Story:Being that star
Being that star
Written by Zenbas
An FBA story featuring Arther Selby, Thomas Royall, and Blake Kelly.
Special thanks to Harlow (Thomas), Lazerus Otter (Kiara) and BladesDaRaccoon (Blake) for lending me their characters
This story takes place on the 26th and 27th April 2020
“Come on Arther, reach that limit and push through!”
Arther’s paws hit the court one after the other. Brock the coach kept shouting at the rabbit as he ran. The rest of the team carried on with their drills as he did. Arther blocked out the rest of the world as he ran, the troubles he’d been having left on the outside. The problems with Kiara were playing on his mind over the last few days. They did have a chat and worked out a few things, but it was obvious she was still annoyed about staying on the bench . Not that he could blame her, he felt the same way before Royall gave him a second chance. Although he was not as...vocal as she was. Even though he diffused the situation, he felt this may not be the last he hears of it, especially if after all of this she stays with the shiners.
“Alright stop there Arther!” Brock shouted to Arther as he approached the end of the lap. Arthur tried to get his breath back as the Badger continued “I would give you five but Royall wants you in his office now.”
“Really? Did he say why?”
“Not a clue, said it was important”
Arther glanced over at Kiara, she was already looking over, staring daggers at the pair. He instinctively looked away back to Brock. “I…better not keep him waiting.”
He made his way, taking only a moment to freshen up in the changing rooms.
What was this about? Is it his performance? Is this Kiara’s doing? Didn’t I smooth it over? Why now?
It wasn’t long before Arther stood in front of the door. His stomach was in knots as he knocked on it. “Come on in...” a stern voice came from the other side. With one final deep breath, Arther slowly opened the door to the office to find Thomas Royall sat at the desk; his gaze still on the pages that covered it. He reminded Arther of his headteacher back at school, firm, strict, not one for shenanigans. The aura he gave made Arther uneasy, he felt he was back at school. Nevertheless he was the boss, so he should be treated with respect. Arther took a seat as the deers gaze left his paperwork and started to speak.
"As you know the season's coming to a close and I want to keep up with the current rookies. Damon already came earlier, and so it's your turn now..." Arther stayed silent as the deer carried on with such confidence in his words. "To make matters short, I'd like to talk about your season, as we are going into the playoffs..."
“Ok...” Arther nodded as the knot in his stomach got tighter, his heart felt like it was gonna jump out of his chest at any moment.
"As the #1 pick, I have to say, glad you've lived to the hype, you got good numbers, good ethic and none of the ego..."
All of the tension disappeared as he gave a sigh of relief, a compliment was rare, so this was a blessing in disguise, even if it was brief. “Glad I was able to live up to it, still feel I have a lot to prove...”
"Albeit...”interrupting Arther ”there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of social projection. Seeing your social media posts, it just seems you're giving out too much to opponents, and it can cost us victories. You get where I'm going with this?"
“Honestly sir...no, I get that I need to sound more confident and all but...giving out to opponents?”
The elder deer tapped on a tablet and gave it to Arther. On it, various posts of Arther's social media feed filled every nook and cranny. His tweet to the tides, the wildcards, even the interview transcripts back from the preseason, each with various words circled. If it wasn’t for the lack of red ink, you would have assumed the deer was marking his tweets as if it was school work. "See, when you're doing posts that sound scared or defeatist, it just gives off a very... novice quality. It can also come across as 'fraternizing with the enemy', yes?"
“So what your saying is I’m being too honest to the point where its doing more harm than good...right?”
"Less honest and more..." Royall looks to the side for a second, "...naive"
“I see...didn’t realise I gave that air...”
"Just overall put a braver face. I'd say that being in our situation, I'm not averse for a social media lockdown or supervisors if push comes to shove. The devil's on the details"
“I’ll...try to keep that in mind...last thing i want to be is a wet sponge for fans”
"You're the #1 pick, you can afford to act like it , son. Right now Arther don't convince me 100% he wants the playoffs. Does he?"
“Of course I want to make playoffs!” Arther’s answer flew out his mouth, his knee-jerked reaction took him by surprise, yet Royall stayed cool as ever. "Well then, shake off the naivete, and stay put without thinking much of your opponents. Else it could happen like the Dunk Contest"
Arther groans just at the mention of the contest, “Don’t remind me, that’s one experience I won’t forget soon.” Mr Royall had a point, maybe it was the reason why the things landed as they did he pondered.
