Title: Across the Line
Chapter: [7 / ?]
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: Real life delayed this chapter a bit but I hope you enjoy it now.
Yoochun ran his fingers over the chain around his neck as he listened to the abrasive noise outside of workers ripping up old fence. The soft jangling of the tag bouncing over his sternum was almost lost under all the noise.
He had been sitting with Jay on the couch in their tennis man cave for a while now. Both had fallen into their own thoughts as they waited for Seunghyun to come out of his office to join them and for Yunho to arrive for their meeting. Yoochun kind of hoped the meeting would be over by lunchtime because he was already feeling a little peckish. He had seen Jay cutting up some carrots before for nibbles but that would hardly do him—not unless they were to be used in carrot cake or an omelette or something vaguely fulfilling.
Yoochun let his head rest on the back of the couch and watched Jay for a moment. He couldn’t see much of his face because Jay was staring at the workers outside the window. It seemed more captivating for him than it was for Yoochun.
God, he was so bored… He couldn’t stand it any longer.
The older man turned to look at him. “Yeh?”
“Is your poop orange?”
Jay just stared blankly at him for a moment. Then he exploded with, “Excuse me?”
“Is your poop orange?” he repeated dutifully. “You eat so many carrot sticks. It’s a logical question.”
“Ummm!” Jay’s eyes had widened. “I think you’ll find most people don’t make that leap!”
“I think you’ll find they do!”
It was at that moment that Seunghyun chose to finally leave his office. He had barely taken three steps towards them when Jay verbally pounced on him. “Seunghyun, I eat a lot of carrot, right?” he asked, swinging himself over on the couch to face him.
Seunghyun stopped and looked at him. “Yes?” he returned with some trepidation.
“And what is the next thought that comes to your mind after that?”
“You…must have good eyesight?
Jay turned back to Yoochun and raised his eyebrows at him in a silent: ‘See!’
“What?” Yoochun said. “They’re both medical conclusions.”
“Bad medical conclusions…” he heard the other man mutter.
Seunhyun apparently knew them well enough now to ignore their conversation and he finished making his way over to the window to peer out at the mess going on outside. He then made a noise of both exasperation and slight amusement. “Looks like we’re not the only ones waiting for Yunho.”
“People are outside again?” Yoochun asked.
“It would seem so.”
Word had started to spread that Jung Yunho the Tennis Player was in town as well as the titbit that he had often been sighted at the mysterious little tennis club that had coincidentally opened up again. Each day Yoochun had to pass more people to get to work. They were still only small scatterings of onlookers but Yoochun would bet that the closer Yunho moved to the city, the more those numbers would grow.
Yoochun pulled up his best beaming smile and said, “Maybe they are here for me?”
“No offence,” Jay said, turning to look at him without skipping a beat, “But in this lifetime? No. Absolutely not.”
Yoochun made a face at him and then looked back at Seunghyun who had started to speak again. “I hope none try and follow him to his car again…”
“What?” Jay asked.
“Oh, that girl with the red hair?” Yoochun mused.
“Who?” Jay asked.
“The girl whose hair shines red in the sun,” he supplied.
“I can’t see her today,” Seunghyun said to Yoochun, peering closer out the window.
“Nice to know there are still limits,” Yoochun drawled back. “Like going to school.”
“Little Red Riding hood,” Yoochun told Jay. “Or in this case, Little Red Hiding Hood. Hide your men, people, she’ll be there behind the tree ready to pounce.” He continued on with a female voice, “‘What a deep voice you have! …The better to greet me with. What big eyes you have! …The better to see me with. What big hands you have! …The better to touch me with. What a big ehem you have! …The better to f—’”
“INAPPROPRIATE!” Jay yelled out immediately.
