The crowd was deafening, and a nervous Tessa gripped Scott’s fingers tightly in a vice-like grip. She was babbling quietly about remembering to hold her arms a certain way in the second spin, the way she always had before competitive skates, but Scott was too focused to really listen to what she was mumbling. It was nice to know that nothing had really changed about their pre-competition routine.
“Representing Canada: Tessa Virtue, and Scott Moir.”
Squeezing her hand tightly, he stepped forward onto the ice. A quick look back at the Marie-France and Patrice, who were smiling encouragingly, but knew them too well that offering any verbal assurance would do little at this point.
Two years since their last skate on competitive ice.
She skated alongside him, always alongside him, towards their starting position. The woman who had been nervously babbling just seconds ago was completely gone, and Tessa’s acting façade had taken over. She stood tall in her purple jumpsuit, her hair tied firmly on top of her head. When she met his eyes, she was the vision of confidence, and Scott smiled gratefully, and a little bit (completely) in awe, at her.
The music started, the audience quietened, and the two dancers did what twenty years of incessant, heart-breaking training had taught them to do.
It was a difficult program. Perhaps their most difficult so far. They murmured buzzwords to each other, reminding each other to keep focused, to bend their knee deeper on certain edges. Muscle memory and determination pushed them through the first half of the program, until –
“I’m close, Scott.”
Scott whipped his head around to look at her so quickly that he completely misplaced his pick, and went crashing into the ice. For a short, awful moment, he went skidding across the ice. The audience gasped.
He pushed himself back up, found Tessa skating right next to him, already in position for the next step.
“So fucking clumsy,” she murmured to him with a smirk when she got the next chance, knowing that jokes were the only way to keep him focused after a fall.
And the rest of the routine was perfect. They didn’t break their synchronicity for the next minute and a half, their edges were deep, their musicality completely on beat. Perfect.
She skated so close to him, letting her fingers trail down his arms a beat longer than they’d rehearsed. The program was electric, and he felt himself getting warmer in the face. Scott felt himself getting slightly uncomfortable from his waist-down, and prayed that nothing was visible.
When they were finished, her wrist in his firm grasp, the audience deafeningly cheering, Scott looked up at Tessa. Aside from her usual post-program exhilaration, she looked fine. Completely unflustered. Nothing to indicate that she was close, as she so eloquently thought she’d tell him during their program.
He was furious. How dare she try something like that for an actual skate. Sure, the flirty touches and smiles sometimes (usually) complemented their programs. But how dare she try and throw him off his game so publicly.
Of course, he knew that his anger was not completely directed at her. He’d been so easily distracted and let himself trip so stupidly, and had now probably cost them their top placing in the short.
He ran a hand through his hair before he grabbed her hand to lead her off the ice.
“What was that,” he murmured to her as they left centre ice.
She turned her face towards him, her nose nearly touching his cheek, and placed her palm on her chest.
“It’s fine, it’ll be enough. That was a perfect skate, you chose a great time to fall, really. It’s fine Scott, don’t be upset.”
Scott was looking at her with wide, incredulous eyes.
“Tessa,” he almost scoffed. She knew he got weird anytime he messed up a routine. Especially their first skate back. So she just squeezed his hand again, knowing she couldn’t do anything to comfort him before the scores were announced.
They reached the boards where they were both pulled into a group hug with their coaches. Their scores were announced, and Tessa was right. She was always right.
Straight into first place. By a very competitive margin.
Scott breathed a sigh of relief, which didn’t last long as his previous anger, and previous warmth, flooded into his veins. He had to get out of here.
As soon as the cameras were away, he pushed up and straight to his bag, changing out of his skates and walking towards the change-room, leaving a confused Tessa watching after him
He didn’t see her again until later that night, when he heard a knock on his hotel door. They’d left the rink separately; he assumed she’d gotten a lift with Kaitlyn and Andrew.
He grunted a short “come in”, and heard the doorknob turn from where he sat with his head in his hands on the edge of the bed.
After a short moment, he looked up at her. She was freshly showered, her thick hair still wet, and dressed in her pyjamas for the night already. She was looking at him nervously, which Scott hated.
“Scott?” she implored quietly as the approached the bed. She grasped his wrists lightly and tugged to move them from his face, before kneeling in front of him.
This was not the woman who was on the ice with him today. This woman was unsure, every action measured and deliberate.
Scott said nothing, just looked at her for a long moment.
“I know you’re angry about falling, but please talk to me. I thought we were done with the not talking about things,” she murmured, placing her hands on his knees.
“Are you kidding me, Tessa?”
“Did I do something wrong? Shit, Scott, what did I do?”
He could see her frowning, trying to work out what she’d done to upset him enough to ignore her all afternoon.
“For God’s sake, Tess, really?”
She squeezed his knees, and he could’ve kicked himself for the way he tensed. She flinched, her hands leaving his knees. Her eyes left his, and focused somewhere in the centre of his chest.
“Scott, what did I do?”
“Really Tess? ‘I’m close’? While we’re on ice, fucking competing?”
There was a long moment of silence. Then she started giggling. Scott watched helplessly as her shoulders started shaking, and she pushed herself up onto the bed beside him. She grabbed his hand, still unable to control her laughing, and used their joined hands to wipe away tears as she hiccupped through.
As soon as she could breathe, she looked over at him. He was watching her cautiously.
“Close to the boards, Scott. Jesus.”
And she erupted into another fit of laughter.
Humiliation flamed deep in Scott’s gut, and a bright red flush took over his chest. He groaned, throwing himself backwards to bury his face into the pillow.
He felt light fingers trail up his spine and eventually rest in his hair.
“Oh Scott,” she murmured, her voice belying the gentle smile playing at her lips. He felt her stretch out to lie beside him, and she pulled at his hands until he acquiesced, and she linked their fingers together.
“Scott, look at me,” she whispered into the side of his face. He didn’t, wouldn’t.
“Scott…” she teased, before blowing lightly into his ear.
He flinched slightly and turned his face towards her, his eyes clenched shut. Tessa sighed, and trailed her fingers along the side of his face, trying to coax his eyes open.
She was unsuccessful. Scott exhaled heavily.
“I’m sorry,” he said, finally, still refusing to look at her.
“Scott…look at me.”
And that did it. His eyes squinted open to look at Tessa, whose bright green eyes were barely centimetres away from his.
“Tomorrow, we’re gonna go out there. We’re going to skate the best free dance of our lives, and we’re gonna win that title. Then we’re gonna keep winning until we’re standing on the top of that podium in Korea.”
He smiled despite himself. In their youth, Tessa had always been the pessimistic one. Now, she was so confident in herself, in them, and he loved her for it.
So fucking much.
He nodded, and crept an arm around her, pulling her into him. He pressed her lips lightly against her forehead and they both shut their eyes, mutually deciding that Tessa would be sleeping here tonight.
Then just before he fell asleep he heard her whisper.
“And after that, we can talk about being close in other ways.”