Here To Stay
On the drive home, my phone buzzed violently, but I didn't bother to answer it because I was nearly at the apartment. When I got into the parking lot, I forgot about the text message and slid my phone into my pocket. Eventually, after I was inside and I was bored waiting for the game, I picked my cell up and noticed a notification. The text was from an unknown number, and I almost deleted it. Fortunately, I read through it just to make sure it wasn't somebody I knew.
Hey Elizabeth, it's Jon. What's up?
Goddammit Kaner. Stop being right. I opened a new message, ready to reply, when the phone vibrated again in my hand. The screen shifted and it displayed an incoming call from the same number. I had to take a couple deep breaths to calm my heart down before answering. "Hello?" I asked.
"Hey, Elizabeth." he greeted. Jon became silent as if I called him and he was waiting for me to talk.
I responded, "Oh, hey Jon. How are you?" I sounded like a robot, still wondering why he was calling me.
"I'm alright, how about yourself?" he questioned. I heard a noise in the background, a couple guys yelling. Must be traveling still.
I glanced around the room, bored. "I'm... good, good." I sighed, accidentally, exposing my bored-self.
"Bored as hell, eh?" he chuckled. I just laughed quietly in response. "Yeah, I know how you feel. Stuck on a bus with a bunch of weirdos."
I heard Kane call, "But I'm the best weirdo."
"Of course you are." I laughed. Jon relayed the message for me. "Excited for the game?"
"Yeah. Should be fun. So, I watched you on tv today." he commented.
I blushed at the thought. "Oh, really? What did you think?"
"I thought the interview looked pretty cool... but you seemed like you wanted to kill Kenny. Did your boss notice anything?" Jon pressed.
Should I really be talking with him about this? I mean, he's a nice guy, I don't think he'd make fun of me or blab it to anyone or anything like that. Still... would I even tell Pat this stuff? "Not really... but I convinced him to let me do the sports coverage at different times, so I don't have to see him." I piped up.
"Oh, that's great! Congratulations." he cheered enthusiastically, or at least as enthusiastic as Jonathan Toews can sound.
I smiled and laughed, "Thanks, but it's really all thanks to you." Jon waited quietly as I paused. "I was either going to ask to change branches of reporting or to change my time slot in exchange for the interview, and I chose the time slot. So, thanks."
"Hey, you're the reporter, right? I mean, you could have gotten any other player, and I'm sure you could have accomplished the same thing." he insisted confidently.
I thanked him again, and then we both got progressively quiet. I realized, I didn't know why he had called in the first place. "Oh, so, what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Oh! Right, well... nothing actually." he chortled. I laughed for a moment. "Yeah, I mean, I texted you, but you never responded, so I wanted you to know that this was my number... you know in case you needed it..... plus I was kind of bored waiting to get to the hotel."
"Fair enough. So, how's the trek?" I wondered.
Jon heaved a long sigh and thought about it for a moment. "Alright. Pat's been messing around on his iPad, so he's left me alone. Viktor, however, heard that I was calling you and decided to listen in on the conversation."
"Hi, Ellie!" he chimed in the background.
I giggled, "Hey, Viktor. Miss me?"
"Only all the time! You miss me?" he teased. His voice got louder, and I figured that he stole the phone away from Jon at this point.
I joked, "So much, buddy. I wish I was there."
"No you don't... the guys all stink, literally. Ow!" Viktor whined. Someone punched him in the arm, no doubt. "Next time you come to a game, you're wearing a Stalberg shirt, okay?"
"Alright." I laughed.
"I mean it, none of your 'boys' or whatever, especially not Jon! He's such a-ouch!" There was a crackling noise and a growl before things quieted down.
"Sorry about that. Viktor's an asshole." Jon apologized.
I ribbed, "Are you sure you just don't want me to wear your shirt?" Did I just say that?
"Yeah, you should. Anything is better than a Stalberg tee." he laughed. Phew. No flirting involved. I looked down at my hands and heaved a sigh. "You don't know what to do with all this free time, eh?"
I laughed, "No! I really don't! Last time I had this much time to myself, the best thing I could think of was to nap..."
"Well, that's good for me, you're keeping me company." he blurted out. I blushed at his comment. There was mumbling in the background and Jon started chuckling. "Pat told me to ask if you're blushing."
"Tell Kaner to shove it." I gasped, shocked that he would throw me under the bus like that.
"Uh... I'm not repeating what he said." Jon laughed. I shook my head and groaned at the thought. "How have you stayed friends with this clown for so long?"
Thinking about it, I answered honestly. "I really don't know. He's like a fungus: he's disgusting, he grows on you, and he's tough to get rid of." This got Jon laughing his ass off. Pat was begging to know what I said, but Jon refused to tell him.
Once we both calmed down, I brought up Logan's idea. He hadn't heard of it, so I laid it out for him. "Nick wanted me to enter so he wouldn't get the cat lady." I giggled.
"No, you should enter for me." Jon chuckled. I didn't know how serious he was being, but I didn't care. Ask me out. Ask me out. "But it sounds like fun. I hope I get someone normal."
Pat argued, "But if you dated Elizabeth, it would be normal."
"Pat!" I hissed over the phone.
"What? It's true! You are normal... mostly." he laughed.
I heard Pat groan, probably because Jon hit him. "What are you, a matchmaker all of a sudden? Shut your trap." he scoffed.
"I'm sorry for Kaner's obnoxiousness." I apologized, laughing.
"Not your fault. So, you going to watch the game tonight?" he asked, tactfully changing the subject.
I glared at the television, imagining me watching a Blackhawks game. "Yes. Probably, if I don't fall asleep before then."
"Good, should be interesting. Especially with the Sedins..." Jon left the sentence hanging as if he was really thinking about it.
