Friday, March 12, 2010

56.) Beacon

Soundtrack Song - Bush, Glycerine

When I woke up, I could tell that Kris was already awake. I opened one eye carefully to glance at the clock as I asked, “Did you get your full nap? What time do you have to get to the arena?”

“Stop worrying about me and my damn schedule.”

“I just don’t want to disrupt—”

“You’re not,” he yawned, tightening his grip on me like he wasn’t ready to get up and he sure as hell wasn’t going to let me get up, either. His breath was hot and humid, hitting my forehead as he spoke. “I slept for two hours, and I have half an hour yet before I have to leave for the arena.”

Somewhat satisfied with that answer, I started to allow myself to relax again. I felt so peaceful, so at ease in his arms, and I didn’t think it was possible. The only thing I wanted to do was lie here with him and use him like a buffer to help me get through the rest of the day. Tomorrow would be another day, and if I could just get through to tomorrow, I’d be okay.

But then I remembered that even though I relished this moment together, I couldn’t stay like this; I knew that I couldn’t be so selfish. Kris had a game and a routine to stick to, and I couldn’t get in the way of that. I had just grown up around varsity hockey players, but I knew how superstitious they could be—and NHL players were undoubtedly much worse. Kris wasn’t as bad as some, but he wasn’t as carefree as others, either. I broke his hold and sat up, after which I tucked my hair behind my ears with a sigh, looking around for wherever Kris might have thrown my hat. “I should get going.”

“I was thinking, Jo...” he started slowly and carefully, rolling onto his back and looking up at me.

“Thought I smelled smoke,” I teased, still looking around me and avoiding the serious tone in his voice.

“Very funny,” he quipped back with a smile. “But I really thought about it, and I want you to come to my game today.”

I snapped my head back to look at him with such force that I was almost certain I could have broken my neck. I looked at him like he had a third eye between his thick eyebrows. “No, Kris. No. I can’t. I’m sorry, but I just can’t. You know why.... You know I can’t do that, even though I’d love to be there any other day of the season.”

“But I don’t want you to be alone,” he replied, placing a hand on my knee, above my cast. “I know that you don’t want to watch the game, any game for that matter, but I want you to be surrounded by friends. Kelsey and Heather will be there. And I will be there, too, or at least in the building. I just would feel so much better knowing that you weren’t sitting somewhere, all alone, and crying to yourself. I don’t care if you don’t look at the ice once, but just so I know....”

There wasn’t an easy response to that. I wanted to do it, for Kris, because he sounded uneasy and I didn’t want him to worry about me. Not when his focus should have been on the game. But still, it would not be an easy task for me. I already shuddered when Kris took big hits—I didn’t think I could stand that sight on today of all days, because I would worry about the worst possible outcome. Just the thought of it turned my stomach and physically repulsed me as the fear overtook me.

“I could see if you could sit up in the one of the boxes, if you wanted. Or you could even hide away in the lounge all night, if you preferred that. I just, I need to know you’re gonna be okay tonight.”

I nodded, not even aware that I was making the positive gesture until he smiled sadly. It was that last statement of his that made me ultimately agree. I would do it, if only for Kris. After everything he had done for me today, the least I could do was give him peace of mind. “I’ll do it. For you.”

“Thanks, Jo. I know that’s the last place you want to be tonight, but it means a lot to me,” he said, rubbing my knee with his thumb. I nodded to let him know that I understood it meant a lot to him, and that was, in fact, the only reason I would do it. He looked liked he wanted to broach another subject, but he appeared hesitant to do so. “Um, and there’s something else I wanted to talk to you about, too. This one, it’s completely up to you if you accept, and I feel really weird giving you the option because I don’t know how you’ll take it, but, I mean if you wanted to, or if you needed to—”

“Spit it out, Kris,” I interrupted with a smile, trying to be encouraging because I didn’t want to waste more of his prep time before the game. I peered down at him from my sitting position, waiting for him to come forth with whatever was on his mind. Kris was usually open with me, so for him to stumble over his words—when he wasn’t just trying to find the right term in English—was new for him.

“Well, see, I was thinking, because you said about your dad. I know how upset that you got, and I don’t know if he’s gonna be back or not,” he started, still having trouble saying whatever was on his mind. “So I figured if you didn’t want to go home, or if you wanted to crash somewhere else, well, you could just... stay, um, here.”

Feeling like I was in shock, I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. “Stay at your apartment?”

