The Libertarian – October 2022

Cover by imizzyg
1Team Leader IntroductionIntroductionLookatThis1256
2HM Queen Elizabeth TributeWritingLookatThis1256
3What’s Up, Doc?Advice Column“Doc”
4Louises Lazy Day CookbookWritingcutiepie99999
5Hobbies to Keep You HealthyWritingLaurenMae
6Love and LifePoemAneha
7Random Acts of KindnessWritingUnknownymus
8We did it together, as a teamWritingPromptis
9Keep Them ClosePoemYodar

Team Leader Introduction

by LookatThis1256

Cover by _MaddieWayne_

Hey there! My name is Teagan or Teags and I am leading this month’s libertarian! I am serving as CO PO within OPA, and have been in USDF for around 10 months where I have made so many great memories and friends. You will most likely find me in HQ chatting away, or spending time talking in discord chats.

A little about me, I believe myself to be a confident social butterfly who loves to socialize with everyone in USDF. I live in Australia (AEST), the home of the kangaroo. I love Harry Potter and spending time with my friends and family.

The month of October is centered around mental health and staying true to yourself! This month’s libertarian is all about appreciating ourselves and others. Here at USDF we offer many support and guidance options for our personnel, as members within this strong community it’s our job to ensure everyone who walks through sentry is appreciated and has our support! This month’s libertarian will hopefully illustrate ways that you can appreciate yourself and those around you.

If you’re ever feeling anxious or nervous about the road ahead, or just want to chat. Our doors are always open, reach out to your branch/office command today! We’re here to see you shine. I hope you enjoy this month’s libertarian, happy reading!

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Tribute

by LookatThis1256

Cover by .Kate.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died September 8, 2022 at 96 years old.
The Commonwealth and many Nations, come together to mourn our loss of a dedicated sovereign, to remember her long life of selfless service. With gratitude we remember her commitment to a high calling over so many years, as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. We remember her sense of duty and dedication to her people and how she helped shape our history during her 70 years on the throne. Her commitment to public service and dignified leadership in uncertain times was an example to us all. 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne at the young age of 25, after the death of her father King George VI on February 6, 1952. Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in British and Commonwealth history on September 9, 2015, when she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. In 1953 and 1954  Queen Elizabeth and husband Philip embarked on a six-month tour around the world, making her the first reigning monarch to visit Australia and New Zealand. Throughout her reign, tours of this kind have been a common occurrence, and she is the most widely traveled head of state in the world. Queen Elizabeth gave birth to four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, who became the next generation of the royal family in which we know today. During the Queen’s time as Monarch she celebrated many jubilees to commemorate her reign, the latest event being her platinum jubilee which celebrated her 70th year as British Monarch. The Queen has served by 15 UK Prime Ministers during her reign, beginning with Winston Churchill in 1952, as well as many Prime Ministers across her Realms.

One of the most significant aspects of the Queen’s work was her involvement in volunteer and public service. Over 500 charities, professional associations, and public service organizations were linked with Her Majesty. These ranged from large, reputed international charities to smaller organizations operating only locally or in a specific field. The Queen’s patronages and charities included a wide range of programmes, from creating opportunities for young people, to preserving wildlife and the environment.  Her Majesty supported the work of these organizations and provided publicity on their contributions to society.

Queen Elizabeth was known to have a strong sense of humor and showed immense kindness and gratitude to all. The Queen is known for having a love for dogs and photography. Throughout her life having at least 30 Corgi’s and Labradors

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will remain a beacon of hope, resilience and kindness across the nations. The late Queen was a role model of perseverance to many across the Commonwealth during difficult times like the more recent COVID-19 pandemic. As the late Queen adapted to change and addressed concerns, the Queen always did it with a smile. The late Queen holds a strong place in many hearts around the globe, as we continue into the next generation of British Monarchy under the reign of King Charles III we know that our Queen will not be forgotten.


Louise’s Lazy Day Cookbook

By cutiepie99999

Cover by KraziiKendii

Sometimes when we are down, the last thing we want to do is go out. So, if anxiety is getting the better of you, don’t feel like it can’t be productive! I’ll be sharing with you my favorite feel good recipes, so feel free to try them out at home! These meals are enough to cheer up Eeyore!