I encouraged, "Yeah, well, you better take the twins down, for me."
"Will do." he laughed. "I'll see if I can get a couple goals too."
"Better get at least one," I teased. "Or else..."
"Or else, what? You gonna do something about it, Bennett?" he chuckled, letting the skepticism rise in his voice.
I threatened, "Oh, i'll beat your ass! Plus, I'll make sure you get the cat lady for the raffle."
"Psh, you couldn't take me even if you tried. And Logan wouldn't let me get the cat lady on purpose... would she?" Jon grew silent, and I let him sweat for a second. "Elizabeth?"
"I'm only teasing about the cat lady thing." I laughed. Jon heaved a sigh of relief. "Still, I could take you on any day of the week."
Jon challenged, "Alright, Tuesday, when we get back for the Wild game, you and I will duke it out."
"You're on." I agreed, laughing at my self-deciet.
He confirmed, "Good. Can't wait. I gotta go get my hotel room, but I'll talk to you after the game."
"Good luck!" I called into the phone.
Jon clicked the phone and he was gone. What the actual fuck was that. A legitimate conversation with Jonathan Toews. I mean sure, it was on the phone, but we conversed nonetheless, with human words! What is my life...
Later, Logan got home and we both curled up on the couch in our blackhawks sweatshirts and pajama pants. After ordering some delicious sesame chicken, we split a bowl of Ben & Jerry's before the game started. "So, he just called?"
"Yeah... strange, right? And the worst part, Kaner saw it coming." I answered Logan's question as she put our bowls in the sink.
"Hmm... seems fishy." she commented vaguely as she snuggled on the couch in her spot again. "Also seems like a lot of flirting. Be careful, don't be the rebound."
I nodded. But what if I want to be the rebound? What if I don't care? What if I just want him? "Oh, the games starting!"
Jon's number was visible as the puck dropped and he won the face-off. Pat and Jon took the puck and charged Vancouver's net, but Henrik Sedin managed to steal the puck and take it to neutral zone. Unfortunately, within the first five minutes of the first period, the Sedin brothers faked out the defenseman and scored on Crawford. The crowd went wild, but Jon's face was as hard to read as ever.
The rest of the period was scoreless, but physical. Whenever Jon was on the ice at the same time as the top scorers of the Canucks, mainly the Sedins, he became an aggressive force and tried to set up Nick and Pat to score. The second period was similar, except Jon snagged the puck away from Kesler, got a break away, and scored against Luongo. Still somewhat serious, Jon's eyes lit up as the puck slid in, five-hole.
The second period ended in a tie. That was not the case in the third period. Unfortunately, the puck glided by Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Ryan Kesler scored. By the end, the hawks had lost their stamina. Most of the attempts to turn the puck over were weak, and a couple players got penalties which didn't help either. The score ended 2-1, Canucks, but overall, it was a close game.
"Well that was disappointing." Logan frowned and looked at me. "At least he got the goal and messed with the Sedins, right?" I nodded and gazed at the television, waiting for the post-game interviews. Logan stared at me, curled up on the couch, quiet but upset. "Well, i'm going to go to bed. Have a big day tomorrow. Sleep well, okay? Don't stay up too late?" I just shrugged in response as the commercials rolled by. Logan patted my head and retreated into her room.
I fell asleep on the couch within a half an hour. Jon called at around eleven thirty-ish, an hour and a half after the game officially ended. The ring woke me up, and I quickly answered. "Hello?" I yawned groggily.
"Hey-hey. You okay?" he asked with a laugh.
"Yeah... yeah, fine." I insisted, stifling a yawn.
Jon chuckled, "Tired, over there?"
"Not a bit." I perked up and tried to sound energetic.
He was quiet for a moment. "You're talking to a guy who is basically the definition of tired. Nice try. Fell asleep?"
"Yeah.. I watched the game though!" I asserted enthusiastically.
Jon groaned, "Then you saw the sad attempt we call a game?"
"It wasn't sad. You guys hung with 'em until the end. They outplayed you, but you could easily do the same to them." I argued.
"Thanks." he responded quietly. "I got the goal though." His tone picked up.
I agreed, "Yeah! And you gave the Sedins a rough time. I'm really proud of you." As if he cares whether this new chick is proud of him or not.
"Thanks, thanks a lot." Jon sounded a lot happier, but he got extremely silent again.
I wondered, "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah... well, no." he confessed. " I waited patiently for him to decide whether he wanted to share his feelings with an almost-stranger. "Right, well... this is the second loss in a row for the hawks..."
I nodded and waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't. "Yeah, so? Big deal."
"But, the hawks haven't lost three consecutive games in years, and... I don't want to be the first captain to break that sort of record...." he explained, worried.
"Jon... you're a great captain, and you know that the boys won't care if they lose three consecutive games, as long as they win some after it." I countered.
He growled, "That's not good enough. I care. I need to do better."
"Jeez, captain competitive. You'll be fine. I promise. I know you won't let it happen. It's a rough patch, but you'll make a comeback." I felt like a mom trying to convince her son to get back on a bicycle after falling off several times.
Jon huffed, "We'll see.... So, how are you on this fine evening?"
"I'm... tired." I admitted.
He chuckled, "Knew it. You should probably go to sleep."
"Nope, I want to keep you company." I insisted. Could you sound anymore like a sad puppy.
"Elizabeth. Go to bed." he commanded.
I mocked, "You can't tell me what to do."
"Okay, please go to bed. It would make me happy to know you are resting." he pleaded.
"Oh, fine, you aren't too bored over there in Vancouver?" I asked.
Jon laughed, "I'll be alright. Pat and I might go down to the bar in the hotel soon. Never too late for a beer, right?"
"Sounds like fun. Tell him I say hi, and I'll talk to you later." I concluded.
