Author: nicotine

“You’re doing this because of Misha, right?”

“W-what are you talking about?”

“I knew you were avoiding Misha because of something. Whenever you see Misha, you’re like a cat with its tail stepped on, jumping around.”

“I’m not avoiding anyone.”

“Is that so? Then say hello.”

With Jude’s words, Chahyun suddenly raised his head and made eye contact with someone sitting at the table across from them. Again. Misha Asplund, the central figure of the conversation, was looking at Chahyun with a gaze that had become familiar over the past three days. Reacting to Jude’s efforts to cheer him up during the meal, Jude finally put down the fork and spoke in a low voice.

“You see?”

“No, my throat hurts…”

“You guys are making me laugh. What’s going on with both of you? Hasn’t the time come to talk about what happened in the locker room that day? Or do I have to be hospitalized to hear the whole story?”

“I really didn’t hit him.”

“Believe that now.”


“Yeah. It seems like you got a beating.”


Chahyun gracefully sipped his drink. While it was true that he received a mental blow from Misha, admitting defeat was beyond what his pride allowed. Despite Chahyun keeping silent, Jude continued to give him a hard time.

“Also, your focus has been terrible lately.”

“…I know.”

“It doesn’t seem like you know. Especially when you shoot into the air.”

Jude’s sharpness, piercing Chahyun’s weak point, had an edge to it, lacking the usual friendliness. The chronic issue of Chahyun’s markedly different shooting accuracy depending on his mental state persisted after the friendly match in Korea.

Yoon Pudding, Yoon Jelly… all nicknames attached to Chahyun’s sweet and mushy mentality. He was frustrated but had nothing to say. Chahyun himself didn’t know that he was so susceptible to mental influence.

He blamed fatigue, tried the excuse of just a practice game, but Chahyun knew better than anyone that his condition wasn’t the same as before. Chahyun’s concerns were complex problems, and at their core was Misha.

Seeing Chahyun, who lowered his head like a scolded student, Jude seemed to feel a little sympathy. Jude spoke in a slightly softer voice.

“Whatever the problem is, confronting it and solving it quickly might be better. Everyone knows how hard we’ve all worked for this season, including other players and the Blue Luna coaches.”


“We have a team interview coming up, and the Open Training Day is next week.”

Open Training Day, an event where the team’s training is open to fans before the game, was a service-oriented event that received attention from various media outlets. There were many eager fans waiting. Uncomfortable with the thought of showing an awkward side in front of hundreds of eyes, Chahyun didn’t want to add any more unfortunate nicknames to himself.

Quietly rummaging through his tray, Chahyun seemed crestfallen, so Jude patted his shoulder. Chahyun’s affectionate nature, always weakening at crucial moments, remained unchanged. He looked into Chahyun’s plate and added, “But what’s this?”

“This? It’s a special dish Lucy made for me. Want to try it?”

Chahyun stood up and scooped the remaining kimchi pancake onto Jude’s tray. Jude, perplexed by the unfamiliar food yet curious, nodded.

“I’ll go practice first.”

Quickly bidding farewell, Chahyun turned and briskly left the cafeteria.


The Winchester coaches always emphasized paying attention to post-meal training. They said that after eating, the body becomes sluggish, and mistakes are more frequent.

Despite being reminded of that warning, Yoon Chahyun injured his leg during afternoon training. It was due to exerting too much force while turning to defend against a sudden breakthrough by the opposing team’s forward, Keihill. The injury wasn’t severe enough to require treatment, but it warranted a brief rest. He hadn’t known he’d be passing off the pancake to Jude as a small favor.

Chahyun sat under the awning near the entrance to the field, watching the practice game progress uncertainly. Team doctor Alana approached with her white medical bag and greeted him warmly.

“Yuan, I think we need to check your leg again. Can I take a look?”

Chahyun nodded and extended his right leg to Alana. With skilled hands, Alana lifted the hem of Chahyun’s pants and palpated his thigh muscles. It was a cautious yet skillful maneuver.

“Given the pain behind your thigh, it could be a hamstring strain. Can you give your leg some strength?”


Alana held Chahyun’s leg and slowly bent and extended the knee. Even injured, his serious gaze made the atmosphere solemn. Her grip on Chahyun’s calf was gentle yet firm.

“Thank you.”

“What can I say? It’s my job. It doesn’t seem too serious, but don’t push yourself today. While Yuan’s contribution brought Winchester this far, there’s still a lot more to do in the future.”

Responding to Chahyun’s hesitant thanks, Alana smiled widely. Her seriousness was replaced by a lively smile. It seemed like she had a deep affection for the club.

Looking at her bright smile, Chahyun briefly thought of his parents. His mother, who had played for the national women’s football team, and his father, who had been the mandatory trainer for the football team. His mother had announced her marriage and retirement simultaneously shortly after the joy of an unprecedented women’s World Cup runner-up. Back then, he thought it was mostly a lie, but now the story seemed quite plausible. It made sense that having teammates with a sense of belonging, taking care of each other’s injuries, and paying attention to health might lead to genuine affection…

While Yoon Chahyun was indulging in these faintly whimsical thoughts, a black shadow, dark, fell over Alana and Chahyun. Sensing their presence, both looked up simultaneously.

Unlike the doctor who greeted warmly, Chahyun was speechless.

“Misha, how’s your condition today?”

“It’s good. Thanks to Alana taking care of me.”

