The Victory Lap (End)

When Jessica entered the room, she gasped at the sight of a heavily bandaged Taeyeon that was lying in bed. Jessica’s legs turned into jelly and fortunately Minwoo caught her in time and led her to the chair that was next to the bed.

 

Beneath the bandages was a fragile and pale looking woman sleeping on the bed. Jessica sat on the chair that was beside the bed. Her tears were flowing freely as she placed Taeyeon’s hands between hers and rubbed them gently. Her heart ached when she saw the injuries Taeyeon had sustained as a result of the accident.

 

“She is out of danger now. Thankfully the bus merely scrapped the front of her car and missed her completely…else I…just can’t imagine…” Minwoo said solemnly as he tried to hold back his tears.

 

Both of them sat in silence with only the sounds of the humidifier filling the cold room. Minwoo offered Jessica a spare blanket and the latter wrapped it around her shoulders. Jessica took out her phone to text Sooyoung about Taeyeon’s condition and told her to leave first since Sooyoung wouldn’t be able to enter the room and there was no point in wasting her time at the hospital.

 

A doctor came in to check on Taeyeon and Jessica took the opportunity to find out more about Taeyeon’s injuries. Both Minwoo and Jessica listened intently as the doctor spoke.

 

It turned out that Taeyeon managed to save her own life due to her quick reflexes. It was fortunate that the bus had missed Taeyeon completely and the impact she suffered when the car hit the lamppost was minimal due to the airbags in the car. She had a broken arm and leg and the rest of her injuries were merely superficial. Her face was bruised and there were some scratches on her cheeks. Fortunately, Taeyeon was fit and healthy, the doctor estimated that she would recover quickly with the help of physiotherapy. However, Taeyeon was out for the remaining race season.

 

Minwoo headed back to the office to discuss with the rest of the team on their future plans and also to prepare for a press release on Taeyeon’s condition. He added Jessica to the list of authorised personnel who was allowed access to Taeyeon’s ward.

 

Jessica sat by Taeyeon’s bedside and waited for her to come around. To idle time away, she was surfing the online news portals to see what was released with regards to the accident. One of the tabloids went to the extent of publishing a photo of Taeyeon as she was lying on the stretcher and being wheeled into the ambulance. Another even claimed that Taeyeon was a lousy driver because she couldn’t handle the sports car, hence getting into an accident.

 

Appalled by the news headlines of the tabloids, Jessica decided not to read any more. It was too unbelievable and she couldn’t understand why those reporters had to exaggerate their news.

 

About three hours later, Taeyeon finally woke up. With a little effort, she opened her eyes slowly and realised she was lying in bed. The white walls of the dimly lit room, the hiss of the humidifier and the IV drip on her arm instantly told her where she was. She shifted her body slightly and noticed someone resting her head on the bed.

 

Taeyeon smiled at the sight of the sleeping woman. She carefully lifted her left arm and stroked the blonde locks gently.

 

“You’re awake?” Jessica awoke from her nap when she felt someone touching her hair.

 

Taeyeon nodded slowly, aware of the pain in her body.

 

“I thought I lost you.” Tears whelmed up in Jessica’s eyes. She leaned forward and hugged the race driver, making sure she didn’t touch any of her wounds.

 

“Silly girl. I’m alive and kicking, well, almost,” Taeyeon chuckled weakly, feeling the pain shooting through her body. However, the warmth from Jessica’s hug overcame the pain. She pressed her cheek to the side of Jessica’s head, enjoying the comfort the hug provided.

 

“If you’re done hugging me, can I have a glass of water please?” Taeyeon asked jokingly.

 

“Sorry!” Jessica’s face turned as red as beetroot as she released the race driver and poured her a glass of water from the flask nearby. She held the glass to Taeyeon’s lips as the latter slowly sipped the water to quench her thirst.

 

“Are there a lot of reporters downstairs?” Taeyeon asked.

 

“By now there should be only a few left. I think the police are keeping them away. Minwoo oppa has gone back to prepare a press release for your condition. That should keep them away from the hospital.” Jessica set the empty glass on the bedside table and sat down next to Taeyeon.

 

“There will be one or two nosey reporters who would hang around. Be careful when you leave the hospital else you may end up on front page news,” Taeyeon teased, flashing a cheeky grin.

 

“Mystery girl visits famous race driver in hospital. Taeyeon’s new girlfriend?” Jessica rattled off some bogus headlines. Both of them ended up laughing but poor Taeyeon had to control her laughter because it would aggravate the pain from her injuries.

 

“Ouch, my stomach hurts,” Taeyeon coughed a few times while laughing. Her brows were twisted in pain but she was laughing. It was quite a hilarious sight.

