This story is the seventh story in the Alphabet Challenge. For those you that don't know, the Alphabet Challenge is a story writing contest I'm doing with Love's Crash Test Dummy.

Here's the rules for it:

1) We go through the alphabet writing stories based on a word that begins with each letter.

2) Although we are both doing 'A', we will start alternating each letter when I do 'B'. Then she will do 'C' and so on.

3) We always pick each other's word. (Except this time. We both picked our own.)

4) All stories have to be 500 words in length.

5) Five day time limit from when the other author posts her story.

6) My stories will always be Payson/Nicky and her's will always be Kaylie/Nicky.

After the contest is over, there will be a poll on both of our profile that ask which story in the contest is your favorite.

Check out the other 6 stories!

Alone by me

Apples by Love's Crash Test Dummy

Barbie by me

Carnival by Love's Crash Test Dummy

Dying by me

Elope by Love's Crash Test Dummy

If you don't want to have to look for the stories, Love Crash Test Dummy made a community for all the stories. It's called Alphabet Challenge.


Future

Payson Keeler awoke at five A.M. to the sound of her alarm clock. Five years previously, this would have been an everyday event. But now, she was retired! She could sleep all day if she wanted to.

She slammed the "Off" button on the alarm clock with her right hand. Then she rolled over onto her side and wrapped her arms around Nicky. Or, rather, her arm was wrapped around a pile of blankets where Nicky was supposed to be.

"Nicky?" Payson asked, bolting into a sitting position on the bed. She looked frantically around their bedroom, then she realized it was dark. Payson turned on the lamp on her bedside table and looked around.

Everything was exactly where it was when she went to sleep the night before. The clothes she had worn the previous day were lying neatly on the chair near her dresser. The book Nicky had been reading was still on his bedside table. The only thing missing was her boyfriend.

"Nicky, where are you?" Payson called. After receiving no answer, the former gymnast pulled the blankets off of herself and climbed out of bed.

Her knees popped as they always did as soon as she started walking. Or maybe it was her ankles. Payson couldn't even decipher the aches, pains, and pops anymore. Her body hurt worse in retirement than it ever had while she was still doing gymnastics.

She opened the door that led to the master bathroom and looked inside. Nicky's wet towel was lying on the bathroom floor in front of the stand up shower.

"Nicky," she grumbled in frustration as she took a break from searching for him to clean up after him. Nothing else was out of place, so she walked out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom.

After one last glance around the room, Payson opened the door that led into the hallway. She opened the door to the guest room, which still looked as though no one had ever been inside it. She sighed and walked on down the hall into the kitchen.

Looking over the counter into the living room, Payson could see that Nicky was not in the living room, either. She sighed yet again and turned to the refrigerator. Then something caught her eye.

Someone, Nicky she assumed, had taped a yellow sticky note to the refrigerator door. Payson walked over and pulled the note off. She immediately recognized Nicky's handwriting.

Payson,

Last night before you fell asleep, you told me you didn't know what you wanted out of your life now. You said that, now that you've won the Olympics, you felt the future was just not clear anymore.

I have I pretty good idea for your future, but you're going to have to do this little "Treasure Hunt."

I've taken the three things I know you can't live without. I'll give you hints about where the next one is once you find each item. After you find the third one, I'll tell you how to find me.

You're first item is something you worked your whole life to get. (If you don't get this clue, you'll never understand the rest of them.)

You'll find this item at the site of both your greatest failure and triumph.

Sorry about waking you up this early,

-Nicky

"You should be," Payson murmured to herself. She knew the second she read the note what the first item was, and she was going to kill Nicky for taking it. He knew that no one, not even Payson herself, was ever allowed to touch it.

Where on Earth could it be? she thought to herself. Payson tried to think of what she considered to be her greatest failure. Probably something funny that she did wrong. Or maybe-. Then it hit her like the time Becca threw a baseball at her head.

Payson didn't even bother to change out of her black Soffe shorts and Nicky's old t-shirt. She just wanted to get the stupid "treasure hunt" over with as soon as possible. She grabbed her car keys off the granite counter top, noting that Nicky's were already gone.

Payson walked quickly through the living room she had furnished herself. As usually she stood there for a moment before opening the door and admired the brown-colored couch and love seat, sage green curtains and rug, and the cream walls, which Nicky called white just to annoy her. Payson smiled a little at that memory, a little of her anger at him fading away.

She locked the door before walking down the hallway of their apartment building. Compared to her living room, she always called it her's not her and Nicky's, the hallway was like being served school cafeteria food after eating at a five star restaurant. The walls really were white. Not just white, glowing white. The carpet was grey, although Payson and Nicky both assumed it had been white as well at one point.

Payson quickly walked on down the hallway to the elevator. Since her and Nicky's apartment was on the last floor, she had to wait a while after pressing the "Down" button for the elevator to arrive. She heard the ding sound and stepped inside.

