A QUICK UPDATE! ::gasps of horror and shock:: It was within the month! No, within the WEEK! ::more gasps:: I just couldn't leave you guys hanging like that...It would simply be TOO evil...I would feel bad. So tada! Chelsea CAN get something done! ...Well, occasionally...

Rachel- Lol... I'm so glad to hear that you like it! ::grins:: I even updated within the same WEEK! ::gasps:: SHOCKING!

Banksiesbabe99- Lol...aren't you shocked at my super-quick update? I am. Lol...I just couldn't leave y'all hangin'...it would just be evil.

Sarah- Hehehe... I actually updated! ::everyone faints with shock::

Adriana- Ha ha. Lovely chant. Hehe. I quite like the word ain't. It's awesome. Wow, I actually updated in the specified window of time! WOW! Amazing, I must say. How sad about the towel...lol...I agree; life isn't fair.

Vinnies-Angel- I'm glad to hear you liked it. I even updated quick for y'all! See? I can be a nice person, really. I figured not even I could bare to torture you guys like that...

Mary- Ha ha. Yes. Mircales do happen. Hehehe... ::nervous laugh:: You'll just have to see? Hmm...a cookie, you say? Hmmm...No, no, can't be bribed... ::twitch:: ...ack. Ooh, with Charlie on top? ::smiles:: That's better than any ol' cherry ANY DAY! I hope you like the quick update! And heh...don't kill me if it's not Orion. I probably would if I didn't already have it planned...perhaps I can write another story someday with more Orion. I was going to have him in more, but then...heh...never did. Yeah. Heh. Oops?

Liz- I'm glad you liked, sis. Hehehe...Yes, you even got the sneak- peak! A few days early, you lucky Liz! Lol. And YES! You do have a lot of Shattered Glass chapters to read so, get movin'! ::cracks whip::

Julez- I'm sorry you always have to wait. Lol...this time it was a quickie! Hehehe...I'm capable of quick updates sometimes...I just needed motivation. Leaving you guys after a cliffy like that would just be plain mean.

Agel15- I'm glad you like the story, and I hope you enjoy the update!

Disclaimer- I don't own the Mighty Ducks, but I like to hide Charlie in the closet sometimes...

-Chapter 9-

As Charlie stared in shock, a voice cut through his thoughts.

"Conway! Get over here! We've got a game to play."

Charlie nodded dumbly and couldn't wipe the tinge of horror and worry from his face as he pried his eyes away and followed. He tried desperately yo shake it off, but he couldn't help but hope theu didn't recognize him...

= = =

Gordon bombay no longer heard the excited wails of glee pouring from his son or his wife as she worried they were late. He couldn't even hear the bustling crowd.

He could only think...was it possible?

He could have sworn he had just seen Charlie...Charlie had just been there. He knew he had seen him. But...Charlie was dead...right?


The man snapped out of his trance and looked at his wife of nine years. "Yes?"

"Are you okay? You look like you've just seena ghost," she said with worry.

Gordon tried to smile as he nodded. "I'm okay," he said, deciding not to mention anything. It could very well all be in his mind. He didn't want Casey to get her hopes up and it not turn out to be Charlie. It would break her heart all over again. "Let's get to our seats."

Casey nodded skeptically while Jeremy continued to literally bounce up and down.

Gordon followed them, his mind still racing.

Was Charlie really alive?

= = =

Charlie felt jittery as they gathered around the bench for final instruction. McDonald poked him, and Charlie looked.

"You okay? You kind of had that deer-in-headlights thign going there," the man said.

Charlie nodded. "Yeah, I'm okay."

"You sure?"

"I'm fine. Ill be fine," Charlie said firmly as his teammate simply nodded.

"If you insist."

= = =

It was ten minutes into the first period when Charlie's coach called him over.

"Conway, what's wrong with you? Pay attention! Focus!" his coach said with firm exasperation.

"Yes sir," Charlie said, nodding as he mentally kicked himself. This had just been a bad trip overall for him.

The coach nodded. "Get back out there and concentrate this time! This isn't time to go into your little dream world; this is the NHL! The point is to get the puck IN the goal!"

"Yes sir..." Charlie said, turning back around and skating back to position.

McDonald gave the younger mana look of support as Charlie prepared for the faceoff.

He had to stay in the game...He had missed a few passes, and he could tell his teammates were frustrated; they had been simple, easy passes.

Charlie just couldn't get his mind off his former hockey coach. Maybe it wasn't him...Maybe he was imagining thigns.

The puck was dropped, and Charlie tore after it aggressively. He coudln't let it bother him. he had a game to play, and he woudl just have to keep his personal life off the ice.

= = =

"GO CHARLIE!" a curly-haired blonde woman screamed, jumping up and down as Charlie skated down the ice with the puck. "You can do it, kid! Stay in the game!"