"Goodnight, Elizabeth. Sleep well." he breathed. I clicked the phone off, tossed it away, and hopped under my covers, thoroughly happy to hear his voice before bed.
That Monday, I slept in, thankfully, due to my change in schedule. I didn't have to go in until noon to record a promotion commercial for the switch of Cynthia and I for time slots. Then, I had to get the most recent information for both the Wild and the Blackhawks for a prediction of the outcome of the game as well as anything of interest that happened on either team.
Logan was gone, most likely at the United Center, developing a plan for the raffle. Reluctantly, I got up and made myself some eggs and toast. As I ate my breakfast on my couch in silence, my phone vibrated next to me. I picked it up and read that I had a missed call and a text message. The text was from Kaner.
Pat: I told you so.
Me: I don't know what you're talking about...
After I texted him back, I checked my voicemail. Nick called to ask if I was coming to the Minnesota game and he asked if I was wearing a Wright shirt or a Stalberg shirt. Scratch that, he threatened to kill me if I wore a Stalberg shirt. Nick mentioned that if they won, that Logan and I should go out to dinner with them and a couple of the other guys too. Pat texted me back the second after the message ended.
Pat: Jon called you last night... right?
Me: Oh, that... yeah, so?
Pat: Nothing, just wanted to officially welcome you into Jon's life...
Me: What is that supposed to mean?
Pat: You'll see ;)
I rolled my eyes and tossed my phone on the couch. I put my dishes in the sink and checked the clock. It was ten thirty and I had to leave around eleven fifteen. Time to get ready. I skipped into my room, laid out an outfit, and got changed. I did my makeup and picked up my purse, ready to leave.
I jumped. "Ole ole ole ole... ole ole!" my phone rang as Ole by the Bouncing Souls echoed throughout my empty apartment and nearly scared me half to death. I snatched it from the couch and answered, "Hello?"
"Hey Ellie," Kaner sang. I groaned as I click-clacked out the door in my obnoxious heels. "Aww, miss me?"
"The day I miss you is the day hell freezes over. What's up?" I asked, locking the door behind me.
He sighed. "Nothing, in the airport right now, waiting for my flight. So, you and Jon..."
"Yeah... what about us?" I questioned as I skidded down the hall to the elevator. "I mean him." I blushed involuntarily, as usual.
Pat chuckled, "Well, what did you two talk about last night?"
"How did you know he called me last night in the first place?" I wondered, confused. The elevator dinged open and I slid inside.
"He's one of my best friends... we talk. So, what did you talk about?" he pressed on.
"If you two talk so much, then you should know, shouldn't you?" The elevator doors opened at the lobby and I jogged out, toward the parking lot. "I don't know, stuff. The game mostly, and how you guys all played."
"Ha! I-oh... wait, what?" Pat sputtered. I found my car and turned it on, waiting for it to heat up. "I... wait, that's it? That's all you guys talked about?"
I set the phone on the console between the driver and passenger seat and put it on speaker. "I-yeah... why?" Pat never tells me anything, mainly to watch me squirm. Asking why he was so worked up would be utterly futile.
"Oh... okay.... Well, what are you doing today?" he asked.
"News commercial shoot at noon, then pre-game information." I answered, monotone.
Pat added, "And Logan?"
Why was he asking about Logan? He practically hates her. "Uh... I don't know, work I guess. Why?" I pestered.
"I'm bored!" he nearly screamed into the phone. "So... was it just like the bestest day like ever when Jon called?" Pat imitated a teenage girl as best as he could.
I grumbled, "Shut it Kaner."
"What? Embarrassed about your little crush?" he taunted.
"I honestly don't have feelings for him like that! Will you leave it alone?" I whined.
Pat grumbled something and then insisted, "Nope... probably not. But in all seriousness, do you like him?" He waited for me to answer. Fat chance, bub. When I didn't reply, he continued on. "I promise I won't tell him if you do." Silence is key. "Ellie, listen, I won't tell anyone."
"Why do you care about my personal life all of a sudden?" I scoffed as I pulled into the station parking lot. "I've been in Chicago for a while and now seems like the best time to pry into my life?"
He elaborated, "Well, since you're living here, might as well get used to seeing you, right? What better way to do that than by learning your most important secrets."
"You realize that the explanation you just gave me makes just about no sense, right?" I laughed as I locked my car.
Pat groaned, "Just tell me, okay?"
"No, you'll make fun of me!" I argued as I walked up to the station doors.
"I won't! I just want to hear you say it!" I walked in and laughed as Pat whined over the phone repeatedly. As I walked through the hall, I got closer to my dressing room. He got louder and louder in my ear until I was sure that people across the street could hear him through the phone.
"Pat, don't beg, it's not cute on you." I teased as I opened the door to my dressing room. Unfortunately, as I entered, I caught Kenny watching me walk across the hall before I entered. He was glaring, but more importantly, he was glaring at the phone in my hand.
"I can make anything cute..." I heard Kaner's voice faintly in the back of my head. I ignored Kenny as my makeup artist painted my face with more war paint. "Pat, I like him, okay? But nothing is going to happen, alright. He's probably still hung up on his ex, and I would never do that to him. Now, I have to go get some makeup on, I'll talk to you later."
"I knew it!"
"Bye Kaner, have a safe flight." I cackled.
"Bye Mrs. T-" he started. I hung up before he could finish the statement.
Twenty minutes later, I was sitting on a couch with my new cohost, Dean Jones. We made a quick scripted commercial and quickly wrapped it up. I had never worked with Dean, but I heard nothing but great things about him, and I was extremely excited. He and I chatted for a couple minutes about sports in between takes, which we frequently messed up.
After another half an hour, he left to go home for the day, until the Blackhawks game. I did the same, accidentally bumping into Kenny on my way out. He grabbed my elbow and tried to say something, but I spun away and proceeded to my car.