Once she arrived on the main floor, Payson ran out of the elevator as fast as her sore former gymnast's legs could carry her. She barely noticed the doorman of their building staring at her behind as she sprinted past him.

She found her car, she wasn't even sure what it was called, parked in her reserved spot. The sun was starting to come up over the horizon and Payson noted that it was the first time in nearly three years she had seen the sunrise. Normally she was asleep. Damnit, Nicky she though to herself.

Payson opened her car door and climbed inside. She buckled her seat belt and started the car. After she backed out of the parking space, she straightened up the wheel and drove her car onto the highway. She drove her a moment before she turned on her left signal light and pulled onto her parent's street. She saw what she was looking for immediately.

Payson parked her car beside the curb in front of the house she had spent her adolescent years in. Payson got out of her car and walked over to the mailbox.

She grinned to herself as she thought of her many attempts to learn how to back out of her driveway. Her dad had to buy at least four new mailboxes before Payson managed to get onto the street without taking it out.

Payson opened the mailbox and looked inside. There was another yellow note inside. She pulled it out, noticing that what she was really looking for was nowhere to be found.

Nope, not here!

Think a little harder, babe.

-Nicky

"I'm gonna hit you a little harder," Payson grumbled. She climbed back into her car and thought for a while. She knew what her absolute greatest triumph was; winning the gold in London in 2012. But she didn't think Nicky actually expected her to go to London. At least, she hoped he didn't.

Then she knew. The real clue wasn't triumph, it was failure.

Payson pulled into her parent's driveway and backed up. Then she took the route she had taken probably a million times in her life.

Ten minutes later, Payson pulled into the parking lot at the Rock. It was Sunday, so the only car there was Sasha's. Payson looked at the clock on her car radio and saw that it was already seven. She opened her door quietly, hoping that Sasha wouldn't her it. Then she shut it just as quietly.

She walked to the main door and pulled out the key Sasha had given her all those years ago when she was still training for the Olympics. Saying a silent pray that it still worked, Payson stuck the key in the lock and turned it. The door opened.

She walked into the Rock, pausing for a moment to take in the smell of chalk and sweat. Boy, did she miss it. Gymnastics had been her entire life for eighteen years, so she had decided she wanted to get away from it. Maybe this was Nicky's plan, she thought to herself. To make me realize how much I still love gymnastics.

As soon as she stepped into the gymnasium, Payson found what she was looking for.

Hanging from the uneven bars was her Olympic gold medal. Payson walked over to it. She jumped up as high as she could and grabbed it. Another yellow sticky note was stuck to the medal.

Payson,

Good, you found it. Did you have to stop by your parent's house? I'm sure you did.

The reason you can't tell me you hate me right now is that your next item.

You'll find it at the place where I fell in love with you.

I still love you, and I know you love me too,

-Nicky

"Don't be so sure of that," Payson said. She put her gold medal around her neck and walked away from the bars, grinning to herself. Bars had been her last event at the Olympics. Genji Cho had been in the lead, but Payson did the "best bar routine anyone had ever seen," according to the broadcasters and other gymnastics greats.

"What are you doing here?" Payson heard from behind her. She turned around and saw Sasha standing by the door, his three year-old daughter in his arms. The little girl, whose name Payson couldn't quiet remember, looked just like her mother with blond hair and blue eyes. According to Summer, though, she was the spitting image of her daddy, personality wise.

"A treasure hunt," Payson told him with a laugh.

"Like pirates?" the little girl asked.

Payson shook her head. "More like a scavenger hunt. Only all the things I'm trying to find belong to me."

"And why are you doing that?" Sasha asked. The little girl in his arms struggled to get down. Sasha let her down and said, "Don't touch any of the equipment, Heather."

"Because my boyfriend is crazy," Payson replied. She quickly explained to her former coach the details of everything that had happened to her that morning. "What do you think?"

"I think Mr. Russo has more than one plan in mind," Sasha told her, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "Maybe what he wants you to know isn't just what he wants to tell you after you finish."

Payson sighed. "So you're saying he wants me to realize how much I miss gymnastics? Because I figured that out already."

"Then come coach here."

"What?"

"I want you to coach here," Sasha explained. "Summer has been trying to get me to retire for years. We're having another baby in two months, and I think she's right. I need to focus on my family now."

"Wait a minute. Do you mean that you want me to be the head coach here at the Rock?" she asked him in disbelief.

Sasha nodded.

"What about Tara?"

"She'll get the job if you turn it down, which I know you won't do."

"I'll think about," Payson said calmly, trying to sound disinterested.

"Let me know," Sasha told her with a wink that told Payson he already knew her answer. "Good luck, Payson," he shouted at her as she walked out of the door to the Rock.

