Fan Fiction - Hanson, Krasobruslení - This Glassy Surface
When he’s honest with himself, Taylor admits that he sensed the danger all these months ago already, when he kissed Johnny goodbye and felt – for only a brief moment, but still – regret that he’ll never get more than a few stolen hours. When, several weeks later, he was making love to his wife and suddenly found himself thinking not about Natalie and the softness of her breasts, but about the nice, firm muscle of a man’s chest, Taylor felt as if he was standing on the precipice of a catastrophe. He suppressed the images in his head, then, dismissed them as a momentary delusion. It meant nothing, he told himself.
Now, sitting at home with his cell phone in his palm, he’s still trying to appease his mind with the same lie. It means nothing. He just wants to chat, after all.
That is one of the most significant details that made Johnny stand out in the row of Taylor’s one-night companions – he and Johnny actually talked; both times they had met, they’d shared easy conversations before and the first time even after sex.
However, and this is another fact Taylor tries to silence in his mind, it was not talking he thought about first when he read the poster announcing that Johnny would perform in the Will Sears Exhibition a few days from now. It was the way Johnny’s body arched when Taylor buried himself deep inside him, the way those muscles flexed under his hands, and the way Johnny’s voice dropped several tones lower when he was turned on.
Taylor replays all the memories in his head, then presses the call button and, once an operator answers, inquires about the Will Sears thing.
“It’s early,” Johnny points out when Taylor finds him backstage after the show. “I didn’t expect to see you until like... next summer.” It seems he doesn’t mind that Taylor has sought him out sooner, though, judging by the smile glowing in his eyes.
“I saw a poster,” Taylor shrugs towards one of the walls, which are decorated with several announcements like the one he spotted on the subway a few days prior. “I thought I’d come see how the skating’s going,” he says, then notices that Johnny has stopped to talk to a group of three women. Probably fans, Taylor concludes, and it strikes him how different from his own Johnny’s fans seem to be. Sure, there’s the compulsory air of excitement around them, along with giddy smiles, but they’re calm, polite and respectful, almost shy. Also, two of them are old enough to be Johnny’s mother. That creeps Taylor out a little – it’s a natural reaction, he once was followed by a middle-aged woman for half a day when he was fifteen and it left him with a slight paranoia where older fans are concerned.
However, Johnny is apparently used to it – he even knows some of the ladies by name, which impresses Taylor. Although he sometimes remembers fans’ faces, trying to recall their names is way too difficult.
Taylor waits for a few minutes, then – after he’s signed autographs for all the women and taken pictures with them – Johnny rejoins him. He smiles apologetically.
“Sorry. They’re fans,” he says with an almost disbelieving expression, as if having fans was something that still fills him with wonder.
“So, what did you think?” he asks and Taylor turns to him, confused. “About the skating,” Johnny clarifies.
Taylor didn’t think he heard his last sentence, but Johnny has obviously mastered focusing on several things at once. Must be a skater thing, Taylor assumes, what with all the precisely choreographed moves they do on the ice.
“Impressive,” he finally replies and he means it – how somebody can haul themselves into the air, rotate several times and land on a thin metal blade without killing themselves, looking graceful all the time, is a mystery to him. “But what’s with all those men tossing you around?” Taylor raises an eyebrow. He vaguely remembers that the guy he saw throw Johnny into a jump at Champions on Ice was not the blond who did it today.
“I like to fly,” Johnny shrugs with a wink. “And I like men who can make me fly – or feel like flying,” he adds and gives Taylor a teasing look through his long lashes.
“Well, I could try if you want to,” Taylor laughs, then, hastily: “I’m not gonna toss you into the air, though. I can think of other methods...”
He watches Johnny lower his eyes, watches as his lips curl into a little, secretive smile.
“Where are you staying?” he then asks and holds the door open for Johnny, letting him pull his roller-suitcase through.
“Actually, I was planning to hop on a train and go home,” Johnny replies and, when they stop in front of the elevator door, looks at Taylor with an embarrassed shrug. “I live in New Jersey.”
“New Jersey?” Taylor blurts out, surprised. Somehow, he pictured that Johnny lives directly in the city, for he definitely has the flair. He doesn’t look like the Jersey boys.
“Well, I just moved there recently. I got a new coach and she happens to live in Wayne. My place is in Lyndhurst. It’s quite a drive to the rink, it can get a little tiresome, especially in the afternoons when there’s traffic. It’s not so bad at five a.m., though,” he giggles a little, then covers his mouth.
“I’m sorry, I’m babbling. I sometimes do that after skating. Especially exhibitions, they make me giddy.” And again that giggle; it makes Taylor’s stomach feel a little funny. He wants to laugh along – Johnny’s excitement is infectious, it almost reminds Taylor of the way Ezra and Penelope can always put a smile on his face. The moment he remembers his children, Taylor sobers up and frowns. What are you doing?