I drove to the United Center to watch the boys practice, and to have lunch with Logan. I parked in the back and greeted Bill on my way inside. I found Logan in her new office, waiting patiently. She and I went downstairs to the restaurant and got some sandwiches before heading inside to watch the boys practice.
"So, how was the promotional commercial?" Logan asked as we took our seats a couple rows away from the glass.
I shrugged. "Fine... Dean, my new cohost, is nice and smart. But Kenny tried to stop me on my way out.... I thought I wasn't going to have to see him anymore." Logan patted me on the back and I sluggishly looked up at the ice. Jon had stopped by the bench to take a sip of his water bottle. He smirked at Logan and I, and he completely swept the sad thoughts from my mind. It's a wonder we're allowed inside for these practices, because the guys can get distracted in between breaks when they see their friends, well, the young ones anyways.
Logan let go of me and gave him a small wave before he skated away to join the drills. "It'll get easier though... you know it." she assured me with a smile. Logan took a sip of her sprite and kicked back in her seat, putting her feet on the seat in front of her. "Just relax. You've got the better job now, and you get paid to do what you love. Everything else will fall into place."
"You're right." There was a pause in the practice. Most of the guys were going to get a drink while a couple stayed behind and just slid around. Toews and Stalberg stood on the opposite side of the rink, directly across from Logan and I. Stalberg, leaning against the boards, looked up as he talked to Jon and noticed me. He winked and nodded at me. I waved and smiled back. He tugged at his jersey and mouthed the words 'wear my shirt?'. I just shrugged.
Viktor was the perfect combination of annoying and cute, if there ever was one. Jon watched the transaction between the two of us and he shook his head, annoyed. He shoved Viktor, pointed at me with his glove, and told him something that I couldn't hear. Viktor pointed at me and then poked Jon in the chest. Jon pushed him back harder, causing Viktor to lose his balance.
The boys went back and forth like this for about a minute, smiling the whole time. Eventually, the two of them were wrestling around on the ice like two little kids. Viktor threw some jabs to Jon and Jon punched him once before raising his gloves in surrender. Viktor got to his feet and looked to me. He grinned and bowed as if the mini-brawl was for me. Logan just rolled her eyes and Viktor blew her a kiss.
I stared at Jon who had sprawled himself on the ice. Once he sat up, Viktor helped him to his feet, laughing the whole time. Jon looked to me and shrugged, mouthing the word 'sorry' as if him losing the 'fight' was offensive in some way.
Just then, I heard Logan groan. I turned to see Pat squirting his water bottle in her direction. He chuckled and smirked as she glared at him. When nobody was looking, Logan flipped him off, and Kaner burst out laughing before skating away to continue practice. "I really hate him... like really."
"You love him and you know it." I laughed, taking a swig of her soda.
She glared at me and then stared down at a patch of carved up ice. "Yeah... but only because I have to." she countered.
"What did he do that ticked you off so much anyways?" I wondered as I gave her her soda back.
Logan let her shoulders sag against the plastic seat. "He was just staring at me. It freaked me out. Then when I glared at him, he just smirked and said something smart that I couldn't hear."
"You know he's just doing that to get under your skin, right? It's easy to piss you off." I explained, pressing one of the bubbles on the plastic soda cover.
"Don't touch the bubbles!" she hissed, trying to un-pop the bubble. I gave her a look and laughed. "Okay, so maybe I don't have the best temper...."
"That's a gross understatement." I laughed.
We watched the boys practice for a while, but eventually, Logan had to get back to work. She was brainstorming still for the raffle, trying to add more activities to the evening to make it extra special and exciting for everyone. I, however, had no life and friends other than the ones who worked in the United Center, so I hung out around the lower level and waited for Nick to come out, hoping I could talk about dinner possibilities.
I sat down on a couch in the miniature lobby which was empty except for a security guard. I huffed as guys exited. A couple waved at me, recognizing me as a family friend of one of their teammates, but most didn't actually know me. Patrick Sharp smiled and patted me on the shoulder as he passed.
Daniel Carcillo beamed down at me as he exited. It was weird seeing him with a full set of teeth... "Hey, my Philly girl." Dan pushed a fist toward me and I gave him a pound.
"Hey, looked good in practice today." I complimented with a smirk.
"Thanks... these Blackhawks... they don't mess around. Just as hard if not harder practices than the Flyers." Dan nodded as if I should know that. Common knowledge, obviously.
I nodded and smiled back. "Right, well, can't wait to really see you in action again. Make sure you get a few good fights in this season, okay?" I teased.
"Will do, Philly. See you around." he chuckled as he walked down the hall to the elevator. What a guy.
Next to exit was Niklas Hjalmarsson. He shot me a salute as he passed. I didn't know what to do, so I saluted him right back. A couple other guys passed by soon after, half of them didn't acknowledge me, and that's just fine.
Viktor walked out later on. He saw me and grinned. "Ellison!" he cheered. Where Ellison came from, I do not know. I smiled and he took the seat on the couch next to me. "Did you like practice?"
"I did, I did." I laughed. I shook my head, still surprised by the new nickname. When he gave me a perplexed expression, I explained. "I just don't know where Elision came from."
He looked down and thought about it for a moment. "I don't really know, you just look like an Ellison. Do you like Ellie better, or Elizabeth?" he asked, concerned.
I shrugged and threw my hands in the air. "Whatever, it honestly doesn't matter to me. I liked your dramatic episode on the ice today with Toews, it was funny."
"That's what I was aiming for. We were fighting for your honor." he joked, lounging back as his chest heaved to the beat of his laughter.
I gasped, "Oh! That's what you two were talking about! Now it makes sense." I giggled and shook my head.
