Rating: R, for language
Characters: Petr Sykora, Andy McDonald, Jason Arnott
Dedication: almightychrissy, frala, lastcatastrophe, joolzie, and of course, tamiflu. :)
Disclaimer: It's all lies!
Author's Notes: This is set just before Petr got traded from the Ducks to the Rangers and is written from Petr's POV.
It was a couple of weeks after my talk with Carlyle and he'd gone back to hating me. Maybe he'd never stopped; maybe he just put me back on the top line so that I could be given the opportunity to fail. No goals? No assists? No power play time, no overtime, no shootout attempts.
I had hoped that I could make it work out, that I'd be able to prove to him that I was willing to do whatever it took to help the team, but I couldn't thrive the way he was using me. I tried to understand him, to do what he wanted, but I don't think he ever really tried to understand me.
It was becoming pretty obvious to me that I was on my way out after all. Burke hadn't told me or my agent anything, but I hoped that I would end up in New York, playing for the Rangers. Jaromir had been trying to put in a good word for me over there, and Marty Straka, who I'd admired since I was a kid, playing for Plzen, our hometown, was there too, along with some other Czech guys.
And after I'd accepted that a trade was imminent and that I would be leaving Anaheim, it became obvious what I was going to do.
I was going to Disneyland.
"Hey Petr, you free tonight? It's Sami's birthday, some of us are going to dinner to celebrate." Mac had hurried a little to catch up with me on my way out to the parking lot, and he was smiling at me hopefully.
"Umm, I had plans..." I considered going to Disneyland another day; I liked Sami and it would have been nice to celebrate his birthday with him before I was gone.
"Oh yeah? What are you doing?"
"Well, I was thinking of going to Disneyland," I said, feeling a little embarrassed.
Mac chuckled a little and asked, "Who are you going with?"
"Umm, it was going to be just me, actually," I answered, uncomfortably.
"By yourself?" he asked, incredulously, making me feel worse. "Well, that's no fun. Don't you have anyone to go with you?"
"No, I don't, everybody hates me." I narrowed my eyes at him.
"Sorry, it's just that it's not the kind of place you go to by yourself, you know?" he apologized, smiling at me.
I shrugged. "Don't know; never been there."
"You've never been to Disneyland?" His eyes widened in surprise. "You've been here for over three years and you've never been to Disneyland?"
"Two years--last season we were locked out," I said, pointlessly. "And I've never had a reason to go there. Nobody with kids has visited, and none of my friends have ever wanted to go."
And Jason had never wanted to go there; not that I'd complained. We had so little time together during the season that I'd always preferred to stay in when he'd visited.
"Oh. Why the sudden interest now in going, then?" We stopped just inside the door to keep talking, knowing that there would be a few autograph hunters outside.
"I want to go while I still can." I hoped that he would understand my strained smile, and that I wouldn't have to explain further.
Mac didn't smile in response and there was an awkward silence. I was about to make a "well, I should go now" exit, when he started talking again.
"How about you come to Sami's birthday dinner tonight, and we go to Disneyland together on Monday?" he asked quietly.
I blinked at him, taken aback. It was a completely unexpected thing for him to say. We'd always been friendly to each other, but we weren't close, and we'd never really hung out together, just the two of us; it had always been various dinners or clubs with a bunch of teammates around.
"You mean it?" I asked, not hiding my surprise.
"Yeah, I went when I first got called up, and I haven't been back since. I want to check out the California Adventure rides."
"Well, sure!" I grinned. "Although, I don't know whether going with another grown man is an improvement over going by myself."
Mac shook his head and said he'd see me later that night and left.
I got home after dinner, a little drunk from the red wine that had flowed freely at our table, and seeing that it wasn't too late, I called Jason.
It rang for a while, and I was preparing to just leave a message when he answered.
"Hello," he said, sounding tired and distracted.
"Hey. Am I calling too late? I can call tomorrow."
Jason sighed. "No, now is fine."
"Is something wrong?" We'd made up that night the way we usually did, without talking, without explaining, without apologising, without lying. I'd smiled when he messed up my hair the next day after I'd taken ages to get it looking just right, and I'd retaliated in kind, but all he had to do was run his fingers through his hair to get it looking normal again, and I pretty much had to start the whole process all over again. Of course when I was done, he'd just tackled me and sat on my chest while he undid all my work. In the end, I'd just given up and we stayed in together; maybe that had been his plan all along.
"I uhh..." he trailed off, and there was an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. He sounded like that when he was guilty, when he'd done something to hurt me.
Oh God, not again, I thought. Please, not again.
I was about to ask what had happened when I heard it, unmistakable even over the crappy connection.
It was the sound of a baby crying.
It was Chase.
He was at home.
He'd gone home.
He'd gone back to her.
It was like Chase's crying had broken some kind of spell, and Jason started talking again, babbling to me. "Look, I didn't mean to--Dina called me, she said Chase was really sick, and she'd given him his medicine and he was still crying and he wouldn't stop and she had to call someone. I had to come. It's just until he gets better. Look, nothing's changed between us."
And he was right, nothing had changed between us, nothing at all.
I hung up and I turned my phone off, and I stripped and got into bed. He'd done it to me so many times before, and he'd disappointed me every time. I should have been used to it by then, my heart should have hardened, and I should have been able to swallow and make all the hurt go away, but I couldn't. It worked the other way around; every time he did it, it hurt more, like every betrayal had the weight of previous betrayals added to it.
I couldn't cry; there was nothing left that tears could come from. He lied to me, he lied to me. Even when I'd set the past aside, when I'd taken that chance, when I'd given myself to him, when I'd given all of me, he'd walked away from me. There was nothing left of me to cry because I'd given everything up to him.