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January 2019


They kiss in the bed, bodies flush, perspiration from the shower clinging to their skin. Fingers lace together. Shoma sucks Javi's lower lip before Javi parts them. He bends and kisses Shoma's hand, a warm bloom. Shoma sighs, loud, content. 

"I love you," he says. 

Javi cradles his chin on Shoma's belly.

"And I love you."

They both say it in Spanish, because it's the language they speak most when Yuzu is not with them. It's their semi-private language, their love for one another rich as bouganvilla perfuming the air when they speak it. 

Eventually they leave the bed to put on pajamas, which mostly consists of long sleeved shirts and flannel bottoms. Toronto winters howl icily and both of them are from warmer climes. 

At first Shoma misses Yuzu in Javi's bed. Yuzu, visiting family in Japan, is absent and Toronto feels colder for it. But then Shoma thinks of how lucky he is to have Javi to snuggle with, so they can keep each other warm. 

Javi turns on his side and cups Shoma's cheek. 

"I --" Javi says, then stops.

He turns on his other side, grumbling.

"What? What is it?" Shoma asks. 

"Nothing," Javi says. "It's nothing."

Shoma pinches Javi in the ass then, because Shoma will make him talk, one way or another.

"Aiy!" Javi cries, turning around to tickle Shoma until his ribs ache from laughter.

In the lull that follows, Shoma says: "Tell me, mi amor."

Javi stiffens, then runs his fingers through Shoma's wild, wavy hair. 

"It's just . . . the European Championships," he says. 


" 'And?' " Javi mimics with a snort. 

Shoma shoves him.

"Fine, then. Don't tell me."


"Pretend you'd won six Four Continents medals," Javi says. 


"And you had only a few weeks to train before you competed for the seventh. After a whole season off, basically. How do you think you'd feel?"

"Like I was going to lose," Shoma replies.

Javi nods. 

They are curled on their sides, facing each other now. 

"It's true you could lose," Shoma says. "And you kind of were a dumbass to sit out most of the season. And only give yourself a few weeks to train."

"You're very good at this inspirational thing," Javi says. 

"What are you going to do? Whine? Every second whining is a second you could be preparing. You made your choices, now what are you going to do with them?"

Javi is quiet.

"I'm leaving my coaches at the end of this season," Shoma says.

"Are you crazy? Shoma, you've been with your coaches since you were five!"

Shoma shrugs.

"Do your coaches know?"

"We've been talking about it. And I knew. I knew at Skate Canada: it's time for something new."

"Do you even know who your next coach will be?"

Another shrug.


"But that's just it, Javi. I'm making my choices and I'm not going to whine about it because they are my choices . You can express doubt in yourself all you want, but you're really just doubting those choices you made."

Javi is quiet again. 

"Besides, I think you'll win," Shoma grins. 

Javi kisses him.