The cheers erupted the second the ball hit the net, the celebrating trumpets of the school band and final whistle from the referee followed not long after.
The game was over. They had won.
She released a sigh in the middle of trying to catch her breath after all that last minute effort. The back of her hand wiped the accumulation of sweat on her forehead. Some players of the other team shook her hand, congratulating her and her whole school on the win, but leaving their own field with a disappointed frown and clenched jaws nonetheless. She couldn’t blame them. Nothing stung more than losing a game you were hosting.
Soon enough, her teammates jumped on her back, hugging and scratching her head in a fond way, drowning her with compliments and praise.
“Momo you little shit” She hears Jeongyeon, captain, goal keeper of the team and long time friend, before she feels her knuckles on her scalp. “you just had to make them suffer ‘til the last minute, didn’t you?”
She could’ve answered with another remark, she had plenty ready already, but the team’s ace player had forgotten all about them as soon as she faced the bleachers and all her focus had switched to the same girl, once again and again and again…
There she was, cheering along with her own team, shaking her blue and yellow pompoms in the air, eyes half shut from how happy she was, but Momo knew she was looking back at her even from this distance. Because Momo was looking too, and because Momo had always paid a particular attention to Sana that she didn’t- no, couldn’t, give anyone else.
The people left one by one until no one but a few players and cheerleaders from both schools were left on the field. The show was over and there was nothing left to see. Momo’s whole team had moved to the visitor’s locker rooms and she, herself, was just on her way out when she stepped on her untied shoelaces, almost tripping in the process.
Her eyes visit the back of her head in annoyance, once more reminding herself that she should seriously learn how to do them on her own. She crouches at the same time Sana does in front of her. (Momo couldn’t understand how she hadn’t noticed her coming. She usually always did).
The younger brunette gently swats her fingers away from the laces, taking the latter in her care instead. Momo just watches for the few seconds she could.
She doesn’t watch her shoes, she doesn’t even watch Sana’s fingers in action to try to understand the complex mechanism and secret behind getting the perfect laces knot, she just watches Sana. She watches Sana up close (it was a view she was used to, but couldn’t quite get over). She watched how her brown eyes looked so focused even on the most mundane of tasks, noticed how the clear headband was a new fashion choice but Momo appreciated it a lot, then again, there wasn’t a single thing she didn’t appreciate about her.
“You know you’re gonna have to teach me at some point” She speaks when Sana looks up at her. Her brown eyes were now focused on something else “you can’t go around tying my shoelaces every time”
The brunette gives her one of her many smiles that never failed to make Momo’s heart swell for a reason, whether it was sad or happy. Actually, to be more exact, anything Sana ever did made Momo’s heart swell from endearment.
“What if I want to?” She teases, hugging her knees in the process, and fights back her gigantic smile.
Momo was about to answer when Sana suddenly got up, encouraging her to do the same.
“I’ll be waiting for you in the car”
“I’m driving?” She asks when she should’ve already been used to it already. Sana didn’t like being behind the wheel… “Sure” she corrects, faint understanding smile tugging at her lips, “I’ll just go get my b-” Momo never gets the chance to finish her sentence.
“Whatever! Just hurry up. I’m hungry and so is everyone else apparently”
A peck to her cheek is sufficient enough to make Momo’s smile grow and her aching muscles, begging her to take it slow, make a run for the bleachers where Jeongyeon had set one of her bags for her.
And maybe it was the aftermath of the game that got her so tired, or maybe it was the tingling spot on her cheek still being the only thing on her mind, but once again, Momo had failed to check her surroundings.
“If you don’t wipe that whipped look off your face right now I might actually throw up”
Legs crossed, palms set on the metallic surface of the bleachers and arms stretched so she was leaning back, sat the cheerleading team’s captain.
“Nayeon” Greets Momo.
Said girl turns back her attention to the horizon after a glance, almost ignoring the player’s presence, as if she wasn’t the one who had initiated the conversation, but Momo waits, because Nayeon sighs overdramatically and so she knows there’s more to come.
“When are you going to tell her”
It doesn’t sound like a question, not when Momo stops looking in her bag to watch the way Nayeon presses her lips, almost as if she wants an answer and wouldn’t wait for it, or the way her dark eyes look challenging, daring her to speak the truth or worse, lie.
So Momo lies.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about” She speaks confidently before going back to her bag.
Her current shirt is quickly pulled over her head. She was hot and she refused to stay a second longer in a jersey drenched in sweat. Her fingers closed around her water bottle.
“I see. choosing the flee option” The older girl pauses for effect, eyes lingering, “I don’t mind, I always thought honesty was too overrated to begin with”
Momo looks back her way, the odd combination of words having had caught her attention. And if that statement hadn’t, then the following one would’ve done the job just fine.