This is an easy recipe made of a simple batter and sausages. This is my favourite comfort food, usually served with mashed potato, seasonal vegetables and gravy.

Serves 3


  • 6 Sausages 
  • 70g Plain Flour
  • 1 Egg 
  • 85ml of Semi-skimmed milk
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Heat the oven to 200c/gas mark 7. Cook the sausages for roughly 15 minutes while they brown
  • While the sausages are cooking, you need to make the batter. In a bowl, mix the flour and salt, with the egg. 
  • Gradually add in milk, whisking in each time, until you have poured all the milk. Carry on whisking until the batter is lump-free and smooth.
  • When 15 minutes is up, bring the sausages out from the oven and pour the batter into the same tin as the sausages. Cook in the oven for half an hour, until the batter is gold and risen. (my trick is, do not open the oven door until it’s ready to take out!) 

Serve with your favorite vegetables and generously pour over gravy. 


This is a family recipe that my mum taught me from a young age. This bolognese is served perfectly along with pasta, or even as a delicious base for a cottage pie. 


  • 500g of Beef, or Beef and Pork Mince (or alternative for a vegetarian meal)
  • 2 onions
  • Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Beef Stock Cubes
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tins of Chopped tomatoes 
  • Tomato Puree
  • White Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Red Wine
  • Mixed herbs


  • Finely chop your onions and crush your garlic, and cook on the hob for 3 minutes on a medium to high heat.
  • Add in the meat, or alternative, and brown it off whilst breaking it up.
  • In the meantime, In a separate jug, add the stock cube with the recommended amount of hot water, and whisk it through, in the jug you’ll also want to add your herbs, a squeeze of tomato puree, and a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, carry on mixing these together. 
  • After the meat is browned, stir in your chopped tomatoes, and sprinkle with a spoon of sugar. Add in the stock mixture. Once all stirred in, add in the red wine.
  • Turn the hob to a medium heat, and leave the bolognese to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. 
  • For a spaghetti bolognese, serve with pasta and grated cheese, or for a cottage pie, transfer to a deep dish, and top with mashed potato, and cook for 30 minutes until the mash has turned golden and crispy! 

If you do find yourself stuck, maybe give these yummy meals a go, you can enjoy them fresh out the oven, or even freeze them to enjoy at a later date! 

Hobbies to Keep You Healthy!

By LaurenMae

Cover by LaurenMae

Are you feeling sad? Unmotivated? Feeling like you don’t want to do anything? Here are some fun hobbies to take your mind off things and to keep that mind of yours healthy!

1. Playing A Musical Instrument
Music impacts the brain in unimaginable ways, it’s also known to enhance your mood! Studies have observed noticeable structural changes in the brains of people who play an instrument, so why not give it a go? This is one of the best hobbies on the list for your mental health!

2. Maintaining A Diary
Maintaining a diary is an effective way to release stress, it gives you a wider perspective on things. Maintaining a diary is known for helping with depression and anxiety, you can write down all your thoughts onto a piece of paper if you’re worrying or feeling anxious thoughts. A study conducted by HHS Public Access in 2013 revealed that “people journaling their thoughts were found to have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than people who weren’t”. 

3. Mind-Body Exercises
Mind-body exercises such as yoga are good for not only the body, but the mind too. Scientific research shows mind-body exercises such as yoga, are an effective way of easing anxiety, depression and mood disorders. Yoga is also great for your body, which will increase your confidence, making you feel more confident and better about yourself, this all contributes to good mental health. Try to do a mind-body exercise at least once a week!

4. Walking
Something just as simple as going on a little walk each day can help to keep that mind healthy! 

Getting out of the house, into nature boosts happiness as it is. Walking is one of the best hobbies for your mental health, research has proven that there are huge benefits that come from taking a simple walk. “Researchers asked a group of participants to walk either through a forested area or next to a busy main road. They then tested participants’ heart rates and neural activity. The group who walked in the forested area had reduced activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that associates with negative emotions.” Source – Stanford Research.

