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In high school, my special-ed teacher—oh gosh, it makes me want to throw up saying that. Special-ed teacher. It’s frigging mortifying. Anyway, the teacher assigned to me had an arsenal of tips to help me better organize my thoughts. Like making flash cards or using sticky notes to jot down various ideas. Over time, I figured out it worked best to write one idea per note, and then arrange them until they all flow together to form one coherent train of thought.

I clear my throat. Loudly. He and the other handful that were still on their phones swivel their heads toward me. I’m gonna make this fast, I tell the room.You better, Brooks drawls from the couch. He’s wearing black sweatpants and nothing else. I left a chick in my bed for this.

I roll my eyes. Of course Brooks was banging somebody. He’s always banging somebody. Not that I’m one to talk. I’ve had my share of girls over at our place. I feel sorry for our downstairs neighbors, having to deal with the parade of footsteps marching up and down the stairs. Luckily for them, we don’t throw many parties. Hosting a party sucks balls—who wants their house to get trashed? That’s what the frat houses are for.Aren’t you special, Dmitry, our best defenseman, cracks to Weston. I left my bed too for this meeting. Bed, period. Because I’m goddamn exhausted.We all are, a junior left-winger named Heath pipes up.

Yeah, D, welcome to the tired club, mocks Coby, one of our seniors.I cross the room toward the kitchen, where I grab a bottle of water. Yeah, I hear them. This last month has been intense. Every Division I conference is balls deep in their tournaments, which means a solid month of the most competitive hockey you’ll ever see. We’re all vying for auto-bids into the national tournament, and, if that fails, hoping for a good enough record to be selected to the finals. Entire seasons are on the line here.

Yes, I agree, uncapping my bottle. We’re tired. I can barely keep my eyes open in class. My entire body is one big bruise. I live and breathe these playoffs. I obsess over strategy every night before bed. I take a slow sip. But this is what we signed up for, and we’re so close to reaping the reward. This matchup against Princeton will be the toughest one we’ve faced all season.

I’m not worried about Princeton, Coby says, smirking arrogantly. We already beat them once this year.Still no word from Mulder?

What about Agent Scully?I snicker. You’re hilarious. Did you have class today?

I’m still amazed by the knowledge that he’s majoring in psychology—I found that out last night during our very long phone call. Before that, I’d assumed he was a communications or broadcasting major, like most other athletes.No, Wednesday is my day off. I usually use it to catch up on reading, clean the house, that kind of stuff. Any big plans tonight?