miznarrator: (jw - pilates bitch needs a sammich)
[personal profile] miznarrator
Title: Fashion, Baby (Work It)
Pairing: Johnny/Evan
Rating: P for porn.
Summary: Johnny Weir, FIT student, Brooklyn resident, and the summer of 2008. An AU, obvs.
Author's Notes: First and foremost this is for [livejournal.com profile] yeats, who held my hand literally every step of the way. When my obsession for accuracy ran into my "I’ve only been to Brooklyn twice, for less than 24 hours", she googlemapped everything for me. I am not exaggerating when I say that this fic would absolutely not exist if it wasn’t for her. Epic ♥ because there are no words.

[livejournal.com profile] toomuchplor also needs a mention here, because she jumped in and saved me at the end when I despaired, audienced and read and betaed, even though she doesn’t even like skating. Best BFF evs. Thanks also to [livejournal.com profile] tricksterquinn, [livejournal.com profile] nova33 and [livejournal.com profile] supergrover24, who assured me that it didn’t suck, and caught all the myriad errors caused by writing this over two and a half months.

This was started long before Evan was twitterfaily, but it should be noted that this is an AU, so his less-failyness herein is accounted for in terms of different circumstances. Basically, suspension of disbelief works in this universe? :P Written for the [livejournal.com profile] lilpinktassel challenge.

Also, this has a mixtape -->

Available here.



July 2008

"Look, Johnny--just, shut up for a second."

She didn't raise her voice but Johnny found himself pressing his lips together anyway, even though he was mid-sentence. The it's not fair stayed behind his teeth, sharp edged and bitter.

"I know it's not fair, I believe you when you say you handed it in, but the school has to have its audit records, okay. Every student has to leave here with a portfolio of work, and--" She held up her hand as Johnny opened his mouth. "And even if you're applying for the BFA here--"

"I've been accepted," he said, unable to help himself, trying not to wince at the whine he heard in his voice.

"All the more reason to bite the bullet and get some more practice in. Honestly, Johnny, is this the hill you want to die on? Do you really want to get turned down because you wouldn't do a drawing class once a week?"

He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek, held in all the arguments she wouldn’t care about – the internship was his responsibility. His advisor sighed and he looked down. Not thinking about things usually ended up with it written all over his face.

"There's a class at SVA, one evening a week. The instructor's a friend of a friend, I've told him you're coming. You need twenty pieces for a complete portfolio." He looked up, and she was giving him a look he recognized, a look that said don't fuck this up, you'll take me with you. It was a look he recognized too well.

He sighed. "Fine. But it isn't fair."

"Of course it isn’t, honey. It's fashion."


*

That first day Johnny showed up at SVA, requisite notepad and three 2B pencils in hand, the air conditioning was broken. Two fans were blowing across the studio, stirring up the sticky air, providing only the slightest respite. The slight air current was almost worse, in a way, because the room just felt hotter when the fan lazily turned away, and left Johnny out of its breeze. The room smelled, of turpentine and paint and clay, and faintly of the sweat of unwashed art students.

He had a headache within the first minute.

The evening didn't get any better after that. The instructor apologized, first for the heat, and second for the arrangement of fruit and pottery in the centre of the room.

"Our life model had a last minute emergency," he explained as Johnny found his fan in his bag and flipped it open. "He should be with us next week."

Another strike against the whole exercise. A male model, when Johnny had no plans to ever touch men's clothing design if he could help it. He should've just paid Paris in wine and drawn him, over and over. Paris would've cost less than the class, too.

*

He complained about the whole thing later that night, lying naked on his bed, phone pressed to his ear.

"Such a waste of time, Paris. I can draw grapes without paying three hundred dollars to sit in an un-air conditioned room."

He could almost hear Paris filing a nail, his reply was so bored. "Yeah, whatever, bitch. You're really complaining about staring at a naked dude for three hours?"

"That's what I'm saying, there was no naked dude. And, ugh, when did you get so gauche? Dude?"

Paris tsked on the other end of the line, and there was a clatter, the sound of ice hitting the bottom of a glass. Johnny groaned and spread his legs a little wider, searching in vain for a cool part of the bed. "You're making margaritas. Without me."

Paris tsked again, and Johnny closed his eyes, unwillingly imagining the feel of the cold glass in his hand, the smooth bite of the slush against the roof of his mouth. It was almost excruciating.

"Margaritas. Without me."

"Not all of us can console ourselves with an internship at Zac Posen. Some of us have to turn to drink, instead."

He smiled a little at that. "Yeah, I guess it does suck to be you."

*

The internship of awesome was also equally the internship from hell, though, and Johnny didn't have much time at all to think about his portfolio in the week that followed. He might've even forgotten to go to the class, except his phone beeped at him at five, flashing up the appointment. He groaned and ducked enough to bang his forehead off the cutting table in front of him.

"Don't worry; you can finish this up in the morning."

"That's great, except I have about six hours worth of work, and Carrie wants to see this at eleven," he muttered, but he carefully put everything back into the portfolio and set out for 23rd street. At least he still had the getting up early routine down pat. There was a bigger picture.

"There's a bigger picture," he mumbled to himself as the subway blew to a stop in front of him. He finger-combed his hair back into place and popped a piece of gum into his mouth. The way things were going, he wasn't even going to have time for a cigarette before the class started.

*

Today, though, there was a model. Or at least, a chair where the model would be sitting. Johnny set his sketchbook down on one of two free stools, caught in the no-wind's-land between the two fans, and shrugged his shirt off. He could afford being déclassé enough to spend several hours in just a wifebeater, given the company. Also, the heat and the smell. He wrinkled his nose and dug in his bag for painkillers.

Thus occupied, he missed the moment their model walked in.

Johnny looked up just as the instructor introduced him, the name slipping right past as the model started shrugging off the robe he was wearing. Just for a second, everything stopped, everything except the way the robe pulled away from the model's skin, like the curtain going up - Johnny rolled his eyes even as the analogy of a Gaga concert came to him. He wasn't that amazing, but he was arresting. He was tall. Tall, and muscled, but not like a gym rat. He was lean, with a runner's physique, lean and smooth - waxed? Johnny let his gaze slide down, lingering at his groin - not bad, not bad at all - all the way to his feet before dragging his eyes back up to see whether his face was worth a look.

And - oh. Cute. He was really - cute. Cuter than Johnny would have predicted, with a body like that. Nothing like Drew, thankfully.