“If you needed somewhere to hide out. If you think it’s too weird, you don’t have to, but I wanted to give you the option of being able to escape from that, and since I won’t be here....”

I began to nod and shake my head at the same, probably making myself look like I was seizing, but I didn’t know what to say. I was touched; Kris’s offer was going far above and beyond anything he had to do for me. It was one thing to come and collect me from the cemetery when Tubby called and beckoned him, and then to invite me over to make sure I was okay—but it was another thing entirely to open up his home to me when he was going to be away for four or five days.

Kris’s apartment, to me, already felt like a type of sanctuary. The first time he brought me here was after he took me to my old alma mater, when he gave his safety talk to the driver’s ed class, and my dad was home and I begged him not to drop me off. This is where I recovered after that drugging incident. This is the first place we consummated our relationship. Plus, I enjoyed being here, for no other reason than the fact that when I was here, Kris was here.

And Kris was my beacon, my ray of light that shone to guide me as I made my way through life. It still amazed me how he came to mean so much to me in such a short span of time; he was so much more than just a boyfriend. After all, what is a “boyfriend” other than a love interest or an object of my affection and infatuation? Kris transcended all that. He was my boyfriend, yes; however, he was also my lover, my friend, my confidante, my counselor, my hero, my spiritual guide, my caregiver, my safety net, my inspiration, my path of righteousness. He was, to me, everything that one person could possibly be to another.

My long pause and crazy movements must have led him to think that I was refusing him. “If you don’t want to, Jo, if it makes you uncomfortable, just say so. You don’t have to—”

“No, it’s not that, I mean, that’s really nice of you to offer that,” I choked out. The last thing on my mind was what it would be like at home when I went back there. Whether or not my dad would still be there. Whether he’d try to reprimand me for how I walked out on him, attempting to play the role of father again. Or if he’d be there but ignore me as he drank, just like old times, with his mind fully intent on numbing the loss of a son as his daughter struggled in the other room with her own pain. Or if he’d simply disappear again, my only indication that he was still alive resting in the fact that the bills were paid. I was grateful for Kris’s offer, for giving me that option. “Thank you. I’ll, uh, think about it, but I’m really, really glad I have somewhere to go if I need to.”

“You know, my door’s always open to you,” he whispered, pushing himself up onto his left elbow and moving his right hand up to the back of my neck. I let him pull me toward him and I let him kiss me chastely. My heart simultaneously swelled and constricted with conflicting emotions. Kris’s openness and caring nature made me want to be happy, and maybe under other circumstances, it would have; if the two of us could have stayed in this refuge of his apartment all day, perhaps I could have been. But the reason behind his offer made me sad.

I placed my hand on his chest and broke the kiss. “We need to get ready. I need something to wear,” I sighed.

“You’re in luck,” he replied, waggling his eyebrows and leaping off the bed.

“Huh?” I was confused by his excitement and enthusiasm but found myself getting caught up in it, too.

He pulled a shirt from his top drawer and threw it at me. “Betcha you forgot about this, didn’t you?”

I grabbed the shoulders of the shirt and held it up. The Pens logo was displayed on the front, and I could tell right away that it wasn’t his—it was way too small to fit his broad chest. I flipped over the shirt and saw his name and number on the back. The light bulb went off in my head as I recognized the shersey as the one that the one bitch bought for me weeks ago. “How do you still have this? I thought you gave it back to her.”

“No, I paid her for it, and then, well, I just kept it. I guess I was hoping that you’d want to wear it again.”

With a smile, I grabbed the hem and pulled it over my head, pushing my arms into the sleeves. “Of course I’ll wear it again. This Letang is a pretty good player, I hear.”

“Yeah?” he asked, stepping into a pair of dress pants but watching me all the while with his patented lopsided smirk.

“Mmhmm. He’s the goalie, right?”

Kris laughed loudly, which wasn’t something he did very often. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh, right, I forgot. He’s on the top line. World-class center, that Letang is.”

He shook his head, his grin widening. “Wrong again.”

“Aw shucks. Guess I never heard of him then,” I giggled with a shrug. I watched as he rolled his eyes jovially and continued to throw on his suit.

He buttoned up his crisp, white shirt and picked out two ties, one solid red and one blue and black striped, holding them out to show me with one in each hand. “Which one?”

