Title: Across the Line
Chapter: [6 / ?]
Genre: AU (flangst, romance)
Summary: When you're a kid, no one tells you how hard it is to grow up; how easy it is to forget who you are. But if you don't know who you are anymore, how are you supposed to deal with all the lines?
Hate/Love Real/Fake Hero/Enemy Lust/Madness Lost/Found Past/Future
Hate/Love Real/Fake Hero/Enemy Lust/Madness Lost/Found Past/Future
It's a strange new world across the line, but two men are going to have to cross it if they ever hope to find their answers—and each other.
A/N: YunJae talking alert! I tried to stop them but they just wouldn't shut up! =P
Jay paused on the steps of HQ, slid his sunglasses up onto his head and took a quick peek at his reflection in the glass. For once it wasn’t a hot day but the wind was terrible and he’d been blown all over the place just getting from his car to the tennis club. His fringe was a nightmare. He may as well not have even wasted time brushing his hair when he got up that morning. He ran his fingers through the wild locks, carefully taming it strand by strand and then gave a quick nod of satisfaction.
Little did he know that he was about to be hit by another gale force wind as soon as he stepped through the door into HQ. Seunghyun almost crashed into him, he came at Jay so fast, leaving Jay to yell out a, “Woah woah woah!”
Seunghyun steadied himself, gave a pathetic attempt at a remorseful smile, and then launched into his news. “It’s on, we’re doing it!”
“Doing what?” Jay asked, catching his sunglasses before they fell off his head in all of the excitement.
“Our 100 Days event. Yunho said yes.”
“He did? What?”
Jay may have been knocked around like a piñata outside, but he hadn’t been that distracted as to not notice the court had been empty when he had passed it. And looking around at HQ now, he and Seunghyun were the only ones there. Jay placed his sunglasses down on the table along with his car keys. Oh boy, how to break it to his friend that he had dreamt the whole thing…
“I think he really was just hungry yesterday,” Seunghyun continued on, gripping the top of the chair in front of him at the table, “because when he came over this morning, he was in a really good mood. I ran the general idea passed him to see what he thought and he said he’d help us. He’ll take part in the exhibition match and anything else that’s needed.”
“Seriously?” Jay asked, looking around outside.
“He left already,” Seunghyun filled in for him. “He only needed a short practice today—which is a good thing now that all this wind has come up.”
“Oh… Right, okay…”
“So,” Seunghyun said, clapping his hands together and grinning at Jay. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Goody,” Jay sung.
“Mmhmm. I think tomorrow we should call a meeting with everyone involved to discuss the general idea and brainstorm an itinerary and to-do list. But for today, my lovely JJ, can you start designing that ultra amazing poster I know is floating around in your head and dying to burst out?”
Jay cocked his head. “I’m not sure if it is dying to, but yes I can.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Jay laughed as Seunghyun almost ran back into his office to finish whatever he had been doing before he had sniffed out Jay’s scent like a dog and almost bowled him over in the doorway.
Jay opened up his laptop and turned it on and then left it to load itself up whilst he took a quick toilet break. All was well until he got to the sink and saw an unfamiliar phone near the soap dispenser. He stared at it as he finished washing his hands and then quickly dried them so he could pick it up. There was no doubt who the phone belonged to.
He clicked the power button and the lock screen lit up—a photo of a sunset over some trees. What a sappy fucker Jung Yunho was. Jay shook his head in amusement and then walked out of the bathroom to show his find to Seunghyun. “Your friendly tennis messiah really must have been in a rush today,” he called out as soon as he had swung the office door open and then waved the phone at Seunghyun from the doorway. Seunghyun just stared at him quizzically from behind his computer.
“Is that his phone?” Seunghyun called out, rather dumbly.
“I sure hope so,” Jay answered. “Otherwise some little creep has been sneaking into HQ and using our facilities. That soap doesn’t come cheap, you know.” Seunghyun nodded his agreement and Jay wandered over to his desk, lighting up the phone’s screen for Seunghyun to see. “A sunset,” Jay explained with a laugh.
Seunghyun craned his neck to take a better look. “Pretty.”
“Just because Yunho doesn’t decorate his phone with photos of Ricky Lee-Poynter does not make it lame.”
Jay gave his friend a sarcastic snorty laugh. “Hilarious, you are.” And then said, “The world is a beautiful place, I was just expecting something…different.”
Jay let out a long shrug and sat down on the edge of Seunghyun’s desk. “Some massive trophy to aspire to? Some glamorous professional photo? A hot model boyfriend? I dunno.”
Seunghyun looked up at that. “Boyfriend?” he questioned.
“Oh, come on,” was Jay’s response.
“Oh, come on, what?”
Jay shrugged again and started playing with the phone in his hand, flipping it from one hand to the other. “It’s a gay thing,” was the best he could offer up.
