A Smile in Your Heart


sarNie Adult
JUST FINISHED READING. OMG STOP PUTTING TEARS INTO MY EYES, TOO SAD FOR JAMESS!!!! I feel so sorry for him!!!! Being friendzoned sucks!!!!
This story just keeps getting better and better. Please continue soon!!!!  :woot2:  :dance1:  :dance1:


sarNie Adult
hehehe Nong! Thank you! Thank you also to all those who have read. While I'm stuck with the next chapter  :sweat: , I just wanted to share pics of James JI posted by fans in instagram. I've noticed that they've been taking pics of him with a sad/tired expression while smiling lately (the poor kid! Let him sleep!) and I thought it might help in imagining him looking friendzoned.  :lol: so here it is:
Photo Cr: Fangjji 

Cr: withjamesji

His sad face as Neung
and this is actually how I imagine him to look like at this part of the fic, but with dorkier clothes and glasses.  :lol:
Cr: Nongjoy_dekcmru


Live Love Laugh
Thank you na ka for sharing your FF with us.   
I'm hooked and can't wait for next chapters.     
Keep up the good work!      :flowers: :flowers: :flowers:


He's so adorable!!!! :spin: :spin: :spin:  I can't stop squealing looking at those pictures. Just too cute, and so sad to imagine him being sad. :teary:


sarNie Adult
Hehehe Hello SarN! Sorry! I'm getting killed at work right now so I can't really think much of romance  :sweat:  I'll try to see if my brain would be able to churn out something this weekend. We'll see! 
Thank you everyone for waiting for me! The fact that you're there encourages me to do my best.  :highfive:


sarNie Granny
Oooo you need to stay on task at work then loll


sarNie Adult
Chapter 6 – A New Perspective
He stood patiently by the Sperbunds’ doorstep as he always did every morning since he learned how to ride a bicycle. Going to school, or anywhere else for that matter, with Yaya had been an ingrained part of his routine that Uncle Kitti practically gave him a copy of the house key already. Yet somehow he liked waiting for someone to open the door – much like how he realized over the years how he had always waited for his best friend to open up her heart for him.
Yaya’s heart seemed to have finally been opened, yet he was clearly and painfully made aware that it was for someone else and not for him. Yet the thought that the door to her home would always be open for him gave him some comfort. Before he could wallow even deeper into his self-pity, the door to Yaya’s house finally opened and he could not help but step back when an anxious look greeted him.
 “James, are you okay now son?” Yaya’s mom asked worriedly she saw him by their doorstep, gripping the straps of his backpack against his chest.
He quickly moved his hands and gave her a solemn wai and said, “Good morning Auntie, I am fine now. Thank you very much for the porridge you made for me. I wouldn’t have recovered as fast without it.”
“Oh my poor sweet child - getting sick while your mother is away,” Auntie murmured as she placed an affectionate hand at a side of James’s head.  “It’s all right, Auntie is here. Come inside quickly, have you taken your temperature? No more fever? Do you have a jacket with you? It might rain later. Are you hungry son? Would you like some soup? Auntie can fix something up for you before you go to school.”
James merely grinned at the barrage of questions that Yaya’s mom gave him. He had never seen a more caring person than Yaya’s mother, and he remembered several times in his childhood when he envied Yaya for having a mother like her. Yet Auntie treated him much like a son and so he had no reason to be envious anymore.
As soon as he reached the dining area, Grandma was there, and she too gave him the same ministrations as Auntie. He was quickly ushered down one of the chairs and Grandma looked him over.
“Oh my, you still look a tad bit pale to me. Kanda, do you still have chicken stock there? We could make soup with mustard leaves and -”
“- Grandma, I’m fine, don’t worry about me,” James laughed as he held Grandma’s hand firmly with both of his. “Please do not bother, Grandma. I’m just here to pick up Yaya so we could go to the University together.”
“It is no bother, my child,” Grandma cooed to him as she moved to place her hand behind James to rub his back. “I told you, you are no stranger in this house. You might as well be my grandson.” 
Perhaps Grandma would never know the comfort that her words gave him for he felt more warmth in this house than in his own.
“I knew it! James is your favorite, after all!” James suddenly heard Yaya’s teasing voice from behind Grandma and he averted his gaze from the kindly old matriarch of the Sperbund family to look at its princess.
Grandma shook her head and left James’s side to go to the kitchen with her daughter while it was Yaya’s turn to greet James.
She roughly slapped her hand against his forehead that James had to lean back on the chair and adjust his glasses. Some things never change, he thought as he laughed inwardly until he saw…