5. Cooking

Cooking is a great way to put your mind at ease, culinary therapy is an actual therapy that is used for treating many mental health disorders, including anxiety, ADHD, depression, eating disorders and addiction. There’s several factors to cooking that can reduce stress and sadness. There’s the creativity of creating your own meal, the mindfulness, the senses, for example, smells and sights and the accomplishment after you’ve cooked your own meal. It can be very rewarding by the end of it, it’s also good for you physically, home-made food is so much better than processed food, it’s healthier and nutritious and we appreciate it more. 

When you’re feeling a little down, try one of these hobbies! Hobbies give us something else to focus on other than real life, they increase our productivity, exercise the brain and help with stress!

Love and Life

By _MaddieWayne_

Cover by _MaddieWayne_

At what point does one fall in love?
Is it something that happens as you get to know someone,
Or do you believe in love at first sight?
And if you believe in love at first sight,
then explain to me why I don’t love everyone I see.
Tell me about yourself so that I can fall in love with you.

What was your favorite song you’d listen to when you were sad,
Did you lay on your bed crying?
Tell me about why you were upset,
And whether that hurt ever went away.
Tell me in a way that makes me believe in hope again,
So that I can forget all the horrible things I’ve seen.

Tell me about a time you decided to take a risk,
And did that risk ever pay off?
What even is a risk, how do you know when you’ve paid enough?
What is the price of happiness, and what would you pay?
I want to know what makes you truly happy,
Or do you maybe think that happiness is a choice?

Do you prefer wine or spirits, and when is the best time to have a drink?
Do you enjoy the crashing waves of the beach and the salt air,
Or polluted air in cities that are responsible for thousands of lights,
Lights of people’s lives as they live day to day, stuck in the same cycle.
Perhaps you like the countryside, where the wildflowers bloom,
And the birds make their homes in big oak trees.

If you and I went for a midnight swim,
Would our skin touch under the water?
Would your hand brush across my stomach as you laughed at my jokes,
What would you say? What would we even talk about?
And if we swam for hours, would we eventually kiss?

Do you always start your meetings with a firm handshake,
Or are you conscious of your own strength and how it might affect others?
Do you dim your light just a little to fit in,
Or do you unapologetically shine so that you are never missed,
And if you shine, how bright is your light?
Does it blind those who wish to steal it,
And if stolen, would you ever learn to shine again?

Do you prefer the rain or the sun,
Perhaps you enjoy the warmth of hugs and snuggles in bed.
Or maybe you like the ice cold breeze that stings your cheeks.
I wanna know, what is it like to play games with your ex,
Which games do you play? Are you perhaps a strategist?
And if you are a strategist, what plans do you have for your future?

Tell me about the time you wanted to be a police officer,
And the story of how you became a doctor instead.
I wanna know what is your biggest regret,
And will that shame follow you forever?
What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror?
Or what about when you look at me?

I wanna know, do you believe in God?
And if so, which God do you believe in?
Do you pray for yourself or for others,
And if you pray at all, who is listening?
Have your prayers ever been answered?
And if you don’t believe in God,
Then what do you believe in?

If you ever become rich, will you forget about where you came from?
Will you become corrupt by your wealth,
Or does true wealth lie in your accumulated life experiences?
Is it not enough to live a life full of love and laughter?
Or will you forget how to smile?
Do your lips even lift at the corners,
And if so, show me the proof of your crease wrinkles.

I wanna know why you pay attention to the small details,
Perhaps no one ever did the same for you?
I wanna know how you became you,
Tell me about the story of your life and birth,
Tell me about the mother that held you in her arms,
Or was it your father who raised you?
Tell me about whether you grew up, and why you still act like a child.

I wanna know more than just your favorite color or food,
Tell me about your dreams and whether you wish they would come true.
Would you help someone else in need, if they wished for you?
Tell me about your fears, and the twisting feeling in your stomach,
How it cripples you when you are alone.

