Friday, November 26, 2010

Chapter 24: Be Ok - Ingrid Michaelson

Hey everyone! As always thanks for reading. Part One of the story is nearing an end here (with one more chapter to go!). I'd really appreciate it if you would leave me some feed back on what you would like to see next. Obviously (JStaal) There is more to come for Kris and Sarah. I'm ahead and have a plan as always. What I want to know is if you want more Max & Mal. I have some stuff of them as a kind of spin off as well as having them featured more in Part 2. Is this something people like or absolutely hate? I'm just curious. Let me know what you think!


It was May 2nd the day of the marathon. It was the second game in the Montreal series. They had won the first game of the series a few days before. Sarah was thinner then she had intended her grief taking off more weight than the most intense part of training. Mal however looked strong and happy that morning. Kris and Max had dropped them off at the start. They each had their own contest that day. For Sarah in addition to the race she had a big decision to deliberate over.

The girls stretched Sarah cracking every joint in her body from her toes to her neck. Mal was down on the ground doing yoga poses. She found they helped her stretch, strengthen and relax. That in itself was funny considering Mal’s loud over the top personality. The thought of her in a yoga class was completely hysterical. Sarah shook her limbs out as the one minuet till start happened.

“Where did you learn yoga?” Sarah asked her friend as they both started to jog in place.

“Max taught me and then I started a class.” she said with a little shrug.

“Max does yoga?” I asked half laughing.

Mal didn’t get to answer as the starter pistol went off.


Sarah was wrapped up in her own thoughts as the race ran it’s course. It’s mile 22 when the pain becomes next to unbearable. Blisters have formed and broken, the burn of the muscles as they reach their wall. It’s so close to the end but there is nothing to be hopeful about because the only thing waiting there is the pain of stopping. Mal was still at her side though her gait was suffering. Sarah could remember her first race. It’s at this point where you wonder what the fuck you’ve been smoking for the last few months as you made futile attempts to prepare for this. Nothing could prepare someone for this. She had to do it though. Sarah was running in honor of Jason. She had told his family that was what she was doing. There was no way she could win but she would run knowing he couldn’t anymore.’

It was then she started to notice Mal slowing down at her side.

“Where are we going?” Mal asked her gait jagged as she weaved next to Sarah.

“It’s the wall you can do this. We talked about this.” Sarah encouraged. She knew her wall was mostly in her mind. There was the pain, the breaking of her muscles from over use that felt like she had no legs but hot pokers from an iron forge that connected her body to the ground with each step.

“You have to remember why you’re doing this Mal.” Sarah encouraged tell me why you’re doing this.” Thankfully they were approaching a drinking station. They all started out as water by now they all had Gatorade to help with the hypoglycemia every runner was experiencing by this point.

“I’m doing to show my fucking Parents they don’t own me.” Mal said as she licked her dry lips. “I want them to know I don’t need their head games, their money or their words of pride when I told them I was dating Max. They aren’t happy that I’m happy. They’re happy because they think he’s fucking rich.” Her gait steadied a little as she took the cup drinking from it before tossing it to the ground with the others.

“That’s it Mal. You’re doing this because you’re better than all of that. You aren’t defined by how you were raised or who they want you to be.” Sarah encouraged. All the while she told herself over and over in her head. ‘I’m doing this for Jay, I’m doing this for Jay and occasionally I’m doing this for Kris so it will end my madness. I'm doing this to save my relationship. I do this for Jay now so I can go back to how things were… I hope.’ In completing the race she would have little to distract her from her upcoming decisions that needed to be made. Ones she hadn’t talked to her boyfriend about. It was the playoffs, she didn’t want to upset him… or at least that was what she told herself.


The last mile was a straight shot. You could see the finish line ahead; the whole thing was lined with people. Nessa, Jimmy and G-Dad were there to cheer for Mal and Sarah as well as take them home, push them into the shower, feed them and strap bags of frozen corn and peas to them and then take them to the Mellon for the game. It was a lot to ask of them but it had to be done.

It was a weird feeling being so exhausted and in but completely high when you cross the finish line. There were hugs all around as they stood there and were congratulated by everyone. They crossed crossed the line at 4:12: 06 &07. They couldn’t cross at exactly the same time so Mal who’s name came first in alphabetical order gave her the one second lead before Sarah. They finished an hour behind the leader for their age group. Not a bad time at all for recreational runners.

