Their coach snapped her fingers, getting the attention of the skater. They were watching the pair that was currently practicing, watching how well they worked together. Stuck in a state of being mesmerized. They barely even processed much.
“Do you think I could pair skate one day?” The young skater looked at the other, putting their coach on the spot. “Lillian? Do you think I could pair skate.”
“Anything is possible.” She smiled half heartedly. “But I do think your personality would clash a lot. You’d need to find a partner who can handle that and who doesn’t already have a partner.”
She held her hands out for Asras skate guards. When they handed them off Lillian smiled again. Before Lillian could say anything, Asra was speaking first.
“Focus on this season,regionals are in 5 months and if I work hard I could place and then I can compete in the national championships and then go to the olympics. I know.”
“Look I don’t want to make it seem like you have to be on this one track and you can ever dream of changing it.” Lillian started. “But that pair, they have been training and skating together since they were 7. It’s a special bond you have to grow with someone to successfully be a pair skater.”
Asra glanced at the pair that was practicing a lift. Partly when they were watching, they saw Lillian back her prime. Not that Lillian was that old. She was 26.
“Let’s just focus on getting you to the national championships then we can discuss pair skating.”
They just huffed a little before pushing off from the side, they were already warmed up. Right now this was their first time practicing their short program on the ice. Lillian, Asras' coach, crossed her arms as she was watching. She didn’t call out anything this time, she knew the first time practicing a program was always a little hard. The last thing Asra needed was for Lillian to call out for their form to be tighter while they’re trying to focus on just remembering the choreography. She took her attention off Asra for a second while another coach came to stand beside her. Holding a coffee cup to her.
“Thank you.” She took it from him and looked at the order written in white marker. “You got it wrong.”
“Did I? No I swear I didn’t. You texted me the order.”
“You would think after six years you would catch on to when I’m messing you.” She laughed a little when he kissed her cheek.
“Sometimes I can’t tell when you’re joking. Four years of dating and two years of marriage and I still can’t tell.”
“Well Willam, maybe one day you’ll learn.” She looked back at the ice, watching Asra make a move wrong. She didn’t critique Because they still had five months before regionals. She looked over at the pair that was laughing together after the boy had fallen. “You know I would think you wanted to watch your pair skate.”
“They just got back from japan. They’re getting back to the groove of things.” Will shrugged a little. “Two years in japan. I wonder if Asra still recognizes Jasper.”
“I don’t think so. Asra talked about how busy Jasper was and they texted and they called. But you know, Jasper was being worked to the bone. She barely had time to call me. Asra was watching them like they had never seen the pair before.”
“They’re so much different than when they left. Both are taller, some of the tallest skaters in this club. James looks completely different.”
Lillian nodded a bit. “He finally cut his hair.”
“And Jasper grew hers out.”
“They aged well together.” Lillian hummed and looked over at Asra. “Asra! Your arms are loose, keep them tight during your spins please!”
“Remember when we were young skaters?” Will asked as he called out to his own skaters. “Hey you two! No one wants to see cute programs. You're 18 now! I want you to start on your short program and try to take my notes into consideration.”
“I don’t miss being yelled at by my coach.”
“Our coach.” Lillian corrected and patted his chest.
“Of course our coach.”
“James don't let her fall okay! You dropped her earlier, Jasper be sure to keep your form tight okay. Be like-“
“A feather! I know!” One half of the pair waved off at Will.
Asra stilled their movements entirely, watching the pair again while they were skating past them to build up momentum. They watched in disbelief, they knew what James and Jasper looked like. Social media was helpful for that. But for some reason it didn’t process that this pair was those two. The pair had gotten in from the airport a day ago and were already practicing. Jasper did text a lot, and even told them they were finally coming back. Asra was just waiting for Jasper to tell exactly when they’d see each other again. The only reason Jasper didn’t stop to talk to Asra was because Will could be a bit of a hard ass about practice. They watched as James lifted Jasper over his head like it was nothing, and of course they were perfect. Training together for eleven years would make you perfectly in sync. They were almost perfect, they placed fourth place at the last national championship. They trained in japan with Will and a team of coaches to improve all their skills. Now they were terrifyingly perfect, like they were the pair to watch this season.
“Good, good. But I want it to be quicker, start on the opening of your long program and you can call it a day. But first, Jasper, say hi to Asra. It's rude that you haven’t.”
Will smiled a bit and watched Jasper turn around. She got the go ahead so they just smiled big at Asra, Asra looked like they were about to start crying. They skated towards Jasper, doing their best not to knock her over. Knowing that none of the skaters could risk injury.