"Yeah, Jon wasn't really a fan of you wearing my shirt tonight. Speaking of which-" Viktor turned around and pulled a red and black Stalberg shirt from behind his back and handed it to me. "Wear it with pride." He smiled as I took it from him and held it up to myself.
I smiled and set it down in my lap. "Thanks... uh... Tork." I laughed and gave him a small hug. I don't think he was expecting the hug, or the nickname, but I gave both.
"Tork?" he questioned skeptically as he returned the quick hug. "Now where did that come from?"
I shrugged. "I rearranged the last four letters in your name, just move the 'k' to the end and you have tork."
"Alright... I can live with that, Ellison from Philly. I got to go take a nap, but I'll see you at the game?" he asked, double-checking as he stood up from the couch.
I nodded and held up my new Stalberg tee. "You kidding me? How could I miss it? I gotta go show off my new tee-shirt, right?" I laughed. Viktor shook his head as he left.
Eventually, I ran through the roster in my head and figured out that the only ones left in the locker room were the usuals. I knocked on the door and entered, eyes covered. "Everyone decent?" Cue sexual innuendo from Patrick Kane... now!
"Decently naked." Kane responded in a deep voice.
Nick assured me, "Come on in Ellie. We're good." I opened my eyes as I came in. "Where's Logan?"
"Finalizing some details about the raffle." The boys gave a collective groan. "Come on, it won't be that bad. You could get a wonderful person. Hey! Maybe she'll be young and beautiful and smart and you'll each fall in love!" Pat gagged at the idea. "Okay... never mind. Just... be supportive, okay? She's really looking forward to it!"
Nick and Jon nodded. Pat shrugged. "So, how were we looking out there?" Pat inquired.
"Good, good. I think-I mean, I know you guys will destroy Wild tonight." On the word know, I shot Jon an intense stare, emphasizing the word. He looked at me for a second before breaking eye contact. "You guys are so ready."
"We'll see..." Kaner huffed, stripping out of his shirt.
"What's that?" Jon snarled. I turned to see him glaring at something in my hands. I was still holding the Stalberg shirt. He looked up at me and glared, playfully of course. "It isn't..."
I unraveled the shirt to expose the last name to all three of them. Jon groaned. "Is there a problem?" I laughed, folding the shirt back up into my arms.
"No... not if you like Stalberg. The only thing worse than a Stalberg shirt is a Kane shirt." Jon ribbed.
"Hey!" Pat growled.
I shrugged. "Well, you did lose the fight, right? I don't think you have a say anymore." I teased, raising an eyebrow.
"I let him win. Besides, we still have a fight of our own, right?" he asked. Jon got up from his seat, still in his skates which added a good couple inches to his height. He walked over to me and towered over me like a sky scraper. "You ready?"
I gulped. He cast a shadow over me, that's how tall he was. "I mean, I wouldn't want to tucker you out anymore, not since you have a game today," I lied. Jon chuckled darkly as he returned to his seat.
Nick asked, "What the hell was that?"
"Nothing, Elizabeth thought she could beat me in a fight." he scoffed.
Pat glanced between Jon and I. "I think she could take you."
"Yeah, my money's on Ellie." Nick laughed.
I smirked and stuck my tongue out at Jon who waved me off and continued to get changed. I sauntered over to Nick and sat in the seat next to him. "So, Nick, about tonight, where are we going?" I asked.
"Dinner?" Pat pestered, eavesdropping.
Nick nodded and looked to me. "Anywhere you guys want, ask Logan. It'll be a night for celebration."
"Yeah, especially when you guys win." I commented with a smirk. Nick smiled and slipped off his skate. Jon heaved a sigh and Pat just ignored it altogether.
"Of course, as well as Logan's promotion and your... opportunity." Nick continued. When he mentioned me, Pat and Jon both looked up and stared at me to see my reaction. Nick locked eyes with me, hoping he didn't say anything to tick me off.
I stood up and rolled my eyes. "Guys, it's fine, really. You can reference the 'opportunity'. I'm over it." I lied. It still stung... deep down. I had never been cheated on before. I hardly knew the guy and it still felt like a gigantic stab in the heart. Nobody said anything. Nick looked up and leaned back in his seat. Pat couldn't look me in the eyes. Jon, however, stared at me like there was no tomorrow. "...Seriously? Why are we quiet right now?"
"I'm sorry." Kaner said suddenly. I glanced over to see him pinching the bridge of his nose. Since when did he start doing that? "It's my fault... I knew he was a- I should have stopped you-done something more than-...I'm sorry."
I almost wanted to cry. He couldn't make eye contact with me and he sounded like an abandoned puppy. Kaner never... ever EVER talked like that to ANYONE. He must feel horrible about it. I would have hugged him, but he's not that kind of guy. "Pat...why are you apologizing? I should have listened to you, and I didn't. My own fault." He picked his head up and finally looked at me, confused. "It's true. I ignored everything you said and it was stupid of me. I deserve the blame." It felt weird taking the wrap for something. That never happens to me.
Pat scrunched his face and tried to make sense of the situation. "But-"
"Fine, you want to make it up to me? Go out and score me a couple goals." I laughed lightly.
He glared at me and teased, "I'll get a hat trick. Just wait."
"Sure, just after they name me ruler of the world!" I cackled, sitting back down with my Stalberg tee.
Nick chuckled as he walked passed, ready to shower. "I'll see you later, Ellie." He patted my shoulder and left.
I looked down at my shirt and ran my fingers over the 'S' in Stalberg. When I looked back up, Pat was looking between me and Jon. He raised an eyebrow and grinned evilly. What are you doing? "Well, I better hit the showers too, if I want to get that pre-game nap in in time."