Someone on the other side of the room dropped their sketch pad with a loud smack, and Johnny startled, abruptly aware again of the fact this was a class. Later, he thought, settling on his stool, pencil in hand, bag tucked up next to his feet. Later, after class, he could see about getting this guy's number. And then…he tamped the thought down, looking at the model again, willing himself to see light and shade, contour, shape—not the possibility for sex. Later. After he rebuilt his portfolio, after he proved to FIT he could draw. Maybe there was a silver lining to the whole thing, after all.

*

For all the drama-queenery, Johnny really could focus and get on with his work, even with the distraction of all the naked in front of him. He did sketch after sketch, two for every pose the instructor called out, pushing himself to get as much as he could out of it. When the model stood up, Johnny blinked, and turned the page, ready to start again, only to be startled out of it by the teacher clapping his hands together.

"Okay, that's it for the life drawing for this week, why don't you turn back to your work that we started last week and remind yourselves of where you got to on your still-lifes."

And just like that, before Johnny could even move model-guy from the drawing to the person part of his brain, he was pulling on his robe and walking out the door. Well, fuck.

*

"Seriously, I actually thought, hey maybe I could have a sex life this summer. And I get cockblocked by a bowl—get this—a bowl of bananas."

On the other end of the line Paris hummed, and Johnny closed his eyes. He was almost too tired for porn, anyway. Tonight would have been wasted, really. Still.

"Hey, maybe he's not even gay."

Johnny snorted, curling his toes into the breeze from the fan sweeping his bed. "He had a lightning bolt tattooed on his hipbone."

There was the barest pause before Paris laughed once. "Oh honey. Point. And you still want to sleep with him?"

"I'll just close my eyes when I blow him."

*

His phone had to beep again, a week later, to remind him to go. He looked up from the computer screen, the afterimage of the design on the screen swimming in front of his eyes.

Across from him, Heather didn't even look up - or even stop typing as she spoke. "I have a date tomorrow night. Cover for me and I'll cover for you."

He blinked, looked back at the screen, then up at the top of Heather's head. "This would take me another three, four hours."

"That's how much I'll have left at the end of tomorrow, seriously, get out of my face, go."

Her fingers stilled and she looked up at him. She was halfway through her BFA and Johnny was more than a little intimidated by how nothing seemed to faze her. Not that he'd tell her that, of course. He smiled instead and hit save.

"Thanks, sweetie, I owe you."

*

Johnny only remembered model-guy as he was getting off the subway, a sudden recollection of the way the shadow of his arm had fallen across his chest. He paused, just a little hesitation as he climbed the stairs to street level, and swallowed. Tonight, maybe. Tonight—at least a phone number. Someone muttered impatiently behind him, and a plastic bag banged into the back of his thigh.

Right, subway. He kept moving.

The chair was back in place, fruit bowl nowhere in sight, and Johnny let himself hope, just a little. He was stuck front and center again, which provided a fine view when the door opened and the model preceded their instructor into the room. Johnny's dick nudged the seam of his pants as the robe slid down and away, and he had to look down at his sketchbook, stare hard at the white page for a few moments, think about his aunt naked before he dared look up again.

"Okay, class, if everyone's got a fresh page in front of them we'll begin. Tonight we're going to focus on the skeleton, and placing that on the page. And step one - Evan, if you could just turn slightly to the left, yes thanks - step one is the angle of the pelvic bone."

Well, shit.

He thought of his aunt, again, and kept his eyes on model-guy's face. He looked—different—than last week. Johnny frowned, quickly glancing back through his notebook but—no. He hadn't done anything last week that was detailed enough to explain the change. Johnny tilted his head. Maybe it was the shadows under his eyes. He looked tired. Still cute, but about as tired as Johnny felt.

"Johnny?"

His attention snapped over to the instructor. "Yes?"

"You'll need a new page for this exercise."

He looked down. His sketchbook was open to a drawing from last week, and he bit down on his bottom lip to try to keep back the instinctive flush across his cheeks. "Yeah, of course, sorry."

First embarrassing five minutes aside, the class went as quickly as the previous two. Johnny had actually done the work before, so it came easily enough, and he was able to mostly tune out the instructor and focus on the line and shadow on the page. In between offering directions and guidance, he told them about some show at PS1, which Johnny scribbled as a reminder to himself on the corner of the page. It had been too long since he'd taken the time to go to see some art.

Time slipped away and the class ended with the elementary-school clap of their instructor's hands. He blinked, and blinked again as the man in front of him resolved into a person instead of a collection of lines. He looked around - still no fruit bowl—and the clock on the wall said the class was over. He stretched and model-guy—Evan, he remembered abruptly—pulled on his robe, ducking away again into the instructor's office. He didn't seem to be hurrying, though, so Johnny let himself linger, even as his fingers closed around his pack of cigarettes and he had to fight the urge to run for the exit.

Johnny dawdled for as long as he dared, waiting to see if Evan would come out through the studio to leave. He smiled, vague, at the instructor, turning to watch him chase after a just-departed student, then dumped his bag on the chair and crossed the room as quickly as he dared.

He didn't bother knocking, just pushed the door open and peered around it, disappointed to find Evan dressed already—was that a Threadless shirt?—and skinny jeans. He looked up from his foot, sock half on and blinked. Johnny smiled.

"Hi. You haven't seen my pencils have you?"

Evan blinked again and glanced around the room. "No?"

Johnny smiled a little more and eased himself around the door, hanging on to it with one hand. "Never mind, I must have left them at home. Hi, I'm Johnny, you are?"

There was a pause, and Evan stared at him just long enough Johnny could feel his smile fix, just a little.

"I am... you're in the class, right?"

Oh, Christ. Of course the guy just had to be dumb; it was just Johnny’s luck. Johnny nodded, leaning back against the door.

"I am."

"Oh. Well. I'm the model?"

Johnny pressed his lips together and kept his eyes wide open. "I know, honey. I was just asking what your name is."

"Oh. Right. Sorry, I—"

The door to the classroom banged open in the other room. "Evan, are you nearly done, I've got to—"

Johnny stepped to the side just as the office door swung in to the room. "Oh, hello, I didn't see you there. Mr Weir, right? Can I help?"

Johnny smiled again, sweet as he could manage. "I was just looking to see if I left my pencils here last week, but it looks like I must have left them at home. Excuse me; I'll get out of your way now."

He turned, nodding at Evan politely, unable to keep from noticing that he had only just now managed to get his sock on. Unforgivably dumb, then. Any guy who couldn't dress himself wasn't going to get Johnny's sheets dirty, no matter how much Johnny might want to get laid.

"See you next week," the instructor called after him as Johnny made his way over to his bag.

He sighed before replying, making sure his voice didn't betray anything. "Of course, thank you." At least he’d get his cigarette sooner rather than later.