“I have to agree,” Seunghyun told him with a small shake of his head. “You really have no boundaries, do you?” he asked Yoochun. “And I don’t quite remember that fairytale going that way…”
Yoochun just shrugged. “It was still warning about sex pests. I just reversed the victim. Girls in puberty scare me. They are the ones with no boundaries…” He scratched behind his ear. “How old does that girl look to you? Fourteen? She comes here every other afternoon—no lessons or anything—just to snoop around in case Yunho’s around. What does she think is going to happen? He’ll flirt with her and fall madly in love with her when she’s underage?”
Seunghyun grimaced at that. “It is quite unfortunate. Luckily she still keeps her distance.”
Yoochun heard Jay mutter from beside him, “That is really creepy…”
“You really haven’t seen her at it?” Yoochun asked him. Jay shook his head and Yoochun laughed. “Wow, Double-J…”
“JJ didn’t even notice Yunho walk past him the first time Yunho ever came here—twice,” Seunghyun reminded them all with an affectionate grin. “Observation isn’t JJ’s strong suit.”
At that Jay sprung up higher on the couch and exclaimed in his own defence, “I’ve noticed teenagers around! Just not their exact hair colour and DNA and shit!”
Seunghyun chuckled, looking from the window to Yoochun and Jay on the couch. “To be fair to JJ, he isn’t here on Saturdays.”
Jay jumped on that. “Yes! Yes, exactly. Some of us are too busy spending time with our grandmothers to hang around watching people watching other people.”
“Still,” Yoochun teased. “Little Red Hiding Hood is kind of hard to miss. She has these long fake nails that clickety-clack all over her phone screen and a skirt an impressive few centimetres down to her butt.”
“Sounds glamorous,” Jay drawled and settled back into the couch, the defending of his reputation complete.
“Mm,” Seunghyun spoke from the window. “The following Yunho habit isn’t all that great… But as for the gossip around town that led to it…that’s half the promotion already done for our event.”
“Oh, so you don’t need my poster then,” Jay drawled.
“I would love to have your poster,” Seunghyun replied, ignoring Jay’s tone.
Seunghyun… The shameless optimist, Yoochun thought with a grin. And Jay, the sarcastic cynic.
It was at that moment when a shadow appeared on the path and they all piped down before Yunho could reach the door. It was funny how that was always the unspoken rule. What exactly did that say about their usual level of conversation?
After Yunho had slid the door closed behind him and taken his sunglasses off, he turned to greet everyone and Yoochun took a moment to admire his shirt. It was just a white T-shirt but it had the coolest grey and black outline of tree roots or something down the side. Yoochun would have to ask where he got it…
Seunghyun offered Yunho a seat at the table. Yunho choose the closest seat, adjacent to the head of the table, which Seunghyun then took after commandeering Jay’s laptop. That was Yoochun and Jay’s cue to gather around. Jay took the seat by Seunghyun’s other side, opposite Yunho but Yoochun stood back thoughtfully. With Seunghyun at the head, it left the table uneven. That was going to bug Yoochun. He turned back around and strolled over to the other side of the room and dragged over the cut-out of Ricky Lee-Poynter. He stood it next to Jay and then skipped around the table to sit opposite it, beside Yunho.
He looked across at Jay who had narrowed his eyes at him and Yoochun almost sighed. For once he actually wasn’t trying to piss the other man off. “Ricky’s our mascot, remember?” he said, looking at Jay but directing it to everyone at the table. “He mustn’t go to waste.”
“Every morning he gives me a fright from the door… He’s not going to waste,” Seunghyun informed him and Yoochun started laughing. Jay just rolled his eyes. Yunho was silent and his expression was hard to gauge from Yoochun’s angle but he at least didn’t appear to be too affronted by the cut-out’s presence at the table.
Seunghyun started the meeting then and Yoochun sat back and listened to everyone agreeing on dates and times and brainstorming names. It was in the middle of Jay and Seunghyun’s debate over a simple ‘100 Days of Tennis’ or something more descriptive that Yoochun noticed a small portable whiteboard lying untouched at the other end of the table. It was smaller than an A4 piece of paper, probably an A5 size and there was a magnetized, non-permanent marker stuck on the edge and ready to be used. Yoochun guessed Seunghyun had brought it over before he had remembered a little invention called Jay’s laptop to write important notes on. That meant it was up for dibs, right? Brilliant.
