Status: Updated approx. once a week!

Picture Perfect

A Past Uncovered

(hey guys please read the author's note at the bottom!)

-----Kat's POv

"Goodbye Katina!" Jules sings into my dark bedroom just before she leaves for work.

"Bye" I grumble back, "have fun at work." Once I hear her close the front door I turn onto my stomach in bed and let out a huff. My bed was so comfy- did I really have to get up? I didn't even have to go to the morning skate this morning for once but I was still up early as hell. My pillows entice me to just shut my eyes and sleep but it takes all of my will power to get out of my blanket burrito.

I shuffle across the cold hardwood floor and feel blindly around the foot of my bed for my slippers with my toes. My phone growls against my night stand but I decide not to check it- anyone who was texting me this early in the morning could wait till later when I at least have some coffee in me. I waste no time in showering and getting straight back into a tank top and sweatpants. Making my way to the kitchen, I turn on my Mac prepared to edit some more photos of the guys to post on the Flyers web page as well as our old beat up radio. Just as I'm about to pour a bowl of cereal there's a light knock on the door that interrupts my chain of thought and the cheerful Christmas music.

I shake my head walking over to the door, "Jules I swear if you forgot your friggin' keys ag-" I scold as I open the door, "oh." My heart stops dead in my chest.

"Just a hint- Jules has straight brown hair- I have orange curls," Claude says with a huge grin spread across his stupidly handsome face. His hair was damp with some stray curls stuck to his temples and his rain jacket was dripping on the hardwood in the doorway. Claude's holding two coffees in one of those flimsy cardboard carriers and a brown paper bag with cute pink and yellow writing across the front. We hold each other's stare a little longer than normal. "I brought breakfast," he states, holding up the decorated bag breaking the silence, "and latte's... for us to eat... " he trails off with a devilish grin, "don't tell me you forgot about our date already Katina."

My heart jumps into my throat- shit I did forget, but who in their right mind starts a date at 8:00am? "Okay maybe I did forget," I mumble and step aside so he can walk into the apartment. Wait did he call this a date? There's no way this can be a date date my mind reassures itself. As he passes me, he hands me one of coffee cups warming my hands and heart immediately; "you're lucky you brought caffeine with you G or I might not have been so loving," I tease with a playful sneer.

"I think I could've worked my way in here without the caffeine somehow," he beams with a wink sending a deafening blow to my weak, pathetically smitten heart.

"Don't be too cocky Giroux," I manage to say with a bit of confidence, "remember the last time I took a coffee from you?" I add with a grin referring to a laughable memory made in Jersey. Truth is he probably could've shown up at 6:00am, waking me up with an air horn, wearing a trash bag, and I still would've let him in without a damn fight. He sets down the bag that reads "Sweetie Pies" and pulls out some amazing looking pastries and donuts I couldn't wait to get my hands on. He grabs a plate from the cabinet and places it on the counter, "hope you don't mind sharing with me or pigging out on sweets," he says softly with a smile as he tears the pastries in half, "you have to try all of these they're amazing."

As we eat our sweets and drink the lattes, he's constantly making me laugh and asking me how the sweets taste, making sure I like everything; Claude is being incredibly suave- even at this early in the morning- does the guy ever take a break from being so friggin' charming? If he has a warning label it definitely says "watch out women within a three mile radius: may cause butterflies, vertigo, obliviousness, heart eyes, endless smiling, and heartbreak."

"I think your apartment has more Christmas decorations than the city of Philly," he through a childish laugh looking around, "but I still think we should go see them all."

"Yeah Jules goes all out pretty much- BIG fan of the Christmas season," I say with raised brows and a smile, "I just need to get dressed- I don't really wanna go out looking like I survive off the Salvation Army foundation."

He lets out a hearty chuckle, "it's not that bad," he winks.

I give a light shove to his shoulder and roll my eyes- I'll be right back."

"Alright, I'll try not to get lost in this winter wonderland while you're gone," he teases as I head into my room.

