Seeing people happy makes her happy. She’s always been a people pleaser and has spent most of her life doing exactly what people wanted and expected of her. But she knows the one person she wants to please the most will always be the one who will be the happiest.
It’s no secret that he’s the more emotional one of the pair. He’s the one with his heart on his sleeve, open with affections and not afraid to speak his mind, despite all the potential consequences. She’s always been reserved and calculating, preferring to keep things quiet until she’s about to burst. That day might be coming soon.
It was rare that she was up before him, but he had been out late last night, making the most of the time with their friends. She had opted for a bath and some reading; still upset at the fall she took. Sure, others had fallen that night, but it still stung when she knew it wasn’t her best.
He didn’t let her get down about it, pulling her close backstage, talking through the rest of the program. He joked that it made her seem human, instead of some ice dancing robot. He could always make her smile and, for at least the twentieth time that day, she thanked her lucky stars for the partner of her dreams.
She loved getting to work with him all day, goofing around on the ice, talking, and giggling while signing programs. They didn’t have to hide in the bubble of the arena. Their castmates, some of their dearest friends, people who had grown up with them, competed with them, travelled with them, embraced their relationship before they even knew what they had. It was freeing to be so open, to have his arm around her shoulder as they walked back to their hotel.
She could recall their earlier tours, with some of the same people, going out all night, bringing back random people they met in the bar to their singular hotel rooms. Getting drunk after every show, rallying, and leaving it all out on the ice the very next day. She likes this version better, now that they are all getting older. He and the guys still go out and drink, but they are more restrained and every night he comes back to her, brimming with stories about the fans he met. She’s happy to indulge him, loving the way his eyes sparkle as he relays the tales of the evening. It’s all very domestic and she couldn’t imagine wanting anything more.
He loves the summer camp atmosphere that the tour brings, loves the energy of the crowd, and being surrounded by some of his closest friends. It’s invigorating, being surrounded by so much passion and creative energy. Of course, getting to spend time with her everyday doesn’t hurt. He supposes this tour is just distracting him from the future, a future that no longer includes competitive skating. In August, they would start new lives, her with her schooling, him with coaching. They would be going from spending almost all their time together, to just evenings and weekends. He was hesitant to announce an official retirement, it wasn’t something that he was willing to admit. Since he was nine years old, winning a gold medal was his only goal. When they got the first one, it changed to winning two. When they won the silver, he accepted that his dream would never happen. He threw himself into living life to its fullest, becoming a regular at one too many bars and letting himself go. He realized that he threw himself into a serious relationship too quickly, regrets hurting her and letting it go on too long.
He was a wreck when she stepped back into his life, and seeing the fire in her eyes, it made him long for his dream once again. They were cautious in approaching their return, starting with heavy doses of therapy to get them back to a place they were comfortable with. They both knew this was their last shot, that it was perfection or bust. Getting there, with her, was an answer to a pray he didn’t know he had prayed.
Their journey ended with 3 golds, one aided by their team. They were bonded together, spent hours on the phone, going over everyone’s routines and training schedules. He was happy to have something to throw himself into, something fun to take off the pressure. Those golds were the end of two years of endless training, of spending hours with the person he loved the most. After their win, he threw himself into their relationship, into trying to be what she deserved, even though he knew he would never reach that level. She was the one who pulled him back from the brink and he would spend a lifetime trying to pay her back.
Watching him sleep, she can’t help but smile. A real, true, genuine smile. These last two years, he had taught her to live, to loosen up and how to smile again. She thought that nothing could beat winning against the odds but every day, he proved that wrong. Flipping through her email, she lit up at the picture in her inbox. There was something so pure about the look on her face, doing what she loved best with who she loved most. She wasn’t the most affectionate and she wasn’t the most open, but she posted that picture as a thank you for him. A thank you for not letting her fall on her ass last night, a thank you for always being there for her, a thank you for putting up her for the last 20 years.
She smiles as his phone buzzes with the notification, sinks beside him on the bed as he stirs awake. He pauses to kiss her as he reaches for the phone, pulling her closer to him. She breathes in his wrinkled t-shirt as he runs his fingers through her hair, scrolling with his other hand. When he sees it, he rolls her off him, throws his phone down on the bed.
The joy in his eyes is evident as he kisses her, her own phone dinging with notifications. She knows that it’s a slippery slope, something that could eventually backfire. But he makes her so happy, so freaking happy, that she lets it slip, figuring that it’s only a matter of time.
Seeing her so happy and confident in their relationship makes him grin wider than he thought was possible. She was slowly pulling back the curtain and he would let her do it in her own time. It had only taken them 20 years to get here, so she could have all the time she needed.