Payson smiles as she sees the light in Sasha's office is on. Assuming he's playing Guitar Hero and wanting to join in, she climbs the steps to the office. Sasha is sitting on the couch, eyes closed, chugging his beer like he hasn't had anything to drink for days.
"God, you must be thirsty," she says and his eyes snap open.
He scrutinizes her for a moment, then smiles (more of a grimace, really) ;" Yeah, well I needed that after today. Beals would not stop calling and Summer-"
he stops abruptly.
He probably doesn't want to tell her about his love-troubles with Summer( or Bible-beating-hoochie-mama, Lauren's nickname for her when she didn't like the woman yet. Payson still doesn't like her, however, and always calls her that in her mind)
She plops down on the couch besides Sasha and tries to encourage him. "Go on, it's not like I'll tell anyone."
And she won't. She likes these kind of conversations that only she can have with her coach. It makes her feel special, and not as much of a weirdo for kissing him.
Sasha stalls for a moment, sighing heavily and chugging back some more beer.
" She, uh, implied that I might have sent you the wrong signals, causing you to kiss me."
The words register vaguely in her mind and she feels an uncontrollable anger bubbling up inside of her.
"What?" she bursts out, unable to contain her words. "That's…that's about the stupidest thing I've ever heard her say, and she's said plenty of stupid things."
It's true, Summer is always preaching to them about religion and (shudder) abstinence. She's a gymnast, probably one of the most controlled types of people there are. Besides, Lauren had told her all about Summer's own rather giving nature when she was in high school.
That hypocritical bitch!
Sasha laughs and she's glad she's at least succeeding slightly in cheering him up, so she continues her little rant. It's one long overdue, anyway.
"She's just always butting into things that are none of her business, that she couldn't possibly understand! What the hell does she know about our relationship as coach and gymnast? She's a secretary!"
"Co-gym manager," Sasha corrects her.
Scoffing, Payson grabs the guitar leaning against the couch and stands up to play. She plans to enjoy this night before Sasha realises they're alone and starts acting all weird again.
Sasha has been staring at her lately. At first, she had excused herself to the ladies' room, thinking there might be something on her face or, God forbid, her leo was showing stuff it had no business showing. That made her feel more than slightly stupid, however, and she instead tries to figure out exactly what he was staring at.
No matter how hard she tries, though, she can't figure out his focus. It seems he stares at all of her.
It makes her feel nervous and she's failing to land her beam dismount nearly every time. She's used to being watched for imperfections, but the way Sasha is looking at her doesn't have even a tiny bit of criticism in it. It is almost like (she barely even dares to think it) he is admiring her.
Payson wakes up with a gasp, her body wet with sweat. She lifts her hand to her forehead and feels herself burning up. She hasn't landed her beam dismount in forever, though, and she has to get it soon.
So, despite the banging inside her head, she forces herself out of bed and goes to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face. It makes her feel better, if only temporarily.
She feels a bit hazy as she puts on some shorts and a tanktop, not noticing that she forgets to put on her bra. A quick look at the time tells her she woke up a lot later than usual and she hastily makes her way downstairs, grabbing an apple to eat in the car instead of a proper breakfast.
Sasha is the only one present this early at the gym( because Payson getting up late is still earlier than anyone else) and he stalks over as soon as he spots her. He looks her over and his eyes pause on her chest a second longer before he barks out: ;"What do you think you're doing here?"
She jumps at his harsh voice and drops her gymbag on the floor. (it was getting heavy, anyway)
"What do you mean, what am I doing here?" she says, looking at Sasha with big eyes. She knows it probably won't work, but it's worth a shot.
"You're obviously sick, Payson," Sasha says gently as he presses a hand to her forehead. She can't afford missing a day of training, especially when she has two dismounts that won't stick.
"No, I'm not. I just came from a run."
Sasha looks at her again, and she sees his sardonic glare even before he says:"You went running without wearing a sports bra?"
Payson is confused. Of course she's wearing a – she feels the gym's air-condition harden her nipples against her tanktop. She quickly crosses her arms in front of her breasts and wills herself to be angry.
"You were looking?!"
Sasha blushes fiercely and begins to stammer out an excuse, which gets funnier and funnier the more he talks.
"I-no. Payson, I'm your coach" (of course he's throwing that one at her) " And I am supposed to notice everything about you. And yes, it might be awkward, but I know very well that running without a sports bra has to be painful or at least uncomfortable with your cupsize."
('How do you know, Sasha? You don't have boobs' her brain helpfully supplies)
" So stop lying. You are sick and you are going to go home and sleep it off. Okay?" At last, he manages to employ his Coach –voice and she feels the need to obey immediately.
She resists that urge, though. "Come on, Sasha! I have to train- my dismounts aren't sticking and if I don't have them ready in time then I won't be able to petition on for the National- Sasha? Are you listening to me?"
