The atmosphere in the rink was icy and not for the normal reasons. In the two days since Nationals, Rose and John hadn't said a single word to one another. Hell, they wouldn't even look at each other. Donna didn't know what had happened. Honestly, she wasn't even sure she wanted to know why they weren't speaking. She didn't have time to figure out why. Right now, she had to be their coach, not their friend. They had five weeks until Sochi, and they would need a miracle to win at this point.
"So, last night," Donna said, laying a sheet of paper on the ice in front of Rose and John. "At the American Nationals in Chicago, a pairs team got a perfect score."
She laid down another sheet. "Adam Mitchell and River Song." Yet another piece of paper was laid on the ground. "Everyone says they are unbeatable. So maybe we should just give up now." She set down one last piece of paper. "You two clearly don't want to be here. So let's just save Queen and country a considerable amount of pounds and pack it in now."
Rose turned and picked up one of the pieces of paper. "What's this?"
"It's a move that I've been working on," Donna replied proudly.
Rose's gaze flitted to the other pages. "So it's a split triple twist with a simultaneous triple toe?"
Skating up behind Rose, John peered over her shoulder. "We can't do this. It's incredibly dangerous. Any number of things could go wrong."
"Are you afraid, John? 'Cause I'm not," Rose taunted. He scowled at her but didn't reply.
Snatching the paper back out of Rose's hand, Donna snorted. "If you don't want to do this, that's fine. We'll refine your routine. Maybe throw in a few tricks and set our eyes on the Silver. Because as much as we hate to think it, those judges are biased and being Britain's skating sweetheart or…" She looked at Rose first before turning to John. "The biggest knob on the circuit isn't going to win us any points. We need something that will make them stand up and take notice."
John guffawed. "We can win without some flashy trick."
"I knew you'd say something like that," Rose sneered.
"What is that supposed to mean, Tyler?" John demanded.
Donna pinched the bridge of her nose, a deep, throbbing headache beginning to form. At least they are talking. At least they are talking, she kept repeating to herself.
Rounding on her partner, Rose poked John hard in the chest. "You don't take risks. You play it safe and expect everything to bend to your will. But you also have no respect for anyone else's opinion or anyone else's feelings."
"And you do?" A muscle in John's jaw ticked. "You don't think about the consequences of your actions, do you? How what you do or who you sleep with affects other people?"
"You are so one to talk," Rose snipped back. "You were engaged to a total cow that treated everyone like dirt, including you."
A shrill whistle cut through the air. "THAT. IS. ENOUGH!" Donna shouted. "I get it. Something happened at Nationals to get both your knickers in a twist, and right now you don't want to be around each other. BUT. I. DON'T. CARE."
Donna drew herself up to her full height. "I have five weeks to get you two dumbos ready to win an Olympic Gold Medal! So, starting right now, I own the pair of you until you skate off the ice at the end of your long program and you are going to play by my rules. After that if you want to kill each other, you have my permission and my blessing. Understood?"
Both Rose and John mumbled their agreement.
"Good," the brash redhead said, clapping her hands together. "I have a couple of ground rules that you two need to follow. First, the only thing you are allowed to talk about in the rink is skating. Second, you must treat each other respectfully whether you are on the ice or not. And if I catch either one of you breaking these rules or any others I come up with, I promise you that you will regret it every single day for the rest of your lives."
"Fine by me," Rose replied coolly as she slipped her mouth guard past her lips.
John rolled his eyes and glared at Rose. "If she can keep a civil tongue, so can I."
"Time to warm up," Donna commanded, rolling her shoulders to ease some of the tension there. This was going to be brutal.
Their timing was off.
Rose fell to the ice for the fourth time in an hour. A deep bruise had already begun to form on her hip from when he dropped her earlier. John was having trouble sticking the landing on his triple toe and therefore was unable to catch her properly.
She wasn't the only one getting hurt, though. Yesterday, the toe pick of her skate had connected with John's temple. Facial cuts tend to bleed profusely but John soldiered on, letting Donna do nothing more than wipe off the blood and put a plaster on it.
