Canadian boy

Haechan is popular soccer captain, who is in love with Hana for nearly all his life. But when a new transfer student came and wins Hana's heart... Haechan decides that Mark is his new enemy. But, Haechan's heart doesn't seem to get that...

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4. Chapter 4

He walked Hana to class in silence, neither of them too keen on making conversation, which was rare. Hana also thanked him at the door, which was another rare thing – not unpleasant, but out of habit, and things that were out of habit worried Haechan. He brushed it off and gave her an awkward one-armed hug, then bade her good luck and headed back the hall to his own class.

Along the way, he received a couple nods from his teammates, and a couple girls gave him grins as they passed, but otherwise he didn't meet up with anyone. It wasn't until he was at the door of his Geography class that he realized he'd been looking for Mark in the crowd of traveling students. But before he could think too much about why somebody shoved him through the door – hard.

"Captain, you're in the way."

Haechan stumbled into the nearest desk, balanced himself, then turned around with a grin. "I'd be a good goalie huh, Jeno?"

Jeno laughed, a deep throaty sound that, combined with his lean and strong build, made him seem way more mature than he actually was. "Maybe, if the goal was the size of a doorway."

"You think I can't?" Haechan challenged mockingly, jumping up and blocking Jeno as the boy tried to get past him.

Jeno raised an eyebrow and, laughing, shoved Haechan easily aside. "Sit down."

"Foul!" Haechan shouted after him, and the teacher promptly told him to shut up.

Taking his seat next to Jeno, they were consequently drilled with an hour of intense notes and lectures, so much that even their after-lunch long-block of an hour and forty-five minutes passed in a flash. For the last forty-five minutes of class they had work block and Jeno, being an independent goody-goody, worked quietly by himself, forcing Haechan to do the same. It wasn't until half an hour later when he turned a page in his notebook to see that Hana had drawn a panda with a purple pen, that he remembered.

"Hey, Jeno."

Jeno looked up reluctantly from his calculus homework. "What?" He said, sitting back and stretching. 

"About Hana…" Haechan trailed off, smiling sheepishly. The annoyed look on Jeno's face enough to tell him that they knew what was going on.

"Look, it's none of your business."

"It is if she asks me for help," Haechan said, struggling to keep his smile up. With Jeno, it was difficult sometimes. He was a good guy, but he thought he was the best of the best. And he wasn't far from it, technically speaking.

"Doesn't mean it's any of your business," Jeno said stiffly, looking at his workbook.

"Look, man, I don't want to sound rude, but…" Haechan counted with his fingers. "She rejected you one, two, three… four times? And she's come to me for help… twice now? This is getting kind of creepy, you know. Why do you like her so much?"

"Okay, I know you're just worried because you like Hana too." Jeno sighed, turning around to face him. "But she doesn't hate me, and we have a good time together. Maybe you should let her go and give me a chance."

"I would if I thought you had a chance," Haechan said before he could stop himself. But he didn't take it back and met Jeno's cold brown eyes challengingly.

Jeno's eyebrows knitted together and he frowned deeply. "You know what, I don't want to talk about this with you, it screws up the team. Just leave us alone." He said finally, turning back to his homework.

Sighing, Haechan placed a hand on Jeno's shoulder and felt the boy tense up. "You're a good guy, Jeno."

"Got it. You can shut up now." Jeno said, shrugging his hand off.

Thankfully, they only had to spend five awkward minutes together before class was dismissed. Haechan, already packed and ready to go two minutes before the clock struck three, stood up and stacked his chair at the back, bolting out the door.

"Haechan!"

Haechan promptly skidded to a freeze, one hand on the doorframe, staring at the attractive face smiling at him from the opposite end.

Mark uncrossed his arms and stood up from where he'd been leaning against the wall. "You, uh, might want to move." He said, grinning crookedly, gesturing behind Haechan.

"Huh?" Haechan glanced over his shoulder and saw a mini-horde of tired students glaring at him. "Oh, sorry." He stepped to the side, and Mark came up to join him.

"I saw your timetable, sorry if it's creepy, but I wanted to make sure I wouldn't get lost on my way to practice," Mark said gently. "Is it out in the fields or in the gym?"

