twenty-five

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Reassuring smiles and friendly pats on shoulders meant nothing when the world was literally about to end.

I didn't know what was worse, our opponent's never ending stamina or the fact that I could barely stand on my feet anymore. The coach had just called half time, and our whole team had gathered at one side of the field to catch a break.

The game felt as if it had been going on for hours. No matter how hard we tried, how much we focused, the other team was reckless. I wasn't even sure what exactly made them so much better than us.

I had noticed that some of them were fast runners, but so were we. They were skilled with the ball, but so were we. And they still ended up with four goals after just 45 minutes.

"Here, drink," Trevor said, suddenly appearing next to me with a water bottle. I briefly glanced at him before taking the bottle and screwing the lid open.

"This water reminds me of today," I commented after taking my first sip. "It tastes like shit."

Trevor just sighed and sat down next to me on the bench. I turned my head, looking over to where Asher and the others were standing. Once Asher noticed my glance he turned away, and I did the same.

"It's really hard to keep a positive attitude when everyone's constantly telling you to give up," Trevor said, sounding tired.

Rolling the bottle between my hands, I shrugged. "If you're looking for motivation, you're in the wrong place. I'm part of the people that tell you to give up."

"I know, I know." He smiled faintly. "And there goes my dream of winning the competitions."

"Hey, this is just high school soccer. It doesn't really matter," I said and raised a brow. "It's just kids playing against kids. What even is the prize for this shit?"

"Eight hundred Euro," Trevor replied without missing a beat. "Also, your chances of being offered a scholarship are higher."

"Wow," I whispered. "Eight hundred for chasing a ball? Shit, some people are geniuses."

Trevor shrugged. "Doesn't matter now, anyway."

I hesitated when a thought took form in my head. This wasn't only risky, but also incredibly rude. Then again, since when did I care about Trevor's opinion?

"So, you don't have a last trick in your sleeve?" I asked casually. "Like, foul someone? Ah, that might be a little difficult today. They're all equally good."

Trevor turned his head to look at me. "What?"

"What what?" I replied, meeting his gaze.

"This. You. What do you mean?"

"You tell me." I shrugged. "Or not. I already know what you did."

A pause. When he started speaking again, his voice was lowered.

"It was necessary."

A humorless chuckle escaped my throat. "Ha, yeah. I'm sure plenty of kids deserve to be kicked in the shin."

Trevor clenched his fist next to me. "You don't understand. It was necessary."

I leant forwards, resting my elbows on my knees and coming closer to Trevor's face. He didn't flinch back nor meet my gaze. He was staring at the ground, his fists still clenched, his jaw slightly trembling from how hard he was gritting his teeth.

"Just like it was necessary to foul Asher last year?"

Trevor slightly tilted his head in my direction. "I didn't want to do it. I'm not a monster. I just- I had to win. I have to." Another pause, and he swallowed, hard. "It's not like I don't regret it."

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