“Oy James, you still seem a bit warm to me. Are you really ok?” she asked with a frown.
James gulped, glad that Yaya didn’t notice that it was something else that made him feel warm. Yaya wore a yellow wrap dress that fell right above her knees, showing off her long smooth white legs. Her collarbone peeked through the V-neckline of her dress where a simple small gold pendant lay against it. Her hair was loose and tied neatly to frame her face with a white ribbon as its ends fell softly against her full round shoulders – and her eyes… her long lashes framed her bright eyes and her pinkish cheeks just made her bloom like the flowers of spring. Her full lips looked so smooth and kissa-
“Oy James!” This time, Yaya had to place her hand at the back of James’s head that he had to readjust his glasses again. She chuckled as he continued to stare at her with his mouth hanging slightly open.
“You’re….wearing make-up,” he mumbled dumbly -  and when he realized the words that came out of his mouth, he mentally kicked himself for stating the obvious instead of telling her what was really in his heart. Scrap that, his heart was beating so fast, he probably would have said something unintelligible if he did say something from the heart. He had never seen Yaya look so beautiful and so ladylike.
“Is it too much?” Yaya asked, suddenly conscious as she placed her hand against her cheek. She took a step back and likewise fidgeted with her dress.
“OH YAYA MY DARLING GIRL!” Her mom suddenly squealed as she got out of the kitchen while still holding a ladle. “I bought that dress ages ago and I never thought you would actually wear it. Oh my, you look so beautiful.”
Soon her grandma likewise followed suit and the two women gushed at her, and made her give them a twirl.
James continued to stare at her dumbly as he sat on the chair, powerless. He had always known how beautiful she was. Now with her looking like that, he wasn’t sure if he, or any other man for that matter, could hold back any longer.
Yaya then looked away from her mother and grandmother and then gave James another questioning glare. Yaya’s big brown eyes met James’s still stunned ones that they failed to see the knowing smiles at the elders’ faces.
James awkwardly stood up from his seat upon hearing Grandma’s encouraging “ehem”. He took a few steps to be right in front of Yaya and finally blurted out, “My lady… would you mind telling me your name?” He then leaned closer to Yaya and when they were face to face, he said, “Would you mind giving me your heart since you just took mine?”
With her breath caught at her throat, she felt her heart skipping a beat at seeing James’s intense bespectacled gaze. Regaining her composure, she slapped his arm once again and laughed.
“W-what?” James laughed himself, “That’s what the guy said in that lakorn Grandma was watching.”
Both Grandma and Mom just shook their heads at the two. As they went back to what they were doing in the kitchen, they both wondered when the kids would grow up and be serious for once, not knowing that they were indeed more grown up as they thought.
“You’re so beautiful Ya,” he murmured.
Yaya just grinned. “Do I look more like an Uptown Girl?”
“You mean, like an It Girl?”James asked, confusedly.
Yaya laughed when she realized that she and James thought the same way.
“Well son, since our Yaya dressed up like that especially for you, you better not be thinking about getting sick all the time,” Grandma joked from inside the kitchen, “Don’t worry my boy, we’ll fill her closet with dresses from now on.”
The meaning was not lost to him as he came back to his senses. Of course Yaya started dressing up nicely, but not for him.
“Grandma, you better have another dress ready for Yaya’s internship day tomorrow,” James said loud enough for Grandma to hear from inside the kitchen, earning him another playful slap on his arm from Yaya for his teasing.
Soon Yaya dragged him back to the dining table and let him sit in one of the chairs. She then sat beside him and whispered, “Arch. Gundon said he’ll pass by the University today. He says he has important news about the Tools Innovation Program of CCV.”
James listened with knotted eyebrows, not really knowing what to say, not really knowing how to hide his pain from realizing what he already should have known from the start – that she really did dress up prettily for another guy.
“It’s about your internship James!” She said more excitedly, but still softly as though to keep her mother and grandmother from hearing it. “It seems Mr. Chesney is interested in getting you!”
James smiled slightly, feeling that he had to reciprocate Yaya’s excitement though in truth he felt nothing worth celebrating, “Really? Just what did you put in my resume anyway, Yaya? You might have exaggerated something; Mr. Chesney would just get disappointed.”
“Silly!” She admonished him slightly, “You’ve consistently been in the Dean’s List and all the professors in the Math Department know you. The Mechanical Engineering’s laboratory and workshop are filled with your models, and of course, I wrote there that you’re the best friend of Yaya Sperbund, their most wonderful and number 1 intern.” She grinned as she placed one of her arms around his shoulders. “I’m so excited!”
James shook his head and tried to focus on their conversation instead of floundering with his aching heart, “What is that Tools Innovation thing about anyway? You never got to explain it over the phone last night.”
“Well, I saw a poster of it yesterday at CCV,” Yaya started, “and it says that it’s a competition of some sort for college students from other courses apart from architecture. Basically, you just have to have a team and build a tool that can help engineers or architects in making structures!”
“A team?” he asked, thinking it was more complicated than he thought. “Did you give them resumes of other people?”
“No, silly,” she said, “I entered you as a team leader. You’ll be designing the tool after all. Then as for your team, well… we can get… well… don’t you know anyone?”
The mere fact that she had to ask made it obvious that she likewise knew that he had no other close friends apart from her.
Seeing the worried look in her eyes, which he simply cannot bear, he said, “I think I know who to ask. That is if I get picked in the first place,” James said casually as he smiled, “we’ll make a good team for sure.”
“Yes! That’s the spirit!” Yaya said, the excitement back in her voice. “It’ll be awesome James! You’ll see!”
He smiled in reply, thinking that the work she gave him would probably be the distraction that he needed, to let him live without his heart.
Pai and his posse were on the prowl again. This time, they were in the library, walking in a single file. They nearly towered over the shelves, yet what made them stand out the most was the fact that the football team looked like warriors who never had the need for books, not that they seem inclined to read in the first place.
They were a focused bunch, with eyes on the ball and their aims right on target. It was a pity they couldn’t give the same attention to their academic subjects, but at least they can think of means to try to improve their grades, enough to make them pass. Of course they were not very sportsmanlike means, but at least somehow it can get the task done.
“Captain, they’re over there!” one of Pai’s lackeys whispered as he pointed towards the corner table, hidden by the nook of the library.
The studying students knew trouble when they saw it and so they moved away to try to avoid it. Soon Pai and his men stopped before the corner table and formed a barricade around it, granting no escape for their prey.
Four young men looked from side to side, seemingly in an effort to draw courage from each other. They tried not to cower, thinking they were in their turf – They were in the library, a place for exercising mental muscles, after all. As far as intellect is concerned, the football team ain’t got nothing on them.
First in line was Gap Jakarin, sophomore Computer Engineering student. He specializes in computer hardware development. He assembles CPUs just like how military cadets assemble riffles. He values accuracy more than anything else… well, except perhaps for cleanliness, order and organization. His strongest subjects are algebra and statistics.
Next to him is Joker Paphan, sophomore Biology student. One may not be able to guess why he was named “Joker” despite having an elusive smile. In his heart, he hides a grandiose dream – that is, to become a doctor, but not for the purpose of saving lives, but actually making things come to life. His strongest subject is science.
Second in command is Tor Thanapob, junior Sociological Anthropology student. Naturally curious, his thirst for knowledge is often suppressed by his shy nature. Yet he has ways and means of getting information, others may call it stalking, but to his mind, he is just being a modern ninja, keeping alive the Japanese’s long sacred tradition of stealth. His strongest subject is history.
Finally, the leader is Good Chayapol Phanhakarn, currently taking Masters in Business Administration. Although micro economics and accounting had been his bread and butter, his real passion is English literature. The world has yet to know about his authorship of literary works, though he already has some followers online. Of course they would probably never guess who he is in real life, or that he is a man for that matter. His strongest subject is English. 
“Geekazoids, why are you always cooped up in here? Didn’t your mothers ever tell you that you need to be out in the sun once in a while?” Pai started as he leaned down and messed the paper and the books that were in their desk with just one sweep of his hand. “You guys look as pale and frail as paper.”
Gap’s left eye twitched a bit as his shaking hands moved to fix the mess Pai just did. Tor leaned back and seemed to almost hide behind Good’s back and Joker merely stared at the group. Good quickly cleared his throat and defiantly asked, “Do you even know why you need to be out in the sun in the first place?”
Pai laughed once and hit the table forcefully again, messing up the papers that Gap just fixed. “You need to be out in the sun to let your skin bake a little, duh! It’s so simple.”
“Bake, are you a piece of bread?” Good grinned subtly as he turned his head away from the football team.
Joker fixed his glasses and pushed it up the bridge of his nose before he said, “Electrocyclic reaction from solar ultraviolet radiation is said to aid production of cholecalciferol within the epidermal layer of the human external membrane.”
Pai and his posse looked at each other as Joker seemed to talk another language.
“He said the sunlight helps produce Vitamin D in your skin,” Tor chirped as he tried to suppress his laugh. He had to move back and hide behind Good again when Pai suddenly lunged once more on the table and reached out to clutch Good and Joker’s collars at the same time.
“Whatever Geekazoids. What use are your brains for if you can’t even remember simple instructions,” Pai grumbled. “How many times must we tell you to lay off the empty shack by the football field?”
Joker bit his lip while Good muttered, “It is not your ‘shack’, it is the University’s property and we filed the proper permits with the Chancellor to get it.”
Tor watched in horror as Pai lifted both Joker and Good from their seats and Gap took the opportunity to fix the books in the table with Pai’s attention focused somewhere else.
“It’s right beside the football field where we practice every day, naturally the shack should belong to us. It would have been a more worthy place for our locker room than whatever it is you were going to do with it,” Pai said in a near growl.
“The MLD club is the only club in the University without a room, and according to Rule 17, Section 4 of the Student Handbook, that gives us first dibs on empty facilities within campus!” Good said.
“HA! Club? The four of you have a club?” Pai smirked. “Why don’t you just hang out at 7-11 or something?”
“Such a small commercial establishment may not be able to hold the sheer number of the members of our league,” Joker replied softly, his expression still unflappable. “The Mages of the Lagoon Deck are merely lurking in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to draw our cards for a worthy duel.”
Before Pai could utter a word, Tor piped up and said “He said - ”
“-I don’t care what he said!” Pai growled, finally out of patience. “You owe us big time!”
Just when Pai dropped Good and Joker back to their seats and raised his hands to sweep the table once more, Gap suddenly stood up and said “Shhhhhhh!!!!!!”
Pai stopped his actions midway, surprised at Gap’s reaction. Yet when he tried to move once more, he was stopped yet again by a coughing sound behind him.
They all turned and…
“Mr. Visarut, I would like to remind you that this is a library and noise cannot be tolerated!” An elderly woman with thick rimmed glasses and a haughty expression that rivaled that of Noey’s suddenly admonished them from behind. “You! All of you are going to have to go to the University Chancellor’s office for violating the rules. Especially you Mr. Visarut! I would have expected more from the team captain of the university’s football team.”
Gap visibly paled at hearing his involvement in violating the rules - he who held order and rules sacred. He remained still because of shock as Tor did the task of fixing up his things and placing it on his bag for him.
Soon the football team exited the library meekly, in a single file in the same way as they came, while the MLD club followed suit while ushered by the old librarian. The students watched in wonder how the Warriors of the Field and the Mages of the Lagoon (deck) would fare in a single room before the head of the University.
“Yaya, slow down,” James called as he picked up his pace to catch up with her.
She stopped sprinting by the border of the pavement and the grassy field of the football field upon hearing his voice. She turned around quickly and waited for him.
James soon reached her side and bent down slightly as he caught his breath. “Well… it seems you’re used to wearing high heels after all,” he said in between breaths. “You walk as quickly in those as when you’re wearing your sneakers.
“Sorry James, it’s just that… Arch. Gundon said he’d be ending his meeting with the Chancellor soon and…” Yaya bit her lip, looking giddy with excitement. “Oh James, I’m sorry! I forgot you just came from a fever.” She calmed down as she remembered how she observed something different about James that day. Mostly he appeared to be the same good old James to her, yet there was something in him… he seemed too calm, almost lethargic, or perhaps even… lonely? She couldn’t exactly put a finger on it, but she figured it was because he was still recovering from his recent bout with sickness.
