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“Are you sure this is right place?” Erik asks irritably as he lugs his gear bag across the parking lot over one shoulder, phone pressed tightly to one ear as he double-checks he’s locked his car.  “I don’t want to have to drive all the way back across—”

“I’ve tripled checked for you, you’re at the right rink,” Emma interrupts him, sounding bored, “the Westchester Sharks practice here every day from 3 o’clock till—”

“3 o’clock?”  Erik comes to a stop in the middle of the pavement.  “Emma, it’s only 2 o’clock here right now.”  And she’d told him to hurry, too.

“Oh, is it?” Emma asks, sounding supremely unconcerned.  “My mistake, I must have calculated the hours wrong.  I’m still in LA, Erik, what do you expect?”

“I expect you to do your job,” Erik says through gritted teeth, even as he starts walking again and shoulders his way into the building, “if you weren’t normally so good at it, I would fire you.”  He’s hit with an icy cold blast of air as he walks in, which at least is both comforting and familiar.

Emma would never be so unladylike to snort, but the noise she makes now is a close thing.  “Sugar, you wouldn’t last an hour without me.  It’s not going to kill you to wait.  Check out the rink, sit down, and actually relax for once in your life.  Then have a good practice and call me afterwards.”

“Are you my agent or my mother?” Erik mutters as he shifts his grip on his gear bag.

Emma laughs, and then hangs up on him.

Erik’s still annoyed, but he can’t bring himself to be angry with her.  She’s been his agent for years now, even before he went pro in the National Hockey League, so she’s been with him through thick and thin.  These past few weeks she’s had a lot on her plate with Erik’s transfer to the Winchester Sharks—that had been a lot of things for her to organize, not to mention the amount of paperwork she’s probably filled out in record timing.  He should send her a gift basket.  Or just send her away on a vacation somewhere tropical.

Erik makes his way to the locker room, successfully locating the locker that is to be his for as long as he’s on the team and makes short work of changing into his new practice gear because hey, he’s got plenty of time to kill.  He slings his skates over one shoulder and then heads out to the ice rink because he might as well check it out.

To his surprise, the rink is already in use.

He lets his bag drop to the floor and leans against the glass, interested.

The man is young and lithe, but the snug pants and shirt he’s wearing let Erik see that small as he is, he is solid muscle. He skates with the ease of long practice, sliding across the ice as if he was born with the skates laced onto his feet. He is doing small things now, small leaps to warm up, ducking, turning o the beat of the music of his earbuds, eyes heavy-lidded.

In the bright lighting of the rink they look cornflower blue. His movements are graceful and easy, so Erik decides to stick around and watch, sitting down. It’s not like he has other options; the team won’t be here for another hour and the sign on top of the glass says the rink is reserved for private skating until three.

So he sits and watches.

After a few more wide laps, the skater begins to gather momentum and stretch his limbs, working through some token artistic skating poses. Even with his left leg high in the air, his right skate slides without trembling on top of the ice, arms and body perfectly balanced. His skating really is superb. It gains complexity as time moves on; he moves from basic skating skills to advanced ones, warming up his muscles to abrupt turns and flawlessly executed stops of varied abruptness, never once wobbling or hesitating.

Finally he moves onto advanced maneuvers. Leaps and turns and abilities that make Erik stare in awe. He doesn’t know the names of the moves, but he can appreciate their difficulty. Gripping the blade of the left foot to stretch it back over his head; turning on one spot dozens of times, and god knows how the fuck he manages not to vomit at the speed with which he spins.

Erik watches, entranced, admiring the ease and the relaxation of the man, compelled by the obvious delight, listening to the minute sounds as he throws power into a move to complete it’ a leap, a turn, a turn followed by a leap, unbelievable moves Erik could never achieve even though he’s been skating all his life.

Crescendo and conclusion. The skater gathers speed and momentum and throws everything into a flying turn, spinning in the air—lands on the right foot, overbalances, crashes into the ice and against the wall. Erik scrambles to his feet, shocked at the catastrophe, and goes to the opening to the rink, but even as he reaches it the skater is sitting up already, wincing but unharmed.

