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

Love in Ice



Never at this point in my life had I ever had a week that dragged endlessly. Very important days had snaked itself into this week, and some I believe I could have lived without. On Sunday I called Vance, telling him that we needed to talk. We met at the local coffee shop and got ourselves coffee before I started talking to him.

Once we got to our table, he pressed a kiss on my cheek. I said to him, "Yeah, that's exactly what we need to talk about."

He sat down across from me, looking confused. I elaborated, "I need to know where you think...we...are. Do you really think there's"

"Well, I did feel something in those kisses we shared. Why?"

I bit my lip, admitting, "I think...we should slow down. I mean, we barely know anything about each other, and maybe we need some time to do so." It had only been the first date, and I had impulsively kissed a guy that I had talked to only twice before that night. As if that wasn't fast enough.

He understood, but I could hear the reluctance in his voice. Still, he respected my wishes and was not so forward. We talked some more that morning and thankfully nothing else. We hadn't kissed since last night, which--to my apparent amazement--was perfectly fine with me. The kisses we shared were not comforting at all. I did not feel any kind of impatience to kiss Vance again. After a bit of thinking, I recognized a sense of fear made me so hesitant to do anything with him.

In fact, that fear prevented me from even getting a hold of Nemo.

Before I left the coffee shop, Vance said, "I know you said to slow down, but...Are we considered...together?'

I made the mistake of staring into his hazel eyes, knowing the decision I made next was not going to be something I agreed with one hundred percent. I somehow remembered how I nearly vowed to give the man in front of me a chance when I talked to Sam. I could not go against my word now. After a small surge of numbing pain, the same from the date last night, I nodded my head.


Later that day the boys had a game, and I watched it with Sam. When intermissions rolled around, I retreated to the study area that I had created in her kitchen. I was very anxious to talk to Nemo that night, but several things caused me to think twice about it.

First, he was the man in net, and I did not want to disturb his thought process. Whatever was going through his mind made him play at the top of his game. Second, I stalled once again on resolving whatever was going on between us, so we still were not on speaking terms. Third, I was already nervous enough with my studies, and I needed my brain for the test that was on Tuesday.

Fidgeting was never too bad for me, but when it came to something like this--wanting to talk to the Finn that was my best friend for the first time in a week--I had a hard time controlling it. I constantly checked my phone for any messages, as if I would get any during a hockey game, no matter where the players were. It got to the point where Sam snatched my phone, turned it off, and hid it in her room.

Our boys won against Tampa Bay that night, and it was a special one for Nemo. He got another shutout, and Chelsea Dagger was heard four times during the game. I wanted nothing more to see him at this point, and it took everything that I had to not drive myself over to the UC where I might have had the slimmest chance in seeing him. I figured that by the time I made it there, he would be long gone. I called out from the kitchen, "Hey Sam!"

"What's up Alex? Finally got your head out of your ass? 'I'm not going to see my favorite player until I feel like it' isn't cutting it anymore?"

"It's not just my favorite player that I want to see. He's my best friend, and I need to talk to him."

"That's the tough Alex I've known and loved! Let's go to the game on Friday. That way it won't interfere with your huge test on Tuesday or your work tomorrow and Wednesday. Ben says that should be Nemo's next game, too."


Waiting for Friday proved to be easier, but only when I was preoccupied with school and work. Whenever I had free time, I made sure I spent it doing things around my apartment. At times I had to do the same Sam did at her apartment and hide my phone.

The only disadvantage to that plan was that after I was done taking care of chores, I would always find my phone and check it. That's probably the only time I've ever hated my photographic memory.

Finally, Friday came and even though I was nervous for later on tonight, I was relieved that I was going to go and talk to Nemo. I was slowly going crazy without having the blue-eyed man to talk to, but that was going to change once I saw him.

I was going to make sure of it.

I quickly pulled on a white, long-sleeved shirt with some warmer black jeans. I grabbed my now clean jersey and traced over the name on the back. 'Everything will turn out for the better,' I reassured myself, slipping on the deep red fabric and smoothing out the folds. I put on some basic makeup and combed my borderline curly hair, taming it with a bit of gel. Carefully stepping into my snow boots, I physically--and mentally--prepared myself for the night in full.

I picked up Sam at her apartment, and I drove to the Madhouse. After finding parking in the parking lot across the street, we went inside. The arena looked as beautiful as it always did with its banners hanging over the main entrance and the many Hawks fans mingling with the fans of the opposing team--this time the Boston Bruins.