There wasn't long to relish in the showers and veggie ice packs. Everyone had to be at the game. Everyone was going because it seemed like the only time they could all be together. Nessa, Jimmy, G-Dad and Mal would all be sitting together in the end where the Pens would be on defense twice. Sarah had offered them the offensive end but they all wanted to see Kris play. Well Mal was happy to hear that Sarah kept them in the defensive end but cheated them to the side so she could see Max.
The game was less than spectacular… it was down right odd actually. Sarah felt good that Jordan Leopold was back in the line up after a devastating concussion but that was about the only highlight. The game ended and everyone headed home. Mal went with Max so they could both baby their injuries. Mal was obviously in need of recovering and Max hadn’t been completely healthy all season. No doubt they would spend the night on the sofa and then in bed actually sleeping.

Back at Kris’s they to were spending a bit of time on the sofa before bed. Sarah had bags of frozen peas duct taped to her legs and Kris had one sitting on his shoulder which he had hurt earlier in the season as well as on on his ankle that was propped up on the coffee table.

“Next year looks good right? I mean you have your contract to stay here and everything.” she said starting what was no doubt going to be a difficult conversation.

“Are you already counting us out of final?” Kris asked his voice raspy with fatigue.

“No that’s not what I mean at all.” she she said shifting so she could sit next to him her feet now on the coffee table next to his. “I just want to talk about the future.”

His eyebrow raised at that. She wasn’t really one to ever talk about the direction of their relationship. He loved her, she loved him and that seemed to be enough for her. They had only ever talked once before in the days before the trade deadline. His contract was running out and the worries of having to move in the summer were getting to him. As it turned out the worries had been for nothing with his contract being renewed early and quite handsomely.

“You have a contract for the next three years but I don’t.” That was the flat out truth. “I’m not going to be with the team next season. At least not like I am now. It was my job to set up the system and train everyone how to use it. I turn things over to the regular training staff once we get it moved into the new arena.” It was news she had known all along though she had expected to hear if she would be kept for longer by now but no word had come and she doubted it would. Her voice for guys resting properly and not playing through injuries made her a hindrance to some of them rather than a voice of reason.

“Oh. I did not know.” he lightly squished the pack of peas taped to her thigh. They were starting to get squishy.

“I haven’t told anyone. I mean there’s still time to renew but I don’t think it’ll happen.” she shrugged. “In the fall I’ll be working somewhere in the city I just don’t know where yet. We’ll be a normal couple like everyone else.” she half chuckled at that. “Well never normal but normal in the world of players and wags.”

“It will be different.” was all he said. Everyone knew change was coming. The new arena was different in every way possible that would no doubt leave all their heads spinning.

“Yeah. But what I really want to talk about is the summer. After the finals… I know you want to go on vacation and go back to Montreal.” she paused and he nodded to confirm. “What if I told you I had an opportunity I couldn’t pass up?”

“How do you mean?” he asked still quashing individual peas in her veggie ice pack.

“Brian offered me a job for the summer.” she paused looking from his fingers at he popped a pea by her leg then to his eyes. “In Haiti.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chapter 23: A Comet Appears - The Shins

Hello new followers! I think readership doubled this week which is crazy to me. I hope you're all enjoying the story. Let me know what you think as I am writing 'part two' now. :)

It was upon Max’s insistence that everyone go out for Kris’ birthday. Not the day of the Playoff win but the day after. They were all tired and wanted to rest even if they had won the first round of the playoffs against Ottawa on Kris’s birthday. There was a six day break but the guys really needed it. Everyone was banged up some worse than others. Many of them had no business on the ice but there was no way they would give up playing now.

Sarah was sure to tell all the guys they could drink but no one did. Ok they had a bit of wine or beer at dinner but it was in the way that was to enjoy rather than get drunk. They were big goofballs sometimes big drunken goofballs but when it came down to it they were indeed serious professional athletes. Instead of drinking themselves they pumped the rest of the non-athlete crew with drinks.

