Scoreboards and Sound Checks
A Big Bang Fanfiction
"Can anyone tell me why I let you guys talk me into coming to a college basketball game on our night off?" I state as I try to keep up with the pace Taeyang has set. He might be shorter than me, but he is forcing me to powerwalk to keep up with him.
"Hyung, as a group, we have to support each other. This game is important to Taeyang hyung so it should be important to all of us too!" Seungri replies as he looks back at me over his shoulder.
"Seungri-ssi, what does that even mean?" I question, amused with Seungri's effervescent attitude towards his hyungs.
As we enter the gym, I can't help but crinkle my nose. The smell of gym socks, sweat, and the freshly waxed floor fills my senses. The smell is ten times that of our practice room, but after standing in the building for a few minutes, I soon grow accustom to the odor. A meager crowd fills the stands, leaving plenty of seats available, though I am impressed with how many people from Yongin were able to travel to Seoul on a weeknight.
I take a seat in between Taeyang and Daesung. After scanning the people on the court, I still can't figure out why we, Big Bang, are at a women's college basketball game. If one of these chicks is dating Taeyang, he would absolutely keep quiet about it, and definitely wouldn't let Hyun Suk sunsengnim know he was dragging all of us to watch a game.
Scratching that option off the list of possibilities, I hypothesize that he could have possibly asked someone to meet us at the game, but that idea crumbled when I realize we have been in the gym for twenty minutes, and Taeyang has never once removed his eyes from the court. Maybe Taeyang just wanted to watch the game. He has never shown interest in college basketball, in particular, before though.
I decide that Taeyang has to at least know one of the girls on the team. Therein lies the next problem with my assumption. Being who we are, we have a very limited amount of personal time off, if any, and of that limited time, we still spend most of it together. We visit our families of course, but it's just hard to hang out with other people our age. They have completely different perspectives and priorities than we do, not to mention how hard it is to get out without being followed around by the paparazzi. The media attention isn't anything new to us, however many of our personal friends don't appreciate having their photos taken and plastered all over the internet, especially female friends. Being seen with our female friends opens a completely new window of trouble for all of us. They are harassed by media and fans alike with accusations of which one of us their dating and we're ridden with guilt for putting them in such a situation. I can't say how many friends I've lost because of this. That being said, it's just easier to just hang out with each other than have to fall off the face of the Earth to spend time with our friends that are outside of the entertainment world.
After pondering on why exactly we are here for the umpteenth time, my curiosity finally got the better of me. I, being the leader of the group, feel the responsibility to look after the guys. Therefore, I know all of their friends, or have at least been introduced to them once or twice. After scanning all the girls' faces again, I decide that I do not know anyone on the court.
Leaning to my right, I speak over the murmuring of the crowd while the girls on the court below began their pre-game warm-ups, "Why exactly are we here?"
I try to follow Taeyang's view, but I can't exactly pinpoint who he is watching behind his dark tinted sunglasses.
"A friend of mine enrolled into Korea University. Since the schooling system in the States is different from ours, she couldn't enroll until the second term. She got a full ride on a basketball scholarship," Taeyang explains, leaning slightly toward me so I could hear his response.
"Ah, which one?" I probe.
"Number twelve," He nods toward the left side of the half court in front of us.
Scanning the white jerseys with crimson accents, I find the ruby numbers one and two printed neatly together in the classic 'sports' font. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little surprised. She was a foreigner. I would guess from the United States. She has her hair tied in a high ponytail, wisps of newly growing hair escaping the tie here and there, making it seem messily 'fixed,' while the tips of the hair that actually stayed pulled up brushed the top of her jersey number. I'd say it probably reached the middle of her back when she wears it down. Her hair is a shade of light brown, a typical shade of what I'd expect from someone with a non-Korean descent, but her skin tone threw me off a little. She was tan, a lot darker than I am. She definitely didn't look 'white.' She must use one of those tanning bed things that make you look like you've been in the sun; something the Korean culture avoids like the plague. The sun is good and good for you, in small doses, but it's not healthy to expose yourself to it without sunblock or the appropriate attire. Foreigners seem to be into looking dark for some reason that we, Korean's, will probably never understand.
