Rating: R, for language
Characters: Petr Sykora, Andy McDonald, Jason Arnott
Dedication: This is the end! Thanks so much, everyone, for all the awesome feedback. :)
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.
Mac met me at the airport, just like he said he would. I was sad to see that he'd shaved. I should have told him I didn't want him to, but I didn't get to tell him a lot of things. We had coffee at Starbucks and just talked about trivial things like the wonderful weather I'd be giving up, and baseball scores, and the ways in which I thought he cheated at foosball.
We behaved like we were just starting something together; I couldn't take my eyes off him, and he couldn't stop smiling. I watched the way his lips moved when he talked, wanting so badly to kiss them, to taste him again, and he told me that he would reign supreme as foosball champion. We were willfully ignoring the fact that the clock was ticking, and soon I'd be on a plane, and who knew when I'd be back, and if he'd even be around at the time. I just wanted to make him smile for as long as I could.
"I'm an idiot," he blurted, as I got ready to join the back of the security line. "I shouldn't have waited; I should have asked you out a long time ago."
I shrugged. "Yeah, you have no excuse--you already knew how big my dick is."
"Petr! There are small children and old people around!" he hissed, glancing around in concern for the innocent small children and old people wandering the airport. He couldn't keep the smile from his face as soon as he'd said it, though.
"It's not like any of them are going to see me again." I'd known that it was going to happen, that my days with the Ducks were numbered, and it was something we were all supposed to expect - it was part of the job, the life - but at that moment, I couldn't bear to leave, not when I had Mac right in front of me. "Tell the guys I'll miss them."
"I will; we're all going to miss you too." He hugged me, giving me a short, tight squeeze and stepped back. "Goodbye, Petr."
I got in line and watched him go, and I thought, I could have loved him.
I never really talked to Mac again after that. I thought about calling him a few times when I first got to New York, but then I'd realise that I didn't have anything to say to him, so I never did. And of course I saw him again when our teams played each other, but by then, I was married, and so was he. We'd say hi during pre-game warmups, and he looked a little older every time I saw him, although his smile stayed the same.
I lost touch with Jason, too, something I'd never imagined would happen. We'd been through so much--we'd won a fucking Cup together, and he'd been the centre of my universe for so long, and all of it just faded as time went by. I couldn't remember why I'd loved him so much, just that I did. And I forgot why I'd fought so hard to be with him, because I couldn't even really remember what it was like to be with him anymore.
Jason and I retired at the same time, then Mac a couple of years later, I think. I'd moved back to the Czech Republic with Renata, and I stopped keeping track of what was happening in the NHL, so I wasn't sure. My main concern was trying to help my children adjust to life in a different country than the one they'd grown up in. It felt strange for me to see that my home was so foreign to them, like I'd expected them to somehow know deep down that this was the place that they came from.
I'm lucky; I found the right person, and I guess she thought I was the right person too, because we're still together, and I can't imagine us ever being apart. It's not all good - it never is, is it? - and it's hard to remember to talk, sometimes, about new things, and not rehash conversations we've had for years. It's tough with the kids gone; they would always fill in the gaps between what Renata and I said.
But after all these years, I can still remember that night I spent with Mac. I can almost taste the cotton candy on his lips, and it makes me smile to think how giddy I was, like I'm tapping into some reservoir of joy every time the memories come back.
I liked him very much, but I didn't love him; I couldn't have, not after just one day. But something about what happened stayed with me, clear as day after all these years, and I don't know why. Was it because of the promise that was left unfulfilled? Or was it because we'd had to end things just when they were beginning, when things were the most intense? Was it because things were perfect, because there wasn't time for anything to go wrong?
All I know is that I can never see cotton candy without thinking of Mac, and that I never found out why it had such a strange effect on him. Maybe one day I will call him, and we'll catch up on too many years, and I'll ask him and finally know the answer. But it's okay if I don't; answers aren't as important to me as they once were.
Jason was supposed to be the constant in my life, but nothing remains from that stormy time. People have come into my life and they've gone, only to be replaced by new people, who were then replaced themselves. I've believed that certain things would never change, and been proved wrong every time.
And maybe that's why I've never forgotten the one thing that never changed because it never had a chance to; Mac, Disneyland, drunk, happy, lost, dizzy, candy days.
A/N: Petr actually married Renata the summer of 2005, before he got traded to New York. Andy's getting married sometime this summer (2006).