“I’m back.” Jasper hugged back and laughed a bit.
Asra pulled away after a few seconds and held Jaspers face in their hands.
“Your hair is pink.”
“It is.” Jasper laughed a bit, keeping their smile big. It was so nice to actually see their best friend in person after so long.
“Is it a wig.”
“No actually it’s my hair.”
“It’s so long.” Asra touched her hair, knowing they were allowed to. Feeling the curls gently. “You look so good. You're so tall!”
“I’ve always been taller than you.”
“Yeah, when I was 5’0 and you were 5’6. Now you're what like 6’0? You do not look tall in pictures.”
“Yeah I’m 6’0. You didn’t grow at all.”
“Well If I grew they couldn’t call me the little monster anymore.” Asra jokes. “Short purely out of spite.”
“And your hair is shorter.”
“Eh. My mom finally let me cut off most of the length. But I had to keep some so I could do my hair for competitions.”
“Speaking of which, I never got to congratulate you. You made it to the podium at last year's sectional.”
Asra smiled a bit then looked down. “But then I popped my jump during my short program at nationals.”
“Pfft. We’re only 18. We still have many more nationals to go.” Jasper smiled at them. “Besides. You made it on the podium, that's a big deal. Second place at sectionals.”
“Almost first but I didn’t get a full rotation with my triple toe loop.”
“But Lillian told me you’ve been practicing your toe loop since the nationals. Show me.”
“What right now?”
“Yes right now. I wanna see.” Jasper pushes back from Asra a little bit. James stopped her from going back farther by placing his hands on her shoulder.
“I’m not warmed up for that”
“Hm. Well I heard your triple toe loop has been the most consistent jump at every practice.”
Jasper was egging them on, she knew it would work. Asra sighed and pushed off. Starting to work on their momentum for the jump. They tried to land on the first try but they did pop the jump. They weren’t scared of it, they knew if they fell they would be fine. It was the feeling they had, they knew they weren’t going to get all their rotation when they tried. So they did it again, but they only got two rotations. Not the three they were hoping for.
“Asra breath okay, you know you can do it. It’s been consistent for over a month. You know you have the ability to do it okay. Don’t listen to your feelings, you know you have to have a skill set to execute the jump.”
Asra nodded at Lillians words. They took a second to breath, after popping the jump and losing first place. They were overly hard in themselves. But they started again, when they actually jumped they forced themselves to follow through the jump. They heard clapping from James and Jasper.
“That was amazing, your form was perfect.”
“And the amount of air you got?” James held up his hand for a high-five from Asra. “That was crazy.”
“Well they don’t call them a little monster for nothing.” Jasper smiled. “All of their jumps are high and all of their spins are crazy fast. Pretty sure they still hold the title for fast skater in this club.”
“You know I do.” Asra smiled happily.
“I hate to cut the reunion short, but Jasper and James the intro to your long program please. Then you're free for the day.”
“No rest for the wicked.” James winked at Asra before grabbing a hold of Jaspers hand and skating backwards away from them.
“Asra, start on your short again. And arms tight, loose arms means you-“
“Won’t be as fast. Yeah I know.” Asra rolled their eyes a bit before starting up on their program again.
While they kept practicing for another six hours, they watched James and Jasper leave half way through. Will worked them hard, they were there before Asra was. Asra showed up for the second session, not the first. But they had heard rumours of their crazy training schedule. And if those were true, it meant that James and Jasper were up at four thirty am for a run, then they were in the gym and they got on the ice but only after doing laps around the rink. Asra also heard they do at least 4 hours at the gym and then another 5 in the dance studio. Their training days were 14 hours long. Asra wondered how they kept up with everything, but again those two were the skaters everyone were scared of. Those two weren’t playing around for this upcoming season. They had even seen Jasper post on their Instagram about getting ready to go to the nationals to get that gold medal and nothing would stop them. Asras' work days were only 10 hours. That was still a lot but that also included two hours for studying in the middle of their training most days. Asra wasn’t playing around either, they wanted that single skater national gold metal.
But they also wanted to pair skate, it was always a dream of theirs. Their parents stood in the way of that, saying they needed to focus on getting themselves the gold medals. They’re parents paid for everything, so what their parents wanted. Their parents got.
The next morning sitting at one of the tables near the snack bar, Asra was on their phone while they were waiting for Lillian to get there. Usually she wasn’t late, but it was a Friday.
“Hey.” Jasper smiles as she sits down across from them. Dropping her worn in skates on the chair next to her. Asra always looked at people’s guards. One of jasper‘s guards was gold and the other was purple.
