wild_terrain: (JaeHo Forever yours)
[personal profile] wild_terrain
Title: Across the Line
Author: wild_terrain

Chapter: [Prologue / ?]
Rating: M
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
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: New fic! Let's give it a test drive. Hope you can take a peek and find it enjoyable. ^^


A man’s footsteps echoed down the quiet street. Slow. The pace of one meandering with no purpose in mind and no cause to rush back to. There wasn’t much cause for anything these days; not for a long while…

The soft crunch of gravel hushed to a murmur as polished shoes met grass.

The field before him was long and overgrown and he turned his head to stare down at his feet as he moved through it. It was a sight that was mesmerizing for all the wrong reasons; the long grass seemed to brush over the shiny leather of his shoes as if to try and hide the sight of it. The man understood why; he felt uncomfortable too. The green of the blades looked too vibrant against the black leather. It was wrong. These shoes were wrong. Too black. Too shiny. Too stiff. Too impractical.

Disdain curled in his stomach and he had to stop.

So he did. He stood there motionless in the field that seemed to never end, feeling something he could not describe. Something so thick and tangled with emotion it was hard to even distinguish one strand from the other; pleasant from unpleasant. It was just there. Everywhere.

His eyes fell once more to his feet. These shoes weren’t what was wrong. Sometimes he forgot that... The leather was actually warm and had curled snugly around his toes over the months of use. They fit and they were comfortable. Perhaps it was the area that was wrong. It was the grass that wasn’t suitable for his shoes. Why was he even walking here?

He stared ahead of him at the blurred past and felt himself swallow. He recognised this place. After so many years his feet still knew where to go, like a well trained dog finding its way home. It couldn’t hurt to continue walking through the field, could it? He was here now and it would only be a little further through the grass. And he was curious now.

He began walking again, his pace a little faster, until he reached the slope he knew would be there. It was all still the same. Perhaps the grass was a little longer but that hardly mattered.

He looked down at the waterfall of messy green blades that lined the way down and felt a smile tug at his lips. His eight year-old self would have taken off running down this hill by now. The drop had seemed so big to his younger eyes, and it had felt big to his smaller frame. His little legs had had no choice but to dash down it in an unstoppable force until he reached the bottom. One wrong step and he’d be a rolling mess. He could still remember the bruises on the odd occasion he had fallen down it. Those bruises had been a mark of honour thoughhe had charged down the slope like a man and that had always been preferable to the careful steps of the uncoordinated or the delicate.

Looking down the slope now from his 26 year-old eyes, it was still fairly steep but nothing he couldn’t handle. Part of him itched to just race down it again and let gravity take over—so freakin’ fun—but no, he had to remind himself that he was no longer a school student but someone who had already graduated from university. There would be no more running down this hill. He would have to challenge gravity in a different way; one that suited his taller, broader body. He’d have to be a gentleman and all that boring stuff.

The sides of his shoes dug into the dirt beneath the green as he slowly and carefully descended. He was fighting gravity a bit in his highly unsuitable shoes but he had not yet face-planted so that screamed success. ‘Walking down a hill—like a boss!’ as his friends overseas would say.

His cheeks rose in a smile and he continued on down. Soon, very soon, he would see it—cement and hoops and beyond that metal crisscrossed fencing. But memory clashed with reality; when his feet landed firmly at the bottom of the hill and he glanced back up, he could see no such markers. There were only mounds of dirt surrounding one rusting pole.

One pole? Where was the basketball court? It was the first sign that something was not right. His heart started to thump heavily behind his ribcage. It wasn’t all wrong though; he could see fencing a little further along in the distance.

He started walking towards the piles of dug up earth and the singular pole waiting beside it like a lonely king. When he reached it, he gazed up slowly until he could see the top of its towering height. That pole had to have once belonged to the basketball court. Apparently it was all that was left of it.

The man shook his head slowly. It seemed that the children here in The Grove had lost this space to play in.

He felt angry. It seemed a sin to tamper with a place like this; to ruin it. This was a kingdom for children, but a child had no control in a world financed by adults. He didn't get it; how could anyone be cruel enough to rip the joy of a playground away from the powerless? A child’s delights could only ever be at the mercy of adults’ whims…

He could feel his chest tightening and his stomach sinking, but for different reasons now. The loss of a physical space that linked to childhood memories was a sting never easy to bear. He hadn’t even used those basketball courts much when he had been growing up here but the loss still stung. Those courts had had an important place in his memories; they had added colour and dimension to the place he loved so much as a kid.

