They stumble into the locker room after the award ceremony. They’re giddy with happiness and relief and exhaustion. Their clothes sticking to them with champagne and sweat. Chris and Kyle enter in the lead, talking loudly about their eyes blurring from all the flashes cameras from the press. JR’s got an arm wrapped around Eddy’s neck, yanking him down so he’s caught under JR’s armpit, struggling futilely as JR gives him a noogie. Eddy shouts, squirming away laughing, and Jordan crows in triumph bringing up the rear of their group unable to contain his joy and excitement.
JR’s forward momentum grinds to a halt when he and Eddy slam into the back of Kyle and Chris. They’ve stopped just inside the locker room, bodies stiff with surprise. JR peers around Kyle’s shoulder and grins. Apolo’s standing on the far side of the main room, leaning against a row of lockers, arms folded across his chest, and smirking. Jordan groans.
“Move it or lose it jackasses. It’s just Ohno. Not the second coming.” He pushes past the four of them and jogs across the room, hand extended. Apolo rolls his eyes, uncrossing his arms and reaching out to grip Jordan by the wrist, yanking him into a one armed hug that ends with a laugh and two hard back slaps.
“Nice to see you still think oh so highly of me Malone,” Jordan fake sneers at him in response.
“Good to know you aren’t all uppity now that you’re part of the presserazzi,” Jordan says heading around the corner for his locker. JR nudges Kyle and Chris forward with a hand in the back.
“Move it or lose it,” he jokes. Kyle laughs and bounds forward to get a handshake and a pat on the back. Kyle wasn’t ever on the national team with Apolo as much as the rest of them, but he was there often enough to have gotten over his Apolo induced hero worship. Eddy too. Apolo greets them both warmly, smiling and congratulating them both on making the Olympic team. Chris is a different matter, and JR has to hide his laugh, when he stumbles forward to shake Apolo’s hand. Apolo is polite, kind even, congratulating him like he had the others. But his eyes keep darting to JR and lingering there. JR ignores him, moving to his locker and starting to pull out his gear. Jordan must catch on, like the good friend he is, because he drags Chris away a few minutes later, and JR soon finds himself facing Apolo who is leaning against the row of lockers, one leg crossed over the other at the knee. All of Apolo’s attention focuses directly on JR.
“Hey,” JR breathes. Apolo smirks again.
“Just had to show off, didn’t you?” Apolo asks shaking his head in obvious amusement. “I mean, every race? Really?“ JR grins so wide his face hurts.
“Well, I did let Chris win one,” he says with just a touch of real cockiness.
“Hey! Let me!?” he hears from off to his right, but JR doesn’t even turn to look, just keeps grinning, as he watches delight slide across Apolo’s face, even as he rolls his eyes in exasperation. There’s the sound of a hand slapping across the back of a head.
“Stay out of it Creveling, believe me, you don’t want to get wrapped up in what’s about to go down!” Jordan hisses, and that makes JR laugh, even as he moves closer to Apolo.
“True. True,” Apolo says, ignoring the rest of JR’s teammates. His eyes suddenly locked on JR’s with an intensity that should have been awkward with others in the room. “You did do that.” His voice drops significantly in tone and volume.
“That’s all you have to say? Not even a ‘good job’? Or a ‘way to go’?” JR asks, stepping impossibly closer, closing the last of the gap between them. His chest presses to Apolo’s, hips aligning perfectly. He hears a strangled gasp from his right, followed by the sound of a second head slap. Apolo’s hands slip under his jacket to fit to his hips yanking them into his own with a hard tug. JR’s body goes tense against him, anticipating.
“Way to go,” Apolo replies, his mouth spreading wide in a smile that’s full of teeth and pride and happiness. JR laughs, his arms winding around Apolo’s shoulders as he surges forward to hug him, hands clutching at the back of Apolo’s polo shirt. Apolo laughs with him, and they’re both still grinning when JR leans in and presses his mouth to Apolo’s. JR stops smiling, turning serious as he tilts his head to fit his mouth to Apolo’s better. Apolo hums, one hand making its way up the back of JR’s Seahawk’s jersey, nails scratching lightly across the small of JR’s back. JR gasps, mouth opening against Apolo’s. The kiss turns more heated. He’s about to break for a breath when he feels a tennis shoe hit him squarely in the middle of the back. He pulls back, whipping around in shock.
Jordan is smirking at him. Kyle, Eddy, and Chris laughing quietly but uncontrollably from the benches behind him.
“No one wants to see that. Get out of here would ya,” Jordan says. JR rolls his head to smirk at Apolo, who darts forward to kiss his mouth again.
“Come on,” Apolo tugs at JR’s hand, pulling him toward the door. “Your parents aren’t expecting us at the restaurant for an hour.” He waves at the other guys, without taking his eyes off of his goal.
“You talked to my mother?” he asks incredulous. Apolo laughs, loud and clear.
“She texted me. Told me to make sure you got there on time,” Apolo explains. JR frowns.
“I don’t know whether to be deeply offended that she thought I would be late or completely creeped out that she’s prearranging us some alone time,” he admits quietly. Apolo tugs on his hand, yanking open the door and pulling him out into the hallway. Jordan tosses him his coat, and JR just catches sight of Eddy laughing so hard that he falls off his bench, crashing to the floor, before the door closes behind them. JR wiggles his hand free of Apolo’s, and slides past him to take the lead. “Where are you staying?” he asks, pulling on his coat, and zipping it up. He takes a left turn heading for the side exit where Apolo had always loved to park. Apolo’s hand settles low on his back, a familiar pressure. They turn another corner, down a short hallway leading to the exit. Apolo’s hand clenches in his coat, pulling him to a stop. JR turns to look at him, and this time it’s him getting pushed back into the wall, Apolo crowding him into white painted cinderblock. JR expects a kiss, maybe a quickie, but Apolo just stares at him, studying his face so intently that JR starts to worry.
“What?” he asks.
“Good job,” Apolo whispers, one hand coming up to cup the side of JR’s face. “I am proud of you.”
“Sochi is going to be 10 times as hard,” he replies. Apolo nods, looking thoughtful.
“The Olympics always are,” he says. JR stares at him, eyes roaming Apolo’s face, taking in every little miniscule change since the last time they’d been alone like this.
“You’re going to be there, right? In Sochi?” he asks. He knows the answer, but he wants to hear the words.
“Yes. I’ll be there even before you are. You’ll be training with the team in Germany, and when you get off the plane in Russia, I’ll already be there working.” Apolo smiles. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” They just sort of stare at each other for a long moment until a clearing of a throat makes them turn to look at a smirking Jordan.
“56 minutes and counting,” Jordan says, before continuing past them, a burst of cold air hitting them in the face when he opens the side exit door and steps outside is just as much of a wake-up call as the warning about their limited time. Together they spring into action.