A/N – I need some opinions. Should I finish the year before doing the epilogue, or go straight to Gerry's funeral like in the movie? What do you think? Also, I want to thank LostGirl42311 for being a loyal reader and reviewer. I smile everytime I see your username.
I waited with Sheryl, anxious for the boys to come out. I had been with them through every step of coming up with this scheme, and I was nervous as they were finally going to go through with it.
But I couldn't help but smile as the boys came in, not running and shouting as usual, but singin' and dancin'. "Hoo, ha, I feel, hoo, ha, feel good. Hoo, ha, I feel, hoo ha, feel good" the boys chanted, dancing their way onto the field.
"Five, six, five, six, seven, eight" Blue chanted as the boys lined up for warm-ups. Instead of their usual warm-ups, they danced, singing "Everywhere we go, everywhere we go, people want to know, people want to know, who we are, who we are, so we tell them, so we tell them, we are the Titan, we are the Titans, high and mighty Titans, high and mighty Titans"
I had to laugh as I saw the looks on Groveton's faces as the boys performed.
I had to admit, their performance was laughable too. But in a good way.
But, as soon as the game started, it took a turn for the worst. As the play started, I watched as ray stepped back and let Rev get tackled. "No!" I screamed when Rev didn't get up. "Rev! Jerry! Jerry!"
"He'll be okay, sweetie" Mrs. Boone assured me, placing a hand on my shoulder. Sheryl sat herself in my lap and hugged me, something she only ever did with me. "He'll be okay, Mama. Promise, he'll be okay. Rev's tough" Sheryl said, squeezing me.
Ever since Sheryl had called me mama that night at the Boone's, she had taken to calling me it all the time. It was odd, at first, but Coach took it in stride, and so did the boys, so I did too.
The crowd started 'boo-ing' and Boone walked onto the field, a sure sign that everything was not okay. "Mrs. Boone, watch Sheryl, please?" I asked, not taking my eyes off of Rev as I left Sheryl off my lap. "Sure dear" she promise gently.
"Sheryl, please, be good. I need to go" she didn't say a word, but as I quickly glanced at her, I knew she understood.
I nearly ran down the bleachers and onto the field. I knew I wasn't supposed to, but no one stopped me as I ran to Rev. "Oh God, Rev!" I cried, tears streaming down my face. He was crying too, but he grabbed my hands with his good one. "I'll be fine, Sandra" he assured me.
We sat and watched as Boone put Ronnie in. I was confused when Louie was set up to block, but then let Kip Tyler, who'd just broken Rev's wrist, through. At least, I was until Tyler went to tackle Sunshine, and Sunshine ducked, making Tyler fall to the ground on his other side, hard.
Everyone was stunned for a moment before Titan fans began to cheer.
And we were winning. Sunshine was un-tacklable.
It was easy to see the change, not just in the team, but in the town. Mrs. Bertier finally met Julius. People on the street, black and white, would stop the boys to congratulate them. People stopped giving me and Rev dirty looks.
It was then Alan decided to make a video of the team. I laughed as I saw him walking around with his camcorder, recording the boys messing around. He even got shots of Sunshine teaching Blue Tai Chi and me and Rev hanging out outside. And of Sheryl scaring Petey.
At a pep rally, the principal donated his car to get totaled. I was extremely surprised when, instead of Gerry taking the first hit with the sledgehammer, it was handed to me.
Well, I gripped the hammer and slung it with all my might. It left a dent about the size of Louie's head. Then, the boys started really tearing into it. Louie even pulled off a door with his bare hands. I smiled as Rev hit the car as well, causing the whole crowd to cheer.
The Titans kept winning, entering each and every stadium singin' and dancin', even cheering with the cheerleaders sometimes. Rev was still out, but he suited up for every game.
It was near the end of the season that the Hall of Fame people met again. "We are here tonight to honor men that are teaching our young people leadership on and off the field. And high moral standards as well. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the 1971 Hall of Fame nominees!" Two men stood at first, Coach and the other man.
When the 'party' started, Sheryl was talking to the other adults like she was one of them, and most of these people had learned to take her seriously.
It was our next game that had me worried. Not only was Taber a firm racist, the boys were ruthless. I hate to admit it, but I was slightly glad Rev was sitting out. There was no telling what would have gotten broken with these boys.
It was the Regional Championship, and it seemed like all we were getting were bad calls. And it seemed, after a while, that Coach had had too much. In the middle of the game Coach walked onto the field and gave the ref a piece of his mind. Coach ripped into the boys and then, they were playing with all the heart in Alexandria. Gerry even called Taber out.
As the bus pulled up to the school, there was a crowd outside sheering, even the pep band was playing. The boys were hanging out of the windows. Rev was cheering with the boys, but stayed seated, keeping a hand firmly on my waist.