Hauling herself back to her feet, Rose prepared for another attempt at the difficult move. John held out a hand to help her up, and she batted it away. She didn't want him feeling like she wasn't as tough as he was, didn't want him to think that she wasn't as capable as he was, because she was. She had to be.
Things hadn't gotten the least bit better in the three weeks since their misadventures in tequila. While she regretted the way she had expressed her feelings, she didn't regret standing up for herself. John wasn't going to bully her around, and she certainly wasn't going to be his fling. Her resolve, however, hadn't helped to mend her broken heart one bit because, God help her, she still wasn't over him.
He cringed every time she hit the ice. They weren't clicking, and it was causing both of them a lot of pain, both on and off the ice. Part of him wanted to apologize for the atrocious things he now hazily remembered saying to her that night.
He wanted to make things right between them. But every time he opened his mouth to apologize, John remembered Jack opening Rose's hotel room door that morning. It made his blood boil in anger again. Just because he had no real right to claim Rose didn't mean he didn't want her to be his.
Even now, he wanted to grab her and kiss her. Well, he wanted to do more than just kiss her but that didn't seem very likely. She wouldn't even let him help her up. Things weren't looking to get better anytime soon. They probably would never get back to where they had been before Nationals either since John was convinced that the moment their long program was over, he would never see Rose again.
2014 Winter Olympics
Enraged was becoming a permanent state for Rose lately. That arsehole had done it again. It hadn't taken him long either. Soon after opening ceremonies, the pre-performance interviews began. They had been doing one or two a day, both separately and together.
It was all part of the Olympic experience, and Rose was somewhat a novelty because of the whole speed skating thing. She was ok with that really. Smile for the camera, answer a few questions and then move on. There was nothing difficult about it.
Except for today.
None other than Jack Harkness himself had been conducting the interviews for BBC. Jack was a logical choice for a correspondent. He was a former Olympic Medalist and naturally charismatic, but being near him (with John standing next to her) had made Rose slightly uncomfortable. Ok, it had made her really uncomfortable, wanting to flee for her life uncomfortable. But she had stuck it out, not willing to let this get to her.
For his part, Jack had kept the questions light. He had asked them about the program they were skating tonight and about the new move they were rumored to be doing. And then he had asked Rose how it felt to be competing for the possibility of rounding out her medal collection with a Gold.
It was an innocuous question, one that Rose had answered numerous times. This time, however, she had the polite, diplomatic answer on the tip of her tongue, and it just wouldn't come out. "It's like…. Oh you know…It's almost…"
"Orgasmic," John had said with a mocking snort.
Fortunately, the force of nature that was River Song had burst into the room, and Rose had been able to escape. She had heard John calling out to her as she ran off. But she was done listening to him do nothing but cut her down and patronize her. A little over twenty-four hours and she would be able to start putting her life back together. A life without John.
A few hours later, Donna had finally convinced her that she actually needed to skate. And unfortunately, that couldn't be done from the security of the ladies locker room.
"You don't have to talk to him, Rose. I saw the interview, and I'll deal with his majesty later," Donna cajoled. Lacing her arm through Rose's, Donna led the younger woman to the rink. She whispered placating words the entire way.
"Where the bloody hell have you been," John said angrily when Rose neared the ice. "We have less than a minute until we skate. I was beginning to think you weren't going to show up."
"I'm here," Rose replied, tucking a stray hair behind her ear.
"Well, take a moment and fix your hair. It looks dreadful." He pointed to Rose's head. "Donna, do something, adjust the pins or whatever."
Rose batted Donna's hand away. "It's just a few fly-aways. It'll be fine."
"Tyler-McDonald, take the ice please," one of the officials called.
Rose took the ice, and John skated after her. "Fix it," he hissed.
"It's distracting. Fix your damn hair."
It was too late anyway. Their music had begun to play, but that didn't mean that Rose wasn't going to get in the last word. She looked him straight in the eyes and said, "If putting up those few hairs meant the difference between getting scalped by some sort of industrial machinery and living a long happy life, I still wouldn't give you the satisfaction. Now skate."
She pushed off and began their routine. Her movements were stiff, lacking the grace of her previous performances. She was trying hard not to bristle as he touched her. Every single one of their moves was technically perfect, but it was cold. It was as if they were strangers instead of a fluid pair.