"Alright then, I think we talked enough. Let's go on and get on those playoffs" dismissing the rabbit without delay.
The Huntsville game was on Arther’s Radar. Not because of the game, rather what followed. Even after a tough game like that, Royall still made Arther take a walk through Fan access, although this time it was alone. Not only that, Royall made him make a tweet to draw in some fans. “It's good for your social skills” and “the fans pay for your cheques, so we need to give back” were some of the reason Royall gave. There was no point in arguing, look where Kiara was. Showered and in a fresh jersey, he started his shift, the walls covered in various pictures and memorabilia. A fans paradise. For Arther though, there were a number of places he would rather be right now. At least it was quiet. He began to wander around the room to occupy himself, looking at the various items on display, after a while, one cabinet in particular stopped Arther in his tracks. He peered in, looking at a picture of the 2014 champions. Within it, Barry Carpenter, the beaver had his arm around an otter. The former ballers now owners of a bar, but what was clear to anyone how good friend they were.
”You had it worse didn’t you Barry, at least Kiara is no Swinton ...no doubt you had loads of fans look up to you at that point...expecting a lot from you...” he mumbled as he stared at the picture, contemplating everything that royall had mentioned and what he was facing in the coming weeks “if you were in my shoes, what would you do now?”
Arther jumped out of his skin at the sound. He spun on the spot to find the door to the room wide open and a Deer standing in front of it.
“AAAAAHHHHHH YOU’RE ARTHER!” The fan shouting at the top of his lungs, his voice bellowing out like a horn.
Arther stood there as his heart continued to pound against his chest. The deer had already started to approach before he could utter a word. His mind went wild as he tried to make sense of the situation.
Just calm down, they wouldn’t let him back here if he meant any harm, He’s just a fan, he’s just a fan, he’s just a fan, he’s just a fan, he’s just a oh my gosh he’s so big. The deer towered over the rabbit, adorned in piercings, various colours in his hair. This fan was one of a kind. It was a lot to take in all at once. “Um…yeah, I...” Arther tried his best to utter a coherent sentence but struggled to get the words out.
After a moment, the buck seemed to back off, surprised at the reaction he got. “Oh uh...too much of an entrance there?” The joy in his face turned into worry.
“N-no its fine” Arther began “it...just been a long time since I had someone of your size charge at me off-court with such energy ”
"Yeah, I get it. I'm a bit of an imposing lookin guy. The piercings and what not probably don't help."
The pair gave out a nervous laugh at the whole situation. Both were trying their best to lighten the mood, although Arther stomach started to churn as the situation became awkward; at least for him.
everything is fine, take control of the conversation and you can get through this, you are not the rabbit you was in Bangor… As the pair continued to laugh, the number on the deers jersey caught Arther’s eye. “that Jersey...” pointing at it as he did “#44...I’m guessing you are a fan of Woodchuck?”
The mention alone brought a smile back to the Deer's face "The big beaver himself Barry Carpenter. I know a lotta people mistook him for a woodchuck at first."
“I know I accidentally made that mistake about him when i was young...but I learned soon enough. The fact you know about Barry means you’ve been following the shiners for a long time, am i right?”
"I've been a fan since I was seven years old. My dad even got us tickets to the 2014 finals series. Always swore he would if the 'Shiners ever made the finals...and he made good on it."
“That’s one good dad…So a long term fan then…Who returned to the Moonshiners in 2010 after playing with the Thrusts?”
"The cruiser himself, Paul Teronura."
“What year did we win the championship?”
"2014. Still got my tickets for that series."
“ok i guess that was an easy one... now for the real test...” Arther started to spitball questions in rapid concession after each answer, giving little time for the deer to process
“Who was the player of the game in the first game of that series?”
"Jamie Velasquez, AKA the Divebomber."
“Which bar is known to hold memorabilia of the shiners?”
"The Oily Bastards, want to go there for my birthday."
“What’s another name for the still?”
"The Basket and Ball."
“what colour underwear are you wearing?”
Arther couldn’t help but chuckle at the deers answer, Blake covered his mouth the moment he blurted it out; not realising what the rabbit asked. Arther calmed down but started to feel guilty about asking that last question.