What if you were trapped and screamed out loud?
Who would come and save you?
What if you screamed and no sound came out?
Is that still considered screaming?
What if your silence was so loud that it burst eardrums,
Would drums just be used for beating hearts?

What if a piece of the sky fell,
Would you hunt and capture it?
How determined would you be to return it,
Or would you keep its beauty hidden forever.
What if a star fell, would it be traveling through time?

What if the world was ending, what would be the last thing you’d do?
Who would you like to die with,
And would you be looking out to the horizon and think how pretty the end was?
What even is the end? Isn’t every end followed by a new beginning?
I wonder what our new beginning would be,
And whether we’d meet each other again, I hope we do.

What if time never existed, what would you do with your life?
Would it still exist, or would we just die?
Tell me what you think about death and whether you believe in souls,
And if humans have a soul, what would yours look like?
Would you give it to me if I asked for it?

Tell me about the things you’ve been denied,
And how did that make you feel?
Have you ever felt such extreme rage and hatred,
How do you deal with that feeling…
Have you ever hated yourself?

Do you write with your left or right hand?
What does right and wrong mean to you?
How do you know if you are a good person?
Are we born good, at what point does someone become bad?
How can something be bad when we were given the freedom of choice?
Is that freedom abused, and if so – what difference does it make?

Make me believe in a better tomorrow,
One where I belong in a world made for me.
Help me see the beauty in life,
A place where I am free.

Tell me of a story where my wings will soar on silver linings,
Take me to a place where my thoughts can be heard in the loudest of places.
Show me a time when we’ll dance to music that fades from our minds,
but remembered by our bodies after we’ve long forgotten.
Hold me in the now, whilst you tell me of the future…

And when you’re done, tell me about how much you love me.

Random Acts of Kindness

By Unknownymus

Cover by Unknownymus

“Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone’s day.”. Doesn’t it feel great to give back positive energy and vibes to those we see and meet daily? For many, it is fantastic for someone to greet them with something; even a tiny hello or a smile means so much to them. Many of us encounter different people regardless of age. Doesn’t doing something as small as smiling at us help us somehow? Always start your day with a smile; you will bring it for the whole day and influence others to smile! Here are some other ways you might not notice that you affect others’ kindness as well:

1) No phones when conversing

Have you ever talked to someone busy with their phone? It’s pretty rude to see, right? Although if they are our close friends, it is somewhat okay because they’re our friends. But to consider our sensitive peers, we might want to put our phones away and focus on what our friend is saying. It might be necessary, the best day of their life, and you might want to hear them. It would be a waste not to listen to those stories, those topics, and even worse, lose a friend you cherish.

2) Ask for the recipe for the meal they made

We all eat good food, and sometimes it might be the best. As a financially-inclined person, I tend to save more and eat out less, and if I eat at my friend or relative’s house and I love the food, I always ask for the recipe to try out and cook myself. Have you tried that? By asking for the recipe for their meal, you point interest and appreciation to what they made, and it fills their heart with joy and excitement. See how excited they are to jot down carefully the ingredients, how to prepare them, the cooking time, the heat, and the final touches. It comes back to us exceedingly great as well as not only we get to taste their meal again, but we get to touch someone’s heart.

3) Holding the door for others

Exiting the library while carrying a lot of books or materials, perhaps? Has anyone held a door for you? How did you feel? Of course, we all feel that we are loved. Maybe you want to make someone feel loved by holding the door for them. A small act such is kindness, I tend to carry a lot of things, and putting those down to open the door destroys the momentum and tends to tire me; an act like holding the door is very important for me as it helps me with how I move with the world. I tend to return to the place after I do my things if I forget to thank them just for what they did because I appreciate them wholeheartedly.

4) Returning shopping carts

You might have been in shopping centers and grocery malls and parked in some. Isn’t it irritating to reverse or run into a shopping cart left unattended? I feel you. Returning the favor to our fellow consumers and workers by returning the shopping carts to their original place helps save time. A scenario happened after I returned the cart I used; I also returned some carts I saw on the way. A worker approached me and thanked me for my actions; although I intended to return for courtesy, I never expected to be thanked as I’ve done it many times before.

