Monday, March 22, 2010

60.) Another Side

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. You really did help! I'm a bit tired, and it's not that great, but I just wanted to get it posted anyway. You all made me feel so motivated, so I want to get to the good stuff brewing in my brain.



The car ride was quiet. It wasn’t a bad quiet, necessarily; it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. But I didn’t like it. And it’s not like we hadn’t talked after our nap, because we had; we talked only about trivial things that didn’t matter. Like when Kris had finally checked his messages and saw that Max was inviting some of the guys over—and that if we weren’t too busy then we were encouraged to attend as well.

Kris said he didn’t care, either way, so I said that we should go. Mostly for the distraction. There was so much going on that I needed to think about it, and I knew I couldn’t do that with him around, just me and him in this small apartment.

I looked out the window at the passing surroundings at Kris drove us to Max’s house on the Southside. It seemed silly for Max to have his teammates over, seeing as though he was just on a road trip with them for several days, but I was thankful for the reason to go out and maybe not think about everything that happened.

He carried in a duffel bag with him to the house, which he had stuffed that fireman’s outfit into to return to Max. As soon as we were inside, he excused himself to go put it away or hide it in some closet. Kris’s ears were pink just talking about it, and I suppressed the snicker that threatened to erupt. Just the slightest insinuation of what transpired this morning, before he popped that monster question, was enough to get my mind off said question and lighten the mood.

As Kris took the stairs two at a time, I made my way into the house. I nodded at the people I recognized as I found the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water for Kris, because I knew that’s what he’d like, and then picked out a can of Mountain Dew for myself.

“Jo!” I heard my name being called, so I turned around and found Max strolling in. “I didn’t expect you guys to come. I figured you’d either be too busy or too tired,” he laughed.

“We decided to take a break,” I giggled, rolling my eyes.

“So where is Lover Boy?”

It was my turn to blush. “Around. So, um, I guess I should be thanking you?”

He chuckled, holding his hands out at his sides. “What can I say? I’m a genius.”

“Yeah, well, Mr. Genius, do me a favor and stay out of mine and Kris’s sex life from now on, ’kay?”

“Why? You were just thanking me a second ago.” He shook his head and went off on a tangent. “I was wondering if he’d have the balls to actually go through it.”

I punched his arm. “Well, he did. Some of those lines you gave him were downright horrible though. So, I’m trying to tell you that I guess I appreciate the, uh, gesture? But seriously, he doesn’t need your advice.”

“Come on. You liked it, non?” I nodded in response. “If a fireman’s not your thing, I have some other... outfits... I can lend him. Tell me what you like. I’ve got a slew of things. How do you feel about cowboys? Wanna get hogtied?”

I laughed, wondering why the hell I was having this discussion with his teammate. “Um, no thanks.”

“What about a doctor? He can examine you from head to toe, if ya know what I mean.”

“Ew, Max, that’s kind of gross,” I told him, thinking of all the doctor’s appointments I’ve ever had and how that did not seem sexy in the least. “And how the hell did you even get him to agree? That was so out of character for him.”

Max shrugged, a smile playing on his lips. “What can I say? Lover boy’s willing to do anything to make you happy, even if it means stepping out of his comfort zone.”

Nodding, I tried to accept that simple answer. But I couldn’t. Max’s broad observation brought to mind everything that happened this morning—the sexual escapade and then the question, too. That was exactly what Kris had said too, that it was all about making me happy. That’s what troubled me so much. Yeah, I know that he had my best interests at heart, but in trying to fulfill that for me, what was he sacrificing for himself?

This morning, it was his dignity. I know he felt like a fool in that garb, and he had been so relieved when I told him he didn’t have to continue. He was awkward, but it was endearing and heart-warming that he had put his pride and self-respect on the shelf for a few minutes because he thought I’d like it.

So was it the same this time around, when he asked me to move in? He knew it would make me happier than going home, but would it make him happy? Because that’s all I concerned about. And if Kris was willing to put my happiness over his own, then I was left with the task of ensuring his. And I wasn’t sure that moving in would really make him all that happy. It would, because that’s what he said he wanted, but did he really?

Kris was a stand-up guy. He stuck up for his teammates when they were in trouble. And he had his head screwed on straight, when it came to everything. His ambitions, his goals, the way he trained and took care of himself so he was in peak physical condition for the season, his temperament. He always kept his eye trained on the ultimate goal, always looking toward the future. So maybe this was just his conscience talking.

Wasn’t that why he took our relationship slowly at first? Because he was thinking of the long-term, so he didn’t want to rush and ruin things. He wanted to do right by me, he said. But now that he was sure of how he felt, or at least that he said he was so sure about his feelings, he was ready to dive in head first. Now I had to figure out the same.

