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Author Topic: Shaved Ice-A crappy novel by Effie  (Read 443 times)

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Offline Effie Azzara

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Shaved Ice-A crappy novel by Effie
« on: December 24, 2017, 12:04:30 PM »

This was my last NaNoWriMo novel, and I love the cast, but I don't know if I should bother polishing it to the point I could attempt to publish it. So help me out and tell me what you think, and if I should scrap it or keep it.

Miles Verde has a bit more on his plate than the average fifteen-year-old, whether it be his grades and his (limited) friends, the more difficult tasks, like conquering the quadruple axel jump before his debut at the figure skating world championships, or dealing with his sudden interest in his childhood friend. No matter what's thrown at him, he's determined to make it all work, even if his methods aren't exactly conventional.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 08:19:50 PM by Effie Azzara »

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy little novel by Effie
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 12:08:01 PM »
Chapter 1

“Hey, stranger.”

 Miles glanced over from where he’d been practicing his landings on the otherwise quiet rink, smiling a little as he set his eyes on the person who’d greeted him. “Hey. You shouldn’t be out here so early.”

“I could say the same about you,” Ray replied, as Miles skated over to lean on the boards where his best friend stood, his face unimpressed. “You’re going to exhaust yourself, Miles.”

“Or I could be good enough to win my first world championships,” He retorted, catching his breath and smiling at Ray, who shook his head in return, an unimpressed look in his eye. “Alright. Don’t come crying to me when you drop dead from lack of sleep.”

“Isn’t that your job as my childhood friend? To make sure that doesn’t happen?” He asked lightly, half-teasing. He could feel his heart flutter as Ray chuckled under his breath and he shamelessly envied how mature it sounded compared to his own barely-broken tenor. “I suppose it is. Are you going to follow your childhood friend’s advice and come off the ice?”

Miles blinked at Ray, who stared back at him in response, wondering when the cold, emotionally awkward boy had become so concerned about his health. Though it wasn’t that the Spanish boy had ever been… uncaring, he was blunt and tended to leave emotions to his other friends. Miles had always been the emotional one and Ray had always been there to ground him with his less-than-compassionate demeanour, a pleasant balance

Or, he had, until recently. Though it was true-Miles had gotten himself sick by working so hard once or twice-Ray still wasn’t the type to be so concerned.

Maybe it’s just because we’ve been friends for so long… And I kind of like this side of him anyway.

“I… Want to clear my head before school,” He finally replied, pushing blond bangs out of his face. “You really shouldn’t be here, Ray, it’s like five in the morning.”

“You’ve been here since five in the morning?”

“Why?” Miles cocked his head. “What time is it now?”

Ray raised an eyebrow, holding out his phone to him. “Nearly eight.”

“I…” He began, feeling a blush rise on his cheeks as his eyes alternated the phone screen, and Ray, who gave him a triumphant look, before realizing he had no retort. “I hate you.”

Ray cracked a smile, opening the gate off the ice. “All the same, Bubbles.”

“Shut up,” He huffed, though couldn’t help but smile. Freckled cheeks warmed as Ray placed his arm atop his head, leaning ever so casually on him. “And stop that. I’m not that short.”

“Yes you are,” Ray hummed simply, and though Miles knew he meant no harm, it still rubbed him the wrong way when someone brought up his small size, especially when he was compared to Ray’s near six feet of height and counting. “It makes you all the better of an armrest, though, I must admit.”

“Oh, go to hell...” The short blond huffed, pulling away from Ray’s arm to open the door to the changeroom, hearing Ray chuckle in amusement from behind him. “You’ve got more attitude than you do body mass, that’s for sure. Kind of like a Chihuahua.”

“You’re the actual worst!” Miles called over his shoulder as he slid into the changeroom, before falling back against the door. His smile slowly fell away as he ran fingers through his hair worriedly and did his best to ignore the embarrassed blush that had settled on his cheeks and he muttered to himself, “What the hell am I doing…”

He was Miles Verde. Going on fifteen. Reigning junior world champion and second-highest scoring ever in ice dancing. Part of a less than perfect family, whom he loved to death and back again.

Utterly and embarrassingly in love with his best friend…

I’m *censored*ing myself over with this stupid teenage crush.

He really didn’t have a lot of friends. He’d always been shy, and when his mother and Ray’s had bonded over the fact they were both single handedly raising two children, of course he’d been skeptical. In hindsight it was a blessing, really, for it was the only reason Miles, who became completely obsessed with skating within the year, and Ray, who was quiet and cared little about anything outside of his books and tinkering, could probably have ever become friends. And even while he had other friends (few of them, but they existed), none of them really understood the extent of his training and how much of a toll it took on him.

In other words, he was pretty low in relationships and wasn’t about to let a stupid little crush take away his most important one. The small blond forcefully pushed any thoughts related to Ray  out of his mind as he began to untie his skates.

“Thanks, Mira,” Miles nodded to the young woman who ran the neighbourhood skating rink, and let him use it before and after school when he needed-one of the benefits of living in the lazier part of the suburb, he supposed.Mira smiled at him. “Yeah. Come by after school if you feel like it.”

He nodded her way again, before leaving the building and nearly jumping out of his skin as he turned the corner to see Ray, leaning against the wall. “What the hell! You scared me!”

Ray shrugged, falling into step with him as they began to walk in step with each other. The autumn air nippy, especially as the wind lifted blond bangs off his forehead and rustled dying leaves that clung to the trees. “I think you’re overworking yourself, Miles.”

“I’m not,” Miles replied shortly. “Stop worrying. I already have a twin sister and mother for that. You never worried before.”

“You weren’t training seven days a week and eight hours a day before,” Ray retorted, his voice calm and level as usual, completely different from Miles’ own, emotion-filled, lilting voice-people had always said he wore his heart on his sleeve, and more often than not, they weren’t wrong. The shorter boy sighed, knowing they weren’t getting anywhere, deciding to change the subject instead. “Angela’s supposed to come home tomorrow.”

“Really?” Ray smiled a little, and Miles couldn’t help one of his own. Both of them cared for Angela like brothers, even if Miles was the only one related to her by blood. “She must be doing better, then.”

“Yeah…” He nodded, shifting the skating bag on his shoulder with a sigh. It had been the three of them since they were little-Ray, himself, and Angela, who had been diagnosed with systemic lupus some years before. And while she was usually okay, even if she was a little weaker than the average high school sophomore she had flare ups-flare ups that often ended up with her in the hospital.

“And your mom?”

“My…” The blond hesitated for a moment. “My mom… Is working at the hospital, like usual.”

Ray sighed, running fingers through his hair, looking over to him with obvious amusement. “And suddenly it all makes sense.”

“Hey!” Miles crossed his arms. “It isn’t like you’re much better!”

Ray shrugged, his tone becoming lighter, almost like a laugh, but not quite there. “I’m not the one exhausting myself by being a professional athlete and taking advantage of my mom never being home.”

“But you’re a total homebody who doesn’t know what a social life is!”

“Come on,” The raven-haired boy chuckled, giving him a look. “Do either of us have a normal social life? I’m a boy obsessed with making clockwork pieces and you’re the best junior figure skater in the world.” Miles bit his lip against a smile at how accurate the statement was as his friend continued, “What’s a social life?”

The shorter boy let out a chuckle as they came to the intersection. “Don’t ask me. I mean, I wouldn’t know.”

“Hey.” Ray nudged him as they waited for the light, and though he looked up to meet his best friend's’ eyes, he could feel his ears warming up at the proximity. “Do you have your stuff for school?”

“Oh, um…” Miles shook his head after the moment it took for his brain to catch up. “No, I have to go back. You can go ahead if you want.”

The light turned green, and Ray gave him a look as he turned to cross the street. “Don’t get distracted.”

“I won’t!” Miles replied, sounding awfully like a child whining to a parent, as he turned to walk in the opposite direction of Ray and slid his hands in the pockets of his navy hoodie. Though he did get distracted from time to time, he was generally pretty punctual, as long as it didn’t involve dragging him away from his skating or the minimal sleep he got. While Angela and his mother would sometimes wake him, both of them spent a lot of time at the hospital, with Angela being a regular patient and his mother a scrub nurse, so he’d been woken more than once by the handsome Spaniard who lived around the corner. And while he had to admit, he’d rather be on time when it came to school, Ray wasn’t a dawdler when it came to waking him up and was creative with his methods at that.

Both of them lived within a three-kilometre radius of both each other, the little skating rink and the high school-it was the advantage of living in the part of the suburb they lived in. It was fairly easy to get around, something Miles was grateful for as he unlocked the door. He didn’t bother taking off his shoes, rapidly swapping his skating bag for his school one and stuffing his binder and laptop into it, before zipping it up and slinging it over his shoulder. School started at a quarter past eight, and if he was quick, he’d make it right on time. He’d been late a few times already that year, and while it didn’t look good on a school record (he’d been a total of 19 times and he’d just started sophomore year), he really didn’t need a call to his already busy mother explaining how many times he’d been late again.

As he made it to the intersection, he could see the crossing signal flashing, and though any other day he probably would have just settled for waiting, Miles really wasn’t up to telling his homeroom teacher that he’d lost track of time at the rink for what felt like the twelfth time that year, and he sped up into a jog, keeping his eye on the light. He could make it. He would make it.


The blond boy gasped as he ran right into someone, someone who let out a loud squeak of surprise as he nearly toppled on top of them. He barely caught himself hard on his elbows as he fell to the sidewalk, the breath knocked out of him. The person he ran into, however-a short girl, he saw-wasn’t so lucky, sprawled out beneath him like a cheesy scene from a romcom. Biting his lip as he scrambled up, he stooped to hold out a hand to the girl. “Oh, I-I’m so, so sorry, I-I was in a rush…”

“I, um…” The girl accepted his hand, and he pulled her up as she pushed long, black curls out of her face, before blinking up at him. “I think I’m okay…”

“Are you sure?” Miles could feel his cheeks heating up in embarrassment. He’d never been good with people, and generally kept his head down… So his situation was nightmare fuel. The girl seemed nice, however, nodding as she smoothed down her clothing with a little smile at him. “Yeah. But you really should be more careful.”

“I-I know, I’m really sorry,” He apologized again, realizing after all his efforts, he’d missed the light and let out a sigh. “I should have been looking where I was going.”

“Where were you going in such a rush, anyway?”

“School,” He admitted with a bit of a laugh. “Aspen Ridge. I can’t afford to be late again…”

“Aspen Ridge Secondary?” Miles nodded, noting the odd accent in her voice as he did. She smiled a little at him, her brown eyes suddenly bright. “I-I’m headed there too, but I…” She rubbed her upper arm with a bit of an embarrassed little laugh. “I’m new around here, and I’m not exactly sure where I’m going…”

“Let me take you,” Miles offered in a chirp as the light changed, and he began to cross the street, the girl in step with him. “To make it up to you for knocking you over.”

“Thanks.” She smiled at him as they walked down the familiar streets, leaves fluttering down from nearby trees at the mercy of the wind as they went. “I’m Fiona, by the way.”

“Miles,” He returned, smiling at her too, getting a better look at her-she was shorter than his own 5’4, around Angela’s height-though unlike Angela, her curves were pronounced and unmistakable. Loose black curls fell just past her shoulders, and her skin was smooth and darker than his, or Ray’s Mediterranean hue for that matter (was she mixed, perhaps?) and large, dark brown eyes peered at him curiously.

In other words, she was adorable, and if he wasn’t so utterly and depressingly set on Ray, he’d be completely head over heels infatuated with her. Even with the crush on Ray, Miles felt the familiar tug of being attracted to someone pull stubbornly at him.

“Ah, you’re Miles Verde, aren’t you?” She realized, and he nodded, letting out a little laugh of amusement as she nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, I know! I mean, I’m from Spain, so you aren’t as popular, but…”

“You’re from Spain?” Miles raised an eyebrow as the school came into view. “What are you doing here, then?”

“It’s… A bit of a long story,” She replied sheepishly, and though he was curious, Miles wasn’t one to pry, especially about the history of a girl he’d only met minutes before. “But I’m living with a family friend here now, on Balten Drive, which is why I’m walking to school.”

“Oh,” Miles nodded, suddenly more interested in the girl he’d knocked to the ground. “That’s the next street over from mine. What grade are you in?”


“And the coincidences continue,” The blond boy held the door for her as they entered the school. “So am I. Do you know where you’re going?”

“Um…” Fiona bit her lip, rolling up her oversized, knit sweater to reveal a scrawled name in blue pen on the back of her hand. “P… Popowycz… So in other words…no.”

“I’ve got to pass there on the way to my class,” He replied, smiling at the girl-she had an aura that pulled him in, though he wasn’t exactly sure why. “I can take you there.”

“Really?” She smiled at him too, shaking bangs out of her eyes. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” He replied simply, motioning for her to follow him, which she did with a smile. The hallways were mostly empty, other than the occasional student that was late like them-not that Miles really minded being late that particular day. He had an excuse, after all, and it wasn’t his usual skating one.

“Here we are,” He stopped in front of room 214, which was what he only could assume was Fiona’s homeroom. “I can introduce you if you like. I need a note to get out of being marked late anyway.”

“No, I can do that much myself,” She replied, her accented voice amused and her large eyes sparkling at him. Her smile was contagious, and he couldn’t help but return it as he raised a hand to knock on the door. “Alright. Suit yourself.”

Miles rapped on the door, opening it as the French teacher motioned for him to come in. He glanced over to Fiona, who nodded at him, before opening the door. “Ms Popowycz, I’ve got a student of yours.”

“A student?” She blinked at Fiona before realization dawned on her. “Oh, you’re Fiona! I heard you were staying with the Jacksons.”

Fiona nodded, her voice confident and casual, despite the fact she was at the front of a room full of strangers, all who had eyes on her. Miles couldn’t imagine what it was like to have that sort of confidence outside of his performances.

“I’m Fiona Apelchetta,” She introduced herself simply to the teacher. “From Spain. I’m staying in Mississauga awhile.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll take up French easily then,” Ms Popowycz replied. “You can take a seat next to Leo.” Miles watched as Leo, who’d been somewhat fixated on the both of them, smiled at her, sending him a subtle look as he did, asking, ‘How the hell did you find this one?

“Ah, Miss,” Miles pulled his gaze away from Leo and Fiona to look back to his French teacher, his tone hesitant-all his teachers were accustomed to his habit of tardiness by then. “If you could write a note for Mr. Riske, explaining why I’m late…”

“My goodness, Miles, you’re insufferable,” She replied, grabbed a sticky note and scribbled something down on it, and Miles couldn’t suppress a smile as she handed it to him. “You best be on time for my class this afternoon.”

“Of course, Miss.” He replied, smiling over his shoulder as he left her class. “I don’t know why you’d think anything different.”

Morning classes-being history and math-went by with little activity out of the norm and Miles was starving when his lunch hour came around. He hadn’t eaten before leaving for the rink or after he’d gotten home, and he hadn’t had time to pack anything to eat either. Though he, Leo, Ray, Fabian, Angela and Lucia usually ate together, he and Ray had been assigned different lunch hours that year, Angela was often sick, Lucia had become a big part of student council and Fay… Well, Fay was every bit friendly and quirky as he was wild and unpredictable-in other words, he showed up a third of the time in lucky months. So as he left math to head to the front lobby of the school, he really wasn’t expecting to eat with anything else than his textbook.

“Hey! Miles!”

Miles jumped at his name. Though just about everyone knew who he was (it was hard not to, when he’d made such a name for himself in the small suburb around seventh grade) not a lot of people called him out. He was shy, people made him anxious, and it had been obvious after the anxiety attacks he’d suffered in his first year, with fans and curious students alike swarming him until Ray and Angela had made it obvious he hated it.

So he jumped, turning quickly when someone chirped his name over the bustle of the hallway. He wasn’t expecting the short Spanish girl to be the one to come up to him though. “Hey!”

“Hi, Fiona…” He began to walk towards his original destination again, Fiona in tow this time. “What’s up? Are you lost or something?”

“No, I’m on lunch, actually,” She replied, her voice content and her smile as bright and charming as ever, especially for someone who’d apparently just begun at a new school in a foreign country. “And yourself?”

“I am too,” He replied with a nod, shifting his bag on his shoulder. He didn’t much like going to his locker-it was on the second floor in the second music hall, which was somewhere he practically never went, considering his art class had always been dance. It wasn’t as if he really needed to anyway. “Do you want to come along? Or do you have plans?”

“If it’s okay with you, I’d like to come,” Fiona replied, pushing curls out of her face with a smile (it never really seemed to leave her face) and the sparkle in her eyes that Miles couldn’t quite identify. “Where are we going?”

“Well… I mean, until last year, I’d meet up with my friends,” He began with a little sigh. “Fay, Lucia, Ray, my sister Angela and Leo, who I guess you met in French, but… Things are different this year.”


“So we’ll probably only see one or two of them today,” He replied, ignoring the gnawing hunger at his stomach. “And I’m probably going to buy something from outside the school.”

“Sounds promising,” Fiona hummed lightly as they made it to the front lobby. He did a quick scan for Leo, who never failed to show up-even though Leo claimed he could always spot him in a crowd, Miles knew his friend’s tall stature and wild rust-coloured hair was superior to his own plain blond locks and petite frame.

He spotted Leo at what seemed like the same time he saw him, Fiona’s gaze following his as the redhead nudged through the crowd to meet them. “Hey. You’ve got the European cutie with you.”

“Why thank you,” Miles replied semi-sarcastically. He was half French, and it was no secret people thought he was cute, with his more Asian-looking facial features from his Filipino side on top of green eyes, messy, dirty-blond hair and a smattering of freckles. Perhaps he was cute… But it wasn’t the kind of cute that made people want to date him, or people flock to his side, to his dismay. A childish cute, rather than a high school crush cute.

“I… You’re…” Leo trailed off at a loss, giving him a look, though his tone was unmistakably amused with his reply. He looked over to Fiona. “Hello, other European cutie. Joining us for lunch?”

Fiona nodded with a smile. “I am. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Hey, the more the merrier with how small our group’s been getting…” Leo sighed, glancing back over to Miles. “Are you going out to grab something today? You look like you’re going to eat my face if you wait much longer.”

“I do not!” Miles huffed, though grabbed his wallet from his hoodie pocket. “But yes, I’m going to go buy something and ruin my athlete’s diet. Sue me.”

“And I guess that means I come along too,” Leo sighed, and Miles nodded, beginning to leave the school. “Well, that’s usually how we do things.”

“Hey. I’m not complaining.”

Fiona had an amused smile. “The students at this school are…”

“Interesting?” Leo supplied as they left the school grounds.

“Completely and utterly infuriating?” Miles suggested in a chirp, prying a laugh from the short Spaniard and an eye roll from Leo. “God, Miles, you’re something else.”

“All of the above, I guess,” She simply replied through her laughs, and the short blond couldn’t help but smile along with her. Despite it having only been less than a day, Miles was sure Fiona was going to brighten the school… One way or another.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 11:03:42 PM by Effie Azzara »

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy little novel by Effie
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 12:08:43 PM »
Chapter 2

“A new girl, huh? Are you still trying to prove to Fabian and Lucia you're not gay?”

“I…!” Miles would have whacked his twin if she wasn’t still sitting in a hospital bed. “I’m not gay! I just haven’t had a girlfriend!”

Angela laughed lightly, her blue eyes gleaming with amusement. “Are you sure?”

“Yes!” Miles replied indignantly, though his already warm cheeks flushed as his brain flickered to Ray for a moment-I’m not gay, and my crush on Ray means nothing… Even though it’s been a good three or four months of it by now…

“Alright…” Angela replied, a laugh in her tone, and he crossed his arms. “Come on! You’ve never had a boyfriend! Are you gay?”

“I don’t know,” She teased. “Maybe I am.”

Miles rolled his eyes, finishing off the cookie on Angela’s tray. He’d gotten permission to get out of school around noon to help discharge her, and they were sharing her lunch. Though most people hated hospital food, when they’d practically grown up in the hospital, both of the twins were used to it.

“Anyway,” He continued. “She’s pretty adorable. I think you’d like her. She’s staying with the Jacksons.”

“That old European couple?”

Miles nodded, and Angela nodded back with a hum. “Huh. Maybe we should set her up with Ray. Both of them are Spanish, and he seemed kind of devastated when Isolda left.”

“I…” Miles trailed off. It was true, everything his sister had said-Ray would probably love Fiona, and vice versa. It had been nearly a year since Isolda, their ex-friend and Ray’s girlfriend had moved halfway across the world. And while all three of them stayed in touch, there had been a messy breakup, and Ray’s first romance had ended prematurely.

“I mean, it’s still kind of fresh…”

“It is not!” Angela huffed, polishing off the shared lunch. “I think you’re just jealous of how Ray’s getting girls and you aren’t.”

“The only reason I’m not is because of my skating,” he retorted, though he couldn’t help but flinch a little at his twin’s playful words. Though she hopefully didn’t know it (he wasn’t about to tell her) sometimes her teasing about his lack of romance hit him hard, especially when he was being compared to Ray. Between his height, his cute babyface, petite frame and shyness, the only reason he could think of anyone asking him out would be his status, and even then, the sport he loved wasn’t something as posh or respected as football or basketball. Compared to his best friend, who also got the exposure from being friends with an international athlete, and was the tall, dark mysterious type with a hidden sweet side…

Well, obviously I don’t have a girlfriend.

“Are you done and packed?”Angela nodded, and Miles stood up from where he’d been sitting next to her on the hospital bed. “C’mon, let’s go home. Mom signed the papers when she last came in.”

Angela nodded, and Miles offered to help her down-though she promptly refused. “I’m fine, Miles,” She huffed, leaning down to grab her duffel hospital bag. “I just had treatment. They didn’t operate.”

“Still,” He argued, though let her walk beside him without any aid, smiling to the familiar nurse as they left the room. “You’re…”

“Weak?” She filled in for his hesitant pause as they stepped into the elevator, her lips turning up to smile at him. “Ill? Could possibly die of multiple organ failure by exposing myself to the sunlight?”


“It’s okay, Miles.” She looked back at him kindly. “I’m still me. I promise. And I’m not dying, I’m living. Pretty happily, considering everything too.” She pulled him into a hug as the elevator stopped, which he returned tightly, nestling into her shoulder and inhaling her familiar smell as she mirrored his actions. “Stop worrying about me, and worry about your skating. Or even better,” She joked as they separated. “About getting a girlfriend. I know you need one.”

“Ha, you crack me up,” He deadpanned, rolling his eyes as they made their way out of the hospital, though the atmosphere was anything but unhappy as they rode the elevator in silence.

Though he insisted Angela rest the moment they were home and she’d settled back into her room, she had insisted she trail him for the rest of the day-which was only problematic because he’d planned on using his half day off to see if he could begin to whip up a routine before meeting with his coach later that night. Miles sighed as he tossed his water bottle and speaker into his skating bag. “Angela, you need rest.”

“Like hell I do!” Angela huffed, pulling on her high-tops behind him. “I’ve been stuck in the hospital for a week. I would like my freedom back, thank you very much!”

“Well, I would like my sister back,” Miles replied, his tone a little harsher than he liked speaking to, well… anyone. “And out of the hospital. For good.”

“Miles, you’re treating me like a child…” The short blonde bit her lip, her sweater sleeves falling back a little as she put her short hair up, revealing the purple bruise on her wrist from the IV. Miles swallowed, unsure what to say. He did treat her like she was much younger than him, but she was fragile. She was a sand rose, beautiful and created naturally through the hardships of her environment… And he wasn’t about to drop her and let her shatter.

“I’m not going to die the moment I step outside,” She crossed her arms, her nearly identical turquoise-blue eyes boring into his sea-green ones. “I’m not fragile, Miles. I’m as much of a high school student as you or Ray.”

The young skater took a shaky breath, knowing his battle had been lost, as usual. Angela won him over almost every time, and to her, perhaps it was worth every win, even if he was constantly asking her about her condition.

“Fine,” He mumbled, hooking his bag over his shoulder and grabbing his key. “Just be careful.”

He never much liked being watched, other than his time on the ice. He had awful anxiety, and every glance towards him at school felt judgemental, targeted, harsh… Perhaps it was why he enjoyed competitions so. He liked the cheers and the arena and the suspense of how he could mess up and not only humiliate but injure himself as well. He was good at skating, and it was the only thing he knew he was good at. And so being watched while he skated was something he didn’t mind in the slightest-if anything, it made him perform better.

Skating for Angela had always been especially fun. They were always seemingly connected by something other than blood, and he could feel it tingle beneath his skin as he caught the proud, genuinely interested sparkle in her bright cyan eyes. He knew in that moment what she was seeing, what he should be doing better, what routines Angela would have skated like if the money that was used for her practices hadn’t suddenly become money for medical bills. It was a sickly sweet, almost telepathic connection he’d never really had with anyone else-not even Ray, who he’d known and occasionally lived with for nearly a decade, or his mother, who was probably too busy for such a connection to occur.

“What are you planning?” Angela called out to him as he settle into a steady rhythm-something he wasn’t generally known for doing. He grinned over at her. “A quad!”


“Axel,” He replied, regulating his strokes and breathing. He had a number of bruises from failed quadruple axles-it was a difficult jump only one person had pulled off competitively, and he was determined to have it down by the world championships. He’d be a first-the youngest person in history to successfully pull of a quadruple axel.

The youngest to win a world championship…

Miles shook his head-he was getting ahead of himself. Qualifying for the world championships so young was good enough-pulling off some of the most difficult moves would be excellent.

“Miles, you can’t pull it off yet…” Angela mused, her voice genuinely worried, and Miles simply smiled at her-she was probably right, but he didn’t really care. He wasn’t going to get better without practice. “I’ll be fine! Stop worrying about me-I’m supposed to be worrying about you!”

“Miles…” Angela whined quietly as he took off, his form undeniably perfect as he spun. He’d done a triple axel a more than few times, but his momentum usually halted there, perhaps because he was so light. It took a great deal of energy to do an extra rotation-but he was feeling particularly powerful that day. The familiar exhilaration he got from skating came over him as he spun in midair, and Miles suddenly felt a wave of confidence wash over him. I can land this. Of course I can. I’m Miles *censored*ing Verde.