5) Cleaning up after doing something

I’ve always been taught to clean up after something may, whether it be in a public place or my room. It’s engraved in my mind that it shows how clean you are on organizing and cleaning things not just after a task or something but even before and while doing it. Wouldn’t you be mad or disappointed with someone you didn’t know that did not clean up their table after they ate because you are about to take their place? Maybe it’s in a public place such as a park or a beach. I would be disappointed if that happened to me. Cleaning up a table after you’re done or even just organizing it in a place where it looks good, and the next person can throw it quickly, would be a way not to disappoint someone, hence being kind!

All of these things are on the list; how many did you do already, and did you think you were kind? I believe you did or continue to do at least one! People never intended to be kind as they thought being kind was challenging as it is always easy to be disappointed or mad at. Avoid having harsh dominant feelings and always start your day with a big smile; it helps a lot with your day.

For the last two years, we have had a pandemic. We don’t know what they are going through or what they have been through for the past days, weeks, months, or even years. Let’s be honest and say that not all persons with troubles are observed sobbing, frowning, or slouching; some merely laugh, tell jokes, and cheer others up. Battles can occasionally only be felt emotionally, not always witnessed physically. 

Just a gentle reminder that one of the most crucial things we must do is to be kind. Everyone can demonstrate kindness through our words, deeds, and interactions with others.

How about you? How are you feeling? I hope that you are fine and continue to shine!

We did it together, as a team.

By Promptis

Cover by Basilisk

Mark lowers his towel to glare at Johnny, already dressed and leaning against the lockers with his arms crossed over his hoodie. The goalkeeper had been complaining throughout the entirety of practice, but Mark didn’t expect for him to take it off the court.

“I trust Coach’s opinion, and he’s a good player,” Mark says simply, abandoning his hair in favor of pulling on a shirt. His muscles ache.

“Of course he’s a good player,” Renjun, one of their strikers, says matter-of-factly. “He’s a Raven.”

“He was a Raven,” Mark corrects, “but now he’s a Tiger.”

“He’s not a Tiger until I say he is,” Johnny replies, shoving off the locker and strolling out of the room. Mark rolls his eyes and finishes getting dressed.

“Don’t mind him,” Ren, their backliner, says with a cute, apologetic smile.

“I know.” Johnny is set to become captain when Mark graduates in two years, and he’s become increasingly protective over the team. He’s never trusted the Ravens.

Kai Lee, goalkeeper. Formerly of the Edgar Allen Ravens.

Mark’s heard all about the Ravens, and has played against them every year since they changed divisions. The Neo Tech Tigers have never managed to win a game against them, but it makes sense when you learn about their insane practices and their creepy day to day lives. The Ravens are more like a cult than a team.  Which is why he was so surprised when Coach Suh pulled him aside and informed him that the Tigers were taking on Kai Lee as a player.

If there’s another name in all of exy as notorious as Kai’s, Mark doesn’t know it. The Edgar Allen Ravens’ best goalkeeper, the only player who’s managed to completely shut out the USC Trojans.  Mark doesn’t know much about his transfer; all he knows is that after his last game with the Ravens, Kai collapsed in the middle of the court.

“Hey.” Renjun said. “Coach wants you to go greet the new guy.”

“Thanks,” Mark says, getting ready to head out.  “Airport?”

“Yup,” Coach Suh answers, already striding away. Mark jogs to keep up.

They’re only halfway to the airport when Coach Suh says, “Mark, listen. I’m gonna need you to look out for Kai.”

“I look out for all my players,” Mark says, and Coach gives him a warm smile.

“I know. But Kai… he’s gonna have difficulty adjusting. Make sure the others don’t give him a hard time.”

“Is it that bad, then?” Mark asks, shifting in his seat.

“The Ravens aren’t just a team, they’re a hivemind. They hurt each other, but refuse to be apart from one another. Coming from a place like that…”

“Just out of curiosity, would you happen to know why they’re letting Kai transfer?”

Coach Suh shoots him a glare. “No, and don’t you dare go asking about it either.”

