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Oct. 15th, 2016

Doctor cover

Summary: Post-Olympic AU.  Payson loses her sense of direction following victory in London.  Her therapist thinks she needs closure.  Sasha Belov has other ideas. Payson/Sasha.

Just What the Doctor Ordered – Intervention

Sasha just stared after her as she fled, unsure of what had actually just happened between them.  One moment they’d been talking amicably, easy banter the same, but slightly changed from what it used to be.  The next she was storming out on him in a very un-Payson-like manner, eyes glistening with tears he knew he was somehow to blame for.
This was not the girl he remembered.  The Payson Keeler he knew was a gymnast so fierce that she could silence her competitors with just a look.  One who had come back from an injury that should have ended her career with the strength and determination it took to make her a champion.
The girl who just walked out on him, tears in her eyes, that wasn’t the same girl.  This new Payson seemed so . . . the words escaped him, fleeing his mind before he could turn his thoughts into something more concrete.  It was like something was broken, or had been broken, and she’d tried to fix it with everything she had.  And now what was left was straining, not quite fitting together the way that it used to.  Like an old vase that had been broken and put back together one too many times.
But that wasn’t the thing that left him gaping in her wake.  Even that he could understand to a degree.  Years had passed since he last saw her.  Her life had moved on and who was he to say what she had been through in his absence.
No, the thing that had given him pause was the brief, familiar flash of emotions in her eyes before she left.  He’d seen it the first day they met, and seeing it once again had made his heart drop to the pit of his stomach.  There was something wild and desperate in that brief look.  Something he could only describe as need.
It was that need that had made him stay at The Rock three years ago when everything inside of him told him he should leave, that his time there would only end badly.
(He’d been right in the end, although he hadn’t wanted to be.  He’d wanted for things to work out, to see his Rebels through to the Olympics.  But history had a way of repeating itself, and once again he’d brought nothing but pain and heartache to the lives of his gymnasts).
Now that same emotion stilled him in his seat, his mind reeling as he tried to make sense of what had happened.  Of why Payson Keeler had come all this way to see him, just to walk out on him at the first chance she got.
He stayed rooted to the spot where she left him as these thoughts flashed though his mind.  And then, once he’d processed everything to its natural conclusion, he jumped from his seat and followed after her without sparing a thought for what those on the gym floor might think of the scene.
He was already up and out of his seat before he had made up his mind to go after her, legs propelling him as fast as his eleven-year-old knee injury would allow him to go.  It didn’t even matter what people thought.  It didn’t matter how much time had passed or that she wasn’t the same Payson Keeler he once knew.  She was upset – at him, for starters, although it seemed like more than just that – and even if he didn’t know why or what he’d done, he hated knowing that she was in any kind of pain.
“Christ, Payson,” he muttered to himself as he found her sitting on the curb outside sobbing quietly to herself.  His heart physically clenched at the sight – at seeing her in so much pain with nobody there to comfort her.
Again his memory flashed back to The Rock, to the time he’d found her alone in the stairway, wishing she could be happy for her friend and her sister instead of hating them for what they’d achieved.  The words had come easily back then.  He’d understood her and exactly what it was he needed to do to help her overcome her own demons.
This time, though, that same understanding and simply knowing was lost to him.
He approached her cautiously, afraid that she might turn him away.
It felt almost absurd to feel so unprepared, so uncertain.  This was Payson.  And he’d never felt like he had to watch his words with her in the past.  Payson Keeler was the one person in his life he had always honoured with complete and brutal honesty.  He never pretended for her.  He never pulled his punches.  He was always completely straight with her.
So why now was he finding it so hard just to find the words to comfort her?  To simply tell her that everything was going to be alright.
He tried to put such thoughts aside for another time as he crouched beside her.  His knee gave an uncomfortable twinge at his position, but he’d gotten pretty good at ignoring the things that caused him pain.  “Payson,” he uttered softly as he dropped a hand to her shoulder, on edge waiting for her to flinch or push him away.  But there was no reaction from her.  Just more sobbing and laboured breaths.
He took her lack of response as an encouragement of sorts, sliding his hand across her back to the other shoulder and then gathering her in his arms.  She stiffened for a moment, and he was sure he felt her hands brace against his chest.  But then she seemed to deflate, seeming to give up the urge to push him away, and her body sunk into his.  Her sobbing increased in pitch and it was like she had given up on trying to stop herself from crying.
“It’s alright, Payson,” he promised as he rubbed circles into her back, his fingers occasionally catching on loose strands of blonde hair.  “It’s alright.”
She shook her head against him and buried her face against his shoulder.  Her grip upon him tightened and he winced a little as he felt her fingers dig into his sides.
But eventually those tears seemed to subside and her breathing evened out from the gasping breaths that had accompanied her sobs.  All that was left was a sudden case of the hiccups, which had her body jumping in his arms every few seconds.
He pulled back slightly to examine her, lifting her head from his shoulder with a brush of his fingertips to the underside of her jaw.  It was the first time he’d really gotten to look at her since her arrival – he’d been too busy at first just being pleased to see her – and now that he really looked at her, he could see it.
There was a restlessness about her.  Fatigue, both physical and mental.  Tired in more ways than he could guess.
The Payson he knew was always vibrant and alive even when her body was begging her to put it to rest.  Never giving up.  Never stopping until she had no choice in the matter.
Looking into her eyes, he felt like he was looking at a much older version of the Payson he knew – one that had been aged well beyond her nineteen years, drained of the inner light that made her so brilliant.  She looked a shadow of the stubborn, determined, and impressive girl that he used to know.
And that was what finally gave him a sense of what he needed to do and the words came easily.
“C’mon,” he said, shifting her in his arms so he could stand.  He held out his hand, his expression earnest.  “I’m taking you home.”

