“Eunbi, we’re sweaty and gross,” Chaeyeon manages breathily, pressed against the door. Eunbi’s mouth is warm on her neck, sucking and biting, making her squirm.
“Celebration sex is always best right after you’ve won the game,” Eunbi says seriously, hands slipping under Chaeyeon’s shirt. She shivers, practically melting into Eunbi’s touch. “Yeah, but maybe we could move to the shower first?”
“Can you get to the shower?” Eunbi asks, peppering kisses against Chaeyeon’s collarbone teasingly. Chaeyeon whimpers. “Fuck it,” she groans, and Eunbi takes that as a cue to pick her up and carry her to the bed.
“Can you- you know- ” Chaeyeon gasps. Eunbi grins and removes her hands from under Chaeyeon’s shirt, much to her dismay. “The strap?”
“Don’t say it like that,” Chaeyeon grumbles, pressing her face into the pillow, ears red with embarrassment. Eunbi pulls open the drawer so she can get a condom. “Shit.”
“Did you really forget to get more condoms?” Chaeyeon asks, raising an unimpressed eyebrow at the empty drawer. Eunbi groans.
“I’ll go get some more from the downstairs cafeteria really quickly, I’m sorry,” Eunbi apologizes, making Chaeyeon laugh. “It’s fine, just get back quickly.”
Eunbi wastes no time messily getting dressed before bolting out the door. She frantically presses the elevator button a million times, thankful that no other athletes are here at this ungodly hour, most likely either asleep or out getting wasted at bars.
She spends the entirety of the ten-second elevator ride wishing she’d taken the stairs, darting out the doors as soon as they open. As she enters the cafeteria, her eyes land on the nearly-empty condom vending machine. Evidently, another athlete has the same idea as she bursts through the cafeteria doors on the opposite side, locating the vending machine as well. They lock eyes.
Eunbi practically sprints to the vending machine and arrives first, frantically pressing the dispense button as the last condom - fuck, how is there only one condom left? - moves forward agonizingly slowly, allowing her to catch up. The packet falls with a soft thump to the bottom of the vending machine. Eunbi sticks her hand in to grab it but she grabs it first, holding it up in victory. “Yes!” Eunbi’s eyes widen when she finally realizes who it is.
It’s Kang Hyewon, the famously cold (no pun intended) and expressionless favorite to win of the Korean figure skating team. Yena had told her that her nickname is “ice princess” because of her prowess in the rink and her resting bitch face. (It’s an apt nickname.) Eunbi vaguely remembers how she’d been cozying up to Japanese figure skater Miyawaki Sakura before the opening ceremony. Figures.
Hyewon’s eyes widen in shock when she registers who Eunbi is, attention shifting away from the packet she’s holding. Eunbi takes the opportunity to snatch it out of her hands but Hyewon grabs its edge, pulling it towards herself, and now they’re stuck in a tug of war with a fucking condom packet.
“I was here first,” Eunbi argues, yanking the packet to no avail. “I was here second bitch, you’re not special,” Hyewon responds, yanking in turn.
“Are either of you mature enough to be having sex?” A voice behind them asks. They whirl around to see Kim Chaewon, Korean figure skater and Hyewon’s teammate, and Choi Yena, Korean ice hockey player and Eunbi’s teammate. Eunbi gapes at them for a moment, long enough for Hyewon to rip the packet out of her grasp.
“Yes!” Hyewon crows victoriously. Chaewon snorts. “Hyewonnie, it’s probably torn,” she says matter-of-factly. Hyewon opens the packet, confirming Chaewon’s suspicions.
“Well, shit,” Hyewon says. Yena giggles.
“It’s your fault,” Eunbi says immediately. “Are you fucking serious? If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s yours!” Hyewon snaps back.
“I can’t believe anyone would want to sleep with either of you,” Chaewon sighs. Yena nods in agreement.
“Well, I have no fucking clue why anyone would want to sleep with her, either,” Hyewon retorts. Eunbi resists the urge to say “right back at you,” setting for rolling her eyes and crossing her arms instead.
“Why are you guys arguing over the last condom if you’re both lesbians?” Yena asks. Eunbi and Hyewon both go beet red, avoiding eye contact.
“Well, I mean, it’s always good to be safe,” Eunbi tries, but a lightbulb goes off in Yena’s head and she says “ohhhhh,” very loudly, wiggling her eyebrows.
“I don’t get it,” Chaewon says. Eunbi thinks she might die of embarrassment.
“The strap,” Yena says helpfully. Chaewon’s face matches the red of her hair. Eunbi puts her head in her hands.
“I could’ve gone my whole life without that realization,” Chaewon mumbles.
“I could’ve gone my whole life without this conversation!” Eunbi exclaims. “Why the hell are you guys here at 2AM anyway?”
“Minjoo and Yuri are upstairs playing Mario Kart,” Chaewon says. “Yena kept losing to Yuri and she was getting really competitive, so I brought her here to cool down and eat junk food.” She takes a long sip of her bubble tea. “Please don’t tell my nutritionist.”
“I won’t,” Eunbi sighs. “Also, how are you guys playing Mario Kart?”
“Minjoo brought her switch,” Chaewon answers. Yena snickers “yeah she did,” earning her a rough shove from Chaewon.
Beside Eunbi, Hyewon’s fidgeting, clearly impatient. Eunbi notices a trail of hickeys down her neck that disappears past her shirt collar. She raises an eyebrow and Hyewon defiantly meets her stare.
“Wouldn’t have pegged Sakura as the type to mark her territory,” Eunbi says casually. Hyewon scoffs, gaze sweeping over Eunbi. “I didn’t think Chaeyeon was, either.” Eunbi’s eyes widen upon hearing Chaeyeon’s name, in disbelief that Hyewon, who she’d literally never spoken to before this wonderfully pleasant interaction, had somehow guessed what she’d been trying so hard to hide.
