cupcakegirla: (plaid)
[personal profile] cupcakegirla
Title: Ok? Ok.
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: AER
Summary: After London Ricky’s not sure if swimming is for him anymore. It takes a while to figure it out. But when he is sure he’s really sure.



When Ricky climbs out of the pool after his final swim in London he’s done. He’s just done. He’s accomplished all his goals and won two more medals. He feels fulfilled and just plain exhausted. He’s going out on a win. And so he announces his retirement and when he says it he means it.

But in his defense he’s a) ecstatic in the moment from the win, b) physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted after months of hard core training and two weeks of intense competition, and c) really horny. He just wants to go home with Aaron and Eric and be done. He can’t imagine signing up for another four year Olympiad cycle, and so he washes his hands of it all and walks away from the pool just plain finished.

Eric walks into his room later that night, shaking his head, and rolling his eyes, and curls up in bed with him to sleep that night, their first night together since trials, without saying a word. Aaron has pretty much the same reaction when they see him the next morning. He pulls them both into a hug and a kiss, tells them how proud he is of both of them, then smacks Ricky in the back of the head.

“Didn’t you even consider that maybe you might want to discuss this with us, or your family, or I don’t know your coaches, before retiring publicly?” he asks. Ricky shrugs and sort of winces.

“It felt right at the time?” It comes off more of a question than an explanation. Aaron shakes his head and pulls Ricky down on to the bed.

“Come here, you shit,” he says, tugging at the hem of Ricky’s shirt to get a hand on the tight skin of his chest. Eric rolls his eyes as he follows them over.

When they get back to California, they pack up and head back home to the house in Austin. Eric decides he’s taking a year off. He’s not swimming competitively for any of 2013. He’ll decide later if he’s Aaron level done or not. Ricky throws himself into coaching at the pool on campus, which he loves but Ricky gets bored. He gets antsy and jittery and bored and within two months he’s back in the pool again. Swimming laps and doing drills.

But something is different. He’s still swimming well. He breaks the American Record in the 200yard free at Short Course Nationals. But at Long Course Nationals he fails to medal at all, and comes in fifth in the 200m and the 100m. It’s good enough to send him to Worlds for the relays, but it’s not spectacular. He goes to Worlds and returns home to Aaron and Eric with two new medals for his collection, and the worst homesickness he’s ever felt before in his life.

“I’m having a crisis of faith,” Ricky says. He’s laying spread eagle across their bed, his head hanging off the foot, arms dangling, while Eric digs through his bag to sort out his dirty laundry from the clean, and Aaron focuses all his attention on folding the ribbon of Ricky’s gold medal just right before closing it up in his box and sticking it the bottom drawer of the big dresser in the corner. It’s the dresser all their medals are stored in. Fancy.

“Faith?” Eric asks sniffing at a shirt and gagging. Giving up on sorting he dumps all the clothes in Ricky’s bag into the hamper and goes to store the bag in the closet. Ricky sighs, and Eric climbs up into the middle of the bed to sit cross-legged next to Ricky’s right hip. “Ricky?” he asks. Ricky sighs again.

“I wanna swim, but I don’t wanna swim. But swimming is my job. But I don’t want to do it anymore. But I don’t want to do anything else either. But I want to travel the world and be part of the team, and hang out with the team. But I don’t want to leave you guys anymore. Because, Jesus that really fucking sucked ok?” he rambles. The bed dips on his other side and then Aaron is there, stretched out beside him and leaning over the end of the bed to look down at him.

“That’s a pretty big crisis of faith,” he says sympathetically. Ricky nods, still hanging upside down. He closes his eyes as he starts to get a little dizzy.

Eric pats him on the knee.

“Come on, sit up,” he says. Ricky groans as he pulls himself up, Aaron grips his shoulder and helps him get fully upright. Once he does, he presses up behind Ricky, letting him relax back against his chest, winding an arm around Ricky’s waist.

