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One Day

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“You had me at ‘hello’” - Jerry Mcguire



Ilderton, 1997


It’s an ordinary day, or so it seems. A few clouds dance around the bright blue sky, but the sun still manages to sneak into the spaces between them to shine bright and warm on her fair skin as she walks from her mom’s car to the entrance of the ice skating arena. She impatiently stops in front of the big automatic doors, waiting for them to open, already dressed in her turquoise tutu and excited to get on the ice. The cold air hits her as soon as she sets foot inside, and she feels a calming sense of familiarity; she hasn’t skated in Ilderton for long, barely one year, but even as a 7 years old she has a feeling that’s where she belongs.

She stretches like her coach has taught her to do to warm up, under her mom’s approving gaze, and then puts her straight hair in a high ponytail, combing her bangs with her fingers. She loves when her mom comes to the rink; most times it’s her grandma who drives her and her sister Jordan there, but today her mom got out of work earlier and made an exception. She laces up her skates, puts on her warm, pink mittens and enthusiastically hits the ice. Her coach, Carol, told her parents her edge work is very advanced for her age; she's not exactly sure what that means, but it makes her proud nonetheless. Skating in circles in the neon lit arena makes her feel like she’s flying. She loves getting lost in her own little world, focusing on the rhythm of the music softly playing in the background; she lets it envelop her, and guide her movements.

“Tessa! Come here honey.”

She’s brought back to reality by her coach, Carol, calling out her name from the boards. She’s standing there, her mother next to her, and a boy fidgeting back and forth on his black skates in front of her. She knows he’s one of the Moir boys — the youngest; she’s seen him around the rink the past year, sometimes skating with her class, other times playing hockey with his brothers and some of the older boys. He’s a good skater, fast and precise, and he loves being the center of attention. She can’t remember ever talking to him, but she knows her sister, Jordan, is close with a few of his cousins.

She skates back obediently cutting through center ice, wondering if she’s done something wrong, while the rest of the kids still skate in circles, warming up.

“Tessa, honey, you know Scott, right?” Carol asks her with a smile as she graciously stops just a few feet away from her.

“Hello,” he says with a boyishly grin.

She nods shyly. Scott, that’s his name. Her eyes are fixed on the two adults in front of her, her little mitten-covered hands trying to tidy up her bangs after her skating. She waits for someone to tell her something.

“Can you come here and stand next to him?” Carol finally says skating towards Scott.

Tessa slowly skates towards the dark-haired boy, following the older woman’s instructions. He’s a little taller than her, but not much; he’s a few years older, she thinks. He seems as unsure as she is about this new arrangement. She knows he has skated with a few other girls before, she’s seen him practice around the rink, and she herself has practiced a few dance steps with one of the older Moir kids. She avoids looking at him in the eyes, but she feels his curious gaze fixed on her.

Carol smiles approvingly, and so does Kate.

“Okay, can you guys skate perimeter? Just next to each other…” their coach asks encouragingly.

Tessa nods, and sees Scott doing the same from the corner of her eye.

Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left.

They skate in silence, both looking straight ahead, trying not to hit each other, and often failing at that. She can hear his quiet and even breathing, inhaling and exhaling, matching the speed of the strokes of their blades as they glide onto the smooth ice.

Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left.

She quickly falls into a good rhythm, and relaxes a little, pleased to see Carol and her mother nodding approvingly as she and Scott pass by them to start a second perimeter around the arena.

Carol stops them the third time they skate by.

“That was good. You’re both very good skaters,” she compliments them. “Now, do you remember what you learned at dance lesson? Skating in dance position?"

Tessa searches for her mom’s eyes, and then nods once again, reassured by Kate’s encouraging smile. Scott reaches for her hand, and she suddenly feels very self conscious, regretting her current choice of mittens: pink with small, sparkling rhinestones around the wrists. He doesn’t seem to mind, and just takes her hand in his, as they wait for Carol to give them instructions. She is very aware of the warmth of his hand gently squeezing hers, but she tries to focus on being in sync with that foreign boy who smells like gummy bears and seems to have an endless source of energy.

Several perimeters, exercises, and adjustments later, she hears Carol finally calling them back. She instinctively tries to pull her hand out of Scott’s strong yet gentle grip, but he doesn’t let go of it until they stop by the boards, waiting to hear their coach’s feedback.

“So, how did it feel?” she asks them.

Tessa notices Scott looking at her, from the corner of her eyes, and blushes a little. He looks like he’s studying her, trying to form an opinion on this new, probably temporary, partnership arrangement. After a few seconds, he nods.

“Good, I think,” he says with a decisive tone, yet shrugging his shoulders not to seem too invested in the whole thing.

“Yes,” she adds with a small voice, looking at her mom.

“I think it was very good,” Carol agrees happily. “Would you like to skate with Scott a few times a week, Tessa?” she asks.

She’s not sure about what she should say. She can tell the adults expect a positive answer, but skating with a boy isn’t really something she ever thought about until just a few hours earlier. She doesn’t know much about boys. All of her friends at school, at ballet, and at gymnastics class are girls, and from what they've told her, boys have cooties, and are not to be touched. Not that she believes any of that. Her mom always tells her not to be such an over thinker; even at such young age, being spontaneous is not something that comes natural to her. How is she supposed to know what she wants to do when asked like that, on the spot?

“You’re the first girl that can keep up,” Scott says out of the blue, interrupting her thinking process, and looking at her with a earnest face. “You skate very well, but it’s okay if you want to skate alone or if you don’t wanna skate with me,” he finishes with another shrug.

She turns around to look at him for the first time, and sees him smile. She feels her cheeks getting warmer despite the cold air, but she holds his gaze and offers a shy smile back. Then she looks back at her coach, saying five words that, even if she doesn’t know it yet, will change her life.

“Yes, I would like that.”

Maybe it’s not an ordinary day after all. Maybe magic has just happened.

Chapter Text

“Sometimes the thing you want most doesn’t happen, and sometimes the thing you never expect, does. You meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. But then you meet one person and your life has changed forever.” - Love and other drugs


Ilderton, 1998



“I hate figure skating!” he yells at his mom.

“Scott!” Alma yells back as he runs upstairs. “Scott come back down here, NOW!”

He shuts his bedroom door, and crosses his arms. He’s sure. He doesn’t want to do figure skating anymore. He just wants to play hockey.

“I’m gonna count to three…” he hears his mom warning him from the living room.

“One…”

He rolls his eyes.

“Two…”

He shakes his head, determined not to give in to her unreasonable requests.

“Three…”

He sighs, opening the door, and slowly climbs down the stairs.

“We were supposed to be at the arena ten minutes ago,” she says, fuming.

He shrugs, defiantly.

“What is going on with you?” she asks, “you love the skating carnival.”

“I wanna go play hockey,” he says.

“You can play hockey any other day. Today you have to perform,” Alma says, with a tone that Scott knows means she’s done discussing.

“Then today is the last time I figure skate,” he says stubbornly. “I mean it.”

“You can do both things, you know that?” his mom asks raising an eyebrow, picking up some flower crowns from the living room floor, and placing them in a plastic bag.

“But if I keep missing practice, the coach will bench me for the rest of the season…” he complains.

Alma sighs, looking at the clock.

“Scott, we don’t have time for this conversation right now. We need to get going. I need to help setting everything up,” she explains.

He finally gives in, and follows his mom to the car, climbing in the backseat. His skates and his backpack are already in the trunk, and so is his, according to him, hideous costume.

“I swear this is the last time I figure skate,” he mutters again under his breath, but loud enough for his mom to hear.

The arena is just a few short blocks from his house. He can see the other kids gathered in the parking lot, laughing and talking to each other. Some are already wearing their costumes, some are still in their street clothes. Scott gets out of the car and grabs his stuff from the trunk. He waves at a few friends as he walks to the entrance of the arena, swinging his backpack from one shoulder to the other.

“Scott!”

He doesn’t need to turn around to know who the high pitched, girly voice belongs to. They don’t speak much while they skate together, but he could recognise the sound anywhere.

“Hey,” he says with a smile as Tessa approaches him.

She returns the smile.

“You dropped this,” she says handing him a small silver chain with a cross pendant.

Scott’s eyes widen. How could he have been so careless to drop it?

“It fell from one of the pockets of your backpack,” Tessa explains noticing his questioning look.

“Thank you,” he says retrieving the necklace from his skating partner’s tiny hand.

She smiles as she keeps walking inside the arena, her hair up in her signature ponytail, already wearing her costume.

“Tess,” he calls after her.

She turns around, and gives him a curious look, her head slightly tilting to the right.

“Really, thank you,” Scott says with the most genuine tone he’s ever spoken to her with. “It was a gift from my great grandmother. I’ve had it since I was a baby…” he continues, holding the cross for her to examine.