Yoochun slid over and quietly dragged the small whiteboard over to his seat and unscrewed the marker from its cap. He drew a smiley face as Seunghyun started telling Yunho all about his father’s beverage company and the free batch of drinks he and Jay would probably be able to pick up for the 100 Days event. Yoochun added a moustache to his drawing and then rubbed the whole thing out with the bottom of his palm. That left black smudges all over his skin. Oops. A tissue would have been better…
“So everyone can stay hydrated,” Seunghyun was saying.
“And who can turn down free things,” Jay added, a little wryly.
“That sounds like a nice bonus,” Yunho agreed.
Their conversation drifted to the main point of their meeting—planning their main event: the exhibition match—and Yoochun started paying more attention now that he could actually contribute. Seunghyun reminded everyone the exhibition match would be a comedic one—and Yoochun restrained a laugh. He figured comedy was just a given considering Seunghyun and Jay had never properly lifted up a tennis racket before. What really piqued his interest though was the suggestion that rather than playing their boring selves—present company of a certain tennis player excluded—they ought to dress up as a famous tennis player. Imitation! That was Yoochun’s specialty! He almost forgot about the whiteboard in front of him for a whole minute in his excitement.
Yunho was the first to make his suggestion. “I like Agassi. Andre Agassi that is.”
Jay had been scratching his nose and looking at the table but his head came up at Yunho’s suggestion. He examined Yunho for a moment, his expression indecipherable, then like a switch flicking back on, he opened his mouth and said, “He’s a legend.” Then he let out a soft sigh. “But I don't think we can do people from that era. Our audience probably only started paying attention to tennis slams within the past few years. They wouldn't be as familiar with the older legends, they wouldn’t recongise their quirks and find it funny... Otherwise I would have loved to be Pat Rafter.”
“Yeh yeh,” Yoochun chuckled. “We know who Double-J really wants to be.”
“Riiiicky,” Seunghyun helpfully supplied in a singsong voice.
“No actually,” Jay shot back. Yoochun could almost hear the underlying hmph in the statement and he bit back a laugh. “You are all so very wrong. I admire Ricky but I would never imitate him.”
“Because you can't imitate perfection?” Yoochun guessed.
There was a snort from Seunghyun and Yoochun openly grinned, only mildly distracted as he quickly scribbled a message for Jay on his little whiteboard. It only took a few seconds to write it and then he was lifting the board up for everyone to read.
^ GAY 2B RICKY'S LAY...
Seunghyun was the first to finish reading it and let out a strangled noise somewhere between laughter and trepidation. Seeing Seunghyun’s sudden loss of composure, Yunho’s head turned to Yoochun and his eyes widened at the sight of the whiteboard. Jay just looked outright scandalised. He spluttered a few nonsensical words and then managed a simple, “No!”
“You’re not?” Yoochun questioned.
“No!” Jay repeated, even louder.
With an exaggerated look of bafflement, Yoochun speedily wiped the words out and replaced them with:
^ GAY 4 YOOCHUN?
That had Seunghyun and Yunho openly laughing and Jay…very much not.
“Never in your most sanctified dreams!” Jay told him hotly. That only made Seunghyun and Yunho laugh louder. Yoochun tried to keep a straight face as he shrugged and nodded solemnly at Jay. “Rub it off!” the irate man insisted and Yoochun did so under the guise of obedience. He even placed the board back flat on the table in front of him in an air of surrender and goodwill.
Jay seemed to take a big gulp of air in to calm down and regain his composure and the chuckles from Seunghyun and Yunho died down appropriately for the meeting to carry on.
“Well,” Yunho said, seemingly to spare Jay from any lingering amusement at his expense. “If it’s current players that are more suitable to dress up as, I might just go as myself if that is allowed.”
“Of course,” Seunghyun immediately said.