“I’m really sorry about that last one, that was mean of me...Anyway what’s your name?”
"Blake...My name's Blake. Blake Kelly. Maybe you've heard my name floating around the FCAA."
“Blake...It does ring a bell…so you play too then, local?”
"I'm at NC Wolfpack so not local-local but state-wise like your next-door neighbor, and seeing how things go this year you might see me in the draft."
“Oh Really...” Arthers mind went blank, trying to come up with a talking point, or at least a way to exit the conversation “soooo being a long time fan guess you seen this room a few times right?”
"A few yeah. Think I was about...nine years old the first time I got a pass for back here."
“Mmmm…” 'gosh my throat getting abit dry, could do with … thats it! “....Just mill about here for a few mins, just need to grab a drink” picking up his bottle that he hid behind a cabinet
“You got it!”
Arther caught the sight of Blake nodding before the door closed behind him
He walked down the corridor before taking a sigh of relief.
That could've gone alot better, there was no need for the underwear question test, he was obviously a fan. At least he seemed happy enough. The water fountain was a short walk but enough to give the rabbit a breather.
As his bottle was filling, he kept on thinking about Blake
Quiet, Wearing a players jersey, probably his favourite player, catching every game, hell even down to his extensive knowledge of his favorite team. Heck, if it wasn't for his piercing and such he kinda reminds me of…
As it dawned on him, he saw Blake in a different light, a kid in love with the game. He felt he was looking in a mirror.
He said he was putting his name down. Could he help Blake? SHOULD he help Blake? Am I the right fur? He started to think back at all of the games, the training and all of the highs and lows he had this year.
treat it like a marathon
You're one of the most likeable furs i've ever met
Do your own thing
Put on a brave face
Take your time...Deep breaths
“...I’ve gotta start somewhere, right?” He looked down the corridor, chatting to Blake wasn’t good for either of them, he couldn't just let him leave here with nothing. If they both wanted to reach their goals, he had to do more. But if he was going to do this, he was going to do it where he had the advantage. Pulling out his phone, he took a moment and then started to make a phone call.
“...Hey Mr Royall… yeah everything is fine...no, i'm still at the fan access...yes I know it's late...look! Can I ask a favor?”
Blake stood in the room, still giddy from the interaction. What seemed like hours felt like moments for the young buck, he was still happy he was able to talk to the new rookie… no, star. So for him, it wasn’t long when the door swung open, with Arther peeking around the door
“You in a rush to get away?” Arther asked him; Looking around the empty room as he did
"Umm...not really. I'm in no rush today, Why? Got some super secret plan?"
“Just follow me” waving at the Deer to follow.
“Okay. Need me to close my eyes or anything?"
“Mmmm Nah, I want to give you a sense of what it’s like from the other side.”
“What do you mean the other side?”
Blake followed the rabbit's lead, not knowing where they were heading. Going through doors even a superfan like himself has never been through. The more he didn’t recognise, the more he got curious. His curiosity then turned into awe when he recognised where he was. Standing in the tunnel, the pair walked out onto the court for the moonshiners. All of the ‘shiners, past or present, had passed through this tunnel, and now he was walking the path that they had made."Wow...This feels...incredible. Just a little of what the big time feels like..."
Unbeknown to him, Arther was smiling at his reaction, he let him enjoy the feeling…before getting down to business.
“Hey Blake!” The Deer broke from his daze and looked towards Arther “Catch!”
Without hesitation Blake caught the basketball that was flying to his chest, It didn’t take him long to figure out what the rabbit was thinking “Oh! Okay, wanna play huh? Well, I got a move or two under my sleeve. Even though I ain't really got sleeves on at the moment."
“Don’t think I’ll go easy on you just cus you are a fan”
Like a flip of a switch, Arther’s demeanour changed. Blake has seen that look a few times before on TV, this was the baller he came to recognise. He swallowed hard, If the rabbit is taking this seriously, he needed to give it his all "Very well then. Luckily i'm in basketball shape so...I should stand a chance." He started to pound the ball hard on the court, trying to get himself into the zone "Right, here we go..."
