Daniel Fernández hops off the bus, looking around for his bag. It had been a long bus ride from Madrid to this teeny French town, but it’ll be worth it, he knows it. At nine years old, Dani is just one year away from being allowed to compete and he wants to be just as good as his papá. Most people always wonder why he looks like he does, but all he knows is that his other father, the one he’s never met before, is Japanese and he looks just like him. 'Except for the curls', his aunt would say, 'and those Fernández lashes'.
“Aha!” there, his bag. Or not, when it ends up buried under five more bags.
“You must be new.” He looks up to see a boy about his age, but taller, blonde hair and blue eyes. “You didn’t know to take your bag before the gorillas throw it in the pile. I’m Alexei, let me help you.”
“Daniel, and thanks.” Daniel is very glad his father had insisted so much on perfecting his English. “It’s the big sky blue one.”
They start pulling, to no avail. On the other side of the pile, a boy bigger than both of them lifts his bag with no problems. Dani and Alexei gape, and immediately call the boy over to help.
“The blue one? Sure, no problem” He grabs the handle and pulls it out, handing to Dani. “I’m Nicco.”
“Nice to meet you, Nicco” Dani shakes his hand. “This is Alexei and I’m-“
“Daniel Fernández?” the boy turns toward the voice and answers a loud ‘here’. “Room 204”
“Hey, that’s mine too!” Nicco high-fives Dani and they look to Alexei.
“I have Room 203, so I’ll hang out with you two”
They all make their way to the entrance of the hotel and move out of the way when a car honks. It’s a fancy and shiny black sedan, with tinted windows.
“Who’s in there?” Dani wonders. But who cares? It’s the first day of summer camp and he already has friends, even better, he’s rooming with one of them. He can’t wait to tell his dad.
The car stops by the front entrance of the hotel and a middle-age Japanese woman exits, followed by a young Japanese boy. Kaito Hanyu looks around, taking in his surroundings with excitement bubbling in his stomach. It had taken him weeks to convince tousan to let him come all the way here, but Kaito is ready to start competing next year and he wants more experience. People often wonder where he got those curls, not from his tousan, certainly. All tousan has ever told him is that they are his father’s. He turns to see his aunt analyzing the place with a skeptical look on her face.
“We came all the way from Sendai for this?”
“I think it’s great”
“Kai-chan, your father’s summer camp would’ve been just as great.”
“But that’s only for the local kids and I want to see more. Meet more people my age who I’ll compete against.”
Saya shakes her head and bites her tongue. He’s so much like his father. Like both of them.
“Very well, then. Here, let’s check your father’s list, shall we?” Kaito looks at her expectantly and nods. “Vitamins?” nod. “Fruits and vegetables?” he nods twice. “Phone?” nod. “Charger?” nod. “Photos of tousan, obachan, Usa-chan and your beloved and super cool aunt, me?”
“All check, obasan.”
“Okay” she’s tearing up a little, Kaito notices, and hugs her tight when she opens her arms. “Remember, if you change your mind and want me to come pick you up, I’m just a phone call away”
“Don’t worry, obasan, I’ll be fine.”
“I miss you already, darling boy.”
“Miss you too.”
Saya holds out her hand and they do their Super Special and Only Ours handshake. She kisses his cheek and gets in the car, waving one last time before it drives off. Kaito heaves a sigh and looks around. Yeah, this will be great.
It’s the third day of camp and Dani is more than excited to start the next session. Today, they will be practicing Axels. Not to brag or anything, but Daniel has a pretty impressive double Axel, and he’s landed the triple a couple of times – without his papa’s knowledge, of course. One by one, they all enter the rink and look to the ice, where a man is already giving out instructions for a great Axel and doing some demonstrations. The older skaters go first, demonstrating their triple for the younger ones, who clap enthusiastically, eyes bright and attentive.
“Alright, pre-comp bunch!” the instructor calls to Dani and his group. “What do you say we see where you’re at with your Axel?”
He can hear some of the boys around him gulping, looking at the ice hesitantly. He holds his head up high and walks to the door, takes off his guards and gets on the ice. He can hear other blades beside his own, and he looks back to see Alexei and Nicco following him. He lets the other two go first, feeling confident and a little smug about his abilities. Alexei does a pretty decent double Axel, a little wobbly on the landing but he holds it; Nicco lands with both feet and stomps his foot on the ice. The instructor comes closer to him and pats his shoulder, smiling and telling him he’ll get there.
It’s his turn and he starts skating around the rink. He loves this jump, doesn’t really know why he loves it so much, but he does. His father says it runs in his blood. He goes around the rink three times, just like he does back home, before he launches into it. It’s big and beautiful and he wishes his dad were here to see it. He lands it. Dani can hear the others murmuring and they clap for him.
“That was amazing!” the instructor sounds surprise and, honestly, so is Daniel. Because it is so much better than it usually is at home and there are people watching him too. “I think we have someone to beat now. Anybody?”
Dani stays close to the instructor, he asks him a couple of questions about the Axel, when had he learned it, if he’s ever tried the triple. On the back of the group, someone comments how it must be because of his father. Daniel snorts, nothing further from the truth.
“I’ll try” a small voice calls and a kid no older than Dani steps on the ice. He goes around the rink a couple of times and- no way. Daniel gapes because there is no way that kid had just landed a triple Axel like it’s nothing. The instructor is gaping as well, mouth hanging wide open and he looks a bit ridiculous. Daniel turns to his friends, mouthing ‘who’s that’ to them. They shrug their shoulders and shake their heads, clearly telling him they have no idea.
“Well, seems like we have a new best Axel.” The instructor says and Daniel fumes. “That was amazing, Kaito. I think you and Daniel should work together.”
Daniel turns and so does this Kaito kid. He stares, thinking he might have some brain damage from that nasty fall yesterday because all he sees is himself. There is a doppelganger of him right there.
“Oh my God” the instructor drops the folder he was holding and both kids look at him. The rest of the group comes closer as well, whispering and looking at them with wide eyes that make Daniel feel uncomfortable. He squirms.
“What is everyone looking at?” he asks and Kaito looks at him intently, the same look he gives his father when he says something Dani doesn’t quite understand.
“Don’t you see it?”
“Resemblance?” Kaito nods. “Between us?” another nod. “Hmmm… let me see. Turn to the side.” Kaito does and Dani starts tapping a finger on his chin. “The other side” the Japanese rolls his eyes but does as he’s asked. “Hmmm… your eyes are smaller than mine, your ears are bigger but don’t worry your cauliflower hair covers them. And that nose! Oh well, there’s nothing a good surgeon can’t fix. You wanna know the difference between us?”
“Let me think.” Kaito takes a step closer. “I have class and you don’t? Or I can jump a triple Axel and you can’t? Take your pick”
“Okay, okay. Let’s end the lovesfest now, alright? Kaito.” The instructor says to Dani and he glares at the man. “Daniel” he receives the exact same glare from the Japanese. “I mean, Dani, Kaito I- uggh!”