“Great,” Yunho said. “I don’t mean it as an egotistical thing. It’s just I have to see these people and I wouldn’t want anything to be taken the wrong way if it got out…”
“That is fair enough, man,” Yoochun said. “And we definitely wouldn’t want to be the cause for you getting shit from anyone you have to compete against later.”
Yunho nodded, looking a little relieved. “I’m really not a natural comic. Novak Djokovic* can get away with it but…he’s Djokovic.”
Yoochun nodded. “Funny bastard.”
“I love that impersonation he does of Rafael Nadal fiddling with his pants to remove any wedgies before he makes his shots,” Seunghyun grinned. “And Maria Sharapova fixing her hair and shrieking with each shot she hits.”
“Hark! Did someone call my name?” Yoochun inquired with a flourish of his hand.
Three sets of eyes landed on him but it was Jay who spoke first. “You’re going as Maria Sharapova.” It wasn’t so much a question as an amused understanding. Yoochun gave a smug little shrug and then flipped invisible blonde hair over his shoulder. “Ohh-hoo,” Jay said as he leant back in his chair and crossed his arms over. He studied Yoochun for a brief moment and then said with a crooked grin, “Well, you would be quite good at her.”
Yoochun hit an invisible ball over the table to Jay with the accompanying loud screech she was famous for.
“As I said. Perfectly annoying,” Jay said and then nodded to himself before announcing, “I like this female direction you're going in. My last name is Kim so I'll be Kim Clijsters. Girl power!” he added, and Yoochun wasn’t surprised at all by the small body roll he glimpsed Jay do under the table.
“Is Kim the one with the really curly blonde hair?” Seunghyun asked them.
It was Yunho who answered. “Mmhmm. From Belgium.”
“Okay. And who is the guy who wears the backwards cap and always yells out: ‘COME ON!’”
Yunho and Jay answered that in union: “Lleyton Hewitt.”
“From Australia,” Yunho added. Another walking tennis encyclopaedia. Jay had competition.
“Great,” Seunghyun said, leaning back in his chair. “That's me done.”
Jay’s laughter filled the air and Yoochun couldn’t help but look up at him and chuckle under his breath. Out of all of them, Jay had the loudest—and arguably the funniest—laugh. When something amusing caught him off guard, his shriek of laughter would erupt and they joy would show across his whole face. Yoochun wasn’t entirely sure what had triggered it this time—perhaps Seunghyun’s criteria for the player he wanted to impersonate that was oddly perfect for him. Of course it could have just been something as small as Seunghyun’s tone—the way Jay’s mind worked was always a mystery, even to him.
Yunho suddenly jerked up in his seat and Yoochun glanced over at him.
“Oh!” Jay exclaimed, cutting his own laughter in half. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Yunho replied and Yoochun realised Jay must have accidentally kicked him under the table.
Now that Jay’s laughter had stopped and he had been efficiently knocked back to reality, Jay looked back at Seunhyun, the last person who had spoken. And then an odd expression crossed Jay’s face. “Ooooh…” was all he said.
“What?” a puzzled Seunghyun asked.
“You can’t be Lleyton Hewitt. No-no. Nah-ah.”
Jay leant forward and rested his elbows on the table. “He and Kim are exes. That's all kinds of awkward.”
It took a moment for comprehension to reach Seunghyun’s face and then he let out a short laugh. “Yes but it's not like we would have to act like exes. We’re not.”
“Yeh,” Yoochun piped up. “Seunghyun has better taste.”
Jay’s eyes locked with his and did their narrowing thing. This time a finger pointed straight at him too to complete the usual combination. “One more word from you and you are looking at a bitchslap,” he told Yoochun.
Yoochun could only grin at that mock-threat. “Brilliant! Can we wear wigs on the day and pull each other’s hair?”
Seunghyun actually looked a little alarmed at that. “There will be no bitchslapping or hair pulling, thank you gentlemen.”
Both Yoochun and Jay nodded their consent to that but as Seunghyun continued talking about the exhibition match, Yoochun pulled the lid off the marker again and lifted the whiteboard up for Jay to read.
