Thursday, March 4, 2010

52.) The Talk

I crossed my legs behind his back and cupped my hands around the back of his neck, as I rested my now sweaty forehead against his. “Don’t go. You said yesterday that we have a whole month to make up for.”

“It’s practice, Jo,” he chuckled, lifting one of his hands from the small of my back to brush my hair away from my face. “I have to go.”

“Ugh,” I sighed, released my hold on him, but he didn’t fully back off. Kris kept his hands at the small of my back, his thumbs rubbing circles on my bare skin. That was probably the best morning I’ve ever had, and now he had to leave. “Figures.”

“I can come back, you know,” he laughed again softly, pressing his lips gently against mine. It made me melt into a puddle of goo in his arms. He was so sweet, so caring, and oh so sexy in that sweet and caring way. Damn, I was one lucky lady.

“You’d better,” I told him with a nudge, encouraging him to get his ass in gear and having flashbacks of a similar morning several weeks ago. “I wish I would have finished making breakfast for you though. You’re gonna go hungry.”

He shrugged and joked, “Oh well. I think we spent our morning wisely. I’ll just grab something on my way to the arena. What are you doing today? Do you want to hang out later?”

I nodded quickly, raising my hands around me as if gesturing to my exciting environment. “Does it look I have plans? I’ve only left the house twice in the past month. Not exactly living the most thrilling life right now.”

“Do you want to go out then? I’ll come pick you up after practice?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked, putting my hands back around his neck and twirling his hair around my fingers, since he wasn’t going anywhere yet. With the way he was looking back at me, I knew what he was thinking. I let go of him and ran my hands through my hair, feeling like I was in an episode of Groundhog Day. “You still want me to?”

“My offer stands. It’s up to you. I will say, though, you look funny with tri-colored hair.”

“Cute, right?” I joked, rolling my eyes.

“You’d be adorable, whatever color,” he said sincerely. “I just don’t think you need to hide who you are anymore.”

I bit my tongue, thinking that I could tell him that that wasn’t the case at all, but I wasn’t sure that I believed it. I pushed him away again as I slid off the counter and grabbed my discarded clothes. I ignored his statement, not to be rude, but because I didn’t know what to say. Instead, I asked, “So, I guess I’ll see you when you’re finished with practice, then?”

“Yeah, I’ll come pick you up.” He paused for a moment, apparently having the same flashbacks that I was and thinking about that fateful Friday morning. It was like we were reliving it, going through the same motions, getting a do-over. I knew his question before he asked it; I could tell by the haunted look in his eyes that it was coming. “Jo... wh-why did you ride your bike that day?”

Pulling my clothes on, I waited until I was fully dressed before I replied. For some reason, it was important to me to be covered before we had this serious talk, the talk we both knew we would have to have but avoided until this point in time. Kris followed suit and dressed, and then I sat back up on the counter. Playing with the hem of my shorts, I tried to figure out how to make him understand. “It was an impulse.” Kris’s face contorted with confusion, and I quickly explained further, “I wish that there was a better reason for you, but that’s it. Things around me were changing like crazy, and I wanted that feeling I get when I ride. That feeling of control and peace.”

“That’s it? That’s your reason?”

I nibbled the inside of my cheek. “It sounds like a cop out, I know it does, but it isn’t, I swear. I can’t explain it to you, except to say that James used to talk about skating the same way. I bet when you lace up your skates, you feel like everything’s right with the world. And that’s how I feel on my bike.”

Kris was watching me, as if I were a Rubik's cube and as if he were trying to figure out his next twist or turn. I thought of a billion things that I could say to him to try to make it clearer to him. I almost said that I knew how he was feeling, because I got nervous during his games. Just because we weren’t speaking over the past month didn’t mean I didn’t watch his games; I did, and I still felt my heart skip a beat every time he went back for pucks in the corner and a big, opposing forward was in on the forecheck.

But I didn’t tell him that, because, well, what good would that do? It’s not like he’d give it up—and it’s not like I wanted him to, anyway. He loved hockey so much, and it was a part of him. I cared about Kris, so I loved every part of him—including the hockey-playing part. I wasn’t going to ask him to stop, just because I worried about him getting hit. There was no sense in placing that burden on him, because I’d never make him choose. Also, because I knew I’d probably because I’d lose that battle.

