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Free Skate

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“We’ll be back in four years.”

You might,” Cas says. He’s just a few years older, but it’s enough that he knows this was probably his last shot. He looks around the stadium, and Dean can tell by his eyes that he’s imagining the seats full, the lights up, flags waving, the music beginning…

And so Dean says, “All right, let’s do it.” 

Cas blinks. “Do what?”

“Your free skate,” Dean says. “Come on, before I change my mind.”

Cas shakes his head slowly. “I don’t think…”

“I’ve seen it enough times,” Dean says.

“That’s not the same,” Cas replies, but there’s a note of longing in his voice.

“Maybe not, but it’s the least I can do.” And then he lowers his voice, even though there’s nobody around to overhear (because there’s always someone around to overhear), and says, “Don’t tell me you haven’t wondered about it.” And it’s so quiet out on the ice that he can hear Cas’s breath catch in his throat.

“I can’t throw you,” Cas says, after a minute.

Dean chuckles. “I don’t know that that’s true, but I’m fine staying near the ground.”

Cas stares into his eyes like he’s searching for something, but then he pushes back and glides out toward the middle of the rink. He turns and stops, shifts into his starting position, and extends his hand toward Dean, who grins, straightens his back, and waits for his signal.

Somewhere in the middle of the routine, Meg hobbles out to the side of the rink, crutches stuffed up under the arms of her bulky Team USA jacket. She watches, unnoticed, humming the music and critiquing with a veteran’s eye. Their synchronization is better in places; the more similar builds help with that, but she knows better than to think that’s all it is. They move closer together, too, as the routine progresses. It’s messy, though, as they attempt to compensate on the fly for the throw jumps and twist lifts they know better than to try.

There is one point near the end, though, when Cas’s hands travel down to Dean’s waist, and Meg can practically see that look he gets in his eyes—like at Nationals when she knew they were going to try the quad twist—before he lifts Dean off his feet. And even though they both nearly fall over and she can hear Dean’s “Holy fuck” echo across the rink, followed by the clatter and scrape of skates coming down heavy on the ice, they’re both grinning like idiots by the time they recover, and they finish the program smoothly, chest to chest, hands clasped tight.

Dean’s heart is still racing from that handful of seconds when his life flashed before his eyes. Maybe for other reasons. Cas’s eyes are bright, and his hair’s doing that thing, and Dean thinks that if there was ever a moment, this is probably it.

“Cas…” he says.

And then there’s the metallic squeak of a door opening, and he looks reflexively toward the sound, and Cas lets go of his hands and pushes back.

“Win it for us tonight,” he says, as the Canadian pair heads toward the ice for their practice time, and starts to glide toward the edge of the rink. Dean watches him go, listening to the hiss of his blades on the ice and the sound of his own heartbeat slowing down, and then he follows.
Meg is waiting as he steps off the ice, and turns back from whispering something to Cas. “Your footwork’s pretty pathetic,” she says amiably to Dean.

“Yeah, well, one of us has a triple Axel and one of us doesn’t,” he replies as he slips the guards onto his blades.

“That’s pretty low, Dean, making fun of the injured girl. I’d hate to have to beat you to death with my crutches.” She takes a swipe at his feet, and he sidesteps it, and looks over her shoulder after Cas.

She notices. “Thanks for that,” she says, and nods her head towards the ice. “Haven’t seen him smile since the crash. Still thinks it’s his fault, big dummy.”

“It’s shit luck,” Dean says.

“Yeah, well.” Meg shrugs. “Getting here was the fun part anyway.” She’s still looking toward the ice, where the Canadians are starting their routine. Dean decides not to notice the wistful look in her eyes. He heads for the door.

“Hey, Dean.”

He turns. Meg shifts around on her crutches to face him. “Don’t screw this up,” she says.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll get you your gold.”

She rolls her eyes. “Not what I’m talking about.”

Dean tenses. Which is ridiculous, because he figured Meg knew; but it’s another thing to say it out loud.

“Yeah, okay,” he says, finally, and turns to leave.

“But get me that gold, too,” Meg calls after him.