“This is a decision that you have to make Ricky. We can’t make it for you. I haven’t even been able to make it for myself at this point,” Eric says. Aaron nods, pressing a kiss to the side of Ricky’s cheek.

“You haven’t really had a break, a real break, since you started Ricky. You’re tired. You have to decide whether you’d be happy to be done where you are with what you’ve accomplished or if you’ll regret it if you don’t keep going. We can be a sounding board for that, help you figure it out, but ultimately it’s your decision,” Aaron says. Ricky sighs again and nods.

“Thanks,” he says, pulling Aaron’s arm tighter around his body and then reaching out to tug Eric into their hold. “I love you guys,” he whispers. “I might not know about my future in swimming, but I know about my future with you guys. So that’s a start.” He can’t help but notice the way Aaron’s arms flex around his body, and Eric’s ears flush at the declaration. It’s good to know they’re all in the same place on some things.


Ricky keeps swimming. He works out, he watches what he eats, and he trains. All day everyday he trains. He’s happy to be back in Austin, ecstatic that Eric and Aaron are with him, both of them there and healthy. He notices how the tension has eased out of Eric’s shoulders, how he’s so relaxed and rested and happy. He watches Eric pursue his other passions. Business, and testicular cancer support, public speaking. It’s the same thing they’d been seeing from Aaron over the past two years. A slow unwinding of competitive drive that has reoriented itself to cards and board games and strip poker, to out doing each other in the bedroom or beating each other in a sprint to the car. Aaron had become more involved in ocean preservation and the side of swimming that focuses on a microphone instead of a set of jammers, goggles, and a swim-cap.

And Ricky wants that. He wants to not spend every minute of his free time thinking about training and eating and resting and waking up to do it all again tomorrow. He wants to spend the day getting pounded by waves on the beach with Aaron, or wake boarding with Eric. He wants to go to bars and drink too much, and have sex until he passes out (with Eric and Aaron, of course!). He wants to sleep too late and eat too much, and grow out his hair. He wants to not shave if he doesn’t want too, and gain a whopping ten pounds without freaking out about it. He wants to go visit his sister and his parents and take a vacation to anywhere in the world without smelling like chlorine the whole freaking time. And he’s tired. He’s just tired.

When they decide to stay home this year for Thanksgiving it’s like paradise. Aaron makes the mashed potatoes, and Eric has his grandmama’s home made dressing recipe, and Ricky calls his mom for directions on cooking a turkey. They end up ordering one from some kitschy place downtown that sells them for the non-turkey-cooking inclined. The gravy is lumpy and they burn the frozen pumpkin pie, but they eat it all piled on top of each other on the living room couch, screaming at the football game and drunk on too much wine.

When Ricky wakes up on Friday he’s smushed under half of Aaron’s weight, with Eric’s legs tangled around his, his face pressed into the middle of Eric’s back with the sun beating down on them through the bedroom window. It’s late, and all he wants to do is stay right there for the rest of the day. He definitely doesn’t want to get up and get dressed and go to the pool.

He must tense up at the notion because Aaron snuffles into his neck and pulls the blanket up higher.

“What’s up?” he asks. Ricky bites his lip and sighs.

“I don’t want to go to the pool,” he whispers. Eric stretches under him in one fully body move and then rolls in place until they’re face to face. Eric frowns at him a little sadly.

“You don’t?” he asks. Ricky shakes his head.

“I think I’m done. I shouldn’t dread it this much. I shouldn’t be this unhappy about it.” He sighs and closes his eyes, resting his forehead on Eric’s shoulder. “I’m done,” he breathes and it comes out like a revelation. When he opens his eyes Eric is smiling at him.

“Ok,” he says.

“Ok?” Ricky asks. Aaron groans into his shoulder.

“Ok,” he adds. Ricky smiles.

“Ok.”


I DID IT! 50,525 words posted in November for NaNoWriMo 2013! *does a dance*
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