They got pretty drunk after the race. There was a lot of dancing and a lot of photos on cellphones and more than one rendition of “We Are the Champions” and it was, all in all, a pretty awesome night.
“Shania.” Tommy was sitting beside her on the padded bench in the club they eventually found themselves in. Tommy was not sober. “Shannni-a.” So not sober.
“You did good today.” He stabbed her in the shoulder with his finger.
“Yeah, I know.”
“No, really.” He looked right in her eyes. “And you should keep running the relay.”
“I don’t know …”
“You should. “ He stabbed her shoulder again. “You and Lisa made a good team once you worked your stuff out.”
Shania looked over to where Lisa was laughing with Belle.“I guess.”
Lisa returned her look with a small smile.
Shania shut the door behind her and walked down the stairs leaving her flat.
Carl, Brian and Trix had all convinced her to accept the help that was offered by UK Athletics. She was one of their best athletes, they told her. A World Champion. She couldn’t keep living above Brian’s shop forever. And they (and their sponsors) were happy to help with accommodation and living costs.
“Girl,” Trix had said at a post Championships function, “they’re gonna use us to promote the hell out of athletics; you might as well take something back from them.”
So, she had this flat. It wasn’t much, but it was her own space and she was grateful for it. No one to get in her way.
And now she was on her way to a magazine photo-shoot. The promotion that Trix had told her about. Shania didn’t really like the idea of a photo-shoot but she’d been told it wouldn’t be “too much, just nice and straightforward” (whatever that meant).
When she arrived, Shania saw Belle waiting in the lobby.
“How are you doing?”
“Good, man, how are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine, but how’s Carl?” Belle said with an impish smile.
“He’s good, yeah.”
“Good? That’s all I’m getting?”
“Pretty much.” She grinned.
Belle sighed dramatically. “Shania, Shania, Shania.”
“What are we ‘Shania’-ing about?” Lisa appeared behind them.
“Carl. Shania is being less than forthcoming with certain details.”
“Ah, I see.” Lisa smiled.
Shania didn’t know how Lisa felt about the whole situation but she wasn’t giving anything away with her expression.
Rachel arrived and more hugs were exchanged, before a tall dark haired guy in skinny jeans came and got them and showed them towards the studio.
Shania spent the afternoon with her arm around Lisa as the photographer took more and more photos.
Carl leant up on one elbow and narrowed his eyes.“You talk about Lisa a lot, you know?”
“Well, we’re friends.”
“Yeah, what else would we be?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I seem to remember you fought in front of quite a large television audience not too long ago.” He was teasing, but Shania couldn’t help but think that there was something behind it.
“We’re way over that.” She shrugged.
“Glad to hear it.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
“No problem. Just an observation.”
“Well observe on your own time.”
“Oh, I see how it is. Just using me for my body, not my conversation skills,” he grinned.
“Uh huh, got it one.” She kissed him hard.
She was trying to keep her fitness up, even in the off-season. So she was at the gym, doing a little weights work, but Carl’s words kept floating back into her head.
Lisa and her were friends, it was normal to talk about your friends a lot, right? Granted she’d never had a lot of really close friends even as a kid, and in the last year or so she’d always been concentrating on running.The closer she’d got to trials, the more she’d blocked people out.
But Lisa understood that drive. Not that Carl didn’t - he’d ran at that level before too - he didn’t quite understand it like Lisa did. Sure, having Lisa as her enemy (was that too dramatic?) had been motivating, but having her a friend and working together was somehow even better.
She gave up on the weights, and went to the changing room. She picked up her phone out of her bag and thumbed her way down to Lisa’s number.
Lisa replied back almost right away.
Want to go for a run tomorrow?
Shania had suggested the location. She’d typed it into her phone without really thinking about it. The old track where she’s trained with Brian and Linford. She wanted Lisa to see it.
Lisa turned up and looked a little confused. “What is this place?”
“Yeah. Well sort of. Where Brian and I used to train every day in the lead-up to Worlds.”
“Oh, after you abandoned us?”
“Hey! Well okay, I guess, but like you cared!”
Lisa laughed and then properly looked around.
