Here you'll find
Another story from a moment in Dirna: playing tennis alone is rather difficult. Originally a birthday fic for semishade.
Someone to Play With
Judging by the purposeful stride with which he approaches the court, and the racket he's carrying in one hand, he must be the partner that they promised for me at the club.
He looks promising. Medium height, nicely muscled legs and arms darkly tanned, sun-bleached streaks in his hair. Wearing sneakers that have seen use but are obviously from the better, more expensive shoemakers available. Someone who takes the play seriously enough. Good. But isn't there something familiar in the smile?
"Good afternoon, sir!" He extends a hand and I shake it, feel the warm grip of long fingers. "I'm Scham. You wanted someone to play with, right?"
"Yes, yes I did. I'm –"
"I know you, sir," he interrupts. "I study at the College and I've been there for your first lectures. Such interesting stuff you'll be covering, and it's great to have someone with your experience visiting us!"
So that's it. I must have caught a glimpse of him in the lecture hall, though since when do I notice individual faces?
...well, of course I don't. But one can't see dozens and dozens of students without remembering at least some of them, right?
"So good of you to come and play with me. I was a bit worried that I'd have to resort to just walking for exercise while I'm here."
He laughs a little. "Oh, I have nothing against getting extra time on the court! I don't have a regular partner to play with, so of course I leaped at the chance when I came to the club and the guys asked who'd like to play with a visitor. Shall we get started?"
Scham handles his racket with ease and is constantly on the move. The first twenty minutes we just hit the ball back and forth over the net, warming up, testing and probing each other. I work up a nice sweat and tell myself that this is what I should've done the very first thing after getting here: come to the club and asked them for a partner, instead of letting my racket rest. It's now been well over three weeks, counting in the time I've spent journeying here, since I've played last. Shameful, really shameful!
We pause to take a few gulps from our water bottles. He dries his forehead with the back of a hand. "How do you like this court?"
"It's pretty hard, but I don't mind that." I dry the handle of my racket and look at him. "Let's start playing now."
I wish I knew why the answering grin makes my stomach do a quick flip-flop.
He's swift on his feet. We start with long rallies, making each other run, but stealthily the game gets harder, the hits more powerful. Scham is right, the court is hard and fast and yet it feels just right under my sneakers. Even my right ankle, the troublesome one, stays quiet and doesn't protest once, not even when I run to return his truly mean backhand for the umpteenth time.
"No it wasn't," I counter, "I saw the dust rise from the line!"
Actually I'm grateful for the pause. I stroll next to the net while he walks to take a stern look at the disputed line, then shrugs. "Okay, I believe you. So it's your serve now."
"Let's have a drink."
"A good idea."
For some reason I can't help seeing those long, tanned legs, and the curve of a thigh where it disappears under the shorts that sit so snugly on sweaty skin.
"You're really good," he says between greedy mouthfuls, lips glistening. I swallow. "I wouldn't mind playing with you another time, too. Unless you don't like my playing style, that is."
"I hope there's nothing to make you think I wouldn't like it," I say and force my gaze away from his lips. He licks them. Oh gods. "I'd like it very much. And I hope you're not holding back, playing against someone this old."
His eyebrows arch up as he measures me from head to toe. "Old?" A grin, a shake of the head. "You're not old, and besides you play better – and harder – than many of the friends I regularly play with! Told you, I'd be happy to... oh damn, look at the time!"
We use the remaining fifteen minutes on cooling down, again preferring to just hit the ball to each other, until our time is up and we have to yield the court to the next pair. Scham walks to the dressing rooms ahead of me and this odd heat washes over me as I look at the way his shirt sticks to his back. There's a darker line around his spine, and a bead of sweat runs down his bronzed neck and disappears under the collar.
"Would you like to sit down for a drink after showering?"
My heart decides to skip a beat as he stops and glances at me over his shoulder. His eyes are golden brown.
"Sounds like a good idea."
"Great!" A nod, another smile. "I'll see you by the front door then, okay?"
Clearly I've been on the road too much, I tell myself in the shower. The sight of a young man's short-covered behind is not supposed to give me a hard-on. Nor is dwelling on the images of said young man's smile supposed to make my hand move to that hard-on and stroke it until I come, clutching the edge of a tiled shelf for support.
Thank goodness for private dressing rooms with their own shower stalls.
And I think I definitely need a drink now. At least one.