James chuckled upon seeing her concerned gaze and shook his head, glad she didn’t know that his physical condition was the least of what made his feet feel like a ton each. “I told you, I’m fine; let’s go Yaya.”
Instead of following the path, he wasn’t too surprised to see her cross the football field and take a short cut instead.
“Oy! Yaya!” he called, hoping to warn her about the soft soil and the heels of her shoes and –
Sure enough her high heel pushed against the ground and she lost her balance. James was quickly by her side to catch her with his surprisingly strong arms locking her in against his firm chest. She soon found her arms by his torso as she leaned against his body for support. She turned her head and their eyes met and she felt her heart skip a beat yet again upon seeing his concerned eyes looking at her so intently that she could see her surprised expression reflected in them.
His heart felt like leaping from his chest when he saw about to fall yet the moment he caught her in his arms he suddenly felt frozen. Time stood still as he held her in his embrace and he wondered if her heart beat just as fast as his.
Soon the wind blew hard in the middle of the field and Yaya quickly closed her eyes and the spell ended. James moved to steady her and he dropped his arms by his side but held them close enough to wait and see if she had regained her balance. She then squinted as she unconsciously placed one hand against his arm.
“There’s something in my eye,” she whispered and he couldn’t help but lean closer worriedly as he tried to see what it was.
She lifted her other hand and was just about to rub her eyes when James suddenly caught her hand with his and placed his other hand gently against her face. He then looked closer to inspect her eyes and Yaya felt the weird feeling in her chest once more. He tilted her head slightly, lifting it up so he could look closer into her eyes when suddenly Yaya saw him lean down and his lips were about to touch her with a ki…
She was caught off guard when she felt James’s breath against her eyes as he blew on her eyelashes. Finally aware of what he was doing, she tried to stand still and placed both of her hand against his arms for balance. As soon as he was done, she squinted once more and pushed herself away from him and then fluttered her eyes open.
“Better?” James asked as he took an unconscious step back after he realized how close they were.
“Huh… That’s amazing,” Yaya mumbled when she opened her eyes and indeed felt better. “Thank you, James. I would have smudged my make up if not for you.”
“Then Arch. Gundon would have thought you were a raccoon,” he muttered teasingly, earning a playful jab from Yaya. “Come on, be more careful all right?” he grinned as he pulled her elbow and helped her cross the field, more slowly this time.
Yaya tried to focus on the path ahead as she tried to shake off the odd feeling in her heart. It was strange. James was a brother to her and they practically grew up together. In their childhood they often fell asleep beside each other after playing all day long. Even now that they were no longer kids, she could practically tickle him all over and vice versa without feeling any awkwardness at all. Yet why was it that when she looked into his eyes that day, when she was caught in his arms that day, that she suddenly felt something...different? Had she not stared in his eyes for so long that his gaze suddenly changed before she knew it? Could it have something to do with the loneliness she saw in him that day?
He was just recovering from sickness, wasn’t he? She thought, stop dwelling too much on it! But there was a nagging feeling in her gut. There was something different about him.
What she didn’t realize was that it was she who was different. As they approached the Chancellor’s office, with James still holding Yaya’s elbow as they walked, he felt a twinge in his heart as he realized that he was practically leading her to be with another man. It was not just any man, but her first love. His best friend who vowed weeks ago that she would not fall in love finally found the man who changed her mind. Whether she would indeed fall in love or not was still an open question. But the fact that he had to be there to give her away, even when she never was his to begin with, was hard enough as it was. Just the mere thought of it made him die a little.
Yaya broke off from his hold the moment they reached the concrete ground once more as she nearly sprinted towards the door of the Chancellor’s office. James merely smiled to himself bitterly, cursing his weakness for his fate. Her happiness was his weakness – and seeing, with his own eyes, how much she was so alive and cheerful just made the pain seem worth suffering.  
“There seems to be trouble inside,” Yaya gasped as she walked back to where James stood. He gave her a questioning glance and waited for her to elaborate, “Pai and the football team are in there. So are the guys from the MLD.”
Great. James thought as he realized that fate took another jab at him. “Why is it that Pai has to show up whenever I’m miserable,” he grumbled under his breath.
“What did you say, James?” Yaya asked curiously, failing to catch what he just said. James merely shook his head and unconsciously rubbed the back of his head.
Soon the football team, followed by the MLD club and the chancellor went out the door and went out to where James and Yaya stood. Last in line was Architect Gundon and James did not miss the look that passed between him and Yaya.
Fair’s eyes brightened up the moment he saw her and he smiled that kind smile of his, making his dimples show. He eyed her from head to toe and James was sure he had the same thoughts as he did when he first saw her that morning. Yaya too smiled that special smile of hers that James had noticed since she had known Fair.
“Jirayu! Just the man I needed to see!” the Chancellor spoke up, shaking James from his reverie, “Hey, Jirayu!”
“Uh… Yes sir,” James suddenly stood in attention as he shifted his gaze away from them and focused on the old man.
“Arch. Gundon here discussed with me CCV’s latest project. He asked me to allow you to earn credits for some of your subjects for participating in this project. We were having such a wonderful and productive discussion until THEY came into the picture.” The Chancellor placed his hands on his hips and glared at the football team and MLD. “Quite a shame, really. Back in Fair’s days as Captain, these things never happened.”
“Oh no sir,” Fair blurted out as he placed his hand lightly on the Chancellor’s shoulder, “I’m afraid our team likewise had some scuffles and brought trouble to you during our time.”
“No Fair. Trust me. These guys bring in more trouble than I could bear!” Chancellor grumbled. “Can’t even pass the qualifying exams. Pretty soon, we might have to close up the Football team.”
At the Chancellor’s words, Pai and his team pretty much paled and nearly groveled. “But sir! We passed calculus didn’t we!? Here, here - ” Pai then reached out and dragged James closer towards the Chancellor, “He tutored us pretty well.”
“James did?” the Chancellor gasped, unable to believe it, especially upon seeing how James looked like a sheep among the wolves of the football club. “Well come to think of it, it’s not surprising for the math genius of the Mechanical Engineering department to do the job. No wonder Mr. Chesney saw his potential.”
James suddenly felt a bit awkward upon seeing everyone’s attention on him, especially when Pai’s heavy hand was still in his shoulder. James looked back and gave Pai a glare which he learned from Noey that the bigger man suddenly stepped back. Tor was surprised to see that the whole team stepped back with just one look from James. Suddenly he wondered what could have transpired among them during the supposed tutoring session.
“I got it. Since you boys are all old for detention, anyway, I should give you this punishment instead,” The Chancellor smiled gleefully as he rubbed his hands together. “Gap, Joker, Tor, and Good – you boys must tutor the football team in all subjects to help them pass the preliminary exams. As an incentive, I’ll give you a better room for your club, in the new building, should you accomplish this task.” The Chancellor then walked towards the football team and eyed them one by one, “You boys must pass the preliminary exams, in all subjects, else I would have no choice but to dissolve the football club… and send you all back to preparatory school.”
“Chancellor! With all due respect… we… well… Look at us and look at them!” Good blurted out as pleaded their case. “I think learning is the least thing these guys would want to do with us!”
“James was able to do it singlehandedly, didn’t he?” the Chancellor countered and James gulped as he remembered the events of that fateful day.
Yaya’s eyebrows knotted worriedly as she realized what James had gone through the other day. He was with Pai? No wonder he got sick. “But Chancellor, James isn’t feeling-”
James looked back and merely smiled at Yaya before he looked back at the Chancellor. “It’s okay Chancellor. I will assist them in tutoring the football club if you stay firm in your order,” He said in a soft tone. “I must stick with my comrades, after all.”
The MLD club continued to view James as their hero and so they nearly wept at his words.
Yaya stepped in front of James protectively as though she were shielding him from the boys of the football club. She glared at Pai and his posse, issuing a silent threat, “But James, Pai has always picked - ”
“- I’ll be fine Yaya,” he said firmly as he gave her another smile. James stood his ground and she saw that he looked nearly as tall as their nemesis. For once, Yaya realized that he wasn’t the scrawny boy she had to protect from bullies in the playground anymore. That’s right. James had been with her and had been supporting her, surely he can hold his own and he was more capable than she gave him credit for. She believed in him just as much as he believed in her.
Fair looked at James and Yaya and noticed their closeness. They were best friends, Yaya told him that, but he didn’t realize they were that close. Had he not known any better, he would have thought that they were…
“And about the CCV Project, since we’re all here,” the Chancellor cleared his throat as he drew Fair’s attention, disrupting his most recent thought. “Well James, seeing that you’ll be with these guys and you have talked about being ‘comrades’, why don’t you all team up and represent the school for this project?”
“That is a wonderful idea Chancellor,” Fair said as he eyed everyone, “I’m sure even the football team would be able to help in this endeavor, right boys?”
“Yeah, sure,” Pai mumbled as he saw Yaya’s threatening glare, and James’s haughty expression just behind her.
“Wonderful, simply wonderful, I’m glad you dropped by Fair,” Chancellor said with a big smile on his face, “I have never resolved so many problems all at once.”
“Oh Chancellor, you are too humble,” Fair replied.
“Now if you would only take my offer and teach an elective next semester…”
“Oh… I’m sorry Chancellor, Perhaps we could talk about it some other time,” Fair said as he glanced towards Yaya, “Right now I have to go over some computations with Ms. Sperbund.”
“Right, right,” Chancellor grinned as he shook his head. He lifted his hand and waved to everyone, thus dismissing all those concerned, “I’ll be back at my office in case I am needed again,” he said.
They all gave the Chancellor a wai and he disappeared from their sight. Soon the football team ran off while the MLD boys reluctantly stayed on the side of the Chancellor’s office, hoping to put a distance between them and the football team as they planned their escape route in the event that the football team decides to retaliate.
“Hello James, we meet again,” Fair smiled as casually placed a hand against James’s upper arm.
“Good afternoon Arch. Gundon,” he said as he gave him a wai. “Thank you for talking to the Chancellor for me.”
“Oh it’s nothing. Hope I didn’t put you into more trouble by the way,” Fair replied as he eyed the football team who were now quite far away. “Were we that much of a nuisance back then?”
“Not like Pai, I bet,” Yaya muttered, “That guy has been a bully since we were children.”
“Oh, you all know each other since you were kids?” Fair asked curiously, to which Yaya nodded.
“That guy, he never grew up,” Yaya said as she shook her head.
“Well I’m glad he’s the only one,” Fair said under his breath though Yaya and James still heard him. “Had I not been so lucky, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to behold such a beautiful lady.”
Yaya blushed at his words and blushed even more as she saw his teasing expression.
James felt awkward as he stood there, feeling out of place and unneeded. He stepped back unconsciously until Yaya noticed him to be far away.
“Why don’t the two of you join me for coffee or something?” Fair offered.
Yaya looked back and smiled at Fair, showing how much she loved the idea. James on the other hand stayed behind, knowing what he must do yet his heart continued to have second thoughts.
“You guys were not able to eat dinner last time. I think this time the two of you ought to go,” James said with a shaky voice.
“James!” Yaya grumbled his name silently as she gave him a glare. James merely nodded his head subtly, as though encouraging her to go.
James looked to his side and saw the MLD Club still there and he blurted out, “I need to talk to my team anyways.”
“Are you sure?” Fair asked as he walked closer to Yaya. She blushed once more upon seeing him near and she looked at James with a hesitant look in her eyes.
“We’ll follow you and we can probably stay in another table so you guys can concentrate on your ‘computations’,” James told Fair as his eyes remained focused on Yaya.
“That’s a sound plan I guess.” Fair then stayed behind Yaya, lifted his hand by his chest to show gratitude then mouthed, “Thanks a lot, man,” to James.  
James merely grinned and nodded towards Yaya.
She soon placed her hand tentatively on Fair’s arm as he offered it and started walking, but not before she threw James another hesitant look. James merely placed his hand against his chest, clenched his fist and tapped his heart, as was his way of encouraging her. She smiled then walked away.
He stayed behind and continued to look at her longingly, wondering how much more he can endure. 
Notes: I decided to go with Great's brother instead of Boy Pakorn's brother for the simple reason that I've heard Good speak English and I need an English tutor for the football club.  :lol: . I want to say more but I'm so sleepy it's past 1 am here right now. 


