It’s been two weeks since Scott called her and told her he didn’t want to be her boyfriend anymore, and Tessa wonders what the big deal is about having boyfriends anyway. Scott is still Scott - they still skate every day, they’re silly in the car together. He teases her but only to be funny, never in a mean way.
There is one thing that’s bothering her, though, and it comes up when they’re doing laps around the rink to warm up. She grabs for his hand, and then she remembers.
“Is this still okay?” she asks him, voice trembling a little.
“Is what okay?” He doesn’t seem to notice that she’s starting to get upset, or if he does, he won’t say anything. He’s nice like that.
“Holding your hand. Jordan said only boyfriends and girlfriends hold hands, and we shouldn’t do it since we you’re not my boyfriend anymore.”
“That’s stupid,” Scott says bluntly. “We’re partners, we can hold hands if we want. Besides, if I didn’t hold your hand, I couldn’t do this!” He speeds up on his skates, tugging her along until he’s just pulling her behind him, and she’s shrieking with laughter, and they’ll probably get in trouble for messing around during practice time but she’s having so much fun she doesn’t care.
After practice, she grabs his hand again while they’re in the car. “I’m glad you’re my skating partner,” she says, and leans against his shoulder so she can doze off.
He squeezes her hand. “We’ll always be partners, Tutu.”
we try, we doubt
At 17, Scott is intensely aware that he’s in a situation that not many 17 year old boys find themselves in. He has a girlfriend, one he happens to like a lot, but he’s also in a committed relationship with skating - and by extension, his skating partner.
Jess says she understands, and she should understand, but there’s still tension there, and he doesn’t know how to fix it. Mostly because he already knows that if it came down to it, if Jess made him choose, he’d pick skating without a second thought.
(He doesn’t feel guilty about that at all, and why should he? Jess would pick skating over him, right?)
This time they managed to avoid a fight until after they’d gone to see a matinee movie. Jess wanted to stay out, but he’s exhausted and still needs to get a run in later and it’s his only day off for another week. He’s even more exhausted by the screaming match, but he soothes her into coming back to the house and hanging out for a while as a compromise.
He’s still patting himself on the back for being a good boyfriend and successfully juggling his life when they walk into the den and find Tessa, lying on the couch watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Before either of them have had a chance to react, Jess wordlessly huffs out of the room and Scott hears the front door close. He sighs. “What’re you doing here, T?”
“My parents are gonna be at some thing all evening, so your mom said I could come hang out here. Is Jess mad at me?” She pauses the movie and swings her legs around to sit up.
“No, she’s mad at me.” Scott sits down next to her, letting his head fall back as he sinks into the cushions. “She thinks I don’t spend enough time with her. Said I care more about skating than about her.”
“I don’t think that’s true at all,” Tessa says. “You spend, like, all your free time with her. And we have a real shot at the next Olympics, doesn’t she care about that?”
“She does,” Scott says, a little defensively. “Just...I don’t know. She was in a bad mood, I think. She’ll get over it.”
“I hope so. I know you like her.” Tessa starts the movie back up and shifts back to lying down, putting her legs over Scott’s lap. Instinctively he reaches down to hold her hand, and she threads her fingers through his.
Jess would probably be pissed if she found him in such an intimate position with some girl, but Tessa isn’t just some girl , Scott reminds himself. She’s the other half of this puzzle he’s been putting together for literally half his life.
Tessa is his best friend, and the only one who really understands what he’s going through, and no one’s going to tell him they can’t be the way they are.
to find, to lose
Tessa is 19 and listening to her sister try to convince her to go on a date. “He’s really cool, super sweet and I promise he’s cute. You guys would get along so well!”
“I don’t have time for that, Jo.” It’s baffling, honestly, the fervor with which Jordan offers up men for her to date every other day. “Are you kidding me? We’ve got Worlds on the line here, and you think I should be out listening to men I don’t know tell me things I already know?”
Jordan huffs, a soft but annoyed sound. “Tess, I know, believe me. I’m just worried about you. You’re harder on yourself than anyone else, and I’m so afraid you’re going to burn out.”
“If I was going to burn out, it would have been after surgery.” A Look flashes across Jordan’s face, one Tessa can’t decipher. “What? My fucked up legs couldn’t stop me, a boyfriend isn’t gonna help me any more than a good PT.”
