Status: Coming Soon!

Everything Has Changed

All I Knew This Morning When I Woke


It had been weeks since I’d last talked to Cheyenne. We’d hardly spoken since the season ended and she’d finished the year of university. Before that it wasn’t like we’d talked tons – just a couple of text messages here and there - but it was better than it had been for the past couple of weeks. We were drifting apart, and while I tried to focus on training and working out she kept creeping into my head. My brothers had all noticed but refused to say anything; Jordan and Eric understanding a lot better than Marc. He hadn’t met Cheyenne, and he definitely didn’t have a clue what I was going through.

Every year since Eric had made it to the NHL we had a barbecue. The first one had consisted of Eric’s new teammates and the three of us, too excited and nervous to do much more than stand there quietly in the presence of actual NHL players. When Marc got drafted his new teammates joined, and the same with Jordan and me. This year was no different, except for the fact that I didn’t care to go. I’d never felt like this before… ending things with Tasha had been painful, but they’d held a sense of relief. This – this was like having my heart torn out and stepped on. Nothing mattered, and I wasn’t even as excited to be working out with my brothers or competing against them and actually holding my own. I lived for when my phone would go off and Cheyenne would text me to tell me what was new. Our short conversations about our lives – she was busy with some music stuff and was going back to Saskatchewan for a couple of days for some family stuff, and I told her how training was going – were the most exciting things to happen to me since I’d been home.

“Come on Jarhead – stop being so damn anti-social and get a move on,” Jordan hauled me off of my bed, making me groan. I really had no interest in taking part in the barbecue and having to be around all of the guys when they knew Cheyenne and I weren’t together or anything and that it was killing me.

“Jord – I really don’t want to,” I whined, knowing I sounded like Parker when he was grouchy and didn’t want to go down for a nap.

“Come on – so what, Cheyenne isn’t here. You need to get back on your horse bro, or at least stop being a hermit. Mom’s starting to worry,” he insisted, and I huffed. Until I was married and had a kid on the way she’d worry.

“I’m serious Jay. I get it, you fell for her, and I can see why. She’s gorgeous, she’s funny, she’s not superficial… but some things just don’t work, and it happens for a reason. So, maybe she was something that just wasn’t meant to work; you have to move on bro.”

“Did you just…” I stared at my youngest older brother in shock. Wisdom and philosophical statements were not his forte, by any incredible stretch of the imagination. Heather must have done wonders to his brain.

“Yeah, yeah; I have my moments. Like I said before – I’m married, so I’m not as stupid as you all seem to think I am. Which is hurtful, by the way,” he added, before standing up and walking to the door, turning and waiting for me to follow. I rolled my eyes before joining him, earning a clap on the back from him as we made our way downstairs and out to the back yard. Brett was there, and he waved before walking over and handing me a beer.

“Hey man! Long time no see!”

“Yeah, you too. What’s new?” I asked, and he got a slightly hesitant look on his face.

“Well, uh…”

“Out with it Sutter,” I teased, and he rubbed the back of his neck.

“Liza and I made it official. She came out to my parent’s place for our get-together and I asked her – officially – to be my girlfriend. It’s on Facebook and everything,” he told me, and I forced a smile for him. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for him, it’s that I was jealous that Liza had been so willing and eager to give the distance thing a shot.

“Dude that’s awesome! Next thing we know we’ll be getting a wedding invitation,” I teased, and while his face turned red he looked relieved.

“Easy there tiger – that’s a long way down the road,” he assured me, and the three of us joined the rest of the party then. Lindsay came bounding toward me, and when I saw the interested look on Marc and Eric’s faces wondered what the hell was going on.

“Jared! Will you go to the Sudbury Music Festival with me?” she asked, pulling out all the stops with her pout. I ran a hand through my hair, not having a clue what to tell her.

“Um… well…”

“Please? Marc’s being an ass and says he doesn’t want to go,” she pouted, tugging on my arm. Jordan and Brett just watched, completely amused by her behavior. “There’ll be lots of good bands and singers there! Country, folk, some rock bands, a little bit of everything!”

“When is it?” I asked, and she pranced on the spot, unable to stand still with excitement because she knew I was caving. Lindsay was more like my sister than Tanya and Heather were, in the way that she had no qualms asking me to do things for her or teasing me, whereas Tanya and Heather had always been a little bit more reserved in that sense. Not by much, but just a little.

“Next week? I’d totally forgot about it until yesterday otherwise I would’ve asked sooner, and Tanya wants to go but she doesn’t really know if she wants Park and Levi there…” soon I tuned her out as she started telling me the details, because of the look on Brett’s face. He offered me a smile before pulling out his phone and texting, and even a few messages later his expression didn’t change.

“So will you? Please? You know if you say yes Marc will actually go,”

“Okay, okay – I’ll go, but you owe me Linds,” I allowed, and she squealed before hugging me, catching the attention of nearly half the people in our yard. Parker saw me then, and soon both of my nephews were running at me. Lindsay let go of me so I could crouch down and catch the two mini copies of my oldest brother, laughing as they both tried to wrap their little arms around me.

“Hey guys! How are you?” I asked, and Parker was the first to speak.

“Good! I missed you!”

“I missed you too!” I told him, kissing the top of his head and Levi’s as he started chattering at me. I managed to pick out something close to ‘missed you uncle’ but it wasn’t overly clear.

“Uncle Jay, why did dad say you were being a her-mit?” Parker asked, drawing out the word to be sure he said it right. Jordan laughed as my face turned red, unsure of how to answer him.

