It all starts during the qualifiers for the World Cup.
Last time we saw little Kim was during the friendlies last year and at the beginning she was like the (not so) normal 17 years old with big hopes and laser focused on making a good impression, but the week of the Germany friendly she was more smiley, more... happy and carefree outside the pitch. It would have been normal after the game but anyway we didn't think much about it.
Getting back to right now, we are wrapping up after practice, when I see her sitting on the grass with her phone and she is texting someone with a stupid smile, a stupid smile I know too well... <<Baby Horse, you okay?>> Pinoe asks coming up to me, I snap back into reality and I nod quickly <<Yeah, just... Don't you think Kim is acting strange?>> I ask looking back to where the kid is sitting, or better, was sitting. Right now she is talking with Ashlyn and Kelley like nothing happened <<No, she doesn't...Isn't she friends with Tweedledee and Tweedledum?>> <<Yes, she is, but... Never mind, I am tired and I need a shower>> <<Yeah, we could never let the Queen of the Nutmeg smell something fishy?>> she burst out laughing and I slap her arm harshly blushing like a mad woman <<You are impossible!>> I shout, the others don't even turn around and I am grateful, even more so when Tobin just joins them "Well, she could have been on Instagram...God knows what she follows".
We are in the lobby of the hotel when I see her talking with Tobin, I smile and I start to walk up to them, but when they see me I notice they talk with hushed tones before apparently change the topic <<Hey, Lex, how are you?>> Toby asks smiling at me making me melt a little <<A little tired, but how can you not when you have Dawn as an athletic trainer?>> they nod and I ask curiosly <<What were you talking about before I got here? It seemed pretty serious>> <<Oh, nothing interesting, school>> <<Right. How is your latest project going?>> <<A little slow... but I am working on it>> she answers a little surprised, I imagine that's because she never told me directly she had one. I am great at unveiling secrets, and I know one when I see one. I wave at them finding an excuse to go away and I start to use my mental gears.
Part 2 (Canada Qualifiers)
It's the night before the match against Canada, I am trying really hard to not slap physically some sense into the girl, she is panicking in my room and it's getting on my nerves <<Kim, Calm the fuck down. Just be yourself tomorrow!>> <<But what if...>> her phone dings and she sighs <<What if it won't be enough?>> she murmurs looking down at her phone and suddenly she relaxes smiling a little <<Okay, so who's this?>> <<Just a friend...>> I shake my head and she tenses up again <<Ashlyn is a friend and you don't smile like that to her. That's a "my boyfriend just texted me" kind of smile>> she shakes her head and replies <<Just a friend, now excuse me but I am tired. Good night Alex>> she practically runs out of my room and I lay confused, someone knocks on my door and a familiar voice asks while her head is peeking in <<Lex?>> I smile and I lay on my stomach propping myself up with my elbows, looking at Tobin I say <<Yes?>> <<Did Kim just run away from here?>> <<I don't know. How are you?>> she comes in closing the door <<A little nervous about tomorrow. Canada is going to get it from us>> she lays with me and I ask <<Don't you have a curfew?>> she laughs and replies <<Tomorrow we are going to be in our heads, I would like to be with you for a few minutes>> we smile at each other and I lean a little to her, she follows suit and soon we share a small kiss <<I would like it too...>>.
In the locker room I see her looking down at her phone, Ash approaches her and she turns it off before looking at the goalkeeper, they talk quietly and then the older woman ruffle her hair before returning to Tobin, Kim gets back on the phone and I see her writing something and I want to go to her but coach gets in and I have to stop the music.
After our loss, she is so distraught she doesn't even notice her phone lighting up, I look over and I see a simple text from someone she named
"the One": [May I call you?];
I look at Kim and I nudge her, she glances at me and I nod towards her phone, she takes it and sighs before texting something and standing up from the bench <<I'll come back in a few>> <<Okay>>.