I mouthed the words 'don't go!' but he shook his head and smiled bigger. "Bye Ellie." I waved and pulled on a fake smile as Jon lifted his head too. Jon nodded at Pat as he retreated into the other room.
"So... you still worried?" I asked once I was sure the other two were gone and out of earshot.
Jon leaned back so that he was up against the wall. "To be honest... fuck yeah." he chuckled. Jon made a grunting noise as he leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees, running his hands through his hair. "It's hard being the serious captain sometimes." he jibed uneasily.
I awkwardly walked over and sat next to him, putting a hand on his leg, hoping he was okay with it. Jon didn't move. He didn't even flinch at the touch. "You're a good captain though... you work hard. You know you guys will be fine tonight. Relax." I squeezed his leg and then returned my hands to my lap.
He slowly picked his head up and turned to me, eyes on melt-mode. "You know, I can't really talk to the guys about this stuff... I couldn't even talk to Diane-" Jon's voice drifted off and he stared away, zoning out. I opened my mouth to ask who Diane was, but by the way his facial expression had changed, I figured it out.
I felt flattered to be compared to someone he wanted to marry, and yet, it was bittersweet. Being compared to someone who had broken his heart. "Jon?" I coughed quietly.
"Right, well... I-I don't know, my point is... you're easy to talk to... and I appreciate it... you listening, I mean." he sputtered. He looked at me and gave me a small smile. Bam. Gorgeous.
"You're welcome.... I'm glad I can help." I insisted with a sheepish grin. I'm pretty sure my cheeks were on fire, yet again. Please don't notice... PLEASE don't notice! "So... ready to win tonight?"
He chuckled and shook his head. "Now I am Ms. Positive. Are you going to do any interviews tonight?" I nodded. First evening interview I was doing with an actual cameraman. "Make sure you come to me, I'll give you a good one."
"Thanks, Tazer." I thanked. Whoops. Am I allowed to call him that? My jaw dropped at my slip up and I covered my mouth, stifling a laugh. He chortled and closed his eyes. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"
Jon waved it away. "Nah, it's no big deal. I didn't expect you to call me that though."
"Well what did you expect me to call you?" I wondered.
He shrugged, looking around the room. "Something else. I don't know."
"I could make something up..." I laughed.
Jon smirked and agreed, "Sounds good." He just stared at me for a moment. I looked back, waiting for him to say something, but I took a wrong turn and just stared at his eyes. Jon coughed. "So, uh... I was wondering... Halloween is coming up and uh... well, I was wondering if you wanted to come over for a costume party Kaner and I are throwing... Most of the guys will be there and... yeah. I thought you might like to come. Plus, you could keep me away from Pat's crazy party plans."
My brain went fuzzy. What do you say to that? Oh wait... FUCK YES. Definitely! But... how do I talk again... I know it's like... you move your mouth or something? As my mind went crazy, sending butterflies through my stomach and chills up my spine, Jon was snapping his fingers in front of me until I regained focus. "Elizabeth?" he called, laughing. He said it with a bit of an accent, so it sounded more like ay-liz-ah-bet, but really fast.
I shook my head and glanced up at him. "Wait, what?" I asked, laughing a little bit too enthusiastically.
"Do you want to come to my halloween party later next week? Bail me out of Kaner's shenanigans?" he repeated, exposing a small smile. He knew he had me hooked before he even asked the question. He had to.
I shrugged and pretended that it was completely normal. I gave a small smile, but remained mostly serious. "Uh, yeah, sure! Sounds cool. Should be fun."
Jon smiled and nodded. "Good. It'll be a lot of fun."
"Can I bring snacks or something?" I asked.
He glared at me and teased, "Stop trying to do so much for people.You don't have to do anything. Just show up."
"Fine! I was just trying to be helpful!" I giggled as I stood up, throwing my hands in the air for effect.
Jon smirked and stood too, still towering over me, even without his skates on. "You want to be helpful?" I nodded and put my hands on my hips. He tugged at the shirt and pulled it from my grasp. I tried to get it back, but he held it high over my head. "Then you should burn this shirt, and wear mine instead."
"Come on, give it back." I hopped for it, but he yanked it higher. "Really? This isn't fair."
He chuckled and put it behind his back. "I'm serious."
I snuck around him and took the shirt. "Uh-no. I promised Tork I would. Next game?"
"Tork?" he scoffed, folding his arms.
I awkwardly scratched my neck and tucked the shirt in my fist. "Uh... yeah... Viktor... Tork." I laughed, uncomfortable.
"Really? Tork? You have Pet nicknames for each other?" he chuckled as he strode by.
I shrugged. "It was better than Stally!"
"I gave him that nickname!" he argued with a smirk. I shook my head and stuck my tongue out. "Fine. Next home game isn't for a week, but next time we're back, will you wear my shirt to the game?" he asked as he stopped by the door.
I nodded and smiled. "WIll do." Jon winked as he walked into the showers, leaving me alone in the locker room.
I couldn't help but jump around excitedly once I was sure he was gone. I did my own little celebration dance and hummed a victory song. I shook my ass like I was dancing in a club when I heard someone clear his throat. I froze and turned to see Pat standing in the doorway, hair wet, in casual clothing. He was leaning on the door, arms crossed, smiling like a goofball. "Was that for Toews, or me?" he ribbed as he joined me in the room.
I threw my hands to my face, thoroughly embarrassed. "You will not tell anyone about this." I whispered as he stood in front of me.
"That's debatable. So, how did it go?" he asked, throwing an arm around me and leading me out of the room. I rolled my eyes, hoping he wouldn't notice or ask the question again. Fat chance. "So... tell me all about it, girlfriend." Kaner sang in a girlish voice, making me laugh.
I smiled and gushed, overexcited. "He invited me to the Halloween Party, and he asked me to wear his shirt next home game." I neglected to tell the part about his nervousness for the next game, figuring he didn't want his teammates to know about his skepticism.