"Out in the fields usually, we meet in the gym, though," Haechan said, unable to shake off the tingly feeling he was getting. It felt warm, and after a moment Haechan realized that they were almost nose-to-nose from each other.

Isn't he kind of… close…?

Haechan turned away with a laugh. "It's weird, though, for a second it felt like I was being picked up by my boyfriend."

Idiot! Why would you say that?! He kicked himself mentally right after, but Mark just laughed with him.

"You've been around girls way too much, Haechan." Mark's gaze flickered somewhere else and Haechan followed it to see Jeno looking at them from the middle of the hallway. When the boy saw them looking, he nodded.

"I'll go down first and change, Capta-chan."

"Don't call me that." Haechan forced himself to grin. "Tell Coach that I'll be there soon, I'm bringing a new kid in."

"Yeah, sure." Jeno glanced at Mark skeptically before he turned and disappeared in the mass of students down the hall.

Turning back, Haechan caught Mark staring after Jeno with bright eyes. Amused, he gave the dazed boy a small shove on the shoulder. "Excited?"

Mark blinked and looked at him, breaking out into a big grin. "Hell yeah."

"Did you bring clothes?" Haechan asked, glancing at Mark's black t-shirt and sweats.

"No…" Mark grimaced.

"Oh, well... You could play in that for a while." Haechan shrugged, gesturing for the boy to follow as he started leading the way to the gyms.

                                   ....................................

Haechan led Mark into the gym first before the boys could finish changing, in case they made a big fuss.

"Wow, it's nice in here," Mark said as they stepped through the double-doors, eyes sparkling as he gazed around the tall, blue-grey walls.

"Really? Personally, I think the lighting sucks." Haechan said offhandedly, catching a stray basketball and tossing it back to the grade nine kid that had been scrambling after it.

"Well, my school in Canada was pretty worn-down."

"Ah, right," Haechan said, spotting their coach just as he left the PE office. Pointing the man out to Mark, he called out. "Coach!"

The man turned and waved his clipboard in the air. Grinning, Haechan grabbed Mark and jogged towards him.

"Good afternoon Haechan." The man said brightly, the lines around his dark blue eyes crinkling as he smiled. "Who's this, your new boyfriend?"

"Yeah – I mean, no, he's new, but he's not my boyfriend," Haechan said quickly, raising an eyebrow as both Mark and the man grinned. "Oh come on guys."

"Sorry, sorry." The man crossed his arms over his clipboard and struggled to put on a serious face. "So who is this?"

"Coach, this is Mark." Haechan gestured at each of them in turn. "Mark, this is Mr. Park."

Mark nodded and smiled. "Nice to meet you."

"You, too," Mr. Park said pleasantly. "So why's he here, Capta-chan?"

"Don't call me that, it's so lame." Haechan sighed. "He wants to join the team."

At that, Mr. Park's frowned. "It's a little late, Haechan."

"I know, but we're short on a good forward aren't we?" Haechan pressed. "I'm running my ass off out there coach, I could really use some help. He used to be captain back in his old school."

Mr. Park raised an eyebrow, turning and looking Mark up and down. An odd look came over his face, and then his lips twitched into a bemused smirk. "You always bring good-looking boys onto the team, Haechan. First Renjun, and now him."

Mark's ears turned red. "Uh –"

"At least give him a chance," Haechan begged, hopping from foot to foot agitatedly.

"Well, sure, no harm in letting him stay today." Mr. Park shrugged. "But you better go change, we're heading out to the fields in five minutes."

Breaking out into a grin, Haechan nodded and said, "Yes sir," turning and promptly crashing into Mark.

"Sorry –"

Haechan froze and realized he was holding his breath as his face came close to the warmth of Mark's chest – then he came to and shoved the boy away. "Jeez, hurry up will you?" He snapped, brushing past and walking quickly down the hall, hoping Mark hadn't seen his face burning red.