Let’s face it: hockey’s dangerous, even if it isn’t considered as dangerous as riding a motorcycle. So maybe what happened to James was an extreme mishap; mishaps still happen, each of varying severity. Getting cut with skate blades. Getting hit with pucks. Blocking hard, fast shots. Fights. Career-ending injuries. And, yes, getting boarded. I had a legitimate fear, but hockey defined Kristopher Letang, especially since he played in Luc’s memory. I could never, ever ask him to stop, so I sucked it up and watched his games with bated breath.

So why was he making me feel like, if I loved him enough, I should give up my motorcycle and stop riding? Sure, I didn’t do it for James, but I did it because of him; because he taught me to enjoy life while it lasted. And I enjoyed it so much. I knew that Kris cared about me, but if he cared enough, why would he even look at me like he expected me to give it up?

Everything that I had given up or had been willing to change about myself was something that I was ultimately okay with. I missed smoking a big bowl when I had a stressful day, but I was finding new ways to unwind and relax. Sometimes, I would really crave a beer, but since there were none in the house and I had no way of getting out to buy any, the cravings always passed—and I didn’t really miss the hangovers one bit. But my bike? That was something I’d miss a whole hell of a lot come spring.

But the demand to forever stop never came; he never flat-out asked me to give it up. Maybe he was worried that he’d lose. If he did ask, I wouldn’t know what to say. However, he avoided that subject and questioned instead, “Why did you do it, when you told me we wouldn’t have to worry about it until spring?”

Lamely, I shrugged. “I didn’t even think about that conversation at the time. I just wanted to ride.” I paused. “Have you ever ridden, Kris?”

“No,” he confessed. “Luc loved stuff like that, but we were both pretty new to it. I was waiting ’til the end of the season to buy one and learn....”

I nodded as his voice faded out. I wanted to make him understand, but not at the risk of kicking up these painful memories. “James used to talk about skating, and of being in full control of his body. Measuring out his long strides, using his entire body to gain power and speed. And when he had a stick in his hands, it became an extension of himself. And if he was in control of himself, he had control of that puck, and he could make it do whatever he wanted it to do, almost like he was controlling it with his mind.

“And I used to laugh at him when he talked like that,” I chuckled, remembering how cheesy I thought he sounded at the time. “But when I’m on my bike, it’s the same thing. I control my feet and my hands and the position of my body, and I make the bike do whatever I want it to. The bike becomes a part of me... or I become a part of it, I’m not sure. It’s just this feeling of.... I don’t even know what to compare it to, except the whimsical way James talked about skating. And when you get to feel the wind whip around you, and it’s almost like you’re flying.” I smiled as I looked at him, trying to make him understand.

Kris nodded once and headed for the door. “Okay. I’ll see you after practice.”

I was a little shocked and stunned. This was the end of our big conversation? “Wait. That’s... it?”

He turned around to face me again, holding his hands out in front of him. “What do you want me to say? I wish you hadn’t gotten on your bike that day. I wish that day would have gone differently and you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.... But I know that feeling, Jo, that indescribable sense of complete and total ease. You’re right, because I do feel that way when I’m on the ice.”

“But....” I couldn’t believe he wasn’t mad, or at least trying not to act mad. Even though he said he kind of understood, I had forgotten all about what I had said to him, because when the urge came to me that day, I went with it without thinking. Without thinking about Kris; I didn’t see how he fit into the equation, and he didn’t—if there hadn’t been an accident. But there had been, and I would have been upset if he didn’t care at all. So shouldn’t he still have been upset?

“I get that feeling when I’m out there playing hockey. It wouldn’t be fair to you if I asked you to let it go, when I get to feel it every day. Jo,” he sighed, grabbing his coat from the rack by the door and walking back into the threshold of the kitchen. “There’s one thing I’ve learned these past weeks. It’s that, if I had the choice of walking away from you again, I wouldn’t. We’ve both done things we probably shouldn’t have, but we’re still here. Still alive, still together.... I mean, I think we’re back together...?”