We made our way to our seats, which this time was a little farther from the bench, but still on the 100 level. I smiled when I looked out at the ice. The boys had just taken to the ice, and they were practicing their shooting on Nemo. For the most part he looked collected, but I did not have a clear view of his face. I tugged on my jersey, the thirty-one on the sleeves making my lips twitch upward slightly. I hoped he was feeling okay, and I also hoped he kept our silence out of his mind. He needed his concentration, and I was confident that he was going to try his hardest to get a victory for his team.

The game was very nerve-wracking to say the least. The Bruins scored first and kept their lead through the first period. Nemo stayed level-headed and made save after save. When the second period started, the scoring really started.

Steeger and Sharpy both scored, snatching the lead from the Bruins. The opposition tied it up with a goal from Paille in the last ten minutes of the period, but Tazer responded with a goal of his own. When the intermission began, I fidgeted in my seat as if I had somewhere I needed to be. Sam looked over to me and said, "I think we should walk around for a little bit." I nodded and followed her, getting away from the buzzing insides of the arena.

We walked around aimlessly but remained close to the tunnel that led to our seats. "How are you holding up now?"

"Better, I guess. I just want to be able to talk to him again."

She encouraged, "I know for a fact that you two will. I asked Ben how Nemo was, and he said Nemo was just as bad. He really wanted to talk to you after his shutout win against the Lightning, but he couldn't, especially when you two still hadn't spoken to each other." I nodded and said, "...You're right. Just make sure I don't make a run for it after the game."

"Sure thing. You do not want me dragging you all the way to the locker room. I'll drag your ass down Madison if I even let you get that far."

We returned to our seats just in time for the puck drop. Tazer won it, and the game flowed smoothly until nearly seven minutes later. Boychuk tied the game at three, and I knew Nemo had to be feeling a little dejected, but I had my complete faith in him. Laddy followed up quickly with a goal, making the scoreboard read 4-3 in our favor.

Just when we thought we had this game, Krejci lit up the lamp with a shocking goal. The UC got significantly quiet, and I frowned at my realization. Judging from the view on the enormous screens overhead, Nemo looked slightly frustrated. "Don't worry, Nemo. This game isn't over yet. You can do this," I whispered under my breath.

The third period ticked away, and along with it went the short amount of overtime. I tensed up for the shootout that was going to start shortly. Nemo prepared himself over at the Hawks bench while Thomas stood by the Bruins bench. Thomas was quite the goalie himself, and I knew it might take some effort to get him to crumble.

The shootout began with Bergeron shooting for the Bruins. Nemo squatted down in his crease, stretching out to keep himself focused. A ref blew his whistle, and Bergeron skated quickly towards Nemo. He aimed a hard slapshot toward Nemo's left, and Nemo easily caught it in his trapper. I clapped and cheered at his strong start.

Tazer was chosen to go first in the shootout. He aimed the puck to the left of Thomas, and it slipped into the net. The UC was filled with loud cheering, and I could tell the fans had more confidence for the guys. The entire mood was uplifted, and less tension charged the air around me. Wheeler went next for the Bruins, and the puck went wide of Nemo. A sigh of relief escaped my lips; if we scored next, we would win the game.

Kaner skated onto the ice, chewing his mouthguard out of habit. From what I could see, he contemplated the way he should approach Thomas. He pushed off and took the puck, handling it carefully. He shot a low, hard shot to the Bruins goalie.

Thomas fell to catch the puck, and he thought he had it. Kaner slid the puck through the five hole and into the net. The crowd cheered loudly, and the goal horn sounded. Sam and I danced along to the Hawks goal song that played throughout the center. The guys skated onto the ice and saluted the fans as they did with every win. After the elation died down, I felt nervous for what was to come. I looked over to Sam, and she smiled reassuringly. "Let's start heading down there now. Waiting for the crowd to file out will take too long."

The walk to the locker room seemed long and daunting. I did not feel that I was getting any closer, and it was irritating me. When we finally reached the locker room entrance, I was almost completely relaxed. The only hint that gave off I wasn't was my foot tapping out my impatience.

The silver tinted door opened, and Benny stepped out, already clad in his dress shirt and dress pants. I smiled at him, receiving a grin in return. "Glad you could make it, Alley Cat. How's life been treating ya?"

"Not bad. This past week was pretty busy, so I wasn't able to hang out with you guys. Congrats on the win, by the way."

He walked over to me and held me in a one-armed hug. He whispered, "Nemo's getting ready now. Want me to get you in there?" I smiled gratefully and said, "Yeah, that would be great." He opened the door and said, "Get decent boys. We've got some visitors." Grabbing Sam's hand, Benny led us into the room where the other guys were.

I searched for Nemo's place in the locker room, and he had his back towards me. Sam nudged me forward, and I felt all my nerves attack me at once. Nemo turned around, and I immediately met his eyes, which revealed his shock at my presence. They roamed over my person, noticeably becoming lighter in color. The light gray orbs finally landed on my eyes, and he took a few steps closer.