“Oh hey.” Asra pocketed their phone. “Where’s your other half?”
“James? Who knows. He said he was here, probably catching up with the boys. Two years away and everything has changed but also stayed the same if that makes sense.”
“It does.” They paused before they continued, waving over at a girl with short brown hair. The girl nodded at the boys she was with. Saying something to him before she skipped over to the tables. “Hey.”
“Hello.” She smiled. “Can I ask why I was called over?” The girl sat beside Asra across from Jasper.
“Jenn, this is my best friend Jasper. She just got back from japan with her partner James.”
Jenn looked like the light left her eyes, she was taken aback like she just met someone famous. She laughed nervously before smiling a bit.
“Like j&j. The j&j?” Jenn asked Asra.
Asra has a stupid grin on their face and nodded. “Yep the j&j.”
“Oh my god your long program last year was mind blowing. The amount of jumps you two had and you didn’t get tired. Your artistic score in my opinion should have been way higher. Is it true that James can throw you seven feet with no issue? Is also true you guys have 72 hour training weeks. What was like being at nationals? Oh my god. Is it also true that you can lift James?”
“Whoa.” Jasper laughed a little. “Okay, well thank you. I really liked our long program, not my favorite but it was good. James can throw me but only 4 feet and I prefer if he didn’t because it scared me. Yes it’s mostly true but usually it’s only 70. I can but I don’t usually because he’s too busy lifting me.”
“It’s Jenns first year competing with her partner.” Asra explained.
“Who’s your partner?”
“Sean.” Jenn smiled. “He’s about the same height as me and he has dark curly hair. Crazy talented.”
“If you guys are competing I would hope so. How long have you been training together?”
“Uh 4 years.”
“That’s a long time.” Jasper smiled. “Where is he?”
“Oh warming up. He pops his salchows so he’s working with our coach to work on that.”
“Oh who’s your coach?”
Jenn smiled. “Oh his name is Jason green. He’s really nice, he's a new coach, just moved into town.”
“He sounds wonderful, there's a lot of people I have to meet huh.” Jasper shrugged a little and leaned back in the seat to get out their phone to add Jarell into their long list.
“Oh I have to go.” Jenn got up, seeing Jason waving for her to come traine.
“Nice meeting you delia.” Jasper modded a bit, she looked at Asra. “What?”
“Your hair is black.” They almost forgot how much this girl changed her hair. It was like every time that they blinked she had a new hairstyle and colour.
“Because I felt like it.” Jasper shook her head before she got up from the table.
“Where are you going?” Asra got up as well.
Both were dressed in their training clothes, basically leg held and t shirts, but Jasper looked at some of the younger skaters. They were dressed in leotards and they looked nice. Jasper has a tendency to get sidetracked easily.
“Do moms know that they don't have to dress their kids up like this for training. That’s too much.” Stopping in her tracks. “Most of those kids are junior single skaters. I would get it if they were in the grip ice dancing. But they’re just singles in training.”
“Probably not. Skating moms are always so intense, what are you doing?”
“Getting food I told you I was hungry.” Jasper looked at Asra like they were acting weird. “I’m back for three days and you act like me eating is weird.”
“No you're buying junk food.” Asra watched Jasper hand over a crumpled five dollar bill. Clearly taken from the bottom of their bag. “I mean I know that like we have a bit of grey area but I thought Will had you on a strict diet.”
“He does.” Jasper nodded as they took the pizza and went to sit at the table again.
Asra didn’t want to get in trouble if they were caught with Jasper breaking their diet with Will. But then again, they didn’t know the very intricate details of their training.
“Wait Will is coming.” They were whispering as if they were trying to warn her.
“Oh no.” Jasper said it in monotone. “It’ll be fine.”
“Jasper, Asra.” Will nodded a bit. “Where is James?”
“I think down in the boys locker room.” She pointed down to where the locker rooms were. She had seen James hug a tall dark skinned boy before he headed the other way with him.
“Okay. I want to be on the ice in ten minutes okay? I would say now, but you're eating.”
“Will do.” Jasper saluted Will before he walked away. “James is in trouble.”
“How do you know?”
“He’s weirdly calm, I think it’s because James didn’t go on his run this morning. He was asleep.”
“Speaking of James.” Asra started.
“No I’m not dating him.” She explained. “You know that pairs aren’t supposed to date their partners.”
“Also no I haven’t slept with him.”
“That’s not what I was going to ask.” Asra crosses their arms. “Do you guys live together?”
“Oh.” Jasper laughed and nodded. “Yeah, we live in Lillian and wills house.”