From where we're sitting, I can't really see any details from her other features, but she's of a slight build and shorter than most of the girls on her team. For being of a petite frame, it is obvious how much she works out. I can only guess their coach has them in the weight room or on the track a great majority of their practices. She's definitely in better shape than me with how well her toned muscles peaked through her skin, something Taeyang must appreciate. She's definitely his type. Long hair, western features, athletic, and shorter than him. I'd guess she was probably around five-three.
Then again, she may only look smaller because of her baggy white jersey. I like their jerseys though, white with a thick, crimson strip that runs from under their arms and aligns with the strip that runs the length of their shorts. The college mascot, a crimson and black tiger design, is displayed on the front of their jerseys and Korea University, written in Hangul, sits just above the animal, with their jersey numbers underneath. She, along with the rest of her team, have white tube socks that sport two crimson stripes at the top, white Nike's with crimson accents, but what makes her stand out is the brace on her left foot.
"Jo?" I asked, finally being able to make out the Hangul symbol above her number. That is a Korean sir name; she definitely doesn't look Korean.
"Ah, her grandpa's half Korean, half American. He married a girl in the States, had her dad who also married in the States, and they had her and her two older brothers. So that would make her...one-eighth Korean?" Taeyang calculates in his head.
"I see. How do you know her?" I ask out of mere curiosity.
"Her family moved to Korea when she was...three maybe? We lived in the same neighborhood. They moved back to the States a little while after we started training at YG. You've met her several times before," he clarifies.
"Really? What's her name?" I can't recall ever meeting this 'number twelve' person.
"Blakely. She prefers Blake though," Taeyang replies matter-of-factly.
Blakely...Blake...no light bulbs are suddenly turning on, "I can't remember ever meeting her," I conclude.
"She had really short hair when she was younger. It was really more a boy's haircut. My hair was longer than hers to tell you the truth. She said she wanted to be just like her older brothers so she talked me into going with her to get a haircut and when we came back her mom got so mad at us," Taeyang reminisces as he watches her shooting behind the three-point line, "She was pretty tall and lanky too," he finishes before taking a glance in my direction.
It suddenly hits me. The boy that Taeyang had introduced me to after we had become trainees together. We hung out with him several times after we had gotten through cleaning the studio. Only now do I realize that the boy was actually a girl, and she looked absolutely nothing like what I could make out of the person running ball handling drill on the court below us. I choose to keep this to myself, not wanting to look like a complete idiot for mistaking a girl for a guy, even if she had a guy's haircut and was as tall as Taeyang and I when we were thirteen.
A loud buzzer breaks my thought process as I watch the girls below return to their benches. The announcer roars over the microphone, introducing the starters from both Korea University and the opposing team, Kangwon National University.
To my surprise, number twelve is a starter. Basketball isn't quite as popular as soccer, probably a good second place in Korea, but it's still a sport that not just any average Joe can walk in and become a part of the team. So for her to get a full ride to school to play basketball and be a starter must mean she has some serious game.
Looking around, I notice that the gym had become quite full. Most people look to be around my age, students I assume, and many are chanting for Korea University. I glance to my left and see Seungri cheering enthusiastically, Daesung right along with him, and TOP playing it cool; sitting with his arms crossed and staring towards the court intently. There is a blow of a whistle and the game starts.
By the end of the first half, Korea University is well ahead of Kangwon National University. The 'number twelve' girl plays the left forward position, Taeyang told me, which meant she begins most plays at the top of their half of the court, on the left side and that she is a 'shooter.' The latter part was definitely true because, according the stats Taeyang is jotting down on a scrap of paper, she has sixteen of the team's thirty-eight points; the rest coming from the two tall girls underneath the goal, in the post position.
"Hyung! She's good!!" Daesung yells behind me.
Taeyang only nods and smiles sheepishly at the compliment Daesung had given his friend.
"Yeah, I can't wait to meet her and tell her how impressed I am, I mean...for a girl playing basketball!" Seungri adds.
