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Say You Won't Let Go

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I met you in the dark, you lit me up
You made me feel as though I was enough

***

1997 – Ilderton

“I already told you. I don’t want a partner!” Scott exclaimed as he stomped his foot on the ground for good measure.

“Scott Patrick Moir,” his mother scolded. “You will not talk to your aunt like that. Apologize right now.”

Scott glared at his mother before he dropped his gaze to the ground as he dug in the ice with the toe pick of his skate.

“Sorry Aunt Carol,” he muttered.

His aunt smiled softly. “It’s okay, Scott. And remember, this doesn’t have to be permanent. Maybe you’ll love it, maybe you’ll hate it. But you won’t know unless you try it, yeah?”

Scott nodded. “I guess so.”

Alma smiled. “Great! I’ll go find Kate.”

About ten minutes later, his mother came back with a woman and a young girl who looked to be around Scott’s age. She looked familiar – Scott was pretty sure he’d seen her around at a skating camp – but he’d never talked to her.

“Scott, sweetie, this is Tessa and her mother Kate,” Alma told him.

Scott took in the sight of Tessa as she clung to her mother’s jacket, half hidden behind her, bright green eyes wide with…fear? No, that wasn’t it. Everything about her body language screamed that she was intimidated; everything but her eyes. They held a genuine curiosity as they locked with Scott’s own brown eyes, and even at nine years old, Scott instantly felt a wave of protectiveness wash over him.

He stepped forward and held out his hand.

“Hi. I’m Scott,” he said confidently.

He tried not to smile too big when she stepped away from the comfort of her mother to shake his hand back.

She gave him a small smile as she slipped her hand into his, and they didn’t know it at the time, but with her hand in his, they would be a force to be reckoned with.

“Tessa,” she said quietly but politely. “Nice to meet you.”

“Alright,” Carol said. “Let’s get you two on the ice.”

On the ice, Scott didn’t ever let go of her hand. They didn’t do much, they really just skated in circles as the adults watch them with adoring eyes. But even so, Scott was impressed with her skating ability. He’d learned that she was only seven, but she was easily able to keep up with him. And Scott liked going fast. He was a hockey player, after all.

However, Tessa didn’t seem to think she did so well. She’d stumbled a few times, but Scott assumed that she was just nervous. But he  quickly learned that Tessa was her own worst critic.

As they finished up their last lap, Scott turned to look at Tessa, only to find her eyebrows furrowed in frustration and her mouth set in a hard line.

“What’s the matter?” He asked her.

“I almost fell two times. I’m not good enough to skate with you,” she told him.

This made Scott laugh, and she looked up at him with a hurt expression on her face.

He quickly backpedaled. “No, no. I’m sorry. I wasn’t laughing at you, promise. It’s just, well, I was really impressed that you were able to keep up with me.”

He could see the happiness creeping into Tessa’s green eyes.

“Really?”

“Yes, really! Here, come on.”

Scott dragged her toward the boards to where Alma, Kate and Carol were.

“Mom, Aunt Carol, Tessa and I have decided we want to skate together,” he told them confidently.

“We have?” Tessa asked. Scott looked at her expectantly. “I mean, yes. We have.”

The three adults all exchanged knowing glances as they smiled at each other.

“Alright,” Alma said. “So be it.”

And that was that.

***
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up

***

2006 – Canton

“Scott, I really don’t know about this,” Tessa said, biting her lip nervously.

“Come on, Tess, it’ll be fun, I promise,” Scott said encouragingly.

“Yeah but I just mean, well, this isn’t really my thing. The whole ‘interacting with people’ thing. That’s always been your job.”

Scott just laughed. “It’s not a job, Tess. It’s called being human.”

“Well then I obviously was not meant to be human,” Tessa muttered.

Scott rolled his eyes, but the smile on his face showed his amusement at Tessa’s lack of interest in socializing.

“Just give it a try, T. Try a beer, loosen up a little. I’ll be right by your side the whole time.”

She looked up at him, green eyes shining, and Scott felt that familiar wave of protectiveness for his partner overtake him. “You promise?”

Scott drew an ‘x’ over his heart with his finger. “Cross my heart. I won’t even drink tonight, okay?”

Tessa pursed her lips. “Okay. But the second I want to leave, we leave, got it?”

Scott saluted her. “Yes ma’am.”

***

Scott was pretty sure he had created a monster.

Well, not a monster, per se, but he quickly learned that drunk Tessa was extremely hard to keep up with. He had figured out that Tessa was a happy, energetic, extroverted drunk who just wanted to dance the night away. She was also, with this being her first-time drinking, very much a lightweight.

“Scott Scott Scott Scott,” she kept repeating, jumping up and down as she latched onto his forearm.

He laughed. “What’s up, Kiddo?”

She smiled at him, her usual bright green eyes glossed over, pupils dilated from the alcohol. “Dance with me.”

Scott shook his head in amusement. “We’ve barely stopped dancing all night, T. Maybe we should get you home and in bed.”

Tessa wiggled her eyebrows, trying and failing to look seductive in her drunken state. She did, however, look adorable. “Oh, you want to get me in bed.”

He laughed, but he was slightly taken aback by drunk Tessa’s forwardness. “Oh trust me, Tess. If that were ever going to happen, it wouldn’t be like this.”

She smiled wide. “Oh, so you have thought about it?”

“Wha- no! No, that’s not what I meant-” Scott cut himself off because he knew that there was no use in explaining himself to an intoxicated Tessa. “Let’s just get you home, okay?”

“Fine, Mr. Grumpy,” she mumbled, but she giggled the whole way home.

When they arrived at her house, Scott had to literally carry her through the door.