“He didn’t seem gay to me…” said Seunghyun, looking genuinely mystified.
“That’s because you’re not gay.”
“Oh come on now,” Seunghyun scoffed. “That gaydar thing is so unfounded.”
“You’re not gay so you don’t know what to look for,” Jay sighed. “To the untrained eye he is the epitome of the perfect hetero guy. But he’s not. At least not completely…” He had to admit that Seunghyun was making him doubt himself. He had never really been wrong before. Overseas was a different story, but in Korea the signs were far more subtle and to get anywhere without going insane you had to learn how to recognise it in others. In Yunho’s case, a tiny bit of hair had fallen onto his forehead when he’d been practicing the other day and he’d tossed it away with his face with the tiniest hint of colourful vigour. It had been quick but Jay had caught it.
“Anyway,” he said, looking back up at Seunghyun and getting off his desk. “I’ll keep this out there.” He jiggled Yunho’s phone. “Just thought I’d let you know in case he comes back looking for it, because I’ve got to go and dash back to my place for my camera. Can’t have a poster without photos.”
“No,” Seunghyun agreed. “Be gone and make beautiful things.”
Jay smiled and nodded. He was tempted to do the Yoochun wink but left it at that and closed the door behind him until just a crack of space remained.
Yunho’s phone was still sitting on the table beside Jay’s laptop when Jay returned with his camera. Jay just raised his eyebrows at it and then made his way back outside to the courts to plan his angles. It was an unnecessary step for most people but Jay liked to envision the whole thing in his head before he started anything—from the angle and lighting of photos to the size of the text. He always had to map everything out; it’s just the way his brain ticked. Perhaps it was a habit that had been instilled in his childhood when he had spent hours visualising every inch of a tennis court and its lines and boundaries in his head before matches. Or maybe he was just weird.
The left court right now still wasn’t finished and most of the fence was ripped away and waiting to be replaced. That didn’t bother Jay so much. He could still at least get an idea of what kind of angle would look best on his poster when the finished product was ready.
He lifted the heavy camera up to peer through the viewfinder and adjusted his zoom. He took some sample shots and then saw a figure walking down the hill towards him. He aimed the camera in that direction and focused his zoom. There had been a few strangers hanging about lately, sniffing change in the air or possibly Yunho’s scent. Curious people were so funny. They thought they were so stealthy but really they were just so transparent.
His camera confirmed that it was the star of the town, himself, walking down the hill and not some ajumma or ajusshi with too much time on their hands or a lone and incredibly scary teenage girl ready to make babies with a hot sportsman.
Jay let his camera hang from his neck by its strap and went to meet the tennis player at the outskirts of the court. As he waited, he examined Yunho’s outfit. He had donned a black tank top and loose-fitting shorts. Black was a good colour on him, Jay thought. Given the outfit and the time frame, Yunho had probably noticed his phone missing on the way back from a gym session. Jay could imagine all the frantic searching of pockets and car seats that had taken place afterwards.
When Yunho got closer, Jay greeted him with, “Your phone’s on the table.”
“Ah. Thanks.” Yunho nodded at him and dare Jay suggest he seemed really quite awkward about the whole thing. Huh, so even guys with intense stares and magazine centrefolds could get embarrassed. Jay tried not to laugh as he watched the other man hop awkwardly up the steps to HQ to retrieve possibly the worst item to leave behind in the clutches of strangers.
Jay should really have gone back to work then but he was tempted to catch the rest of Yunho’s reaction when he resurfaced. Yunho looked slightly less embarrassed when he came back out, but there was enough sheepishness still there to make Jay bite down on his lip. Watching instead of working had definitely been worth it.
When Yunho saw Jay still standing there, he slowed his pace on the steps to give another awkward nod of acknowledgement. Jay nodded back, almost bursting through his poker face.
“Thanks,” the other man said again, lifting his phone up to show Jay.
“Have a good day.”
Yunho moved to keep walking but then stopped when he took in the camera hanging around Jay’s neck. “Whatcha doing?”
An uncharacteristically informal question from the tennis player. Jay bit his lip again and then released it to explain, “I’m taking sample photos of the court for any advertisement I have to make later. Including the event you foolishly sacrificed your image for.”
Yunho stared at him for a long moment until Jay smiled. “I’m just messing with you. Although,” he amended, “With our Yoochun involved, the protection of one’s image can never truly be guaranteed.”
“Like the Love Shack,” Yunho suggested.
“You’re catching on,” Jay told him with a smirk. “Oh, and aside from the courts, I also need a portrait for my poster.” And quick as anything, Jay lifted his camera up and took a photo of Yunho. Even with sunglasses on, he’d managed to capture the candid look of confusion on Yunho’s face. “Thanks!” he said and then turned away.