*

Johnny didn't call Paris that night, hitting 'ignore' when Paris gave up and did the calling instead. It was just too disappointing to try to explain his failure.

It didn't save him for long; they met up at Vynl on Friday as usual, the only day of the week anything with more than half a gram of fat passed either of their lips. They even ordered drinks, and Johnny only got the slightest pang as he pressed his palm against his hipbone. It stood out as sharply as always, and would keep doing so, if he was careful. For tonight, though, he could order the steak sandwich and forget about the week gone by.

Except of course, Paris barely let them order before leaning across the formica, resting his chin on the backs of his hands.

"Okay, spill."

Johnny opened his eyes wide and blinked once, the picture of guilelessness. "Spill what? It's been a week of work work work, I feel like Cinderella. Don't make me talk about it."

Paris rolled his eyes and Johnny let himself slouch a bit.

"You must be tired," Paris said, all mock-concern. "That was the most pathetic attempt at lying I've seen out of you since you tried to tell me you hadn't borrowed my Jimmy Choos while still wearing them."

Johnny snorted despite himself, glancing over his shoulder to see if the waiter was making his way over yet. He let his posture degenerate a little more when it was obvious that their drinks were not ready yet, and sighed.

"He's dumb, Paris. Unfuckably dumb."

Paris sniffed, cocked his head to one side, folded his napkin into a triangle. "Well, did you get his number? I don't need them to talk to me, I just need them to put out."

Johnny picked up the napkin and threw it at him before laughing.

*

He didn’t look at his sketchbook again until he was sitting in class the following Wednesday, juggling it and the giant venti iced skinny latte making wet rings on the cover. The charcoal smeared as he turned the pages, and he had to lean over carefully to put the cup down, wipe his hands on his jeans with a wince. He flipped the pages more carefully after that, until his thumb smudged over the scrawled‘PS1’ in one corner.

Oh, right, of course.

He pulled his phone out and set up a reminder for Sunday afternoon. Even if Paris didn’t want to come along, at least it would be looking at something that wasn’t Digital Fashion Pro.

The class itself was fine. Evan only stopped being lines and shadow three times. Each time, Johnny was absolutely professional and thought unfuckably dumb until the moment passed.

By the time Sunday rolled around, he was exhausted enough to sleep through both alarm clocks, waking only when his phone vibrated under his cheek, and with a bleary blink he stared at the screen long enough to work out he was supposed to go look at art.

Paris didn’t answer his call and Johnny was too tired to bother with anyone else, with whom he would actually have to pretend to care about making conversation. So, he was nearly alone – a few dozen other people in the gallery notwithstanding – a little exhausted and quite a bit bored.

Until he found one corner of the gallery that wasn't boring abstract watercolours, or mediocre photography. Bizarrely, it was bricks. Or, series of bricks, more like—one board covered in an oil-rendered exact reproduction of a brick wall, twice life-size, and then two more boards, these having a brick each, exquisitely detailed. The edge of the board was rough, obvious, and in the white field surrounding the individual bricks, Johnny could see two knots in the wood beneath. He stared at them a long time, fascinated by the attention to detail; it should have been boring, but somehow, it wasn’t. Neither was the post, two feet square and at least six feet tall, which Johnny nearly walked into, before realizing it was art as well – wood, painted with bricks, just like the two-dimensional pieces.

Reading the panel was an afterthought—at least until he saw the picture of the artist on it. Evan the life model, it turned out, was significantly up and coming enough to have his work on display at PS1.

"Well, now," Johnny murmured to himself, blushing only a little. Maybe not completely unfuckably dumb, then?

*

Johnny had three whole days to work out a new strategy for finding a way into Evan’s pants. Not that that part was particularly difficult, with all the nudity required by the class. Johnny didn’t just want to draw his dick, though. He wanted to know what that dick felt like up his ass.

As soon as he’d figured this out, of course, the dream internship did its now-predictable flip into the internship from hell. Except unpredictably, it stayed there. Heather came in on Monday looking practically green. Johnny only noticed when she rushed out of the office, hands over her mouth, not even yet logged into her workstation. She lasted an hour, before an alarmed Carrie sent her to urgent care in a cab, arms wrapped around a bucket from the cleaning cupboard.

Johnny spent ten minutes worrying about her, then checked his emails again and realized how much more he was going to have to do to make their deadlines without her. He managed to be annoyed about it for a full half hour (quietly, of course) before he was just too busy to have time to feel anything except rushed.

On Tuesday afternoon, still Heatherless, they found out it was Dominos pizza on Sunday night that was to blame.

On Wednesday morning, they realized they’d be a person down for the rest of the week. Johnny didn’t even see the class reminder on his phone until he checked his messages on the way to the subway, nearly eight hours later.

The implications of missing a class took two days to hit. But even then, the internship was first in line for his time and he had to cancel dinner with Paris by text, surreptitiously, under his desk.

The following week was wash, rinse, repeat—fortunately without the vomit.

"Why am I doing this?" Johnny muttered to himself on Tuesday, wincing as he stabbed himself with yet another pin. His eyes were practically crossing; it had been almost three hours since the last Starbucks run and his hands were trembling just a little.

"You love it," Heather muttered on the other side of the table, matching his wince.

"Yeah, so do you, bitch," Johnny replied, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before picking up another pin. The annoying thing was that it was true.

Most of the time, anyway.

Definitely not on Thursday morning, when he realized he’d missed another class.

*

"Can't you just draw him from memory?"

Johnny sighed, resisting the urge to lean down, bang his forehead on the table. It probably wasn't clean enough. "No, Paris. You know I'm not actually an artist, right? I'm not that good, and it's got to look like I was actually following instructions." Probably. It wasn't like there was time for a redo if Johnny got it wrong this time, though.

"You can draw me, if you want. I'll only charge you a hundred bucks an hour." Across the table, Paris vogued and Johnny blinked.

"As if I want to see your dick, no. But—wait. Wait wait—" He snapped his fingers, letting a smile push up the corners of his mouth. Fucking gleaming silver lining.

"Wait what? Also my dick is a work of art, you're right, thanks."

He waved one hand, dismissing Paris's bullshit, mind still on his idea. "I could pay him."

"Who him? This artiste Evan him?"

"Yeah. Or at least offer. I mean, it's perfect."

"You still want to—" Paris waved his hands, upper lip pulled up a little.

Johnny rolled his eyes. "Hot. Do I need to show you my sketches again?" He thought of the post at PS1—it was taller than he was. It might be the same height as Evan. His fingertips tingled at the thought of touching, the sensation mixed between the idea of touching Evan and the idea of touching the careful sweeps of oil paint.

