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You Started It


She left.
Jon’s brain processed nothing besides the exhaust puffing white as the car pulled away.
Even as the words passed her lips, Jon had not truly believed that Fiona would say no. They were surely meant for each other, in the end. Fiona was the one, the only one, who knew - she knew him, knew everything, the best and worst and what he needed when he was alone, in the dark, not famous or wealthy or talented at all. He was just Jon, nothing special, but she had always stayed.
She left.
Blankness, blackness as the car turned out of sight.
He went upstairs, past the doorman without a word, long jacket swirling behind. In his kitchen he poured two fingers of scotch, drained it and poured another. Everything his eyes touched on, from the toaster that made breakfast for no one to the view of the city skyline blurring before no ones eyes but his own....
Worthless. All worthless.
It was true what everyone said: Jon was a hockey player. They saw him as nothing else, because there was nothing else to see.
Nothing good anyway.
The phone in his pocket rang. Jon fumbled it free, heart jumping in blind and foolish hope, until he saw his mother’s number. His fingers twitched to reject the call, but he knew he couldn’t afford to be any lonelier right now.
“Jonathan, she was lovely,” Andree said, wasting no time.
“Yeah.” He closed his eyes.
“Now, I know you said she’s just a friend but I can tell how much you like her.”
“Have you told her how you feel?”
Andree tutted. “Someone else is going to snap her up, Jon! I can’t imagine what you’re waiting for.”
The pause was endless. She knew exactly what, it was impossible to miss the way all types of women looked at Jon. And Jon knew that she knew....
“I’m sorry!” she laughed. “I don’t mean to interfere, I just... it’s nice, is all. To see a girl who doesn’t look at you like you’re on the Jumbotron.”
Jon leaned his forehead against the window. “Yeah, it is. But she’s too good for me, Mom.
”All women are too good for their men, Jonathan. The ones you want, anyway.” ____
Fiona stared out the window, counting closed doors until she saw a store that was open on Christmas, then started at zero again. The driver seemed to know she was watching and never doubled back on the same block. She’d seen half of downtown before she spoke.
“Okay, I’m ready.” And she gave her destination. ____
He was walking through the kitchen with a bag of pretzels when he heard the knock. Thinking it a strange hour for the building maintenance or cleaning staff to need something, he went to the key hole. What he saw made him whip the door open.
“Hi,” Fiona said, voice shaky.
“Are you okay?” Viktor stepped into the hallway, pulling the door behind him until it rested barely closed.
Oh my God....
Bile rose in Fiona’s throat like she might be sick. She took a half-step backward, horrified at her own presumption. He wasn’t alone. She’d turned up uninvited, talked her way past the doorman, only to interrupt a Christmas that Viktor was spending with someone else. Just like she had.
I am Jon. I am that bad.
“Hey, hey.” Viktor reached for her. His arms slipped around her as he whispered, brushing his free hand over her hair. Her eyes filled with tears. “Fi, what’s wrong, honey?”
“I... I’m sorry...,” she tried to step back.
“It’s okay, shhhhh.” He squeezed, as if there were any way she could get free against his will. “Hammer’s here, is it okay if he knows? I can kick him out.”
I don’t know what Nik would be knowing exactly, but if she’s here in this state in that dress then it’s something, he thought.
Fiona let her entire body drop against his chest. Nicklas was there. Not a date. Not a girl. Just Fiona painting the world with Jon’s brush. Viktor took her hand.
“Come on.”
Hjalmarsson was sprawled out on the chaise, long legs dangling off the foot rest. He did a double-take at the sight of Fiona and scrambled up.
“Hey, hi. Fiona.” With zero stealth, he looked at Viktor. Viktor just nodded.
“Be right back.” And he tugged Fiona down the hallway. ____
This room....
Fiona walked toward the window. Viktor closed the door behind himself and stood there, waiting. He wanted to follow her, hold her, but something in her posture told him this wasn’t the right move. She’d been in that bed just hours ago. She’d laid there the night before, wishing today would never come. Maybe she had known all along what it would bring.
“I can’t do this,” she said quietly.
When she turned, Viktor was looking at her. He slipped his hands into his pockets and didn’t try to fill the silence.
“I’m so sorry,” she breathed.
Fiona’s eyes blurred with tears, but she heard his footsteps. His hands settled on her shoulders.
“What happened?”
She drew a slow breath, trying not to cry. It wasn’t fair to cry for herself while she was hurting someone else. And if she were crying for Viktor...
I should have been more careful. I’m going to do all this and end up with nothing.
“I was out with Jon. He asked me before....” She glanced toward the bed. “We had a fight.”
Viktor tilted his head slightly, unsure of what he was hearing.
