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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3. Two Shots Off the Post; Two Goals Missed

Patrick:

   Two weeks later: Dallas, Texas. Five in the afternoon. The Nation Anthem is playing, and Scott Darling has followed Emily's lead in trying to muffle his laughter.

   Her lips are pressed close together as she shields her face from others, and in her attempt to not be caught, she caught the eye of Darling; who then proceed to join her with his mouth opened slightly in a small grin. The two of them, still laughing after the finishing note, got strange glances thrown at them from both benches, but on the visitor's bench, it was relatively normal. One thing about having Emily as part of the Blackhawks' staff was that she made most of their stories from the first day. She was the kind of person to intervene on fun and possibly dangerous things, not to stop them, but to make sure that she wasn't left out. She was the kind of person to take a room full of 30 strange men and turn them all into friends within the first week. All but one.

   Patrick watched her as she tried to control herself, pressing her balled up hand to her cheek as tears formed at the edges of her eyes from trying to hold in her laughter. The backup goalie watched her for a second longer before turning his gaze to the ice where the puck just dropped, still chuckling.

   Another thing Pat had learned about her was that she couldn't be serious in serious situations. Once during a lecture from Coach Q in between periods, he was shouting about a sloppy pass that led to the 5-3 Winnipeg lead, and Patrick was running a hand over his eyes, wiping the sweat away from them, when he caught a glimpse of her through his fingers. She was watching Coach Q, trying desperately to hide a smile when he turned in her direction to catch a few more guys with glares. She instantly took on a straight face. And as soon as he looked away, she was trying not to grin again.

   The attraction Kane felt towards her was like that of a magnet: strong and never ceasing. But Emily was a hard shell to crack. She was always inserting herself in conversations, especially on the planes and buses. She was always laughing and joking around with someone. She was always holding that camera up to her face, capturing the world around her as it came and flew by. Patrick hadn't said anything to her directly; he tried to avoid her as much as possible, hoping that the invisible pull would somehow disappear by itself. But today had been different. Today had been a day where it seemed like the tension between them was dissolving. Emily had sat with him, Corey, Marcus Kruger, and Artemi Panarin at breakfast; and though she wasn't happy to be up that early, he saw her crack a few smiles as they joked around, once locking eyes with him and not looking away for a decent amount of time. The peacefulness of the look they shared was like a cool room to lie down in after standing in the sun for hours. Later that day on the bus, she again sat by Corey, battling against him in Trivia Crack. Pat had helped her answer at least half the questions, and when the driver hit the brakes fairly quickly on the freeway because a truck, Patrick was almost thrown over the back of Emily's seat, forcing her to throw her hand onto his chest, keeping him from flipping onto her.

   "Careful there," she had chuckled. He had let out an awkward laugh, readjusting himself to read the next question. Because the bus had startled them, there were only a few seconds left to answer.

   "It's this one," Pat had grunted, standing up in his seat in order to tap the right button. In the process, his hand had brushed against her cheek, and he felt himself cringe inside, waiting for her wise remark that would seem innocent up front but would leave him with the same remorse that he had kept since hitting on her in the club. But to his surprise, she didn't react to it. And so we come to now where the two are sitting on opposite sides of the bench, connected only by the strong attraction he feels and the nonexistent attraction she knows.

   Remembering that he is needed in the game, all of him in the game, he took his gaze from her just in time to see the right-winger skate to the bench. When his skates touched the ice, all was pushed aside. The game mattered more; the game mattered more than the stunning photographer sitting on the opposite side of the bench. But what Patrick didn't know was the camera following his every move as he transitioned onto the slick surface. What he didn't know, was that during his recollection of the day's events, the stare was returned.

+++++

   The game against Dallas was brutal. At least two players from each team had been taken into the locker room and had not returned to the game. Seabrook without his defensive partner Keith seemed more agitated than ever. Without hearing the announcer rattle of stats, Patrick easily knew that Seabs would be the game leader in hits. The outcome of the game though, that was still undetermined. Kane was on his last shift of the overtime with Toews bringing up the center and Seabs blocking shots in the back. A turnover in the defensive zone set up an opportunity for Toews to go straight down the center. Pat was able to deke out his defender so he could skate up behind his captain. Noticing that Jonathan was stickhandling through two players, Kaner looked towards the net, noticing the upper-right-hand corner wide open.

   "Drop!" Patrick yelled. He slammed his stick onto the ice, watching the puck fly towards the net. Kane was ready for the horn, for the last celly of the night. Niemi, who was still watching Tazer, looked at last second; and at last second he stuck his glove into the empty space. He got just enough of it where it tipped the puck into the bar, causing the 'ping' to echo around the arena, the cheering of fans overpowering the sound quickly thereafter. The hard shot ricocheted off to Pat's right, giving Tyler Seguin enough room to bring the puck to neutral ice and beyond. Seabrook, being the defender, turned to take off after him. He wasn't very far behind, close enough to jab at the puck with his stick, when Jamie Benn came up from behind him. As soon as the scene unfolded, the announcer's voice took on an even more excited tone.

   "And here come Seguin with a breakaway! Brent Seabrook right behind hi... Oh! And a barreling hit by Jamie Benn! Seabrook goes sprawling to the ice. And here comes Seguin..." Pat watched the Center get closer and closer to Crawford. Two dekes was all he needed to send the goalie sprawling onto the ice, and as he elevated the puck, the crowd went wild before the goal light even flipped on. The horn screamed throughout the arena, fans following suit. "SCORE! THE OVERTIME GAME-WINNING GOAL BY TYLER SEGUIN OFF A BREAKAWAY! 4-3, THE STARS WIN! THE STARS WIN!"