He was certainly glad he generally wore sweats or thick skating pants for his skating practices, because they provided a bit of padding for each of his falls-that one especially, as he wobbled on his way down, trying to catch himself with his toe pick, and failing. Miles blinked in surprise as he ended up on his hands and knees-he’d been sure he’d be able to land it fine. Carefully, he stood, ignoring the bruises probably blooming on his kneecaps. He glanced over to Angela, on the other side of the rink, leaning over the boards, her brow furrowed in anxiety. “You good?”

“Y-yeah,” Miles replied, clearing his throat to try and eliminate the shake in his voice-though he definitely wasn’t perfect, or anywhere near the big skaters of the generation, he wasn’t used to failing so many times, or on such a dangerous jump. He picked up on things fast, and pulled them off even faster-a natural-born, his coach, Ezra, called him. “I guess I can try again later.”

“Or you could wait until you’re older,” She protested as he fell into a steady rhythm again. “Miles, only one person has pulled off a quad axel competitively. You’re fourteen. You have time!”

“People are expecting me to start off in the senior competitions with a bang,” He replied simply, pushing blond bangs out of his eyes-his hair was getting long, and though Angela and Ezra had both suggested he tie it up, it wasn’t that long, or at least he didn’t think so. “And even if they aren’t,” He spoke before Angela could intervene. “Then I am. Angela, I’ve had to wait an entire extra competitive season to be able to do this because of our late birthday. So I’m going to do this right.”

“I…” Angela trailed off with a sigh as he did a flawless double axel, her voice bordering on amusement. “There’s no swaying you, is there?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Hey, you two are still here?”

Miles turned rapidly, his gaze landing on none other than Ray, who nodded to both him and Angela as he entered the rink,and joining the female half of the twins behind the boards. Angela smiled at him. “Hey! It’s been awhile, huh?”

“Indeed it has,” Ray replied as Miles skated over to lean on the boards. “You aren’t in the hospital anymore. Is Miles still keeping you under close wraps?”


“Hey!” Miles protested with a slightly offended huff. “I don’t have a lot of family, and I’d rather keep my twin from dying of multiple organ failure or something!”

“I’m not dying,” Angela reminded him with a playful poke. Ray nodded, a little teasing smirk playing on his lips. “She isn’t. Promise.”

“Come on!” The short blond boy crossed his arms, blinking up at his childhood friend stubbornly. “Ray, don’t you worry about your sister?”

“My sister is a boy-crazy slut with no boundaries,” Ray replied simply, and though his words were malicious, his tone wasn’t. His relationship with Mari was something Miles really couldn’t understand, even though it was probably a typical sibling relationship, considering how much the two seemed to fluctuate between hating each other to having each other’s backs. He cocked his head at Ray “So no?”


“Well, I guess that’s good to know.”

“Anyway,” The taller boy glanced down to Angela. “What are we doing?”

“Watching Miles have delusions about being able to do a quadruple axel.”

“It isn’t a delusion!” Miles whined, sounding remarkably childish, to his dismay. He met Ray’s steady gaze, pushing all his inappropriate thoughts away as well as he could. “I can do it, I swear! Just not… yet.”

Ray’s eyes flickered back and forth between him and Angela for a moment, before he replied with a bit of a laugh, “For the last time, I’m not a figure skater or a skating geek. I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.”

“Well, an axel is whe-”

“I can show you,” Miles offered without thinking, interrupting Angela, who gave him an unimpressed look as Ray’s eyes landed on him again. She rolled her eyes. “Miles, we just established that you can’t show him.”

“I can at least show him an axel,” The boy on the ice protested-he liked to skate for Ray too, even more so perhaps after his little crush had developed. Though he wasn’t good at much else, he could skate for days, and he wasn’t shy about showing it off. “Or a triple.”

Though Angela’s blue gaze was steely, Ray nodded. “Alright. Sounds interesting enough.”

Miles shot his sister’s disapproving look right back at her as he began to skate again, making a round to prepare before launching himself into another axel-this time hoping for a triple. He’d done it more than once, but it was a harder jump, especially for someone as light and… slim-figured as he was. Rather than think about his height or speed, he counted the quick turns--One and two and three and land. To his relief, it went off without a hitch, and he grinned back at his audience. “That’s a triple.”

“So basically, it’s that with another turn,” Angela explained, and Ray nodded. “That seems tough.”

“Only one person has ever pulled it off in competition,” Miles agreed as he returned to lean against the boards. “And I want to be the second.”

Though he wasn’t expecting an animated, encouraging reply, the blond also wasn’t expecting his childhood friend to so readily shoot him down. “It’s your first senior competition of many, Miles… You don’t need to push yourself so readily…”

Miles bit his lip, his excited look turning into an unhappy pout. “Why are you guys so against me doing this?”

“I’m not,” Ray replied, his tone sincere. “I think that if you really think you can do it, you probably can. He smiled-a real smile, even if it was small, and Miles felt his heart quiver and skip despite himself. “You’re a great skater, Miles, and I think you could definitely make the podium without a quadruple whatever.”

“Axel,” Miles filled in, but didn’t argue it further, opening the gate off the ice and simply saying, “Thanks.”

“So I guess we’re done?” Angela asked almost hesitantly, obviously able to sense his mood had dropped significantly. He nodded, but his tone was flatter than his usual pep. “Yeah. I’ll change and then we can go.”

Though Miles didn’t realize it, Ray seemed to sense it too, placing his arm atop the blond’s head again as they walked to the hallway with the changeroom-Miles wasn’t even sure he noticed he did it anymore, it happened so much. “Cheer up, Bubbles. You’re a better skater than anyone else in the junior tier. You’re going to do fine in the senior one.”

“Thanks,” Miles mumbled as the three of them halted in front of the changeroom, though irritation pricked his skin-both from his height being silently touched upon again and from how high-strung his nerves were with Ray so close. It was absolutely ridiculous-they’d slept in the same bed and shared the same clothes when they were little, and up until recently, it hadn’t been uncommon for Ray to grab either him or Angela (or both) and wrestle  with them, an uncharacteristically playful moment.

And I’m getting worked up over him barely touching the top of my head. What the hell is happening to me?

He changed quickly, and the three of them were on their way home in the chilly air as per usual. It felt as if a balance had been restored, with Angela out of the hospital. Despite the fact the quadruple axel still weighed on his mind, he was smiling as he walked between his sister and best friend, joking lightly as he did. He didn’t have a lot of family-or people close to him-for more than one reason he preferred to explain, and so Angela and Ray were about as important as they got when it came to people in his life. They kept him grounded, and even though he sometimes (well, almost always) needed their care rather than the other way around, he was overly eager to give when they asked.

“Oh, hey! Miles!”

Miles glanced up at his name, recognizing the voice, and the girl who stood on the sidewalk a little ways ahead of them. He smiled as they approached her. “Hi, Fiona.”

“Fiona?” Angela raised an eyebrow. “Is this her? That girl you were talking about?”

“He was talking about a girl?” Ray hummed curiously, almost sounding suspicious under his monotone. Miles shook his head. “N-no, not like that… Fiona’s the girl staying with the Jacksons, who I ran into yesterday.”

“Fiona Apelchetta,” The short Spaniard stuck out a hand with a smile. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Angela Verde,” Angela replied, her tone almost matching Fiona’s cheerful chirp as she shook her hand. “I’m Miles’ sister.” She then motioned to Ray. “And that’s Ray. Our… Childhood friend, I guess.”

“‘I guess’?” Ray raised an eyebrow at Angela, his tone amused, before greeting Fiona. “I’m Ray. And I really hope Miles hasn’t been secretly dating you behind our backs, because I think it would be a sin for one small, cute person to date another small, cute person.”

Fiona laughed, and Miles felt his face flush as he crossed his arms, whining (even though he really couldn’t say he minded it from the mouth of his best friend), “I’m not cute!”

“Please, you are.” Though he was expecting almost that exact line, it usually came from Angela, whereas it had come from Fiona, between giggles. The blond boy glanced over to his twin in mild surprise, just quickly enough so he could catch the glimmer in her blue orbs-something that usually never signified anything good for him. He put it out of his mind as quickly as he’d seen it.

“Anyway, I’m staying in the area for some time,” Fiona’s tone was light and friendly and reminded him vaguely of Leo’s. “Down the road from here, actually. And, no.” She grinned playfully at all three of them, her curls bouncing with every move. “I’m not dating Miles.”

“That’s a shame,” Angela’s tone was half-joking, and he elbowed her with a muttered protest as she spoke. “He really needs a girlfriend or something, in my opinion.”

“Angela, I’m a goddamn international professional athlete, I have all I need.”

“I know, I know. “ She smiled a little. “But it can’t be bad for you to have a girlfriend or something. Or a boyfriend, if it’s up to Fabian.”

“I’m not gay,” Miles huffed-their playful arguments got repetitive, especially when he was on the receiving end. “And I don’t need a girlfriend. I’m not interested.”

“Well, you three are obviously very close,” Fiona smiled, her voice amused. “I’m glad I got to meet you two-and Miles, of course.” She shifted her bag on her shoulders. “I should get going through. My great aunt and uncle are concerned I’m going to get lost or kidnapped or something else. Oh, but hey,” She pulled out a pen, stopping beside Miles and grabbing his hand before jotting something down on his pale skin. “There’s my number, so if you ever want to do something… Or, rather, if I ever get lost and need to know how to get to school.” The short Spanish girl smiled at both Angela and Ray as she passed. “Seeya!”

For a moment, the three of them stood in silence, before Angela laughed lightly. “She is very cute and cheerful. Even if you’re not up for dating, then Ray, maybe?”

“I’ve barely met the girl,” Ray seemed almost insulted at the idea as they began to walk again, and it was somewhat amusing. “Do you remember how long it took for me and Isolda to even consider dating?”

“Well, with that logic, you could just date me or Angela,” Miles replied without thinking, his cheeks heating up again even at the innocent suggestion. A little of the panic was lifted off his chest as Ray laughed, as musical and quirky as usual. “Well. That’s a little different, I think.” He smiled at both him and Angela, warm and unusually caring. “We’re a different type of friends than Isolda..”

Angela cocked her head a little. “Is that bad?”

“No, no.” Ray shook his head with a little chuckle, sliding his hands into his pockets lazily and effectively sending Miles’ brain into overdrive again. “There’s nothing wrong with us. Nothing in the slightest.”

The house was empty, as usual, when the twins arrived home, and Miles locked the door and tossed his keys in the bowl as usual, opening his mouth to ask Angela if she was hungry, or was going to make dinner when she practically shouted, “Oh my god, you like Ray!”

For a moment, he was completely and utterly taken aback, his cheeks flushing red, and his words stolen from where they usually resided on the tip of his tongue. He could only stare at his sister, completely dumbfounded as she laughed. “Oh my god, you so do! Miles, why didn’t you tell me? Ray is like, secretly the sweetest guy in the world, you know that! Just tell him!”

“I…I don’t,” Miles protested halfheartedly, even though he knew it was futile at that point-though neither of them were the best sleuths when it came to reading people, their connection allowed them to know the smallest things about each other… crushes included, apparently. Angela was trying to bite back her grin as she followed him into the kitchen. “You so do! Oh my god, that’s why you didn’t want him to date Fiona, isn’t it? That’s so cute, Miles, you should just tell him!”

“Even if I…” Miles shook his head, knowing he wasn’t going to get anywhere by denying himself to his sister. “It’s a stupid crush, Angela, I’ve had them before. And we both know Ray doesn’t swing that way, even if it was more than that.”

“I didn’t know you swung that way!” His twin exclaimed, nearly squealing as she began to take out what she needed to prepare what looked like some sort of soup. “And who knows, maybe he does! Aww, that would be so cute!”

“Angela!” Angela’s eyes widened in surprise as Miles rose his voice, his green gaze turned steely and harsh. “Shut up about it, would you? And if you love me, even a little, you’ll keep this to yourself.” In a quieter mutter, as he sat at the kitchen table, he said softly, “I don’t want any of my friendships to fall apart because of something as stupid and idiotic as this.”

There was a moment of silence as Angela slowly began preparing dinner again, and Miles felt a wave of guilt practically nauseate him-he rarely yelled at his mother or Angela, or anyone, really, but them in particular, he never shouted at. He knew it brought back memories of his father (whom he apparently looked remarkably like), and that happened to be a topic they did their best not to bring up.

“Can I ask something?”

“Yes,” Miles breathed, his tone quiet as he rested his head on the kitchen table. “One question.”

“You… You’re actually bi?”

“Yes,” He repeated, even quieter, his voice sounding very small, even though he didn’t want it to. “I think I am.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

“I said one question,” Miles mumbled, though, leaned into his sister as she hugged him from behind. “Miles, I’m serious. You aren’t going to hurt yourself or end up back in the psych ward because of this, are you?”

“I…” He internally flinched at the memories of his brief days spent in psychiatric care, after his anxiety and feeling of inferiority dropped to lows they’d never been at before. Even if pills could keep it under control when it got too bad, he wasn’t exactly fond of not being able to pass drug tests before competitions. “I’m fine, Angela. There’s nothing wrong with me liking guys. I’m not a homophobe. You know that.”

“Good.” She pressed her cheek to his firmly, before letting him go and continuing to prepare to cook. “You’re going to be okay. That’s all I wanted to know.”

The rest of the evening continued on smoothly, with Angela’s warm, cheery attitude back in the otherwise empty house. It was a joy to have her back-though he’d never met another pair of twins, he’d heard most of them were close, and they were no exception, almost like extensions of each other. Miles had said it dozens of times he didn’t feel quite complete without Angela somewhere nearby, and even though it was cheesy, it was true, and anyone who knew them knew it.

He finished his homework through the dinner of soup Angela had made, chatting absentmindedly with her as he did, until the question came up-”So I’m coming with you to your meeting with Ezra, right?”

Miles swallowed, glancing up as he finished writing the French paper (it was an extension of French being his first language, being able to write without glancing down to the sheet). “You’re going to get some sleep and finish the homework I brought for you.”

“What? Miles, please let me come!” Angela whined, looking up from her own work, her cheeks puffed up like a betta fish in irritation. “I’ve been stuck in the hospital for a week!” She gathered her school things hastily. “Come on, I’ll even bring my homework! I’ll be ready to go back to school tomorrow!”

“Angela…” Miles sighed, shaking his head-he had an itching feeling he wasn’t about to win an argument with her anytime soon. “Whatever. Just promise you’ll tell me and go home if you’re tired.”

“Aye aye!” She chirped, a little too enthusiastic for his taste. “When are we leaving?”

“Now,” He replied, stacking his school supplies and homework in a neat pile on the tiny kitchen table. “Ezra’s never liked how I’m always late.”

“No one has ever liked how you’re always late,” Angela corrected in amusement, and he rolled his eyes as they returned to the doorway, tugging on his shoes and grabbing his keys. “Well, I’m not always late.”

“Nearly every day, you’re late for at least one class.” Angela was laughing through her words as she shoved her homework in her shoulder bag, handing him his skating bag as well. “I think all your teachers would agree.”

Miles shoved her lightly as they left the house, though he was smiling all the same as he mumbled, “Shut up.”

Unless they were specifically not skating and only planning, he and Ezra generally met three or four times every week (sometimes five or six times, as competitions approached) at the rink. It was easier than almost anywhere else, and they obviously had the convenience of ice, which was a bonus. Sometimes, Angela would take her skates too. It wasn’t as often she’d get to skate, especially with how weak she was sometimes, and how complicated his performances were getting. Though he knew it would never happen in the reality he lived in, Miles sometimes wondered what his life would have been like if Angela had continued skating, if they’d had the chance to perform together.

Ezra was already on the ice when they arrived, and he smiled a little at both of them. “Hey, I haven’t seen you in awhile, Angela. How’ve you been?”

“Alright,” Angela replied simply, though her tone was light and friendly as she took a seat behind the boards. “But I’ve got homework to do.”

“Well, we won’t bother you too much, then.” Ezra then nodded to Miles as he stepped onto the ice. “And you, Mr. World Championships?”

“Not too bad,” Miles shrugged, smiling back at his coach. He’d never really had a father figure (he’d lived with his dad for five years, and he couldn’t remember anything but fear and torture), and Ezra was the closest he’d ever gotten. He was a little bit older than a typical father to a teenager (though didn’t look like it)  would be, in his fifties or sixties, but acted as one all the same. Even though he really didn’t need to, Miles could recall more than a few times where his coach had provided money for plane tickets and uniforms and even meals on trips or hotel fees, and he typically didn’t charge them nearly enough, or didn’t at all. Though his mother always insisted he stop doing so much for them, they all knew that they needed all the help they could get when it came to the fees that came with his career.

“So, we really should get a world championship routine down before the month ends,” Ezra spoke, and Miles nodded in agreement. “Yeah. It’s getting close to the new year.”

“Is there anything in particular you want to include?”

“Uh…” Miles hesitated. He generally came up with his own routines anyway, but Ezra was not only helpful to bounce ideas off of, but to aid him in where he could begin and end trickier moves. “I want to do a quadruple axel.”

“A quadruple axel…?” Ezra’s usually encouraging tone was suddenly a curious murmur, and Miles felt his hope sink again. “Can you do one on its own?”

“He can’t,” Angela piped up, and Miles crossed his arms. “I can.”

“Really?” His coach’s next words were predictable. “Show me.”

The blond skater nodded, beginning a half lap around the rink to build up momentum. He could do it. He’d done one before, so he could do it again, and again, and again.

The youngest person to do a quadruple axel in competition. That would put my name in the books forever.

With the thought of his name being engraved in history, Miles took off with all the power he could muster, keeping his spin tight and his body straight as he gained air. He willed his body to keep compact as his third turn finished, and even though he could feel his muscles threatening to cramp, he kept himself as tight as possible.

Though he’d been telling himself he could to it, it was a surprise when he landed gracefully, a bit of a wobble in his knee, but otherwise almost perfect. A wave of exhilaration washed over him, and he grinned, first at Angela, then Ezra, gasping out, “See? I can do it fine.”

Ezra laughed a little, his dark brown eyes bright. “Well, you definitely can pull it off if I tell you to. But doing it in competition is something else, and you know that. Why are you so interested in this all of a sudden?”

“It’s my first senior competition,” Miles explained, still smiling from the jump he’d pulled off. “I’m going to be one of the youngest people to ever compete.”

For a moment, his coach’s face was slightly confused, before his eyes gleamed in understanding. “Oh, I see. You want to be the youngest to pull it off in competition.”

Miles nodded, excited by even the thought of it, and Ezra sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Well… You probably want the truth, right?”

He nodded. “Right.”

“Well, the truth is, I think it’s a terrible idea,” He replied, and the blond felt his heart drop, as well as his expression. “Well… You’re the coach…”

“But,” Ezra held up a hand, and Miles blinked. “I didn’t finish. I think that if you’re really set on doing this, then not only will you be able to pull it off, but you’ll be regretting it when someone else does it before you.”

Miles bit back a smile-he’d been disappointed by premature celebrations time and time again, and he wasn’t about to be over something so important. “So…?”

“So,” Ezra smiled back at him with a sigh. “I’m not going to stop you if you really want to do it.”

“Yes!” Miles jumped on his skates in excitement, his reaction as animated as they got. He heard Angela sigh in amusement from the boards, but ignored it, grinning broadly at his coach. “Thank you, Ezra!”

“Hey, but keep your head,” Ezra reminded him, even though he was smiling too. “Remember you aren’t in this to try and break records. You’re going in this to make a name for yourself-for your career. So don’t screw it up.”

“I won’t,” He promised, still grinning like an idiot. “Seriously. Thank you so much, Ezra.”

“You’re going to regret it!” Angela called over from the boards, but her tone was lighthearted-Miles could tell she was anything but irritated. Ezra chuckled. “I hope not. Miles, let’s lay down some basics for this routine, and then you’re practicing quad axles for the rest of your days.”

“Fair enough!” He replied, still happy just thinking about the idea. He began to skate again, grinning almost uncontrollably. Though he might have been young, less experienced than most of the seniors and barely able to pull off a quadruple axel, Miles was pretty confident he’d be just as good as any senior figure skater by the time the world championships came around-in fact, he would make sure of it.

I am going to put my name in the books. And no one can stop me.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 05:39:20 PM by Effie Azzara »

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy little novel by Effie
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2017, 12:56:54 AM »
Chapter 3

“So you’re actually going to do a quadruple axel. Whatever that means.”

“Yup!” Miles chirped, taking another bite of ice cream and ignoring the disapproving look Angela was giving him. Maybe it was because it was more dangerous if he couldn’t do it, but she still wasn’t on board. “I am going to be the youngest person in history to do something like this.”

“Ooh, that’s pretty neat,” Fiona hummed, and Miles nodded in agreement. He liked Fiona-he liked her a lot, and not in the same hormone-fuelled way the other boys in his group of friends seemed to. It had only been a week since her first day, and she fit in pretty easily. Her knowledge of figure skating also wasn’t half bad, which not only delighted him, but Angela as well.

“The hell is a quadruple whatever?” Leo asked, scraping the paper ice cream cup for the last bit of the sweet dessert. Lucia shrugged. “Sounds pretty fancy, don’t you think?”

“It’s the hardest jump in the book,” Angela explained simply, resting her elbows on the table of the diner. “Only one person has ever done it competitively. It takes a lot out of you if you do it wrong, and if you aren’t thin and muscular enough, you generally can’t pull it off.”

“It’s probably lucky you’re as small as you are, then,” Ray put in from his side, nudging him, and he subtly ducked his head away to hide the blush that threatened to spread down from from his ears. “Still sucks to be a freakin foot behind everyone.”

“Please,” Fiona smiled at him as she took her last bite of ice cream. “It’s very cute.”

Miles just shook his head, not even bothering with his usual comeback of ‘I’m not’, instead taking another bite of his ice cream. He much preferred to enjoy the odd time all five-now six, he supposed-could get together at lunch, even if it was just for ice cream.

“Anyway,” Leo’s eyes had a mischievous gleam in them. “How’s that little thing going with Dakota, Fay?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Fabian replied with a straight face that Miles couldn’t have dreamed about pulling off-his emotions ran wild, stomping all over him and leaving noticeable footprints in their wake. He smiled a little. “Really? Fay, we’re your friends.” Still grinning mischievously, he placed a playfully comforting hand on top of his friend’s. “You can tell us.”

Fabian chuckled, taking a swig of his milkshake. “Like *censored*ing hell I can.”

“Who’s Dakota?” Fiona asked, and though Miles opened his mouth to reply, Ray beat him to it, his voice tinted with amusement probably only him and Angela could detect. Ray wasn’t much of an emotional person after all, and without proper knowledge, he sounded like he was serious and deadpanning 24/7.

It’s kind of cute, actually, if you can classify Ray Escarra as cute…

“Dakota’s the freshman Fabian’s been buttering up for the past couple weeks,” Ray replied, and though his smile wasn’t obvious, it was there, and it was amused. “Probably for some sort of sex.”

“Ray!” Angela gasped, though her tone was only a little mortified and more of a laugh than anything else. Fabian, on the other hand, didn’t look impressed. “Hey, come on. I don’t do crap like that.”

“Right, I nearly forgot Tess was just a figment of my imagination,” Leo teased, which only prompted Fabian to flip him off through a mouthful of his milkshake. Fiona chuckled from Miles’ right. “These are your closest friends, huh?”

“Ah, well, Ray and Angela and I are…”

“Exclusive?” Ray added from his left quietly, his quiet, lightly accented voice suddenly sounding much closer than Miles remembered. He decided not to embarrass himself by turning, nodding instead. “That’s… One way to put it. But otherwise…” He glanced over to the other teens at the table, who were squabbling playfully (and loudly, as per usual) about Fabian’s rumoured sex life. Miles let out a little sigh. Ray chuckled lightly. “Remember when it was just the four of us?”

“Vaguely,” Miles joked. It seemed like a long time ago, when it was normal for him, Ray, Angela and Leo to act like the most childish of friends with each other, even if it had only been barely a year. Sometimes he missed the simple four-person friendship-childish things like wrestling with Ray and even miniature food fights with whipped cream with Angela were things that didn’t seem to exist anymore, which was probably for the best, if he thought about it. They couldn’t be children forever after all.

“Hey.” Leo stood, tossing his empty ice cream cup in the garbage as he did. “I should get back. I’ve got a geo test after lunch.”

“Right, that’s today…” Lucia sighed too, following Leo’s lead and pushing auburn curls out of her eyes. “I should go too. Too bad we didn’t get more time together. It’s been awhile.”

“We all should really get back…” Ray mused as Lucia and Leo left the diner, glancing over to Miles, who snapped out of his thoughts, nodding. “Yeah, go ahead. I’ll wait for Fiona. We’re in the same English class.”

Ray nodded silently, standing up from the diner booth too, slinging his bag over his shoulder. “Seeya.”

Fiona raised an eyebrow at him as she took what looked like her second last bite of ice cream, her full lips turned up into a tiny smile. “Man, you don’t have to wait for me.”

Miles shrugged-not only did he not want to have to deal with the nerves of the five or ten minute walk back to school alone with Ray, he really was coming to enjoy Fiona’s company, both during and outside of school. She was witty and smart, and had an eye for things Miles didn’t exactly understand.

“How do you know English if you’re from Spain?”

“Hmm?” Fiona took the last bite of her ice cream, glancing over to Angela as she did. “My parents taught me a few languages when I was little because my father travelled a lot. So I know Italian, Spanish and English almost equally well. And I learned French when I was in elementary school.”

“So you can speak four languages fluently?” Miles asked, suddenly curious. “Is your brain like, significantly bigger than ours or something?”

Fiona laughed, nudging him gently with her hip to slide out of the booth, which he did, her close behind. “Haha, I wish. I don’t think I’m much smarter than you or Angela, unfortunately… But it is helpful to know multiple languages.”

