Story:Filling the Void

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Filling the Void
Written by DeCr3ature

Co-authored by HerrWozzeck


Diablo Chavez III, known by his friends as simply DC3, naga and current head coach of the Tennessee Moonshiners, was sitting in his office, scrolling through a list of the current free agents on his laptop. There was a scowl on his face as he worked through the list. In another window was the current Moonshiners roster. He was mumbling to himself as he scrolled through.

“Raoul….No. Why would he come to Tennessee?”

“Scoonie wouldn’t be a fan of this place either….”

“Even has three teams already battling for him…”

He pushed the laptop off to the side with a sigh.

Things were not looking too good for the ‘shiners right now. Dewitt had jumped ship and signed on with San Jose, for a much smaller amount of money. Barnaby Jazz went to Thrust as well, for a smaller sum than what was offered by Tennessee, citing that “he didn’t feel like the Tennessee fans would welcome him”. Theodore Rockwell went back to Baltimore, but no surprise there. Free Agency hadn’t been kind to the Nashville based team.

Luckily, there were some bright spots in all this darkness. Daius Aurelias and Mariam V. Walstein were obtained via free agency, to help solidify the frontcourt. Russell Savoy and Benjamin Durby were acquired via trades. But there still remained one problem, one that was created by the amnestying of Lucas Dupre; the team still needed a leader.

Diablo was shocked out of his thoughts by a loud rapping at the door.

“Come in.”

The door opened, and in stepped Hank Sawyer. The opossum tugged on the collar of his flannel shirt as he looked at his new coach.

“Howdy, Mr…. uh… Chayvez?” he asked. “Chavez?”

Diablo smiled slightly as the possum stood in front of his desk.

“You have it right the second time. Diablo Chavez III, but you’ll be calling me Coach Chavez. Take a seat” He offered, gesturing to the chair next to Hank. “We haven’t been officially introduced yet. You’re Hank Sawyer, I presume?”

“The one and only, Mr. Chavez.” Hank sat down, pausing as he settled into the chair. “Sorry ‘bout that. That’s mighty conceited o’ me ta say.”

“It’s not conceited if it’s true, Hank. Anyways, it’s good to finally meet you as coach to player. Do you know why I called you to meet with me?”

“Well, Mr. Chavez, I can’t say I’ve got any idea,” Hank replied. He leaned forward, clasping his hands together. “What did ya call me in for?”

“Well, you are aware that with all the changes we have had in our roster this offseason, things have gotten…..messy. We lost some good players to free agency, and others, such as Lucas Dupre, were simply not worth what their contract was paying them. Especially with Barton gone, there exist a hole both at the point guard position, and, more importantly, as a leader.” Hank paused, glancing at the floor. His expression shifted, and Diablo noticed a kind of uncertainty in the way Hank’s brows were bent as he looked back up at his coach. “Ya want me ta play on the startin’ line, don’t ya?” he asked.

“Yes, that’s part of it. The other part, I want you to lead the team. I want you to become the leader on our squad. The first step in that would be naming you team captain.” He paused for a second, letting his tongue lazily flick out before he continued, “Thoughts?”

Hank’s frown deepened a little bit. “Wait… Ya really think…?” He paused, turning away. “I mean, I’m flattered ya think I can be team captain, but… I ain’t been in the FBA for very long.” He then leaned forward. “And ya got a bunch of older guys on this here team. I… I dunno if I’m ready ta take on that kind o’ responsibility, Mr. Chavez.”

“Age is not relevant in this situation, Hank. Yes, there are players older than you, who have had more years in the FBA, but none of them display the qualities that I am looking for in a leader.”

“That ain’t the issue,” said Hank. “The issue is, I ain’t been in the league that long. Ye’re askin’ me ta be the team captain after my rookie season. Are ya sure ye’re askin’ the right person? I mean… I reckon Eli or Mr. Exen or someone’d make a much better captain than I could.”

“Hank, you’re displaying one of those qualities I was referring to now” He laughed a bit as he said this. “Humility. Too many players in this league think they are so much bigger than they actually are. You, no, you’re different. You aren’t afraid to acknowledge a fault or a failure of yours, and that makes you all the better for it.”

“I dunno…” Hank rubbed his head. “I ain’t ever been a leader before. I mean, there’s mah band and all that, but that’s different. It ain’t like bein’ a captain or anythin’.”