It's so good. This chapter gave me laughs and made me sad. :) You used the guys I suggested. Thank you. I can really see them in those roles. Especially Joker and Gap. They are the characters I like the most out of the MLD club. :)


sarNie Adult
Thanks so much N'Bieluvr and Janoro (not sure if you're younger or older hahaha). Thank you for the support. It's really very encouraging. 
Yes Nong Bieluvr! Thank you for your suggestions. MLD is complete. I haven't seen both Gap and Joker act, but when I looked at their pictures, they seem to fit the part. Gap has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) while Joker, well... he's an intellectual nerd, through and through. Tor is suppose to be the genki otaku nerd, and Good would be the sophisticated, big brother nerd. 
Now that I think about it, I might have to expand the football club too! :scratchhead2: I can't give all the dialogue to Pai!   :lol: College-looking Jocks anyone? 
Quite frankly, I'm halfway through the next chapter. The next chapter is supposed to be part of this chapter but I realized it would be too long so I had to cut it into two chapters. Fingers crossed, I might be able to finish it in a few hours. As a teaser, well... let's say it's time to give James's character a spine for a change. Hope you guys stay tuned and watch out for it! Thanks again! Imma go back to writing now.  :fanfic:


sarNie Adult
Chapter 7 – Fight For You
James sat in the café quietly, a few tables away from where Yaya and Fair were. He was starting to think that he was turning into a masochist as he continued to stare at them from afar. What was he to do when he had this constant urge to be with her yet he almost could not bear to see her with someone else?
“Your endurance is impressive, Khun P’,” Gap blurted out, drawing James away from his focus.
James then looked at the men that surrounded him at the table and realized they were observing him carefully. He felt a sweat drop from his temples upon seeing their close scrutiny and suddenly he backed away from the table and drew himself in.
“Uh… What? What were you guys saying?” James said tentatively as he gave them a lopsided smile.
“Pee,” Tor started, uncharacteristically comfortable with a stranger for once, “It’s okay to call you Pee right?” he added as he placed his arm around James’s shoulders, “We’ve only been together for a short while, yes, but I feel like I’ve known you for so long.”
James looked at Tor but suddenly he felt Good inching closer to him from the other side as well, “That’s right James, we are all comrades here, and it’s heart breaking to see you like this.”
Gap and Joker who sat across him nodded at the same time at Good’s words.
“P’Good is right. We expected much more from you Khun P’,” Gap said.
“What are you guys talking about,” James grinned as he shyly avoided their gazes. “I don’t think I understand.”
“High intellect is not necessarily inversely proportionate to emotional quotient,” Joker said flatly as he leaned closer towards James. “The human mind, or as romantics would say, the human heart, is able to perceive emotions, well… unless one has Asperger’s Disorder anyway.”
“Girls may not know much about us, but you know, we can understand how you feel about a certain girl James,” Good said, “How can you be this way? How can you let her go when you’ve loved her for so long?”
James bit his lip as he threw one more look at Yaya and Fair. Could it be? It was amazing how random strangers saw his love for her yet his own best friend could not even get a clue.
James sighed and bowed his head, “Look at him, and look at me,” he sighed once more, “I don’t think I can even compare.”
“Meeeeh!” Tor suddenly hit him hard on the shoulder as he moved away slightly so he can use his hands for emphasis. “Is this really you speaking, Empire Master IV?”
Tor drew out a notebook and started a litany, “Second grade, you successfully managed to retrieve her ribbon from a tree branch by crawling out from the third floor window of the school building, despite your fear of heights. You had to stay in school for five hours in order to write your promise not to climb out windows 300 times.”
Tor flipped a page of the notebook then spoke again, “Fifth grade. You were the only one who had enough guts to hold the wooden boards for her grueling practice for the qualifying exam for her red taekwondo belt.”
The other members of the MLD leaned closer to Tor, visibly drawn to his story. “Eighth grade, you singlehandedly deactivated spy cameras in the girls’ locker room over and above the objection and threats of the photography club.” Tor then stopped and placed a hand on his chest, “I swear I was not involved in this.”
“Oy!” James couldn’t help his reaction as he remembered the incident. Tor leaned back and raised his arm in a protective stance before he continued.
“Ninth grade, you were taken hostage by one of Yaya’s rivals, yet you still managed to come through and see her get her black belt.”
“I was not taken hostage,” James muttered incredulously as he felt his ears burning from reliving all the memories.
“You were tied up in the rooftop by the bench. Isn't that what it is?” Tor then cleared his throat, “Then you were successful in rigging the ballots during the high school prom to foil the popular boy’s plan to get Yaya as his queen.”
“He was a pervert,” James grumbled, and earned a collective yes from the other men in the table.
“You were able to withstand being the only (straight) man in Nadech Kugimiya’s fan meet in order to get the coveted autographed promotional picture in his lakorn which Yaya loved so much.” Tor cringed as he read the next words, “You had to join the games too?”
James reached out and tried to grab the notebook when Good, Gap and Joker extended their hands to keep him still.
“College, freshman year, you re-assembled the University’s old air compressor for Yaya’s club to use for the architecture week.” Tor then winced as he read the next words, “you nearly cut your fingers off when a valve loosed up unexpectedly when you were fixing it!?” the other MLD members gasped and winced upon hearing the words.
“Sophomore year, you did not sleep for two straight days to finish Yaya’s 3D model of a temple which was ‘accidentally’ destroyed by the football club. The Janitor even thought you were a ghost!”
“Where do you get this from anyway?” James shook his head, feeling unsafe after hearing the information narrated by Tor.
“He has his ways,” Gap whispered, “It’s better for you not to know how he gets it, Khun P’.”
“And … you entered our lair, on your own, to retrieve the doll which she had since you were children.”
The MLD club all closed their eyes and sighed at the same time, giving James a moment of respectful silence.
“You’re so awesome Khun P’. I’ve never admired someone more than George Lucas,” Gap said, looking like he had tears in his eyes. “How could you do it? How could you be this way now?”
“He’s right. What are you doing James?” Good grumbled as he placed his arm around his shoulders once more, shaking him lightly.
“What am I to do?” James whispered dejectedly as he kept his head down.
“It’s simple as Darwin’s theory of natural selection, survival of the fittest,” Joker said, earning the pats of the other members of the MLD. “You must realize that you are no dodo bird, my friend.”
“Me, against him?” James asked, “I think you guys have the wrong idea.”
“You just haven’t unleashed your full potential, that’s all.” Tor said encouragingly, “You have all the aces P’, you just don’t know your own strength.”
James looked at them helplessly and stared ahead, seeing Yaya laugh gaily at Fair’s joke or whatever it was he told her.
“We’ll back you up Khun P’,” Gap said as he placed his hand squarely on the table, carefully fixing his fingers so his forefinger is aligned with the table’s groove. “If someone can do it, I believe you can.”
“The jocks are, after all, the natural enemies of the nerds,” Joker muttered, “how could we resist an opportunity to defy the laws of nature?” Joker placed his hand on top of Gap’s.
“It really breaks my heart, P’, we can’t let it end without a fight!” Tor patted James’s shoulder once and then placed his hand on the pile. Gap reached out his other hand to fix Tor’s hand to keep it aligned with his and Joker’s.
“We’re comrades through and through. The Mages of the Lagoon cannot abandon one of its own. You have to fight for her. You have to show her what you’re made of! Show her that side of you she has never seen before.” Good nodded and then added his hand on the center of the table.
James felt a bit awkward as he looked at his newfound buddies. Yet suddenly, he felt hope budding from his heart. Was it right to do this? Was he wrong in giving up without a fight? Must he really?”
“Come on P’!” Tor suddenly grabbed his hand placed it on their pile and they collectively said “Fight!” loud enough that the people in the café suddenly turned their eyes their way.
Even Yaya turned her gaze and look at them. Suddenly their eyes met and James could not help but purse his lips and subtly smile at her. She smiled back before she turned away and looked at Fair once again.
James sighed and bent his head, suddenly feeling out of strength. “Can I really do it?”
“Of course you can!” Tor chuckled as he placed his hand on James’s shoulder.
“Come comrades, we must prepare for battle.” Good smiled and looked at James. “Are you ready?”
James nodded reluctantly and prayed for the best.
“You called for me, Sir?” Fair asked as he entered Mr. Chesney’s office at the top floor of the CCV Building.
The office was wide and lofty, befitting the founder of the great CCV Architectural Firm. Several antiques lined the side walls of the office while a bright red Moroccan rug lay in the center of the flooring, separating the entry way and the dark mahogany table where the big man sat.
Mr. Chesney looked almost regal, with his white hair perfectly brushed and his suit perfectly pressed.
Fair had been working in CCV for more than seven years yet Mr. Chesney still never fails to intimidate him.
“Gundon, have a seat here,” Mr. Chesney said with his deep baritone that Fair had no choice but to comply.
“Cigar?” the old man offered, and Fair merely smiled slightly and shook his head. He tried not to cough as the old man continued to puff on his thick Cuban cigar as he spoke, “How’s our new intern, that girl under your wing?” 
“Ms. Sperbund?” Fair asked confusedly, wondering why Mr. Chesney would ask about her when they have yet to meet during the Founder’s Ball. “She’s a very talented girl. I’ve taken her up to speed with our development of the Winter Chateau.”
“Ah… The Winter Chateau,” Mr. Chesney smiled as he heard Fair’s latest project. He then stood up as he continued to puff on his cigar. “It sure brings me back; how many years has it been, Gundon, since the Autumn Palladium?”
“More than seven, Sir.”
“Ah Yes…” Mr. Chesney nodded as he looked out the glass walls. “You know Gundon, there are two types of people that you need to bring in an organization in order to succeed. First are the talented ones, just like you, for instance,” he spoke steadily with a deep even voice, and added, “Such a natural, you are.”
Mr. Chesney then walked towards his favorite sculpture, that of a smooth onyx sphinx, with gold eyes that stared ahead. He bent down slightly and patted the sculpture’s smooth head and added, “Then there are those lucky ones, who you would need to for your own fortune.”
Fair turned in his seat to look at Mr. Chesney confusedly, wondering what the older man wanted to tell him.
“As I said, I already have the talents Gundon. Yet what is talent without the connections, the funding?” Mr. Chesney then walked back to his table, where Fair sat and picked up a piece of paper from a small compartment in his desk. “You know, Ms. Sperbund came in and gave me an idea the other day.”
Confused, Fair continued to look at Mr. Chesney and wondered about the piece of paper he still held with his hands.
“Many have tried, and failed to seal a deal with AIS Holdings,” Mr. Chesney said as he settled back down in his chair and handed Fair the paper.
AIS Holdings, Fair was caught off guard by the mention of one the biggest business conglomerates in Thailand, most famous for their hotel chains in the country and abroad. It was formed after the two richest families in the hotel and shipping industry had a merger and…
Fair looked confusedly at the paper given to him by Mr. Chesney and wondered what it had to do with AIS Holdings. He focused on the paper and realized it was a resume of no other than, “James Jirayu?”
“Yes, James Jirayu, Junior Mechanical Engineering student at your University,” Mr. Chesney said before taking out his cigar, turning in his seat and looking at Fair squarely, “and the only heir of the owners of 70% of AIS Holdings.”
“James?” Fair asked bewilderedly as he remembered the timid boy with glasses who looked like just another average guy in college.
“His mother is the CEO of the hotel group while his father just took over the chairmanship of their cruise business when the old man finally decided to step down,” Mr. Chesney said knowingly, “They’re aiming to be listed in Dow Jones by next year, haven’t you read the papers recently?”
Shocked at the turn of events, Fair was suddenly confused as to what things had to do with him in the first place.
“Gundon, I want you to be on top of this. Put him in the Tools Innovation Program. Immerse him, make him emotionally invested in it, do whatever it takes. Be his drinking buddy for all I care.” Mr. Chesney finally said upon seeing Fair’s confusion.
The Tools Innovation Program. It was one of Fair’s first proposals to the firm, back when he was just a new associate. He initially envisioned a competition where architects, engineers and other stakeholders in the construction business would come together and have a competition to create an innovative tool that can aid in construction and design. Mr. Chesney had rejected it before, saying it was nothing but a waste of time. Yet for lack of any other projects to commemorate the firm’s anniversary that year, Mr. Chesney reluctantly agreed to open the floor to college students, not really hoping to get the project in full swing, but merely using it to get some publicity in schools to draw in more job applicants and to have an excuse for marketing to hold another event.
“Does it mean sir that this year, we are taking the event seriously? We would open a department specifically just to make tools?”