Once I close the door behind me I enter full panic mode- why did I have to choose this morning to wear my XL sweatpants and XXXL free 76ers shirt. I begin to rummage through my drawers finding an old pair of comfy jeans, a plain v- neck and Christmas socks. I grab a cute winter jacket hanging on the back of my door and quickly change into the relaxed outfit. As I set a record for the world's fastest outfit change (managing not to slip and fall flat on my face several times), I head towards the bathroom to fix my hair into something that says "this looks effortless even though it isn't."

Once I slide my bare feet into some cheerful socks, I sit up straight and face the mirror. My stomach lurches into my ribs. I raise my hand to touched the scarred and branded side of my face. A million thoughts race through my mind along with my heart. I never covered it up- he never said anything- he never said anything. I walk through my room and stand in the hallway waiting for him to realize my presence; Claude looks up slowly to meet my gaze, giving me a soft smile. I try to find my voice but no words come out so I just point to my scar. "Y-you never s-said anything- this isn't something that's e-easy to miss," I say a little more defensively than I mean to.

He stays sitting on the barstool, hesitating, trying to read my expression. I begin to make my way towards him, easing myself on the stool next to him. He waits a couple of seconds after I sit to break the silence, "I-I never said anything because I figured you'd tell me when you wanted to- I didn't want to push."

I give him a small nod- damn he's such a gentleman, "but that still doesn't explain why you never even reacted to it when you walked in. Most people gape at it when they see it," I confess to him.

He takes in his bottom lip behind his teeth and rubs the back of his neck with his hand nervously, "I uh- I actually saw it the night we uh- you- uh slept over," Claude confesses softly. His eyes are apologetic as I search for something to say in return.

"You never said anything," I mutter in disbelief more to myself than him. I feel my eyes start to sting as tears prepare to make their entrance. Don't cry- Kat this looks pathetic, my subconscious scolds. I take a deep breath in an effort to subdue the dramatic waterworks and bite my bottom lip, "it's just that- uh- people always ask about it," I knot my fingers together, "I'm sorry you had to see it," I add in a jumbled panicky mess while I eagerly stand up, "I'll be right back I'm going to go cover it up."
A hand pulls mine back to the bar stool and I sit down. Claude looks at me with his warm, hazel, puppy dog eyes with a soft smile, "I like it- you don't have to cover it up," he murmurs coolly, making my heart melt into a puddle, "hell, I don't know why you feel like you have to cover it up."

I cock an eyebrow, "seriously you can't think of anything?" A pathetic laugh leaves my mouth as I shake my head, "imagine people asking you what happened, people staring, kids gaping- it's just all too much- especially living in a city, no thanks," I inform him with a fake laugh trying to hide how much the stares and questions have affected me.

His callused thumb rises to my face and strokes the side of my face, "ah, come on it's not that bad," he says observing the scar with gentle eyes. As much as I love the touch of his skin on mine, I can't help but to feel incredibly self conscious- the secret that I was keeping from him (and practically everyone else) was finally full blown out in the open.

"Stop lying," I scoff, turning my face a tad causing him to drop his hand from my cheek, "did Coots tell you about it?" I ask but Claude gives me a clueless look and shakes his head.

"I never asked Coots anything- I didn't even know he knew anything but know I'm starting to think the kid does," he says through a laugh, "I didn't think it was my place to ask you Kat. I figured if you wanted me to know, you would tell me." Claude softly takes my hand in his and with one simple "everything is going to be okay" smile, my anxiety melts away.

"I might as well tell ya now," I croak nervously and fidget in my seat. "It's really no big deal- well I mean it is- but, anymore, Jules and I just don't really talk about it too much." I look from my knotted hands to Claude, "this past summer, we went camping with Kyle-"

"Kohl's boy right?" he teases with a smirk, lightening the mood.