“Note to self,” he said. “Limit you to one beer next time.”

This made Tessa giggle loudly.

“Shh, Tess, you’ve got to be quiet. You don’t want to wake your host family.”

She pouted playfully. “Well then don’t make me laugh.”

He shrugged. “Fair point.”

He carried her up to her room and then tried to set her down on her bed, but Tessa wasn’t having it. She squirmed in his arms until he finally gave up and pulled away, sighing in defeat.

“What is it, Tess?”

She held out her arms, just as a baby would when they wanted to be picked up and beckoned him to come closer.

“Dance with me.”

“Tessa I’ve already told you, you need to go to bed,” he said, but he found himself subconsciously walking over to her.

She put her hands around his neck and pulled him flush up against her body.

“Dance with me,” she whispered.

Scott swallowed hard as he looked into her green eyes, dark with an emotion he couldn’t quite pinpoint.

“Tess,” he said, his voice low and hoarse as he wrapped his arms around her waist. She instinctively moved to rest her head on his shoulder, and Scott was overcome with foreign feelings. He was used to feeling protective over Tessa, it was only natural with her being two years younger and so much more innocent, but for the first time, swaying back and forth while he held her in his arms, he felt pure affection and adoration. He could feel every inch of Tessa and it was all he could do not to let his hands roam all over her backside. The two stayed like that for at least ten minutes and just basked in each other’s presence, when suddenly Tessa pulled away.

“Scott,” she said quietly.

“Yeah, Tess?”

“I think I…” she paused briefly. “Am going to be sick.”

And just like that their moment was gone, and Scott sprung into action and led her to the bathroom. They had barely made it to the toilet before Tessa threw up, and Scott gently brushed her hair away from her face, holding it back as he rubbed her back with his other hand.

“Oh Kiddo,” he said, feeling slightly guilty for dragging her to that party and putting her in this position.

She emptied the last of her stomach contents before she sat back and leaned her head on Scott’s chest.

“New rule,” she groaned. “I’m not allowed to drink ever again.”

***

Then you smiled over your shoulder
For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest

***

“Shit, T, I’m so sorry,” Scott told her, holding her in his arms on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.

Tessa turned to look at him, eyebrows furrowed. “Why are you sorry?”

“I dragged you to that party. You didn’t want to go.”

Tessa sighed. “I’m my own person, Scott. If I really didn’t want to go or drink as much as I did, I wouldn’t have. It’s not your fault.”

Scott didn’t say anything. They both knew that he was going to blame himself no matter what she said, so there was no point in debating it.

They just sat there for a moment, Tessa’s back pressed up against Scott’s front as she rested her head in the crook of his neck.

“Scott?” She said quietly.

“Yeah Kiddo?”

She turned her head to look at him and smiled up at him. Her green eyes met his brown ones and she looked at him like he hung the stars in the sky.

He was pretty sure he looked back at her the same way.

“I could stay like this forever.”

Scott could practically feel his heart skip a beat. In that moment, he was so extremely grateful he had decided to stay sober that night, because if he didn’t, he knew exactly where his drunken self would want this entire night to lead to. But he was sober, so instead he just drew her in closer, squeezing her in what was probably their most intimate hug to date.

“Me too, T,” he told her.

But then he released her.

Because his judgement was so extremely clouded at that moment, and he needed space, but he also needed to take care of Tessa.

“But we need to get you in your own bed.”

The two unwillingly untangled themselves from each other. They were slow in getting up, savored every moment, because they knew that tomorrow when Tessa was sober they wouldn’t – couldn’t – let something like that night happen again, not for a very long time.

They slowly walked back into her room and once there, Scott gently ordered Tessa to sit on her bed as he got her pajamas. He went into her drawers and found a pair of cotton shorts, and when looking through her shirts, he found an old one of his that he thought he had lost ages ago.

He smirked to himself, secretly loving the fact that she had stolen one of his shirts. It made him feel like he was still with her, still a part of her, even when they weren’t together.

He brought back the shirt and shorts combo to her and cleared his throat as he smirked at her.

She looked up at him and took in the sight of his shirt and smiled sheepishly.

“It looked comfy,” she said, as if that explained everything. “And I was right! It’s my favorite sleeping shirt!”

He sighed, shook his head, and laughed. “Sober you is going to kill drunk you tomorrow, T.”

He helped her out of her clothes and into her pajamas – they were used to changing in front of each other, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal – and then he helped her under the covers, making sure she was tucked in and comfortable before he leaned over to kiss her on the forehead.

“Goodnight, Kiddo,” he whispered.

He turned to leave, but she caught his hand at the last second.

“Wait, Scott,” she hesitated and bit her lip before she continued. “Can you stay?”

It was all Scott could do to not unravel right then and there.

“You know I want to, Tess. But I can’t. You really need to sleep.”

And I really need to get away from you. But he didn’t add that part.

He thought she might fight his decision, but as he saw her eyes already closing, he knew he was in the clear. But just for good measure, and because, well, he wanted to, he bent down and kissed her again on the forehead, lingering a bit longer this time.

“Goodnight, T. Love you.”

But she was already asleep.

***

I knew I loved you then
But you'd never know
'Cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go
I know I needed you
But I never showed
But I wanna stay with you until we're grey and old
Just say you won't let go
Just say you won't let go

***

2015 - London

They weren’t really talking.

Not because they were mad at each other, they were just busy living their separate lives. Tessa had decided to keep busy with school and sponsorships and fashion, and Scott had gone all domestic on her and busied himself with Kaitlyn. And it wasn’t like they never saw each other. They still had Stars on Ice and they did a bit of commentating here and there for competitions and met up for coffee every other month or so, but they weren’t really talking. It was like there was this rift between them, and it felt eerily similar to the few months after Tessa’s first surgery.