   "Damn it," Kane mutters, spitting onto the ice. He watches his skates as he circles around the crease, but then he looks to the jumbo tron, waiting for the video that would show him what he could have done to defend that. But there is no video. Instead there's a live feed of Brent Seabrook lying on the ground in obvious pain, holding his leg with both hands. Pat looked down, watching in vain as the medical personnel rush out to see what's wrong.

   The crowd starts cheering, and Pat turned his head to watch as Andrew Shaw leaps towards the Stars bench, throwing a hard hook to Jamie's face. Others get involved the longer he watches, but they all just stand there, throwing chirps and holding sweaters, watching one of two scenes go down: Chicago's Center Andrew Shaw taking on the Stars' captain Jamie Benn, or Chicago's Brent Seabrook struggling to stand with the help of two members of the medical staff. The fans were much the same way: some cheering on the fight or watching in horror as the other half of the Keith-Seabs defensive line is half-dragged down to the visiting locker room.

+++++

   Duncan Keith and Marco Dano were both cleared to play in tomorrow's game, but Seabrook was being taken back to Chicago in the morning for emergency surgery; a tendon had snapped when he was hit. The whole team watched as he was wheeled out to head to the hotel for an extra night. He gave a solute to everyone as he left, but the hockey players could tell that he was in intense pain.

   Before anybody else, Patrick was out of the shower and dressed, heading to the bus for a breather away from his teammates before the flight to Tampa Bay. But before he could get farther than the hallway, he heard a small laugh followed by a deeper voice.

   "I still think you're wearing the wrong colors; you'd look sexy in green."

   "Mmm...sorry. Your preference in colors might be a deal breaker." Emily's voice was playful, and the other sounded to have that type of tone also, but once Pat rounded the corner, he instantly recognized the bad situation; he instantly knew that this guy's tone was playful, but not in an innocent way. The way he was standing so close to her, his brown eyes boring into her's as he gave her a "playful" shove with his fist that grasped his car keys, made Patrick's heart ache to go and protect her from what might happen with this party boy.

   "Tyler, you trying to sway our photographer to join the Stars?" Tyler Seguin looked up from his position towering over Emily.

   "No man, I don't think I could if I tried. She's stubborn as hell," he looked down at her and widened his eyes, causing her to nod and laugh along with him. Trying not to show how irritated he was, Patrick stuffed his hands into his pockets.

   "Nice goal by the way Seguin."

   "Thanks Kane, you too. And that last shot was awesome. I thought for sure it was goin' in, Niemi wasn't even lookin' the right way."

   "Seriously though," Emily chimed in, "I was hoping that you would shoot it top right, and once you did I thought we'd won the game, but his glove came out of freaking nowhere." Tyler started out watching her speak, but towards the end of the sentence he had glanced up, watching something in the background.

   "Hear that Niemi? You made quite an impression on the lady," he shouts to the goaltender behind Patrick. Kane turns around, watching the goalie help a staff member haul his equipment to the storage room. Niemi looks at Emily, seems to recognize her, and gestures his stick towards her.

   "Good to know," he winks and walks back down the hallway. Emily laughs.

   Tyler, still smiling, returns his attention to her, "Well I've got to get goin'. It was great to see you, you have to come back and visit soon." With that he bends down to kiss her cheek and pats Kane's shoulder. "See ya next game Kane." Patrick nods, his lips drawn tight.

   "See ya." Once he is down the hall, Patrick turns back to Emily. "How long have you guys known each other?" Green eyes move away from the retreating figure to meet blue.

   "Oh gosh, how long has it been? Umm...I think it's been about ten months. Ya, ten months," she nods along with herself. Pat's face relaxes.

   "Oh okay, well be careful, he uh...likes his "friends"."

   "I wouldn't really classify Tyler and I's relationship as friends. We're mor..." He cuts her off.

   "Wait, you're dating him?!" Her eyes flash. Her lips pull tight. Without thinking about it, her body language becomes more aggressive as she stands up tall, taking her back off the wall, squaring her shoulders, and furrowing her eyebrows. As soon as he sees all that, Patrick instantly regrets interrupting her.

   "No. I  was going to say that we're more like brother and sister, but what would be the big deal if we were dating?" She doesn't give him time to breathe, let alone answer, "Why would it matter to you?" Since Patrick began to know this girl standing in front of him, he has seen a side of himself that hasn't been there all that often in the past. He's seen a guy with a short-fuse, ready to scream out words before he can even think about his next sentence. And there's so many thoughts and emotions running around through his head, that the ones in the forefront of his mind come out before he could shut his mouth.

   "Because I like you, and he can't have you!" His eyes go wide. She freezes. Neither spoke for a breath-held moment. Neither could think for a heartbeat-heard second. Suddenly her mouth snapped shut from being open in shock, and her eyes narrowed.

   "I'm not something that can be owned." Without another word, her boots stomped against the flooring as she made her way down the hall, her brown hair whipping him in the shoulder as she stormed by. The tension that was dissolving this morning was back. The Blackhawks were playing the Hurricanes later in the week, but Patrick was really testing the storm now.

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