She Sees Pain From Behind a Lens

Five beers in, and he saw her. Seven beers in, and he forgot about her, everything but the way the light flashed in her green eyes.
But, his teammates didn't drink quite as much as him and news spreads fast.
When the new photographer shows up at practice the next morning, "She's the girl from the bar!" was heard in every corner of the locker room.
Neither of them were looking for a fairy tale, and neither will get it. They will simply get a rocky, terrifying love story between two people who started off on the wrong foot.

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2. Exactly What You Need

Patrick:

   All the boys were in a line starting at center ice and stretching just past the goal. It was slowly moving, the scratching sound of skates on ice getting louder as Patrick moved closer to the front of the line. They were practicing breakaways, watching each other and trying to one-up the person in front of them. Pat kept his eyes straight ahead of him, irritated by what he knew would happen if he turned his head. He would see the long dark hair, lighter at the ends. He would see her small frame rounded with nice curves. He would see those dark lips, flushed cheeks, the white of her sweater that made her skin seem like snow, the tightness of her jeans to her legs, her green, green eyes...

   His body took over as he grabbed the puck with the tape of his stick; his mind was elsewhere, but he matched the timing of his strides to his heartbeat without hesitation, without resistance, with ease. This way, that way, left, right, one, two, one, two, slow down, left, right, left, farther left, score. Crawford tapped him in the skates as he came by, a silent acknowledgement of the sick goal he had just scored from the goalie himself spread across the ice in front of the net. Kane nodded in response, watching the lines in the ice as he skated past his teammates. Some reached out an arm to tap him on the shoulder.

   "Nice work Kaner!"

   "Watching The Doctor never gets old."

   "Sick shot Peeks!"

   The lines blurred together.

   "Hey Pat, your girl was all over that one." He looked up to meet the eyes of Keith, tilting his head up to direct Pat's attention to the glass behind him. In a moment of curiosity, he glanced over the taller defenseman, seeing Emily with the camera pressed against her face, following Seabrook while he slid effortlessly across the ice towards Corey. She held the camera steady as the stadium seat beneath her wobbled as she shifted her weight to her right side. It gave her a better angle to capture the tall hockey player as he flipped the puck right into Crawford's glove.

   Kane stood staring at her until Seabs skated up behind him, mumbling, "Little higher next time, little higher." He averted his eyes, realizing how long he had been staring, thanking whoever was up there that she hadn't caught him.

+++++

   The longer practice went on, the angrier Patrick got. He kept catching glances of her as she moved around the arena, trying to get better angles of the men on the ice. By the end of practice, he could feel his blood boiling like the night before; he could feel the red of his cheeks and the pressure in his throat. He felt like someone was holding their hands around his throat, cutting off his oxygen.

   Low, incoherent mumbling escaped his lips as Coach Q finished with his post-practice talk.

   "Sound good? See you boys here tomorrow, same time. Good work today." He retreated back to his office, the rest of the team shuffling off the ice and down the hall. Patrick was one of the few left on the ice as he looked over at Emily. He was the last one as he skated over.

   Her eyes were locked on the camera screen, scanning each image with a look of deep concentration on her face. Patrick reached up a gloved hand to knock on the glass. It came out muffled from the padding, but it shook the glass enough to get her attention.

   Her finger still poised on the camera buttons, she glanced up at him through her eyelashes, eyebrows raised. When she noticed who was standing there, her head came all the way up and she looked up into his blue gaze. Shadows covered her eyes as she squinted them slightly, a smirk letting itself be seen without her having to move her mouth.

   "Yes?"

   "You didn't think to tell me that you were working for the Blackhawks?" Her eyebrows raised more, her eyes widening.

   "Do you really think that you would've remembered? Please Kane, I watched you knock back three drinks, and I'm sure you had more before that." The height difference didn't seem to faze her, and when Patrick was so mad that he nearly pressed himself against the glass, she didn't even begin to step back.

   He kept his composer though as he looked down at her, but he could feel the angry words slipping to the tip of his tongue. The thought had always been on the back burner in mind, and his subconscious couldn't help but think that something about Emily was different from the others, something about the way she held herself, set high standards for herself. He could tell that she criticized her work harshly, wanting the details to all fall together into one beautiful, complete, mesmerizing photo. The thought slowly tried to push its way to the forefront of his mind. It tried to push through the mental fog that had been surrounding it. Slowly, very slowly.