Paris sniffed, and picked up his drink, sipping through the straw. The umbrella bobbed once, like a nod. "Call me and tell me if he's as hot when you get to the pillow talk."

Johnny kicked Paris under the table. "Bitch. You'd mock his looks if I was fucking him for the conversation."

Paris smiled, deliberately sickly, and took another sip from his drink, not bothering to deny it.

*

It turned out to be about as easy as Johnny imagined it would be. He apologised to the instructor, making sure to stay big-eyed and sincere—after all, if Evan declined the offer, he would still have to make up the work and then he'd be at the mercy of whatever the instructor would allow.

It didn't turn out to be a problem. It made Johnny worry if he had been wrong; maybe Evan was just an idiot savant, painting architectural details because he didn't have the imagination for anything else.

"…and I'd really appreciate it, I mean, I'll pay you whatever your going rate is, of course. And we can meet here, if you like, or at my apartment—" Christ, he had to stop talking, it was just hard, with the way Evan kept nodding and nodding, like one of those dashboard dogs. Johnny bit the inside of his cheek, pressing his lips together. It still took a couple seconds for Evan to take the silence as invitation to do something other than nod.

"Oh! Yeah—yeah, it—I'm sure you don't have to pay me as much as for a class, I mean, it's just you, right?"

Johnny nodded, cheek still caught between his molars.

"Well—" Evan finished tying his shoe and dropped his foot to the floor. He was just as unfairly fuckable clothed as naked. Johnny shifted his weight, letting one hand fall to his thigh, fingers pointing towards his crotch. His jeans were tight and going commando left nothing to the imagination. Evan's gaze snapped down for a second.

Bingo. Johnny let himself smile, just quick and small. "Whatever you're comfortable with, I really appreciate you helping me out. Do you want to meet me here this weekend, if you have keys?"

Evan shook his head and Johnny clenched one hand, holding on to the shiver of triumph. "Nah, I'd have to ask Dave - where do you live?"

"In Bushwick, off the Morgan L stop."

Evan sat up a little, half smile blooming. "Oh hey, me too! Do you mind doing it at your apartment? We could do it at mine, but my roommates are having a party this weekend, and that would be a little weird."

Johnny would have to pay his roommate to spend the weekend at his girlfriend's, but it would be so worth it. "Yeah, no problem. My roommate's away this weekend, we'd have the place to ourselves." He smiled, like the implications weren't obvious.

He smiled even wider when Evan's eyes did the sweep down Johnny's body, and the tips of his ears bloomed red. It was too bad Johnny really did have to draw him first.

*

The air was thick in his bedroom, so muggy Johnny could almost taste the salt on his tongue. He turned his head, pressed his lips to the side of Evan's neck, licked there and then sucked the skin between his teeth, breaking away with a gasp when it made Evan's hips buck up, change the angle.

"Fuck—"

"Ah—"

The bed banged against the wall, once, twice, as Evan shifted, reaching between them to wrap one hand around Johnny's dick. Johnny allowed it, this time, didn't slap Evan's hand away, didn’t think of Drew at all, closing his eyes as they settled on a rhythm.

He was going to come, probably within the minute.

*

It all happened as quickly as Johnny had dared hope. Evan had been five minutes early, which had added credibility to Johnny answering the door shirtless, towel draped around his shoulders.

"Sorry, I'm early, I can go get a coffee, come back in a bit." He looked down at his feet, then up through the ends of his too-long fringe. It made Johnny's toes curl.

"No, no, thanks for coming, let me just go find a shirt and we can get started."

He left the bedroom door open, peering around the door jamb to keep an eye on Evan while taking his time pulling on a tank top. He stayed almost exactly where Johnny left him, looking around and then peering at the framed sketches on the opposite wall. He didn't make any move towards them, though, and Johnny gave up on watching him surreptitiously.

"It sure is hot today," he said, stretching as he came out of his bedroom. "Not a bad day to take your clothes off."

Evan didn't quite startle, but it was a close thing, and Johnny smiled as he checked him out - again. "Oh, huh. Yeah."

"I was going to make myself a drink, can I get you something?" He made a quick bet with himself—it'd be beer Evan would ask for.

"I have vodka, and tonic, or…" he said into the fridge, but no, the cranberry juice really was gone. He glanced around the door towards Evan, registering the hesitation. "Or beer?" He could replace it, like a good roommate, once he got laid.

Evan smiled and Johnny smiled right back.

*

"Sorry," Evan gasped. "Ah, fuck—" He shuddered under Johnny, hand no longer moving on Johnny's dick.

"Did you just—"

"Yeah—yeah, I'm sorry—" He went still and Johnny did too. They looked at each other, Evan's eyes wide, breath still coming quick. Johnny was so hard.

"I'm sorry," Evan said again, more weakly this time and Johnny bit back his sigh. Instead, he reached behind himself, holding onto the edge of the condom as he carefully rose up on his knees, letting Evan slide out. His breath caught in the back of his throat at the sensation.

"Hey, do you want me to—can I—" His hand brushed against Johnny's asscheek, fingertips slipping through the lube to--

"Ah, yeah—" Johnny's knees trembled and he rose up some more, bracing himself with one hand. "Please—" And two fingers pushed in, quick enough that Johnny gasped, locking his elbow to keep from toppling over. He held out his hand, palm up, in front of Evan's nose.

"Lick--"

He trembled again at the hot wet slip of Evan's tongue across his palm and between his fingers, shifting again so he could curl the spit-wet hand around his dick.

So close.

Evan's fingers pushed in, pulled out, then pushed in further.

*

"I should just warn you," Evan said, as Johnny moved a stack of magazines from the couch to the coffee table. "After a few minutes of sitting for anyone, I zone out."

Johnny paused, half bent over, then straightened. "Does that mean I shouldn't talk to you?"

Evan looked down himself and shrugged a shoulder. "You can talk to me, but I might not answer… right. Not that I don't think you're interesting, or whatever," he added quickly. "It's definitely not you."

He looked so awkward and embarrassed, Johnny had no choice but to smile reassuringly. At least that explained the non-conversation after class. "Don't worry about it, we can always chat after."

Or other things, Johnny thought to himself, picking up his drink. Evan took it as a cue to take a drink from his beer. It made Johnny lick his lips.

"So, um. Did you want to start with the portrait session, or—"

"Could we—" Johnny interrupted, just as Evan seemed to want him to do. "Start with the perspective work? Is that okay with you? I just—want to go big, if you know what I mean." He let his gaze deliberately slide down from Evan’s face to the toes of his Chucks. Of course he wore Chucks. They were at least interesting, though – gray, with splatters of paint on them. Work shoes. He blinked and looked back up, in time to catch Evan giving him the same appraisal. Right, yes. Not shoes. Drawing and then sex. Johnny smiled, just to watch Evan’s ears flush.