“You alright?” Erik yells across, reluctant to step onto the ice in his sneakers.

“Fine,” the skater answers wearily, tugging his earplugs away from his ears before rubbing his right shoulder. Erik saw him land on his right side, which he’d noticed was his strong flank, as the skater is right-handed.

“Did you get hurt?”

“No more than usual,” the skater calls back, painfully pulling himself onto his feet. “The triple axel gets me every bloody time. How awful did it look?”

Erik blinks and considers. “It looked fine. I think you put too much power onto it.”

The figure skater drags a hand down his face, cheeks reddened by exertion and the cold of the rink, blue eyes stunning.

“Yes, that is always the problem. Thank you for your concern.”

Erik nods, going back to the stands to sit down. The skater executes several other skills, twice more tries to do the axel and fails. Every time he gets up and does it again. Erik knows he must be covered in bruises and aching all over; the ice is harsh to land on and the velocity and power of the movements must make it even harder.

Around ten minutes before three, the hockey team starts arriving. Erik knows he needs to go and get ready for practice, but for a moment he lingers where he sits. The figure skater is sitting on the ice, breathing harshly, leaning his elbows on his knees. Finally he wipes a gloved hand under his nose, and gets up and skates slowly to the edge. As he starts unlacing his skates, Erik gets up and goes to the changing rooms.

The next two hours are taken up entirely by the heady, violent adrenaline of hockey practice, but as he goes to bed that night he’s still thinking about the skater.

The next day, as he arrives at the rink ten minutes before three, he catches sight of the skater again crashing against the ice, this time hissing in pain. He grits his teeth in sympathy and comes closer, but the skater pushes angrily to his feet. It’s clear he’d not welcome any approaching, so Erik takes himself to the changing rooms. By the time he comes out the skater is gone.

On Thursday he makes sure to arrive early, ten minutes before two. The figure skater is hard at work already. It’s probable, by the way he skates, that he practices at least two hours a day. If he does, and his most problematic move is the axel, Erik doesn’t think he’s giving it enough practice. He seems to always leave it for last.

Friday, he pays more attention, and notices how the skater is so much more restrained in all the moves, combining confidence and grace into apparent ease. All the movements come easy to him but the axel, which always ends in overbalance. He puts too much velocity into the movement. It’s obvious even to Erik’s untrained eye.

The whole of the next week transpires much in the same fashion. The skater doesn’t always crash; sometimes he just loses his balance after landing and falls, more sedately, to the ice. But it must still hurt as hell, and when the practice ends Erik sometimes sees him move painfully to the edge, battered. Finally on Friday he approaches him, hefting his hockey bag over his shoulder.

“You okay?” he asks doubtfully, noticing the scrape on the edge of the man’s jaw where his face touched the ice as he fell. It’s rapidly reddening, and a small bead of blood emerges to the skin. It could be worse. But Erik can’t take his eyes off of that drop. The skater shrugs and distractedly wipes at it as it rolls down his neck.

“Frustrated.”

“You put too much momentum onto it.”

“I know,” the man sighs. “I’m scared of it. I crashed pretty bad doing it before and—” he shakes his head, tiredly. “I know. Thanks for noticing though.”

“No problem. Just, you know, try to take it slower or something. You’re going to crack your skull open.”

The skater nods slowly, working cold-clumsy fingers on his laces. Erik watches him for a moment longer, admiring the long line of his pale neck between his dark brown hair and the collar of his sweatshirt. He realizes he’s staring, and with a wince he grips his bag tighter and leaves the man alone.

For the first time, as he goes out onto the ice to work up a heat, he notices the figure skater has lingered and is watching. He stays all throughout the practice, interested and curious. Erik is somewhat hoping he’ll be there when he goes out of the changing room, but by the time he does the man is gone.

It becomes a routine, though. Erik arrives early; the skater stays late.

Erik starts admiring other things, more inherent to the skater than the skills themselves. He is surprisingly flexible, which allows him to work on wider, graceful poses; and strong enough in his muscles to hold them longer, make them firmer. His eyes are surprisingly blue and his lips stunningly red. He has a long elegant neck and wide, strong hands.