Jordan winces at the expletive. Tessa doesn’t drop them often but when she does, it means they’re headed into sensitive territory. “You almost did burn out after surgery, Tess,” she says gently. “You had some dark days there.”
A ball of hot defensive agony wedges itself under her chest until she almost can’t breathe. “Of course I did, Jordan, I didn’t know if I was ever going to skate again. I almost lost everything I’ve been working my whole life for. Worlds, the Olympics, it was almost all gone, just like-”
“Like Scott,” Jordan interjects flatly, and the ball in her chest explodes.
“That’s not fair,” Tessa manages to choke out. Her throat is thick with emotion but her eyes are still dry. “It was hard for him, too.”
“But you guys had always been there for each other, and when he wasn’t, you were just...lost,” Jordan says, and now her voice is heavy and her eyes are shining. “I’ve never seen you like that before.”
“I’ve never- I’ve never had to deal with anything like that before, and you’re right, he was just gone. But he’s here now,” Tessa says firmly, “And we have Worlds to win, so I can’t just go skipping off hand in hand with your best friend’s cousin’s...whatever,” she sputters.
“You can’t keep using Scott as a surrogate boyfriend,” Jordan says, and now Tessa’s eyes are spilling over-not with sadness, but with fury.
“Jordan, I love you so much, but you’ve never been more wrong about anything in your life,” she says, quiet and firm.
She stands there, trembling with a maelstrom of incomplete thoughts and muddled feelings until Jordan walks around the kitchen island and wraps her arms around her in an intense hug.
“I know you care about him so much,” Jordan murmurs into her ear, “but I don’t ever want you to go back to that place. Your life is revolving around a single point of failure, and if I can help spread out any of that tension, I’m going to. Because you are my sister, and I love you so much, and I couldn’t bear to lose you.”
Tessa squeezes her sister back. “I know, Jojo. You’re not going to lose me. And I know that Scott and I have a weird relationship. He just...he gets it, Jordan. That’s what I need right now. Someone who’s as invested as I am. And right now, it’s working. We’re kind of making it up as we go along. And if it falls apart again, I guess I’ll make that up too.”
“God, why do you sound so much older than me right now?” Jordan half giggles, half sniffles. “I love you, baby sis.”
“I love you too, Jojo. I’m gonna go lie down for a little bit, maybe I can power nap before our evening session.” Tessa releases her sister with a smile and a pat on the back.
Once she’s safely in her room, door closed and music on, that’s when she lets herself crumble.
we hurt, we bruise
“Again.” Marina is being a taskmaster, and Scott is just about over it. They’re working on the new curve lift at the end of Carmen, and Marina’s got Tessa wrapped around his waist like a belt while she’s throwing herself backwards (“like, in the throes of passion?” she’d said, but Scott doesn’t like to think about that).
“Can we stop for the day?” Tessa says quietly, and Scott can see her eyes glimmering with unshed tears. Marina fixes her with that steely glare she’s perfected for when her skaters try to dip out for other commitments, but before she can start in on the scolding Tessa says “My legs are hurting again” and the glare softens.
“We start with this again tomorrow,” Marina says, and they’re dismissed without the customary breakdown.
Tessa won’t look at him or talk to him as they gather their things, and she’s darted off to the locker rooms before he can say a word to her.
He’s driven them halfway to Tessa’s place before she says anything. “I’m sorry,” she mumbles, and he knows she’s trying not to cry because she’s staring out the window and won’t look at him. “I know we need to work our asses off for Four Continents. I need to step up my game.”
Scott wants to hug her and shake her at the same time, but he can’t do either while driving, so instead he reaches over to squeeze her leg. Immediately she reaches down to lace her fingers with his, and squeezes back. “T, you’ve gotta stop beating yourself up over it,” he says. “If your legs hurt, they hurt. You’ve gotta focus on managing it. Are you seeing that pain management guy?”
Tessa shakes her head as they pull into her driveway. “He wasn’t a sports doc, he just wanted to put me on a drug regimen.” He turns off the car and gets out when she does, and she shoots him a surprised glance. Usually he just drops her off unless they’ve made plans. “What are you doing?”
