Here To Stay
I wasn't focusing at first, but by this time, it was getting late in the evening and pretty dark, so the sign on the front of the building shone brightly and caught my attention. "There won't be a next time! And... what are we doing back here?"
As Jon parked, he lead me out of the car and back through the private entrance. "Just come..." he insisted in his 'serious' voice.
I obliged, holding his hand as he lead me into the dark establishment. The private entrance was dim and it was clear to me that the Center was most likely empty. Jon opened the door with a key he slipped out of his pocket and guided me down to the locker rooms. "Okay... Now what?" I asked, standing in the room I had recently grown accustomed to seeing.
Jon quickly flicked on the lights so that the dim room was soon illuminated. He gestured to his stall which was empty except for a pale, purple, cocktail dress with a black ribbon across the mid section, accompanied by a pair of black heels and a beautiful necklace. I walked over to the dress and felt the soft fabric. "Did you pick this out?" I asked skeptically.
I heard a funny snort erupt from Jonathan. "Yeah right, if it was my decision, we would stick with the jersey idea... Logan chose it." he explained, leaning casually in the doorway.
"It's so pretty. Where are we going?" I asked, turning to face him.
Jon walked over to me and tipped my chin up, laying a kiss gently on my lips. "You'll see... just change. Va!"
With that, he left. He walked out of the dim locker room. I wasted no time stripping out of my Blackhawks tee, but I took my time putting on the clearly expensive dress. It fit me well, proving that Logan did indeed pick the dress; no one else knew what dresses looked best on me besides myself. It flowed over my waist and I used a couple minutes to twirl around in it.
As I was slipping on my shoes and necklace, Jon walked back in, wearing a tuxedo. When I looked up, I gasped. He looked absolutely perfect in his suit. It made him look as big as he was and maybe a little bigger. "You clean up nice!" I complimented with a smirk.
Jon grinned at me, ears turning a light shade of pink. "Thanks, you look beautiful." he replied.
I did a fancy little curtsy and smiled back at him. "Thank you, kind sir. Now, can I please know where we are going?"
"Actually, we're basically here." Jon extended a hand in my direction and I cautiously took it, giving him a perplexed look. "You trust me, right?" I nodded as he lead me from the room, into the dim hallway. "Then relax."
Jon picked up something from the ground which I couldn't see. In a moment, there was light. Jon had picked up a flashlight which I assumed he had brought with him. It helped guide us down the long hall to the elevator. We took the elevator up to the main floor and then went into the main lobby.
Everything was eerie at such a late hour, especially when it was empty. To be honest, I was a bit scared. I edged a little closer to Jon as we made our way through the United Center. We took another elevator up to one of the highest levels in the arena. "You takin' me to the nosebleeds?" I giggled.
Jon nodded. "Shhh.... you'll see."
"What does 'va' mean?" I questioned as I leaned against the elevator wall, my stomach dropping slightly as we moved up the building.
Jon answered, "Va is a french verb, conjugated from the verb Aller. It means to go, or go." I nodded. He smirked at me. "I'll have to sit down one day and teach you french."
I shrugged as the elevator door 'pinged' open. I wasn't all that interested in french, unless Jon was speaking it to me and I wanted to know what he was saying. "Okay, now where?"
Jon pointed down to the right and we walked down the hallway again. "Almost there." he encouraged. A couple minutes of walking in the almost pitch black hallway and we were in a club box. It was too dark to see the area around, but If you looked into the actual stadium, you could see the rink and some lights above the rink illuminating the building, slightly.
For a moment, Jon let go of my hand and walked back towards the door to the club box. He flipped the switch and moments later, the room lit up. There was a handful of red christmas lights hanging around the room which immediately shone brightly. I could then see the blanket on the ground, in the small area away form the seats, that held two plates filled with food, two glasses with wine, and present in the middle.
For some reason, I didn't even flinch at this. "What is it with you and picnics?" I poked.
Jon glared at me and shook his head. "You've got to be kidding me..." I giggled as he crossed the room towards me. "You're the only girl I know that could find fault with this." He wrapped me in his arms tightly and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Seriously, what do you think?"
"I think you spoil me." I admitted with a shake of my head. "How long did this take you?"
He shrugged as he guided me to the cute set up. "An hour. At most."
"And they just let you borrow the United Center for a night?" I laughed as I glanced down at my chicken with cheese, spinach, and rice.
Jon gave another lackadaisical shrug and smirked. "Well... When you're the captain, they give you some treats every once in a while I guess..."
"I don't see how this is bad at all for me. It's more like a reward. I feel like I should lose bets to you more often." I laughed as I took a couple bites of my chicken, followed by a gulp of wine. After Jon finished munching on his food, he shook his head and looked down at his plate, grinning. He traced the ridge of his wine glass and chuckled quietly to himself. He looked like a little kid. "What's so funny?"
Jon finally looked up at me with a sincere face. "You don't get it... do you?" I blinked at him and set my fork down on my plate. I wiped my mouth with the napkin near by and locked eyes with him, waiting for further elaboration. "The best prize for me... right now, would just be... to see you smile."
