This is an entry for a contest at the AsuCaga LJ community. Thought I'd post it up here too.
"Try to skate backwards." A good-natured and warm voice encouraged. Cobalt-blue hair was tossed into the wind as he did a quick spiral, then turned back to meet the girl who was still clutching the side of a railing. Fiery amber eyes flashed dangerously at him, a violent glint clearly visible, even through squinting eyelids.
"Athrun, I can't even skate properly, much less backwards!" She hissed sharply. Quickly averting her eyes back to her trembling legs she glared at them, as if willing them to obey her and skate.
Casually, he glided over towards her with graceful ease and set to prying her hands off the railing. Yet it seemed her wrists had the locking power of a vice, because no matter how hard he tugged it just didn't seem physically possible.
"Cagalli, I can't help you learn to skate if you don't let go of the railing."
"What are you talking about? I've seen plenty of people learn this way!" She protested, eyeing the slippery layer of frozen water underneath her with visible regret.
For some reason unbeknownst to her, she had somehow let it slip that she had never learned to skate. That's right, one of her great secrets was exposed. Worst of all, in front of the person who apparently had been born INTO ice skates, and was basically "one with the ice": Mr. Ice Capades himself, Athrun.
Enter problem one: Extreme embarrassment. The Representative of ORB could not be seen falling flat on her butt at the frequency of gamma rays.
Solution: Close the pond to all visitors for a day.
Enter problem two: A day wasn't enough.
Solution: Athrun would help her.
Enter problem three: She had no skates.
Solution: Buy them.
Enter problem four: She had run out of problems.
"... You're going to learn Cagalli, whether you want to or not."
And so we arrive back to the scene of a deserted pond, with the exception of what appears to be a blue and yellow dot from a distance.
A very angry yellow, and a very patient blue dot.
Athrun sighed. "Fine, you technically CAN learn while holding a railing. But you can't if you won't MOVE while holding it."
"I am moving!" She insisted.
"I've seen faster glaciers." He retorted doubtfully. That earned him another glare. "Let's just try taking... one arm off the railing." He extended his hand towards her and latched onto an elbow, tugging gently.
"Nothing doing." Cagalli frowned instantly, gripping the cold railing even tighter. The freezing metal was really starting to make her hands feel cold, and even a little sore... Or maybe she really was holding it that tightly.
Suddenly she felt two arms wrap securely around her, and lift her up off the ground while starting to pull her away from the safety of the guard rail. Instinctively she began kicking, until she heard an impatient voice tell her to stop.
"If you keep kicking with skates on, you're either going to slice my knees into ribbons or ensure that I'll never have children." He replied in a monotone voice. She blushed furiously, and felt herself gently get placed back onto the ice. "Do you want to learn or not?"
"Of course!" Cagalli insisted.
"Give me your hand." Athrun urged again. She eyed his gloved hand apprehensively. "Don't you trust me?" He asked, mostly teasing but a tiny bit worrying.
Her eyes still held the same apprehension. A flash of sadness crossed face, and wordlessly he withdrew his hand.
His voice alone bore such disappointment that Cagalli felt as if something ridiculously heavy had been dropped onto her back. Looking up to see his fleeting grey gaze, she reached out as far as she could without letting go of the railing.
But it wasn't far enough.
Sighing heavily, he began skating away. Her mind went into panic mode.
"Ath-Athrun! Where are you going! You can't just leave me here! Athrun, I can't skate. Get back here!"
Her mind silently pleaded with him to turn around. Or for time to go back, so that just a split second shorter she would eye him, and instead just take his hand. She didn't mean it that way. Her unspoken gesture of doubt had done something she didn't want it to...
"The longer you take to let go, the farther I'll be." He shrugged, still slowly skating away. Her eyes widened. As much as she hated to give in, he had the upper hand. He knew how to move his feet with these infernal blades strapped to his feet. Slowly, she began to try to remove her hand.
Problem five: She couldn't.
She literally couldn't. Somehow in the hour that she had been clutching the railing, her left mitten had frozen onto the railing, thus literally gluing her to it.
"Athrun!" She cried desperately. She was stuck to a railing, above a frozen pond, and no idea how to skate.
Athrun frowned. What was taking the girl so long? Truthfully he hadn't thought that she would take so long. He'd assumed that as soon as he started skating away, she try to follow him, then he could rush over and give her and hand. Instead, she still remained planted in the same spot. Was she THAT stubborn?
Or did she really just... not trust him?
Suddenly, he faintly heard a "help". Negative thoughts flew out of his mind, as he turned to see her, apparently struggling. Darting over, he slowly as he gradually returned to her... Then fought to suppress gales of laughter and stay upright as he watched Cagalli pull at her own mitten.
"It won't come off... the pole!" She cried frantically. Hearing Athrun's erratic bursts of chuckling she turned to face him angrily. "Don't just stand there laughing at me! Help me get this thing unstuck!"
Athrun paused for a moment to regain his composure, then glided forward once more, and gently eased her hand out of the mitten. Then, clasping her bare hand in his gloved fingers, he smiled.
"Leave it for now. Just hold my hand."
Cagalli's face turned several shades of red, before finally settling on the usual blush: The one that tinted her cheeks whenever he caught her off guard with an open display of affection.
And suddenly it deepened as she looked away a bit... murmuring a soft apology.
"I never distrusted you..." She began to explain. General understanding crossed Athrun's face as he nodded.
"Don't worry about it. Just, drop it." He brushed it off, simply happy to hear her reassuring words.
Then slowly urging Cagalli into the pond, even though at least half of her weight was being supported by him, Athrun smiled.
Instructing her to push outwards on the left foot, then the right, rhythmically he guided her across the pond, then back again. And slowly, in-between the slipping and falling, she was getting the hang of it.
Until the only thing giving them light was the bright full moon in a startlingly dark velvet sky, casting a pale spotlight over the two as they did a funny sort of clumsy dance on a cool transparent stage.
"I think I have it." Cagalli beamed with delight, her face gently illuminated by a silvery glow. Her childish pride planted a wide grin on her face.
And then she fell.
And he laughed. And she blushed and swatted him with red-mittened hand, seeing as how he was still holding her other one.
Then he helped her up.
"That was good. Congrats." Athrun nodded with encouragement. He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, and began to lead her off the ice, when he felt a light tug hold him back a little.
"When are you going to teach me to skate backwards?" She asked, her face bearing a childish quality of curiosity and eagerness, slightly tilted to the side. He smiled and pulled her towards him, taking her other hand as well.
"Whenever you like."
Leading her off the frozen pond, her pale hand and his gloved hand remained together, just as they had been the entire day.
As for her mitten that got stuck...
Well, some things are best left behind.
Okay, so it's not reallyALL about Cagalli learning to skate, but that's what started the whole thing. Originally I wanted to call this "Things left Behind" but then I remembered that there already is a fic called that. I'm hoping to post up another one-shot soon that's been sitting on my computer for a good month...
Much love to my readers,