"Sure, um. Fine. I’ll just—get undressed."

*

"You are so seriously hot—"

It was a little embarrassing that that was what made him come, but whatever. Johnny’d been waiting for hours. Weeks, even. He kept his eyes closed, lips pressed together until the end when he had to gasp, because how were Evan's fingers even further in?

"Stop, ah, too much—"

"Sorry, sorry—"

But then of course he pulled his fingers out too quickly and Johnny shuddered, clutching at Evan’s shoulder with his free hand. Whatever, Evan was already covered in come. A little more wouldn’t hurt.

Johnny blinked, then let his elbow bend, falling sideways onto the mattress with a sigh. Everything smelled like sex, the air still thick, time slowed down, halftime to his heartbeat. He turned his head, blinking again at how close Evan was, blinking himself, their breath meeting, noses almost brushing.

He smiled so Evan would too, laughing at the way it appeared, just a little tentative. He felt great, stretching a tiny bit to press their lips together.

*

Evan walked out of Johnny’s room naked and for a moment Johnny forgot the question. He forgot about the sketchbook in his lap, about the course, about the degree, everything except want.

Then Evan gestured at the sofa and repeated, "Do you want me to do anything in particular, or just—lie down?" and the tension snapped, resettled.

"Just—however you’re comfortable is fine with me. You probably know better than I do what I should be drawing." It was hard not to check out his dick, long even soft. He cleared his throat and smiled brilliantly, making eye contact.

"Oh, hah, yeah." He sounded just a little nervous. It was cute, and Johnny was endeared enough to temper his smile.

"Do you do much figurative work yourself?" It was interesting, watching Evan try to get comfortable on the couch. At least he wasn’t doing a Titanic pose, lounging along its length.

"Me?" He propped his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands together.

"Yeah, you," Johnny replied, unable to keep the amused tone out of his voice.

"Um. No, not really. I, uh. I don’t really do people. I mean, I can, but—" He shrugged, but kept the pose. "It’s not really my thing. Does this pose work for you?"

Johnny tilted his head, let Evan turn into light and shadow and shape. "Is this what the class drew?"

"Pretty much."

"It works for me, if you don’t mind sitting like that." He picked up his drink, took a quick sip and put it down, trading glass for charcoal.

"Nah, this is fine, thanks."

"I’ll be quick," Johnny promised, and flipped to a blank page.

*

Johnny yawned and stretched, rolling over towards Evan. They spoke at the same time, sentences tripping into each other.

"Sorry," Evan apologized immediately. "Go ahead."

"No," Johnny replied, still postcoital enough to be magnanimous. "Go ahead, what were you saying?"

"I was just—you asked me earlier—you’ve seen my stuff?"

Oh, good, they were getting to the get-to-know-you conversation. Johnny rolled over, away from Evan and grabbed his cigarettes off the nightstand, offering the pack to Evan first. "Yes, I have."

He watched Evan hesitate, then push the lid of the pack back, taking out the lighter first, then two cigarettes. "Did you—what did you think?"

The pack went back on the nightstand and Johnny took one lit cigarette from Evan, blowing the first drag up at the ceiling. "It was interesting." He licked his lips, took another drag before glancing over at Evan. Oh, it was too easy to make him squirm. Johnny took pity. "I liked it."

Evan visibly relaxed, finally taking a drag off his cigarette, looking up at the ceiling as he did. He was still good looking up close, after the orgasm. Johnny made himself look away, just as Evan spoke. "What did you see?"

"Your pieces at PS1. I mean—do you have anything else up anywhere right now?"

"No, but--I don't know, you might've seen--something else. You liked it?"

Johnny managed to resist the urge to roll his eyes, settling for a slightly patronizing smile. It made Evan flush a little and Johnny surprised himself by rolling over enough to kiss him. His cheeks were a little hot as he pulled back, biting gently in an echo of his earlier nip, before turning back to his cigarette. Too much, probably.

"Is that a yes, or a polite way of saying no?"

He didn't suppress the eyeroll the second time. "Yes, Evan Lysacek, SVA grad and unfairly pretty life model, I like your goddamn art." He turned his head then, meeting Evan's gaze with his eyes sincerely wide as he could make them. Evan blinked first.

"You think I'm… pretty?"

It was unfair to expect Johnny not to laugh, so he didn't bother trying to suppress it. "Really?" he finally managed, after too many seconds passed, after he had to turn back over to crush his cigarette out into the ashtray next to the pack. It helped that it made him look away from Evan; it was too soon to jump him again.

"Shut up, it’s a fair question," Evan muttered, as Johnny held out the ashtray to him. His ears were bright red and cheeks too bright.

Johnny licked his lips, put the ashtray back on the nightstand. He threw one leg over Evan’s, grinning when he made a startled noise. Maybe it wasn’t too soon after all.

*

Johnny looked at the page in front of him, then up at Evan again, evaluating. "I think I’m done," he said, glancing between page and person one more time.

"Oh," Evan said, not moving yet. "Do you want me to look?"

"No, not really," Johnny replied, putting the sketchbook and charcoal down on the floor beside his chair, stretching his arms up over his head. He pulled one hand with the other, drawing his shoulders up, then shrugging them down, smiling as Evan did the same.

"Okay, "Evan said, shaking his head and yawning once before moving to stand. "I’ll just—"

"Don’t bother," Johnny interrupted, sliding out of his chair and onto hands and knees. It was maybe five feet to crawl, more than enough space to let Evan get the right idea. Johnny grinned as Evan’s eyes widened, lips parting when Johnny put one hand on Evan’s knee. "I’ll just have to take your clothes right off again."

"Oh," Evan said again, and his lips were so perfectly parted for a kiss, Johnny didn’t bother trying to resist.

Evan beat him to it by half a second, and it was Johnny’s turn to say ‘oh.’

*

"Well, spill, honey. I’ve been waiting all weekend to hear how your little art session went."

Johnny laughed before he could help it, then laughed again because it was actually kind of amazing. "Oh Paris. It was everything you dreamed of and more."

*

Johnny had no trouble remembering it was Wednesday when he woke up. He remembered, in flashes, throughout the day, like a neon sign suddenly sparking to life in his memory. ART TONIGHT ART TONIGHT. And then, just like those double layer neon signs, it flipped into SEX SEX SEX. It was a little distracting and he ended up sewing his thumb, only by some miracle avoiding getting blood onto the grey twill he was supposed to be stitching.

