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The Best of Us (Sequel of “The Best of You”):

Chapter Two

                Author: Blackthorn Lord

*Hi everyone! I’m back with a second installment of “The Best of Us” (just a separate title for the sequel). This is the sequel to The Best of You and takes place `12 years after the downfall of that. That was the beginning of Alyson and Cari’s journey, but this is the true beginning, and second chances only come once. So this is desperation time for Alyson and Cari to finally find some peace of mind in themselves and in their relationship. But can they make things work? Can they work through their shared history? Read on to find out.

(Cari, Part 4):

After a week of getting things settled with the school and coaches. As well as her being on a 3-year contract officially with the team, which she was more than happy to take, she found herself waking some hours later. Cari found herself in her dimly-lit bathroom, after having relieved herself, and slowly stretching, she began thinking about how she’d be able to deal with Alyson’s bitching attitude towards her for all of summer. The end of winter was approaching and she knew she’d be wanted in all of the coaches meetings.

She, as well as Alyson, as already having been told as much by the coach, they would be introducing themselves to the other coaches, that included the jumping, throwing, and other assistant coaches.

There were four coaches all together now. The head coach, Jess, who was the great overseer of everyone, the new mid and long distance, Cari, the new sprinting coach, Alyson, and the throwing coach who also was a recent acquisition. The only ones there not new were the head coach, and the throwing and jumping coach, Jen Soltzmann, yet everyone just called her Soltz or Jen, and she also was a college thrower as well as jumper. She remained the record-holder for the discus and javelin throw from her college. Cari was the mid and long distance coach now. So, the long and mid-distance student-athletes would come to her and she’d be the one in charge of dealing with their attendance, workouts, and making sure they were focused during practice.  She had already comprised her first three weeks of workouts as following the Jack Daniel 80-20% rule of endurance-building before speed-building. The speed workouts on the track could wait a little while as most of the students had come off of some kind of training from either Cross Country in the fall, or volleyball, basketball, or skiing in the winter. The school didn’t have Indoor Track, yet, as it wasn’t a part of the budget, but with Alyson and Cari both joining they believed they could find an indoor coach to run the team. She moved softly back to her bed. She looked over and saw it read 7:21 AM on her bedside table. She decided on a short yoga session and then a shower.

After her workout and quick shower, which she glanced at her clock and saw that it read at around 9 AM, she decided she was going to get an early start and get to the school to scout around. Cari decided on something simple for the day. A nice t-shirt and shorts combo. It was going to be warmer today than it had in December. It would get colder before getting warmer. They had a school coaching meeting at 12 where everyone would introduce, or reintroduce themselves, to each other and they would begin discussing responsibilities.

She had met a few of them already from having watched a few of their races in the Fall, and because the best girl runner was the head coach”s daughter, Peggy. She knew that the Cross Country boys were coming off their worst season, team-wise, but they had two of the best in the state for the mile and 800 meter races. The girls were coming off another Sectional championship win and a State finish of 12th place. The girls were in good shape, but the boys needed some serious work. The boys had 4 very good runners. The girls had two really solid runners, but the rest were more speed than strength. That was her job to figure out who would run what and how good they could do with that distance. It was up to them how they wanted to run that race.

She had her breakfast, got dressed, and got out and to the school in under fifteen minutes. It wasn’t a far drive from the school, which was a blessing in disguise, and she soon arrived there, found a decent parking spot, and walked to the school. She had her ID with her just in case she’d need it. She introduced herself to the person at the front desk and told her who she was and why she was there.

She also was introduced to the Principal, Principal Joe Jackson, an older dark-skinned gentleman with gray hair and a nice suit to match his pants, who once played rugby and who, it still managed to show, stayed active and fit. After a brief talk with him, and him welcoming her warmly to the school, she went to the lower level of the school, which was only three floors, and found that the track was currently in use with some students jogging around and some walking, gym class, my favorite. She thought as she stared out the window briefly.

She was pulled out of her thoughts when she heard someone call from behind her and say, “You know, you could go down there instead of watching like a weird stalker.”

She almost would’ve laughed if she wasn’t so flustered by the person saying the words, Alyson. She turned and saw Alyson, who she’d just seen days before, and yet she was almost stunned into silence at the track pants and sweatshirt she had on. Cari, too, decided on something simple for the day. A nice t-shirt and shorts combo. It was an easy fit for her slim, tight body.

She slowly let out a breath and responded, as kindly as she could, “Hi, Alyson. I didn’t know bursa escort you were coming in today.”