If it were strictly up to me, I would have said yes because it was what I wanted—and like Kris said, I always do what I want when I want, because life’s too short to do otherwise. It was what I wanted even if I wasn’t as positive in how I felt about him, but once again, I wasn’t sure if it would be any good for Kris. I’d be intruding on his space, demanding his time and attention, and there would be no escaping me. How would we share the bathroom? What if I was too messy for him? And what if it didn’t work out and we broke up in a month? Kris wouldn’t be the type of guy to kick me out with nowhere to go, but... where would I have to go? I’d be in this exact same position.

That’s why I wanted him to do things for himself, and not for me. Doing things for himself would be doing things for me, because seeing him being happy and selfish sometimes would make me happy. Maybe it seemed like foolish logic, but Kris was always thinking about others before himself. Maybe that’s why I put him first, is because he put himself last.

I thought about Kris all the time: often, his thoughts, opinions, and desires were the first things on my mind when it came time for me to make a decision. Because all I really want to do is make the boy happy, in whatever possible ways I can. I put his wants and needs before my own. But did that mean I loved him? Well, of course I loved him, but was I in love with him? And if I were in love with him, wouldn’t I just know? If it took me this long to try and figure it out, wasn’t that a dead give-away that, maybe, possibly, I didn’t? Was there a line where “caring a lot about him” became “loving him”? Or was I just scared to admit it, because my relationships with all the people I ever cared about—loved—never seemed to work out the way I wanted them to?

Love is why people move in together. Boyfriends and girlfriends don’t take this step unless they’re in love and willing to take that big step toward the ultimate commitment. I liked Kris so, so much, but I hadn’t even thought about it. Even if Kris hadn’t just said what he had said because he knew I wanted to hear it, it wasn’t fair of me to demand that he tell me how he felt, when I wasn’t quite sure myself. It was too soon to think about love. Wasn’t it? After all, I was crazy about him, and he knew that. That much was blatantly obvious.

Max spoke again, which disturbed my wild, rambling thoughts. “Why? You’re not complaining, are you?”

“Huh?” I asked, so caught up in my head that I had forgotten what we were talking about. I looked back up at Max as Alex and Tyler walked into the kitchen for more beer.

“It sounds like you’re complaining about it, when all he wanted to do was make sure you were happy. Tanger didn’t like that you were mad after his fight.”

I shrugged. “I’m not complaining. And I couldn’t stay mad at him if I wanted to.” I watched through the open room as Kris descended the stairs and was stopped by Heather and Jordan to chat. He looked over at me and smiled, and I smiled back. “How could anyone stay mad at that?” I giggled, Max following my line of sight.

Alex laughed. “Sure, it’s easy to say that now. But you should have seen him years ago.” Tyler nodded.

“Why? What do you know about him that I don’t know?”

“Well, he used to be so hopeless and useless.” I tilted my head and looked at him, searching his face for answers. “Back in Wilkes-Barre, he couldn’t do a damn thing unless he asked permission first. He was like my little brother, tagging along for everything. No car, not even a license,” he chuckled.

Tyler added, “Oh yeah. He was such a momma’s boy. He was completely unprepared for being on his own, after juniors.”

“I don’t think I believe that,” I laughed, shaking my head. Surely these boys were just making stuff up about Kris. He seemed so self-assured. Confident. Determined. I mean, just look at the way he approached me at the beginning of the season, so sure of himself that it was annoying and I couldn’t stand him at first. And he’s got his philosophy on life hammered out in stone, which he lives by unwaveringly.

Of course, then I thought about how he stumbled through those fireman lines. The way he couldn’t look at me at the hospital. Taking him to the zoo on a whim. Surprising him by going out to Raccoon to look at the stars on my birthday. When he was outside of his comfort level, he was shy and quiet and timid. Not that there was anything wrong with that.

Jordan called over to our little group. “Talbot! Kennedy! We’re doing shots! Bring Jo!”

“Whadya say? Never Have I Ever?” Max asked, slinging an arm around my shoulders.

“Ugh, no,” I groaned, remembering the last time I played that game with them. I removed his arm. “Never am I ever playing that game with you cheats again.”

“Aww, come on. We had fun last time, didn’t we?”

I shook my head. It’s not that I didn’t have fun with them, but I wasn’t going to drink. Part of me wanted to, to help ease my mind of the situation I found myself in currently, but that was part of the issue. That’s why I had been a drinker in the past, to help numb the anxiety associated with the stress of living—which was what I was trying to avoid. It was a lot harder to not rely on a drug, but it was a bad coping mechanism. It just covered up my feelings temporarily, so then when I had to feel, I didn’t know how to do it.