Most of the guys were done changing and were just loitering around when he went in. Haechan told them to hurry up and they promptly rejected him, pointing out that he was late, but gradually dispersed out the door. Renjun stayed behind in a casual conversation with Mark, which Haechan was glad for – not that he thought it'd be awkward if they were alone in the change rooms or anything, like really, they were both guys and all…

The practice itself wasn't too big of a deal. They ran five laps around the field for warm-up and Haechan stayed just a little behind Renjun and Mark, who were talking animatedly the whole time. He wasn't in the greatest mood by the end of it and told himself it was because they were going so slow that he hadn't gotten a good warm-up. Then they did some drills and Haechan ran to get them some balls. By the time he came back, Renjun had paired up with Chenle, one of the mid-fielders, aka Mika's twin brother, leaving Mark to wait for Haechan with an awkward sort of smile on his face.

"Well, I guess it's you and me," Haechan said brightly. He slammed the ball to the turf as hard as he could and watched it bounce into the air, feeling some of his pent-up frustration from god-knows-what dissipate with the throw.

Mark bounced the ball on his knee before catching it, cocking his head a little. "So what are we doing?"

"Passing drills for the first fifteen minutes." Haechan pointed out the colored cones on the ground that formed their obstacle course.

Mark grinned and ruffled his shirt. "Easy peasy." He let the ball drop on the grass and, on cue, Haechan ran ahead.

It was awkward at first – or at least it seemed that way to Haechan, but as the exhaustion kicked in he gave up trying to act and found himself genuinely enjoying practice. They even fit in a short game at the end. Mark was put in the opposition defense and they ended up constantly together. Despite his apparently happy and dumb personality, Mark was terribly competitive, not to mention that he was good. At one point, Haechan became so distracted by the boy's great big sweaty grin that he lost the ball for a second to a junior player – at which point Renjun recovered it and scored the winning point.

"Damn!" Mark laughed, giving Haechan a firm shove. Surprised, Haechan toppled backward, landing on his butt with a grimace, and Mark immediately apologized. "Oh shit, sorry. Didn't know you were so unbalanced there." Looking worried, he offered Haechan a hand.

"Nah, I don't need help from a loser." Haechan stuck his tongue out, getting up himself and brushing his shorts off.

"Oh really now?" Mark raised an eyebrow, eyes glittering mischievously. "We'll see about that next time when the teams are fairer."

"They were totally fair," Haechan said, laughing because he knew that they totally hadn't been. Mark joined in briefly, then they trailed off and another awkward silence sprung up.

Then Mark sighed and ruffled the collar of his shirt, tilting his head back. "Whew, it's burning hot in these clothes. I wish I could take my shirt off."

"Nobody said you couldn't," Haechan said absent-mindedly.

"You won't mind?" Mark said anxiously.

"Why would I mind?" Haechan scoffed, picking up a nearby soccer ball and kicking it towards Mr. Park, who was collecting them back.

"Well – okay then."

The next moment Haechan turned, Mark had his shirt hanging limply around his neck. He didn't realize he was staring until someone started a cat-call, and he didn't realize he was blushing until Mark gave him an odd look.

"You okay? You're kinda red."

"Oh – yeah, I left my water back in the gym," Haechan said smoothly, turning around and walking away, patting his face in what he hoped was a normal fashion.

But Mark just caught up to him anyway. "You can have some of mine." He offered.

"Nah it's okay, I'm kind-of sick," Haechan said offhandedly, relieved when Mr. Park came up to them, taking both their attention.

"Mark, was it? What's your last name?" Mr. Park said, scrutinizing the boy with his arms over his clipboard.

"Lee." Mark replied politely.

Mr. Park's eyebrows shot up and he nodded slowly. "Interesting. Well, Lee Mark, you're on the team. Wednesdays and Fridays after school from three-fifteen to five thirty, you'd better be here." He slapped Mark on the back, then withdrew his arm with a grimace, wiping his hands on his pants. "And bring some clothes next time."

Haechan laughed and earned himself a well-meaning glare from Mr. Park. Mark grinned sheepishly.

"Sorry, I know I'm sweaty."

"It's all good. Go back and change boys, you worked hard today." Mr. Park squeezed Haechan's shoulder, then turned and yelled at someone to bring the balls back to the gym.

"Thanks Mr.  Park," Mark said.

"Thanks Coach," Haechan echoed, and they followed the group back in a tired, happy companionable silence.

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