This is madness, what they’re doing.
She should stop this. She knows that.
He cannot stop this. He’s crossed a line--well, leapt over it, really--with her on his back clinging to every inch of bare skin that she could find on his body, and now there is nothing left to do for him but continue.
She should be the one to back away.
After all, she’s the one who started this in the first place.
She is the one who hurt him and goaded him into doing this, she is the one who all but forced him into…this.
Yet whatever else happens, she cannot regret this.
Her hands scrape over his back as his teeth nibble holes into her throat that resemble the Sasha-shaped hole he left in her heart when he left her. When she doubts the goodness of this she remembers that he is the one who left her, once upon a time so long ago she thinks he doesn’t even remember it anymore…but she does.
He broke her open and left ash spilling between them, broke her easy as glass, and she fell out of her parents’ once-firm grasp while they were not paying attention. She spread out across the surface of the ocean and disappeared. He had made her into nothing, once.
So when he enters her now with a low sound deep in the back of his gorgeous throat what she feels is triumph.
She lets him touch her now, lets him kiss her, but everybody knows that she is only out on bail from the prison he keeps her in. She is under lock and key most of the time, now, although to her the chains feel like comfort and their absence reminds her only of how naked she is, how vulnerable, without his hold on her.
She is a tremulous throat, words of love which never quite add up to ‘I love you’ however she tries to make them do and most of all she is curves, curves, curves, hills and valleys exploding out of firm muscle.
Any day now
He understood, and got her a blanket, and made her hot chocolate, and held her while she shook.
That night when she crawled from the prison of her lovely bedroom into his cot, he did not kick her out.
He turned over and wrapped an arm ‘round her shoulders, pressed a kiss to her temples, and held her close.
She is not trying to save face.
She knows everyone thinks that she is. She loved him once, ergo she must again, and never mind the new wrinkles dotting his face, or the fact that he returned to them looking as though he had not slept in months.
Never mind his now more obvious courting of Summer, his carefully timed brushes against Summer’s back.
Never mind the way he refuses to look at her in the gym.
When he is with her in the night, when she refuses to leave with the rest simply for the promise of a few moments alone with him, that’s when she knows why do this, why strive so hard for something that can only occupy so little of her time, why for that matter go on breathing at all in a world in which he cannot be hers out loud the way he deserves to be and the way he assures her in the night that she deserves for him to be. When she arches back her head into his small kisses dotting her throat she thinks small is enough.
For her, for them, for now, small is perfect.
From this point on, we will either find or lose our souls
He whispers the words into her body, buries them beneath her collarbone as he makes her skin feel like skin again, rather than the organ she’s always dismissed as being mere protection for the muscles she adores.
He is enamored with her skin, and that may be the best possible advertisement for the lotion she has taken to smoothing on at night for the first time since ever.
Sasha did not have a favorite gymnast, but if he did, it would be her.
Sasha did not fall in love with the gymnasts he privately thought of as “his”, either…but if he did, she would be without question the one whom he would fall for.
Payson did not fall in love with anybody, ever, but if she had let herself slip up, once, he would have been that one mistake.
Neither of them liked to think that the rumors swirling around their every step were true.
Yet it was becoming more and more clear to everyone who saw them that they did not detest the circulation of these rumors nearly enough to prevent themselves from continuing to work together the way they always had done…which in their case, meant the maximum amount of touching acceptable within the context of working together. Payson had never had cause to doubt that he was being anything but professional towards her, and he intended to keep it that way. Even if it killed him.
They are on the airplane when he asks: Do you hate me?
The words are rasped out through a dry throat, with a shy whisper over his shoulder at the other women sleeping behind him. Lauren had insisted that Payson be the one to sit next to Sasha, pointing out that if they did have any ‘lovers-type-thingies’ to do they had better do it before competition day.
Payson had resisted initially, but then Sasha heard about her new beam routine and figured that maybe Lauren was right, maybe they should get whatever they needed to get out of the way here and now.
After all, waiting was nearly guaranteed to lead to an impromptu hug before an unforgiving crowd….and while Sasha had made his career out of not caring what anybody else thought of him, he cared a great deal about what that same crowd thought of Payson. For reasons which had nothing to do with the fact that she still smelled like the old Payson, with some lavendar added for effect, or so he assumed.
