Friday, September 10, 2010

128.) The Consequences of Winning

Everything was so nuts. Once the Sharks won, everyone went crazy. And I don’t just mean the players—even though that was without a doubt true. The guys were all running around, absolutely nuts. I couldn’t describe everything that was going on if my life had depended on it.

We lingered on the ice, and Kris got a hold of the Cup again so a picture could be taken of it. There was a shot of him and his mom, all three of us, and then just me and Kris. We had a couple of pictures taken together, one of us both holding the Cup together. It was held up in front of me, but Kris’s arms were around me and helping me with its weight. By this time, I had my own hat, so we matched in our teal jerseys and Stanley Cup Champion memorabilia.

I got a little sad when I got to touch the Cup. I was so incredibly proud of my boyfriend and happy for him, but despite that, I couldn’t help but think about how I had imagined doing this very same thing for my brother. Ever since we were kids, James had talked about how he was going to win the Cup, and I had always pictured this very same scene with me, Mom, and Dad coming down to the ice to celebrate with James. And now he was gone and my parents were less than attentive. How very strange that I got the opportunity to be down on the ice celebrating with a very special person in my life, despite the fact that this was very different from how I had originally seen it happening.

We never had a second of alone time, because this was very much a group thing. Marlene left us at some point, but honestly I never noticed. We all stayed on the ice for a while, until staff people tried to usher us or encourage us to go into the dressing room. They still had hours of work ahead of them to clean, so they wanted to get started on that. As long as we were on the ice, fans were lingering in the stands. I commiserated with them because I knew what it was like to clean up after games—and this wasn’t just any game.

The locker room was beyond crazy, just like Kris had warned me. Guys were getting changed out of their uniforms, not caring that media and family and random people were walking around. People were drinking out of the Cup in various stages of undress, Kris included—which was so weird to see, but it was the ultimate victory. He was letting loose, which I liked seeing. The fact that he could drink at all, even under these absolute best of circumstances, was promising. Kris seemed like he always had such clear definitions of right and wrong, but those lines were blurring. He was human, after all.

It took a long time for everyone to change, since they were distracted by celebrating and drinking and hugging and congratulating and being congratulated. Eventually, it was time to move the party elsewhere. The whole team went out, the Cup as the guest of honor. We headed to some club in downtown San José because everyone wanted to party and celebrate. I knew they all had to be exhausted, but you’d never be able to tell by how excited they were. It was a total second wind for them. I wondered if their adrenaline would ever run out.

Personally, this was all a little weird to me, like a flashback. I hadn’t stayed up to party like this for months. I drank some champagne with the guys, too, to partake in the toasts and mirth. But I made sure not to go overboard, since I hadn’t had much to drink in a long time and I had barely eaten that day.

Kris was pretty hilarious. Since he wasn’t a drinker, it didn’t take much for him to get tipsy. Even though he was a bit under the influence, he was still essentially himself. He was a bit more openly friendly for a guy who wasn’t into P.D.A.; he was handsy but not grabby or disrespectful. His arm was around my waist, but his hand had slipped under my shirt to touch my bare side, like he needed the tactile sensation. Also, his face was always inches from mine, which would make since the music was loud, but he was shouting the whole time and I had no trouble hearing him.

We danced on a densely packed floor, gyrating in time with the beat and in sync with the group around us. We were all so hot and sweaty from the combination of fast-paced movement and alcohol, but that didn’t stop Kris and me from touching each other. His hands were placed on the spot where my hips met my ass, and I was holding onto his shoulders as I moved against him. Kris leaned in close to me, and his playoff beard scratched me.

“When do you get to shave this, babe?” I asked him, rubbing my fingers against his bristly facial hair.

“Tomorrow,” he replied loudly over the thumping music. Then he looked at his watch and chuckled. “I mean, later. Right now, it’s still a badge of honor.”

“Do I get to help?”

He spoke in my ear with a throaty rasp, clearly remembering the last time I’d helped shave his face. “I’d like that, actually. A lot.”