“You look pretty tonight.” Kris said as he sat down next to her. We had gone from dinner at his favorite restaurant to Diesel. “I know I told you already but you do. I like it when you wear purple.” he said sitting in the corner of the semi-private lounge watching the crew we were out with. Max and Mal were out on the dance floor, Jordan and his Girlfriend were on the sofa hanging out. MAF and his girlfriend were near by as well. A lot of the other guys had been at dinner but went home to their families or at least hot showers and sleep.

“I picked it out with that in mind.” Sarah said leaning into him. She was drinking far to much than she knew she should Max and Mal kept handing her drinks as Dad Kris like it was some big conspiracy. She was sitting now because she knew there was no way in hell she could stand on her own.
Sarah had been in a bad way for the first two weeks after Jason’s death. She went to the funeral but everyone around her knew she carried a burden of grief. Thankfully Kris was understanding having some experience with grief himself. She dropped more weight in that time than was healthy. She ran, worked and slept but didn’t eat. Kris tried to make her eat but was barely successful.

“I love your presents.” he said putting his arm around her. The classic looking large headphones that blocked outside noises and pumped the music right into his brain were something he really wanted but never got around to getting for himself. She got him new high thread count sheets though they were partially a gift for herself. What he had liked the most though was the year of laundry service she had gotten for him. Gone were days of having to drop off and pick up his suits or feel like an idiot when he got home to find he had left wet clothes in the washer while he was gone that now had mold on them.

“I’m glad.” she could feel herself spinning as she sat next to him. She kissed his cheek and leaned into him. They were quiet for awhile just enjoying their friends laughing as Jordan nearly killed his girlfriend falling on her.

“I think I need to go home now.” Sarah announced looking at Kris. The spinning and blurring of the room were getting especially bad. She didn’t feel like she was going to vomit but the two empty bottle of vodka on the table led her to believe otherwise.

The crew hooted and hollered as Kris scooped her up. She felt like a child in his arms as he carried her to the car carefully putting her inside being mindful not to bump her head. He even buckled her seatbelt for her. As always the ride back to his place was short. He got her out of the car just the same as he put her in.

“I’m sorry I’m so drunk.” she said standing in his bedroom as he unzipped her dress tossing it aside replacing it with one of his t-shirts. “You deserve birthday sex. Wild hot birthday sex. Wild hot birthday and advancing in the playoffs sex.” she poutted as he carefully searched out the pins she had put in her hair to make her bangs a bit poofy. He thought it was a bit over the top as he fished six pins out of her wavy blond hair. “You’ll get you birthday sex tomorrow I promise. I don’t want to throw up in your face or something gross like that.” she continued to talk and he continued to take care of her awkwardly pulling her hair up in a lop sided ponytail circa 1989 but it was how hard he was trying that made it adorable. He grabbed a bag lined trash can putting it on her side of the bed as well as a glass of water. Next he brought her two aspirin and a small paper cup of water. “You’re good at this you should be a nurse.” she teased. “Sexiest nurse ever.” she took the pills taking the little cup of water like a shot. “Not in a skirt though. You don’t have the legs for it. You have some seriously thick thighs. That‘s a good thing though. Skate fast, hold me tight…”
Kris just continued on guiding her to the bed. He tucked her in and then changed himself all while she continued to babble about nursing and loving it though it was obvious in her tone that as much as she meant the words in the long haul at the moment they only contained the bitterness of loss.

“I love it, you know? I do. I love taking care of people. Especially kids. There’s nothing like seeing a little one be well enough to actually play….” she felt Kris climb into bed next to her. He moved so his back aligned with her and they were connected head to toe.

“Shhh… close your eyes.” he said in a soft tone just beside her ear.
“I can’t. If I close my eyes I can’t fight it.” she said in a drunken loud whisper.

“Can’t fight what?” he asked tightening his arm around her pulling her closer to his chest.

“Can’t fight the pain.” she said in the same whisper. “I’m sad. I’m so sad.” she confessed. “I can’t cry anymore. I can’t smile anymore. I know you know.” she rolled in his arms to face him their noses almost touching they were so close. He was really glad he made her brush her teeth now.

“I know. I know you try to be well. But you aren’t.” he kissed the tip of her nose. “I’ll be here now and when you’re better because I love you and I know you’ll get better.”

Sarah felt like dead weight in his arms now. He knew she was asleep or at least passed out. What she was going though frightened him. It brought up old memories of his own grief. There was only one person he thought of who could really help her. An old friend he hadn’t talked to in awhile.