I'm sure my cheeks were tomatoes at that point. i couldn't look at him anymore. It's impossible for a man to be that sweet. It had to be. "Jon..." I sighed, giggling. "You're too sweet... I owe you."
"You never owe me." he chuckled. I looked up to see him shaking his head. "Stop saying that."
I shrugged. "I can't help it..." I sighed and ate more of my chicken. "So, did you enjoy your bet?"
He blinked at me, face serious again. "Oh, it's not over." I coughed on my chicken as I swallowed. Jon stood up and guided me to one of the seats in the section. The two of us sat down quietly. Everything seemed so serene with the lights slowly changing colors from black to red to white over the empty rink; it was almost hard to imagine that by day, this place was bustling with screaming fans and hulking hockey players slamming against the glass. It was kind of nice. Jon sighed and rested his head on top of mine, looking down on the rink.
"What are you doing?" I laughed, messing with his hair.
Jon shook his head. "You'll think it's stupid." he insisted, sitting straight up.
"No I won't, I promise. Just tell me." I stroked Jon's arm affectionately and blinked my long eyelashes at him until he caved.
He was grinning. "I-I don't know... I just like being here, sometimes... I don't get to just... enjoy hockey for what it is, sometimes. I get caught up in the interviews and the cameras, and I never get the chance to just sit. Sometimes I practice a little down there... by myself." he explained, pointing down to the rink that seemed so small in comparison to everything else.
I thought back and remembered the moments when Jon was vague about where he had been. For example, there was the day I was hanging with Kaner and Dan and he never fully explained where he had gone. "This is where you run off to, isn't it? Whenever you're not hanging with the guys? You come here?"
Jon looked at me and smiled, shaking his head. "You think I'm crazy-"
I shook my head, no longer leaning on him. "No! No, of course not. I mean... you have to get away from the professional athlete life and just... be you."
"Yeah... I feel... normal. I'm telling you though... this is the perfect place to be. No matter what, whatever problems I have, I can come here and clear my head." he rambled. I smirked as his eyes light up like a lighthouse, recounting tales of his history with the large building. I nodded and gave him a peck on the cheek. I didn't say anything, I just looked at him. "Come on." Jon stood up and lead me back to our picnic. He picked up the little present and pushed it at me. "Open it."
I shook my head and pushed it away. "Jon, we've been dating for about a week and a half, and you're already giving me gifts. It's real-"
"Please, it's not that much. Just- i want you to open it." he almost commanded as he opened my hands and placed the small box into it. I relented and opened the little pink box, making sure to unwrap it carefully. When i opened it, I found an envelope. I placed the box on the ground and picked at the envelope until the letter inside fell out. "Read it..." he sighed. I was about to begin reading it to myself when he clarified, "aloud."
I shook my head. "Dear Mrs. Bennett, We are ecstatic to inform you that the Blackhawks would love to add you to their official news team. We have been tracking you on Channel 8, and though we are unhappy about the circumstances that lead you to this opportunity, we would be thrilled if you would consider joining the newscasters of the United Center, and more importantly, the Blackhawks...." My voice drifted as I let the words sink in. I looked up at Jon to see his 'Captain face' on, full blast. I couldn't figure out what was hidden behind those stupid eyes. "Did... did you-?" Jon crossed his arms over his chest and waited for me to explain. "You... you know?"
"I know everything... I know about Kenny... I know about how you quit... I know about how you have been lying to me and everyone else about being unemployed.... and more importantly, I know you lied to me, because you felt embarrassed..." he hissed, voice rising slightly.
I shook my head and dropped my hands to my side, letter nearly falling from my fingers. "Jon- you don't understand... I can't.... It's-" I struggled to find the right words. This had to have been the worst feeling in the world. I suddenly grew mad. I don't know why; maybe because Jon was the only one besides Logan to call me out on my shit. Maybe because he could articulate my thoughts better than I could. It also could have been because he undoubtedly did some snooping and didn't allow me to tell him this myself. Regardless, I was fuming, and he had taken notice. "How did you find out?" I pushed, now clenching the envelope.
"I asked Logan." he confessed, arms still across his chest. If I was looking for a fight, Jon was obviously not backing down either. "I was worried about you, and you didn't tell me yourself-"
"I didn't get the chance!" I argued. "Recently you've been so tied up in hockey interviews-" I began. It was a horrible point to bring up. I knew Jon felt bad about it as it was, and I knew it wasn't his fault, but I still used it.
Jon growled, "It was a day, maybe! You've had plenty of time to talk. And how could you think I would be ashamed or something? How could you be ashamed! I don't get it-"
"You don't get it, that's just it! You're not me and you will never understand it for that sole reason." I was laughing a bitter laugh at the idea of him trying to see my perspective because it's twisted. I hardly understood it myself. My blood was pumping and I gripped the letter tighter until I could feel the nails clawing through the paper into my palm. "And I see how Diane could feel neglected. Suddenly, work takes over and the girl is pushed to the side." I spat harshly.
I was being selfish, there was no doubt about that. Jon was right. I knew he was right, even while I was arguing with him. And I knew I was hurting him. But I don't know... I felt so vulnerable and so... weak that I would have been caustic to anything within forty feet of me. I was like a wounded, but abused dog in an alley; a kind soul came to help me, but because I was scared and hurt I snapped at it and did my best to keep it away, attempting to fend for myself.
