As always, thanks for your patience. There's so much going on here in Vancouver, not to mention the opportunity to stalk Sid so forgive me if the next couple chapters take a bit to write!
Pacing. That’s all I’ve done since she walked away from me. I’ve paced the locker room and now I’m pacing the loading platform at Amtrack. I’m not an idiot. I know what she was trying to say to me. I knew it but for some reason I stood there like an idiot and let her berate me. Maybe I thought she had a right to get it out of her system. No, she had the right, there’s no doubt about that. I just can’t believe I let her walk away afterward.
“Mon frère,” Max’s hands come to rest on my shoulders and I look up into his serious expression with a look that I can only hope says ‘please don’t fucking talk to me right now.’ “You know you’re an idiot for not going after her, est-ce que je suis correct?”
“Even if I wanted to, which I don’t by the way, I couldn’t anyway. We’re waiting for a train,” I point out which doesn’t seem to have the desired effect on my colleague.
“We don’t have a game for two days and besides, if it was me…yeah, c’est un grande affaire à son sujet, but you mon capitaine? What’s the worst they are going to do? Fine you? Because they don’t fucking dare sit you, mon ami, and you know it. So, go already. Go be the fucking white knight et toute cette de merde.”
“Don’t Max. Of all people right now, the last person I need a fucking lecture from is you. If you cared how I felt you wouldn’t have gone out with her in the first place,” I growl at him and usually Max knows my moods well enough to leave me alone when I get like this but this time he doesn’t back off, doesn’t shake his head and move away from me. He just stands there, staring at me like I’m the idiot.
“You know she’s in love with you ca va? I mean, you do realize that you’ve been an ignorant petit christ, oui? Esti d’tapette de calisse.” I’d argue with him but when he’s right he’s right. The signs have been there, if I’d only thought to look for them. But still, there’s that argument, that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I can’t risk our friendship when I don’t even know if I can be anything to her at all.
“It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand,” I mutter, pushing him away and turning to begin my pacing once again.
“You’re right, je ne le comprends pas. I don’t understand why you don’t go to her place right now and cover her with kisses and get down on your knees. Tell me she’s not worth it and then I’ll agree that maybe it’s trés complicated, too complicated for me, obviously. “ Sarcasm drips from Max’s voice as he stares at me like he’s talking to a child, and right now, that’s exactly what I feel like; a child on a bike that’s afraid to roll down the driveway without my training wheels.
“And if I do…if I go there and it’s too late?” Max shakes his head at me and sighs.
“It’s beyond me why, but I think as far as she’s concerned, no matter what you do, how badly you treat her, it won’t be too late.” Max shrugs and then he lets go of my shoulders and starts to turn away and then stops. “Just…whatever you do, don’t fuck it up Crosby.” He turns and I believe the warning in his eyes. I just wish I knew how not to because when I think about it, knowing what I think I know now, I’ve done nothing but.
“There’s someone here to see you.”
I look up from my project to give my mother that look, the one that reminds her she’s supposed to knock when she comes into my room but there’s this funny look on her face and my dad’s hovering right behind her looking anxious which means it’s a boy and that means….
“Sidney?” I ask, my voice catching in my throat as I try to take the anxious note out of my own voice. Except for a brief visit for Christmas he’s been gone for months and I’d almost believed that I didn’t miss him anymore, until I see my parents both standing in the hallway.
If we’d been born a hundred years earlier, maybe I’d have been promised to him in the crib and wouldn’t have to worry about this, about whether or not he missed me, or thought about me at all. Which he probably didn’t, I tell myself as I brush past my parents and tell myself to walk slowly down the hall. Walk, not run because he’s not that important. He’s just like any other boy. He’s not that special.
At least that’s what I tell myself, until I round the corner to find him standing on our front step, his hand stuffed into the front pockets of his jeans, his t-shirt fitting a little tighter than it did when he left for that private prep school in the States, and not I a bad, ‘I’m away from my parents so I’ve eaten nothing but junk food’ sort of way, but in that ‘I’ve grown up and filled out with muscle’ sort of a way and I have to force myself to look up at his toothy grin and tell myself not to look at him that way.
