A/N: This was written in two hours with very little proofreading, as part of a prompt-challenge given by SeeKo, who provided me with four things I had to incorporate in a minimum 2000 word fic written in two hours. This is 2711 words btw
Whenever there was a competition between Tiffany and Taeyeon, it would get the attention of everyone around them. It wasn’t deliberate – well, not always – but it was inevitable. After a decade of friendship and just about as many years spent challenging each other, the only ideas left were the duels that pushed the edges of utmost impracticality. There were only so many times they could cause each other trouble with unsuspecting members of the public, dare each other to flaunt silliness before figures of authority, encourage each other to toy with innocent friends or acquaintances, and there were only so many things they still had the purity to blush about. And it was because of their inescapable tendency to seek boundless challenges that everyone knew another competition had begun.
They first met as awkward teenagers, and over time only one managed to shake that image. Taeyeon was growing into an elegant young woman, backed by the affluent image of her family’s antiques business, gracefully styled with hair dyed a demure darker blonde and accessories of simple gold. At high school she had been the shy dorky one with glasses and a rustic sense of humour. Tiffany had been the clumsy loud overly-friendly one with insatiable enthusiasm and little concept of subtlety. Her reputation later hadn’t changed much even though she herself had – and this was all because of one particular little competition in their last year of high school.
Tiffany was a huge fan of the performing arts. She joined the school club and participated with a unique level of energy that was bumpy with its lack of polish but showed an undeniable nature of courage. She only wanted to have fun and do her best and make others happy; to this end, she really gave her all. Perhaps a little too much, it could be said, especially when it came to the special annual production. By this time, everyone was cringing in the face of upcoming graduation, their futures pressing ever closer, and Tiffany and Taeyeon had been competing with each other for about two years. Tiffany figured everyone could use a boost of motivation from an uplifting performance. Taeyeon figured everyone could do with a laugh.
It only took a day after the show for circulation to begin of a most unflattering picture. Tiffany, in all her enthusiasm, had used every muscle in her body to enhance the performance, and Taeyeon had not only filmed every moment but had also gone through every frame of the footage with a finely-tuned sense of humour. And so it was that the entire student body became familiar with Tiffany’s face; truly for the first time understanding the extent to which she could twist her features in the act of singing. Her reputation as clumsy, loud, too enthusiastic, all became branded on her name.
Teenage Tiffany knew, as she stood in the hall of the school building and stared at the paper with her face on it that was stapled to the wall, that teenage Taeyeon had won this competition with a far better triumph than she could have imagined; one that would last a longer time than the competition itself. The intent had been to see who could embarrass each other the most in a form which the graduating students would remember, and that picture was a weapon of mass destruction.
“I’d say you still have a chance at winning since the year isn’t over,” said teenage Taeyeon standing beside her. They looked at each other. Taeyeon barely held back a laugh. “But let’s face it, this –” she pointed at the unfortunate picture “-is going to be all people remember when they think of this.” She turned her hand to wave a circle around Tiffany’s face.
Tiffany glared. Taeyeon grinned. She reached out and pressed her thumbs into the corners of Tiffany’s mouth to manipulate that expressive face into a grimace.
“Look on the bright side,” Taeyeon said. “This is surely only the beginning. You do want revenge, right?”
It became Tiffany’s mission. Before that incident, the competition between her and Taeyeon was already fraught with risks and adrenaline thrills, but now she was going to take a good long time to plan a competition that would grant her the greatest victory of all. Taeyeon was becoming known for elegance which covered her silly humour and childish acts, while Tiffany was still overly-friendly and loud and a little clumsy, though she was fine-tuning the art of subtlety through her challenges with Taeyeon. With every challenge they won or lost, she sought out Taeyeon’s weak points, looked for things that would be impossible for her to do or something that Taeyeon would underestimate.
That was one point about Taeyeon that Tiffany had come to notice; it was part of her quietly competitive attitude to be over-confident. She didn’t always plan enough, intending to jump into it and be almost guaranteed success by pure luck. Often it worked. When it didn’t, sometimes she could save herself and sometimes she couldn’t. Sometimes she was a sore loser and other times she shrugged and smiled. Tiffany was learning exactly how foolish Taeyeon could be, in ways that she could exploit.