"Wow... sounds like a date." he joked as we hopped into the elevator.
I shook my head and knocked his arm off. "We're friends... he's still hung up on Diane, I know it. He almost compared me to her today..."
"How so?" he asked, leaning against the wall.
"I'm easier to talk to than her, apparently..." I answered, unimpressed.
Pat shrugged. "I don't know... Jon is the king of forgetting. Diane was making him miserable towards the end of their relationship. He started to lose interest because she didn't understand his hectic schedule, and she made his life hell because of it."
"But, he obviously liked her for some reason if he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her!" I argued as the elevator 'pinged' open. "I can't just walk in and take her spot."
"Well... he wanted to marry her before she went all psycho. About two months before the breakup, he started to get fed up with her. That basically blew his idea of marriage." he explained. I don't understand. Why the fuck are you being so nice and helpful.
"Why the fuck are you being so nice and helpful?" I blurted out. Oops... guess I wasn't just thinking it.
"I don't know..." he answered honestly as we got off on Logan's floor. We walked down the hall to her office and knocked.
I questioned, "Well, what do you think he's thinking."
Pat looked at me meaningfully. "If he's half the man I think he is, he's thinking that he has a wonderful person in front of him and he's trying to find a way to keep her...." What the fuck, sentimental turd. I smiled and gave him a hug. He was definitely still feeling guilty about Kenny. I wouldn't blame him.
"Hey guys." Logan called from behind the door as it swung open. Pat and I walked in. "Welcome to the new office."
"Nice." I commented.
Kaner smiled warmly and put his hands in his jean pockets. "Congrats on the promotion. We just came up to talk to you about dinner tonight. Have any places in mind?"
Logan, who was looking a a piece of paper, set it face-down on her desk and smiled. "Actually, I know just the place. After the game, we'll all meet up, and I'll show you, okay?"
"Sounds good." I agreed. I glanced up at the clock that hung to the side of her desk. "Oh! I have to go get ready for the pre-game interviews! I'll see you guys later!"
I rushed out of the room and hurried through the United Center to the exit. On my way, I took a quick detour and looked at the rink from high above. I could have sworn I saw someone skating on the ice, but I ignored it and quickly retreated to my car.
It probably wasn't the best idea to leave the two of them back at the office, considering Logan and Kaner were like cats and dogs, but I had no choice.
Forty minutes later, I was being prepped with Dean. We hopped in the news van and drove down to the United Center after we finished a segment about the Bulls most recent away game. After we got to the arena, we got our special passes, found our seats in the press box, and settled to watch the game. During one of the intermissions, I met up with Logan to grab a snack.
"Sorry I had to leave earlier," I commented as I took a bite of a hotdog. Logan looked down at her cup and swished the soda around as she twirled the cup. She wouldn't look at me. "What's wrong?"
She shook her head and took a sip. "Nothing. I'm... kind of glad you left..."
"Ouch... I said I was sorry! What more-" I started, feeling hurt.
Logan laughed, "No, not like that! Something happened..." She broke off and watched as people passed by through the hall. I stared at her and brought her back to Earth when I cleared my throat. "Right! Sorry... well, Kaner asked me to the Halloween party."
"Well, weren't you already invited because you're Nick's sister?" I inquired, confused. She broke eye contact and looked down. Hmm... Pat asked her to the party... no big-wait! "Wait! Like.. he asked you out?"
She shook her head. "No, not exactly. He just genuinely asked me to show up. Like.. a friend would." Logan explained.
"Wait, he treated you like a human being?" I scoffed, nearly choking on my hot dog. Logan shrugged and mirrored my look of surprise. "Wow... he must really feel guilty." Logan nodded and sipped her soda.
"Right, well, I'll see you after the game, right?" she asked, standing up. "I have to get back to my seat. I'm with the wives and girlfriends tonight and they told me to hurry back." Logan smiled, obviously having fun with the women behind the Chicago Blackhawks.
I nodded, "Yeah. Dinner is a definite. Go have fun with the girls, I'll meet you in the locker room?" Logan gave me a quick nod and then walked in the opposite direction towards the main lobby.
The game was tied for most of regulation time. Every time the Wild scored a goal, the Hawks put another one up on the board to match. Jon had an assist, and Kaner finally scored a goal for himself. However, Jon's face never reflected the happiness and excitement of his teammates as he skated by to bump knuckles with them.
"So close..." Dean mumbled, moving to the edge of his seat. I chuckled nervously, praying that the Hawks would win, for Jon's sake.
The third period rolled around, and the score was 3-2, Minnesota in the lead. Nick, on a new line with Stalberg and Carcillo, snagged a breakaway in the last minute of the period. He blazed past a couple forwards, but nearly got tripped up by two defensemen. Thankfully, Carcillo stayed on one of them and kept him out of Nick's way. The other defenseman fell back, unable to keep up with Nick.
There was ten seconds left in the period. The crowd was on their feet, screaming for a goal as if their lives depended upon it. Nick faked right, pretending to shoot high, and the goalie went for it, taking the bait. Last second, Nick spun on one skate and shot to the left, bottom corner.
Time stopped as the puck squeezed by the goalie's pads and went into the net. The buzzer sounded and the goal song blared loud and clear: Chelsea Dagger. Dean and I leapt in our chairs, along with every other living creature in the stadium.
After the goal, Nick flew into the boards, tired from the force it took to push himself to be the fastest on the ice. Dan raced over and hugged him, literally picking him up off the ice. Stalberg soon joined in and touched gloves as well as tapped his head. The three of them, along with the defensemen, skated over to the bench to give high-fives. Nick, the last to tap everyone, was stopped by Jon who tapped him, but brought him in for a quick hug before Nick skated away.
