A/N: Thanks everyone for your feedback on this story. The end is here, but I have at least one new story in the near future.
Note: The big chunk in italics is from Chapter One of this story, since now the story has caught up with present day. Enjoy!
I had to get away from Grace’s office. I couldn’t hear myself think over the volume of her arguments, the way they rattled around my brain like birds trying to escape their cages. All I knew is I went there to apologize and ended up getting myself thrown out of her house. OUR house. I had lost my composure again and let another situation get away from me.
I went back to the house and sat, brooding and angry at myself and the world. One of the reasons I loved Grace was because she didn’t care who I was. But right then I wished she had. There weren’t a lot of women in Pittsburgh who would leave Sidney Crosby on the curb; I had picked with the only one. Her words stung.
You love this game so much more than you love yourself. You only care about yourself in terms of hockey. You don’t know who you are.
That wasn’t true. I spent a lot of time with myself, in my own head and I knew myself. Granted since Grace came along I hadn’t been alone so much. I hadn’t wanted to be. But the past month I’d been trying to do exactly that. Now was my chance to actually get some time and I couldn’t bring myself to leave her house. I tossed the argument around in my head for hours, never sitting still, until it was time for Grace to come home from work. Only she didn’t come home. I called, no answer. I called again. I called twenty times between 5 PM and 8 PM until finally she turned her phone off.
No amount of TV could slow my thoughts. I finally went to bed at 10 PM just so time would pass more quickly till she came back. In the morning, I woke to an empty bed. Shit. Grace had kicked me out, but she must’ve known I wouldn’t go. So instead she took herself away from me. To make matters worse, I was rock hard and twisted awkwardly against her side of the bed, pillow half underneath my body as if I were cuddling up to her in the night. I took the pain and a cold shower as penance.
I called her office but she was screening calls. Her cell phone was still off. I went to practice with my head hanging low.
“Crosby!” Coach called as I entered the hallway. “You alright after yesterday?”
“Sorry Coach, I shouldn’t have let them get the best of me.”
His eyes were kind and concerned. “It’s not you I’m worried about. Sid, don’t listen to them. You are right - the way we’re playing has nothing to do with Grace. You’re giving 110% every time, don’t let them tell you any different. It’s not all on you.”
I sighed. Over the last month I’d probably been a grumpy, moody asshole to everyone. But they had to stay with me. Grace had a choice. “I’ve been awful. She kicked me out.”
He gave me a small smile and a pat to the shoulder. “I would too, but I need you.”
I got through the skate and managed to avoid most of the locker room media. There weren’t many on the off-days and I gave what few there were my robot boy answers. When I was done, Kris was waiting for me in the hall.
“I think she dumped me.”
Kris put his head back against the wall. It seemed to be in resignation, not frustration. “I should have said something sooner, but I didn’t think you would hear me. I can tell you’re treating her like crap. She comes around here looking scared half the time, like she’s not sure which you is going to come out of the locker room.”
I knew it. I’d come to the same conclusion myself the day before, thinking and waiting for her. I hadn’t been myself so I hadn’t realized that she was different too, not until I stopped to really think about it. But what the fuck was I supposed to do? She wouldn’t talk to me, she wouldn’t see me.
“I can’t do this right now,” I told him. “Maybe I can’t have a life outside of hockey. Maybe I should just forget about it.”
Kris wasn’t surprised by my rash statement, but I could tell he was disappointed. Great, just what I needed. Another person whose expectations I couldn’t live up to. He left me standing there the way Grace had done the day before.
I called her out of instinct, knowing she wouldn’t answer, then tried the main line at her work and they said she’d taken a sick day. I raced home. “Grace?” I called, letting myself in. The house was quiet, everything was where I’d left it. “Grace?”
She was not home sick.
“It’s me. It’s six o’clock. I leave for Dallas in the morning and I’d really like to see you. I am at the house... I know you told me not to but I want to see you. Please call me.”
I must have left a message like that every hour. When 10 PM came around again and there was no reply, I lay down in our bed. It smelled like her - like flowers and warmth and smooth bare skin. Instead of soothing my distress it made things worse - I got another pillowcase and stole a comforter from the guest room, wrapped myself in nothingness and tossed and turned all night. In the morning we flew to Dallas and when we landed, it marked two full days without seeing or speaking to her.
I was frustrated and angry, now I was starting to get scared. What if she really had dumped me? What if that was it, it was over? If she was done with me while I was sleeping in her bed, waiting for her to come home?
Overnight in Dallas I forced myself not to call her. It was hard, especially because everyone knew something was wrong and I couldn’t exactly go to them for distraction. We went to dinner and a movie, were in bed by curfew and I stared at the ceiling for two hours before my brain finally wore itself out.
