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The rink should have been empty this late at night. The figure skaters always took to the ice in the early morning, when it was as clean and pristine as they pretended to be, when their blades sliced through the rink's polished skin with the fine precision of a surgeon's scalpel. The ice hockey players came on later in the afternoon, assaulting the rough slashes that disfigured the frost with testosterone and speed.

At night, though, the ice stilled. The skaters went home, went out, went anywhere but here, and Deniz was usually with them. And why not? He was eighteen, he was gorgeous, he was the life of the party, everyone wanted him ...

Sometimes it was too much.

That's when Deniz came to the rink, late at night, when the only sound would be the scrape of his blades on the ragged ice. It might have been a good place to think, but that wasn't why he came. Deniz knew he wasn't the introspective type. As Ingo was so fond of reminding him, he didn't think things through the first time, much less reflect on them later. What was the point of torturing yourself anyway? Whatever you did, someone was going to be upset. Vanessa, Roman, his father, Maximilian, Ingo ... sometimes he thought that they pictured him like a loaf of bread, up for grabs for each to tear hanks off of, and he imagined they vied for who could snatch the biggest piece. When he'd finally had enough of their demands, when the guilt they sloughed onto his shoulders got to be too much, that's when he would come here. These solitary rounds on the ice weren't to think but to stop thinking, quieting the nagging voices in his head with mindless repetition and physical exhaustion.

The rink should have been empty, at this time of night, but it wasn't. As Deniz emerged from the corridor, his blades sinking into the rubber mats, he heard the sharp hiss of skates cutting a sharp arc on the ice. A flash of resentment stirred in him at the intrusion, a sharp rebuke swelling on his tongue for whomever dared interrupt his solitude.

Roman.

Deniz quickly withdrew into the darkness, hidden from view, still glowering furiously at the moving figure before him. It figured that Roman would be here to ruin his plans. Just like he did every time. If Deniz had kept a list entitled "Things I Do Not Want To Think About Tonight," the skater would have pride of place at the very top. And as tightly as lust and guilt were entwined where Roman was concerned, he would not fall from that coveted spot in the near future. His presence here completely obliterated Deniz' plans of escape. Quickly he shuffled through alternatives in his mind. He could go home and be bored, or he could go to the café where Dad could enumerate his faults, or he could find a party, there was sure to be one somewhere... But nothing sounded as appealing as what he had planned.

Narrowing his eyes, Deniz glared again at the figure executing a perfect scratch spin in the centre of the rink. He twirled like a perfectly balanced top, the velocity growing as his outswept arms rose. Without conscious thought, Deniz' expression softened. Roman's movement appealed to him, somehow both graceful and erratic, like watching an old film with not quite enough frames to create a smooth image. Frost flared up, surrounding Roman in a cloud of swirling white as the rough ice fought against the swirling blades. The cloud lingered even after he broke from the spin and cut away, gently falling as he built up his pace, then scattering to fine powder when he ripped back through it at breakneck speed.

Schön.

Deniz was drawn to beauty; at the very least he knew that about himself. The dazzling models at Steinkamp, Kaya's sportscar, the decadent clothes, they beckoned to him and he was unapologetic about his attraction. Why shouldn't he be? His dad wore hard work like it was a badge of honour, like it somehow made up for living in a hovel. Deniz desired a life that was a little more elegant, a little more luxurious. If he wanted to surround himself with beautiful faces and beautiful things, then so be it. And if anyone called him shallow, well, they were simply jealous.

But no one could possibly call Roman's beauty shallow, not if they saw him like Deniz did now. He skated with perfect serenity, marrying power and grace in a seemingly effortless union. Without benefit of an audience, he performed for himself, for the sheer joy of the wind whipping against his cheeks and the ice surrendering to his blades. He launched into his jumps with such confidence that Deniz was moved to wonder if his eyes deceived him. It should be impossible for a human body to seem so ethereal, shouldn't it? Yet it seemed that even the air recognised his unearthly presence as it lifted him into a perfect double Axel.

Schön. Roman was beautiful, and Deniz wanted him beyond belief. His every cell hungered for the touch of that body, for those lips that he dreamed of each night and tried to forget each morning. All it would take would be to step out of the darkness, onto the bright ice, and he could have it all. This unearthly creature could so easily be his, so completely, with but a single word. It was that word that stopped him. It was the same word that Roman had first used to describe what it was like, two men together, such a long time ago. And it had been beautiful, just like Roman had said it would be, so breathtakingly beautiful that it terrified him. What they'd had together, it wasn't like Kaya's giggling kisses or Vanessa's sweet smile. It was a soul-shaking beauty, one every bit as powerful as what he had just seen on the ice, one so graceful that it begged him to worship it. One so immense that it threatened to consume him. Deniz could not let that happen.

Slipping back into the darkness, he turned and left without a single word.