Author: nicotine

The UK was in the late afternoon. Yoon Chahyun jumped out of the taxi as if flying, grabbing his suitcase without the driver’s assistance. With the sound of the wheels groaning as if they might break during the rough movement, Chahyun walked towards the building entrance, slipping his hand into the pocket of his training suit. At the end of the familiar path, a large glass building came into view.

“Winchester United Football Club”

Yoon Chahyun had caught a red-eye flight right after last night’s game, crossing over to England. With only about a week of stay, he had the advantage of not having any interviews or broadcasting schedules lined up. Of course, the sports industry and the internet would make some noise about Chahyun’s sudden departure, but it would be noisy for a while.

Ignoring colleagues who grabbed him, saying it’s not a big deal if he didn’t score a goal, Chahyun pushed through and went straight back home from the stadium. His parents and younger sister looked at Chahyun with eyes that flickered like lanterns, but they knew he was not the eldest son who would listen just because they told him to stop. Chahyun inherited only two things from his mother: soccer skills and stubbornness.

“I’ll be back after the league ends.”

Without changing his clothes, Chahyun walked out of the front door, and his family saw him off like a local magistrate swearing to come back before the alcohol cools. That was how much there was a sharp glint in Chahyun’s eyes.

Entering the club, Yoon Chahyun’s first encounter was with Leroy. Leroy, strolling casually through the lobby with a flat white in one hand, almost spat out all the coffee in his mouth at Chahyun’s sudden appearance. Why is Yoon here? Meeting Leroy’s gaze that seemed to say so, Chahyun silently climbed the stairs of the building.

The second encounter was with Jude. Spotting Chahyun on the staircase to the second floor, Jude, rubbing his eyes as if he had seen something wrong, was startled when he realized it wasn’t a hallucination. “Yuan? You’re already here? It seems a bit early for two days.”

“What about Misha Asplund?”

Glancing up and down at Chahyun as if disbelieving, Jude quickly caught his breath at Chahyun’s dry question. Then, after rolling his eyes a few times, he pointed slowly inside the lounge with his finger.

“In the locker room…”

Without a glance, Chahyun walked straight ahead, dragging his suitcase. Flying 5,400 miles, step by step, two steps, one step closer.

Yoon Chahyun approached the door leading to the locker room and waved his hand over the sensor. The door, as if welcoming his return after several days, opened wide, revealing the interior. Someone who had been sitting with an air of popularity looked up.

Damn brown hair. It was Misha Asplund.

Yoon Chahyun swung his suitcase aside as if throwing it away. The luggage, slammed onto the floor, made a forlorn sound as if it might break, but he paid no attention. The floor of the newly built Winchester United Club Center locker room, at astronomical cost, probably couldn’t have a single scratch.

However, Misha couldn’t muster composure in the face of Chahyun’s sudden entrance. Pulling out his earphones and looking up, Misha’s expression was no different from the other two colleagues he had met here. Watching Chahyun, who entered the locker room with a flashy presence along with his battered suitcase, Misha slowly rose from his seat. A puzzled expression appeared on his face as he uttered the expected words.

“Yuan, you came quickly.”

No, I just arrived now. It wasn’t right for Misha to say that. He had waited half a day to meet the guy, and then it took another day. Even though he could see that brown hair in the newspaper he grabbed to wrap his soccer shoes or in the news headline on his phone, it took a long time to face it directly. Too much time for something in Yoon Chahyun to change.

Misha silently stared at Chahyun with eyes like a dog’s. Chahyun felt as if his insides were twisting. Unpleasant emotions gathered inside like dark clouds.

Being in the media spotlight or becoming a subject of public ridicule was okay. Yoon Chahyun was not the type to be overly concerned about such things. Honestly, there was even something amusing about it.

However, Misha Asplund, the guy whose actions affected Yoon Chahyun himself, was a different dimension of a problem. Yoon Chahyun loved soccer, and that love had to be free of any impurities. Losing face and ruining the outcome by the actions of others was never the intention. In that sense, Misha was the culprit who played a prank on Yoon Chahyun’s most precious thing, like a mischievous child spilling watercolor on a drawing. That small ripple disturbed Yoon Chahyun’s inner world, and the miserable result was yesterday’s game.

Something hot surged in his stomach. Regaining his senses, Chahyun found himself rushing towards Misha.


For a very brief moment, Chahyun grabbed the collar of Misha’s training suit and pushed him against the locker behind. Even though their builds were slightly different, the body language of a person with the intention to attack and one without was evident. Misha, who was standing still, was abruptly caught off guard by the sudden grip and sat down on the floor without hesitation. The collided locker made a dull sound.

Grasping the nape of Misha’s neck and forcefully pressing his back against the locker, Chahyun’s hand made it seem like a very short moment. Despite instinctively trying to free himself by overlapping his hands, Misha couldn’t withstand the strength that Chahyun had already gained in position.