"Go get a bandaid. Go get five bandaids, and quit dripping on the floor, it’s disgusting," Mark said, as Heather tried not to laugh. It figured that his boss’s boss would just happen to come see how the interns were doing on a day when Heather was well rested and un-food poisoned and Johnny was a hot mess. He looked at her, caught her eye, glared at the smirk she didn’t bother to hide. He should never have said anything to her, he thought uncharitably, holding his bleeding hand high as he searched through bolts of fabric for the first aid kit. At least it was his left hand.

He was late to class, but he made it, giving himself two minutes in the restroom just down the hall to make sure he looked his best before coming in, a pose behind everyone else. He could make it up, though, winking at Evan when he broke pose long enough to make eye contact. The startle was a good five seconds later, and Johnny had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from preening too much.

He really did have to finish the portfolio.

Evan didn’t make him linger long. Johnny was even genuinely still packing up when he stumbled out, still barefoot, belt unbuckled. His hair was mussed like he’d pulled his shirt on wrong, dragging it on against the grain. It made Johnny want to just pull that shirt right off again.

"Hi," he said breathlessly.

"Hi," Johnny replied, cocking one hip just to see Evan’s gaze drop, before yo-yoing back up again.

"I just have to—I was wondering if you were—do you have to—" Evan stopped, and Johnny did his best to keep the smirk sarcastic rather than endeared. He took a breath as if to continue, so Johnny spoke.

"I’m about five minutes away from heading for the subway, if you wanted to walk that way together."

"Great, yeah, that would be—great." Evan grinned and it was hopeless for Johnny to keep from returning it.

Outside, Johnny paused long enough to light a cigarette, shrugging when Evan waved away the pack. It should have been easy for Johnny to say ‘come back to my place’ but he looked at Evan and the only thing that came out of his mouth was smoke.

"Um. Do you mind walking while you smoke?" Evan asked after several beats of them trading askance glances. Thank Christ.

Johnny waved his cigarette, go ahead, and still silent, fell in step beside Evan. Evan, too, stayed quiet, a block and a half of quiet, opening his mouth and saying something just in time for a police car passing them to punch on the siren. Johnny winced, leaning his head towards his shoulder to try to block out the worst of the sound.

"What?" he asked, as the police car tore up the rest of the block, siren fading. His ears were still ringing as he took the last drag on his cigarette, flicking the butt into the street.

"Oh, uh. I was just saying—never mind."

Johnny licked his lips, glancing over at Evan. His elbows stuck out, hands deep in his pockets. It pushed his shoulders up, and Johnny very nearly tucked his arm into the gap. He cleared his throat instead, coming to a stop at the intersection, waiting for the green.

"No, what?"

"I was just—there’s one more class, huh." He looked over at Johnny, his expression a weird combination of hopeful and worried.

Johnny swallowed. He really wanted another cigarette, if only for something to do with his hands. With his mouth.

"So, um. I have to work on Saturday, but if you want to try the portraiture on Sunday—"

"How close are you to the subway?" Johnny interrupted, abruptly unable to take it anymore. The light changed, and the intersection started beeping at them.

Evan stepped out, but he was still looking at Johnny. "What?"

"How close are you to the subway? Is it you or me who lives closer?" Johnny stopped on the other side of the intersection, in the shadow of a giant shrub, stepping forward until the tips of his shoes pressed down on Evan’s.

Evan blinked, then swallowed, ever-so-slightly swaying towards Johnny. He pulled his hands out of his pockets. "Um. I’m not sure—"

A couple came out of the restaurant behind Evan, but they turned towards the subway as Johnny went up on his tiptoes. Their lips met just a fraction of a second before Johnny expected it, and only belatedly did he realize his eyes were already closed, hands on Evan’s shoulders, Evan kissing back.

Like their first kiss, this one caught Johnny off-guard, even as he was the one to initiate it. Like their first kiss, too, Johnny briefly caught himself wondering at how much of a rush it was, fingertips and lips, tongue and toes tingling, and not close—not close enough—

Evan nearly fell over, trying to step back from Johnny, bumping right into the shrub. He clung to Johnny, hands gripping tightly to his upper arms as they both gasped, and Johnny nearly fell into another kiss.

"Come back to my place," Evan said quickly, kissing Johnny before he could answer.

Johnny twisted his fingers tightly into the hair at the back of Evan’s head and kissed back, trusting Evan could figure out how he felt about the suggestion.

*

Evan woke up when Johnny did, to the obnoxious sound of Johnny’s phone alarm going off. It was usually ungodly early, but it was somehow even worse that morning.

"I swear I only just fell asleep," Johnny mumbled, grabbing his neatly folded shirt and pulling it on, determinedly not watching Evan do the same. It had definitely been getting light when Johnny had exhaustedly faceplanted into the pillow beside Evan's head, three orgasms later.

"Do you know how to get back to the subway from here?"

"Um." He only just managed to bite back a retort about not being able to find the door to the bedroom, but Evan seemed to read it on his face anyway.

"Come on, I'll walk you there, we can go past my favourite coffee place, The Archive? It's right on the way."

*

Heather raised both eyebrows at him. "Is that the same shirt I saw you wearing yesterday?"

Johnny sniffed and carefully set his coffee down next to his computer. "Would I be so gauche?"

"If you got laid last night, maybe."

He turned, looking at her over his shoulder, and let the smile that was threatening properly bloom. She laughed just as he did.

*

"...and then I think I gave him my number."

Johnny reached for his drink, his nose bumping the novelty paper umbrella once before he got any liquid. It was still too sweet, but he held back on making a face. Even ending up with Paris's drink choice was tolerable, after this.

"Well, good for you, honey, it's been a long time coming."

Johnny shrugged one shoulder, pushing the drink back next to the flower arrangement. "Few weeks, really. I mean, that's moving quick, for me."

Paris sat back, crossing one leg over the other, pursing his lips. "Don't I know it. How long have you been carrying a torch for Drew? I dread to even count the months."

"I'm not carrying a torch, fuck off." He said it mock-seriously, but it was true. He definitely hadn't gone through the box of mementoes in weeks now. It barely even counted.

"Fine, fine, you're not pining, but you're not moving on, either. Or, you weren't..." Paris grinned abruptly, almost a leer. "This artiste of yours sounds like just what you need. No conversation, just some old-fashioned bendy bendy bangy bangy."

Johnny kicked Paris under the table, who just kicked him right back, still grinning while Johnny could feel his cheeks getting hot. "Shut up, you are so crass."