"Yah, Seungri-ya, I would leave that last part off," Taeyang replies warily, "She speaks her mind. I don't know if she'll like the 'for a girl part.'"
"Ah, okay hyung!" Seungri smiles and nods.
I smile inwardly, imagining Seungri getting cursed out in English. Another whistle blows, starting the second half of the game. Apparently, Kangwon National University isn't taking too kindly the fact that they were being stomped. The referees are blowing the whistle every minute or two, usually when Korea University is in possession of the ball, for a defensive foul on the other team. A member of Kangwon National University would either throw an elbow or purposely knee one of the girls from Korea University as they ran by, nothing too terrible, mainly cheap shots here and there.
I feel bad for number twelve. She's good, so they have two people guarding her, making it almost impossible for her teammates to get her the ball. She doesn't quit though, when someone on the other team pushes, she does her best to stand her ground. When they hold onto her jersey, she runs faster to get away.
Around the middle of the second half, all of the fans on our side are yelling at the refs to watch player such and such or so and so from Kangwon National University. Korea University, despite number twelve being shut out to only scoring ten more points since the beginning of the second half, has managed to keep a five point leave. With a little more than three minutes left on the clock, the refs aren't calling as much; Taeyang said they're probably wanting to run the clock out.
I have to hand it to the girls on number twelve's team for being so calm despite the lack of sportsmanship Kangwon National University has displayed. I know for a fact that none of us would be able to last as long as they have without blowing up.
It was then that number twelve received an elbow to the eye. Immediately she doubles over, holding her right eye. Where her jersey should have been white is now a crimson color, matching the secondary color of their uniform. The whistle blows and the refs stop the game to get the blood cleaned up off the gym floor. Everyone on our side of the gym stands up and begins shouting angrily at the refs for allowing the game to get as violent as it has. Glancing back towards the court, I see Korea University's entire bench jump up and charge toward number twelve, yelling at the other team only to have the other team yell back at them. The coach runs number twelve down the hallway underneath our seats and within a few minutes, number twelve comes back in a fresh jersey and what I could make out as a bandage above her right eyebrow.
"Wah, hyung I can't believe she came back after that hit!" Daesung yells towards Taeyang as we stand up and clap for Korea University.
Taeyang doesn't bother to respond and I follow his general line of sight and see his serious gaze following number twelve as she joins her team on the court once more.
When the final buzzer rings, Korea University is victorious over Kangwon National University, scoring eighty-three to sixty-five. Taeyang adds up number twelve's stats and we huddle around to see how she had performed. She totaled thirty-two points, four steals, two rebounds, and ten assists; well above the average of the team. It is obvious to everyone why she received a full scholarship to one of the top three colleges in Korea.
School officials escort us to the hallway behind the exit of the girl's locker room. I'm getting a little impatient. I know they have to have their victory talk and change their clothes, but I have a song that needs to be finished, waiting for me in the recording studio.
"Hey, hyung, how old is Blake-ssi?" Seungri asks in, what I would call an impish tone.
"Yah! Seungri-ya! You don't even know her!" Daesung laughs, squeezing Seungri's shoulders.
"No, hyung, I was just curious. Taeyang hyung seems to know her really well. So I wanted to know how to address her respectfully," Seungri recovers.
"She'll be nineteen in August," Taeyang replies, ignoring Seungri's previous comments.
"Ah, so she's not a legal adult yet," Seungri thinks aloud, cupping his chin in him hand and nodding.
"Seungri-ssi," I speak up from where I am leaning against the wall, "I'm watching you. If you cross the line, I'm dragging you back to the studio immediately so don't get any ideas."
"Ah, yes hyung. I understand," Seungri bows slightly as he answers.
Finally, the door swings open. A girl with long, slightly damp, brown hair reaching her elbows stands in the doorway. She's wearing a larger, yellow shirt with black text across the middle, her right shoulder covered while the neckline of her shirt on the opposite side hung mid bicep, exposing her left shoulder and the strap of her black undershirt. Black, calf length tights peaked out from underneath the hem of her shirt and she wore black high top Converse with a lime green and blue paint splatter design, tops folded over and shoelaces spilling around her feet, untied. Her outfit reminded me of something Minzy would wear, but I don't think Minzy is that into Converse.