There was so much to look forward to, and I wasn’t just talking about a beardless boyfriend. I liked the beard, don’t get me wrong; I was a hockey fan, so playoff beards were a total turn on. I hoped Kris would have the opportunity to grow one every season. But my lips and face were chapped and raw from the thick, long, and coarse growth. Besides a freshly, closely shaven face, we had parties and celebrations to attend, as well as a vacation to enjoy. If Kris and the Sharks had not have won, then there would have been an oppressive damper on our trip to Hawaii. Not to mention the entire summer.

But now, we didn’t have to give that possibility another thought. It had hung over our heads before he had won, since we knew that it could have happened that way. If they had lost, we still would have gone to our tropical paradise resort for some well-needed and deserved respite and relaxation, but it would have been more therapeutic and distracting than delightful and recharging.

After that, we’d have a crazy busy summer that would also be incredibly stressful. Kris wanted to visit some more with his family in Montreal, during which time I’d see about getting him to see his dad again. Regardless of whether he wanted to or not, I thought it would be best for him. After all, Kris had made me face my painful past and thereby helped me get over it and move on—which was exactly what he needed to do now. I would help him through that and encourage him to face his greatest demon.

We’d be moving back to Pittsburgh after that, since I had summer courses to take, which were going to be hard enough under normal circumstances but even more so now since they would be condensed into six weeks instead of the normal fifteen. Plus, I had to worry about filling out the transfer paperwork to UC Santa Cruz and my choice of one of the local community colleges. Now that Kris’s season was over—albeit still unofficially, since there was the parade, the exiting physical, and stall clean-out to worry about—we had to talk about all that and get moving on it pronto while we still had time to make the decisions.

And if that wasn’t all enough to worry about (which I thought was already plenty), Kris had to worry about whether San José would resign him or not. With the playoffs going on during the quest for the Cup, all negotiations had been put on hold for all players. Kris was just one of many who needed a new contract. Even though he wasn’t an unrestricted free agent like Patrick Marleau or Evgeni Nabokov, he was going to get an offer from some another team if the Sharks didn’t extend his contract before the July first deadline.

Kris had to go apartment hunting then. We’d have to back up our things in Pittsburgh and move it all out to California—because I was going to assume that the Sharks would extend his contract. He fit in too well with them, and this place brought out the best in him. I’d be saying goodbye to everything I knew out east and starting over fresh with Kris. Well, I guess not completely fresh, since we knew people out here. But being there with Kris at the beginning of a season, in an apartment instead of a hotel room, and doing it all for the entirety of the year without all the drama we had to go through like this past season seemed so big and permanent and absolutely wonderful. We’d finally get the chance to do it right—and normal.

None of that future stress mattered as I grinded my crotch against his thick, hard thigh and licked my lips with a dry tongue. It wasn’t like we were simulating sex on the dance floor, but it wasn’t fully innocent either. The high of the win, the almost mating ritual of dancing, the buzz from the expensive, sweet champagne... it was all an aphrodisiac. Although we’d never said so to each other, I knew we were both looking forward to the summer because we could fuck whenever and however we wanted.

We stopped dancing only to grab something to drink and to cheer when any of the Sharks lifted the shiny, silver reward above his head before we were back out on the floor again. I had lost track of time, but we had to have been dancing and partying for hours. Pretty soon, the married couples with kids at home broke off and headed home.

I was tipsy, tired, hungry, and feeling a little weak from the emotional roller coaster of the day, but I stuck it out. This was Kris’s victory, and I would never ever claim to have had a part in it even though I would call myself a supportive girlfriend. I watched what he had gone through, day in and day out, game after game, but just because I had observed it didn’t mean that I had skated for twenty-plus minutes per game or worked out every day or regimented by schedule to optimize my physical performance. We were going to celebrate however he saw fit, which involved hanging out with his teammates and fellow victors until well past sunrise.