And that really scared Scott. But he also knew it was his fault.

He knew he couldn’t be with Kaitlyn, not properly, if Tessa was always right there. And he liked Kaitlyn, he really did. Loved, even. But his love for Kaitlyn didn’t hold a candle to his love for Tessa. But he loved her enough to give her a fighting chance.

Well, that was partially the truth. The other half, the part he refused to acknowledge, was the fact that he had no idea where he stood with Tessa. He thought he did, up until Sochi. But after that she decided she wanted to pursue other things, things that hadn’t necessarily included him. And that hurt. But it didn’t matter. It was for the best, he told himself. For the sake of their partnership. He couldn’t let something as stupid as feelings get in the way of what they had built together since seven and nine. But in the midst of trying to prevent complicating their partnership, he’d done just that.

He shut her out. He hadn’t properly showed her any sort of affection, not even platonically, since Sochi. He knew he was hurting her, but he tried not to think about that. He needed to get his feelings under control. He couldn’t allow himself to feel these things for his partner, not if they were going to continue skating together, even if just through touring.

The only time he allowed himself to feel even a portion of his true emotions was on the ice. He savored those moments, because he knew that as soon as the music stopped, and they hit their final pose, he needed to rein himself back in again.

He could tell she lived for those moments too. It was the only time her eyes would shine, the only time they truly looked like the gorgeous green eyes he had met at nine years old. At the end of each program, he could see the hope in her eyes, praying that finally, finally, he might let her back in. But he never does, and watching the hopefulness disappear and seeing it replaced by hurt and disappointment nearly killed him every time.

It was after the Stars on Ice tour that she texted him. It was nearly eleven thirty and he and Kaitlyn had just hopped in bed.

Can you come over? I need to talk to you.

He furrowed his eyebrows at the text. It sounded serious.

“Who is it?” Kaitlyn asked.

“It’s Tess,” Scott said slowly as he tried to decipher what the text could mean. “She said she needs to talk to me. It sounds serious.”

Kaitlyn raised an eyebrow. “It’s eleven thirty at night. Can it not wait for the morning?”

Scott sighed, and shook his head. “Apparently not.”

He pushed the covers off him as he got out of bed, throwing on the first shirt he could find and some sweatpants. Then he walked over to Kaitlyn and kissed her briefly on the cheek.

“I may be a while. Don’t wait up,” he said.

“Of course not,” she muttered to herself. Then a bit louder said, “I love you.”

Scott was almost out the door but turned around for a second to smile at her.

“You too.”

When he got to Tessa’s, he knocked on her door to let her know that he was there, but didn’t wait for her to come and open it. She always kept it unlocked when she knew he was coming to visit.

“T?” He called out, looking around her apartment for any sign of her.

Then he heard footsteps heading toward him and he turned in the direction of her bedroom door. Sure enough, out came Tessa, looking beautiful as ever in an old oversized t-shirt and leggings. But he barely had time to appreciate her beauty when he saw the mascara-streaked tears staining her face.

Throwing caution to the wind and forgetting about the months of hard work he’d put in to shutting her out, he started for her.

“Don’t,” she said firmly before adding more quietly, “don’t.”

Scott stopped in his tracks. “Tessa. What’s wrong?”

He could feel his throat closing in as he struggled to take deep breaths, wanting nothing more than for her to let him comfort her. He couldn’t stand seeing her like this. He’d rather take on an entire army of mascots than see her hurting.

“Tess. Talk to me, please. What’s going on?” He probably sounded more panicked than he’d have liked to.

She took a deep breath before quietly muttering something incoherent.

Scott shook his head. “I’m sorry Tess, I didn’t get that.”

“I’m done, Scott,” she said louder this time, venom seeping through her teeth. “I want out.”

Scott blinked, not quite comprehending what she was saying. “Out. You want out of…what?”

“Of us. This. Our partnership,” she said, her anger rising with every word. “I don’t want to skate with you anymore.”

Scott took a step back, the finality of her words hitting him like bullets.

“You…what?”

She shook her head and she shoulders slumped, and then it was as if she had lost all the anger in her body. What replaced it was just pure devastation.

“I can’t, Scott. I can’t do it anymore,” she said as her face crumbled. “You haven’t been you since Sochi, and I feel like you hate me, and I don’t know why or what I did, and I can’t keep seeing you just to have you stare at me like I’m a blank wall because it kills me every time and-”

Scott cut her off by moving toward her, tears burning in his own eyes as he scooped her up in his embrace. His hands were everywhere on her, because god he missed touching her so much, but he also didn’t trust himself to speak so this was the only way he could offer her a little bit of comfort.

She clung onto him like her life depended on it, and he could feel her uneven breaths from her sobbing and he hated himself because he did that to her. How could he do that to her?

He finally found his voice, but only used it to whisper apologies to her as he kissed every inch of her face.

“I’m sorry.”

Forehead.

“Baby I’m so sorry.”

Cheeks.

“I’m so sorry.”

Eyelids.

“I’m sorry baby.”

Nose.

The two of them stayed like that, clinging to each other as Scott whispered sweet nothings to her as they attempted to bring their heartbeats and emotions back down.

After what felt like years, Tessa finally looked up at him, bringing one hand to cup his cheek.

“Where did you go?”

Scott swallowed and shook his head. How could he answer that?

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I don’t know but I swear to you Tess I will do anything, anything to make it up. Just please. You can’t leave me. I need you. I need you so damn much T.”

She sighed, pulling away from him completely, but Scott wouldn’t have it. He quickly took her back in his arms, cradling her face as he wiped away her tears with his thumbs.

