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.
We had dinner at the Blue Bayou, a restaurant in the starting area of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The atmosphere was surprisingly good, considering we were dining under a fake night sky with the recorded sound of crickets chirping around us.
But maybe it didn't matter what the atmosphere was like because we'd had a few bottles of wine between us, and by the time we'd finished dessert, I felt really, really good.
It occurred to me that it was getting pretty late, and that the park was probably closing soon. "Hey, we didn't go to California Adventure. That's what you came to see, isn't it?"
Mac just smiled and shook his head. "I can come here again another time; I just didn't want you to be a big fat loser going to Disneyland by yourself."
We both laughed at that, but I understood what he'd left unspoken--I wouldn't have the same opportunity to come any time I wanted to because I wouldn't be around anymore. Instead of making me sad, it just made me laugh more, because I was thinking about missing Disneyland. How many times would I ever want to go to Disneyland, anyway? It had taken me three - no, two - years to go there in the first place.
"It's not a joke, Petr," he said, trying to look serious, which just ended up looking dumb because he was too drunk to be serious. "I really do mean you're a loser. You're a loser for leaving."
"I'm not leaving," I objected and balled up my napkin, then tossed it at him, hitting him in the chest. "I'm being traded. Probably. Totally different thing."
"Well, you're not going to be around anymore, right? So that means you are leaving." Mac picked the napkin up from his lap and threw it right back at me, hitting me in the face. I glared at him, but he wasn't looking at me anymore; he was looking down morosely, twisting his own napkin with little fists. "I wish you weren't."
I shrugged. "It's not your fault the coach hates me. Unless you've been telling him bad things about me; in that case it is your fault and you have a lot to make up for. You should wash all my cars. And buy me dinner for a week. And carry my equipment bag. And..."
"I don't know about all week but I'll take care of tonight," Mac said, chuckling a little as he picked up the check and glanced at the total, then counted out some twenties from his wallet and tossed them on the table. "And this isn't an admission of guilt, by the way."
"Oh no, of course not, you buy dinner for me all the time anyway," I said, because Mac had never bought dinner for me before. We stood up to go, and I realised immediately that I was way too drunk to drive home. "Hey, what time does the park close?"
He looked at his watch as we made our way out of the restaurant, squinting and bringing his wrist closer to his face as he tried to make out the time. "Uhh... right about now."
"I can't drive," I said. "You?"
Mac didn't answer, but somehow the shitfaced grin on his face told me that the answer was no.
"Got any ideas for something we can do until one of us gets sober?" We were walking along slowly together, headed back in the general direction of the park entrance. At least, I assumed that's where we were going; I was just following him.
"Sorry, too drunk to think of anything," he laughed, his arm brushing against mine as the zig of my path crossed with the zag of his. I put an arm around his shoulder and pulled him close, causing us both to veer wildly to the side of the street, and we both laughed, and I almost leaned in to kiss him. Instead I laughed at him, and myself, and Disneyland, and the Mighty Ducks, which was the dumbest thing you could ever name a hockey team.
Oh God, I'd almost kissed him.
The thought suddenly registered, and I practically jumped out of my skin; my heart raced and I was instantly sober, as if I'd been shoved into a freezing cold shower. I'd been so close to actually doing it that I'd even known what I was going to do - I'd have cupped his chin, turning his head to me, and I'd have kissed him lightly, just the barest brush - and it scared the fuck out of me because I could have done it.
I was going crazy inside with fear and adrenaline, feeling like I'd just stopped myself from stepping off the edge of a cliff, and my blood was pounding in my ears so loud it was all I could hear. I glanced at Mac and he was smiling--he didn't seem to have noticed what I'd almost done, thank God. He was still happily stumbling along with me, laughing loudly even though I'd stopped, guiding us along.
I thought about Teemu and the secret he'd been able to keep so well, even from his wife; the one I'd managed to find out by pure chance, by being in the wrong place at the right time. It had been fine, of course, perfectly all right because it was me who had found out, but what would Mac do if he found out about me?
As he started babbling to me about various things, I couldn't stop myself from thinking up scenarios - all of them bad - as we got onto the shuttle to take us back to the parking lot. Mostly, it was his expression that I kept thinking about. Shock at first, maybe shock for a long time, then what else? Disgust? Anger? Mistrust? Fear? Hurt? I tried to keep the thoughts out of my mind, but it was like trying to play a game of whack-a-mole that wouldn't end.
We'd gotten off at the parking lot, and I was vaguely aware that I had been following Mac's lead for a while, and he'd stopped. I stopped as well and looked at him, trying not to stare at his lips. We were standing next to my car and he was looking at me expectantly.
"Well?" he prompted.
"Well," I responded, my mind completely devoid of anything else to say.
"I don't suppose you can drive yet?" he asked, hopefully.
I shook my head. I definitely wasn't in the same mood I'd been at the restaurant, but I definitely wasn't sober enough to drive.
"What the fuck do we do now?" Mac grinned and leaned against the passenger door, sticking his hands in his pockets.
"Get cabs. I'll come back for my car tomorrow." I sighed.
"You want to come over to my place and play foosball? I'd beat you, then I could remain undefeated champion and bring it up every time I talk to you from now on." He was bouncing a little on his heels, like he still had energy to burn.
I should have just turned him down and gone home. He would have understood, it was late and we'd spent all day together at Disneyland. I could have said no; it would have been easy to say no. The last thing I needed was to spend more time in his presence, obsessing over the near kiss and constantly checking him out then worrying about whether he'd catch me checking him out. I was doing it right then, looking at his hands, watching his thumbs rub idly against the denim, then looking between his hands.
I had to go home. Say no, say no, say no.
I opened my mouth to speak, and he lifted his head up and smiled at me, slightly awkward, a little shy, a little hopeful, beautifully earnest, and I said, "Sure."
Jason called while Mac was in the kitchen, getting beers for us. He was ahead in foosball three games to one because he had an extra pair of hands while I was struggling to get just one of mine working properly.
I stared at my phone for a while, reading every letter of Jason's name carefully before I answered. I hadn't wanted to talk to him all day - I hadn't been ready to talk to him - but I answered anyway, because suddenly talking to him seemed fine; I was drunk, and I was strong and brave and superhero invulnerable as I stood there, hundreds of miles away from him, believing my own lie that he was nothing to me and he had no power over me, as if I could decide just like that and turn everything off like there was a switch. Lights off, TV off, Jason off.
"Petr?" he said urgently, his voice bouncing off me, seaching for the chink in my armour. "I'm coming tomorrow morning. Early. I'll be there before you wake up."
"You can't," I protested, watching Mac as he made his way to me, a bottle of Molson in each hand. "You can't come tomorrow. You can come yesterday."
"What? Yesterday? Petr, have you been drinking?" His voice went very soft, and he sounded worried and a little annoyed.
"Of course," I answered. "I'm busy. Bye."
I hung up on him and took the bottle of beer Mac was offering with that winning smile, and in exchange, I gave him one of the bags of cotton candy he didn't know I'd bought for him in Disneyland.