It was 11am when Sarah finally woke up. The sun was bright and hurt her eyes. She ached all over and had a bit of a headache. She knew right away what had happened. What she didn’t understand though was the side ponytail her hair was pulled into. She pulled on some shorts and headed out into the rest of the apartment to find Kris. She learned a long time ago to always put the shorts on. Max and MAF had seen her in just a t-shirt several times and Geno had actually seen her in just her bra and underwear that was when he walked in on her fresh out of the shower though.

“I’m waist deep in the shame and pain of drinking to much.” she said going to the coffee pot pouring herself a cup not bothering with her usual splenda.

“You need to shower I have someone coming over for lunch.” Kris said as he turned the microwave a plate of pancakes spinning inside.

“Who’s coming?” she asked holding the warm cup tightly between her hands. “Aww, did your Mom come in to surprise you?” she asked hopeful to see his Mom. They had chatted on the phone a few times since her visit to Montreal.

“Non. My friend Brian is coming over. You’ve met him before in passing. He’s the team Chaplin.” Kris explained as the microwave dinged. He added syrup to the two pancakes putting them on the table guiding her there. “Now eat these.”

“I’m not hungry.” she said raising her eyes to meet his. It was a lie. She was hungry but didn’t feel like eating.

“Bullshit. Eat the pancakes Sarah.” he crossed his arms not giving her any ground.

She sighed sitting down. “Fine.”

Once she ate enough of the pancakes for him to release her from the table as if she was a child she showered and dressed. By the time she was ready she knew the Chaplin was already there. She went into the living room seeing the two men sitting on the sofa.

“Brian this is my girlfriend and our team Nurse Sarah. Sarah, Brian our Chaplin.” Kris made the introduction sound so simple.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Sarah extended her hand and he took it in introduction.

“Kris has told me a lot about you. All wonderful things. I know he’s an honest man so I know you’re quite the woman.” Brian said as he took a seat in a near by chair allowing Sarah to sit by Kris.

“Sarah I asked Brian to come because I want you to have help. He helped me when Luc died.” Kris looked to her eyes though she avoided his gaze.

“Is this because I got drunk last night?” She asked leaning away from him into the arm of the couch.

“No, not at all.” Kris said giving up on trying to get her to move closer to him. “It’s about what you said. Last night you told me how sad you are. You told me you can’t fight the pain anymore.”

“I was drunk.” she said with a little chuckle though she didn't smile since it was the truth.

“I know you have experience dealing in psych work Sarah. I know that makes it harder to reach out for help.” Brian said as he moved to the edge of his seat. “I just want to be a resource or a sounding board for you. You can talk with Kris about me, I know he was real skeptical when Max introduced us. Right Kris?”

“I was so pissed at Max that day. I wanted to murder him.” he looked at Sarah smiling. “Max did it at the rink. Maybe I should have too. Less knives and ways for you to kill me... though more skate blades.” he joked.

“Ah yes but there is that nice table saw in the stick room.” Sarah said with a glair.

“Don’t worry Kris isn’t going to leave us now or anything. This was really just an introduction.” Brian moved to get up. “I actually need to go I have a lot of stuff to do today. I’m gearing up to head down to Haiti.” Brian explained.

“Oh?” Sarah asked her interest perked.

“Yeah. I’m working with an orphanage there. The need is so great. I’ll be heading down once the playoffs are over. If you’re interested you should come meet the team.”

“Ok. I’ll meet the team sometime.” Sarah said relaxing a bit.

“Great. I should really get going. Kris, it’s always great to see you doing so well. Sarah don’t be a stranger. I’m always around the rink on game day if you ever want to talk about anything.” Kris got up as did Brian and she was left alone to think about the encounter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chapter 22 Good Night - Liz Calloway

I rarely say you MUST listen to the music but on this one you MUST even with the annoying lady talking in the beginning just please do it. I'm actually really proud of this chapter and think it might be the best most difficult thing I've ever written in my life. I hope you guys think I did it justice. Let me know what you think.

February ended and March came. Between the team’s season kicking down the stretch, training with Mal for the upcoming marathon and spending as much time with Jason as she could there was little time for much else in Sarah’s life. Her relationships with her family, friends and Kris. He was being kind and understand as she grew more standoffish as her young friend slowly slipped away. He even went to visit a few times. The end was near though, the end of training for the big race, the end of the regular season and the end of a young life.

