coley_merrin: (Baseball hands)
[personal profile] coley_merrin
Title: The Catch
Pairing: Zhou Mi/Kyuhyun
Rating: PG-13
Genre: AU, fluff

Summary: Zhou Mi hits a milestone, in more ways than one.



***

Kyuhyun liked baseball. It gave time for thought and analysis, statistics. Some people thought it was sedate and, more horrifically, boring. But they’d never been to a game and felt the atmosphere, felt the roar of the chants, and the screams of the fans. Okay, maybe he was just a little bit romantic about it, having gone to games with his dad for years. He had a nice jersey with the second baseman’s number on it - the hot one, though Kyuhyun got it mostly because he liked both his style and his hitting - and good seats out in right field. His eyes flickered to the large screen giving season stat’s for the team’s first baseman as he stepped up to the plate. They were down by two runs in the bottom of the eighth, runners at first and third. The baseball announcer in his mind declared that one swing of the bat could win it.

Kyuhyun took a swig of his drink, and watched strike one. There was some kind of cheer going on and his eyes flicked back to see the next pitch. And the swing.

The sound of bat against ball was stark even through the noise of the crowd, and the roar that started as the ball soared. And the crowd surged up and Kyuhyun with them because the ball was screaming right toward them.

Right toward--

The ball skipped over hands and grabs, and Kyuhyun didn’t feel his drink splash against his shoes as he reached up. But he sure did feel the sting as his hands wrapped around a sharply slammed baseball before it could bean him on the head. There were grumbles and groans of disappointment, and Kyuhyun pulled the ball in against his chest in case someone was going to try to wrestle him for it. In all his games, he’d been at most within ten seats of a ball being hit, usually something hit foul.

In all the commotion, he didn’t see the run around the bases, or the celebration at home plate until it was re-broadcasted on the big screen. Of course, it also was shown with the swing and hit again, and giant flashing letters that said:

ZHOU MI 100TH HOME RUN.

What Kyuhyun had in his hands wasn’t just the game-winning ball, then. It was a milestone.

***

Surely enough, a staff member waded in and called Kyuhyun out. He didn’t mind so much since by that time they were already two outs away from winning, but he got led through something far more complex than the route he’d taken into the park. Before he’d gone, of course he’d been given an option. Zhou Mi would like to meet him, sign some things for him, and whatnot. Obviously the ball was something he’d want for memory reasons. A hundred home runs wasn’t anything to sneeze at in a park that wasn’t really built for it. He got all but locked into a room, since Zhou Mi was busy with press it seemed like, and he waited, fiddling on his phone and putting the ball on the table.

It wasn’t staff but Zhou Mi who burst in fifteen minutes later. He still had on his uniform, a little wet around the shoulders and face, probably from a shaving-cream pie.

“Hi!” Zhou Mi said, putting an armload of swag onto the table. “Thank you so much for coming down and— You’re wearing someone else’s jersey!”

Zhou Mi sounded…horrified. A little offended. Kyuhyun was ready to babble something out when Zhou Mi started laughing.

“Okay, okay, I guess I like him. At least he’s on my team! I’m Zhou Mi, though you probably already know that, but— They said your name was Kyuhyun?”

Kyuhyun nodded. “Yeah. It’s nice to meet you. And congratulations.”

“Thank you!” Zhou Mi said, beaming. Kyuhyun was a little taken aback by that, because he’d heard about the smile, but being blasted with it right up close was different. He was going to have to change his allegiance. If Zhou Mi had asked him for the ball and given him a bubble gum wrapper in return, he probably would’ve accepted without complaint. And even more so when he handed the ball to Zhou Mi, before they even started talking about whatever Zhou Mi had brought. Zhou Mi pulled up a chair and sat, tracing the laces, tracing where the bat had impacted.

“I got into it pretty good, didn’t I?” Zhou Mi murmured, praising himself so demurely.

“You did,” Kyuhyun chuckled.

“Is this your favorite team? Do you come to a lot of games?”