^ JJ: I.O.U A BITCHSLAP (I owe you)
Jay’s mouth curled up in a smirk and he mouthed back, “Absolutely.” Jay then turned back to Seunghyun but seemed to get caught half way. Yoochun realised Yunho was looking at Jay and had apparently caught his eye. Jay looked away almost immediately—one of those social gut instincts, and Yoochun chuckled inwardly. Better Jay than him. He didn’t have that problem sitting opposite cardboard Ricky. Cardboard Ricky and he hadn’t known each other for long either, but they seemed to have an unspoken understanding—Yoochun was boss and Ricky smirked at any and all of his ideas.
The next agenda of the meeting was costume planning.
“Did we want to brainstorm together?” Seunghyun asked. There was a pause and then before anyone could reply, Seunghyun was looking straight at Yoochun. “Actually, I say yes. Yes we absolutely will.”
“You don’t trust my ideas?” Yoochun teased.
“I trust you. I just think you should run those ideas by all of us.”
“So you don’t trust me.”
“Did I say that?”
Jay chuckled and then steered the conversation back on course. The list would be easy, he declared. A white cap for Seunghyun and skirts and wigs for the boys dressing as girls. “Oh and for Yoochun as Maria?” Jay added. “A set of lungs.”
“Got them 23 years ago,” Yoochun smirked and then leant back and rested his arms confidently over his stomach. “Well, that’s marvellous. I, myself, look forward to seeing you three goons try and outdo my charms on the day. Just you wait till I am supplied with all of my accessories.”
“We shall go wig shopping together tomorrow morning, dear,” Jay told him.
“Girls day out!” Yoochun squealed back in his Female Voice. “We are going to look so pretty!”
“The prettiest!” Jay concurred, several octaves higher.
“You two are far too eager to cross-dress,” Seunghyun said. “Just pointing that out.”
Yoochun caught Jay’s eye and they both started cackling—which then, of course, turned into real laughter. When they were finished, Yoochun said to Seunghyun, “You're just jealous that you wouldn't be able to pull it off with that mug.”
Seunghyun spluttered at that. “And you think you can?”
Did Yoochun detect some disbelief in that tone? “Excusez-moi?”he shot back.
“JJ could maybe, but no way could you.”
Jay’s head was in his hands. “Oh boy.”
“I believe you mean ‘oh girl,’” Yoochun corrected.
“Christ,” Jay muttered from his hands. “Now we really will have to go shopping...”
Yunho chuckled next to Yoochun but his eyes were on Jay again. Jay did look pretty funny right then, Yoochun had to admit. His fringe had been mussed up a little from his retreat to his hands and he was looking a little bleary-eyed.
“Alright, alright,” Seunghyun called out. “Players, done. Costumes, done. Teams for the match?”
“Rock, paper, scissors?” Yoochun suggested.
“I don't think that is necessary,” Seunghyun said. “It just requires a simple process of deduction. For starters, we can't have girls versus boys. It will have to be co-ed.”
“Will our lovely exes be on the same team?” Yoochun inquired—mostly just for the shits and giggles.
“Aren’t you forgetting something more important?” Seunghyun asked. He pointed to Yoochun and then to Yunho. “Tennis coach and professional player.” Seunghyun then pointed to himself and Jay. “Studied business and now sit at desks all day.”
They all had to laugh at that indisputable point. Yoochun even indulged in a little daydream of how damn funny it would be if Yunho and he had been allowed to trounce Seunghyun and Jay’s asses whilst they scurried around the court simply dodging the balls instead of hitting them back over. It was too unbalanced though. As much as he hated to admit it, being on a team with Seunghyun and competing against team Yun-Jay was probably for the best.
