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True Beauty Shows a Master's Hand

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Georgi knows that a face is a perfect blank canvas, as much a place for creativity as an empty rink. Paint it right and anything can happen: the plain become beautiful, the beautiful become gorgeous, the human become divine. Victor's poked fun at him before for the dramatic colors he likes to sweep across his eyes, his cheeks, but he also once asked Georgi for help figuring out how to make his makeup best match his costume, so. (And it's not like Victor has a leg to stand on, anyway; Georgi's seen that monstrosity he wore for his exhibition two years ago.)

Galina has never made fun of him for it; she likes his sense of style, in fact. She told him this in her soft, pretty voice, smiled up at him, and that was the moment when he fell in love with her. He's fallen in love with her plenty more times since – she's kind, a little shy, always so calm, and she's so lovely. She has golden-brown hair that falls in waves around her face and large green eyes and she likes to wear flowers in her hair.

She reminds him of a spring fairy, so he took that image when he dedicated his programs to her this season. Flowers and sunshine and joy for the free skate, like her smiles on their dates; long, calm spring rains for the short program, because of the way she likes to watch the rain by the window, cuddled up with him, or even drag him out to dance in the puddles. (She's not a good dancer – and Georgi always goes for dancers, on the ground or on the ice, only this time he fell in love with a seamstress instead – but he knows she has no other faults, and will always forgive her this one.)

They design his costumes together, but the makeup is all his. For the short program, something subtle, grey and blue, but for the free skate, he goes all-out with his makeup kit. Green over his eyes, bold and shimmering but not too glittery, that turns into bright flower shapes along his temples and cheeks. He shows it off to Galina first.

"Georgi," she breathes in her whispery-soft voice. "You look so wonderful."

He tries to tell her that he's attempted to recreate what he sees when he looks at her, that he wants to show the world their love with this, he isn't sure he's worded it correctly, but he knows she understands anyway.

She can't come along to his first competition of the season, and she can't afford international rates for texting and calling, and she doesn't want him to pay for her – she's so selfless! – so he spends the whole thing anxious to see her again. Perhaps the longing helps; he performs at his absolute best. Yakov's lecture is much shorter than his praise, and while Victor wasn't here, Georgi is sure this would have been that rare occasion where he beat him.

He goes to see Galina as soon as he gets back – doesn't even stop to leave his luggage at his place, it's too out of the way – and it's so wonderful to see her again, he can't stop hugging her, kissing her cheeks and mouth and nose, touching her hair. They sit on her bed in her apartment, the sky grey outside the windows, and chat about the competition, a little about her work.

"You know," she says eventually. "You do your makeup so well. I don't know how to put it on at all."

"You don't need it," he tells her, kissing her neck. "You're lovely already."

She smiles at him and gently pushes him away by a warm hand on his forehead. "Make me up like I was a skater?"

How could he ever say no to her? Never, never. So Georgi gets out his makeup kit out of his suitcase and starts to sort through everything. "And what's your theme this season?" he asks with all seriousness.


And her favorite color is purple, but she doesn't like pink (it doesn't suit her, anyway, cool purples and blues for her), and in moments he's picked out what he needs. He paints around her eyes like heavenly skies, deep purple fading to midnight blue, white like stars, fading softly at the edges, glitter on her cheeks and purple again for her lips. At her insistence he does his own face to match, just changes the colors slightly. She puts their faces together and looks at them in the hand-mirror she fetched from the bathroom.

"Don't we make a pair," she sighs, and her smile is faint but it's there. She's right; they do, and Georgi has to dig out his phone to take a picture. She doesn't use social media, so he tries to make up for her, except a couple of weeks ago she told him that she didn't want quite so many pictures of her floating around on the Internet. This one, though, he has to post (and he thinks that about every photo he takes, but he tries to give in to her modesty). "I wish we had somewhere to go out to, like this."

"I can find you somewhere to go," he promises, ideas already forming in his mind, and then he kisses her.

They don't get much farther than that before he leaves, like always – even though they've been dating for a few months, now, but he thinks she's just shy and would never be so ungentlemanly as to push her for more when she's not yet ready. Someday, he thinks, as he washes his face and packs up again. Someday, and he'll be patient and loving with her and make it the best time she could ever ask for.

"See you tomorrow?" he asks as she sees him out, and she bites her lip and looks away.

"I have to work a lot tomorrow," she says. "The day after?"

He's disappointed, of course – he wants to see her, wants to touch her, wants to sleep over – but it's only one day, and they usually see each other almost every day anyway, no matter how difficult it is to carve out time in his schedule. It's only one day to wait. So he kisses her good-bye and hauls his luggage home. Along the way, he daydreams of what they will wear for their wedding, and what they'll wear on their faces to match.