Okay, I don't really know where this came from…It takes place at the end of the Ducks' freshman year, and it's a Charlie P.O.V. one-shot. I don't know if it's really "angst" or not…I'm not really sure WHAT it is…but I guess it's a break from writing the other stuff, and it was floating around in my mind with every intention of making me write it. So here it is. Enjoy?

Disclaimer- I don't own the Mighty Ducks.

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C is for Charlie.

C is for Conway.

C is for Captain.

Most of my life, I've been associated with one of the these three Cs. The letter C seems to define me. Mold me. I couldn't escape it if I tried.

To most people, I'm the leader who picks up the pieces when everything falls apart.

The Caretaker.

When they think of me, they think "captain." Leader. Head of the flock.

And I rise to that reputation. I nurture it, and protect it. I give them someone to look up to if they need guidance. What they don't know is how many times I could use guidance myself.

Often enough I'm taken at face value. Oh, that's the captain of the hockey team. Oh, he plays hockey, right? Oh, he never leaves their side.

And often enough I let them.

If I were to allow them to see beneath the C, it would be too revealing. I would be too…vulnerable. They would see Charlie, the kid who never had a dad. Charlie, the kid with a single, hard-working mother. Charlie, the kid who's terrified of being alone.

They would see Charlie, the kid who longs for a father figure, but can't seem to find one that will bother to stick around.

I don't think I really blame Coach for leaving us. It was a job-of-a-lifetime, and there were really no second thoughts necessary.

Who would pass up such an amazing job for a bunch of kids?

I guess I had hoped he would.

But I guess that's another C that seems to define me. My coach. The closest thing to a positive father figure I've ever had. But he left, and doesn't seem to be coming back. So instead of clutching onto this fact like I've done for most of my freshman year, I have to let it go. If not, I don't know if I'll be able to take it. I don't know if I can handle the reality that he really may not come back…at least not permanently.

Most of the Ducks don't know much about my personal life…Some of them may not even know that I don't have a dad. Sure, those who used to play with me when we were District Five know, but the out-of-state Ducks likely don't have a clue. They have no reason to.

Not that this bothers me. In fact, I would prefer it be this way. It helps me feel more normal when we're sitting around a table at some pizza parlor, laughing and joking like we never have to grow up. Living in a bubble of youth and happiness that is better left untouched. A bubble that is shattered every time I go home.

It's much easier to smile and laugh with them; to pretend that it doesn't hurt to think about our old coach or hear Goldberg talk about camping trips with his father. To hear about Guy's dad taking him and his family out to dinner or how much Connie wishes her dad would stop pestering her about petty things.

At least she has a dad to annoy her.

But still, it isn't as if I want my actual dad to show up one day and want to be a big happy family. I sometimes wish he were a part of my life in the first place so he wouldn't HAVE to come back, but that's a stupid wish to want anyway. It didn't happen, it's over, and there's nothing I can do about it.

So I throw myself into hockey. I make them my family, my support system, and my home. I turn them into my own personal haven. My safe place where I can go when the world seems too…real.

When they ask, I tell them there's no reason. It sometimes seems Adam doesn't believe me, but after our rift awhile back, he wouldn't dare say anything. It hurts to think that I might have lost the closeness we had…I feel like I'm in a quarrel with a brother that just won't ever stop.

I don't really think anyone can understand what happened when Coach Orion took the position of "captain" from me at the beginning of the year. I don't really think Hans understood it either. He took away more than just a letter from my jersey.

He took away me.

He took away everything I had worked for; everything I was, and everything I relate with. Without the Ducks, I'm nothing. I'm just another kid with a screwed-up life. With the Ducks, I mean something. I have an identity. I have friends. I have a family.

I was so scared to lose it permanently that I didn't realize I was pushing it farther away. Just out of my reach until Coach Bombay came back.

And then he left me again.

Things have been running smoothly since we beat the Varsity at the JV-Varsity Showdown. We achieved respect we never had before. Being a Duck is starting to mean something to people other than those on the team.

Coach Orion is beginning to seem a little less evil.

But I can never allow myself to trust him like I did Bombay. A part of me wants to, but another part doesn't. It simply isn't the same, but maybe it's better that way. Maybe I'm not meant to have any type of permanent role model. It surely doesn't seem that way, considering they all seem to up and disappear pretty quickly.

But these are the kind of things I hold back. The things I hide under the C so nobody can ever find them. I hide behind my role as a leader and focus all I have into making the team become the best it can be.

And that keeps everyone happy.

It gives my fellow teammates someone to lead them…to part the waters and find the best route. A person who they can hopefully put their trust in and depend upon for protection. A person who gives them that sense of security.

They don't want a vulnerable leader.

What they want is someone hardheaded who can stand up for them and trample out a path.

So that's what I become.

Their trampler.

But this gives me some sense of relief as well. I need a place to belong, and I don't want to expose my thoughts and feelings anymore than they want me to.

Besides, we all wear masks…so what's the difference of one person?

I'll admit that there have been times I would have given anything to talk to someone, anyone, about what I was thinking…but it's just one of those things I can't do. The feeling usually passes rather quickly, too. No one likes to be exposed, and I feel much more comfortable with only THINKING about possible words of rejection or mockery anyone could or would say. Thinking it's a joke. It doesn't hurt quite as much when it's all in you mind.

So I just go on with life as usual. Being that guide. Being that Captain. Being that unbreakable leader who looks out for the best of the team.

I continue to hide beneath the C.