“I came here because last night because I wanted to be with you, Viktor, because I really like you. And it was... perfect. You are perfect. But I’m not. I should want to kill Jon but he’s so under my skin and I can’t... I can’t do that to you.” Fiona wiped her eyes, smearing her makeup slightly. Viktor still held her arms. “You deserve someone who only thinks of you. I want to be that person - I tried to be - but I’m not.”
“Bullshit.” His voice wasn’t angry but the harsh word still snagged like a burr. “I knew that you and Jon had a thing - everybody did. I’m not stupid, Fi. I knew what I was getting into.”
His hands squeezed slightly, as if he knew she’d try to break away.
“I didn’t... I’m sorry, you....” Tears caught in her throat. “You’re not stupid, I didn’t mean that. But you had every right to expect that when I went out with you, when I came here to be with you, that I had made up my mind. I thought I had. I wanted to.”
A tear ran down her cheek, taking a dark gray trail of mascara with it. Viktor let go just long enough to wipe it with his thumb, then he pulled Fiona into his chest.
“I rushed you,” he said, into her hair.
She tried not to melt into his huge, comforting body. “You’re being all perfect again!”
As laughter goes, it was weak. And watery. But it came from Fiona just the same and Viktor felt her surrender, fold against him and sigh. He was going to lose this fight, but he wouldn’t give up. Just like the man he thought she needed and deserved, Viktor would hold the idea of this relationship in his arms while it died.
“Sorry,” he chuckled.
“No, I’m sorry. Really. You do everything right and I want that. But I’m fucking it all up. That’s not good enough for you.”
“I don’t want you to be perfect, Fiona. I just want to be with you.” He was glad she couldn’t see his face or it would have been hard to be so blunt. She sighed again and he waited, but when no more argument came he knew he’d really lost. Finally he opened his embrace and made her look up.
“This all got serious so fast... what if we slow down, back off a little? See what happens.”
She gave the tiniest shake of her head. “So we both wait for him? And if he pulls it together, what do you get? That’s worse than anything yet and I won’t do that to you.”
He knew she was right, and it was a kindness. She could have strung him along and based on the way he felt holding her now, he’d have followed her anywhere.
“At least tell me that you know he doesn’t deserve you. After everything he’s done....”
She half-nodded.
“Don’t run right to him.”
“I don’t even know if I’m going there at all,” she admitted. She needed to get her bearings and Jon needed to sweat it out. “The last thing I told him was goodbye.”
Viktor smiled sadly. “Goddamn it, Fiona. I want you to be happy, but all I can see is him hurting you.”
Fiona pressed her lips together until they were white, trying not to cry again. “And all I can see is me hurting you.” Her voice was so quiet, she cleared her throat. “I hope you don’t hate me.”
“Remember the day I asked you to wear my jersey?” Viktor’s big hand brushed the dark, tousled hair back from her face. “That was two weeks ago.”
“That’s all?” Fiona felt as if she’d been going crazy forever.
“I liked you before then. But it’s been two weeks, Fi. I will live.” He looked at her with those storm-colored eyes: soft and forgiving, another thing she didn’t deserve. Perfect man couldn’t stop being perfect even for this.
“Promise me you won’t let him hurt you. That’s the only way I could ever hate you. If you throw this away for nothing.” He kissed her cheek lightly.
“I promise.” She turned her face and caught his lips in a swift, sweet kiss. Their last.
Viktor held her hand all the way to the front door. Hjalmarsson looked very confused from the couch - Fiona just gave him a little wave. In the hallway, Viktor pulled her into his arms and twisted her from side to side with a little playfulness that he didn’t really feel.
“You still want him after all this. You’re pretty perfect, Fiona.” He smiled. “Not very smart, but....”
She blushed. “He’s got a lot to live up to.” ____
Outside, the driver had insisted on waiting. Fiona hoped Jon was getting billed double time. He turned toward her building without being asked and she resumed looking at the wintry city that rolled by. Her heart ached a small, dull pain as if she’d just kicked it in the gut. Every breath made it only halfway down.
Jon was going to have to start from scratch. In fact, as far as he knew, it was already over forever. It didn’t seem right to explain that to Viktor - it would give him an opening, keep leading him on. It was Jon or nothing, and only if he did the work. Anything that happened between them now would stay between them.
She went straight to her apartment, dead-bolted the door and opened her computer. Twenty minutes later, she printed a single page. Then Fiona brushed her teeth, climbed into bed and waited for sleep to come. ____
Jon dragged his feet into work in the morning. The smell of the locker room seemed overly pungent, the comments particularly callous. He hurried to the ice in search of fresh air and quiet only to find that Stalberg had beaten him there.
A couple of guys were practicing tip-ins around the net. Seabrook shot from the point, Stalberg tried to redirect it past Crawford. Kane alternated slappers from Keith. Jon turned toward the empty net on the near side, balancing a puck on the blade of his stick. He tossed it top-shelf, just under the crossbar, as a pair of skates ground to a stop behind him.