“W-What do you mean, ‘thanks?’” he heard Yunho splutter behind him and Jay grinned at the court in front of him for a moment. Then smoothing his expression back into a professional blankness, he turned back to look over his shoulder at Yunho.
“Thanks for the photo. I need it for the poster.”
This time Jay did turn around properly to let the other man see his grin. Yunho, whose mouth had been open mid-exclamation, seemed to calm down at that. “Just messing?” he guessed.
“Just messing,” Jay confirmed.
Yunho let out a long sigh and then ran a hand through his hair.
“You’re very easy to mess with this morning,” Jay told him with kinder smile.
“You told me my image was going to be compromised with Yoochun and then—”
“I did this,” Jay finished for him, simultaneously lifting his camera up and taking another shot as quick as the wind.
Yunho just gaped at him and Jay felt his chest vibrate in soft laughter. “You have to be careful around here, Jung Yunho. No one here has any sense of decorum. If you make a lame pun about running shoes being called sandshoes in some places, you might find your shoes are mysteriously filled with sand the next day. Or if you let it be known that you admire a famous tennis player, you might find there’s suddenly a cardboard cut-out of said player staring you down across the room one day. Here nothing is sacred; no man is left untouched. Let it be known that I did warn you.”
Yunho looked like he didn’t quite know how to take that and Jay could almost hear Seunghyun’s shrieks from inside his office if he ever knew what Jay had just said to an important sponsor.
“But lucky for you,” Jay quickly said, “those things aren’t actually going to happen to you because we respect our guests along with their dignity. Here.” He lifted the camera up and switched it over to its viewing mode. “These photos were never going to exist past this conversation.” And with that he deleted the photos in question. “We’re used to joking around a lot here,” Jay added, catching Yunho’s gaze from where it lifted from the camera to meet his. “So sometimes that’s our default habit. If it ever makes you uncomfortable, just give us a look and we’ll come back to our senses. Our intention is never to offend.”
“No, it’s fine,” Yunho told him. “You guys have a brotherhood here. I respect that.”
“Sure, but it’s also a business and you are a professional partner of sorts. Adequate decorum is required. I just wish to apologise in advance if that boundary is ever accidentally crossed.”
“It’s okay. Really,” Yunho said.
“Okay, good.” Jay nodded. “I really will need a photo of you though, for when we need to promote this event. I can just use one of your professional ones. Oh…” Jay added, a little to himself, “but we’d need to pay copyright for that, huh…”
“Professional photos are a little stiff. I’ll just come back tomorrow in more appropriate clothing,” he offered.
The reply I like your inappropriate clothing was on the tip of Jay’s tongue but he held himself still and just smiled and nodded. It was true though, he did like them. Black was always a flattering colour and tight material suitable for movement and exercise always accentuated the right lines. The cut of his tank top left bare Jay’s favourite part of the torso too—collarbones. Not to be outdone, of course, by his arms. He wasn’t a bodybuilder but he was fit. What red-blooded male could deny that? The shorts weren’t too much to write home about but the sunglasses made up for them. All in all, Yunho was a compelling sight right then and Jay almost wished he hadn’t been so quick to delete the photos he had taken of the man. That was deceitful though and trust was a virtue that Jay held in high regard.
Jay was actually wearing a similar black tank top too but right now he wasn’t as fit as he used to be and was quite glad of his decision to wear a thin, chequered button-down shirt rolled up to his elbows over the top of it. His pants went down to his calves too which covered up his ugly knees. He only owned one pair of shorts for that reason. Everyone had something they hated about their body though so Jay didn’t feel too sheepish about it.
“Actually, could I talk to you for a sec?”
Yunho’s words cut through Jay’s musing and he looked up at the other man. “Sure. What can I help you with?”
“Do you want to maybe sit?”
Jay couldn’t even give him an answer because the tennis player was already leading them across the court to the spot the two of them had been lying on just the night before. It felt odd to sit down there in daylight though. Daylight was harsh—you couldn’t hide anything.
Instead of lying down, Jay sat by the net and leant back against the pole. Yunho sat almost adjacent to him with his back resting against what remained of the fence that partitioned the two courts. With both of their legs stretched out, their shoes almost touched like the corner of a square. Yunho had long legs but Jay’s weren’t exactly that short either.
“I thought about what you said the other night,” Yunho told him. “And you got it right—I am a perfectionist. I already kind of knew that and my friend certainly used to call me that all the time. I knew it but…I guess I hadn’t quite seen it as bluntly as you worded it. Like how fancy shots aren’t needed every time…”
Jay nodded slowly as he listened to Yunho speak. “Solid and consistent,” he offered. “As reliable as rice and kimchi.”
He nodded in return. “It might sound a bit weird, but I guess I just wanted to thank you for your observation. I’ve taken it on board and I think it might help a bit.”