Alyson looked at her curiously before saying, “I’m pretty sure all the Outdoor track and field coaches have to attend the coaches meeting today. It’ll be boring for sure, but at least we can meet the other coaches.”  

Cari wanted to smack herself for slipping like that, but before she could apologize or correct herself, Alyson stepped closer to her, now Cari could feel her heat and smell her Ocean-breeze scent, and she almost passed out at Alyson saying, “I love teasing you like this. It brings back good memories. The ones from before life got…” thinking of a word and not finding a good one, Alyson then took a step back, enough of one to give Cari time to breath and Alyson steadied herself before saying, “I just wanted to apologize for how things were left the other day. I was having a rough day-”

“I know.” Cari cut in. When Alyson glanced up at her questioningly, Cari explained with a wave of her hand, “I know about your girlfriend,  Jack told me.”

It was then that Cari moved a few steps toward Alyson, but not getting too close, and she explained, “I didn’t know. If I had, I would’ve never been stand-offish with you. I lost my stepfather, and it was sudden, but what you went through was a very different, yet equally stressful, and painful, loss.” she let the words out that she had wanted to keep in, “ And I am sorry for how I’ve treated you these last twelve years. I wasn’t a very nice person back then, not just to you but to everyone, and especially my stepdad. For taking me away and forcing me to move. For making me leave what, and who, I cared for behind. It was all shit timing in my life.”

Cari looked searchingly for Alyson to say or do something but all she could see was a blank expression.

Alyson finally took a step forward and, in a sigh of relief, hugged Cari tight to her. Alyson breathed in deeply and then out. Cari almost began to feel lightheaded at the scent of lilac that surrounded her and Alyson, and the press of Alyson’s muscular body on her. She looked up into Alyson’s eyes and saw something that she vaguely remembered from when they were making out on the swings after a rough Saturday afternoon on the track. They went to the park with a few friends that day, but had wound up being the last two to leave. That was an amazing day.

Cari was about to say something when the bell went off in the hallway. Signaling the end of classes and the end of whatever was happening between them. She gave a brief groan before Alyson stepped away from her and they walked slowly, with teenage girls and boys floating around them and going from class to class and floor to floor, and yet Cari could feel like they were still the only two together.

Cari was the first to speak, when they arrived early at the auditorium where they were supposed to meet the other coaches to talk about the events and track-related things, and she said, “We, meaning you and I, have a lot to talk about. Firstly, you become a multi-time National champ in college. Both winning the 200 and later on in the pros, both winning national and world sprinting titles, as well as winning 3 gold medals and a silver medal at two Olympics. Especially the last gold some 5 years ago, where we both happened to win medals, and also about… what this” Cari heard herself say in a rushed tone, as she motioned between them, “all means.”

Alyson still glanced over at Cari, and Cari, seeing a glimpse of what she saw earlier, decided to take a chance. Risking it, she leaned in and slowly, softly pulled Alyson in for a kiss. It was, at first, met with some reluctance, but was then soon after met with complete passion. Cari forgot how Alyson was a great kisser. Or maybe she’s actually just gotten a ton better.

Soon after the kiss started, it ended. It was Cari who pulled back this time, though. Hearing the head coach walk in and find them together, huddled five feet apart like nothing happened.

The head coach huffed out a big breath before sauntering over to Cari and Alyson, the space between them, and said, “I don’t mind what you two are doing. If anything, just having fun is fine, but I do not want whatever this” she said motioning between them, “is, to get in between the team. If it interferes with our plans of recapturing the state title, the title we’ve not even gotten to compete in as a team in the last four years.” After taking another breath, Alyson spoke up and, in a slightly deeper voice than the one she was using for Cari, said, “We were discussing ways we could help the team bond, what kind of fun exercises and activities we could get them to do, but then we also got caught up on talking about our past selves and experiences. ”

Jess just cleared her throat and said, looking to Cari, “I think, Cari, as something of a mentor, and friend, to the both of you, I would think you could trust me. I will keep this between us as long as you want. But, try not to let whatever this is,” she motioned between them, then finished, “mess up our team.”

It was then that the other coaches began filing in and they suddenly both nodded at Jess’ words. Soon, though, those thoughts that Cari had were replaced with the thoughts for how she couldn’t wait to meet her distance runners. She would always love her mile and 2-mile runners, but the 800 meter runners would get special care. That’s where the big scores could give them a big boost. That or the sprints. One of the two or both of the two. Cari thought.

Once everyone was introduced, first Cari to Jen, then shaking hands with the Athletic Director again, before finding a seat escort bayan next to Alyson.  If Cari knew anything about the notoriously tough head coach, it was that the coach loved to keep her star athletes off the track until it was time to start real workouts on the track. Sprinters and distance would use the flat grass fields that were well-kempt and maintained, running alongside the track and down below into a trail that ran beside the school. It was a place for hill, trail, off-road training, And for making out, Cari thought.

