Eric doesn’t know why he’s here.
No scratch that, he does know why he’s here and it’s all Marisol’s stupid fault. But she had to pull out the cancer card and Eric couldn’t say no. At least his friends are here too, though they’re all having a way better time than him.
They’re all sitting on the bench, Speed and Calleigh on one side, and Natalia on the other side of him. She’s focused on her phone, probably arguing with her latest boyfriend about something dumb as usual, while Speed and Calleigh are comparing the newest ice skaters and their techniques.
Eric’s focus is on the ice, gaze wandering towards the other side of the rink, where his sister and skating partner is currently planted, next to legendary skater and current coach Horatio Caine.
He groans inwardly, recognizing the look on Marisol’s face when she turns towards Horatio. she’s in love, with a guy who’s older than her, someone who dominated the ice skating world years ago, and Marisol’s going to die from cancer in months.
That last thought hits him the hardest, that his big sister, his figure skating partner, the most important person in his life had an expiration date, one approaching very soon.
That’s why Eric’s sulking, wondering why he’s stuck at the ice rink, waiting with his friends to watch some new skater hit the ice, while his sister flirts with his coach. They could be doing something fun, making new memories before Marisol is gone.
He feels someone jab him in the side, and Natalia shushes him when he glances at her, eyes trained forward, her phone discarded at the side. Eric looks up, to see Horatio signaling and finally spots a figure on the ice, tension set in his shoulders as he waits for a command.
Then the music kicks in, and the skater begins to move, slowly making his way around the rink. His movements are filled with grace and when he leaps for the first spin, Eric’s impressive when he lands in perfectly.
The figure skater, a young lean man, begins to pick up speed as the music slowly builds. Next to him, Calleigh and Speed have stopped their conversation, attention turned towards the ice.
Everyone in the rink pauses, silence in the audience, holding their breath when the skater lands a triple axel with ease, gliding into his final pose.
Natalia is the first one to jump to her feet, clapping loudly for the skater, whose head whips so quickly in their direction. Calleigh and Speed follow Natalia’s lead, looking surprise and impressed.
Eric freezes, when his eyes meet the skater’s, dark chocolate brown eyes locked on muddy green hazel eyes. Something flickers in the man’s gaze, before looking away at his coach.
The man makes his way off the rink, towards his coach and Marisol, who’s standing by his side, excitement in her expression.
Eric can’t keep his eyes off the man, and though he would deny with his life, his gaze moves downward towards the man’s ass.
The next few minutes are spent in silence for Eric, as his mind flashes back to the man’s routine, all tan skin and strong muscles filling up his brain.
He’s good, Eric thinks to himself. The man lands his spins smoothly, light on his feet, almost dancing like a ballerina.
And now, his head is providing images of the skater in tights, which isn’t helping his body.
Then, Natalia squeals, and Eric looks up in time to see her flying into the skater’s arms. He spins her around, joyful laughter echoing off the walls.
She wacks him in the back, attempting to stop him, and finally the man puts her down. Natalia glares at him and tugs his arm, dragging him towards their little group.
“Ryan, this is Calleigh Duquesne, Tim Speedle or Speed, and Eric Delko. Guys, this is Ryan Wolfe.”
Eric has a lightbulb moment and he finally recognizes the young man in front of him. Ryan Wolfe is known as the comeback kid, an up and coming rising star who disappeared a few years ago. He recently came back, slowly moving up the ranks and showcasing that he knows he’s the best, better than he was before.
Ryan offers greetings and shakes everyone’s hands. When it gets to Eric, he smiles, twinkling hazel eyes shining in the light, and Eric’s breath hitches.
Up close, Ryan is even more handsome, with his tousled dark blonde hair, vibrant green eyes and lean muscle he couldn’t see from far away. Eric can’t seem to tear his eyes away from the younger man and that’s gonna be a problem, especially with his focus on the last Olympics he’ll be competing.
Ryan pushes his way into the practice rink, mindset focused on only one thing, practicing his final routine. But that all flies out of his mind when he spots a familiar figure on the ice, doing twirl after twirl, almost like a wind up toy.
He sets down his stuff on the bench and quickly laces up his skates, waddling onto the ice.
Once Ryan’s balanced, he glides over to the figure, who has moved towards the center of the rink. He nudges her in the shoulder once he gets close enough. And like he expected, they shove back lightly, spinning around.