Sarah had been keeping Jason company. It was to the point where he could barely tell she was there but she was there reading him stories while his Parents kept his other sibling occupied. Sarah knew what it was like to never have and to lose Parents but she could never imagine the pain of having to lose her Brother.

The time was passed by reading stories and sleeping. Sarah spent the little free time she had there which overlapped the time she had for sleep. Kris brought food when he could for her but he rarely saw her eat. She had been losing weight since he met her due to her running but she was crashing since spending more time at the hospital. She was in a downward spiral with a little boy she couldn’t help. He would eventually hit bottom where as she would continue to fall for no one knew how long.

Kris crept in beside her putting the cool foil box with plastic lid on her lap. Sushi. One of their favorite treats. When she didn’t respond he opened the cover and opened the chopsticks putting them in her hand.

“I’m not hungry.” she said not taking her eyes off the little boy who looked especially tiny now that he was hooked up to the many machines helping him function.

“This is sad.” Kris said taking the sushi off her lap putting the lid back on. He knew she would eat some of it eventually.

“I would expect so he’s dying.” Sarah said plainly. Finally she brought her eyes to Kris’s face. “How was practice?” she asked. Sure, she had been there but she was keeping her head down focusing on her work rather than watching them with their sticks and pucks.

“Fine. Playoffs soon so everyone is intense. The arena closing add more pressure.” he confessed. Sarah put her arm around his back letting her palm flatly move over his t-shirt.

“I’m sure it’s a lot of pressure on you guys. I can honestly say the fans will love you no matter what.” unless it was something having to do with Flower in which case the radio personalities would have a field day taking calls about it.

“Yeah.” Kris paused looking back to Jason again. “How much longer do you think?” he had asked the question before. It sounded impatient but that wasn’t how he meant it.

“Less than a week I would expect.” Sarah leaned back in her chair. “I’m ready to go home now.”

This was how it went. She would be there for awhile and Kris would come and then they would go home. Sarah would run and then they would sleep. The next morning they would get up and do it all over again.

The call came at 4am. Sarah got out of bed dressing in sweats. It was down to hours for Jason. Sarah woke Kris up to tell him where she was going. He nodded sleepily and said he would be down after morning skate. It was a game day.

The hospital was always quiet in the early morning. Kids were sleeping though their fevers, Parents weren’t worried yet. The first chicken pox hadn’t been noticed this was the blissful time of paperwork for nurses. Not for Sarah though as she ran up the stairs to Jason’s floor. She had beaten his family there. They were coming from farther out of the city.

“Hey little man it’s me.” she said sitting down at his bedside. “I know you hate it when I call you little man now. You’ve gotten so tall in the last year.” she reached up brushing the sandy blond hair from his forehead. “I’m glad we have minuets to ourselves. I think you should know that someday when I have little boy I want him to be just like you.” she chuckled. “Yeah, you’re right it would be great if he got some awesome hockey playing genes. It’s still early days for that kind of talk.” she took his hand in hers. “I want to tell you not to be scared.” her eyes welled and her bottom lip quivered. “You’re the bravest person I know already so I know you’ll be strong on this trip. I wish I could ask you what it’s like once you’ve gone. I think it’s beautiful though. I know my Grandma will be waiting to meet you. I never got to tell her about you but she’s the kind of lady who couldn’t resist a cutie like you.” There were full on tears streaming down her face as she continued. “I really want you to wait for me while you’re there. Not like wait around and do nothing wait for me but just know I’ll be joining you someday. I know you have a Mom already but I want to be there with you. We’re closer than you’ll ever know little man. I lo…” she was interrupted as his Parents rushed in. Sarah hugged them both giving her seat and their sons hand. She was close by though there the whole time. She was even there at 10:23am when time of death was called. She was there an hour later when the bed was cleaned and fresh linens were put on.

Kris arrived at noon meeting Mal in the hall. She gave him a hug and walked with him to Jason’s old room. “She hasn’t come out yet. Even his family is gone. I think they were more ready than she was.” Mal explained resting a hand on Kris’s shoulder as they peaked in seeing Sarah sitting by the bed.