“If you still want me,” I barely managed to get out, emotions clogging my throat. Even though we had kissed and done more, both last night and this morning, we hadn’t really “made up.” We needed to have this talk. Now that it was happening, my trepidation was taking over.

“I do want you. And that’s it.... I want you, even if it means having you when you do things I don’t want you to, because then at least I still get to see you and hold you and be with you. I want you to have that feeling, because I know what it’s like, and you deserve to feel that way sometimes. And I mean, I obviously am not going to do everything you want me to. When I walked out, I wasn’t thinking about you, Jo, only me. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t’ve—”

“No, I shouldn’t have given you an ultimatum,” I interrupted, my anguish over the past few weeks bubbling over finally. He got to see my anger at the restaurant, but now he got to see my heartache and misery, too. “I knew how upset you were, and that it wasn’t just about me, that it was about Luc. I shouldn’t have made it all about me. I’m sorry, Kris.”

“Okay, okay,” he said, crossing the floor to come back to me. I slid off the counter, and he was there. His thumbs brushed my tears aside before he wrapped his arms around me and brought me into his warmth. “So we’re both sorry. Don’t cry.”

“I’m sorry,” I sniffed, apologizing for my tears.

“It’s okay, just stop saying ‘sorry,’” he chuckled, kissing the top of my head as he held me. I buried my face into his chest and wrapped my arms around his middle, wishing that I could just hold onto him forever, just like this. “I’m going to be late.”

“Okay.” I let go of him and let him walk out. He called over his shoulder to remind me that he’d come get me after practice, so I set myself into motion to clean up the mess in the kitchen and then clean up the mess that was me.

The talk had gone well, considering I expected him to be angry. Maybe he still was, I didn’t know, but he was acting sweet and understanding. I appreciated that, because it would have ripped my heart out if he would have asked me to give it up or made me choose between him and my bike. Kris made me feel good, too, but in a different way.

Then I remembered that look on his face: the one he always wore when he was worried about me. That look he wore both while visiting me in the hospital and while I was recovering from the drugging incident. I hated that look... not because I didn’t want him to feel that way, but because I hated feeling like I had a hand in making him feel that way. After all, I wanted to be important to him, because he was important to me. He was, essentially, giving me the green light to ride, but did that still mean I should take advantage of that?

I was so confused. I said a silent prayer to anyone who would listen, that I was happy for winter; I had months to go before I was faced with the dilemma to ride again.

9 comments:

  1. Le Sigh. Cutest make up ever.

    I love them together so much it hurts. Jay, can you write the events in my real life from now on? That would be excellent. Because then you could craft someone as perfect as Kris for me!

    Great chapter!

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  2. Baaahhhhh. I can't even. Ugh. I lovvvved it. He is just soooooo swoon-worthy. This story is so well written, the way she feels about hockey, the way he feels about riding the bike... the dynamic between the two is rediculous, I melt everytime I read their exchanges. Great update!

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  3. I love it so much. I am really honestly impressed by your writing! you should make books of all your stories! They are awesome! I love'em and I wish I could write stories like you do.
    Have a great night!
    Judith :)

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  4. I look forward to your new posts. I'm glad there together again.

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  5. :)these two kill me.
    They just get one another, they're so different, but always brought back together.
    I'm sooo happy that they're "together. together" again!!

    Take 2 at trying to get her hair dyed, let's see how this is going to work out!

    AND after that accident, ugh, PLEASE let's not get on the bike again? That would be great!
    Great update!!

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  6. looovve itt

    i can't believe it's at 52 already!

    keep goingg:)

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  7. *Le Sigh*

    So. Friggin. Cute.

    This talk went better than I could have ever imagined! Kris is being so flippin' understanding and it's so amazing and wonderful and I'm all happy and smiley! Ahhh the both of them are gonna be the death of me with their adorableness<3

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  8. I must admit I was a little worried when I saw the title of this chapter, but after reading it not once, but twice, sweet, sweet, sweet!

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  9. I did it, Jay! I finished my marathon, I went through the 52 chapters. And I still think that I am a lucky girl to have the chance to read your great work. ID is a masterpiece, it shows all your qualities as a writer: intensity, depth, personal style.

    In that chapter, the way you portrayed and compared riding a bike and playing hockey shows how good you are.

    Keep the good work, girl!

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