“Hold on,” Yena says before Eunbi can react way too defensively. “Hyewon, you’re dating Sakura? And Eunbi! Our own teammate? And you haven’t told us?”
“I’m not dating her,” Hyewon and Eunbi say in unison, then predictably glare at each other in unison. Chaewon and Yena share a glance Eunbi can’t understand.
“Well, this is great and all, but do any of you have condoms?” Hyewon asks. “Sure,” Yena says, taking a bunch of them out of her bag and piling them on the table. She stares expectantly at them as they give her horrified looks. “Go ahead, take as many as you need.”
“What the fuck, Yena? Why do you have these?” Eunbi’s pretty sure she’s never been more mortified in her life.
“To make balloon animals,” Yena says like it’s obvious, pulling out a condom balloon animal of a dog. “Chaewon said it’d be good for me to get my mind off of losing Mario Kart.”
Hyewon sighs. “I’m not even gonna question it,” she says, grabbing a handful of condoms, and takes off as fast as she can.
“We are never speaking of this conversation again,” Eunbi says threateningly. Chaewon and Yena nod, innocent looks on their faces. “Also, thank you so much Yena, you’re a lifesaver,” Eunbi sighs, taking a handful and getting out of there as fast as she can.
(When Chaeyeon asks Eunbi what took her so long, she just groans and buries her face into the blankets.)
“This party’s boring as shit,” Eunbi tells Yena candidly. She shrugs and sips her drink. “Maybe if you got a girlfriend your life would be interesting.”
Eunbi rolls her eyes. “We get it, you and Yuri are dating,” she grumbles, feeling more single than ever.
“Well, if you’re planning on keeping things platonic with Chaeyeon, you should probably get yourself a figure skater girlfriend,” Yena suggests. Eunbi rolls her eyes.
“I heard my name,” Chaeyeon says from behind them, startling Eunbi. “Jeez, Chaeyeon, give me some warning next time,” Eunbi gasps. Chaeyeon sits next to them, idly sipping her drink and watching the scene.
“I was just telling Eunbi that she needs to get an actual girlfriend,” Yena says cheerfully. Eunbi winces. Even Yena, as oblivious as she is, should know that it’s not a good idea to say that Eunbi needs to get a girlfriend to her teammate-slash-fuck buddy.
“So that’s why I heard something about figure skater girlfriends,” Chaeyeon says, looking unbothered. “Yena, why won’t you help me get a girlfriend? It’s unfair that you only want to be Eunbi’s wingwoman,” she pouts.
“You don’t need any help getting a girlfriend, unlike this one here,” Yena says cheekily, making Chaeyeon double over laughing. Eunbi scoffs, mock offended.
“Shouldn’t you go find your figure skater girlfriend and be all mushy and gross together?” Eunbi asks Yena, whose eyes light up. “Okay, I really want to see Yuri actually,” she chirps, and goes off to god knows where to find her.
“Even though I hate to admit it, they’re really cute,” Eunbi mumbles, staring into her drink. Chaeyeon gives her a curious look.
“Eunbi, if you want to be in a relationship, please don’t let me hold you back,” Chaeyeon tells her quietly, so characteristically sincere. Eunbi’s throat feels like it’s constricting. She bites her lip and knocks back the rest of her drink. “I know.”
“Eunbi, there’s a really hot girl at the end of the bar and I think she’s looking at me,” Chaeyeon whispers quietly. Eunbi moves to turn around in her seat but Chaeyeon quickly grabs her arm. “Don’t look now! You’re way too unsubtle. Look over on my count,” Chaeyeon orders. “Three, two, one… now!”
Eunbi turns around and cranes her neck to see the other side of the bar, squinting in the dim light. It takes her a moment to recognize them.
“Fuck,” Eunbi hisses, immediately ducking behind Chaeyeon, who gives her a confused look. “What’s wrong?”
“Okay, I didn’t tell you this because it’s totally embarrassing, but that’s Kang Hyewon and Miyawaki Sakura, and they kinda have the same deal going on as we do, and I may or may not have argued with Hyewon over a condom,” Eunbi says all in one breath. Chaeyeon looks even more confused than before.
“Why did you argue over a condom? Their names sound kind of familiar, are they figure skaters?” Eunbi nods frantically. “Huh. Yena was onto something with the figure skater girlfriend thing.” Chaeyeon muses, looking over at them. “What’s the name of the short haired one?” Eunbi peeks up at them again, momentarily making eye contact with Hyewon. She cringes.
“Shit, Hyewon and I just made eye contact. Short hair is Sakura, by the way. She’s on the Japanese team,” Eunbi whispers. Chaeyeon leans over to look at them again. “Sakura’s really cute, I’m sorry if I ditch you. Also, they’re coming over here right now, so you should probably stop hiding behind me,” she says matter-of-factly.
Eunbi nearly chokes on her drink. “Fuck, does my hair look okay?” Eunbi asks. Chaeyeon grins in amusement. “Your hair looks fine, Eunbi. Stop panicking.” Eunbi chooses not to comment on the way Chaeyeon’s hand is shaking as she holds her drink.
“Hello,” Sakura says shyly, schoolgirl-like, and Eunbi immediately understands why Hyewon and Chaeyeon like her so much. She’s strikingly beautiful, even in the bad lighting. Chaeyeon is practically melting, hearts coming out of her eyes.
“Hey,” Chaeyeon says, and Eunbi almost laughs.