“Is she okay?” Jon asked without looking.
“You win, Vik.” He turned around because it was the grown up thing to do. And the only person Jon wanted to impress other than Fiona was Viktor. Jon was beaten fair and square, and now he knew what kind of person he needed to be. If he was very, very lucky maybe he’d find someone else that demanded nothing less.
Viktor rested an elbow on his stick and shook his head.
“You really are a complete fucking mess.”
“What?” Jon was angry, like a switch flipping. He was graciously conceding defeat, swallowing back bile every second, and Stalberg wanted to keep kicking?
Well fuck that.
“You got her, alright? You win, congratulations, now get the fuck out of my face!” Jon moved a step closer but Viktor didn’t flinch. He knew the truth.
“I should just go right back to her,” Victor stared Jon down, “because you could never be what she thinks you can.”
“And what’s that?” Jon spit. He was glad for his helmet and pads if he had to go a round with his teammate right here on the ice.
“Good enough.”
Jon’s legs were coiled to stride forward and his arms flexed to start swinging. It all dropped out of him like a rock. “What?” he said for the third time in as many minutes.
“It’s you, asshole. And if you fuck it up, captain or not, I will kill you.”
Jon blinked stupidly.
“I won’t take another punch, Jon. Ever,” Viktor hissed. “If you hurt her, I promise the last thing you’ll ever see is just how hard I can fight back.”
The meaning of the words finally reached Jon’s brain - his eyes got a little wider, his mouth opened but nothing came to mind. Viktor growled deep in his chest and turned his back on his friend. ____
“Fi? Fiona!” Jon knocked on her door at the same time he called her name. No answer. None on her phone either, and no one at the bar had seen her. Jenny wasn’t on shift yet. Jon, however, had a game to nap for.
Good luck fucking sleeping now.
He looked at the ceiling for an hour, trying to figure out where Fiona could have gone or why she was ignoring him. She’d turned him down, he remembered that part. But Viktor had gotten a completely different version and Jon was more than willing to be wrong in this case.
It’s the day after Christmas, where the hell is she?
Jon met his parents at their hotel for pre-game meal. His mother was beaming from the second he walked in the door.
“Will Fiona be joining us?”
“No, Mom.”
“Oh, well. Maybe we’ll see her at the game.”
Jon looked to his father for help, but Bryan just rolled his eyes. The way half the women in the restaurant were looking at Jon, it would be better if his mother played matchmaker. The waitress in particular looked ready to slip Jon the key to the nearest linen closet.
Fiona didn’t have season tickets, she didn’t need them. But unless someone else had put her at will call or she was coming with Abby, he didn’t expect to see her there. Abby wouldn’t likely be leaving her tiny baby at home for what was just another one of a thousand hockey games.
“Maybe,” Jon said.
But she wasn’t there. Jon arrived on time, gave Viktor a simple nod, then sat in the team meeting and a video session, warmed up, stretched, dressed and still no sign of Fiona. If Stalberg knew anything he wasn’t telling. So Jon searched the faces around the glass at pre-game skate, looking for that snow white skin and dark hair. Nothing.
“Do you... have you talked to her?” he finally asked, stopping next to Viktor at the blue line for a shooting drill. Stalberg wouldn’t deck him in front of all these fans.
“No,” he shrugged, half-smiling to himself. “But don’t rush her. It doesn’t work.”
Fiona never showed, or at least never showed herself. The Hawks won 2-0 and Jonathan held out hope right through the media scrum and shower that she might waltz into the locker room. He entertained the fantasy that she’d throw her arms around his neck in front of everyone. But she didn’t come.
“Fiona?” Jon called at her door again, knocking so loudly he might as well be yelling, “Chicago PD!” He’d called her countless times, no answer. The bar had been too busy for him to drop in for a quick check with Jenny. So he was back outside her apartment.
Sorry, Fi, I have to.
He slipped his copy of her key into the lock, knowing she’d hate him for it. Knowing he’d find the place empty. There were no dishes in her sink, nothing recording on the DVR. The blankets had been pulled over her bed - as made as ever, but impossible to tell when she’d slept there last. Since leaving him standing on the sidewalk nearly twenty-four hours earlier, Jon hand’t seen or heard a word from Fiona.
There was no purse on her chair, no phone plugged into the wall. He slid open the desk drawer to check for her iPod, but it too was missing.
“Fuck!” He slammed the drawer in frustration.
Hr computer came on.
The laptop was open on the desk - it had been sleeping, not turned off. In fact she’d never clicked away from the last page she visited. Jon leaned down and saw the Travelocity confirmation screen, complete with her flight times and destinations. He scribbled one the back of her phone bill envelope and ran out of the apartment. ____


Just found this,read it all at once and enjoyed it. Starting the sequel. Thanks.
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