“Why are you smirking?” Alyson nudged her softly with an elbow.

Cari looked back to Alyson, who was looking back at her softly, and then she whispered in Alyson’s ear, as sexy as she could, “Oh, just remembered a funny girl who convinced me, the goodie-goodie of the team, to go down to the trail and cut school to make-out.”

After Alyson caught on, she couldn’t help but laugh out loud and she caught some attention from the head coach, who was talking to them about placement, team warmups, and the team meeting that would take place in a few days to sort out the upperclassmen and women looking for higher placing or just for one last trip. The recent transfers, and the ones who wanted to switch to a different position or event entirely. Cari and Alyson were met with not-so-nice gazes but they laughed it off and Cari said that they just thought it was funny that they would be using the same trail that they used when they were school students there.

“Well, funny you say that, Cari.” Jess spoke up, from in front of the auditorium, and she explained, “Unfortunately, Principal Jackson has not signed off on us being able to use the lower trail, behind our track, as someone fell and really hurt herself last semester in cross country, so we’re looking for an alternative trail for those days. You, coach Cari, are in charge of making sure the athletes, male and female, are running their correct training, so they can reach their full potential, but you also have to be mindful that they are still in school and are only high schoolers.”

“They can handle the workouts I give. I promise I won’t give them 15-by-800s at 2:30-interval clips with 3-mile warmups and cooldowns. Or even more than 5 by 1200.” After a pause, and looking around to see Alyson and the others smiling at that, Cari looked down at her board, at her dates and times for the workouts, then said, “At least, during the early parts of the season.” Cari explained.

        The coach just nodded and smirked at that, then softly explained, knowing that Cari knew exactly what she was doing, “I just wanted to reassure you, and you, too, Alyson,” she turned motioning to Alyson, as well, “that I just want us to do better than last season. Last season was a bust because everyone knew Carol and Janice were going to retire. They were rightfully upset, but we are going to keep going. I don’t want us to be anything ordinary.”

The coach furthered, motioning to the other coaches now, “Before we leave this meeting, I want you all to know that these young girls and boys, but especially girls, want a role-model. What better role models to have than two of the finest Olympians to come out of this tiny little recruiter school. They will latch onto you…”

After Alyson asked the burning question of “What do you want us to do?”

Jess just answered, smirking at the three coaches, “Then, I suggest you allow them to… latch on. Especially my girls, who I talked to last night, that they signed up for Outdoor today and, as I know, have been training ever since last spring for the 1500 and 800.”

With those parting words, both Jess and Jen had to get to their next classes, as they were Head Coach and Throwing/Jumping coach, but also teachers of Italian language and Italian culture classes in the school. Alyson and Cari walked to their adjacent little offices and they agreed to talk more about everything before going to their own rooms.

(Alyson, Part 5)

        Alyson sat at her new desk, in the ground level of the main athletic building, and looked around at the place that was her for the next three years. At least.

They had their first team meeting on Monday and would be doing a light practice for the first time later that day. She took her time getting in that morning and took her time picking out what to wear for her first day. She chose a nice, comfortable sweatpants and-shirt combo with shoes. Practices had pretty much all begun already for sports, and Track and Field would be no different. They had goals for the year and they wanted to really make it far for a lot of the athletes that had gone and not made it all the way, or had made it all the way but hadn’t done as much as they wanted.

That was pretty much how the meeting went earlier that morning, before school started, with her sprinters. Once everyone was split up into their groups from the team meeting, she managed to meet the sprinters. A few white and black students, male and female, and a few hispanic as well. From the previous season, she knew she had a lot to improve on with some, but she had also known there were a few that had wanted to do more, and would be allowed to do more if they showed their abilities.

Everyone had gotten a group text from Jess, the head coach, saying they would meet after school and warmup as a team, but they would break off and do some light workouts as it was the first day for some and the first day back for some who hadn’t done anything in the winter.

Alyson knew that her sprinters had potential, they had about four solid guys returning and only three girls, all ran mostly for the 200 and 400, but they had bursa escort some promising 100 meter sprinters. One such promising youngster was a gorgeous, albeit 15-year-old, hispanic runner by the name of Gabriella Nunez. She had met Gabriella last week when she went down to the cafeteria to grab water, since she forgot hers, and she saw the girl talking with a few friends.

She saw the girl look up at her a few times, and as Alyson was about to leave, she then heard the girl say ‘hi’ shyly.