Ah, oui, c’est tres facile a parlé aux les autres,” Angela’s near-perfect French was something Miles only really heard when they were teasing each other, or saying something they didn’t really want another person to catch. Their natural accents were generally thick enough and they spoke quickly enough that most non native French speakers usually couldn’t catch onto their conversations, and it was a nice way to be able to communicate.

Fiona nodded with a little laugh. “So you two are French yourselves, then.”

Miles nodded as they left the dinner, the air getting more and more nippy with the day it seemed-it was November by then, and even if it was only the first week, it seemed much chillier than that. “Yeah. We were born there, so it’s more natural than English most of the time.”

“Well I guess we have one more thing in common, huh?” Fiona nudged him with her hip, her expression as light and playful as ever-it made him wonder if she’d somehow just escaped all the hardships life generally doled out, or if she even had a serious side. She seemed far to carefree and almost… Shiny for either of them to exist in her life, and like a moth to light, he knew both himself and his twin were undeniably drawn to her.

Which Miles had to admit, as the three of them. fell into natural, friendly conversation, wasn’t a bad thing at all.

Miles had never particularly enjoyed school-it wasn’t that he didn’t like learning, or he wasn’t good at it, considering he generally kept up a steady minimum of an 85% average, which was honour roll in Mississauga. He just preferred not to be surrounded by people, which was unavoidable in a high school of any kind, and if he did have to be with a group of people, he much preferred his friends over anyone else. Despite the fact he really didn’t much like being given exceptions because of his anxiety, whether it be with people or about himself, he had to admit, his sophomore year was going far better with someone he could shy away into the corner with in each of his classes.

Even if that person in his French happened to be Ray, who lit up his nerves and emotions more than his anxiety did lately. In which case, it proved much easier to ignore the lesson (he was a native French speaker anyway) and pop in his earbuds and not think about his fluctuating sexuality.


The blond jumped in his seat, taking out his earbuds quickly as Ray waved a hand in front of his face. He felt his cheeks flush red as he met Ray’s amused chocolate gaze. “Dude. The bell rang five minutes ago.”

“S-sorry,” Miles mumbled, clearing his throat and shoving his binder in his bag, slinging it over his shoulder. “I was, uh…”

“Fantasizing about fooling around with Fiona?” Ray suggested with a little smirk, waving briefly to their teacher as they left the class, and Miles punched his arm hard, knowing he was probably too small to do much damage to his friend, even if he had more muscle. “Get your head out of the gutter! I’m not a pervert, and I’m not into Fiona!”

“Really?” The Spanish boy raised an eyebrow as they made their way down the hallways, which were gradually emptying out. “Because you two seem pretty damn close, and it’s only been a week and a bit since she got here.”

“We aren’t,” Miles insisted, and despite himself, he felt his heart twist and squeeze at how oblivious his best friend was to his affection. “Seriously. You can have her.”

Ray cocked his head and crossed his arms as the short blond boy pushed open the doors to the school, smiling at Angela, who was waiting at the usual spot in front of the building with Fiona, who followed her quickly as she skipped over to join them. “That seems more than a little fishy, for you to be giving up such a cute girl so easily to me. Do you think you’ve finally overworked yourself to the point of madness?”

“Let’s not talk about this now, okay?” Miles muttered as Angela stopped in front of them, Fiona not far behind, her long curls windblown. He ignored Ray’s little chuckle, even though it made his heart jump, smiling at the girls. “So we’re keeping up with the thing where we wait for each other all through the year, huh?”

“Well, I mean, you’re kind of my brother, if you didn’t notice,” Angela teased, the butterfly-shaped rash that bloomed across her cheeks and nose when her lupus was bad having almost completely disappeared. With no hesitation, Fiona added lightly, “And I kind of live less than a street away from you, if you didn’t notice.”

“Ah, we’ve got a couple of sassy ones in our ranks,” Ray hummed with a little bit of a tease in his own voice. “I sense a couple troublemakers in the works.”

“Damn, you caught us!” Fiona’s gasp was over dramatic and her smile was contagious, and Miles bit his lip against a laugh as she pretended to faint into Angela’s arms. “Partners in crime we are! Right, Angela?”

Ah mais oui-vous avez nous découvrir!” Angela’s reaction was just as exaggerated, and Miles couldn’t help but laugh as she in turn feigned fainting into Ray’s arms, who was also smiling in amusement. “Oh la la la la! Qu'allons-nous faire maintenant? C’est une desastre!

Ray shook his head with a sigh, and even though his face was as straight as usual, his coffee-coloured eyes gleamed in obvious amusement as he glanced over to Miles. “Well, I think that we’ve perhaps made quite the mistake adding another girl to the equation, huh?”

The blond boy smiled. “I dunno… I think things just got a lot more interesting.”

“So… Your sister skates too?”

“I do,” Angela replied before he could as she laced her skates-unlike Miles, who preferred to completely change in the dressing room, skates included, she’d always hated walking in figure skates, and tended to limit that time to as little as possible. Ray nodded from where he stood beside Fiona, completely dwarfing her short form. “It’s a bit of a long story, and isn’t my place to tell it. But both of them can skate fairly well.”

“It’s more a matter of ‘will Miles let me on the ice today’,” The female side of the twins half-joked, joining Miles on the ice. He grabbed her hands as she did, spinning quickly with her and smiling-it had been a long time since they’d skated together, with school and Angela’s lupus, and she laughed joyfully. “Though it’s worth it if he does!”

“Aww, you two are cute,” Fiona crooned from the boards, and though Miles rolled his eyes, he didn’t complain, letting go of Angela instead and using their joined momentum to spin her across the ice. Despite the fact it had to have been at least three or four months since she’d been on the ice, her form was impeccable, and Miles clapped as she ended the spin with a flourish. He heard Fiona chirp, “Bravo! Bravissimo!”

“Haha,” Angela was smiling, her face brighter than Miles had seen in a long time. Maybe it was another one of their odd twin connections, or just the feeling of being on the ice with her again, but he felt his chest bloom into happiness even by just barely catching her eye as she glanced over to their friends at the outside of the rink. “I used to be much better, and a lot stronger, but yanno… Thanks.”

Miles had learned that Fiona was a good audience, and he enjoyed her accompanying them to the rink after school. She was more animated than Ray was naturally (not that Miles would change him in the slightest), and seemed to love to gush about how much she’d adored his junior performances, whether they be the good the bad or the ugly. She was an overly optimistic person all around, and he really had to wonder what demons she had hiding beneath her contagious smile sometimes, even if he was far too shy to ask.

Ray was a good audience too, Miles reminded himself as he did an easier jump, more working on his landing than anything. Ray was as good an audience as Fiona was, just in a different way. He was quieter, more dignified than Fiona’s loud cheers, but he was an expert at facial expressions and even communicating through looks and glances-but perhaps that was only apparent to someone who’d known him for as long as he did. Even if he wasn’t the best at keeping up with what was what when it came to figure skating, he knew what was good, and when Miles needed a pick me up, and the tiny smile he offered when the blond boy did need encouragement had always been enough, even before his little crush had developed.

“It feels good, huh?” Miles grinned at his sister as she skated past him, his expression mirrored on her face. “It feels like home for sure.”

“Hey, Fiona, can you skate?” Miles asked, his voice much lighter and carefree that it had been what felt like a long time. He saw the shorter Spaniard shake her head, her dark curls tied in twintails bouncing as she did. “I would have never had the chance.”

“We should ask Mira if you can borrow a pair of skates,” Angela suggested, obviously on the same page as Miles was. “We could teach you.”

“Ooh, that sounds fun!”

“Please, don’t let those two trick you,” Ray intervened, a tiny bit of a laugh in his otherwise serious voice. “I haven’t skated in four years, and I bet you can’t guess why.”

Fiona’s already-large brown eyes widened as Miles stopped to lean on the boards, Angela skating in beside him. “Damn, what exactly did you two do?”

“Nothing!’ Miles protested, though he was biting back a smile-he could remember teaching Ray how to skate when they were eight or nine, despite his obvious disdain towards the activity. Though it had lasted all of five times with Ray on the ice, Miles could vaguely remember himself being perhaps too excitable to get his best friend on the ice… And it had promptly left a bad impression on the young Spanish boy.

“I don’t like skating, in general, and never have,” Ray replied shortly, crossing his arms over his chest with a sigh. “But you can’t deny these two are very good at what they do.”

“Yes we are!” Angela agreed, skating back into the middle of the rink, her short, barely shoulder length blonde hair fluttering out behind her as she did a pattern of jumps and turns, the smile never leaving her face-or Miles’. He glanced up to Ray with a cheeky grin. “Sure you don’t want to join us?”

“Haha, no.” The handsome Spaniard bit back a smile, and Miles couldn’t help but reciprocate, more than he was already doing, at least. “I’m good, Bubbles. But I will watch.”

“Well, I guess that’s fair,” Miles replied, turning to join Angela on the large, empty rink as Ray made an amused sound, mumbling something Spanish under his breath. Miles didn’t quite understand, but was probably something about how ridiculously different they were, but he really couldn’t bring himself care about it as he and Angela began to skate circles around each other, Fiona cheering with every stunt they pulled off. And as he looked over to Ray, he could see the little smile on his face too, his dark eyes content as he watched the twins.

November was generally a month Miles liked. The temperature got cooler, the first snows would fall, the outdoor skating rinks would open, and it was one month closer to his and Angela’s birthday. There were usually competitions in November and December-competitions that often offered a hefty cash reward, which was heaven for his family, whether they liked to admit it or not-but Miles had his eyes on the prize that year. His only routine until March was the one he was preparing for the world championships, and though he knew that it would be difficult not to wish he was performing as the season began to pick up and the television stations began to broadcast the competitions, it was for the better. Especially with how far he was bumping up his difficulty, Miles knew it was important he focused on the big leagues-which is what he told himself as he sat at the coffee table, watching his old performances and trying to come up with his new one. He’d never really liked watching his old performances too much-he seemed like a whole different person on the ice. From the time he’d began skating competitively around nine or ten, he’d went from the shy and classical music to being, well… showy. Though he’d learned from about eleven forward that his showy performances didn’t always work out when he needed the points, he was known for his showy, over the top performances in the junior world-and there wasn’t really anyone like him in the senior world as of then. Ezra had compared him to Johnny Weir time and time again, and though he wasn’t sure how alike he and the American skater were when it came to personality (for one thing, he wasn’t known for being flamboyantly gay), he had to admit, sometimes he did look like Johnny Weir, and his music choices were getting increasingly similar to his-not that he minded. Being compared to any other successful skater gave him a sense of pride.

Miles sighed, watching his performance from the national championships the year before-he’d won silver with an unusual routine, even for a junior. He’d used the song ‘Mamma Mia’, following his trend of using 70s and 80s music, which had definitely amused most of the audience. At the time of planning that particular routine, it had seemed so easy to pick out music.

And one year later, here I am, struggling to do the same goddamn thing.

He loved how much freedom Ezra had always given him-though it had screwed him over a couple times before, his style had become obvious to anyone who’d seen more than a few of his performances. He liked old music with his young-looking style of performing, and he didn’t really like to sway from that.

Maybe I should do another 70s or 80s song. Keep up my little tradition…

With a sigh, Miles opened his playlist. Most of what he listened to was either rock (which seemed to surprise people) or 70s and 80s music, perhaps because he’d grown up with practically nothing else. Most of his performances reflected that, and he could still remember the surprise on Ezra’s face when he’d asked to skate to ‘Any Way You Want It’ for his first junior world championships. Still, it had made him memorable, and he’d placed bronze that year on top of it.

Any song he’d used once or twice before he took off his playlist-he wasn’t too much a fan of doing things multiple times. Biting his lip, he scrolled through-some of the songs he loved would be hell to choreograph, and he needed something that felt natural for such a massive competition, something that would give him the same memorable bang he had with ‘Any Way You Want It’.

As he scrolled through, the title of a song caught his eye-’Playing to Win’? I haven’t heard that in forever, but it sounds promising… Without another thought, he popped in his earbuds and pressed ‘play’.

“Hey Miles, are you-”

“Shush,” Miles interrupted, though motioned for his sister to join him on the floor of the living room, unplugging his earbuds and letting the song play aloud. Angela cocked her head. “Is this what you’re going to use for your program?”

He shrugged. “You tell me. Should I?”

“Ah…” Angela listened beside him in silence for a moment, before shrugging herself. “I can definitely see it working in your favour. But you’d have to do it right…”

“So yes or no?”

“Hmm…” She short blonde girl paused for a moment, and Miles raised an eyebrow. “So?”

“I think you should either do this, or do another ‘Any Way You Want It’ debut,” She suggested, standing up before he could reply and tapping him on the head. “And I made lunch. Just in case you were wondering.”

“You didn’t need to,” Miles called after her as she slipped back in the kitchen. As usual, his twin simply smiled at him, the smile that said, ‘I did, otherwise you would starve to death.

As his sister disappeared back into the kitchen, Miles sighed, pausing his music and leaning back against the couch, watching the interview after his latest junior world championships. He really did look like a completely different person during competitions, from his unwavering confidence to the light, almost undetectable makeup Angela had become so good at applying. Perhaps that was part of it-Angela had done her own makeup from the time they’d hit ten, and she’d liked it enough she’d learned to do his, and still did. Though he didn’t like how she added the subtle effects the other boys his age didn’t have when she’d started doing his makeup, he had to admit, as he watched himself laugh lightly about something the person interviewing him had said, that the ever-so-slight glitter on his eyelashes (which he’d heard time and time again were ridiculously long, and made him look even more like Angela) made his green eyes pop and the well-drawn snowflake near his left ear on his cheekbone had become something signature to only him. He looked young and he performed younger and he liked that. Miles smiled at Angela as she sat down on the couch behind him with a plate of what looked like spaghetti, and though he didn’t say it aloud, he couldn’t help but think about how lucky he was to have his twin sister playing such a big part in his life.

November also meant midterms, and midterms meant Miles had something to worry about on top of his career and Ray, Angela and his mother. He’d had his first midterm exams the year before, and he’d actually ended up missing two of them for his final competitions before he began preparing for the world championships. He already wasn’t the very best at school (the only reason he got past with a general 84% average was probably his time management, which was better than most teens) and it hadn’t been fun doing midterms after midterms had ended. Maybe it was a good thing that he wasn’t competing that November, because he had to note he felt good about his grades as the last of three exam days ended, and he, Fiona, Angela and Ray, plus Leo, who was taking the bus to the animal shelter from the stop near their house, walked home.

“So you think you did well?” Leo asked, his attitude as carefree as usual. Miles nodded, shifting his backpack on his shoulders as they walked, a chill running up his spine as a frosty wind blew-South Canadian winters generally ran from November to the end of March, or even sometimes mid-April, and it seemed that year was no different. He smiled a little as he felt Angela huddle closer into his side, letting his arm slide around her shoulders. “I think so.  I didn’t have a ton of hard classes this term.”

“Well, at least one of us is confident,” Leo replied, with a puff that clouded in front of him in the chilly air, and Fiona chuckled. “Not sounding to happy there, huh, Leo?”

“Please, little miss, you can’t be doing any better, with your Spanish background.”

“Gosh, I’m offended,” Fiona brought her hand to her chest with a mock gasp, her usual drama present. “I’ll have you know, I think I did quite well. My last year in Europe was composed of English classes.”

“I think I did pretty well too,” Angela piped up, clearing her throat-was she getting sick? “And assuming Ray hasn’t changed in twelve years, you’re the only one who’s in trouble here.”

“I don’t think it’s been twelve years…” Ray chuckled under his breath, before glancing over to Leo with a bit of a smirk. “But yes. I think you’re the only one who’s secretly having a panic attack, Leo.”

“I am not having a panic attack,” Leo protested, though his voice was confident. “I don’t know if you noticed, I’m not exactly on honour roll.”

Fiona chuckled. “Sounds accurate.”

Miles bit back a smile as Leo feigned a playful lunge at Fiona, who let out a squeak, pressing into his other side and nearly taking them both down. The blond laughed as he caught her tightly before either of them could fall. “Damn, Leo, I don’t need to kill the poor girl.”

“Also don’t need to molest her,” Ray muttered lowly under his breath, though there was a hint of something unusual in his voice, different from his usual wit and smarmy attitude. Miles decided to ignore it-Fiona and Leo didn’t seem to pick up on it, and Angela said nothing, though he would bet that she noticed as well.

“Anyway, I am confident in one thing,” Leo cleared his throat, speaking in a mock regal manner. “That all of you scored higher than me.”

“Speaking of confident, I heard people are betting on the highest and lowest scores for each grade and each class,” Fiona added, her voice toned down from the high-pitched mischievousness she usually had. “Is this a Canadian thing or something?”

“Uh…” Angela hesitated as they waited for the light to change, and Miles took the opportunity tin to fill in for her, with a bit of an awkward chuckle. ”It’s… More of just an ARS thing…”

“One of Aspen Ridge’s… More questionable traditions,” Ray added as they crossed the street, the wind whipping up again, nearly tugging Angela’s lavender beanie off her head. “I’m fairly sure the teachers are aware of it too.”

“And just let it happen?”

Leo shrugged, halting by the bus stop (Miles had almost forgotten he wasn’t continuing home with them, it had become such a habit). “ARS pride, right?”

“ARS pride,” Miles echoed with a little smile-Aspen Ridge was known for its high averages and good programs, but there were a number of traditions and acts that the students were known for, the exam bets being one of the biggest ones that were schoolwide. And while it seemed odd to freshmen and exchange students, it was normal to most of the students, even them, the new sophomores.

“Bring us back a puppy from the pound!” Angela chirped as Leo stepped into the bus shelter, and Miles elbowed her. “Don’t you encourage him.”

“Hey, where are we going, by the way?” Fiona asked as they continued down the sidewalk, approaching the crosswalk where the streets forked into their street and Fiona’s street. Before the last couple months, it had been routine for Miles and Angela to accompany Ray home, or vice versa, but it had been slightly disrupted by both Fiona’s arrival and Miles’ crush, which to his dismay, seemed to get closer to what Angela dubbed ‘puppy love’ by the day. Either way, though it had been established that Fiona was completely okay with being left out of their usual habits, or being included in them, Miles found he generally preferred her around. Not only was she a bit of a buffer between the one-sided tension between him and Ray, she was natural-feeling, and he liked her as a part of his small circle of friends.

“I’m going home,” Angela replied, stretching with a yawn. “I think I’m getting sick.”

“And I guess I am too, then,” Miles shrugged, nudging Fiona lightly. “You could go chill out with Ray though…”

“Ooh, how ‘bout it, Ray?” Fiona teased, in turn bumping Ray playfully with her hip, prying a laugh from Angela-though the tall Spaniard didn’t seem to react the same, the familiar amused sparkle in his eyes absent as he cleared his throat, shrugging to bring his bag higher on his shoulders. “I should clean up before my mom or Mari gets home. They don’t like when my stuff gets everywhere.”

“Aww, really?” Fiona’s face turned into a cute but undeniably faux pout as they stopped at the crosswalk-well, three of them, anyway. Ray continued walking for a couple steps, before turning to face them with a little sigh, replying in irritation, “Yes. I’ve got projects to work on.” He turned and began across the street. “I’ll catch you guys tomorrow.”

For a moment, the three of them were silent, before Angela stated sarcastically, “Well. He’s not acting odd in the slightest.”

“Indeed,” Fiona hummed, though her tone was more serious than Angela’s, and she glanced up to the taller of the twins. “Should we be worried?”

“Not… Yet…” Miles replied curiously-it had been a long time since he’d seen Ray close up so quickly, especially with people he was generally very comfortable with, but even if it hadn’t happened in awhile, Ray was still as introverted as he was shy… Even if all of them tended to forget it. It wouldn’t have been unheard of for him to need time of his own, working on those little clockwork pieces he seemed to love so much, and Miles typically liked to give him the benefit of the doubt when it came to such things.

“Well, if you’re sure,” Fiona replied, though her own voice didn’t sound completely sold. She smiled a little at both of them, shivering as the wind howled again. “Anyway, I’ve gotta get home. Don’t get any sicker, either of you, alright?”

“Can do!” Angela chirped, light and cheery as possible to the Spanish girl as she began down her street, waving back at them as she did. Miles smiled a little, sticking his own hands in the pockets of his sweater as he and his sister began across the street. “She’s…”

“Very cute?”

“Very mischievous,” Miles corrected, unable to keep the amusement out of his tone. “Much like someone else I know.”

Angela laughed a little. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Hey, do you really think Ray’s…”

“Normal?” Angela nodded as he fumbled for his key as they approached the house. The young skater hesitated, and then made a face. “I… Think that sometimes he just needs space.”

“Usually he, I don’t know… Tells us, though.” The female half of the twins sighed as they stepped up onto the porch of their house, glancing to him as he unlocked the door. “Maybe it’s because I was in the hospital, or because of your thing for Ray or because of Fiona, but things have gotten weird since the end of September.”

“Because of Fiona, or my thing for Ray?” Miles scoffed as he opened the door. “Nothing’s weird,” He lied through his teeth-the moment he admitted anything was up, things only tended to get worse. “And if it was, then it wouldn’t because of either of those things.”

“Alrighty then,” Angela hummed, sounding rather unconvinced as she dropped her school bag by the stairs by the door, before making her way to the kitchen-hopefully to take her meds and something for her cold. “Whatever you say, o brother of mine.”

Miles rolled his eyes as he locked the door behind him, dropping his bag next to his twin’s and falling into his usual routine, but couldn’t help wondering what exactly had changed-and when it was going to stop screwing with all of their heads.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 06:13:54 PM by Effie Azzara »

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy little novel by Effie
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2017, 12:59:33 AM »
Chapter 4

Miles took a breath, closing his eyes on the deep inhale, and letting them flutter open on the exhale. He wanted to get his routine (or at least a decent chunk of it) down, preferably before he had to leave to go to school that day. Though it wasn’t as if he couldn’t practice off the ice (Ezra often encouraged him to find his bearings in more everyday surroundings, as he wouldn’t always have the opportunity to practice on a rink, especially before competitions) he much preferred to, especially when he was picking up a new routine of such a high difficulty. Though he could pull off a lot without his skates (despite his smaller frame, he had a lot of hidden muscle to him), things like the quadruple axel he was so focused on could be hard to do in his room, or the school’s dance studio.

The blond took another deep breath, stalling a little, before pressing the ‘play’ button on his earbuds. Ezra didn’t particularly like him using earbuds over the speaker system of the rink because of the lag, but most of the time he couldn’t bring himself to care. He’d never had trouble with lag in the past, anyway.

He’d chosen ‘Any Way You Want It’, and even though he definitely could have chosen a better song for what he wanted to pull off, there was an irresistible sense of nostalgia he got from writing out and performing a whole new routine to the song he’d debuted with years before. Ezra had called it ‘a ballsy move’, though as usual, had agreed to let him perform it, as long as he could skate to it-which Miles found he not only could do with ease, but enjoyed doing as well, as chorus began and the challenge of both remembering the new routine and keeping up with the ridiculously fast pace really began. He loved it though, the feeling of mastering (or on the road to doing so, at least, he thought as he missed a turn completely) something new, something exciting, something he could show off with pride. Even his sloppy, sometimes under or over rotated jumps and awkward turns while he worked out kinks in the routine felt exhilarating to do, especially with something as fresh and exotic as his current pieces.

Though Ezra sometimes called him ‘young and foolish’, to put it simply, Miles preferred to skate to songs he knew and liked-something skaters generally had to grow out of, especially before the ban on skating to music with lyrics was lifted. Miles himself didn’t really see a problem with it-as long as the song was skateable to, then it made sense for a personal favourite to be something considered for the routine. Even though in the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but scold himself lightly for the mistakes he’d made in one of the first run-throughs, the blond was mouthing the words out of habit as he began to built up momentum for his biggest feat, which he’d become remarkably better at recently. His landings had gotten nicer, and it seemed at that point his biggest problems would be how much air he could gain within the time he needed, and how well he could continue the performance after he landed. Because of the height he needed, and the constant effect of gravity, even landing a quadruple anything could knock the air out of someone, and though it didn’t quite stun him, there was definitely a price to pay after pulling off such a stunt, and that time was no exception. Miles felt the familiar wobble in his knee as he landed, though continued through the last quarter of the song. From then on, he’d definitely wear his knee brace, no matter how much he disliked it.

Though it definitely wasn’t perfect, Miles finished the routine with a smile, even though he was out of breath. He closed his eyes with a little, joyful laugh. It’s been awhile… it’s been awhile for sure.

Suddenly, snapping him out of his adrenaline-fueled daze, the blond skater heard clapping, and turned quickly to see none other Ray and his sister standing behind the boards. Angela whooped, though her voice was still scratchy from the harsh cold she’d suffered-”All right! That’s coming along pretty well!”

“How long have you guys been there?” Miles breathed out as he made his way over to them. Ray shrugged. “Either you messed up, or we missed your quadruple axel.”

“I didn’t mess up,” Miles huffed, even though he knew it was a lie. “Not on that part at least.”

“I mean, it’s only been like a day and a half since you finished the routine, right?” He nodded in response to his sister's question. “I mean, it’s not going to be perfect yet.”

“I know,” He replied, tucking a loose lock of hair behind his ear-he’d decided to tie it back, at least while he was practicing, though how nice of a ponytail it was generally wasn’t at the top of his priority list. “I’m guessing you’re here to tell me to get off the ice and ready for school.”

“Only because it’s exam result day,” Angela smiled a little. “Did you bet?”

“Are you kidding? Skating doesn’t make a lot of money, you know, but the equipment is expensive.” He glanced to Ray. “Did you bet?”

“Ah… Yeah, but only in tenth grade French and music,” He replied, leaning on the boards. “Anyone who didn’t bet on you and Fabian is crazy. You two have been on top since middle school.”

“Ooh, yeah, I should’ve bet on music too,” Angela nodded, and Miles smiled a little-he was known to be at the top of the French classes, as well as his dance class. “Damn, you didn’t bet on me for dance too? I’m disappointed in you two.”