Paris stuck out his tongue at Johnny, which only proved his point, but got serious over the tip of his straw, as he took a quick sip of his drink. "I may be crass, but I’m right. It is absolutely criminal how little action you get, with that ass and that face. Don’t give me that look, you know I’m right."

Johnny crossed his arms, leaning back in the booth. It wasn’t a new argument, but that didn’t mean he liked it any more this time than the last. At least Paris didn’t bring up skating.

"Quit pouting, bitch, I’m saying you’re doing good."

Johnny snorted but uncrossed his arms enough to reach for his drink. "We’ve hooked up twice."

The waiter smoothly slid two plates onto the table, saving Johnny from Paris’s reply. It saved him, in fact, for nearly five minutes, before Paris put his fork down and dabbed at his lips with a napkin. "So, you’re finally banging someone. Just keep it light, honey. Hook up with him, maybe even have dinner, but—"

"I know he’s not Drew," Johnny interrupted, reaching for his water glass. "This is me, moving on, okay. Having sex."

"When are you seeing him again?"

Johnny took a sip of water, then put the glass back down, reaching for his napkin. "Sunday." He sounded smug even to his own ears, and Paris’s smile meant he more than caught it.

"Ooooh, you go girl. What’s the plan?"

"I have to draw his portrait. Then I’m going to take all his clothes off and make him fuck me into next week." The crudeness was more for Paris’s benefit than his own, but it still sent a thrill of satisfaction down his spine, the split second where he pictured it. Paris’s cackle of glee helped, too.

*

On Sunday, they made it almost half an hour before Johnny climbed into Evan’s lap and kissed him. Given that Evan had been naked the entire time – not de rigeur for portraiture perhaps but hey – Johnny was impressed with his self-restraint.

"Don’t you—ah—don’t you want to finish—drawing—"

"No, not really," Johnny replied, dragging the words down Evan’s chest, sliding down onto the floor. He looked up as licked up the underside of Evan’s dick then slid his mouth down as far as he could.

Evan made a gratifyingly embarrassing noise.

It was less gratifying later, when Johnny was pressing his heel to the small of Evan's back, later, causing him to make the same sound – only to have him pull away and roll right off the bed.

"Oh fuck—ow, Jesus—"

It took several seconds for Johnny to fully register what happened, and roll over to peer over the side of the bed. He was still hard, and his hips moved automatically, pressing his dick into the mattress, even as he reached out to Evan.

"Oh my god, are you okay?"

Evan was clutching his hip and his head, the latter being close enough for Johnny to touch. He winced, then leaned into the touch. "Sorry, sorry, my hip—"

He was still hard, too. Johnny filed that observation away for later. "What happened? Is your head okay?"

"I hit it when I fell—ow—" He stopped moving, one leg stretched out in front of him, the other folded up, foot under his ass. "My hip—"

"What can I do?" In about ten minutes, once Evan was back on the bed, Johnny knew it would be hilarious. Behind the concern, he could already feel amusement bubbling up.

"Can you—can you help me up—this happens—sometimes—" He reached out a hand and Johnny clasped it, shifting up onto his knees, arousal subsiding. Ten minutes, and it would be the funniest thing ever.

"Careful, just—why don’t you just lie down—"

"Not on my back or I’ll never move again, just—on my front—"

Johnny helped, pulling Evan back up onto the bed, making room for him to lie down, pulling a pillow over for him to press his cheek against.

"So, what’s up with your hip?" Johnny asked when Evan finally subsided with a sigh. He dragged the tips of his fingers down Evan’s spine, stopping just short of the small of his back, resting them lightly, watching for any wince. Evan closed his eyes, sighed again.

"Old sports injury."

Johnny dragged his fingers back up and then down again. "Yeah? What sport?"

There was a long silence, and Johnny bit the side of his cheek. If Evan didn’t want to say anything, he didn’t have to. This was casual. He opened his mouth to change the subject just as Evan spoke into the pillow.

"Skating."

Johnny froze. "Skating? What kind of skating?" Shut up, he thought to himself, even as he kept talking. "Hockey? Speed skating?"

"Figure skating," Evan mumbled, barely comprehensible.

Just for a moment – a long drawn-out breathless moment – everything stopped and Johnny thought of nothing at all. A moment later, he was Wile E. Coyote, freefalling off a cliff.

"Figure skating?"

"Please don’t—I know—"

Oh Christ on a goddamn Triscuit. "Me too." Johnny watched Evan stop trying to turn around, stop and lie still. He swallowed. "So, I know. Heat or cold, what do you need?"

There was another long moment, while Johnny waited to see if Evan would ask for details, want to know more. But then, finally— "Hot. Please, if you can."

Johnny lifted his hand away, then let his fingertips brush just once, again. "I’ll be right back." With a heating pad, his cigarettes and a drink.

He made the drink first, and lit the cigarette with the freezer door still open, grabbing ice to dump into the glass. Figure skating. Of all the coincidences in the world—he closed his eyes and poured half the drink into his mouth. It hit his stomach two quick drags later, cold first, then warming. He took another drag and saluted the reflection of himself in the toaster.

"You have a type, Johnny Weir," he murmured, allowing himself two more drags before putting it out in the sink. He finished the drink, too, taking the cigarettes with him to pull out the heating pad. After a few more deep breaths, he was even able to head back to the bedroom.

He was bent over, plugging in the heating pad, holding on to Evan’s ankle for balance, when a totally different thought blindsided him. "When did you quit?"

Evan stayed perfectly still, and Johnny found himself holding his breath. "Um. It was about four years ago, now, I guess."

Four years ago. Four years ago. "Did you make it to the senior circuit?" He held his breath again, waiting for the answer.

"I went to the national championships, but—Johnny, I—" Evan twisted suddenly, trying to look over his shoulder.

"You were at nationals. I—wait. Wait wait." Johnny snapped his fingers, adrenaline hitting his system. He couldn’t quite tell if it was excitement or dread, and yet— "Junior Worlds, 2000. That—that was you, wasn’t it?"

"I—" Evan's ankle tensed under Johnny’s hand.

"You got silver," Johnny continued, and how had he missed it before, all those Team USA banquets, Evan had clearly been there. "You were on the podium next to me."

It wasn’t a question, but still Johnny waited for Evan’s answer, squeezing his ankle a little. "I—yeah. Yeah, I was there, yeah."

He got another rush at the confirmation, adrenaline without specified emotion, and leant down to kiss the small of Evan’s back, before he could think it through. "What happened? Is this why you quit? How’d you do it?" And then he bit his tongue before he could ask anything else.