“Wow. It’s …”
“... a heap?” Shania tried not to sound defensive, but that note snuck into her voice anyway.
“No! It has some … rustic charm.” Lisa gave a small smile. She seemed a little nervous.
“Rustic charm, eh? I guess that’s one way of putting it.” She poked her shoe into the surface. “Not too bad to run on though.”
Lisa took her jacket off and threw it on the stubbled grass. “We’ll see.”
They ran back and forth for at least an hour, and did a bit of general cardio training, but kept everything fairly light.
“So?” Shania said after they were finished.
“No, it’s got a far more genuine feel than some of the sterile places I’ve trained.”
“What you’re saying is you like the track for its personality?”
Lisa laughed. “I guess. Although it doesn’t look too bad either … Shania.”
She looked straight at Lisa.
“Thanks for showing this to me.”
“Yeah, I guess. I just felt like seeing it. Feels a bit like home.”
Lisa had a weird look on her face as she looked back at her.
Lisa grabbed her jacket from the grass and slipped it on. “I guess I should get going.”
“Yeah. I said I’d meet Carl ….”
Suddenly Shania felt that she didn’t want to say goodbye so quickly. “You can come if you want? I think we’re just grabbing a curry or something?”
“No, it’s okay, I don’t want to intrude.”
“Nah, it would be fine.”
“It’s fine, Shania. But thanks.” She seemed pretty insistent.
They walked out the gate and then stopped where they had to head in different directions.
“Well, I’ll see you soon.” Lisa seemed almost too cheerful.
They hugged, and as Lisa pulled away she stopped so her face and Shania’s face were close. Real close.
“Yeah, I just … “ and then she leant over and softly pressed her lips against Shania’s.
Shania pulled away. “Lisa, what?”
Lisa took a few steps hastily backwards. “God, I’m sorry.” And she ran, and ran fast.
“Wait, Lisa … ” She took off after her before realising she’d had too much of a head start.
Lisa didn’t know what had come over her. She had been so sure she wasn’t going to do anything, right up to the point that she had. Ugh. She buried her head in her pillows.
There was a knock on her door.
“Shania’s here to see you.”
Fuck. And it’s not like she could pretend she wasn’t there or anything. She sat up, glancing in her mirror and hoping she didn’t look too much like she’d been moping all afternoon. Yeah, she totally did, but what was she going to be able to do in the next 30 seconds without seeming like …
Her door creaked open and Shania was there, in her tracksuit, looking a little awkward. Wasn’t she supposed to be meeting Carl?
Her mother looked in through the open door. Lisa gave her a look until she took the hint that maybe she wasn't wanted around right this second
“Right, I’ll just leave you two alone. Let me know if you need anything, girls.” Lisa heard her retreating footsteps as she went down the stairs.
Shania stepped through the doorway, looking around a little before turning and shutting the door firmly behind her.
“Shania, I’m sorry,” Lisa began. “ I don’t know what came over me out there, I just … “
“It’s okay.” She shrugged.
“It was okay. I uh …” Shania looked down at her feet, before straightening. “I didn’t mind the kiss that much to be honest.”
“What?” Lisa’s ability to speak in sentences longer than one word was going right out the window apparently.
“I didn’t mind.” Shania had a bit of a blush about her cheeks.
She sat down on the edge of Lisa’s bed, running her fingers along the raised pattern of the bed spread.
“But you and Carl?” Four word sentence. She counted that as victory.
“Yeah, it’s not going to work out.”
Lisa’s heart picked up even more.
“Oh?” Even to her own ears, her attempt at disinterest was a complete failure.
“Yeah I uh, just figured out I like someone more than him. He’ll be disappointed but he’ll understand. I think he already knows.”
Lisa didn’t know what to say.
“Look, I’m really bad at this kind of stuff, I’m just going to kiss you back now … unless you know, you don’t want me to.”
“No, I mean …
Shania leant closer and their lips touched, softly at first, almost chastely before she deepened it a little, taking her cue from Lisa who had moved into it, slowly bringing her hand around to caress the side of Shania’s face.
It was a good kiss.
“We should do that again.”