Jon's jaw was clenched. I had seen that face before, but only on television. He was beyond angry. Irate best described it, I think. He was ready to fight someone. I actually feared him at that moment, but something changed in his eyes. He went from pissed to upset, hurt. "Right... because spending the day with you qualifies as pushing you aside. Why don't you talk-" he began.
"I don't want to talk! I don't want to talk about it! Ever! With anyone! Especially not you, Mr. Perfect!" I exploded, throwing my hands in the air like a madwoman. "Just drop it, okay?"
"No, I won't drop it. You need to stop doing this to yourself. If I don't stop you, you'll only do it again. Take the job, start over. And-" Jon was moving towards me, eyes soft. His voice was even. He stroked my arms calmly, pulling on a small smile. For a moment, I wanted to give in and just hug the big lug, agree to take the job, and live happily ever after especially with his amazing eyes staring down at me. I was glad to see that he was fighting so hard for me. It made me want to smile, shockingly.
I couldn't bring myself to do it, though. No of course... That would be way too easy for it to really be my life. "No... I-I can't. This is my issue, that I have to deal with, on my own."
"We're dating now. Your problems are my problems, and you don't have to go through them alone-" he insisted.
"But I do! I mean, God, we're not married!" I screamed. "I... I have to..."
Jon frowned, the serious exterior sneaking its way back across his nearly perfect face. "Fine..." Jon handed me the flashlight which was lying on the ground. "Just at least think about the job..." he sighed. I glanced away, taking the flashlight without a word. "Come on, I'll give you a ride home..."
"No. I can walk." I insisted, storming out of the room.
I stomped down the hall and into the elevator. I trudged through the lobby and made my way through the main doors. From there, I walked down the dark Chicago street for about a minute, using it to clear my head. I was somewhat surprised not to hear Jon's footsteps behind mine or feel his hand on my shoulder turning me around and telling me that we were both being stupid, but it never happened, nonetheless.
As I skidded down the sidewalk, I called Logan to come pick me up. When she did, she didn't speak a word; I told her what had happened over the phone and I was somewhat annoyed with her for selling me out to Jon. By the time we got home, I slipped into bed, still wearing the beautiful dress, but too tired to change it.
The next morning, Logan was gone, at the rink. I walked over to my laptop and flipped it open. I snooped around on facebook, visited NHL.com, and checked my e-mail. As I was looking through the messages, I noticed a new one had popped up. I opened it to see an e-mail from the Chicago Blackhawks Team Management. They were asking me about joining the newscaster team and suggested responding so I could set up an appointment with them.
I glared at the words on the computer screen and read them over and over again until they went blurry in my vision. I moved the mouse over the delete button and let it linger for a moment. What other choice do I have? I hit reply button and began tapping away on the keyboard.
As soon as I hit the send button, there was a knock at the door. "Coming!" I called as I exited the browser, closed my laptop, and went to the door. I opened it to find Kaner standing in the doorway. He had dark rings around his eyes and a haggard body position. "Whoa... what's wrong with you?" Pat burst past me and collapsed on my couch. "Pat?" I sat down next to him and rubbed his back. "Are you okay?"
"No! I'm not okay! Jon-he won't shut up. 'Elle this' 'Elle that' 'She's being stubborn' 'Maybe I'm wrong' Blah-Blah-BLAH!" he spattered freakishly. I had never seen Kaner so jumpy. "You even shot a low blow? Diane, really?"
I frowned and sank backward into the couch, praying it would suck me in and hide me forever. "I know... I know! I'm not proud of it... I was just- I was so mad... And I...I... I was an asshole. It was stupid."
"You're damn right! Now, go over there and apologize!" he encouraged.
I shook my head and stood up. "It's not that easy..." I sighed as I walked into the kitchen.
Pat followed and sat on the stool by the counter. "What do you mean, 'it's not that easy'? Go over and say sorry, have makeup sex, do something!" he pleaded, pounding his fists on the counter.
I calmly placed my hands over his fists and petted them slowly. "Pat... you need to relax. Have you gotten any sleep?" I asked, reaching forward to move a blonde curl out of his eyes.
Before I made it halfway to his face, Pat gripped my hand and flung it away. "No! I haven't gotten any sleep! Not even a minute! And you know why? Because your BOYFRIEND won't shut up! Now, you are going to get your ass over to that apartment and speak to this boy, and that is FINAL!" He concluded as he stood up and crossed his arms over his chest, chin up in the air snobbishly. I gave him a skeptical look and he added, "Please?"
I shook my head and laughed as I passed by him. "That's not gonna happen, sorry, Dad." I trotted into my room to change into something other than pajamas. Pat waited outside in the living room, whimpering like a puppy. "Can we drop this subject? I promise, we'll work it out... eventually."
"Fine, new topic, when the fuck were you going to tell me you quit your job?" he asked. I came out into the living room and sat in the chair across from him, shrugging. "Well... at least tell me what happened?" I looked down at my hands. "Please?" I glanced up to see Kaner pouting like a baby.