When the song ended, Rose took John's hand to take a bow but quickly dropped it and skated to the side to receive their scores. The technicals were high, their artistic scores not so much. It would be a struggle to win Gold now.
A reporter came up and asked them about their new move. Automatically, Rose began to explain how Donna had been the driving force behind it when John cut her off.
"It doesn't matter," he answered, waving a hand dismissively. "We're not doing the move. It's too dangerous."
"Typical," Rose muttered as she stalked off. Once again, he was trying to bulldoze her opinion. Mistakenly, she had thought they were past this stage.
John sat numbly in a chair back at the house he had rented just outside the Olympic village. Uncharacteristically, he hadn't had much to say since their abomination of a short program performance. Rose and Donna were, however, currently involved in a screaming match.
"I just don't understand why they two of you couldn't put aside all of the bullshit between you for two and a half minutes," Donna screamed.
"Really? You really can't understand why I am finally tired of putting up with his narcissistic crap?" Rose's voice kept getting louder and louder. "After the orgasmic comment in front of the reporters and his squawking about my hair? Oh and don't forget that the git just announced in front of everyone that we're not doing the move. Without bothering to consult me."
John stared at Rose in disbelief. She must really hate him and honestly, he couldn't blame her. Everything between them was broken and he desperately wanted to fix it, but that no longer seemed like a possibility. Not when he kept making decisions for her and criticizing everything.
When he had said that they weren't doing the move, it hadn't been because he thought she couldn't do it. It had been because he didn't want to see her hurt again. He didn't want to be the reason she was hurt again. He didn't want to cost her chance at the Gold by failing her.
None of that mattered now. He'd messed everything up by being an arrogant sod, and the best thing that had every stepped into his life would be gone tomorrow. There was no one to blame for that but himself.
"Grow the fuck up, Rose," Donna screeched, pointing a finger at the blonde. "Despite what the media may say, you are not a princess." She turned away and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I really thought that we had found our go-to girl. Guess we were wrong."
Rose slapped her palm against a table. "If you wanted a go-to girl, maybe you should have started with a go-to guy. Torino wasn't Martha's fault no matter which way you try and spin it."
"Rose is right," John said softly. Both women turned to him in stunned silence. "Rose is right about everything. It's my fault. It's entirely my fault." He looked up and met Rose's eyes. "And you stayed for almost two years now. After everything that I have put you through, you stayed. It must have been like living in a nightmare."
"John," Rose started but he stopped her.
"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry." He ran his long fingers through his hair. "I need to think. I just... I just need to get out of here for a while." Hastily, he stood up and almost ran from the room. Behind him he heard Donna telling Rose to let him go and for that he was very grateful.
After making a quick stop in his room to grab his jacket, wallet and the police box pin Rose had given him, he made his way out into the Olympic Village. John wandered aimlessly for a while before settling into a small cafe. Maybe he could clear his head with a cup of Earl Grey. Okay, maybe it would take more than a one cup; it may even take a whole pot to sort him out.
Leaning his elbows on the table, he held his head in his hands. For as long as he could remember his life had been solely focused on his career and what had it gotten him? Two trips to the Olympics, the tiniest shred of hope of a medal and no one, save his granddad, who cared about him. No amount of fame or glory or even a Gold Medal hanging from his neck could make him feel loved and cared about. Nothing could make him feel half as good as he did when he was with Rose.
And he had ruined things with her for good by not telling her how he felt. Well, that and his inability to filter his mouth. He needed a life outside of the ice rink. Things had to change, and starting tomorrow they would.
The morning air was bitterly cold out on the upstairs balcony. Rose wrapped her jacket tighter around her with one hand and clutched her warm cup of chamomile tea with the other. Of all the things that had happened yesterday, the last thing that she had expected was for John to apologize. It threw her off balance in a way that was disconcerting.
Maybe she had been misjudging his attitude towards her these past few weeks. She had treated him horribly and refused to talk to him about what had happened after Nationals. Both of them had said unforgivable things to each other, things she knew she hadn't really meant and that she suspected that he hadn't meant either. They were both so stupid.