“I just want to make sure you get in the house okay, it’s icy.” Quickly he rounds the car and holds his arm out like he’s about to escort her into a royal ball, and his heart swells when she gives the little giggle-snort that means the tears are done for now. “Would you do me the honor, mademoiselle?”
She giggles again and nods. “But of course, monsieur!” she says, hefting her duffle bag and skates onto her shoulder and taking his arm.
When they get to the door, Tessa puts her key in the lock and pauses. “Would...would you come in, just for a little?”
“Yeah, course I will,” Scott says, surprised. It’s been a tough season for her, all pain and frustration, and they’re having so much trouble connecting, and Tessa has stopped spending as much time with him outside the rink. “You want to watch a movie or something? I could make dinner?”
“Maybe. I just want to be around you for a little while, if that’s okay?” Every question is a shot fired, in Scott’s mind. Tessa didn’t ask, Tessa told, and to be honest Scott preferred the latter.
“Tess, you know it’s okay.” He lets his brain skip over the part where it might not actually be okay, at least not with Cass, who thus far has been the most understanding of his girlfriends but still gets that edge to her voice sometimes when they talk about skating...or Tessa.
Still, Scott’s going to take any chance to reconnect with Tessa that he can. It’s so frustrating, that they just can’t seem to get it quite right...they're trying, they are, but it's like there's a wall of glass between them they keep smashing into, the words come but they're all wrong.
Tessa beelines for the sofa as soon as they walk in the door, and Scott closes and locks it and joins her, being careful not to jostle her legs, which are curled up against her like she’s pulling back into herself.
“Tess.” His voice is gentle as he reaches out to pull her in for a hug. “Is there anything I can do?”
She lets him pull her against his chest, but her mind is still clearly somewhere else. “Could you grab a couple of ice packs out of the freezer? I should ice my calves.”
Scott retrieves the ice packs, and when he gets back gestures for Tessa to lie down. “On your stomach,” he says, “and put your legs in my lap.” Tessa rolls over and bends her knees so Scott can seat himself at the end of the couch, and when she lowers her legs Scott flexes the ice packs so they can form to her calves and holds them in place over her leggings.
She’s got her chin resting on her folded arms so she’s facing away from him, but he can see her expression in his mind, half pain, half relief. “Thank you, Scott.”
“Yeah,” he murmurs softly, and they just sit in the silence for a bit. It’s not a cold silence, but a warmer, more familiar one, and Scott basks in it. It feels like the silences they used to have.
“I’m not just sorry about my legs,” Tessa blurts out, breaking the quiet with her confession. “I know I’m pulling away from you.”
There are too many thoughts fighting to be said out loud - I know, I’ve known for a while, I’ve felt it since the beginning of the season, how dare you, you know we both have to be in this together or it’ll all fall apart - but all he says is “How come?”
“I think,” she says, in slow, measured words, “it’s because I’m afraid my legs are giving out again. And if that happens...I’m afraid you’ll go away again.”
Scott takes that in as he notices how cold his hands are from holding the ice packs on her legs, meaning it’s time for a break. He pulls his sweatshirt sleeves down over his hands to warm them up, dropping the ice packs to the ground, then starts moving and wriggling his body along the couch.
“What are you doing?” Tessa giggles in front of him. He’s managed to slide his body over so he’s between Tessa and the back of the couch, and she turns her head to look at him. “You’re ridiculous.”
“I know,” he says with a shit-eating grin, then stretches out fully beside her. “C’mere.”
Tessa turns to face him, wrapping her arms around him and tucking her head against the crook of his neck. It’s a lot like their pre-skate hugs, only sideways, and Scott can feel Tessa’s heartbeat slow as she relaxes into him. “It’s just...it’s so scary, you know?” she mumbles into the soft material of his sweatshirt.
“I know. But you’re scaring me, pulling away like that.” He kisses the top of her head. “I promise I’m here. I’ll always be here.”
They fall asleep like that, waking up entwined on the couch with only a little stiffness (bless Tessa and her proclivity for picking comfortable furniture) and an unspoken agreement that they won’t bring up what happened the night before. No one would understand, anyway.
the hand, the heart
Skating is the closest to flying that a human being can get, Tessa believes. And that goes double for her, since she has the good fortune to be the female half of a figure skating team, which means she gets to actually be up in the air while gliding across the ice.