“Hey, you said yourself, we don’t have all the money in the world,” Ray replied, though was smiling all the same. “Come on, Bubbles, anyone who knows you knows you’re the best of the best when it comes to dancing.”

“Aww, why thank you,” Miles nodded as he stepped off the ice-even if he loved skating, he liked to see exam results, and as the cherry on top, the results of the bets placed. Even if he wasn’t one to really enjoy gambling, it was certainly amusing to watch.

“Did you run into Fiona?” The young skater asked as he made his to the changeroom-it had become habit for the four of them to walk to school. Angela shook her head. “No, we left pretty early. She probably knows where we are, though.”

“We’ll see her at school either way,” Ray shrugged as they paused by the changeroom doors. “She knows about the exam results.”

“I guess that’s true,” Miles admitted, beginning to push open the door. “But I like her walking with us. She’s practically one of us now.”

“I’ll keep an eye out for her while we wait,” Angela promised, smiling at him. “And if I do see her, tell her that you were looking ever so wistfully for her.”

He smiled back, shaking his head as he entered the changeroom. “Don’t do that. You’ll scare her off for sure.”

He heard Angela laugh as the changeroom door swung shut behind him, and Miles couldn't help but crack a little bit of a smile as he began to untie his skates and undress. Between Ray’s already naturally serious demeanor, and the heaviness that came with his own often problematic life, they needed something a little lighter every once in awhile, and Fiona’s personality definitely did exactly that. Miles preferred to keep such a bright light close in times of stress, such as midterms or the time leading up to the world championships. It was very nice, to say the least, and the blond skater smiled a little at the thought of the short, cheerful Spaniard.

It wasn’t a surprise Angela and Ray were waiting in the lobby of the rink (he nodded to Mira on the way past her), though the time that had passed while he’d changed was one. Miles hadn’t left the house that morning with the intent on leaving the rink early-exam results had slipped his mind completely. He was suddenly grateful, though, he’d brought his school bag along with him. Angela and Ray’s conversation halted as he stopped in front of them, and he cocked his head. “What? Are we gonna go or what?”

“You aren’t going to stop back at your house?” Ray asked as they began to walk out, Miles between him and his sister as per usual. He shrugged. “I want to see the exam results. I can bring my skating bag with me, it’s not like I haven’t before.”

Ray slid his hands in the pockets of his jacket (which looked remarkably good on him, Miles had to notice, whether he wanted to or not) with a nod. “Alright. Fair enough.”

Miles was surprised at the blast of cold air that hit his cheeks as they left the building-though it was usually colder when he left for the rink in the morning than when he left for school, he didn’t really wake up until he was on the ice-meaning he was very capable of not feeling the true temperature sometimes. He blinked rapidly. “Wow. It, um… Got cold.”

“November’s nearly over.” Angela sighed, her blue eyes tired. “I mean, at least the sun won’t be able to kill me anymore…”

“Your birthday is coming up, though,” Ray added, glancing to both of them. “Do you want anything in particular?”

You, perhaps, Miles couldn’t stop himself from thinking, his cheeks flushing even redder than they were from the cold. He coughed, rather than answering Ray’s question and possibly humiliating himself.

Angela, however, cocked her head to the left, pulling her beanie lower to cover her ears as the wind picked up again. “Uh… You really don’t have to do anything for us, Ray, we haven’t had a real celebration or anything in years. We’re used to it, you know.”

“I know.” Miles rolled his eyes as Ray placed his arm atop his head again. “But you two always do something for me, even if it’s small.”

Miles opened his mouth to reply (and possibly order Ray’s arm off his head), though hesitated as someone familiar approached them as they came to the intersection.

“Hey!” Angela chirped as Fiona joined them at the light. The short Spanish girl smiled at her. “Hey. I figured you were at the rink, so I decided to meet you somewhere along the way.” She nodded to both Miles and Ray. “Morning.”

“Morning.” Miles smiled at her, glancing over to Ray-though often seeming cold and harsh, he was generally polite. As usual, the Spanish boy gave a slight nod. “Good morning.”

“Excited for the midterm results?” Miles shrugged as they began across the street, sliding his own hands in the pocket of the hoodie that was far too large on his small frame. “I mean, I guess. I’m not expecting much.”

“Oh?” Fiona cocked her head a little, her ponytail dipping to the right. “You didn’t bet on anyone?”

He shook his head, motioning to Ray and Angela. “You’re asking the wrong person.”

“He doesn’t usually bet,” Angela explained with a bit of a shrug, but was smiling. “So I do for the both of us, I guess.”

“I still enjoy myself,” Miles smiled too, glancing up to the greying skies that hinted at snow-the first snows of the year not only brought on the Christmas season, but the season of outdoor skating, and his, Angela’s and Ray’s birthdays. It was a beautiful time of year, and even if Angela complained it was freezing and Ray often proclaimed it was miserable, they all liked wintertime.

“Do you think you did well?”

“Hmm?” The female half of the twins piped up as they walked into the school. “Both of us? Well, I know Miles did better than me and Ray did better than Miles almost for certain…”

Ray sighed, running hands through his thick black locks as they left the front lobby (which was unusually empty) and made their way through the school, to the French and arts hallway. “Well, I suppose we’ll find out in a moment.”

By the looks of how the crowd was dispersing into the rest of the hallways, they’d missed the initial announcement-not that Miles really minded. The results would be posted for the rest of the day, it was usually just a lot easier to fulfill bets on the spot. Angela nudged him as they approached the French hallway’s bulletin board through the crowd of people. “Let’s see if your record stands, huh?”

“Shush,” Miles silenced her as the results came into the view of his less-than-perfect vision. Ray’s finger slid up to the top of the list, letting out a sigh and smiling over at him. “Miles Verde, with a score of 99.7%, followed by Cassius Clay with 96.3%, Haley Keele at 96% and Angela Verde with 95%. They do it again.”

“Wow, nice!” Fiona’s voice was genuinely impressed, and Miles couldn’t help but smile a little-though Haley was new, him, Angela and Cas had always been tied at the top of the class with French, even in middle school. And though Ray occasionally broke the top five, it wasn’t nearly as often as Miles beat out the rest of the grade.

“Well, seems like nothing’s changed, huh?” Ray sighed, though he seemed quite content. “Do we even need to check the dance and music boards?”

“I want to! I gotta see if Miles is as good as he claims now.” The blonde twins both laughed at Fiona’s optimism, and Angela checked her phone. “Why not? We have fifteen minutes until class starts.” She nudged Miles lightly. “And Miles’ ego could probably use another boost, eh?”

Miles chuckled a little as they turned to continue down to the arts hallway, glancing back to Ray, who still stood in front of the board. “Hey. You coming?”

“Hmm?” Ray blinked at him, and the blond smiled a little, cocking his head. The handsome Spaniard nodded after a moment, falling into step with him. “Yes. Of course, I’m coming.”

Predictably, Miles had also come out on top in dance-though it was a shock when Fabian had fallen into second for the tenth grade music program, and Miles was glad he’d decided not to take his chances. Ray and Angela were also predictably bitter about it, even if they hadn't lost much.

Miles glanced back to the dance list-his name at the top with a 97%-and decided to go down the list, which he hadn’t done before. He recognized the first few names, people he generally knew pretty well, or who practically begged him to teach them his ways. He halted at number nine, however, making sure he’d read the name properly-Fiona Apelchetta? I didn’t even know Fiona took dance…

Angela seemed to notice at the same time as he did, pointing to her name. “Fiona, you take dance?”

“Huh?” The cute mixed girl blinked, peering closer at the bulletin board. “Yeah, I… I did hip-hop and gymnastics until I left Europe… Oh, well, I wasn’t  expecting to be so high up in my marks though.”

“Damn, really?” Miles couldn’t help but grin at her-though he knew most of the dancers at Aspen Ridge, he didn’t have a lot of friends who danced. Angela could, but not nearly as well as she could when they were younger, and though every so often, and he kept in touch with some of the better skaters his age (not that many of them were moving on to the level he was), Miles wished he had friends who could skate or dance as well.

“Maybe we should dance together sometime,” Miles suggested lightheartedly, his eyes lighting up with the possibility. “Or I could teach you to skate with me. I’d bet you’d be pretty cool.”

“Ooh, sounds promising!” Fiona’s face mirrored his and, the blond skater couldn’t help the elated feeling-it had been a long time since he’d had a good friend interested in the same things he was, and loving to pursue such a passion.

“Hey, Miles, it’s five to,” Ray’s voice snapped him away from his moment with Fiona, and he glanced up to his friend. “So?”

“Science is on the other side of the school.” The Spanish boy cocked his head, a smirk playing on his lips-lips Miles couldn’t deny he’d wondered about on a whim. “You’ve been late nearly every day this term, Bubbles.”

“I…” The blond crossed his arms-he didn’t really have an argument, and he should have been on his way minutes ago, along with Angela, who was also in his science class. His twin nudged him. “Yeah, we really should be on our way, huh…”

“Oh, well…” Fiona smiled at both of them. “I guess I’ll see both of you at lunch.” She nodded towards Miles, her dark curls bobbing. “Think about teaching me to skate, alright?”

Miles nodded back as he and Angela turned to leave. “Yeah, definitely.” He gave Ray a little smile, and though it was greatly delayed, his childhood friend gave a petite smile, nodding back.

“You were in a real rush to get to science.”

“Shush.” Angela’s pace was quick, and though Miles could easily fall into step with her (they were twins, after all), it wasn’t usually so fast-paced. “I think I’ve figured out what happened.”

Miles cocked his head, pushing bangs out of his green eyes. “What happened...?”

“Remember, you were saying something weird was happening?” She reminded him, and he nodded, replying hesitantly, “Yeah, I said something had changed, but-”

“Shut up and listen, will you?” The male half of the twins couldn’t help but crack a smile at how obviously irritating he was being towards his sister, but listened all the same. Angela tended to have a better eye for picking things up when it came to people, and he trusted most of her observations.

“It’s not you or me or Fiona,” She breathed, as if she herself was realizing it as well-which Miles realized was completely possible, considering how fast she’d pulled him away from Ray and Fiona. She stopped him before they entered their science classroom, her eyes more serious than usual. “It’s Ray.”


Though it shouldn’t have been his first thought, Miles couldn’t stop the words from spilling out. “Does he know? Did you…”

“No!” Angela crossed her arms, looking somewhat insulted as her brow furrowed. “What the hell, I said I wouldn’t say anything, and I haven’t! We haven’t even talked about it since!” She shook her head with a huff, her blue eyes rolling. “I haven’t said anything, and I’m assuming you haven’t either, so I don’t think this can be related to it.”

Miles’ heart skipped a beat-he couldn’t bear to think about the consequences of not only the student body realizing he’d fallen for his male childhood friend, but it would be absolutely devastating to lose Ray over a stupid crush. “You don’t think?”

“Wait, just hear me out.” The skater crossed his arms right back at his sister, trying to breathe through the rapid, erratic beating of his heart as he patiently listened to his sister. Angela nodded at him. “Okay. He’s jealous. Ray’s jealous.”

For a moment, Miles was unsure what to say-not only did the possibility of Ray of all people being jealous seemed ridiculously low (he’d gone on and on in the past about how little he cared for people’s opinions, or for relationships outside the ones he had) but if he was jealous…

Well, then all my minute chances with him are down the drain…

The latter thought made his chest tighten, though he ignored it as the bell rang and he and Angela stepped into the classroom, their usual silent agreement of putting the more insignificant problems away until after class in effect-though Miles muttered under his breath as he slung his bag over the back of his chair, “Ray doesn’t get jealous.”

Angela didn’t even look over at him. “Shut up, focus on school, and trust me on this one.”

He rolled his eyes, but decided to take his sister’s advice, taking out his notebook as the teacher began to take roll, trying to put the idea of his best friend doting on a girl out of his mind.

“I still don’t believe Ray’s jealous.”

“Ray’s jealous?” Fiona asked through a bite of something, and Miles shook his head, replying with a ‘no’ over Angela’s firm ‘yes’. Angela gave him a look. “Miles, he totally is, come on!”

“Of who?”

“Ray doesn’t get jealous,” Miles argued, though he wasn’t sure at that point what was truth and what he wanted to be truth. “Even when Isolda was here, he didn’t get jealous, so why would he now?”

“Of who?” Fiona repeated, louder this time, and both him and Angela glanced over to first her, then to each other. Angela bit her lip. “I’m not sure…but I think you and Miles. He wasn't like this before you showed up.”

There was another quiet moment while both Miles and Fiona seemed to let the possibility sink in, and though Miles had to admit, being jealous of how close Fiona was to him was better than a different girl, it still wasn’t ideal, and perhaps made it a little bit worse. Miles bit his lip, his gaze falling away from Angela’s eyes. He didn’t need to say anything-Angela knew she’d hit a nerve.

There was silence, other than the chilly wind that blew through the mostly empty courtyard, before Fiona leaned forward a little. “Alright, what the hell am I missing here?”

“Miles has a crush on Ray.”

“Angela!” Miles didn’t hesitate in shoving his sister nearly off the courtyard’s bench, hard enough she squealed in protest. “What the hell was that?”

“I’m sorry!” His twin whined, her tone practically begging for forgiveness-and for him not to hurt her any more physically. “I’m sorry. I really needed to tell someone, okay, and Fiona’s trustworthy!”

“That’s still no reason for you to…” Miles trailed off, taking a deep breath-arguing with Angela never really got either of them anywhere. She’d done the deed, and it wasn’t about to reverse itself. Instead, clearing his voice to try and shake the obvious anger in tone, he glanced over to Fiona. “Well, I really hope you’re better at keeping secrets than my sister.”

“That was a secret?” Fiona’s large brown eyes were surprised. “I… Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything…”

“You knew?” The blond skater raised an eyebrow, though the Spanish girl just shrugged. “I mean… I guess I just have an eye for things or something. I found it pretty obvious myself…”

“Right?” Angela agreed with a bit of a laugh, and Miles crossed his arms. “It’s not.”

“Well, as your sister, it is,” She leaned into him with a sigh. “But I didn’t think Fiona would pick it up. It isn’t that obvious, I don’t think.”

“Yeah.” Fiona nodded, swallowing. “I just have a good eye for things. Don't think about it too much.”

Miles sighed, deciding to keep quiet. Outside of his performances, he was a private person-he preferred his space, and that applied to his feelings too. Not only that, but he was determined to keep his ridiculous little crush from Ray, and preserve their friendship.

“Hey, so if Ray’s jealous of Miles and you, but Miles also has a thing for Ray…” Angela cocked her head to the left. “That's kind of the most cliche love triangle in the book. Doesn’t it make sense to just tell him at this point? Avoid any other needless confusion?”

“Oh, she does make a point.”

“No.” His answer was bitter and short. “Ray doesn’t get jealous. And I’m not losing a friend over something so trivial.” Miles stood up as another chilled breeze blew through the courtyard, slinging his bag over his shoulder. “I’m gonna get going. I’ve gotta keep on top of my schoolwork.”

“Miles…” Angela called after him unhappily, but he decided against looking back. He wasn’t particularly upset with either of the girls… But he wasn’t up to discussing his crushes or his sexuality at the moment. The blond let out a sigh, sliding his hands in his pockets as he opened the door and left the courtyard.

“Hey, Miles.”

Miles jumped at his name, slipping on the smooth, wooden floor of the dance studio and barely catching himself before he fell flat on his back. He turned towards the door after he caught his breath to see Fiona standing in the doorway, arms crossed over her ample chest and an amused smile on her face. “Your balance is pretty bad for a figure skater.”

“Oh shut up,” He muttered, picking himself up off the ground and sliding back into his shoes. “Like you could do much better.”

Fiona placed a hand on her cocked hip, raising an eyebrow. Do you really want to do that?”

Miles smiled right back at her. “There’s a reason I’m competing in the world championships and you aren’t.”

The mixed girl (Miles had learned her mother was black and her father was pure Spanish over the past few weeks) made an amused noise, dropping her backpack on the floor and shrugging off her jacket, before she easily (and undeniably impressively) bent back into a handstand, her form near perfect as she walked on her hands to finish face to face with him. She cocked her head with a smirk. “Just because I can’t skate doesn’t mean I can’t be a badass, Miles Verde.”

Though he was surprised-he knew Fiona was flexible, and was a pretty great dancer, but he’d had yet to see her gymnastics skills, something he didn’t have as much of. Even so, Fiona was fun to both compete with and against, and he smiled right back, cracking his shoulders. “I’m sorry, but badassery is my speciality.” Though he really should have taken a step back and let Fiona take her place as the best of the gymnasts, especially considering his arms weren’t considered the strongest part of his body, Miles couldn’t help but chase the competition and pushed himself backwards into a series of three handsprings, which he barely landed. He looked back to Fiona. “I can do more than skate.”

Fiona laughed, grabbing her jacket and bag as she did. “I don’t doubt it, but I’m still better at gymnastics than you.” She sighed, smoothing her clothing back into place, continuing to speak before he could argue. “Miles, I get that you’re probably not the happiest with Angela and me, but you should get home.”

“I’m not pissed at you,” Miles muttered, grabbing his hoodie (he wasn’t the best at reading the weather, even as the months passed and December approached) and pulling it over his head. “I’m just trying to forget the fact that I…” He trailed off-it didn’t even feel right to say he was… interested in Ray, they’d been friends for so long. He shook his head, slinging his bag over his shoulder. “Fiona, I could be interested in any other person, boy or girl alike, I don’t really care… But Ray?” He swallowed, his voice becoming strained and hushed as he spoke. “You haven’t been here for very long, but Ray’s… He’s almost like an older brother to me. It would completely change all my friendships if this got out.”

“I understand.” Fiona smiled at him a little, her eyes warm and different from her usual mischievous look. “I won’t say a thing, alright? And I won’t talk to you about it if you don’t want me to.”

“I…” Miles scanned Fiona’s expression for a long moment, biting down on his bottom lip. Though he couldn’t really find any reason not to trust her… He also couldn’t find a plentiful stash of reasons she was trustworthy anywhere either.

“Let’s get going,” Miles decided on after a long pause, beginning to walk out of the studio, glancing back to see Fiona out and flick off the light. She simply nodded, to his relief, though her expression conveyed her understanding of their unspoken words well enough, and the young skater felt a little bit of the heaviness on his chest lift as their usual, lighthearted conversation picked up again.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 09:50:47 PM by Effie Azzara »

Offline Forlorn Serpent

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy little novel by Effie
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2017, 05:38:09 AM »
Hey. I’ll bite. A synopsis would have been nice to see if you story gets to the point. Expect a review by the end of the day. It’s 4:37 AM where I live.

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy novel by Effie
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2018, 06:04:22 PM »
Chap 5 of draft 1.5. There's a part in the middle I might edit out later, but for now it stays.

December was upon them quickly-faster than anyone realized it seemed, as Miles watched the snow fall outside the living room’s window. It had only been a little under a week since midterm results had come in, and the weather had rapidly shifted from mildly chilly to full-out Canadian winter snowy-not that he minded. Perhaps it was because of the sport he did, or because of the time of his birthday, but Miles had an affinity for the cold, for the snow, for the clear winter nights when Ray would let him use the telescope the Escarras had owned for generations and help him point out the constellations. Though the blond was sure he’d go crazy with how his emotions had been over the past few months, he genuinely enjoyed sitting in Ray’s backyard with the telescope, the astronomy book and usually something to eat when they had the time. He’d come to be able to recognize astral bodies here and there, from the iconic Orion to being able to spot the coming and going of the zodiac constellations, including his own sign, Sagittarius, to his fascination with the bubble nebula near Cassiopeia, the origin of his nickname.

And the thought of that now sends me into a panic.

It was all too true, and Miles forcibly shook the thoughts of him and Ray under the blanket of winter stars as he heard Angela ask him something he couldn’t catch. He glanced up to her from his usual spot knelt in front of the coffee table, blinking and pushing his red reading glasses up his nose. “What? Sorry.”

Angela sighed, though her face was still bright as she held up a familiar decoration from a box of ornaments. “Do you want to put your ornaments on the tree?”

Though he preoccupied with finishing his homework before the weekend-he, Angela, Ray and occasionally Mari and Leo liked to go skating the first day the rink in downtown Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square opened, and the first day was that Saturday-he smiled, standing up to take the miniature, ceramic pair of skates from his sister’s hand. Decorating the fake Christmas tree was something they did as a family (even if they didn’t get a chance to do it all together anymore), and even though Angela generally took the role of most of the decorating, all three of them (plus Ray and Mari, who had spent ample Christmases at the Verde’s and vice versa) had ornaments that belonged only to them, that had become tradition for only them to hang them on the tree.

“I wish we had a real tree,” Miles sighed as he stood on tiptoe to hang the skates as high as he could reach-him and Angela had competed for years as children to see who could reach the highest, and it seemed the contest was prematurely decided, as both of them had stopped growing very early. “Ray’s family likes to do real trees. They smell good.”

“We could always ask to spend Christmas there,” Angela suggested teasingly, bumping him lightly with her hip as he grabbed another ornament from the box, and he gave her a look. “We aren’t doing that, for more reason than the one you’re thinking of.”

“Christmas means mistletoe,” She pushed playfully, grabbing a fake sprig and holding it over her head while she made a kissy face. She let out an unamused squeak as he smacked her over the head with a rolled-up page of a newspaper that was used for packing the ornament box. “Ow!”

“You’re the one who needs a lover,” Miles huffed, pulling a chair over to stand on to reach the second half of the tree-it was full-sized, and he was still only barely reaching 5’4. “Then you’d be out of my hair.”

“Hey, I could get a boyfriend!” Angela crossed her arms as he turned to her to ask for another ornament. “I have reasons just like you do, Miles, only mine are life-threatening.”

“I don’t think we should be competing on who has the sadder love life,” The blond skater stood on tiptoe to hang another spherical ornament on the top branches of the tree. “Mostly because I would win.”

“No you wouldn’t!”

“Please,” Miles hesitated for a moment-his mother was home, and she didn’t really need to know. “I accidentally swung gay for my best friend, who has the hots for the cute girl I recently befriended. That’s pretty sad.”

Angela opened her mouth to argue, and he looked down at her as she tried to find something valid to counter him with. Instead, after a long moment, she let out a laugh, shaking her head and handing him a couple strands of tinsel. “Wow. Hearing you say it like that makes it really sad.”

Miles glared half-heartedly at her, continuing to decorate the tree. He couldn’t deny it though-he was a truthful person, almost 100% of the time, and even with his debilitating shyness, he couldn’t remember a time where he’d had such a strong attraction to someone and hadn’t told them, or it hadn’t passed before he had the chance. And while he was turned down nearly 100% of the time, he much preferred the truth to the uncomfortable feeling of keeping a secret-something neither him or Angela were good at doing.

Well, I have to make myself good at it, because I’d rather lie than scare Ray away.

“Aww, remember this?” Miles blinked out of his daze as Angela held up another delicate-looking ornament-a glass, frosted and undeniably detailed snowflake, the inspiration for the mark his sister would draw on his cheek before every competition. He smiled, taking it in his hand. “Haha, yeah… This was from mom, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, when we were nine, I think.” He felt a wave of nostalgia as his sister pulled out a similar-looking glass ring of icicles. “This was mine…”

For a long moment, the twins stood in silence, eyes on the ornaments. Though some would argue she was never around, their mother did a lot to try and make them happy and healthy, and Miles couldn’t have asked for anything more.

“We should do something for her this year.”

“Yeah…” Miles nodded-as per usual, he and Angela were on the same page. “Maybe we should buy her something nice… I have leftover winnings from earlier this season.”

“Miles, she’d kill you if she knew you were using prize money for a present for her,” Angela pointed out as he stepped off the chair-he’d leave the rest for his mother and sister. The young skater shrugged. “So? She doesn’t have to know. And it’s not like I don’t have enough, I’ve been pulling in wins left and right this season.”

“I…” Angela trailed off with a shake of her head and a sigh. “I guess so. But don’t buy anything too outrageous, okay?”

“I won’t.” He imitated the playful hip bump she did as he passed her. “That’s why I’ll have you with me.”

The outdoor rink at Nathan Phillips Square usually opened in unison with the Cavalcade of Lights, the event that generally kicked off the Christmas season. Though it had been opened for the night of the festival, it had been closed soon after for temperatures being too warm and rescheduled to open December 5th, which happened to be that Saturday. Miles sighed as he felt Angela’s head droop onto his right shoulder, and though Fiona was on his left, she was glued to the window of the train. Ray and Leo were across from him, with Lucia in tow. It wasn’t often six of them went downtown together (it wasn’t often any of them went downtown together) but Miles didn’t exactly mind. Even if he did prefer to be alone most of the time, he liked the city, more than Angela or Ray did, even if he wasn’t as fond of the commute there.


Miles looked up from where he’d been focused on his knees to meet Ray’s dark eyes. “Thanks for kicking me.”

Ray’s straight-faced gaze stayed steady. “Why do you insist on going downtown if you get motion sick?”

“I…” Miles swallowed the nausea on the tip of his tongue-though he’d never actually thrown up on the bus or train, the heaviness in his head and stomach was never pleasant. “I like being downtown.”

“The only time I’ve been to Toronto was when I flew in…” Fiona’s voice was excited and childish-not too different from her usual tone, really. “I didn’t get to see it in daylight, but I’ve wanted to forever…”

“It’s not as majestic and impressive as Miles makes it out to be,” Lucia shrugged. “Ray gives a better example.”

“Please, both their opinions are completely skewed!” Leo crossed his arms, his green eyes lit up in amusement. “Ray thinks anywhere where you can’t get a quiet moment or see the stars is an awful place, and Miles thinks every time we go to the city it’s basically a vacation.” The redhead grinned at Fiona. “Now, if you will, little miss, I’m pretty sure I’ve got the best, balanced opinion on the city.”

“Really?” Lucia raised an eyebrow, leaning forward a bit to look at Leo from the other side of Ray. “I still agree with Ray.”