About a month has gone by of this routine when the skater takes a lip, spins and lands it perfectly. Erik jumps up, cheering. And the skater laughs breathlessly.

“Not a triple,” he calls, shaking his head as he skates backwards. “A double.”

“But you’re on the right track, right?”

“I’m closer,” the skater concedes, tilting his head in agreement before turning the whole of his attention back to the task. He makes several more double-axels, easily enough it seems to Erik, and finally tries for a triple. He crashes.

He comes back to his feet cursing, and Erik winces. That one looked really painful.

The skater moves around the rink for a moment, but he is jerky with anger and unable to grasp for the calm conducive to elegance. Finally he gives up at the attempt and skates angrily to the edge, yanking at his laces. Erik hefts his bag and moves over, wordlessly taking over the unlacing when the man’s fingers slip clumsily.

“You’re fine, you’re almost there.”

The man sighs, “I’ve been almost there for a year.”

Erik shrugs. “It’ll happen.”

The man nods, eyes half-lidded and absent. Erik drops the skates by his feet and pats his knee before going to the changing room.

The next day the skater devotes most of the time of practice to getting comfortable in the double-axel, as if he’s biting a bullet. Then he starts going about the triple, falling short at first, then overbalancing several times. Erik leans forward, tense, on his seat. He can tell the skater is working up to a goal, gauging the velocity and strength he needs to make the movement complete but sedate. The perfect intensity.

Then, suddenly, a double followed by a perfectly executed triple. Erik leaps up, whooping, and the skater laughs openly, skating backwards easily. Erik bounds down the stands to the wall and leans over the edge, catching the skater’s hand when he skates by and shaking it. The man laughs, grin bright and wide, and lets Erik pull him in close to the edge, slumping in weariness and the elation of success.

Before he can think of it Erik’s dragging him forward and kissing him full on the mouth.

Erik has a split second of panic but that is quickly overtaken by surprise when the skater kisses him back eagerly, practically pushing himself up with the wall as leverage as he sucks on Erik’s bottom lip.  Erik reaches over the wall and grabs him by the hips, lifting him off the ice completely and when the skater gives a laugh of delight Erik uses this as an opportunity to get his tongue into the skater’s mouth and really taste him, hot and filthy, and Erik doesn’t even care who sees them.

Erik sets him back down again when they break apart, both of them panting.  The skater’s cheeks are flushed and his mouth—god, his mouth—is stained even redder, and those blue eyes are regarding him with sly amusement.  “I’ve wanted to do that for a week now.”

Erik smirks.  “I was waiting for you to nail the triple.”

The skater raises his eyebrows.  “I finally nail the triple and all I get is a kiss?”

Now Erik swallows, because Jesus Christ.  “Was there something else you wanted?”

“Your name, for starters.”  The skater is eyeing him from beneath half-lidded eyes, looking entirely too pleased with himself.

“Erik,” he answers, and he can’t stop staring at that red mouth.

“Hello, Erik.  I’m Charles,” the skater answers, and then he leans in close, his voice dropping down to a murmur, “and I just nailed my triple so I’d very much like it if you’d nail me.”

Erik stares at him for a single moment longer because it takes his brain exactly that long to register what he’s just heard, and then he reaches over to seize the skater—Charles—by the wrist and starts towing him along the wall towards the door.  Charles laughs, a little startled at first, but then he grins, allowing Erik to pull him.

“Now what?” Charles asks him when they reach the door, and there’s no longer a wall between them.  He’s looking up at Erik in a clear challenge.

Erik picks him up again, and this time there’s no wall between them to stop him from crushing their bodies together, and grins at how Charles gives a small gasp of surprise before getting his legs around Erik’s waist, careful not to kick with his skates.  Erik likes the feeling of Charles’ body against his; he’s pleased to know that his observations had been accurate—Charles is solid and compact despite his smaller size, and Erik can feel the muscles rippling beneath the skater’s skin as he latches onto Erik like a limpet.