“I’m glad,” Jay said. And he was. “Perfect doesn’t exist. You’re better off putting your energy into something that does exist.”
“It’s a tricky thing to get right.”
“Yeh. Balance always is. That’s what practice and a lot of swearing is for.”
Yunho smiled at that and then let his head drop back against the fence. There was a soft groan of old metal expanding from the movement. Yunho sat there and watched the sky through his shades for a short moment and then said, “It will be nice when the second court opens.”
“You can have a new view for your stargazing.”
Jay puffed his cheeks out and made an awkward face. He let the air out and then said, “I’m fine with my old spot.”
“Creature of habit?”
“Not so much.” Yunho waited for him to elaborate but Jay just couldn’t. It was too complicated.
“I might give it a try,” Yunho mused instead. “That court has always been good luck.”
“Yeh. In my head at least. It has seen some really good players. I didn’t really play on it when I was a kid, I played on this one. But I used to watch the others get coached on it and they were incredible.”
Jay nodded slowly, letting his eyes sweep across the painted white lines near his thighs.
“There was this one kid in particular who was just absolutely amazing. I watched him all the time even though I was supposed to be concentrating on my own lesson. I confess—and this is embarrassing so don’t hold it against me—but sometimes I came far too early for my class just so I could sit and watch him.”
Jay nodded again, lightly tracing a seam on his pants with his finger.
“I didn’t really think about it at the time, I just did it. No sense of shame or anything,” he laughed. “I didn’t really think I’d ever amount to anything much back then—tennis-wise—and maybe that was good because there was less pressure. Either way, some of my favourite memories as a kid was just sitting beside the office, watching that kid playing on that court and wishing I could look anywhere near as cool as that. Life is so much simpler when you’re a kid, isn’t it?” he chuckled.
“Yeah,” Jay agreed. “Growing up is pretty crap in comparison. A whole new ball game.” He wasn’t quite sure what else to say on the matter. He wasn’t even sure what he was still doing there for. He was a total stranger to Yunho and hearing things he didn’t really need to know. Did Yunho really have no one else to talk to right now? Jay wouldn’t have picked himself as the best companion for it.
“I kind of miss those days,” Yunho admitted to Jay. As he spoke, his head still leant against the old fence and Jay couldn’t help but find it a fitting pose.
“You miss spying on that guy?”
Yunho let out a soft laugh at Jay’s wording. “Yes, but in general. I miss just…being. Not having a head that’s so full and confused it can barely operate.”
“But when you’re younger you still have your own set of issues too,” Jay pointed out as he scratched at a mosquito bite on his arm.
“And those feel tough at the time too. You don’t yet have adult wisdom to see past them.”
“Did you ever have any childhood crushes?” Yunho suddenly asked him.
It was a question out of the blue but since he had been asked anyway, Jay thought hard on it but came up blank. “No,” he admitted. “Not really.”
Yunho looked a little surprised but nodded anyway. “That’s probably lucky. I did,” then added, “Only innocent of course, but even an innocent one can burn you when you’re young.”
Oh. Not such a random question then.
“Sure,” Jay replied with a shrug. “I imagine it could. When you’re young your heart’s bigger.”
The wind had been blowing Jay’s hair into his face and he swiped it back off his face. He didn’t know why he tended to keep his hair longer than a lot of guys when it annoyed him so much when it touched his face for too long.
“Yeh…” Yunho sighed out, thinking over what Jay had said. “That’s very true.”
“So you got burned then, huh?”
“Not deliberately. It was dumb… I was such a shy kid—though you wouldn’t have known it to look at me, I hid it as best I could—and all I wanted was just to be friends with him even though I was younger. I wanted to talk to him about tennis because my own friends didn’t really get it but I could never get close enough. His circle of friends were so loud and they would have laughed at me if I tried. The only time he was alone was when he was playing tennis. And that’s why I loved watching him at the court.
Jay nodded silently at that. It felt like any word spoken aloud would seem too crass after such a private story.
Yunho was the one to break the silence but this time it looked like he had forgotten Jay was even there. “So dumb… How something so long ago can still make you melancholy. He’d been my muse for so long but then he just disappeared, he was just suddenly gone from my life and I didn’t know where or how to find him… I just kept waiting because I didn’t realise then that he wouldn’t be back...”
Jay couldn’t see Yunho’s eyes behind his sunglasses but his mouth was set in a firm line.