Like many things, he had taken its presence for granted. As he stood in its ruins, he knew it. He felt it. He could barely dare to keep walking again if only more loss was what awaited him. The air here was already too sad, stifling the phantom whispers of laughter he wished he could still hear down here.

He knew this feeling that clenched at his heart was in some ways ridiculous. How could you miss something that wasn’t alive? The old cement block with its symmetrical white and yellow lines painted across it in a familiar artwork, the poles with their hoops standing tall and proud and daring the kids below to even come close enough to reach it… Those things weren’t real. They weren’t people. They didn’t have feelings. Any affection for them had just been a projection from excited young hearts. Even so… He could barely stand to look at the piles of dirt.

He moved past it finally and his eyes locked onto the crisscrossed fencing a short distance away. Five more steps and he was there. The fence looked rusted, broken, bent out of shape—exactly how he felt right now.

He reached out to curl his fingers around the metal and peered through the diamond spaces. His breathing shallowed and then caught in his throat.

It was there. Oh god, it was there!

There was the net… Some faded white lines…

He flew along the fence to the second court.

Another net… More faded lines…

He gripped the fence with both hands and dropped his forehead against the rusty diamonds in relief. He closed his eyes for a moment and just breathed. When he opened them again, he could still feel his body shaking but not nearly so much. It was okay, he told himself. It was all here. Now he just needed a way in. Nothing—not even some freak lightening storm pissing chunks of hail down onto him—was going to stop him. He had to get in there and assess its wounds.

He pushed himself up off the fence and knelt at a spot to his right where the bottom of the fence had broken apart. The twisted and gnarled metal had left a hole big enough to crawl through. He ducked through it on his hands and knees. The jagged edges caught on his jacket but he shrugged free and finished slipping through.

Feeling fairly pleased with himself but not enough to distract him from his mission, he looked up from his crouch. Old netting sagged over him like a tired hammock. Pieces of it were broken, leaving uneven holes across it just like the metal fence surrounding the courts. The net was sagging in the middle too as all old nets tended to do. His early verdict? It could have been worse.

He stood up and surveyed everything else that was in front of him. The hard court beneath his shiny shoes had seen better days. Patches of dirt and tree droppings had darkened its surface, turning the old green hues a patchy dull brown in places, like diseased skin. There were weeds growing on it too; the bits of sand and synthetic materials had deteriorated over time, leaving vulnerable patches for the weeds to sprout. Weeds were freaking incredible, weren’t they? They could grow almost anywhere. Bloody things. And now they had claimed the court in everyone’s absence. He wanted to narrow his eyes at them but he had to admit that they had tenacity and innovation.

Hidden and faded among the weeds were the lines. The weeds had almost distracted him from them but he could see them now. The white lines once carefully measured to mark each section of the court had truly faded. At dusk they'd barely be visible. Lines were easy enough to fix at least...

That was the first court examined. He walked back over to the neighbouring court he had passed earlier and saw the same poor conditions reflected back at him. Twins of disrepair. His overall verdict? A bit of ergh. This place was so unkempt. Completely abandoned. When was the last time anyone had been here?

Again, he found himself shaking his head and the same question haunting him: where had the children all gone?

I’m here! he wanted to call out to the silent courts. I’ve come back. I haven’t forgotten you. I’m here.

It was silly. These courts hadn’t been waiting for him. They hadn’t been waiting and growing disillusioned with every passing year, slowly accepting that he’d never return, never care, never remember…

He stood in the middle of the court and swallowed the lump in his throat down.

“What happened to you…”

He stood for a long time, just staring; gazing at what remained of the place once filled with colours of stunning greens and limes and whites, with the sound of children. A place that had nurtured dreams not yet struck down.

With a surge of emotion he struck out at a patch of weeds with the toe of his shoe. The gleaming leather seemed to mock him even more than it had before. He hated its shine. It was so…smarmy! So corporate. So gloating. He couldn’t stand it. He would fix it. Everything. He had to.

He whirled around and looked at the two courts.

Fuck the shine!

Everything in him was screaming it.

Fuck the shine and the wanky jackets! Fuck the bullshit!