Chahyun looked down at Misha with sharp eyes. Resentment and anger, or some unknown emotion in that vicinity, swirled within him. Not striking Misha’s face was due to the remaining trace of Chahyun’s reason, and not breaking Misha’s rib by slamming him into the locker was a bit of respect as fellow players. Of course, among them, blaming the agent was undeniable.


As if the sleepy feeling was unbearable, Misha turned his head to the side. Strands of hair scattered, revealing his white cheek in front of Chahyun’s eyes. It was an irresistibly tempting cheek slap. The only defense between Misha’s face and Chahyun’s fist was Misha’s body value, worth 60 million euros. Chahyun had to fight against impulsiveness. It was a moment of life and death where a weekly wage could fly away in exchange for delivering a satisfying punch.

“Did you watch my game?”

In Chahyun’s subdued voice, Misha frowned. It was an expression that indicated he didn’t understand English.

“I asked if you watched my game. The one I played in Korea.”

In a low urging tone, Misha nodded in response. It seemed strange that he got even more annoyed when asked if he watched it. He had been watching the ground, witnessing the shooting that exploded like a landmine. You have no idea how I felt standing on that field.

Yoon Chahyun released the grip on Misha’s neck. He had to answer Chahyun’s next question.

“Why did you… do that to me?”

However, when he brought the question that had lingered in his chest out into the open, somehow the tension eased. It was because the question sounded so childish and foolish when spoken aloud.

“Why did you kiss me back then….”

Did you kiss me? Closing his eyes, Chahyun blurred the ending.

What reason could there be? For such a kiss. Probably just because he won. Blaming Misha, but in reality, Chahyun felt the most ridiculous and awkward. The Chahyun from four days ago was mature enough not to react to the impulsive actions of a 23-year-old teammate, but not anymore. Something was making Chahyun clumsy and desperate. He had thought that having an awkward relationship with Misha should be avoided, but the one making the situation the most awkward was none other than Yoon Chahyun himself.


His arms, lost in direction, dropped down.


Self-disgust rose like cold water under Chahyun, but the words he had spoken couldn’t be taken back. Unable to meet Misha’s eyes, Chahyun blankly stared at the disheveled front of his upper garment. There were red marks on Misha’s white neck, traces left by Chahyun’s harsh scratching while grabbing his neck.

“Really pathetic.”

With a subtle self-disgust, Chahyun took a step back. Misha, standing up, suddenly grabbed Chahyun’s shoulders with his large hands.

In the abrupt movement, Chahyun instinctively raised his head. Before he realized, Misha’s face was right in front of his nose. His gray eyes, facing Chahyun’s, held a strange gaze that was neither defiance nor anger, but something peculiar.

“…Misha, you…”


The moment of exchanging glances and calling each other’s names was almost simultaneous. In the unexpected distance, Chahyun felt like he had lost control for a moment. Misha turned the hand that was holding his shoulder and pulled Chahyun closer.

Their chests touched, just like that day.

“I kissed Yuan because I like Yuan.”

His voice was rhythmic, like delivering a composed statement. It was impossible to mishear. However, hearing and understanding were completely different. Even though it was a sentence with both subject and object, Chahyun couldn’t comprehend it. With Misha holding him close, he stood there blankly.

“Like Yuan?”


“Do you like me?”

“Yes. I like you.”

Misha repeated every word slowly and clearly, like a patient English teacher. It seemed as if he anticipated that Chahyun wouldn’t grasp his words all at once. Yoon Chahyun stood there, somewhat lacking, with Misha against his chest.

“Misha. Your words, the meaning of being on the same team…”

“Sexually. Yuan, it means I like you.”


“Yeah. In that way.”

After repeating the same conversation several times like a broken tape, Yoon Chahyun took a step back. Misha accepted the distance smoothly. Their chests, which had touched, slowly separated.

Misha Asplund likes me. That’s why he kissed me. In the midst of a crazy soccer game.


Misha nodded. After the sudden confession, he had the expression of a stray dog, thirsty for affection yet somehow patiently awaiting the end.

“Since when?”

“From the first time we met. I’ve always liked you.”

With an honest answer without hiding or embarrassment, Yoon Chahyun’s mouth hung open. Wow, this is really not our usual emotional exchange… Naturally, he recalled the moment when he first met Misha.

Last year, a twenty-two-year-old player from the Swedish league Alsvenskan. Misha, with excellent physical conditions and outstanding skills, quickly joined a big English club in the Premier League. Misha, who was not particularly sociable, seemed to be trying hard to adapt to a foreign league. Whether it reminded him of his younger days when he struggled to adapt to a strange league, or for some reason, Chahyun deliberately took Misha around, from staff gatherings to players’ lunch.

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