She’s been staring at the ceiling for nearly two hours. She knows this because in those two hours, Kat Baker has looked at the clock more times than she can count. But she’s done her best to stay still and focus on sleep, because if ever a good reason to need a solid night’s rest, this is it. Plus, she isn’t alone.
But it’s been nearly two hours. And after feeling her bedmate shift for the third time in less than ten minutes, she can’t help herself.
“Are you awake?” she speaks softly in case she’s wrong.
“Yes.” Justin’s voice comes so instantaneously it’s obvious he has been for a while. He rolls over onto his side to face her, clearly fed up with the charade. “I know we’re supposed to be too excited to sleep or whatever, but I figured jet lag and exhaustion would kick in eventually.”
Kat sighs. “I don’t think I can lay here anymore.”
“Screw it. Let’s go walk around or something. Get some food. I don’t know,” He shrugs, “Everything is open 24/7 here. Might as well take advantage of it.”
Kat bites at her lip. They have practice tomorrow at 9am sharp and Dasha will kill them if they’re stumbling around exhausted, but she’s so stir crazy right now she can’t bring herself to care.
“Alright, let’s go.”
They both dress quickly and head for the door, remembering to grab their ID badges from the nightstand and doing their best to remain silent as they slip through the common room. Their hands find each other in the elevator as they depart from the ninth floor, and they both give a courteous nod to security as they exit the dorm.
February in Beijing is beautiful, and despite being nothing more than a glorified college campus, the Olympic Village somehow still manages to blow both Kat and Justin’s minds. With a large handful of sky-high dormitories divided up by country, the Village is filled with basic amenities like a post office, bank, laundry facility, a convenience store, several gyms, and a huge cafeteria containing cuisine from around the world at every hour of the day.
Kat and Justin have been here for eight days so far. The first two days were spent getting settled with the other Team USA skaters and personnel, the third day they participated in the Opening Ceremony, and the remaining time has been spent using their allotted practice sessions, hitting the gym for light workouts, and enjoying the experience. They’ve also seen a few events, which is a highlight, and done a couple interviews (Dasha promises there are more to come- super) and some press work.
Mostly though, they’ve been staying close and trying to remain in a good headspace. Their competition begins in three days and their families arrive tomorrow, so for the most part they’re taking Dasha’s advice and focusing on each other.
“This is yours to lose,” she’d said. “Don’t over-think anything. Just stick together and enjoy it.”
This probably isn’t what she meant, but whatever.
After leaving the dorms behind, the duo makes the short walk into the heart of the Village, the nightlife scene far more alive than some might expect. The Village is open 24 hours a day for a reason. Some athletes prefer to train in the later hours, jetlag affecting a large amount, and some seem to need an escape to rid themselves of the jitters. One thing is clear though: everyone is tense. It’s like a university during finals- the pressure is on and everyone is feeling it.
“We should probably skip the caffeine, but how ‘bout hot chocolate?” Justin proposes, their linked hands swaying between them as they approach the commissary.
Kat nods. As much as a huge cup of coffee sounds appealing right now, he’s right. With any luck they’ll hopefully be able to manage at least a few hours of shuteye after this little excursion and a latte screams bad call.
After getting two steaming cups of cocoa (caramel in hers- she’d agreed to forgo the caffeine, not the sugar) they find an empty bench just far enough off the main pathway for a bit of privacy. So far it’s been a blast meeting and getting to know the other athletes from around the world, including several of Kat and Justin’s personal idols, but two AM just isn’t the hour preferred for socializing.
For a while they sit in silence, enjoying the peace and tranquility and the rare chance to people-watch the night owls between sips from their respective biodegradable cups.
“Feeling any sleepier?” Justin questions finally, causing the brunette under his arm to sigh.
“Will you judge me if I say that I’m even more awake than before?”
Justin lets out a curse. “I was hoping it was just me.”
“Gotta love Olympic life,” she ruses, “Well, I’m not going to the gym.”
“Fuck that,” he agrees. They’ve been practicing nonstop as it is. Neither of them is in the mood to ruin what little free time they do have, especially since Dasha never shuts up about the importance of not overdoing it.
“I don’t know. Nothing sounds appealing.” Kat continues, “But I don’t want to just sit here all night.”
For a moment silence falls again until Justin begins to fidget, shifting in his seat and catching her attention.
“What?” she demands, the look in his eye giving him away just like always.
“Nothing.” He quickly dismisses, shaking his head. “Never mind. I’m an idiot. Forget it.”
Kat rolls her eyes. “I know you’re an idiot,” she teases, “You’re my idiot though, which means I’m privy to all of your idiocy.”
“Seriously Kat, drop it. It was a dumbass thought. Let it go.”
“Hey,” the change of tone in his voice causes her to pull back, finding his eyes. Clearly he’s getting upset about something. “Talk to me.”
Justin stares at her for a minute. “You’re gonna get pissed.” He warns.
“Seriously, Justin, just tell me what’s going on.”
“Fine,” He pauses again, this time so long Kat is about to lose it, when he finally blurts, “We could get married.”
“What?” It takes all of Kat’s strength not to screech the word. “Are you- what?”
“I said it was dumb!”
“It’s the middle of the night.” she sputters. “Our families aren’t here. We’ve only been together-”
“What feels like forever sometimes,”
Kat gives him a dirty look. “Really? You’re choosing now to fuck around?”