“I needed you too, Scott. I’ve needed you since Sochi and you haven’t been here. And it took me threatening to end our partnership to finally get my Scott back.”

Scott clenched his jaw. “I didn’t think you needed me that much, Tess. After Sochi, you threw yourself into the world of fashion and sponsorships and I felt like I was just along for the ride. I felt like I had to distance myself from you, had to learn how to live without you.”

Tessa was shaking her head before he had even finished. “It was never like that, Scott. All I want – all I’ve ever wanted was to skate with you. You have to know that.”

He nodded automatically. “I do. I know that now. And you have to know how much I want that too. I want it for as long as you’ll let me. I love you, T.”

Tessa’s eyes filled with tears again, but this time they were happy tears.

“I love you too, Scott. So much.”

And they knew that they had a long road ahead of them to get back to where they wanted to be.

But this was a start.

***

I'll wake you up with some breakfast in bed
I'll bring you coffee with a kiss on your head
And I'll take the kids to school
Wave them goodbye
And I'll thank my lucky stars for that night

***

2017 - Montreal

“T, let’s go! It’s time to leave!” Scott said as he walked through the door to her apartment with coffee and a muffin. They had an early day today with practice in the morning, and then they promised Marie-France and Patch that they would take their daughter to school before they had to be back for their gym and choreography sessions.

When Scott didn’t get a response back, he smirked to himself and rolled his eyes as he wandered into Tessa’s room. When he opened the door, he wasn’t surprised to find Tessa still passed out in her bed. She was sprawled diagonally across her queen-sized bed, her sheets kicked off and with one leg sticking out of her comforter. Next to her was a book that lay open face down, and it was apparent that she had dozed off last night in the midst of reading. His eyes traveled up to her face, where her dark hair was spread over the pillows and her face, but through it he could make out the way her mouth was slightly open as she snored lightly.

Scott didn’t think he’d ever seen anything so adorable.

“Tess,” he said, squatting down so that he was level with her sleeping figure as he put her coffee and food on her nightstand. He gently brushed the hair away from her face and ran his hand down her face until it was resting on her neck. “It’s time to get up.”

Slowly but surely, Tessa started to open her eyes and my god what Scott wouldn’t have given to be able to see her wake up every day for the rest of his life.

Her green eyes met his, sleep and confusion mixed together as she tried to take in her surroundings.

“There you are, Kiddo,” Scott practically cooed. “Come on, you’ve got to get ready.”

Tessa finally picked her head up off her pillow to get a look at the clock on her bedside table. When she saw the time, she scowled.

“You’re early,” she all but growled at him.

Scott chuckled lightly. “By like two minutes. And it’s a good thing, too, given that you were still asleep.”

She glared at him, but sat up anyway which forced Scott to remove his hand that was still caressing her neck.

“Here,” he said as he grabbed her coffee and muffin from the night stand. “Breakfast.”

Her eyes finally softened slightly, and Scott had to hold back his amusement as he watched her devour her muffin, looking like she was ten years old again. Overcome with nostalgia and affection, he leaned down and brought her forehead to his lips. When he released her, he noticed the taint of red that had begun to spread over her cheeks, but she hadn’t necessarily looked unhappy. Pleased with this observation, he smiled and said, “I’ll let you get ready. I’ll be in the living room when you’re done.”

She nodded as he left.

Five minutes later, she emerged from her room, coffee cup in hand looking slightly more awake.

“Alright, let’s go,” she sighed.

He walked behind her and placed his hand on the small of her back as he led her to the door. He felt as she responded to him automatically, leaning into his touch. They’d been this way for a while now. Since the 2015 incident (that’s what they called that night), they had been working their asses off trying to bring their partnership back to where it was before Sochi. In some ways it had worked – they were back to being the best of friends and the best of partners who enjoyed skating together. But in other ways it hadn’t. Because ever since they had decided to come back, there had been this gravitational pull between them, and Scott didn’t quite know what to make of it. Contrary to popular belief, they never had taken their friendship to the next level. Sure, there had been moments when he believed something could have happened, but something or someone always got in the way, and then just like that, the moment would be over. But these days, it was getting harder and harder for him to deny the fact that yes, he was in love with Tessa Virtue. He was pretty sure he’d always been, he’d just been stupid and naïve and wouldn’t let himself acknowledge or show it.

The problem? He had no fucking idea as to where she stood. There were times when he thought that maybe she could love him back, like when her breaths would become ragged after he’d run his hands over her during practice, or the way she’d blush as she did just a few minutes ago when he’d kiss her on the forehead. But then there were times when she wouldn’t want to hang out after practice and told him that she wanted to go home and be by herself. Scott tried not to take it personally – he knew she was an introvert through and through, but it was so hard when all he wanted was to spend every second of every day with her.

He sighed and rubbed his forehead with one hand as he tried to understand the enigma that was Tessa Virtue. She must have noticed, because she turned to look at him, concern evident in her eyes.

“You okay? Do you have a headache?”

He smiled at her and shook his head. “No, I’m fine. Just need my coffee that I left in my car.”

She smiled back at him.

Yeah, they had fixed their partnership, but this was the one area where he still allowed himself to lie to her.

***

Their morning practice came and went like any other, and before they knew it they were putting Billie’s car seat in the back of Scott’s car.

“Thank again, you two,” Marie-France said as she handed Billie over to Tessa.

“Oh, it’s no problem,” she replied, taking Billie in her arms. “You know we love her.”

Patch laughed. “I’m glad, because she certainly loves the two of you.”

It was true. Over the course of the last few years, Billie had taken a liking to Tessa and Scott more so than their other students, Scott in particular. Tessa liked to joke that she had developed a crush on him.