Zhou Mi seemed interested in learning his entire baseball resume, which Kyuhyun was happy to give. For being kind of a big time player, Kyuhyun actually sort of relaxed as Zhou Mi chattered right back at him with his own stories.

“Oh, I’m going to talk your ear off, and the staff is probably wanting me to get my stuff out. I have a jersey for you. A better jersey!” They both laughed as Zhou Mi signed it for him, a series of squiggles. With that, a fan banner, a rolled-up flag, several patches, a plush of the mascot, a snapback cap. There was even a ball used in the game that Zhou Mi signed. And the prize, Zhou Mi seemed to indicate, holding up the folder.

“Box seats for a game, near the dugout. You can bring whoever you want.”

“That’s— You didn’t have to do that, really.”

“You’ve been so nice about everything, I really did,” Zhou Mi said, leaning in almost like he wanted to make Kyuhyun feel it. “I could thank you, and it’d be sincere, but I want to show you, too. I’ve been dreaming about this for years, and you made it possible.”

Kyuhyun grinned, shifting a bit uncomfortably. “You did all the work. And you will to the next milestone, too.”

Ah, that got him another smile, and Zhou Mi asking if he wanted anything else signed. Clearly he’d been underestimating Zhou Mi’s looks in the terrible photos the team displayed. He got the banner signed, figuring he could give that to a friend.

“How are you getting home?”

“Oh, uh.” Kyuhyun glanced at his watch. At least things should be clearing out. “The subway?”

That had Zhou Mi frowning. “If you don’t mind… If you give me five, ten minutes? I’ll drive you.”

“That could be out of your way. You really don’t have—“

“Not just because of the ball,” Zhou Mi clarified. “It’s been fun talking, and I have too much energy to just go home. I’m not going to to whisk you away if you don’t want, though!”

If he disregarded Zhou Mi’s denial about it not being gratitude and the fact that Zhou Mi was pretty famous, he was on the verge of turning down a ride from a cute guy. And that seemed kind of wrong.

“If it’s really not a problem,” Kyuhyun ventured.

“You’ll be doing me a favor. Again!” Zhou Mi got to his feet. “I’ll go get ready. And I’ll bring a bag for all this! I’ll be back.”

It felt like being pummeled by a rainbow. Zhou Mi and the ball disappeared, and a staff member arrived with a bag to put all the stuff Zhou Mi had brought him in. It wasn’t many minutes after that that Zhou Mi appeared with a bag over his shoulder and smelling rather strongly of freshly-showered man. Kyuhyun kind of had a thing for that.

“Ready?” Zhou Mi asked.

As he ever would be. He followed Zhou Mi out some kind of secret passageway, to Zhou Mi’s car. It was a nice sedan, not boring, but not too flashy either. It wasn’t a tiny little puddle jumper, but a nicer sort of price range. It had leather seats, though, that seemed to cuddle Kyuhyun right into them as the vents blasted out air to take some of the muggy heat out.

“Okay, let’s go!” Zhou Mi said, adjusting his butt on the seat and backing out of his parking spot.

Kyuhyun was quiet on purpose as Zhou Mi chattered and pointed out various landmarks, and that pillar he’d almost backed into, and that place where he’d helped tie a bunch of cans to the back of a teammate’s car. He was just wondering when Zhou Mi was going to realize it, was all. They were on the highway in a heartbeat, Zhou Mi driving and talking but his eyes on the road and the cars around them.

Instead of continuing on, as they would have had to to get to Kyuhyun’s place, Zhou Mi exited. Kyuhyun made a sound trying to indicate maybe something was wrong, but Zhou Mi just kept blasting on.

“When all the vendors come out, it’s a zoo, but it’s so fun. I love to just wander around. If I wear sunglasses, not a lot of people recognize me. I don’t— Kyuhyun!”

“Hmm?”

“I’m just driving home like I would normally?? I don’t even know where you live! Why didn’t you tell me!”