I told myself I needed to focus. The morning skate in Dallas was a light one, but I did some extra sprints and stick work to clear my mind. The first step to getting this back together would be to behave like a normal person. Winning a game would surely help. When it finally came game time, I couldn’t wait to get on the ice.
From the start, it was shit. The Stars got two goals in the first ten minutes and we were all angry. Every play we made was jammed up at center ice, every hit they threw found its mark. Just before the buzzer, TK lost his temper with that fucking mouth Jamie Benn and they dropped the gloves. It was a pretty even scrap - TK never let us down. A few minutes into the second he backed it up with a goal, putting us within one. But just as it looked like we might claw back in, the Stars scored again. Then Gogo took desperate hooking call and Eriksson scored on the ensuing penalty shot. We were a mess.
Thirty second later, everything boiled over. Morrow went after Kris, who’d been out a few games with a bad hand. Pushing, shoving and finally Morrow dropped the gloves. Kris couldn’t do anything but defend himself. Morrow knocked him down and a vision of losing Letang for the months flashed through everyone’s mind. When Kris got hauled up by the ref, the whole arena could hear the string of curses he launched. It was like a red flag to a bull - that was dirty, and if they wanted to play dirty they were going to get it.
I was livid. The frustration and anger of the last few days and the whole season surged through my veins. It made me feel invincible. But for once, I knew it wasn’t the kind of zone that put the puck in the net. This was something different and new. There was only one way to regain anything in this game and it wouldn’t be on the scoreboard. Everyone watching live or on TV was gunning for a fight. Engelland, Asham, TK - they were begging for a shift so they could throw down. Rupper and Brooks were on the ice already. But they never got the chance.
I lined up at the right side of the circle next to Matt Niskanen. He was about my size, no fights that I could remember. “Bunch of fucking pussies,” I said to him. “Fucking fight somebody who has two good hands to beat your face in.” If he was surprised, it didn’t show.
Rupp moved in for the faceoff. The puck barely touched the ice before my gloves were off. Niskanen was a step slow and that was all I needed. He threw two, swinging down and I got over top of him with a right. I did my best to dishrag him around but I didn’t want him to fall - I wanted to beat on someone. He got a few in, but mostly it was my fist connecting with him. Every time I hit face or jersey or shield I reared back and threw another. Finally he ended up on the ice and I rammed my forearm across his throat and knocked his head back a few times for good measure. It was over in less than 20 seconds.
I skated right to the box with the haze of fury still over me. It took almost the entire 5 minutes for my heart to stop pounding. We would lose the game, I knew it. But maybe I’d been able to send a message. I am in control of this team. Playing like shit ends here.
We flew home right afterward. Some of the guys tried to congratulate me on the fight and I did my best to joke with them. I never fought and I think they were more impressed that I’d won a good bout than I stood up for the team. But I was not in the mood to kid around. I was on a roll of fixing things with my own two hands and there was still one problem left to solve.
Everything in my life is about control. Always has been – I’ve never known anything different. Except for Grace.
I went straight to her house, feeling sure she was there. Tomorrow I’d wonder what the fuck I’d been thinking, what right I had to go there and why on Earth I’d chose one potential problem after another. But I couldn’t make the car go any other way.
I let myself in, pulled her out of bed and flattened her against the wall. One thigh went between her legs and my hips pressed hard just below her waist. My hands were on her skin, at her neck and under her tank top, gripped tight to her side.
“If I hurt you, tell me. Because otherwise I won’t stop,” I said, hoping she wouldn’t say anything. She never had before.
“I hate you,” she told me instead, hands in my hair.
I bit her neck hard and sucked the soft flesh into my mouth knowing full well it would leave a mark. “I hate you too.”
It may have been the first night I actually lost it with her. Despite how crazy she and I had always been, that night was different. I didn’t want it if she didn’t fight back. I would win this fight too, and not because she simply gave in. She would have to tell me to stop before I’d even consider the possibility.
Fuck she is so infuriating! Why can’t she just play the game? She’ll let me stand here all fucking night, biting her bottom lip because she knows I’m about to come at the thought of her mouth.
She tried to grind herself out as I hammered into her. “No you don’t. You will come when I say you can. That’s right, let me hear you,” I told her. Then closer, whispering, “I know what it sounds like when you scream my name. Well you’re gonna have to beg.”
The corner of her mouth twitched. “Then where would you go every night you need me? When the only thing keeping your whole precious fucking snow globe of a life together is me? You need me. You need someone who doesn’t give a shit who you are or what you do.”
I flipped her onto her stomach. I liked it when she was defenseless, except for that mouth that only shut up when she was deep-throating me. I trapped her legs together, settled my stomach onto her ass and prodded the tip of my cock into the soaked space between her thighs.
“Tell me you want it, Grace. Tell me I’m the only one who can make you scream.”