Rose sat there for at least an hour analyzing both her behavior and his over the last year or so. It was true that in the beginning they had rubbed each other the wrong way. Like John had said, they were like magnets. Repellant at first but with a quick flip, undeniably attracted to one another.
The cold finally having set in, Rose headed inside to take a hot bath to warm up before tonight's long program. After that, she was hoping to find John and clear the air between them. They may have missed their shot, but Rose desperately hoped they could at least part as friends.
A noise came from foyer and she leaned over the banister. John was standing below, surrounded by piles of his luggage. It looked like everything he had brought with him.
"What's this about?" she asked.
Startled, he looked up at her. "I'm heading back to Scotland after our last performance together. I've decided to retire. Tonight will be my final skate."
"Why?" Her heart was pounding in her chest. She wanted to talk and he was leaving.
Looking away from her, he sighed. "I've decided to make some major changes in my life. The house is paid up for another two weeks. You and your mum should feel free to stay as long as you'd like. I think Grandfather enjoys having Jackie around. She keeps him on his toes."
A sad smile flitted across his face and he looked up at her again. "You'll have no problem finding another partner. You are truly brilliant."
He held up a hand. "I have to go. I'll see you tonight." Without waiting for her to respond, he strode out the front door. He had walked away from her both physically and metaphorically and it hurt.
Several hours later, John had still not come back to the rental house. Rose was beginning to worry that he was going to skive off. Her fears grew by leaps and bounds as she slid into the limo where her mum, Donna and Wilf were waiting. The car lurched as it began the drive to the stadium as soon as the door shut.
"Where's John?" Rose asked, worried.
"No need to fear, sweetheart," Wilf said, grinning at her. "That grandson of mine is going to meet us there. He said something about needing to clear his head. That boy and his little pre-skating rituals, I can never keep up with them." Wilf chuckled.
Rose shifted uncomfortably. That partner of hers had apparently decided there would be no talking before the performance. Fair enough, she had done it to him, twice actually, once last night and before the long program at Nationals, too.
John showed towards the very end of the competition. "Sorry I'm late," he said apologetically. "I had something that I had to do."
"It better have been important, skater boy." Donna pressed her lips together, obviously biting back some scathing words. Taking in a long slow breath, she looked back and forth between her skaters. "Please, I am begging the two of you to pull your heads out of your arses today and just skate. I have seen you two together; when you're on form, the two of you are... nothing short of amazing. So go out there and enjoy each other."
She hugged them both and squeezed Rose's arm. "I'd wish you luck, but you really don't need it."
"You warmed up?" John asked once Donna was out of earshot.
Rose nodded. "Yeah, you?"
He nodded and clenched his fist. "I got you something this morning. For luck." Raising his hand, he opened it. Lying in the flat of his palm was one of the commemorative label pins that were in every gift shop in the Olympic Village. This one was of the howling wolf mascot.
Nervously, he pulled on his ear. "It reminded me of you: strong willed, tough but still graceful, and more than a little dangerous."
"Thank you. I love it." She smiled and tried to pluck the pin from his palm.
He closed his palm slightly so she couldn't take it and said softly, "Let me." His long fingers brushed against her collarbone as he gently attached his gift to her costume. "Perfect."
"John, I'm sorry for everything," Rose blurted out before she could stop herself.
His hand rose to cup her face. "Yeah, me too." And there it was that spark of electricity between them. This time there was nothing standing between them, no fiancées or misunderstandings. Right here, right now, it was just them in a world of their own; anything could happen.
Just then, River Song accidentally bumped into John, and the moment was broken. "Oh, I'm sorry, sweetie," she said with a bright smile. "There are just so many people crammed in back here. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"No, I'm fine," John replied in a friendly tone. "Good luck tonight."
River smirked, "Well it seems that your reputation isn't at all accurate. Good luck to you, too." With a quick nod to Rose, she led Adam, who had been trailing behind her, out onto the ice.
"Am I really that bad?" John asked with a frown.
Shaking her head, Rose replied, "No, I think you are actually quite wonderful when you want to be."
A deep blush rose on his face. "Well, I… We should… I…" He pulled on the collar of his shirt. "Well, we should probably get ready. My final skate. Never actually imagined I'd get to this point."