 “Didn’t you hear what I said Gundon?” Mr. Chesney said exasperatedly, “We’ll need that boy for us to have a connection with AIS Holdings, and I will do whatever it takes, even give him an office here, for all I care. It doesn’t matter if he can produce results or not, I just want him to be able to tell mommy and daddy to come make an investment.”
Fair shook his head, not failing to see Mr. Chesney’s nonchalant stance on the matter.
Seeing Fair’s hands balled into fists, Mr. Chesney added, “You know Fair, it’s not like I’m doing this for CCV alone. You know… your dream project, the Winter Chateau, has yet to get an investor. We are architects, we make things, but in the end you need someone to finance it, and it has to be a profitable venture too.”
He felt slightly hurt after remembering how masterpieces are nothing but business ventures when one thinks about it.
“Think of it this way Gundon. The Winter Chateau would be more famous if becomes part of the AIS Holdings’ hotel chain – and what better, faster, and easier way to do it than through James Jirayu?” Mr. Chesney then puffed his cigar before he finally said, “You catch my drift, Gundon?”
“Yes sir.” He replied, though he really had no idea as to what he would or had to do.
“This café hasn’t changed one bit since I was studying here,” Fair said as he looked up idly to check out the designs in the ceiling. “You know, I wouldn’t have passed the trigonometry finals had I not memorized the formulas using the moldings in this café.”
“What? That’s your secret to being a valedictorian? You memorized formulas with ceiling decorations?” Yaya laughed as she said the words.
“Oh you could just imagine - designs ceilings, tiles in toilets, flowers in wallpapers, everything!”
Yaya laughed heartily once again. “Well, frankly I don’t come here often since James doesn’t drink coffee. We usually hang out at the quad, or at the canteen,” she said as she swirled the coffee in her mug.
Fair looked ahead and noticed James talking to the other bespectacled boys of the MLD club. There was more to him than meets the eye. In fact, he still couldn’t believe that such a meek looking boy was a billionaire.
“You and James seem to go far back,” Fair said before sipping coffee from his mug. “Since you were kids?”
“Since we were like what… four? Five years old?” She grinned. “My mom and grandma love him, almost like they want him to be my brother.”
Or perhaps your husband? Fair thought, he’d probably give a very big dowry, for sure. “Doesn’t he have siblings?”
Yaya shook her head. “He’s often alone at home. His parents are busy with their business projects abroad. We spent almost every important moment of our lives together. So I guess yeah, he is more than my best friend. He’s more like a brother to me.”
“A brother…” Fair trailed off, “You guys never…”
“Hmm…?” she asked, tilting her head curiously.
“Well… a guy and a girl… always together. I mean… Never mind, I don’t want to pry,” Fair chuckled as he gave her one glance then looked away.
“Oh! You mean to ask, have we ever dated?” Yaya gasped, and gave out one laugh, “No! Of course not. I see him as my brother, and he sees me as his sister. Dating each other would just be downright weird,” she said as she shivered a little. Although thoughts of his eyes that day suddenly flashed in her mind and suddenly she was …. Unsure?
“They say, you know, a woman and a man can’t stay platonically involved together forever,” Fair said, trying to test the waters.
Yaya looked at him with her big eyes and she suddenly looked uncertain on how she should reply.
“Well perhaps if you would always call me Arch. Gundon and I still have to call you Ms. Sperbund, till I’m 40, then maybe it could happen.”
She then saw that familiar twinkle in his eyes and she knew that he was teasing her. She gave him an admonishing look, softened by her subtle smile before she lifted the mug to her lips and sipped more coffee.
“But you know… I’m not interested in being your older brother,” he declared finally, and Yaya nearly choked on her coffee. “Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to be too upfront.”
First he tells her that he finds her beautiful, next he hints that he likes her, and now he said he wasn’t interested in becoming her brother. It was a good thing she was to naïve to and too cautious to fall for his charms (as quickly) that she merely shook her head at his words.
“Say… do you think James would mind if I… well, get to know him better?”
“Hmm?” She then placed the mug back down on the table, not quite expecting Fair’s remark. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
“Well, that’s good,” Fair smiled, “I’m sure I’d have to earn his seal of approval either way,” he muttered under his breath.
“What was that?” Yaya asked, not quite getting what he said.
Fair coughed self consciously and said, “Well, I see how serious he looks and he seems to be a really focused guy. Even the Chancellor praised his skills in math. Surely his project with the MLD boys would have potential. It might just even win the contest,” he said.
Yaya grasped her hands together and her expression brightened up in an instant. “That would be awesome then. Are you sure it would not be against the rules for you to help them?”
“Nah, I don’t think Mr. Chesney would mind,” he replied, not knowing what she will think if she learns about his mission objective in the first place, “You know, the spirit of the Tools Innovation Program is for architects and engineers to all work together to create a tool that would make the construction and design process so much easier.”
“That’s great then,” Yaya said as she eagerly thought of the days ahead. “I can’t wait for us to all work together.”
“Now that you got me to agree to your plan, what am I to do now,” James asked as the guys all huddled together in the small table.
The boys all looked at each other and silence ensued among them for a minute. Good then turned his head and said, “Gap, tell him what to do.”
“Huh?” Gap suddenly fell from the circle as his elbow slipped from the table. “Why me?”
“I say you should draw your three most powerful cards and eliminate the enemy,” Joker mumbled, earning a slap on the forehead from Good.
“This isn’t MLD you know,” Good grumbled.
James’s candle of hope suddenly flickered and threatened to give out until Tor suddenly spoke up.
“I got it. No matter how cliché it goes, the phrase keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer, still applies in this situation.”
“You’re right!” Gap exclaimed as he slapped a hand on his hip. “As expected from our resident stalker.”
“I do not stalk, I do reconnaissance work,” Tor said haughtily as he lifted his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“Stop it, you guys,” Good admonished the two and tried to bring them back on track. “Tor, you’re right. We need information on the enemy in order for us to plan accordingly. Tell us what you’ve got.”
Tor gave them a toothy grin and then leaned back down and whispered.
“Fair Gundon, Architecture Batch 2008, class valedictorian and team captain of the football team,” Tor started without even getting information from his notebook, “Currently a senior associate at the CCV architectural firm. He had designed houses, to buildings, to bridges. His grandparents were farmers, and his father was a school teacher, now retired. His mother is a homemaker. He has an older brother who now manages his grandparents’ farm. His younger sister is an accountant living abroad.”
James wasn’t sure if he was going to be freaked out or amazed at Tor’s information gathering skills, yet he nevertheless continued his narration.
“He lives alone in an apartment a few kilometers away from the CCV building. He had a house constructed at his mother’s province however. The lady who owns the restaurant across his building…” Tor leaned closer and winked, “She likes him. Anyway, he’s quite a traditional man, he has no online accounts, no twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook. He is a member of one of the forums though, but he has a total of three posts in his ten years as a member.”
“Forums? What is it about P’Tor?” Gap asked.
“Art forums – where people post and comment about art,” Tor replied.
“He’s an artist? Or he likes art?” Good asked.
“Probably the latter. Or… perhaps it has something to do with the Snow Queen.”
“The Snow Queen?” James asked, suddenly curious.
“Yes, there is an artist who signs her paintings ‘Snow Queen’, who strangely enough only paints about summer and spring.”  
The men all nodded so Tor had to continue. “They say she’s from the same batch as Fair and she’s the only girl he ever took out on a real date in his days in his university days.” Tor made a dramatic pause before he said, “Yet… they didn’t end up together, obviously. Sources still conflict as to whose fault it really was, in the end.”
“What?! You mean to tell me you have incomplete information on this one?!” Good groaned as he pushed Tor’s shoulders.
“It happened seven years ago, P’! Besides, he’s from a higher batch than us. It’s hard to get info that way.”
James merely shook his head. “What does all that have to do with me?”
“You know, cheetahs hunt gazelles by just running after them so that their success rate is only at 50%. Spiders on the other hand take a while but manage to catch insects within their web, making their success rate at getting the prey slightly higher,” Joker suddenly piped up, only to earn weird glances from the others.
“He says proper planning and observation is half the battle, P’. You have to get to know Fair Gundon for you to know how to deal with him later.” Tor said.
“For one thing, he seems to be very interested in Yaya. And she appears to be very interested in him too,” James grumbled.
“But she barely knows him and has only seen what she likes,” Good said as he placed his arm around James’s shoulders again. “You on the other hand, she knows all too well, but hasn’t seen that same factor that she likes to see.”
“We have to find the ‘it’ factor Khun P’!” Gap said excitedly. “I’ll make you a bell curve and map out the probabilities if you like.”
Before James could reply, the topic of their conversation suddenly appeared before them and smiled so brightly that the MLD boys squinted.
“You seem to have an intense discussion over there,” Fair chuckled. “Anything I can do to help?”
“We’ve got it so far, thank you very much,” Good replied grinning casually. “Although… some of us who aren’t from the school of architecture might find it helpful to know more about your worksite.”
“Oh that’s perfect then,” Fair said, “I was just going to invite you guys to CCV. We have tools in our warehouse, and there are also work room models and books and other paraphernalia that you might find useful.”
“By CCV, you mean, the CCV Building? Where you work Arch. Gundon?” Gap asked throwing a conspirational look towards his fellow club members.
“Oh yes, that’s right. I can even give you a tour if you like,” Fair grinned before he looked at James squarely, “Of course Ya- I mean, Ms. Sperbund will be there as well.”
“Hmm… that will be interesting,” Joker said in his dead monotone.
“Just tell me when you guys would be available and we can schedule it,” Fair said as he placed a hand on James’s shoulder. James showed no outward reaction, but Tor felt him tense beside him.
“That will be great Arch. Gundon. We’ll get right on it right away,” Tor said as he shook James a little, “Right P’?”
“Ah… yes,” James replied finally and grinned himself. “Thank you very much Arch. Gundon,” he said and gave him a wai.
“I’ll see you guys when I see you,” he said finally, he then looked back and gave Yaya one final grin then walked off. She remained still for a while as she waited for him to go out the door, almost as if she were anticipating that moment he would look back and give her another smile.
James watched her silently as she grinned and bit her lip, probably thinking about something or another which Fair said. Finally she averted her eyes and looked at him, still with a pleasant smile on her face.
You have her smiles now, Gundon, but I’ve had her smiles for as long as we can both remember, he thought, suddenly feeling uncharacteristically cocky.
“Hey, I’ll just be in the library James,” Yaya said, as she smiled at the rest of the MLD club members.
Good stood up and suddenly said, “Ah no! I mean… We’re done with our meeting, aren’t we gentlemen? You guys carry on. See you James. Just message us when, okay?”
Yaya gave James a look which he easily understood and walked out, motioning to James that she’ll be waiting for him outside the café.
Tor awkwardly pushed James out of the chair and so he hesitantly stood up before the MLD club.
“This is it, Empire Master IV. The die is cast.” Tor said as he gave him an awkward salute.
James nodded, feeling comfort for having a new group of friends, yet having cold feet just the same when he suddenly had a new perspective in his matter with Yaya. He paused for a while and raised his hand and pressed it against his heart, feeling it beating anew. He turned his head to look out to where Yaya waited… waited for him.
It’s time for me to fight. I must not give up.
He turned and walked out the door, repeating the words in his head, almost like a mantra, until he saw her standing outside the door of the café, her eyes shining just as brilliantly as her smile. Her silhouette was framed by the light of the setting sun as the wind blew gently on her hair. He tried to capture that sight and kept it in his heart; he shall remember this moment so he would not lose his resolve. He will not lose her. Not now, not without a fight.
I will fight for you, Yaya.
There was no turning back now, and he swore to keep her his. 
Notes: So... Okay, I admit I watched the "very very handsome" (the ch3 concert with the 12 Pra'eks. sorry, I don't know how it's spelled in English)  Concert the moment I woke up today. hahaha, and James Ji's song and dance number got stuck in my head. The title is "Fight For You",  though I have no idea what the lyrics say, so I don't know if it can be used in the same context as this chapter. 
Kyaaaaah! N'Bieluvr! All the muscles kyaaaaaaah!  :blush:  :coverlaf: . I love Toey, but I can't bear to make him a dumb jock. The other guys look so fiiiiiiine. I don't know yet if I'll be able to use them (in the fanfic! in the fanfic! hahaha) but thank you very much for your suggestions, as always! Thank you everyone again for reading! I hope you stay tuned for the next chapter!