Zhou Mi’s outrage had Kyuhyun laughing too hard to talk, and Zhou Mi tsking at him and making a quick turn down a block.

“I tried to, but you hadn’t taken a breath.”

“My favorite place to go get a snack after a game is about five minutes down this way. I really was going to take you home, but since you let me keep talking, we’re practically there. Did you want to get something to eat?”

“Only if you let me pay for my own food,” Kyuhyun said.

“Deal!” Zhou Mi said, and pressed his foot to the gas pedal.

Another rule had to be to not turn down a cute guy and the possibility of food. Plus if Zhou Mi was tired, Kyuhyun could still take a taxi or have Zhou Mi drop him off at a subway stop. It was a little charming. He needed to nearly get hit in the face with baseballs more often.

It was nearly midnight before he got home, dropped off neatly by Zhou Mi in front of his building.

It was curiosity that had him looking up articles about Zhou Mi later, and most of the reporters mentioned his sunny personality, his leadership in the dugout, his tendency to space out a bit. He couldn’t find a single negative thing about Zhou Mi except for people saying they were fans and criticizing his production the season before.

Kyuhyun chuckled, closing his laptop. He’d had his own hands on Zhou Mi’s production. No need to doubt that.

***

Kyuhyun’s friends were all amazed, laughing at him and his luck. Kyuhyun called his dad, sent him a picture of all the things he’d been given. He was going to have to build a baseball museum. But no, he gave some of it to friends, making himself a little baseball spot on his shelf to display the game ball and his signed score card. He had to practically take numbers to see who was going to go to the game and sit in the box seat with him, though. His dad was one, and then everyone else had to fight it out amongst themselves so that he wasn’t playing favorites. Which was how he ended up in a four-person box with Donghae, and Henry, and his dad.

He wore Zhou Mi’s jersey. It seemed polite, not that he figured Zhou Mi would remember or do much more than wave. He was just pleased to be back, joking while eating his popcorn, watching the players start to warm up and chatting.

“Hey, it’s your buddy,” Henry joked, and Kyuhyun startled, turning back around to see Zhou Mi coming up to lean on the edge of the barrier.

“You made it!” Zhou Mi said, grinning.

“I had to fight people off who wanted to come with me,” Kyuhyun said, and Zhou Mi grinned, waving at Kyuhyun’s dad and his friends.

“Did they want something signed?” Zhou Mi asked.

Kyuhyun was startled that he’d even ask. That he’d given Kyuhyun the box tickets, and all the other stuff, that had seemed excessive as it was.

“You don’t have to— I can give them something that you signed that night.”

“That was for you,” Zhou Mi said, waving him off. “I don’t mind! If you have your scorecards, I can see if some of the guys in the dugout can sign them. You were wearing someone else’s jersey after all.”

The hurt puppy-dog eyes weren’t helping, and Kyuhyun’s protest ended up as a click in his throat and a helpless laugh. Kyuhyun groaned, but the others were already handing over their scorecards and Zhou Mi gathered them in.

“Only if it’s no trouble,” Kyuhyun finally got out. “But hey, I’m not wearing someone else’s today.”

Zhou Mi’s pleased little dance shouldn’t have been nearly so charming, and when Kyuhyun again tried to assure him that extras weren’t necessary, Zhou Mi just waggled his finger, and then waved and jogged away.

It wasn’t like the scorecards cost them anything if Zhou Mi forgot or lost them. And no matter what, the thought was nice.

A bat boy brought the scorecards back a few innings in with the signatures of half the team and the bullpen. Even the manager had signed. So had Zhou Mi.

Kyuhyun’s had an extra smiley face.

He spent the next inning ignoring the heckles from people who purported to care about him.

The game was over, with Zhou Mi’s team winning, and the bat boy came jogging over before they were able to leave.

