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Author's Chapter Notes:
(5 AUGUST, 2012)
[...] = "translated from the Portuguese."

* * * * *

The team was dressing in the girls' locker room when they heard the sound.

"Psssst! Psssst!"

The locker room had no radiators. So, it could not be escaping steam!

["Fabi! Sheilla! Over here."]

Fabiana Oliveira (the team's libero *) and Sheilla Castro looked towards the entrance of the locker room, and instantly recognized their countrywomen, Julianna and Larissa. Then, they looked at each other in puzzlement when they saw the mischievous grins on the latter duo.

["Come here!"] Julianna repeated.

And, Larissa nodded in agreement. Emphasizing this with an urgent beckoning gesture of her left hand. So, the two other women just shrugged and went down the aisle. After all, it was not like they were only half-dressed! Sheilla--like most of her teammates--was already wearing her yellow tank-top, green shorts, white sneakers and matching knee-high socks. While Fabi's outfit was conversely colored.

["What's up?"]] demanded the libero [["Why the melodramatic whispers? It's not like your male paparazzi trying to get snapshots of us in the nude."]

["We wanted to give you a little good luck charm in your matches against the Serbians."], Larissa replied.

["And, we do mean 'little.' "], added Julianna with a giggle.

Sheilla looked at the beach volleyball players with concern.

["Are you two drunk?"]

["Of course not!"] replied Larissa with a vehement shake of her head.

["And, THIS should prove it."] her partner added.

Whereupon, they held up poor little Gabe Bullfinch. Still mummy-wrapped in kinesiological tape (bearing Brazil's national colors). Still making the same ineffectual attempts to burst his way out of them by miniaturized muscle, alone. And, still unable to utter an intelligible plea for help through his gag.

"Hllllllllph mmmmmmmmmmph! Plffffffffff, hlllllllph mmmmph!"

He also gave Sheilla (the tall, pony-tailed brunette with black hair) and Fabi (the short, pony-tailed blonde with dark honey-colored hair) his best "puppy dog" expression. But, the indoor volleyball players were just too open-mouthed with shock for any sympathy to register in their conscious minds.

["What...? Where...? How...?"] Sheilla finally stammered.

So, Julianna and Larissa explained the mysterious circumstances under which they had found the naked little man. Which, to be fair, made it a rather brief anecdote.

["So, let me get this straight."], Fabi summarized: ["You want to give him to us, in the hopes he can improve our chances."]

Larissa nodded; adding how she and Julianna had certainly been doing well by him.

["Big deal!"] Fabi retorted: ["That doesn't mean his good luck will literally rub off! And, we certainly can't wear him around either of our necks like a St. Christopher medal."]

Sheilla suddenly grinned.

["Then let's place him somewhere less conspicuous."]

Whereupon, she grabbed the little man in her right hand, and stuffed him down her cleavage. Adjusting her sports bra, accordingly, so he did not accidentally fall out. And, none too soon, either! For their team captain, Fabiana Claudino, spotted them just a moment later.

["Fabi! Sheilla!] she exclaimed: ["Chit-chat on your own time. We have a game to win."]

And, win they did. Three straight matches! Each one ending with the Serbians unable to get anywhere close to twenty-five points of their own.

Needless to say, Fabi and Sheilla kept Little Gabe a secret. All the way back to their dormitory room. After all; one victorious game might only be a coincidence. But, two or more victories? That would certainly be an indisputable pattern!

Chapter End Notes:
*Libero: a volleyball player who defends only. He/she cannot touch the ball when it's at net height. Nor can he/she substitute for someone in the backrow while the ball is in play.
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