“Well, um,”

“Is it cuz of a girl?” he asked, and again I floundered for an answer while my brother busted a gut laughing at me. Lindsay decided to swoop in and save me, as well as Heather who was making her way over.

“Aunty Lindsay!” Parker gushed as she picked him up, cooing over him because she didn’t get to see him as much as the rest of us did. Levi waved, and reached out for Heather when she got close enough.

“Uncle Jared’s not being a hermit because of a girl,” Heather told Parker, who listened intently. “He’s being a hermit because he’s got a broken heart.”

So much for getting help there.

“Broken heart? Can’t the doctor fix it?” Parker asked, making all of us laugh. If only it were that easy.

“No, it’s not something a doctor can fix, Park. It has to heal by itself. It might take a while, but it’ll get better eventually. But it’s very hard, so Uncle Jared’s doing a really good job with it,” she explained, and Parker nodded before looking to me.

“I’m sorry Uncle Jay,”

“That’s okay Park – I’ll be okay,” I assured him, and soon he was smiling and telling a story about something he’d seen at day care. I mouthed a thank you to Heather, who shrugged before hip-checking her husband.

“And you need to learn to be nice to your brother,” she scolded him, making his ears turn a little pink as he wrapped his arms around her.

“He’s my little brother, I’m supposed to tease him,” he complained.

“Sure, but you complain when Marc and Eric tease you,”

“That’s different! There’s two of them!” they walked over toward my other two brothers, still playfully arguing. I hadn’t been sure if they’d stick it out and get married, but once they had things seemed to settle down for them.

“Park, why don’t you go see what Daddy’s up to?” Lindsay asked, setting him down and watching our nephew bolt toward his father.

“So, holding up okay?” she asked. I shrugged, digging the toe of my shoe into the ground.

“I guess. We haven’t talked in a while. I don’t know if by texting her I’m being too needy or making her feel like I’m pushing for more than what we agreed to… it’s just so damn complicated!” I groaned, and she patted my back as we sat down at the picnic table.

“If it wasn’t complicated it wouldn’t be real. If you really, really care about her Jared, you need to let her know,”

“I did. I told her more than once while she was in Charlotte Linds. I made it more than clear that I’d do whatever I could to make it work. She was just sure that it wouldn’t, and her reason was because she already cared about me too much, and if we had a relationship she’d care even more and then if we broke up it would hurt worse. Fucking worst explanation of my life, because it’s not like she doesn’t like me or doesn’t want to be with me, it’s just whatever the hell she’s got decided in her head getting in the road,” I explained, and averted my eyes. Lindsay’s brown ones would be full of sympathy, and right now that was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to be mad, I wanted to mope, and I wanted Cheyenne. Simple as that.

“Well then, sounds like you need to go prove it to her. Prove that even though you two haven’t seen each other in a couple months that nothing’s changed, that you still care just as much. That should mean something to her,” she told me, and I shrugged.

“Sure, what if she’s found someone else? Then I show up and look like a total douchebag on top of getting my heart ripped to shreds. I’ll pass. We agreed that we’d talk, and we do, there was no expectations past that,”

“Except you two had sex, that kind of changes things,” I’m sure my jaw dropped open at Lindsay’s frankness; she’d never been one to say something like that, especially not in front of any of us. And especially when I didn’t tell her or Marc that particular piece of information.

“Close your mouth before you eat a bug,” she told me, before she continued talking. “I mean it – you two obviously cared about each other, and bringing sex into the picture was bound to complicate things. If you’re still this bent out of shape over her then you need to do something!”

“God Linds, I’m not good at this shit!” I complained, and then felt one of my brother’s hands on my shoulder.

“Is this still about the spring break girl?” undoubtedly Marc’s voice from behind me, and I wished he’d just keep out of it, because out of my brothers he understood the least.

“Yeah, and ‘spring break girl’ has a name,” I snapped at him. He raised his hands in mock surrender before sitting down and trying again.

“Okay, sorry. So this is about Cheyenne?” I nodded, finishing off my beer quickly.

“You gotta do something Jared. I hate seeing you like this,” he told me, and I shot him a glare. Because there was so much I could do when Cheyenne was dead-set against us trying a long distance relationship.

“No, I enjoy feeling like shit on a regular basis,” I retorted, and returned to staring across our yard. I just wanted to go back inside and hole up in my room, but I knew my brothers weren’t going to let that happen. Especially when my last attempt at doing so ended with Jordan hauling me outside.

“Jesus Jared we’re trying to help, okay? Sorry we don’t know exactly what to do!” he burst, catching me off guard. Marc was the last one I’d have expected to get like this. He cared, yeah, but he wasn’t big on dwelling on things. In his eyes, shit happened, you dealt with it and moved on; it was as simple as that. So his stupid comment about ‘spring break girl’ had been expected, but this outburst wasn’t.

“Look, I get it. You’re hurt, and you really like this chick. So you’ve got two choices – you do something and fight for her, or you let it go and move on. This moping shit isn’t going to help you either way,” he insisted. Lindsay looked a mix of frustrated and sympathetic - probably frustrated because subtlety wasn’t really a Staal trait, and sympathetic because here was the poor baby brother unable to get his shit straightened out. It wasn’t the first time I’d had my brothers all trying to pave the way for me and make it easier.
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I really couldn't resist. I fell in love with these characters while I was writing them, and by the response I got in the comments of Two Different Worlds Collide's last chapter you guys are wanting a little more too! Let me know what you think, and I hope you like it!