“So how long have you two been back together now?” Tish asked as she reached over to steal a chip out of Mya’s nachos, which she’d ordered without that foul smelling street paint they tried to sell as cheese as the concession stand. Mya preferred to sit in the stands with the real fans rather than up in the box with the rest of the WAGs and Tish never complained so she assumed that she did too.
“I dunno, a month,” Mya replied chewing thoughtfully on a warm chip as she watched Sidney glide to a stop at center ice and hunch over with his stick pressed to his knees, ready to rush the net with the rest of his teammates, which was usually the last thing they did during warm up.
“So how are things?” Tish asked, reaching over to take another chip. Mya slapped her hand away without looking.
“You said you didn’t want anything when I went,” she reminded her friend, moving the chips over to her other hand and further away from Tish’s reach. Not that that would stop her if she was determined, Mya knew, but it was worth a shot. “And things are fine. Good. We’re talking about finding a place together after the season.” Tish nodded but made one of those sounds that made Mya stop chewing and turn to look at her friend who was still staring straight ahead but there was something in the way her lips were pursed that made Mya certain that she wasn’t exactly concentrating on the game. “What?”
“Hmm?” Tish glanced over and then wrinkled her nose when she saw the chips had been moved out of her reach. “Oh, nothing,” she added as she turned her attention back to the game.
“Right,” Mya sighed, rolling her eyes as she offered the chips to Tish and then waited as Tish took a handful with a grin and began chewing noisily. “So...you were going to say?” Mya asked again, ignoring the sounds of pucks hitting the glass in front of them as she waited for the other shoe to drop. If Jordan wanted his wife’s attention, he could just whistle instead of trying to flip a puck up and over the glass.
“Oh...just wondering if you two had talked about the whole engagement thing yet, that’s all,” Tish shrugged, her gaze actually following the play out on the ice, as if she was not at all interested in what Mya’s answer might be. Mya glanced down at her bare hand and slumped down in her seat. The lack of a ring on her finger was actually a sore topic, though she tried not to think about it. He had said that he’d asked her because it’s what he wanted not because she had been pregnant and yet, even though they spent nearly every night together, he’d never brought it up again. She didn’t even know where the ring was or even if he still had it and yet she was determined not to be the one to bring it up. “I’ll take that as a no,” Tish finally continued at the next whistle. Mya only shrugged. “And I’ll take that as a sign that you’re not particularly thrilled about that fact.”
“I’m fine with it,” Mya lied. The last thing she wanted was for it to get back to Sidney through Jordan that she wanted him to give her the ring back. If he was going to put it back on her finger, he was going to do it of his own volition, because he wanted to, not because he felt like he had to. “Honest,” she continued, smiling at Tish who narrowed her eyes as she scanned Mya’s face.
“You were practically married and now you don’t even have the ring and you’re okay with it?” Tish tipped her head to one side and considered Mya for a long moment before shrugging and turning back to the game. “You can talk to me you know. I don’t tell Jordan everything.” This made Mya smile, though she was still had no intention of complaining and whining to anyone so she kept silent and turned her own attention to the ice. With the first round of playoffs under their belts, it was just possible that all of Sidney’s attention was on the ice or the games ahead and any thoughts of rings and weddings were probably pretty far back on his list of priorities and if there was one thing she’d figured out, it was that when it came to Sidney, hockey always came first.
Mya watched with a certain amount of jealousy as Jordan picked his wife up off the ground and planted a kiss on her lips in front of everyone. Even if Sidney managed to finish with the media before his teammates were already dressed and heading out to the parking lot, Mya couldn’t foresee a time when there was ever going to be that kind of public display of affection towards her. The most she could hope for was a wink over the shoulder of the cameraman or, if she was really lucky, a quick and discrete squeeze of her hand as he passed by.
It made her pine for the time when everything had been on the down-low, before other people knew about their relationship. Now, as she stood leaning against the cool concrete trying not to watch the doors to the room, she felt conspicuous and more than a little envious of the other women going in and out of those same doors, especially the ones with their little ones in tow.
That hurt. Mya squeezed her eyes shut and tried to hold back the tears, wondering if it would ever stop hurting.
Blinking, Mya looked down at the hairy forearm thrust in front of her and then up into a pair of sky blue eyes filled with mirth that were watching her intently, waiting for her reaction.
“What? What did you say?” she asked, finding herself suddenly smiling, despite the dark mood she was in.