“What’s wrong?” Johnny is looking at him with searching eyes and Taylor quickly washes the guilt from his face.
“Nothing. I just... remembered something,” he waves it away with his hand.
“If you say so...” Johnny musters him with a look that says that he’s not quite convinced that it’s nothing, but he doesn’t press the issue. Instead, he asks: “So... Do you want to come to my place?”
He offers it so casually that Taylor wonders how often he does this, how many strangers have wandered in and out of his bed. He quickly weighs his options and comes to the conclusion that if he wants to sleep with Johnny today, going home with him is pretty much his only chance. And he does want to sleep with him – whether it happens in a hotel or in Johnny’s own bed doesn’t make much difference, Taylor muses, it’s cheating either way. He’s already doomed.
Johnny’s face lights up and Taylor is surprised at how delighted he seems to be at the prospect. Almost as if it meant something.
They exit the building and step into the steady drizzle coming down from the sky. It only takes Johnny a minute to hail them a cab. It’s a skill Taylor envies him for a little bit; the taxis never seem to stop for him when he needs them. As he slides onto the seat next to Johnny and watches him give instructions to the driver, Taylor wonders just where this road might lead him. It scares him a little, but fills his heart with forbidden excitement at the same time.
“So, do you live with your... boyfriend?” Taylor asks randomly as he’s lying stretched out on the bed beside Johnny, head propped up on one hand, the other rested on Johnny’s thigh. He’d noticed two sets of cosmetics in the bathroom earlier, two toothbrushes.
“No. I don’t live with a boyfriend,” Johnny says. “Paris is my best friend.”
Taylor lifts an eyebrow.
“No, really. We don’t fuck. It would be awkward. Besides, it would be... complicated,” Johnny laughs and Taylor wonders just who this Paris is and what’s so funny. He doesn’t inquire further, because there are other questions popping up in his mind.
“What about this guy who tossed you around on your tour?”
“What about him?” Johnny asks, puzzled.
“Do you sleep with him?”
Johnny stares at him for a second, then lets out a snort Taylor doesn’t quite know how to interpret.
“What is this? A hearing about my sex life? Did the federation send you?”
He sounds taken aback and maybe a little irritated, it seems.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you, I – “ Taylor begins to apologize. He doesn’t even know what made him ask in the first place, why it seemed important for him to know. He pulls his hand off Johnny’s leg, clearing his personal space.
“No,” Johnny says and sits up, catches his hand, entwines their fingers. “I’m not offended,” he shakes his head vigorously. “I was joking. I just tend to forget that you’re not – that you don’t know much about my world,” he laughs and, once again, Taylor is left to ponder what triggered it. “I’ll answer your questions under one condition,” Johnny purrs and lays back down on his back, then looks up at Taylor playfully. “You have to answer mine in return,” he grins and places Taylor’s hand back on his thigh. He runs a finger over Taylor’s knuckles before he tucks his arms under his head, relaxed.
Taylor settles down comfortably and starts kneading at Johnny’s leg. It’s so easy to forget, indeed, that they’re just two strangers who know nothing about each other. Johnny makes it easy with all that openness and lighthearted smiles. Taylor finds it strangely satisfying that it seems to be the same for Johnny.
“Okay,” he nods. What does it matter if he tells Johnny a bit more about himself? If Johnny intended to misuse the information, to spread rumors or blackmail him...Well, he could have easily done that a year ago already. “So, do you? Sleep with him?” he asks again.
“Rudy? No,” Johnny scrunches up his nose. “He’s not my type. We’re friends. Besides – “ he stops abruptly, bites his lip.
“Besides?” Taylor presses on, surprised by the atypical behavior. He might not know much about Johnny, but from what he’s seen so far it’s not like him to censor what he says.
Johnny turns his eyes to him, suddenly serious. He studies Taylor for a minute, then speaks in a hushed tone.
It takes Taylor a second to realize what Johnny means, to process the uncertain expression on his face.
“Oh,” he says, because what else could he say. He looks down at Johnny, those pretty features now drawn and tense, and for a brief moment doubt mixed with panic flashes through him. He immediately feels ashamed, because Johnny notices the flicker of fear on his face and bolts upright.
“No,” he says, firmly. “God, what do you think? I’m not. Don’t look at me like that. I have my blood checked every four months by the precious federation, it’s one of the perks that come with being a professional athlete. And even if they didn’t require it, do you honestly think I’d – “ he stops mid-rant and turns to Taylor with a rather scandalized expression. “Oh god, how many people do you think I sleep with?”