When we get back to the hotel she is more sadder than anything, in the lobby, before curfew, I ask her <<Is something wrong?>> <<It's just the loss with the Canadians>> <<Kim, I got to know you in these camps and, before the call, you were actually distraught for the loss. You know you can talk to me>> I see her struggling and I sigh then suddenly she says <<I've met someone>> I look at her surprised but I stay silent <<They... She is amazing. We met by accident just before the Germany friendly. I ruined her pristine white button up with coffee, her coffee, and at first she seemed to want to kill me>> <<Well, she didn't>> she smiles and I relax in my seat next to her since story time seems to brighten her mood <<No, she didn't. She made it clear enough that she was very much displeased, but she told me it was okay and that she could wash it, but since I am not that impolite, I asked her to get a coffee together, my treat obviously. She accepted because I was insisting a little too much>> <<How kind of her...>> I sass, she laughs a little and she continues <<So, yeah. We are taking it slow. Even more so because my dad and Alex don't really approve of her>> <<What, why?>> I ask curious, she sighs and looking at the ground she answers <<Because she is 24...>> I look at her impressed and I say <<My compliments. Now, can I see her?>> <<She is in New Zealand, so I think it would be difficult>> <<Do you any photo with her?>> she thinks a little and then nods at me, she grabs her phone and after a minute or so of scrolling through her gallery, she shows me a selfie where she is kissed on the cheek by a tan blonde haired woman, both with big smiles on their faces, I scroll backwards and there is a photo of them looking at the camera and I see the crystal blue eyes of the other woman <<Wow, not a bad catch... and I didn't even see her fully>> <<You may be surprised. that's for sure, but she is not only beautiful>> <<Was she the one that called you?>> she nods and I smile <<She watched the match and, since she is busy these months, she wanted to check on me, she is so sweet and caring when you get to know her>> <<You know, you never mentioned her name>> I try, she shakes her head and says <<Sorry, but I won't tell you. I don't want to cause her any problems>> <<Why? Is she famous?>> <<She has a public image that I would like to preserve. She has posted some photos of us while disguised and only people who knows already of us can tell who is who>> <<So I have to meet her first>> <<Exactly, we talked about it and we agreed to not show me completely in the photos because she would be in serious trouble>> <<You approached this very... maturely>> she nods with a smirk and says <<Dad and Alex are trying to cause trouble and to pick the right photo that shows me but they are not that smart>> we laugh and I give her back the phone <<Thank you for trusting me with this>> <<It's the least I can do, I know you have been dying of curiosity>> <<That's not...>> <<Alex, Pinoe asked me if I did something to you because you have been glaring at me these last few days>> I blush and she laughs standing up from the chair <<Good night, Alex>> <<Good night Kim>>.
Part 3 (Final of the World Cup)
Kim has opened up to me more after that talk and she asks me often about relationship tips, but when we are again in the tunnel with the Canadians, she gets a far away look, I see her trying to be civil with the Canadian, even though she gets right after rejected "poor girl", I see familiar, and yet at the same time new, blonde hair in the tunnel, but the referee calls us and I can't study more the person and soon we get on the pitch.
We Won! We Fucking Won! We wear our golden medals proudly around our necks as I take our cup after the match then Kim surprises us by shaking hands with the Canadian.
We are singing while walking to the lockers, when we see a black clad person waiting in front of our door, dirty blonde hair thrown to the side, she is very tall, like Abby, maybe a little more <<Charlie!>> Kim shouts, the blonde turns to us and she smiles happily seeing the girl running to her, but then she scowls <<Don't run with cleats on concrete!>> she scolds her, Kim immediately slows down and then jumps on her, I smirk understanding who that is and I walk to them while the other girls goes in the locker room <<So, you are her girlfriend/not girlfriend>> they step back and I almost cower noticing how big she is <<And you must be her guardian angel. Alex, right?>> I nod and we shake hands <<Charlie?>> <<Well, Charlotte, but this one loves to call me that>> she explains and I am melting, "Oh my gosh, I love her voice, it's so soft and warm" <<Well, I am going to celebrate with the team, see ya later>> I walk up to the door and I say <<Have a good celebration, you all deserved it. I have a plane to catch and a final to play>> I turn around from the door and I ask curiously and surprised <<Wait, repeat again?>> she smiles and says <<I'm a rugby player and I have a final for a world cup too, tomorrow, but in Ireland>> <<Ireland? And you came here for her? Okay, you have my blessing to date her>> she sighs and says <<Oh, how I wish it was all it took to be with her. But alas her father and her brother aren't so accepting>> <<They will see their mistake, now I will leave you alone>> <<I hope so. Good night Alex>> Charlotte says smiling, I nod and I get in the locker room, barely 5 minutes later Kim gets in and she is smiling <<Could our little rookie care to explain to us who was that beauty?>> she blushes at Ashlyn's remark, they both smile, but then she remembers there are othes inside and she starts panicking, I step in and I take her under my arm saying <<She was none of our concern. Pinoe, let's celebrate properly this cup!>> Kim thanks me with a little squeeze of my hip and then we start celebrating.
The following morning I wake up to see Kim rushing all over the room, confused I ask <<What are you doing?>> <<She is going to play this afternoon, so I am packing my things and I will go see her playing>> <<Okay>> I mumbe, then I realize what she said and I add <<Tell me how it goes>> <<Of course. Tobin, Ashlyn, Ali and Kelley asked me too>> <<They knew too?!>> I jump in a sitting position and I glare at her, she sighs and slowing down she says <<They found out way before you because they sneaked up on me and I was a little scared of your reaction>> <<You should have trusted me with that>> I reply a little hurt <<I know, but now I won't keep you from anything going on with her, okay?>> <<You better. I want to be the first to know about everything>> I grumble dozing off with a small smile.
A few hours later, when I am back in Orlando, I receive a text and opening it I see a photo of Kim and Charlotte, both nibbling on their own medal, I smile and I say in the microphone <<I approve>> then I look better the sleeve of Charlotte jersey are 4 dates, I get paler understanding what that means <<Fuck...Four world cups, five with this one...>> I look back at photo and I repeat <<Fuck>>.
