PREVIEW: Until next time?
Back in December, I was hit with the urge to write a cute fic with a pair so rare there might be less than a dozen stories for them on Ao3: seungjirou (Seung-gil + Kenjirou).
But since then, what was supposed to be a wholesome one-shot, where Seung-gil and Kenjirou would talk over a coffee after a championship, became a multi-chaptered story centered on my boy Kenjirou and featuring a lot of figure skating.
2017. Kenjirō is living his dreams: thanks to the withdrawal of not one but two figure skaters, he’s about to compete in the Four Continents and the Asian Winter Game. How could one not be thrilled to meet so many awesome figure skaters?
However, Kenjirō’s confidence and excitement are quickly eroded by the tensions between the Japanese team members and the sudden hatred his former rinkmate and friend, Niyuki, has for him. What if Kenjirō isn’t good enough? What if he doesn’t deserve to be there?
As self-doubt caused him to stumble, Kenjirō forms an unlikely—and perhaps one-sided—friendship with an aloof foreigner skater, Lee Seung-gil. But is it really friendship when your heart beats faster?
[feat. Kanako, Viktor, Yuuri, Guanghong, Leo, JJ, Otabek, Phichit, too many OCs, ace character(s) trying to figure out what they feel, and my good friends teenangst and hurt & comfort.]
Credit: original picture from Ashwini Chaudhary
It’s far from being finished, but I still want to post a preview. Even if no one reads that post, I feel like I’m getting close to the day I’ll be able to publish it on Ao3 *clenches fists*.
Please, keep in mind I’m not a native English speaker; those snippets haven’t been proofread by a native speaker either. I just want to share what I’ve been working on since January because it helps me to stay motivated.
Kenjirō wiped away the tears overflowing his eyes, but it didn’t change a thing; he could barely see where he was going, had to trust his feet and his memory. The hotel hallway was a blurry mess, colours merging into each other, and the lights a constellation of white webs dangling in front of him.
Sniffling, he rubbed his face against his sleeve again and, having reached the elevator, brushed the button for his floor. But no, oh no! If he went to his room, he’d be so easy to find. Worse, he might even be expected. He didn’t want that. Not at all. He didn’t want anything anymore, to be honest, except, maybe, someone to hug him close until his eyes were aching from crying too much for too long.
He pressed another button, almost at random. His mind was racing with possibilities, but also with many cons.
Kanako was his coach, not his friend or his sister, and could he really bother Yūri and Viktor with his problems, in the middle of the night? The world felt like it was crumbling on itself, crushed into a merciless hand, all hopes ruined and dead, but what would adults tell him except that it was just teenage angst he’d better get over quick? Even at seventeen, an athlete shouldn’t be ugly crying for something so ridiculous. No one should, actually. As his father always said, to openly display his emotional turmoils to strangers was not only inconvenient but also rude. Hadn’t Kenjirō been better taught than that? He had. But swallowing back his tears and just accepting the bitterness of life was asking too much of him right now.
His constricted chest hurt more, so tight he could barely breathe even if he pressed a hand against it. Why would it have helped, anyway? After all, he couldn’t even fight back his sadness and prevent it from filling his mouth with a salty taste that would probably linger long after. Was he weak? He certainly was. Weak, and stupid, and stubborn, and hopeless. Guanghong warned him. Phichit warned him. They were both the opposite of the voice of reason and, still, they’d both warned him. Why hadn’t he listened? Why had he followed …
The door he had been knocking at opened. Kenjirō didn’t blink away the clouds obscuring his vision. He just reached out and wrapped his arms around a waist, head quickly buried against a shoulder.
Chapter 2 - Context: Kenjiro was being bullied by who was once his friend, Maeshima Niyuki, and they were getting loud. Very. Loud.
“Dakchyeo!” The angry growl made them jerk their head up like one person.
An arm had been locked around Niyuki’s neck, almost strangling him from behind. Niyuki’s rant died in a pathetic gurgle as his face turned grey. It would’ve been satisfying if Kenjirō hadn’t been concerned over his former friend’s safety.
“W-what?” Niyuki managed to blurt out.
“Shut the fuck up,” the man grumbled, in English this time. “You’re always so annoying, Maeshima. I can’t stand your shrill voice anymore. Where do you think you are? In a zoo?”
Instead of stepping in, Kenjirō devoted his anxious attention to the arm curled tight around Niyuki’s throat, to the pale skin and long fingers gripping his former rinkmate’s shoulder. He followed the black sleeve up to a blue-collar and a stern face whose scowl was accentuated by strands of dark hair, thick, angry eyebrows, and curled lips.
