Hoopin' It Up
Episode 4: Fires of Arcadia
Location: USS Defiant Recreation Deck
Timeline: The Night of So Green He's Growing Leaves
After a long first day in tactical, spent mostly in a practice simulator getting his ass kicked, Jovani decided to get in some stress relief during his downtime. He'd gone back to his bunk and grabbed his gym bag, and then headed off to the recreation deck, not even really discussing the day with his roommates. He was still just a little bit too annoyed with his performance to really put any effort into socializing.
Once he'd arrived he'd used the locker room to change out, going for comfort, with a pair of baggy basketball shorts, some sneakers, and a loose tank-top with the sides cut out so it would still cover him but give him maximum range of motion. Grabbing the basketball he'd purchased on the promenade, still smiling to himself at the way he'd walked into his first ever meeting with the ship's command staff, and his own boss, carrying the stupid thing. But, still, it made him happy to have it, so that's all that mattered.
After he'd been out on the court for about half an hour, already bathed in sweat from the frenetic pace he'd set, he heard someone approaching. Turning he looked down at the smaller man approaching him. He was nearly a half a meter shorter than Jovani was, and very pale skinned, with long, black hair, and dark eyes. Pulling his shirt up to wipe sweat from his face he settled the ball up against his hip and jerked his chin up in greeting, wondering why the guy he'd never even met before was coming over to the basketball court. 'Maybe he's just friendly and wants to introduce himself..,', he mused to himself. Growing up on a colony like the one on Luna you got used to people being open and friendly, but you also learned to value your privacy. It was a strange mix, and he was still working hard to figure out how to interact with the rest of the larger galactic community since he'd graduated from training and been assigned to a ship.
What's up, dude?", he asked cautious smile, his deep voice booming across the cavernous gym.
Ian had enjoyed spending time with Elias earlier that morning. Their impromptu breakfast had turned into so much more, but the other man was on duty now and Ian was still off duty for another twenty-four hours. It had got him to thinking about just how involved he wanted to be with the human, the commitment that would take.
The best way for him to get rid of some of his pent-up tension was to work out, burn off some excess energy. So he headed to the recreation deck expecting that this time of day it would be deserted. He stopped at his quarters to change into something a little less dressy a little more appropriate for working out; grey gym shorts and a maroon tee shirt that was snug, but not too snug.
He walked in and saw someone he didn't know. He was playing some Terran game with an blue and silver ball that he kept moving up and down a court, dunking in a basket above his head. He knew that the game was Terran and ancient and he deduced from watching the young man that the object was to try to get the ball in the basket as many times as you could. He also figured out that the game wasn't usually played with just one person.
Other thoughts went through his head as well, thoughts he shoved aside, he had gotten much better at holding himself back and reminding himself that Terrans and other members of the Federation were not as open about intimacy as his race was and that unwanted flirting was usually not welcome.
Seeing the taller man wipe the sweat away caused him to have to remind himself again this wasn't Akadia.
Then when the mocha colored man spoke, he blinked is feral eyes curiously. Terran idiom was still a mystery to him sometimes. "uh, not much," he muttered, "What is the game you're playing and if I'm not mistaken, can't two people play it?"
Jovani looked down at the ball against his hip, and back up at the other man, confused. "It's basketball, bro...", he said, still not catching on that the person before him wasn't human. "And yeah, usually a whole team plays it. But I just came down to have some fun, and get my mind out of where it was. When I got here the place was deserted.", he added, waving his hand to the empty space all around them.
"Really, I came down here for the same reason, well maybe not the exact same reason, but to get my mind off of where it was. I've got some things to think about. So, how exactly do you play" he paused trying out the new word which certainly seemed like a logical name, "basketball when you have a team playing?"
"It'd take to long to explain. How about I just show you how to play?", Jovani asked, holding the ball out in one hand. "I can explain as we go.", He added.
"Sure," the Exchange Officer agreed, "I'm sorry, I'm Ian, Ian Acainus, I'm the ship's diplomat, or one of them anyway."