“I said pinch me, because I must be dreaming,” Shane replied, pushing his arm towards her again. “I mean, how else can I explain the vision of loveliness in front of me?” Mya shook her head and laughed but reached out and grabbed an inch of skin and pinched, hard.
“That’s what she said,” she added, as he winced and pranced around as if he’d just been hacked across his wrists by a two handed slash.
“So,” he sighed, leaning his hand against the wall just behind her head, putting his body into close proximity to hers’, “are you stalking me or what?”
“That’s what she said,” Mya replied, laughing when he made a face and rolled his eyes. “Well? I mean this isn’t exactly your back yard, is it? " she added, wondering exactly when the funk of sweat and musty hockey gear had become one of her favorite smells.
“Well, you could have just suddenly realized that playing hard to get wasn’t working that well for you,” he suggested, raising his eyebrows, his grin growing when she rolled her eyes at him.
“That must be it,” she replied, shaking her head. “It couldn’t possibly be that you have no game.” His free hand rose and he slapped it hard against his chest, as if he’d been shot, his head falling back as he groaned out loud.
“Ouch! You’re killing me. Oh the light...I can see the light....I’m dying,” he groaned, staggering forward as if he was going to fall against her, except he never got the chance.
One minute Shane was leaning precariously close to her and the next his body was slamming against the opposite wall and Sidney had his forearm pressed to the big defenseman’s windpipe. For one brief moment, Mya couldn’t help but smile and think, how cute. Her white knight had ridden to the rescue. But then she had another thought and her smile completely disappeared.
“Let him down,” she sighed, leaning once more against the cool concrete wall. This time she crossed her arms over her chest and waited while her boyfriend took a deep breath before taking a half a step back which was enough to allow Shane to gasp for breath, his usually pale face having turned a dangerous color of crimson. While Shane grabbed at his throat and coughed, trying to catch his breath, Sidney turned, his hazel eyes flashing a warning that was usually levelled at opposing players.
“Who is this guy to you?” Sidney snarled through clenched teeth, to which Mya could only shake her head. If he didn’t know her better than that by now....
“Sidney Patrick Crosby...you don’t get to play the jealous boyfriend when you aren’t possessive in the first place,” Mya snapped back at him, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes. “Some wise woman said if you liked it then you should have put on a ring on it. Or should I say, if you’re going to question my fucking integrity then put the ring back on it.” She turned on her heel, intending to leave, to at the very least make him chase her down the hall, but she never made it.
She felt her heart stop. She felt her breath catch in her throat. She felt her knees buckle and all she could think was ‘no, no it’s not fair’. She couldn’t say it out loud because she couldn’t breathe and she couldn’t breathe because of the military officer in his dress uniform standing at the end of the corridor. She might have been able to breathe, might have been able to fool herself that he was just some soldier that had been given tickets to the game, if he hadn’t been standing next to Mario and if Mario hadn’t been wearing that serious expression on his face.
She hadn’t even told him, she thought as she reached out for something or someone to hold her up. She’d been so self-absorbed, been so worried about herself. There’d been emails but...she hadn’t even told him and now...and now.....
“Miss Fraser?” He was saying her name. Oh god he was saying her name which meant he was asking for her which meant that the yellow piece of paper in his hand, the cable, was for her. She shook her head, pleading silently with him not to say it, not to say the words out loud because if he didn’t say them out loud then it wouldn’t be true. “Miss Fraser I have some...unfortunate news,” he began again and Mya shook her head, feeling the tears running down her cheeks as she looked down at the yellow paper the soldier was clutching in his white glove covered hands.
“No,” she said quietly, reaching out to cover his hands with hers, to force them down when he tried to give her the piece of paper that would make it official, that would make it true. “No. Please no,” she asked, feeling her knees give way at last and a pair of strong arms holding her up, turning her and holding her close.
“I don’t know what to do. She’s just staring...I don’t know what to do,” Sidney reiterated as he stood helplessly by his hands opening and closing uselessly at his sides.
“You suck at this, you know that?” Tish sighed, looking down her nose at him as if he was something that had gotten stuck on the bottom of her shoe. “The girl is in shock, she needs a little sympathy. God, what is it with you and bad news?” Sidney shrugged because that was the only answer he could give. He didn’t know what caused it. He only knew that when it came to dealing with the worst possible news, he froze. Give him a power play, losing a game...those were things he could deal with. Those were things he knew how to deal with, had the tools to deal with. This...this just made him feel helpless.