“but don’t you think you’re being selfish?”
“I beg your pardon?”
If Momo didn’t know any better, she would’ve thought Nayeon froze for a second and even looked like she regretted her comment. But Momo knew Nayeon never regretted anything.
“What if shefound out you weren’t honest?”
A silence settles between them, a silence that gives time for the question to resonate inside Momo’s head for a second; and she comes to a conclusion. She doesn’t like where this conversation was going nor did she like the way it begun, not when it sounded somewhat threatening to her ear.
Nayeon was a good friend of Sana’s, especially since she’s become captain after only a year of attending the school (they were both running for the captain’s position, and Sana only showed Momo how devastated she was after losing to the new girl. Sana got over it pretty soon, but Momo didn’t). Nayeon was also childhood best friends with class president Jihyo and Jeongyeon. The point is, although the both of them had friends in common, Momo and Nayeon were never really close and although they sometimes met outside of school, they never really talked that much.
It was mainly because Momo was so busy with Sana, and Nayeon looked just as busy with Jeongyeon.
Momo tears her gaze away from the dark eyes and throws her jersey in the bag before swinging the latter over her shoulder. The player was preparing herself to leave for the lockers and take a shower, not wanting to keep Sana waiting any longer, when she spotted the smiling tall boy walking over to them and she realized she wanted to get her point clear.
If Nayeon wanted to start a friendship, Momo had to let her know that that, whatever it was, wasn’t the right approach.
So it’s with a stern face, serious tone and defying eyes that she addresses the older girl:
“shouldn’t you be honest yourself?”
And Momo makes her leave, crossing path with Mark, the smiling tall boy, who briefly greets her before continuing his walk to the bleachers.
Nayeon watches from where she was sitting. She reluctantly gets up, brushing the non existent dust from her uniform the second she meets the boy’s eyes.
It was time for her to leave too. She sighs. Arms wrap around her waist, lifting her up and so, she smiles.
If Momo was selfish, then so was Nayeon. The two were exactly the same. Only difference was that Nayeon had a boyfriend.
Momo had just gotten inside Sana’s car and thrown her bags in the backseat.
Her hair was still damp and she hoped it would naturally dry itself during the drive. On the bright side, she now smelled better than how she did a few moments ago, but on the other hand, Sana, who was sitting arms crossed in the passenger seat, sulking like a 5-year-old kid, didn’t look too happy.
“I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes. Which part of hurry up andI’m hungry didn’t you get?”
If she wanted to look even the least bit seriously upset or even threatening in this case, Momo thought Sana shouldn’t have pouted the way she did.
“Relax” Protests the star player “It’s a 10-minute drive anyway, you’ll get stuffed with food soon enough”
The keys are set and soon enough, the car starts driving them away from the school parking lot.
“Jeongyeon and the others are already there, just so you know” informs a still sulky Sana. Her hand works on finding a good radio station that is actually broadcasting a goodsong.
“So Jeongyeon didn’t shower” Is all Momo gets from that piece of information, squinting her nose in disgust. Sana doesn’t answer, “Trust me, you wouldn’t want me anywhere near you after a game”
The brunette doesn’t skip a beat.
“That’s not true” She blurts, surprising herself and Momo by how fast she had responded, “She smelled nice and just changed shirts, I checked for myself”
There’s a red light and Momo can finally look at her best friend sitting beside her. She only ends up meeting her gaze halfway (Sana is always a step ahead). Momo remembered how much she loved it when she tied her hair in a low ponytail like that, and gosh, that stupid outfit was not helping at all.
It was during times like these that Momo felt the guiltiest about her feelings, when she wanted to do things to her best friend that she wasn’t supposed to do to a best friend.
“don’t you think you’re being selfish?”
“What if she found out you weren’t honest?”
“No offense but I doubt a goal keeper sweats as much as a striker during a game. Especially one as easy as today. She barely even moved”
Sana had a tendency of always getting what she wanted, especially if Momo was somehow involved, and if she asked the right questions, and she alwaysasks the right questions, Momo wouldn’t be able to look her in the eyes, thus, Sana would ask more right questions and Momo would have no other choice but to spill. So that is why Momo decided to focus on the road, as she should.
“Are you implying Jeongyeon, your captain, doesn’t contribute to the team as much as you do?”
“That’s notwhat I meant and you know it” The red light shifts to green. Momo is somewhat relieved. “We’d be more than lost without her and not to mention that the score would’ve been drastically different. She’s good at catching balls”
“I don’t doubt that” Is all Sana replies, joking smile playing on her lips, and Momo can only roll her eyes at how Sana can find a sexual interpretation to everything.