Nemo lifted his left hand and hesitated once it was mere inches from my cheek, but then he reached for my hand. The first physical contact with him for over a week, and heat flowed in shock waves. My lips turned upwards in a small smile, letting out a hushed, "Hei Antti."

I could not have felt happier when he pulled me into a very friendly and secure hug. I wrapped my arms around his neck while he rested his around my waist. After a moment one of his hands rubbed my back, and I buried my face into his chest. He smelled of a refreshing rainy day, and the all too familiar warmth returned, spreading to the tips of my fingers. All the fear disappeared with comfort replacing it.

"You don't know how happy I am to see you again," he muttered, resting his chin on my head for a moment.

"Believe me," I whispered back, "I think I do, especially not being able to see you and not talking to you this past week."

He pulled away gently, keeping a hand on my lower back where the heat from before now centered. "I was wondering why we even stopped talking in the first place," he admitted, keeping our eyes locked in a single gaze.

"It was really stupid of me to even stop talking to you, and I am so sorry for scaring you. I don't even know what I was thinking."

"Not so much scaring as it was startling. I've long forgiven you for that. It's also my fault for not trying to message you or anything. I really wanted to, but Ben said that you might have been really busy. I didn't want to mess anything up for you, so I waited."

"So we're cool then?"

He nodded with a crooked smile, holding my breath captive in my own lungs, "For sure, we're cool."

My smile was genuine when I looked at my best friend. I didn't realize he still had his hand firmly pressing on my lower back until he pulled me into another hug. My cheeks surely matched the jersey I wore as he held me against his strong body, rocking slowly on his feet. My eyes slid closed, holding back tears that played bitterly with the corners of my eyes. 'Tears? Why am I almost going to cry?'

I chose not to answer my questions but rather turned my side to Nemo's chest, holding one of his warm hands. His lax breathing proved a contrast to the rapid beating of his heart, and I fleetingly considered the possibility of him having stronger feelings for me.

Not wanting my instincts to control my actions, I dismissed the topic that invaded my mind. I only focused on the relief and happiness that came from the saved friendship, knowing later on that I would have to sort out a few thoughts.

My feelings for Nemo.

If I had any beyond the bounds of friendliness.

Why I did not completely trust Vance, even though I agreed that we were a couple.

...And if I do have something for Nemo, how would I tell him?


I yawned loudly as I pulled out of the parking lot of Loyola University. My class for the chilly Tuesday night had just ended, and I naturally wanted to retreat under the surely warm covers waiting for me. I turned on the radio to WBBM as I waited for the stoplight to allow me to cross the intersection.

"The Hawks had a disappointing loss to the San Jose Sharks with the close score of 3-2," I heard the announcer say, and I groaned at the news. Nabakov played a strong game tonight, it seemed. I made a mental note to text Sam about the game; she went to see it after work.

I carefully drove myself through the streets, some more slick than others, and arrived at my apartment a little later than I expected. What else could I have expected with slow-moving traffic? I miraculously found a parking space in front of my building--miraculous because parking was very hard to find during a Chicago winter. After shutting off my car, I walked inside the building to my apartment. It was unlocked, and I distinctly remembered myself locking the door.

Fear pricked at my fingertips, and I quietly opened the closet door, pulling out a hockey stick for protection. I flipped open my cell phone, heart racing in my chest. Quietly I stepped into the kitchen, holding the hockey stick in a crosscheck position. I yelled out, my voice unsteady, "Come out and FIGHT ME, damn it!"


Absolute silence.

I scanned the entire apartment--twice, three times even--before determining no one was around, even though many things were out of place. As I entered the living room once more, I discovered a piece of clothing torn to shreds on the couch. I approached it and realized that it was my jersey, and I felt my heart drop slightly. That was not all that was there. I looked on the floor behind me, discovering smeared drops of a thick and dark liquid.


I felt my entire body stiffen when the apartment suddenly felt bigger, more vacant. I shouted, dropping the hockey stick, "No, this can't be happening!"

Even though I had checked my apartment three times, I searched a final time throughout the apartment. My own blood turned cold, and tears burned my eyes at the edges.

Riles was gone.
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Every time I come to publish another chapter, I am very amazed at what I find. To think that I have reached an accomplishment of 156 readers and 25 subscribers on this story--even if it had the quickest of glances on it--is just stunning. I didn't completely expect to see the story go this far, but I'm definitely glad it did. This chapter was pretty unexpected, wasn't it?

Thank you guys for everything! I would greatly appreciate any comments on the story so I can see how you guys like it. :)