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

Love in Ice



Slapshot over the left shoulder. Wristshot down low, aim to the five hole. Under the right arm.

I swiftly made the saves to each of the shots, instinct guiding me into the right spots to catch and block the pucks. Soon I would be switching places with Nemo in the net so he could practice some more after watching me. His intense studying of my motions made me shiver in the already cool rink, and I noticed my cheeks burn hotter to balance the varying amount of heat.

Deciphering exactly what Nemo thought was not an easy task. In the process of decoding what could have flashed across his mind, I easily found myself in disarray as far as my own thoughts. Just a steady look into his eyes made my brain react, losing anything formed within a time span of one second. How that effect arose, I have but the slightest idea, so I kept myself guessing possible reasons.

I tore my gaze away from his, noticing how it lingered several seconds longer than intended. I scrambled to reach a puck that fell to the ice after hitting my blocker, landing on my back. Once I tapped it away, the last shot flew towards my right shoulder. I reached across my body to catch it with my trapper as the whistle sounded.

Standing, I used my goalie stick to get out the pucks that slipped past me. After a refreshing drink, I skated over to Nemo. Though the smile itself was mostly hidden, his eyes shone in happiness. As unsteady as my heart was, I continued making my way over to him.

"Hey Nemo," I beamed, though he could not have seen me. He pulled up his goalie mask, and I followed in suit. He held up his gloved fist, and I lifted my own fist to his. I giggled unexpectedly at the greeting, and Nemo's eyes brightened even more, my heart not letting up on its rapid beating.

"Nice job, Alley Cat," he replied, smile now visible. I shook my head, flushing at his compliment. He nudged me lightly, encouraging a light shove from me. "Come on, you were awesome!"

My face burned entirely out of control; I was almost sure I singed off the top layer of skin with my blush. I blinked out a thanks, seeing as I was momentarily at a loss for words.

"I've got an idea. Want to hear it?" I looked at him, nodding and replying, "Of course I want to hear it, Nemo!"

He chuckled at my immediate response, making me shift slightly on my skates. "Well, since we are at practice, and tonight is the game, I was thinking you could show the team your pregame ritual."

I stared at him for a few seconds, allowing the thought to register. Surely the team could use a laugh or two to relax a bit. It was a great idea, and he would finally see the pregame ritual I had talked about a while ago with him. With a grin on my face, I said as his face caught a grin of its own, "That sounds like a great idea. Let's do it."

Nemo nodded quickly and skated off, calling over his shoulder, "I'll go get everyone over here!"

I skated back over to the net, placing my stick on top of it. I took another long drink of water, splashing my face with it as well. I tugged at my jersey, wiping the water off my face. Within a matter of minutes, the whole team was assembled a little past the closest blue line. Though a wave of nervousness washed over me, I took a deep breath and collected myself.

I started, "Hey guys. Well, I thought I'd show you what I would do as my pregame ritual. Whenever I played a game with my friends, I would prepare myself by doing this. There will be a part where I'll need some assistance, so I'll tell you when that part comes."

Nods answered me around the team, and I continued speaking. "I'm not sure how many of you guys know the songs I'm about to sing along to my ritual, but they do fit for the most part."

I placed my water bottle at the top of the net, grabbing my goalie stick. I pulled my mask down, and began to shout out the words to the first part of my ritual: "Get Low" by Lil' Jon.

"Let me see you get low, you scared you scared
Drop that ass to the floor, you scared you scared"

I dropped to the ice at the first line, grinning underneath my goalie mask. Some of the guys started laughing as I skated along the goal crease with the second verse. I spread out my arms like a hawk would unfold its wings and flapped them along with the last words. I repeated the first part of the ritual another time, hearing other guys sing along to the song they knew.

I picked myself up, waiting a little for the laughter to die down a bit. Snickers still filled the air, but I could still talk over them. The second part required eight of the guys to get four pucks each. I glided over to them and explained in hushed tones of what they were to do. They nodded, and I skated back to the net. I crouched down for a second and then prepared myself. The second part of my ritual had the song "Shots" by LMFAO and Lil' Jon.


The first four guys, on their cue, shot their pucks in tune with the song. The first guy shot his four pucks, then the second shot his pucks, and so on. When I repeated the verse, the second group of guys mimicked the first group. The rest of the team, even Coach Q, continued laughing at the silliness of my ritual.

I laughed along with them, getting the pucks that got past me. The last part was a little way I shook out any negative feelings I had before the game. It was just as unorthodox as the other two parts of the ritual.

I asked them, "Does anyone know the song 'We No Speak Americano'?" Some murmurs responded me, and I explained, "Well, this song doesn't have that much lyrics, but there is another version that I think about in my head. Pitbull sings this version, and I generally use it to calm myself down."

I placed my goalie stick on top of the net. After a few moments of silence, I started off the song:

"Bon bon bon bon
Bon-bon bon-bon bon bon"

Some guys continued the beat while I danced along. I pointed to my upper right, then to my upper left; lower right, and then lower left. After that, I swayed from side to side in tune with the song. My last steps were shaking out my arms and legs, one by one. Soon enough, everyone else tried to mimic the last part to my routine.