It’s not quite the blissful experience it sounds like...and actually, more often than not she’s not even registering that she’s in the air, she’s listening to the music, she’s paying attention to Scott and where his sure and steady hands are guiding her body, she’s using enormous effort to make it look effortless.
But sometimes, especially during practices, her conscious mind suddenly snaps to attention and she realizes holy shit, she’s a freakin’ bird.
(She told Scott that once, and all he said was “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird” from The Notebook, which Tessa hadn’t even known he’d seen-although it was highly likely he’d seen it with her. It was actually a lovely moment, until he started cawing and didn’t stop cawing every time he saw her for three weeks.)
She’s noticed that it’s been happening a lot more often since they started training again for their comeback, and after a lot of puzzling over it, Tessa has realized that the change isn’t just with her, it’s with Scott.
He’s still got that restless nature, the kind that makes him fiddle with her car radio and pick up anything small within reaching distance (yes, including children), but it’s...softer somehow. His exuberant energy is still being flung in all directions, but the sharp points and edges have been smoothed into something like maturity.
Who’d have thought?
Scott has always had her complete trust. She has to trust him, he’s the one tossing her around in the air, and he’s never dropped her, not once. But with this new... stability he has, Tessa has realized that her trust has deepened somehow, solidified into something new. It’s how she can let herself savor those moments in the air, because it’s like they’re one being moving on the ice, it’s joyous and exhilarating and Tessa knows where Scott’s holds will be like she knows where her own arms are.
At least this is how she’s trying to explain it to him, while he looks at her with a quirked eyebrow and an expression of total confusion. “It’s...it’s trustier trust? It’s trust squared?”
Tessa knows that to some degree he’s just messing with her, so she can’t help but laugh. He’s not wrong, after all. “Yeah. It’s trustier trust.”
Scott leans back a bit on the sofa and takes in this new information. They’ve just finished their training for the day and they’re exhausted, lying on Tessa’s couch in her apartment in Montreal and honestly both of their brains are probably a little fried. “So you like skating more because I’m not as big of a douche anymore? Geez, T, you should’ve told me that a long time ago. I’d’ve been a grownup for you.”
The statement makes her flustered, for some reason, and she covers by picking on his choice of epithet. “Ugh, don’t say douche, I hate that word. Asshole,” she amends. “You’re not as big of an asshole...no, you weren’t really an asshole, either. You were-”
“An idiot,” he finishes for her. “Although I’m still a pretty big idiot, so…”
“Whatever it is,” Tessa interjects, “You’re a little different, and it’s improving our skating, too. I like this new Scott Moir,” she teases him.
“Now with 50% more terrible jokes!” Scott jests. “And 300% more exhaustion. I don’t want to move until it’s time to go back to the rink.”
“Well, you can always stay here,” Tessa says, even though she knows it’s not really necessary to say it out loud.
“You ever think about how other teams don’t constantly spend the night at each other’s places?” Scott says suddenly, his eyes thoughtful.
“That’s not true at all! Kait and Andrew live together!” she laughs, refusing to pick up the thread that Scott’s dropped. “We don’t know that for sure about anyone.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Scott says, shifting himself like he’s trying to get up. “Tessaaaa,” he whines jokingly, “I need more water but I can’t move.”
“Oh, so this is what I get for being the one who stayed in decent shape during retirement?” she shoots back. “I get to bring you water because I’m the only one who can stand up?” Scott doesn’t say anything, just pouts at her until she rolls her eyes and relents.
“Thank you, T-bone,” Scott hollers after her. “You complete me.”
He’s kidding but it still makes her smile. I kinda do, don’t I, she thinks to herself. I don’t really know how, but you complete me, too.
an end, a start
When the music stops, when the applause begins loud and raucous, when he’s already pulled Tessa back up after Satine’s dramatic death in his arms, that’s when the second wave of adrenaline kicks in and Scott is fully himself again, wrapping his arms around her in a deep embrace. It’s only bolstered by the expression on Tessa’s face when they pull apart, that mix of innocent joy and amazement like he’s never seen before, and he knows it’s not only because they’ve just skated the best program of the games and possibly their careers.
He’s scooping her back up into his arms almost before he knows what he’s doing, kissing her cheek, cupping her ear with his hand so he can say what he’s wanted to say since they came back to competition.
