She supposed it should have been more obvious to her. The idea that he felt that way simply had not occurred to her. At sixteen, almost seventeen, she'd placed him firmly into the platonic section of her mind and hadn't looked back. He'd been so kind to her back then, so completely and utterly understanding of her plight, reassuring her that her feelings, while inappropriate, were perfectly normal. There had been ups and downs after that, first he left and when he returned, at her pleading, things shifted between them. It was less of a relationship between a coach and an athlete and more that of equals, equally damaged by outside forces and by each other, but those things made their bond equally strong. And so they continued, through her training, through her National and World Championship victories, through the Olympics and all the acclaim her gold medals brought her and then back to where it all started, back to the Rock, her banners hanging on the wall, her medals locked up in the trophy case in the office. They worked side by side, as equals, spending the majority of their days together, training the future of American gymnastics. They were an incredible team. Everyone said so. So really, it should have been more obvious to her, but it wasn't.

Then one day she was visiting her parents. She knew the house felt empty to them now that she had her own place and Becca was off at college, so she made an effort to stop by for dinner at least once or twice a week. Her mother and Sasha were still close after all these years, though Kim had long since ceased her work as the Rock's manager. So it shouldn't have surprised her when Sasha was sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter, a glass of wine in front of him, in fact it wasn't the first time it had happened.

"Hey," she said as she entered the room and he looked up with a smile.

"Hey Pay," her mother answered, moving towards her immediately, kissing her cheek before she moved right back to the dinner she was preparing.

"Hi," Sasha said. He stood up from his seat and grabbed the bottle of wine he'd obviously brought with him. He was comfortable enough to move past her mother in full dinner-prep mode to open a cabinet and find a wine glass. He poured her some and extended it towards her. As she took it from him, their hands brushed. Innocent contact, they'd touched in far more intimate ways than this, a thousand hugs and brushes of lips against cheeks and then of course, the infamous kiss she'd bestowed upon him all those years ago, but this time, somehow, it was different. And her only thought was that it should have been obvious to her, because that look in his eyes, the expression on his face as the spark flared between them, she was sure she'd seen it before and had simply dismissed it. After all, Payson's world has always been very black and white. Things were either one thing or the other and yet somehow, the man who'd been her coach, almost a father like figure during her adolescence was looking at her like that and she realized quickly that she was looking right back.

It should have been obvious to her that things could start out as one thing and then change to another. After all she'd done it herself; morphing from the powerful little fireball she'd been before her surgery to the graceful, ballerina she'd become afterwards. People change and so it should have been obvious to her that the way he felt about her and the way she felt about him had changed so completely.

Dinner was awkward, at least for her part. Everyone else seemed completely at ease, which just served to make her all the more uncomfortable.

Sasha drove her home, because one thing that hadn't changed about her since her days as a gymnast was her tolerance for alcohol, and so her three glasses of wine were enough to warrant Sasha pocketing her keys and offering her a ride.

He walked her to the door of her building and followed wordlessly to the door of her apartment. She took her keys from him, their fingers brushing again, just as before, though this time she held on, entwining their hands together. She unlocked her door, but hesitated before going inside, the alcohol she'd consumed earlier just enough to grant her the courage to turn to him and say, "How long?" she asked, quietly, looking down at their joined hands. "How long have you felt this way?"

He frowned at her, his calloused thumb caressing the back of her hand, "You mean you didn't know?" he asked. He chuckled under his breath. "I thought it was obvious."

"Not to me," she said, studying his face carefully. He was, in all the ways that mattered, the same as the day she met him, same sandy blond hair, same stormy grey eyes, same perpetual five o'clock shadow. Perhaps the pre-mature worry lines at his brow were a little deeper, but as she reached up and smoothed them away gently, they disappeared at her touch. "How long?"

His hand suddenly mirrored hers, his fingers sliding over her brow, into her hair, tucking the long blonde strand behind her ear as his eyes left hers. "Years, I think," he said, his voice low and husky. "I don't remember…"

She didn't let him finish. She pushed up onto her toes, those ballet lessons he'd forced her to attend aiding her in her quest. It was a familiar journey, one she'd made before, though this time as her lips met his, his reaction was to allow the contact and then, as her free hand twisted into the cotton of his t-shirt and she placed their joined hands against her hip, encouraging him to hold her, he deepened the kiss. His open mouth slanted over hers, before worrying her lower lip with his teeth.

They broke apart, breathing deeply, staring at each other silently before Payson made a decision which in that moment was as obvious as taking her next breath. They spilled into her apartment, the door slamming behind them before he had her up against it, his hand buried in her hair, her arms wrapped around his shoulders, as his lips burned a path from her mouth, over her cheek to an extremely sensitive spot upon her neck.

"Bedroom," she managed to rasp into his ear between gasping for breath and groaning in pleasure.