“Oh my god, it’s Seung-gil,” Rina squealed as though she’d been blessed with a divine manifestation. She peeled herself off from Niyuki and, ignoring the offended ‘hey’ of the young man she’d just ditched, flashed Seung-gil her most charming smile. They were in the middle of an argument, but it didn’t seem to matter to her. “Hey, Seung-gil, we’re so sorry. Do you—”
“No,” Seung-gil cut off without even sparing her a look.
Face heating up with shame, Kenjirō lowered his eyes and clenched his knees with shaking hands.
Lee Seung-gil. South Korea’s top skater. Correction: the first skater to land a Quadruple loop in an international competition! Acid burned Kenjirō’s throat. It was not how he’d wanted to meet Seung-gil. They made a terrible first impression—well, Kenjirō did, since Seung-gil seemed to know Niyuki, Rina, and Emi well enough to be irked by them.
“Why don’t you just leave already? You’ve finished eating, and some people would like to dine in peace.”
Kenjirō looked up again; Seung-gil had released Niyuki but was still standing behind him, arms crossed and lips pressed together into a thin line. Not good. Niyuki got up to face him. The air grew so tense between them, Kenjirō’s hair stood on end. Not good at all. Mouth still contorted, Seung-gil glowered, and Niyuki glared back as though he wanted to break the Korean skater’s nose.
Oh no! Oh no, no, no! Not that! Anything but that!
All eyes turned to Kenjirō when he pushed his chair back and almost bumped the table with his knees. “Hm, Lee-san, I-I … Could you …”
With cheeks so hot someone could’ve cooked eggs on them, Kenjirō snatched a menu that had been forgotten on the table. But when he met Niyuki’s furious stare and Seung-gil’s cold contempt again, he flinched and choked on his breath. Fuck.
Taking a sharp intake of air, he gripped the leather-like cover until his knuckles turned white and almost disappeared behind the thin book. “Senpai, could you help me pick a dish, please?”
Seung-gil’s derisive snort was almost covered by Niyuki’s shrieks. “‘Senpai’ now? Are you fucking serious?! Fuck you!”
Kenjirō winced again, heart stammering so fast and hard in his chest, he feared it would crack his way out. But after taking a deep, nerve-calming breath, he looked over his fragile rampart to hold Niyuki’s murderous stare. “No, fuck you, Maeshima. You have no respect for anyone.”
And Kenjirō, for his part, was under no illusion; he would pay those words later. But for a brief moment, his body tingled with sheer satisfaction. Niyuki had been so taken aback, his mouth was hanging open, and when he eventually shook himself, it was already too late to retort. A waitress ‘kindly asked’ him and his lady friends to leave before she had to report the incident to their team leader and the ISU officials. It was quite anticlimactic. Not that Kenjirō wanted anyone to get hurt. Especially not Seung-gil.
Once Niyuki and his clique had shuffled out, Kenjirō closed his eyes and pressed the menu to his chest, legs trembling a bit.
Should he report the incident to Kanako? But teachers always told them to figure ‘this’ out themselves or that the teasing would make them stronger and ready for adult life. Well, Hiro would say something like that for sure.
He was about to fall back onto his chair when a string of weird syllables tore him away from his thoughts. He lifted his lids and startled when he was met with Seung-gil gazing down at him with an expression of mild exasperation. When did he go around the table and walk to him, and why? “Uh, sorry?”
“Hwangtae Haejangguk. Dried Pollack soup.” Seung-gil grabbed the menu from his still shaking hands, flicked it open and then shoved it back to his face. “This.” He tapped the tip of his finger over a picture of a white soup with yellow fish and vegetables. “It’s light but warm, perfect for winter or hangovers. And order Jeonbok Juk tomorrow morning to fuel you throughout the morning.”
Kenjirō struggled to swallow the lump in his throat. Seung-gil’s tone was so cold, it was obvious he took no pleasure in helping him and probably just did it out of pure politeness. Not that Seung-gil was usually polite if his reputation were to be believed. “Th-thank you,” Kenjirō still mumbled.
Without even uttering a word or acknowledging Kenjirō’s appreciation, Seung-gil returned to a table set next to a wide window overlooking the nocturnal landscape.
Uh? Well. Okay …
Defeated, Kenjirō glanced at the long table still cluttered with empty plates, then at the small group of people dining and babbling happily, then at Seung-gil again, now sitting in front of a laptop with a half-eaten stew and a small army of untouched side dishes.
It was a terrible idea. Everyone said Seung-gil didn’t mingle with other figure skaters if he could avoid it. Besides, he made it clear he had no interest in chit-chatting right now—or ever. After all, even his interviews were as dry as the Gobi desert. ‘Yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ were his favourite answers. But what did Kenjirō have to lose? At worst, the Korean champion would tell him to fuck off, and if he didn’t, Kenjirō wouldn’t be so alone and miserable even if they didn’t talk at all.
Despite what had just happened, there was still a tiny flame burning in Kenjirō’s chest.