“I do not know what to do.” he confessed standing there in the door.

“Just be yourself. You’re exactly who and what she needs.” Mal knocked on the door jam. “Look who I found wondering the halls.” She offered a little Mal smile pushing through the pain as was her stile.

“I’m ready to go home now.” Sarah said plainly getting up. “I need to shower and change there’s a game tonight.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chapter 21 Kiss Me Till It Bleeds - Nina Gordon

For the moment I am unable to find the song for this chapter. Don't fret when I get my computer back I should be able to figure it out.

That's the other big note... My computer had to have a FULL system restore so it's unclear what will be left when I get it back. Thankfully I had all of 'Part One' backed up BUT I am more than likely going to lose two chapters of part two. Hopefully I'll be able to get them back if not I'll need to do some rewriting. :( I hope that doesn't mean taking a week off from posting but we'll see. As always thanks so much for reading!


Sarah awoke the next morning to a cold spot in the bed next to her and the sun brightly streaming into the windows. She groaned pulling the pillow over her head but it was to late the sun had snapped her awake and now she had to get up.

With a shower out of the way and no sight or sound of Kris she headed down stairs after dressing in simple well fitting jeans and a purple v-neck sweater. She had all these clothes she wasn’t really getting a chance to wear so it was nice to have a chance to be more casual.

She peaked her head into the kitchen spotting Kris’ Mom who was in the middle of baking something. It was funny how memories came back. She could remember her Grandma doing similar things with the array of bowls and measuring cups around the counter.

“The boys went out to do some errands. Something about a pump for the pool. It is winter but the pools has always been a bond between Henri and Kristopher so I let them go.” Marlene said as she worked at the counter.
Sarah nodded heading towards the baking action. “Can I help you? I never really get a chance to bake.” Other than pies for holidays Sarah did no baking at all.

“Yes dear. Aprons are in second drawer down.” Marlene said pointing with her elbow.

Sarah followed the directions pulling out an apron to cover her clothes. “So what are you making? I see things for bread and for cake.”
“Yes, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. Kristopher favorite. He will say he can’t eat it but I know the truth. He can not resist.” she smiled as she flowered two round pans obviously making a layer cake. “And I make bread for Henri because I must make something for each of my boys.” she was all smiles as she worked.

“Here you start frosting.” Sarah opened her mouth to say something as the index card was put in front of her. Thankfully she could understand the measurements and saw words she knew from the French she was learning between rosetta stone giving her a real foundation and the Kris teaching her the slangs she could manage pretty well for a beginner.

“Ok… if it’s wrong I’m sorry. I never really had anyone teach me how to bake.” Sarah explained as she measured the chocolate into the top of the double boiler on the stove.

“Non?” Marlene asked. “Kris told me you grew up with your Grandfather but he did not say you lost your Mother.” Marlene was working the cake batter in a stand mixer so she spoke loudly over the noise.

“Oh I didn’t lose her. She's just not around.” Sarah shrugged as she worked. “My Grandmother passed away when I was pretty young. She taught me how to bake pies not cakes.”

Kris’s Mom nodded choosing not to say much right away but wait till she got the batter in the pans. “Well the secret of baking cakes is always using shiny metal pans, waiting till cakes cool to frost and take top off the bottom layer so it will be even. We will do secret of bread later.”
The two worked comfortably till the cake was in the oven and the frosting chilling in the fridge. Sarah sighed happily leaning her hip against the counter.

“Coffee?” Marlene asked as she put a new pot on.

“Sure, yeah I could go for a cup.” she hadn’t had anything to eat yet and coffee sounded great.

“How do you take it?”

“one milk one sugar.” Sarah said with a little smile as she picked a banana up from the fruit bowl on the counter needing some kind of food to mix with the acidic coffee.

“Just like Kristopher.” she commented pouring the cups and making Sarah’s just how she liked it. “You two are quite well matched.”

“Aw, well thanks. I like to think so most of the time.” Sarah took the first sip of coffee savoring it. There was nothing like the first sip of the first cup of coffee each day.