With laughs quickly filling the rink, we began a mini-dance party on the ice. Everyone seemed to release any nervous emotion, determination taking its place. After a spirit-boosting break, we resumed practice like normal.

The guys skated back to the bench to grab a drink before heading back to center ice to restart practice. Huey headed towards the net he previously stood in front of while Nemo stayed by my side. The moments of standing next to him took a wonderfully long time to pass, and Nemo, almost reluctantly, glided to the net I had guarded.

Of course, the devious little goalie decided to do several things to make my heart stop. First, he turned around with his blue-gray eyes sparkling meeting my eyes. Then he sent a charming, crooked smile, throwing in a quick and barely noticeable--well, hopefully barely noticeable--wink to knock my heartbeat off pace.


'Practice was very helpful to the guys', I thought to myself. The way the guys cheered excitedly on the trip to the Mellon Arena made sure of that. Nothing in the air hinted at any sort of tension, and even the man sitting next to me held a steady smile on his face.

I felt the excitement myself. I knew this game was going to be intense, and I could feel the determination radiating off Nemo. Happiness warmed me, a smile showing how much so. I tugged at the red jersey, peering at the number stitched on the sleeves. Out of the corner of his eye, Nemo caught me looking at the number. I grinned when gave me a crooked smile and gave a quick squeeze to my hand.

My heart quickened its pace, and the short term effects jump-started the nerves in my face. They burned my skin, and I was certain that a red tint colored my once relaxed face. Before I could stop myself, I fell into an entrancement of some sort with his eyes, strangely light blue against his gray coat. Normally his eyes inherited the lighter gray color from his jacket, but this was not the case.

Was I really going to expand on my observation and analyze the possibilities of the mismatching eyes and coat?

'I must have taken a puck to the head at some point in my life', I concluded to myself. 'Perhaps I don't remember the incident?'

Nemo leaned over to me, whispering, "Should I be concerned?" I mustered up a questioning look, confused. He continued, held-in chuckles escaping, "You've got such a thoughtful look on your face, it looks like your thinking again." I gasped with a falsely appalled expression, hitting him lightly on the arm with my free hand.

He shook his head, laughing with me. Nemo's eyes shone brightly, and the smile on my face grew slightly. I felt the bus jerk to a halt in front of the Igloo, as the Penguins fans so affectionately called it. Looking out the window, I tightened my grip on Nemo's hand. His hand squeezed back, and I knew we both shared the feeling of anticipation for the game.

Several minutes later, I sat behind the bench where the guys would be with Sam and Leslie. Though I knew the practice helped calm the guys down, I knew they still had a bit of nerves. Still, they had our support here with them. They could clearly see that if they turned around; we all wore our jerseys. Sam wore the jersey that had Benny's number, Leslie wore the jersey with Steeger's, and I wore the jersey with Nemo's.

"Hey Alex, Sam, don't the guys look psyched? More so than usual? I mean, it looks like they've gotten themselves under control," Leslie pointed out, watching the guys skate onto the ice. I snickered a bit and said, "Well, they certainly had a few laughs at practice, I can tell you that much."

Sam whipped around to face me. "NO WAY. You showed them, didn't you?!" I laughed at her spirited reaction, Leslie asking, "Wait, what did you show them? What was there to show?" I grinned at her, which only made her look more puzzled. "I'll explain later. It's about my pregame ritual, as a goalie."

She nodded happily, looking anxious to hear the story. Sam asked, "So they all got a laugh out of it, huh?" I told her, "Well, they did, but you would know for sure if you were actually there!" She shook her head, smiling all the same.

"Did you guys remember the camera?"

"Already two steps in front of you, Lexa." Sam revealed the camera that was on her wrist, on standby to take pictures. "Let's take a few together!" We all scooted closer together to get in the range of the camera. First we took some nice pictures, following a long set of silly pictures. After the long line of picture-taking, we debated on who would score tonight on the opposing goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.

"Let's see....I think Hoss is going to get one. He's really good at scoring, and after all, he did play for the Penguins two seasons ago," I said, looking along the bench.

"Yeah, but that was a long while ago. Don't you think they would change it up a bit," Sam refuted, picking both Benny and Big Buff.

"Steeger should be able to score one for us," Leslie chimed in, Sam poking fun about how she seemed biased because she would pick her boyfriend. Trying to find some way to breathe through our laughs, we continued to debate, shooting down each other's guesses for fun. After we all agreed on Steeger would tally one for us, we all talked about when he would do so. Leslie decided on the half mark of the third while Sam and I concluded on the first half of the third.

We all quieted, looking to the ice. Only the first lines and the goaltender of each team remained on the ice. We all stood on our feet, in preparation the National Anthem. The players removed their helmets, and I noticed Nemo on our end of the ice, slightly fidgety. I silently wished him good luck, even though he wouldn't hear me.

You'll be awesome, Antti. Don't forget that.
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Hey there readers! I realize that my update has taken about a month to actually publish, and I thoroughly apologize for it. I've been super busy in school, and I was finally able to work on it during my winter break.

Happy Holidays to all 71 of my readers and 10 subscribers! I hope you like this installment of my story! :D