Fan Fiction - Hanson, Krasobruslení - This Glassy Surface
'Til I know for sure, I'll be right here waiting for something more
~Hanson – Blue Sky
Taylor feels stupid. As he pulls into the parking lot in front of the Ice Vault arena, he repeatedly shakes his head in disbelief. What are you doing? he asks himself for the millionth time. But he knows. All he needs to do is recall the hurt anger on Johnny’s face and he remembers why he’s here. He can’t leave it at that, can’t not care, because deep inside he knows that it’s his fault. It wouldn’t have hurt him to smile, to nod ever so lightly, to acknowledge with an inconspicuous gesture the time they spent together and the fact that it was enjoyable on all levels.
It feels as if he had two people inside himself and both were plagued with guilt. There is the Taylor who feels guilty about the affair – or no, it wasn’t an affair, was it? – with Johnny. That guilt stopped him from picking up the phone and calling Johnny in the past two weeks, it made him look away from Johnny’s face on Sunday as if he was something Taylor wanted to erase from his mind for good. But the other part of him also suffered with every day that passed without the promised call. After Sunday, that part became impossible to ignore – Taylor felt awful because he didn’t mean to hurt Johnny like that, because it was hypocrisy and cowardice to just sit there and pretend that nothing had ever happened, that he didn’t even know Johnny. It wasn’t fair; Johnny didn’t deserve to be treated like... a dirty secret. Which is why Taylor is here now, in Wayne, New Jersey, feeling like a fool.
He had tried to call Johnny every day since Sunday, but his calls went unanswered. Well, what else could he have expected? It was only natural; he’d been an ass. He wants to apologize, though, try to explain how he feels... And, Taylor has to admit, he wants to know who the guy is, the skinny redhead who held Johnny’s hand so possessively. It’s mere curiosity that makes him want to find out, nothing else.
Eventually, he had given up calling and went online one night to type in Johnny’s name. He’d wanted to find out where he trains, but in the end he spent an hour reading about Johnny’s favorite drinks and foods and music – his taste in the latter made Taylor cringe. He did learn the location of Johnny’s rink, though, even checked the Ice Vault’s schedule...
Taylor isn’t sure at what times exactly Johnny trains, the website didn’t reveal that level of detail. He remembers Johnny talking about a morning and an evening session, though. He leaves hi scar in the parking lot and hopes he’ll be lucky... hopefully Johnny will show up at some point today.
He strolls into the building and glances around uncertainly. It’s a little as if he stepped into another world – one in which kids not much older than Ezra have coaches and are so much more serious... But then a duo of young girls rushes past him, giggling, and he realizes that they are normal kids, after all, at least when they’re not getting a lecture on how they need to work harder on their... loops? At least he thinks that’s what he heard.
There is a rink right in front of him, visible through a wall of glass panels, and probably another one at the end of the hallway to his left if the signs on the walls can be trusted.
Taylor peers through the glass panes, but there seems to be ice hockey practice at rink 1, so he sets off through the hallway towards the other ice surface. He arrives to a vestibule with a skate rental counter and a door leading to the rink. He stops in front of the door and looks through the small window in its middle.
Lucky, he smiles. Johnny is out on the ice, practicing.
Taylor leans against the massive door and begins to open it when a voice from behind his back stops him.
He turns his head and stares at the woman coming towards him in energetic strides.
“Where do you think you’re going? That’s private ice time. Public skating starts at eight.”
Taylor smiles and explains:
“I didn’t come for public skating. I just want to watch Johnny practice,” he says in belief that that should resolve the situation.
But the woman frowns and eyes him suspiciously:
“Like I said – private session. We don’t allow fans in.”
Taylor’s mouth drops open.
“Excuse me?” he blinks, then, once the initial shock at being taken for a fan wears off, he begins to clarify: “No, I’m not Johnny’s fan. We’re friends. I just came to see him and – “
The woman opens her mouth to argue some more, but Taylor doesn’t let her.
“Look, I’m going out of town in three days and I wanted to drop by, take Johnny out for coffee or something, hang out... I’m not some crazy stalker fan,” he laughs and gives the woman his kindest smile.
She takes a moment to consider him, then shrugs hesitantly.
“Don’t disturb the practice. Galina doesn’t allow distractions.”
Taylor has no idea who Galina is, but he gives the lady one more beaming smile:
“Of course,” he says and pushes the door open.
The cold air breathes onto him as he enters the rink and he wraps his light jacket tighter around himself. He scans the ice and spots Johnny in the far corner, his back towards Taylor, listening to a woman in a thick black winter jacket. His coach, apparently.