Blake started to make his drive, he knew his dribble was high but he put that to the back of his mind as he tried to spin pass the rabbit, Arther kept up with the buck’s moves but his defence was flawed, seeing the opportunity Blake shot past the rabbit and sinked the ball “tough one but.. its good!”
“that wasn’t too bad, thought I could of out maneuver you and catch you out, probably should of gone for the steal”
He saw an opportunity? Then why didn’t he take it? Why isn’t he going all out? What is he planning? Blake pondered as his opponent went to pick up the ball for his drive. Ok, he likely going to go for a three if i stay close i can use my height to block it
As he got into position, he caught Arther grinning
Wait, why is he... Without warning, Arther approached with such speed; catching the deer off guard.
Blake did his best to keep up with the rabbit but could not match his speed, as he got behind him, he could do nothing but watch as Arther drive the ball home.
where did that come from? The deer was stunned at the difference in skill
“You got some speed... I’m impressed” Arther began, his breath heavy as he passed the ball to Blake “What position do you normally play?”
"Primarily, I'm a shooting guard. Played it all through High school. Then in college i had a recent growth spurt so my college coach has been experimenting with putting me at the 3 and the 4 as well."
“The spurt might explain the...just dribble the ball for me for a sec”
"Okay..." Blake started to dribble, he felt exposed as the rabbit looked.
“Can you take it abit lower?”
Blake started dribbling lower, when he got close to knee-level on him clearly it began getting awkward. It felt so alien dribbling at this height
“I know this is going to feel strange, but come at me again trying to keep that height in mind”
"I'll give it a shot..."
Blake began his approach, trying to keep the ball lower this time as he attempted a similar routine. He nearly lost the ball on the drive however, despite saving it he was stuck on the spot before conceding the drive
"That...could've gone better."
“What I’m asking you to do is not easy and I realise I’m putting you on the spot here... just one more time”
"Okay. It just...It pisses me off!” Blake threw the ball at the backboard in frustration, it flew over the pair before resting near the center of the court “I used to be able to do that no problem before my growth spurt. Now it's all...different."
Blake stood there and watched as Arther took his time to retrieve the ball, but instead of passing it, he just looked at it. “...What if I said I had a slasher style before starting university,” Arther began before looking back at Blake “what would you say about that?”
"I'd believe it. The way you got to my back on that drive."
“If that’s the case, why do you think it is different now?”
It didn’t take long for Blake to put two and two together "Something in your life changed."
Arther Nodded “Exactly, would you say you're in a similar boat now?”
"Yeah, I'm still not used to being a...a giant like this."
“Then take some time to learn, your in the perfect place to find out what works, trust me it took me years, in fact I’m one of the oldest in this rookie class, some probably consider me the old fart of the group”
The pair couldn't help but chuckle and a small smile came back on Blake’s face "Thanks Arther...that helped. I know i'll figure it out just more a question of when." “If Woodchuck can make a comeback, I’m sure you can too, just keep at it,” before bouncing the ball back to Blake “Right, come at me again!”
They both had a few more drives before the cleaners kicked them out. They slowly made their way back towards the exit. The rabbit seemed deep in thought as he escorted the deer. The sheer difference in character seemed to only make Blake more curious.
“...Hope i wasn’t too hard on you back there,” Arther began “just wanted to make sure you left here with something that would help you out rather than just another night looking at memorabilia.”
"And it's been a great help. I know i'll remember this for the rest of my life for sure.It's gonna take some time but...i'll get used to this body of mine once again. I'll bring so much to the league."
Arther smiles, as he pats the deer on the back “I know you will, time is on your side, listen to your coach, take your time and just keep working at it.” Arther stops at the exit and faced Blake “I need to head back in and sort out a couple of things so I’ll catch you ...oh hold on” he disappeared behind a nearby desk before coming back with a drawstring bag in hand for the young fan “wait until you get home before you have a look”
"Thank you so much Arther...this...this has been more than I coulda asked for." Unable to hold back his joy, he grabbed the bag and gave Arther a hug; squashing the air out of him.
“No problem at all.” Arther weezed. As Blake let go, the rabbit recomposed himself “Have a safe journey home Blake”
"I'll take care. You keeping ballin' alright?"
“Will do! I want that rematch after all!”
As Blake gave one final wave, he watched the grinning Rabbit close the door behind him, before heading off with the moon high in the sky.