“We’ll leave you two alone,” Hyewon says bluntly, and Eunbi actually laughs at that, badly disguising it as a cough into her elbow. Hyewon raises an eyebrow and lays a hand on her wrist, taking her to a different corner of the bar.
They sip their drinks in silence. Eunbi tries to look everywhere but at her, eventually sneaking a glance over at her side profile. Her gaze lingers for a moment too long on her chiseled jaw, the curve of her nose, holy shit she’s so pretty-
“You’re really awkward,” Hyewon says, with that annoyingly charming smirk. Eunbi jerks her gaze away as fast as she can.
“It’s kind of hard not to be,” Eunbi mutters. “In case you haven’t forgotten the last time we met.”
Hyewon just smiles into her glass, watching Chaeyeon and Sakura for a few moments. “They’re cute together,” she says. “It’s kind of impossible to be jealous of either of them.” Eunbi nods in agreement, looks down at the floor. It’s true. She feels like she should be jealous, but when she looks over at Hyewon, she realizes she isn’t.
“Honestly, it’s kind of hilarious that we got off to a horrible start,” Eunbi says, downing the rest of her drink. She idly twirls the straw with her index finger, watching the ice swirl around the glass. “While our fuck buddies had a pure love at first sight moment and are getting together as we awkwardly stand off to the side.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of sad when you put it that way,” Hyewon chuckles, that infuriatingly attractive smirk appearing again. “Who’s gonna be my fuck buddy now?”
The bathroom stall door clangs shut behind them as Hyewon presses Eunbi against it, tongue slipping into her mouth. Eunbi whines at the loss when Hyewon pulls away, making an embarrassing squeak when Hyewon moves back in to nip and suck at her pulse point. She bites her lip to stay quiet, feeling Hyewon’s smile against the curve of her neck.
“You okay?” Hyewon murmurs, slowing her pace. Eunbi can hardly remember how to speak, brain muddled with pain and pleasure, only able to focus on Hyewon’s soft lips pressing wet kisses against her skin and her fingertips burning fiery hot on Eunbi’s hipbones.
“Yeah, s’good,” Eunbi finally manages, lightheaded, hips jerking upward when Hyewon brushes her thumb against her nipple. “Not really used to this, though.”
“Being topped or having sex in a public bathroom?” Hyewon asks, making Eunbi laugh.
“Both of them, really,” she answers breathily. “Especially with you.” Hyewon smirks, the predatory look enough to make Eunbi shiver.
“I’m sure it’s quite a blow to your pride,” Hyewon murmurs teasingly, body pressing even closer to Eunbi’s in the tiny stall, and Eunbi’s suddenly acutely aware of how tightly their bodies are fitting together and that Hyewon has a thigh in between hers. Pleasure jolts up Eunbi’s spine and she bites back a moan.
“Fuck, bed, please,” Eunbi whispers. Hyewon grins. “Sorry, what was that?” she asks, shifting her thigh. Eunbi’s fingernails dig into Hyewon’s back with the effort of staying quiet.
“Fuck you,” Eunbi groans, face flushed. “Can we continue this in my room?”
“I heard you the first time,” Hyewon says teasingly, eyes dark and captivating. She takes Eunbi’s hand. “Let’s get out of here.”
“I can’t believe I thought you were a total pillow princess,” Eunbi mumbles, stretching out under the blankets, body aching in the best way. Hyewon smiles in amusement. “You have a weird idea of pillow talk,” she tells Eunbi, leaning in closer. “You should probably talk less.” She presses her lips against Eunbi’s and she softens into the kiss, wrapping an arm around her midriff and pulling them closer together.
“Fuck,” Eunbi murmurs when they pull apart, cheeks flushed and chest heaving. Hyewon gives her that disarming smirk and her heart leaps in her chest. “You’re insatiable,” Eunbi groans. “I really want to keep going but I’m gonna be so sore tomorrow.”
“I’m sure you’re used to playing sore, you’re an Olympic athlete,” Hyewon teases, but Eunbi doesn’t miss the way her hands move to her shoulder blades, rubbing little circles into the taut muscle there. “And I know you don’t have a game tomorrow.”
“You know my game schedule?” Eunbi asks. Hyewon smiles softly, making Eunbi’s heart - flutter, for lack of a better word. “You’re right that I don’t have a game tomorrow, but I don’t want to be lacking during practice,” she admits. Hyewon nods in understanding.
“Are you worried about not being a good enough captain?” Hyewon asks. Eunbi doesn’t answer, so Hyewon knows she’s spot on. She shifts a little so she can look Eunbi in the eyes. “Eunbi, don’t doubt yourself. Your team is amazing and you’re the best captain they could ever ask for.” She stops there, always a person of few words, but it speaks loud and clear to Eunbi when she moves her hands to her trapezius and massages there, easing the tension in her neck.
“You’re right,” Eunbi murmurs, cheeks heating up. Who knew that the so-called “ice princess” of the Korean figure skating team was so sweet? “We should probably save this for after both our finals though.”
“Sure,” Hyewon says, grinning. “We can have sex while wearing the gold medals if you want.” Eunbi laughs until her stomach hurts, feeling a lot better. Hyewon smiles softly and presses a kiss to her temple.
“It’s almost morning, I need to take a shower,” Hyewon says, sitting up. Eunbi’s eyes follow her movement, the flexing of her abs as she languidly stretches. “Is it okay if I use yours?”
“Is it okay if I join you?” Eunbi asks. “Of course. A fair warning though, I take my showers really hot.” Hyewon winks and Eunbi follows her.
(It’s in the steamy heat of the shower, Hyewon’s lips on hers silencing her screams of pleasure, that Eunbi realizes that she wouldn’t mind having this for the rest of her life at all.)