When we finally made it back to the hotel room, we were thoroughly drained, hoarse, and slightly drunk. We stumbled into the hotel lobby at eight in the morning, the sun well above the horizon to light our way to our room. People in the lobby looked as us as we bumbled to the elevator banks, hanging off each other and laughing and smiling, but they accepted it and let us go without asking us to quiet down or anything. They knew who he was and why he was so exuberantly bubbling over.

We fell into our room and literally collapsed onto the bed, tangled together. We had been inseparable all night; it was a struggle to break apart long enough to go to the bathroom. Kris immediately rolled on top of me and kissed my neck. “Joey,” he said, still more loudly than he needed to. His words were drawn out and slow. “Guess what?”

“What is it, babe?” I asked back, fairly certain that my own speech was a little impaired. I ran my hands up his arms and underneath his sleeves. God, those biceps got me every time.

He smiled widely. “We won.”

“I know,” I purred, rubbing my thumbs against his warm skin. “You did it.”

“Yeah.” He cupped my breasts over my shirt, closing his eyes and parting his lips. “This summer’s gon’ be so great. So, so great. Just... great.”

I giggled; I couldn’t help myself. I wasn’t sure if Kris was especially funny, or if I was at the stage of intoxication where everything was funny no matter what. Then I repeated myself. “I know.” I pushed on his chest and guided him onto his back so I could straddle him. Our temperatures were raised, and his body heat radiated between my legs. “Lemme help you wif fis,” I slurred, grabbing the hem of my shirt and struggling to pull it over my head.

Immediately, I expected his hands to resume their rightful place on my chest, but they didn’t. Nor were they on my hips or thighs or waist or anywhere on my body where they should have been. No, they were at his sides. Kris had fallen asleep. Between the physical exertion, stress, relief, partying and alcohol, I couldn’t really blame him. In fact, once I saw him sleeping, I didn’t even feel horny anymore—I just felt jealous. Sliding off him, I curled up against his side and quickly fell into dreamland with him.

A reverberating beep woke us up a few hours later. He groaned and moved, which disturbed me as I tried to drown out the mechanical sound, which called out every few minutes. Kris sat up and groaned again.

“How’s your head?” I squeaked out, barely able to talk since my throat was so sore.

“Hurts.”

“Drink too much champagne?” I laughed. “Party too hard?”

“But it was a celebration,” he murmured, explaining his behavior like he needed to or I was asking him to. “That’s the only reason—”

“I’m not—”

“It’s expected. It’s synonymous with winning, you drink out of it, you have to, it’s a right that you don’t get everyday—”

“Kris, I’m not reprimanding you,” I replied softly, cutting him off once and for all. “I don’t have any issues with it. I’m glad to see you do it, to see you win and realize that moderation is okay.”

I waited for a response but didn’t get one. Kris found his phone and checked his messages. “We’ve got some public appearances today. Giants game this afternoon.”

“Giants?” I asked, confused.

“Yeah, they’re a minor league baseball team here in San José. We’re supposed to bring the Cup to the game. And then Rob and Brandy are throwing a huge pool party cook-out thing at their place right after.”

“What time’s the game?” I asked, crawling up the bed to get under the covers. Last night, we had fallen asleep over the comforter.

He groaned once again. “In an hour.”

“What? What time is it?”

“Only noon.”

“We haven’t even slept that long! That barely qualified as a nap!”

“Well, I have to shave, shower, and meet up with the guys so I can get a clean jersey and everything.” He pulled a face like he didn’t like the idea that just came to him. “You don’t have to go to the game if you don’t want to. You can stay and sleep, and meet up with us at the Blakes’ later.”

“No, no, I want to go,” I sighed, forcing my head off the soft, comfortable pillow. “We’re still celebrating. I just figured... we’d have more time for sleep. Rest.” Sex, I thought to myself, but I didn’t say it.

Kris seemed to read my mind. “Yeah, I know. You think that once the season ends, your time is your own again. But the team still has obligations to present the Cup to the town. The parade’s tomorrow. I mean, we won the Cup for San José, we have to share it with them. For the fans who supported us. The Sharks have never won before.” He flashed me a grin. “It sucks, kind of, but this is still a great position to be in. We’re winners.”