“Look, I’m sorry – “ Taylor begins, but Johnny interrupts him, shaking his head.
“Well, I probably didn’t give the impression of the faithful type, did I?” He laughs and the sound resolves the unpleasant knot in Taylor’s chest. “I don’t usually fuck every random guy I meet,” he then confesses. “In fact, you were quite an exception,” he adds and a delicious blush spreads across his face.
Taylor suppresses the urge to hug him, then reconsiders and pulls Johnny down on top of himself. He runs his fingers through Johnny’s hair and catches his pouty lower lip between his teeth, sucking at it for a moment, then releases it and meets Johnny’s look.
“Was I?” he smirks and is quite shocked by the smug satisfaction he feels inside as he lets the new piece of information sink in.
“Yes,” Johnny whispers and Taylor is quite amazed, because he’s never seen anyone like him before, someone who could go from sensual to serious to bashful within seconds so naturally that you just knew the emotions had to be real.
“But now it’s my turn,” Johnny grins and the shyness is replaced by mischief. Like a chameleon.
“Who is she?” Johnny asks, genuinely curious, but Taylor doesn’t understand. “Your wife,” Johnny clarifies and cautiously fingers the ring Taylor is wearing.
He should have expected this. He takes a deep breath, then realizes he’s not sure what to say. Eventually, he starts at the beginning.
“We started dating when I was sixteen. She was sweet. Got married when I was eighteen, and my first kid was born five months later,” he says and waits for the reaction.
“You have a child?” Johnny gasps and eyes him with disbelief, as if children were something that didn’t exist in his world. Well, that’s probably the case to an extent, Taylor realizes.
“Actually, I’ve got three now. Two boys and a girl.”
The silence lasts a little longer now, then:
“Oh my god.” It’s a whisper and Johnny scrambles up to sit in the vee of Taylor’s legs. He studies his face for a while, searching for an indication that Taylor is just pulling his leg. “Wait, how old are you?” he inquires eventually, suspicion in his voice.
Taylor laughs. “Twenty four.”
“Wow. You’re a year older than me... and have a head start of three kids already.”
Taylor has to smile. He remembers it so well – he’d barely gotten used to being a father when Penelope was already on the way.
“Yeah. It was rather... quick,” he mumbles but Johnny doesn’t seem to be listening. His previous shock seems to have morphed into eagerness; he looks kinda like Ezra at the prospect of staying at Zac’s overnight. Zac always lets him stay up late and get as wild as he pleases in his games.
“Do you have pictures?” Johnny asks in a ridiculously hopeful tone.
Taylor hesitates for a moment. Sharing a few details about his life is one thing, showing photos of his children, however...
Johnny seems to sense his doubts.
“It’s just... I’d love to have kids of my own one day, but... it’s not something that’s gonna happen, I’m afraid. I’m usually not this nosy, you know. I just... get very excited about people like –” he hesitates, then seems to come to a decision and says: “-us having families.”
There’s something so real about Johnny and his excitement that Taylor finds it nearly impossible to resist. He gets up from the bed, digs out his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans, then sits down beside Johnny. He pulls out the photographs of his children he carries with him at all times and hands the small stack to Johnny.
“Oh my god,” Johnny says once again as soon as he lays his eyes on the first picture, a shot of Taylor with all three in his arms.
“This is Ezra, my oldest – he’s almost five,” Taylor points at Ezra’s head sticking out from behind his shoulder.
Johnny studies the picture for a moment, then glances back at Taylor.
“He has your nose and eyes,” he concludes.
“Everybody says so,” Taylor smiles. “I guess they’re right,” he shrugs, then points at Penny.
“Penelope. She’s two now. Let me find a more recent picture.” He takes the photographs from Johnny and shuffles through them until he finds the newest shot of his daughter – it’s only two weeks old.
“Aww,” Johnny coos. “What a precious little girl,” he continues, running the tip of his pinkie finger over Penny’s little cheek.
Taylor smiles, amused and also proud, because Penelope really is cute as a button. Then the oddness of the situation strikes him – he’s sitting here naked in bed with another man, a man he just fucked, showing him pictures of his children, and Johnny is swooning over them as if he was one of Natalie’s girl-friends. He shakes his head, entertained.
“I’d love to have a baby girl like her,” Johnny says and glances up from the picture to give Taylor an enchanted look. “I’d totally spoil her, though,” he giggles. “I’d dress her up like a doll. Did you know that Dior has a baby line? It’s to die for!” Johnny laughs and the expression on his face is one of a child who’s gone to his own dream-land.
“How do you manage not to spoil her?” he then asks.
“It’s hard,” Taylor admits, because to resist Penelope’s eyes one would need a heart of stone. “I spoil all of them, Natalie is the strict one.”