Yoochun glanced over to his soon-to-be opponents and saw Jay instead looking at his soon-to-be partner. Yunho wasn’t sharing the look this time—which was possibly why Jay was getting away with it without a repeat of his earlier shyness. Instead he was gazing without much focus at something off to the side of Jay. Possibly cardboard Ricky’s shoulder. Yes, Ricky… Yunho was used to kicking butt with players of Ricky’s calibre, not a larrikin tennis coach and a nerd—no offense, to Seunghyun, of course. It would be a change for Yunho, that was for sure.
Jay must have come to a similar conclusion for he followed Yunho’s gaze over to the cut-out beside him of Ricky. Yoochun almost laughed out loud when he saw Jay’s eyes give the cut-out a quick up-and-down before settling on Ricky’s face. The mystery of Yunho’s thoughts about their new teams clearly hadn’t occupied Jay’s interest long enough before his usual habits kicked in. And that was why Jay always asked for trouble!
Yoochun didn’t even bother to hide his grin as inspiration struck him again. The marker bounced out from its lid with a pop between his fingers. Yoochun quickly glanced up to check that Jay was still suitably distracted and then ran the marker across the whiteboard in quick strokes. When he was done, he casually propped the board up in front of him and rested his chin on the top. He stared pointedly at Jay, counting how many seconds it took before the older man registered he was being watched. Seven, as it turned out. Then Jay’s eyes flicked over to his and the black letters scrawled over the board. It only took two seconds for the other man’s mouth to drop open and his eyes to almost fall out of his face. Yoochun didn’t blame him—he had done a good one.
^ JJ'S STICKY 4 RICKY.
“YAH!” Jay suddenly yelled, jumping so quickly from his seat it almost toppled over backwards behind him. And then he had launched himself past cardboard Ricky to get to Yoochun on the other side of the table.
Yoochun didn’t even have time to think, just grabbed the whiteboard and flung himself away from Jay, almost smashing his elbows against the back of Yunho’s head in his hurry to get past the man’s chair.
“I’m rubbing it off, I’m rubbing it off!” he exclaimed as Jay hurtled past Yunho’s seat and straight towards him. “And that isn’t a euphemism!” he couldn’t help but add as he scrubbed at the whiteboard with his entire arm.
Jay didn’t reply to that, just snatched the whiteboard from his hands and lifted it up to smack Yoochun’s head with it.
There was a long sigh from Seunghyun as he turned in his chair to watch the two of them fight it out. “Those two are going to be a liability on that court,” Yoochun heard him mutter to Yunho and Yoochun actually had the decency to feel a bit sheepish. Seunghyun was used to him and Jay playing around but Yunho wouldn’t be. Sometimes Yoochun got so caught up trying to get a rise out of Jay that he sometimes forgot visitors when they were around. Though in his defence, they rarely got any visitors so he was usually safe to tease Jay. Yunho thankfully didn’t seem to mind though. He even looked amused as his eyes flickered back and forth between the two of them. Yoochun felt the need to apologise anyway.
“It’s fine,” the tennis player told him. “You two actually remind me of my friends Junsu and Changmin. They like to rile each other up all the time too.”
“Oh.” Yoochun continued to smile sheepishly at the other man but Jay just walked back to his seat without a word—the confiscated whiteboard firmly in his grasp. Well, at least Yunho understood him! Jay could suck on that and stick it up his butt.
Jay tried to listen to Seunghyun—whatever he was saying, but the flush of his cheeks, yet to go down, was distracting him. Thankfully the whiteboard of much mischief had been properly confiscated and was currently lying turned over in front of him on the table, out of reach. That, and no one was looking at him anymore. It wasn’t so much that he was the one being teased—you had to be able to take it if you also gave it—it was the subject matter and the audience.
He supposed it was in part his fault that the easiest way to target him was through Ricky. He did have a habit of keeping some things inside; things that might not seem a big deal to others but were a sensitive topic for him. His friends didn’t know why Ricky was sacred to him and why making fun of that was like squeezing lemon juice into his eyes.