I relented, "FIne... God, you're annoying." He smirked and snuggled back in his seat. "Okay.. well, that night Logan and I went to the bar-"
"You two looked hot by the way! ...Okay, sorry, continue...."
"Thank you Patrick... Anyways, that night, after I went out of the bar, I felt horrible about Jon and I and I just wanted to be alone, so I told Logan I was going to walk home while she went to Nick's for the night. On my walk home, Kenny grabbed me and just started screaming at me, telling me I was worthless and calling me a slut... Whatever, so after that, I felt even worse about myself. Then, the next time I went to work, he was looking at me or glaring at my phone, like that one time I was talking to you..."
Pat nodded, listening intently. "What about it?" I raised an eyebrow, hoping he would get the hint. "He-he thought.. you and I-" Pat burst out laughing and I shook my head. "You would never let me even tough you- anyways, how did he know?"
"I don't know, I guess he heard the flirting, or at least I think he heard... But anyways, he had been giving off weird vibes for a while... I walked up to Max, told him I wasn't comfortable working close by Kenny. Max offered me a raise and a promise that he would fire Kenny, but I told him that I had made up my mind and that firing Kenny would only make him more angry with me." I explained.
Pat shook his head. "That guy is an asshole... if he comes within a mile of you, give me a call and I'll kick the shit out of him." I threw him a look and he corrected himself. "Okay, i'll attempt to kick the shit out of him... maybe I should just call Danny instead..."
"Yeah, probably." I laughed, imagining Dan Carcillo pounding Kenny senseless.
Pat interrupted my daydream abruptly. "So, are you taking that job offer?"
I shrugged and laid back in my chair. The idea had lingered in the back of my head all night. I wasn't too sure if I was ready to be in the same building as Jon. It didn't necessarily mean I would be with him all the time, but there was a strong chance that I would have to interview him... see him.... "I don't know..."
"Well you want to know my opinion?"
"Nope. Not particularly..." Pat glared at me. "Yes, Pat, I would LOVE to hear your opinion. Please tell me, I'm dying to know!"
He rolled his eyes. "I think you should work there regardless of Jon. You said it yourself, you'll get over it. Do you want the job?"
I thought about it. Of course. I had no other job to turn to and it was the only one remotely close to my previous one, unless you count selling sports equipment at Dick's Sporting Goods as close. "Yes."
"Then go for it." I stared off into space and nodded. "You set up an appointment?"
I nodded. "Sent an e-mail right before you got here..." I breathed quietly, still weighing my options.
"Good girl... Would you happen to be curious about how I feel about you and Jon?" he wondered with a smirk. I shrugged and gave him my full attention. "I think... you need to talk it out... and not for my sake. You're wrong as fuck and you know it."
I rolled my eyes, standing up. "Thanks for the pep talk, Kaner."
"Seriously! You felt embarrassed, which you shouldn't have, but like, I get it. Still, you lied... to everyone... And Jon was just trying to be nice. He's a decent guy... and you guys are lucky to have each other." he rambled. I stood there for a moment listening. "And he feels horrible now about treating you like Diane, because now he feels like he's the jackass... And you know that he couldn't control the busy schedule..."
It is one thing to know deep down that you're wrong. It's one thing to say it to yourself over and over again, telling yourself how mistaken you really are. It's one thing to admit it to yourself silently. It's another story to hear it from somebody else, to know that someone is calling you on the bullshit you're trying to put down, to know it's tangible. It's just different. Its even worse when you consciously make someone else feel like it's their fault when its not.
"I know..." I sighed, sitting back down. "I can't just go back to him though... It'd be... pathetic..."
Pat stood up and walked toward the door. "It's up to you. I told you... he's a decent guy. He won't make you feel like worthless crap, especially if you're honest with him. Just... talk to him. It's your decision." I walked him to the door and lead him into the hallway. "Is he worth it?" Pat asked as he spun in the hallway to look at me.
I gave him a confused look. "What?"
"You heard me. Is he worth the fight?" I didn't answer, just blushed. I didn't exactly know what fight he was talking about, I still don't to this day, but I knew I missed Jon. "That's what I thought..." he commented with a small grin before walking down the hall and out of sight.
I didn't call Jon that day. I didn't text him or visit him. I just... sat in my room, staring at my laptop, waiting for a response from Blackhawks management. Hours passed, and eventually, I got the e-mail.
Dear Ms. Bennett,
We are so glad that you decided to take us up on our previous offer! We have heard nothing but good things about you; your ability to analyze hockey is astounding, and you bring a special something to the news. Also, we are excited to add a female to our sportscasting team.
We would like to have a meeting with you as soon as possible. If you are available, we would like to see you tomorrow afternoon at one o'clock. If this is inconvenient, please inform us and we will make the necessary arrangements. We will discuss hours, salary, benefits, etc....
The letter rambled on about other information that wasn't nearly as important as the first half. i quickly set my alarm for eleven in the morning and did a little celebratory dance in my room. When Logan came home, I told her the good news and she joined in on my dancing.
That night, I texted Jon and thanked him for all that he did to get me the job, even though my brain told me not to. Trusting my gut instead of my brain in this case was a bad decision; Jon never replied.
