A/N: Only 3 more chapters of part 1 to go. Hope everyone's enjoying Olympic Hopefuls so far :)
(chapter title – Mark, part 1)
I focused all my energy into my fourth volleyball match at the Olympics. I looked to my partner, Steve, to make sure he was ready. Steve adjusted his dark glasses and gave me the thumbs up sign. I served the ball and both Steve and I went to the net. We played fiercely, as always. We were playing against Iran and these guys were fast, strong and served the ball with such power that I felt that the ball would go right into the cheering crowd.
Like many of my friends, this is my first Olympics and bloody hell, I was scared to be here. If it weren't for the nine other friends I made here, I would be alone. Steve and I met on the first day of training for the 2012 Olympics and had been friends ever since. I wouldn't call us best friends – that would be a girl back home named Sandy. We had been best friends since we were in diapers.
When we got older, we started playing volleyball together. She and I would play against my twin sisters – Cindy and Cathy.
"Yes! We beat you again!" One of my sisters – Cathy – declared. She and Cindy were twelve and I was ten. We were playing volleyball in the backyard. It was Sandy and I on one side of the net and Cathy and Cindy on the other side. Sandy and I had just lost our third set in a row.
I looked to the back porch and saw my parents sipping iced tea. They didn't seem to care that the twins were gloating – again.
A couple years later, I began training with a coach – Brock. Brock had the build of a professional volleyball player. He had the kindness of Sandy as well.
I spent almost all my time working with Brock to perfect my volleyball playing. He paired me with his son, Alec. At first, Alec and I didn't get along, but the more we practiced together, the more we got along.
I broke my left wrist two weeks after Alec and I played our final match together. I had to give up volleyball for four months. I was upset that I couldn't play my favorite sport.
As soon as I was recovered, it was time to see the Olympic official for the 2012 Olympic trials. Since I didn't have a partner, she suggested that I play with her son, Steve.
Steve and I played as a team, passing the ball to each other before serving it over the net. Steve and I were playing against my sisters, who were now twenty-two. They had no interest in participating in the Olympics, which was fine with me.
Steve and I ended up beating the girls 22-13. Steve and I high-fived each other and exited the court, grinning all the while.
I smiled at Steve and adjusted my glasses. I had got new glasses for the Olympics. They were called Transition Lenses and they were better than regular glasses.
We ended up losing to the men from Iran in our first match. We won the second and third matches easily. I think they were slowing down.
As I looked to the stands, I saw a handful of them sitting near the front of the court, one of which was Roger. I would never admit this out loud, but I have feelings for Roger and I'm sure he has feelings for me, too.
Like magic, Roger's waiting for me as I exited the changing room. He's alone, which is good – more time for us to be together.
"Hi." He greeted me, instantly taking my hand in his. We had been together since Opening Ceremonies. I didn't really care if the others – or other people – saw us together. Apparently, Roger didn't care, either.
"Thanks for coming to see my match, mate." I thanked him, using the Australian word for 'friend' at the end of my sentence. I called everyone mate, but I used it especially for Roger. He smiled at me and I smiled back at him.
"Anytime. I wouldn't miss it for the world." He told me.
"How are your horses?" I asked him as we headed to the stables. There weren't any events that we wanted to see, so we would go to the stables then go to lunch.
"They're fine. If we weren't at the Olympics, we could ride them." Roger told me.
"Can I come visit you in America and ride them, then?" I inquired. Roger turned and smiled at me, giving me a quick peck on the cheek.
"Of course. You're welcome anytime." He told me, giving my hand another squeeze. He was one of the few openly gay Olympians and it didn't bother me – or him – at all. I was also openly gay and would never admit it out loud.
After a while of seeing the horses, we went to Union Jack's for lunch. Roger sat across the table from me so I could see him better.
We finished lunch and walked around the grounds. We hadn't done much sightseeing since being here, so we decided to do some of that. We went to the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and went on a tour of Big Ben and Parliament.
"You seen the movie The Iron Lady?" I asked Roger, my voice just above a whisper.
"Yeah. It was pretty good." He answered, holding my hand.
After our visit to Parliament, we went to the church where William and Kate were married. That got boring, so we went back to the London Eye. On our way back, we ran into a group of tourists that wanted their picture taken with Roger, then me. Roger smiled as he signed autographs for the tourists. They came over to me and gathered around me. I smiled while Roger took the picture. I also signed autographs for them. They thanked us and walked off, their voices carrying over – they couldn't believe that they had met two men competing in the Olympics.
Two hours later, Roger was hungry, so we went to The Queen's Jewels for dinner. As we waited for our table, I saw some familiar faces in the crowd.
"Mark! Roger! Come join us!" Alison's voice broke through the silent chatter of the restaurant patrons. We smiled and walked over, hand-in-hand. We sat next to each other as Alison, Benny and Joanne moved over. I didn't see the others, but that was okay with me.
We had a great time at dinner – joking and laughing the whole time.
"What are you guys gonna do tomorrow?" Alison inquired.
"Benny's playing for the gold tomorrow, so I thought we could go support him." I said before Roger could say anything.
"That sounds like a great idea." Roger told me. I looked over and smiled at him.
After dinner, all of us went back to our hotel rooms, wanting a good night's sleep.