Status: Hiatus--Last Update was 7.23.12 (Chapter Twenty-Two PREVIEW)

Love in Ice



A long, drawn out sigh escaped a young man's lips. He was frustrated and nervous, but his face did not show a single sign of his mood. It would have taken a mind-reader to know the odd cause of his frustration; anyone who knew his profession could understand why he felt nervous.

Antti Niemi was the backup goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks. Understandably, his hockey position loaded on the stress. Yet the only ones who could truly understand the level and intensity of this stress were other goaltenders, no matter the team.

Block the shots from the opposing team, and make the saves. Sure, that was the main goal, but how could the guys who played a different position realize the underlying expectations every goalie hoped to reach?

Antti, who lay on the bed in his dark hotel room, stared fixedly at the ceiling. Perhaps he could get himself to fall back asleep, he thought. A previously taken glance at the bedside alarm clock told him the time 4:47 AM.

'I shouldn't be so worried about tomorrow's game. I'm able to do this, I know I am,' he attempted convincing himself. His biggest supporter would be there, cheering for him and helping him at practice.

Antti found his thoughts once again focus on the young woman, his best friend. She stood at 5' 7", giving them a seven-inch height difference. Her dark, wavy brown hair fell a little past her shoulders, accenting her usually shining brown eyes. On various occasions, the same brown eyes brightened with added light, whether it be a room's lighting or the sun's rays. Her smile, by default, made him reveal his whenever it appeared, and that was often.

The young man knew through their many friendly jabs and touches something existed between them, something that made her face flush red and made her act hesitantly. He could tell she felt that same force, but she would rather neglect it than ponder it like him. Judging by how his heart rate increased when she stood next to him, or even near him, Antti knew what had happened and how it had happened.

He fell in love with her. His best friend, as best friends do sometimes, is the one he loves, but she does not know it. Yet.

Since the first time his eyes caught hers, she took permanent residence in his mind and in his heart. Their connection formed a bond powerful enough to keep them in each other's lives. Antti hoped he would not end up the only one who believed the bond should stay between them. Maybe, just maybe, he could convince her to embrace that feeling she could not discern from her other feelings as well as he could.

"Maybe I could," he breathed out softly, though no one else could have heard him. His mind continued, 'Just not yet. I only know this now, and it would only scare her....'

Antti's light gray eyes, now so because of the lack of a shirt to influence the color otherwise, easily fluttered shut, his mind void of any other thought besides the one that allowed his eyes to close.

Everything will turn out well in the end....


Slaps resounded within the spacious hockey rink. The Blackhawks had a morning practice, and Joel Quenneville, called Coach Q by his team, had an extra person on the ice. He took a glance at the person and smiled, noticing how much of a height difference existed between the players and the helper.

Slipping off the goalie mask, the young woman rested it at the top of her head. Her bright brown eyes, easily showing her excitement of being on the ice, scanned the players on the ice. Her eyes lingered on her best friend, who stood in the net to her left. She would soon have the players shoot at her, but only after she spoke with him and his counterpart in the net on her right.

Her gaze shifted in the opposite direction. She nodded once with a smile to the goalie on her right, who returned the gesture. She got along well with the French netminder, which was not too surprising (even if before she met the team she supported the Finn to her left). She felt overjoyed knowing those two were also good friends, regardless of how many games one or the other played.

A whistle snapped her out of her thoughts, and she looked over to the coach, who nodded in Cristobal Huet's direction. She promptly glided over to her French friend, ready to give him advice on how to play better. When she made her way over to him, she heard a happy but slightly tired, "Hey there, Alex."

Alex giggled at the greeting, saying, "Bonjour Huey. Working hard, I see."

"As always. Looks like you are, too. Know a little bit of French too, huh?"

They laughed at this, Cristobal slipping off his own mask. Grabbing his water bottle off the top of his net, he squirted some on his face before drinking some. She mused, "A little, but not much. Maybe someday I'll learn more and then I'll be able to talk to you in French. For now, I'm going to stick with the English I know best."

Cristobal nodded, listening to the young, unofficial-assistant-slash-goalie-coach. "You handle the puck well, and that's great! I think we could use a bit more work on locating the rebounds faster. That way you can anticipate the different possibilities of where the puck could go."

"Right, I'll be sure to practice that. Thanks Alley Cat," he said, giving her a grateful smile and a slight shoulder bump. She momentarily lost her balance, causing her to hold on to his arm.