This made me feel worse. My stomach was doing backflips. If he won't talk to me, there's no hope of patching things up between us...
The idea haunted me all night and conveniently intensified right before bed. I thought about how I didn't want to lose Jon over my own stubbornness. I promised myself that I would try and talk to Jon the next time I saw him at the rink, or after my meeting was over, whichever came first.
The next morning, I woke up at eleven, got dressed in the most formal attire I could find, grabbed a coffee at the local shop, and then made my way to the United Center. The meeting was in the offices on the lowest level of the stadium by the locker rooms.
As I walked into the main entrance, no longer with Logan and her special passes, I talked to the front desk and was promptly sent down to the lower floors. On my way down, I prayed that I wouldn't bump into Jon on my way there.
The elevator attendant let me out and pointed me in the direction of the main offices. I made my way down the hallway only to find out that he had guided me in the wrong direction. This was evident when I bumped into Stalberg who was walking in the same direction as me, from a different hallway.
"Hawk-ey! Long time no see!" he exclaimed, bringing me into a bear hug. "How are you?"
I shrugged. "I'm great! But... I'd be better if I knew where I was going..."
"Yeah.. why are you here today?" he asked, shooting me a confused look.
I heaved a sigh and began to explain. "I quit Channel 8... no longer Hawk-ey girl anymore. Blackhawks offered me a contract to be one of their official announcers or sportscaster or something..."
"Aww, that's great!" he cheered patting me on the arm.
I laughed. "Yeah, it would be awesome, if I knew where the offices were!"
Viktor shook his head. "Yeah, you're way off. You're heading for the locker rooms."
"That's what I thought!" I agreed, shaking my head.
Stalberg spun me around to face the opposite direction. "Alright, well, you go down this hallway, right here, okay?"
"Then you make a left at the end of if, where it splits off."
"Okay, left at the end." I made the hand motions of each direction just as he was doing.
He began, "And then you-" Viktor suddenly froze and let his sentence crash to the ground. I glanced around to see Jon heading in our direction from the same direction we were pointing. He was heading towards the locker rooms, no doubt. So much for avoiding him.
Jon locked eyes with me immediately. You can tell what he's thinking from his eyes... if he lets you. Surprisingly, he wasn't mad, not in the slightest. Jon was... upset... but passive about it, if that makes any sense.
Viktor quickly shook me out of my trance. "Okay... well... looks like you can find your way there, right?" He patted my shoulders and gave me a warning look before beginning to depart. Great... so basically, the whole team knows about Jon and I, and our spat.
"Uh... yeah, sure... see you later." I quietly responded and turned back to face Jon who was now only a few feet away from me. As he grew closer, my heart beat faster and harder and I couldn't help but wonder if he could hear it. "Um.. hi..." I sighed.
Jon nodded at me indifferently. "You...uh, you coming for the job interview, or something?" he asked, Captain Serious face ready to go.
I nodded quietly. "Yeah... I-I have to thank you...I tried last night but... whatever, thank you... for getting this for me. It's-a.. great opportunity and... just thanks."
"I didn't do much. I just pointed them in the right direction. You did all the work. It's you they want. It's all you..." he insisted, levelheaded. He sounded somewhat like myself when I was giving him a pep talk a while back.
How could he be so calm right now? "Oh... well, thank you." I huffed. The two of us sat in an awkward silence for a moment. "So... you going to practice today?"
He nodded and just stared at me for a moment. Jon nodded again, this time in the direction of the locker rooms. "Yeah... I actually better get going- wouldn't want to be late and-"
"Oh, yeah, ofcoursenot." I sputtered. Remember that one time I said I was going to apologize the first time I saw him and then didn't? Yeah... good times... "Well, good luck.. maybe I'll see you later." Jon nodded and walked into the locker room, stone-cold face still present.
I shivered once he left, probably from the sudden lack of pressure. I walked down the hallway, made a left, and attempted to navigate my way throughout the confusing maze of hallways. Eventually, I made it to the meeting, five minutes late. Classy. Good first impression.
Thankfully, my bosses, Eric Stevens and Mike Gaff, were nice guys. They were in charge of the media department in the Blackhawks corporation. Basically, they wanted me to be on during most of the games, doing commentary throughout the game, or analyzing the plays during intermission. My salary was considerably higher than my job at Channel 8; so much so, that I could have afforded to move out of my apartment and get a nicer one with Logan.
My first shift was that Friday, doing intermission analysis with some random guy who was subbing for the normal sportscasters. With a couple of signatures and some new passes, issued to yours truly, I was officially a member of the Blackhawks family!
Logan and I went out to dinner to celebrate with Nick, who also grilled me about Jon.
"So... what happened?" he asked. Reluctantly, I explained the recent events ant gave both Jon and my arguments on the matter. Nick just looked at me for a while. "So... you're going to fix it, right?"
Logan threw her hands in the air theatrically. "That's what I said!"
I shook my head. "Can you guys see my point of view at all?" I scoffed, crossing my arms defensively over my chest.
"I see you're point of view... and you're still wrong." he concluded, taking a sip of his water. "You're not wrong in your first feelings... but now you've had time to cool down and you should apologize."