They moved together, almost like a choreographed dance, clothing the only casualty of the dozen or so steps it took to move from her doorway to the bedroom in her tiny apartment. His hands were everywhere, massaging the lithe muscles of her back, slipping the strap of her bra off her shoulders, cupping her breasts, weighing them in his palms, flicking his thumbs over her hardened nipples.

"Sasha," she whispered, stepping closer, her hands finding purchase on his shoulders, drawing him closer. He bent this head to her, kissing her again as they tumbled together onto her bed, the cool sheets beneath her back sending a shiver through her body before her body shuddered in pleasure as his fingers dipped beneath the waistband of her panties. Her eyes flickered closed as first one, then two of his long digits slipped inside of her, his thumb pressing against her clit. She cried out as his mouth left hers and latched onto her breast, suckling her.

Her back arched off the bed, as sparks of light flashed behind her eyes. She heard a voice, low and distant calling out to God and to the man hovering just above her, his warm breath against her hair, giving her this astounding pleasure and it was a moment before she realized it was her voice. And as she spiraled down from the heights he'd driven her to, her eyes slowly opened meeting his again, that same expression still lit in his gaze, this time it was asking for permission, which she quickly granted by shimmying her hips allowing her underwear to slip down her legs.

He stood, pushing down the boxer briefs that did very little to hide his obvious arousal and then he turned to retrieve his pants which sat in her bedroom doorway. Moments later he was back at her side, sheathed in latex and beginning again, with just a simple touch of his mouth to hers and then tongues, and then skin upon skin, his chest crushing against hers, her feet running up and down his muscled calves, his cock resting against her stomach, hot and heavy.

"Payson," he murmured against her lips, pulling away just slightly, but just enough for their eyes to meet again.

"Please," she begged, her hand against his whisker roughened cheek, stroking his strong jaw line. "Please, Sasha."

"Say it, love," he told her, his mouth against her neck now. "Tell me you want me."

She gasped as his teeth scraped against her pulse point, "I want you."

She felt him smile against her skin, "Now tell me you need me," he whispered, his tongue tracing a path to her collarbone. His hand slid between them, as he shifted his hips into hers, allowing her thighs to cradle his body.

"I need you," she said, and she did, she wanted him and needed him desperately.

His head rose, a flush creeping into his skin, one she was sure she mirrored as their bodies began sticking together, a fine sheen of sweat coating their skin. He kissed her gently, almost chastely, his lips gently pressing against hers. "Now tell me you love me." His eyes flashed with the same emotion she saw every day, though she'd never even guessed at what it was. It hadn't occurred to her that it could be love. It should have been obvious.

Her heart pounded in her chest and her breath caught in her throat, but just for a moment. She looked up into his eyes and smiled, "I love you," she said.

And as his smile answered hers, he guided himself into her slowly, filling her, stretching her until he could go no further, "I love you too," he mumbled against her ear as he pulled back and pushed forward again.

They were both world class athletes and it only took them a few moments before they found a delicious rhythm. Sasha pushed up off her as her knees rose up over his ribcage. "You like that, love?" he asked, increasing the speed and force of his strokes, looking down at where their bodies were joined. "Fucking incredible."

"So good," she said, watching as he disappeared inside of her over and over again, the tension building inside of her rapidly as one hand hooked her thigh over his hip and the other massaged her breasts, tweaking the pink tips, sending spikes of pleasure to her core. She slid a hand down her stomach, pressing up against her clit, rubbing against the most sensitive spot on her body.

"Fuck, that's right," he muttered, "touch yourself, bring yourself off, love."

His pace increased and then became erratic and Payson though her heart would burst as her body bowed up into his, her eyes rolling back as fireworks exploded behind them, her entire body shaking with release. He tensed above her, pounding into her one last time before crying out, his name spilling from his lips as he collapsed on top of her, his weight nearly crushing. She relished it, wrapping her arms around him, running her fingers down his sweaty back as he pressed a kiss against her forehead.

He rolled off her, bringing her with him, as he slid from her body, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She rested her head against his chest, feeling the pounding of his heart inside his ribcage.

"You never said a word," she admonished lightly, breaking the silence. "I had no idea."

"Didn't you?" he asked, and she shook her head. "I thought you knew but were too polite to call me a dirty old man."

She laughed lightly, "I suppose now it seems rather obvious, but I'd given up on the idea of you loving me a long time ago."

She felt her eyes growing heavy as the torrent of emotions and their physical exertions of the last hour finally caught up with her.

"I suppose I shouldn't ever leave it to chance again," he said, as her eyes drifted close. "I'll tell you every day, at least once a day. I love you, Payson Keeler and I want to spend the rest of my life proving it to you. You'll let me, won't you?" His voice was a distant echo as he spoke.

She felt sleep rapidly approaching and just before it took hold completely she smiled against his skin and whispered, "Obviously."


A/N: So I owe you guys an outtake or two from NJYbA, but this little idea popped into my head and I thought, why not? Hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know what you think!