Taylor shuffles from foot to foot for a moment, unsure of how to proceed – he considers calling out to Johnny, but remembers what the lady in the vestibule said and, after a quick glance around, he makes his way into the stands. He sits down in a row not too close to the ice – it’s a little less chilly up there. Taylor shakes his head at Johnny’s single shirt with pushed up sleeves.
Johnny’s coach finishes her talk and moves to the side, then steps off the ice, whereas Johnny skates off and quickly picks up speed. He circles the ice surface in long, smooth glides. Taylor considers waving, but ditches the idea – Johnny probably wouldn’t even notice him. A moment later, loud music fills the rink – a fast-paced, strong pump of techno. Taylor recognizes the tune from the irritating diamond commercials on the radio. He begins to wonder why Johnny would choose to skate to that, but loses the track of thought when Johnny skates past him once again and then, at the closer end of the ice, throws himself into a frighteningly high jump. Taylor’s breath catches in his throat for a split second, but Johnny lands confidently. He immediately sets his free leg down and continues, speeding towards the opposite end of the rink to repeat the jump.
He does it seven times, then – at the eighth attempt in the corner closer to Taylor’s seat – he loses his footing on the landing and falls down.
Taylor had seen skaters fall in the Champions on Ice show he went to, but those falls looked different – light and harmless, and the skaters always popped right back up. Johnny’s fall, however, looks hard in Taylor’s eyes, bone-crushingly hard.
When Johnny’s still lying on the ice a few seconds later, Taylor begins to worry. Isn’t anyone going to help him? What if he broke something?
The music stops. In the sudden silence, Taylor gets up on his feet to get a better view. He’s about to call out to ask if Johnny’s alright, when:
“What are you doing here?”
Johnny’s coach is standing by the boards and looking right up at him.
“I – “ Taylor begins, taken aback. He glances back towards the ice to see Johnny lift his head and slowly stand up. He looks right at him, but Taylor can’t read his expression – it’s surprised, sure, but guarded. As if he was made of the ice he skates on.
“Answer me,” comes with a heavy accent and Taylor snaps back to the coach who’s mustering him with an ominous glare.
He opens his mouth, fishing for words, but Johnny comes to his rescue.
“It’s alright, Galina. He’s a friend,” he says and pulls his face into a smile – Taylor can tell that the smile is not genuine, that it’s an act. He knows that type of smile all too well, he’s mastered it himself.
“Yes?” Johnny’s coach turns around with an inquiring look. “Ty uveren?”
“Da,” Johnny replies, then skates to the boards. “Wait for me, Taylor. I’ll be done in twenty minutes,” he says, then turns his full attention back to his coach who starts speaking in a language Taylor can’t quite distinguish.
He spends the rest of the time sitting as still as possible. He watches Johnny spin and turn, then be reprimanded when his coach catches him as he steals a look in Taylor’s direction during a complicated looking row of moves. It warms Taylor from the inside a little, the fact that Johnny obviously still feels tempted to look at him, despite everything. He doesn’t quite understand how Johnny can put up with the coaching – this woman ruthlessly makes him work until the end, even though it’s obvious that he’s getting exhausted. The practice is so unlike his previous two experiences with figure skating: it’s hard work and sweat and – looking at those falls – probably quite a bit of pain.
He must want this really bad, Taylor realizes as he watches Johnny repeat the same spin for the fifth time. He sees no significant difference, has no idea why Johnny’s coach makes him do it over and over before she’s satisfied with the result.
Finally, she releases Johnny and he bows to her with a smile before she leaves. He skates a few easy laps to cool down. After that, he finally steps off the ice not far from where Taylor is sitting. Taylor gets up from his seat, glad that it’s over – his butt has nearly turned into an icicle by now. He jogs down the few stairs while Johnny puts rubber protectors onto his blades and gulps down some water.
Taylor comes to a halt in front of him and notices that Johnny is almost as tall as he is now, with skates on. He looks different, too... it seems as if those boots and blades gave him an additional boost of strength and confidence. It’s sexy, Taylor catches himself thinking while he drinks in the lean athletic lines of Johnny’s figure.
Johnny speaks up before Taylor can even open his mouth:
“I need to go change. You can wait outside,” he announces flatly and Taylor is so taken aback by the steely firmness of his tone that he merely nods, speechless.
Johnny strides off in the other direction and disappears in a door that – Taylor assumes – leads to the locker rooms. Taylor stands there dumbstruck for another second, then – as the zamboni comes onto the ice and startles him out of his stupor – he turns on his heel and leaves the rink.
He spends about fifteen minutes shivering in the crisp September air before there’s a tap on his shoulder. He turns around to find Johnny in front of him, back to his normal skateless height.