“You’re Kyuhyun?” the kid asked, and handed over an envelope with his name on it. Zhou Mi was already off the field, so looking for him didn’t do any good. He peeked in the envelope to be sure it wasn’t some kind of invitation to meet the players or something. It wasn’t, and he tucked it very firmly away despite the pestering of everyone with him, and kept equally as quiet during their dinner.

He didn’t pull it back out again until he was in a taxi going home, looking at the scrawled words. He’d have wondered if it was from Zhou Mi at all, except that the signature was a neater version of the one he had across a number of items.

“Text me sometime!” it read. And a phone number.

Kyuhyun had turned it over, wondering if he was being joked with somehow. He was glad he’d had to wait in between the delivery of the letter and right then, otherwise he’d have been wondering if it was too soon, too eager. Though, he then had to wonder if it was too late, if Zhou Mi thought he’d just blown him off. He sighed at himself, because there was no deadline on the paper.

“Hi, this is Kyuhyun. Good game tonight!”

Simple, straightforward. His phone buzzed about 3.5 seconds later with, “Glad you could go!!”

So much excitement. He chuckled, sinking deeper into his seat.

“With seats like those, how could I resist? Thank you again! We had a great time.”

“I wish I could have stayed to meet your friends! Was that your dad, too? Good looks run in the family~”

Kyuhyun guffawed in his seat, glancing at the driver to be sure he didn’t think Kyuhyun was on something. No, he was probably used to weirdness.

He was about to try and type back a response when his phone started to play his ringtone instead. All it displayed was a number, and he’d just typed that number in.

“Hello?” Kyuhyun said, and he was looking around at passing buildings like maybe he really, truly was being joked with.

“Hi, it’s Zhou Mi! Sorry, am I interrupting you?”

“No. I’m actually in a taxi on my way home. So…?”

His brain stalled. Asking why seemed too forward all of a sudden, but Zhou Mi picked up right where Kyuhyun had left off.

“Oh, good! I was going to text you to ask, but that seemed weird. But if you’re free, did you want to get dinner tomorrow?”

Kyuhyun blinked, his mouth hanging open as he ran through every possible engagement. “No, no I’m not busy.” And there wasn’t any game tomorrow, either, if he was remembering right. “So, yes?”

“Good! That’s a night off for me, so I was hoping. Is there anything you don’t like to eat?”

“Not really? I can always find something I like.”

Maybe that sounded bad. But he couldn’t take it back as Zhou Mi made thinking noises.

“Okay! If it’s okay, I’ll think of a place. There are some restaurants I’ve heard of but haven’t been to, yet. I’ll text you when I find one that looks good to make sure it’s okay!”

“I’m sure whatever you find will be fine,” Kyuhyun said.

“Still! Oh, what did you think of that double play tonight? I couldn’t believe it!”

Kyuhyun relaxed, settling in for something he did feel comfortable with, talk of baseball. They talked the whole way to Kyuhyun’s place, and only the threat of the call dying in the elevator had them hanging up with Zhou Mi promising to text soon with a restaurant.

Zhou Mi wanted to take him to dinner. That didn’t feel like gratitude, he thought, as he thumbed through their texts. Maybe it was something friendly, and yet—

It didn’t feel exactly like that either. But it intrigued him either way.

***

The restaurant was trendy and not stuffy, and because Zhou Mi picked him up on the way, at least he didn’t have to worry about bumbling in and trying to find Zhou Mi. He’d taken a cue from the pictures on what to wear, since it wasn’t just going to a game. And Zhou Mi was dressed similar enough, crisply pressed pants and a buttoned shirt, with a bit more flair than Kyuhyun’s. Kyuhyun didn’t know how it fit or what brand it was, but it looked good. He looked sharp and normal at the same time, which was a relief and perplexing at the same time. It was just a meal, he reasoned with himself for the dozenth or so time, with talk of construction projects and neighborhood changes on the short drive. Zhou Mi had been around on his rambles, so he was familiar with the parking.

Kyuhyun half expected someone to stand up and point when they entered the restaurant, but no one did.

“You looked at the menu?” Zhou Mi asked as they got seated, their drink orders already in.