“Natalie,” Johnny repeats the name as if he wanted to taste it, as if it could tell him who she is and what she’s like.
“Yes. This,” Taylor pulls out another photo, “is Natalie. Their mother.” It’s a picture of her holding baby River, a radiant smile on her face.
Johnny studies the photo for a moment, tilting his head to the side in contemplation.
“She’s beautiful,” he says eventually, still looking at her.
Taylor hears the tinge of bitterness in his tone, sees the pout on his lips.
“Not as much as you.” The whispered words are out before he can think better of them or feel any guilt for letting his subconscious compare like that, but he immediately feels embarrassed. You’re not supposed to call men beautiful, he knows that much. God knows he hates it when people say that about him.
But Johnny looks up and blushes, apparently flattered.
“Thank you,” he says quietly and Taylor stares at him for several moments, wondering how he could ever have thought that being beautiful could be inappropriate for a man. Johnny’s beauty is so evident and natural, it takes Taylor’s breath away a little.
He finally tears his eyes away and clears his throat as he reaches for another photograph.
“Anyway,” he says and determinedly keeps his eyes on the face on the picture rather than the one right in front of him. “This is River, he’s only a year old.”
He hands over the picture of River splashing in the bathtub. He makes sure to keep his gaze down, too afraid that if he looked up, he’d find that smile in place again, the smile that seems to plant bubbles into his stomach. It makes Taylor worry. Sleeping with a sexy stranger is relatively low-risk, but here he is sharing the details of his life with Johnny and learning about his in return. What’s worse, he gets all flustered because of Johnny’s smile, not to mention that the more time he spends in his company, the more he wants this to continue. This will get nasty, Taylor fears as he shifts his look from the white sheets to Johnny’s tanned legs.
“He’s very cute. They all are.” He hears Johnny say and when he finally lifts his eyes, he finds him looking at him a little sadly. “You’re lucky,” Johnny adds and bites his lip. “You should go.”
It’s the most sensible thing to do and Taylor knows he should appreciate that Johnny understands and wants to prevent him from any further stupidities. But it still sets off a faint throb of disappointment inside him, disappointment that Johnny is asking him to leave... and never to come back.
What else did you expect? he asks himself bitterly.
He gets up from the bed and pulls his clothes back on, feeling oddly exposed under Johnny’s gaze; he’s watching him dress from where he’s still sitting on the bed, naked.
Then, as he bends down to put on his shoes, Johnny hops up.
“Let me call you a cab to take you to the train.”
“No, it’s al–“ Taylor starts, but Johnny shushes him, already dialing the number. He disappears into the adjacent room with the phone pressed to his ear. A minute later, he comes back in a silky bathrobe.
“It should be here in fifteen minutes,” he announces. “Want a drink in the meantime?”
Taylor nods – a drink might help numb the silly sensations inside his chest that are threatening to take over and make him do or say something embarrassing that he’s going to regret later. He follows Johnny to the living room and lets him mix him a quick drink.
They slurp their vodka-cocktails in silence – there’s nothing left to say – until a honk sounds from the outside.
Johnny looks up and gives Taylor a lopsided smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “There’s your ride,” he sets his glass down.
He leads Taylor to the door, but instead of opening it right away, he stops in front of it, suddenly a little reluctant.
Taylor reaches for the doorknob but freezes when Johnny whispers his name.
“Just... Call me sometime?” His voice quivers a little, but he meets Taylor’s eyes confidently, almost challengingly, as if to dare him to follow him on this path leading to... Taylor’s not sure where.
“I will,” Taylor says and wonders just how guilty he’ll feel about that promise once he gets home, back to his real life. He wonders if he’ll keep it at all, but right now – with Johnny standing in front of him, dressed in nothing but a thin piece of silk – he finds it hard to even think about giving any other answer.
“Okay,” Johnny smiles, the previous guilt and broodiness washed away. This time, his eyes smile along.
“Okay,” Taylor echoes and once again moves to open the door, but Johnny catches his hand, then steps forward and stands on his toe-tips to kiss Taylor one last time.
Another impatient car-honk and Johnny drops back on his heels – too soon, too quickly for Taylor’s liking. Johnny swings the door open for him. The little wave and wink he gives him when he stops and turns on the stairs for a final glance nearly makes Taylor trip.
When, twenty minutes later, he’s sitting on the train carrying him back towards New York City, Taylor wonders how long he’ll withstand the urge to call Johnny again. And how much longer he’ll be able to keep persuading himself that it’s nothing – he suspects that nothing shouldn’t make him feel this light-headed. But maybe it’s just the vodka.
Pozn. autorky: Rudy = Rudy Galindo