“Ah yes. Kristopher can be a difficult young man. He is stubborn like his father but loving like his step-father.” she sat down at the table across from Sarah. “Kris and his Father do not talk much. We divorced when he was quiet young and I remarried when Kristopher was 15 I think. Tough age to gain a step-father.” she explained. “His Father was not flexible and when you have a child gifted in a sport a wife can not always have the dinner on the table at 5:30pm or always have fresh bread on the weekend.” it was Marlene’s turn to sigh though it was more of a sad sigh than Sarah’s previous one of contentment. “Kris suffered not having a Father. I think from what you said earlier you are someone who can understand that.”

Sarah nodded. She didn’t want to tell her story but she knew she was expected to. “I don’t know my Dad. I never met him not even as a baby. My Brother met him a few times but he doesn’t remember him. We lived with my Mom for awhile. As it turns out she wasn’t exactly a good Mother according to the State of West Virginia which is saying something considering the West Virginia standard is quite low. So my Brother and I went to live with my Grandparents. We saw my Mom from time to time for awhile. Less as the years went on. My Grandma died when I was a teenager so I took care of my G-Dad and older brother.” Sarah shrugged. That was the basics of it. She left out the drugs and true abandonment her Mom subjected she and her Brother to.

They worked in silence putting together the bread dough while the cake baked and then cooled before frosting it. The guys called offering to bring home lunch. Marlene agreed since time was running short to cook lunch with all the baking they did. “Yes get her the regular.” Sarah’s brows knit to question but her expression was waved away as the conversation switched to French that was far to fast for her to pick up on. Once Marlene hung up the phone she clarified. “They bring home poutine.”

“I think I may be dying.” Sarah said as she laid in bed with Kris. She could hear her stomach churning processing the cheese and gray covered fries from lunch and then the rich home made toutriere and fresh bread they had for dinner followed by the cake. “It was all so good… I couldn’t stop eating.” she moaned.

“Yes, you are not used to the way my Mom feed me.” he said stretching out next to her on the bed.

“I don’t know how your stomach can handle it." she groaned curling up a little bringing her knees to her chest.

“Mom said you and she talked. She said you told her about when you were a girl.” He gathered her hair back moving each stray hair from her face. “Will you tell me? I know you grew up with your G-Dad but that is it.”

“Only if you tell me about your family.” she said mimicking him moving his hair from his face.

“You’ve met them.” he said starting to close himself off from her.

“Not your Dad.” she said taking his arm draping it over her midsection.

“Oh…. I have not seen him a long time.” he said softly. They were still in their clothes from the day just laying on the bed together.

“Is it cheating to tell you that your Mom told me a bit? We were chatting while baking.” Sarah explained as she leaned little into him slowly forcing him to his back so she could lay against his chest.

“I thought she would. Always protecting me from hard stuff.”

“It’s nice though. To have someone to protect you. I know I have G-Dad and Nessa and Jimmy and even Mal who all try to protect me. Sometimes even now that I’m an adult I wish I had a normal Mom and Dad to just have in my corner if something goes wrong.” she sighed going quiet. It took a lot to admit that. More often than not Sarah was one to play it tough when it came to her emotions and struggles.

“My Mom and Dad were divorced when I was young. My Dad has another family now. We talk once about it. He said he was not ready to be a Father when I was born but he is now. Henri is a good man. He loves my Mom almost as much as I do. I gave him a hard time when I was a youth.” Kris had been a terror to poor Henri when he arrived in the Letang home. It was every step-parents nightmare only in French.

“He cares about you. I can see he’s rubbed off on you. Your Mom said so as well.” Sarah proped herself up on her elbow a bit so she could see his face.

“Do you know your Parents at all?” Kris only knew what she had told him about her family and nothing else.

“I know my Mom. She turns up every now and then. Usually asking G-Dad or me for money. We’re both softies so one of us usually gives in. She never started another family or at least not one I know about. As for my Dad… I don’t know him at all. He was gone before I was even born. Russ met him as a baby but doesn’t remember. I know he must have had brown eyes. I have blond hair like my Mom but she has blue eyes not brown like me.” Sarah chuckled a little. “Sorry I know it isn’t appropriate to laugh but I never thought of my Dad giving me anything but he gave me brown eyes. I just think it’s funny for some reason.” Sarah continued to try and hold back her inappropriate laughter as tears welled in her eyes. “Damn it now I know why I’m laughing.” Sarah hid her face in his chest as the tears mixed with laughter fell onto Kris’ shirt.

