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HBIC

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"Oh, come on," Doug said. "Stop it. It's cute, you look cute."

"That hairband," Kate said with a groan. "Those bangs. What was I thinking?"

"You were thinking that you looked cute," Doug said, "and you were right."

The internet, it seemed, never forgot anything—even things which had happened before Kate had ever heard of it. Footage from the '92 Olympics had been on YouTube for years, of course, but somehow Kate found there was a difference between watching their routine through, start to finish, and seeing a post-medal interview chopped up second by second on a perpetual loop.

There her younger self was: pushing up the cuffs of her oversized Team USA jacket over and over, head tilting as she prepared to answer the very silly questions of a reporter from NBC. There she was: letting Doug take her hand for the first time over and over. Then she'd had to fight back a shiver, knowing the cameras were on her; now she had no need to fight the impulse. She reached across and took Doug's hand, lacing their fingers together. Public displays of affection still didn't come easily to her, but they were in the back of a town car heading from the airport, so Kate didn't think that it counted. Besides, it wasn't so easy to care about propriety when such a simple gesture could still make Doug smile at her like that.

"That is not why Hannah keeps sending me these links and you know it." Kate swiped through to the next image. It was taken from their first TV interview back on US soil. The Good Morning America producer had insisted that Kate and Doug wear their gold medals around their necks on air, which had seemed appallingly tacky to her then. The passing of a quarter of a century had made her much more judgemental about the sweater she was wearing. "Good lord."

"Yeah," Doug said. "She sends them because she's a teenager who knows exactly what buttons to push to make her mother's face do that thing."

Kate's mouth dropped open. "Does what thing?"

Doug pointed at her with his free hand. "My point exactly."

Kate huffed.

"Yeah, yeah," Doug said. "Save it for someone who's afraid of your bark still." He leaned across and kissed her on the cheek, then pressed another kiss to the corner of her mouth.

"You are incorrigible," Kate told him.

"I know you are, but what am I?"

Kate squinted at him. "That doesn't even make sense."

"That's because I'm incorrigible," Doug said, grinning.

"Oh, it just… never mind." Kate leaned back in her seat with a sigh, looking out through the windows at the Manhattan skyline, hazy and growing in the evening half-light.

"What? What is it?" Doug asked. "Come on, you loved that other one she sent you, the one from Calgary with the writing on it."

A particular still from her '88 routine had become popular online, it seemed. Hannah had sent her a version in which Kate's face—nose wrinkled, lip curled, as she looked down at something just out of the shot—was overlaid with "HBIC." Kate hadn't loved the image, precisely, but she had taken it as satisfying confirmation that even though a portion of the great American viewing public still thought of her as "that ice princess skating bitch", they nevertheless acknowledged that she was in charge of her own life. She'd never have been able to parlay her skating career into a broadcasting one otherwise.

"Well, that one's different," Kate told him. "That's…"

"What?"

"Well, before you."

"Oh. Huh."

"Oh, not like that," Kate said. She looked back down at her phone and swiped to the next image. This one spliced together two moments: Doug's arms as he caught her after the throw twist, their faces just before they kissed. It looped over and over: he caught her, she kissed him; he caught her, she kissed him. It was very odd looking at her own expression in that moment, like poking at a skinned knee. Or like having others see you do it, she supposed; knowing that they knew you knew you could bleed. "Just, before you it wouldn't have…"

"What?"

She looked at him. Doug's face softened. "Honey," he said. "Hey, come here." He slung an arm around her, tugged her close. Kate went willingly, though sighed into his shoulder for the sake of form. "Remember who said it first. I never regretted it, and I never will, and honestly I don't give a shit what some teenagers on the internet think about that."

Kate bit back a smile. "At least no one's got a hold of that picture of you smelling the ice."

She could feel Doug's laughter, a physical thing. "Hey, I bet Hannah would make it into a thing if I sent it to her. Or you want to be the only viral meme person in this relationship?"

"Why do I put up with you?" Kate said, not able to hold back her own laughter now.

"You know," Doug said, holding her closer.

Kate did.