040156 said:
Notes: So... Okay, I admit I watched the "very very handsome" (the ch3 concert with the 12 Pra'eks. sorry, I don't know how it's spelled in English)  Concert the moment I woke up today. hahaha, and James Ji's song and dance number got stuck in my head. The title is "Fight For You",  though I have no idea what the lyrics say, so I don't know if it can be used in the same context as this chapter. 
Kyaaaaah! N'Bieluvr! All the muscles kyaaaaaaah!  :blush:  :coverlaf: . I love Toey, but I can't bear to make him a dumb jock. The other guys look so fiiiiiiine. I don't know yet if I'll be able to use them (in the fanfic! in the fanfic! hahaha) but thank you very much for your suggestions, as always! Thank you everyone again for reading! I hope you stay tuned for the next chapter!
Basically you made me squeal with all things listed that James had done for Yaya to the point where my tears come out. LOL. I'm so happy he's going to fight for her. And I think the song Fight For You is perfect for this. It talking about how a guy changes himself to a better person for the girl. :)


sarNie Hatchling
I've finally caught up after a busy few weeks. I love your style of writing because it is so easy to read and very descriptive almost like I'm watching a drama. Looking forward to reading more :)


sarNie Egg
Patiently waiting for the next chapter :wink: Btw @040156 I am definitely older than you are, just young at heart and loving lakorns nowadays.
And I am also a Filipina.


sarNie Adult
Kababayan! Hello Ate Janoro! Haha! Thank you to everybody for your comments. I'm glad you've read the latest chapters. I'm sorry I'm a bit stuck. I thought I could produce the next chapter but I'm kinda struggling with it. I'm planning to work on it after this. It's raining here right now where I'm at (there's a typhoon.) I usually write better when it's raining, but I also get sleepier when it's raining.  :lol:
By the way, that scene from chapter 6 where Yaya trips and James catches her was inspired from this: 