Though, he thought with a wry smile, if they did know how Ricky had rescued him, he doubted that would have had much impact on the scale of teasing…
Right now it was the lewdness that had him gritting his teeth together. If they had been alone, he probably would have laughed—a bit. But lewd sexual references about himself in front of someone not only involved in their business but who had actually met Ricky in person and had to interact with him in tournaments was just too humiliating for words. And probably quite uncomfortable for Yunho as well. He really wished Yoochun would just think about these things sometimes.
Luckily Yunho was being a gentleman about the whole thing—give or take a bit of laughter in the beginning. Jay appreciated that. Professional deafness—or blindness—was a trait suddenly becoming a lot more commendable to Jay.
Thankfully their meeting moved on to safer topics like the large list of duties that had to be assigned to each of them—hiring chairs, poster printing and distribution, organising flyers with information about the club to be handed out on the day, ordering in more tennis balls if Yunho wasn’t too tired to sign them for people, picking up and icing their free drinks, organising the interview with the local newspaper… The list went on—for Seunghyun, Yoochun and himself. Nothing was to be delegated to Yunho. He was leaving town after that weekend and had plenty of his own to organise before he headed off to the city and then America.
It was why Jay was caught off guard when a tanned hand unexpectedly entered his vision and gently pulled the marker he’d been writing a list of his chores with from his hand. Jay looked up to find Yunho half out of his chair, leaning across the table, and reading through Jay’s list on the whiteboard back-to-front. Then the marker was squeaking across the whiteboard as Yunho put a line through ORDER NEW TENNIS BALLS and then CONTACT THE GROVE GAZETTE. Then the marker was gently returned to Jay’s still curled up hand as if it had never left.
Jay’s eyes rose to Yunho’s but the other man’s focus was still on the whiteboard and at the sound of a finger tapping the list, Jay quickly looked back down again. The slender finger rested over
“They’ve scheduled an interview with me already,” Yunho was explaining, pulling Jay from his daze. It took a second for Jay to even remember that he was talking about the Grove Gazette. “It’s for something else but while I am there, I can talk to them about a separate feature for the event.”
Jay looked back up at Yunho—Seunghyun and Yoochun too by the looks of things, but Yunho’s attention was still on Jay. He was required to speak, to give his opinion. Of course he was. Where was his head? “Thanks…”
It was horribly inadequate but Yunho seemed content enough with it, even saying, “No problem” in return.
“Yes thank you, Yunho,” Seunghyun said with more coherence. “Are you sure you have time for all of that though?”
Jay glanced down at the list of his chores that had just been halved…
“It’s fine,” Yunho assured Seunghyun—all of them, really.
Yoochun leant forward on his elbow and nudged Yunho with the other. “You don’t want anything on my list?”
Jay was about to open his mouth—even quicker than Seunghyun—but Yunho beat them all with a laugh that extended into, “I have faith that you’d be able to find a more flattering skirt for yourself and Jay than I ever could.”
Yoochun glanced around the table and said, with a grand flourish of his hand, “Jung Yunho has faith in me.”
Jay shook his head at him but Seunghyun laughed.
By then their meeting had passed the hour mark and Seunghyun ran through all of what they had decided one more time. Seunghyun was three-quarters through their exhibition match run-down when Yunho made a noise and Seunghyun paused mid-sentence, glancing up from the laptop at the tennis player.
“I was just wondering,” Yunho said, “about the execution of that.” Once he saw he had Seunghyun’s attention, he went on. “There will be commentary during that match, yes? So people who don’t understand tennis can still understand the jokes. A lot of that will come from us?”
Seunghyun nodded after a bit of thought.
“Okay, that’s fine but I’m thinking it might be a little hard to keep that up the whole way through with four of us going at it. You know, you get into the game and the silliness and have your giggles and then forget to keep addressing the crowed rather than yourselves.”
“And it can take some of the fun out it when you have to explain your own jokes.”
“Usually you’ll have an umpire to take charge. Both to keep a handle on the naughty players and to provide humorous insights and commentary.”
Jay almost laughed at the string of thoughtful noises Seunghyun kept making. They didn’t quite compare to the coherence of Yunho’s explanations.