“What? No she hasn’t! That’s ridiculous,” he had said when she first told him her theory.

“No it’s not! She’s a little girl, Scott. It’s completely normal. Plus, who could blame her?” She said before skating away, leaving Scott’s mind reeling trying to decipher what she meant.

Scott finished installing the car seat and they got Billie buckled in and then they were off. They spent the car ride singing along to Disney songs and every so often Scott would glance at Tessa and then back at Billie, and he couldn’t help but think about how domestic this all was. And how that, maybe one day, he wouldn’t mind driving his own kids to school in the mornings, as long as he had Tessa by his side.

They arrived at the school and Tessa grabbed Billie’s backpack as Scott let Billie out of her car seat. He laughed, caught off guard, when Billie immediately climbed onto Scott’s back, a sure sign that she wanted a piggyback ride to her classroom. He obliged, because who was he to say no to a seven-year-old? He noticed Tessa watching them, an adoring smile on her face. He smiled back and winked at her, and they made their way to Billie’s classroom.

They dropped her off and she hugged them both goodbye.

“Bye, Billie. Have a good day,” Tessa said.

Scott ruffled her hair. “See you later, kiddo.”

On the way back to his car, Tessa was silent, and Scott knew something was off.

“Tess? You okay?” Scott asked her.

Tessa nodded. “Yep. I’m fine,” she’d said, but Scott knew she wasn’t done.

Just like he predicted, a few moments later, she continued, “So kiddo, huh? I didn’t know you called other people that.”

Scott couldn’t help but laugh. He stopped them in their tracks and grabbed Tessa by the shoulders, turning her toward him.

“Tessa Virtue. Are you telling me you’re jealous of a seven-year-old?”

Tessa scoffed, averting her eyes. “No! Of course not!”

“Tessa.”

She looked at him and sighed. “Alright, fine! It’s just, well, I’ve never heard you call anyone else that but me. It just caught me off guard.”

Scott smiled at her softly. “It’s just a nickname, Tess.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s not, Scott. It’s your name for me. And I know I sound weirdly possessive right now but it’s just that out of all your names for me, it’s my favorite. It seems the most personal.”

Scott swallowed hard, and it took everything in him not to kiss her right there in the middle of a school parking lot. Instead, he settled for pulling her into his chest as he rested his chin on top of her head.

“Okay,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry. I won’t call anyone else that again. Just you. It’s always just you, Kiddo.”

He knew he said the right thing when he felt her smile against his chest.

***

When you looked over your shoulder
For a minute, I forget that I'm older
I wanna dance with you right now
Oh, and you look as beautiful as ever
And I swear that everyday'll get better
You make me feel this way somehow

***

2018 – PyeongChang

Tessa felt like she was flying.

They had done it. They had actually done it. They won back the gold.

Scott, she immediately thought when they finally had some breathing room backstage. I need Scott.

She looked around, wanting – needing to get to her partner. He was the only thing that grounded her, that knew all of the emotions she was feeling.

She finally found him, talking in the corner adjacent to her with Andrew Poje, and she wanted so badly to just swoop in and steal him away so she could have him all to herself.

Mine, she thought. She had no idea when she had become so possessive. And over the most ridiculous people! First Billie, and now Andrew. Both of which posed zero threat to the secret desire that had been growing inside her for who knows how long.

 As it turned out, she didn’t have intervene, because at that moment Scott scanned the crowd, craning his head over his shoulder as if looking for someone. When he locked eyes with her, he gave her the most breathtaking smile it almost knocked her off her feet. Just like that, she was sixteen again, youthful and giddy, butterflies going crazy in her stomach as the boy, now man, she loved looked at her with those adoring eyes of his. It amazed her sometimes, how Scott can still look like the spitting image of his eighteen-year-old self, yet at the same time still carry the maturity he’d gained at thirty. She’d always found him handsome, but in that moment, he looked absolutely gorgeous.

To Tessa’s delight, he quickly excused himself from Andrew and made his way over to her corner.

“Hey you,” he said, the same handsome smile on his face. But Tessa couldn’t stop staring at his eyes. When he was really, truly happy, his usually light brown eyes turned almost hazel, and to Tessa it was the most beautiful sight in the world.

“Hi,” she said sweetly.

Without saying anything else, he scooped her up into another hug, just as he’d been doing since they found out the results, but this time it felt different. Because there were no cameras around them this time. They didn’t have to watch their every move, worrying about what the media could possibly spin on them. The whole world wasn’t sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for what might happen next. No, in this moment they were just Scott and Tessa, two people who shared an unconditional love for each other, no matter what kind of love that might be.

“Are you happy?” He whispered in her ear, running his hands up and down her back.

“Yes,” she whispered back. “Are you?”

“Yeah.”

Then, overcome with emotion, she started swaying the two of them back and forth.

He laughed but followed her lead.

“Wow, T. Are we back in high school? I don’t think we’ve danced like this since that first time you tried alcohol.”

She giggled. “Just be quiet and let me dance with you. Just let me have this.”

Scotts arms tightened around her as he said, “You’ve got me, Kiddo. You always have.”

And she decided right then and there that that was her favorite moment of the entire Olympics. She didn’t care what came after, because that moment, right there, was hers and Scott’s only. She would share her medals with the world, but only the two of them got to be a part of that.

***

I'm so in love with you
And I hope you know
Darling your love is more than worth its weight in gold
We've come so far my dear
Look how we've grown
And I wanna stay with you until we're grey and old
Just say you won't let go
Just say you won't let go

***

2018 – Japan SOI

It was during the Japan Stars on Ice tour that things finally, finally changed.

