The Cutting Edge is the copyrighted property of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. This is a fan story intended for entertainment purposes only. No compensation has been received or will be accepted for this work, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended or should be implied.


Foolish


Retirement?

Doug blinked in surprise. That was a word he hadn't ever expected to hear from Kate. Had she really just said she was planning to retire after they skated tomorrow night? They were so close!

After a long night of wandering, he went by her room very late. The door was shut tight, locked, but light spilled out from underneath. Doug tapped on the door. "Kate?"

Silence.

"Kate, are you in there?"

No answer, but he thought he could hear footsteps.

"Kate, damn it, open the door."

This time, he saw the shadow of her feet as she approached the door. The shadows paused for a second but then faded without any further action.

"Look, I know you're in there. So if you don't want me to stand out here in the middle of the hallway shouting this for everyone to hear, you'd best open the door."

Her answer was faint. She must have been across the room. "Shout all you want. You'd only make a fool of yourself." She paused. "Not that it's difficult for you to do that."

"Damn it, Kate!" Infuriating woman. She'd let him stand out there shouting, too.

Okay, fine. He'd shout.

"Kate, you wimp! Are you really going to let the pressure force you into announcing your retirement? What if you make that announcement and then we win tomorrow? Who'd look like a fool then?"

No response. He leaned his head against the door and let out a breath. "You should at least wait until after the Games are over before you make the announcement. You don't know what might happen between now and then."

Still no response.

"And when were you going to tell me about this retirement, anyway? What am I supposed to do, keep on skating by myself? Find another partner?"

Yeah, right, he thought. As if he could work with anyone else after working with her.

"Kate, you know it's never been this good before. We've never been this close. I'm not telling you not to retire. I'm just telling you to wait before you announce it."

To his surprise, she yanked the door open. "Well, it's a bit too late to wait now," she hissed, "since you've announced it to everyone by standing here in the hallway yelling."

"I've announced it? Who wouldn't open the door to let me in? Maybe if we could talk about it like mature adults –"

"Mature adult? From someone who's out here yelling at me at three in the morning?"

"Only because you won't listen to me any other way!"

Then he saw it. The jersey, thrown across one of the chairs. The redness in her eyes, the tear streaks on her face. The rumpled bed, as if she had tried to sleep but failed.

"Hey," he said more gently. "Are you okay?"

"Of course I'm okay," she snapped irritably. "Except that you're keeping me up."

He tried to go into the room but she pushed the door at him. "Go away."

"Not until you tell me you're waiting to make that announcement."

"Oh, go to hell!" she exploded. "I was planning to wait until after the ceremony but now I think I'll go ahead and do it. After all, there'll be rumors now thanks to you!"

"Hey, don't you put this back on me. You're the one who stomped out this evening!"

She slammed the door in his face.

He leaned on it again. "Kate, don't make the announcement."

As he expected, she didn't answer. Sighing, he tried one more time. "Look, nobody knows what's going to happen tomorrow night. But I'll tell you this, if you make the announcement and we win, I'll never forgive you." His voice rose. "Do you hear me? I'll never forgive you making fools out of both of us!"

He saw the shadows of her feet under the door again, although she didn't open it. But when he opened his mouth to continue, he stopped. What else was there to say?

Don't let him win. This is your dream too, even if it didn't start out that way. You're beautiful when you talk about how much you love it.

I can't stand seeing you this unhappy.

Kate, I don't want to lose this. I don't want to lose you.

He couldn't say that out here. He didn't even know if he could say it at all. Doug straightened up. "Fine. Don't stay up too late writing your retirement speech."

Behind him, in the hallway, he heard her door crack open. It took all of his willpower not to turn back. If he did, he knew, he'd blurt all of that out and he'd be damned before he made himself look like a fool like that. There was foolish, and there was foolish.

Besides, they were skating tomorrow. She'd realize who was the fool then.


Written for bantha_fodder for Yuletide Madness 2008.