Nothing at all, and why would it?
Now here she was, peering curiously at him, question marks dancing around her eyes as she considered every possible answer before proceeding--the picture of an over-thinker, and the perfect balance to his severely compromised thought process, or so his father was sure, anyway. His perfect match…
Payson turned cool blue eyes his way and he gulped at the answer they held before she said it: Yes.
He turns away from her, unwilling to let her see how much he is affected by her, even now: Oh. I see.
She whips out her hand and clasps the wrist closer to her, yanking him back around: No. I don’t know.
She is babbling and looking away from him even as he strives to meet her eyes: We ran into Kelly Parker at the Denver Meet and she, well, she said some things, which I know is nothing new because she always says things but--she said that you had been my first love and that my heart was broken when you left me.
As his mouth is falling open at her choice of phrasing she gets frustrated and begins to gesture just a little too emphatically and he grabs her wrists and holds them down for an instant, panting suddenly as he meets her eyes, flesh on flesh for the first time since…it, and she is breathing heavily too and he can see her pulse leap. She avoids his phrase like the plague for a moment, then he is pulling her against him and letting his body say what his mouth cannot for the moment, and she as ever is unresisting as she falls into him.
She nestles her body against his so far as the airplane seats will allow and lets one hand drift over his chest before her eyes flutter closed. He continues to watch her breathe long after she falls asleep, contemplating life, love and the pursuit of happiness…contemplating her. She wakes up in the night to find him staring at her, but quickly closes her eyes before he can know that she knows. When the plane lands and the other young women start to blink and rub their eyes, he reluctantly guides her shoulders up to a sitting position on her own side of the divider between them, but not before squeezing her hand beneath the blanket they now share--hard--and she knows that what he really means to say is ‘I will be waiting for you.’
She turns her head swiftly and smiles at him broadly, letting her expression convey all the gratitude in the world. For just the barest moment, he smiles back and lets her know he understands.
Amidst all the chaos Worlds has to offer, when she hops off the mat after beam and he is waiting for her with arms outstretched like in his mind he’s hugging her in the way that he does which the NGO would surely find inappropriate, the way she most wants to be hugged by him right then, that smile is back on his face.
What she cannot see in her gloriously gorgeous glee is that her father in the stands has just turned to her mother and said seriously, it seems we have a problem on our hands--and that her mother has just agreed.
Payson pushes herself onto the beam, and Sasha is lost to her.
Summer can see it all happening as though she is spiraling forwards in time. Payson will grow up a little more over the past few years, while Sasha chases Summer and whomever else gets close enough to him to provide an adequate distraction, right up until the Olympics--after which point, he will no longer be Payson’s coach and the need for such distractions will be gone. Summer will too.
Sasha does not belong to Payson yet, she thinks with a sort of fierce self-congratulations…but it does not matter, not really, because he will. One day, Sasha will go to the ends of the Earth for that woman.
Summer is not the kind of person to wait around for time to take what was never hers in the first place.
She clutches tighter to Steve’s arm beside her, digging holes into the fabric of his jacket with her nails.
He looks over at her and smiles, no doubt wondering whether her newfound clinginess signals the prelude to the sort of sexual encounter he has no doubt been dreaming about experiencing with her for years now.
She leans her head against his shoulder and grins at Sasha’s frown, although she knows that his glance over at her is proprietary at best and a show put on for the other Rock Moms at worst.
Summer wonders with barely a hint of surprise when she began considering herself a “Rock Mom.”
She does not however wonder when she lost the blond man who has turned around in the five seconds it took her to complete that thought, because she can see now that he was never really hers to begin with.
Summer makes sure not to let Steve go when she stands up, shooting Chloe a GLARE when the other woman begins making eyes at the only man Summer has left to consider her own.
Summer knows she had better hold tight to what she has left; otherwise, she risks winding up with nothing at all.. he said to her once a very long time ago, running a proprietory hand over her flank while she stood shivering in the cold she remembered in the nearness of him that she felt all the time without him.kissed him and although he doesn’t much seem to care one way or another occasionally she remembers this fact when she sees him watching her with hooded eyes from across the gym and she cringes.