I grumbled, "It's so easy to tell someone how to live her life when you're not in her shoes."
"Who said it would be easy?" Nick practically cackled aloud. "I know you... sometimes, better than you know yourself. You hate apologizing and you think you're always right, but everyone is wrong sometimes... This time, it's you."
I frowned and nodded. I was usually right though.... "I guess i see your point."
"So you going to apologize to him? Make up?" Logan tried with a smile. I nodded. "When and where?" she pushed.
I shrugged, standing up from my seat. "I don't know, next time I see him. Look, the Hawks are playing the Sharks tomorrow and I need to do some research if I want to impress my bosses. I'll catch you later." I tossed a twenty onto the table and quickly walked out of the restaurant.
The next day, I went to the United Center and went down to the main offices. I showed my bosses my research for the Sharks and the Hawks. I didn't have to, because we actually were provided with some basic stats, but I did it anyways just to show that I was serious about the job. Eric applauded me before hurrying me off to get ready for the show.
Within twenty minutes, I was doing a pre-game program with Judd Sirott. I was more than nervous. I was shaking throughout the first five minutes of the show. However, my research had done me well and I didn't have to look at the TelePrompTer or the notes in front of me all that much. Judd and I even got into an interesting debate about Patrick Sharp and his effectiveness on his new line with Jon and Carcillo. A strange combination in my opinion, but then again, I'm not the coach.
During the game, Judd and I went off of the set to watch the game in the press box. When the first intermission rolled around, the two of us headed back downstairs to the set. Duncan Keith took a slapshot from the point and scored, making the score 1-0 at the end of the period. We talked about the goal and the setup of it. We spoke about the scoring chances, forechecking, and much more.
Then we continued the whole process over again. By the end of the game, Stalberg and Kaner scored. A sharks player scored and another one nearly tied it up, but Jon never followed through. I even picked him as my 'star of the game'. It was partially a suck up tactic...
I knew he taped the games and watched them when he got home to see what he or everybody else did wrong, what the commentators had to say, stuff like that; so, he would obviously see me, and he would see me, building him up on the show. As if Jonathan Toews needed some random, newbie, hockey reporter telling him he's a great hockey player and athlete.
After the game, I didn't have to go to the locker rooms and interview anyone. I was done for the night after we finished up the post-game talk. I went to the locker rooms anyways, hoping I could catch any of the boys. Again, I bumped into Stalberg on my way down.
"Hey!" He called as he walked toward me. I walked over and gave him a hug. "I saw you on tv tonight!"
I gave him a puzzled look. "How- you were playing the game!"
"I snuck out of the locker room and caught the last few minutes of post-game coverage. Good job!" he congratulated me with a pat on the back.
I beamed up at him. "Thank you! I was so nervous... shaking the whole time..."
"Aw, you couldn't tell." he encouraged with a tug of my shoulder. "I'm glad you took the job."
I nodded slowly. "Yeah... me too..." I stared off into space for a moment, thinking about it. This job kept me in close proximity of Jon. I was more than likely going to see Jon if I walked into the locker room. My usual routine would be jeopardized if I didn't talk to him, especially if I wanted to keep my job.
"Ellie... hello?" he called with a smirk. "You okay?" I shook my head and gave a weak smile back. "You thinking about him, huh?" I bit my lip and nodded. Viktor looked up and down the surprisingly empty hallway. "Well... everyone's basically gone except for me and and the three stooges in the locker room. Everyone else has cleared out to celebrate the win. So... if you wanted to talk to him..."
I shook my head. "I-I'm not going to talk about it in front of Nick and Kaner. I need to be alone with Jon."
"Then get him alone... you know he misses you." Viktor insisted. He nudged me with a smirk. I shrugged. "You're oblivious Ellison... Be a man and get in there. Grow some balls!" he chuckled as he started walking away.
I shook my head and growled, "Well, thanks for the help Tork!" I backed towards the locker room as Viktor playfully flipped me off with his always charming grin.
I turned and walked into the locker room. Jon was getting up to go to the shower when I entered. He noticed me, gave me a curt wave, and then walked into the shower. If I called his name and asked him to talk, he probably wouldn't object.
Butterflies were fluttering in my stomach, I had 'no balls', as Viktor would say, and I wasn't ready to give up my fight yet... at least not in that way. I waited until Jon had left the room to fully step inside. "Hey guys... good game! I'm... really proud of both of you."
"Thanks. Why didn't you come down for an interview?" Pat asked.
I shrugged. "I don't have to do that anymore. I'm covering intermissions now. Analyzing and stuff..." I explained, sitting down next to Pat. "Where's Logan?"
"You just missed her. She was going to grab us a table at Chez Lombard." Nick answered as he slipped off some pads.
"Who is 'us'?" I asked.
Nick sighed and rolled his eyes. "Kaner, me, Logan, you, and yes, Jon."
I stood up and shook my head. "I'm not hungry."
"Ellie, now you're being childish!" Nick scolded standing up too. "What is avoiding him going to do?"
I shrugged. "I don't know... I need to figure this out for myself."