Which was exactly my problem now. I was so stressed out, and because of that I was freaking out on Kris and trying to avoid him because of the way he made me feel.

“Your loss,” they laughed, leaving me and Alex behind.

“Was he really that bad?” I asked him, now curious to learn about this side of Kris, which had previously been kept from me. The Kris I knew was so well put together that I couldn’t imagine him otherwise, especially if he were particularly needy and clingy and dependent on the guys.

“Well, he’s been up in Pittsburgh for a couple years now. And he’s comfortable here,” Alex added. “He’s really coming into his own as a player. He makes the rest of us look like trade bait.”

That took me off guard. “Wait, what? Alex, you don’t think....”

“Trade deadline’s months away, I keep telling myself. But if Tanger keeps playing as well as he is, and I don’t pick it up, well, I can kiss my spot on the roster goodbye.”

I sighed, not sure what to say. This wasn’t like the high school varsity team, where anyone who wanted to sign up was guaranteed to be on the team regardless of skill level. “You don’t know that.”

“Yeah, I do,” he snorted bitterly. “He’s a great two-way defenseman. They’re starting to play him with Orps, he’s a shut-down man. My forte is strictly offensive ability, which I’m sorely lacking in right now. Haven’t scored since the beginning of November.”

“You just hit a minor bump in the road. You can turn it around yet. Try growing your mustache back,” I laughed. “It seemed to have done wonders for you!”

He rolled his eyes but laughed. “No way in hell am I ever losing Mustache Boy again.”

“I think I have it figured out. See, you lost the shoot out game, and you had to wear your loss on your face for the whole month. And so you had something to prove all month, that yeah, you can score goals. But as soon as you shaved it off, you didn’t have that sense of motivation anymore.”

Alex chuckled again. “Maybe.”

Kris walked in. “There you are,” he said to me, sidling up to me and kissing my cheek. I handed him the bottle of water I’d gotten for him. “Thanks.”

Alex gave Kris a head nod in greeting and then slipped out of the kitchen, leaving us two alone again. This was what I had wanted to avoid by coming here. “You’re welcome.”

“You okay?” he asked softly, wrapping his arm around my waist.

“You know it,” I sighed, taking a sip from the can in my hand.

“Because you’ve been kind of quiet.”

“Just thinking, that’s all.”

“If this is still about—”

“Don’t, Kris, I’ve got to figure it out on my own. This isn’t just spending the night anymore.” He brushed the hair off my forehead, looking like he had some things to say, but he kept his mouth closed. “And just like I wanted to make sure that you were asking for all the right reasons, I want to make sure I’m accepting for all the right reasons. You get that, right?” He nodded. “Good. Because this is such a big decision, you know?” He nodded again, staying silent as I thought out loud. “And the last thing I want to do is screw this up, when I’ve got something so good going with you. I don’t think it’s a decision I can make in a day, but, like, that doesn’t mean I want to be away from you, either. I don’t want to tell you no. I don’t have a reason to turn you down.”

Kris opened his mouth to speak, but he promptly clamped it shut and kept quiet.

“But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to say yes. I don’t want to lead you on.”

“It’s not leading me on as long as you fill me in whenever you figure it out. You know, saying yes or no doesn’t mean you can’t spend the night every now and again.”

“Wouldn’t you be mad, though?”

“No,” he chuckled, giving me a hug. I shook as the motion of his body transferred to me. “I get it. This is permanent, a big deal. I don’t want you to take this lightly, and I want you to do it for the right reasons, too.”

“Good.” I squeezed him back. “But I mean, what do we do until I decide?”

“Whatever you want. You know where I’ll be sleeping tonight. And you can join me or not. But seeing as though I’ve missed you so much, I hope that you keep that in mind when you decide where to go tonight.”

“Really?”

“Mmm hmm. I’ve got five lonely nights to make up for.”

“Christ, how can I turn that down?” I laughed, thankfully that I had bought myself some time.

11 comments:

  1. Your last two chapters are so amazing and so true! I had the same discussion and the same reasons about moving or not moving in with my boyfriend! I would have needed Jo's point of view a few month ago so I could just give it to him to read. Haha. Really. I love it! Your writing skills are great! And what you write is so close to reality!

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  2. First time commenting, but long-time lurker. I love how quickly you update and the quality of your writing. It's very refreshing to read your stories. I love the conflict between Jo and Kris and how realistic it is, though sometimes I feel like Jo tends to overreact, leaving poor Kris confused and bewildered. =) That being said, I do hope Jo accepts his offer and moves in already!