“I guess not everything’s changed,” he laughs and glances down at what I hadn’t realized I was still holding in my hand; my sewing project for school, a fuzzy teddy-bear with glass eyes. “Still playing with dolls Mel?” he asks, grinning too wide, laughing at me.
“It’s…it’s for school,” I manage, immediately feeling crest-fallen, like someone’s just taken a baseball bat to my gut. I try and hide the offending piece of monster fur and stitching behind my back but it’s too late, he’s already seen it and decided that I’m still the little girl with the braces and oversized glasses that I was when he left. He doesn’t even seem to see that I’m wearing jeans that actually fit me now or that the Depeche Mode concert tour t-shirt is pulling across a pair of breasts that my father keeps telling everyone have just sprung up over night. All he sees is the damn bear. “It…it matches the Roadrunner,” I add, trying to make it cooler by pointing out my dad’s pride and joy in the driveway. The purple and black muscle car, gleaming in the early summer sun, freshly washed and waxed.
“Yeah, well uh…just thought I’d tell you I’m home. Me and some of the guys are going to play a little shinny in the morning, if you want to come,” he adds, stepping down a step, like he can’t wait to get away from me and on to his male friends.
“Yeah, I’ll play,” I reply, trying to sound cool and calm and not as eager and over anxious as I feel when I say it, wanting to be included.
“You?” he narrows those gold and umber eyes at me like I’ve just said something in another language that he doesn’t quite understand.
“Yeah, I’ve been playing lately. I mean, someone had to play in net when you’re not around,” I point out to him, lifting my chin a little higher, daring him to contradict me which he doesn’t exactly do. He just laughs instead.
“Yeah well, I’m back now so, you can keep score again,” he replies, turning to go, stepping down that last step and heading down the cement walkway through our front lawn towards the driveway. It’s all I can do not to throw the teddy-bear at his head and yell at him, call him names. I slam the door instead and run back to my room, slamming that door hard enough it makes the house shake, and then I proceed to pull that bear apart, stitch by stitch.
I thought about asking him how he’d found the place, but I guess that was just one more thing I was going to have owe Max for. I also thought about saying something sarcastic like ’haven’t you taken a wrong turn?’ but decided against it. Instead I just left the door open and walked into the room, putting space between me and how good he looks in his charcoal gray suit and how good he smells, all cleaned up with the smell of expensive cologne and aftershave gently filling the air around him.
“I think I owe you an apology,” he says quietly behind me as he shuts the door. I listen to the sound his dress shoes make on the hardwood floor and take another two steps away from him and then busy myself poking through a stack of dvds, like I’m looking for something and not like I’m avoiding looking at him.
“Well if you start at the beginning, that could take quite a while, maybe I should get a snack,” I mutter, feeling defensive and just a little angry now that I’m backed into a corner in my own apartment, with no means of escape other than to throw him out in the cold, which, while tempting he probably knows as well as I do that it’s not actually going to happen.
“I deserve that,” he says, surprising me enough that I turn around to see if he actually means it and the wary look he has in his eye says he does.
“Okay, I’m listening,” I reply and now it’s my turn to watch him with wary eyes as he fidgets with his watch and the cuffs on his shirt before he looks up at me again and the serious look in his eyes makes my pulse jump.
“I didn’t know. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t know how you…felt…feel?” He looks up at me with those deep honey coloured eyes and part of me wants to deny it but instead I just shrug, and drop my gaze from his as my heart hammers against my chest. “So when I kissed you at my place during the summer…I was only thinking about myself…I mean I didn’t realize that I might have…that that might have given you this idea that….” I feel my hands curl into fists at my sides and my teeth grind together as I realize that I’m enduring yet another humiliation at Sidney’s hands and once again I’m stuck somewhere between tears and hurling something at him that might hurt him as much as he’s hurting me, or at least make him bleed.
“Oh yeah, god forbid the little woman might get ideas about Prince Sidney. I mean, we wouldn’t want that would we? Why don’t you just tell me to get in fucking line, huh?” I snarl, turning away so he won’t see the tears that I can’t seem to keep from filling my eyes.