He kicked off his shoes—far, far away, the little dicks—and then threw his socks after them. He took off at a run from one court to the other. The weeds and broken surface scratched at his feet but fuck he felt alive. He welcomed every scrape, every chafe, every friggen sensation.

“I’m going to fix you!” he crowed during his second lap around the courts. He was beaming, he was laughing, then grinning some more. His cheeks were hurting. “I’m going to fix you and you’re going to be amazing!”

For added effect he ran towards a corner of the court and then sprung forward into a handstand against the fence. His legs crashed onto the crisscrossed metal with force, making it rattle and hiss. He was as rusty as the fence was. Never matter though!

He fell back down and heard himself laughing from the heap of sprawled limbs he’d made of himself on the ground. His hair had fallen across his face and he had a feeling there was a leaf stuck in it—it was fantastic! He blew some strands away from his mouth and nose but they just floated back into place. It made him laugh all over again. Now he probably looked as dishevelled as the courts he was lying on.

How very fitting, he couldn’t help but think.

Somewhere above him a bird tweet down at him from one of the trees surrounding the courts. He glanced up through the veil of dark brown hair that was limiting his vision and grinned at it. “Hi!”

It made another bird sound—a chirp? chitter?—at either its mates or at the crazy human lying spread-eagled on the court below.

“Am I being too loud? Too raucous?” he called out. “Sorry! I’ll try and behave. Do carry on.”

He lifted a hand to swipe away the bits of hair blocking his view then let his hand rest palm up above him on the court. The sky was blue and the sun was half hidden between tree branches—his eyes were thankful not to be laser beamed—and everything for once, however brief, felt right again. The tight pain in his chest had loosened. He didn’t want to ever get up.

He lay there—almost falling asleep to be truthful—for what felt like hours. The sun was drifting lower and the air had started to cool further with the first hints of evening. Reluctantly he sat up and dragged a hand through his knotted, leafy hair. Then he got up. The walk back across the court to where his scattered shoes and socks lay was not nearly as fun.

He lifted his foot, ready to shove it back into his shoe, when a spot of colour caught his eye. He bent down and lifted the shoe up. It was a lady beetle. A little red one, just sitting there inside his shoe. He smiled down at it and let out a puff of quiet laughter, shaking his head a little. This place was magical. It always had been.

“Come on you,” he said softly, tipping his shoe a little and offering his index finger for the little red beetle to crawl onto. Its little legs tickled his finger tip as it hesitantly explored it's new terrain. It made him smile. He brought his finger up closer to his eyes for a better look and examined the little black dots on the beetle's wing shell. Such a pretty thing. He watched it slowly crawl up to his knuckle and then all of a sudden take flight.

“Bye,” he said softly. But it wasn’t really goodbye. He’d be back.

He steeled himself and took a long drag of air into his lungs, closing his eyes. The breath came out just as slow. He stood for a few more moments in the breeze, just listening and feeling everything. And then he opened his eyes.

It would be a long road ahead but he’d be back.


A/N: So I realise there was never a name directly (or indirectly for that matter) mentioned here. Since a big part of this story is about finding your identity, I felt it was more meaningful to let him have a private moment here. I'm pretty sure I left enough clues as to whether it was Jaejoong or Yunho though (through attitude alone? XD). If I haven't though, I guess YJ are the same soul trapped in two bodies and you'll figure it out next chapter. =P

So this is a newie! As you can probably see, an element of this fic involves a dash of tennis but this story isn't actually about tennis. It's very much about people (because character-based plots are what I am obsessed with it seems~). So if you're kind of impartial to sport, don't worry because (*whispers*) so am I. Oh to be coordinated! I have to admit though that I do find it amusing when dudes get all hyped up playing sport. Testosterone explosion, much! At least with tennis it feels more gentlemanly and graceful... And dem arms!! DEM ARMS!!

I hope to post up the first chapter in the next few days so you can get a better idea of where this thing is headed.  I hope you enjoyed this little intro though. It's quite symbolic of things I'm not allowed to mention yet. ^_~

As a random visual note... I was out walking one day and came across this random sad-looking court. I had to do a double take because it was so close to what I had seen in my head for the courts in the prologue. I just had to get a photo of it, so I ninja-ed the hell out of it with my crappy old phone. >D

Here it is:

^ Poor old thing.
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