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  3. "it's not that great..." Jay! Who are you kidding? It's a brilliant chapter and I loved how you conveyed her feelings on the subject. Roll on #61. (please check out my new story, http://springbreakmexico-india.blogspot.com/2010/03/morning-after.html )

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  4. Christ, how can you NOT like Kris? And poor Jo! I have a good feeling that she'll figure everything out soon. I think she's over thinking it too much. It's sweet that she's more concerned with his feelings than her own but to me that says "love." That's just me though.

    Great chapter!!!! Don't be so hard on yourself, all of your chapters are great!

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  5. Your 'not great' is better than most people's 'fantastic' so... I think we'll be fine lol.

    "Kris’s ears were pink just talking about it, and I suppressed the snicker that threatened to erupt. Just the slightest insinuation of transpired this morning, before he popped that monster question, was enough to get my mind off said question and lighten the mood."
    ^^ I'm sorry but I still don't know how the girl is keeping a straight face. I mean, I understand the gravity of the whole 'move in' thing, but even now as I think about Kris 'the fireman' Letang... I'm laughing... a lot.

    “What can I say? I’m a genius.”
    ^^ Oh that Talbot, always the modest one...
    And seriously... everything he says in that conversation kinda grosses me out, but peeks my interest at the same time. Creepy and awesome, the only way Max Talbot knows how to roll lol.

    "This morning, it was his dignity. I know he felt like a fool in that garb, and he had been so relieved when I told him he didn’t have to continue. He was awkward, but it was endearing and heart-warming that he had put his pride and self-respect on the shelf for a few minutes because he thought I’d like it."
    ^^
    I see how that can make Jo uncomfortable too, wondering what Kris is and isn't doing for himself, but at the same time... he's said it over and over again... making her happy makes him happy.
    I know it'd be hard to believe, to have a guy that fantastic telling you those things but... it's not much different than what Jo would do for him if it meant him being happy.

    "So was it the same this time around, when he asked me to move in? He knew it would make me happier than going home, but would it make him happy?"
    ^^ YES! I just wanna grab her and shake her until she accepts that this is what she needs to do.
    Kris wants to be with her so badly, and she wants to be with him... it just feels like there's something else here.
    Like she just can't actually go 'that' forward with her life. Like moving out of the house she shared James, would just be too much to deal with.
    But she needs to be happy, and she needs to realize that she does deserve good things in life... /rant lol

    “Oh yeah. He was such a momma’s boy. He was completely unprepared for being on his own, after juniors.”
    ^^ Kris Letang, a momma's boy?! No!
    Ok... yah... I can see that. I can REALLY see that.
    I sorta love that he was like that... it just bumps his 'endearing' meter up to overload. Oh Kris... no matter which direction you go, you get better all the time.

    I seriously can't wait for the next one!
    And I kind of agree with Sarah. Your writing has always been amazing, but these last few updates have been outstanding... I feel so lucky that you continue to share them with us on a regular basis =)!!

    More!!!!!!! =P

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  6. Nothing else to say other than fabulous and Zigh's very last sentence in her comment is the same for me "More!!!!!!! =P"

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  7. You're so silly when you say things like "not that great"! This packs all of the amazing punch that every single one of your chapters has, my dear!

    Poor Jo, her mind is running a million miles a minute! She just needs to take a deep breath and think about what Kris said before, he wouldn't have asked her to move in with him if he really didn't want her there. I wish Jo could see that she's so quickly falling in love with Kris! And I really really hope she takes the plunge and moves in with him.

    Also, Kris as a momma's boy. Life = complete ;P

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  8. Kris is perfect. She needs to start trusting him more. How can she not love him? After all that they have been through and how much he's helped her... I don't get it lol

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  9. You're such a great writer, Jay. You take nothing for granted and you always push yourself further. Those qualities put you "dans une classe à part" (on top)!

    And you should know you could be a great psychologist. The way you explored Jo's mind, her thoughts, her fears, it is so likely, precise and profound. This character is quite something. An you're the one who create her, from head to toe, with her sadness and her freedom.

    Remarkable!

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  10. Haha, I don't know what I can offer that hasn't already been said either by me on a previous post or by anyone else above. There is one comment I would like to highlight though...

    Morrrrrrrre.

    :D

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  11. Fucking Max "want to get hogtied" : | SURE!!

    I kinda don't want her to move in? : S
    I don't know why, but I'm just thinking it wont end very well!!

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