It seemed the practice game had just finished as Chahyun was being checked. Misha appeared out of nowhere, exchanged friendly greetings with Alana, and then turned to Chahyun, who was frozen.

“Yuan, can we talk for a moment?”

Chahyun slowly closed his open mouth.

It was bound to happen.

Perhaps due to sitting down, Misha, who seemed even more imposing, looked down at Chahyun with a straightened neck and spoke.

“Yuan, can we talk for a moment?”

Chahyun nodded, half expecting it. Here it comes.

Alana, who keenly sensed the subtle atmosphere between Yoon Chahyun and Misha, looked at the two strangely. Perhaps because of something she saw before, Ludo, watching from a distance, glanced in their direction.

“Sure, let’s talk. What’s on your mind?”

Chahyun nodded, ready to face whatever might come. The feeling was like, let’s get this over with. If it was a problem that needed to be addressed anyway, it was better to confront it quickly. Regardless of when it happened, conversations were inevitable as long as he played as a regular in the same game.

Yoon Chahyun stood up and bid farewell to Alana. As he attempted to put less weight on his right leg to avoid stumbling, Misha raised her hand as if to support him. However, she immediately withdrew it, perhaps thinking she didn’t need help. It worked out well since he had no intention of accepting help. Following the retreating Misha, Chahyun elegantly shifted his weight.

“What is there to talk about?”

Chahyun glared at Misha’s back and sharply asked. His move to initiate the conversation was driven by an intense desire to maintain control. He didn’t want to let go of the initiative.

The place where Misha stopped was a dead-end corridor. The fact that it was not easily visible from outside and had minimal foot traffic pleased Chahyun. Misha turned around and opened her mouth.

“Yuan, you’ve been avoiding me.”

“Avoid… avoiding?”

Without warning, Misha’s well-placed verbal jab hit Chahyun squarely in the solar plexus. Caught off guard by the sudden attack, Chahyun stumbled over his words and was visibly taken aback. Despite his belated attempt to act nonchalant, Misha’s face was incredibly serious and grave. It struck a chord. Her words hit home.

“What do you mean avoiding me?”

“You’ve been avoiding eye contact with me.”

“That, that’s because you…”

As Chahyun tried to justify himself, Misha’s well-aimed shot left him at a loss for words. He felt disconcerted, but there was nothing he could do. Misha’s face remained resolute and serious as she continued.

“Until now, you never did that.”

“Until now?”

“I’ve been looking at you since we first met, and until recently, you’ve never avoided my gaze.”

See! It’s been like this since a year ago! Chahyun silently exclaimed to himself, directing his inner frustration towards an unknown someone. Whether Chahyun’s mental state was like pudding or jelly, Misha continued her statement. Her voice was calm and even sounded composed.

“The fact that you’ve become aware of me looking at you is because you started looking at me. Just a few days ago.”

There was nothing to say. Misha’s words were the truth. The moment when Chahyun began to consciously notice Misha was due to what she said and did that day.

“If I hadn’t told you that I liked you, you probably would have never tried to keep an eye on me forever.”

Well, that was true too. Who in the world would consciously pay attention to a teammate’s day-to-day activities?

However, Misha, saying those words, had such a lonely expression. Her naturally melancholic eyes seemed even more profound, evoking an inexplicable sense of guilt. Chahyun, unable to bear looking into those eyes, lowered his head somehow. Misha spoke after a brief pause.

“… If the words I said that day made you uncomfortable, I apologize. I don’t want to see you avoiding or dodging me.”

It was a solemn apology. Chahyun had hoped that the situation would be resolved, but hearing Misha’s words, he found himself strangely at a loss for words. It wasn’t intentional, but Misha, with an immature evasion, extracted an apology from him. Despite knowing it was not his fault, Chahyun felt somehow as if he had done something wrong. Misha calmly continued her words just as Chahyun was about to nod his head.

“Even so, I won’t touch you during practice.”

Well, of course not! It felt like being hit on the head with a shoe thrown from the audience. Chahyun clenched his fist and exclaimed.

“Isn’t that implying you might touch me during an official match?”


“No answer?”

Surprisingly, Misha closed her mouth like a clam, turning the situation even more upside down. Until a moment ago, she was talking confidently, but now Misha, with her gray eyes, gazed sadly at Chahyun. Silence confirmed agreement. If silence meant consent, Misha was expressing agreement with her entire being. Fearing he might impulsively strike Misha’s face with the fist he had clenched, Chahyun quickly hit his own chest.

“I’ll lose it!”

It was a deadlock. Misha seemed unwilling to withdraw her emotions and desires, no matter how long Chahyun waited. Yet, Chahyun wasn’t magnanimous enough to simply accept Misha’s irrational behavior.

Staring at that sorrowful gaze without finding a common ground, Chahyun realized that he had to inflict some wounds on Misha’s heart. He understood it was an immoral act that didn’t align with his values, but he had no other choice.

“Misha, listen carefully. I understand your feelings.”


“But, I’m currently in a relationship with someone.”

Misha’s eyes, silently fixed on Chahyun, shook dazzlingly. Though he had seen her pitiful gaze countless times, this was the first time he had seen it shake like this. Chahyun’s conscience pricked him, but he kept his eyes tightly closed and then opened them.

“I should have started with this conversation… I missed the timing. I’m sorry. I don’t think I can accept your feelings.”

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