalom course in basketball, where the students are the cones. Everything in my sight turned into red mainframes, outlining objects and people alike.

A white line of light came out of my shoe, bouncing through the gaps of people like a laser, marking the pathway to the other side. With a clear path in my sight, I launched forward, dodging the students left and right.

Arriving at the D building, I climbed the stairs like there was no tomorrow. Ascending through twelve floors, I couldn’t feel any fatigue. The only thing on my mind was to save her.

On the twelfth floor, I dashed through the corridor, glancing left and right trying to find her classroom. Shortly, I managed to arrive at her class, only to find out that there were three boys crowding at her table. Two of them were around 6’3” in height and one of them was around 6’4”.

"Hey, pretty girl. Want to hang out with us?" One of the boys asked her.

"No, thank you." Jessica firmly declined. "Now if you will excuse me."

She tried to leave, but they stopped her from getting out of her desk.

“Oh, come on! Don’t be such a killjoy. We will pay for your lunch too, just come with us.” Another boy asked her.

“No means no. Please stop bothering me and ask someone else.” She insisted.

Noticing that she was uncomfortable with their advances, I quickly approached her desk and grabbed her hand.

“Jessica, let’s go.”

Swiftly, I pulled her out of her desk, getting her out of that situation. As we walked outside, I heard one of them grumble.

"Tch! She already has a boyfriend. Time to find a new one to hit on."

After we left the classroom, I stopped and turned to look at her. I could tell she was relieved by the look on her face.

"Keith, thank you for your help."

"They give you a hard time, huh?" I snorted.

"Yes, I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't come. Though, this may lead to people misunderstanding...”

Wait, what misunderstanding? Oh... I see... People will think that we are dating. I don't know if we should clear up the misunderstanding.

On one hand, if we make it clear that we're not dating, they'll come back for her. After all, they will stop hitting on her if they think she already has a boyfriend.

On the other hand, we have to keep pretending that we are dating in order to get people to believe us. If people had even the slightest doubt, our whole pretense would crumble like a collapsing bridge.

Not to mention, she wouldn't be able to get into a real relationship. Compared to her, I don't mind not finding girls to date during my college years. I'm here to play basketball, not to cuddle like cute normie couples.

Since I can't weigh the options on my own, I asked her to decide what we should do next.

"Jessica, should we clear up the misunderstanding for everyone, or should we pretend that we are dating until you find someone you really like?"

"Oh, it would be great if you didn't mind pretending to be my BF." She nodded. "I need some space for myself, and I don't want to be hit on by the boys, especially those pickup artists. But again, only if it's okay with you."

"Well, it's fine. I don't mind. I came here to play some basketball, and I don’t think I will be involved in a romantic relationship anytime soon. So, there’s no problem.”

"Keith, thank you! I am so grateful that…”

Before she could finish expressing her gratitude, her stomach growled. I laughed as she blushed in embarrassment.

"Stop laughing!" She pouted while pushing my body lightly with her hands.

"Sorry! Sorry!" I chuckled. "Let's go to the cafeteria and continue our discussion there, okay?"

And so, we walked to the cafeteria together to eat our lunch. Getting hungry as well, my head was filled with food and food alone.

Lunch, here I come!

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