The first time he saw Chazz Michaels skate, live and in the flesh, was in Lausanne. In the course of a single routine, Chazz humped an usher, stripped out of most of his clothes, made an obscene gesture at a judge, and was nearly disqualified for his efforts.
Afterward, Chazz stepped off the ice and leered at Jimmy like he'd never been leered at before, and Jimmy sprouted goosebumps that had nothing to do with the temperature of the arena.
Chazz ended up coming in second. Jimmy outshone him by a fraction of a point.
That was how it started.
Coach's diet and exercise plan for Chazz included morning jogs. Apparently it also included Jimmy.
"Coach, I know you want us to bond and all, but do I really have to go with him?"
"I don't give a rat's ass whether you bond with him," Coach said. "I just want someone to make sure he doesn't run straight to the nearest McDonald's."
"Oh, come on!" Chazz shouted when he saw Jimmy's running clothes. "Why does the narc have to come?"
Jimmy later suspected that Chazz actually liked having someone around to listen to his complaints. A running buddy. A friend.
Jimmy had traveled a lot in his lifetime, from the first time he crossed an ocean to become Darren MacElroy's son, and later from skating event to skating event. With his father, he'd traveled by limo and private jets. With Chazz, he traveled by commercial airlines, and not even business class, at least not at first.
"I joined the Mile High Club," Chazz said, nudging him. "I was thirteen."
"Uh huh." Jimmy flipped the page of his magazine. He didn't look up.
"Thirteen years old," Chazz continued. "I bagged a stewardess."
"Flight attendant," Jimmy corrected absently. He turned another page.
"You have to go like this," Chazz said. He stuck his tongue out, waggling it like some slimy sea creature's tentacle.
Jimmy recoiled. "That's disgusting!"
"That's how it's done, my boy," Chazz assured, with the same smugness he used when talking about sex. Which was often. "That's how you please the ladies."
"Oh, god." He was going to be sick. "Look, I don't think Katie and I are ready for – that."
"What are you talking about? Kissing, dude."
"Uh. I thought – never mind."
"Let me show you --" Chazz lunged towards him, mouth open, and Jimmy toppled out of his chair.
He had trusted Chazz. He'd believed that Chazz meant it when he called Jimmy brother, when he'd said they were a team, when he acted like he really cared about whether Jimmy got laid or not.
He'd even let Chazz put his mouth on Jimmy's, believing it to be an honest attempt at teaching Jimmy how to kiss. He should have known. Chazz was a sex addict. A sex monster.
It wasn't until Fairchild's sneering admission of what really happened in Katie's room that Jimmy began to think that maybe his mistake was not trusting Chazz when it really counted.
Between finding Chazz groping Katie's breast, getting clobbered and handcuffed by Fairchild, and winning gold, Jimmy completely forgot about his cell phone for twenty-four hours. Only later did he find the phone in their room, in silent mode.
He dialed his voice mail.
The recording said, "You have one hundred and fifteen messages."
He spent two hours listening to Chazz grovel, threaten, plead, sling insults, ramble about things that happened to him as a kid, and make promises about Halloween costumes. On one message, he sang.
There were calls from Katie, but hers weren't half as entertaining. Jimmy smiled.
So they were friends again. Partners. Brothers, Chazz had said in front of hundreds of witnesses.
"If it doesn't work out with your lady friend – or like, if you ever need more practice at ... stuff ..." Chazz patted his knee. "I'm here for you, brother man."
Jimmy looked down at the familiar hand and thought about the phone messages, the way Chazz had trusted him, the practice kisses, the way Chazz had looked at him all those years ago in Lausanne. Finally, they'd learned to communicate.
That, it would turn out, was more of a beginning than he'd thought.