“It’s beautiful,” she says, gently tracing the outline of the small pendant with her fingertips. “Do you want to wear it now? I can help you with the clasp,” she offers.

Scott nods, and gives her the small silver chain. He bends down a little, so she can easily put it around his neck. He can feel her small, cold hands in the back of his neck, working on the tiny lobster clasp. After a few seconds, she’s done.

“Here,” she says.

“Thanks,” he says once again as they both start walking towards the locker rooms. He thinks this is the longest conversation the two of them ever had alone since they’ve met, and he has to admit that he’s quite enjoying it.

“I like your dress. It looks good,” he says matter-of-factly.

He notices her blush, responding to his compliment with a shy smile.

“It’s way better than mine,” he continues, “I’m wearing Danny’s old costume, and the vest is at least two sizes too big.”

She giggles.

“Guess that’s what happens when you’re the youngest, right?” he laughs. “We always get the hand-me-downs.”

She giggles again. He decides he really likes that sound.

He has noticed in the past few months skating with her that she only seems to be shy around him; he’s often seen her being talkative with his three cousins, and even with his older brothers; she and her sister Jordan are always hanging out with Sheri and Cara whenever they’re at the rink. The two older girls love jokingly say that him and Tessa would make the cutest couple; sometimes he thinks they would, too, if only she actually talked to him, but if he’s completely honest with himself, he has the feeling his skating partner might have a little crush on his oldest brother, like most girls at the rink do, and he doesn’t know why that thought makes him feel so uneasy.

They walk by the girls’ locker room, and she stops.

“I wish we had a number together,” she says, her big green eyes looking straight at him.

He’s taken aback by her statement. He never really thought that skating with him was something she actually enjoyed.

“I wish so too,” he replies, and he’s surprised by how much he means it.

“Next year,” she says with a smile and a small wave before opening the locker room’s door and letting it close behind her.

Maybe, he thinks, he won’t quite figure skating just yet.

He quickly gets dressed in his hideous costume. The too big silky purple dress shirt and the black vest make him look like some sort of failed magician; he feels silly. He’s in three numbers; he knows Tessa is in two. One, her solo, is right before his, and the group one she’s skating with two other girls, is right after his number with his brothers.

He laces up his black skates, and slowly walks out of the locker room. Most of the kids are standing by the boards, waiting for their solos and group numbers to be called. Scott scans the group with his eyes, and he quickly finds the person he’s looking for. He wants to walk to her, wish her good luck on her performance, but the lights in the arena dim, and her mom and her aunt take centre ice to start announcing the performers.

He knows it won’t take long before she’ll make her way towards the entrance as she’s in one of the first numbers, but he’s still a little bit taken aback when all of a sudden she’s there, next to him, nervously waiting for a group of kids to finish their number, to take the ice. He looks at her as she carefully removes her skate guards, and places them on the boards, and before he knows what he's doing, he takes her small hand in his, and plants a sloppy kiss on her cheek, almost on the corner of her mouth. He sees her eyes widen in shock, as she turns to look at him, blushing furiously. The lights turn bright again, and he doesn’t know what to say to justify what he just did. He hears his mom calling Tessa’s name. She’s still there, next to him, eyes down to her skates.

“I…” he starts explaining with an embarrassed voice.

But he doesn't have the time to formulate a complete sentence, because as soon as he starts speaking, she takes the ice, skating in position.

He stands there, by the boards, unsure of what just happened. The music starts, and all he can do is looking at her skate. For the first time he understands why his aunt paired him with her. It’s never been just because of their perfect height difference, it’s because whenever Tessa takes the ice, the shy little girl disappears; she is confident in her skating, and fearless in her jumps, and she makes him want to be just as good. She’s fast, strong, and she feels the music, every single note of it. His aunt had been so excited by his quick improvements when it came to dance steps, and now he finally understands why he got so much better in such a short time: Tessa; skating with her makes him better.

The music stops, and people clap. She’s a little out of breath, looking even tinier than she really is standing alone there at centre ice, as she bows to the audience with a big smile. It’s then that he notices her fondly touching her cheek — right where he kissed her, with her fingertips. She shakes her head with a giggle, as if she’s replaying what happened in her head. She smiles. And so does he.

Chapter Text

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” - The Perks of Being a Wallflower




Ilderton, 2001



It’s Scott’s 14th birthday. Some of his friends are playing NHL on his brother’s playstation, while some others are watching a small television screen on the opposite side of the room. A Leafs vs Habs game from about half a decade ago is playing, and apparently that’s the most exciting thing going on in the small basement of the Moir’s house.

(He’s not very excited about this birthday get together — calling it a party would be preposterous, to begin with; things with his old school friends and hockey teammates have gotten a little weird since he moved to Waterloo to train. He’s not 100% sure he misses his old life, but it seems apparent to him that his old life has not missed him.)

“Shoot the puck! C’mon!” one of his friends yells at the screen.

Scott laughs. They all know the Leafs are going to lose that game. He’s a little bored, he’s probably eaten his body weight in gummy bears, and his mom still hasn’t finished decorating his birthday cake. With a sigh, he looks at the football shaped clock on the table, wondering why Tessa is not there yet.


Ethan, a guy who’s a grade ahead of him in his previous school and who he sometimes plays hockey with notices his eyes darting back and forth from the TV screen to the clock, and smirks. 

“Who are you waiting for, Moir?” he teases, “Can’t wait to see the girl you spend almost every day dancing and twirling on the ice with?”

Scott feels himself blush, and shakes his head.

“Yeah, right.” he replies sarcastically, wanting to play it cool.

“Oh shit, Moir, you are waiting for her,” one of his former classmates, John, says laughing and whistling loudly.

A few more kids follow his lead.

Scott hates how him skating with Tessa has become subject of derision now that they’re teenagers.

“You’re delusional,” he says with a shrug. She’s just a little kid. I like real girls.”

He feels ashamed as soon as the words leave his mouth. The familiar pang of guilt he’s been feeling so often during the past year or so, whenever he’s less than nice to Tessa in order to play it cool with his friends, envelops him. He doesn’t know why he can’t just admit out loud that she is one of the best things he has in his life and that he would pick her over any of his supposed buddies any day. He hates how to protect himself from the teasing, he deliberately chooses to hurt that amazing girl who’s nothing by perfect to him.



Tessa freezes in her track as she overhears Scott’s words from the stairwell going from the Moir’s foyer down to the small basement. She holds her breath, tears pooling in the corner of her eyes.

Trying to be as quiet as possible, she climbs up the few steps that bring her back to the ground floor, closing the white door behind her, and once she can’t hear the boys’ loud laughters anymore, she finally exhales, drying the few tears that have escaped her eyes with the back of her hands. As she turns to leave, reaching for the main door’s darkened golden handle, she hears Alma’s voice calling her over from the living room.

“Tessa, honey! The boys are downstairs,” she says with a smile.

Tessa takes a deep breath, hoping her voice is steady and won’t give away how upset she really is, and that her mascara is really waterproof as advertised on the small black bottle.

“Yeah, I know” she replies with half a smile, “it’s just... my mom drove me here so I could drop this off. We have something to do in the city.”

Alma studies the skinny girl standing in front of her in her deep blue dress and her long, straightened, light brown hair. Her canine teeth are finally growing out, and she’s starting to look more and more like a woman, and less like the shy little kid she was when she first met her. She knows one day she will break hearts, possibly her son’s too.

Tessa doesn’t like lying to Alma; she doesn’t like lying in general. But she can already feel the knot forming in her throat, and she knows that soon she won’t be able to control her voice, nor stop her tears from falling.

“But here,” Tessa adds nervously trying to avoid Alma’s suspicious look and placing a box neatly wrapped in colourful paper, with a handmade card glued on top of it on the coffee table. “Tell Scott I wish I could have stayed.”

And with that, she’s out of the door before Alma has a chance to stop her.

She runs. As fast as she can. She can feel her heart beating fast and loud, and before she knows it, she finds herself right where it all began: the Ilderton skating club. She opens the main door, and is greeted by the familiar cold air and the smell of pop corn — something that has always puzzled her, since she’s never seen any pop corn makers in the arena. It’s free skate classes night, and there are a few people on the ice. Most of them stand close to the boards, afraid to venture too far and fall.

Tessa smiles politely at Jane, the friendly receptionist who helps Alma and Carol run the free skating class program, and grabs a pair of worn out skates, the only ones left in her size. She checks the blades; they aren’t as sharp as she would like them to be, but they will have to do. She laces them up, and quickly takes centre ice. She barely hears the music playing loud and happy through the speakers; she skates to the music in her head. It’s a sad, melancholic slow song. Her body moves gracefully, and her skates glide gently on the ice.