“I did. The problem is, too many things look good,” Kyuhyun said. And didn’t realize that had had a double meaning until Zhou Mi waved at him and giggled.

No, he had to keep a hold on himself before he turned into a tomato.

“What— What are you going to order?” Kyuhyun asked, just barely stopping himself before accidentally asking what Zhou Mi thought looked good.

No tomatoes, he reminded himself.

It was pasta, it turned out, and he settled on soup himself with soft, rich bread that went with it. It was quick, from the time of ordering, until the food arrived, too. And there was still that little strange feeling in the back of his head, that had him wanting to be sure somehow.

“You didn’t have to do this just because of a baseball,” Kyuhyun said.

Zhou Mi raised his head from being focused on his food, and blinked at him. “What? No! No, this isn’t because— It was fun talking to you that night, so I hoped it would be again.”

Kyuhyun almost had to bite the inside of his mouth to try and keep from smiling at the way that Zhou Mi floundered. He didn’t much get the chance to get the upper hand in social situations, though then Zhou Mi took the wind right out of him by pouting.

“I’m just glad I could see you again,” Zhou Mi said.

Again, something pinged inside of him that said, that doesn’t just feel like something buddies would do.

“I’m glad, too,” Kyuhyun said, and it was meant as nothing but flirtation, even if it was of the subtle variety. Still, Zhou Mi’s lips curved and he leaned in. Kyuhyun’s breath caught as Zhou Mi glanced side to side, before meeting his eyes.

“I wanted to ask. Where is your favorite place to shop?” Zhou Mi asked.

They stared at each other for a moment, before bursting into quiet giggles.

“I assume you don’t mean for food,” Kyuhyun said, and had to think about it for a bit as they ate. “Well, it kind of depends on what I’m, buying, but.”

Still, he was able to ramble on, trading anecdotes of shopping centers with Zhou Mi who seemed pretty well-versed on places Kyuhyun had never even heard of. The conversation wound from there, Zhou Mi’s hand darting out once to press against Kyuhyun’s fingers in emphasis. Kyuhyun thought he hid his surprise pretty well, though he tried not to be too obvious when he put his hand back near the same spot a few minutes later in case Zhou Mi reached out to touch his hand again.

He did.

Kyuhyun didn’t really realize until later that they’d passed almost the whole of the conversation without talking about baseball. He was still grumbling halfway home that Zhou Mi hadn’t let him pay for his part of the dinner.

“I was the one who invited you out,” Zhou Mi had told him.

“I know, but I agreed!”

The smile when Zhou Mi had said, “Thank you, though,” that was really what the grumbles were about. He didn’t know if he was a novelty, if he was reading all the signals wrong. He brushed his fingers over his knuckles where Zhou Mi had touched. Maybe Zhou Mi made friends of every person he met. All the baseball stuff, the signatures, that could be chalked up to gratitude for relinquishing the ball.

Everything after, not so much. Not giving Kyuhyun his number, or asking him to dinner. So he figured, if Zhou Mi asked him out to eat again or made any other kind of overture that included them spending time together, he’d be even more sure.

It took two days, and then came the invitation to lunch. And four days after that, they met up for a snack late after a game. They’d ended up on the same side of the table, and it hadn’t even really been subtle as they leaned in together, laughing at some joking video on Zhou Mi’s phone.

Kyuhyun nudged Zhou Mi’s arm.

“You said the first time this wasn’t about the ball. It’s still not?”

Zhou Mi made a show of thinking about that, humming as Kyuhyun raised his eyebrows.

“No, it’s still not. Though, getting to meet up with you again might feel like a home run,” Zhou Mi admitted.

And all of Zhou Mi’s composure started cracking as Kyuhyun started to gasp with laughter.

“Was that too much?” Zhou Mi wondered, and Kyuhyun had to try and compose himself when Zhou Mi’s eyes were still twinkling.

“Maybe a little! Do you have a subtle bone in your body?”