“I know,” I replied. It must have sounded like I didn’t care about the win or the Cup, but I really just missed the peaceful, quiet, intimate moments between me and my boyfriend. “It’s great, and I’m really, really happy. I’m just tired.” I sighed again. “And we don’t have a lot of time to get ready.”

It took a lot of hurrying, but we both showered and got dressed with enough time to grab something quick to eat before we headed to the Municipal Stadium for the game. Kris joined the team down on the field to be honored by the city while I hung around with the WAGs. We were a sad group of women, tired and emotionally drained. Even the wise wives who had told me to keep my feelings in check were obviously exhausted from celebrating. We hung out in the shade and watched our boys’ antics.

Pickles and Jamie drove Kris and me over to the Blakes’ after the baseball game. I fell asleep during the ride because I was so tired. It amazed me how the guys seemed so full of energy—all of them, even the old veterans on the team. When we stepped out on the deck, everyone was exuberant and spirited. I guess it’s because they were the ones who were living their dream; no hockey player could go through what they all went through and not be excited enough to overcome a little lack of sleep.

I couldn’t go over to that house without going to see Samantha. I hadn’t seen her in a while since I didn’t have down time during the Finals—when the team had traveled to Montreal, so had I. Plus, I think she had been mad at me when I had returned to Pittsburgh. Not that I could help having to go back to finish my semester, but she was a bundle of pregnancy-induced hormones so I didn’t think she understood the rationality of what I had to do. Either that, or she was just a bratty, spoiled teenager. Or both.

She was in her room, lying on her back with her feet propped up on the wall. She was still dressed in baggy sweats, but I could tell how much bigger she had gotten. Before, you couldn’t tell under her draping shirts since she had just a little baby bump. But now, Sam looked like she has swallowed a whole frickin’ watermelon.

“Hey,” I greeted, knocking on her slightly ajar door. “How’s it going, Samantha?”

“My ankles are swollen and I haven’t shat in three days,” she growled. “How do you think I am?”

“Sounds kinda typical,” I replied, stepping into her room and closing the door behind me for some privacy. I looked around me and remarked at how clean the room was. The last time I had been here, she had stuff strewn everywhere. “You must’ve been pretty bored if you’ve been cleaning.”

Samantha shrugged. “Aunt Brandy calls it nesting. Ugh, and I have to pee again. Seriously, this is getting so fucking old. I’m sick of being pregnant. How am I going to last another two whole fucking months? God.” Slowly, she pushed herself up and turned her body to get off the bed. I reached out to help her, but she batted my hands away. “I’m not a fucking invalid.”

Since she was so damn cranky, I let her do it herself. That was easier than doing something to make her angrier. I knew she was just stressed, so I let it all slide like water off a duck’s back. I was turning into a very patient person, which was a surprise to me.

Sam stood and arched her back. Suddenly, I could see as the maternity pants she had on darkened between her legs. At first, I was really grossed out because I thought she had wet herself. She said she had to go, but she could have held it in—the bathroom was across the hall from her bedroom.

The look of sheer terror on her face is what alerted me to the truth of what happened: her water broke. Samantha clutched her stomach protectively. “I didn’t mean it!” she cried. “It’s too soon! I’m only seven months! I don’t want to have my baby yet, I’m not ready yet!”

Something in me clicked, like the fabled maternal instinct. Even though she could be difficult, I still felt a connection to Samantha—and I had from the moment I came to coax her out of the bathroom months ago. It’s what made me realize and understand the ways that Kris had bonded and identified with me. That’s why I could be so patient with her; I wanted to be able to help her through her crisis, and right now she needed me to be in control.

My hands weren’t even shaking as I reached into my pocket for my phone. I quickly dialed Kris and barked into the phone, “Find Brandy now and send her up to Samantha’s room. It’s an emergency.” I hung up and put my arm around Samantha, trying to soothe her. “It’s okay. We’re going to get you changed and get you to the hospital.”

“But it’s too soon!” she wailed. “I can’t let anything happen to little Brianna.”

