"there was glass inside my feet and raining down from the ceiling
it opened up the scars that had just finished healing."

I peered over heads in front of me, desperate for a glimpse. People kept walking in front, blocking my view as I waited impatiently. I wrung my hands, both nervous and excited. A few seconds later, I caught sight of a bunch of familiar faces coming through the Arrivals gate. I smiled as they walked through, escorted by security, most of them waving or nodding in my direction.

Finally, I found him amongst the sea of suits, looking professional as they always did when coming home from a road trip. Pushing my way through the throng of people, I called his name, and he looked over sharply, seeming surprised. I launched myself at Jake, holding him as tightly as possible; he lifted me off my feet as I jumped, and I kissed him with all the force I had.

“I have missed you,” I said between kisses, “so so much.”

“I can tell,” he laughed, hooking his arm around my neck and wrangling me into another kiss. “God, I’ve missed you even more.”

Making out in airports wasn’t our usual style, but having barely seen him all month, I was desperate to cling onto him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone approach with a pen and paper for an autograph. “Not now,” I said, not even looking at them.

“Daz, that was mean,” Jake smiled, pressing his lips against mine again. 

“I want you all to myself.”

“Well, uh... we should get home then, let’s not give these people more of a show.”

I flashed him a smile. “Oh, did I tell you? I brought your car.”

“What?” he asked, chasing me through the crowd. “You drove my car? You are in so much trouble, Daria Coppola.”

I chucked him his keys and we headed to the car; Jake was adamant about driving, as he always was. Some male control thing. It was his car, he reasoned, that he bought himself as a present for winning his first World Series, so he should be the only one to drive it. I teased it about him occasionally, but it didn’t bother me. I never drove unless I needed to anyway.

Even in the car, we could barely keep our hands off of each other. So much time apart with only two nights in between – we were both going crazy. Not just for physical reasons. Being on my own made me feel single again. And single wasn’t something I was used to, nor comfortable with.

Once home, I locked Ash in the guest room for his own benefit, and turned my attention to my future husband. I found him in the bedroom, already shirtless. “Wanna help?” he asked, throwing me a lopsided grin. I obliged him, undoing his belt and pants, licking my lips as they fell to the floor. In a flash, he removed my dress, and his body was pressed against mine. He pushed me back against the bed, letting me fall back into the covers before he climbed on top, grinding his hips into mine.

“Please?” I asked him, my hands already grasping at his underwear.

“You know it’s torture,” he murmured, yanking off my own underwear, “to know something’s yours, but you’re not able to have it.”

“I do know.” I moaned. His weight on top of me... I needed this.

“Especially when it’s as exquisite as you.”

-------------------------

I traced my finger over the dark, perfectly round bruise on Jake’s back that lay below his shoulderblades. He flinched slightly as I touched it, still sore. I was so glad that it had only been a minor injury. A setback that lasted days, not months. Absentmindedly, my hands wandered down to his ribs, checking them for swelling like I had every day last year. Now, I couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary as I sank my palms into his skin, rubbing my hands in circles.

“I like having you as my masseuse,” Jake said, his head half turned towards me as he laid on the expansive couch. “You’re much nicer than the team physio.”

“You should come get a professional massage with me. Get all rubbed up by a sexy man.”

“Which sexy man has been putting his hands on you, Daria Coppola?” he asked. 

“Mmm, my masseuse Marty. I think he’s gay, I’m not sure.”

“And I think I might need to put a stop to your massage habit...”

“Oh shush, he’s harmless.”

“Don’t let him touch your butt.”

“No, only you can give me butt massages.”

“That’s right.” He fell silent for a few seconds, closing his eyes as he enjoyed the feeling of my fingers working into his muscles. “Does this massage get a happy ending?”

“Nope. I have places to be.” I climbed off of him as he pouted, and returned to the bedroom, throwing on some exercise-appropriate clothes. Jake watched me as I emerged, picking up my bag.