“All you have to do is hold her,” Jordan suggested quietly, giving him a gentle shove in the direction of his own girlfriend. His legs felt like lead weights, like his feet had grown roots and it was going to take more than just willpower to make him move forward. “God man, it’s not fucking rocket science. All you have to do is hold her fucking hand.”
“It doesn’t seem like enough,” Sidney mumbled, his gaze still focussed entirely on Mya’s empty gaze.
“Yeah well, it’s better than standing here,” Tish snarled, giving him a harder push than her husband had. Sidney stumbled forward, nearly tripping out of his yellow crocs as he forced himself to put one foot in front of the other in order to make his way to where Mya sat on the bench of the dressing room, staring blankly at the opposite wall.
He clenched and unclenched his hands, not knowing whether to or even how to touch her. Would he startle her? Would she even know he was there or worse, would she push him away? Half of him wanted to turn around and leave, after all, she clearly wanted to be left alone but he knew if he did turn around that Tish would probably break a stick over his head. So he forced himself to sit beside her and reach over and take her hands in his.
“I didn’t tell him,” she said quietly, almost under her breath, without even looking over at him. She continued to stare across the room, in complete silence. “I didn’t want him to worry, you know?” she continued at long last, finally dropping her gaze to where his hands covered hers’. “I just...I wanted him to concentrate on what he had to do there. I mean...I was going to tell him. I was...eventually,” she added, tears streaming down her face. “Do you remember...I wanted him to give me away and then...,” her voice trailed off and he squeezed her hand, letting her know that he knew what she wasn’t saying so that she didn’t need to say it. “I thought that he’d have another chance now you know? And now...now...,” her voice broke and Sidney wrapped his arms around her and held her close, rocking her like a child as she cried. “I’m sorry,” she sniffed, pushing him away and wiping angrily at her tears.
“For what?” he asked, trying to manoeuvre her back into his arms but she resisted and turned her face away, as if to hide her tears, to hide from him.
“No, no. You hate the crying thing,” she mumbled, reaching for her purse and pulling out a wad of very questionable looking tissues. “I’m so weak,” she added, sniffing. “I mean, with my mom, and my aunt and my bastard of a father, you’d think I’d be a little stronger but....”
Things suddenly fell into place for Sidney and he grabbed her face in both of his hands and kissed her, fiercely, passionately. He tasted her tears and probably snot as well and he didn’t care. He kissed her until her couldn’t breathe, and then kept kissing her until she forced him away, digging her fists into his chest.
He looked into her trusting but quizzical face then and cursed every single time his father had ever tied his skates for him and every time a coach blamed someone else on the team for a loss and his agent for making his life run too damn smooth.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, still holding her face in his hands, smiling at her as if he’d just scored an overtime goal which is almost what it felt like to suddenly realize why he’d been running. “I’m sorry I haven’t been grown up enough to handle all this shit. I’m sorry that I’ve always had someone take care of all my shit and that every time something bad was happening to me I’ve had a bunch of people to help take care of it. I’m sorry that I’ve been so fucking sheltered that I don’t know....that I haven’t had the tools to help you when you’ve needed me but My...I don’t ever want you to apologize for being upset and I sure as hell don’t want you to ever apologize for needing me. I mean...damn, I should be happy. This is supposed to be my fucking job. I’m the fucking man here,” he added, bringing her to him and pressing his lips firmly but gently to her forehead. “I’m sorry I’ve been such a spoiled brat. I promise to do better,” he added quietly, wrapping her in his arms as he let out a long sigh. “And I know Tanger isn’t much of a substitute for your Uncle babes, but...if you’ll still have me, believe me I still want you, forever.”
“Forever?” she whispered, wriggling in his grasp until she could look up into his face.
“I thought I needed some space,” he explained, wiping at her tears with the pad of his thumb before placing a gentle kiss on each of her eyelids. “I thought...no, fuck it doesn’t matter what I thought. Life’s too fucking short. I want you. I love you My. I’m fucking terrified something will happen to you but...I can’t let that get between us like this. Sometimes you just have to fucking shoot, even if there isn’t a lane you know?” he added, a hockey analogy that he knew would make her smile. She was always remarking on how, for him, everything was always about hockey. “I’m sorry, I don’t even have the ring and this is probably not the time to ask you this when you’ve had this news and....” She was kissing him before he could even get the words out and when he felt her body melt against his, when she felt her lips open beneath his he knew what the answer was even though he hadn’t asked the question.
She was his and he was hers’ and that was just the way it was going to be.