“And Fiona’s still probably going to agree with Miles.” Leo shrugged, pushing red curls out of his eyes. “I don’t care, because I’m still going to agree with me, that sometimes the city sucks, but it’s usually okay as long as you don’t get hit with a car.”

For a moment, the six of them fell silent, before Angela laughed sleepily from where Miles had assumed she’d been dozing on his shoulder. “I think I’ve gotta agree with Leo on this one.”

Miles rolled his eyes, nudging her. “Of course you do.”

“Hey, your birthday is coming up, right?” Fiona finally tore her gaze away from the window to look at him, and he tried to focus on her face rather than the fact they were only twenty minutes through an hour long ride. He nodded. “Yeah, me and Angela’s is the seventeenth.”

“Oh yeah!” Leo nudged him with his foot this time, definitely not helping his motion sickness in the least. “What do you two want for your birthday?”

“Nothing.” Though one voice was significantly sleepier, Miles spoke in time with his twin sister, evoking a bit of a chuckle from Fiona. Leo shook his head stubbornly. “Come on, you two have said that every year since we met. You have to want something.”

“Lucia, your birthday’s in a month or so, right?”

“Stop trying to change the subject!” Miles couldn’t help but laugh as Fiona shoved him lightly, almost falling over onto Angela. “Alright, alright! I seriously can’t think of anything I want, except maybe a new pair of skating pants, but not only does Ezra get me those, most of you don’t even know what those are!”

“I do!” The Spanish girl nudged him again, and he had to bite back his grin at her irritated look. “Miles! I can buy you a present!”

“Well, you shouldn’t, because I don’t need it.” Miles briefly met Ray’s piercing, silent gaze, before he quickly averted his eyes, feeling his ears begin to heat up stubbornly. “All of you, I don’t really need presents.”

“He really isn’t about to let up,” Ray put in, his voice as flat-sounding as ever, though there was a definite undertone of amusement somewhere laced in it. “I don’t think I’ve ever bought him a present he hasn’t tried to reject. Angela’s a little easier though.”

“Girls are easier to buy for anyway, though.” Lucia put in, and Miles had to agree-it could be a lot harder to pin down what a guy liked compared to the much bigger pool of possible gifts girls had to offer.

“Well, miss Angie-pants.” Leo’s bright green gaze settled on Angela. “What do you want then?”

“Nothing, Leo.” Angela sighed, nestling into Miles’ shoulder again. “We really don’t want anything.”

“Except maybe a few hours of skating.” The blond skater couldn’t bite back a chuckle at the unimpressed look on Ray’s face. “We don’t need money spent on us.”

“Stubborn, stubborn twins…” Lucia tutted shaking her head. “I don’t know how you deal with such stubborn friends, Ray.”

“Hey, Ray’s just as stubborn as I am.” Miles ignored the wave of nausea that came over him-sometimes Lucia’s comments rubbed him the wrong way, though he couldn’t always put a finger on why. “Do you know how damn hard he tries to get me out of bed and off the ice?”

“Ooh, yeah, I think Ray’s way more stubborn than either of us.” Angela hummed in agreement, the sound vibrating on Miles’ shoulder, comforting as his stomach did somersaults. He glanced up to see Ray looking generally unamused, opening a book-though he didn’t look upset in the least, perhaps the opposite. “I’m not stubborn. Bubbles is the most stubborn person you’ll ever come across.”

“I’m not.” Miles felt his stomach lurch as the train eased into a left turn. Fiona nudged him gently. “Where does the nickname ‘Bubbles’ come from? It’s cute.”

The French boy saw Ray open his mouth to speak, but he beat him to it-”Ray came up with it.”

“Aww, really?” Angela clasped her hands together with a girlish squeal. “I never knew that! That’s so cute!”

“It’s not really like that.” Ray glanced up from his book with a sigh. “When we were eleven or twelve, Miles was completely obsessed with this nebula that was dubbed the ‘bubble nebula’. Case closed.”

“Still, you seem to use it very affectionately.” Miles suddenly realized where both the girls were trying to direct the conversation, and he felt no remorse as he let his nimble fingers dig into Fiona and Angela’s ribs, both of them letting out shrieks as he did. Under his breath, he mumbled. “Shut the *censored* up, both of you.”

“It’s a nickname,” Ray replied simply, looking back to his chapter book-either he hadn’t noticed the girls’ giggling or he was simply ignoring them. With every ounce of his aloof attitude, he continued, “It’s something that’s generally used affectionately, right?”

“Well, yes, but…”

There was a moment of silence on the train, while Miles focused on anything but his pounding head and furious stomach, before Leo let out a little laugh. “Damn, Ray, I don’t think you even realize how cold you are sometimes.”

The station downtown-Union Station-was crowded, which wasn’t a surprise, considering it was a Saturday morning, though Miles could feel his heart leap into his throat by the amount of people he was suddenly surrounded by as they walked through the building. He heard Ray mumble to him, too tall to be right beside his ear, “Don’t get lost, because it’ll be like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Miles blinked up at him, raising an eyebrow as he was jostled by the crowd. “Is this some sort of joke about my height again?”

Ray’s lips turned up into a petite, charming grin. “Maybe.”

“Well, if we’re being honest-”

“Which we obviously are.”

If we’re being honest,” Miles repeated with a tiny bit of a huff as they and their four friends wove through the people in the station, wondering how he’d fallen for someone as cocky and blunt as Ray Escarra. “I think that you’re just too tall.”

The handsome Spanish boy raised an eyebrow, an amused glimmer in his dark brown eyes as they exited the station, the chilly air hitting his cheeks and nipping a his ears the moment they stepped outside. “I’m too tall.”

Miles crossed his arms over his chest. “Yes.”

Ray’s usually calm tone bordered on laughs as the other four of the group stopped for a moment to discuss something the blond wasn’t focusing on, and though he wanted to keep a straight face, the skater could feel not only his steady look breaking into a smile but blood rushing to his face at the unusual side of Ray he tended to be able to bring out. “I’mtoo tall. I measure barely 6 feet and you’re like 5’2 and I’m too tall, not the other way around.”

Miles cleared his throat, trying to stifle his smile. “Yes. Exactly.”

The tall tinkering boy said nothing, instead shaking his head with a chuckle and a click of his tongue, hummed under his breath. “Stubborn, stubborn, you’re so goddamn stubborn…”

“Look who’s talking,” Miles mumbled as he fell into step with Angela, not looking back to see Ray’s reaction-before he’d even began crushing on his best friend, the blond had learned he’d have to play coy to get Ray to pursue any further interaction with him. Men were simple creatures, no matter how different they were, and if their eye caught something shiny, they were going to go after it. And while Miles’ ‘shiny object instinct’ was different from Ray’s, the moment his weakness was found, the blond skater knew that he’d be more interested in his handsome best friend than he probably could handle.

It wasn’t a pleasant thought, and Miles pushed the possibility out of his mind immediately, deciding to focus on the task at hand.

He had mixed feelings about public skates, especially at Nathan Phillips Square. He loved skating, wherever he was, whenever there was time, and he lacked his usual shyness and anxiety the moment the blades of his skates touched the ice-but public skates were a bit of a different story. There were hundreds of people sometimes, and not only was there not a lot of room to practice anything worthwhile, but it did make him nervous to be in a place with so many people at the same time. Miles crossed his arms as he stood in front of Ray. “You really aren’t going to skate?”

“I don’t like skating,” Ray replied dryly, for what seemed like the twelve-thousandth time, his gaze as straight as ever, though it was far from unkind, which was something relieving-Miles couldn’t count the number of times he’d wondered how much Ray really cared for his presence, up until their last two or three years as friends. The young Spaniard was hard to read, and it had taken the Verde twins nearly a decade to even come close to understanding how to do it.

“I’ll stay with him.” Miles blinked as Lucia leaned casually against his childhood friend, and though he knew he was being ridiculous, the pang of jealousy that hit him was real. Lucia smiled at him. “Don’t worry about him.”

Miles’ seafoam eyes flicked back to Ray, who nodded at him, the usual tiny, almost unidentifiable smile crossing his face. “Miles, you know very well I prefer to watch, so why are you trying to convince me otherwise?”

“I can teach you, you know.”

“I’ll take a hard pass.” Ray cocked his head at him, his dark waves falling in messy layers as he did, which definitely didn’t help Miles trying his best to ignore his affections. “Miles, go enjoy yourself, alright?”

The blond sighed, but nodded. “Fine. I’m going.” With that, Miles skated to Angela’s side, deciding to help Fiona gain confidence on the skates rather than think about how utterly charming his best friend had become.

The six of them (rather, Leo and Angela) had decided they should get a bite to eat before heading home-it was very rare they were all together on a day off, and even rarer they ate a meal together, Both Leo and Angela also seemed to have bottomless stomachs, quite contradictory to Ray’s ability to somehow completely forget to eat, and Miles’ birdlike tendencies when it came to food. Lucia was hard to pin down, though Fiona seemed to be much like Leo and Angela when it came to mealtimes-a large appetite for someone so petite. It was why when they did eat out together, the diner by the school was so convenient-cheap, with massive portions to share between them all.

Unfortunately, (for Miles, at least), the food downtown was generally expensive and large-portioned, and as per usual, he was stuck eating a few bites of Angela’s and Ray’s large portions of pierogis (mostly Ray’s, considering the Spaniard’s very specific stomach capacity). Angela nudged him as she finished her last bite. “You need to calm down.”

“I’m calm,” He replied, though suddenly realized how tense he was in the small booth of the pierogi restaurant, his narrow frame warm between his best friend to his left and sister to his right. Miles took a breath, trying to force himself to relax as he glanced up to look at Fiona, across the table from him. “Did you like Toronto?”

“It was loud,” She admitted as she swallowed a bite of food. “And I nearly got lost. But otherwise, I liked it.”

“That’s good,” Leo nodded, dropping his fork on his empty plate. “Maybe you can help convince Ray to come along next time, because he usually doesn’t sway this easy.”

Miles nodded in agreement, glancing over to Ray as he nudged him, offering the last couple bites of his food, which the blond happily took, partially because he really could use the extra food and partially out of habit after so many years of sharing meals.

“So how’s your routine coming along?”

Miles blinked up at Fiona, pausing halfway through raising the fork to his mouth and biting his lip. “It’s… I mean, I’ll be ready for the world championships, I think.”

“It’s coming along,” Angela explained for him in a chirp as he took the second last bite of Ray’s dish, nodding in agreement. “He’s got most of it down cold. No pun intended.”

“Do you two… Do you two usually go see his performances?” Fiona asked, her tone genuinely curious, and though Ray and Angela hesitated, Miles shook his head as he swallowed. “Sometimes to the world championships… But even if my coach pitches in, my family isn’t rich, and Ray’s family isn’t rich, and we’re all still high school students.”

“I’d like to go to to Vancouver, though, if you’re offering.” Ray elbowed him, and he rolled his eyes. “Do you even understand how figure skating competitions work?”

The handsome Spaniard smiled a little. “Vaguely.”

Angela’s eyes rolled, and with a sigh, she spoke, “I usually get to go, because I do his makeup and hair… But it’s been awhile since all three of us have gone together to anything outside of, well, the GTA…”

The six of them fell silent for a moment, Miles trying to do the math in his head as he finished off the last bite, before clearing his throat. “I could probably… I could probably cover flight and hotel fees for mom… And your family too, Ray, if you wanted.”

There was a long, stunned moment, before Angela elbowed him sharply in the ribs. “What the hell, Miles!”

“What?” The blond raised his arms defensively, his voice bordering on a whine as he leaned into Ray to avoid the wrath of his sister, who smacked his shoulder lightly. “How much money do you have saved up?”

“I…” Miles hesitated-figure skaters generally made very little living money, and even though Ezra only coached him and one other person, and didn’t ask him for much payment, between his skates, his clothing and costumes, as well as the travel expenses Ezra would let him pay and the prize money that went to helping his family get by…

Well, to put it simply, he didn’t usually have a ton of prize money left over, and what there was after the mandatory payments were fulfilled… usually wasn’t a lot. He’d become a master at saving cash, though, and had been for at least a few years, mostly for university for him and Angela, and to make a better life for his mother after him and Angela graduated-though it would be worth a few thousand of his longtime savings to bring his family and childhood friend along to his debut in the senior class competition, right?

“How much money are you making, Miles?” Leo’s voice had lost its usual playful tone, it having fallen away to dye his words a more curious hue, even when Fiona elbowed him, muttering something about financial talk being rude. Miles laughed a little, pushing a long blond lock of hair out of his eyes and resting his elbow on the table. “I don’t really mind him asking, Fiona… Um, I don’t make a lot, really, I just save a lot.”

“How long have you been saving?” Angela still seemed in shock, and he gently pushed her off him with a sigh. “None of your business. I shouldn’t have brought it up, but I…” Miles took a deep breath, following Ray as he stood from the booth in the pierogi shop. “But I think that mom and Ray and Mari if she wanted-”

“Hell no, we aren’t letting Mari come.”

“If you wanted,” Miles huffed as they left the warm shop, a chill running up his spine as the cold December air hit his cheeks. “The world championships fall on March Break this year too… so we’d only miss a day of school, maximum, even if I made the podium… And if I did make the podium, it wouldn’t be like I wouldn’t have won some of the money back.”

“Still, that’s a lot of money, Bubbles…” Ray hummed, running fingers through his thick black locks, and Miles felt the oddest mix of irritation and affection he’d ever experienced as he replied stubbornly, “I know, and I have enough.”

“Alright.” The handsome Spaniard smiled down at him, his eyes glittering with amusement, and the blond sunk his teeth into his bottom lip, biting back his irritation-Ray treated him like a kid sometimes, and both of them knew it. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“I’d really like to see you perform live too,” Leo put in, and though Miles saw Angela open her mouth to dispute, most likely over their financial situation, the redhead held up a hand. “But I’d come of my own accord. I have a job, you know, and I have money saved up myself, despite what you guys seem to think.”

“So you want to convince your parents to let you fly out to Vancouver for a few days of March break,” Angela began with a raised eyebrow as they waited for the light, closer together than they usually walked to avoid losing the shorter half of the group. “After you somehow make enough money to afford a flight, a ticket in the same section as us and either share a room with Ray or Miles or pay for your own?” She nodded a little. “Sounds legit.”

“Hey, I could definitely do that!”

Please, Leo, your parents are the epitome of sheltered families.”

“Guys.” The small blond skater glanced to both Angela and Leo to his right, his head cocked. “You don’t need to come see me, really. Figure skating really isn’t all that interesting unless you’re a skater, and it’s literally on the other side of the country.” He looked over to his other side, with Ray, Fiona and Lucia (who his argument probably didn’t apply to anyway), as they approached Union Station. “That goes for you guys too. The Escarras haven’t gotten to see a world championship yet, which is why I offered, but seriously.” He smiled a little at all of them, lightly joking, “Figure skating isn’t all that interesting unless you’re a skater.”

“I must agree on that point,” Lucia hummed, though Fiona shook her head as they entered the warm station. “No, Miles, it makes sense for us to see you live!”

Ray nudged him lightly as well. “Even if I don’t really think figure skating is the most interesting thing in the world, you’re a good skater, Miles, and it’s the least we can do for you.”

“I…” Miles trailed off, his common sense melting at Ray’s little smile, rapidly trying to collect his thoughts as he fished out his train ticket. He cleared his throat, managing to speak with his words mostly devoid of a stutter. “I don’t think I’m really getting anywhere with this convincing thing I’m trying to do here…”

“Haha, I think I’ve got to agree with you on that one.” Ray placed an arm atop his head again, his tone friendly and light as they showed their ticket to the ticket agent to get to the train platform. “You don’t need to convince us of anything, Miles, really. It’s natural for us to want to support you, we’re your friends.”

“Well, I…” Miles simply sighed as the six of them stopped on the train platform, deciding to stop arguing and smile at his childhood friend. “Alright. Fine, you win. Friendship is magic and all that.”

The Spanish boy made a little sound of amusement as the six of them waited for the train, and as Fiona tugged on his sleeve with a cheerful chirp, Miles had to note that for the first time in a very long while, he felt more at home off the ice than he did with his skates.

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy novel by Effie
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 10:56:26 PM »
Chap. 6. I'm gonna have to take some of this down and repost them later on, but for now here we go.

“Wow, you’re at the rink not skating. You good?”

“Hmm?” Miles blinked up from where he had one earbud in and a pen in his hand, sitting behind the boards. He smiled a little as Ray peered over his shoulder. “Oh, yeah… Ezra’s having me write up a routine for the exhibition of champions in case I make the podium, which seems like a total waste of time.”

“You don’t think you’ll make the podium?”

“I…” Miles hesitated-he was good and he knew he was good, but he’d set his goals far too high for himself before, and it had led to unfavourable results. Was it really such a big stretch to believe he could make the podium his first time competing? He didn’t know, and when he was in doubt, it was smarter to retreat with tact rather than push himself to do something that could ruin his shaky self-confidence.

“I think it’s something an optimist would aim for,” He finished, glancing up from under his red glasses and blond bangs to meet Ray’s dark brown eyes, which glittered with amusement. With a little smile, the Spanish boy asked, “Aren’t you an optimist?”

The short skater couldn’t bite back his own smile, focusing his gaze back down on his paper as his ears warmed considerably. “Unfortunately. I really just don’t want to write another program. The quadruple axel is still kicking my ass.”

“Really now,” Ray leaned against the boards so they were facing each other, even though Miles was much shorter than him sitting. “Because you seem to be landing it fine.”

“Mhm, I guess I am…” Miles trailed off as he ran his pen over the lines of the routine-it really was more of a dance than a skate, which he didn’t mind. If he wasn’t being scored, he was going to have fun with the routine. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not kicking my ass into next Tuesday.”

“Do tell.”

“Well, I…” Miles sighed, putting down his notepad beside him, bringing up his left leg to rest on his right and rolling up his sweatpants to his thigh to reveal his knee brace. “I wasn’t wearing this before I started practicing this new routine, to put it simply.” He tugged the warm, familiar pants into place. “The force of landing a quadruple axel is like if I was landing on legs and ankles the size of mine with twice or three times my entire weight… And a failed one is more than that."

“Well that seems like a pain.” Ray shook his head with with a sigh. “I don’t really understand why people play sports sometimes.”

“What? But you play volleyball!”

“For the school, yeah.” He smiled a little, his eyes showing far more emotion than his face as per usual. “And only because it makes me look like a well-rounded student and I can get out of class time to time. But otherwise, I’m not exactly a sporty person, if you haven’t realized.”

“Oh, trust me, I have…”

“Hey, I…” Ray cleared his throat, running fingers through his hair, something Miles had come to realize meant he was either uncomfortable or nervous, or on rare occasions, thinking his words through an extra time. His adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “Happy birthday.”

“Happy birthd…” Miles trailed off for a moment, cocking his head and furrowing his brow in confusion. “It’s… It’s not my birthday… Is it?”

“Uh, yeah.” Ray’s lips curled into a full smile, his voice bordering on a laugh. “It kind of is.”

For a moment, the small blond skater sat in silence, his seafoam eyes wide in surprise as he searched for words that seemed to have been snatched away. I forgot Angela’s birthday…

“Anyway, I thought I’d say it now, so I don’t forget later.” Ray’s voice snapped him back to reality, and he nodded, clearing his throat. “Yeah. Thanks. It’s a good thing you told me, because I would’ve forgotten about Angela too…”

“You really forgot about your own birthday, huh…” Ray shook his head with a chuckle. “You’re working too hard, Miles.”

“I didn’t ask you,” Miles mumbled, restarting his music and trying to figure out what he should do for the rest of his routine. “And no I’m not.”

“You’re sitting at the ice rink at seven in the morning on a Saturday that also happens to be your fifteenth birthday wracking your brain over a new routine instead of sleeping in and looking forward to a day that is literally celebrating your birth.” Ray nudged his shin with a foot, and he looked back up to him, blowing hair out of his eyes. “You’re working too damn hard, Bubbles, just admit it.”

Miles sighed, pausing his music-he wasn’t getting anything done with Ray hovering over him. With a huff, he closed his notebook, carefully pushing himself up to stand on his skates. “Do you want to see my exhibition of champions routine?”

Ray smiled at him. “Are you telling or asking?”

“A bit of both,” The shorter boy admitted, pulling his earbuds out of his phone and taking out his little speaker-though he did prefer his earbuds, if he was performing it only made sense to use the bluetooth or surround speaker. As he stepped onto the ice, he handed his phone to Ray, muttering his usual ‘press play when I’m ready’. Skating out into the middle of the rink, Miles couldn’t deny he felt just a little nervous-not only was he performing a routine he hadn’t quite finished, but it was far more of a real dance than any of his other performances. Fewer jumps, more turns and more body expression, and any of his emotions could easily leak into that.

With a puff, he motioned slightly to Ray, who as usual, was right on cue, and the music started. Though his face definitely would have brought down his score and performance (it was focused and lacked his usual energy) Miles made sure to use what he wasn’t using for his expression for his exaggerated movements. As usual, he found himself mouthing the worlds-even if it wasn’t exactly his usual 80s or 90s pick, he liked the song ‘Love Runs Out’, though he probably would have preferred it more if he had the voice to go along with his dances. Unlike Angela, who could sing, dance, skate and probably would have become a popstar under other circumstances, he was limited to his skating when it came to the arts.

Somewhere right before the chorus, Miles lost count, something that didn’t happen often, but the show had to go on. It was a skill to be able to improvise until he could find the tempo again, an art form he hadn’t learned how to master until he was twelve or so. By then, though he was good at it, and deciding to have a little fun with his obviously unfinished routine, he glanced up to meet Ray’s eyes, lip syncing the words to the chorus and practically singing to his friend as his carefully plotted choreography fell away into something the kind of dancing him and Angela would do in the empty house with the music at full volume, something better than the usual teen’s dancing, but not nearly as good as Miles should have been. Despite his usual shyness outside of his planned routines, as Ray lost usual his composure, grinning at him and obviously stifling laughter, Miles couldn’t help but continue his silly improvisation. Ezra would have certainly bashed it, between the uncoordinated shake of his hips and the stupidly exaggerated turns, but he was having too much fun badly mimicking a popstar to care. He continued halfway into the second verse before breaking down in laughter himself and waving for Ray to stop the music as he tried to catch his breath. “God… Oh my god, that was so bad…”

“You certainly looked like you were enjoying yourself,” Ray remarked, though his usually serious deadpan sounded more like a childish laugh than anything else, and it only sent Miles,who was already nearly doubled over as he leaned against the boards, into another fit of giggles. In between gasps of laughter, he managed to get out, “You did too!”

“It was certainly something.” The tall Spanish boy was biting his lip against what the blond could only assume were laughs of his own as the skater stepped off the ice, his stomach cramped with the bout of hysterics he was recovering from. “I didn’t know you could sing.”

“I can’t sing, and you know that!” He elbowed Ray, who gently shoved him off, the mood having turned suddenly to something light and airy-something Miles much preferred than their usual push and pull friendship. “I sound like a dying bird!”

“Please, you always sound like a dying bird.” If his tone hadn’t been so cheerful and light, Miles might’ve wondered if he should have taken offense to the statement, but he instead let out a cross between a laugh and a shout of protest as his elbow aimed at Ray was intercepted was lifted off his feet from behind. Calloused fingers dug into his ribs and sensitive abdomen, abusing how ticklish he was. “Oh my god, Ray! St-stop, stop it!”

“Well, I think Ezra would agree that last performance of yours deserves punishment.” Miles let out high-pitched shriek , squirming to try and get out of his friend’s strong grasp as he was tickled mercilessly, just far enough off the ground he couldn’t get away.

“Damn, did I interrupt something?”

All of a sudden, Ray halted, and Miles craned his neck to see Fiona walking along the boards to them, feeling his face flush at how tightly he was being held, and how close he realized Ray was. Though the skater had no words, Ray’s unusually light voice replied, “Haha, you wish.”

“Is this another weird ritual around here?” The Spanish girl was obviously joking, her lips turned up in a grin as she stopped in front of them, crossing her arms over her long, violet coat. “For birthdays or something? Because as strong as I am, I don’t think I can lift Miles like that.”

“No, no.” Though he was grateful to be set down gently and calm his restless thoughts, Miles felt a pang of disappointment as the body contact was lost-though pushed it out of his head almost immediately. “Miles was just making a fool of himself, and I…”

“I wasn’t!” Miles protested-though he really wasn’t, his little improv dance had been much more light and obviously unprofessional, something no one was really used to seeing when it came to his skating. Fiona simply laughed. “Well, I would’ve liked to see that, but I guess I’ll survive. Hey, uh, Happy birthday.” Miles was slightly surprised when Fiona stepped forward to hug him, though he happily accepted. “You’re finally normal aged.”

“Wow, thanks.”

“Seriously, though.” She smiled at him as she stepped back. “Happy birthday. I got something for you, but I’m assuming Ray or Leo has something planned to do.”

“Not really…” Ray replied with a little hum. “You don’t really like big celebrations, right?” Miles shook his head, sitting on bench behind the boards to begin to untie his skates. “I don’t really need anything. My mom always does something for us, and that’s really it…”

“Well, we should go somewhere for you two to open your presents!” Fiona suggested in a chirp, and Miles laughed a little, putting his hands up defensively. “You really didn’t need to get us anything, Fiona.” He glanced up to his best friend before he could argue. “You too, Ray.”

“Well, it’s a bit late, isn’t it?”

“Ha, yeah, I guess…” As he finished with his skates, Miles glanced up to his friends. “You guys can come over later if you’re really adamant about the presents though.”

“I am,” Ray insisted. “My present this year is good. Trust me.”

“Well, then come by in the afternoon, I guess.” Fiona nodded, grinning at him. “I have a pretty good present too, if I do say so myself!”

“Prove it later on,” Miles replied, slinging his skates over his shoulder as they began out of the rink. “I’m going to take Ray’s advice and relax.”

