Rating/Warnings: PG for tennis anger.
Summary: Guo Guang tells Zhen Zhi that it's enough, already.
AN: for prillalar. Happy birthday, Hal! It's nothing brilliant or anything, but it's for you. also, I was really struggling with these Chinese names, so if I have the wrong one anyplace, somebody let me know.
1+1 Has Many Answers
“It isn’t like I’m going to fall off the face of the earth,” Zhen Zhi assured Ju Wan and Zhou Zhu during class. Except for the part where that was exactly what he did for several days.
The problem was that the tennis team tended to run in a pack, as good teams do, which meant that where any of them were, Hai Tang had a sixty-to-eighty percent chance of being as well. Zhen Zhi wasn’t ready to face him yet, and so he busied himself in the library, the lab, the street courts, only returning to their room to sleep when he was sure that Hai Tang would have returned to his own room and the others would likely be asleep.
Most of them.
“Zhen Zhi.” Guo Guang crossed his arms and eyed Zhen Zhi from his chair, turned from the table to face the door. Ju Wan’s snores whistled softly from the top bunk. Zhen Zhi resisted the urge to shuffle his feet like a freshman. “It’s been several days. It’s time to end it.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Zhen Zhi said. “I neglected my schoolwork during the ranking matches, I’ve merely been catching up.”
“Good.” Guo Guang turned his chair back to his desk and his own work. “When you speak to Hai Tang, you can help him out with his studies as well.”
Zhen Zhi stood a moment longer, blinking, before crawling into bed. He fell asleep thinking of Hai Tang’s scowl and listening to the soft scratch of Guo Guang’s pencil. He woke the next morning with his glasses denting his nose.
He heard Guo Guang’s voice in his head when he came around the corner during classes the next day and found Hai Tang leaning against the wall outside his classroom door. Hai Tang didn’t notice Zhen Zhi at first, and Zhen Zhi nearly turned around to go back the way he had come, but in the second that he hesitated, Hai Tang lifted his head and spotted him.
Zhen Zhi didn’t need any data to read Hai Tang’s face. Anger changed to surprise and back to anger before Hai Tang smoothed his expression and dropped his eyes back to the ground. He gave a polite bob of his head and said a gruff good morning.
“I was just going to the bathroom,” he added. Zhen Zhi calculated there was a three percent chance that Hai Tang had ever lied successfully.
“Are you angry with me?” Zhen Zhi asked, which made Hai Tang’s shoulders tense.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“There’s a ninety-eight percent chance you’re angry with me,” Zhen Zhi answered automatically.
“Ninety-eight…” Hai Tang started.
“Plus or minus two percent,” Zhen Zhi finished.
There was an awkward moment of silence, the only noise the shift of their uniforms and the scrape of chalk on the blackboard inside the classroom.
“It’s fine if you’re angry,” Zhen Zhi finally said. “It’s…”
“Why didn’t you just hit the BALL?!” Hai Tang exploded. “Whether you won or whether you lost, it didn’t matter! Why didn’t you just swing?! Even if I won, isn’t this worse for both of us?!”
“I wasn’t afraid of you winning.” Zhen Zhi stared studiously at a spot over Hai Tang’s shoulder. “If you won, Seigaku would benefit. If I won, if you lost your Regular’s spot, there was a twenty percent chance you would come to hate me for it. The risk…it was unacceptable.”
Zhen Zhi chanced a look at Hai Tang’s face and found him scowling fiercely at the ground, cheeks colored. Zhen Zhi put a hand on his shoulder. When a moment passed without him being shaken off, he added,
“That’s why I thought, it’s fine if you’re angry.”
“That’s too much,” Hai Tang snapped, and then, “You’re too much.”
A ghost of a smile flickered over Zhen Zhi’s mouth, and under his fingers he could feel the heat of Hai Tang’s skin through his uniform, the thrum of his heartbeat. The moment stretched out as if it were endless, although Zhen Zhi would have estimated it lasted no longer than twenty-five seconds.
“The captain says,” Zhen Zhi said at last, “that you might need some help with your schoolwork.”
“Go away!” Hai Tang snapped, shoving Zhen Zhi’s hand off his shoulder. “I’m angry with you,” and Zhen Zhi laughed until Hai Tang’s teacher came out to yell at them.