: A Friend In NeedAuthor
: Evan shows up to practice with red eyesNotes
: For schmoop_bingo
, the prompt "cuddling while sick"; also for harriet_vane
, a week after she is all better
Evan comes to practice with red eyes, and Frank eyes him suspiciously before gesturing wordlessly to the ice. Mirai watches with interest as she laces her own skates, tugging on the knots to make sure they're securely fastened.
Evan starts out slow, almost lumbering, and he hasn't taken off the hoodie he arrived in like he usually does to work. He warms up with wide, heavy swings of his legs, and Mirai is halfway across the rink to join him before he's even made it around once.
Frank is still focused on Evan with narrowed eyes. Mirai blows him a kiss, just to check, and Frank doesn't react at all. She thumbs her nose, too, but she doesn't get a response.
"Triple toe loop," Frank calls out suddenly, and Evan nods and swerves to start. He sneezes violently in the middle and falls.
Frank grunts a little smugly. "Thought so. Evan, go home."
"Shut up," Frank says. "And go home. You're sick
, Lysacek, you need rest
. There's nothing big going on. Go home
," Frank says again, and Evan lets his head sink to his chest and nods wearily. Now that he's been discovered, a fit of violent, retching coughs explode from his chest as he skate back over to the gap in the wall that leads to the men's locker rooms.
"Feel better!" Mirai calls after him, and regrets it when her voice calls Franks attention back to her. He pins her like a butterfly with glittering eyes.
"Looks like it's just you and me, kid," he says, rubbing his hands together and then clapping them briskly. "Let's take the time to really nail that axel."
Mirai groans heartily and starts putting a little more into her strokes as she glides from warming up to working, trying to find that perfect still space that's just her and the ice, so still and so perfect that she'll be able to pretend Frank isn't there at all--she'll be so amazing he'll having nothing to say, no words to disturb her focus.
They work hard
, and Mirai is sore and cranky by the end of the day. She wants to go home to a hot bath and Seventeen
magazine, but Frank waves her over when she comes out of the locker room in her jeans and sweatshirt. She groans inwardly and goes over to him. He's got Evan's duffle in his hand.
"Evan forgot this," he explains gruffly. "I've got to get to a dinner. Can you drop this off for me?"
It takes just about everything Mirai has not to whine aloud. She's tired
. She aches
. But she really can't decently say no.
She takes the duffle. Frank says good night and waves her off.
Mirai flounces into her car and tosses Evan's duffle on the seat beside her, the dingy red, white and blue making the sparkly lavender of Mirai's own duffle seem girly and impractical. She sighs and cranks the engine, letting her head drop back against the headrest as the heater kicks on and she backs out of the space, not really watching where she's going at all.
Traffic is bad. Traffic is so
bad, two wrecks and Mirai misses every light. She turns up the radio when something loud and relentless comes on, but it only lasts her three minutes before the obnoxious DJ's voice is blaring in her ears. She snaps it off with a sigh.
Evan's apartment looks even less inviting that usual, all the blinds drawn, no lights shining around the edges except a flickering blue around the edges of the living-room window. Mirai thinks for a moment about just dropping the duffle on the stoop, to be discovered in the morning--it isn't heavy enough to contain skates or anything else truly expensive--but she knows all about Evan's little rituals, and God only knows what will happen if there's a particular pink duck or orange sock in this thing that Evan needs or his faith in his luck will downspiral.
She rings the bell.
"Uh-a-minna!" comes muffled through the door, and thirty seconds later it opens six inches on the chain, one bloodshot eye surrounded by orange skin peering out at her. Mirai tries not to flinch back.
"Mirai!" Evan exclaims, and the door slams shut for the rattle of the chain. "What are you doing here?"
"Thanks," she says drily. "You left your duffle--and--" the words "Frank asked me to drop it off" hover on her lips, but Evan looks like hell. "I wanted to check on you," she says instead. "How are you feeling?"
"Better," Evan says instantly, and wrecks it by coughing again, deep and rough and tearing.
"Riiiight," Mirai says, and shoves past him into the apartment, knowing from long experience that he won't ask her in unless he's absolutely confident everything in the apartment is at right angles and centered on the walls. Which--maybe he would
have, but she hopes not. Please, please, please
let him not have spent the day fussing at the apartment when he was supposed to be resting.
"What have you been doing all day?" she demands, heading for the kitchen to check for soup and crackers, ginger ale and takeout menus. She is capable of going out and purchasing all of the above if necessary, but the warm lavender bath is still calling her name, if with a little less force now that she can see the way Evan is hunched and hollow with illness.
"Oh, you know. Watching TV."
Mirai gives him a skeptical eyebrow and opens the refrigerator. Half a can of soup in a tupperware and cans of ginger ale on the shelves; good.
"No, really," he insists. "I haven't left the couch all day."
The counters show the remainders of sleeves of crackers with a half-full pot of tea beside them, and Mirai beams at him as a reward. "Good for you," she says warmly.
She heads into the living room to check for blankets and pillows, just to be sure
he's telling her the truth--Evan lies about taking care of himself all the time. There are
blankets there, but the pictures flickering on the screen aren't mindless sitcoms or any of the old movies Evan likes; they're tapes of Evan's performances.
, Evan!" she says, turning to where he's hovering guiltily in the doorway and stamping her foot. "This will not
help you get better."
"That's the point
," Evan says, scowling. "Getting better
Mirai scowls right back at him. "You know
what I mean," she says, exasperated. "You need to heal
. You need happy thoughts."
Evan hunches further in on himself like a puppy who has been caught chewing slippers, and Mirai sighs.
"Come here," Mirai says, and leads him by the hand to the couch. She shoves him down gently and pops the DVD out of the drive, replacing it carefully in the wallet waiting beside the DVD player. She rolls out the drawer under the console for a minute and considers, finally pulling out His Girl Friday
, which she knows is one of Evan's favorites.
"Hang on a second," she says, and goes into the kitchen to pour two mugs of tea. Mirai hands one of them to Evan and plops down on the sofa beside him, pulling at the blankets on the sofa until they're both swaddled and warm. She curls up with her head on Evan's shoulder and nudges him with her elbow.
"Go on," she tells him. "Press play."
Evan looks down at her fuzzily, helpless and confused in the face of brisk teenage girls and cold medication.
"You don't have to stay," he says, and Mirai digs her elbow into his side again.
"Yes, I do," she says firmly. "You'll put in the tapes again."
"I promise not to?" he tries, and she frowns at him.
"Yes, I do," she says again, without any justification at all. "Press play already."
Evan lets out a long breath and reaches for the remote. The music swells as the movie starts, and Evan's head tilts down to rest against hers. His heavy breaths rasp in her ears, almost drowning out Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Mirai cuddles closer and sips at her tea.