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Red Handed

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“Okay, okay! I’m here! I’m here! I’m whoo---shi---!” Sebastian slides three feet onto the ice, barreling on with his blockers still covering his blades. It’s been a while since he’s strapped on his figure skates, so his blockers weren’t even a thought in his mind when he raced onto the ice.

Though compared to what he’d just been doing, he can’t even remember when he laced up his boots.

Thanks to excellent reflexes, he manages to grab on to the swinging door of the penalty box and catches himself before he lays himself flat.

“Sebastian! Language!”

“Sorry, Jane!” Sebastian pulls off his blockers and tosses them under the bench. “And I’m sorry I’m late, guys, but I …”

“Uh … Coach Smythe?”

Sebastian twists his jacket, straightening the seams. It’s not something he has to remember in his oversized hockey coat, but he does when donning the tailored, formfitting jacket that is part of his uniform when coaching the Ice Diamonds – Westerville’s Tiny Tot Ice Dance Ensemble. “Yes, uh …” Sebastian looks at the group assembled around him, girls about twelve and thirteen, snickering and rolling their eyes.

“You’re in the wrong lane,” Jane informs him.

“Apparently,” he says, matching one girl’s glare before he turns and skates three lanes down to where his four- and five-year-old prodigies await.

“What happened to you?” Chandler - Sebastian’s junior co-coach - gasps, which causes their students to gasp in unison. “You look like you were attacked by a badger!”

Sebastian meets Chandler’s gaze eye to eye, and says in a monotone voice, “I was attacked by a badger.”

“Oh … my … God! Are you serious? I was just guessing! That’s just … that’s just awful! Those things can be vicious!” Chandler exclaims with a hand to his chest, and Sebastian mentally slaps himself for forgetting that sarcasm and Chandler have never been properly introduced. Unfortunately, with twenty impressionable kids hanging on his every word, now’s not the time for Sebastian to help make their acquaintance. “My uncle … you know my Uncle Terrance out in Toledo … he was almost mauled by a badger after he found one in his truck. He was out camping and …”

Sebastian groans and swivels away, leading his pack of ice dancers to the far end of the rink while Chandler continues on about badger attacks and camping trips and some anecdote about his grandfather Ivan who lives in Nova Scotia. He passes Kurt, who had taken to the ice at roughly the same time Sebastian did, but hadn’t made as big a production of it, quietly gliding across to his own group of ice dancers – the six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds – and starting them on their warm-ups.

Jane claps her hands. “Okay, party people! Swizzles, lunges, and attitudes! Let’s get warmed up!” Her skaters set out like butterflies in their pastel, long-sleeved leotards and flowy skirts, performing spirals to the other end of the lane. As they practice their elements, Jane steals an opportunity to watch Kurt and Sebastian with an amused twist to her lips, both boys leading their groups in such drastically different ways. Sebastian attempts to toss Kurt a smolder. Kurt smirks and shakes his head, not missing a beat with his dancers, and Jane can’t help but laugh.

They may be fooling some of the people down at the rink, but they’re not fooling her.

“You know, Sebastian’s lucky he’s an all-around national champion,” Madison McCarthy, Jane’s partner in crime for the afternoon, remarks as she joins the group. “Some of these parents eat you alive if you’re even half-a-minute late, and yet he gets away with three.”

“He’s not the only one.” Jane’s eyes dart to Kurt, directing his group into a perfect wheel.

“What? Kurt?” Madison glances over at Kurt and his ice dancers, transitioning into a two line intersection. “I know they’re dating, but he got on the ice before Sebastian. Didn’t he?”

“Nope. They got on at the same time. But Sebastian was being such a fool, no one seemed to notice.”

“What do you think they were doing?”

Jane chuckles. “I think they were making out.”

“How? Doesn’t Sebastian’s uncle drive him to the rink? It would be pretty awkward if the two of them were going at it with him in the car.”

“But Kurt’s dad got him that SUV for his birthday, remember?” Jane points out, watching Sebastian finally demonstrate a move for his skaters, something other than avoiding his co-coach. “Lots of back seat space.”

“Okay, I guess it’s a possibility. But I need evidence.” Madison giggles, interested now that things are getting dirty.

“Well, look at him.”

“Yeah. He’s a mess,” Madison agrees with a disappointed sigh. This isn’t going to be any fun if Jane only points out the obvious. “It’s a day ending in y.”

“I don’t mean Sebastian. I mean Kurt.”

Madison scrunches her nose. “What? He looks flawless, as usual.”

“No, he doesn’t.” Jane grabs Madison’s jacket and tugs, motioning towards Kurt the second he pivots from a forward crossover to a backward one. “Look at his hair in the back.”

Madison has to squint to see it, but she eventually notices it. It’s not as conspicuous as it is with Sebastian, who has a tendency to look like he’s just rolled out of bed and straight into his skates when he’s not on his figures, but with the way Kurt normally keeps his hair, every strand meticulously combed into place, the few mussed pieces in the back stick out like a sore thumb.

“Oh my God!” Madison snickers.

“I know,” Jane says. “They were totally doing it.”