21 December 2010 @ 02:33 pm
Title: Falling
Author: [info]lilithilien
Fandom/Characters: Alles Was Zählt, Diana, Jenny, Deniz, Vanessa, Lars, Roman
Word Count: ~1000 words
Rating: Gen
Summary: Every skater falls differently.
Disclaimer: Not mine. (Sigh)
A/N: For the brilliant, generous, gorgeous, loveable, and all-around fabulously sparkly [info]amilee123. With thanks to [info]aldiara for being the Beta Queen and to Show for being so full of suck these days that I am inspired to write again.

Every skater falls differently.

Diana, of course, falls with a pixie’s grace. Her tumbles, even the worst ones, look light and playful, as if she’s tripping across a field of forget-me-nots. The ice seems almost to sway as it catches her, cushioning her from the damage it can do to those it loves less.


Jenny has never felt the ice’s cushion. It’s hard and cold and she resents its unforgiving sheen, those tiny invisible cracks that trip her up and remind her, with every fall, that she is not yet good enough. But she knows she will be, someday. She’s Jennifer Steinkamp, after all.


Deniz has a secret: he loves falling. He loves that second when his skates slip and something more powerful takes over. It’s like that moment just as the roller coaster reaches its apex, that split second before gravity sends it careening down. It’s even faster on the ice, when he becomes a jumbled mass of limbs and cold and sometimes blood. And he gets up just so he can do it again.


Vanessa never expected the ice to be hers. Jenny was the one with the natural talent and poise; she had the baby fat and the feet that refused to do what they were told. So when she first stepped into the rink, she fully expected to fall. And when she discovered hockey, she found she could take others down with her.


For Lars, falling is a test. If he can stand up on the ice, he hasn’t drunk enough.


Roman had been afraid of falling once. He skated in rigid little figures that displayed his control, determined to stay upright above all else. One day his mother came to pick him up at the rink; seeing her at the boards, he decided to show off the compulsory figures that he had learned: a perfectly spiraling serpentine, the efficient lines of a loop, even a precise bracket with not one line out of place.

“How was I?” he eagerly asked afterwards.

“You were perfect,” she replied, but her smile was tight, and her thoughts seemed far away.

That night his parents argued loudly in their bedroom. This was unheard of – Papa always blustered but Mum always soothed, and so continued the quiet peace of their home. But on this night their angry voices rose, louder and louder, seeping through the faded wallpaper into Roman’s room. While his mother loudly protested that “he’s worth it”, Roman pulled his pillow over his head and drowned out his father’s barks about “good money wasted” and “turning him into a pouf.”

A few days later, his mother appeared at the boards again, this time with a man. She signalled to Roman, calling them over.

“This is Falk,” she said. “He’s a trainer – he wants to see what you can do.”

Roman nodded calmly, although his heart was beating fast. His figures had been impressive after all, enough so that she wanted to show them off. He would not let her down. Concentrating more than he ever had, Roman repeated each one flawlessly: another serpentine, another loop, another precise bracket. His blade was exact, not one hairline out of place. He waited proudly for Falk to examine his cuts, but when the man walked out to the patch, he didn’t give it a second glance.

But he did say, “You’re good.”

Roman smiled, then had to look down when the heat rose in his cheeks. The smooth curve of his figure eight caught his eye and sparkled back at him.

“But good’s not enough, not nearly enough.”

It took a second for the trainer’s words to sink in; they drained the smile from Roman’s face, leaving him with the not unfamiliar ache of disappointment. It wasn’t unexpected, after all. He’d always had the feeling that he was nothing special – his father had known it, had told him often enough; surely his mother knew it too, although she never wanted to admit it. The sooner he accepted that truth, the better off he would be. Roman dug his toepick into the ice, staring at his patch of figures. He could start by erasing them. They were as perfect as he could possibly make them, and they still weren’t enough. Turning them into a mass of jagged cuts was something he might possibly be able to master. If he didn’t fuck that up, too.

Contemplating this destruction, Roman almost missed the trainer’s next words. “The thing is, you could be great.”

His head jerked up, his ears confused; he could not have heard that right. “What?” he asked, bracing for the clarification that would confirm his uselessness. But Falk smiled.

“I said you could be great. It’ll take some work, and even more courage, but I think I can help you.” Falk’s eyes narrowed, studying him, making Roman feel like a bug under a magnifying glass. Finally he asked, “How do you feel about falling?”

Roman swallowed. “I hate it.” Falling meant failure. Failure meant his father was right.

“I thought so.” Falk shoved his hands in his jacket. “Your mother is paying me good money to help you. But you’ll never get anywhere as controlled as you are.”

Roman’s gaze darted over at where his mom stood. The words from the argument came back to him, his father’s cries of “wasting good money” and his mother’s firm insistence that “he’s worth it.” He felt tears sting his eyes but he blinked them back.

“Falls are a part of skating,” Falk continued, “every bit as much as your footwork and your balance. And a lot more than these figures you’ve memorised, perfect as they are.” His eyes fell on the patch of cracked ice now, but Roman no longer cared if they passed inspection. His brain felt tangled as a bramble while he tried to decipher Falk’s words; they didn’t slot easily into his thoughts, but Roman had a feeling that if they could, they would mean more than anything else he’d ever known.

“It’s okay to fall down?”

Falk grinned. “If you don’t fall, you’re never going to fly.”

It's been years since he had Falk as his trainer, decades since he learned to let go of his perfect spirals and aim for something more. Roman’s fallen a million times since then. He’s had bruises, broken fingers, at least one concussion. (More if you believe Dr. Sommer, but he always was overly protective of the skaters.) He still gets frustrated when he knows he can do something, when he gives his all and it still seems just out of his reach. But he lets himself fall, and reminds himself that what some people consider failures, Falk would have just seen as a step on the way to something better.

And when he’s flying free, he knows it’s worth it.

~ The End ~