Sasha is looking at her crossed arms with a faraway expression on his face. She stares at him in wonder until he suddenly snaps out of his reverie and starts shoo-ing her out the door, not acknowledging her protests at all.
"Well, go on!" Reluctantly, she picks up her gym bag and leaves the Rock.
After two whole days in bed, trying to get rid of her fever, Payson is itching to get back to training. Even though her feet ache and she's pretty sure she'll have to lay in an ice bath when she gets home, the exercise feels good and she's nailing her triple twist for her floor routine, without Sasha helping much. He barely touches her, whereas normally he'd make her hold her positions so he can correct her extensions.
When she lands her routine for the third time without falling on her ass she loudly yells;" Yes! I want to go again."
Sasha's eyes flash over to her and he grabs her arm to stop her from moving back to the other side of the floor. (well, at least he's touching her now)
"Hold on, Payson. I think that enough for one day. I don't want you to strain something," he says, being unnecessarily coach-y for someone who was paying his gymnast very little attention just moments before.
No longer willing to put up with his shit, she grumbles out a "Fine" and starts walking towards the locker room.
"Wait! I, err, I need to talk to you. About that kiss." She slowly turns around, not believing her ears.
"I need to know if I did anything to make it seem like… " Is he seriously asking her this? Jeez, that man needs to work on his self-esteem.
"Of course you didn't," she reassures him. "You were doing your job and I read too much into your actions. It's not your fault I developed feelings for you, Sasha."
He opens his mouth( probably to say she's wrong) so she quickly continues:" You helped me through such a difficult time in my life and you would have done it for anyone, that's just" he holds up his hand, and she stops. (that's just who you are, you wonderful, idiotic man)
"No, I don't think I would have, Payson," he says, sounding a little out of breath. "You…You are special. I've known that since I stepped foot in this gym. I don't think any of the other girls could have recovered from your injury in the way that you did. That was all you. Not me." His hands are on her shoulders (where they usually are when they talk) and his thumbs are rubbing circles on her throat.
It makes her feel the exact things she should not be feeling and she tries to get him to stop.
"Sasha. " she mumbles. "Please, I…this is hard for me. " She gestures desperately at his hands, hoping he'll take them away- or leave them there, as long as he just does something other than stare at her like- He kisses her.
It's so much better than that first kiss (it doesn't even count) and she feels absolutely devoured as he hungrily presses her closer to him. His tongue sweeps into her mouth and she struggles to reciprocate when she thinks any moment now her knees might give out.
Sasha moves his kisses towards her cheeks, her throat and her collarbone and she's pretty sure she's going to faint soon because she's feeling very hot right now and a person can't possibly stand this much joy and pleasure without passing out.
He moves back to her mouth again, his fingers freeing her hair from the messy bun on top of her head.
A tiny whimper escapes her mouth and Sasha freezes against her. She can feel him pushing her away (not again) and she protests.
"Am I hurting you?" he mutters against her lips and even though his ever-present concern for her wellbeing is maddening, it's also kind of sweet.
"No," she whispers, not sure she really wants to tell him this, but goes for it anyway," I think…I think I liked that."
Sasha groans and pulls her flush against his own body again, ravishing her mouth with bruising force, fingers back in her hair.
Payson is the one who freezes this time. "I think that might be my mother," she says, possibly uttering the worst mood-killing words ever.
"Damn," he swears, hands sliding down her back. "I'll get it, you go shower."
His command seems hilarious to himself as he starts walking towards the office, laughing loudly.
"What's so funny about that?" She asks, running after him. He turns to her, face perfectly blank.
It is indeed her mother who is calling, asking if they are done yet because the Keelers would really like to eat dinner soon. After a brief( too brief) kiss, Payson hurries towards her car, a huge smile on her face. ' Finally,' she thinks as she drives home.
She arrives at the Rock even earlier than usual but Sasha is already in his office, behind his computer. Once he spots her, he motions for her to join him.
Payson races up the stairs excitedly. (maybe he'll greet her with a kiss)
"Come here, I want to show you something," Sasha says abruptly, pointing towards the computer screen.
Sighing, Payson stands behind him. " What am I looking at?" She asks, as black and white video's of gymnasts flash on.
"Old footage of Russian gymnasts. I want you to study these very carefully. Pay attention to their form and their grace." Sasha stands up and pushes her towards the chair.
"But the moves are not that difficult. What am I supposed to take away from this?" She complains, just as Olga Korbut performs her legendary Korbut Flip. "Wow. That never ceases to amaze me. Too bad it's banned." She says in awe as the video continues to show the move in slowmotion.
"Too bad indeed," Sasha agrees, "but I think we can work out something similarly amazing."
"Sasha…are you talking about getting my own move?" Payson asks, smiling widely. She's already looking forward to staying late after practice and the time alone it will give them.
Right, sorry that took so long. I was getting out of the mood I was in when I wrote the first chapter and it took me some time to get back in the swing of it. Thanks for all the amazing reviews and requests for more!