Miles glanced over from where he'd been practicing his landings on the otherwise quiet rink, smiling a little as he set his eyes on the person who'd greeted him. "Hey. You shouldn't be out here so early."
"I could say the same about you," Ray replied, as Miles skated around to lean on the boards where his best friend stood, his face unimpressed. "You're going to exhaust yourself, Miles."
"Or I could be good enough to win my first world championships," He retorted, catching his breath and smiling at Ray, who shook his head in return, an amused look in his eye. "Alright. Don't come crying to me when you drop dead from lack of sleep."
"Isn't that your job as my childhood friend? To make sure that doesn't happen?" He asked lightly, half-teasing. He could feel his heart flutter as Ray chuckled under his breath and he shamelessly envied how mature it sounded compared to his own barely-broken tenor. "I suppose it is. Are you going to follow your childhood friend's advice and come off the ice?"
Miles blinked at Ray, who stared back at him in response, wondering when the cold, emotionally awkward boy had become so concerned about his health. Though it wasn't that the Spanish boy had ever been… uncaring, he was blunt and tended to leave emotions to his other friends. Miles had always been the emotional one and Ray had always been there to ground him with his less-than-compassionate demeanour, a pleasant balance
Or, he had, until recently. Though it was true-Miles had gotten himself sick by working so hard once or twice-Ray still wasn't the type to be so concerned.
Maybe it's just because we've been friends for so long… And I kind of like this side of him anyway.
"I… Want to clear my head before school," He finally replied, pushing blond bangs out of his face. "You really shouldn't be here, Ray, it's like five in the morning."
"You've been here since five in the morning?"
"Why?" Miles cocked his head. "What time is it now?"
Ray raised an eyebrow, holding out his phone to him. "Nearly eight."
"I…" He began, feeling a blush rise on his cheeks as his eyes alternated the phone screen, and Ray, who gave him a triumphant look, before realizing he had no retort. "I hate you."
Ray cracked a smile, opening the gate off the ice. "All the same, Bubbles."
"Shut up," He huffed, though couldn't help but smile. Freckled cheeks warmed as Ray placed his arm atop his head, leaning ever so casually on him. "And stop that. I'm not that short."
"Yes you are," Ray hummed simply, and though Miles knew he meant no harm, it still rubbed him the wrong way when someone brought up his small size, especially when he was compared to Ray's near six feet of height and counting. "It makes you all the better of an armrest, though, I must admit."
"Oh, go to hell..." The short blond huffed, pulling away from Ray's arm to open the door to the changeroom, hearing Ray chuckle in amusement from behind him. "You've got more attitude than you do body mass, that's for sure. Kind of like a Chihuahua."
"You're the actual worst!" Miles called over his shoulder as he slid into the changeroom, before falling back against the door. His smile slowly fell away as he ran fingers through his hair worriedly and did his best to ignore the embarrassed blush that had settled on his cheeks and he muttered to himself, "What the hell am I doing…"
He was Miles Verde. Going on fifteen. Reigning junior world champion and second-highest scoring ever in ice dancing. Part of a less than perfect family, whom he loved to death and back again.
Utterly and embarrassingly in love with his best friend…
I'm fucking myself over with this stupid teenage crush.
He really didn't have a lot of friends. He'd always been shy, and when his mother and Ray's had bonded over the fact they were both single-handedly raising two children, of course he'd been skeptical. In hindsight, it was a blessing, really, for it was the only reason Miles, who became completely obsessed with skating within the year, and Ray, who was quiet and cared little about anything outside of his books and tinkering, could probably have ever become friends. And even while he had other friends (few of them, but they existed), none of them really understood the extent of his training and how much of a toll it took on him.
In other words, he was pretty low in relationships and wasn't about to let a stupid little crush take away his most important one. The small blond forcefully pushed any thoughts related to Ray out of his mind as he began to untie his skates.
"Thanks, Mira," Miles nodded to the young woman who ran the neighbourhood skating rink, and let him use it before and after school when he needed-one of the benefits of living in the lazier part of the suburb, he smiled at him. "Yeah. Come by after school if you feel like it."
He nodded her way again, before leaving the building and nearly jumping out of his skin as he turned the corner to see Ray, leaning against the wall. "What the hell! You scared me!"
Ray shrugged, falling into step with him as they began to walk in step with each other. The autumn air nippy, especially as the wind lifted blond bangs off his forehead and rustled dying leaves that clung to the trees. "I think you're overworking yourself, Miles."
"I'm not," Miles replied shortly. "Stop worrying. I already have a twin sister and mother for that. You never worried before."