“Hi,” he says and chances a little smile.
“Galina thought you were a stalker,” Johnny informs him casually and starts to walk towards the parking lot. “You’re lucky she didn’t call the security on you. They’re real thugs, hockey-player type gorillas,” he continues solemnly, but Taylor can see the tug of a smile on his lips. “How did you find me, anyway?” Johnny asks.
“Internet,” Taylor shrugs and watches Johnny’s mouth form a wordless Oh. “I came because... I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry? For what? For sleeping with me?” Johnny says in a voice that is a notch higher than usual; Taylor can hear the defensive edge in it, the hurt.
“I-no,” he blurts quickly. “No,” he then repeats, more softly this time, and reaches for Johnny’s shoulder. “I’m sorry about the way I acted on Sunday,” he says when Johnny turns to face him. The green eyes fix on him, searching, and he can see them soften a little, the mask of indifference slip.
“Well, there wasn’t much that you could have done, was there?” Johnny concludes slowly. “Unless you wanted to explain to your wife...” he purses his lips.
They arrive at Johnny’s car; Taylor is quite impressed that he drives a Lexus. Then he realizes that if he lets Johnny get into that car and drive away now, this trip and freezing his butt off will have been for nothing, because things will probably be over for good. And, despite the guilt and despite all rational thought, despite the lists of reasons that he assembled in the past few nights when he couldn’t sleep about why he should just forget Johnny... Taylor decides he doesn’t want this to end. Not like this, not now.
“Johnny,” he says quietly and catches Johnny’s hand when he’s already reaching for the car door. Johnny looks up, puzzled, but not entirely annoyed. It gives Taylor some courage.
“I know I have a commitment. I love my children and I really shouldn’t... but I can’t... god,” he shakes his head and runs a nervous hand through his hair. It feels almost as if he was back to age 14 – a little insecure and shy, a little teenage-awkward. He briefly wonders just when and how this happened, since when did his one-night-stands make him flustered and incapable of stringing two intelligent sentences together. But he’s more than a one-night-stand and you know it.
“I’ve been thinking about you all this time and I would like to see you every once in a while. Even if we can’t...” he begins, but can’t bring himself to finish this sentence. Instead, he clears his throat and admits at least one simple truth: “I like your company. You’re so fun and full of life and you make me feel alive and it’s amazing.”
Johnny watches him skeptically from under those long lashes, then a gentle smile crawls onto his face.
“There’s a bookstore five minutes from here. They have Starbucks. Let’s go get some caffeine.”
This time, the smile is genuine, it reaches all the way to Johnny’s eyes and makes Taylor think of forbidden things, like what it would be like to see this smile first thing in the morning.
He almost leans forward to press a kiss onto that smile, but he remembers the redhead from the restaurant and stops himself just in time.
“I’ll get my car and follow you,” he says hastily and nearly trips over his feet as he turns around and walks off towards his car.
A few minutes later, a couple miles further, with a whole lot more hopeful thoughts in his head, he meets Johnny at yet another parking lot. He pays for Johnny’s mocha – it’s my turn, you invited me the last time, all that time ago – and they stroll through the Barnes&Noble store for a while before they settle down on a couch near the travel guide section. Johnny leafs through a few books about Yokohama.
“I’m going to Japan in two days,” he explains as if a trip to Japan was a completely normal occurrence, nothing out of the ordinary.
“You say it as if it was nothing special,” Taylor comments, amused.
“I travel a lot,” Johnny shrugs. “Competitions and such. It’s fun, but a little tiresome.”
“Yeah, I know,” Taylor agrees and – at Johnny’s lifted eyebrow – explains: “I’ve been touring the world since I was fourteen. It does wear you out a bit, yeah,” he nods, “but I don’t complain. It’s an opportunity to get the music out there. And to see how excited those people are about it, all around the world... it’s amazing,” he smiles, absentminded for a second in remembrance of the energy and satisfaction he draws from every concert.
“Your eyes are shiny,” Johnny whispers, then bites his lip when he realizes he said it out loud. He blushes and Taylor wants to reach out and stroke his cheek so much; he has to sit on his hands to stop himself.
“Hey, let me get you a book,” Johnny hastily changes the topic and hops up, disappearing between the shelves. Taylor shakes his head in an attempt to clear it a little, then gets up and follows Johnny.
It’s already dark outside when they leave the bookstore. They’ve discussed books and places they’ve been to and places they want to go – all harmless, innocent topics. Their time together would pass for friendly and nothing more... if Taylor hadn’t felt the constant urge to tuck a lock of hair behind Johnny’s ear, to scoot closer to him and place a casual hand on his thigh, or to kiss the smile on his face. It made Taylor ache inside, to be so close... and yet so far away.