Her facial features are a little different than I imagined, now being able to actually see them. Brown freckles shown through her tan across her nose and cheeks. If she gets any darker, I don't think they'd be visible though. Her face is small, heart-shaped, with button nose, full lips, and her most striking feature, her ocean blue colored eyes. Not something I'm used to seeing on people.
"Oppa!" She exclaims excitedly.
Taeyang scoops the girl up, both of his arms around her waist, as she squeezes hers around his neck. Placing the girl back on the ground, I watch as Taeyang brushed his fingers across the right side of her forehead, exposing a nasty looking gash. The skin around it slightly swollen, already beginning to turn a bluish-green.
"I'm fine. I promise. The trainer said I don't need stitches," the girl smiled brightly, waving her hands in front of her to emphasize her point, "It's good to see you."
Now there was something I wasn't expecting. She speaks Korean...fluently. It's a little rough and she has a slight accent, but every word is understandable.
"It's good to see you too." Taeyang answers with a smile of his own, "You remember Jiyong-ah?"
She looks toward me, slightly tilting her head while looking intently, as if trying to remember where she has seen me before, "Ah, yes, we used to play basketball as kids, when you guys got through at YG," she answers smoothly.
I nod and receive a nod in return.
"This is TOP hyung, he's the eldest hyung in our group, and this is Daesung-ah, he's a year younger than me, and our maknae, Seungri-ya, is two years younger" Taeyang finishes, addressing each person's age while making sure she's able to clearly assess each face with the name.
"Hello," She greets us formally bowing to each of them in the order they were introduced.
"Everyone, this is Blake, my friend since childhood," Taeyang smiles proudly.
"Oppa, can we continue our greetings over dinner? I haven't eaten since noon," She chirps, turning her full attention to Taeyang.
We decide to go to the barbeque restaurant right down the street from our dorm. I have been able to gather a lot from conversations between her and the guys. She's more of a tomboy, having grown up with two older brothers, she looks more like her mother while her brothers looked more Korean, taking after their father, and she has no problem speaking her mind. She speaks Korean fluently because her grandfather insisted her dad make sure that they could speak both languages, should they ever decide to visit family in Korea and her passion in life is playing basketball.
She is Taeyang's ideal type to the T and nowhere close to mine. She's pretty, but the polar opposite of everything I look for in a girl. She has long hair, I prefer short, she isn't cutesy, she isn't reserved, and while I enjoy sports and challenging myself, working out is just too troublesome with my schedule. Just on the surface, I don't see us having much in common.
"So I hear you guys are going to be going to Vegas to record a music video?" Blake questions curiously.
"That's the plan," Taeyang answers immediately.
"Vegas is fun. It's a lot more fun if you're an 'adult,' but there's still lots to do there," she states.
"What's the legal age in the States?" Seungri asks in the middle of grilling more meat.
"Twenty-one. At least it's nineteen here. I only have to wait seven more months!" Blake smiles coyly.
"It doesn't matter how old you are. There's no way you're putting your scholarship in jeopardy for a night of 'fun,'" Taeyang cuts in with a tone I don't here all too often; fatherly.
"Speaking of your scholarship, what time is your curfew?" he asks hitting the home button on his iPhone to check the time.
"Oppa, if you don't chill, we're going to rumble," Blake huffs speaking in English before finishing in Korean, "and my curfew is one, we get a day off tomorrow for our win."
"Yah, it's already midnight," Taeyang retorts.
It is somewhat comical to watch the two. Taeyang goofs around with us, but he has always been more the quiet, serious one of the group. It's hard to get attention when TOP and Daesung's comedy hour hits, and then add Seungri's ego, plus a dash of my responsibilities as the leader. Taeyang can dance, there's no doubt there, and he's worked hard to get his body in as good of shape as it's in, but he's not much for words. Maybe that's why he works out so much?