“I haven’t found it yet if I have. During dinner the last time, I thought maybe you had started to guess.”

“I was getting there,” Kyuhyun said. And he eyed Zhou Mi for a moment. “Though, I wasn’t really sure until you asked me out again. For the record, I’m okay with it not being about the ball.”

Zhou Mi’s lips had just that much more curve to them. “I hoped so. I figured if you just saw this as friendly, or if that was all you wanted, that was all you’d think.”

It was kind of dangerous, he guessed. It was hard for him, and he wasn’t even some famous sports guy, so Zhou Mi had it even more difficult there.

“Was I giving off some kind of aura or something?” Kyuhyun asked, and Zhou Mi threw back his head, doing a less-than admirable job to contain his laughter.

“No, you were just cute.”

They made mock surprised faces at each other for that blatant flirtation. Kyuhyun could live with that.

***

They didn’t leave each other without a promise of meeting up again, even if Zhou Mi had to do some schedule searching to make sure they weren’t going to see each other and say goodbye two seconds later. They’d talked about a number of things, like the fact that it wasn’t something they could spread around. Kyuhyun had known that anyway, and Zhou Mi was taking a leap of faith just taking a chance on him. Apparently surprises were going to be a theme in the grand scheme of things. Almost getting smacked in the face, Zhou Mi’s interest. He wasn’t even going to ask what was next.

Though getting an invitation to Zhou Mi’s home, that Kyuhyun hadn’t really expected. It was the night after a day game, one Kyuhyun hadn’t been able to go to because of something silly called work or something. But Zhou Mi was clearly revved when he opened the door for Kyuhyun, giving Kyuhyun a path in. Or maybe Zhou Mi was just always revved when he had visitors.

But he noticed something that was new right away: Zhou Mi wasn’t shy about touching. Instead of subtle touches, a brush of fingers, Zhou Mi led him into the kitchen, standing close, touching his arm. All they were getting was a drink.

“What!” Zhou Mi said, when he saw Kyuhyun eyeing him.

“What!” Kyuhyun retorted, reaching out and rubbing Zhou Mi’s forearm like Zhou Mi had done for him.

“You’re here,” was Zhou Mi’s explanation for that. And it was enough for Kyuhyun. “And we won! So two good things today.”

“I listened to part of the game while at work,” Kyuhyun admitted, getting a mock shocked look from Zhou Mi which abated only when he’d dug his knuckles into Zhou Mi’s side. “Sounds like you guys did well.”

“We did. I was going the tie at one point and— Here. You’re the catcher,” Zhou Mi said, positioning Kyuhyun by the wall before backing up. “I’m lumbering down the third base line. The ball comes to you from center field. The fans are roaring. You catch the ball.”

Kyuhyun raised his hands up in as close an approximation of a catcher’s glove as he could, eyes on Zhou Mi’s face, and on the words that were fast, and yet somehow seductive. If he thought talk of baseball was seductive, maybe there was something wrong with him.

Something like a weakness for Zhou Mi’s voice.

“Like this?” he asked.

“Yes. Now, the only thing I can do coming into home is hope that I run past you or slide. If you touch me, I’m out. I can’t veer out of the baseline, or I’m out. Only if the ball comes lose, and I touch home am I safe.” Zhou Mi stepped forward again, hands lifting, and Kyuhyun stepped back on instinct, heel thudding against the wall.

Zhou Mi wasn’t actually going to bowl him over. It was just a reenactment. Zhou Mi’s hands on his shoulders, pushing him against the wall, and his face close, brows drawn together in such serious intent.

“And the ball comes loose.”

“That’s right, “ Zhou Mi said. “He fell over, and I dove over him. The ball rolled free, and I touched the plate.”

“Safe,” Kyuhyun said.

“Home.”

Zhou Mi’s fingers touched Kyuhyun’s jaw, something that had absolutely not happened with the catcher. Zhou Mi had scored a run, a run that had tied the game and led to a win. Zhou Mi was staring at his mouth and Kyuhyun could barely find the breath to inhale.