The period ended, 3-3, and it was time for overtime. The next five minutes were filled with heavy hits, tons of shots, and high tensions. The crowd burst whenever a Hawk came remotely close to the Minnesota goalie. However, it still ended in a tie.
For the shootout, a player for Minnesota went but missed; the puck went straight into Crawford's chest. Nick shot first for the Hawks, but moved too early, before the goalie did. He shook his head as he skated to the bench, banging his stick on the ice. Minnesota shot again, top-shelf, but thankfully, Crawford moved swiftly and caught it. Patrick Sharp took the second shot, tried to go five-hole. Still, the goalie moved to fast and saved it. The last Minnesota player skated up and went to take the shot, but tripped over something as he shot, causing the puck to go wide.
The crowd went crazy, pumped for the chance for the Hawks to take advantage of the situation. As the last player for the Blackhawks skated onto the ice, the United Center fell silent. Finally, last of all, Jonathan Toews took a running start and skated toward the puck. He picked it up, and everyone began cheering again, praying for a win and an end to the losing streak.
Jon quickly moved up the ice, eyes on the back of the net. He made a couple dekes, confusing the goalie a little. Then, he made a move to shoot five-hole. The goalie instinctively closed his legs together and attempted to block the shot that never came. Jon shot the puck high and to the left, just grazing the pipe as it went in.
The buzzer sounded and the crowd went nuts. If you didn't know any better, you might think that the Hawks had won the cup, it was so loud. You couldn't hear the music if you tried. Jon glided back to center ice and nearly collapsed from the weight that was immediately lifted from his shoulders. All the guys flew out onto the ice and nearly dog-piled Toews.
Dean, the cameramen and I all leapt from out seats and hopped up and down, overexcited with happiness. We all hugged each other and I went as far as to kiss both Dean and the cameramen on the cheek. We hooted and hollered, but Dean and I had to quiet ourselves in order to preserve our voices for the interviews.
Before going downstairs, I headed into the bathroom and changed into a suit, instead of my jeans and 'Stalberg' tee which was unprofessional. Luckily, Logan was nice enough to bring me my change of clothes before the end of the game, so it was a quick change.
As we made out way downstairs, we could hear music and laughter erupting from the locker room before we even got to the floor. When we walked in, the guys were all chattering away to one another, a few preparing for interviews. I snagged a spot by Jon, for an up-close interview with my cameraman, while Dean walked over to Nick to ask a few questions.
I just let the other interviewers ask most of the questions, but I did manage to ask two. "What were you thinking when you took the penalty shot?" I asked.
Jon ran his fingers through his sweaty hair. "Ahh... I better make this fricken goal or I'll be pissed." he chuckled. Everyone around him laughed too. He added, "Except replace fricken with another word."
I pressed further, "Was there any pressure to break the losing streak? How does it feel now that you did break the streak?" I pushed my microphone at him and he tried to push back a smirk, probably because I looked extremely serious in my business suit.
"Uh... yeah, there was some pressure. I mean, I didn't want to be the captain to let his team get a losing streak going, especially after like... such a long history of keeping the streak down. But, uh... now that it's over... I uh, I couldn't be happier." he concluded. Jon's expression didn't change from his serious exterior, which caused everyone to laugh again.
Jon wondered, "Anymore questions?" The men, and me, mumbled 'no's' and dispersed. I patted him on the shoulder before exiting the locker room.
I waited outside for the press to go and find the coaching staff for interviews as well as most of the players to leave the room. Dean and the other cameramen went to interview the coach, but my job was done. After that interview, they left for the night, but I hung around in the miniature lobby outside the locker room.
Stalberg was the first to walk out. He frowned at my appearance. "What's the problem?" I asked as I stood up.
He tugged at my jacket. "You're in a suit." I stared at him, confused. Viktor continued. "Where's my shirt?"
I laughed, "I had to change for the interviews. I have to dress nicely for these things. Professional, you know?" Viktor looked skeptical. "I wore it during the game."
"Alright, fair enough." he chuckled.
I patted him on the back, although he probably didn't even feel it. "Good game, Tork."
"Thanks, glad we won." he breathed a sigh of relief. I nodded and smiled, not knowing what else to say. "So, you going to wear my shirt to the next game?"
I frowned and shook my head. "I told Jon I'd wear his." I insisted. Viktor made a scoffing noise and stuck out his tongue. "Hey, he's my friend too. There's plenty of Elizabeth to go around." I joked.
"FIne, fine... well, I'll see you later. You're going to the dinner, right?" he wondered. I nodded and he smiled. "Alright, see you soon." He gave me a small hug before heading for the elevator. Gotta love him.
Dan walked out and when he saw me, he beamed. He opened his arms excitedly and asked, "Well how the fuck was that?" I laughed and hopped into his arms for a congratulatory hug. "Oh my fucking god, amazing..."
"You did so great! Without you, Nick probably couldn't have scored!" I stated as I backed out of the hug.
Carcillo smiled and nodded. "Thanks. So pumped. I got to go, but I'll see you next game?"
"You not going to the dinner?" I questioned Dan shook his head as he walked into the elevator. However, he was obviously happy, because once he entered, he threw his arms up and made a 'whoop!' as the doors slowly squeaked to a close.
I chuckled and sat. I gave everyone else congratulations as they passed. I gave Hjalmarsson a salute and he just chuckled as he left. "By Ellie." he called. He knows my name?
Once the locker room emptied, Logan had come down to meet up with the guys as well. "What a fucking game." she giggled as she skipped over to me. I jumped up and hopped giddily with her. "Best thing ever."
"Agreed. Ready to go in?" I asked. Logan nodded and headed forward. I yanked at her elbow to stop her. "Wait, I got a plan."