and this 


sarNie Adult
Chapter 8 – On Enemy Ground
The five nerds stood out in the wide entry hall of the CCV building as they stayed next to each other, facing different directions, not caring about the architects and other guests in business suits that went in and out the hall. They almost looked like explorers anticipating a creature of some sort to appear out of nowhere. They could easily be spotted because they all looked similar, though they each had their own unique trait. Their glasses and dated hairdos aside, each of them stood out in their own right.
Yaya shook her head as she observed them from her view at the 2nd floor mezzanine, feeling half amused and half bewildered by them. Good looked a bit formal, with a long sleeved polo and a crisp necktie. He looked even stricter as he read the inscription in one of the many boards in the hall. Joker on the other hand stared ahead, not really looking bored yet not really looking enthusiastic either. He wore all white, and she was not sure if his attire was inspired by a lab coat or a straight jacket. Gap was neat and clean, with his hair combed to the last strand, and his collared shirt well pressed and free of creases. He moved his hand across every item he could touch, like a mother-in-law checking if each nook and cranny was free of dust. Tor looked quite casual with his Star Wars t-shirt and jacket, especially with his messy hair almost covering his thick rimmed glasses. He was checking something in his phone, and vaguely, Yaya figured he was probably doing something not-so-legal. Lastly there was James. He seemed most calm out of the five, and Yaya wondered if she only thought that way because she knew him well. He was in his usual clothes, jeans, sneakers and all. She noticed he also wore the sweater she gave him for his last birthday. He had his hands on the straps of his backpack as he looked up and stared at the ceiling. As Yaya moved closer, she had a déjà vu and remembered a time not too long ago that she looked at a certain someone looking up the same way.
Tentatively, she walked down the stairs and approached the group, taking slow and careful steps towards them. The four quickly spotted her and converged in the middle while James remained still and continued to look up.
Finally she stopped when she was right in front of James and he quickly turned his gaze towards her.
“Oh! Yaya, you’re here!” he gasped in subtle surprise as he turned and faced her completely.
“Yeah, silly, I’ve been here for a while and you hadn’t noticed,” She said jokingly, “What were you looking at? The ceiling? The angle of the light bouncing through the glass ceiling is really something huh?”
James nodded. “Actually, I was amazed at how it put that painting on spotlight,” James said as he looked up once more and pointed subtly with his hand by his chest, “see, the flowers seem to glow with the light.”
Yaya knotted her eyebrows in confusion and wondered what James was talking about. She turned and moved back, hoping to stand where James was to see his vantage point. Sure enough she noticed the painting and observed it in a way she hasn’t done before. She had been in the building several times and she vaguely noticed the montage of artworks plastered by the far wall. There was one painting that stood out from the rest, and it was only when James mentioned it that she focused her full attention on it.
“You’re right! The marigolds are glowing!” Yaya gasped as she saw it for the first time. All the while she had thought it was only the sunshine that made the details in the ceiling so special. She had not thought about the painting.
Wait… could it be?
Yaya suddenly remembered the stolen snapshot she had of Fair in her phone – could it be that it was the painting that he was observing and not just the ceiling as she had initially thought?
“Good Morning Khun Yaya,” Good said, suddenly bringing her thoughts back to the present. “Where is Arch. Gundon, if I may ask?”
“Oh! That’s right!” She said as she placed her knuckle against her forehead, “Yeah, that’s why I’m here. I was going to fetch you guys so you could go to the conference room at the 10th floor. Arch. Gundon prepared it just for you guys.”
The four MLD members looked at each other, as though they telepathically communicated and James merely shrugged at Yaya.
“Let’s go then. It wouldn’t be polite to keep him waiting,” James mumbled as he gave Yaya’s shoulder one firm squeeze and nudged her to start walking. Yaya smiled once and led them to the elevators.
Soon they found themselves in a wide and bright conference room filled with light coming from the glass walls.
James idly removed his backpack and placed it in one of the chairs as he looked around.
“P’ remember, you have to observe carefully,” Tor whispered to James before he casually walked ahead and took a spot at the far end of the room.
“It’s always best to observe animals in their natural habitat,” Joker said nonchalantly as he walked sluggishly and followed after Tor. Good and Gap followed behind and sat across where James stood.
Fair was still nowhere in sight. Instead, a beautiful lady wearing designer clothes and heavy makeup stood at the far end of the room. James remained standing as he looked at her, especially when she went up to Yaya and talked to her. He could not hear exactly what she was saying but he noticed right away that Yaya’s expression hardened into her placid poker face. Soon the lady went outside the room, not even sparing them a glance. Yaya meekly followed after her and sensing something was wrong, James quickly followed suit.
He stood by the other end of the door and was about to go out when he heard the lady talking to Yaya in an angry tone.
“It’s bad enough that we have amateurs like you working here in the building, but you had to bring your loser friends too?” the woman snapped haughtily, “Don’t you know that the CCV Building is not a playground?”
Yaya breathed in deeply once, as if to calm herself and said, “Khun Sylvia, they are not here to goof around. They are here for the Tools Innovation Program.”
“Ha! As if, that program is just a joke,” Sylvia muttered as she shifted her position and looked at Yaya condescendingly, “Even if it weren’t, they shouldn’t even be here. Don’t think I don’t know what game it is you’re playing little girl; I’m sure you’re doing it to get closer to Fair.”
At this Yaya gasped and stood back. James felt the tension as he watched them from the small opening of the door and he suddenly had the urge to go out and defend Yaya.
“I don’t understand what Arch. Gundon has to do with this. Aren’t you being too illogical Khun Sylvia?”
Sylvia smirked and pushed Yaya’s shoulder. “Don’t think you can fool me little girl. I was a young flirty junior once too… Though I must say, you are far more inferior,” She laughed haughtily once and continued, “How nice your plan is, reserving the conference room, blocking off Fair’s calendar for one whole day so you can spend it with him and your geeky little friends. For what? So you can stay with him under the guise of ‘working’ during your internship hours. Oh puh-lease.”
Sylvia walked even closer to Yaya and said, “I’ve had that plan of yours figured out little girl, been there, done that. But you really shouldn’t mix work with pleasure you know. You’re not even worth calling a colleague as of yet.”
Yaya clenched her fists and prayed for patience. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about Khun Sylvia. But if you want to get clarifications on the matter, why don’t you ask Arch. Gundon about it. I just take orders from him you know.”
“Ha, taking orders, with pleasure I bet,” Sylvia muttered as she circled Yaya, “I’ll have you know that he may be nice to you now but don’t feel flattered about it. You’re just his cute little obedient intern that he could toy with and -”
James couldn’t take it anymore and opened the door, itching to grab Yaya and take her away from that foul woman. And yet just when he stepped out, he saw Fair fast approaching.
“Oh I’m sorry I’m late!” Fair stopped briefly as he caught his breath. He smiled at Yaya once and placed a light hand on her arm, “Ms. Sperbund,” he said and then looked at Sylvia who stared back at him with her mouth agape. “Oh Sylvia! Glad to find you here. I’m sorry it was all so sudden. The Big Boss wanted me rev up the Tools Innovation Program so I took the liberty of inviting the guys from my school who would be participating. I didn’t get to inform marketing beforehand. I hope you don’t mind, especially now that we have to use your conference room”
“O…Oh!” Sylvia coyly placed her hand on her mouth and grinned, “Of course not. I was just talking to Yaya here about it. You’re intern’s really great you know. So efficient and organized. I was telling her about the introductory presentations regarding CCV which we have at the marketing department but she said she can handle it.”
Fair smiled and tapped Yaya in the arm once more, “Yes, we’ll be lucky if she starts working with us in the coming years.”
Yaya still seemed a bit red, and James knew it was because of her pent up anger, which Fair apparently completely missed. Yet she remained still and tried to force a smile.  James leaned back and closed the door with a slight thud and all three of them looked at him.
Yaya looked at James’s direction and she wondered if he saw what had transpired earlier. He pursed his lips and glared straight at Sylvia and Yaya quickly got her answer from the look in his eyes.
“Oh James! You’re here!” Fair chuckled as he walked closer and extended his hand to tap James on the shoulder. “I’m sorry for being late.”
James bit his lip and gave Yaya one glance, and she replied by shaking her head. James then nodded and said, “It’s all right Arch. Gundon. It is I who should be sorry. I was just wondering where the bathroom was so I went out. I seemed to have interrupted something.”
“No, not at all,” Fair said as he faced Sylvia and smiled, “This is Sylvia, CCV’s Marketing Associate. She’s one of the people we would work with in the Tools Innovation Program. Sylvia, this is James Jirayu from the Mechanical Engineering department from my University.”
Reluctantly, James moved his hand and gave her a silent wai, which she returned with aplomb.
“Well, I have to go, I have some presentations to finish. Fair, Yaya, and James, see you around okay?” Sylvia said with a light lilt in her voice and quickly walked away.
Fair then smiled at Yaya and James saw that she tentatively smiled back. Just then he looked at James and said, “Oh! Right the bathroom, I can probably…”
“No, Arch. Gundon, you go ahead, I can accompany James to where it is,” Yaya said with finality as she started walking before Fair could even reply. James looked at Fair once before he walked after Yaya and he realized that he really did not notice anything wrong with her.
James merely shook his head and picked up his pace to be beside her. “Oy Yaya,” he called, hoping to get her to slow down. When she still did not turn around, he took faster strides and reached out his hand.
She was surprised when she felt his hand wrapped around one of hers and she finally stopped walking. She looked up and saw James’s still worried eyes wholly focused on hers. Without speaking, she saw him ask with his eyes if she was okay, and she replied by taking one calming breath and nodding her head. James then squeezed her hand tighter and nudged her with his side, hoping to get her to speak.
“It is what is with that girl,” Yaya grumbled, and James could still hear the subtle fury in her voice. “She seems to be the speck of misfortune in my otherwise wonderful internship here at CCV.”
“Does she bully you a lot?” James asked anxiously as he placed his free hand in her shoulder to get her to look at him.
She shook her head and smiled. “Bully me, ME? Never!” She gave him a confident smirk and continued, “Nah, she’s just hell bent in making me miserable I guess. She can try but she won’t succeed. We’re not equals now… but someday…”
“You’ll never be equals,” James said flatly, “she’s a bitch.”
Yaya’s eyes widened at his pronouncement. She was caught so off guard by his statement that she had to hide her face in his shoulder to stifle her giggle. James who was always so level headed and polite, never called anyone that word before.
“Oy James, don’t tell me you’re madder at her than I am!” she said as she slapped his upper arm playfully.
Of course he was mad. He was so furious at hearing her say all sorts of things to Yaya. Yet what angered him most of all was how she acted like it were nothing, and how Fair Gundon didn’t even notice anything. “Yaya, does she pester you a lot?”
Yaya smiled as she saw that rare spark in James’s usually calm eyes. No matter how easygoing he appeared to be, she was well aware of his protective nature. “Don’t worry about it James,” she grinned, “She’s several floors away from me. We don’t meet that often. I work with the architects and she’s with marketing so there’s really not much that we do together.”
“Doesn’t Architect Gundon-”
“-No James, he doesn’t have to know,” she said abruptly. “I can’t flatter her by being a snitch to Arch. Gundon. Don’t worry. I can handle her myself.” Yaya said with finality.
James sighed, as he gave Yaya’s hand one final squeeze. “Okay, if you say so.”
“So there are machines which can be used for the worksite but there are also mechanical tools which the architects may use as models for their designs,” Fair continued his lecture as he placed the old models in the middle of the table.
“So Arch. Gundon, what’s your type?” Gap said as he placed his pen down on his notebook, “Er… in terms of design, I mean.”
Fair look to his side briefly, feeling that something strange was going on without really knowing what it was. He had been talking to the MLD boys for quite a while but they asked him the weirdest questions. The moment he entered, they asked him about the number of his staff and then later on they asked him about the women who worked at CCV. If he didn’t know any better, these guys were probably…
“Well, my type, in terms of design,” Fair coughed self consciously and eyed the men squarely, “I’d say classic ones. You know? Those with a timeless and sophisticated quality to them, traditional, not quite modern but not completely backward.”
“Ah… so not necessarily younger,” Good said. “Uh… I mean, what’s the word? Not urban or chic?”
Fair nodded contemplatively, “Deep reds and natural colors.”
“Straight lines, not waves?” Joker blurted out, to which Fair replied, “Well, perhaps some curves are fine.”
“A rose or a daisy?” Tor bit out and Fair answered, “Rose,” before he could even think about it.
“Ah! Pencil skirt or slacks,” Tor continued, and Fair answered once again, “Pencil skirt.”
“Stage play or bowling?”
“Stage play.”
“Housewife or working girl?”
“House-…. Wait a minute. What are we talking about?” Fair stopped and chuckled.
“Just checking how fast you were, Arch. Gundon,” Tor grinned as he scratched the top of his nose with his thumb.
Fair sat back and ran his fingers through his hair, still wondering what was going on. He supposed the MLD club were really a weird bunch and keeping a conversation with them seemed to be a hurdle. But he knew he had to learn their language, especially if he was to get any close to James Jirayu.
Finally, the door to the conference room opened and Yaya entered with James following closely behind her.
James went straight to where his bag was at and sat down, half expecting Yaya to sit beside him. Yet she stopped and stood beside Fair’s seat, just when he stood up himself and pulled the chair out for her. She did not hide her surprise from the gesture yet she just sat down and gave a soft “Thank you,” to Fair as she took her seat. Fair just smiled back at her – an action which was not missed by the MLD.
“Where were we?” Fair asked, as the boys seemed to focus their attention back on their notebooks.
“Excuse me, what I want to know is… What Khun Yaya has been doing here at CCV,” Good started as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, “what I mean to say is that… the curriculum at the university provides that students must learn the basics of their course material during their internship. Since we’re not from the school of architecture, I wish to know what these ‘basics’ really are like.”
The other members of the MLD nodded and James vaguely wondered what their plan was.
Yaya smiled and looked at Fair, as though asking for permission to answer Good’s question. She then went to great detail on what she had been engaged in so far.
“We’ve been designing some structures you see, some of them are getting built as we speak, and another one is still being made from scratch,” Yaya said with a hint of excitement in her voice. “Am I allowed to say it?”
Fair smiled at her and nodded, and so Yaya continued, “It’s going to be called a Winter Chateau. It’s a classic villa type hotel that would be built off the main city of Bangkok.”
“Winter Chateau.” 
The MLD Members said the words as though ruminating the information.
“A hotel?” James asked softly, “That’s a bit odd. To build it off-Bangkok too.” He leaned back and crossed his arms as though deep in thought.
Fair observed James’s demeanor and tried to gauge what his reaction to the project was. After all, Mr. Chesney wanted him to be involved and used the Winter Chateau as bait
“James’s family is in the hotel business,” Yaya told Fair off-handedly to which he responded by nodding with a curious expression. He tried feigning ignorance on James’s background, hoping to get him to talk more about it.
“I suppose we could get a lot of input from James then, since he knows a thing or two about hotels,” Fair said tentatively after James remained silent on the matter. “What do you think James, about Ms. Sperbund helping us design a hotel?”
James looked at Yaya and found her smiling brightly, looking truly thrilled by the opportunity. “I would support her… I mean, I would support this project, in any way that I could,” he said finally, in that soft tone of his.
“I’m glad to hear that, James,” Fair replied as he glanced at Yaya and smiled. “So where shall we start about the project? Do you guys have any questions about CCV or the Winter Chateau?”
When they had none, Fair moved aside and cued Yaya to start the presentation she prepared about CCV and architecture in general. James watched Yaya silently, as he had always done before and saw her eyes sparkling as she spoke. It was easy to see that she loved her work. When they were younger, she appeared more interested in making dollhouses than playing with dolls. She used to design the structures which he in turn built with his hands using Lego blocks. Perhaps she had always known that she wanted to be an architect, although she only learned what the profession was when they were older.
From the other corner of the room, Fair observed James as the latter looked intently at his best friend. There was something in his quiet gaze that sent a familiar vibe to Fair. He was a man too and surely James had seen what he saw in Yaya. It wasn’t hard to notice that there was something going on with him, albeit one sided. Was he really just a brother to her? Or perhaps the question should be if she truly was a sister to him.
The MLD boys on the other hand focused on Fair as they saw him glance at James from time to time. His attention seemed to be focused on James and how he looked at Yaya and not on the presentation. Was he already on to their plan? Perhaps it was he who was sizing up the enemy and not the other way around.
“Would you like to view some blueprints then?” Yaya said, ending her lecture and did not expect her question to be met with silence.