“After that I had to figure out where I fit with tennis without him being the reason. I had to re-evaluate everything. But I was so young…I didn’t understand it. I guess I just did it naturally. I just knew I felt empty and lonely and if tennis didn’t make that go away, I was playing it for the wrong reasons. It’s not like he was always going to be there…”
Jay wasn’t particularly sure why Yunho was telling him all of this but far be it from him to stop a reverie. God knows he had enough of them. Seunghyun would kill him though for not working on the poster. In fact, Jay didn’t think he had even had time to log into his laptop account properly, which was even more of a dead giveaway to his flitting about. Yunho was stuck in this reverie though and it was easier to just sit and listen. It kind of felt like it was important for him to just have someone there listening and Jay didn’t really want to disrupt that.
“It was so confusing at first but then I knew I really was playing it for me…” Yunho opened his mouth to carry on but then paused and looked over at Jay for the first time in many, many minutes. Perhaps Yunho could read his mind because he finally flashed Jay a sheepish look and then said, “Sorry, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I think all that brotherhood stuff with you guys brought it all back.”
“It’s fine,” Jay assured him but not without quickly taking a glance behind him at the HQ doors to make sure Seunghyun hadn’t resurfaced. “Go on.”
Yunho gave him a small smile and then turned to look across at the half-finished court behind him. “No, never mind. I’m feeling stupid now.”
“I’m not going to tell anyone, if that’s what you’re worried about. These courts hold a lot of my own secrets and here they stay,” Jay confessed softly. “I do have one question though… Why does it matter? He was just some kid from a million years ago who was good at tennis but clearly didn’t like it enough to stick around. Who gives a crap if you weren’t his friend? It sounds like you’ve been better off without him. You actually became a professional player while he was probably pulling snot out of his nose and fapping over cheap porn magazines. He’s probably still doing that as we speak.”
Yunho’s head crashed against the old mesh fence again as he laughed. Then he looked back over at Jay and said, “In a really odd way, you’re pretty sweet.”
Jay raised an eyebrow at that and then asked, “Could I get you to say that again and then in writing?” Yunho wore an odd expression for a moment, but then his face eased into amusement as he processed the joke. “There are some non-believers around here,” Jay explained with a crooked smile. “I don’t know why—I’m such an angel, especially to everyone I first meet.”
Yunho wore his own crooked smile at that. At least he seemed to recognise the apology.
“Anyway,” Jay chuckled softly. “Go on. I’ve avoided work today for this long, I may as well keep going while we’re here. If Seunghyun comes out here though, just smile at him really brightly and distract him while I run into the bushes.”
Yunho looked a little abashed at that. “No, I’m done. I don’t want you to get in trouble. Thank you for listening at all.” He made to get up then but Jay quickly held a hand out to stop him.
“To be completely honest with you,” Jay quickly told him, “I don’t want to go back inside. I don’t actually want to work. But shhhhh, don’t tell anyone; It’s a huge secret. I’m actually a five year-old child hiding inside here.” He pointed to his chest.
Yunho stared at him with much amusement and then lowered his butt that last couple of inches back onto the ground. “Your secret’s safe with me,” he drawled. “But yeah… I dunno, there’s not a lot to tell after that. He completely disappeared one day and that was the end of that little infatuation.”
The wind blew a couple of leaves onto Yunho’s lap and he brushed them aside before he spoke again. “Anyway, those nice, simple memories of my youth remain in me and I think that’s why I’m oddly attached to that court over there now. It’s what started everything. Maybe it’s stupid but I just couldn’t bear to let it just deteriorate into nothing while I was still around. Not that I’d be able to return to the time I was eight years-old again, but I guess I’m just disgustingly sentimental...”
That was pretty funny. Jay hated that court for a similar reason.
He hadn’t been as observant as Yunho though. He kind of wished he had been that self-aware—or even people-aware—when he was a kid. He simply hadn’t cared enough about anything but his dream. He hadn’t paid attention to anyone else on the court when he’d played, he’d just focused on his own craft and—
Jay had been jiggling his foot and watching the end of his shoelace bounce off the court but his leg completely froze mid-bounce at the unwelcome thought that had snuck through.
No. There was no way…
Jay had been thirteen when he’d left those courts but Yunho said he’d been eight at that time. That was too young; they were only three years apart. His body relaxed again as his calculations sunk in but he didn’t recommence his jiggling. He’d had too much of a shock to find amusement in shoelaces again. Bloody hell, that had been a close call. If he had been Yunho’s little crush, that would have been disastrous on too many levels to count.
Even though his heart had stopped hammering, Jay drew his legs up to his chest. The change of position broke the square his legs had made with Yunho’s and a similar realisation must have occurred to the other man because he looked less sluggish and more alert all of a sudden. In the next moment, he was insisting that he’d been talking too much about himself and tried to redirect the conversation back onto Jay.
“You’ve heard mine, but what attracted you to these courts?” he asked Jay.
It was a question with a loaded answer... Yet Jay knew the answer at the tip of his tongue was the truth. He said very softly, “My grandmother…” and then immediately wished he hadn’t. No one was allowed to know that but him.