Eunbi’s drying her hair with a towel when she walks out of the bathroom, nearly colliding with Hyewon. Luckily, she quickly steps back so she doesn’t spill the contents of the cup in her hand all over Eunbi, who gives her a curious look.
“It’s coffee,” Hyewon explains, looking a little uncomfortable. Her hair is still wet, little droplets running down the curve of her jaw. Eunbi swallows. Hyewon holds out the cup. “For you.”
“I don’t drink coffee,” Eunbi says apologetically, running a nervous hand through her hair. “Sorry.”
“I don’t either, it’s okay,” Hyewon mumbles awkwardly. Eunbi bites her lip.
“I prefer green tea lattes,” Eunbi blurts out. “So if you want to go to a cafe with me to get drinks sometime...” She trails off, wincing. Hyewon gives her a bashful smile.
“Are you asking me out?” Hyewon asks. Eunbi goes scarlet at the question. “I- I don’t- ”
“I’d love to,” Hyewon says, cutting her off. Eunbi almost sighs in relief, but she catches herself just in time. “I’ll see if I can convince my coach to give me some free time.”
“Okay,” Eunbi murmurs, and it’s not a yes yes but at least it’s a yes, and that’s enough for now. “See you around, Hyewon.”
“See you around.”
“Thought you’d be more of a dark chocolate kind of person,” Eunbi says when Hyewon sits down across from her with a vanilla latte. Hyewon raises an eyebrow.
“Because I’m bitter?” She asks in amusement. She’s got a layer of foam on her top lip. Eunbi averts her eyes when she licks it off.
“You’re sweeter than I expected you to be,” Eunbi says instead. Hyewon’s got a somewhat intrigued look on her face, like she wants to figure Eunbi out. She tilts her head slightly, looking deep in thought.
“Speaking of,” Hyewon says, “I wanted to apologize. For the amazing start we got off to.” Eunbi smiles wryly, the lack of civility in their first meeting almost laughable to look back on after their more recent… endeavors.
“It’s okay, I’m sorry too,” Eunbi replies, taking a sip of her latte. It’s still scalding hot, but she doesn’t dare show it. “I guess we were both a little on edge because of the… activities we were partaking in.” Eunbi cringes at the words, fully aware of how they sound.
“Eunbi, you don’t have to sugarcoat it. We just had sex a few days ago,” Hyewon says matter-of-factly. Eunbi’s face goes crimson and she buries her head in her hands. “Sex that I’m looking forward to getting back to after our finals,” she says in a lower voice, making Eunbi blush even harder if possible.
“I’m looking forward to getting the finals over with too,” Eunbi mumbles. “For various reasons and not just that one.”
Hyewon gives her that same look like she’s trying to puzzle her out, except more like she’s actually figured something out. “Eunbi, your finals are tomorrow. Are you mentally prepared for it?” she asks, brows drawn tight with concern. Eunbi chuckles a little to herself because Hyewon’s hit the nail on the head again.
“How do you read me so well?” Eunbi asks. “My teammates never guess my feelings so easily.” Hyewon laughs loudly at that. “Your teammates include Yena, Yujin, Chaeyeon, and Wonyoung. I don’t think I’d have much trouble being more perceptive.”
“Yeah, they’re pretty dense,” Eunbi agrees. (Better not to go in depth on just how dense one of them is. Besides, as she talks with Hyewon, she finds that she cares about it less and less.) “I’m really nervous, to be honest,” Eunbi sighs, rubs her hands together. “Korea hasn’t historically been a force in ice hockey and this is the first time in years we’ve made it to the finals.”
“Just goes to show how good you actually are,” Hyewon says. “You know, Yuri’s a devoted girlfriend, so she used to take us to watch your practices.” Eunbi nods, remembering seeing the figure skating team lined up in the bleachers when they practiced in their home rink. “I could tell you had the kind of teamwork that happens once in a lifetime. You moved like you understood each other to the last millisecond, and it was all because they were under your lead. Kwon Eunbi, captain of the Korean women’s ice hockey team. It was amazing, to be honest.” Hyewon stops there, ears turning the slightest bit red at having gone on for too long. Eunbi’s flabbergasted that Hyewon’s known her for so much longer than she thought, watched her toil away on the ice years ago before they truly met.
“You’ll win, I know you will,” Hyewon says, smiling, and Eunbi believes her.
Eunbi’s bawling her eyes out when the timer runs down and her teammates pile on top of her, screaming in victory. It takes all her effort not to break down crying again when they get called up to the podium, a gold medal placed around each of their necks.
“I told you so,” Hyewon says, smiling beautifully when Eunbi finds her in the stands after the awards ceremony. Eunbi wipes her eyes and squeezes Hyewon in the tightest hug possible, burying her face into her neck. “Don’t get snot on my jacket,” she murmurs, patting Eunbi’s back. Eunbi gives a watery laugh and hugs her even tighter.
“I skipped practice to come see you and my coach is definitely gonna kill me, so you’d better come to mine,” Hyewon says teasingly. “I know, short program tomorrow and free skate two days after,” Eunbi murmurs, still sniffling. “I’ll be in the stands cheering for you.” She vaguely notices how cameras are going off all around them. They’ll probably be all over social media by the end of the day.
“If I find you, I’ll blow you a kiss,” Hyewon says flirtatiously, making Eunbi laugh. Warmth, unknown yet beautiful, blooms in Eunbi’s chest.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
(That night, Eunbi buys a bouquet of roses to throw into the rink after Hyewon’s performance. She briefly wonders if she’s lost her mind, but eventually comes to the conclusion that she really should’ve seen this coming.)
“You look more nervous than she does,” Yujin says, amused at her captain’s jitteriness. Eunbi bites her lip and watches Hyewon glide across the ice as the skaters warm up. Indeed, Hyewon looks just as cool and confident as she typically does, while Eunbi’s heart is threatening to beat out of her chest.