"Okay, so tell me about yourselves? I watch you guys on YouTube, but you can't really get to know someone unless you're actually able to interact with them," Blake inquires while Taeyang helps her get a better grasp on her chopsticks.
"Well, you know my name is Seungri. I'm from Gwangju, A blood type, twenty years young, an-"
"Seungri-ya, she didn't ask for your bio. You can find all that stuff on the internet," Taeyang interrupts.
"Ah, yeh, hyung," Seungri mutters, blinking several times.
"You've seen us on YouTube?" TOP asks, speaking for the first time since at the gym.
"Yup! I subscribed to the Big Bang account on the YG Entertainment official YouTube page. I buy your music on iTunes too. Some of it I've had to get off Soribada because it wasn't listed on iTunes. All my friends are crazy about you guys!" she replies.
Blake spoke directly to TOP, unflinching...impressive.
"We look more handsome in person, right?" Seungri asks smugly.
"Absolutely. I think you all are much more handsome in person!" Blake smiles a reply, "So what's it like to be famous? Thousands of people you don't know screaming your name, getting gifts in the mail, having girls melt the moment you look at them. You guys must have your pick of who to date."
I almost sprayed my drink all over the table at how casually she brought up the subject of dating. We're grown men and we've all dated secretly a time or two, yes, but dating is such a taboo subject with our fans that it's a little uncomfortable to talk about openly. If we date someone, we don't tell each other about it, that way none of us really know the truth and can't slip up and spill it while recording a show.
"Uh, well," I clear my throat, "we love our fans. It always touches our hearts when we receive gifts from them that they've put their own money, heart, and time into. We appreciate them, but it's hard for us to date. We're so busy with work and promoting that we don't really get a whole lot of free time to play."
I can't remember how many times I've had to repeat that line in an interview. I'm usually prepared for it, or Taeyang will jump in and quote it for me, but she caught me a little off guard with her bluntness to the topic.
"I can't say that I understand completely, but I have an idea. Between traveling on the road to games, practices, homework, tutoring, and finding time to eat and sleep, I'm lucky to even see a guy. Today must be my karma coming back to me because I got five right in front of me!" she laughs.
I smile. Her laugh was pretty. While I can't say that I'm too attracted to anything else, I do think her laugh is beautiful, genuine rather.
"Okay, we've got to get you back to your dorm before we miss your curfew," Taeyang murmurs as he rises from his seat, tugging at Blake's sleeve in the process.
"Hey...fine...It was nice meeting all of you. Thank you for coming to my game. I appreciate your support and I will continue to support you all in your activities," she smiles, bowing to each of us.
"Jiyong-ah, I'm going to drive Blake to her dorm, I'll head to ours as soon as I drop her off. Don't wait up for me," Taeyang finishes, holding Blake's hand and pulling her out of the restaurant behind him.
"He doesn't seem too concerned with who's watching them," Daesung's states, voicing his concern.
"It's late, he should be fine. The school girls will be home by now and his hat should keep anyone from seeing his face directly," TOP interjects.
"She was nice, very pretty too," Seungri adds.
"That's just like you. You're brain revolves around the girl and you have no concern for your hyung. That's not how a good maknae is supposed to act," TOP teases.
"Hyung, I care. You said he would be fine and I trust my hyung's judgment," Seungri falters.
"Well, as long as no one sees him, it won't be any big deal, but running around holding her hand will attract attention. She's pretty and looks like a foreigner so people are going to pay more attention to her as it is..." Daesung points out, throwing his napkin on his plate.
"Jiyong hyung," Seungri turns to me, "You've been quiet. I didn't know my hyung was so shy around girls."
Not really shy, more of feeling guilty for thinking she was a he for the past eleven years of my life.
"I've got a lot that needs to be done in the recording studio. I'm going to head back. You guys can take care to get back before curfew, right?" I ask, standing and stretching my arms above my head.
After each of them assure me they will return to their dorm rooms within the next thirty minutes, I head to the studio to work on some lyrics that have been floating around in my head.