"You weren't training seven days a week and eight hours a day before," Ray retorted, his voice calm and level as usual, completely different from Miles' own, emotion-filled, lilting voice-people had always said he wore his heart on his sleeve, and more often than not, they weren't wrong. The shorter boy sighed, knowing they weren't getting anywhere, deciding to change the subject instead. "Angela's supposed to come home tomorrow."
"Really?" Ray smiled a little, and Miles couldn't help one of his own. Both of them cared for Angela like brothers, even if Miles was the only one related to her by blood. "She must be doing better, then."
"Yeah…" He nodded, shifting the skating bag on his shoulder with a sigh. It had been the three of them since they were little-Ray, himself, and Angela, who had been diagnosed with systemic lupus some years before. And while she was usually okay, even if she was a little weaker than the average high school sophomore she had flare ups-flare ups that often ended up with her in the hospital.
"And your mom?"
"My…" The blond hesitated for a moment. "My mom… Is working at the hospital, like usual."
Ray sighed, running fingers through his hair, looking over to him with obvious amusement. "And suddenly it all makes sense."
"Hey!" Miles crossed his arms. "It isn't like you're much better!"
Ray shrugged, his tone becoming lighter, almost like a laugh, but not quite there. "I'm not the one exhausting myself by being a professional athlete and taking advantage of my mom never being home."
"But you're a total homebody who doesn't know what a social life is!"
"Come on," The raven-haired boy chuckled, giving him a look. "Do either of us have a normal social life? I'm a boy obsessed with making clockwork pieces and you're the best junior figure skater in the world." Miles bit his lip against a smile at how accurate the statement was as his friend continued, "What's a social life?"
The shorter boy let out a chuckle as they came to the intersection. "Don't ask me. I mean, I wouldn't know."
"Hey." Ray nudged him as they waited for the light, and though he looked up to meet his best friend's' eyes, he could feel his ears warming up at the proximity. "Do you have your stuff for school?"
"Oh, um…" Miles shook his head after the moment it took for his brain to catch up. "No, I have to go back. You can go ahead if you want."
The light turned green, and Ray gave him a look as he turned to cross the street. "Don't get distracted."
"I won't!" Miles replied, sounding awfully like a child whining to a parent, as he turned to walk in the opposite direction of Ray and slid his hands in the pockets of his navy hoodie. Though he did get distracted from time to time, he was generally pretty punctual, as long as it didn't involve dragging him away from his skating or the minimal sleep he got. While Angela and his mother would sometimes wake him, both of them spent a lot of time at the hospital, with Angela being a regular patient and his mother a scrub nurse, so he'd been woken more than once by the handsome Spaniard who lived around the corner. And while he had to admit, he'd rather be on time when it came to school, Ray wasn't a dawdler when it came to waking him up and was creative with his methods at that.
Both of them lived within a three-kilometre radius of both each other, the little skating rink and the high school-it was the advantage to living in the part of the suburb they lived in. It was fairly easy to get around, something Miles was grateful for as he unlocked the door. He didn't bother taking off his shoes, rapidly swapping his skating bag for his school one and stuffing his binder and laptop into it, before zipping it up and slinging it over his shoulder. School started at a quarter past eight, and if he was quick, he'd make it right on time. He'd been late a few times already that year, and while it didn't look good on a school record (he'd been a total of 19 times and he'd just started sophomore year), he really didn't need a call to his already busy mother explaining how many times he'd been late again.
As he made it to the intersection, he could see the crossing signal flashing, and though any other day he probably would have just settled for waiting, Miles really wasn't up to telling his homeroom teacher that he'd lost track of time at the rink for what felt like the twelfth time that year, and he sped up into a jog, keeping his eye on the light. He could make it. He would make it.
The blond boy gasped as he ran right into someone, someone who let out a loud squeak of surprise as he nearly toppled on top of them. He barely caught himself hard on his elbows as he fell to the sidewalk, the breath knocked out of him. The person he ran into, however-a short girl, he saw-wasn't so lucky, sprawled out beneath him like a cheesy scene from a romcom. Biting his lip as he scrambled up, he stooped to hold out a hand to the girl. "Oh, I-I'm so, so sorry, I-I was in a rush…"
"I, um…" The girl accepted his hand, and he pulled her up as she pushed long, black curls out of her face, before blinking up at him. "I think I'm okay…"
"Are you sure?" Miles could feel his cheeks heating up in embarrassment. He'd never been good with people, and generally kept his head down… So his situation was nightmare fuel. The girl seemed nice, however, nodding as she smoothed down her clothing with a little smile at him. "Yeah. But you really should be more careful."