Scott is impatient. Neither Tessa or his cake are there, and he quite doesn’t know what to do with himself. He decides to go upstairs.

“Mom!” he calls out.

“Here!” she replies.

He follows her voice to the living room, where he’s greeted by the woman carefully placing candles on a vanilla cake decorated with blue frosting in the shape of a maple leaf.

“Tessa came. She left this for you,” she says pointing at the box in front of her.

“Tessa was here?” he asks furrowing his eyebrows.

“Yes. She said she had something to do in London with her mom and left,” Alma explains.

Scott looks suspicious.

“I’ll be back in 5,” he says, and he barely has the time to hear his mom exasperatedly calling out his name before he’s out of the door.




He finds her at the skating rink. Destiny’s Child’s Survivor is playing loud on the speakers, but she's skating slowly, twirling, her movements smooth and heartfelt.

“Tess!” he calls out.

She doesn't hear him; she’s in her own little world. He knows how she gets when she skates, how she’s able to create a bubble around herself, around them, and just ignore everything and everybody else, so he just stands there watching her, waiting for her to notice him.

She finishes a perfect little spiral, and they finally make eye contact.

“Hey Tutu, what are you doing here” he asks as she skates by, “why aren’t you at my birthday party?”

“Felt like skating,” she replies with a shrug.

“My mom gave me your present, but I wanted to open it with you,” he continues. “Let’s go back to the house.”

She doesn’t respond.

“Look what I got,” he says showing her his brand new cell phone. It’s a flip phone, and it’s flat, black and it has a camera. She has the same in pink.

“Congrats,” she says unimpressed.

“What’s with you?” He asks rolling his eyes, his newly found short temper starting to show. “Are you in a mood?”

“Nope.” She’s short, too.  

“Are you mad at me or something?” He asks, annoyed at her unresponsive attitude.

She gives him a sarcastic laugh. That’s her answer.

“God what did I do now? When did you become so fucking dramatic?” he says exasperated.

Tessa glares at him, and he sees her shoulder tensing as she skates towards him.

“Maybe it’s because I’m just a little kid,” she replies with a low, flat and controlled tone, “Can’t help it.”

As soon as she says these words, realisation hits him. She heard. He feels sick in his stomach, and all he really wants to do is to apologise, and hug her, and tell her what an idiot he is for never standing up for her, for never telling her just how much she means to him. But he doesn’t. He can’t.

“You are a kid,” he says instead.

He sees the hurt in her eyes as the words leave his mouth. He doesn’t know why he does it. He doesn’t know when it started becoming so easy to him to be mean to her, without reason. Is he trying to push her away? Does he want to see how far she’ll let it go before she wants nothing to do with him anymore?

She stops, right in front of him. Eyes fixed on his. She shakes her head and gives him a look that breaks his heart in a million pieces; the look of someone who just wanted to show him how much she loved him, but has just given up on it.

“Happy birthday, Scotty,” she says. Her voice unreadable. She walks to the locker room, without looking back.

He doesn’t follow her.



Scott slowly walks back to his house; he knows he’s been away for way longer than 5 minutes and that his mom is probably not too happy about his behavior. He feels like shit. He doesn’t even want to go back to his friends. Why does he have to be such a jerk? He ignores his mom’s expected nagging as he steps into the living room and takes Tessa’s present. He brings it up to his room, and locks the door.

He unwraps the box with care, trying not to rip the paper as he would normally do. It’s a Polaroid camera. He remembers telling her about finding his grandparent’s old Polaroid photos, and how neat he thought those were; way better than those digital cameras’. He then opens the pale green envelope. There’s a photo of the two of them holding their first gold medals won in a national competition; he remembers Tessa’s mom taking it, in Vancouver, two years before. In the back of the picture, he sees Tessa’s neat handwriting; it reads ‘Happy birthday, Scotty. Hope you’ll capture many more memories as happy as this one. Love, T.’

For the first time as a 14 year-old, he cries. 

Chapter Text

"I may hate you more, but I will never love you less." - Warhorse

 

Canton, 2004

 


She skates in circles, close to the boards, avoiding the group of people gathered by small entrance to the ice. She hears laughing, and clapping, and she wishes she was back in Canada. Everybody at the rink is talking about that stupid party, and she couldn’t care less. She knows she only got invited because she’s Scott’s partner — Scott’s boring, perfectionist, never-lets-loose partner. They’ve been training in Michigan for less than a year, and that’s already her reputation.

Her first two months in Canton have been challenging; the new style of coaching has required some adjustment on her and Scott's part, and living on her own for the first time in her life has made her realize just how much she misses all the small things she has taken for granted up until then.

There are only two positive things about moving across the border, to the US of A; one is that her partnership with Scott has finally started clicking again, on and off the ice (they now regularly see a therapist, that helps them improve communication. It has been awkward the first few times; she had no idea Scott felt so many things when it comes to just as many other things she apparently does and says), the other one is Alex.

Alex is the kind of boy her mom would approve of, if she only knew Tessa started dating. He's polite, preppy, tall, and as her grandma would put it, ‘well-bred.’

She had met him during one of her rare outings with the other skaters. They had all gone to watch one of Charlie’s high school hockey games, just for the heck of it; the girls had worn their best cheerleader-looking short skirts and carried pompoms, and the boys had spent the night chirping him from their rink side seats. Charlie had found the whole scene pretty embarrassing, but his friend, Alex, had found it quite adorable, mostly because of her, the freckled-face girl with the short blue skirt and the white V neck sweater smiling shyly as the other girls chanted out Charlie’s name every time he crossed the opposite team’s blue line. He had asked Charlie for her number, and when she had perplexedly agreed to the information being passed along, he had texted her the very same day. She had not told Scott yet; that was one of the reasons the party at Charlie’s house felt like a really bad idea.

“Hey,” Scott wraps his arms around her as he joins her on the ice.

“Still trying to figure out whose fake ID is the least fake looking?” she smirks as her hands rest on his.

“Yeah. We think Meryl’s might work,” he replies resting his chin on her shoulder.

“You kidding?” she laughs, “It says she was born in 1976.

“Well, after hearing her talk about crocheting her family's Christmas stockings last year I’d say that sounds about right,” he spins her around with a boyishly grin.

Tessa shakes her head.

“Today was good, wasn’t it?” he asks, suddenly serious.

“Yeah. This whole week has been consistently good,” she agrees.

“Our lifts are stronger than ever," he observes proudly.

She nods.

“Is it too far fetched to start thinking — like really thinking, about Turin?” he asks with a hopeful tone.

“Scott…” she warns him.


“Tutu, c’mon. We’ve improved so much. Talking about it won’t jinx it,” he takes her hand in his and squeezes it gently.

“Everybody told us not to get our hopes up,” she sighs.

“But… it just feels so within our grasp” his tone is so earnest and hopeful, a smile plays Tessa’s lips.

She loves how he’s never lost his childlike sense of wonder when it comes to everything in life, especially their skating, how he still believes they will make it all the way to the top of that Olympic podium. She hopes that will happen, but she can’t envision it; not like he can. She doesn’t believe in them as much as he does just yet, so she just shrugs her shoulders.

“Maybe.”

“Let’s go?” he asks, gently pulling her towards the gate by the hand.

The group of skaters is still there talking as they skate right past them, and head to the locker rooms.

“See you in the parking lot,” he says.

She changes quickly, without making small talk with the rest of the girls. They’re busy deciding what to wear to the party. Any event that will allow them to wear something other than their usual sportswear is always welcomed. She gets that; she’s all for comfort usually, but God knows how much she loves dressing up, and how little she got to do that during the past few months. She hasn’t brought much from home, and most of the dressy clothes she has are probably way too formal for a house party at Charlie’s, but she thinks she might have just the right outfit.



Scott is already waiting for her in his car when she gets to the parking lot, the heater on, and some familiar-sounding country music blasting.

“Really?” she smirks pointing at the radio as she takes the front seat.

He lowers the volume.

“Eight years as my skating partner, and you’re still not a fan of country music, eh?” he says, a little disappointed.

“That will take at least another decade,” she laughs.

“Another decade? We’ll probably be retired by then,” he tells her, shaking his head.

“Well, that’s a depressing thought,” she puts her feet on the dashboard.

“Feet down!” he warns her, slapping her playfully on her knee.

Tessa rolls her eyes, amused.

“Start driving, cowboy” she giggles.

The country tune is still playing as Scott pulls over in front of her apartment complex.

“Is your mom here this weekend?” he asks.

“No, she’s helping Jordan looking for an apartment off campus,” she replies with a shrug.

“Good,” he laughs. “So Charlie and I won’t get yelled at for getting you drunk tonight.”

“You know I’m not gonna drink,” she rolls her eyes at him.