"You keep saying that! I've never seen you so flustered... over a guy..." Kaner mocked, standing up with Nick.
I scowled at the two of them and proceeded to storm out of the locker room. "I just wanted to congratulate you guys. I wasn't informed that I was going to be pestered about my personal life too." I called on my way out.
I went home after that. Everyone was right. i was being childish. I don't know why, but I was, and I had to do something about it. As I sat at home, alone, wearing a pair of sweat pants and eating some Ben and Jerry's ice cream, I thought about how I was going to apologize to Jon, because it had to be done. I had been with the guy in an actual relationship for a a couple weeks and I was still desperately missing him. It was like a sample of what was to come and I wanted the full course meal.
Logan called me probably around five or six times that night. I figured she was just going to bug me about how I should show up to the dinner and how I was being stupid and whatever else best friends say to get their friends to do something they don't want to do. Eventually, maybe on the seventh call, I answered. "Logan, what could you possibly be calling me for?"
"Is Jon with you?" she questioned, tone raised.
"Uh.. unless Jon magically transformed into a carton of ice cream then no.... Why?" I asked, setting my ice cream on the coffee table and sitting up.
She sighed. "We have no idea where he is... He won't answer his phone, he didn't come to dinner... He's not at the apartment either..."
I searched each compartment of my brain to find something that would lead me to Jon's location. Nothing was ringing a bell. "Uh... I don't know what to tell you. Jon's a big boy though... he doesn't need a search party to come find him..." I reminded her. It sounded more like I was reminding myself, because I wasn't so sure about what I was saying.
"Yeah... you're right. We all just got a little worried... I'll be home in like twenty minutes... Maybe when I get back, I can watch your intermission show with you? I never got to watch it- ran around the Center all day..." she huffed. "And save me some ice cream!"
Center... wait! "Logan, I'll leave the ice cream for you, but I'm heading out for a little bit...." I breathed, standing up a little too quickly. Head rush. "I think I know where he is..." I raced for my computer and tapped away at the keys on google translate.
"But Ellie- we haven't even seen each other today! Besides, where do you think he is?" she whined, someone yelling at her in the background.
I printed out a page from the computer quickly with a smirk on my face. "He's... he's where he always is...." I sighed as I gazed down at the page.
I changed quickly into jeans and a sweatshirt before racing my car throughout the city streets. I eventually made it to the United Center which looked like a ghost town in the spooky sense. I drove through the private entrance and pulled into the back where, sure enough, Jon's truck was sitting, waiting for me.
I slid out of my car and jogged out into the rain. My sneakers made obnoxious squeaky noises as I walked down the executive halls towards the locker rooms with my trusty flashlight. Thankfully, I knew my way around quite a bit, so the only issue was the dimness of the flash light on the pitch black walls.
I carefully walked out from the tunnel and entered the rink, which was lit up, as I expected. I watched as Jon lined up a puck and hit it full force at the net, scoring what would have been a goal. I snuck up onto the player's bench and watched him for a little bit.
I actually enjoyed seeing him so focused and into something like that. I would have sat there longer if I didn't accidentally sneeze. Jon was in the middle of a slapshot when I obnoxiously snorted, causing him to trip through his stroke and hit the puck off somewhere to the right. He abruptly turned to see me and his face darkened a little bit.
"What are you doing here?" he hollered across the empty rink as he re-aligned a puck and wound up to shoot again. Jon's attention was back on hockey. He was obviously not in the mood to see me nor was he going to make this easy for me. Well, if you can't bring Mohammad to the mountain, bring the mountain to the Mohammad...
I sighed and looked around the bench for some skates. No such luck. I jogged out from the rink and went back into one of the utility closets. I felt Jon's eyes on me as I reentered with a pair of skates that I knew were a size too big on me. I can't believe I'm doing this...
Sitting on the bench, I laced up my skates as best as I could, considering I had only skated a few times at birthday parties about a decade or so ago. Jon's face was rigid, but I could tell he was fighting a laugh as I stumbled out onto the ice. Like a baby deer, I fumbled around, nearly falling a few times as I hugged the boards of the rink.
Once I was directly across from Jon, I cautiously pushed myself away from the wall and skated towards him. "What are you doing here?" he repeated as he stood his stick up and leaned on it.
I crossed my arms over my chest and smirked. "Well, I'm kind of having some problems with this boy... I messed up, I don't exactly know what to do and-and... a friend of mine once told me that this is the best place to be if you want to clear your head..." I explained. The corners of Jon's mouth twitched, and I thought I was definitely breaking ground, but otherwise, his face was as stiff as ever. You're really going to make me sweat it out? "Look... I... I don't know how sane this is, what I'm about to say, but I'm going for it. And try not to laugh until the end?"
Jon stood up a little straighter but his facial expression was still the same. I thought I saw something flicker across his eyes, but I couldn't exactly figure out what it was. "Alright... I'm listening..."
"D'accord..." I sighed. Jon's mouth was begging to smile at that one statement, knowing what was next. Here goes nothing. I slipped the paper from my back pocket and cleared my throat.