Jovani held a hand out to shake. "Jovani Carter, tactical.", He replied. "So first thing you need to know is how to dribble. Take the ball and bounce it with one hand. You need to do that any time you are moving with the ball. If you take more than three steps without dribbling it's a penalty. Your goal is to get the ball in the hoop, and my goal is to stop you.", he said. "Think you can handle that?", he added as a question. He'd never taught someone who knew nothing of the game and had no idea where to start.
Ian nodded and took the ball from the human. His first attempt would probably garner laughter if his instructor were less than charitable, he didn't hit the ball hard enough and it hit softly and at an odd angle rolling away from him. He tracked it quickly enough and picked it up. His second time was a little better and after a few minutes. he'd picked up on the right tempo and rhythm and even moved down the court a few meters then back towards Jovani/
"Okay, that part seems easy enough, what next?"
"Now you get used to doing it faster. Oh, and you have to stop me from taking the ball and getting to the hoop first. If you can." He answered with a sly smile. "Try to make it past me, and keep possession of the ball.", He added, dropping into a defensive stance.
Ian returned his opponents, sly smile with one of his own. He knew nothing about basketball except what he'd picked up in the last thirty seconds, but speed, quickness, and deception were his strengths. Still bouncing the ball he feinted to the left, the right, then moved back to the left, hoping to get past the larger man and make it to the basket.
Using his large size, and longer reach had always been Jovani's best weapon on the court, and today was no exception. Not reacting too quickly he was able to catch the feint, and reached out, snagging the ball as Ian dribbled it. With a spin, he ducked past the man and turned to make a picture-perfect three-pointer.
Grinning he stood there, hands on his hips. "Not bad for someone who's never even heard of the game.", he said, genuinely meaning the compliment. "I'd say with a little practice you'd actually be a pretty good player. You're small, and you're fast. A lot of people think being tall is all it takes, but it's not.", He added, moving to catch the ball and bouncing it back to the other man before getting back in position. "Try again.", he said.
Ian caught the bouncing ball easily enough. "Thanks," Ian replied grateful for the compliment, though he was a bit frustrated at having been beaten so easily.
He began dribbling towards Jovani. Then, when he was within five feet of him, he stopped. Rather than trying to move past him this time he tried a new tactic. He looked up at the net, bounced the ball at his feet then made an attempt at a half-court shot. The ball arched towards the goal rolled around the rim. For just an instant it looked like the shot was going to go in, but then it dropped harmlessly to the floor.
Pursuing his lips as he watched the ball sail through the air Jovani nodded in appreciation at the confidence. "Not bad, dude. Not bad at all.", He said, catching the ball and moving towards Ian. "Let me show you the best way to stand, and hold the ball.", He added, moving beside him.
Taking the proper stance, knees been, arms up, both hands on the ball he prepared his shot. With a flourish of the wrist, he shot the ball in a long arc, watching it swish through the net. "It's all in the wrist.", he added. "Go ahead and get in the stance, but don't shoot yet. I'll let you know if anything needs to be changed.", He added.
Ian watched the younger man intently and did his best to mirror what he was doing. His stance was slightly off with his left foot extended out further than his right. "Like this?" he asked.
Turning to face Ian Jovani looked over his stance. "Not exactly.", he said, reaching out and turning him slightly so his shoulders were a bit more square. Moving around behind him he adjusted his posture a bit and tapped his foot against the back of Ian's shoe, "Square up your feet just a little more, and bend your knees, bringing your hips just a little lower.", he added.
Once the adjustments were made he nodded. "Alright. Now, balance the ball on the one hand, and use the other to guide it.", he said, miming what he meant as he said it. "When you go to shoot keep your eye on the hoop, and let your hand follow through on the shot like this.", He said, pretending to shoot a basketball, his hand folding all the way over.
"Give it a try.", he said once he felt Ian was ready.
This time Ian did a better job at imitating Jovani. He kept his knees bent, kept his eye on the hoop, dribble a couple of times, then took his shot. This time it hit the backboard and bounced into the net."Yes," he said, half to himself pumping his right fist. Then turning to Jovani he said, "Better?"
"Yup, looks like you've got the basics down. We could play a little one on one of you'd like. Basically what we started with, but without me giving you any tips.", he said, turning and bending down to pick up the ball.