“You say that now…” he smirks.

“Bad influence,” she playfully says under her breath.

“I can pick you up at 8PM, is that okay?” he asks.

Tessa blushes, turning to look at Scott.

“Actually, Alex is picking me up,” she tells him shyly.

Scott gives her a questioning look.

“Alex; Charlie’s friend from school…” she elaborates.

“How…? Why is he picking you up?” Scott asks, his tone suddenly stern.

“We’ve been going out for a little while,” she shrugs.

“You’ve been going out with Alex,” he repeats.

“Yeah… Since right after Charlie’s last home game,” she explains.

“That was what… Three weeks ago?” he inquires, but she knows it’s really a rhetorical question. He was there, too.

“I guess,” she shrugs.

Scott shakes his head.

“Does he know you’re only 15?” he asks with a spiteful tone.

“I’m not having this conversation with you, Scott,” she warns him.

“What kind of perv…”

She doesn’t give him the chance to finish his sentence.

“He’s Charlie’s age. Your age,” she says flatly, looking at him straight in the eyes.

Scott keeps shaking his head.

“And you. You! Going out with… With… With an American,” he continues, his voice getting louder.

“Oh my God, Scott, are you hearing yourself?” she asks, shocked by his reaction.

“I can’t believe this guy… Dating you…”

Tessa inhales sharply.

“What’s wrong with dating me?” she hisses.

Scott looks at her. It takes all the strength she has, but she holds his gaze, daring him to reply.

“You’re… You’re…”

She lets out a bitter laugh.

“Well thank God not all guys find me as undateable as you do,” she says getting out of his car in one swift move, slamming the door shut behind her.

She takes the stairs up to her 12th floor apartment, just to calm herself down. She goes straight in the shower, the hot water easing the tension in her shoulders. She replays the conversation she just had with Scott, and she wants to scream. She shakes her head. No; she won’t allow herself to be hurt by Scott’s words. Not anymore. Not again. She sighs; she knows she’s just lying to herself.



Alex picks her up at 8PM sharp. She doesn’t have to wait for him in the cold in front of her building, he doesn’t text her an apology for running late. When she gets out of the elevator on the ground floor, she can already spot him behind the wheel of his black BMW, right in front of her building’s entrance. As she approaches the car, he gets out to open the door on the passenger side for her,  greeting her with a chaste kiss on the corner of her lips.

“You look stunning,” he says as he sits back in the driver’s seat.

“Thank you,” she smiles, “you don’t look too bad yourself.”

Under her black coat, she’s wearing a black dress that belongs to her sister. Long sleeves, backless, short. Very Jordan. She’s happy she stole it from her closet and brought it with her to Michigan.

The drive to Charlie’s place is short. Alex’s small talk is the perfect balance between funny, light, yet interesting enough to keep her engaged, and most importantly there’s no obnoxious country music blasting. She tries to convince herself that’s definitely a point in Alex's favor.

“I’ve brought some vodka,” he says as he parks two doors down from Charlie’s. “Do you drink that?”

“Vodka sounds good,” Tessa replies, even thought she doesn’t think it sounds good at all.

He opens the door for her, and she steps out of the car. She can already hear the music and the voices coming from Charlie’s place, and all of a sudden she feels like she shouldn't be there, like she doesn’t really belong. Her shoulders tense, and she needs to count to five in her head to find the courage to walk up to the white wooden door. Alex doesn’t notice. Scott would have had. Maybe she will need some of that liquid courage Alex is carrying in a paper bag under his arm after all.



Charlie’s living room is big. He moved some of the furniture so there could be more space in the middle. To dance, she assumes. Alex takes her coat as she greets Meryl and a few other girls from the rink, and leaves her momentarily to get them drinks. She smiles awkwardly, not sure if she should stand, or sit, or just run away. Possibly the latter.

“Here,” says Alex handing her a red cup filled with vodka and soda.

“Cheers,” she says clinking her plastic cup to his and taking a long sip, the clear liquid leaving a warm trail as she drinks it.

It’s not long before her first cup is empty. And the second. And the third. She’s not really a drinker. Being a competitive figure skater and drinking hard liquor don’t really match all that well. Sure, she’s drank before, but not like she’s drinking right now. She has to admit it’s somewhat of a soothing feeling, and she finally understands why some people consider it a 'recreational activity'. She feels lighter and stronger and bolder all at the same time.

She dances with Alex, her arms around his neck, his hands low on her back. She knows Scott has finally arrived to the party; she can feel his eyes on her. She doesn’t need to turn around to know he’s watching her intently.

“Want another drink?” Alex asks with a smirk.

She nods. Yes, another drink. Why not, she thinks as Alex walks to the kitchen.

She keeps dancing on her own, her fingers still holding the empty solo cup tightly.

“You’re drunk.”

His voice is barely a whisper in her ear. She can smell beer in his breath.

“So are you,” she says, turning around to face her skating partner.

“Do you wanna dance?” his hands are already on her waist.

“Do I have a choice?” she replies, fluttering her eyelashes.

She hears him gulp, as he brings her closer.

“No,” he simply says.

They dance slowly, without even really listening to the music. The familiarity of being in his arms sometimes is so much it makes her want to scream.

“Nice dress,” he says as his fingertips trace feather-light circles on the exposed skin of her back.

“I was hoping you’d like it…” she says breathless, her face mere inches from his.

“Does Alex like it?” he asks, his breath warm on her lips.

“He loves it,” she tells him, bringing her hips closer to his.

“Tess…”

His tone makes her shiver, and she’s glad she’s had a few drinks. If she were sober, she’s sure she’d find this situation completely overwhelming.

“What is it, Scott,” she whispers, her lips lightly touching his as she speaks.

He gulps again, and she notices him shifting uncomfortably, trying to get some space between them. She doesn't let him out of her grasp.

“Tess,” he says again licking his lips, his eyes traveling to her mouth.

“Scott,” she runs her hand through his hair, and brings him closer to her. “Do you know I’m only 15?”

And just like that, she disentangles herself from his grip, and heads to the kitchen. She can feel his burning gaze on her as she walks away, but she doesn’t turn around. She’s got him exactly where she wants him.

Chapter Text

Canton, 2005



"I always thought of that as the moment you came into focus... like, 'Oh, there you are.'” - Happythankyoumoreplease



It’s an unusually cold September day when it happens. Tessa is late for practice; ten minutes late, to be exact, and he’s starting to get worried. He doesn’t remember her ever being late to anything in the 8 years he’s known her, so this new development makes him feel quite uneasy; he’s usually the one who’s running late. He had rhetorically asked her after their early morning session at the gym if she wanted him to pick her up from her house to drive her to practice in the afternoon, as he's been doing for the past year after he finally managed to convince his mom to let him drive his car down from Ilderton to Michigan, but for the very first time, she told him it wasn’t necessary.

He checks his phone. She hasn’t messaged him. He sighs; this is so unlike Tessa. Punctual, perfectionist Tessa. He’s about to call her, when a shiny black BMW enters the parking area, going at least 20 miles faster than the 15 miles speed limit allowed in the lot. That’s when he sees her, laughing, on the passenger seat, next to her a blond guy wearing sunglasses even though it’s almost raining. He’s the same blond guy who’s been haunting his nightmares for almost a year now; Alex. He doesn’t know what Tessa sees in him, he really doesn’t. Charlie had tried to reassure him he was a good guy, very respectful, but Alex’s complete lack of interest for his and Tessa’s skating has always left him quite suspicious.

“Sorry, we got stuck in traffic,” she says as she approaches him, placing her hand on his shoulder and gently rubbing it with her thumb.

“Yeah, traffic…” he rolls his eyes.

“I’m serious,” she insists, “there was road construction coming into town.”

Scott raises his eyebrows.

“Coming into town from where?” he asks, curious.

“Oh, just Detroit… We had lunch with Alex’s dad,” she shrugs as if it’s not a big deal.

Scott shakes his head and finally starts walking towards the entrance of the big arena.

“You don’t like Alex, I get it,” she states matter-of-factly.

He doesn’t reply.

“Is it because he’s American? Is that it?” she asks grabbing him by his arm, turning him around and forcing him to look at her.

“No, it’s not because he’s American. It’s because he gives out these huge douchy vibes, but mostly because he’s a distraction, T” he says, the volume of his voice gradually getting louder. “We’ve got Nationals in four months, and possibly the Olympics, and you’re just running around with a frat boy like a lovesick teenager who doesn’t understand how important what we do is. Do you even still want this?”

He can see by how her eyes widen in shock, that she’s completely taken aback by his words.

“Of course I want it,” she says, her voice small.

“Then show it.”