"Yay Uncle Charlie!" the miniature blonde next to her cheered, waving a Ducks flag with animation.

A few seats down, Gordon blinked at them before turning to Casey. "You're think it was a high school team the way they're going on," he said wit humor.

"Yeah," she said with a smile.

Jeremy jumped up in his seat and cheered loudly, causing his parents to jolt in attention.

"He scored!" Jeremy said excitedly.

Gordon laughed at his son's exuberent cheers. His attention was drawn to the two he had heard earlier. The woman was cheering alongside the child with enthusiasm.

The man turned as his gaze was drawn back to the ice as the player who had scored skated gleefuly with his fellow teammates.

Number 96.

= = =

"Alright Conway! That's more like it!" McDonald said, slapping Charlie on the shoulder with a grin.

At that, the buzzer sounded, ending the first period.

Charlie couldn't helo but grin to himself as he skated over with his team. He could do this. He could keep himself focused.

= = =

Later in the night, the final buzzer sounded, ending the third period; the Ducks had one 2-1.

Charlie was walking out of the locker room in a glow when he was tackled by a blonde blur.

He schooped the girl up as she bubbled.

"You won! You won!" she cheered.

"Nothing gets past you, does it Amy?" he asked with a grin.

Jen threw her arms around Charlie and Amy. "Great game, kid!"

"Thanks, Jen. I try," he said as they parted and Amy began swinging her legs.

"You were a but spacey for awhile, though. I was just about to go dow their and beat you upside the head" she said as they began walking to the parking lot.

"Coach was, too. Trust me," he said with a crooked grin.

She laughed and shook her head. "So do you have to head back yet, or can you come and hand with me and Amy for awhile? I think she's been feeling withdrawls or something," she asked, unlocking the back door for her daughter to crawl in.

"I could probably stay for awhile. It woudn't hurt," he said before casually looking around.

When he thought he saw Bombay, he ducks into the car and slammed the door behind himself, covering his head.

Jen blinked at him before trying to figure out the source of the odd behavior. All she saw was throngs of people around her.

"Charlie?" she said, climbing into the front seat and looking where he was 'hiding.' "What are you doing?"

"Hiding," he replied simply, glancing out the window in paranoid suspicion.

"Dare I ask from what?"

He shrugged. "Long story. I don't really want to get into it," he replied, just as he did anytime she questioned him on something that regarded his past or...just plain weirdness.

"You NEVER do. One of these days I'm gonna crack you, my dear brother. You just watch."

Charlie leaned toward her with a grin. "Of COURSE you will. Just like you've been saying for the past nine years, right?"

Jen pursed her lips and scowled playfully. "Shut your face."

He shurgged and grinned broadly. "Love ya, Lindley."

"Bah," she said, shoving the key in ignition as she pretended to be mad.

"Aw, c'mon Jen.You know it's true. I never had an excuse to be obnoxious until I met you! You KNOW you've grown as a person since you met me," he said jokingly, a cheeky grin on his face

"No thanks to you. Sometimes I miss the angry, mean, antisocial, depressing, mad-at-the-world, PMSing Charlie that decided to grace me with his presence on that fateful day nine years ago," Jen said dramatically, grinning from ear to ear.

"You know you love me," he said leaning into the front seat and hugging her with exaggeration.

She ruffled his hair jokingly before gently whapping him upside the head. "You're tolerable..." she said. "...most of the time."

"Tolerable? That's all I get? All this time and all you can say is 'tolerable'? Jennifer Lindely, I am hurt," he said in mock-horror as he placed a hand over his heart.

"I love you Uncle Charlie!" Amy piped in.

Charlie returned to the backseat and patted the child's head. "See? Amy loves me."

"She's six years old, and you give her cookies when mommy says no. Of COURSE she's going to love you," Jen said skeptically.

"I'm her only uncle; it's in the job description to spoil her when mommy's looking the other way," Charlie said matter-of-factly as Amy nodded, both of them smiling.

"You're hopeless; you really are."

They arrived at the hotel and Jen put Amy to bed in one room while she and Charlie said in the small living area.

Jen began telling him about how they were doing, how Grams was, and what all their buddies were up to, but Charlie couldn't seem to concentrate on her voice. He tried, but he just couldn't. Had it really been Bombay, or was he imagining it all?

"Hey...Charlie...? Are you listening to me?" when he snapped to attention and just gave her a blank stare, she continued. "You okay?"

Charlie blinked and shook his head ever-so-slightly. "Yeah...I'm just going to get some fresh air."

"You sure you're alright?" Jen asked again.

He nodded and stood up, walking to the small balcony of the hotel and closing the door behind him.

The man leaned forward on the rail, looking out ot the Minnesota city lights. A harsh shiver crept over him as he breathed out a cloud of frozen breath. He had left his jacket inside, but he didn't want to go back yet.

