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"Like the shoes?"

 

Jharal takes one look at Justin's fluoro green shoes and bursts in to laughter.

 

"No way."

 

Justin looks wounded for a moment before snaking an arm around and pulling him close.

 

"I'll buy you a pair."

 

"No thanks."

 

"You'll have to wear them on your first game back."

 

Jharal laughs against Justin's shoulder. "I won't."

 

"I'll go get them tomorrow."

 

They draw back slightly when Gorgeous George throws a sock at them.  Justin leans forward and turns his shoulder so it hits his arm instead of Jharal. He snatches it before it hits the ground and throws it right back and they're both surprised when the big man dodges and it hits GI in the chest. GI looks down at the sock on the floor and back up at them.

 

"Sorry, man," Justin calls, "I was aiming for that block head there."

 

"'Block head'?" Gorgeous George barks, making JT look up from where he was getting his shoulder taped.

 

"Come on, Gorgeous," Jharal speaks up as the Channel Nine cameras enter the room, Darren Lockyer already fiddling with his microphone.

 

"Come on boys, on the floor now!" Coach Daley calls. Scott Prince drags a protesting George on to the floor for warm up. Jharal steps back as Justin pulls on his jumper. He reaches out and helps Justin pull it down, hands smoothing over the number 4 on the back.

 

"This will be the last time you'll be watching me from the benches," Justin says softly. Jharal looks up at him. Justin smiles, fingers grazing over Jharal's wrist. The coach is yelling again.

 

"Hodges, get your ass on the floor right now."

 

Jharal laughs. "You better get out there before the coach has a heart attack."

 

Justin leans closer. "You'll be my wings again soon."

 

Jharal laughs and pushes at him as Justin finally goes to join the team. He watches Justin laughing as JT says something that Jharal is sure would be entirely non-leader like.  He watches the team warm up, Ben Barba playing tricks with the ball, Gorgeous George admiring his new hair cut to anyone within the vicinity, JT talking to Darren and probably answering questions he'd answered a hundred times and feels himself so close to the end of a harsh journey that had been the source of many self-revelations but one he never wished to repeat again.

 

He is going to get his wings back. Justin smiles at him from the middle of the room and he might be flying already.

 

***