He doesn’t wait for her, he just walks into the big arena, and goes straight to the locker rooms. He knows Marina is not going to be pleased with their tardiness.

 



Tessa still looks slightly shaken up by the time she finally joins him on the ice, and he feels a little guilty for snapping at her like that. He just never thought Tessa would have been the one who didn’t consider skating her whole life. Since they were children, she had always been the more serious one, the one who always had her priorities straight, the more committed one. Not that he had ever taken skating less than seriously, but he had always thought he would have been the one to be distracted by the triviality of teenage life. They, and especially Tessa, never really got to do all the normal stuff most kids get to do. Proms, prep rallies, homecomings, and all these high school drama-filled things he knows his skating partner only got to experience from those TV shows she watches — and often makes him watch, during their day off.

He feels very petty for being so incapable to come to terms with Tessa having some sort of life outside of skating that he’s not a part of, and even more for her dating Alex; he hates himself for it. He was just so unprepared for the sudden change in his partner’s looks and attitude. One day she was Tessa, the skinny, awkward 15 year old who could get crowds cheering whenever she took the ice with him, but didn’t quite know what to do with herself once her skates came off and the music stopped, the next she’s a woman. He sees her with different eyes, and a part of him, the protective part, feels guilty for looking at her this way, and getting caught up with these foreign feelings, but another part of him, the hormonal 17-year-old teenage boy part, doesn’t feel guilty at all, and lets his thoughts go there freely and unrestrained every chance he gets. He notices the gentle curve of her hips, her toned stomach, the softness of her long light brown hair, how her perfect pearly white teeth bite her lower lip whenever she’s pondering something intently…

She decided to get a belly ring. He found out during a lift, when his thumb grazed the small metallic stud. He saw it for the first time a few hours later, as she stood by the boards yawning, her arms stretched out in the air. He found that an extremely sexy sight. He pathetically still finds himself hoping to get a glimpse of that small piece of body jewellery during every single practice. He knows he’s not the only one who has noticed this sudden change. Tessa has always gone relatively unnoticed at the rink when off the ice, mostly because of her reserved nature and introverted personality, but she has now started catching the attention of many of the guys. He’s kind of relieved that she’s so completely oblivious to all of it. He isn’t, and he’s perfectly aware Alex isn’t either. He knows him taking her out for lunch with his dad is a way to mark his territory, and he hates it how unfairly jealous that makes him feel, but he just can’t help it.

She skates towards him, and grab his arms, squeezing it gently. He knows that’s her silent way to tell him she’s sorry, and that they’ll talk about whatever needs to be talked about later.

Their moment is cut short by Marina who just as he knew she would, is not pleased with them being late. Practice starts, and all of Scott’s doubts about focus disappear. They’ve really found their footing in the past few months. Their twizzles are better than ever, and their lift are clean and fluid. Marina had been worried that Tessa’s latest growth spurt would require a long time for them to adjust and find the right balance again, but somehow it had not been a problem at all, and all their three programs for the season are as strong as they could be. Marina keeps telling them that what they really need to work on, now that all the technical elements are in place, is emoting; she keeps talking about how ‘sensual’ and ‘sexually charged’ the dances are, and he nods, as if he totally knows what she’s talking about, while Tessa just blushes, all innocent and wide-eyed, seemingly embarrassed by her coach’s straightforwardness, but the way she executes her moves tells him a different story.

 



She’s still wearing her skates with her baby blue skate guards when she corners him outside of the men’s locker room, after practice.

“I’m sorry,” she says with such a sincerity he forgets why he was upset at her to begin with.

“I don’t want you to think this isn’t important to me anymore,” she sighs, “us skating together is everything to me. Nothing comes before that.”

He nods.

“I want to go to the Olympics, I want to win,” she continues, her eyes searching for his.

“I know,” he simply says, squeezing her arm. “I know you’re focused, and I know you’re in this with me… I was being a jackass. I just don’t think that Alex guy is good enough for you.”

“Scott,” she lets out a sad laugh, shaking her head.

“No, really. Listen,” he interrupts her. “Has he ever been to one of our competition? Has he ever shown that he’s interested in what you’re doing? Has he ever asked you about it? Has he ever been supportive of it? Has he ever even seen you skate?”

“He’s supportive, he’s just… busy right now” she says, visibly upset by the route the conversation is taking.

“Tess,” he says, taking her cold hands in his, “you deserve so much better.”

“He introduced me to his parents,” she says, her tone defensive.

“You’re brilliant, and funny, and gorgeous, and you deserve someone who cherishes how talented and amazing you are at what you do. Someone who cares about it as much as you do” he tells her softly, his hazel eyes gentle, “not someone who will get you late to practice because he doesn’t understand how important this is.”

“Scott,” she tilts her to the right, a puzzled look on her face. “What..?”

He sees all the unasked questions in her eyes, but he knows he’s not ready to have that conversation just yet. Not when he’s still not sure about what all the confusing and tumultuous thoughts that have made an appearance in his head lately mean. Maybe one day.

“Just… don't be scared to want more, to wait for something better,” he shrugs, and with a small smile, he lifts her hands to his face and grazes them gently with his lips.

“See you in the car,” he says before heading to the locker room.

 

Chapter Text

“As long as I can remember, I’ve never not been afraid. Afraid of failure, of letting people down, hurting people, getting hurt… I thought if I kept my guard up and focused on other things, other people, if I couldn’t even feel it, well then no harm would come to me. I screwed up. Not only did I shut out the pain, I shut out everything - the good and the bad - until there was nothing.” - The Spectacular Now

 



Ottawa, 2006


They sit in silence; the worst has passed, now.

When they got the news they didn’t make the Olympic Team they were devastated. They were named “first alternate” which had just felt like a huge, painful slap in the face. Tessa had waited for the Skate Canada representatives to leave the room before starting to sob uncontrollably. Scott had never seen her like that. It broke his heart.

“We are ready. We are ready for the Olympics.” She kept saying over and over again. “I know we are.”

He knew what she was feeling. The past year had been a very trying experience for both. They had relocated from Waterloo to Michigan, and they had started training with Russian coaches. There were no nurturing moments, no warm mentoring and encouraging pep talks. They were professionals, and they were expected to behave as such. That’s why Tessa’s breakdown felt so much more powerful than it maybe was. She was so balanced and collected all the time. But her guard was down now, and it was painful to look at her when she was like this, her feelings so exposed.

But again, the worst had passed, and now they just sat in silence, in the small, cold, colourless room, nobody quite sure of what to do next.

“Maybe we should go get something to eat... you guys must be starving,” suggests Alma, with an unsure tone.

“I’m fine,” replies Scott.

“Yeah, I’m not hungry either,” adds Tessa with a somber tone.

Kate looks at the two teenagers.

“Maybe we can go have dinner while they shower and freshen up?” She suggests to Alma and the husbands, who are awkwardly standing as close as possible to the door, looking like they’d rather be anywhere else but in that room.

They reach an agreement. Scott and Tessa hail a cab back to the hotel, while the parents go grab a bite.



“Wanna talk about it?” He asks as they reach her room. 

“It just sucks,” she says with a loud sigh.

He smirks. Tessa is usually way more articulated than that.

“I know we wouldn’t medal, but I want to be there. We’ve been training so hard for so long... what if we never get to go to the Olympics? What if all the sweat and the tears are for nothing?”

Scott shakes his head.

“Of course we’ll make it to the Olympics. You just have to be patient.”

“I don’t wanna be patient anymore,” she says. “Don’t you see? Everybody else is applying to university, planning a gap year, graduating high school... and here we are, missing all these milestones for what?”

“You know we’ve had a really good season. It’s a great accomplishment,” he tells her, rubbing her shoulders with his hands.

“Nobody’s gonna remember two skaters who had a good season. That doesn’t leave a mark,” she shakes her head.

“Tess, we’ve got all the time in the world... we’ll use these next four years to improve, and get even more motivated,” he tries to reason.

“Four years is a long time,” she says getting up from the couch, and sitting on the edge of her queen size bed. “You know how it is with skating. You get maybe two good shots at the Olympics if you’re lucky, and then you retire.” 

He shakes his head and follows her, sitting next to her and pulling her in a hug she quickly reciprocates. As they separate, she locks her hands behind his head, and runs her thumbs up and down his neck.

“Tess...”

She doesn’t want to hear anything else. She just leans in, capturing his lips in a soft kiss. She’s warm, and light, and he doesn’t know what to do. He kisses her back, of course he kisses her back. He won’t deny that this is all he’s wanted for a while now. He feels her tongue on his lips, begging for entrance, taking the lead. He obliges. She sits up, her mouth never leaving his, and straddles him. Her hands move underneath his shirt, tracing his abs with her finger tips. His hands find her hips, and they graze the uncovered skin between the waistband of her leggings and the hem of her Team Canada shirt. She takes the red piece of fabric off with a swift move, and he gulps loudly when he sees she is not wearing a bra.