He raises his hands in defense.
“Look, it was just something that popped in my head.”
“Of all the possibilities, this was the random thought you had?”
Justin glances toward the ground, causing her eyes to go wide.
“This isn’t the first time?” Kat pauses, her voice finally falling back down to its regular decibel. “You’ve thought about this before?”
“Have I thought about marrying you?” Justin snorts, giving up on his hesitance as the insanity of the situation triggers brutal honesty. “I’m 25, Kat, and I’ve been in love with you longer than the two years we’ve been together. Yes, I’ve thought about it.
“Don’t look at me like that.” He says quickly. “I don’t have a binder filled with details or anything. It’s just something I’ve thought about, that’s all.”
This seems to catch her attention.
“Like… I don’t know.” He shrugs. “You probably don’t want something too big or flashy. Which is awesome, because while my dad will lose his shit and it’ll drive Mandy nuts,
I’m actually on board with small and simple. And I know you’ll kill me if I spend too much on the ring, which is the one thing I already have covered-”
“You have it covered?” she interrupts. “Like what, you’ve already bought it?”
He pauses for a minute, staring at her before letting out a sigh.
“I don’t want to freak you out.”
“Justin, seriously, I swear to fucking god-”
“Fine!” he holds up his hands in surrender. “Just give me ten minutes. Stay here.”
“Stay here? Where are you going?” she wants to hit him when he rises from the bench. “Are you kidding me right now?”
“Stay here!” He repeats.
“Fuck off!” she cries, yet for some reason her ass remains glued to her seat.
The following ten minutes pass in a slow blur, because what the actual fuck? Ironically it isn’t their relationship, but the fact that they’re skating for Olympic medals in three days that assures her he wouldn’t just leave her sitting in the middle of the Village like a moron, when Justin returns with his hands in his pockets, looking even more nervous than when he left. (Which is understandable, because there’s at least a 50% chance this could lead to his death.)
He lets out a breath as he sits back down next to her, finally revealing his hands and holding up a respectably sized (but not too gaudy) ruby in a band of gold. He places the ring in the palm of her hand, giving a small shrug.
“It was my mom’s.” he explains quietly. “I’ve had it since she died. Dad said she planned on giving it to me eventually.”
“Look, it was a dumb idea. And I didn’t mean to freak you out, especially when literally the biggest event of our lives is in three days, but… I don’t know.” He shrugs again. “I
just started talking and you didn’t stop me. So here we are.”
“So what, you just carry this with you everywhere you go?”
“Fuck you. It’s called being prepared, Baker.”
Kat goes quiet for a minute, her eyes falling from his understandably stressed face to the ring still perched in her palm. This is quite literally the last thing she ever would’ve expected, and yet for some reason the idea of turning him down isn’t her gut reaction. It’s crazy, yeah, but she does love him and they’ve been together for a while. Hell, practically everyone and their brother has brought it up, so it’s not like she hasn’t thought about it, and at the end of the day she could think of a lot worse ways to live her life than spending it with Justin.
“Your mom must’ve had small hands too. Although… I guess we won’t really know if it fits unless you put it on me.” She murmurs finally, causing his head to snap up.
“I mean, I won’t be able to wear it on the ice, obviously,” she continues, “And we should probably wait until after the Games to tell anyone, because it’ll only be more pressure
if we’re labeled the American Newlywed team. Plus, our families are no question going to kill us- Dasha at the front of the line. We’ll probably have to have some sort of party to make it up to them. Especially Mandy.”
“Are you saying yes?” he asks breathlessly, still unsure if he’s in a daze or acquired brain damage from the cold.
A small grin breaks out on Kat’s face. “I must be crazier than we thought.”
“You’re saying yes!” he surges forward to kiss her, hoping all of his joy can be transmitted through the pressure of his lips. “Holy shit.”
“Does it count if you never put the ring on me?” she questions through a giggle, causing him to let out a laugh of his own as he takes the ring and slides it onto her finger with shaking hands.
“Perfect fit.” He observes, part of him not even surprised because fate is just on their side tonight apparently, before leaning in to kiss her again. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She grins. “Mr. Baker,”
Justin laughs. “You joke, but I really could not care less.” He pauses for a second. “Hey, look, I’m sorry this isn’t something better. I mean, I wasn’t planning on renting out the Eiffel Tower or anything, but I wanted to at least make a speech or something. Most of all I know it’s something I planned to talk to you about beforehand.”
Kat shrugs. “Might as well have this be just as weird and dysfunctional as everything else about our lives, right?” She says with a dry laugh. “Besides, you can save the speech for your vows.”
Justin stares at her for a second. “You seriously want to get married at 3AM in a foreign country, in secret, three days before the biggest competition of our careers?”
“Are you getting cold feet already?”
He laughs. “I’m just making sure I’m not dreaming.” He says honestly.
“Oh, you’re awake. And it’s too late to back out now, Davis.” She holds up her left hand where the ring sparkles, looking, Justin can’t help but notice, like it’s always belonged there. “I’ve already got the hardware.”
Justin grins. “Guess I’m stuck then.”
“Looks like it.”
“Huh.” He stands up from the bench and offers her his hand. “Then let’s go get married.”