It all seemed rather cruel, particularly between two people who called themselves friends. Best friends, in fact, but that was because they were best friends. Despite their reputations, their behaviour, their devious plots to ruin one another, they always came back to each other at the end of the day. They hugged to forgive a defeat and congratulate a triumph, they laughed at things they would regret later (like that time they thought it would be a good idea to have a blind-folded jet ski race shortly before Tiffany’s first class at university), they had serious discussions about themselves as people and the world around them, they cuddled up on the couch every now and then, they held each other during emotional times, and they made a promise to be in each other’s lives forever. It wasn’t always just about playing and competing and scheming.
But a lot of the time it was.
That was how Tiffany ended up in the campus café, peeking over her cup of coffee to watch Taeyeon sitting at a table outside with three classmates. A mutual friend of theirs, Sunny, sat beside her and made her way through a slice of cheesecake.
“So, how long has it been since your last battle?” asked Sunny. “I hear it was a good one. Shame I had to be away when it went down.”
Tiffany scoffed. “It wasn’t that great. We’ve had better ones. Honestly, I think she threw it.”
“Hmm? Threw what? Wasn’t it a dare challenge?”
“I mean she threw the game. She deliberately lost.” Tiffany shifted in her seat to face Sunny better, leaning forward with a serious expression. “We were both meant to pour cake mix into our lecturers’ coffee mugs, you see. On the morning of the dare, I went ahead and did mine – it was brilliant of course, a carrot cake mix so the teacher couldn’t even get a shred of chocolate – but when we met up that night she acted like she misunderstood. She used muffin mix, and it was chocolate chip. No one even got upset. I know she did that on purpose. Taeyeon never misunderstands the terms of the competition.”
Sunny blinked. She ate the last mouthful of her cheesecake and pushed the little plate away.
“I know you guys can get really worked up about stuff like that, but do you really think she faked it? It sounds like one of your more demure challenges. I only heard about it because Taeyeon’s lecturer was so pleased by the chocolate mix. Maybe she just didn’t think it was important.”
Tiffany gasped, nearly inhaling her coffee. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Taeyeon would never think our competitions were unimportant! And I don’t know why she would pretend to misunderstand, and deliberately lose, but she did. I want to know why.”
Taeyeon still sat outside, laughing at something a classmate said, and pointed at the papers strewn on the table in front of the group. Tiffany eyed her like a hawk. Then she suddenly snapped her fingers.
“I know! What if she’s doing this just to throw me off?”
Sunny, who was in the middle of perusing the menu, stopped and frowned at her. “What? Why do you keep saying she’s throwing things?”
“She must know I’m still planning the greatest victory of all. I’ve been watching her, checking on everything she does during our competitions in order to find her weaknesses. Maybe she knows, and she’s deliberately losing in dumb ways just so I won’t be able to analyse her strategies.”
Sunny blinked a few more times, and then she shook her head. “You guys are really in a world of your own. Do you realize how weird your ‘competitions’ are? Other people would be so totally lost.”
“No one else could compete the way we do,” Tiffany said dismissively. “It’s our thing.”
Sunny looked thoughtful. “What an interesting idea. I’d actually like to see you both try holding these competitions with other people. Maybe you’d be able to see how crazy you really get. Hey, maybe that’s why Taeyeon’s starting to lose deliberately – she wants to save her strategies for competitions against someone else.”
A clatter rang out as Tiffany dropped her cup on top of Sunny’s abandoned little plate. She stared, shocked, at her friend. “What on earth are you saying? Taeyeon competing against someone else? Who else would even be willing to do these kinds of things? This is something we’re still able to do – especially at this level – because we’ve been best friends forever! We’re practically soulmates.”
Sunny’s eyebrows shot so far up that in an alternate universe they may have left her face entirely. “Soulmates? Am I missing something here? Is this part of another dare – make people think you two are in a relationship?”
Tiffany didn’t know what to say. She opened and closed her mouth, so caught up in her surprise and feeling the effects of over-analysing Taeyeon’s every move for the past several days that for a long moment she couldn’t remember if it was something they actually arranged and that was why Taeyeon had been acting extra sweet to her lately. Deliberately losing, cuddling more often, holding hands when they went shopping, more hugs than competitions, thoughtful gifts for no occasion, silly jokes to cheer her up, but they never did organise anything intended to fool Sunny into thinking they were in a relationship and she had been singling those things out as weaknesses for her big plan –
“Is that why you’re so shocked at the thought of Taeyeon competing against someone else – after all, I would think her girlfriend would be jealous.”
“Well you know what, I think you’re jealous!”
That was the fatal flaw. Her big plan, upon observing how Taeyeon’s new image of elegance hid her childlike playing, was to expose Taeyeon’s true nature – the dorky, shy, humorous teenager she first felt drawn to all those years ago. But there she was, snapping an irrational comment to cover her confusion.