“Tessa...”

Her eyes are dark and glazed with something he can’t recognise. She reaches for the hem of his t-shirt, and removes it, throwing it on the floor, next to hers. He feels her hard nipples on his chest, and growls.

“Fuck, Tessa, we shouldn’t...”

She doesn’t say anything back, her mouth too busy leaving a trail of wet kisses on his neck, as she pushes him down on her bed.

She can feel his hardness through the thin fabric of his sweatpants. He wants her, and he can see it in her eyes that she unapologetically wants him too. She stands up, and slowly peels the black leggings and her black panties off her legs in one move, letting them pool at her feet. Scott looks at her in awe. She is right in front of him. Naked. Impossibly beautiful. His. The tightness in his pants is becoming unbearable.

She climbs back on the bed, and her hand slips past the waistband of his sweatpants, to cup him through the thin scrap of cotton of his underwear. His hips raise to meet her hand, and she takes advantage of that movement, to get his pants out of the way with her free hand and his help.

He’s unsure of what to do. He wants her. And he knows she can tell he does, but he’s afraid, because this is Tessa standing naked on top of him, grinding her hips on his. And she’s so sexy, and he wants her oh so badly. He wants to ask her if she’s done this before, God knows he hasn’t. He wonders how much of this Alex has got from her. But he doesn’t ask; when her hands grasp the elastic band of his briefs, pulling them down his thighs and then discarding them on the floor with the rest of their clothing, his mind goes blank, and all that matters is that he’s sharing this moment with her.

His mouth finds her breasts as he licks and nips his way down her body. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing; he’s just following his instincts at this point, trying to remember what he saw on those low quality videos he watched on his brother’s laptop. She moans in approval, and that unfamiliar sound goes straight to his groin, and he has to start reciting hockey stats in his head not to look like a complete frat boy. His fingers find her entrance; she’s hot and wet, and gasps at the contact, grinding down as he pleasure her with his hand. His fingers are quickly replaced by his mouth. He’s not quite sure if he’s doing it right, but Tessa’s moans are encouraging, and after a few minutes, he feels her come with a shudder. He keeps lapping her her, tasting her. Her hands are in his hair, gently and lazily massaging his head. He looks up, and he sees her smiling at him, her face glowing, a lazy and satisfied look on her face. He thinks it’s the sexiest thing he’s ever seen, and feels proud for being the reason she looks like that. He goes back up to kiss her, as his hardness finds its way between her legs. She gasps feeling him at her entrance, and her hand runs down, to keep him in position.

“Scott,” she says, her fingers caressing his cheek, her voice shaky. “I’ve never…”

She takes a deep breath.

“I’ve never done this before.”

Scott looks at her, and kisses her softly, suddenly reminded of how young she really is. Of how young they are.

“We don’t have to, do it, Tess,” he says, his tone gentle and sincere.

“I want to,” she says. “I want to do this. With you. I just wanted you to know…”

He kisses her again, reassuringly, in a way that makes her heart ache for more.

“Are you sure?” he asks, making sure that this is really what she wants. She gives him a small nod, and smiles at him, her hand stroking his hardness.

He eases his way inside her, trying to go as slowly as possible, looking for any sign of pain or discomfort on her face.

She gasps at the foreign feeling, as he presses his forehead against hers. She’s hot, and wet, and tight, and he doesn’t know how long he will last.

“Tess, you feel so good...” he whispers in her ear. He is so overwhelmed by all the feelings he has for her that he’s never completely allowed himself to feel, let alone tell her. He thinks his heart might explode if he doesn’t get them out of his chest. But he stays quiet, his mouth hot on hers, trying to silently let her know the extent of his love and devotion for everything she is to him.

“Make love to me, Scott” she whispers in his ear, and if he thought he was close before she said those words, he obviously had no clue.

He moves inside her, slowly at first, waiting for her to get used to him, then faster, his hazel eyes glued to her green ones. They fit together, of course they do. They quickly find a rhythm. He’s close, he’s so close, and so is she. He can see it in her eyes, and hear it in her shallow breaths, and the strangled way she pronounces his name. His hand reaches in between them and finds her clit. She gasps in pleasure.

“Please,” He hears her whisper in his ear. “Please, Scott.”

“You’re so perfect,” he whispers back. He’s so close, the feeling of being inside her is so intoxicating he doesn’t think he will ever be able to find anything else that makes him feel as complete as this. He thrusts once, twice, three times and then he whispers in her ear as he flicks her clit.

“Come for me, Tess.”

He’s always known her to be a pretty collected person. He saw it when as a tiny, mitt-wearing 8 year-old she would calmly explain to her parents why she thought something was unfair as opposed to him just screaming his lungs out and sticking out his tongue; he saw it when she was 13 and they started competing more seriously, when in the kiss and cry he’d just let his temper get the best of him and vehemently shake his head at scores that he thought were too low, while she just forced a smile and nodded, and hugged him and their coaches, pretending to be ecstatic at the results. That’s why it’s so foreign to him, seeing her like this, completely undone with him buried deep inside her, coming around him per his request, her mouth agape, a layer of sweat on her soft skin, making these little moans he thinks might be his new favourite sound. When he feels her walls contracting around him, he knows with absolute certainty that she’s ruined him for everyone else. Yet, he lets go, following her in the stormy sea of pleasure and oblivion that is as green as her eyes.

They stay like that on her hotel room bed. Limbs tangled, sweat covering their naked bodies, too tired to move. There’s something so familiar and beautiful about it, and right now, in this blissful moment, he thinks he’d be fine giving up on the Olympics, skating, food, anything, as long as he’d get to feel like this for the rest of his life.

He kisses her forehead, and she smiles contently.

They barely have the time to register the sound of Tessa’s hotel room door unlocking.

“I know you both said you weren’t hungry, but we brought you some choc...”

Kate never has the chance to finish her sentence, the expressions of shock, horror and realisation of what just happened in that bedroom flashing so clearly on her face, one after the other. Alma’s face mirrors Kate’s and for five seconds that feel like five hours, nobody says one single word.

It’s Scott, of course, the first to break the heavy silence.

“This is not what it looks like,” he says, his voice as high pitched as it was before he hit puberty, his hands protectively wrapping the white sheets him and Tessa are covered in around Tessa’s upper body.

Tessa rolls her eyes.

“This is exactly what it looks like,” she shrugs.

“Scott, how could you,” starts Alma.

“It was my idea,” Tessa interrupts her, her voice loud and without shame.

“It was my idea,” she repeats, as if she’s trying to comprehend what just happened herself.

“Tessa...” her mom looks at her like she’s grown two heads.

“What?” she asks unapologetically.

“How long has this been going on?” Alma asks looking at Scott.

Scott opens and closes his mouth, but no sound comes out. He realises that this is a very inconvenient moment for him to lose his proverbial loquacity.

“It was my first time,” Tessa, says. Her eyes widen as soon as she realises what she has just revealed in front of their mothers, and loudly clears her throat before correcting. “I meant, it was the first time this happened. Between us.”

“Can we… can you let us get dressed?” Scott finally finds his voice again.

Kate and Alma look at each other, both pondering whether it’s a good idea or not to leave their children alone again.

“You’ve got five minutes,” says Alma, her coaching mode on.

As soon as the mothers leave the room, Tessa starts laughing. A deep, loud, belly laugh.

“What’s with you?” Scott asks mildly amused as he tries to find his clothes that are scattered around the room.

“I just…” she says between giggles, “I just got caught in post-coital bliss by my mother and the mother of my skating partner. I think that should scare me away from ever having sex again.”

“That would be a shame,” he grins.

“Would it, now?” she replies playfully.

“We should talk about this,” he says. “About what just happened.”

“We should,” she echoes, pulling up her leggings.

“I can’t believe we’ll have to have this conversation with our mothers,” he sighs, “I’m sick at the thought.”

Tessa laughs, fixing her hair.

The door to the hotel room opens again.

“Are you decent now?” asks Alma walking in.

Scott rolls his eyes.

Kate, looking paler than usual, grabs a bottle of diet coke from the mini bar and sits down on the couch with a loud sigh. Alma joins her.

“Mom,” Tessa asks, “are you okay?”

“Tessa… You’re a responsible girl, what happened?” Kate shakes her head in disappointment.

Tessa doesn’t reply. Scott rests his hand on her back, trying to comfort her.

“Are you guys… in love?” Alma asks, her eyes attentively studying her son’s behaviour.

“No, God no,” Tessa answers quickly. Too quickly for Scott’s liking. “It’s not like that. It’s not like that at all.”