“Can’t blame her,” Chaeyeon says, leg bouncing nervously as she watches Sakura cleanly land a double loop. Yujin gives her an incredulous look. “You too?”
“Don’t you ever get nervous that Wonyoung might get hurt?” Eunbi asks. Yujin shakes her head. “Nah, she’s way less clumsy than me. Besides, we’re on the same team, so I can protect her,” she says proudly, making Eunbi smile.
“Y’know, Eunbi,” Yena says curiously, “you seem to care about Hyewon’s safety an awful lot for someone who was just complaining about her being the biggest bitch on Earth.” Eunbi’s ears redden as everyone turns to her for an explanation.
“Well, yeah, she was kind of an asshole at first,” Eunbi mumbles, “but she’s actually really sweet sometimes.” She determinedly ignores the loud “oooooooooooh”ing from Yujin and Yena, focusing instead on the rink as the warm-up finishes up and skaters begin to exit.
Minjoo’s up first. Chaewon places a kiss on her forehead before she enters the rink, making the whole stadium collectively melt at the gesture and Minjoo’s embarrassed smile. She skates around the rink for a few moments as the crowd cheers and takes her place at the center of the rink to begin her program.
Eunbi’s amazed as she watches her land jump after jump, confidence never once faltering, even when her fingertips touch down on the ground for a split moment after a precarious jump. The technical blunder is far outweighed by her gorgeous execution, leaving her with a final score of 70.83. She exits the rink to a roaring stadium and wraps Chaewon in a tight hug, practically glowing.
A few more skaters perform before it’s Yuri’s turn. She does brilliantly as expected, even with an extremely demanding routine with a high technical difficulty, placing first out of the skaters that have performed so far with a score of 75.24. Yena cheers as loudly as she possibly can and throws a duck plushie into the rink that Yuri picks up, waving to fans as she cradles the duck in her arm.
The next twenty or so short programs pass by in a flash. Chaewon and Hitomi both perform fantastically, but Eunbi’s too nervous to pay full attention. Chaeyeon seems to share the sentiment, foot tapping on the ground incessantly.
“The second to last skater and a favorite to win,” the announcer booms, “Miyawaki Sakura!” Sakura enters the rink amidst the loud screaming of her fans (most of which are fangirls), smoothly gliding from one end of the rink to the other. When the noise finally dies down, she stops in the center, reaching out her right hand towards the stands.
The music begins with a piano melody Eunbi easily recognizes, Howl’s Moving Castle. The song is cut for time, but she skates to it as if she’s made it her own, one that could be its own song in itself. She lands every jump cleanly, but it’s her elegance and grace, her outstanding execution that leaves everyone in awe as she finishes. The stadium erupts into cheers as she steps off the ice, exhausted. Without a word, Chaeyeon stands up to leave, presumably to go to Sakura, although she doesn’t have the authority to enter the kiss and cry.
“And we have Miyawaki’s short program score of 78.92, putting her in first place!” The announcer declares, among thunderous applause. Sakura sighs in relief from where the cameras are focusing on her in the kiss and cry. Eunbi swallows, heart in her throat. That’s a hell of a score to beat, even if they still have the free skate left.
“And last but definitely not least,” Eunbi instinctively leans forward, “we have Korean figure skater Kang Hyewon!” The stadium explodes into cheers of “Korea!” and “Kang Hyewon!”, along with some booing. Hyewon’s always been a controversial athlete for her standoffish personality, but Eunbi has to resist the urge to go beat the living shit out of everyone jeering at her. They have no idea who she actually is.
“She’s always been a jump-focused figure skater,” the commentators say, “and indeed, her baseline technical difficulty is higher than Miyawaki’s. But with the new ISU rules that prevent skaters from backloading so much to gain points, I feel like the key to her winning the gold is to display her artistry - something she seems rather uncomfortable with.” Eunbi bites her lip. That’s true - while Hyewon is not the unfeeling robot everyone makes her out to be, she does have trouble expressing her emotions, which is a huge hindrance in a sport like figure skating.
Hyewon takes her spot in the center, left hand resting against her right shoulder. Eunbi can see her exhale, eyes calm, almost indifferent. Eunbi holds her breath.
The music opens with the low rumbling of a cello, Hyewon’s steps matching in time with the song as the violins come in. She makes the choreography look effortless, but Eunbi knows that the program is hellishly difficult from the bruises hidden underneath her costume.
“Her first jump is a triple lutz followed by a triple toe loop...” Eunbi holds her breath as Hyewon speeds up for the jump. “Nailed it!” the commentators announce as Hyewon neatly lands both, smiling to herself. Eunbi exhales shakily.
“Next is a triple loop...” Hyewon lands it flawlessly, transitioning into a flying sit spin. Eunbi finds herself unable to take her eyes off of Hyewon as she moves unbelievably fast across the ice, movements graceful and controlled.
“Entering the latter half of the program, around now is when the fatigue starts to hit.” Despite the fact that her legs must be burning with the exertion, Hyewon shows no signs of tiring out. Her step sequences are precise, her sheer speed as she launches into her spins formidable. “And the last jump, a triple flip!” Hyewon leaps into the air, the sound of her skates sharp against the ice when she lands. Eunbi bites her lip as Hyewon carries out her last step sequence, hands reaching towards the sky as the music ends.
“A brilliant performance!” The audience breaks out into thunderous applause. Eunbi releases a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. “A stunning short program from a skater that never fails to astound.” Hyewon smiles and waves at the crowd, breathing heavily as fans throw gifts into the rink. Eunbi throws in her bouquet and Hyewon picks it up as she skates laps around the rink to regain her breath. She looks around the rink for a few moments to find Eunbi and blows her a kiss, that winsome smirk appearing again. Eunbi’s heart jumps, color rushing to her cheeks. Yena gives her a curious look.