“That was all for us,” he says, and the applause is still so loud he doesn’t bother to keep his voice down. “That’s how much we love each other. That’s how much I love you.”
He’s rewarded with another hiccup-laugh-sob, and his heart is going to burst, he’s going to launch into the stratosphere.
The last thing Scott remembers to do is turn them around for one last look at the Olympic ice, and it’s sobering to realize they’ll never do this again, but nothing can quench the pure jubilation coursing through his veins.
The rest is just icing, really, sitting in the kiss and cry and hearing themselves announced in first place. They’ve just won the gold and he’s scooping Tessa up again, leaping into the stands to hug his brothers, yelling so loud he knows he’ll be hoarse the next day but he doesn’t care because tomorrow doesn’t matter in this moment. All that matters is that he just won a gold medal with his other half.
They don’t get another opportunity to be alone, really alone, until both of them are drunk and clinging to each other while singing “Gold Dust Woman” off key and stumbling back to their rooms.
He walks Tessa to her room, ever the gentleman even when three sheets to the wind, and they both lean against the door and just look at each other, in their Team Canada gear and odd little congratulatory trinkets they’ve accumulated during the festivities.
Their eyes meet and Scott can’t help what he knows is burning in his eyes, which is why Tessa reaches out and pokes him in the chest with a finger. “Nuh uh, mister,” she says, joking but firm. “We are in no state to be doing anything like that, especially when we know what’s gonna happen.”
Scott puts his hands up like she’s just apprehended him. “Yeah, I know, I know,” he says. “But, besides the obvious...what else is gonna happen?”
“Well,” Tessa says, her face suddenly going serious, “I’m gonna tell you that I love you too, and that’s not a spoiler ‘cause you already know,” she adds quickly when Scott opens his mouth to object. “You wouldn’t have told me in that moment if you didn’t know for sure,” and Scott has to admit she’s got him there. “And then , after all the huggy-kissy-lovey stuff, we gotta figure out what we’re doing.”
“What do you mean?” Scott asks, puzzled. “I thought we’d pretty much be doing what we’re already doing, except with sex.”
Tessa makes a face at him. “Well, everyone’s gonna want to know what we’re doing, and I don’t wanna call you my boyfriend ,” she says wrinkling her nose.
“Yeah, no, I’m definitely not your boyfriend ,” Scott teases, and pulls her in for a hug. “But why do we have to make it some big announcement? Why can’t we just let it be what it is? You already know you’re my damn heart. We can make it up as we go along.”
A thoughtful expression comes over Tessa’s face, and it makes her left eye squint shut even more than it had been from the alcohol. Jesus, I love this woman. “We’re a special case, aren’t we?” she asks, and he nods, maybe a little more emphatically than he meant to. “And I wanna-I want this to be ours,” she slurs, the telltale sign that sleep is beginning to win. “We don’t have’ta-” a yawn- “make all the rules right now.”
“Nope,” Scott says softly, pulling her up just a bit as gravity begins to win its battle with Tessa Virtue. He pulls her card key out of her jacket pocket and opens the door to her room.
“Whaddaya think you’re doing?” she objects in a sleepy voice. “This is a girl’s room. No boys allowed,” she pouts.
Scott chuckles softly to himself. “I’m not staying,” he murmurs. “Just helping you get to the bed.”
Tessa doesn’t object to that, just lets him guide her through to the door and to the bed that he hopes is hers. She flops onto it in a way that is remarkably ungraceful for a dancer, then raises a hand and waves it awkwardly. “You go ‘way now. We’ll make out tomorrow.”
The arm drops, and sure enough after a few moments Scott hears her breath even out. He takes her jacket and pants off (but leaves her toque on, because he finds himself hilarious) and eases her between the covers.
Tessa stirs a bit as he’s wrangling her into a comfortable position. “I love you so much,” she yawns, and Scott could die right now feeling like he’d accomplished every goal he’s ever had.
“I love you so much,” he says back. “Sweet dreams, beautiful. I’ll see you in the morning.”
As he’s leaving her room, he pauses for a moment, turning to the closed door and resting his fingertips on it as though he could still feel the giddy energy of a few minutes before. “We get to make the rules,” he says to no one, and ambles off in search of his own room.
Who decides the rules for lovers like you and I?
We choose each other and we find no other lover