I looked around the crowd and noticed Coach and Sheryl missing. I pecked Rev on the lips and said, "I'm gonna find Coach and Sheryl."
Rev nodded and let me go. I headed for the stadium, and saw them sitting together in the stands. "I know how much it meant to you" Coach was telling Sheryl as I sat beside him, one step down so I could see them both.
"I ain't gonna lie, I wanted the Hall of Fame real bad" Sheryl told us, holding back tears. "You know what? I wanted it to" Coach admitted. "But, there's always next year, or the year after that, as long as it takes for them to wise up"
"It ain't worth the price, right now. But let's make something clear. Just cause he didn't make the Hall of Fame doesn't make him any less of one of the best coaches in Alexandria, right Sheryl?" I asked, slinging an arm around Coach.
"Right" she agreed readily.
There was nothing more terrifying then when Coach came in and told us, "Gerry's in the hospital."
It seemed like no time had passed when we got to the waiting room. The entire football team was there, and his mom. "How is he?" I asked, going straight for Rev. He sat me in his lap and hugged me tight. "He's paralyzed from the waist down" he broke softly.
We spent every spare moment in the hospital with Gerry. When we weren't at school or at practice, we were down in Gerry's room. Sometimes it was just sitting down doing homework, but we were together, and that's all that mattered. There wasn't a lot of seating, so Rev always had me sitting on his lap, which always made me blush.
You knew Gerry was going to be okay because he was always the first person to tease us.
Later in the week, Coach came in with Sheryl. "Hey, Coach" everyone greeted. Sheryl came up and gave both Rev and I a hug. I was so glad she like Rev and accepted him. It made my life a lot easier.
Coach greeted the boys as Sheryl went over to Gerry, handing him an old action figure. "This for me?" he asked her gently. She nodded. "I want you to be my eyes out there, alright? Since Sandra's too busy with Rev, if any of these guys slack of you let me know"
Sheryl laughed slightly and nodded. I think we all had grins on our faces. "You bet I will"
Coach took her place beside Gerry. "How you doin', Gerry?" he asked. "Alright coach. I was just talking with these guys about Marshal…"
"You know what, we don't need to talk about football right now, Gerry, I think this is a good time for reflection and for prayer…" Coach interrupted, but then Gerry interrupted him.
"Coach. I'm hurt. I ain't dead" we all had to laugh at that, especially by how seriously he had said it. Gerry took 'football is life' to a whole new level. "No you're not. No you're not"
"You know, I've been reading up on the activities they got for people in wheelchairs and such" Gerry said gravely. "They got Olympics"
"I can see it now" I said with a fond smile, grabbing Gerry hand. 'Gerry Bertier, brother Titan, Olympic Gold Medalist"
The State Championship game was played at Roanoke Stadium, also known as Victory Stadium. But I knew, sitting there with Sheryl and the Boone's in the stands, that tonight, the Titans would be the ones with the victory.
As Mrs. Bertier walked through the stands, every Titan stood and clapped their hands. As we stood, I waved my hand, bringing her over to us. Without hesitation, Mrs. Bertier sat next to Mrs. Boone, and didn't flinch as the black woman grabbed her hand; only smiled.
"Gerry. Gerry. Gerry" everyone began to chant.
And then, the boys came out, singin' and dancin' as usual. We were ready to take on Marshal. Only we didn't. Not at first.
When the Shotgun came out to play, our boys were helpless, and Sheryl and I were almost ripping out our hair. At the first half I turned to Mrs. Boone. "I know we're not supposed to, but Coach needs some sense knocked into him" I told her, grabbing Sheryl's hand and heading down.
She gave me a knowing smile. "Sometimes those boys need a smart woman to give them a kick in the pants"
Sheryl and I ran after the boys. "Coach! Coach!" we cried. Coach stopped and turned to us. "Girls. You need to get back to your seats" he said. Sheryl and I wouldn't let him deter us. "We can't, Coach" Sheryl told him.
"Ed Henry's got Blue's number, and you ain't doin' nothing against that Shotgun" I scolded.
Sheryl placed her hands on Coach's shoulders and played parent. "Look coach, now ain't the time to be proud" we gave him a long look before Sheryl grabbed my hand and we headed back to the stands, ready for another half.
I saw, as the half started, Alan give his spot to Petey, and I knew how far these boys had gotten from when they first arrived on that bus at camp. Petey didn't play games. And then, we were back with a vengeance. I smirked as I saw Ed Henry startin' to look mighty nervous.
We had ten seconds left in the game, and I saw Rev go into the game. "Come on Rev! That's my boy!" I cheered as Sheryl covered her eyes. "I can't watch, I can't watch" she kept say. "Sheryl, what's wrong?" Nikki asked. I smiled at the girl. Despite their difference, the girls had become best friends.