Was the man from before Gordon Bombay? Theman he had idolized and considered a father until the man abandoned him and betrayed his trust for a stupid job?

It was always possible that Charlie was imagining it all. It had been nine years, and it might just be something about breathing Minnesota air again that triggered buried thoughts. Brought him back in time; back to a time when he was Charlie Conway, Captain of the District Five Mighty Ducks. Back to a time when everything in his life was changing before he was ready, thus driving him to even more changes...but nurturing his anger gave him comfort throughout the changes. Gave him someone to blame.

He let out a sigh. Maybe he really was just imagine Bombay; a memory fabricated before his eyes by the impact of coming back. Besides, Bombay was probably off somewhere enjoying life without the problems of stickign with his team. Sticking with the people he supposedly cared about.

Chalrie propped his elbow on the rail and rested his chin in his palm. He had done it without them. He had proved he didn't need any stupid Ducks or stupid anbandoning coaches, or even stupid evil coaches that made him really, really mad...

Nope, he could do it on his own.

He shivered again but kept staring forward, lazily studying the layout of the horizon, city lights dotting the dark night.

The man didn't flinch when the door creaked open and another body stood next to him.

"What are you doing?" Jen asked softly.

Charlie shrugged slightly. "Nothing."

"You mean you're standing out in the freezing cold weather in nothing but a t-shirt, jeans, and socks for 'nothing'?" she asked.

"Yep." He kept his gaze forward.

"Charlie, c'mon, tell me what's wrong. You just thinking?" she leaned against the rail, looking at him in question as she rubbed her arms, fighting the biting cold.

"A concept you likely don't understand," he said, a light smile playing on his lips as she gently punched his arm.

"Shut up."

He laughed softly as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "I'm just kidding, Jen. I just couldn't help it; it yearned to be said."

"You are such a brat..." she said, mock-glaring at him. "Calling me dumb like that."

"Sorry...The hair throws me off everytime. It makes me forget how dangerous you are," Charlie said, now fully grinning.

"You better believe it, kid. I'll beat your face anyday." Jen grinned at him.

"Of couse you will." He smiled back, humoring her.

"You sound so disbelieving...I may be short, but looks can be decieving," she joked, not even attempting to hit his head; she barely reached his shoulders in height.

"I, I do believe it," he said, patting her head playfully, as if she were in fact the younger of the two. "You cold?"

"Freezing. You?" she asked, returning to rubbing her arms.

"A little. You go on in," he said, motioning to inside the hotel room.

"And leave you to freeze your little hockey star butt off alone in the cold, dark night?" she asked, feigning horror.

"Yeah, pretty much." Charlie grinned at her.

"I just don't know if I can do that. I could feel such guilt if you were to turn into a little Charlie Popsickle on my behalf. I might need intense therpay for the rest of my life," she said, clutching his shoulders and shaking him.

"Well, now we wouldn't want that. Think of all the money in therapy thatll be! I could never be the cause of that," he said, patting her head again as she swatted away his hand.

"I don't appreciate the 'Let's pat Jen's head so we can make her feel small even though she's actually older, but I'm in denial' thing you have going here," Jen said, wagging her finger at him.

"Three years, Jen. Only three years," he said, giving her a toothy grin.

"But three years do in fact make me your superior."

"I have a feeling you'll be whistling a different tune when it hits you that you're gonna be old before me," he said cheekily. "What, it that a gray hair I see?" He pulled a blonde hair from the others in mock- atsonishment.

Jen's eyes narrowed and she let out a mix between a growl and a scream before chasing him back into the hotel room.

"I was just kidding!" he said, ducking in a room and slamming it closed in Jen's face.


"I'm sorry, Jen!" he called out from the other side. "I was just kidding! It's blonde, I promise!"

Eventually her steam wore off and Charlie deemed it safe to come out.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

"A little...but you're still evil," she said, her lips tight. He could tell she was smiling on the inside, though.

"I know...Well, I hate to leave, but I really should probably get going anyway. Got practice in the morning," he said, giving her a half smile.

She smiled back and nodded, giving him a quick hug and followed him tot he door. "See ya later, Charlie."

"Bye!" he called out leaving the room behind.

Walking out into the crisp night, he flipped through a few bills in his wallet. He had to get back to the hotel and get to sleep. He was still the rookie, and he already had a few strikes against him. He needed to do as well as possible at practice.

He hopped onto the bus and tossed in his bus fare, sitting down in a seat alone.

His mind began to wander again. It was so bizzare to be back in Minnesota. He had spent so much time and energy towards avoiding it that he didn't realize how naturally he could fall back into habit.

As they passed the old ice rink he played at, he felt a bitter edge grow.

They left him first...