“This one,” I told him, crawling to the foot of the bed and grabbing the red one from him. I threw it around his neck and pulled his body toward the bed so I could tie his tie for him. I crossed the wide end of the narrow part and began the knot.

“How do you know how to do this?” he asked, placing his hands on my hips as I pulled the wide end through the neck hole and then fed it through the loop.

I glanced up at him and he instantly knew, so I didn’t have to tell him how I did every one of James’s ties. My brother couldn’t be bothered to tie his damn shoes, so he never bothered learning how to do a tie. The two of us joked constantly that I would have to do a bunch of his ties before he left for Dartmouth, and he would have to pack them that way. I chuckled to myself at the memory but couldn’t stop the tear either.

“Don’t be sad,” he said quietly as he wiped it away.

“I’m not. I mean, I am, but not completely. I always liked doing this for him. This might sound really creepy, but when I did it for James, I always thought of it as practice.” He looked at me with his eyebrows raised imploringly, prompting me to continue. I told him, “So I could do it for my man. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that none of those sweaty, smelly hockey boys on James’s team could do this, so I figured most boys didn’t know how. So I learned, watching the way my dad did his, and I practiced on James and even for some of the boys on the team. I think tying ties for a man like this is, well....”

“Sexy,” he breathed, nuzzling into my neck.

I blushed as I pushed him back so I could tighten and adjust the red strip of fabric. “Yeah. But I guess you wear suits so often that you’re a pro at this.”

“I could conveniently forget how and make you do it from now on.”

“Maybe,” I teased him with a smile, letting go of him and putting my sweatpants back on. I hopped into the other room and found my shoe as Kris grabbed his suit jacket and his previously packed bag for his trip. We headed out for the arena, and I met up with the girls in the lounge as Kris headed into the dressing room to get ready for the game.

I caught up with Kelsey and Heather. They were so excited to see me, peppering me with questions about if Kris and I were back together, compliments about my hair, the good news that Bourque had been so picked up on waivers by the Caps and therefore Jessica was no longer around, and demands to sign and draw on my cast. I didn’t know if Kris had specifically told them about how I needed to be distracted, but their random and lighthearted conversation made it easier to stay present in the moment instead of dwell on my feelings of grief.

We headed out to the family and friends section, and I took the end seat to accommodate my crutches and cast. Feeling uneasy as we watched warm-ups, I turned as best as I could to face them and ignore the skating players. Kelsey got the attention of the wandering beer vendor. Since I was underage, I didn’t expect this to even be an issue, but suddenly Kelsey was handing me a beer. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “They don’t card us in this section. You’re fine.”

My mouth was hanging open, not sure of what to say. It was a nice gesture and I didn’t want to be impolite, but I wasn’t a drinker anymore.

Before I could think of what to say to politely decline, the Flyers skated out onto the ice and the crowd began to boo and jeer them loudly. I should’ve been smart enough to put two and two together, to have realized that when Kris said they were playing Philadelphia that it was going to be a bad game. These teams were interstate rivals, meaning this was going to be a hard, fast, physical game, and it would be impossible for me to watch without cringing and crying. So I took a quick sip of the beer, followed by three huge gulps as I prepared myself for what was to come.

By the time the game had started, the tension in the arena was palpable. It was only the second time these teams were meeting for the season, and the Flyers were obviously pissed about how the first game had transpired. Within the first six minutes of the opening period, there were three fights. I had finished off my beer and could no longer fool myself into thinking I could watch this Ultimate Fighting Championship disguised as a hockey game. I excused myself and fumbled on my crutches as I left my seat and headed for somewhere else, anywhere else, to avoid what was happening at ice level.

6 comments:

  1. Eeek! I really, really hope that these two things don't happen: 1) she drinks too much out of nervousness from the game or 2) Kris gets hurt.

    That would put a major bummer on how awesome this chapter was. Especially since I feel the same way as Jo!


    And this part: "“So I could do it for my man. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that none of those sweaty, smelly hockey boys on James’s team could do this, so I figured most boys didn’t know how. So I learned, watching the way my dad did his, and I practiced on James and even for some of the boys on the team. I think tying ties for a man like this is, well....”

    “Sexy,” he breathed, nuzzling into my neck.


    I died. I'm still dying over how cute that part was!!!!!

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  2. I'm so glad that Jo decided to get out of the house and go to the game! Although I fear that something really bad is getting ready to happen. I hope that Jo doesn't drink herself into a stupor and I hope that Kris is okay battling those Flyers. =/

    Loved the update, Jay! Kris and Jo keep getting more and more adorable and I agree with Tillie about the part with Kris' tie. I adore them!