“How is that so different Hank? Your bandmates, they listen to you, and look up to you, no? They play alongside you.”

“Yeah, but it ain’t like managin’ a sports team,” he said. “Not… completely, anyway.” He sighed. “I just… I dunno, Mr. Chavez. I spent most of my time last season ridin’ the bench. What makes ya think I’d make a good captain?”

“No on else on the team quite embody the Tennessee Moonshiners in the way you do. You have talent, and I intend to make use of every bit of talent you have Hank, to help this team win. I can see that you can become a leader. But in the end, it is really up to you. I’m not going to lie to you. It won’t be easy. You will be looked up to, but you will also be blamed for the failures of the team. You will have to lead the team both on and off the court, and your actions will be observed closely by the others. Again, I leave the decision to you. So what is it Hank?”

“I… I dunno,” said Hank. He rubbed his head. “Ye’re askin’ me ta take a real big responsibility. It ain’t somethin’ to take lightly.” He sighed. “Can I think about it? I can give ya an answer tomorrow, if ya like.”

He nodded “Sure, but no later than tomorrow. Is there any questions about the team you wanted to ask, or anything you’ve been wanting to get off your mind?”

“Not really, I reckon,” Hank replied. “I’ll have ta get back to ya when I find out who’s a constant on this team.”

“That’s really up to Ayanna. I can suggest things to her, but in the end, she makes the final decision. Sorry I can’t give you anything more concrete. If that’s all, then I think we’re done here. Feel free to stop in anytime you need to talk to discuss anything. My door’s open.”

“If ya say so, Mr. Chavez.” Hank stood up, walking towards the door. “I’ll see ya tomorrow, then.”

“Alright then, take care.”

With this, Hank exited the room. As soon as the door closed behind him, he let out a nervous sigh. He looked up to the ceiling, before walking away with a slightly quick step.

--

Hank entered his house, closing the door behind him. As soon as he entered, he saw Jenna as she turned to face him from where she lounged on the couch. On the TV, some sci-fi show was playing (he recognized it as Battlestar Galactica almost immediately), and as soon as Jenna looked up, she smiled. She quickly sat up, hitting pause on the TV as she stood up.

Hank smiled, putting his hands in his pockets. “Ya were watchin’ it, finally!” he said.

“Hey, I figured it’s about time I started watching it.” Jenna walked over, before gently kissing Hank’s cheek. “How are ya?”

Hank nodded, taking his hands out of his pocket as he shrugged. “Well, I’m gettin’ along best I can reckon,” said Hank as he walked over to the kitchen. “The team’s startin’ ta come together, and let me tell ya we’ve got quite the crew.”

“Sounds like pretty good guys,” Jenna replied. “Ya don’t think you’ll wind up in the same place you were last year, do ya?”

Hank shook his head. “I reckon not right now,” said Hank. “And even if we ain’t gonna make the playoffs, we ain’t gonna be at the bottom o’ the whole FBA, either. And that’s somethin’.” He sighed, placing his hands on a kitchen counter. “Kinda meetin’ up with a big change, though.”

Jenna leaned forward as she walked across the counter from him. “Something bothering ya?” she asked.

Hank sighed, looking down at the floor. “My new coach asked me if I’d like ta be team captain this year,” he said.

Jenna blinked, leaning back. “Team captain?” she asked. She gently placed her hands on the counter, looking Hank directly in the eye. “Wait, ya ain’t kidding me, are ya?”

“Ya know me, Jenna,” Hank replied. “I ain’t one ta kid with ya on that.”

“Still, I don’t believe it,” said Jenna. “You, captain of the Moonshiners! That’s… Dang, that’s a lot of responsibility, though.”

“That’s what I told ‘im,” Hank replied. He stepped away from the counter, walking back towards the fridge. “I dunno if I can handle it, Jenna. I mean, ya know I ain’t been playin’ long in this dang league. How can ya expect me ta lead?”

Jenna shrugged. “Well… Ya work real well with others,” said Jenna. She chuckled. “Believe me, I got plenty o’ experience with that.”

Hank chuckled, grabbing a glass from the cupboard and opening the freezer for some ice cubes. “Ye’re just sayin’ that,” Hank replied.

“But it’s the truth, though,” said Jenna. “Ya gotta command a kind of trust in bands, ya know, and I think you’ve got that too.”