"She's just freaking out because Coach made a very risky decision that, if it doesn't pan out, could cost us the game" I told her.
As they broke, Rev and Sunshine ran the field, Sunshine taking down every opponent that went at them, protecting Rev and the ball. They made it all the way to the end field.
I watched as Ed Henry ran over and shook hands with Boone, nothing but respect on his face, and I knew that Ed Henry had gained my respect for being a decent loser, and a fair man, not racist.
Sheryl ran straight for Coach, while I made my way through the team. They all back away until I reach Rev, who lifted me off the ground and kissed me hard in front of everyone in that stadium. For a moment there was silence, and then everyone broke out into even louder cheers.
Rev set me down and I turned to Sunshine. "You kept him safe out there. Thank you" I stood on my tip-toes and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before Rev pulled me back into his side.
"Not a problem, Sandra. We're a family, after all" Sunshine said with a grin.
Suddenly, I was lifted into the air by the boys. They set me on their shoulders so I towered over everyone, completely visible to everyone in the stadium. "Heart of gold, voice of an angel, and Goddess of Football!" the boys all cheered. Everyone laughed, but they made no move to set me down. I stayed on their shoulders until they went off to the locker room to change.
Instead of celebrating in town, the entire team, coaches, and us girls headed off to the hospital. The nurses let us in to see Gerry, no questions asked. It was a small town, and they knew why we were here.
"Hey Gerry" I leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. "Wish you could have been there" I sat back as the other guys exchanged hugs, fist bumps, and high-fives.
"Gerry" Boone walked in. "By popular vote, the entire team, official and honorary, has decided to award you, Gerry Bertier, the State Championship Game Ball" he handed Gerry the game ball.
I sat with Rev, again, on the same chair we sat in every day since Gerry was admitted in the hospital. I loved being in Rev's arms; I felt safe, warm, and comforted. Like the fate of the world was no longer on my shoulders.
We sat aside, still happy, but slightly apart from the celebrating team. "Do you wanna get out of here?" Rev whispered in my ear. Knowing that he didn't have anything inappropriate in mind, I nodded and caught Coach's eye. He nodded, and both Rev and I stood, clasping hands, and left quietly.
We walked down to the park were we had first become a couple. It had special meaning to us. "I can't believe we did it" Rev said quietly, as if he was afraid to break the enchanting night by talking too loudly as we sat.
"I can. I always knew you boys could take on the world, and you did. I couldn't be more proud" I told him, kissing him softly. I felt him smile against my lips.
"I'm just glad to have had you by my side this whole time. I don't know what I would have done without you. You mean the world to me" he told me. I smiled. "And you mean everything to me" I replied, kissing him again. There were so very few nights like this, but now that the football season was officially over, thought the boys still had nationals and I doubt they would stop practicing, we could spend more time together.
"Sandra, I have something to tell you, and I'm kinda nervous how you'll take it" Rev told me after a few moments of silence, where we simply enjoyed being in the other's presence.
"You can tell me anything, I hope you know that" I said honestly, grabbing his hand and squeezing tightly. I made sure if was the hand that had remained unbroken, just in case, though I knew he was fine enough to play.
"I love you"
The words stilled me for a moment, but then my heart started pounding, I whirled around, and practically launched myself at Rev, kissing him hard. He fell back, and we both landed on the ground, but the kiss was never broken. Rev's had one hand one the small of my back and the other on my neck, holding me on top of him. Both of my hands rested on his shoulders.
I have no idea how long we stayed like that, so wrapped up in each other, but neither did I care. It was just me and him and the night sky, and nothing could be more perfect.
Slowly we pulled apart. "I love you too; I just realized I never said it back" I told him, blushing at my mistake. I was happy to see that Rev was breathing a little hard as well, as he grinned and assured me, "Not a problem"
We both chuckled as we sat up. I looked up at the sky and realized how late it really was. "I need to get home" I told him sadly, slowly standing. Rev nodded and got up as well. "Do you need a ride? My car is still at the school" he offered.
"Thanks" I smiled, wrapping my arms around myself as the wind blew, reminding me of the thin blouse I wore with my skirt. "Cold?" rev asked. Before I could reply he pulled off his varsity jacket and placing it on my shoulders. Instead of pushing my arms through the sleeves I just clutched at the zipper and leaned into Rev.
We were silent, not needing words. Rev opened the car door for me, making me smile. Despite society, there were very few teenage boys that were such gentlemen, though nearly every single Titan football player could be called one, something I was extremely proud of.
Rev turned on the radio quietly, so as not to bother the sleeping neighborhoods, as we drove to my place. We both sang along when we heard a familiar song, laughing at random moments, completely at peace.
Gerry was going to be okay, race no longer mattered in the city, and the Titans had a perfect season. All was good.