Yunho’s response was equally soft. “Yeh?” he practically hummed.
Jay looked up at the quiet question and was taken aback by the gentleness in the other man’s eyes. It wasn’t a polite stare; he genuinely seemed to be interested. Distracted by Yunho’s eyes, Jay felt something shift somewhere and the words just came out. “She means a lot to me but when I was younger I did something that I’m really not proud of. My gran and I were really close but something happened and then I kicked everyone out of my life, including her. I refused to acknowledge anyone. I didn’t even tell them when I was going to the military.” He had to look away from Yunho. He couldn’t believe he was even saying this out loud, let alone to someone who was staring at him so intently. “Taking care of these courts…” he said instead, focusing his eyes instead on the newly re-surfaced court beside him, “is both a form of apology and a recognition of her past.”
Oh god, he had to stop talking otherwise he was going to get emotional and as far as strangers were concerned, he had no past to be emotional about. Yunho had started something though… Not even verbally… Those damn eyes!
Jay swallowed angrily though the lump forming in his throat and clung onto the topic that could never give him anything but pride. “My grandmother’s past isn’t really recognised but to me she is the most incredible person in the world. She was introduced to tennis on her honeymoon and,” Jay gave a wry smile, “she jokes that she fell so in love with it, it was almost like cheating on her husband.
“But when she came back home—not here, not The Grove, but the place further south where she used to live before my grandad passed away—no one else cared about tennis like she did. And none of the men took her seriously because she was a woman. But she never let anyone’s ridicule stop her from playing it as seriously as the men.
“At first it was just playing with my grandfather and then eventually when a women’s competition was organised, she saved up to travel to the city and compete. She was so passionate and she fought for her dream even if no-one else understood it. She is just so strong. And so healthy,” Jay added. “She’s eighty-five and still walks around by herself—albeit with a cane. And her mind is still sharp for the most part. Her health means everything to her. She always says she doesn’t want money, she doesn’t want fame—she just wants her health so she can be with her family and experience life.
“And,” Jay added because he apparently couldn’t stop, “I think she’s a fucking genius for that because without health you wouldn’t really be able to enjoy fame and money anyway. And I for one am glad she has that health because…” He paused for a second. He’d lost some gusto now that his mind had caught up with his mouth, but he finished it all the same, even if his voice was a lot smaller now. “Because I don’t know what I’d do without her. We’ve always been close because she has always encouraged me, always believed in me... She never doubted when I was a kid that I’d reach my dreams too...”
“What were your dreams?” Yunho asked quietly.
Jay was almost ripped right out of the warm fuzz of his reverie at the sound of Yunho’s voice. It was the first time he had spoken for minutes and Jay felt an uncharacteristic flush warm his cheeks. “Maybe another time…” was all he could say to that. “But I suppose one dream was to be like her. To find ways around the obstacles even if it seems impossible or even if it wasn’t quite the route you expected to take…”
Yunho gave him a moment and then said gently, “Your grandmother sounds amazing.”
Jay felt a smile return to his face. “She is,” he said and then added, “Thank you.”
“I can see why you are inspired by her. That kind of resolve in the face of adversity isn’t an easy thing to have…”
Jay looked down at his hands that had wrapped around his legs without his recollection. “Yeh…”
“I never even knew someone who loved tennis that much lived so close by here. I wish I had known of her when I was growing up—maybe she would have been able to talk to my parents…” He said that last part softly to himself but Jay heard it all the same.
“Your parents don’t like tennis?” he inquired. Truthfully, he was just relieved not to have to talk about himself anymore.
“No,” Yunho confirmed. “Well, they have nothing against the sport, but they’re not really sporty people. They didn’t believe it was worthwhile for me to even try and pursue a career in it. They wanted me to concentrate on school only so it took me years before I was able to even go to the city and train the way I knew I needed to. That in itself was a sneaky operation and not particularly filial…” He sighed. “When I started showing a lot of progress, my parents finally started to take me seriously and supported my competitions. You have to pay to even enter a lot of the tournaments,” he explained to Jay, “so before they started supporting my choice, I kept having to borrow money off my friends to pay for those chances. Maybe your wonderful grandmother could have helped them come around sooner. Her passion sounds infectious.” He said it with a smile.
“Maybe,” Jay mused. “But hey, you got there in the end, right? You fought hard for your passion too and that’s all that matters in the end. Congratulations.”
“Thank you?” Yunho said, and then Jay saw his eyes widen at something behind him and he murmured, “Uh-oh. Seunghyun.”
Jay blinked out of his daze and scrambled for his camera. He hastily lifted it up and then ordered Yunho to quickly pose. Yunho looked over at him in bewilderment before giving a slightly hesitant peace sign.
As the shutter went off, Jay heard footsteps behind them on the court and then Seunghyun’s voice was exclaiming, “There you are, JJ!”