Hyewon leaves the ice and makes her way to the kiss and cry, sitting beside her coach and looking anxiously up at the monitors displaying the scores. Eunbi bites her lip worriedly.
“And we have Kang Hyewon’s final short program score of 78.45, putting her in second place!” The commentators announce, the score flashing up on the scoreboards. Hyewon sighs in relief and Eunbi finds herself immediately standing up and running to go see her, although she doesn’t have the authority to enter the kiss and cry. She nervously waits outside, heartbeat racing.
“You waited for me,” Hyewon says when she leaves the kiss and cry, immediately running up to Eunbi. She’s slightly flushed with the effort of her routine, wrapping her arms around Eunbi’s midriff tightly.
“You did amazing,” Eunbi whispers, melting into the warmth of their hug. Hyewon smells of peaches and roses and faintly of sweat. Eunbi’s heart pounds in her chest, overcome with feelings inexplicable and inevitable.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get first place,” Hyewon says when they separate, expression apologetic. Eunbi smiles and slings an arm over her shoulder. “The free skate is more important, so you should focus on doing well then. You’ll get gold and then it’ll be my turn to tell you I told you so.”
“Well, I guess I have to win if you’re cheering for me.” Hyewon grins and Eunbi really wants to kiss her again.
“Is it too soon to be feeling this way?” Eunbi asks Chaeyeon that night, when she finds it particularly difficult to fall asleep. She glances at Chaeyeon’s phone screen. It’s a picture of Sakura. Eunbi smiles to herself.
“No, not really,” Chaeyeon answers, and Eunbi knows they’re on the same page.
“Eunbi, do you know how to show emotion?”
Eunbi blinks in confusion at the question, seemingly out of nowhere. Hyewon’s fiddling with her jacket zipper, looking extremely uncomfortable, and it’s not hard for Eunbi to connect the dots.
“Are you worried about losing tomorrow because you placed second yesterday?” Hyewon looks away and Eunbi thinks she understands how Hyewon always guesses her feelings so easily.
“Sakura beat me at the short program because her program component scores are higher than mine,” Hyewon mumbles, “so she makes up for her lesser technical difficulty with artistry and execution. I’ve always been a jumper, so things like that aren’t really my strong suit.”
“Your program component scores are still really good,” Eunbi offers. Hyewon looks curious upon hearing that but doesn’t pry. Eunbi’s thankful for that, because then she’d have to explain how she binge-watched a bunch of Hyewon’s Grand Prix and Four Continents programs and read her entire Wikipedia page in one sitting.
“Still, I need to be able to truly show my emotions in order to get the gold,” Hyewon sighs. “Sakura’s beat me countless times before, so I know just how good she is and how I am right now isn’t enough.”
“Maybe in order to embody your theme, yearning, you should think of an inspiration instead of just trying to feel the emotion out of nowhere,” Eunbi suggests. “Like something you really want but can’t have, and you can think about it as you skate.”
Hyewon looks at her like she’s grown an extra head. Eunbi goes red. “I mean, I don’t really know. My advice probably isn’t going to help much, because I’m not good at expressing my feelings either. I have a hard time saying ‘I love you’ and things like that.” Eunbi trails off, looking away in embarrassment.
“No, it’s a good idea. I was just surprised that you know I chose yearning for my theme this year. And I’ll try to think of something that I yearn for before tomorrow,” Hyewon says. There’s something slightly different to the inflection of her voice, like a cross between amused and incredulous. Eunbi isn’t quite sure of what it means.
“Good luck, Hyewon,” Eunbi says quietly, standing up to leave. “I know you can do it.”
Hyewon’s eyes flash with disappointment, so fleetingly short that Eunbi wonders if she imagined it. She wonders if she should stay for longer. “Thank you, Eunbi. I think I can too.”
“233.19 is the score to beat, of current first place holder Miyawaki Sakura,” the commentators announce. “The final skater, Kang Hyewon, needs a free skate score of 154.75 to win the gold medal.” Hyewon glides around the ice, wind threading through her hair. “154.75 is above her personal best of 152.46, but she has always been something of a dark horse. Here she is, on the loneliest stage of all: the last skater.” Hyewon slows to a stop in the center of the rink, eyes burning intensely with emotions Eunbi can’t recognize. They lock eyes.
“You can do it,” Eunbi mouths. Hyewon smiles.
The first few trickles of sound stream in and Hyewon flows to the music, every movement filled with that same unrecognizable yet familiar emotion that Eunbi saw bubbling beneath the surface. Her expression reminds Eunbi of longing yet untold, of soft words hidden under the pretense of apathy, of a hand on hers and eyes alight with something dangerously beautiful.
Eunbi’s breathless watching her.
“To the shock of the figure skating world, Kang declared that her theme this year is yearning,” the commentators say. “She had expressed trepidation at being able to embody this theme earlier in the season, but watching her performance now, no one would be able to guess it.” Sudden emotions rise to the surface at those words, brimming over with reckless pride as she watches Hyewon glide across the ice, skates flashing as she leaps into a triple lutz - triple loop combination.
“Simply amazing.” Hyewon’s focus never falters as she transitions into extraordinarily difficult step sequences without even a split moment for a breath, hand motions graceful and polished. She executes her jumps with unbelievable precision, but it’s the emotion that she pours into the performance that stuns each and every person in the audience. Emotion that the world has never seen before today.