That should’ve been it, really. They should’ve turned up the radio and silently listened to whatever song was on, the ride wasn’t even that long.
Momo didn’t see the way Sana’s fingers closed around the hem of her own skirt
“You smell of lemon” She adds.
Everything is intentional.
It’s not exactly cold outside when Jeongyeon decides to step out of the dinner, yet, for some reason she wraps an arm around her torso.
She still shivers when there’s absolutely no wind and she realizes that the front pocket of her jeans feels a lot heavier than before. She knows her body is only making up excuses for her to take the pack of cigarette out, but really, she’s in no position nor condition to deny it anything, especially not tonight. She easily convinces herself she needs to warm herself up and soon enough, the stub is between her lips and the lighter is burning a few inches away from her mouth.
Jeongyeon barely even puffs the smoke into the air when she hears footstep approaching. She doesn’t need to look to know who it is. There was only one person who knew her enough to follow her out.
“I hate it”
Nayeon doesn’t ask what, she already knows, she always does. Jeongyeon almost wants her to say it back, but she knows better. The cheerleader wasn’t one to be true about her feelings, not even with herself.
“you’ll get over it” is what she gets instead, and it upsets her enough to finally look back.
Nayeon was looking at the road ahead, wearing a bigger jacket over her cheerleader outfit, neck bare revealing the freshly new marks, the last two being courtesy of another boyfriend.
“I would’ve if I wanted to” Retorts Jeongyeon, bringing her cigarette back to her mouth.
Nayeon’s eyes finally lay on her.
“not surprised, you’re an idiot” She answers back.
Her eyes flicker to the road ahead, noticing a familiar car. She takes her time, putting one foot in front of the other to close the distance between her and the goal keeper.
“at least I’m honest about it. What does that make you?” Jeongyeon’s smile can only reach her ears when Nayeon’s face is just inches away from hers.
“smarter than you”
Jeongyeon feels her long slender fingers travel down her arm and hand before Nayeon takes the cigarette away from her fingers, and she’s about to protest when the cheerleader beats her to it.
“fitness freak is here”
Jeongyeon looks up to see a certain car park not far away from them. She loses her good mood at the same time as Nayeon takes the longest drag from her cigarette, puffing the smoke back in the face in front of hers as she hears doors of a car closing.
“what are you guys doing outside?” a rather too enthusiastic voice makes Nayeon turn around to answer.
“I obviously needed a smoke”
She doesn’t even try to act surprised when she sees Sana’s teasing smile or Momo’s eye roll. Jeongyeon, now behind, waves the smoke away with a hand, coughing and silently thanking Nayeon simultaneously.
“are you okay?” asks a concerned Momo.
“yep. perfectly fine” manages out a still struggling Jeongyeon.
She’d have to repay Nayeon the favor one day. If Momo had seen Jeongyeon smoking…the latter wouldn’t have lived long enough to hear the end of it.
Momo’s attention switches to the smoker. She doesn’t decide to hate the forced smile plastered on her face, she just does because its obviously hypocrite.
“I won’t stop you from ruining your own lungs, but try not to make my friends suffer the same fate”
Nayeon opens back her eyes, stands straighter and ignores Sana’s apologetic eyes as much as she ignores Momo’s advice.
“I don’t care”
Her eyes make sure to hold on to Momo’s as she takes another drag. Her lips intentionally making a popping noise as she blows yet again, more smoke, provoking Momo.
Sana feels her best friend heating up and intervenes, wrapping her arms around Momo’s biceps.
“It’s okay” she speaks in a gentle voice. Momo wasn’t the type to get angry easily, so there must’ve been something else, something must’ve happened between the two, “it’s okay. Nayeon only smokes occasionally”
Sana’s fingers squeeze at her muscle one more time, and so, Momo decides it’s not worth it anymore. Her muscles relax under Sana’s touch and soon enough, Jeongyeon is looking at two backs as they push open the dinner’s door to get inside.
The tiny bell, hanging above that same door, rings once again as the two girls disappear behind the glass. Although Jeongyeon could still see them through it, walking over to their table, she knows she’s alone outside.
“I really hate it”
Nayeon bumps their shoulders together as she walked past her.
They can’t tell if it’s intentional.
So it happened again.
Nothing too unusual. Just six of them around a table, enjoying food, enjoying each other’s presence, or trying to…
It was mainly Jeongyeon and Jennie teasing Sana and Nayeon, Sana making fun of Momo almost falling asleep with her eyes open, Nayeon being busy keeping a horny Mark and his wandering hands under control, and really she shouldn’t have seen what she’s seen, but Mark dropped her fork and this time she wasn’t too lazy to bend down to pick it herself.
Momo and Sana holding hands wasn’t that big of a deal, it never was. She just wondered why it always had to be kept a secret.