It's good to write my favorite SSX pairing again. This was hard for me to describe but I like the idea of leaving the visuals up to the reader on this one. But please tell me if it's too cheesy or obvious, I barely ever write romance ever, especially in oneshots. I feel like it's something that has to be drawn out, you know? I need practice writing little bits like this.
Anyone else psyched about the new game coming out? Time to get pumped up for that!
He stood looking at the jewelry in the glass boxes, beautiful necklaces and stunning earrings, silver and gold and all sparkling and shimmering with huge stones like fresh snow in the sun. Looking at the cases holding rocks worth millions of dollars, he could feel how cheap and used he was in contrast. Worn old leather jacket. Worn old denim jeans. Worn old thermal under worn old plaid cotton. Even his skin and bones were worn and damaged. Surrounded by sparkling diamonds, on an early summer morning in New York of all places. If you had asked him one year ago where he'd expect himself to be on this day it wouldn't be here.
A saleswoman finally came up to him, maybe concerned he was going to loot the place. With a broad smile she asked what he was looking for, and he told her, and she asked what his price range was, and he told her. She paused, likely steeling herself to tell him to go to a Walmart or Target or some other cheap national chain. Part of him wanted her to, so he could have an excuse not to make such a big and terrifying leap of faith. Then she led him across the very fancy, very clean carpet to the opposite end of the store. He looked into the cases there as she explained the options for his price range, and he felt a strange and beautiful mix of relief and fear.
He sat on the edge of the bed and tried not to break into a nervous sweat. It wasn't working though, he could feel the beads of moisture work through his pores across his forehead and armpits. He tried to reason with himself. There was still time to back out. He was risking a lot. He was risking everything. He'd never been afraid of taking a chance before, never thought there was a single person he needed the approval of except the judges at the big air events.
But there's the rub. He wasn't young anymore. This year he would be 40, and though he wouldn't admit it, he dreaded the number. Just a little. He wasn't bringing in the money like he used to- and it wasn't a problem, not really, not after living out of his truck on a frozen mountain for months. Everything seemed easy after that. But it wouldn't be like it was before, and though he didn't have many regrets, he didn't want to waste what was left. He could still have another 40 plus years ahead of him but even if he died a year from today he wanted to enjoy every second. And call him old fashioned, but this was the best way he knew how.
He felt like screaming, took a deep breath instead. "Come on buddy, come on, get after!"
Finally he heard keys jingling outside. He went over the monologue he'd planned in his head for the millionth time, and for the millionth time was unable to imagine her response. It's just the nerves, he reminds himself, though it didn't help much.
Her perfect beautiful self waltzed into the room and she looked like the day he'd met her at the base of those triple peaks. She was still so beautiful. She'd always be beautiful. She'd always have that athlete's body, and that weird perfect mix of cute and sexy, fire and sugar, that he was attracted to her the first time they'd met. His heart turned to ice and dropped into his stomach for a moment. This was it. Showtime. Grab life by the horns.
"Hello my mountain man, how was your morning?"
He looks into her eyes and he must have been grimacing or something because her expression turns concerned and she asks, "What's wrong?"
He laughs, nervously, tightly. "Nothin's wrong. Come here." He patted the bed next to him. She came to the bed with a hesitant smile and flopped down beside him, lying her back on the comforter and dangling her feet off the edge. He watched as she maneuvered her feet to flip off her shoes and felt the urge to just grab her, lie with her on the bed and squeeze her tight and laugh into her hair, but instead he kicked off his own boots and eased onto the comforter next to her, shoulder to shoulder, staring up at the ceiling. He felt a little less scared, not having to look into her eyes as he said it.
"What's up handsome?"
"Girl, I've been thinking about us... and you're my best friend." No, you idiot, now you sound like you're seven. "I mean, well, you are my best friend. You're the only one, who... who's always been there. Ah..." He put his hands on his face and groaned. "I'm messing this up so damn bad. If I keep trying to say this all nice I'm gonna be jabbering on till the cows come home. Elise... I bought a house." Well shit, he was getting this all out of order now. So much for not sweating.
He looked over at her to see her reaction. For a moment she stared up at the ceiling looking a little perplexed. Then she turned her head to face him. "Really?"
He couldn't quite make out her expression. Was she relieved? Or upset? He looked up at the ceiling again to avoid her insanely emotional eyes. He forgot how much she could show in those eyes. "I thought, well, we've been moving place to place for so long... and I don't wanna stop, even though we aren't on the circuit anymore... But I thought, it would be nice to have a "home" to go to, you know? In between all the traveling."
They hadn't been on the circuit in years, but it always felt like just yesterday. And he was getting tired of staying in hotels and apartments on the off season, in between the runs that seemed to be getting further and further apart. Always in cities, somewhere by an airport, somewhere full of people too busy to care and huge buildings too far from the mountains, which he found himself missing more and more often.