When I see them again together, it's after one of our friendlies, they are talking outside the locker room in a very close proximity, I smirk and I walk up to them and I burst their little bubble <<So, Five times world cup winner?>> Charlotte smiles and nods turning to me <<Yeah, unlike in soccer we are pretty good in rugby>> <<Pretty good? You won five times>> <<I know, but we could have played better>> <<Yeah, you could have. But you scored!>> Kim exclaims happily, Charlotte turns her blinding smile on my teammate and replies <<I did and I was so damn happy. More so when I saw you after the match>> <<So sweet... You are getting me diabetes>> I say dryly, they both laugh and I join in, then Kim asks <<Why are you here?>> <<Well, I wanted to get to now your girlfriend-to-be, like any big sister should do. Without a last name, I couldn't stalk her in the Internet>> Charlotte laughs and says <<Smith, Charlotte Smith>> <<Thank you>> <<I'm sorry, but I did ask her to not divulge my name. I have a public image that's a little precarious because her father and brother are spreading rumors and such. Until she's 18, I'll wait to out our relationship to the world>> I nod and I smile <<You are kind and sweet, are you sure she is a rugby player and not some saint?>> Kim nods and replies <<I watched her playing>> <<If you want, you can come watch me too. We are playing a friendly with your team>> <<Would it be a problem if I bring friends?>> <<Of course not, the more the merrier, ya know? But I ask you to not cover Kim, to not raise suspects>> <<Done, see you...>> <<On Sunday>> I wave at them and I get in the locker room <<So, who wants to see Kim's girlfriend playing this Sunday?>> they roar back a yes and I smirk.
When we reach the stadium they have yet to come in <<Come on, she told me the seats behind their bench are ours>> Kim tells us guiding us through the audience, we reach the seats and almost everyone starts to make stories on Instagram after getting a debrief from our rookie about keeping her girlfriend a secret and Kim is just fine listening to music, I take my phone and I scroll through the emails, until at least we don't see a black flock of people on the field, looking up I almost immediately find Charlotte, she is talking with a much smaller blonde <<Okay, so that one she is talking with is Kendra Cocksedge, Charlie calls her Hobbit for obvious reasons>> when they give their backs to us I see a 5 behind Charlotte and a 9 behind Kendra <<Do the numbers mean anything?>> <<Yeah, the 5 means she is in the scrum pack, a second row, you will see what that is don't worry. The 9 means Kendra is their scrum half, and every number from 1 to 15 means they are starters>> <<You studied>> I say with a smirk, she smiles and nods <<Yep>>.
We watch the girls warming up and I notice how much the woman is actually cut, her thighs are quite muscular, they try some line outs, sometimes she is the jumper while in others she is one of the lifters and I am quite impressed by the physical strength they have, she has a nice kick too I point out to Kim who just nods.
When they are coming to the bench, Charlotte sees us and she smiles slightly, she grabs something from the bench saying something to her teammates before coming to us, she climbs the fence and she lands in front of us and says <<Glad you guys could make it. Kim, could you please do me a favor?>> I look curiously at the player who keeps one hand behind her back, Kim confused answers <<Okay?>> Charlotte smiles and sits in front of her with her back straight and giving her black pre-wrap <<Then please, wrap it tight around my head and watch for the ears. Cover their upper half, okay?>> <<Fine>> Charlotte takes the ponytail of the way and Kim starts working <<So, are you nervous?>> I ask <<A little because we played against them in the semifinal for the World Cup last year and they were good, not like the Aussies, but yeah, you are not that bad>> I scoff, she glares at me and she coolly replies <<I wouldn't want to hurt Kim's mentor, so I'll just say: don't think your rugby counterpart is all that good, OW! Too tight!>> <<Sorry>> Kim says with a smirk, she finishes wrapping her head and she stands up, she looks around us and then she leans down to Kim and kisses her forehead <<Let's make things interesting, if I score I'll take you out on a date. If not, I will let you come to the exclusive after-party of us Black Ferns>> <<I'm in>> Kim answers quickly, Charlotte laughs and then she gets back on the field with her teammates.
In the end she doesn't score and when they get out of the field, Kim manages to sneak to the lockers while we stand guard <<Are they going to fuck?>> Kelley asks, I look at her shocked and I slap her shoulder <<That's our friend you are talking about!>> <<Oh, come on, you can't seriously think they will only talk>> <<I trust their judgement of the situation, they don't want to cause any trouble to the other>> <<And it will stay that way>> I smile seeing Kim back with a black cloth in her hand <<Did she give you her jersey?>> she nods at Kelley and she breaks in the biggest smile I've ever seen <<She wants one day to come out with our respective jerseys>> <<You are going to be 18 soon>> Tobin points out <<Exactly, she will have my jersey next time, although I think it will be a tight fit for her...>> we laugh and we get out of the place going back to our hotel.