After Miles changed, they’d headed to their respective homes, deciding to go their separate ways for the time being-it wasn’t as if they weren’t meeting up later. It was odd when Miles stepped into his warm house and he was greeted from the kitchen down the hall-”Hey, happy birthday, honey!”

The blond boy smiled as he made his way into the kitchen, hugging his mother tightly. “Hi, mom. Is Angela up yet?”

“Not yet, but I’m not about to wake her.” Miles peered over to the stove as his mother stepped back to finish whatever she was preparing-mmm, pancakes sound good. “Did you get any practice in?”

“A…” He hesitated, feeling his cheeks begin to flush red as he thought back to the slice of time he’d had with Ray, before clearing his throat and continuing, “A little. Ray and Fiona caught me though, and said I shouldn’t be working so hard, so…”

“Well, we both know Ray’s a little more logical than you sometimes…” His mother glanced over her shoulder with a little smile, and he rolled his eyes as he sat down at the table, dropping his skating bag by his feet. “I definitely appreciate the thought, but skating is fun for me.”

“I know, hun, but I’ve gotta side with Ray on this one.” She flipped the pancakes onto the fluffy stack on the table. “I understand how much you love skating, but you’ve gotta break every so often.” He smiled as his mother pressed a quick kiss to his cheek on her way out of the kitchen. “So you do that today, alright? And eat something!”

“Alright, alright.” Miles stretched, rolling his shoulders with a bit of a yawn-though he didn’t really care for his birthday (other than celebrating Angela’s birthday), he had to admit he felt a little more special than usual on December 17th each year, with celebrations or without. His mother had always done a good job of making both him and Angela feel special, even with her being a divorced and previously abused teen mother with no family, and sometimes Miles felt that their birthday should celebrate not their birth, but how well their mother had taken care of them. It was already difficult enough to raise teenage twins, and Miles was incredibly proud of his mother, and he knew she was proud of him.

Humming lightly, Miles stood up, grabbing a plate, as well as a fork and knife from the drying rack in the sink and took a couple pancakes. Though he really didn’t eat much (two pancakes would fill him up until at least late afternoon), the Verde’s pancakes were the best, in his opinion, even though Ray would claim his were better. Standing on tiptoe to open the cabinet (the blond had never understood why they stored things in the higher cabinets, considering the tallest of them was their mother, who only reached 5’5 or so), he grabbed the bottle of maple syrup-though he nearly dropped it as someone’s head nestled into his shoulder. “Happy birthday…”

“Geez, Angela!” He huffed, regaining his composure and turning to face his twin sister. “Could you have scared me any worse?”

“Probably.” Angela’s voice was sleepy, and she was still clad in her grey nightgown, her feet bare. She pushed his glasses up his nose from where they'd been slipping off. “We’re fifteen now. Isn’t that weird?”

“Finally.” He decided not to mention the fact he’d forgotten it was the beginning of their sixteenth year until Ray had reminded him-though sixteen was usually the big year for teenagers (and it would be big, of course), fifteen had been the birthday he’d been looking forward to. The age when he’d graduate from only competing in junior competitions and have the rare window of opportunity to seniors as well. Though he wasn’t planning on competing in the junior world championships that year, he’d qualified for them far before the senior events, and if he was really feeling adventurous, he could enter-though it didn’t look like it would be happening. While the senior event was being held in Vancouver, the junior world championships were being hosted in Taipei, and between his determination to start off his senior career with a bang, the cost of flights, hotels, a new costume and the having to catch up on school both for the trip and extra training… Miles couldn’t see it happening.

“So I heard you woke up early,” Angela remarked as she grabbed her own plate of food-her meal being double that of Miles’-and sat down across from him at the table. “Any particular reason why?”

Miles shrugged in reply, swallowing before saying, “Working on the champion’s gala thing. Ray and Fiona caught me at the rink and practically shoved me back home.”

Angela nodded, mumbling through a bite of food (a very unladylike habit she’d developed from eating so fast), “Did you check your phone?”

The small blond skater shook his head-between the other skaters he’d befriended over the years to the people he knew here and there around school, he generally got more than a few ‘happy birthdays’ through text or otherwise. And while some of them were welcome (Leo, Fay and obviously Ray, as well as some of the nicer people he’d befriended on the ice) he was still shy, and he still generally prefered for his birthday not to be treated like a big celebration.

Angela got a plethora of messages wishing her well too, and she’d always made it known-from their closest figure skating friends, the Finnish/American siblings Clem and Cole to the other beauticians she’d befriended behind the scenes of the show, she’d always been more friendly and outgoing than him, and so it wasn’t surprising that her list of messages she read off the screen of the laptop they shared was much longer than his.

“Hey, Clem and Cole want us to skype them today,” Angela mused, and Miles nodded as he finished off the last of his breakfast-he didn’t make a lot of close friends that also skated, but Clem, who was a couple years younger than them and Cole, who was a year older had stuck, and they were very close. “We should probably do that soon, right? They’re seven hours ahead.”

“I can’t be wearing pajamas!” Angela seemed appalled by even the thought, and Miles couldn’t help but bite back a little smile-it was no secret she and Cole seemed to have a liking for each other, though the only people who couldn’t figure it out were the two themselves. Even so, some part of the blond skater secretly wished that they would profess their obvious attraction for each other sometime in the near future, because if there was anyone he’d want to give his sister away to, Cole would be the ideal choice.

Not that I want to give her away in the first place.

“Lemme go shower!” Angela was up and down the hall with a bounce in her step, quick like a rabbit, and Miles had to wonder just how dense his usually attentive sister was when it came to her own love life.

Perhaps our entire family just isn’t good when it comes to romance… There was mom, and I’m here with Ray, and Angela’s practically dating a boy halfway across the world without even knowing it… Maybe we should all just do ourselves a favour and swear off love.

“Why did Angela run off upstairs again?” Miles turned as his mother returned to the kitchen, shrugging. “Something about wanting to look put together for Clem and Cole, I think.”

“I still haven’t met those two…” The short Filipino woman sighed, taking his dishes (he began to protest about doing it himself, but she didn’t give him a chance) to the sink. “Both of them seem like fine skaters through.”

“Yeah,” He nodded in agreement. “Cole beat me a couple years back, and bumped me down to third. It was pretty disappointing, but at least it was him and not some douchebag.”  The small blond shook his head with a hum. “It’s too bad we don’t get to see them often.”

“Is Cole competing in the world championships this year?” Miles nodded with a little smile. “Yeah. I’m gonna blow him out of the water.”

“Well, I hope you do, hun.” She kissed the top of his head on her way out of the kitchen. “If your friends want to celebrate here, make sure to bring them by after one, okay?” He ducked away as his hair was affectionately tousled. “I gotta go get your cake around noon.”

“Aw, mom, we really don’t need one…”

“That’s ridiculous!” Miles watched as she grabbed a folder from the shelf in the hallway-paperwork, probably-and turned back to him. “You two are getting a cake, alright?”

“Alright,” Miles agreed, knowing his word against his mother’s was pointless. As she disappeared up the stairs, probably to work some more (and he was the one who worked too hard in their family), he decided to check his phone, which he’d muted-he really didn’t care for most of the messages. With a sigh, he dismissed one after another-messages he could get to later. He appreciated them, but he definitely could do without them.

There isn’t much I want… but what I want is what I can’t have…

Miles sighed, letting himself have a moment alone with his thoughts-his emotions were known to readily show in his face and his tone unless he was careful, and he didn’t need his mother or Angela wonder why he was suddenly looking like a lovesick puppy. With a deep breath, he let himself relax.

I’ve got a thing for Ray.

And that’s okay. Or, rather, it should be, in theory.

In theory’. In theory, it should have been fine. It wasn’t as if Ray was the first boy he’d ever found attractive, he was just the first he’d found… romantically appealing, and it wasn’t as if he wasn’t already used to homophobic jokes and comments, and even slurs on the occasion he ran his mouth and pissed someone off. Angela was the most accepting person he’d ever known, his mother didn’t care as long as he was safe and happy, and as far as he knew, his friends had no problem with the gay or bi population of the school. Being bisexual wasn’t the problem, even though in theory, it should have been.

So then what is it?

It took Miles a long moment to realize he didn’t know himself. With a sigh, he decided to focus on anything but how he’d abruptly gone gay for his best friend.

Most of the next couple hours consisted of lazing around-no matter how much he wanted to practice his new routine, he had a feeling no one was going to let him. Though he prefered sweats and a hoodie, Angela had indeed made herself much more than presentable, which Miles found amusing-not that he would have told her that. Soon after he’d finished off what little homework he had, he’d called out, “Hey, Angela, want to try Clem and Cole?”

“Clem and Cole?” Angela popped around the corner from where she’d been in the room over, doing something Miles wasn’t exactly sure of (perhaps practicing her makeup skills?). “Yeah, alright. Give me a couple minutes.”

“Mhm.” Miles sighed, placing the laptop on the coffee table and clicking on skype-though he did like to get to speak to Clem and Cole, Angela and Cole tended to have the ability completely dominate their conversations. Either way, it would be nice to see both of the siblings again.

As the call rung, Angela took her spot kneeling next to him, and he nudged her playfully. “You look very nice.”

“Shut up,” She huffed, obviously catching on to what he was hinting and pushing her hair (which was about its original length before the lupus struck at that point) into place. “But thank you.”


Miles blinked at the screen as the call went through, his face immediately breaking into a grin as the Finnish siblings appeared on the screen. “Hey, it’s been awhile!”

“Happy birthday!” Clem chirped, her light brown eyes bright and cheerful. Cole nodded, his own expression content as well. “Happy birthday, you two. How’s fifteen going?”

“Well, I was dragged off the ice this morning by Ray, and everyone insists on getting me things I don’t need, but otherwise…” He couldn’t help but smile, even though he was trying to express his distaste about being banned from skating too much for the day. Cole laughed. “What? That sounds great! Why are you complaining?”

“That’s a good question without a good answer,” Angela replied, resting her elbow on the coffee table. Miles saw Cole’s stormy grey gaze soften as he greeted her. “And yourself, enkeli, how’s your birthday going?”

“Not bad,” Angela’s usually enthusiastic voice was shyer, and Miles had to notice how she sounded remarkably like him for a moment-shy, introverted and generally terrified when it came to people. “We got pancakes, and Ray and our other friends are coming by later.”

“Well, I wish you a very happy birthday, enkeli.” Cole smiled warmly at her, and Miles rolled his eyes, but kept silent, as Clem asked, in her much more apparent Finnish accent (though near-perfect English),  “So howzit been?”

“Not bad at all,” Miles admitted. “Practicing for the world championships and dealing with Fiona. You?”

“Practically the same, really,” The blond girl sighed, tapping her fingers on what Miles could only assume was the table that the computer was resting on. “I’m really jealous you two are in the senior leagues now! I’m gonna be so lonely!”

“Oh, come on, Clem, both of us are still doing junior competitions.” The Finnish boy glanced Miles. “You are, right?”

“We don’t really have the money this year,” Miles hummed lightly, ignoring the pang of regret he had just saying the words-he really did love performing, and it was a real shame that he could only focus on the world championships for the sake of time and money. “But after the world championships, I should be fine.” He smiled at Clem. “I’ll still be around so you can watch me kick your brother’s ass. Don’t worry.”

“Hey! I’ll be doing the ass-kicking this year!”

The short blond grinned at his Finnish friend, the heat of competition flickering in his eyes. “You wish, Cole.”

Cole grinned back. “We’ll see, Verde, we’ll see.”

The rest of the day went fairly well, and slowly-Miles really wasn’t used to a lack of work and an abundance of time, which seemed to be what the case was that Saturday. Though he also didn’t really like having people over, when Fiona and Ray arrived together, a rush of relief filled his rather bored brain. Fiona practically (and nearly literally) knocked him over with another hug the moment she’d put down the packages she’d been holding. “Happy birthday!”

“Thanks… Fiona.” The blond boy laughed as she repeated the same thing on Angela, who was quite literally knocked back onto the armchair in the hallway with a squeak. “Fiona!”

“You too!” Fiona simply chirped. “Happy birthday to both of you!”

“Did you two walk together?” Miles cocked his head curiously at Ray, who shook his head. “No, we just happened to meet up. I know I already said it, but, uh…” Miles made a face as his friend playfully tousled his too-long blond locks. “Happy birthday, Bubbles.”

Miles opened his mouth to thank him when Angela sprung up from where she’d been knocked over. “Hey! I exist too!”

Ray’s usually cynical, thoughtful gaze turned warm-he tended to look at Angela with the same eyes Miles did, which Miles found sweet, and if he dared say, even more attractive. He hugged her lightly. “Happy fifteenth, Angie.”

“Why thank you.” The female side of the twins smiled right back at him, before her eyes drifted to the small packages that had been left by the armchair. “You guys brought presents.”

“Well, yes.” Ray reached down to grab the slightly larger package, holding it out to the short French girl, who took it politely. “That’s generally what you do for people on their birthday.”

“You really didn’t have to,” Miles repeated what he’d said on his birthday for the last three years again as they walked down the hall to the kitchen, where the cake that had been bought sat on the table. “I tell you this every year, Ray…”

“And every year I get you a present,” Ray countered, handing him the other cubelike parcel that he’d brought, which was wrapped quite nicely in brown craft paper, “So take it. It’s rude not to, you know.”

“I…” Miles sighed, glancing over to Angela, whose fingernail had already nudged under the wrapping. With a roll of his eyes, he carefully began to remove the paper-the opposite of Angela’s ripping that got the paper off in a faster, messier way.

“Aww!” Miles glanced over to where the box that had been inside the wrapping was opened to reveal a small creation-a music box with a snowflake on it, created from gold and silver cogs and gears, by the looks of it. Angela was beaming as she hopped up to hug Ray. “Thank you! That’s so sweet!”

Ray smiled back, just a little. “You’re welcome. Just be careful when you turn it, I haven’t made a lot of music boxes, so it’s a little flimsy.”

“What does it play?” Angela asked as Miles carefully finished unwrapping his own gift to reveal a similar, plain-looking box. Ray replied simply, “'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'. It’s a little cheesy, but…”

“No, I love it!” Angela’s voice was genuinely overjoyed, and she nudged Miles as he carefully removed the lid of the box. “What did he do for you?”

“A…” Miles trailed off as he pulled out something else obviously clockwork. “A snow globe…”

It was indeed a snow globe-though much smaller than the average one, with a base of intentionally exposed gears and mechanical pieces and a scene inside of what looked like an ice rink. Though all the pieces were bronze or gold, the ice rink inside the globe shone with a silver gleam, and when he gently turned it upside down before placing it on the table, snow indeed fell slowly to the bottom, floating peacefully in the liquid. A windup key was placed on the side-did it play too? Miles felt a smile cross his face. “Wow… That’s… Impressive, Ray.”

“Wow…” Fiona’s finger ran over the globe, which despite its definite abstract nature, looked incredibly professional for a sixteen-year-old. “Damn, you really are a tinkerer, aren’t you?” WIth a sheepish laugh, Ray nodded, and the short Spanish girl shook her head with a low whistle. “I think you’ve won the race for best present before it’s even started.”

“What?” Angela smiled at her. “Come on, Fiona, I’ll love whatever you give me too. It’s just been awhile since we’ve seen Ray’s stuff. How long have you been working on these?”

“Eh, I guess I started in October… Right around when Fiona showed up.” The handsome Spaniard shrugged, his voice far from its usual confidence. “It’s really not a big deal. I like big projects, but I can’t keep all of them, and you two…” Ray shook his head, his face reddening unusually after his rare bout of rambling. “Just take the damn presents, okay?” He rested a hand on either of the twin’s heads, his voice turning affectionate for a moment more as he finished, “And happy fifteenth birthday, to the both of you.”

“Wow, I…” Miles felt his heart flutter as he turned to race his friend, sure he was grinning like an idiot, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. “Thanks, really. You seriously shouldn’t have, Ray…”

“Yeah, thanks Ray!” Angela’s tone was much more cheerful, though that was who she tended to be-while Miles tended to turn very quiet when he was moved or excited, Angela was the opposite.

“Hey, don’t forget about me!” Playfully, Fiona bumped her with her hip. “You’ve got another present to open!”

“And mine, of course.” Miles turned to see his mother enter the kitchen as well, with a couple of larger bags that she placed on the table. She smiled at all of them. “Hello, Fiona, Ray. How’re you this fine Saturday?”

“Not bad,” Ray replied with a smile. Fiona nodded. “Not bad at all, Ms. Verde. And yourself?”

“Just reminiscing about that time I had to somehow birth twins fifteen years ago,” She replied, though her voice was light and joking as well. She turned to Angela and Miles, who had both ended up sitting at the table. “Now, let’s get to the celebration, shall we? You’ll only have one fifteenth birthday!”

Fiona had indeed bought him a pair of skating pants, with a light, ice blue design running down the outside each leg, which he greatly appreciated, almost as much as a skating costume, and from his mother, he’d received a pair of skates (his current ones were getting worn down) that coincidentally matched his new pants. He’d been too shocked to accept them for a long moment, considering how expensive they must have been, and how little money was leftover after medical fees and basic living needs, but his mother insisted. She’d also gifted him with a bag of saltwater taffy as a counterpart to the chocolate Angela always got, considering he’d never much liked chocolate or milk-based things. And of course, him and Angela always bought presents for each other, Angela’s for him being a petite, fluffy white fox he could fit in his skating bag or even velcro around the strap, along with a matching Christmas ornament, one of his personal favourites. While Miles always spent a little more money that he’d prefer was spent on him, it was worth it to see Angela’s face light up as she opened the box with a new pair of nude skates and a beautiful, violet skating costume. Though she’d definitely been upset he’d spent so much money (even though they generally considered their birthday presents to also be Christmas presents), she was practically on cloud nine, with both his gift, the music box and the European-based makeup from Fiona (that she’d insisted on trying on him later, despite his hesitation).

That wasn’t to say Miles wasn’t happy too, as he finished lacing his new skates. Though he wouldn’t use them until his other ones were completely unusable, his skating pants the same, they’d both need time to adjust to the shape of his form, and it couldn’t hurt to try them out. Miles turned to the side, looking in the mirror to get a good idea of what his new apparel looked like. The new skates and pants fit him to a T, by the looks of it, and matched his practice costume shirt nicely as well. The blond let out a little hum. “I don’t look half bad.”

“You’re a solid 12,” Angela agreed from where she was putting her hair up in the mirror above the sink in the changeroom, and Miles glanced over to see her, clad in her beautiful violet skating costume and nude skates. It was short and sleeveless, the dark violet hue becoming a pretty fuchsia it reached out to the bottom of the layered costume. Between the colour and the curving pattern of rhinestones, as well as the ability to make his sister look older than nine, it was a good purchase. “But I’m a 15 at least. God, Miles… I can’t believe you spent this much on me.”

“Are you kidding?” Miles turned to her, his hands on his hips. “You look incredible in it and you obviously feel like it too.” He smiled at her as she turned, her blonde hair pulled back into a nice bun. “Angela, I know how devastated you were when you couldn’t skate competitively anymore, and this is the least I can do.” He stepped forward to hug her, feeling her nestle into his shoulder. “I miss skating with you… And even if we can’t do it together in competition, we can here.”

“I…” Angela’s voice was quiet as they pulled away, just enough to be holding hands while they faced each other, their nearly identical eyes locked together. She finally smiled after a moment, squeezing his hands. “Thank you. And happy birthday.”

“Happy birthday,” Miles echoed, tucking a loose lock of hair out of her face as they completely separated. “Now come on. Let’s go show them what we can do together, eh?”

“Damn do you sound Canadian,” Angela teased, nudging him as they left the changeroom side by side, and he nudged right back. “You’re not to be talking.”

“Tell me if it was over a hundred bucks?”

“Angela!” He grinned as they stepped onto the ice, elbowing her. “Stop asking!”

“Okay, okay!” She giggled, looking across the ice to where Fiona, Ray and their mother were behind the boards. “Hey, uh… Whenever you’re ready to start the music.”

Fiona nodded, and Angela glanced over to him, muttering under her breath, “Can you still do lifts and throws?”

He raised an eyebrow with a bit of a smile, grabbing her hand in their usual starting position as the song started. “Are you really underestimating me?”

Angela simply shook her head as they begun the routine they’d memorized several times over. Miles felt all his worries and concerns slip away as he and his other half did what they were best at, finally at peace together, even if it was just for a moment.

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy novel by Effie
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2018, 07:50:17 PM »
Chapter 7. None of this is up to date but I'm too lazy to deal with it.

“Hey, happy belated birthday, you two!”

“Aw, thanks!” Angela replied in her usual cheerful chirp, while Miles simply nodded with a smile as their good friend fell into step with them. “Thanks, Fay.”

“Ah, Leo got you two a little something from the both of us, but you’ll see him at lunch,” He slid his hands in the pockets of his pants as they made their way down the school hallway. “Did you guys have a good birthday?”

“Yeah!” Angela’s tone was much more enthusiastic than his, even though they replied in nearly the exact same voice. “Even though I should kill him for it, Miles bought me this beautiful skating costume…”

“Oh yeah, you used to skate, right?”

“Not used to!” Angela huffed-though she wouldn’t usually be so miffed when people forgot she skated too, Miles had probably woken some sensitive thoughts with their little skating spree on the weekend. “I still do! I was never as into it as Miles, but…”

“Well, I’d love to see it sometime, shortcake.” Miles rolled his eyes as Fay turned to go into the music room with a smile towards Angela-he could never tell when Fay’s flirting was serious or not, though it felt odd when he was teasing Angela either way. “Make sure to say hi to Leo for me!”

“Yeah, of course.” Miles replied as he and Angela continued through the art hallway to where the tech and science one began, though the female side of the twins let out a huff under her breath. “Shortcake? Fay’s getting out of practice, don’t you think?”

“Either that, or he’s finally got no need to flirt because he found a girlfriend,” Miles replied, eliciting a laugh from his sister as they entered the science room. “Ha, he wishes.”

Though it was known after the scene Ray and Angela had caused back in ninth grade that Miles really preferred to be left alone outside of his friends, his birthday seemed to be an exception-to everyone else, at least. Though he still didn't really enjoy the attention, at least people wishing him a happy birthday were better than being harassed about his career. Even so, he was slightly relieved when he, Ray, Angela, Leo and Fiona were at the diner which only had one other table occupied. It generally wasn't a popular place because of how shady it could seem from the outside, but that made Miles like it more-it was almost always empty.

“Happy birthday, Verdes.” Leo enthusiastically pushed a couple colourful bags across the table towards them. “It's something from all of us, even though it was mostly me and Fay picked it out.”

“Aww, thanks, Leo!” As usual, Angela was a gracious receiver of gifts, and practically tore open her present. Miles nodded with a smile. “You guys didn’t have to, you know-”

“Miles.” Ray cut him off, his dark chocolate eyes serious from across the table. “If you say that one more time, I will *censored*ing hurt you. Accept your damn gifts.”

Miles let out a huff of feigned irritation, bringing his hand to his chest as if he was insulted as he began to unwrap Leo’s gift. “Well! They are my presents, and it is my birthday, I’ll have you know!”

Dark brown eyes glittered in amusement as the tall Spanish boy chuckled, “Not anymore it isn’t, but I see your point.”

“Wow, Leo!” Miles glanced to his left to see Angela had opened a small box containing a pair of earrings and a matching necklace, both resembling icicles.. “Aww, that’s so cute! Thanks!”

“Fiona basically told us what a girl like you might like as a gift so we weren’t wildly off par, but otherwise…” The redheaded boy shrugged. “So I did a good job then?”

“A great job, yeah!” Carefully, Angela took the earrings from their place next to the necklace, sliding them in her pierced ears, and though they looked stunning on her, especially with her hair being a little shorter than the average teen girl’s, Miles couldn’t help but feel an unexpected pang of jealousy. He’d wanted a piercing since around the time Angela had gotten hers, when she’d been diagnosed with lupus after a long year of confusion, but Ezra had stepped in, saying something along the lines of it being ‘a waste of time and money’ and ‘could mess with his young media image in the future as a child performer’. Though he could understand the latter point, Miles still longed to have a bit more of a… less cute appearance sometimes, even though it was generally what he was known for on the ice.

“Hey, Miles, open yours.”

“Hmm?” Miles blinked, being pulled from his thoughts by Leo’s enthusiastic voice. “Oh, yeah. Sorry.” Clearing his throat, Miles pulled the tissue paper out of the bag to reveal his gift.

“Aww!” Fiona leaned over his shoulder as he pulled out a small plush gecko, in the same style as the fox Angela had gifted him with, able to attach to his skating bag. “That’s so cute! Do you really like such cute things, Miles?”

“I…” The short blond skater felt his cheeks flush as he answered in a stutter, “I don’t… I don’t mind them…”

“He’s very cute, isn’t he?” Angela agreed, and he elbowed her, feeling his face light up even brighter. “Shut up, would you?”

“Very much so,” Ray teased, cocking his head ever so slightly to give himself a more innocent look that was undeniably fake, and Miles kicked his best friend’s shin, cracking a bit of a smile at the his protest.

“Fay said you like cute things,” Leo shrugged, smiling a little. “And you’re always skating, so we thought you could strap it to your skating bag or something.”

“You and Angela definitely coordinated your gifts, right?”

“Hmm?” The redhead cocked his head, popping the last of the french fries they were sharing in his mouth. “No, we didn’t. Why?”

“She…” The small blond skater smiled a little at the thought of the little plush currently hooked onto his bag. “She bought me practically the same thing… Only a fox…”

“Aww!” Fiona nudged him again. “It’s gotta be true if two people bought you something so similar!”

Miles simply rolled his eyes, deciding to just leave the topic be, changing the topic with a huff. “The holiday dance is in a few days.”

“Ooh, yeah, that is this Friday, isn’t it?” Fiona hummed, resting her elbows on the table. “Are we taking any special someones?”


“I wish.”


“Not exactly,” Miles finished off the string of remarks from his friends at the table. Fiona laughed a little. “Wow, all of you are a little more than pathetic when it comes to love, huh?”