“Are you sure going to ballet is a good idea?” he asked.

“I’m a big girl, I’ll be fine.”

He looked unconvinced, but nodded anyway. I knew he was just looking out for me. As a teenager, ballet – and the girls I danced with – led to an eating disorder. I claimed that it was a non-issue now, but Jake wasn’t convinced that it had completely gone away. “If anyone picks on you, I’ll...”

“I know.” I kissed his forehead. “See you after your game.”

The ballet studio I’d found was only a few blocks from our place, and half-full of people by the time I arrived. I took a spot at the back, stretching like the others, who apparently all knew each other, and kept their conversation between themselves. Even though it had been a while since I’d danced, my flexibility was still intact... Jake would probably take credit for that.

It was an open class, which meant there were girls of varying skill levels. Even though I hid at the back, it wasn’t long before the teacher pulled me up the front, complimenting my technique.

“How long have you been dancing for?” she asked.

“I haven’t... well. I did dance for fifteen years. But I haven’t, much, lately...”

“You are very graceful,” she said, watching me through my movements. “You should be proud of that.”

I know I blushed as I turned around, trying to keep up with the rest of the class, as many of them knew the teacher’s basic routine already. It wasn’t that hard to pick up, and I was soon pulling it off like a pro. The girls seemed to be friendly, too, eventually introducing themselves to me, apparently already knowing who I was. Instead of feeding my ego, it just made me feel embarrassed and slightly awkward.

As I went to leave at the end of the class, the teacher grabbed my arm, waiting until everyone else had trickled out.

“You enjoy doing this, don’t you?” she asked.

“Dancing? Well, yes...”

“Then why do you seem so afraid of letting yourself enjoy it?”

I didn’t have an answer for her, but she pushed something into my hands. Looking down, I saw that it was a pair of pointe shoes.

“But I haven’t been en pointe for six years...”

“It will come naturally, but give it time. They can’t hurt you, you can only hurt yourself by not trying.”

I walked out of the class feeling a little strange, slightly beyond myself. Connecting with something that was such a large part of my past seemed surreal, especially when everyone had tried so hard to bury it for me. Tried not to talk about dancing because God forbid I recall both the bad times and the good.

Curiosity got the better of me by the time I got home, and I slipped into the pointe shoes, standing in front of the mirror. It took me a few attempts to get up, and even then, it was painful. But I studied the shape of my legs in my reflection. En pointe, they seemed alright. Standing normally, everything looked amplified. Not as thin, not as toned, not good.

I hastily pulled off the shoes and discarded them in front of the mirror, and I made my way to the shower. I wouldn’t let the creeping thoughts get the better of me. I wouldn’t undo the feeling of freedom I’d guiltily gained from that class.

--------------------------

-- jake

The dreams hadn’t stopped, but they had been less frequent. I didn’t know if it was a good sign, but I also didn’t know how long I could fight them off without telling Daria about them.

It happened again, our second night back. We’d come back from the game, she’d told me little about her dance class that day. The sex wasn’t wild but I figured she was tired, or at least I told myself that. Deep down, I knew there was something else at play.

But the dream. The same, again – she was hurt, I couldn’t help her. She seemed to be clutching at her chest this time, but I had no idea why. I woke up, startled, in a sweat again. Next to me, she lay peacefully, hopefully finding her sleep much more pleasant than mine.

I went to the bathroom to splash water on my face, trying to get my head out of nightmare mode. As I did, I stumbled over her dance shoes, left carelessly in front of the mirror. I told her she shouldn’t go, but you could never tell Daria not to do something. It would always make her want it more. With every fibre of my being I hoped that it wasn’t going to be a problem for her like it was before.

Returning from the bathroom I slid back into bed, pressing my body against her back and resting my arm over her stomach. Closing my eyes, I prayed to whatever god was listening. Take care of this one, please. She’s special.
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