When they arrive at Johnny’s car, Taylor forces one more friendly smile onto his face. “Thanks for the book,” he says and lifts the bag with a hardcover copy of Eugene Onegin.
“You’re welcome,” Johnny shrugs. “Read it,” he requests.
“I will,” Taylor promises. He notices the grimace Johnny makes – involuntarily, it seems, because he wipes it off his face almost instantly – and remembers the other promise he made and never kept. He feels guilt stir in his gut.
“So, um... Have a good time in Japan,” he says past the knot in his throat.
Johnny is leaning against the door of his car, hands tucked behind his back, head tilted back a fragment so he can look up at Taylor. Taylor can’t help but stare at the curve of his neck.
“Japan is always fun. The stores are full of clothes for little people like me,” Johnny winks and laughs – it makes his throat flex a little. Taylor wishes he could press his lips against his neck and feel the sound vibrate through it. He joins in on the laughter, but it lacks the cheerful lightness he felt on the other occasions when Johnny made him laugh. It feels as if something was missing. As if they were both waiting... for something more.
“Are you going with your boyfriend?” he finally poses the question that has been nagging on his mind.
“My boyfriend?” Johnny asks, looking puzzled.
“The guy from Sunday,” Taylor specifies and bows his head, so Johnny doesn’t see the embarrassed blush on his face.
“... Paris?” Johnny reacts and Taylor’s head snaps back up.
“But – “
“Paris isn’t my boyfriend,” Johnny answers the question Taylor didn’t even ask. He’s studying his feet and Taylor wonders if he’s blushing again. “We’re friends.”
“Do you hold hands like that with all your friends?” Taylor asks, suspicious, and doesn’t even care that his tone has grown irritated all of a sudden.
Johnny curls his lips into a smug smirk.
“No,” he says.
“Then why did you...” Taylor shakes his head, failing to understand...
“I was trying to make you jealous,” Johnny announces and sticks his chin forward.
Taylor stares at him for a second, at the defiance and pride and dare in those eyes.
“It worked,” he whispers eventually, more to himself than to Johnny. But Johnny hears him – Taylor can tell by the satisfied expression that spreads across his face.
He steps forward, his heart kicking into an upbeat rhythm, and closes the distance between them. He pushes Johnny up against the car and nearly moans at how good it feels to finally be able to touch. He captures Johnny’s lips in a not-quite-soft kiss and god, it makes his head spin, the way they open for him as if Johnny’s been waiting for this all those weeks, too. He angles his head invitingly as if he was asking for more – more of Taylor, his kisses and touches – and locks his hands around Taylor’s neck, threads his fingers into his hair. There’s strength in the grip, one that makes Taylor feel like he’s being owned, claimed. He’s never experienced this type of sensation before and he never would have thought it such a sweet allure.
“Don’t ever do that again,” Taylor breathes against Johnny’s cheek once they tear apart. “Please,” he adds, because he realizes he’s in no position to make demands of this kind, not with a wedding ring on his finger.
He feels Johnny smile against his cheek and he can’t help but return the smile.
“I gotta go,” Johnny utters and he sounds more than a little disappointed. He doesn’t move away, though, and lets Taylor hold him for a little longer before gently pushing him back.
“Morning practice,” he shrugs apologetically and unlocks his car.
“Call me when you get back from Japan?” Taylor asks and watches Johnny nod. He hopes Johnny is better at keeping promises than he has been. “I’ll be on tour, but I’d still like to talk to you,” he smiles. “If you want,” he adds, because he’s not sure if what he’d like is a factor at all.
“I do,” Johnny says and stands on his toes for a brief kiss. Then he opens the door of his car and tosses his handbag onto the passenger seat.
“Be safe,” Taylor takes a step back to get out of the way as Johnny starts the engine. He licks at his bottom lip to call back the sensations Johnny’s kisses have left him with – it’s something he doesn’t know how he’ll ever get out of his head, those kisses... and the craving for more.
Johnny waves at him from behind the steering wheel and drives away. Taylor watches his tail-lights disappear towards the highway, then gets into his own car and heads back towards the City.
It scares him a little, the way he feels about Johnny, but – at the same time – it floods him with excitement and inspiration, which is something he’s been missing for quite a while. Unlike most of his life – aside from his children and his music – being with Johnny doesn’t leave him empty, spent, dry.
Pozn. autorky: * Johnny's favorite music includes Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Black Eyes Peas. No wonder it makes Taylor cringe. ;)
* Galina = Galina Zmievskaya, Johnny's new coach.
* Ty uveren? = Are you sure?, Da. = Yes.