“Pathetic?” Miles raised an eyebrow, a tiny smirk playing on his lips as he leaned to his right to face Fiona. “Are you kidding? I could definitely get a date if I wanted.”

“Could you?” Fiona teased, though there was a hint of competition in her tone. Miles nodded, crossing his arms. “Yeah, and I could make it worth her time too!”

The short Spanish girl raised an eyebrow. “Really now?”

“Really!” Miles insisted, the competition in both his voice and Fiona’s increasing.

“Prove it!”

“Fine. Come to the dance with me on Friday!”



For a moment, the five teens at the table were silent, before Leo spoke, total confusion in his tone. “What the hell just happened?”

“I just got a date to the dance on Friday,” Miles replied simply, even though he was barely sure what had just happened himself-he’d gotten a date for the dance on Friday? He followed Angela out of the booth of the diner, sliding on his jacket and grabbing the present Leo had given him as he did. “And all of you suckers have nothing.”

“Are you sure about this?” Angela murmured in his ear as they walked out of the diner. Miles took a deep breath, letting it out to cloud in the chilled, snowy air. “Nope.”

Despite himself, Miles couldn’t help but bring the little gecko to the rink with him that night, fastening it to the shoulder strap of his duffel skating bag. Both it at the fox watched from the sidelines of the chilly rink as he prepared himself to do his routine. Though he loved skating, his usual, easygoing smile was nowhere to be found as he took his starting position. Figure skating might have been a longtime love of his, but it was also his career, something people tended to forget. It was more than just a passion, and he needed to treat it like that. He cracked his neck, rolled his shoulders back and started the music.

Miles loved to skate to old music, and despite the fact he was completely serious, he felt himself smiling as the song began in time with his showy routine. It was challenging, just enough to make him think, to make him work, and he loved all of it, the feel of the chilly air in the rink, the ice shavings, the weightless sensation when he caught air, and, of course, his dizzying spins. It was a wonder he was so prone to motion sickness and was perfectly fine spinning so fast, he thought through the upright spins in his performance, but it didn’t matter. As long as he was pulling it off, he couldn’t bring himself to care too much.

The majority of his performance wasn’t as difficult as his main feat-a little harder than most of his junior performances, but nothing ridiculously impossible or dangerous-until the quadruple axel came up, of course. It was the beginning of the end of the performance, and the first of his more difficult feats, including his consecutive triple jumps very soon after his axel. He’d done consecutive triple jumps before, and Ezra had suggested it might get him a couple extra points-extra points that could mean everything in such a massive competition. So naturally, he’d written it into the routine, even if Angela had argued he’d need more time to recover from his quad axel. As he built up the momentum he needed for the largest jump of his routine, Miles had to hope he’d land the jump and his speed would carry through the rest of his performance-otherwise, he was screwed.

The small blond took a deep breath as he began the longer, more powerful strokes. It probably wasn’t doing him much good to think about it so much.

He hated axels, the thought snuck into his mind as he took off, keeping his body tight and his momentum going. With his small size, any jumps that took off backwards tended to give him more power, and the axel just happened to have a forward jumping position. As a child, it had been more than irritating, especially considering Angela’s more graceful moves had been easier and she’d easily surpassed him in difficulty level. Axels were one of his worst enemies, and it made him even more determined each time he landed the one in his routine. Despite the fact he wasn’t done with the song, a wave of exhilaration came over him as he successfully landed the jump, even if it took some of the air out of him. Maybe he got a little too excited, because Miles let out a surprised yelp as his knee buckled and he fell forward, barely able to catch himself on his elbow. Breathing heavy, he paused his music and let himself take a moment on the ice.

Why can’t I get this right? And what the hell is wrong with my knee?

His knee. It had always caused problems, but it was bothering him more as usual, probably because of the weight he was putting on it with the quadruple jump. Ezra insisted he wear a brace almost constantly, but it irritated his skin, and it felt uncomfortable. As long as his knee was alright the majority of the time, he was going to keep his brace in its package, and push himself to the limit. With a grunt, Miles rewinded his music and pushed himself up off the ice. He had a couple months to perfect what people were telling him was impossible. He had no time to waste.

The rest of the week went fairly smoothly, and between his usual schoolwork and practicing both routines (as well as practicing his pair skating with Angela which she seemed to be enjoying again, even though she was significantly weaker than she’d been before the lupus), Miles couldn’t help but wonder about what the dance would be like. It had been awhile since he’d gone to a dance (he, Ray and Angela would go together every so often before Miles had developed a crush on the eldest of them), and it had been even longer since he’d been to a dance with a date. Though he knew Fiona meant well (or at least, Miles assumed she meant well, in her odd way of doing things) and they were going ‘as friends’, it could easily backfire on him, in one way or another. Angela had assured him not to worry about it too much. Fiona was sweet, even if she was cheeky and mischievous, and it seemed unlikely she’d pull anything dirty on him, and so trying to obey his sister, Miles decided to try his best not to worry about it.

Christmas approaching also meant the house would be decorated nicely. As the 23rd came close, Miles had to admit that every room of the house was looking festive, from the obvious Christmas tree in the living room to the fairy lights wrapped around the banister of the staircase to the precious snow globe from his birthday on his desk. Even though they didn’t do much for Christmas (they weren’t really religious, and considering on how close their birthdays were to the holiday, they also generally didn’t get many gifts) the feeling of late December was a good one. It was the evening of the 23rd, Miles was suddenly wondering what in the world he should do with his hair that was nearly as long as Angela’s, he couldn’t help but feel a certain giddiness bubbling inside him.

“Hey, Miles, you know Fiona’s stopping by soon, right?”

“Yeah.” The blond boy grumbled from where he was upside-down on the couch in the living room, his video game console in hand and a mirror on the floor. Though he was too short for his head to actually be touching the floor, his hair nearly did, and he looked away from the screen of the small device for a moment to stare at his unruly blond locks. “My hair is so freaking long.”

“It’s cute!” His eyes flickered up from his own reflection to see Angela standing in the hallway. Her own outfit stuck to her usual fashion sense, which always seemed to be better than his, and consisted of mostly retro-looking clothing, something she hadn’t swayed from (and quite frankly, managed to pull off quite well). Her makeup, however, was as bold and, well, pretty, and silently, he complimented her, though aloud, he smirked at her. “You look like you’re out of an 80s show.”

“You look like a girl with no tits.”

Miles felt his grin fall away into an unimpressed look, crossing his arms while he was still upside-down. “Touché, ma soeur. Now that we’ve gotten our insults out, can you tell me what the hell I should do with my hair?”

“Tie it back,” Angela suggested, taking the bright blue hairband from her wrist and sitting beside him, motioning for him to sit up, which he did with a sigh. With a quick precision he’d never mastered, she pulled his just past chin-length hair into a low ponytail, leaving a single lock of blond to hang down by his ear. He turned to her with an eyebrow raised. “Was that intentional?”

“You look adorable,” Angela simply replied, completely ignoring his question and tapping him lightly on the nose with a smile as she stood. “All the girls are gonna wish they were Fiona tonight.”

As Miles went to stand, the doorbell rang, and he exchanged a look with Angela. “Speak of the devil.”

His twin sister laughed a little as she practically skipped down the hallway-yet another completely opposite opinion the two of them had was the one on dances, and while Miles obviously wasn’t a fan, Angela liked social gatherings, and was good at interacting at them too.

Miles stood up with a sigh, catching a glance of himself in the mirror in the hallway as he followed his twin to the door (he really didn’t look too bad, with his thin, light blue hoodie rolled up to his elbows and a darker pair of jeans than he usually preferred, as well as Angela’s seemingly magical touch when it came to his hair). He smiled a little as Fiona stepped inside. “Hey, Fiona.”

“Hi.” Fiona smiled right back at him and Angela, her set of large brown eyes bright. “You two look pretty good!”

“I could say the same about you,” Miles replied, admiring her jacket. Though her outfits changed a lot (much more than his own usual style of sweats or jeans and a hoodie), her signature piece of clothing was the blue leather jacket that she’d begun to wear soon after her arrival at Aspen Ridge. It was apparently from her parents, a present to her before she’d left Spain, and the colour was just as striking as her personality was. Though the jacket was obviously the accent of her outfit, a black shirt with a fairly low neckline that featured a pattern of stars and form-fitting blue jeans and black, knee-high boots made for a statement, and though it certainly was fit for a casual school dance, it reminded Miles how stunning she was all the same-something he felt like they forgot sometimes.

“Aw, well thank you!” The short Spanish girl rocked on her heels as she smiled at him, before turning to Angela. “You look pretty great yourself, too.” Fiona’s hands slipped in her pockets as she took on a much more comfortable position resembling a bit of a slouch. “Your makeup is always so good, girl!”

“Well, you know,” Miles found it amusing how bashful usually peppy, sociable Angela could become from a mere compliment-something neither of them had ever been good at receiving. “I’ve been doing Miles’ makeup for the past few years, and you pick up a thing or two when you’re constantly working with it…”

“Well it’s definitely a statement,” Fiona’s tone was that of approval as she nodded. “You’ll have to teach me sometime. But right now, we have somewhere to be, don’t we?”

“Of course!” The female of the twins chirped, grabbing her coat from where it had been hanging by the door. Miles sighed, rolling his shoulders, feeling almost as if he was preparing for a quest or great challenge of some sort. “I guess so.”

“C’mon, Miles!” Fiona bumped him lightly with her hip, grinning up at him. “You’ve gotta be at least a little excited! You’ve got one thing going for you going into this already, and it’s having me as your date!”

Though his tone was condescending, the amused look on his face certainly wasn’t. “You are aware we’re going as friends, right?”

“So what?” The short Spanish girl crossed her arms over her chest-which Miles felt he could see just a little too much of with how low her shirt was, not that he was really complaining about it. “I am going to get you to lighten up about being in crowds tonight! Just watch me!”

“Ha, have fun trying to do that.” Angela tied the belt of her long, red coat around her hips and pulled on her own Vans. She tossed the keys to Miles with great aim. “He’s not fond of too many people, and I’m pretty sure you know that by now.”

“Well, even if you’re a little uncomfortable.” The mixed girl smiled up at him with both her optimistic face and bright eyes, and the blond couldn’t help but smile back, just a little, even if it was out of sheer amusement. “You should have a little fun. So try, alright? Forget all about everything worrisome and dance with us instead!”

“Alright, alright,” Miles chuckled, caving to the girls as they continued down the dark, serene streets of the suburb, the snowy, frost-laced wind nipping at his cheeks. “You win. I’ll try and have some fun tonight.”

Despite the fact some of the other areas of the school’s activities were seriously lacking, Aspen Ridge generally had good school dances, and good dance committees working on them. Though he didn’t have a lot of time because of his skating, Miles could have imagined himself on the dance committee in a different life, under different circumstances. It definitely seemed like it could be fun.

Because of the reputation the school had when it came to dances, there were also generally a lot of people that showed up, both from Aspen Ridge and other schools, considering how many people had friends at other schools in the area. From the moment he’d stepped into the gym, Miles had felt the familiar anxious flutter in his chest, and even as Angela, Fiona and surprisingly, even Leo (who really wasn’t much of a school dance person to begin with) tried to drag him into dancing, he was definitely more of a standoffish, disappear into the crowd type when it came to so many people. He didn’t really mind, as long as there was the feeling he was practically invisible-he liked to be on the watching side of things for once. And so, he watched, genuinely curious in all the people around him and what he missed while he was on the ice. Though he’d scanned the crowd a few times, he hadn’t seen even anyone that looked vaguely familiar to Ray-not that it was too surprising. Ray predictably wasn’t much of a school dance person either, and had probably only come in the past because the three of them were used to being together.

“Hey, Miles! I didn’t expect to see you here!”

Miles jumped at the familiar yet unidentifiable voice, turning to see someone he’d known for almost as long as he could remember, though hadn’t seen in awhile. “Mari! Wow, it’s been forever, huh?”

“Yeah, guess it has.” Miles couldn’t help but smile, even though he knew Ray had a million problems when it came to his sister. He liked Mari, and even though she came off as nothing more but overly seductive eye candy for the older grades, she was smart and clever all the same. Even so, he wouldn’t befriend her, given the chance-they were too different and Ray would kill him. “You’re usually the life of the party. What’s up?”

“Eh, my date was a junior jackass and ditched.” She shrugged, as if the sentence was second nature to her, and Miles decided not to question everything he could find wrong with it as she continued, “Why are you over here? I heard from Ray you had a hot date.”

“Uh… Something like that…” He trailed off, unsure how to reply, instead asking a little too eagerly for his liking, “Is Ray here?”

“No.” The beautiful Spanish girl shook her head, her flawless ringlets bouncing over her shoulders and chest. “He said he might come by later if he’s feeling for it. I was really surprised to hear you and Angela and that new girl Fiona were going and he wasn’t though. Are you two fighting or something?”

“Not… Exactly,” Miles replied after a moment, suddenly unsure what to say. “Or I don’t think we are. Why? Did he say something?”

Mari shook her head again with a laugh. “Man, you two really are *censored*ed when it comes to communication right now, huh? Sorry, Blondie, I’m not a page to anyone, so you’re going to have to ask him yourself. I mean, you two are best friends, right?”

Though he opened his mouth to answer, the blond skater didn’t get a chance to say anything as Fiona grabbed his arm, making him jump once again. “Hey, Miles, you should come and-oh, hi.” She seemed to realize Mari, who was still standing with her hands on her hips and that infuriatingly amused, and slightly degrading smile on her face. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, you must be the hot date.” Mari stuck out a hand, though her usual holier-than-thou tone was present, and nearly sounded mocking. “Mari. I’m Ray’s younger, and undeniably more attractive sibling.”

“Oh, you’re Mari!” Fiona shook her hand, and though her cheerful exterior remained, Miles felt something in the air around them shift from warm and light to chilly and tense. “Damn, we’ve heard a lot about you!”

“Really?” Mari cocked her head with a little amused sound. “All good things, I assume.”

“Of course!” Though her tone was convincingly cheery as usual, Fiona’s undertones were cold and unamused, and sent a bit of a chill down Miles’ spine-so she isn’t just an optimist who thinks everyone is good and pure… Good to know.

“Well, considering it’s been a long while since my brother’s best friend has had a date of any kind, I guess I should let you two do whatever dates do.” She turned to walk away, into the dance, though smiled over her shoulder at Miles, her wink semi-playful. “Though if it doesn’t work out by the end of the night, Blondie, you know where to find me!”

For a very brief moment, Miles stood in silence with Fiona’s light grip on his arm still present, before she muttered, “Well, I definitely loved her to bits.”

Miles chuckled, glancing over to her and biting back an amused grin. “A hundred percent.”

Fiona sighed, shaking her head and turning to face him completely. “She’s really Ray’s sister? They’re completely different!”

“Not completely,” Miles corrected with a little sigh of his own. “They have the same dry wit and charm over people. Ray could definitely be the male version of Mari if he wanted to be.”

“Luckily, though…”

“Luckily,” He echoed, smiling at Fiona. “Alright, I’m assuming you didn’t come over here to talk to Mari after that, so what’s up? Are you having fun?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty great!” The Spanish girl’s cheerful charm reappeared-though after such a serious performance and conversation that had followed, Miles wasn’t sure if it was completely legitimate anymore. “Angela’s off with some of her friends from geography, so I thought I’d come find you!”

“And…” The blond boy hesitated, unsure if he wanted to know the answer to his own question. “And do what, exactly?”

“Dance, of course!” She tugged on his sleeve stubbornly, though she was grinning all the same. “You’re a dancer, I’m a dancer, we’re each other’s dates, so shouldn’t we be dancing at a dance?”

The short blond boy had to crack a smile at her enthusiasm, deciding it probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he caved, just for that moment. “Fine,” He sighed, though he was smiling at her as she pulled in into the midst of the dance, letting his concerns about Ray (and similarly, Mari) fall away. “Let’s dance, Fiona.”

Even though Miles had to admit, it hadn’t been as bad as he’d thought it might go, and he seriously enjoyed his time with Fiona (her energy was contagious), Miles could only take so much before his social anxiety picked up again, and the adrenaline and endorphins wore off to the point where he wasn’t blindly hanging out with Fiona again. He wasn’t expecting her to, but Fiona seemed to understand, or at least try to as they stepped out together, leaning against the wall in the hallway near the back door of the gym in a comfortable silence as Miles collected his thoughts.

“You’re a good dancer,” Fiona said quietly after a long moment, snapping the short blond out of his thoughts. He cleared his throat. “Thanks, you aren’t bad yourself.”

There was another moment of silence, as Miles both tried to sort out his thoughts about Ray, and about how many times he could have publicly humiliated himself by accident in the dance, no matter how irrational it seemed.

“Hey, Miles?”

Miles cocked his head, glancing over the girl beside him. “Yeah? What is it?”

“I, um…” The usually confident, vivacious girl’s voice was suddenly small, and Miles raised an eyebrow. “Well…?”

“Look, do I…” She took a deep breath, before finally saying in a single puff of air, “Do I make you anxious? Or trigger your anxiety or something?”

For a moment, they stood in silence, on the outskirts of the dance, their gazes locked while Miles struggled for words, suddenly unsure what to say. “Fiona, I…”

“Tell me the truth, okay?” She stepped right in front of him, her beautiful eyes serious and her arms crossed over her chest (which definitely wasn’t helping a certain blond focus on her question whatsoever). “I can take it… I can change what I’m like around you if you want.”

“No, no!” Miles shook his head, before letting out a sigh. He let a hand rest on Fiona’s shoulder, keeping eye contact as he spoke with a little smile. “Fiona, I like being around you just as you are. You’re pretty awesome, you know.” He saw her own lips turn up into a bit of a smile at the compliment, and continued, “You just… Put me into situations that make me anxious, I guess.”

“I haven’t known you very long,” She replied, cocking her head with a smile at him. “But I know that you don’t want to be stuck in your comfort zone, Miles, and you should learn how to get out of the security bubble mindset sooner than later.”

Miles made an amused sound. “You’re trying to help me grow up.”

“I’m trying to help you grow in general,” She replied, her voice no longer as small and shy, but unusually mature and calm-not that Miles hated it. “And hopefully, you do.”

The blond skater laughed a little, leaning back against the wall. “Well, I hope I do too, because it isn’t always fun on the safe side of the fence. Was that really all you were worried about?”

Fiona’s usual, lighthearted smile returned as she shrugged, a bit of a laugh in her voice. “Yeah, pretty much.”

“Well, stop worrying,” He replied, smiling at the comfortable atmosphere between them as Fiona leaned back against the wall next to him. “That’s supposed to be my job.”

Fiona laughed lightly, nudging him as she did. “Don’t you go and start worrying either. It’s not good for you.”

“Hey!” Miles turned to the west back door (which wasn’t used a lot) as it opened, smiling at Angela as she practically skipped over to them, teasing, “Ooh, did I interrupt something?”

“No,” The blond rolled his eyes, though smiled at his sister too. “We just stepped out for a sec. We can go back now, if you want.”

“You don’t have to.” Angela’s voice was sincere-she wasn’t teasing, despite the fact she definitely could have in the situation. “I was just wondering if you two had ditched me…. For one reason or another.”

Miles caught onto her poking fun at the both of them near the end of her sentence, and whacked her gently. “Angela!”

“What?” She grinned cheekily at both him and Fiona (who had a gleam that was most amused in her eyes). “I don’t care if you have literally gone gay for your childhood friend or Fiona’s only been here for a month or two, you’re still an attractive guy and she’s still an attractive girl…”

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Miles huffed, feeling colour rise in his face as he crossed his arms. “And keep quiet about that, would you?”

“Sorry, sorry,” His twin apologized with a sheepish grin as she turned to Fiona. “So, what were you two doing out here, anyway?”

“I, uh…” Fiona’s gaze flicked back to him lightning fast, before she replied with her usual confidence, “It was getting pretty loud and hot… So we decided to just step out for a minute or two.” She stretched, smiling at Angela. “We really can go back in, Angela, I don’t mind.”

“Well, as long as you two are sure…” Miles nodded, and his sister smiled at them, turning to reenter the dance. “Well come on then! Let’s finish the year at school with a bang, yeah?”

The three of them had stayed at the dance for only a little longer than he, Ray and Angela generally did-or had, Miles supposed-and though he’d been sure he’d be alight with anxiety and nerves for more than even the first time he’d stepped out, with Fiona, Miles found that he was smiling as they began to leave the school, halting momentarily in the doorway before the chilly night.

“So I’m guessing you two had fun, then, right?” Angela chirped, and he and Fiona nodded in unison as the Spanish girl replied happily, “Yeah, it was pretty sweet.”

“Yeah, it was fun,” Miles admitted with a smile, leaning against one of the door frames. “I don’t know if I could or would do it again, but it was definitely fun.”

The shorter of the blondes grinned at them as she nodded. “Good, good! Well, I’m glad you had a successful first school dance in Canada, Fiona.”

Fiona smiled right back, obviously content with how the night had gone. “Me too. It was pretty fun.”

“Well, I’m glad you feel that way going into this,” Angela’s tone suddenly shifted, and Miles saw a familiar mischievous gleam in his twin sister’s sea-blue eyes. “Because this will either make it better or tap it down a notch…”

Miles raised an eyebrow, cocking his head and crossing his arms over his chest. “Angela, what are you getting at?”

The short French girl opened her mouth to reply, hesitated, and then after a long moment, motioned upwards. “I swear, I did not set this up.”

Biting his lip, Miles glanced upwards, catching the mistletoe in the corner of his eye before slowly returning his unimpressed gaze to his sister. “You definitely did.”

“Nope.” Angela raised her hands defensively, though she was definitely hiding a smirk behind her innocence. “Not this time.”

“Well, I…” He shook his head with a sigh, deciding to stop arguing with his sister and face Fiona, who was standing on the other side of the doorframe, her large brown eyes curious as he half-joked, “You definitely would have had better luck with Angela. I’m not a very good kisser.”

Fiona raised an eyebrow. “You’re fine with this, even with your, um… complicated love life?”

“I have no love life,” Miles corrected with a little smile. “And even if I did it couldn’t be as complicated as my friendship with him right now. Why, are you not fine with this?”

The short Spanish girl shrugged, and before either of them had a word out of their mouth, took a half a step forward , her hand pressing to his chest for leverage as she gently kissed him, short and sweet-something he had absolutely not been expecting from someone like Fiona. As she stepped back, just as quickly as she’d kissed him, she replied teasingly, “No. Definitely, not fine with kissing you. That would be ridiculous.”

“That was a low move,” Miles muttered, leaning forward to return it-though decided he didn’t need two kisses with someone he wasn’t exactly interested in dating that night, opting to kiss her cheek and follow his sister out of the school. Fiona laughed as she followed them after a heartbeat. “You couldn’t even return the favour! You coward!”

Miles rolled his eyes, sliding his hands in his hoodie as they began to walk home, their light, playful chatter filling the stillness of the night air. Even though he really couldn’t deny he felt incredibly light and at ease, he also couldn’t help but feel something was missing (or rather, someone) and how odd it felt without his longtime best friend by his side as well.

Offline Effie Azzara

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Re: Shaved Ice-A crappy novel by Effie
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2018, 01:15:10 AM »
8. Fun fact: When I wrote this, I was mourning how much time it was getting and how little my fantasy story got as a result.

The night of the dance had ended well, and Christmas came and went as usual, and though neither Miles nor Angela received a gift from their mother, as usual when she spent a little more money on their birthday presents, they were both surprised (or at least Miles was) when they were opening more than their presents for each other on Christmas morning. Between the usual presents and the ones from Fiona, Leo, and surprisingly, Mari, and the usual activities that happened on Christmas (mostly baking, decorating and having a good time without stressing about skating or school), Miles had decided it had been one of the best Christmases they’d celebrated, and he knew that Angela probably agreed with him.

It was also remarkably nice to have a break from school, and though he knew Ray would have killed him if they had been talking as much as they usually did (which they weren’t for reasons Miles was unaware of), he was taking advantage of no one scolding him for being on the ice so long.

In other words, both of the twins enjoyed winter break, whether it be because of the skating, the holidays or the video game battles that Miles almost always won, and it was nice to have New Year’s to end the upward curve of the break. Though the Escarra and Verde children usually spent it together, save for the few years the Escarra’s had travelled West to their Irish family, as New Year’s Eve rolled around again, Miles found he was completely unsure what he and Angela were going to do that night. He and Ray had some sort of silent falling out along the lines of the weeks leading up to his birthday and Christmas, and though it didn’t seem like they were exactly upset with each other, they obviously weren’t as comfortable with each other as they usually were.

Miles missed him, he realized that morning as he was debating texting his childhood friend about that year’s New Year’s, and he missed him a lot, perhaps because of the crush that didn’t seem to be fading away anytime soon, or perhaps because he’d known Ray practically his entire life. Ray was much quieter than him, and while Miles often wished that the handsome Spanish boy was more vocal with his needs and his wants, he never was, which was usually what caused their occasional silence.

In other words, Ray wasn’t about to speak up, and it seemed it was up to Miles, who got twinges of anxiety from texting his sister, to do so. With a deep breath, the blond boy typed something asking about that night quickly, before turning off his phone with a sigh. I’m acting like a lovesick teenage girl, and it’s disgusting.

They always invited Leo along as well, and Fiona that year too, though it was rare Leo could convince his strict parents to let him bus basically back to school on New Year’s Eve to spend with them rather than the family. It was worth asking anyway, because on the rare occasion he came, it was definitely more enjoyable. Miles was surprised to get texts back from both Leo and Fiona (who had come to the rink with them early that afternoon anyway) confirming they could come to celebrate with them.