Ryan’s greeted by the sight of Marisol, who looks slightly out of breath and more pale than usual, but with a bright smile on her face.
“Hey there stranger,” he teases, falling into step next to her, as they start lapping around the rink. “What are you doing here so early?”
Marisol shrugs at him, and in the corner of his eyes, he sees her tense her shoulders. “Just needed to be out on the ice for a little.”
Ryan gets that, after all, every skater is the same. The ice is where they feel most at home, bending their bodies into impossible shapes, throwing themselves in the air constantly. It’s where their dreams come true and at the same time, where their hearts break. But he gets a feeling that there’s something more that she’s not telling. Silence engulfs them as they circle multiple times. It’s comfortable and Ryan finds that he doesn’t mind it.
He met Marisol a couple of weeks ago, when she tagged along for a practice.
Ryan had just finished going through his free style routine and when he gets off the ice, he’s certainly surprised to see a young women hanging off his coach’s arm, talking his ear off.
That was Marisol, and he slowly begins to find out that’s how she usually is most days. Well, except for today.
They became friends in a sort of weird way, where he’d find her at most of his practices, sitting next to Horatio, and afterwards, they’d get a meal together, swapping stories. She’d usually offer him advice, almost like a mentor or big sister. It was good to have someone to talk to, who wasn’t Natalia or his team.
Ryan waits patiently, knowing that Marisol would confide in him about what was bothering her. And sure enough, she does. “I saw the doctor today. He said that I would need to start chemo soon.”
The words linger in the air, Marisol’s voice low and husky.
Ryan would offer an, “I’m sorry,” but he knows it’s not enough.
So he gives her a lopsided smile and wraps an arm around her shoulder.
“You know, I could have gone to the Olympics last time.”
Marisol’s eyes snap towards his face, surprise in her face at his statement.
“Why didn’t you?” she asked him, “I heard you were pretty good back then, too.”
“Not many people know this, and my team kept it out of the press, but, I was in an accident.”
His voice is rough when he admits that, and Ryan’s mind floods his brain with unpleasant memories of that time. He clears his throat, this isn’t about him, this was about Marisol.
“Someone accidentally fired a nail gun at me, and it dented my eye.”
Marisol gasps, reaching a hand out towards his face, and he guides her to the scar below his eyebrow. She lightly runs her finger across it, and Ryan involuntarily shivers.
Marisol pulls back and links their fingers together, spinning them around so they were skating backwards now.
Ryan continues on with the story. “I almost lost my vision after that, cause I was too focused on trying to make it to the finals. I ended up getting an eye infection because I disregarded my health.”
He looks away from her, regret and shame in his expression when he quietly says, “I almost lost my vision and my dream all at the same time.”
“The point is,” Ryan shakes his head of the flashbacks in his mind and looks back at her. “Be glad you found out before it was too late. Be glad you’ll be able to compete in the Olympics before you lost your chance. And be glad you have someone who’s willing to do it with you.”
“And you, did you have someone to do it with you?” Marisol softly asks, afraid that if she spoke any louder, Ryan wouldn’t be compelled to answer her question.
“No, I didn’t.”
Marisol gives his hand a squeeze, “I’m sorry.”
Ryan just shoots her a sad smile and Marisol reaches out, pulling them both to a stop in the middle and embraces him.
They stay like this, arms wrapped around each other, shared tragedy bringing them together, until a throat clears and they break apart.
Spinning around, she sees Eric peering over at them curiously, skates in hand. She looks back at Ryan just in time to see his eyes drag away from Eric and a blush flush on his cheeks.
A smirk curves dangerously on Marisol’s face, amusement dancing in her eyes as she nudges Ryan in the shoulder.
“What was that about?”
“What was what about?” Ryan sounds casual, but she isn’t fooled at all.
“Oh, nothing. Just that your gaze is hot enough to burn a hole in my brother.”
She just shrugs innocently, “Maybe you’ll burn his clothes off. You’d like that wouldn’t you?”
Ryan shoves her away enough to send her flying towards the other end of the rink and that answers her wordless question. He definitely is feeling something for her brother.
Marisol rubs her palms together evilly, looks like her last Olympics is shaping up to be quite eventful.