    AND AND AND! When Kris asked Jo to stay at his apartment! Ahhh, I died! They're taking steps! Big steps! Into the future of their relationsip! I hope she accepts his offer =D

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  3. Kris asking Jo [I just wrote Jay, and I was like, that aint right haha], to stay at his apartment <3 cuute!!
    I also love that she seems to have two good friends in the gf's clique!!

    I can see Jo dipping back into the alcohol because of the day, and well the game that's going on!!

    Great update!!

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  4. Okay, I'm not usually a quoter but wow there were some jems in this one.

    "After all, what is a “boyfriend” other than a love interest or an object of my affection and infatuation? Kris transcended all that. He was my boyfriend, yes; however, he was also my lover, my friend, my confidante, my counselor, my hero, my spiritual guide, my caregiver, my safety net, my inspiration, my path of righteousness. He was, to me, everything that one person could possibly be to another."

    MELLLLLLTING. My path of righteousness! Like holy hell woman, this is gold.

    "Of course I’ll wear it again. This Letang is a pretty good player, I hear.”
    “Yeah?” he asked, stepping into a pair of dress pants but watching me all the while with his patented lopsided smirk.
    “Mmhmm. He’s the goalie, right?”
    Kris laughed loudly, which wasn’t something he did very often. “No, I don’t think so.”
    “Oh, right, I forgot. He’s on the top line. World-class center, that Letang is.”
    He shook his head, his grin widening. “Wrong again.”
    “Aw shucks. Guess I never heard of him then,”

    Yes I DID quote that entire conversation because damn it, it was necessary. Oh man, that was so good and I could literally picture the cuteness of them bantering, ughhh.

    "I think tying ties for a man like this is, well....”
    “Sexy,” he breathed, nuzzling into my neck.
    I blushed as I pushed him back so I could tighten and adjust the red strip of fabric. “Yeah. But I guess you wear suits so often that you’re a pro at this.”
    “I could conveniently forget how and make you do it from now on.”

    Did I just quote another entire convo? yes I did. These conversations make my toes curl. Kris is just incredibly sexy in this whole damn update.

    I realllly hope that she can get some control of herself at the game. I feel like it was kind of selfish for him to ask her to go even though he did so with good intentions. I just hope everything works out.

    This update was incredible. Excited to read more!

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  5. Wow, the whole tying of the tie about did me in...that was so sweet. Also, I am glad Jo left the arena, she just needs to hide away for the rest of the game and not drink...

    Fabulous writing, as always!

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  6. As I go...

    Ok, I totally get Jo not wanting to go to the game, but the fact is... it'd be happening anyway.
    If I was her - as much as I wouldn't want Kris playing hockey that day - I'd go anyway just so I could BE there in case something did happen.

    I loved her description of Kris's apartment... her sanctuary and safe haven. I love that she feels so safe there... in fact, she should move in. Just sayin... >.>

    "He was my boyfriend, yes; however, he was also my lover, my friend, my confidante, my counselor, my hero, my spiritual guide, my caregiver, my safety net, my inspiration, my path of righteousness. He was, to me, everything that one person could possibly be to another."
    ^^ Ughhhh!! That was so perfect. I know what it's like to have someone like that and you just captured it incredibly... so fantastic... ignore me while I swoon, or die from heartbreak... I'm not sure yet lol.
    Just know that it was amazing.

    "Or if he’d be there but ignore me as he drank, just like old times, with his mind fully intent on numbing the loss of a son as his daughter struggled in the other room with her own pain."
    ^^ That was just pure heart wrenchingly real. I know that Jo's dad is an ass, but something I forget how hard it must have been for her... going through James' death, without anyone else in her family.
    Even if her father was there, he was as good as gone anyway... another reason I'm glad she has Tubby? =) (And now Kris too of course!)

    I LOVED the whole 'who's Kris Letang' conversation... so cute!
    And the 'sexy tie' thought/conversation as well... so real and so awesome.

    Ugh! Of course it'd be Philly... stupid Philly >.<
    I'm sad that she felt the need to take off, but at the same time, who can blame her? Philly's dirty against all teams, obviously more so against the Pens but... ugh, they just ruin everything!

    Incredible update... I'd write more but I need to read the next one!! YAY!!

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