Payson climbed into her car again and tried to think about Nicky's clue. How am I supposed to know where he fell in love with me at? she thought to herself. She knew where first told her that he loved her, but, once again, she didn't think he wanted her to go all the way to London.

And what on Earth is stopping me from telling him that I hate him?

To prove that there was nothing, Payson reached over to the passenger seat to grab her cell phone. When she saw that it wasn't there, she checked in the glove compartment. "Nicky," she growled, realizing what the item was.

Payson tried to think. She knew where she first fell in love with Nicky, but she wasn't going all the way to Los Angeles, either. It had to be somewhere in Boulder. Somewhere Nicky thought she would over look.

Payson smirked in triumph, getting out of her car again. She walked to the entrance to the Rock and opened the door again. Sasha was helping Heather try to do a cart wheel when she walked back into the gym.

"Did you figure it out?" Sasha asked.

Payson walked over to the water cooler, where she and Nicky had talked about cortisone and checking each other out. Payson smiled just as she had that day as she pulled out the water cooler and found her cell phone behind it.

"You know," Sasha shouted at her from across the room. "You two really shouldn't have been falling in love in my gym."

Payson laughed and on her way out the door shouted, "Sorry, Sasha!"

The former gymnast laughed all the way back to her car. She looked at her phone again and saw that there was no yellow note. Payson pressed a button on her phone, ready to call Nicky and tell him he screwed up. But once she unlocked her phone, she saw that he had typed the note on her phone.

Payson,

Did this one take you as long as I thought it would? You probably drove all around Boulder looking for it.

You're next item is something you love that reminds you of someone you hate.

You'll find it where the sunset is at it's prettiest.

I love you,

-Nicky

Payson grinned to herself, knowing she had ruined his plan. He had thought it would take her forever to find her phone and that by the time she found it, the sun would be about to set. "That's what you get," she told him, even though he couldn't hear her.

She hurriedly backed out of her parking spot and pulled back onto the highway. She drove as fast as she legally could (Maybe a little faster) and pulled back into the parking lot of their apartment building.

After she got out of her car for the thousandth time, she ran past the doorman again. She hit the "Up" button on the elevator and got in. Rather than pushing the button for her floor, Payson pressed the "R" button.

When the doors opened, Payson walked out onto the roof. She gasped when she saw what Nicky must of thought would be a cruel joke.

He had put her dog, her baby, into the carrier she only forced him into when she took him to the vet or the groomers. The little Yorkie yelped excitedly when he saw her. Payson ran over to him and opened up the door to the carrier.

"Come here, Kelly," she said kindly to the little dog.

He climbed out of the carrier and onto her lap. Payson petted him for a moment before she noticed the yellow sticky note attached to his collar. She pulled it off and read it.

Payson,

Don't kill me, okay?

Kelly's fine. I'm sure nothing happened to him. I gave him plenty of food and water.

Here's your only hint this time:

Come home,

-Nicky

Payson picked up Kelly and his carrier. She carried both back to the elevator with her and hit the required buttons to get to her floor. As soon as the doors opened, Payson ran to the door to their apartment.

She opened the door and started yelling. "How date you! My dog, Nicky! He could have died up there! What if some kind of hawk or some thing had gotten him? Hmm? How would you feel about that?"

"You're early," Nicky said, jumping up from the couch and hitting the "Power" button on the remote. "You weren't supposed to be here until sunset."

Payson sat Kelly down on the ground and the little dog ran down the hallway, away from his yelling owner. "You're little hints and clues weren't as clever as you thought they were."

"Did you go to your parent's house?" he asked with a grin.

"Stop smiling! I'm mad at you!" she shouted.

"Close your eyes, Payson," he whispered to her sweetly.

"No."

"Just do it," he said.

"Fine." Payson closed her eyes, hoping that her beloved boyfriend would leave her alone and let her go to sleep soon.

"Okay, open."

She opened her eyes and gasped. Nicky was kneeling in front of her on one knee, a beautiful ring in his hand. "Payson, I don't know what your future has in store for you, and I don't know what's about mine, either. All in know is that I love you. Will you marry me?"

Payson reached up and wiped away tears that she didn't even know were there. Then she leaned down and cupped Nicky's face with her hands. "Yeah," she said, nodding her head. Nicky wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.

Neither knew exactly what was going to happen, but they bother knew their futures were looking bright.


Did everyone see that coming? *sigh* I figured.

I'm having trouble lately writing good Payson/Nicky stories! This one was mainly about Payson, with a little Nicky thrown in at the end.

My fellow Payson/Nicky fans will probably hate me for this, but I'm becoming a Payson/Austin fan! Why is it that all the ships I like have nearly no chance of ever happening?

Love's Crash Test Dummy, G is for Girlfriend.

PLEASE REVIEW.