"Oh, you can be so devious sometimes. Hey, you actually used my nickname," she laughed, finding her balance. He grinned, retorting, "Of course I'd use your nickname, we are friends."

Alex turned to face him, lifting her gloved fist. He obliged, raising his own gloved fist and bumping it with hers. As she turned around to skate away, Cristobal grabbed her goalie mask and quickly pushed off in the other direction. The female goalie followed in high pursuit, trying to retrieve it.

"Hey Marian, catch," Cristobal shouted, throwing the mask to him. The unsuspecting Slovak startled at first, but quickly caught the mask. He tossed it to fellow Slovak Tomas, who swiped it quickly and headed towards the other goaltender.

Tomas called out, "Nemo, think fast!" Antti, the one addressed as Nemo, turned around and caught the goalie mask that belonged to his best friend. He began to skate away from the net when another voice rang out, "Don't you dare move away from me, Nemo!"

Alex skated over to the goaltender who had her mask, preparing to snatch it away from him. Without a second thought she slowed herself down, and Antti extended an arm in her path. She knew what he had planned, and tried moving away from his arm. He was prepared, however; he moved a bit forward and ensnared her in his grip. Instead of freezing up and avoiding his gaze, she laughed and gave him a hug, to his surprise.

Antti smiled at the woman in his grasp, wrapping his other arm around her. Even though he had no clue as to how she felt, it lifted his spirits just to have these moments with his best friend. What he didn't know, simply because he couldn't hear or feel it, was how fast her heart raced with the close contact.

He didn't know how elated she felt with their hug.

They pulled away slowly, knowing that they needed to get back with the rest of the team. Alex reached out a hand, silently asking for her mask. With a light smile, Antti gave it to her, nodding in the direction of the other guys. As they skated back to them, she said, "I'll tell you what I saw after we know what's going to happen next in practice."

"Of course. Thanks, Alley Cat."

"No problem. Hey Nemo, you look a bit tired. Is something wrong?"

He peered down into the deep brown eyes of his young best friend. He could see the concern taking over her eyes, making his heart race. Antti almost didn't answer her, but still replied, flashing a soft smile that made her heartbeat match his, "I'll be okay. I just had a bit of trouble sleeping, that's all."

"Oh, Nemo....You don't have to worry about tonight. You'll do great, I know it!" Alex immediately pulled him back into a hug, hoping it would ease his nerves and his mind. At least it relieved his nerves; his mind formulated many thoughts, one which was dominant compared to the others.

Once you've admitted your feelings for someone to yourself, all you think about is how to tell the person that causes the feelings in the first place.

Several minutes later, Alex stood in the net Antti previously occupied with him standing nearby. He carefully studied her swift movements, noting how certain saves were made through analyzing the players and their maneuvers. Antti occasionally nodded to himself, making sure he practiced the saving methods she executed.

Alex kept her main focus on making the saves on the shots that flew her way, but she noticed how concentrated Antti was on her. Something made her insides prickle at the warm feeling quickly spreading, and she pondered what that could possibly be. All he was doing was studying her saves. Nothing more.

'Why do I get so excited like this when he looks at me,' she voiced mentally. It made no sense to her, and she had no explanation to justify the feeling. Before turning back to the other players, she took a quick glance. Her heart tripped when she notice his eyes look up almost simultaneously, showing a gray hue.

Blinking furiously to break the eye contact, Alex managed to turn to face forward, where a puck slid to her right pad. Natural reflexes made her extend her right leg to the point where she kicked it away from the net. Heart still affected, she took deep breaths to settle it. No matter how hard she tried, however, it would not return to a normal rhythm.

Perhaps the fact that he stayed on her right made it so. Maybe even the moment where their eyes met for a quick second lingered in her mind. Whatever it was, it startled her slightly.

If anything had startled her, it would have to be the thought that instinctively rang in her head after her brown eyes found his currently gray ones. She immediately told herself not to believe the thought, for it was something so irrational--something so much of a mystery without any form of reasoning--that it should not be taken seriously.

There is so much more than a friendship between us, and all it took to realize that was looking in his eyes....
♠ ♠ ♠
Hey there readers! It's Thanksgiving break for me, so I decided to post another chapter since I had enough free time. This chapter was a little bit different. I changed the first-person point-of-view to third-person, so it's a bit of a change.

I'm so grateful to you all, 61 readers with 10 subscribers. I never thought I would get to this point! Thank you so much!