The Hitting Zone is a web novel created by Half_empty.
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Chapter 514 Jeremy’s Visit 1
Noah and I decided that we should go to The Cages with Jeremy. It was something we all could do, it wasn’t too far from home, and if I was feeling awkward, I could just play it off and go for a round in the cages. Noah really thought it through and I was happy with the plan.
“Are you sure you don’t need the rest of us there?” Dave asked the next morning during breakfast.
I nodded. “I don’t want it to look like that I’m hiding behind you guys. Noah is plenty scary enough.”
Dave chuckled. “As long as you thought it through.” He lifted his eyebrows. “But, if you change your mind, have Noah text us.”
Kyle nodded in agreement. “We don’t even know if we can trust this guy after all. Good player doesn’t always equal good person.”
I smiled. This is what real big brothers are like. Protective. Nosey. Slightly annoying. I didn’t mind one bit.
“Not to worry.” Noah proclaimed. “I’ll be there to run interference.” He glanced my way. “Are you not going to invite your uncle?”
My face darkened as I shook my head in silence.
No one said anything to dissuade me. Or convince me that I should. The Atkins understood, probably more so than me.
Wednesday and Thursday cla.s.ses were still somewhat embarra.s.sing to go amidst all the attention, but Noah handled it well. He made sure everyone kept their distance and if anyone brought up anything that might upset me, he quickly shooed them away.
Thursday afternoon, the five of us got home from school and found Jeremy waiting in the kitchen. He seemed to be having a talk with Mr. Atkins, but it didn’t look strained at all. Of course Mr. Atkins is the easiest person to get along with so it makes sense. He wouldn’t intentionally make Jeremy uncomfortable like a certain somebody.
“Hmmm. Not bad.” Noah squinted as he walked around to examine Jeremy. “Not only are you on time, but you’re early. Guess I can’t deduct any points just yet.”
Jeremy stood up with a wry smile. “Happy I pa.s.sed.”
“Too soon to say.” Noah stopped and pointed at him. “Quiz time! What’s everyone’s name?”
Jeremy looked at the rest of us, unsure of Noah was being for real. But after seeing the rest of us waiting, he straightened up and started pointing. “Zeke.” He looked at Noah. “Noah.” He paused at the identical twins. “Err, one is Dave and the other is Kyle.”
“Not good enough.” Noah rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
Jeremy looked to me. For help it looked like. I gave a small smile. “Dave is the louder one.”
“Hey!!” Dave yelled as Kyle started to laugh.
Jeremy studied the twins for a minute until they got shy and shuffled out of the room.
Zeke and him exchanged nods as Zeke left to go upstairs.
“Do you have your bags?” Mr. Atkins asked.
“I’ll go get them.” Noah volunteered, running to the garage door. It just took him a few seconds to come back with our bags in hand. “Ready!”
“Okay. Have a fun time.” Mr. Atkins made eye contact with me, and tried to give a rea.s.suring smile.
We waved and walked out with Jeremy leading the way. Jeremy drove a back, s.h.i.+ny suv. He got in the driver’s seat while Noah and I got in the back.
He glanced back at me. “You can sit up front if you want?”
“Jake likes keeping a safe distance from others.” Noah replied for me. “The only time he’ll sit in the front is with our dad.”
“What do you mean by safe?” He frowned as he started the car.
“He has a lot of fears. Fear of being touched. Fear of violence. Claustrophobia, I guess.” Noah looked at me. “Those are the main ones right?”
I nodded. Noah knew more about me than even Dr. Moore.
“Oh. I didn’t, I mean, I don’t-” Jeremy coughed a little.
“It’s fine.” I tried telling him.
Noah expanded on that. “Yea, it’s fine. For now. This can be your learning period. If you forget…then maybe you don’t care as much as you think.” Noah was pretty cutthroat.
We arrived at the arcade and walked directly to the back where the cages were. Noah took charge, pointing here and there. “That’s where we usually eat lunch on Sundays. Or we’ll get snacks. Zeke usually pays. Over there is where we’ll play games with the twins. Jake was horrendous in the beginning. Still not that good.” He shrugged. “But what can you expect from someone who had never played any games before.”
Jeremy took it all in. Looking left, looking right, then occasional looks my way.
Noah explained how the cages worked, convincing Jeremy that we needed $60 worth of tokens. Jeremy didn’t hesitate, paying for the giant bucket of tokens without blinking.
“Are you going to be using Jake’s bat since it was yours?” Noah asked after we realized that only us two brought our bags. Jeremy didn’t bring anything but himself and his wallet.
Jeremy stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I figured I would just watch today. If you guys want, I can give some pointers.” He looked so awkward and shy…this made me feel like we really are related. This is how I must look like all the time.
Noah looked like he was about to say something, but after seeing me shake my head, he backed off. “Okay. Whatever. Not like you need it. You did well these last two games.”
“You watched?” He asked.
Noah nodded. “We both did. We’re all A’s fans.” He shot him a glare. “Before you even became a pro so don’t think we like them because of you.”
“No, no, I understand.” He glanced at me. “Did you watch too?”
“We’re making Jake into an A’s fan as well.” Noah answered. “He doesn’t know much about baseball, but it’s fun being able to teach him. Being the youngest, I was always the one being taught so it feels good to be a big brother now.”
I watched as Jeremy’s face twitched. I wondered if he caught that insult.
“I’ll go first!” Noah called out, putting on his gear and rus.h.i.+ng to one of the slower machines. The 60mph.
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