“You should be a model.” A grin spreads across Drake's face. He takes his skating partner's hand in his, assuming the starting position. Their fingers tangle together in a way that can only happen during practices and performances. His hand slips around her back, mimicking the start of a tango, el paseo. He’s held women before, but the bond he has with her asks more of him. In other affairs, he was able to escape but this one is different. He wondered while performing if they were just that, performing, or if something else was happening.
Aelina smiles back at him, there is playfulness in her eyes. “Drake, compliments won’t keep me from splitting my skull on the ice”, with this statement her small hands squeeze his. Their backs are straight and a distance is maintained between them. Aelina stares into his eyes. They are dark, heavy with focus, and a hint of something else.
The music starts and their feet begin to glide across the ice. There is a swell of violins from the speakers that guide their movements. He slides her out, interlocking his hands with her. There is grace and force behind this action as they are moving at speeds increasing thirty-five kilometers per hour.
He has a firm and guiding hand on her waist. As he does this, he can feel a small spark fight his focus. He was going to have to throw her in the air in a few short seconds. If his mind lingered in his draw to her anymore, it may lead to cracked ice and a bloody skull.
“Drake, keep your eyes on your area!” The coach scolds loudly. As he’s brought out of his warm haze, he can feel a sobering cool illuminate from the ice.
Aelina can feel anxiety creep into her body despite having done this before. He guides her into facing him. Aelina situates herself looking down as Drake is looking straight ahead and pushing in order to keep momentum. He allows her to slide out, their external arms and legs outstretched as the music begins to swell. He moves in, allowing her to stay somewhat extended until he slides behind her, acting as her net and support for the flight she is about to take. With this, he is careful to make sure she is prepared as he rips her out from his grasp, allowing her to spin like a top in the air. Relief brushes him as she lands it. Her posture resembles a ballerina as she is sliding backward with the same playful look she had earlier.
“Beautiful!” The coach's loud voice echoes across the rink. His mind can’t focus on that though. For a moment, they are the only people on the ice. He can look at her, as they both move in motion across from one another. Her smile feels like a welcoming light, an angelic warmth that he looked for in their time together.
Drake steps out of the locker room. Bag on shoulder and skates laced between his fingertips, closing the door. The rink is cold and it remains so. His jacket that seems to usually do the trick fails to warm him. The foolhardy boy sees only what is in front of him as he refills his water. He takes a sip and his body is exposed to some form of warmth, the wearing off of the cool air is a shock to him.
“I’m happy you didn’t crack my skull open.” Her voice is the echo of that shock that initially woke his body. Aelina’s presence was a general surprise to him. As a partner, she was forceful but still retained a fawn-like nature seen in an ingénue. If you only saw her performance you would assume she is a petite girl who fits easily into her partner, this disregarded the force of nature she actually was.
Drake wipes his mouth and smiles at her. “Thanks, I’m happy it’s intact. I need my partner to be in one piece”, he spits out his answer trying not to spit on her. She laughs and it catches him off guard. He wonders if the look in her eyes holds the same intensity that rests in his. In these little moments, he wonders if there is shared chemistry that translates from their movement and coalescence in tandem with music to subtle conversations outside of it.
“Also, you don’t have to grip so tightly at the beginning.” Drake spits out his drink as he remembers doing this. His mind was definitely not on what he was doing but rather how she was in his arms. He felt as though the constant reaching for her could be nullified in his silent longings being fulfilled at practice. His mind would absently trail off to the point where he could actually have her in reach, and she would be his.
He feels embarrassed, as though she may be calling him out for something that is unintentional. “Oh man, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize-”
“Drake, I’m just messing with you.” Her thin smile is filled with glee as she had playfully pulled the rug out from under him with such grace. He enjoyed how her teasing was intentional but gentle.
“Oh?” The yearning boy gained a slight bit of his confidence back.
“Yeah, you’re allowed to hold me.” As she said this, they fell into silence. The silence between them felt telling of something. Was it assurance in the reciprocation of feelings? Was it the same engulfing attraction that he has had to swallow whenever he was around her?
“Aelina.” A voice calls from down the hallway. A tall, blonde and scowling boy of his age lingered at the end of the hallway. He had a brown trenchcoat that made him appear taller, and maybe even gave an aged intimidation factor to him despite how young his face appeared.
“Jess!” Aelina rushes over to the tallboy. Her short arms struggle to loop around his neck to hug him. He has one hand and not both on her waist. For some reason, this bothers Drake. “I’ll see you, Drake.”
Drake waves as his stomach twists. He is watching her latch onto him and yet he can’t pull his eyes away until they are out of sight. He knows very little about this guy, except that he has been in the picture for a while and Aelina seemed to want him since she first saw him. Drake wanted to give her everything and yet felt as though he was unable to do that. While he had many opportunities to intervene, sabotage, and interrupt his rival- he really wondered, or rather hoped, she had the same secret longing for him.