   But the angry words were faster and easier to think about.

   "Girls would jump at the chance to get in bed with me, sober or not," Patrick hissed out, aware that he had spit against the glass. Emily didn't even blink. She took a moment to gather herself, glancing at her camera, her fingers probably itching to look through more pictures. When she looked back up, the green in her eyes hit him as something not beautiful but dangerous. They were no longer the color that had flashed in the club lights. They were now a slightly, just slightly, darker shade. A guarded, sexy, green with hints of anger thrown in.

   "And that is exactly why I said no," Kane was taken aback once again by her bluntness, "Guys like you need to be taken down a few pegs. Just because you're famous and rich and good looking does not mean that you can get whatever or whoever you like." She let that sink in, giving it a few moments before her face brightened, her eyes still that dark, tempting shade of green. A smile spread across her face within an instant.

   "Smile!" She said, her voice raised with excitement. Her large camera was lifted to her face, and a small flash of light came from a piece on top. She didn't stop to look at it as she turned away, hair flying across her back as she grabbed her bag from the row of chairs behind her, shoes clicking against the floor as she walked down the same hallway the guys had walked down minutes ago; humming under her breath as she disappeared from sight.

+++++

   By the end of the next day's practice, Kane was fuming. He had gone out last night, downing six beers before the bartender had cut him off. Barley able to stumble off the bar stool, he had called one of his teammates to come get him, who it was he couldn't really remember, and had woken up early this morning to the tiled floor of his bathroom. His hangover was still affecting him, the glare of bright lights against the ice and loud whistles didn't help. The team was lining up to do line drills, and today, Emily had been on the ice with them for at least half the practice.

  He was trying to look as lively as possible as Coach Q skated up and down the line, looking each of his players in the eyes. When he got to Patrick his eyes hardened and just as quickly softened before moving onto the next person. Pat shook his head, positive about the look Coach had given him, but not wanting to see the slight pity that he had also detected. When Quenneville got to the end of the line, he leaned against the boards, glancing over to his left.

   "You good Emily?" When Kane glanced over, she was sitting on top of the goal, legs dangling over the crossbar. The dark colors of her clothes contrasted greatly with the white of everything else. She raised her head, knocking the toes of her skates together. Patrick could tell that her eyes were lighter than usual even from across the ice; they looked like stars lost in the night sky that her hair and outfit created. She gave Coach a short nod before looking back at her camera, pressing one last button before she raised it up, her shirt rippling around her stomach in the process. He returned the nod.

   "Get set!" All hockey players bent at the hips, ready to push off for the first down-and-back. The whistle blew in place of "go" and the team erupted into a dead sprint across the slick surface, spraying ice as they turned sharply and went back the way they came once they hit the intended line. Five more times down and back, clicks being heard each time they neared the goal, and they were done, Kane's head trying to out-pound his heart. He curled his hand into a fist inside his glove, pressing it against his temple while he skated towards the bench.

   "Good job boys. All done for today. Late practice tomorrow, be here at 10." This time Pat didn't bother to stay on the ice. He inserted himself in the crowd and was moved along with the pace of him teammates around him.

   He was quick to take off his equipment, quick to shower, quick to get dressed. As he pulled his Blackhawks' beanie over his slightly damp curls, he felt someone sit down in the stall next to him. He looked over between his fingers that were still fiddling with the bottom of his beanie to see Tazer next to him, watching him with serious brown eyes. Before Johnny could say anything, Patrick spoke up.

   "It was you that I called last night wasn't it?" Johnny nodded.

   "Yeah. You looked like shit." Pat nodded, drawing his lips together and looking down at his shoes, tapping them together like he had seen Emily do minutes before.

   "Thanks."

   He saw the returning nod from the corner of his eye.

   "No problem," he paused a moment, contemplating his next words. His lip was caught between his teeth as his dark eyes clouded over. "Drinking won't get her out of your mind," Kane snapped his head up, fixing him with a hard, curious, slightly panicked look, "You were mumbling something about her when I got you in the car." He caught Patrick with a parental look. "As your captain, I'm telling you that you need to knock off the drinking if it's about her. She's here to stay, and we can't have you dragging down the team from the very beginning of the season. As your friend, go for it. You two got off on the wrong foot, but I can tell that this is important to you. She's different. She's not afraid to tell you the hard truth. She's exactly what you need."

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