"Yes," I chuckle, "Kohl's boy. Well, the three of us and some of his friends went camping for a few days up in northern Pennsylvania in a cabin of one of the guys. The second night we were there Jules and I headed into the cabin while the guys were still intent on drinking around the bonfire. The next thing we know Jules and I are coughing our lungs out and the whole place is on fire. Needless to say, we're lucky we only left with scars," a small pathetic smile settles on my face while Claude stays quiet. "We never really heard anything from his friends since that night- the fire department told Jules and I that they believe the fire got out of hand because the guys were drunk and messing around- obviously not the best combination. But Kyle never really talked about it after we got out of the hospital and he hated seeing the scar," I state with a shrug, not really knowing what else to say. It was always hard talking about the scar and its story but with Claude it was different- hell everything is different with him. My face grows hot in the silence between us, I wish he would just say something already.

Claude lets out a slow, steady breath, "Well it's safe to say that if I ever see Kohl's boy again or his friends, they're going to have scars of their own- especially if the guys know."

I lightly punch his shoulder, "the guys aren't gonna find out about this cause you're not going to tell them," I roll my eyes.

"I would never tell them but sooner or later you're going to get sick of covering up that scar," he teases with a raised eyebrow, "but in all seriousness Kat, you look amazing with or without the scar."

My heart jumps from my chest to my throat hearing those words tumble from his mouth. He keeps his gaze on mine, sending electric charges through my body, which becomes all too overwhelming. I realize my hand is still in his and I shake it free, leaping from my chair, "we should really get a move on, I'll be right back," I say in a rush and head to my bedroom. I quickly braid my hair and throw on a baseball cap adorned with a flyers emblem, throw on some jeans, a shirt and rain jacket. I reach for my cover-up but I retract my hand before I touch it- maybe today I won't hide.

Within 5 minutes, G and I are out of my lobby and heading towards the heart of the city. Christmas decorations adorn everything: streetlights, storefronts, apartments, food carts, fountains and parks. The skies are thickly laid with dark grey clouds, refusing to let any sunshine peak through. Claude looks down at me with a small smirk, "I like the all- natural look today," he says with enough warmth to make me forget that I wish I brought my gloves.

"Thanks," I say trying to subside a goofy grin. Claude holds up the large umbrella above us, puts his arm around my shoulder and huddles close to me so we both stay dry. I really like the rain but I'm an even bigger fan of being this close to Claude, why did he have to smell like the perfect mixture vanilla, sandalwood, ocean breeze and pure heaven. The rain made the pavement and sidewalks act as mirrors reflecting the bright, colorful Christmas lights. The atmosphere was overwhelmingly magical, giving me the odd feeling that this was either a dream or I was trapped in a cheesy Lifetime movie; either way it was alright with me.

Claude leans his head on mine as we talk about some upcoming games in the season and what we were each doing for the holiday break coming up. The way he was tucking me into his side more than just friends, hell when I'm walking with Jules and it's raining, it's all or nothing- you get the umbrella or you're soaked trying to stay under the umbrella.

"Your hair smells nice," Claude says warmly into my ear, sending chills down my spine, "I can't seem to loosen my grip on ya." Flirting. Claude was obviously flirting. The difference was it wasn't over text where I had the comfort of a screen keeping us apart.

"You don't smell too bad either captain," I grin, feeling my voice tremor a tad- I wasn't used to flirting- the last date I went on was with Parker and he wasn't nearly as smooth as Claude was being now.

"Did you let Parker get this close to you?" he nearly hums, I can hear the devilish smile soaking his voice.

"No, but I definitely would've let him," I say and then let out a laugh, knowing how much the sentence would kill Claude. I nudge him with my elbow to tease him, "besides the only reason we're this close is cause it's pouring out."

"You really don't think that's the only reason, do you?" he asks with a sly smile. I respond with another nudge into his ribs.

We are walking towards Rittenhouse Square when Claude slows his pace, "so, I think I want to change our plans," he says, I could see the wheels turning in his head.

"Oh yeah? And what's that?"