Emotion that Eunbi understands now, because it’s the same emotion that brings tears to her eyes as Hyewon finishes the song, eyes finding Eunbi and arms outstretched, reaching for her.
Eunbi runs so she can go to her.
She paces anxiously outside the kiss and cry, tumultuous feelings overflowing inside her chest. It’s only when she hears the deafening roar of the crowd that she suddenly stops and looks up at the scoreboard.
156.77. A total of 235.22, putting her in first place.
Eunbi doesn’t even realize she’s crying until Hyewon comes running into view, enveloping her in a crushing hug. “Don’t cry,” she murmurs, but Eunbi can hear the waver in her voice, her sniffles as she buries her face in the crook of her neck. “I told you so,” Eunbi whispers, making Hyewon laugh through her tears. Eunbi wipes at a teardrop trailing down her cheek, gaze filled with admiration and affection.
“When did I get so lucky,” Hyewon mumbles, blinking hard. Eunbi shakes her head. “It wasn’t luck. You worked so hard for this and you won because you deserve it.”
“That’s not it, dumbass,” Hyewon laughs, falling forward into Eunbi, body shaking with laughter in Eunbi’s arms. “I’m wondering how I got so lucky to have you.”
Hyewon stands on the tallest podium, Sakura to her right and Minjoo to her left. Eunbi cheers loudest of all.
“The gold looks good on you,” Eunbi murmurs when they pull apart. “Gold suits you too,” Hyewon whispers before pressing her lips to Eunbi’s again.
It feels different from before, when they had been rough and needy, drowning in each other’s touch. Now, it feels a little bit softer, a little more meaningful, a little more dangerous.
Hyewon bites Eunbi’s lip hard, drawing her back to the present. “You seem lost in thought,” Hyewon murmurs. Eunbi doesn’t get how she’s practically an open book to her but she enjoys it all the same, being understood so easily. Even if it scares her.
“I really like you,” Eunbi whispers, a noticeable absence where a different four-letter word should be. Hyewon smiles. “You don’t have to say it yet. I know you’ll be able to soon,” she whispers, and leans in once more.
Eunbi wakes up to find Hyewon’s body pressed in close to hers, an arm draped over her stomach and face tucked into the back of her neck. Their legs are tangled together and redness floods Eunbi’s face when she realizes that all she’s wearing is a thin t-shirt and a slight lift of her head confirms the same for Hyewon.
As Eunbi’s trying to figure out how to move without disturbing her, Hyewon shifts in her sleep, snuggling even closer. Eunbi gives up on trying to move and settles into her warmth, breathing in the scent of roses.
Eunbi dozes off for what could’ve been anywhere from a minute to an hour, curled up into Hyewon, breath steady and in time with hers.
(She wouldn’t mind having this for the rest of her life at all.)
Eventually, Eunbi feels Hyewon jostle and then sit up. She hears Hyewon get dressed and pull the covers over her. For reasons she can’t understand, she pretends she’s asleep all the while.
Hyewon exits the room quietly, shutting the door behind her, and Eunbi’s heart pangs with disappointment. Of course. She’s getting ready to leave.
Eunbi gets up then, sighing heavily. She gets dressed slowly, washing her face in ice-cold water to get herself to wake up. She takes a look at herself in the mirror - purple hickies blossoming on her throat, bruises on her hips, red scratches down her back. She laughs to herself, shakes her head, and leaves her room.
And nearly collides with Hyewon, who quickly steps back to avoid spilling the contents of the cup in her hand all over Eunbi.
“Ow, shit, too hot- um, I made this for you,” Hyewon says, gingerly holding out the cup to Eunbi. Eunbi takes the cup, sniffing it curiously. “What’s this?”
“Green tea,” Hyewon says, embarrassed. “It’s not a green tea latte but I figured it was close enough...”
“I like green tea too,” Eunbi says, taking a sip. It’s scalding hot but she doesn’t show it. “It’s good.” She pauses, contemplating as Hyewon shuffles her feet awkwardly. “I thought you were leaving.”
Eunbi hears how the words sound as soon as they come out of her mouth, wincing at how painfully obvious she’s being, of all things to say. Hyewon’s eyes widen slightly and Eunbi curses herself internally.
“I wouldn’t if you don’t want me to,” Hyewon says, and now it’s Eunbi’s turn for her eyes to widen. Hyewon gives her a sheepish smile and Eunbi’s heart pounds in her chest.
“About last night,” Hyewon starts, and Eunbi braces herself, “it was fine. It was more than fine, really, but- ” she takes a breath, “we should probably talk these things out, because we both know it meant a little more than just sleeping together.” Hyewon’s voice sounds a little questioning, and Eunbi smiles because for someone who reads her so easily, Hyewon’s being very oblivious of Eunbi’s own painfully obvious feelings for her.
“Yeah, we really should,” Eunbi agrees, and sees Hyewon let out a relieved breath at the confirmation that it meant something to her too. They sit on the bed together and Eunbi sips at her green tea.
“I’ll go first,” Hyewon starts. “I’ve never really been good at expressing my emotions. The press likes to call me a robot- ” Eunbi has to stamp down the sudden flare of anger in her at the mention of the nickname - “and for good reason a lot of the time, because my skating has been pretty devoid of emotion all these years. But yesterday, that changed, because- ” Hyewon takes a deep breath, “I was skating for you.”
It’s silent for a few moments too long.
“Your theme was yearning,” Eunbi says. Hyewon nods. “People yearn for something they don’t have.” She pauses there, drawing in a shaky breath. “But you have me.”
She isn’t sure who moved first, but suddenly Hyewon’s lips are pressed against hers, overflowing with pent up emotions. Eunbi feels wetness on her cheeks and doesn’t know if it’s Hyewon’s tears or her own.