She didn't say anything, and he kept talking to fill the silence.
"So, I bought a place. In... Colorado. It's not the most convenient but I thought, it would be nice to be a little closer to the hometown, and it's not like I'll be there all too often as long as we still board." He turned over to face her, trying to get some sort of reading off her. "But it just felt like, the right thing to do. The right step to take."
"The right step towards what?" She seemed confused and a little scared, but she was trying to hold off on saying anything until she knew what the hell he was talking about. She rarely held back with other people and it made him feel better she still thought of him as different.
He took both her hands in his and pulled her close to him. "Elise, would you be my girlfriend?"
She blinked, and laughed, and said, "But I already a-"
"No, I mean... we've been together for so long... damn long..." He felt guilt then, for making her wait so long, but he knew if she'd ever been unhappy she'd have said something. Bluntly and to his face. It was still unfair, though, to keep each other waiting through the years. "But I never told you, just how I felt. We just sorta melded together after that first year. You're barely ever away from me and I follow you along like a little lost puppy but we haven't never made it official. So, would you be my mine?"
She laughed again, her eyes crinkling up in happiness. She'd gotten little lines along her eyes, crows feet, from laughing and smiling, and she'd worried and fretted at them in the mirror when she thought he wasn't looking. He thought they were beautiful, a testament to the joy they'd both found quite unexpectedly after they had aged out of the competition scene.
"Nate Logan, yes I will be your girlfriend." She kissed him on the nose, putting her hand on his cheek. "And you aren't a little lost puppy. You're a rough-around-the-edges old homeless cattle dog who I finally got housetrained." They both grinned and laughed, and he kissed her back, feeling for the thousandth time that day, this is the one woman in the whole world who really gets me.
"All you have to do is ring the dinner bell, and I'll be in from the fields in a second. Besides, if anyone's the puppy it's you: so damn cute and acting like the world is there just so you can play with it.
"It isn't?" She blinked her eyes innocently at him and he nibbled on her ear in reply. "Ha, who's the puppy now?"
"And- now tell me if this is moving too fast- Elise, would you move in with me? To my house in Colorado?"
"Really?" This time her question was full of hope and excitement.
"We can finally take all our junk outa storage and stop payin for awful two star hotels and get out of the damn city lights and noises- and well it ain't no French Riviera but it's something."
"Yes, yes, yes, that sounds wonderful!" And they were both laughing again and he was feeling high as a swallow in the springtime and he hugged her, and she hugged him, and kissed his face over and over, laying there across the bed comforter. "You ask me out and ask me to move in on the same day. It's a dream come true!" She said between laughs and kisses.
"Ain't it?" He said, getting quiet, staring into her eyes, drinking in her smile and her perfect face. "And, um... there was one more thing, I was wantin to ask you..."
He unhooked his arm from around her and reached into his back jeans pocket. His stomach felt as cold as ice and his face felt burning hot, and he was pretty sure his heart was gonna stop if he didn't just say it already. So he pulled out that little case and popped it open, revealing the ring, a small one, and she'd gone silent and absolutely still, and stared at it with her mouth open, and then at him, and at the box again.
"Elise, you're my one and only. When you put your arms around me you let me know there's nothin in this world that I can't do. If there's only one thing I can do for the rest of my life it's to love you and be with you, and if there's time for anything else I'd really like to make you my wife. And- why are you cryin?"
Her eyes were all wet and her cheeks shiny with tears, and she'd probably be covering her face if her arms hadn't been wrapped around him. He thought to himself, happy tears happy tears happy tears, let them be happy tears. She shook her head, untangling herself from him and propping herself up on one arm. He had only seen her cry once, and then she'd been trying to hide it from him. She hated crying in front of people. "I can't believe this," she muttered.
"Y-you don't have to, to say anything right now, if you don't want to," Nate's voice shook and he felt horrible. They weren't happy tears. How had he been so awful? It was way too much to go in to, in one day, girlfriend to wife, he hadn't thought of her feelings at all. "It's, it's a big thing to just jump in to, I guess since we've been together so long, and I put you through a lot in the past hour, and, I mean, I can return the thing, and it ain't even a diamond, really, it's cubic zirconia-"
"Has anyone told you your sweet Colorado cowboy accent comes out when you're scared to death?" Elise grabbed his face in both hands and pressed her lips to his and that shut him right up. She moved her body to rest on top of his, and after an eternity long kiss she looked at him, still crying but he figured they were happy tears after all, the way she was smiling at him. And even as her lips said "yes" her eyes were saying "thank you" and then he was tearing up, and he grabbed her and squeezed her tight and laughed into her hair.
Prompt # 277 Diamond