 

“Oh dear, are you okay? I shouldn’t have cracked those types of jokes, knowing you’re still in pain. I shouldn’t have been so inconsiderate. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Maybe drinking some water will help. Or should I get the doctor to…”

 

Jessica was silenced by a pair of lips. She felt the lips move a little but she was momentarily too stunned to react. Then cold air glazed across her lips as the owner of the lips pulled back.

 

As if it was a natural thing to do, Jessica reached her hand to the back of Taeyeon’s head to prevent the latter from moving away. She pressed her lips against Taeyeon’s, sucking them gently. She closed her eyes and placed her hands on either side of Taeyeon’s cheeks as both of them savoured the moment that was belonged to them.

 

After breaking apart, Taeyeon’s cheeks were red and there was a wide grin on her face. “Sorry I had to find a way to shut you up. You were getting a little too loud for my ears.”

 

Jessica blushed and couldn’t look at Taeyeon directly. She played with the ends of the blanket on the bed while trying to calm herself down. She never expected that she would desire Taeyeon that much.

 

Placing her hand under Jessica’s chin, Taeyeon slowly lifted Jessica’s face up to meet her eyes.

 

“I like the second headline option you’ve suggested. I know the hospital isn’t the most romantic place to share a first kiss but I do hope there would be many more to come if you would accept me,” Taeyeon said sincerely.

 

Jessica looked into the brown pair of eyes that were gazing at her earnestly. She didn’t know what to answer. Her heart was still beating rapidly but her mind didn’t agree with what her heart was feeling.

 

“I need a little bit of time,” Jessica finally said.

 

Taeyeon felt her heart ache when she heard those words. Her hand turned soft instantly and landed onto her lap.

 

“It’s a little abrupt and I’m not prepared for it. I mean, I need a bit more time. I like you… it’s just that… I don’t think I’m ready to face the media scrutiny, though I’m in the same industry,“ Jessica stuttered. She was startled by Taeyeon’s sudden confession and her heart was in a mess. She held Taeyeon’s hand between hers.

 

Jessica was used to be the interviewer, not being interviewed. She wasn’t comfortable being at the receiving end of interviews though her writer’s background should prepare her mentally for the type of questions to expect.

 

“It’s okay. I’ll give you time, as much time as you need. I’m glad to know that the feeling’s mutual.” Jessica’s explanation lessened the impact of the earlier ‘rejection’.  She understood Jessica’s feelings because she went through the same thing when she won her first championship title at the age of sixteen. She was very young but had to learn how to fend for herself in the media world.

 

Taeyeon made a grimace as the pain came back again. The anaesthesia was wearing off after her operation earlier in the day.

 

Jessica rubbed the back of Taeyeon’s hand and tucked it under the blanket. “You ought to take the painkillers and sleep soon. You need more rest in order to recover quickly.”

 

Jessica fed Taeyeon with the dose of painkillers that were beside her bed. Just as she wanted to leave, she felt Taeyeon holding her back.

 

“Stay with me. At least until I sleep. It has been a long time since anyone accompanied me when I sleep,” Taeyeon pleaded.

 

Jessica sat on the side of the bed, carefully avoiding the drip that was connected to the back of Taeyeon’s hand. She stroked Taeyeon’s arm until the latter fell asleep. Taeyeon looked very peaceful when she slept. Her chest was rising and falling steadily with each breath she took.

 

Looking at the serene face of the race driver, for that moment, she had Taeyeon all to herself and that the world couldn’t touch her. And in that same moment, she found her answer.

 

~*~*~*~


Nine months later

 

The race track was a mixture of colours and noises. People were dressed in their favourite team’s polo tee and scarfs. Some of them brought whistles along to cheer for their favourite drivers. It was the start of race season and everyone was getting hyped up over it, especially for the comeback of the race driver Kim Taeyeon. Some reporters called it a miracle that she managed to survive such a terrifying accident.

 

Both Yunho and Minwoo joked that Jessica’s tender loving care attributed to Taeyeon’s speedy recovery. Jessica accompanied Taeyeon to each of her physiotherapy sessions and often boiled nutritious soups for the race driver to aid her recovery.

 

Through the frequent contact they shared, their bond grew and so did their love. Jessica gradually got used to dealing with the media and her colleagues were very supportive of her relationship with Taeyeon.

 

Sooyoung often encouraged Jessica to give Taeyeon a chance. Based on her keen observation and through her conversations with Jessica, she noticed that Jessica that she was the only who could make Taeyeon laugh at the silliest things. Taeyeon had also turned into a more relaxed person when dealing with the media and fans. Perhaps it was Jessica’s cheerful nature that rubbed off onto the formerly cold race driver. Unknowingly, Jessica had become a pillar of strength and motivation for the race driver.