"I-I know, I'm really sorry," He apologized again, realizing after all his efforts, he'd missed the light and let out a sigh. "I should have been looking where I was going."
"Where were you going in such a rush, anyway?"
"School," He admitted with a bit of a laugh. "Aspen Ridge. I can't afford to be late again…"
"Aspen Ridge Secondary?" Miles nodded, noting the odd accent in her voice as he did. She smiled a little at him, her brown eyes suddenly bright. "I-I'm headed there too, but I…" She rubbed her upper arm with a bit of an embarrassed little laugh. "I'm new around here, and I'm not exactly sure where I'm going…"
"Let me take you," Miles offered in a chirp as the light changed, and he began to cross the street, the girl in step with him. "To make it up to you for knocking you over."
"Thanks." She smiled at him as they walked down the familiar streets, leaves fluttering down from nearby trees at the mercy of the wind as they went. "I'm Fiona, by the way."
"Miles," He returned, smiling at her too, getting a better look at her-she was shorter than his own 5'4, around Angela's height-though unlike Angela, her curves were pronounced and unmistakable. Loose black curls fell just past her shoulders, and her skin was smooth and darker than his, or Ray's Mediterranean hue-was she mixed, perhaps?-and large, dark brown eyes peered at him curiously.
In other words, she was adorable, and if he wasn't so utterly and depressingly set on Ray, he'd be completely head over heels infatuated with her. Even with the crush on Ray, Miles felt the familiar tug of being attracted to someone pull stubbornly at him.
"Ah, you're Miles Verde, aren't you?" She realized, and he nodded, letting out a little laugh of amusement as she nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, I know! I mean, I'm from Spain, so you aren't as popular, but…"
"You're from Spain?" Miles raised an eyebrow as the school came into view. "What are you doing here, then?"
"It's… A bit of a long story," She replied sheepishly, and though he was curious, Miles wasn't one to pry, especially about the history of a girl he'd only met minutes before. "But I'm living with a family friend here now, on Balten Drive, which is why I'm walking to school."
"Oh," Miles nodded, suddenly more interested in the girl he'd knocked to the ground. "That's the next street over from mine. What grade are you in?"
"And the coincidences continue," The blond boy held the door for her as they entered the school. "So am I. Do you know where you're going?"
"Um…" Fiona bit her lip, rolling up her oversized, knit sweater to reveal a scrawled name in blue pen on the back of her hand. "P… Popowycz… So in other words…no."
"I've got to pass there on the way to my class," He replied, smiling at the girl-she had an aura that pulled him in, though he wasn't exactly sure why. "I can take you there."
"Really?" She smiled at him too, shaking bangs out of her eyes. "Thank you."
"No problem," He replied simply, motioning for her to follow him, which she did with a smile. The hallways were mostly empty, other than the occasional student that was late like them-not that Miles really minded being late that particular day. He had an excuse, after all, and it wasn't his usual skating one.
"Here we are," He stopped in front of room 214, which was what he only could assume was Fiona's homeroom. "I can introduce you if you like. I need a note to get out of being marked late anyway."
"No, I can do that much myself," She replied, her accented voice amused and her large eyes sparkling at him. Her smile was contagious, and he couldn't help but return it as he raised a hand to knock on the door. "Alright. Suit yourself."
Miles rapped on the door, opening it as the French teacher motioned for him to come in. He glanced over to Fiona, who nodded at him, before opening the door. "Ms Popowycz, I've got a student of yours."
"A student?" She blinked at Fiona before realization dawned on her. "Oh, you're Fiona! I heard you were staying with the Jacksons."
Fiona nodded, her voice confident and casual, despite the fact she was at the front of a room full of strangers, all who had eyes on her. Miles couldn't imagine what it was like to have that sort of confidence outside of his performances.
"I'm Fiona Apelchetta," She introduced herself simply to the teacher. "From Spain. I'm staying in Mississauga awhile."
"Well, I'm sure you'll take up French easily then," Ms Popowycz replied. "You can take a seat next to Leo." Miles watched as Leo, who'd been somewhat fixated on the both of them, smiled at her, sending him a subtle look as he did, maybe to ask, 'How the hell did you find this one?'
"Ah, Miss," Miles pulled his gaze away from Leo and Fiona to look back to his French teacher, his tone hesitant-all his teachers were accustomed to his habit of tardiness by then. "If you could write a note for Mr. Riske, explaining why I'm late…"
"My goodness, Miles, you're insufferable," She replied, grabbed a sticky note and scribbled something down on it, and Miles couldn't suppress a smile as she handed it to him. "You best be on time for my class this afternoon."