“Sure thing, Coach,” Mark says easily and Coach Suh ends the conversation there.

It’s easy enough to find Kai, waiting outside with a single duffel bag on his shoulder and nothing else. His lip is split and he has a dark bruise right under his eye. Mark doesn’t know what it is from, but doesn’t dare to ask.

“I ‘m Mark, captain and offensive dealer. Welcome to the Tigers.” He sticks out a hand, and to his surprise, Kai takes it.

“Thanks. Looking forward to playing with you.” So quiet. 

The ride back is even more uneventful. Mark sits in the back out of courtesy, and Kai falls asleep as soon as his seat belt is on. He doesn’t wake up until they reach the dorms.

“Normally, we don’t get to move in until right before the semester starts,” Mark rambles as they head up together after saying goodbye to the Coach. “But this year they changed the policy so we’re allowed to stay in the dorms over the summer.”

“It’s so bright. It’s nice,” Kai whispers. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s spoken aloud, so Mark doesn’t respond.

They don’t run into anyone at the dorm, so Mark assumes they’ve gone off to the court and takes Kai to their room.

“Where’s the practice court?”

Mark blinks. “Uh, don’t you need to unpack?”

“No.” Kai’s voice is soft, but his answers are short and stunted. “I just want to play.”

“Uh, sure. Sure, let me just grab my keys, I’ll drive you.” Mark says.

“Can we go?” Kai says. Short answer. 

“Sure,” he says almost automatically, digging his keys out of his nightstand. “Let’s go.”

But having him on the team is weird. It’s not a bad weird, but it’s strange all the same.

He doesn’t really interact with the team, but he’s not hostile either. He doesn’t give compliments, but whatever criticisms he must have, he holds them back.

It’s hard to break through his walls. The others don’t really care, but Mark does. He knows it makes his teammates nervous, playing with a former member of the best team in the country.

Surprisingly, it’s Johnny who breaches the gap first.

“Ren and I practice every night, if you wanna come.”

Mark is in the kitchen when he overhears them, and he’s floored when Kai agrees. Praying that it’s not some sort of hazing, he mentally plans to join them at night. 

He’s anxious as soon as they start, but Johnny is normal. It’s difficult for Mark to score on Kai despite the fact that he used to play striker in high school.

It’s when they’ve got all their equipment put away and they’re running laps to cool off that it happens. Mark decides halfway through his second lap that he wants to listen to music, so he turns around to head to the bench where he left his phone only to slam right into Kai, taking them both to the ground.

He’s stunned into silence, embarrassment freezing him solid as the court goes so quiet you could hear a pin drop until Kai starts to laugh. Mark props himself up on his arms,  but Kai stays flat on his back as he giggles at the ceiling, and he looks so different that Mark can’t help but stare.

In an instant, Johnny and Ren are there, taunting and teasing Mark in a way that makes his cheeks flush, but it makes Kai laugh harder, rolling onto his side and clutching his stomach.

And when Johnny helps Kai to his feet, casually slinging an arm around his shoulders, Mark knows that things will work out just fine.

He has nothing to worry about.

Mark has everything to worry about.

The semi-formal southeastern district’s fall banquet is happening this Saturday, which means all teams are attending, including the Edgar Allen Ravens. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal until Kai has a panic attack in the middle of practice and disappears, leaving the rest of the team to stare after him.

It’s Mark who finds him, hiding in an abandoned storage closet that’s so tiny, they can barely sit side by side. Kai doesn’t look at him, so Mark doesn’t say anything. He just presses their sides together and waits.

“You know,” Mark says when Kai’s breathing has slowed and he’s stopped shaking, “When Coach first signed Johnny, he went missing for three days. When we found him again, it was because he purposely crashed his car into a fire hydrant. Coach and the team paid off the fines with our own money, and Johnny has been going to therapy to help with his mania so it doesn’t happen again.”

It’s silent for a moment before Kai says, “I don’t know if Johnny would appreciate you telling me that.” His throat is clogged with tears, and Mark has no idea how to make it better, so he just keeps talking.