“Definitely. Practice is important.” Shania affected a sombre tone that sounded a little like Tommy to Lisa’s ears, before they both fell onto their sides laughing.
Not much changed and a lot changed.
They were hanging out a lot more. Mostly at Shania’s, but her Mum had eventually figured something was up and insisted that Shania come to dinner. It had gone okay. She hadn’t quite worked up to telling her Dad yet. Lisa knew Shania being a girl was unlikely to be a problem, but Shania being Shania might be. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but for now it was good. Really good. And Carl did genuinely seem okay with it, which was a little weird.
They were at the high performance centre, doing some fitness tests, and Shania had kept shooting her looks. Looks Lisa knew a little too well. Mischievous looks.
After they were finished, Shania grabbed her arm and said “C’mon this way” into her ear. Lisa shivered a little.
“Where are we … oh.” They were in a little room, probably used for sports massage by the looks of it. But there was no one in it. Shania was sneaky.
“Yeah.” Shania grinned, and slowly walked her back against the wall. “This okay?”
“Yeah.” More than okay.
They kissed slowly at first, Shania teasing a little with her fingers around the hem of Lisa’s singlet, slowly circling beneath the waistband of her shorts, and caressing her hipbone, drawing small circles around it.
Her mouth moved down Lisa’s neck, slowly, biting just a little at the pulse point. Lisa sighed happily.
Shania’s fingers slowly moved down beneath her underwear’s waistband before hitting the small patch of hair.
Lisa moved her hips encouragingly and Shania gave her a small smile before moving her hand in a more purposeful manner so it was between her folds and searching.
Shania found the right spot quickly and with Lisa’s encouragement found the right rhythm and angle.
“Fuck. Yes. That.”
“You look so good like this, Lise.”
Lisa ground down onto her hand, and it didn’t take long before she felt the familiar pressure building up and up and up and then all she was seeing was stars.
Shania drew back her hand and brought it up to her lips. Lisa leant over and kissed her hard, tasting herself a little on Shania’s lips. They really should have been doing this forever.
While still kissing, Lisa flipped them around and pushed her against the wall. “My turn.”
They heard footsteps outside the door. Fuck. Not now.
“Later. My place,” Shania said into her ear, and gave her a quick kiss.
They broke apart reluctantly before an older guy opened the door, and they scurried out hopefully not at looking like they’d been having sex. Lisa didn’t think they hid it particularly well.
They made excellent time getting back to Shania’s and moved even more quickly into her bedroom. Bags discarded, shoes kicked off.
Shania grinned in anticipation.
Lisa pushed her lightly against her bed. “I said it was my turn.”
“Do you worst, Temple.”
Shania was quickly divested of her track pants and singlet and Lisa crawled over her, stroking her hair and down further, down her chest, and between her breasts, leaning over to slowly mouth each nipple , swirling her tongue around each, before moving her head down even further.
She removed Shania’s underwear down her legs and then kissed her way up her thighs, nipping with slightly more purpose every now and again, almost as if to see if Shania was paying attention. She was. Her attention couldn’t be anywhere else right now.
Shania reached down to run her hands through Lisa’s blond hair, which she pulled free of its ponytail.
“C’mon, Lise,” she urged.
Shania only called her that when they were like this. In bed together. Their own little term of endearment.
Lisa placed her hand on one of Shania’s hipbones, caressing slowly, before moving her mouth and tongue from her thighs to slightly further north. She slowly teased her clit more and more, adding a finger or two in slowly but surely. Shania raised her hips and encouraged her on.
“Yeah, just like that.”
Lisa found the rhythm Shania liked, and broke her apart with each small movement of her tongue, until Shania was swearing and yelling in her release.
They lay in each other’s arms afterwards until their rumbling stomachs got the best of them and they went in search of food.
They stood at the athlete’s entrance to the practice track, holding hands. There was hardly anyone around.
Lisa gave her a smile.
“What?” Shania demanded.
“I’m not taking it easy on you out there.” She gestured towards the track.
“Like I would want that.” She dropped Shania’s hand and started running, looking back over her shoulder and daring Shania to chase her.