"The only thing I didn't see in your apartment was a Christmas tree- how about we find ya one?" he asks grinning.

"Sure! Then Jules can stop giving me crap about not being around to help put up decorations," I confess with a laugh.

Soon enough, we pass a tiny outdoor place that sells Christmas trees and Claude pulls at my hand excitedly, it was hard to deny how cute he was totally embracing the Christmas spirit, "so what size are you thinking?"

"I don't know, but you're going to be the one carrying it back to my apartment," I chuckle.

"Just don't pick out a massive one and I should be okay," he flashes a bright smile my way. Charming. Abso-freakin'-lutely charming.

We slowly walked through the aisles of trees and as he hummed along to the Christmas music, I was determined to find the perfect tree. After examining about fifteen sad looking trees, we found the perfect one- not too skinny and bare and not too big for Claude to carry back to the apartment. We walk up to the sales guy and point out the tree that we'd like. Claude and him pick the tree off of its stand and carry it over to the register.

"Hey, I don't mean to bother you and your girlfriend but would you mind gettin' a photo with me? I think it'd be good for business," he says to Claude, nervously scratching the back of his head.

"I'm not his gir-" I begin to say (begrudgingly I might add).

"Yeah sure, no problem! Kat- you wanna take the picture?" he looks over with a big smile and the sales guy is already handing his phone to me totally on cloud 9 Claude said yes.

Within a couple minutes, Claude and I are on our way, making the short trek back to my apartment with the perfect (discounted) Christmas tree. The sales guy took 20% off the tree for me but I just gave him back the percentage in tips. I hold the umbrella over Claude as we dodge through some disgruntled crowds of Philadelphians and tourists.

I gave up on holding the umbrella and helped Claude, against his will, carry the tree the last few blocks until he got to my building- the last thing I needed was the burden of injuring the captain before the last games of the year. We manage to shove the tree into the elevator and get it up to my apartment smoothly, well except for the few wall decorations we hit in the hallway. I couldn't stop laughing as Claude struggles to get it through the doorway and into the spot Jules cleared for the Christmas tree. Once he puts it in the stand next to the TV, he crashes immediately on the couch, pulling my waist so I fall down with him.

"That was a lot of work," I sigh with a teasing smile and look at his face- it was much closer than I anticipated, making me catch my breath.

"Yeah yeah, you really killed yourself trying to help me," he says with a laugh and winks- absolutely killing me. His eyes fixate on my lips and I try to ignore the electrifying rush I'm getting. His arms tighten around me enough to send my heart into a frenzy. Looking at his lips, I knew I wanted the cake and I wanted, no, needed, to eat it too.

"Let's set the tree up, eh?" Claude says with a smirk that melts me- I had a feeling he knew exactly what he was doing to me.
♠ ♠ ♠
A/N: OH MY GOSH HEY SO GUYS I'm totally not dead, I'm very much alive - even though this past semester literally drained me of everything- senior year definitely is harder than I thought. I am so sorry that it took so long to update.

To be honest when I got back from my trip, work started right away and I was working doubles all the time and some pretty big emotional stuff was going on so it was hard to write and have motivation- I thought I'd have more time to write this semester but I was actually seriously wrong about that. So, this chapter is a product of writing over like 5 months so I am so sorry if it's legit terrible! But obviously since the semester is over for a couple months I'm going to try my best to get some chapters out starting today! I hope everyone's summers were AMAZING and school isn't totally crushing you with stress! Totally sorry it took me THIS LONG to get out a chapter- the time seriously flew by and before I knew it it's been like 6 months since I updated! LOVE YOU GUYS! I hope you enjoy the story so far!

SINCE I'VE LEFT: Claude Giroux got engaged! So happy for him and his fiance Ryann they are literally the cutest. Make sure to follow her on instagram since she posts cute stuff about them all the time. ALSO FLYERS ARE ON A WINNING STREAK HOLY SHIT YES! Steve Mason had a baby, so did Voracek, and probably someone else too holy crap.