“It’s a story we tell all the Tigers, actually. Johnny was the first to start it, but he got tired of it so he pushed it onto the rest of us.”

This makes Kai lift his face from his knees, giving Mark a quizzical expression. “But why?”

“Because we all have burdens,” Mark tells him, “and as a team, we shoulder those burdens together. We help each other because we’re family.”

 Mark laughs. “He gave us all a second chance at life to make something out of our lives. That’s why we’re here. That’s why you’re here.”

Kai is quiet for so long that Mark wonders if he fell asleep, then he feels Kai’s head on his shoulder, his breath against his cheek as he whispers, “you’re a really good captain, Mark.”

And it feels like enough.

The night before the championships, Mark gets sick with anxiety and sits in front of the toilet with his stomach churning.

Johnny is out. The goalkeeper had gotten a red card during the semi-finals after a player from Penn State had checked Ren into a wall hard enough that he had to sit out for the second half. Which means Kai is their only goalkeeper. They don’t have anyone who can sub.

“Except it’s not one man,” Kai says when he finds him in the bathroom ten minutes later. He sits behind Mark and wraps his arms around him. “Aren’t you the one who told me that we share the burden? It’s all of us together on that court.”

Mark sags back in his hold. Kai’s new affectionate side has taken some time to get used to, but he appreciates it right now when he feels like he’s falling apart.

“But… you can’t play two halves against the Ravens. It’s impossible.”

“You’re forgetting that I know them,” Kai says, “I know how they play. Johnny may be a stupid idiot,” the smile he wears as he says this is so, so fond, “but he’s not that stupid. He wouldn’t risk the game if he didn’t think I couldn’t handle it.”

“You’re right,” Mark sighs. Kai is always right. He doesn’t know if it’s a Raven thing or just a Kai thing. “It’s just… what if we lose?”

“We won’t,” Kai promises. “I won’t mess up this second chance you’ve given me.”

Mark drops his racket the second the buzzer goes off, tearing down the court to where Kai has collapsed on his knees, pure exhaustion on his face as he rips off his helmet.

“You’re insane,” Mark says through the tears, giddy laughter bubbling in his throat. “Holy shit you’re stupid insane.”

Kai had blocked a hundred and thirty shots that the Ravens had taken, and they scraped by with a score of 9-8. The Tigers’ first championship, and the Ravens’ first loss.

“I can’t feel my body,” Kai admits, but he smiles when Mark throws his arms around him. Seconds later, the rest of the team piles on top, whooping and hollering.

“I can’t believe you,” Mark whispers, and he isn’t sure Kai hears him until his grip on Mark’s waist tightens. “There’s no way you’re real.”

“I’m real,” Kai assures him. “I’m real. Congratulations on your win, Captain.”

Mark takes off his helmet and pulls away, though he stays on the ground next to Kai who doesn’t yet have the strength to stand. “It’s all thanks to you.”

“No.” Kai tips their heads together and Mark can feel the heat radiating off his skin in waves. They’re both sticky with sweat but neither of them care. At that moment, they forget the thousands of people watching them, their teammates chanting their victory song, and the Ravens’ hostile glares. At that moment, it’s just the two of them — a goalkeeper and his captain. “It’s thanks to all of us.”

Keep Them Close

By Yodar

Cover by .Kate.

One day a mother died.
On that clear, cold morning,
In the warmth of her bedroom,
The daughter was struck with
The pain of learning that sometimes
There isn’t any more.

No more hugs, no more lucky moments to celebrate together,
No more phone calls just to chat, no more “just one minute.”

What we care about the most goes away,
Never to return before we can say goodbye, say “I Love You.”

While we have it – it’s best we love it.
Care for it and fix it when it’s broken
Take good care of it when it’s sick.

This is true for marriage – and friendships!
Children with bad report cards;
Dogs with bad hips;
Aging parents and grandparents.
We love them because they are worth it,
Because we cherish them!

Some things we keep –
A best friend who moved away
A classmate we grew up with.
There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what.

Life is important, and so are the people we know.
And so, keep them close!

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