She smiled and waved, said, “Hi, I heard you’re a good 200 meter runner.”

The girl just smirked and shrugged before saying, ‘I’m alright.”

Alyson knew she would like the girl and that response was the perfect response. It was enough to know how to deal with this girl.

She was a freshman and was coming up the ranks quickly. Alyson watched a couple videos on the young upstart when she got back to her office, and she was definitely going to get the girls some serious points, but against more experienced runners, who would not panic if passed by, she would have to be coached gently like Alyson had been. Alyson had always had speed for the 200, but it was the acceleration that she had honed through years of late days and nights on the track, doing repeat 200s and 400s one-by-one, that got her the gold in the 200 meter, 4×400, and 4×100 in the Olympics, some eight and four years ago. She would not let this young girl make the same mistakes as her, though. She wanted this girl to have the career of Alyson Felix or Michael Phelps.

Just as Alyson was thinking about things, about how her life had changed suddenly, she got a knock on her door. She stood and opened the door, only to be met by blue eyes and blonde hair.

Cari asked if she could come in and talk to her for a minute.

She took a step back and said, motioning to Cari, “Hi, come in.” She then asked, once Cari was in the room and she had closed the door, “So, what’s up?”
Cari took a deep breath, and Ayson couldn’t help but see a look of tension in Cari before she explained, “Not much, I just wanted to talk to you.”

Alyson realized she’d have to lead this carefully, so she offered the only other chair in the room, opposite her own, and she said, “Well, I was just listening to some music and was working through some possible workouts for this week.”

Cari looked down at some of the workouts for the week and said, with a smirk, I already have my first three weeks drawn up. Of course, knowing distance, things could change everyday, but we’ll stick to the script for now.”

Alyson noticed how she was nodding silently back at Cari, knowing how Cari felt as she had felt the same, but then Alyson asked, “So, what’s really up, Cari?”

Cari then looked back up at her and said, “I want to take you out.”

Alyson was a bit thrown back by this, but caught herself and shook her head before saying, “Okay, when and where were you thinking about?”

Cari, who stood back up and turned away from Alyson, and Alyson who followed her, said, “I would like to take you somewhere that you might remember from older days, when we were student-athletes here, and wanted you to come.”

Alyson just smiled and chuckled before saying, “Okay, sure. Surprise me.”

Cari turned halfway back and Alyson saw the smirk on Cari’s face, it was a devilish smile, one filled with promises and mysteries. And also one that nearly would’ve made Alyson crawl on her hands and knees to Cari, if asked. Cari then said, while going and opening the door, “Jess wants all of the mile to 100 meter runners to race in a 400 meter race next Thursday. That means we have to get them into enough shape for next week.”

Also,” She turned back to Alyson, and Alyson went straight as a board, as she waited to hear what Cari was going to say, “don’t be late for practice today.

Alyson did feel her legs wobble at that slightly flirting edge to Cari. As she watched the door close behind Cari slowly, and as she stared at the door for another moment, she mouthed out, “How the hell did this happen?”

Then, on the other side of the door, she heard Cari giggle and say, “I heard that, Alyson.”

Alyson’s response was to grow red in the face and retort back, “Yeah, yeah. Go already, Cari. I’ll see you later.”

Then Alyson remembered Jess’ statement about the doors and walls being too thin in there sometimes. She was glad Cari had left and couldn’t see her red face and her wobbly legs. She actually had to sit down and take a deep breath before re-focusing on the shifted workouts for next week.

She wanted her girls and guys ready for that time trial with the distance and mile runners. Everyone, including the throwers were expected to run the 400, but only distance had to run the 800 meter trial. Well, at least I’ve got the job. Alyson thought. She went home that night and called up Jacklyn, knowing that she would get a direct-to-voicemail, and left a quick voicemail for her. It was short and to-the-point.

She ate, brushed her teeth, and got ready for bed. Except, now of all times, she was feeling happy, almost giddy, for her date that weekend. If I can call it that, Alyson thought. Then maybe this is all just as Jacklyn said and it is just good timing. Or fate.

She put those thoughts to the side as she went to sleep, the first sound-sleep she’d had since her girlfriend’s passing, and one that was much-needed rest. She was both excited for what the future held, but also incredibly nervous for the coming weekend with Cari.

(*Yes, I know it isn’t a very long chapter, and there was hardly any sexual stuff, but there will be more to come soon. I promise. I just like to build the world around the characters before going into the sexual stuff. Also, leave a comment, or suggestion for future stories, and maybe give some feedback for me. Us writers live for it. Until whenever the next one comes out, see you then.)

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