Hank turned, turning on the tap water. “But it ain’t the same on the court,” said Hank. “I dunno, Jenna. I just don’t know if I’m ready ta lead yet.”

Jenna nodded. She leaned her elbows against the counter, propping her head up on her hand as she watched Hank fill the glass. After a few seconds, she dropped one arm, tapping a hoof against hardwood floor softly as she thought.

“Ya know what I think?” she asked.

“What?” asked Hank as he turned to Jenna.

“I think ya underestimate yerself all the time,” she said. “I mean, first it was that whole starting line thing ya were worried about last season. And now it’s this.”

“I did talk ta ya ‘bout that, didn’t I?” he asked.

“Yep,” Jenna replied. She leaned back, looking up at Hank as he approached her. “And look what happened when ya went with it. Ya got player of the game!” She paused, gently patting Hank’s arm. “I get the feelin’ the same thing’ll happen here.”

“Well…” he said. He trailed off. “What if I don’t do right by this team? The Moonshiners’ve seen lots o’ failure already. An’ askin’ me ta be team captain? Those’re mighty big shoes ta fill, Jenna, and he’s askin’ me ta do that. If we get bad games, all that’s on my shoulders. And…” He sighed. “I don’t wanna let ‘em down, Jenna. So many people’ll be dependin’ on me, an’ if I don’t do it right everyone’s gonna know it.”

Jenna lightly squeezed Hank’s arm. “Hey,” she said. Hank looked right into her eyes. “Ya know what I told you before ya got player of the game, right?”

Hank nodded. “Yeah…” he said. “But what if…?”

“Well, ya just got this Diablo character there, right?” Jenna asked. “He’s new, and he’s askin’ ya a lot of ya. And ya know what? I reckon he wouldn’t ask if he didn’t see somethin’ in ya.” Jenna smiled, leaning her head against Hank’s.

“Yeah, but… I ain’t got much experience,” Hank replied.

“Ya got drive,” Jenna replied. “I figure that counts for a lot more, ‘cause then you’ll always be changin’ what ya do to find out what works.” She shrugged. “It ain’t easy to lead, but I think ya got what it takes. You’ll find ways to make it work.”

Hank sighed, lifting a hand up and running his fingers through Jenna’s hair. “Ya sound like Pa sometimes,” Hank replied, closing his eyes.

Jenna let out a short laugh, closing her eyes in turn. “Glad I could help ya,” she said.

Hank nodded. “Dang, and ta think I’d ask Pa on the phone,” he said. “It ain’t the same gettin’ that advice at the end of the phone.” He opened his eyes, looking directly into Jenna’s eyes as she looked up at him.

He then breathed out, stepping back. “Well, I reckon I know what I gotta do now,” he said. “I just hope I know what I’m doin’…”

--

Hank knocked rather loudly on his coach’s door the next morning.

“If that’s you Hank, come in. It’s unlocked.”

Hank opened the door, stepping in and walking straight up to Diablo’s desk. The naga merely glanced up at the mammal with a bored expression.

Hank exhaled, looking at Diablo as he breathed in. “Well, I’ve thought about it, Mr. Chavez,” he replied.

“And…?”

Hank breathed in. “If ye’re sure that I’m the right man for bein’ captain… I’ll do it.”

“Good. I knew you were going to accept. I already had advised Ayanna to get the captain's patch sewn to your jersey.” He chuckled.

Hank sighed. “I just hope I can do it,” he said. “I’m trustin’ ya on this.”

“Don’t worry. I believe in you. The team will believe in you.”

Hank nodded. “I hope so, sir,” he said. He then looked to the clock. “Well, I reckon we better get ta practice.”

“Yes, we should, and by the way, being captain means to get to help lead the team in practice. Also, it starts in five minutes. Better run.” He chuckled.

Hank nodded, before turning around. “Well, ye’re gonna be late, too, if ya stay here,” he said. “Well, if ya don’t mind my sayin’, Mr. Chavez.”

“Hank, I can’t be late, I’m the coach. Practice starts when I say it does. Now go on, or I’ll bench you during the scrimmages.” He smirked and motioned for Hank to get going.

“Yes, sir!” And with this, Hank rushed out of the office, turning hard as he made his way down to the locker rooms.







Featured Characters

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