"Sure" Ian replied, "I could get into some one on one as you put it Sounds like fun. What are we playing to, and how do you keep score? I mean how many points is it when you put the ball in the basket?"
"Let's go for something like the game horse. Play to five points, one point per basket. That sound alright?", Jovani asked.
"Sure sounds good to me, you want to go first?" He asked holding out the ball.
"Nah, dude, you do the honors. But, I won't be going easy on you. Best way to learn is just to dive in.", he said. "You try to keep the ball, I'll try to take it, and vice versa. And we each try to stop the other from getting a shot. Contact is allowed, but no intentional injuries, no violence, stuff like that. Just keep it sportsmanlike.", he added.
"Okay," Ian said, "I can work with that." The last trick he had used hadn't proved very effective so, he tried a slightly different tactic. He shifted his eyes to the right while he feinted left, just as he'd done before. But this time instead of another feint to the left, he just went left, hoping the other man would think he was trying the same trick a second time. He also, just in case his ploy wasn't successful, shifted dribbling from his right hand to his left.
Jovani almost fell for the trick that time, but a lifetime of spending time on the court had taught him better than that. Spinning to the right he positioned himself directly in front of the other man, blocking his way. He miscalculated, and when the smaller man slammed into him his momentum was just enough to send them both off balance, sprawling across the basketball court. Jovani sat up, laughing, and looked at the other guy. "Dude, I am so sorry. I completely forgot you are a lot smaller than me. That was a stupid move on my part.", he said, and hopped up to his feet, holding a hand out to help the other man to his feet.
Ian took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. "You would think that someone in Security would be more observant," he deadpanned good-naturedly. So, what brings you out here in space, especially under the present circumstances?"
"Trust me, when I'm on duty, I am, but I'm tactical, not security. A lot of mine is computerized. I guess I just really wasn't expecting to be playing with anyone else tonight. Guess I'm a little off my game.", Jovani replied. "And, well, honestly I'm not totally clear on why I'm out here if I'm honest. I felt like it was a good idea at the time, and so far it's turned out pretty well. I really enjoyed training, and I'm liking it here as well. I'm hoping to make it to officer someday, but we'll see." he added.
"I'm sure you'll make a good officer one day, probably sooner rather than later. And if you're off your game I'd hate to see you when you're on your game. You're probably going to kick my ass, but what if we make it interesting. A wager of some sort?"
Narrowing his eyes and giving the man a guarded smile Jovani spoke, "Thanks, man. What sort of wager were you thinking of?", he asked.
"I don't know. Nothing major. Loser buys dinner, on the Station not here on the ship, or maybe just drinks, assuming you're old enough to drink."
Jovani laughed, "Yeah, I'm old enough. Sure, why not. Winner buys a round of drinks. I saw a club that looked pretty interesting when I first arrived. Wouldn't mind checking it out.", He replied.
"What kind of club was it?" he asked genuinely curious.
"I'm not sure, but it looked pretty chill. I heard some electronica at one point, and I think some hip hop as well. Looked like a fun place.", Jovani replied.
"You'll have to excuse me, I'm not," Ian tried to think of the correct Terran term, "from Topeka anymore, what is Hip Hop?"
Jovani gave Ian a bemused look, "It's a form of music from Earth. Heavy base, more rhyming lyrically, tends to be a more urban form of music than most others.", he said. Just as he was about to get into position to start the game he realized he'd been in the gym for a while, "Wait, I might have to take a rain check on this game, actually...", he said, letting his voice trail off.
Looking over to the main chronometer set high up on the wall he noticed it was now getting pretty late. "Yeah, I'm sorry, I have to be up really early tomorrow morning. I'm going to have to take a rain check. That alright?", he asked.
"Sure, no problem. It was nice meeting you. I'll see you around sometime I'm sure."
'Most definitely.", Jovani replied, and began to trek back to the locker room to get his stuff and get cleaned up. He'd meant to be in bed nearly an hour ago, and in his mind, he was already dreading that early morning training session.
Ian watched the other man walk towards the locker room and he turned to go back to his room."