“You laugh to hide hurt. I know it well.” He put his arms around her holding her close.

“I hate how well you know me sometimes.” she didn’t mean it and knew that he knew that. She said she hated things that she really loved all the time. There had been one misunderstanding early on in their dating where she said she hated sushi so they didn’t eat it for over month till she explained how she used to expression to him.

“You do not. Though I wish I was not right.” he kissed the top of her head.

It was quiet from then on out. It had been an emotional day for Sarah and Kris could always sleep in the season. In a constant state of recovery after games he could always sleep. Getting up well after it was dark Sarah changed into pajamas and prompted him to do the same as well. Really she changed herself and then helped him strip out of his clothes like a sleepy child. It wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t hot he was just cute and sleepy with messy hair. She almost wished she had adult sized footie pajamas to put him in.

Kris awoke the next morning seeing Sarah’s back to him as she sat on the edge of her bed. She was quietly talking on her phone slightly hunched over so he t-shirt was riding up from her pajama bottoms showing him her lower back. He sleepily reached out tracing along her the bit of her spine that was exposed. Sarah jumped turning to look over her shoulder at him. He was expecting a smile but received a frown as she got up walking away from the bed to the corner of the room to finish her conversation. Kris roller to his back watching her while she softly talked. He didn’t listen for content knowing she would explain if she felt like it.

Hanging up the phone Sarah sighed running a hand though her hair that had fallen from her ponytail. “I need to get back to Pittsburgh sooner than expected.” Her eyes were wet and it was obvious she was working hard not to cry.

“What is wrong? The Olympic guys ok?” Kris asked propping himself up in bed to lean against the headboard.

Sarah would have found the scene adorable with his hair sticking up all over, a tiny glass of water on the bedside table in his childhood bedroom but she definitely wasn’t in the mood to find anything funny. “No, no, the Olympians are fine. At least as far as I know…” she paused chewing on her bottom lip. “Jason isn’t well.”

“I am sad to hear.” Kris said frowning. He knew she cared more about him that most of her other patients from the hospital. She was obviously connected even more to his health since her ‘anonymous’ bone marrow donation.

She put her phone down on Kris’s dresser that was covered with various action figures still as she made her way to her bag to get dressed for the day. “He’s dying Kris.”

“Oh…” That got his attention as he sat up taller in the bed. “What you did, it did not help?”

Sarah stopped dead in her tracks a jagged breath making her shake a little. “Obviously not.” she finally managed to say the tears starting to fall.

He got out of bed moving around the room to wrap her into a hug. “Hey, hey… I did not mean like that.” he said holding her to his body one hand on the back of her head the other around her waist.

“I know… it just only helped for a little while. I knew it was bad when we left but I didn’t want to miss meeting your family. Mal promised she would only call if it was getting serious. They put him on life support Kris.” she was starting to think clearer now her professional nursing mind kicking in. “I’m guessing he has till March but that will be it if he’s lucky.”

“Go back to Pittsburgh. We were only staying a few more days anyways. My Parents will understand. You get ready I will find ticket for you.” He let go of her going to his bag pulling on sweat pants and a t-shirt before heading downstairs to get on his Mom’s computer.

Sarah got a shower and dressed taking the time to write a thank you not for Kris’s Mom and to leave a little note for Kris as well. She came downstairs as he was printing her ticket. “It leaves tonight at 7pm. It was the best I could do.” he said with a little shrug. I tried to get you out at lunch but they would not transfer your old reservation.” he explained.

She kissed his cheek taking a moment to smooth his hair down a little. “You did great.”

Sarah spent the rest of the day with Kris and his family. She explained the situation and they were understanding of her needing to go. They were happy though so happy they planned to visit Pittsburgh making special time for them to visit with her rather than just for the weekend to see Kris’s game.
The airports felt especially lonely when traveling alone. She was used to being with the team or at least with Kris when traveling. Seeing Mal there to pick her up was just what she needed.

“What up hooker?” Mal asked trying to make her friend smile.

“Oh you know same ol’.” Sarah said hoisting her bag into Mal’s back seat. Sarah got in the car as did her friend.

“Sarah…” Mal said pulling her friend into a hug.

“I’m ok. Well I’m not but I’m as ok as I’m going to be.”