“I wish I’d been there to see it,” Kyuhyun said, fumbling for thought, or words, or anything as Zhou Mi met his eyes. “Thank you for letting me…live it.”

Kyuhyun felt the heat of his own words reflected back against him, Zhou Mi’s face close, so close. His hands rested leaden at his thighs at the first touch of Zhou Mi’s lips against his. He inhaled and breathed in Zhou Mi’s scent. The molding of Zhou Mi’s hands against his cheek, nose pressed beside his as their lips met again. A shiver that started from his lower back finally gave him movement, hands grasping at Zhou Mi’s waist, mouth parting as Zhou Mi leaned closer. He felt the sound, low in Zhou Mi’s throat, kissing, fumbling for more, until they were breathless.

They gasped against each other, stealing each other’s air, and Kyuhyun could feel Zhou Mi’s smile. Kyuhyun wasn’t even sure what a smile was or how his face could take that shape, still too stunned and amazed by kisses.

Kissing Zhou Mi.

Kissing Zhou Mi again, right then, Zhou Mi’s lips pressing hard against his for another moment. And then Zhou Mi moved as though to hug Kyuhyun, his head beside his, at least until Kyuhyun heard the dull thud that was Zhou Mi’s head meeting the wall.

They paused, not even breathing for a moment in total silence, until Zhou Mi squeaked.

“Are you all right?” Kyuhyun asked, hands squeezing convulsively on Zhou Mi’s sides.

“Just a little concussed, don’t worry. At least it was my forehead, not my nose.”

Kyuhyun muffled his laughter in Zhou Mi’s shoulder, pulling away from the wall so Zhou Mi could hold him fully. Zhou Mi’s laugh was both embarrassed and amused, and Kyuhyun’s arms slid around him, surprised at how nicely they fit, how easy it was to grip and hold. The solid warmth of a man against him was something he really hadn’t let himself miss, except maybe at night.

“I was going to feed you,” Zhou Mi said, not having actually moved at all in the last minute or so except to rock Kyuhyun a bit.

No chance of eating without moving, it seemed. But he tried to play it off a bit like he didn’t mind when Zhou Mi started letting him go. “My stomach would appreciate that.”

“We can pick up where we left off after,” Zhou Mi said. He was the epitome of innocence, all big eyes and fluttery lashes, and Kyuhyun wasn’t buying, snorting as Zhou Mi dug into the cupboard and started laying out ingredients, and then wandering to the other side of the kitchen to get more.

“Wait, you’re making it?”

“Of course!”

“You can cook and play baseball,” Kyuhyun said.

Zhou Mi pouted at him from over the refrigerator door. “You shouldn’t sound so surprised.”

“We’ll see how I feel after I eat,” Kyuhyun teased.

It got him another kiss when Zhou Mi returned with the cold items. Kyuhyun had been wearing some other man’s number when they’d first met, a fan of his playing, if not his personality. He felt like he was wearing Zhou Mi’s number right then, even though he didn’t have any kind of jersey on. Maybe it was the kisses. Or the way he had to scold Zhou Mi to watch his fingers so he didn’t chop one off while he was talking and showing off. Or maybe the way Zhou Mi laughed, and enjoyed cooking, or Zhou Mi just watching with a smile as Kyuhyun leaned in to smell what he was making.

He shivered a little, Zhou Mi’s fingers at the base of his neck for a second, as he pointed out the case on a shelf across the apartment. The ball that had started everything.

“You’re a good catch,” Zhou Mi said, both admiring him and patting him on the butt like he was a teammate who’d done particularly well. And Zhou Mi ducked away laughing as Kyuhyun groaned at the terrible joke.

Kyuhyun had been lucky more than anything else, and as for the rest, they had equal measures of blame. Zhou Mi was onto something, though, as he manned the stove with a spatula emblazoned with his team logo: Zhou Mi was quite a catch.

***
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