I smiled at her choice of name even during this frightening time. Sam was having a little girl, named after her daddy. I cupped her face and found myself making a promise I couldn’t guarantee. “Brianna is going to be fine. The doctors will make sure of it. But we have to go, and I need you to take your pants off and put something clean on. And do you have your overnight bag packed already?”

She nodded. “It’s in the downstairs closet. I thought Aunt Brandy was being overly cautious by insisting we do it when I entered my third trimester.”

“It’s always good to be prepared,” I said, going through her drawers until I found another pair of maternity pants, with the big elastic panel in the front. “Here, put these on,” I instructed.

I heard a crash outside her room, and the door opened and crashed against the wall. Brandy was wide-eyed and frazzled, and Kris was right behind her and also looking very concerned. I guess my instructions probably should have been clearer. Brandy asked, “What happened?”

“My water broke,” Samantha cried again. “Aunt Brandy, I’m so scared.”

“It’s gonna be okay, Sammy,” Brandy replied. The look in her eyes belied her worry, but we all did our best to hold it together for Samantha’s sake.

7 comments:

  1. Before I even read this, just know how f'ing excited I was that I signed on not even half an hour after you posted this. I had a shitty day and even if you throw some mega twist into this that makes me want to cry and hate everyone, it will be worth this single moment of actual joy. Thanks for that. :)

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  2. " it would have been more therapeutic and distracting than delightful and recharging."
    Super liked this distinction. Those were definitely the two summers they had been facing pre-Cup win.

    I feel like, beyond the obvious cliffhanger, this chapter made me rediculously excited for up and coming shit in these chapters. Will he get resigned? Will she get to transfer schools? What about their summer in Montreal and Pittsburgh and EVERYTHING! Like the whole Marcel bit, omigod I hope Jo can help Kris overcome everything too.

    I felt the twist coming, you've got to many things that were open ended that I was just waiting for something to erupt in my face, and well it didn't erupt in my face it erupted in Samantha's pants. (Horrible joke, I know, gimme a break.)

    Okay, other honorable mention goes to drunken Kris <3 and how badly Jo wants to have sex wtih him. I can only imagine how go-go-go everything must be and especially seeing the scene from the Blackhawks partying this year I can imagine more than one person fell asleep transporting between events. Although based on some of those guys I am pretty sure getting laid was a high priority as well!!!


    Excellent stuff and you just keep leaving me wanting me more.

    Ps.

    "Guess what"... "We won". BAh, I LOVE HIM!

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  3. I like all the confusion on the ice, it gives me that whole sensation of the Stanley Cup celebration. And Jo gets her hat, hooray, I would want the hat too. It's sweet that she remembers James at this time as well. And I really like this little detail: "his hand had slipped under my shirt to touch my bare side, like he needed the tactile sensation."

    Their night together reminds me of honeymoon nights, when you think you're supposed to have sex, but in reality you're too exhausted by the whole huge events of the day.

    Seems like there is a lot of the past and the future all mixed up in this post. And of course, the whole premature baby crisis, as usual I have no clue what will happen next!

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  4. OMG THESE PAST FEW CHAPTERS, PURE BRILLIANCE. Capslock completely necessary. This is so completely exciting. I love the way you portrayed all the confusion on the ice, I felt like I was actually there. I am honestly so excited about their future together now, I can't wait to see where you take this, Jay. Especially with Samantha's water breaking early. We have so many goodies to look forward to! I'll always love this story and it just keeps getting more amazing with each passing chapter(:

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  5. Sleepy post win Kris was just freaking adorable. He reminded me of a little kid after a big amusement park day so excited to awake to sleep and the *boom* asleep as soon as they lay down.

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  6. OMG THEY WON!!!! :D :D :D lol and I have to agree with Letterhead.Loyalty he did remind me of a little kid after a big amusement park and sleepy post win Kris is freaking adorable!
    Can't wait for more update I freakin' love this story I gets super pumped when I sees there is an update, seriously can't wait update soon!!! :D:D

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