Suddenly she recalled a moment a few nights ago, when Taeyeon and Tiffany had made their way through a rather large bottle of wine, some blurred impression of an agreement being made.
Was it all about the competition? Or had it been a special moment between the two of them?
“Oh, hey Taeyeon.”
Tiffany swerved in her seat to see Taeyeon reaching their table with her bag slung over one shoulder. Her well-styled appearance meant little when she whipped out a huge grin upon meeting Tiffany’s gaze. When she smiled like that, she looked just like the dorky kid who spent a whole night going frame by frame through a film of Tiffany doing something she loved.
“Hey guys, what are you talking about?”
Sunny shrugged. “I have no idea anymore. I think it’s something only you would understand. One of your ‘soulmate’ things?”
Taeyeon frowned slightly, still smiling. “Soulmate things? What do you mean?”
Sunny got up, and waved. “That’s for you two to battle about. See you later.”
Tiffany was staring at Taeyeon in the same way she had been for days, but this time she wasn’t analysing a strategy for weak habits. This time she was wondering who exactly was sitting before her. Was it the silly, competitive Taeyeon or the sweet, caring Taeyeon? Or were these both sides of the same Taeyeon, just like the elegant persona had covered the child-like demeanour?
“Hey, you alright there?” asked Taeyeon. She rested a hand on Tiffany’s shoulder. “I was thinking, maybe our latest competition didn’t work out. I mean, I don’t know what Sunny’s been telling you, but I don’t think it’s a success.”
“So it was a competition?” exclaimed Tiffany. “All along, you were playing me?”
Taeyeon looked alarmed. “What? Why are you acting like that, what happened? Are we talking about the same thing?”
Tiffany took Taeyeon’s hand from her shoulder and intertwined their fingers, turning in her seat to be closer. “That night when we got drunk, we made some sort of agreement, right? Was it another competition? I’ve been going crazy, planning my big victory, looking for gaps in your defences, over-thinking everything, and all this time you’ve been so nice to me and maybe intimate even, I just thought -”
“I’m going to stop you there for a second,” interrupted Taeyeon. “Yes, we did agree on something, and that was this.”
She stood up and started unzipping her pants. Tiffany nearly had a heart attack, glancing around at the other customers as they also looked over with bewilderment.
“What are you -”
Taeyeon turned and pulled down her pants. She stood in the middle of the campus café, surrounded by their classmates and colleagues, wearing foxy underwear. Literally, it looked like a fox’s face across her behind, and even had two pointy ears.
“Our dare for me to wear animal-themed costume underwear every day and try to make someone see it,” said Taeyeon, looking at her over her shoulder, seemingly unaware of the crowd staring at her butt. “I don’t think it’s working. I haven’t been able to make someone see it.”
Tiffany gazed at her, and then looked around at the café. Taeyeon followed her eyes.
“Well, until now I guess.”
Tiffany reached down and tried to pull up Taeyeon’s pants, stepping up to stand in front of her foxy underwear.
“Put your pants back on, you dork!” she hissed, sounding terrified.
Taeyeon obeyed, and faced her with a huge, child-like grin. There was no way to associate that elegant image with the humorous kid who stood proudly in front of Tiffany.
She held up a hand, fingers spread, and tapped each as she spoke. “Task one, avenging your reputation by ruining mine – achieved! Task two, make people see me wearing animal pants – achieved! Task three, expose my childishness – exposed! And bonus round, my own little mission. I finally got you to notice that I’m madly in love with you, Tiffany.”
Tiffany’s jaw dropped to the edges of utmost impracticality. Her big victory had been achieved, her revenge acquired, some small dare was won by Taeyeon. And not to forget, Taeyeon had just confessed in front of dozens of people, to Tiffany’s face most importantly, that she was in love with Tiffany. The students of their university would never forget the image of Taeyeon exposing her fox-clad behind, and Tiffany just realized where all that talk of soulmates came from.
She hated Taeyeon a little for completing the competition for her as if she couldn’t do it, but also she loved that Taeyeon completed the competition for her as part of a declaration of her feelings. And the reason she wanted to expose this true side of Taeyeon, after all, was because that was the Taeyeon she fell in love with and she wanted her.
It was practically irrelevant what happened after that, because there were slightly more pictures of Taeyeon’s butt being sent around campus than those pictures of Taeyeon and Tiffany kissing as if their souls breathed each other.