“Jasper, Ice now!”
“For fuck sakes. that was quick.”Jasper got up and grabbed their skates from the chair next to them.
“Will is yelling. He’s mad. I kinda wanna know what James said to puss him off so fast.” She gave Asra a half hug before going to leave. “I’ll catch up with you later.”
Asra nodded, throwing the pizza out for Jasper. They looked around for Lillian again. No sign of her, so Asra got up and went to check the parking lot for her car. Since Larissa and will probably came here together, she shouldn't be that far behind. Glancing out the window, she saw the car but no Lillian. Heading to the changing room, Asra grabbed their skates from out of their bag.
“Hey Asra.” Will waved them over. “Lillian woke up this morning with a lot of pain.”
“Is she okay? Is it her hip again?”
“She’s fine, it is her hip but you know how she is. She couldn’t get up today, so she’s at home with our neighbor. But she wants me to overlook your training for today okay?”
“She’s okay, right? She doesn’t need surgery again?”
“No, just a rough day.” He put a hand on Asra's shoulder. “She says you know what training to do, she just wants me to watch and make sure you're good.”
“If you want James and Jasper are about to start their warm up laps on the ice. You can join them then start on your short program again. Lillian says you know the choreography.”
“I do, I’ll do the laps then do my short.”
Will nodded and watched Asra head out into the ice. They did the laps with the pair before the group broke off into their own thing. Asra tried to focus but they kept thinking about Lillian. Asra was still a kid when it happened, they were at the very competition that ended Lillian's career as a skater. It was an accident they knew Will probably didn’t mean to. Of course he didn't. At that point Lillian was his serious girlfriend. He would never have dropped her on purpose. Before the competition Lillian already had a hip injury she was told she could skate on it. She thought the performance was going to go just fine, but from the beginning of the lift Wills grip on her was off. Not by much but it was obvious to Lillian. She even tried to tell him to put her down before he was supposed to but he didn’t hear her, and she fell. He didn’t react fast enough and she made contact with the ice. Since then she was told she couldn’t skate again, she was in physical therapy for months after the surgery. And she hung up her skates as a professional skater and passed her test to become a coach. Asra always looked up to her.
“Asra you have to stay focused.”
“Sorry!” Asra shook their head before going to Practice their jumps.
Will also hung up his skates as professional skater, he felt guilty for ending his girlfriend career. He also took this test to become a coach. Because they were so young when they became coaches they took on the kids at the rink that couldn’t afford a experienced
Coach. But now Will was coaching an amazing pair and built a reputation for his name. Lillian coached Asra and another skater named Charlie. Asra formed a good bond with Lillian, and when Lillian wasn’t at training for competitions it always messed with their head. Lillian missed one competition when Asra was younger and Asra popped all their jumps, or they fell out of rotations. That was the worst competition they had ever attended. They didn’t realize how much they were stuck in their head until they ran right into James while he skated to his routine.
“Oh fuck I’m sorry.” Asra pushed off him. Careful not to accidentally slice any of his fingers.
“It’s okay.” He groaned and held his head. “That's going to leave a mark.”
“Are you okay?”
Asra was concerned and worried, the last thing they wanted was to be responsible for someone else’s injury. They looked at James’s face and he had a stupid grin.
Asra was wondering what he was laughing at and they realized they were still over him. They moved away as quickly as possible.
“Are you guys good?”
Will was watching it go down. He was waiting for Asra or James to answer him. He needed to know if James had to get checked out. Even if the skater said he was fine his coach was going to take precautions.
“Yeah I’m fine.” He got up with the help of Jasper.
“Can you stop hitting on people?” Jasper pushed him. “Leave Asra alone.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
After James said it, Jasper narrowed their eyes. He had a stupid smile on his face. He clearly thought Asra was cute. He is also known for flirting with people at rinks he trained at. Jasper took her hand and hit the boy upside the head.
“Asra is off limits.”
“Woah woah. You can’t say that Asra is their own person, if they want me to talk to them I will.”
He was about to outwardly say that he wanted to flirt with Asra. Before they left for japan James never really talked to Asra. They were Jasper best friend and he just wasn’t as confident as he is now. He was so closed off before he left to traine abroad.
“I guess I’m not allowed to talk to you.” James smiled at Asra.
The way he smiled at them made them inhale a little bit. James got taller and hotter while he was gone and he knew it. And he knew the effect he had on people.
He waved at Asra before skating over to Will to get checked out since he did hit his head.
“Please don’t date my partner.” Jasper begged a little. Watching Asras gaze follow James.