Tessa couldn’t sleep. The comments on social media were getting to her.

Scott looks at Tessa like she hangs the stars in the sky.

Oh my gosh, they’re so married!

If they aren’t together, love isn’t real.

It had started to get to be too much. Not because of the comments themselves, but because she wished with everything in her that they were true, that they did have this huge secret they were hiding from the world. And reading those comments, seeing how much people supported their “romance”, gave Tessa a sense of false hope. And that was the last thing she needed.

Because she had been receiving false hope from Scott for years. At sixteen, when he took care of her drunken self, she had thought that maybe, maybe, he wanted her too. During the 2015 incident, when he subconsciously called her ‘baby’ while trying to comfort her, she thought maybe he had finally realized he couldn’t live without her. When he brought her breakfast in bed, and Tessa couldn’t help but think about how domestic their relationship had become, she thought maybe he could see them settling down, making this a daily thing.

But he never made a move. All Tessa ever got was forehead kisses.

She was sick of forehead kisses.

So she compartmentalized. She tried to keep her feelings locked away in the section of her brain she had marked ‘forbidden’ but there was only so much she could take. It broke her a little bit when Scott would ask her to hang out, but she had to say no, afraid she would do something stupid. Like slip up.

Tessa knew that she was being extra distant from him on this Japan trip. She would still laugh and joke with Scott like normal when they had to be together, but she made a point not to see him as often outside of their business ventures, because Tessa was reaching her breaking point and it wouldn’t take much to make her slip up. She knew Scott noticed that she was distancing herself, and it killed her to watch his face fall every time she refused to do something. But she just didn’t trust herself anymore.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her door, and Tessa could immediately tell who it was by the way they knocked. One-two-three…four-five. Scott’s signature knock, ever since they were kids. She thought about not answering, pretending she was asleep, but it was so late at night and Tessa was so tired she forgot to put her guard back up.

She got up from the desk, her computer and twitter forgotten, as she moved to open the door. Sure enough, standing on the other side was Scott, and Tessa thought it was unfair how good he looked as she stood in just her pajamas with her hair tied in a top knot and no makeup on.

Scott, however, didn’t seem to mind. He smirked, telling her “nice shirt,” as he leaned against the doorway and crossed his arms, driving Tessa wild.

She looked down at her shirt, well, his shirt, that she had stolen so many years ago. It was a bit more worn now, but it was still Tessa’s favorite sleeping shirt. It made her feel like he was there with her, caressing her body in all the ways she wanted him to but never actually had.

Tessa sighed. “What is it, Scott. I’m tired.”

His expression softened, and his eyes met hers. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. We missed you tonight.”

After the show, a bunch of the cast decided to go out for drinks, but Tessa decided to hang back. She needed time to recover after skating with Scott so intimately. She always did.

She broke eye contact, looking down at the ground. “I’m fine. Just tired.”

Then it was Scott’s turn to sigh. “Okay, sure, but that’s been your excuse every night since we got to Japan, T. The only time you’ll actually go out is if I’m not going. So, tell me what I did, so we can fix this and go back to how we usually are.”

And there it was. It had gone unspoken the entire trip, but he was finally acknowledging it.

“You didn’t do anything,” she said quietly, still refusing to look at him.

“Well something’s happened, Tess. And we need to talk about it because we can’t go through the 2015 incident. Not again. I don’t think I’d survive that.”

She finally looked up at him, tears pooling in her eyes. How could he even think she’d let something like 2015 happen again?

“You really think I’d let that happen again, Scott?” she asked him in a hushed tone. He was still standing in her doorway, and they didn’t need to cause a scene. “That was one of the worst times of my life.” Right up there with my first surgery. But she didn’t add that.

Scott threw up his hands. “I don’t know, T. I don’t know what the hell you’re thinking anymore, if we’re being honest.”

Tessa stepped to the side and opened the door wider. She knew there was no getting out of talking about this, but she didn’t want to do it in the hallway of a hotel. Reading her mind, he immediately stepped inside, walked all the way to the back of the room, and leaned against the wall. She knew what he was doing – putting distance between them – and Tessa was grateful because she couldn’t think properly when they’re too close in proximity. Tessa closed the door before slowly turning around and walking to the edge of her bed. She grabbed a pillow and busied herself by playing with the fringes on the edges. Then she said nothing. And she knew Scott was waiting for her to say something.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Scott run a hand through his hair in exasperation. Then, as if forgetting about the distance he’d put between the two of them, he walked over to her and forced her to face him.

He cradled the sides of her face, running his thumbs over her cheeks gently and Tessa felt complete and empty all at the same time. Without thinking, she dropped the pillow she was holding and wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling him closer. She breathed in his scent, savoring the way his aftershave and natural smell mixed together, creating an aroma that was so purely Scott.

Finally, he broke the silence. “You have to talk to me, Tessa. Not talking is our biggest downfall, we know that, and we need to talk about this before it gets worse.”

She sighed. “I know.” Then, with all the courage she could muster, she whispered, “I love you, Scott.”

“I love you too, Kiddo.” And that was the first time in her life that she had hated that nickname. Because he said those three words in the same way he’d always said them. Like two best friends, showing their appreciation for one another. Then he went in to kiss her forehead, and that was when Tessa broke.

She instantly pulled away from him as if he had burned her.

“No!” she said firmly. “I’m sick of that, Scott. I’m sick of the forehead kisses, calling me ‘baby’ when you don’t actually mean it, cuddling on the couch and falling asleep together, all as best friends. I don’t just love you, Scott. I’m in love with you. I’m so head over heels, stupidly in love with you, and it hurts me so much to be with you but not actually be with you, and it’s just getting to be too much. You’re getting to be too much.”