Scott’s hand drops to his side. He clenches his jaw, and takes a deep breath. He’s almost afraid the three women in the room can hear his heart breaking in that moment.

“It’s just…” Tessa continues, “Isn’t it normal? At our age?”

Kate puts her head in her hands, and says nothing.

“Maybe, maybe we can let the kids talk about this for a little bit?” Alma suggests, noticing the upset look on her son’s face.

Kate shoots her a look.

“You guys can go downstairs to the cafe and talk about it there,” she adds.

Tessa rolls her eyes, and is surprised to see Scott nodding at the suggestion.

“Yes. We’ll talk about this,” he says, dragging Tessa out of the room by the hand.

From the hallway, Tessa is sure she can hear something along the lines of ‘maybe it’s our fault’ and ‘they were too young to leave home. Too young.’



“She’s totally going to permanently move in with me in Canton after this,” she sighs as they walk towards the elevators.

“Give her time,” Scott says pressing the button to the ground floor. “She’s probably still in shock.”

“Why?” Tessa asks, “I mean… How is this shocking?”

Scott raises his eyebrows.

“What do you mean?” he asks. “You… planned for it to happen?”

A faint blush creeps across her cheekbones. The elevator reaches its destination, and they step out.

“No, of course I didn’t plan it,” she replies after a few seconds, “but I figured it was kinda bound to happen sooner or later.”

“Oh,” it’s all he manages to say.

“You never thought about it?” she asks curiously.

“Tess,” he says.

“I thought you wanted to talk about it,” she shrugs as they sit down on an uncomfortably stiff leather couch in the middle of the hotel lobby.

“I… Why did this happen?” he asks.

Tessa exhales.

“I don’t know... I guess I needed to feel something,” she explains.

Scott gives her a puzzled look. She takes a deep breath and gives him a small smile.

“Sometimes I think everything I feel is connected to skating. The happiness, the sadness, the anger... I guess I needed to know something other than that could make me feel alive, happy, like a normal person. And it did. I completely forgot about the Olympics and all the disappointment. It was just me and you, and we were just two stupid, horny teenagers, you know?”

He nods.

“It doesn’t mean it wasn’t important to me. It’s just… we can’t think about that, can we?”

He shakes his head, not really trusting his voice.

“I know I can’t let myself think about you like that. Not now,” she exhales loudly, taking his hand in hers.

He closes his eyes, an unwelcome realisation hitting him like a ton of bricks.

He’s in love with her. And he’s so, completely fucked.

Chapter Text

“She was the still point of the turning world.” - The Virgin Suicides




London, 2007



She watches him as he drags her two suitcases from her family house’s front door to his car, and effortlessly places them next to his in the spacious trunk. It’s a muddy summer afternoon in London; her white sundress sticks to her skin, and her hair falls frizzy and messy on her shoulders. She knows temperatures are going to be even higher across the border, in Michigan. She’s not very excited about going back, and she can see Scott isn’t either.

They’ve spent most summer driving back and forth, trying to squeeze in as much time as possible back home with their families during weekends, and training during week days — working on their new programs.

“Wanna stop and get coffee?” he asks her as soon as she sits next to him in the passenger seat, buckling her seat belt with a sigh.

“It’s like you read my mind.”

He smirks.

They stop at their usual Tim Hortons in the outskirts of London, order their iced lattes, and sip them sitting in his car, the AC on full blast.

She feels his eyes on her.

“I don’t really feel like going back,” she says interrupting the comfortable silence between them, as he places his coffee in the cup holder and turns the engine on.

He laughs, playfully raising an eyebrow.

There are days when it’s easy for her to forget why she loves skating in the first place — actually, sometimes she’s not really sure she does love it, and she knows today is one of those days. It’s a weird feeling that makes her feel really guilty, mostly. She’s never voiced her thoughts to Scott, or even to her own mother, because she knows putting something like that out there in the universe would be alarming for a lot of people, and she knows her being hot and cold about skating is probably another one of her phases; like the few months she decided to dye her hair bright red, or her going back to a non vegetarian diet, or her ever changing coffee orders.

“I mean, I miss training, but sometimes it’s just…”

“I know,” he interrupts her as he starts driving towards the highway. “I feel like that too, sometimes.”

She looks outside the window, doubting he's ever really felt like she does. At least not when it comes to skating.

“You know I love routines, and structure… But sometimes I wish we could have the kinda life where we can do impulsive things or even just thinking about doing impulsive things without feeling guilty about it,” she tries to explain.

“Impulsive things like what,” he asks raising an eyebrow.

She looks down to her lap as he gives her a side glance. She can’t help but notice something unusual in his tone, like he’s waiting for her to just ask him the right question, to say something he’s been waiting forever to hear.

“I don’t know… Like, hey, fuck Michigan, let’s go to the Niagara Falls instead.”

From his deep exhale, she can tell she’s failed his test once again

“You want to go to the Niagara Falls?” he asks, recovering quickly.

“I mean, that was just an example. But yeah, I’d much rather go there than go back to Canton.”

He smirks then looks in his rearview mirror, checking for cars.

“Okay then,” he says making a U turn in the unusually deserted road.

“Scott, what are you doing?!” she yelps, grabbing his forearm.

“We’re going to the Niagara Falls,” he laughs.

“What? Are you insane?”

“Nope. Just being a little impulsive.”

“Scott,” she says giving him a meaningful look.

“Tessa,” he mimics her tone, tilting his head in her direction.

She looks at him and she laughs.

“Are you serious?”

“I am completely serious. Fuck Michigan, right?”

He turns the volume of the radio up, Eminem blasting through his car’s old stereo system; they rap along, getting most of the words wrong.

She looks at him as he drives and sings his heart out; she notices how his long lashes cast shadows on his face, and how his hazel eyes seem to change colour in the early afternoon sunlight. It’s in these moments that she knows she will probably never feel the affection she feels for him for any other man. (Is this love?, she briefly ponders, and then shakes her head, not wanting to let herself go there.) It scares her a little, but it’s also somewhat of a comforting feeling. She might not know if she really loves skating, but she knows she would not want to do it with anyone else but him.

He drives for two hours, the conversation light, lots of loud, unfiltered laughter filling his old car packed with their skating equipment, their worn athletic wear, and all these dreams that sometimes still feel too big, and unreachable, as they allow themselves to be just a boy and a girl running away, going the opposite direction from where they need to be.

She rolls down the window as they approach the national park, and gives him a huge smile.

“I can hear them!”

She looks at him affectionately as he laughs at her overly excited reaction.

He finds a free parking spot after a few minutes driving around the lot, and finally stops the car. She launches herself out of the door, laughing loudly and unrestrained like a child, and runs towards the viewing platform. Small rainbows colour the lake’s surface as the huge volume of water plunges over the cliff with extraordinary force and speed, making an imposing sound.

He finally approaches her, and she feels his hands landing on her waist, and his chin resting on her shoulder. They stay like that for what feels like hours — and maybe it is, just looking at the water cascading over the falls, and the sun getting lower in the sky.

“Let’s take a picture,” she says taking her blackberry out of her pocket.

He rolls his eyes feigning annoyance at the request, but complies anyways, wrapping his arms around her and smiling brightly for the camera.

She hates how everything suddenly feels so right, and all the pieces seem to magically fall into place when he’s there, holding her like there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing. She hates herself for being unable to keep her feelings in check, for letting her mind go there, for letting herself believe this could actually mean something. She’s been so careful after the little indiscretion that happened between them the previous year, trying to distract herself, trying to ignore the way he looks at her, with eyes that are both hungry and full of wonder.

She feels the sudden need to fill the silence between them.

“Do you think this is what it feels like?” she asks, turning around to face him. “Life without skating?”

He shrugs. How would he know the answer to that when they’ve never known anything else.

“Can I ask you something?”

She raises her eyebrows at his serious tone, and she’s afraid he’ll ask something she won’t be able to answer to honestly, and that he’ll read it all over her face. She nods anyways, turning towards the waterfalls once again.

“Would you ever skate with anyone else? Like… get another partner?”

She starts shaking her head even before he's even done asking his question. She might not be sure her love for the sport is genuine, but she does know without a shadow of a doubt that her career in ice dance will start and end with Scott, and no one else.

“So you’d just quit skating altogether if I couldn’t skate anymore?” he pushes.

“Yes, of course,” she replies promptly, turning her head towards him to show him she’s one hundred percent serious about that, just in time to catch the obvious look of relief on his face.

“Remember that summer your aunt dragged us all to her cabin by the lake? I was maybe 13…”

He nods.

“There were so many shooting stars. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that since then,” she continues.


“Yeah, it was magical.”

She smiles.

“Do you remember I kept making wishes on every single one of them? I don’t think I went to sleep until the sun came up.”