Yunho greeted Seunghyun with a wave and Jay turned around with camera in hand. “The poster’s going well,” Jay felt the need to inform his business partner. From the corner of his eye he saw Yunho’s lips curve upwards. Oh, shut up.
“Good, good,” was all Seunhyun said on the matter before explaining he was running down to the shops for some coffee if the two of them wanted some as well. They both politely declined and then Seunghyun left them to it. ‘It’ ended up being Yunho suddenly jumping up and declaring that he wanted to practice his tennis again.
“Seriously?” Jay questioned as he gazed up at the other man who was already starting to bounce a little on his feet. “In this wind?”
“Yeh!” Yunho grinned down at him. “Screw it!” And then after seeing the look of scepticism on Jay’s face added, “You’re the fool if you beg to be inspired and then turn down your own muse.”
Jay wasn’t particular sure what muse he was referring to considering their conversation and Seunghyun’s coffee run was decidedly quite ordinary. Maybe it had been their talk about his grandmother. If she inspired Yunho to love his craft, then Jay certainly couldn’t argue with that.
“Well,” Jay said after handing one of their spare rackets over to Yunho, “this is good for me.” He lifted up his camera with a small smirk. Yunho quickly looked down to check that his clothing matched his endorsements and then gave Jay the thumbs up. Jay backed up to the side of the court to give him adequate space and then lifted his camera up, ready for a nice action shot of Yunho’s serve.
Ricky had the most beautiful playing form for Jay but after seeing Yunho practicing in person, Jay had to admit that Yunho’s style was compelling in its own way. Yunho had a very powerful line right up from his outflung arm, down to the twist of his torso and the solid muscles of his thighs and calves.
Jay was prepared to capture that beauty but that was not what he got. Instead he found himself laughing through the viewfinder as Yunho threw the ball high above his head, ready to smash it down but then hopping backwards after it as the wind stole it away past his head. And Yunho really had hopped—which was priceless in itself if that hadn’t been outdone by the look of pure bewilderment and then ridiculous determination on his face. Not surprisingly, even after all the effort, Yunho did not quite manage to catch the ball with his racket or any other body part.
When Yunho had come back to his senses, the ball long gone, Jay was still pissing himself with laugher, all the more joyful because he had managed to capture every last second of the bizarre posing on his camera.
“Oh, zip it,” was Yunho’s response but Jay couldn’t let it go that easily.
“You looked like one of those people who step out onto the street thinking they are all sorted but as soon as they put their umbrella up it blows inside out and they’re all like: woooah what the fuck!”
Even Yunho had to laugh at that one even though he unsuccessfully tried to hide it with the turn of his head.
“Try it again,” Jay commanded.
Yunho turned back to him with an indignant air. “I will,” he said, “But not for your camera folly. This is for me.”
“Mmhmm,” Jay drawled and lifted his camera up in readiness. “Make it a good one, hot shot.”
This time when Yunho threw the ball up, he did so a little closer to try and counteract the wind. It was a nice calculation but nicer still for Jay’s camera when the ball just flew over his head regardless. Yunho almost bent over backwards to reach it and still missed. Again.
“Impressive,” Jay called over.
Yunho almost took the bait but then minutely shook his head at himself and reached into his pocket for a third ball.
“Oh, a third try!” Jay trilled and then steadied himself with spread legs as if he was preparing to jump into action at any moment—which he wouldn’t be because Yunho was just going to fail again. The look of narrowed eyes that Yunho shot him when he saw Jay’s posture satisfied him greatly.
Again, seemingly not taking the bait, Yunho swung his arm back and arched up, his face etched in concentration. It was a good shot so Jay took it. Then, as fast as the shutter speed of his camera, Yunho’s gaze suddenly switched to Jay and his arm swung through at an odd angle and—
Jay felt a burst of pain against his thigh.
He stumbled back, his mind and head whirling, and then foreign laughter pierced the air.
“Ow!” Jay belatedly yelled at the tennis player. The ball that had hit him slowly bounced away behind him in an elongated laugh. PAH… Pah… pah… That was the least offensive noise he had heard. “You bloody hit me!” he raged.
Yunho just twirled his racket around with a flick of his wrist, still laughing, and Jay was filled with the childish need to march over and pull his pants down or something. Dacking him* was something he definitely deserved but, “You could have broken my camera!” he yelled instead. The sting on his thigh was still smarting and he added another accusation to the list. “You could have ended my chances of fatherhood!”
“I could have,” Yunho called back in agreement. “But I didn’t.” The smirk on Yunho’s face suggested a false sense of omnipotence, which just made Jay want to kick him.
“Oh yehhh,” Jay drawled out, hand on hip. “Like you could control that in the wind.”