Scott stared at her, his mouth agape, and Tessa was pretty sure him not saying anything hurt more than anything he ever could have said.

She could feel herself falling, and she needed him out of there so he wouldn’t witness the crash and burn. She closed her eyes as she said, “Just go, Scott. Please just go.”

It was silent for a few moments, and Tessa thought Scott had walked away until she felt his hands on her cheeks again.

“Why would I walk away,” he started slowly, softly. “When the woman I’m in love with just told me she loves me too.”

Tessa’s eyes snapped open, and for a second she was taken aback by how close Scott was to her. Their lips were almost touching, and all Tessa could see were his eyes, shining hazel.

“You do?” She asked cautiously. Hopefully.

Scott let out a breath. “Are you kidding me, Tessa? Of course I do. How could I not?”

And then they were kissing. Tessa wasn’t sure which one of them initiated it, but she didn’t care. She was kissing Scott Moir, and he was in love with her, and right then, as he pushed her gently onto the bed, discarding her (his) old shirt (“I thought I loved you with that shirt on, but I love you so much more with it off”), as he kissed down her stomach to the one area she wanted him most, that was the only thing that mattered in the world.

***

Later, Tessa still couldn’t sleep, but it was for a completely different reason. She couldn’t take her eyes off the man in her bed, lying naked under the covers, for her eyes only. He was holding her close, arms wrapped around her naked torso as he slept. Before she could stop herself, she ran her hand through his hair – because yeah, she got to do that now – and kissed his forehead.

He stirred, opening his eyes slowly, smiling at the sight of her.

“Now I see why you don’t like forehead kisses,” he said, rolling her over so he hovered above her. “Lips are so much better.”

She giggled as he dips down to capture her lips with his. The kiss was slow and lazy, as if he had all the time in the world, but no less loving, and Tessa decided that kissing him after just waking up was her new favorite thing.

They’re interrupted by her phone vibrating, and Scott let out a groan.

“Who texts you at five in the morning?”

Grabbing her phone, she said, “My mother apparently, although it is a decent hour back home.”

Scott rolled off her and landed beside her muttering, “There’s a way to kill the mood.”

She laughed as she opened the text.

Was going through old photo albums and found this one of you two! So cute! Attached was a picture of Tessa and Scott from when they had first started competing, standing in their starting positions of a routine.

“Oh my god, Scott. Look!” She showed him the picture and Scott groaned.

“Tess, no offense, but I don’t really want to see pictures of us as innocent little kids right after having sex.”

Tessa laughed, nuzzling herself into Scott’s side as she opened Instagram. “Well, I think it’s cute. I’m posting it.”

Scott quirked an eyebrow. “It’s like five in the morning. People are going to give you a lot of shit for it.”

Tessa shrugged, posting the photo. “Let them. I’m happy, and if I let the world see that, then so be it.”

Scott smiled lovingly at her. “Fine, let me see the picture again.” Tessa handed it over. “We were pretty adorable.”

Tessa wrapped her arms around him. “Who would have thought that one day we’d end up here.”

He smirked. “Here as in our success or here in bed?”

Tessa lightly slapped his chest as she laughed, but as she thought more about it, she replied with, “Both, I guess.”

Scott thought for a moment before answering. “Well, I doubt people ever saw any potential in us as skaters back then. But I guess I kind of always wished that we’d end up here, together one day.”

She looked at him, eyes shining. “Really?”

“Of course, T. I’m surprised it took you so long to figure it out.”

Tessa smiled, then furrowed her eyebrows.

“What? What are you thinking?” Scott asked her as he smoothed out the crease between her eyebrows with his thumb.

“I don’t know. I mean, it took us so long to figure this out. We could have had this for years, Scott. But we were stupid and stubborn, telling ourselves we needed to keep it professional for the sake of our careers. We wasted so much time.”

He pulled her to where her head was resting on his chest. “I know. But who knows what might have happened. Knowing me, I would have fucked it up somehow. And that could have messed with everything. Our friendship, partnership, skating career. If I took away your chance at a gold medal, I don’t know what I’d do with myself. And now, we get to enjoy this. Forever.”

“You’re right,” Tessa said, looking up at him again. “But you need to know something, Scott. This moment, right here, right now, I wouldn’t trade for all the gold medals in the world.”

Scott smiled at her, his eyes shining that brilliant hazel that Tessa loved so much. In that moment, he looked at her with so much love that she didn’t know how she didn’t see it sooner. “Me too, baby.”

And Tessa was pretty sure she’d found her new favorite nickname.

***

I wanna live with you
Even when we're ghosts
'Cause you were always there for me when I needed you most

***

2019 – Montreal

“Hmm, let me see what it looks like there. No, I don’t think so. Oh! Maybe try there! Yes, that’s perfect!”

“Oh thank god,” Scott said, finally putting the plant down. “Those things get heavy, T.”

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Suck it up, Moir. You’ve been lifting me for twenty plus years, you can lift a potted plant.”

Scott smirked, grabbing her hips and pulling her closer. “Yeah, but you’re more fun.”

He kissed the curve of her neck and she squealed. “Scott, that tickles!”

“Oh really? You weren’t complaining last night,” he said smugly, thumb brushing over where he left his mark on her neck.

“Stop,” she told him, but between her giggling she didn’t blame Scott for not taking her seriously.

“I mean, we could take a little break. It’s already been three hours since we’ve started.”

Tessa smirked. “Well, that does sound nice. It’s just that, well, I was kind of hoping to get the bed set up. I kind of wanted to use it tonight.”

That got Scott’s attention. “Bed, yeah. We should definitely do that.”