He nods.

“You wouldn’t tell anybody what it was that you were wishing for,” he says. “What was it? Was it the Olympics? Winning the JGP?”

She shakes her head

“What was it then? Was it about a boy?”

“Kind of,” she shrugs.

“C’mon, just tell me already,” he insists.

“I kept wishing to stop getting tall. The whole night I sat out there in the dark wishing not to outgrow you,” she says, shaking her head. “Can you believe that? At 13, that was my biggest wish. It wasn’t to kiss Marcus Adler behind the bleachers like all the other girls wished for, it was just… not growing tall.”

Scott sighs and tightens his grip around her.

“Thank you,” he says.

“We have to go back, don’t we?” she says disentangling herself from his embrace, and turning around to face him.

He nods, and she gives him a smile.

“Thank you for this,” she says, pointing at the falls. “It was perfect.”

They walk back to his car hand in hand, and she lets herself imagine that maybe there’s a future where her life could look just like this.



Chapter Text

"I just thought there would be more." - Boyhood

 

Canton, 2008

 

He wakes up to find her naked, sprawled diagonally half on him, and half on his small double bed. It’s something that has been happening rather frequently in the past 3 months or so. They have never openly talked about it, and even though he doesn’t have a ton of experience when it comes to relationships, he knows they’re way past casual now, even if an official definition to whatever it is that they’ve been doing has not been given yet. He runs a hand through her soft hair, and sighs as she starts stirring beside him. His arm tightens around her, bringing her naked body closer to his. He buries his nose in her hair, inhaling the familiar scent he’s quickly grown so addicted to.

“Good morning,” he whispers, his voice still a little raspy.

She hums as her thumb gently strokes his face.

“It’s almost 8,” he tells her. “We’ve got to be on the road by 9:00 the latest if you want to make it back to London for brunch.”

She gives him a disapproving groan, and lazily disentangles herself from his grip, sitting down on his bed, and turning around to face him.

“I need a shower,” she says sheepishly, “and coffee. God I need coffee.”

He thinks about the activities that have kept them awake until way later than they’ve been used to during the season. Now that they’re working on their show programs and starting to workshop ideas for the upcoming competitive season they have a somewhat slightly more relaxed schedule. They’re flying out to Korea in a few weeks to do a couple of shows, which Marina is not very enthusiastic about.

“You can take a shower first. I’ll have a pot of coffee waiting for you once you’re done,” he says, as he sits up on the bed, drops a quick kiss to the back of her neck, and looks around the room for some semi clean clothes to wear. He feels her eyes on him as she gives him a quick once over while he gets dressed.

He walks out of the bedroom with a smile he can’t seem to be able to wipe off his face, whistling some happy tune — wait, is that Hall and Oates? and a lightness in his chest he hasn’t felt since he was a child. He heads to the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee, his thoughts going to the girl in his bedroom, the girl he’s know for over a decade, the girl he’s been half in love with for years now, the one person he knows he’ll always try to be his best for. He knows that even though they’re reluctant to define whatever it is that is going on between them, that it’s something important; something big. Maybe too big for the people they are at the moment, for the kind of career they want and all the gold that he knows is now just within their grasp.

He sighs shaking his head, as he always does when he allows himself to think about what everything he’s being doing with Tessa means, and looks around the kitchen for some fruits and veggies to make two nutritionist-approved smoothies. He is a little disappointed when all he can find is two very brown bananas and an open bag of softening apples. He walks back towards his bedroom, a little defeated, and is surprised not to hear the shower running in his ensuite. He hears Tessa, instead, talking to someone on the phone, her tone flat. He feels guilty standing there, sort of eavesdropping, his mind going to the hundreds different scenarios that could be unfolding on the other side of the line.

“Are you okay?” she asks to the mystery caller in a hushed tone.

“Yes, I promise. Just… don’t worry, okay?” she sighs. “I’ll see you soon,” she says, before hanging up the phone and whispering a shaky ‘fuck’ under her breath.

He heads back to the kitchen as quietly as possible. His partnership and friendship with Tessa might be as strong as it’s ever been, but he’s sure that particular conversation was not meant for him to hear, even if from the little snippets he managed to catch, he couldn’t really figure out much.

A few short minutes later, just as he’s pouring the freshly brewed coffee into two mugs, he sees her stepping into view, wearing an old t-shirt of his that he’s probably had since he was 13, her head up in a ponytail, and her eyes miles away.

“I thought you were going to take a shower,” he says a little confused, giving her a small, awkward smile.

She gives him an unreadable look in response, but holds his gaze as she takes off her (his) shirt and slowly walks towards him. He gulps audibly, still not completely used to her willingly baring herself for him like this, his eyes quickly glancing down her toned body, admiring the freckles painting her skin like pixie dust. She stops right in front of him, her hands coming to rest on the back of his neck, as she stands on her toes to give him a feather light kiss that makes his heart flutter.

She undresses him slowly, in a way that almost looks choreographed in its precision, her darkening eyes not leaving his, her hands, warm and slightly shaky, touching every inch of his exposed skin.

“Tess…” he says, his voice thick with desire.

She doesn't say anything back, dropping to her knees instead, looking up to meet his eyes. She takes him in her mouth, and he has to tighten the grip on the countertop behind him to steady himself. Her short fingernails scratch his thighs as his cock hits the back of her throat, and she moans. He feels lightheaded and out of breath, but he can’t bring himself to close his eyes, keeping them on her instead. He brings one of his hands to her face, his thumb softly caressing her cheek, pushing her back slightly with a gentle grip. She gives him a questioning look.

“Come up here,” he says, his voice low.

He cups her face to bring her back up and kiss her. He realises that it feels different somehow; there’s something so vulnerable yet unreadable in the way she runs her hands through his hair, in the way her eyes never leave his as he holsters her on his kitchen counter and makes her cum with his fingers, and then buries himself inside her, her light gasps filling his kitchen, sounding like the most beautiful melody he’s ever heard, as he rocks into her over and over again.

“I love you,” he whispers in her hair as he spills himself inside her. He doesn’t know if she’s heard him, but he feels her slim fingers tightening their grip on his shoulders as she buries her face in the crook of his neck, her breath hot and shallow on his skin.

They stay like that, naked in the middle of his kitchen, sweaty limbs tightly wrapped around each other, his hand lazily and soothingly combing through her soft hair.

“Are you okay?” he asks, still a little puzzled by her behaviour.

He feels her nodding her head against his shoulder, and slowly disentangles himself from the warmth of her body.

“Cold coffee?” he says pointing at the mugs resting on the table on the opposite side of his small open kitchen with a small, affectionate smile.

“Sounds good,” she says, but then shakes her head. “Actually, that sounds terrible, but I’ll take it.”

He chuckles, as he realises how domestic and intimate the moment they’re sharing is. Sipping coffee naked, sitting at his kitchen table, holding each other’s hands.

“Shower?” he asks after a few sips.

She cocks her head, her eyebrows raised, and he gives her an amused look.

“I meant, separate showers,” he specify. “Go first. I’ll… clean up,” he says looking at the counter with a smirk. “We’re already behind schedule.”



It’s past 10am when they’re finally clean, packed, and ready to go. He drags both of their small carry-on suitcases to her car (as his is currently at the shop for some much needed maintenance), and then automatically reaches to open the door on the driver’s side.

“I can drive,” she says.

“All yours, captain,” he laughs, obediently handing her the car keys, and walking around her brand new car to seat in the passenger seat.

They arrive in London way past 1PM, over an hour later than they anticipated, and as they get to the Virtues’ house he can already spot his mom’s car in the driveway. Tessa parks on the street, a few meters away, and gives him a quick kiss before opening the car door, with a sigh. He feels a shift in her behaviour as she slowly walks towards her house, keys in her hand. The white wooden door swings open before she’s even half way across the small, well kept front lawn, and Jordan launches herself towards her little sister, her hair messy, clothes wrinkled, fresh tears in her reddened eyes.

He looks at the two young women hugging tightly with a curious expression, wondering what could be the cause of Jordan’s disheveled state. He doesn’t have to wait long for his questions to find answers. He sees his mother walking towards him, an aggravated look on her face.

“I’m glad you were with her when she found out,” she tells him, a hand squeezing his shoulder affectionately. “You know how close these two girls were to their grandma. She was like a second mother to them.”

He stands there, blindsided by his mother’s words. He nods absentmindedly as she keeps talking to him, while his eyes look for Tessa’s. Almost as if she feels him stare, she lifts her head from Jordan’s shaking shoulder, and their gazes lock. There are no tears in her eyes, just a blank, emotionless expression he finds himself completely unable to read.

When has she become so good at hiding her feelings? A shiver runs down his spine, as he wonders what else she might be keeping from him.