"Of course, Miss." He replied, smiling over his shoulder as he left her class. "I don't know why you'd think anything different."
Morning classes-being history and math-went by with little activity out of the norm and Miles was starving when his lunch hour came around. He hadn't eaten before leaving for the rink or after he'd gotten home, and he hadn't had time to pack anything to eat either. Though he, Leo, Ray, Fabian, Angela and Lucia usually ate together, he and Ray had been assigned different lunch hours that year, Angela was often sick, Lucia had become a big part of student council and Fay… Well, Fay was every bit friendly and quirky as he was wild and unpredictable-in other words, he showed up a third of the time in lucky months. So as he left math to head to the front lobby of the school, he really wasn't expecting to each with anything else than his textbook.
Miles jumped at his name. Though just about everyone knew who he was (it was hard not to, when he'd made such a name for himself in the small suburb around seventh grade) not a lot of people called him out. He was shy, people made him anxious, and it had been obvious after the anxiety attacks he'd suffered in his first year, with fans and curious students alike swarming him until Ray and Angela had made it obvious he hated it.
So he jumped, turning quickly when someone chirped his name over the bustle of the hallway. He wasn't expecting the short Spanish girl to be the one to come up to him though. "Hey!"
"Hi, Fiona…" He began to walk towards his original destination again, Fiona in tow this time. "What's up? Are you lost or something?"
"No, I'm on lunch, actually," She replied, her voice content and her smile as charming as ever, especially for someone who'd apparently just begun at a new school in a foreign country. "And yourself?"
"I am too," He replied with a nod, shifting his bag on his shoulder. He didn't much like going to his locker-it was on the second floor in the second music hall, which was somewhere he practically never went, considering his art class had always been dance. It wasn't as if he really needed to anyway. "Do you want to come along? Or do you have plans?"
"If it's okay with you, I'd like to come," Fiona replied, pushing curls out of her face with a smile-it never really seemed to leave her face-and the sparkle in her eyes that Miles couldn't quite identify. "Where are we going?"
"Well… I mean, until last year, I'd meet up with my friends," He began with a little sigh. "Fay, Lucia, Ray, my sister Angela and Leo, who I guess you met in French, but… Things are different this year."
"So we'll probably only see one or two of them today," He replied, ignoring the gnawing hunger at his stomach. "A-and I'm probably going to buy something from outside the school."
"Sounds promising," Fiona hummed lightly as they made it to the front lobby. He did a quick scan for Leo, who never failed to show up-even though Leo claimed he could always spot him in a crowd, Miles knew his friend's tall stature and wild rust-coloured hair was superior to his own plain blond locks and petite frame.
He spotted Leo at what seemed like the same time he saw him, Fiona's gaze following his as the redhead nudged through the crowd to meet them. "Hey. You've got the European cutie with you."
"Why thank you," Miles replied semi-sarcastically. He was half French, and it was no secret people thought he was cute, with his more Asian-looking facial features from his Filipino side on top of green eyes, messy, dirty-blond hair and a smattering of freckles. Perhaps he was cute… But it wasn't the kind of cute that made people want to date him, or people flock to his side, to his dismay. A childish cute, rather than a high school crush cute.
"I… You're…" Leo trailed off at a loss, giving him a look, though his tone was unmistakably amused with his reply. He looked over to Fiona. "Hello, other European cutie. Joining us for lunch?"
Fiona nodded with a smile. "I am. I hope you don't mind."
"Hey, the more the merrier with how small our group's been getting…" Leo sighed, glancing back over to Miles. "Are you going out to grab something today? You look like you're going to eat my face if you wait much longer."
"I do not!" Miles huffed, though grabbed his wallet from his hoodie pocket. "But yes, I'm going to go buy something and ruin my athlete's diet. Sue me."
"And I guess that means I come along too," Leo sighed, and Miles nodded, beginning to leave the school. "Well, that's usually how we do things."
"Hey. I'm not complaining."
Fiona had an amused smile. "The students at this school are…"
"Interesting?" Leo supplied as they left the school grounds.
"Completely and utterly infuriating?" Miles suggested in a chirp, prying a laugh from the short Spaniard and an eye roll from Leo. "God, Miles, you're something else."
"All of the above, I guess," She simply replied through her laughs, and the short blond couldn't help but smile along with her. Despite it having only been less than a day, Miles was sure Fiona was going to brighten the school… One way or another.