“The umpire can be quite crucial actually.”
“Yes, I see your point. So it doesn’t become a huge, confusing mess, we would need a third party to keep things in control while we do our best not to be in control,” Seunghyun summarised.
“I think it would be helpful, yes,” Yunho replied.
“You’ll need someone who knows tennis but has some bite and spirit to them. Someone people know quite well and love—and who people would love even if they didn’t know them.”
Yunho caught Jay’s eye then and held it. He said nothing more but the slight curve of his lips and knowing gaze communicated everything. He waited for Jay to make the connection but Jay already had. He felt his heart start to thump. “You mean Granny Kim.”
Yunho’s lips curved a little further.
“Granny Kim!” Seunghyun’s sudden exclamation and the loud clapping from Yoochun that followed almost made Jay wince after the silent understanding he and Yunho had been sharing.
“Granny Kim! Yes, Granny Kim would be perfect!” Seunghyun continued to gush. Still a little too loud but Jay was thankful for the noise now that he was struggling to make a sound, himself. There was something in his throat making it difficult to speak…
Seunghyun and Yoochun were chattering excitedly now with Yunho stuck in the middle and looking amused between the two of them.
His gaze wasn’t on Jay anymore but Jay could still feel it—the sparkling eyes and knowing smile, waiting for Jay to say it for him. Giving him that chance. Giving his grandmother that chance… He’d never even met her. Jay supposed that was part of his point...
After a moment, Jay found his voice again even if it was drowned out by the rest of the table. “I’ll ask her tomorrow. She’ll love it…”
And she would. She really would. She loved tennis even more than he did. That love had never faulted—which was why she deserved to be involved in this so much more than Jay did. She adored Yunho too. Always had the minute she first saw him on TV. Jay had hated it. She had known that too, and perhaps she had even understood why better than he had. Whether she had judged him for it or not, she had been sensitive to his feelings and the things he couldn’t bear to say out loud. So she’d kept her fondness and support for the other player away from him as best she could. That was his grandmother; she always seemed to know when to treat him with kid gloves and when to scold his ass off for being a twat. She hadn’t touched that subject though. She still didn’t touch that subject…
Another loud exclamation accompanied by the frenzied typing at a keyboard jerked Jay out of his thoughts and back into the eye of the Seunghyun tornado. “That is bloody well sorted!” the man was announcing, grinning from ear to ear—the standard grin of Seunghyun caught up in one of his projects, Jay thought with a fond smile.
“It’s going to be hilarious,” Yoochun added and Jay felt himself nodding slowly. He still found himself struggling with speech.
“Thanks for the hard work, everyone!” Seunghyun concluded. “Brilliant ideas today. This thing’s going to be amazing.”
And for the first time, Jay realised he believed it.
*Novak Djokovic… Possibly the funniest tennis player of the current era. He is very famous for his impersonations of tennis players—no tennis player is safe, male or female. (And I am forever jealous of Jade getting to meet him! =P)
My favourite was when he impersonated Maria Sharapova in front of her boyfriend. Yes. I cry every time. It is brilliant! ARTICLE HERE! And if you can't load the article, I am embedding the youtube version here! That is how much I love it.
Also, his impersonation of Rafael Nadal de-wedging his pants before he makes his shot is also another classic HERE. (Seunghyun references this in the chapter).
A/N: I have waited for the introduction of that whiteboard for the longest time! You have no idea! The stuff written on it this chapter is tame compared to the filth it will be harbouring later, nyahah! XD
In case it wasn’t obvious, this chapter is all about the subtle (and Yoochun being Yoochun). I am ridiculously tired right now (3:30am) so that is all I can say about it right now. When I’m not half-asleep, I will finish replying to your awesome comments… T_T
Oh and last time I mentioned that some shit was going to start going down a bit in this chap… The scene I was referring to has been pushed back to the next chapter. The brain cannot be controlled, I tell ya! ^^;;
Current Music: Rev It Up - B*Witched