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all for the game

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It was surreal standing on this court. Logically, Geonhak knew that this court was no bigger than any other standard men’s volleyball  court, but this court felt gigantic. If he closed his eyes he could almost hear the roar of the crowd, feel the adrenaline racing through his veins as he stepped up to the serving line. His imagined paradise vanished at the sound of his best friend, Youngjo’s beckoning. “C’mon, Hak. I know it looks pretty now, but we’re gonna be on this court twice a day for the next three months. The glamour will wear off pretty damn quick.” 

It was probably experience speaking, as this would be Youngjo’s second year playing for the Spartans. Geonhak had had to put up with Youngjo’s complaining last year, but Geonhak had secretly envied him. Youngjo played volleyball because it came easily to him, and he was good at it. Geonhak played because he loved it. The feeling he got when he played the game was yet to be replicated in his entire 23 years of living. 

Geonhak listened though, and followed Youngjo out of the stadium, trying not to drag his feet as he went. They had walked through the stadium as a shortcut to their on-campus housing, but Geonhak knew Youngjo had done it on purpose for Geonhak’s sake. “Ready to meet the team? You’re the last one to arrive.” Youngjo said, and Geonhak sighed. He wasn’t the greatest at meeting people, but these people he was going to be stuck with for at least the entirety of the season. Spartan athletes often showed up early in the summer for intense practices, uninterrupted by the necessary monotony of college classes.

When they reached the building, Geonhak was somewhat taken aback by the sheer size of it all. Fair or not, athletes got first pick of housing, and they picked especially well. All genders on every team sport imaginable lived in this house. Geonhak had never had roommates besides his little brother before, so it was somewhat a cause for anxiety, except that he knew he’d be sharing a room with Youngjo.

They walked inside, and it was much nicer than Geonhak had anticipated. He remained deadly silent though, following Youngjo through the front lobby, and into an elevator. Their room was on the 14th floor, and Geonhak’s eyes stayed glued to the rising number above the door as they moved. The elevator stopped at the 9th floor, and a tall boy with brown hair, and a friendly smiled got onto the elevator. 

“Well, this is perfect! Geonhak, this is Yonghoon. He’s our main setter, and the oldest on our team.” Youngjo explained. Yonghoon was already shaking Geonhak’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Geonhak. Youngjo hasn’t shut up about you the last year! I’m glad you’re here. We could use a power hitter.” Yonghoon slung a casual arm around Youngjo’s shoulders, chattering aimlessly as they rode to the 14th floor.

Geonhak followed Youngjo and Yonghoon down the hall to their room, hand fiddling with the key sitting deep in his pocket. Youngjo had given it to him as soon as he’d spotted Geonhak at the airport. “HONEY, I’M HOME!” Youngjo yelled obnoxiously as he walked into the room. “Shut the fuck up.” a muffled voice said from under what looked like a giant pile of blankets. “Get up and meet your newest teammate.” Youngjo said, pushing the door closed. Yonghoon made himself comfortable on the sofa, watching with interest as the blanket pile began to move.

The first Geonhak saw was a dyed-blonde head of hair, and sharp eyes. “Are you Geonhak?” the man said. “Yeah. N-nice to meet you.” Geonhak could have kicked himself for the slight stutter. “I’m Hwanwoong. You’ll catch me in Jo’s bed pretty often. His mattress is nicer than mine.” the man kicked the blankets off of himself and stood, and Geonhak had to school his face into neutrality to keep from reacting to the other man’s height. “Libero. Save the short jokes for someone who will take offense to them, and we’ll get along just swimmingly.” he shook Geonhak’s hand, grip strong and looked at Youngjo. “Has he only met myself and Yonghoon so far?” Hwanwoong asks and Youngjo nods. “Seoho won’t be back until later, he went to run an errand for Coach Son. I was going to go get the twins and Kanghyun now.” Youngjo replies. Hwanwoong grins evilly, and something about it alarms Geonhak. “The twins are next? Oh, I’ve got to be there for this.”

Geonhak follows Youngjo to the room next door, apprehension evident in his every movement. Youngjo knocks three times and waits. The door is opened by a boy a few inches shorter than Geonhak himself. “Jo, Hoon! To what do we owe the pleasure?” the man asks, lips spread in a wide smile. Geonhak thinks he’s really pretty. No sooner has the thought crossed his mind, then the man’s gaze shifts to him. “Oh? Who’s this?” he asks, the smile morphing into something that could still qualify as a smile, but it makes Geonhak move subtly behind Youngjo’s right shoulder, hiding himself. “Who’s at the door, Myeong?!” a deep voice calls out from behind the closed door, and the pretty boy in front of them moves away, opening the door wider as he does.

Geonhak watches as “Myeong” walks into the room, hips swaying, and Geonhak notices that he’s wearing the tiniest pair of shorts possible. He tears his gaze away to look around the room. In layout, the room is identical to his and Youngjo’s, but there’s a lot more color in the furnishing and decoration. There’s a boy with deep purple hair sitting on the lower bunk, plucking at an acoustic guitar. “Hi, I’m Kanghyun. Right side hitter.” he says with a wave in Geonhak’s direction, which Geonhak promptly returns. His gaze continues to wander, and then he stops.

The other person in the room is a dark-haired boy with longish hair, and no facial expression whatsoever. He’s staring at Geonhak blankly, as if this entire encounter is boring him. He’s probably the most attractive person Geonhak has ever seen, and he thinks he’s been staring for a little bit too long, but he can’t tell. His hunch is confirmed when the boy’s mouth twists into a snarl. “What the hell are you looking at?” he snaps, and Geonhak flinches, stare going to the floor, the tips of his ears burning with embarrassment. 

“Dongju,” the boy who opened the door sighs. “Could you please be nice? He’s our teammate, not some creep at the bar.” he finishes. Dongju rolls his eyes. “I don’t like being stared at, Dongmyeong. Tell your teammate to get some manners and maybe I’d be nicer.” he turns away from the rest of the room, attention going to the laptop on the desk behind him that Geonhak hadn’t even managed to notice. “Geonhak, these are the Son twins. This beauty is Dongmyeong, and the asshole is Dongju. They’re of no relation to Coach Son.” Youngjo says. Geonhak is pretty sure that sort of outburst must be usual for Dongju, because no one else seemed surprised, and Hwanwoong looked beside himself with joy. 

“Seoho will be home soon, and you’ll meet him. He’s our other roommate. Cya and Harin you’ll meet tomorrow at practice.” Youngjo says, turning to leave, Geonhak following after him. “See you tomorrow, hot stuff.” Dongmyeong called as they walked out. “Ignore him. Dongmyeong flirts with anything with a heartbeat.” Youngjo rolls his eyes, but there’s a grin ghosting on his lips. It takes them getting all the way back to their room before Geonhak realizes that Yonghoon didn’t come back with them, but he’s tired after his flight, and he’s just ready to sleep, because when he wakes up, it’s time to play the game.