He moved away from her and started stretching to loosen up. Rose was filled with hope for the first time in weeks, for the first time since he had told her that he'd broken things off with Joan. Glancing over at him, her stomach did a flip when he bent over in front of her. He had a really great bum.
There were things that needed to be said, and she wasn't sure she could wait to say them. Looking over at a nearby monitor, she saw River and Adam performing. They were probably nearly finished, not leaving her much time to make a heartfelt confession. She chewed her lip, contemplating her next move.
"Rose, are you alright?" John asked.
"Yeah, just away with the fairies." She smiled. "It's just this thing between us. I always thought… I thought we were something more. Something special. But we just kept getting it wrong. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"
John's eyes went wide and his expression was something that Rose had never seen before. Still though, she was determined to get this out before she lost her nerve.
"I don't know how you feel about me, but I know how I feel about you," she said and behind her the crowd went wild. The Americans had finished their routine and had done very well, judging by the crowd's reaction.
"We're up next. We should go. Maybe we should wait to have this conversation," John muttered, grabbing her elbow.
"No, I need to say this." Rose reached down and took his hand, letting him lead her towards the ice but stopping just before they stepped out.
A kindly man with a Russian accent leaned over to them. "You may take the ice."
Rose tugged at John's hand. "John, somewhere in the middle of this I fell in love with you." Taking a deep breath, she smiled at him. "I love you. I'm saying it out loud, right here, right now." The Russian man flushed and quickly stepped away.
John muttered something that sounded like 'quite right, too'. Nothing was going to stop her now. "Please don't say we're not right for each other because the way I see it, we may not be right for anybody else."
"Thirty seconds," a severe Russian woman dictated, pushing them towards the ice.
"John," Rose's voice caught in her throat and a single tear slipped down her cheek. "I need you."
Tears shone in John's eyes. "That's it, we're doing the move. Come on." He tugged her onto the ice.
Rose's heart plummeted. "You think I'm doing this to get a program out of you." She shook her head. "It's no good; the move is too dangerous. It's out."
"It's in," he laughed, tugging her to their starting position.
"Out," she replied, following behind him.
He turned around as they reached the center of the rink. "It's in, you beautifully stubborn woman."
"Why?" she asked, her voice trembling slightly.
"Because I'm in the mood to kick a little arse." By now he was almost laughing and she couldn't help but smile back at him.
They began to skate and that thing they were missing was back. Skating as a fluid pair, their movements were graceful. His fingers caressing her waist as he lifted her. Her hands lingering slightly longer on his backside than they normally would have.
Their timing was perfect. They landed jumps together. Their lifts were agile and technically perfect. All of their intricate transitions and foot work were spot on. It was the best that either one of them had skated in their entire lives. However, Rose didn't care about any of that. She cared about John and living in these few fleeting movements.
Behind her, John moved into position for their big finale. With what seemed like practiced ease, he threw her into the air, into her split twist. Underneath her, he started his triple toe loop. One, two, three twists for each of them. Rose's spin was just a hair slower so John could stick his landing before catching her.
The crowd went mad. With his hands on her back, John guided them into their ending position. Their faces were mere inches from each other, both smiling and panting.
"You didn't have to do it." Rose's eyes were fixed on his, wondering what he was feeling right now.
"Yes, I did," he said, a mega-watt smile on his face.
His eyes softened and he licked his lips. "Because I love you."
The knot in her stomach that she didn't even know was there loosened. A single happy tear slid down her cheek that had nothing to do with the cheers of the crowd or even the perfect scores they received, clinching the Gold Medal.
"Just remember who said it first," she teased and then, like two magnets who were no longer pushing each other away, they came together with that undeniable attractive force. Their lips crashed together in a kiss that had the audience, who were already on their feet, roaring their approval. But John and Rose heard nothing, for they were utterly lost in one another. The kiss went on and on until they were finally shooed off the ice.
A/N So this is where the movie ends and I am marking it complete... BUT I am writing a steamy epilogue that I will be publishing as a one shot b/c it carries a mature rating ;-) Don't worry, I'll publish a notification to this story when it's published.