Leo dropped his comb. He was sick of this. He turned to his sister Esperanza. “How do I look?”
Espy rolled her eyes. “You look like Leo. You’re acting like this is a new thing, like he didn’t live here last summer, like you didn’t just see him last week. I promise you, Guang Hong is not going to care what you’re wearing to pick him up at the airport! Based on how you look when you get home from competitions, he’s going to look like shit. Do you care about that?”
“He’s Guang Hong. He never looks like shit. He’s adorable!”
Espy rolled her eyes and kicked his ankle. “I know. You only printed out the article to plaster on your walls until you could get the picture made into a poster. And made us all read it. Twice. Even Alicia. How Guang Hong didn’t pick up on your massive crush at Skate America…”
Leo ducked his head with a sheepish grin. “Yeah, that was because he had a huge crush on me that he didn’t know how to deal with. Phichit nearly killed us both. Probably would have if we hadn’t managed to get our shit together at the Cup of China.”
“If Phichit had killed you both, you’d have deserved it. Idiots. I don’t care how adorable you are, when you get off a twelve-hour flight, you’re gonna look like shit. You’re really not going to care that your boyfriend got all dressed up.”
Leo threw a shirt at her, a dark red button down he’d thought about wearing but decided against. “I care, now are you going to give me an opinion or just keep making fun of me?”
Espy caught it and stared at it. “You’re an idiot. If I iron this for you, will you wear it?”
“Why that one?”
“Because Guang Hong bought it for you!”
Leo smirked. “I thought he wasn’t going to notice or care what I was wearing.”
“He will when he wakes up and sees the selfies and then kills you for putting just-off-a-twelve-hour-flight pictures of your adorable boyfriend on Instagram. Wearing his shirt might keep him from killing you for it.” Espy ducked out of the room with the shirt.
Not even two minutes later, his mom stuck her head in. “There better be a good reason you’ve got your sister ironing your clothes, Leo.”
“One, she offered, and two, we made a deal. She wanted me to wear that shirt to the airport.”
Once he’d changed his shirt, Espy declared that he looked “halfway decent,” which Leo assumed was sister code for “you look nice.” He was out of time to fuss anyway if he wanted to get to the airport on time. He couldn’t wait to show Guang Hong his new car – his old one had been rather beat up, as it was passed to him from his older brother. Now that he was almost out of college, Leo had bought his own car, and given the beater to Espy.
Leo’s mom made him take his sisters with him, which was annoying. Espy, at least, had opted to stay behind. She was taking summer classes at the community college before starting for real, and she had to study, which was an excuse their mom accepted. No such luck with Mayra, who wanted to stay home and play a video game, or Alicia, who was the one who got Leo stuck with sisters to begin with because she had a bizarre love affair with the airport.
“Can I stay in the car?” Mayra asked when they got there.
“No.” Leo patted her shoulder. “You’re responsible for Alicia, remember? So I can watch for Guang Hong?”
“Ugh. Alicia knows the airport better than I do, and she’s so… excitable. What if I see someone I know?”
“Then they’re stuck at an airport too and the two of you can bond over it. Now come on.”
“Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.” Mayra sulked, but she got out of the car and followed Leo and Alicia into the airport.
Guang Hong’s flight had been a little delayed, and was just touching down. It would be a while for him to get through customs and security. Leo settled in with his sign to wait while Alicia and Mayra ran all over the baggage claim area.
Finally, Guang Hong got out. The neon sign – made by Espy to wave at Worlds – made Leo easy to find, and Guang Hong ran for him. Leo dropped the sign to catch his boyfriend in a long hug. “How is this wait the hardest one? It’s only a week!”
“I think it’s the anticipation of what comes after. It’s not moments stolen around a competition, it’s being together for real.”
“True.” Leo kissed Guang Hong’s cheek and then went to help him watch for his bags. While they watched, Alicia came running up and jumped on Guang Hong’s back. “Hi! Did you miss me?”
“As much noise as you were making, it was impossible to miss you!” Alicia hopped down so that Guang Hong could give her a proper hug. “It’s good to see you, too, Mayra.”
Mayra nodded. “Yeah. Hi.”
Guang Hong nearly walked past the car, much to Leo’s amusement. Then Guang Hong squealed. “I forgot! You’d mentioned you got a new car but I wasn’t thinking it would be this cool!”
“Glad you approve.” Leo helped Guang Hong load his bags in the trunk. “Don’t get too comfortable, we’ve only got a couple days before we have to leave for Chicago.”
“This is the last year, though, right? Next year you’ll be done?”
“Next year I’m done. We don’t have to waste a month of our time together with me in classes.”
“Assuming you pass everything!” Alicia said. “Espy says that would be a miracle.”
“I’ll pass. I’ve got a couple papers to write, but I’m not worried about my performances. Then… Viktor wants me to compose Yuri’s music for this year.”
“Does Otabek know about that?”
“Beks wouldn’t mind. Yuri and Viktor are fighting over it, so Otabek and I plan to offer a compromise: I compose it, Beks does a mix.”
“You know what’s going to happen, don’t you?”
Leo grinned. “Viktor choreographs four programs, Yuri gets two, Beks and I each get one? And then I’ll choreograph Beks’s other routine for him and he’ll mix the music for mine.” Leo glanced over at Guang Hong. “Your coach already has your music.”
“One of my classes last semester, the professor let me produce a skating routine for the main project. I sent video to your coach and she wanted to know if she could have it for you.”
“Leo, you should know better than that.”
“Huh?” Better than what? Leo didn't know better.
“You can’t just say things like that when you’re driving and your sisters are in the back seat so I can’t thank you properly!”
“Ew,” Mayra said. “When we get home, I’m getting Espy, and we’re locking the two of you in your room. Just so you know.”
“No need to lock it. Just tell Mom to leave us alone for a few hours.” Leo winked at Mayra’s grossed-out expression in the rearview mirror.