Evan shivered, and pressed his cheek into the pillow again, closing his eyes. "It was—I got a break, in my hip socket. And I didn’t really notice properly, I guess? I don’t know, I kept skating, and it got worse and worse—"

He stopped, pressing his lips together. Johnny looked away, sympathetic twinge in his own hip. Thank Christ nothing that serious had ever happened to him. Right, the heating pad. He picked it up, carefully laying it down across the small of Evan’s back.

"Left or right?"

"Left, but if you just put it—ah—yeah, there, a little more left—"

Johnny tucked one end down over his hip, pushing the edge between skin and sheet. "There?"

Evan’s voice was a bit strained, but some of the tension was gone from his shoulders. "Yeah, perfect. Just give me a couple minutes, I’ll be okay again."

"Do you need anything else? Muscle relaxants?"

Evan hummed a no, eyes closed. "No, it won’t really help." He cleared his throat. "Um. Sorry to be such a buzzkill. I’ll be able to turn over in a couple minutes, you can still do the portrait."

And right on cue, Johnny suddenly remembered that Evan had not only fallen off the bed, but also managed to bang his head against the wall. A giggle rose up, and he clapped one hand over his mouth to keep it back. It didn’t really work.

"What?"

"Sorry. Sorry sorry, just—you fell off the bed." Another laugh, and he bit down on his tongue to try to stop the next.

Evan tensed, and Johnny bit down harder, even though it was pointless. He gave up and full-on laughed, covering his face and only peeking between his fingers. "I’m sorry," he said in between fits of hilarity. "I know it wasn’t your fault, but—" He coughed, and thought very hard about Diane naked to try to get himself back under control, only to notice Evan’s shoulders shake once, then again.

"I did fall off the bed."

"You did."

And then they were both laughing, Johnny reaching out to hang on to the heating pad, to keep it from sliding off Evan’s hip. It was amazingly freeing.

Six hours later, however, he was on the edge of what he wanted to hyperbolically call a panic attack. The usual Sunday evening phone call home had an extra edge to it. There was a cigarette in one hand and a drink on the table in front of him, the other hand holding his phone tightly against his ear. Neither drug was helping as much as he hoped this phone call would.

"Mama," he said, as soon as there was a click.

"Johnny! Hang on a sec, I’ve just got to drain the pasta—oh, wait, never mind, Boz has got it. How are you?"

"I’m okay, are you?" He took a quick sharp drag off his cigarette, knee jittering under the table.

"We’re all fine, thanks for asking, honey." There was the briefest pause, and then her voice came back, a little louder. "You sound like you have something on your mind."

"Do you remember Evan Lysacek?" he blurted out, before he could second-guess himself. "From skating."

"Skating?" She sounded wary and he closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath.

"I know," he said, letting the idea breathe. "Really."

"Oh, honey, yes of course I do. He was from Illinois, wasn’t he? Didn’t he get silver at Junior Worlds when you won that time?" She sounded so relieved to be able to speak freely.

Meanwhile, it took a good ten seconds for Johnny to regain the capacity to speak. "You actually remember him?"

"Oh, sure, I’m sure there are pictures of him—honey, pass me that album there, would you? Yeah, the red one." He could hear the pages turning, the plasticky sound of his skating career flipping through his mother’s fingers. Then he realized he was holding his breath, again.

"Yes, right here, I thought so. Picture of you and Sasha and there he is, right on the end. Bit of a gangly kid, wasn’t he? Why, did you run into him?"

Johnny laughed once, surprising himself, then laughed again, still shaking. That’s one way to put it, he thought. "Kind of," he managed. "You really remember him?"

The plasticky sound came through the phone again, and Patti made a soft oh sound. "Oh, yes, definitely. Such a sweet kid, a little strange but really earnest. At nationals, 2004—I wish you could see this picture, I’ll have to get on skype later so I can show you—I talked to his mom for a long time. Is he still skating? He was so dedicated, I remember her telling me about how he would drive himself to the rink, and how he split up skating and schoolwork."

Johnny cleared his throat and shook his head. "No—no, not anymore. He—his hip went."

Patti tsked on the other end of the line, and the sympathy in her voice was audible. Johnny tried not to laugh again; it wasn’t funny, Evan’s injury.

"Aw, that’s a shame. So, you ran into him in New York, huh. Is he living there now?"

"Yeah, he is—Patti, I’m." Not dating, definitely not dating. "I’ve been—seeing him? Kind of?"

That made her pause and Johnny held his breath again. It just made the anxious flutter grow.

"Are you really?" She sounded so hopeful.

He exhaled with a sigh, laughing once. "I know, right? All the millions of people in New York and I find another figure skater, isn’t that insane? I mean, obviously, it’s not going to go anywhere, you know how well that worked out last time, but it’s kind of funny, isn’t it?" He laughed once, but he didn’t sound amused. More like he was on the edge of losing it.

"Johnny, breathe." Even if he couldn’t quite read her tone a moment ago, Johnny could read this one just fine. It was a direct order and he automatically took a breath in and held it, before letting it out slowly. "And again."

"Sorry," he said, after he’d done as instructed. "I’m fine."

"Keep breathing. Now—what is it that you’re actually worried about?" He took a breath, holding it, listening. It was perfectly quiet on the other end of the line.

"I have a type."

"Honey—Drew—"

He dropped the burnt-out cigarette into the ashtray and lit another one. He sighed out the first drag, beginnings of a smile tugging at his mouth when he heard the click of Patti lighting her own on the other end of the line. It made him more than a little homesick, even as it comforted.

"I’m going to come home and see you soon," he said, impulsively.

"And we would love to see you, but let’s talk about Evan and Drew for a second, okay?"

He sighed again, closing his eyes. "Fine."

"Now, I know you know this, but I’m going to say it anyway. Evan is not Drew."

"I know," he replied, automatic.

"Not only that, Johnny—but you’re not the same person you were a year ago, either. Or five years ago, for that matter, when you got together."

"I know that too, it’s just—" He took a sharp drag off the cigarette, a split second before he heard Patti echo it through the phone.

"How long have you been seeing Evan?"

"Um. Just a couple of weeks, I guess."

"Honey, you know as well as I do that that’s hardly any time at all. How much do you even know about what he’s like now? He’s been out of the skating world how long?"

The answer fell out of his mouth automatically. "Four years."

"Four years is a very long time. Think about how many things are different for you two years later."

"So what you’re saying is—" he said, tension releasing in the middle of his chest, tension he hadn’t even been aware of having.

"I’m saying give it a chance, see what happens."

Johnny looked at his cigarette, let out a breath slowly. Take a chance. "Okay."

*

Part two

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