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(Note to the readers:  As I publish this chapter, news have since broken out that Jared Jeffries has been traded to another team by the Knicks.  I love Jared and how he has supported our boy Jeremy, so THIS is my salute to him – and in the future chapters, he will play an even bigger role in this LinLan romance.
I am currently in COMPLETE DENIAL when it comes to all that’s happening in the “real world”, so in this fanfic, the characters do whatever I think they ought to be doing. *sigh*  Enjoy reading! <3 fauxscandinavian)

Grow up, Jeremy, he told himself, while trying to line up his sneakers.  His apartment really needs organizing and cleaning up.  It’s not a dump, he argued, just not presentable at the moment. 

Jared was picking him up in a few minutes, so Jeremy has work cut out for him.  Another day on the road, Jeremy groaned inwardly – this time against Dallas.

It was about time he and Jared got some time together, Jeremy told himself, even if it is only a short drive to the airport.   He feels a bit bad about not being able to tell Jared about Landry and him, especially since Jeremy considers Jared his big brother on the team.  He had been supporting Jeremy from the start. He had gone out of his way to make Jeremy feel at home in New York.  When he would get frustrated during games because of his turnovers and getting beaten on by the other teams, Jared would always tell him to not lose hope. “Four quarters,” Jared would always say.

But there isn’t a “Landry and Jeremy” thing at the moment, Jeremy reminded himself with a heavy heart.  They were on a break since the All Star’s Weekend.

Yet they somehow found a way to function at work.  The trainings and the sponsorship negotiations kept Jeremy busy – which meant thinking less of Landry during the day.  Now, if he could just do something about the dreams…

Landry was not talking to him.  Jeremy was still upset, so he wasn’t talking either.  It just sounds so juvenile, Jeremy thought.  But it was what it was.

When the doorbell rang, it jerked Jeremy away from his thoughts.

“Come in,” he told Jared.  “Give me five minutes.”

“No problem,” Jared answered, as he watched Jeremy move around the kitchen.

“I forget that this is David’s place,” Jared said, talking about his former Knick teammate David Lee who currently plays for the Golden State Warriors.

“It was such a blessing he kept it, so I could sub-let it,” Jeremy laughed.  “He was such a huge support during my rookie year.  He reminds me of you, actually.”

“So you kept in touch, I assume, since you’ve moved here?” Jared asked.

“We try to talk as much as possible, sometimes we just tweet each other,” Jeremy shared, while putting the last of the dishes in the washer.

Barely ten minutes later, they sat in Jared’s car. Jared knew something was bugging his “little bro”.

“Are you worried about tonight?” Jared asked.  “You look preoccupied.”

“A bit,” Jeremy answered honestly. “They’re bound to rough us up tonight.  It was tough that they lost last time.”

Jared looked at Jeremy with a huge grin – and they both burst out laughing.  “That was an awesome game, man,” Jared said, still laughing. “They never knew what hit them.”

Jeremy smiled. Winning to Dallas totally helped relieve the sting of the loss to New Orleans.  But he still would have wanted to avoid that loss.

“It’ll be okay,” Jared told him, “just remember…”

“Four quarters,” Jeremy said.

***

Almost nothing slips through Jeremy’s composure.  You would rarely see him get angry on or off the court.  But looking at Jeremy, Landry knew.   He was mad – mostly at himself right now, but really mad.

When they exited the court, all Landry wanted to do was take Jeremy in his arms and to comfort him, but he didn’t – he couldn’t.   He also felt that he did not have the right.  All he could allow himself was a pat on Jeremy’s back – a pat that caused Jeremy to tense up.

The Mavs hit Jeremy hard, but he always stood up, recomposed himself and continued fighting. They lost the fight by seven measly points.   Even if Coach said they did their best and that the Mavs were just better, Landry knew the loss will weigh heavily in Jeremy’s mind.

Jeremy sat on a bench, shoulders hunched, his head bowed down.  Landry stood unable to decide whether to approach Jeremy or not. Then he saw Jared sit down beside him.

Jared will set it right, Landry thought.  He’ll know exactly what to tell Jeremy.  He’d be there just as he had been for Landry when he was a rookie.

“You okay, man?” Jared asked, sitting on the bench beside Jeremy.

Jeremy shook his head.  “I could have done more.”
“Remember what I said?”  Jared said.

“Well, four quarters weren’t enough tonight,” Jeremy answered, looking up at Jared.

Jared laughed, “Scratch that.”  Even in Jeremy’s bad mood, Jared’s laugh was infectious, making Jeremy grin.

“Kid, you fought all through the game.  You earned their respect out there.”

“Really?” Jeremy said in a dry tone.  ” My body says otherwise.”

“When Jason Kidd puts the pressure on you – you have to know that he thinks you are worth his time.  They don’t usually guard a rookie or sophomore like they guarded you tonight, man.  They reserve that special attention to those they think are a threat,” Jared explained.

Jeremy looked at him,  ”So I’m a threat now?”

Jared grinned, “Hell yeah – you’ve been one since you dumped 38 points on Kobe.”

Jeremy smiled for the first time since he walked off the court.

“Keep your head up – like you always do,” Jared said.  In his mind, he knew there was only one other person in the team that can cheer Jeremy up.  He scanned the locker room for Landry, but Landry had his back turned to them.

***

On the flight back to New York, Jeremy chose the seats farthest back in the plane.  Jeremy wanted some space – his teammates gave it to him.  And because Jeremy and Landry usually sit beside each other, they made sure the spot beside Jeremy was unoccupied.  Landry did not have a choice but to sit there.

“You feeling better?” Landry whispered.

“Yes…” answered Jeremy.  The unsaid “but” was hanging in the air.

Landry looked at Jeremy’s tired face – traces of frustration still in his eyes.  He took one of the plane’s wool blankets and slung it over Jeremy.  “Take a rest – you need it,” Landry said settling in his seat.

I need you more was the thought Jeremy was screaming in his head, but chose to keep it in.

They sat quietly – a few minutes later Landry saw that Jeremy had fallen asleep.   Landry allowed himself the luxury of looking – simply looking at Jeremy – something he had not done since Florida.

As Landry kissed Jeremy on the head, a movement across the aisle made him jolt.    Jared was looking at them.   Landry did not know what to say.

“He’s going to be alright,” Jared said quietly.  “You will both be alright.”

Somehow Jared’s words did not give Landry any comfort at all.

Jump to Chapter 11: Transitions