“If you’re waiting for me to do the whole, ‘no one puts baby in a corner’ thing Mel, I’m not going to do it, but if you could stop being so fucking defensive for a minute, I’m trying to say I kissed you because you looked so fucking beautiful that night that I had to, okay?” It should make me feel better, and just for a moment, it does put just the hint of a smile on my face, but it doesn’t make up for everything else. Not even close.
“And?” I sniff, wiping at my tears before turning to him with what I can only hope is a look that passes for frustrated, at the very least.
“And?” he asks, obviously confused.
“I’m still waiting for the apology. I mean, if you think telling me that I almost was good enough for you one night is going to make up for calling me four eyes….”
“I didn’t mean that and you know it!” he snaps, crossing the floor in two strides and grabbing me by the shoulders. “You caught me off guard. You know I don’t think of you like that.”
“I don’t know what you think,” I reply, looking him dead in the eye and clenching my teeth, even as his fingers dig into my shoulders and I can tell, just by the look in his eye that he wants to give me a good, hard shake.
“I think…I think about you damn it,” he growls, and then his gaze softens and falls to my mouth and he just sort of stares for a long moment and I have to tell myself to just wait and breathe.
If I do this, if I kiss her again, then I know there’s no going back. She’ll never just be my friend and I’ll…I’ll fall in love with her and then what? And then what? And then she’ll be in New York and I’ll be in Pittsburgh and that won’t work. And then she’ll end up hating me at then there will be places I won’t be able to go back home during the summer….
“You’ll have to move to Pittsburgh,” I tell her as I stare at those pink lips of hers, unable to stop thinking about the colour of her lips and the way it felt to kiss her.
“I can’t drop everything. I have plans, school….”
“Do you want to be with me?” I ask and she closes her eyes against me and tries to pull out of my grip. “Melody…if this happens…if this is what you want then I want you to be with me. I don’t want to be without you and I can’t be here.”
“You can’t order me around. I’m not one of your fucking puck bunnies,” she snaps, pressing her hands against my chest and pushing, but I won’t let her go.
“Do you always have to be so fucking stubborn?” I ask, or rather demand, cupping her chin in my hand and giving her just enough of a shake that she opens her eyes to look at me. “I’m saying I want to be with you. Isn’t this what you want?”
“Don’t you dare patronize me!” she hisses, her eyes lit with fire from within even as tears begin to flow from them. “What I want? When have you ever fucking cared what I want? Now all of a sudden, after I try and get on with my life, now you care that I might actually have feelings?” She pushes my hand away and turns her back on me but I know her, whether she believes it or not. I know by the way that her shoulders are hunched and how still she becomes that she’s trying her damndest to stop the tears from her flowing. She used to do it when she scraped her knee, when she didn’t want to cry in front of us boys. It didn’t matter to me then and it sure as hell doesn’t now.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her as I place myself behind her, trying to be gentler than I really want to be. What I want to do is grab her and shake her and tell her to stop playing games. What I do is to hold her arms and pull her back against me, waiting for the moment when she relaxes against me so I can turn her to face me. “I’m sorry if I hurt you. I didn’t know…I just didn’t know,” I sigh, reaching up to brush away a tear and when she tries to turn her face from me again, I hold her cheek in my hand, forcing her gently but firmly to face me. “Mel I…I’m not good with shit like this. I…I just know that I want to kiss you. Every time I’ve seen you lately I’ve wanted to and if you want that too….”
“Who says I do?” she sniffs, lifting her chin and trying to give me that steely goalie stare down but I’ve faced Marty Brodeur and she doesn’t scare me one bit.
“Do you always have to make things so fucking difficult Kelly?” I ask, trying my best not to smile when she narrows her eyes and purses her lips at me like she’s about to let me have it. It’s not frightening. It’s cute.
“Do you always have to get your way, Crosby?” she counters, fire leaking back into her eyes and I can’t keep the smile off of my face any longer. This is the Mel I know and…and love.
“Yeah, I do,” I whisper, leaning in to press my lips over hers’, softly. “I’m kind of spoiled that way,” I add before deepening the kiss and wrapping my arms around her.