Payson felt somehow absent in the moments that followed, as though her body were acting on her behalf while she stayed behind on the sidewalk, still scared and alone and losing her breath.  Her body moved of its own fruition, allowing Sasha to guide her back to the gym and then shuffle her into a dusty old SUV.  Her mind was elsewhere as Sangov’s illustrious scenery passed by her window, something apart from her that didn’t seem to touch the part of her absent.
She was vaguely aware of the car eventually stopping as it pulled up to a rustic villa surrounded by trees and then Sasha stepping around the car to help her out.  Once again he physically guided her along the stone-paved path, one hand at the small of her back and the other holding gently to her forearm.
He swore quietly under his breath as he tried the door.  Locked, of course, because who left their front door unlocked when they were out at work.  “I’ll be right back,” he promised, and she felt her body nod in response.  She had no intention of moving, unsure of whether she would even know how to move on her own if she tried.  So she just waited for him to come back and show her how.
Her mind didn’t race with questions.  She didn’t use the time to come up with some explanation for actions – how she could break down like that and still need him so badly after all these years.  Her mind simply idled, thinking only of the mundane. Her eyes following a silver snail’s path weaving through the brickwork until she lost it in the foliage.
Sasha soon returned, looking almost relieved to find her where she’d been left.  Where exactly would she go?  She hardly knew where she was right now, let alone how to find her way back to the hotel.  He opened the front door and ushered her in, guiding her to one of two couches set up in the front room.
And then he was on the phone, speaking lowly as he paced in front of her.  She might have thought that he was calling her mother if it weren’t for the distinct almost musical sound of his native tongue.  Perhaps he was calling his staff at the gym to explain his sudden absence.  Or some emergency medical team so they could take her off his hands.  Someone else to deal with his mentally unstable former gymnast so that he didn’t have to.
He turned to her as he hung up the phone, speaking to her with words that didn’t seem to make any sense.  The words were in English, she was sure of that, but his voice sounded distant in her ears, as though he was speaking to her over a bad cellphone connection.  But the words sounded comforting all the same.  There was something reassuring about it, something that made the tension inside her uncoil and urged her to come out of this stupor. 
He spoke again and then he was gently guiding her again, this time up the stairs to a small bedroom off the landing.
“You should rest,” he said, the word suddenly clear and her mind coming back into focus.  He gave her a slight push towards the bed.  The cajoling expression he’d been using to persuade her dropped from his face, replaced with such pity.  “You look so tired, Payson.”
The words were heavy with meaning, his expression serious, somehow implying more than mere physical weariness.
She nodded, not realizing how tired she truly was until the words were spoken aloud.  She let him guide her over the bed without further protest, taking off her shoes and the lying on top of the bedspread fully dressed.
Sasha brought a woollen blanket over to cover her up and offered a gentle smile as her eyes drifted closed and she drifted peacefully to sleep.
Her mind finally quiet.
~ to be continued ~

Finally happy enough with the second chapter to post this.  I'm like 75% sure that I can actually finish this so, wish me luck I guess.  This is looking to be a introspection heavy fic, but it's kind of the nature of what's happening in it.

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