“Bold, aren’t you?” Charles asks with a grin, eye-to-eye with him.

Erik snorts.  “You’re the one who wants to get nailed.”

Charles rolls his hips suggestively, and Erik has to bite back a groan.  “I deserve a good reward, don’t I?”

“Incorrigible,” Erik says with a roll of his eyes, but it’s a definite turn-on to see Charles looking so lively after watching him exhaust himself for a week, so he licks his way back into the skater’s mouth as he carries him back into the locker room.

There’s still enough time before Erik’s practice starts that none of his teammates have arrived yet, so the locker room is empty.  Erik wastes no time in slamming Charles up against the nearest row of lockers, pinning him in place as he continues his attack on Charles’ mouth, the quiet of the locker room filled with sounds of their mouths moving against one another hungrily.  Charles rolls his hips again so Erik grinds down against him, and they both groan, Charles tilting his head back so far that he hits the lockers behind him with a bang.  Erik attacks his neck, placing open-mouthed kisses up and down the skater’s throat and finding Charles’ pulse point, sucking until Charles is moaning.

“Where are you going?” Charles demands when Erik suddenly pulls him off the lockers and deposits him on the bench that sits in the middle of the room.

“Take your skates off,” Erik says shortly over his shoulder, and then practically runs two rows over to where his own locker is, fumbling through the combination and then wrenching the door open to dig wildly through his bag.

When he returns, he nearly drops the bottle of lotion he’s dug out of his locker.  Charles has not only taken off his skates, he’s also removed his pants, and he’s lying splayed out across the bench with his legs spread wide, stroking himself.  When he glances over and sees Erik staring at him, he grins.

“I’m waiting.”

Erik bites out a curse and then is on him, straddling both Charles and the bench.  The skater hisses when Erik knocks his hand away and takes over stroking him with one hand smeared with lotion, while with the other he fumbles with his own pants.  They’re in the middle of the locker room and anyone could walk in at any moment, but Erik is focused only on the man beneath him, who is arching up into his touch with an obscene amount of gusto.

Charles is nearly in a full-out backbend by the time Erik is finished prepping him, using the bench as leverage and moving back and forth against Erik’s fingers as Erik stretches him, probing deeper and deeper until he hits the spot that makes Charles’ spine go ramrod straight for a split second, his blue eyes opening wide and his red mouth falling open wordlessly.

When Erik pushes his way inside it’s like Charles was built for him, and they slide together perfectly, thrusting against each other wildly until they create a rhythm together.  Erik grabs Charles’ legs and pushes them over his shoulders before leaning forward, nearly bending the skater in half as he leans down to capture his mouth again, pleased with how flexible Charles is.  Charles pushes back against him with what little leverage he has left, gasping and panting into Erik’s mouth.

Erik’s thrusts grow brutal towards the end, all power as he pushes deeper and deeper into Charles as they both grow closer and closer to release.  He hits that same spot within Charles’ tight, wet heat and Charles comes with a shout, his blue eyes snapping open wide again as he shoots off, white and sticky, in between them.

Erik continues to thrust into him through his orgasm, snapping his hips forward so hard that Charles is practically lifted off the bench, and then he comes too, burying himself in Charles with a groan.  For a few moments all they can do is pant, Charles’ legs still thrown up over Erik’s shoulders and Erik still leaned over him, contorting his muscular body in such a way that Erik is surprised his spine hasn’t snapped.

Charles grins up at him, and the way his curls stick to his sweaty forehead shouldn’t be as endearing as it is as Erik looks back down at him.  “Now that is a reward.”

“Are you going to watch my practice again?” Erik asks him.

“Yes,” Charles replies at once, utterly shameless, “I’m not going to miss the opportunity to watch you get all hot and sweaty out on the ice.”

“We’re getting dinner afterwards.” Erik decides.

“I’ll make reservations,” Charles says, business-like, but then he grins again, lewd and Erik won’t ever get tired of it, “and if you score three goals in your scrimmage, I’ll give you your reward for dessert.”

Erik ends up scoring four.