"Uh.. Jon, je suis vrai-vraimunt desole. Je... he um.. sais? 'kuh' je voos aurais dit... ce-que se passat aw travail. Il nest pas facile pour-pour moi de parler de chooses personnelles et des emotions avec d'otre personnes. Voos ave raison."
I took a deep breath from my horrible french. I pronounced every single word wrong, the grammar was undoubtedly incorrect, and I knew it. I glanced at Jon to see him stifling a chuckle. "You promised" I hissed.
He shook his head and rid himself of the smile just like that. "I-I'm sorry... go on..."
I glared at him and then looked back down at my paper, hands shaking a little bit. Maybe the ice cream wasn't such a good idea... "Nuh pas l'habitud de me le dire mais cest vrai en ce moment. Et.... j'j'ai ete tres enfantin ces... derniers temps et je m'en excuse. J'espere que noos pouvons aller de l'av-ant et reve-nire a la normale.... Si ce nest pas, je comprends et-"
Basically, I apologized for not telling Jon about my problems, and I explained that I don't like to talk about those types of things. I told him that he was right, but he shouldn't get used to it. I also apologized because I was being childish. I was in the middle of saying that I hoped we could return to normal, but if not, I understood, when he skated over to me and touched my arm. That was all. A small gesture, really. He lowered the paper and just pet my arm.
"Don't finish the sentence...." he sighed dropping his stick to the ice with a 'clack'. "I'm sorry for being so distant.... It wasn't completely your fault..."
I stood there silently for a moment, staring up at him in disbelief. "Wait-wait-wait-wait... you... you actually understood all of that?!" I questioned incredulously, my face a bit pink.
Jon chuckled quietly. "More or less... Yes... it was horribly pronounced and you sounded like a five year old, but I got the gist of what you were saying..." He tucked a stray hair behind my ear and it made me jump. "I was kind of hoping you would come...." He bent down and gave me a light kiss. "I'm glad you did.... even if I now know I won't always be right..."
"Me too... I'm glad I grew some balls and just said something... I'm really sorry, Jon... I promise, I'll try to be more open with you-about everything-anything you want!" I insisted. Jon smirked and gazed down at me. "Are-are we good?" I asked.
He nodded and gave me a peck on the cheek. "Almost..." I looked at him quizzically for a moment. Jon held my hands tightly in his. "Elizabeth, you can't skate, can you?"
I threw back my head and let out a boisterous laugh, hearing it echo through the empty arena. "What gave me away?" I teased. "The fact that I wouldn't let go of the boards, or that moment when I almost took a face plant trying to skate over to you?" Jon's smirk turned into a full on grin. "What...?"
Jon slowly backed away, dropping my hands as he went. He skated backwards and picked up his stick as he increased the distance between us. "Alright then..."
"Hey...hey! Whare are you going?" I called, my body falling forward without his body there to steady me.
He chuckled and skated a quick circle around me. "Time to learn how, then, Elizabeth Teagan..." he joked as I desperately reached out for him. Jon slipped away form my grasp and encouraged me forward. "Come on, come and get me."
"First off, how do you know my middle name? Secondly, this isn't funny!" I whined as I flailed my arms in the air, trying my best to find my balance. My feet slowly slid away from one another, making it increasingly difficult to stand. "Jon-Jon... Jon!" I called. My feet were soon so far apart, not even my flapping arms could save me. Before I knew it, I was falling backward, bracing myself for the cold, hard ice to make contact with my butt.
I realized I hadn't actually hit the ground when I opened my eyes and I was still at average eye level. I felt Jon's arms around my waist, holding me to him. "You okay?" he asked as he helped me back to my feet.
I turned and smacked him in the chest only to receive a chortle in response. "Haha, very funny. Leave a girl who can't skate in the middle of the ice." Jon began laughing really hard, so hard, he doubled over and continued laughing. "Yuk it up... Are we even now?"
Jon took a couple deep breaths. "I'm sorry... It's just... you looked so ridiculous." I growled under my breath and wound up to punch him square in the jaw, knowing he wouldn't even feel it. When I followed through with the swing, I lost my balance, missed him completely, and struggled to stay on my feet. I fell backward and was flat on my back in five seconds flat.
If I thought Jon was laughing then, I was wrong. his face practically went red from all the hilarity. I couldn't help but smile at seeing him so happy. I don't think I'd ever seen him like that before, so free... I giggled a little too. "Alright, that was pretty funny..."
Jon shook his head, bent over, and extended a hand to me. "I-Im sorry... NOW we're good..."
I sat up, reached for his hand and gripped it tightly. I gave him a flash of my teeth and dragged him down to the cold ice with me. I giggled as he squirmed to sit upright. "No... Now we're good." I corrected, lightly shoving him.
"Fine, Bennett... we're even..." he chuckled as he laid his head on my lap. It lasted a moment, because a couple seconds later, he was on his feet and pulling me to mine. ''Alright, come on..." Jon had his hands on my waist and he guided me carefully across the ice.
I wobbled nervously, praying I wouldn't fall again, especially considering how my butt felt after the first one. "What are we doing?" I asked, trying to focus on keeping my skates going in the right direction.
"I'm going to teach you how to skate... the right way." he answered, bringing me to center ice.
I cackled. "We'll see about that one Captain.