James straightened up in his seat and looked at the boys who merely shrugged and looked back at him. Yaya, in turn, continued to look at the men in the room with a quizzical expression.
Fair finally cleared his throat and said, “Perhaps you guys need bigger scale models in order to understand the concepts Ms. Sperbund just discussed.” He smiled and stood up, “I have an idea. I’ll show you guys around our workroom. It’s at the CCV Building Annex, right beside the old storage room.”
Fair soon ushered the group towards the elevators and led them outside the CCV Building, idly giving them tidbits and trivia as they went on their way. As they walked, James expected Yaya to stay beside him yet she remained to walk ahead to keep her strides attune with Fair’s. He was surprised that he noticed (and felt bothered by) such a seemingly irrelevant act. After all, it was not the first time he saw Yaya walking ahead with people who were up to her level, leaving him behind to keep up with her. Yet this time, she did not look behind; she did not cast a glance his way. Instead she focused her admiring gaze at Fair, hanging on to his every word.
They might as well be left behind as the two remained stuck in their own world, James thought, yet he felt Tor’s firm hand on his shoulder.
“Eyes on target P’. Now isn’t the time to falter,” Tor said before he took quicker steps to walk ahead.
Good, Gap and Joker likewise gave him subtle taps on the back, as though reminding him that they got him covered. He took one deep breath and pushed away his apprehension and what he could only surmise as jealousy in his heart.
Fair unlocked the doors to what appeared to be an old warehouse outside the CCV Building. Once inside, he flicked open the lights and sounds of the engines of the exhaust fans hummed in the air.
Their mission objective was temporarily forgotten as the MLD boys stared at awe at the displays. There were several 3D scale models of structures placed in wide tables in the center of the room, while miniature equipment lined up one side of the wall. On the other side, there were huge boxes that looked like processors with shiny buttons which beckoned many a curious touch. The MLD club soon dispersed as they each found something that piqued their interest.
James quietly went on his way and looked at the machines he found at the side of the room.
“You’re a gizmo guy, I see,” Fair spoke from behind James, just when he was tightening a loose knot and bolt which he found in one of the miniature machines. 
James turned around and faced Fair, acknowledging his presence. He was surprised to see that Yaya had not been hanging around him, and instead had her attention focused on a 3D model of a building, a few feet away from where James and Fair stood.
“Ms. Sperbund tells me that there is nothing that those hands of yours can’t fix,” Fair continued as he touched the knot and bolt that James was tightening earlier.
For her I could do anything.
James merely shook his head and chuckled, not knowing how to talk to the older man. Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer was what Tor told him. Yet … must he already declare his intentions? Was he already an enemy at that point?
Fair felt the awkwardness in the air after James failed to say anything. He had no clue as to how he could befriend the bespectacled boy – heck, he didn’t even know how to carry on a conversation with him. He only knew one common interest which they shared, and she was standing a few feet away from them.
“So…do you guys already have any plans on what to do for the project?”
James gave Yaya a subtle glance before looking back at Fair squarely and said, “Yaya told me that the two of you are focusing on the study of light and how structures can harness and filter it. Perhaps we could do something related to that. Right now I’m considering solar panels on motorized louver roofs.”
“That is interesting,” Fair nodded and placed a hand by his chin as though deep in thought. It was a surprise to finally hear more than two sentences from James Jirayu. He looked at him looking at Yaya and his earlier suspicions became more plainly obvious. Trying to test his theory, he said, “Ms. Sperbund and I could definitely use an innovative structure like that for the Winter Chateau.” He then looked at him and added, “Ms. Sperbund would be thrilled with that. You really know what she likes, don’t you? You are best friends after all.”
James didn’t miss the emphasis he placed on the words best friends. He gave Fair a lopsided smile and nodded. There was something in his eyes, though he remained to be smiling. It was almost as if he were measuring him up just as he did. “We’ve been together for as long as we both can remember.” Feeling a bit cocky, he added, “I suppose some would say we’re inseparable.”
“Oh, that’s good then,” Fair nodded as he gave James a light pat on the arm, “Good to know Ms. Sperbund has a capable man who is always there to watch her back.
Things were getting serious. James quickly noted the change in Fair’s tone. He remained friendly, and yet there was something… Eye on the target, Tor had reminded him, and he raked his brain for way to draw more from Fair, instead of the other way around. “You seem to be a capable guy yourself, Arch. Gundon, perhaps even more capable than I,” James said tentatively with a soft chuckle. “You’re almost a legend at the university.”
Fair grinned and waved his hand, “Legend, you’re making me older than I actually am,” he said. “You don’t have to believe everything that you hear. Half of it might not even be true.”
“Oh?” James chuckled himself as he awkwardly placed his hands back on the knot and bolt in the machine to tighten it. He then glanced back at Fair and said, “Surely there is more truth to it than you think.”
“I’m honored that you think so,” Fair replied as he placed his hand in his pocket, starting to be more comfortable, yet still looking a tad bit embarrassed. “At least, I do hope you’re referring to the good things.”
“Good things of course, I haven’t heard anything bad about you, Arch. Gundon,” James said, grinning a bit shyly as well – until his expression suddenly turned serious, “unless there was something that I missed?” he added under his breath.
Not quite getting what he said, Fair eyed him curiously. James took it as his cue to ask more questions, and so he did, “How is Yaya here? She’s doing well, I suppose?”
Fair looked away and focused his gaze on Yaya, motioning to James with his eyes, “Look at her, she seems happy doesn’t she? You’re her best friend, you tell me.”
Again, James did not miss the emphasis he placed on the words. “Yes, she seems to be enjoying her work here. For that I am glad. But sometimes….”
Fair looked at James when he stopped midsentence and wondered what he wanted to say. “Go on; what is it?”
“I wonder if she is safe here.”
Fair’s eyes widened, suddenly aware that James was possibly referring to something else. Not quite sure on how to reply, he knotted his eyebrows and looked at him in askance.
He wasn’t planning on saying anything, but the words came out of his mouth before he could stop himself. James vividly remembered the incident with the marketing associate earlier that day and he could not help but feel the anger back in his heart. “I do try to protect Yaya as much as I possibly can, even though I know she can take care of herself,” he said softly as he moved his hand to adjust his glasses and to push it up the bridge of his nose. With his long fingers slightly hiding his eyes, he added, “I wonder though if she is safe here, while I am away.”
Not missing the challenge in his words, Fair straightened out. Was the boy trying to tell him something? Did he already know?
Seeing Fair slightly rattled, James then dropped his hands back to his sides and smiled, “the workplace, I mean. Don’t you go to a lot of construction sites and use all sorts of tools?” James said.
Fair pursed his lips and chuckled. “As you said, she’s more than capable of taking care of herself. I’m well aware that she is quite a strong woman,” He said. He moved closer to James until they were side by side and idly touched a machine before he said, “Yet believe me when I say that she would not get hurt, not in my watch. I would not allow it.”
Just when he said the words, James turned his head to look at Fair as the older man did the same. As they stood beside each other, facing different directions but with their shoulders almost touching, James straightened out his spine, suddenly feeling taller than he actually was. Yet Fair did not back down and instead continued to look at him with a calm, pleasant expression.
“I’m relieved to hear that she has no reason to get hurt here,” James muttered under his breath. “Not by you or by anyone else, isn’t that right Arch. Gundon?”
Fair breathed in deeply, realizing how much he had underestimated James Jirayu. How wrong was he to think that he was a meek and humble boy! The way he looked at him now, with his aristocratic stance and his penetrating eyes hiding behind those thick spectacles of his, suddenly made him feel… threatened? Gone was the timid boy who stepped back and let his best friend go with a stranger. Now he saw a man with purpose, a man with an aura making him worthy to be called the heir of one of the biggest business conglomerates in Thailand. He looked like he had no intentions of backing down, and yet, strangely enough, he remained silent, not openly marking his territory, not overtly claiming what he thought was his.
Did James Jirayu like Ms. Sperbund? He said he would protect her and yet he threatened him without asking him to back off – and threatened, he was.
It was silly considering he was much older, wiser, and what’s more was that they were in his territory for crying out loud. Yet as he held his gaze and stayed firm in his ground, he remembered the predicament which he pushed at the back of his head. His boss ordered him to befriend James Jirayu and now he was clearly made aware that he cared for the woman that he was currently interested in. What was he to do in this situation?
“There you are!” Yaya’s voice was suddenly heard from behind them, temporarily breaking the tension that had formed between the two men. Fair and James both quickly smiled and focused their attention on her.
Both James and Fair looked at her expectantly and vaguely Yaya wondered what the problem was. What she didn’t know was both men waited for her to express whose attention she would call first. She looked from one man to another, maintaining her smile yet suddenly unnerved and unaware of what words to say, so finally she settled with, “What’s up?”
Both men released the breaths they weren’t aware that they were holding in and both chuckled.
“James here has a great idea. He said he and the guys would be developing a motorized louver roof, with solar panels, was it?” Fair asked as he looked at James.
James lifted his glasses once more up the bridge of his nose and nodded, “Yeah. Something like that.” When he lifted his hand away from his eyes, his expression was back to that pleasant, almost timid look.
“Oh that’s awesome!” Yaya brightened up with a big smile in her face. “We could incorporate that in the Winter Chateau’s roofs design!” She then subconsciously moved closer to Fair and placed a hand on his arm as she looked at the other man and said, “That’s great James!” likewise placing her other hand on James’s arm.  
The two men looked at each other and smiled subtly, and Yaya completely missed the tension between them.
“We’ll be looking forward to that, right Ms. Sperbund?” Fair said as he nudged Yaya slightly that she looked up at him, with her smile tempering slightly into a shy one. Fair grinned and looked at James once more.
“We will win for sure,” James said, suddenly undaunted, “I’ll do my best. My team would too, I’m sure.”
Fair then extended his hand at James he tentatively shook it, then the older man slapped his arm once in what appeared to Yaya as a gesture of encouragement. “That’s the spirit.”
Yaya just stood back and smiled, glad at how well Fair and James seemed to be getting along
Notes: The heat is on! Well, it's almost sad to pit James against Fair, I mean, I completely forgot about Jiradon. yes.
this Jiradon: (photo credits: Nueng Nai Suang FB page, and Jiradon_Fanclub IG page) 

I mean, look at them, can they get any sweeter? (click on the spoiler tag and prepare for the Fair vs James moment to be completely ruined)
they do have a height difference though, but it's not much. But they look so much alike, they can practically be brothers.