I slid a hand right to her snatch and stretched her wider, jamming myself into every single breath of space. She squirmed beneath me. “That’s my girl. Loves it when I fuck her hard.”
A strangled cry tore from her body as her pussy clenched around my cock. That’s the best part, as tight as she gets, and I put 200 lbs behind the thrusts I gave that juicy little hole.
Fucking say it, I almost ordered. Tonight of all nights I need to hear it.
“Sidney!” she shouted as the dam broke. I yanked her hair, pulling her face out of the duvet and letting my name rip from her mouth like she was cheering a goal. With a roar I exploded, buried a mile deep in that tight, tiny hole, beating my victory like a drum against her exhausted body.
I passed out, actually unconscious for I don’t know how long. All I know is I had Grace locked in my arms and she didn’t try to get free. When I finally woke, she was asleep. Her hair was swept up and already an angry looking bruise marred the pale run of her neck. Beneath my hand, a matching dark bite ruined her breast. I looked over her - her delicate thighs bore the sign of my fingers, spread wide and pinched deeply.
I cried. My anger and adrenaline had disappeared, replaced by the nagging fear that Grace was right - I could never love anything but the game. As I looked down at the way I’d physically hurt the only woman who’d ever come close, I couldn’t stop it. Grace had seen me cry before and she already hated me, what did I have to lose?
She came around, rolling in my arms to face me. Without a word she pressed herself against me and her lips to my forehead. Her hands met around my back. We lay there, sprawled on the bed, while I closed my eyes to block out the sight of her bruised body.
“Shhhhh,” she said. “It’s okay.”
“Nothing is okay, Grace. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how I could have done this,” I swept my hand down toward the marks I’d left on her smooth skin.
She looked herself over, examining my work. I felt sick to my stomach as she stretched her fingers wide, trying to reach the span of bruises mine had made. But when her eyes met mine again, they had not changed. “Sidney, I could have stopped you.”
“I don’t think so,” I admitted.
“Well I didn’t want to. Last night was the closest you’ve come to telling me anything honest in the last month.”
“I’m sorry, Grace. I can see that I’m getting it wrong but I don’t know how to fix it.”
She propped her head up on one hand. “I just need you to talk to me. Maybe not like this every time,” she pointed to her bruised neck, “but if you’re this angry you can tell me about it. You think you’re the only person who ever has a tough time, who ever feels pressure. You’ve gotta do it all yourself and them you implode. Stop being such a martyr and let someone help you.”
I lay back, knowing she was right. But it was easier said than done. Still, I could try. I would try, for her. “Will you stay with me? Don’t leave?” I asked.
She smiled. “I’m not leaving you. I love you. And you obviously need me.”
I still had tears on my face as I pressed it to her cheek. “I do need you. I’m sorry for what I said, you’re not just some girl.”
“Of course not - I’m the girl everyone wants to be. And I need you too, Sidney, not just to score goals and win championships. But you know, that fight last night really turned me on.” She giggled, like we hadn’t been fighting for days.
I collected her into my chest and kissed her hard, pressing my gratitude and relief against her lips. “I love you. I will try to be better.”
“I love you too. I’ll try only to dump you when you really deserve it. But you’ve gotta talk to me, okay? I have to be a whole part of this or no part at all. No more of this half-in, half-out crap. Unless I’m too much woman for you to handle,” she smiled.
“You are, I’m afraid, but I’ll do my best.”
Her lips came to mine this time. “See, superstar? That’s all anybody is asking.”
“Do you hate it?” I said, meeting Grace’s eyes in the mirror. It was hard to keep my gaze up when she was naked and toweling off.
“Yes, I hate it. But I love that you need it.” She came over and pressed her bare body to my suit, making me wish desperately I had an extra fifteen minutes before I needed to leave the house. Her fingers brushed my mustache as she smiled. “You only need points in 40 straight games to get something respectable going here.”
“21 to go,” I winked at her and swatted her butt.
She rubbed her face into the hair on my upper lip. I didn’t think it was too bad now – it had looked pretty embarrassing in the beginning. But once I started…
“Next time, how about a full beard? It’s less… pervy.”
I ran a hand up the curve of her back. “Pervy, eh? Think people can tell what I’m imaging when they show you on the Jumbotron?”
“No mustache is as perverted as your mind, Captain.” Grace kissed me, causing a whole new crop of dirty ideas to come to mind. “But if they knew about you and me in here… let’s just say they’d stop calling you dull.”
“They’d stop calling me The Kid.”
She pushed her chest against mine. “We could always make a sex tape. Get it to HBO in time to follow 24/7 tonight.”
She shrieked as I pushed her away and I pulled the knot in my tie open with one movement. “Go find the camera.”
Third Time's the Charm
4 years ago