“Oh, but I can,” was Yunho’s response shortly followed by another demonstrative flip of his racket.
“Then hit the ball over the net—for once!—and not into my crotch.”
At that Yunho slowly stalked towards him like a panther, his gaze locked firmly on Jay and Jay felt his back straighten in reflex. When Yunho was mere paces away from Jay, he said calmly and softly, “That’s no fun though.”
Jay could only keep staring as the tall tennis player came even closer to him, and then lifted the camera from his chest and over his head. The strap caught in Jay’s hair and ruffled it up and his scalp was still tingling when Yunho suddenly danced away with the camera. He held it high, pointing it down at himself and made gave the lens a cheesy grin with a peace sign resting against his jaw. He took various photos of himself like that and Jay could only watch, still dumbfounded and frozen to the spot.
“I think the camera’s seen enough of you today,” Jay eventually grumbled and knew Yunho was ignoring him when the tennis player continued to dance around him in his own photo shoot. “Hey!” Jay called out again. His body was blindly turning and following Yunho wherever he darted. “I don’t want the lens to crack!”
“Me either,” Yunho called back over his shoulder. “That’s why it’s on me.”
Jay’s mouth gaped open and that was when Yunho, quick as lightening, flipped the camera around and caught Jay in the frame. There was a click and then, “Gotcha!” Yunho then, with a smug little grin, pretended to shake an invisible polaroid print back and forth between his index finger and thumb.
“I deleted those photos!” Jay exclaimed after a second of disbelief.
Yunho’s response was quick and amplified by the wind, “Do I look like I care?”
“No, you look like a moron!” Jay fruitlessly yelled after him before stomping over to try and steal his camera back.
“Yet not as much as you,” Yunho matter-of-factly responded. He wasn’t even looking at Jay anymore; Jay could see the lens turning under Yunho’s supple fingers and he knew Yunho was zooming in on the horrible photo he had taken.
All Jay could do was vow in a low growl, “I am going to find the ugliest photo of you for that poster.”
“I look forward to you trying,” was all the response Jay was given and Jay let out an exaggerated growl. Yunho was far more tolerable without the sense of humour!
“I thought you were going to practice,” Jay huffed.
“HAH!” Jay beamed, pointing a triumphant finger at him across the net.
Yunho glanced up at Jay. “If the wind changes, your face will freeze that way,” he warned. “You know what they say.”
“I don’t care!” Jay shot back loudly. “Because it’s a victorious face!”
Yunho just grinned and brought the camera up again. The shutter went off and then Yunho’s re-emerged from behind the big black camera. “So photogenic.”
At that Jay’s stubborn pose collapsed into shaking shoulders and he was laughing. “Fuck you.” He plodded up to the net to meet Yunho half way and held out his palm. The other man handed the camera over but not without showing more of that annoying grin of his from ear to ear.
“Go away,” Jay groaned with soft laughter as he turned from him and looked down at his baby. He heard Yunho chuckling as well as he walked away. Jay couldn’t believe he had to put up with this man again all over again tomorrow...
Jay stroked the cool plastic casing and then switched the camera back on. It beeped in welcome and Jay caressed the side with his thumb. As he scrolled through the menu on the screen, Yunho grew smaller and smaller in his peripheral vision and then the other man was gone. He ignored the twinge at that and kept opening up his files.
Now, Jay thought, what horrors awaited him on this damn thing…
*Dacking: Aussie slang for running past someone and pulling their pants down before they have time to even react. Watch out, Yunho. XD
A/N: Well Yunho’s finally getting into the spirit of things. Was there some…flirting there? Aii yaii. Playing with fire.
As for the lens cracking joke… Come on, guys, it had to happen! Rememmmber this?
^ JJ’s gaping shock at the diss is still priceless. XD
Quick note about Yunho and Jay’s D&M (deep & meaningful conversation): If it seems dangerous for Yunho to be discussing childhood crushes with a relative stranger, it’s not really—there’s no coming out of the closet there. Since childhood crushes aren’t often sexual but more of an idolising, Yunho crushing on a boy isn’t indicative of his sexuality. Jay’s still insisting on his gaydar though, hah. ^^
Thought I’d also make a quick note here about Yunho and Granny Kim after it was raised last chapter: Yunho did grow up at The Grove so he should know who Granny Kim is—but he doesn’t. There is a reason for this and that is something that will be raised in a future chapter. Without giving any spoilers away, let’s just say that Jay weaves a very intricate web with the lines between truth and lies. He has a very intricate back story, as does Yunho, and that is something I am looking forward to unravelling. Next chapter will be very interesting, that’s for sure. If my plan behaves, some shit will be going down.
Thank you for your comments! I’ll see you there. <3
Current Music: Help I’m Alive – Metric [JJ’s POV] // Gotcha – Jessica Mauboy [Cheeky YH]