 

When the Kia Sorento pulled up at the carpark, a refreshed looking Taeyeon hopped out of the car to the cheers of the crowd and media. The reporters were busy snapping away as the race driver walked down the path towards the VIP lounge. Taeyeon was all smiles and she stopped to sign a few autographs for fans who had been camping outside the lounge to catch a glimpse of their favourite star after such a long break from racing.

 

“Whoa, looks like the long break did her good. The ice has melted!” a reporter proclaimed.

 

Jessica was waiting in Taeyeon’s designated dressing room for the driver to appear. She helped the race driver change into her racing suit and shoes. Securing the last piece of Velcro on the racing suit, Jessica gave Taeyeon a kiss on her cheek as a finishing touch.

 

“Good luck, soon-to-be world class champion race driver! Come back safely after the race,” Jessica cheered.

 

“I will.” Taeyeon placed a hand on Jessica’s face and kissed her forehead.

 

“Let’s get rolling!” Minwoo hollered from outside the changing room.

 

“It’s time to party,” Taeyeon smirked and left the room.

 

Jessica took her seat at the gallery with Minwoo and put on her wireless headphones. This time, she had a personalised set of headphones which was labelled ‘J.Jung.  She didn’t have to use those random spare sets of headphones anymore. This also sealed her place at the gallery seat and her status as someone important among the team.

 

All the race cars were lined up in their respective starting positions. Taeyeon did well during their practice laps and was awarded the third position in the line-up.

 

The starting horn blared across the loudspeakers and the race cars were off. The roar of the thirty cars was deafening.  Jessica’s chest tightened in anxiety as she watched the cars go around the track. She could feel the adrenaline pumping through her system as she kept a keen eye on Taeyeon’s car. It was easy to spot her car since there was a huge number ‘309’ on the roof of the car.

 

There were a few incidents during the race; drivers crashing onto each other, drivers crashing into the barricades because they misjudged the turn or trying to overtake one another. Thankfully Taeyeon managed to avoid those crashes and still maintained her position among the top two.

 

During the last few laps, Taeyeon tried to make a move by cutting the path of another driver at one of the turns in the track. Jessica was so nervous that she almost bit the straw in her mouth into two parts. The technical team cheered when Taeyeon had successfully squeezed past the competitor’s car without any mishaps. Now Taeyeon was leading and the smell of victory was certain.

 

Going past the finish line, Taeyeon slowed down to wave to the crowds as they cheered for the winner. There was a close up on Taeyeon’s face and Jessica felt her knees going weak at the sight of the exhausted driver who had completed thirty laps around the track. The smile on Jessica’s face matched that on Minwoo’s as he was jumping up and down at Taeyeon’s first victory in the brand new race season.

 

“You did great, Taeng!” Minwoo yelled over the headset, punching a fist in the air.

 

“Jessica, this win’s dedicated to you,” Taeyeon proclaimed over the headset. The blonde was blushing madly while the rest of the technical team cheered and hugged each other.

 

At the prize presentation ceremony, Taeyeon was all smiles as she took the step up the podium. She waved to the crowd and even shot a wink to the nearest cameraman. That image was projected across the huge LCD screens around the track and the crowds went wild.

 

After the prize presentation, crowds of reporters gathered at the garage to get an exclusive interview with the race driver who made a victorious come back on the race track today. Everyone noticed a change in Taeyeon’s behaviour after the accident. The race driver wore a smile on her face and stopped to pose for photos. It appeared that the accident did more good than harm for the race driver.

 

Just as Taeyeon finished answering questions from the major newspaper and online news sites, a beautiful blonde heading her way. She motioned for Jessica to join her and instantly all the cameras were focused on her.  Once the blonde was by her side, Taeyeon held Jessica’s hand firmly.

 

“I dedicate this first win to my lovely girlfriend who helped to take care of me during my rest. She makes my heart race faster than 190km/hr! This medal is also dedicated to my team, because without them, there would not be me,” Taeyeon proclaimed triumphantly.

 

Taeyeon and Jessica had discussed about this topic on several occasions and both of them agreed that hiding was not a solution. Taeyeon didn’t want the tabloids to sprout any scandals about her relationship with Jessica and decided that today would be the best opportunity to declare her social status to them.

 

Taeyeon kissed the back of Jessica’s hand and hung the gold medal over Jessica’s neck.

 

“For you. Thank you for being with me,” Taeyeon said sincerely.

 

Jessica enveloped the race driver in a hug while the cameras snapped away.

 

“Excuse us while we go for our celebratory meal,” Taeyeon said to the reporters. She gave a bow and a wave to the reporters as both of them made their way to the lounge, away from the media.

 

“And to celebrate our love in the fast lane,” Taeyeon whispered cheekily into Jessica’s ear and stole a quick kiss on her girlfriend’s cheek.

 

= The End =

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