Then he was off before Tessa could get in another word. She laughed, shaking her head. God, he was so predictable. And she loved him for it.

***

That night, they both hopped in bed andTessa immediately snuggled up to Scott, just as she’d done almost every day for the past year. It was crazy to Tessa just how normal it felt, getting together with Scott. Like it was inevitable that they’d end up there someday. It was just a matter of when, not if. Even so, they had decided to take their time, letting their newfound relationship develop slowly. They knew that they were it for each other, so they felt no pressure in rushing. Finally, a year later, they decided to move in together.

“Thank you,” she told him.

He smiled back at her. “Of course, baby. Now you’re stuck with me forever, so jokes on you, really.”

She laughed. “Oh no, what am I ever going to do,” she replied sarcastically.

Scott shrugged playfully. “I don’t know, but I’m sure we can figure something out. I wouldn’t be opposed to sex. Lots and lots of sex.”

Tessa rolled her eyes. “Of course you wouldn’t. God, you’re such a boy.”

“Um, excuse you, I am a man, and I have needs.”

“Yeah, okay sure,” she said before continuing. “But seriously, Scott. Thank you. Not just for today. For everything.”

Scott furrowed his eyebrows, confused.

“You just…you’re always there, Scott. No matter what. You, besides my mom and Jordan, are the one person in my life I know will always be there no matter what. You have been since that first day we stepped on the ice together and you made me feel better about my skating. And you didn’t even really know me back then.”

She was rambling and she knew it.

Scott looked at her, and she could see a bit of guilt creeping up into his features as he clenched his jaw. “I haven’t always been there, Tess. There were times that I was just a complete dick to you. And I know that, and I’m sorry. Younger me just didn’t know what he was missing out on.”

She held his face in her hands. “Hey. I don’t blame you for that. I’m over it. And this, us, it’s always been a two-way street, and we know I’ve had my fair share of straying.”

He rubbed her back, urging her to continue.

“The important thing is, you always came back to me. I always came back to you. And I won’t ever think of a time in my life when I didn’t love you. So, I’ll say it again. Thank you, Scott. For always being there for me.”

Scott smiled adoringly at her and gave her a chaste kiss, deciding not to fight her this time. “You’re welcome, Kiddo. And thanks for putting up with me for all these years. And for deciding to keep putting up with me forever.”

She smiled, kissing him again, deeper this time. “Always.”

***

I'm gonna love you till
My lungs give out
I promise till death we part like in our vows
So I wrote this song for you, now everybody knows
Finally it's just you and me till we're grey and old
Just say you won't let go
Just say you won't let go

***

2020 – London

Tessa Moir. Tessa Moir. She couldn’t stop repeating her new name to herself. She felt like she was living her sixteen-year-old dream. The entire day she had been giddy with excitement. Her only regret was not making the wedding earlier in the day, because having to wait to marry Scott was pure torture for her.

But finally, the time came and went, and before they knew it, they were married. She couldn’t quite believe it, even though she knew that everyone around them had been anticipating this day for over two decades.

At the reception, they were greeted by family and friends, and they were so busy talking and catching up with people it was hard for them to have a moment alone. At dinner Tessa couldn’t stop holding Scott’s hand, and all she could do was stare at the ring on his finger, claiming him as hers forever.

Finally, the two got their first real one on one time during their first dance as a married couple. Scott led her out to the middle of the dance floor and pulled her flush against him.

“Hi,” he whispered.

She smiled sweetly at him. “Hi.”

“Are you happy?” He asked, and Tessa had a flashback to PyeongChang, when they had gotten their moment alone behind the cameras. Except this time around it felt one hundred times better.

“I’m so happy,” she told him. “I didn’t know I could be this happy.”

He reached up and brushed the back of his hand over her cheek and gave her a smile that reminded her of when they were teenagers and won their first major competition.

“Me too.”

Tessa shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe we’re married. I can’t believe you’re mine.”

Scott smiled at her. “I was always yours, Tess. I was just waiting for you to come and claim me.”

She squeezed him tighter. “I’m sorry it took so long.”

“I’m not. I don’t – I can’t think about that, Tessa. When I think about us, I think about two people who were so lucky to have found each other at such a young age. I think about the love I’ve always had for you, whether it be romantic or platonic or those awkward teenage years of everything in between.”

That earned a laugh from Tessa.

Scott laughed too. “I’m serious, T. The first time I started to think about you romantically it freaked me out so much. I was still telling people that you were like my sister then.”

“Oh, Scott, come on. Right now? Really? We’re going to talk about this during our first dance as a married couple?” Tessa asked him, but she was laughing with him.

“Yes really! It was a major crisis in my life at seventeen, Tessa,” he paused and regained his serious tone before continuing. “Anyway, my point is that everything was supposed to lead up to now. We needed to accomplish what we did before we got together. We needed to have that solid foundation for us to be able to transition so easily into this. We needed to see each other with other people and help each other through messy break ups. Because now we know that we work so well, we get along so well, we stick by each other through it all, because we are supposed to be together. In every sense of the word.”

Tessa looked at him, unshed tears shining in her eyes. “I feel like this is a dream. Like I’m on cloud nine, and I’m being lifted higher and higher, just waiting to fall back into reality.”

Scott shook his head at her. “It’s not a dream, Tess. This is reality, this is real. You and me. Your feet are planted firmly on the ground.”

She nodded. “I know. I know because you’re my anchor, Scott. When I start to think about how dream-like this feels – how dream-like you feel, all I have to do is latch onto you and I know I’m just living my dream in reality. You’re my anchor. You always have been, through everything.”

“Then just don’t let go.”

“Never. I would never.”

***

Just say you won't let go
Oh, just say you won't let go