“So it’s just Ray, then,” Angela replied after he’d read out Leo and Fiona’s texts in the changeroom, where they’d both changed into their practice skating attire-they were skating more together as a pair, even if it was more recreational and for the sake of building up Angela’s stamina again. Miles nodded, rolling his shoulders back and motioning for her to come closer to practice a throw jump-something both of them had lost most of their skills to do. Though they hadn’t tried to do it on ice, they’d been practicing diligently, and Miles had a feeling their pair skating would be up to par sooner rather than later. As he tossed her up with enough height to pull off the jump well, he hummed, “I wonder what’s going on with him…”

“He really could just be working on some new project, Miles,” Angela sighed, wobbling on the landing of the throw jump-they weren’t ready to do it on the ice, in other words. “You know how he gets.”

“I really hope it’s as simple as that,” The blond boy replied, though his tone hinted at unhappiness as they made their way out of the changeroom to the ice, where Fiona was waiting. “Because I really don’t want to get into drama with Ray of all people right now…”

“Please, no one ever wants to get into drama with Ray,” Angela chuckled and cleared her throat as they stepped onto the ice, and he smiled a little-it was true, Ray preferred not to be involved with the drama that generally came with high school either, only he was quite adept at shooting down the other parties. If it came down to it, then Miles was sure that he wouldn’t hesitate on defending himself just as stubbornly against him and Angela.

As he and Angela fell into their usual starting position, Fiona started the music (she and Ray were becoming very good at starting and stopping it on time), and he and Angela began their memorized childhood pair routine, Miles couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was going through his childhood friend’s head. He and Ray had been friends for nearly a decade, and though he always thought he understood the Spanish boy, he’d suddenly disappear or do something completely unexpected, leaving Miles in the dark once again, The blond didn’t even know why he thought he understood his friend sometimes, because obviously, he didn’t.

“Hey, Miles pay attention!”

Miles blinked in surprise as his sister’s low hiss snapped him out of his thoughts and his focus returned to the skating. “Sorry.”

They separated briefly into their own dance counterparts, before coming back together to the point where the throw jump would have been, and Angela gave him a look. “We aren’t doing it?”

“Your stamina isn’t good enough yet,” Miles replied simply, stopping to speak and motioning for Fiona to pause the music. Angela came to a halt in front of him, arguing through a cough-probably from the cold going around. “What? Yes it is!”

“Angela…” He bit his lip-he could understand how desperate his sister was to get back on the ice, to return to her former glory, but he also understood that he’d rather have a sister that was alive and well rather than one that was sick, though could have skated a single routine. Sympathetically, he pointed out, “You’re out of breath and we’re nowhere done the routine. I don’t want you to fall, especially after I’m the one who threw you.”

“I’m fine!” Angela whined breathlessly, though there was something off in her voice, and Miles felt a pang of panic, even before his twin sister fainted halfway through another protest. Speechless, Miles barely had time to fall hard to his knees and catch her to prevent her from hitting her head. He heard Fiona scream Angela’s name, though for a very long moment, he was took shocked, too numb to say anything, to move… To breathe…

Angela… Why the hell wouldn’t you tell me you were sick?

The next hour was a blur of things Miles hoped he would never have to see again. Between the ambulance and waiting in numbly in the emergency room, with Fiona and Ray who arrived soon after to his mother rushing in, still in scrubs. The four of them were allowed into the room after a fair amount of time, and the doctor explained exactly what went wrong, why she’d suddenly passed out, but time and words weren’t getting through to him. All he could wonder was how he’d been so blind to her obviously being sick… And how much of the disaster was his fault.


The blond jumped, his breath catching as he was shaken roughly. He blinked back into reality, his seafoam-green eyes looking up into worried dark brown ones-right, Ray is here too. Blankly, still unsure what he could say (or should say), he stared, the beeps of monitors white noise in the haze. Ray blinked down at him, his gaze more concerned than it had been in a long time. “Miles. She’s okay. Angela’s going to be okay, alright? But she’s going to need you there when she wakes up. Miles!” The blond blinked at the harshness in the Spanish boy’s voice-though it shook as he continued, “Miles, you need to hold it together here.”

“Stop that!” Fiona shoved Ray out of the way, and Miles had to adjust where his blank gaze fell as the much shorter girl grabbed his hands. “Miles, he’s being harsh, but he’s right. You have to be able to pull it together.” The short girl tugged on his hands, though he was feeling remarkably like a rag doll. “Miles, she’s going to be fine. She had a bout of pneumonia, she’ll survive.”

It took a very long moment for his brain to catch up to all the words spoken to him, and after it did, Miles finally felt something-something he knew he wasn’t going to enjoy as he shook his head, quickly leaving the room and emptying the contents of his stomach into the nearest garbage can.

“This isn’t your fault.”

“Shut up,” Was all Miles could mutter, his entire body still shaking with the impact of the idea his sister had been sick, and he hadn’t noticed. “Your lungs should rest.”

“I did this,” Angela continued weakly, sounding nothing like herself. Every scratchy word felt like a stab to his heart, and he swallowed his nausea. He’d thrown up more than once that day, and at that point, he’d be dry heaving.

“Miles, you can’t blame yourself for this.”

“Shut it, would you?” Though his words were harsh, his tone was nearly as weak as Angela’s, and definitely wasn’t convincing. “You’re going to make yourself sicker like this.”

Angela sighed, laying back in the bed obediently, letting the room fall back into silence. Ray and Fiona had stepped out for one reason or another, and their mother had been called into surgery, leaving the twins alone in the hospital room-which in retrospect, probably wasn’t such a good idea. Miles sighed too, his hand sliding up to lock his fingers with Angela’s on the edge of the hospital bed. Why didn’t I catch this? Was I working so hard I forgot to care about my twin sister? Did I really hospitalize her? Did I somehow give her this?

Angela let out a feeble cough, and Miles felt all his nerves light up in panic, squeezing her hand. Her brow furrowed, and with her other hand, she reached out to his face. “Stop crying. I’m okay.”

“I’m not…” The blond boy trailed off as he touched his cheek and his fingers came away wet. Quickly, he wiped away his tears. “I’m okay too.”

“No…” The blonde girl took a deep breath, before continuing, and Miles flinched at how weak she looked. “No you aren’t… Miles, this isn’t your fault. No one’s blaming you except you.”

He opened his mouth to reply when there was a knock at the open door. Both the twins turned to see Fiona and Ray together, Fiona giving a little smile. “Hey, Angela… Feeling any better?”

“Yeah, a little bit,” Angela smiled too, as much as she seemed to be able to as Fiona sat on the edge of her bed. She glanced up to Ray. “Hey, can me and Fiona talk for a bit? You and Miles probably need to catch up anyway.”

Though Miles opened his mouth to protest, he was cut off by Ray’s quicker answer. “Yeah. Sure, just call if you need.” He nudged Miles, who reluctantly stood up, glancing back to his twin. “Rest your lungs, at least a little.”

Though she nodded, her blue gaze focused on Ray as they began to leave the room. “Make sure he eats something, alright?”

“Will do,” Ray replied as they left the hospital room, though Miles said nothing, still unsure of how much food he could actually keep down with his sister still stuck in a hospital bed with oxygen being delivered to her lungs.

Though Miles and Angela didn’t mind hospital food because of how often they were there, Ray did, and rather than eat something from the cafeteria, Ray insisted they get real food. So they sat in one of the hospital’s two Tim Hortons’, Ray sipping a cup of tea and Miles with his usual order of a small black coffee and a vanilla-dipped donut-both of which hadn’t been touched. The Spanish boy across from him set down his half-finished tea. “You need to eat, Miles.”

“I’m fine.”

“No you aren’t.” Ray grabbed his wrist to force him to focus on their conversation rather than pull away, and though his words were caring, his tone was hard and serious. “Miles, you’re obviously not okay, and Fiona and me are worried about you.” Miles tried to pull away, but Ray was physically much larger, and his one hand could wrap around the blond’s entire wrist easily. “And if we’re worried about you, then you know that Angela’s even more worried about you, Miles.”

For a moment, Miles contemplated whether he should twist away and leave his friend-and perhaps the hospital entirely-or not, though he couldn’t hear much over the constant, guilt echoing in his head.  I did this, I definitely could have done this to her, it’s my fault…

“Miles… You’re…”

Ray’s grip on him loosened sympathetically, and Miles took the opportunity to yank his hand away, shaking at both his touch and the realization tears were running freely down his face and dripping into his lap. Though he knew it was completely futile at that point, and obviously a lie, he stammered out, his voice hoarse with tears, “I’m fine, Ray, I’m f-fine…”

“What the hell, you’re obviously not!” Miles gasped in total surprise as Ray stood up, pulling him up too and into his arms, hugging him slightly too tight for his liking (not that he was complaining) as he began to break down in sobs in the empty Tim Horton's, clutching the front of his best friend’s sweater as he did. He hated to cry in front of Ray, whom he’d never seen cry, even as children, but he couldn’t help it, his crying only becoming more broken and embarrassingly hysterical as Ray sighed, one of his hands sliding up his back to place a hand atop his head, threading through his messy blond locks. “Miles… You’re always telling me I need to open up more… But you need to tell someone about your worries too.”

“I… I…” Miles choked out through his sobs, his mind far too scrambled to care he was having a breakdown in public-not that it wasn’t too uncommon in the hospital, but for someone constantly concerned about his appearance to other people, he’d usually be worried. “I did this… Ray, I…”

“What?” Ray pulled away to look at him, and though Miles wanted to bury his face back into his friend’s chest and hide his tearstained face away, he didn’t have nearly enough strength to even try. Ray’s eyes were concerned and confused as he spoke softly, “Miles… You didn’t do anything wrong. Angela has lupus, you know what that’s like. It’s practically random, Miles.” Ray let him go, and quickly, he turned away and wiped the tears from his face, even as Ray kept speaking, his voice unusually quiet and sympathetic, in a whole different way than he usually was. “You need to stop acting like you and Angela are a single person, because you aren’t,” The Spanish boy picked up his tea and nudged Miles until he picked up his own untouched food, still choking on his tears. “Miles, you need to stop blaming yourself for everything, because not everything is your fault. Lupus isn’t something you can control, and neither is Angela’s health.” He placed a hand on the blond skater’s shoulder as they began to leave, Miles still stifling tears as best as he could-he wouldn’t let Angela see him cry, or anyone else for that reason. “You need to learn how to not take on the world alone, Miles, because there are people around you that are good to you.”

Though he was still crying, much quieter at that point, and he definitely embarrassed, Miles was also exhausted and he needed a hug more than ever, so he leaned into Ray as they walked through the hospital. He heard his childhood friend sigh,  just a little bit, but he squeezed him tightly around the shoulders. “Good, okay? Now eat your donut, and remember that everything is going to be alright.”

“Well, this is definitely a Verde New Year’s Eve if I ever saw one.”

Miles smiled, just a little at Leo’s comment as the redhead walked in. He huddled closer into his sister’s side, being very careful not to pull on anything or any wires attached to her as they greeted him. He’d recovered from his breakdown that morning, from seeing his sister half-dead, and most of the self-doubt that he’d thrust upon himself was gone, probably because he was too tired to care. It was getting pretty close to midnight, and Leo was the last of them (them being Angela, Ray, Fiona, Mari, Ms. Verde, of course Leo and then, of course, Miles himself) to arrive in the small pediatric hospital room, the tv at almost full volume of the New York New Year’s broadcast and a few small bowls of chips and candies scattered about. Fiona waved him in. “Hey! You’re a little late, you know.”

“Just a little,” Leo joked, greeting Ray and the twin’s mother as he took a seat next to the short Spanish girl on the floor. “So this is what we’re doing now?”

“We couldn’t just not celebrate New Year’s,” Miles replied, his voice still raspy from all the tears he’d shed. “But Angela’s going to be here awhile, and so was our mom, so…”

“You brought the New Year’s to the hospital,” Leo remarked with a little laugh and Ray nodded with a chuckle, grabbing a handful of the candies in the bowl, tapping his fingers on the bed from his spot on the floor, centimetres away from Miles’ shin. The blond resisted the urge to grab his childhood friend’s hand-not only would it probably raise a red flag in Ray’s mind, but he’d have other eyes on him as well. It was very, very rare for Ray to ever be as sympathetic and caring as he’d been that morning, and based on previous interactions with his best friend, Miles could only assume that the Spanish boy wasn’t exactly up for multiple sappy, empathetic moments in one day.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m so in love with such a cold, distant guy when I’m the exact opposite.

Knowing Miles, and his embarrassingly romantic mind, that was probably why he liked Ray so much.

“Anyway, sorry about me being late,” Leo apologized with a sigh. “You know, my younger brother and sister have an early New Year’s because of their age, and my dad made me help out before I left because my mom’s performing with the band tonight. But I’m here now.”

“Good thing too, we were getting ridiculously outnumbered guys to girls here,” Ray hummed, his fingers still tapping aimlessly on the bed sheets. Even as Miles averted his eyes, all he could feel was the vibrations of his best friend’s digits tapping near his leg, and he tried to focus on Angela beside him instead. Perhaps because they’d been incredibly close since infancy, or perhaps because they were twins, there was a certain feeling Miles got as they connected over something insignificant, and he felt the familiar chill of when it happened as his twin sister took his hand gently, squeezing with all of her weakened strength she had. He shared a little smile with her, squeezing back and letting her nuzzle closer to him as the group in the room settled back into a calm chatter.

“So what are you wishing for in the New Year?” Angela mused, her voice still off-he could practically picture her weakened lungs half drowning in fluid, but the small blond boy decided not to focus on it that night. He made a shrugging movement-it was hard to actually shrug while laying down next to someone in a hospital bed. “You know what I want, Angie. How about you?”

“Not to get sick as much,” She replied through a petite yawn. “To skate more. To get to do your makeup for the exhibition of champions. The usual.” She craned her neck to see the others in the room. “You, Fiona? Ray, Leo, Mari, mum?”

“Uh…” Ray let out a sigh, his musical voice dropping an octave as he hummed thoughtfully. “It would be nice if Isolda got over herself and we could go back to how things were before, but I don’t really think that’s happening, so…” The Spanish boy peered up at both Miles and Angela, smiling a little. “I guess I’d like to go along to Vancouver with you two if I get the chance. And, god, my grades, of course, maybe get a job if I can stop making things for awhile.” He looked over to the twin’s mother. “Do you have anything in particular, Ms. Verde?”

“Well, Miles and Angela’s health and happiness, of course,” She glanced over to Miles and Angela, who smiled at her. “Aww, mum, thank you!”

“I’m hoping for a job too,” Mari smacked her lips as she sucked on the lollipop she had brought along with her. “I need some money. And yourself, Fiona?”

“Ah, another good semester in Canada, I suppose.” She shrugged, looking to Leo next to her. “Not really much. Leo, you’re turn.”

“Well, my turn, alright then.” Leo crossed his arms, leaning against the bedside table and shaking reddish curls out of his eyes. “I dunno. A girlfriend would be nice.”

“Leo!” Angela reached out to smack him playfully over the head, and he chuckled lightly. “Alright, alright, let me get all poetic here. I want grades, sports and for my younger sister to grow up to the point where she doesn’t want to play dress-up tea parties with me.”

“Well… We’ve certainly got a… unique range of wishes,” Ray stated after a moment, and Miles let out an amused sound, his eyes on the countdown clock-half a minute until the new year…

“Well, by the looks of it, we all survived this year,” Angela joked, though the male half of the twins nudged her with a bit of a huff. “You’re still connected to oxygen and having medicine pumped into your bloodstream. Don’t go jinxing yourself.”

“Hey, both of you be quiet,” Mari knocked on the frame of the bed to silence them as the clock on the small television mounted on the wall hit thirteen seconds. “It’s time to ring in the new year.”

Smiling along with the rest of his friends and family, Miles counted down the last ten seconds of the new year in unison with all the people in the room. He could hear the nurses and the other pediatric rooms doing the same, but he didn’t really care, glancing over to Angela as the last few seconds were upon them, her face still happy despite its obvious lack of colour and the oxygen tube still in her nose. Though he locked eyes with Ray as the last second finally passed, Miles squeezed his sister’s hand as their room, as well as much of the pediatric floor cheered, “Happy New Year!” in a bright unison that so many people rarely shared together, feeling more optimistic about the year ahead than he had in a long time.

Angela was to be in the hospital for most of the winter break, and though if it had been up to him, Miles would have stayed every moment with her, between his skating and the fact that his mother, plus Ray and Fiona wouldn’t let him stay more than a single consecutive night at the hospital, it obviously wasn’t his choice if he was constantly by his sister’s side. It really wasn’t like Angela was ever alone, considering their mother practically lived at the hospital and she knew most of the nurses and even some of the chronic pediatric patients, and despite popular belief, she actually quite liked being alone every so often. Miles knew that it really wasn’t necessary for them to be attached at the hip all the time, but he didn’t quite feel whole without her by his side… And he knew from past experience that Angela felt exactly the same. Though it was biologically impossible they came from the same egg, sometimes that was how it felt, and as Miles sighed as he finished with his exhibition of champions routine, glancing over to where Angela was usually watching and cheering him on from behind the boards. Maybe some would call it a warped form of separation anxiety, but he felt empty and unnerved knowing that his twin sister was sitting in an empty hospital room, hooked up to monitors, antibodies and oxygen.

It was very odd to think it was January already, and that there were only a few days before they’d be back at school-and that time was running short when it came to the world championships. In two months, he’d be preparing to be on the world’s stage of the most talented skaters.

In two months, Ray will be sixteen… He’ll be able to drive and drink out with his family… And legally have sex with anyone…

Miles felt his cheeks heat up at the thought of Ray having sex-whether it was with or without him, it was an odd thought, and something he’d rather not picture, for one reason or another. It also didn’t help in the short blond’s desperate attempt to forget that he was almost a year younger than his best friend.

I’m nearly a whole goddamn year behind Ray, physically and mentally, it seems like sometimes…

Physically speaking, Miles had never been sure if his petite form and even tinier height was a blessing or a curse, especially as he practiced just the quadruple axel part of his performance. When it came to skating, it was a massive asset and had helped him out more than once or twice (it had also been a plus he’d stopped growing very early on and didn’t have to deal with massive fluctuating sizes through his adolescence). And though as a younger child, he’d enjoyed being called cute, the effect had worn off with every year he gained, especially as Ray began to grow (and probably still had another inch or two to go by the looks of it). He looked like a child compared to Ray, who was often mistaken for a senior or a university student. The blond boy knew that Angela had similar issues about her appearance as well, though hers being her lack of curves and generally flat chest, especially considering their mother was particularly lucky when it came to feminine genes.

You’re here to skate, not to wish you looked different, so skate.

It took nothing more to snap Miles out of his negative daze, and he prepared himself to begin the main routine with his usual habit-cracking his neck, rolling his shoulders back and two taps on the ice with his right toe pick. Ezra called it a fidgety, unprofessional habit. He simply called it his lucky little start, something that helped him perform better. Whether it actually helped or not, he didn’t know, but the blond knew that it only felt right to begin after he’d done his little routine beforehand. Only after the toe pick had stirred up the ice for the second time did Miles start the music on his phone and begin his performance piece.

His skating was getting better every day it felt like, especially over the break. Even without Angela around, or unfortunately Ray, sometimes even Miles needed a break from the people he cared for, just a moment with him, the music and his skates. The first part of his ‘Anyway You Want It’ performance was near flawless at that point, consisting of the more fun, dance-like part of his routine. No massive jumps, no spins or whirls that were too difficult, just the artistic element of his performance. It wasn’t until just before the quadruple axel did things get difficult, starting with the build of momentum. His body was beginning to memorize the motions bit by bit, and as he launched himself up, Miles decided to rely on muscle memory, just to see how far he’d come. Ezra had said something once about nothing being near enough to perfect until he could perform half asleep, and though Miles wasn’t sure how much of the statement was true, he knew that he did much better when he didn’t have to think about his every move..

Unfortunately, he didn’t quite seem to be there yet, and the small skater hissed in both irritation and pain as he fell hard from a spin that wasn’t quite compact enough. His fingers, elbows and knees had become bruised over the past months due to the unusual amount of falls he was having, and every touch, even the brush of fingers over his skin, was sensitive and painful. Shaking his head with a sigh, Miles stood up on the ice, brushing shavings off his sweats. He needed to be better. There was no way he could perform at the world championships with a fall from such a large jump. It would put him out of commission for the rest of the competition, and he needed his name on the radar that year. Miles practically yanked out his earbuds, wishing he had Angela or Ray or even Fiona cheering him on at the sidelines. Though he was facing away from the boards, everything seemed too quiet and empty without them.

“Hey, you are here.”

“Huh?” As if on cue, Miles jumped at the familiar voice, turning to the boards to see Mari leaning on the boards, her face unamused and intimidating as usual. Miles had to admit, she had quite the attractive body, she had a very rock-punk like style and a popular girl mindset, something that attracted more than one clique and more than one type of boy. As usual, she had a sucker in her mouth as she smirked at him. “Hey, Blondie, what’s cracking?”

“Mari… Why are you here?” Miles sighed, skating to the boards to face her, his arms crossed over his chest. The Spanish girl shrugged, grinning cheekily at him, and unlike him, Angela, Ray and Fiona, she cut straight to the point-”So why are you and Ray suddenly not attached at the hip anymore?”

“I…” Miles was taken aback, and though he could feel the tips of his ears heating up, tried to suppress it and stutter out, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Please, Blondie.” Mari took the lollipop from her mouth, pointing it at him lazily. “I love you, and you’re *censored*ing adorable, but you aren’t a good liar, especially when it comes to me.”

The small blond skater hesitated, contemplating playing the innocent card again-it was hard to lie to Mari, perhaps even more so than Fiona (who seemed to be a mindreader). With an unimpressed sigh, he replied, “It’s just something Angela and Fiona think, but other than that, I have no idea.”

“Alrighty, we’re getting somewhere,” Mari encouraged, though she sounded somewhat condescending as usual. Miles decided to ignore it as she asked, “Are you going to tell me what exactly what Angela and Fiona think?”

“Mari, please tell me why in the world you care.”

The rocker girl grinned at him. “No. So please, go on.”

Miles rolled his eyes, tapping his toe pick on the ice but replied flatly, “They think Ray’s jealous of me and Fiona, though I’d much prefer if you didn’t go around telling people.”

Mari blinked in surprise, her long eyelashes batting, though Miles couldn’t tell if it was intentional or not and decided it was another thing about her he wasn’t about to question. With a hum, she replied curiously, “Damn, it hasn’t been very long after Isolda, has it? And Fiona…” She shook her head with a smile. “Well, I guess that’s something new to think about, huh? I never knew Ray got jealous.”

“Exactly!” The short blond skater agreed with a huff. “I don’t believe it for a second.”

“Well, I guess I won’t rule it out for now, but wow.” She let out a whistle, shaking her head with a little smirk. “Anyway, I’m on my way to the bus stop, so tell Ray if he comes by, ‘aight?” Miles nodded, even though he was sure Ray would notice his little sister before he came to the rink or the Verde’s. “See you, Blondie, and thanks for the info!” She practically sang over her shoulder as she left the rink, and the French boy rolled his eyes-he really had never understood Mari in the slightest, even less than he understood Ray. Both of them were mysterious, though in their completely different ways, and though Miles had never met their father (whom he made sure not to ask about too much), he always wondered if the Spanish side of the family was as confusing as they were.

Why can’t all my friends just be normal? It would make things so much easier...

With a sigh, Miles shook his head, slipping in his earbuds again as he skated out into the middle of the ice to perfect his technique and clear his head.

The break was boring, other than his skating, and he found himself back at the rink before the week had ended. Miles could skate for hours-hell, he would skate for hours, even if it was just laps around the rink. He’d always felt more comfortable in his skates rather than off the ice, and as he did another round of the familiar, homey rink, his earbuds amped up to full volume and an extra step or hop to the beat every so often, he yawned. His legs hurt, and he was simply waiting out the ache so he could begin to practice again. He needed his routine to be nearing perfect, and he needed it soon, even if it meant skating alone for hours on end. It was nice to be free of the constant pestering of his friends too, and there was a sense of freedom that came with being alone at the rink.

A freedom that disappeared as soon as it had hit him as his eyes landed on Ray standing at the boards. Miles jumped, nearly falling backwards in surprise as he took out his earbuds. “What the hell, you scared me!”

“How long have you been here?” Ray ignored his statement, his voice unimpressed. “Forget that, you’re obviously tired. Take a goddamn break, Miles, it won’t kill you.”

Miles crossed his arms over his chest-he was tired of dealing with Ray trying to work his way into his career. He was the skater, and he was the one performing. Stubbornly, he shook his head. “No. My routine needs work.”

“Work tomorrow,” Ray persisted, though his voice was infuriatingly flat-sometimes the blond wondered if he ever got through to his old friend. “Miles. You’re going to hurt yourself with how hard you’re working.”

“No, I’m going to win.” He argued, feeling tension lace his words. “You don’t compete Ray, you can’t get this.”

“I can understand the gist of it,” The taller teen replied, his voice unreadable, but his expression was obviously unamused. “And I know how sports work. You aren’t Superman. And you don’t need to win so bad that you hurt yourself. It’s your first championships.”

“Yes I do!” Miles could feel the emotion in his voice become thicker as the volume rose. “You don’t get it, Ray, I need this win. My mom and my sister need this win!”

Ray stared at him for a moment, before shaking his head with a sigh and turning to leave. “You’re so stubborn. Do you know where Fiona is?”

“Obviously not here.”

“I get it. You’re pissed, sorry I got your goddamn panties in a twist.” Ray’s voice wasn’t exactly… upset, but it was bordering on anger, something Miles hadn’t heard in a long time. With a grumble, the short skater replied, “I shouldn’t have shouted. But I’m right, Ray. This win is a must.”

“You stand by your opinion, I’ll stand by mine.” The Spanish boy said simply as he began to leave. “But if you push yourself much harder you’ll hurt yourself.” Without another word, Ray exited the rink, a thick, tense atmosphere left behind him. For a moment, Miles stood in place, his arms still crossed over his chest. He wanted the win. He needed the win. He could do it, and he was going to do it. With a crack of his neck, a backwards roll of his shoulders and a couple quick taps of his toe pick, Miles pressed the ‘play’ button on his earbuds and began to practice again.