“Shit, I probably should’ve bought you dinner first,” Eunbi’s laugh is watery as she pulls away. Hyewon’s eyes are shining too, blinking hard to prevent the tears from escaping.
“Is 7pm okay?” Hyewon asks, a glimmer of that same self-assured smirk appearing again, but Eunbi can see that there’s something softer behind it.
“You beat me to it, I wanted to ask first,” Eunbi grumbles, wiping her eyes. “But yeah, 7pm is fine.”
“So, are we girlfriends now?”
“I don’t know, we’ve had a lot of miscommunication so far and- ”
“Yes, yes we’re girlfriends. Happy?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“I can’t believe we have yet another sappy couple,” Yena groans, watching Sakura and Chaeyeon stare lovingly into each others’ eyes. Hyewon shrugs and shovels a mouthful of Cinnamon Toast Crunch into her mouth.
“Actually, we have two,” Eunbi says, holding Hyewon’s hand. She’s tracing patterns on the back of Eunbi’s hand with her index finger. Eunbi recognizes it as figure skating patterns from her choreography, the same patterns that she outlines on her back at night.
“Oh right, Hiichan and Nako,” Yena says obliviously. Eunbi muffles a snicker behind her jacket collar while Hyewon outright laughs. “Yena, you’re so dense. How did you deal with this?” she asks Yuri.
“Not very well,” Yuri sighs. “Took her years to pick up on my feelings. But maybe she hasn’t noticed you guys because you aren’t sappy.”
“Hello, are we talking about Red Velvet?” Sakura asks, having immediately perked up at the title of Red Velvet’s latest Japanese single. “Nope, sorry,” Yena apologizes. Sakura deflates a little and Chaeyeon immediately wraps a comforting arm around her, giving her a sickeningly sweet peck on the cheek. “Kkura, I’ll talk about Red Velvet with you,” she says softly, and Sakura visibly brightens and launches into a spiel about how much she admires Irene.
“Yeah, you guys definitely aren’t that kind of couple at all,” Yuri says wryly to Eunbi and Hyewon, who nod in agreement.
“Wait, what?” Yena asks, eyes wide. “Yuri, did you say- are you guys- ”
“And I thought Eunbi was dense,” Hyewon mumbles. Eunbi smacks her shoulder. “I was not dense! I asked you out first!”
“You literally choked when I asked you if it was a date,” Hyewon says in amusement. Eunbi rolls her eyes.
“Wait, so you guys are dating?” Yena asks, jaw dropped. “Yeah, it was pretty obvious,” Chaewon says, looking thoroughly unsurprised.
“No it wasn’t, I literally had no idea,” Minjoo says, shaking her head. “Are you serious? Hyewon literally skated her entire free skate for Eunbi. Did you not see her reaching for her at the end?” Chaewon asks.
“Oh my god!” Yujin shrieks, gasping theatrically. “I knew it!” Wonyoung cheers. Hyewon’s face reddens and she slumps over onto Eunbi.
“I still can’t believe I expressed something so personal in front of the whole world,” Hyewon mumbles. Eunbi ruffles her hair and leans into her, rubbing her thumb against the back of her hand.
“Okay, now you’re pushing it,” Yuri says, and through everyone’s laughter all Eunbi can hear is Hyewon’s, loud and clear.
“Oh my god, Hyewon- fuck you- ”
“You did, babe. It’s my turn now.”
“Hye, can you please just...”
“Fine, but only because you asked nicely.”
“Eunbi, I think we’re out of condoms.”
“Fuck, I’m so sore,” Hyewon groans, flopping over onto her stomach. “Eunbi, what did you do?”
“You seemed to like what I did if I recall,” Eunbi says with a shit-eating grin, receiving a shove from Hyewon in response. “You’re insufferable,” she mumbles, face half-buried into the pillow. “Remember when I said I’d never sleep with you?”
Eunbi laughs. “I was going to say that I didn’t know why anyone would sleep with you either, but I knew that was a lie, so I didn’t say anything,” she admits.
“Oh, I was definitely lying,” Hyewon says, eyes glimmering with amusement. “Yuri would always catch me staring at you when we watched your practices.”
“Really?” Eunbi asks, startled. She hadn’t known that Hyewon had noticed her so early on. That must’ve been years ago, when Yuri and Yena had newly started dating and Yuri would constantly drag her team to the hockey team practices. Hyewon blushes cutely. “Don’t be flattered, it’s not like I was pining after you,” she grumbles. “It’s just that you were hot.”
“I thought you were really pretty,” Eunbi says, because it’s the truth. Even back then, she’d wondered what was the name of the cold beauty in the stands watching them wordlessly, expression unreadable. “I finally learned who you were only a few months ago, when I asked Yena to tell me about Yuri’s Olympic teammates. Yena didn’t really catch on to my interest in one skater in particular.” Hyewon’s lips quirk into a faint smile at that. Eunbi runs a hand through her hair, tucking it behind her ear.
“I watched one of your performances, your free skate in last year’s Grand Prix, and I couldn’t stop watching more. I couldn’t look away from you,” Eunbi says softly. “Even back then, I really liked you.”
Hyewon’s gaze is defiant, almost challenging, but Eunbi can see that there’s something softer behind it. Something she recognizes as that four-letter word that she finds swelling up in her chest, warm and undeniable. “And now?”
“Now?” Eunbi asks, pretending to tilt her head in thought even though she already knows what she wants to say.
“I love you.”
Hyewon smiles knowingly. “I knew you’d be able to say it,” she murmurs, pressing her lips to Eunbi’s tenderly, a hand cradling her cheek. They fit together more perfectly than they could have ever imagined, all those years ago watching each other across the ice. “I told you so.”
“I love you too.”