Disclaimer- I don't own the Mighty Ducks. Steven Brill does. I don't own the song "She Will Be Loved." Maroon 5 does.

A dull knock echoed softly through the small, one-bedroom apartment.

Charlie forced his eyes open and threw a glance to his side, focusing his blurred vision on the illuminated red numbers. 11:13 PM.

Squeezing his eyes shut for a second, he ran the possible visitors through his mind. His eyes slowly opened and he let out a sigh before pushing himself out of the tousled blankets on his bed.

Eighteen steps to the door.

Glassy eyes locked on his when the visitor was revealed.

"Can I come in?"

Without another word, he clasped his hand around her much smaller hand, swallowing it whole as the door was closed again.

The soft patter of their shoes quietly sounded as he led her to the couch. She curled against him silently, looking much like a small and vulnerable child against his 6'2" frame.

His fingers threaded themselves through her soft chestnut hair, an unspoken understanding between them. A familiar scene. A comfortable habit.

He had stopped asking her so much why she came. It hardly even mattered anymore, really. Her new boyfriend wasn't the best, but no matter how firm the prodding went, she wouldn't, couldn't, break it off with the guy. He made her feel terrible about herself, but she would never leave him. Most of their friends had left for college, but they had stayed in the area, both living their lives at eighteen for their own reasons.

They were a duo, just as they had been for a long time. He was her confidant. He was the one who caught her when she fell. He was the one she came to when her world was crashing down.

She snuggled into his chest with a soft whimper, and he chewed his lip, stroking her hair absently…feeling the silky strands under his fingertips and knowing it wouldn't last, but at the same time, not caring.

It didn't matter so long as she was happy. Nothing else mattered…not tomorrow, not the day before, not the inevitable apology when she came to her senses. Nothing mattered but the precious moments when she let him in. When she let him help her. When she let him show just a glimpse of how wonderful he thought she was.

She never believed him, but he told her every time.

He buried his face in her hair, breathing in her scent and gently stroking her back.

She pulled away to look up at him, a subdued fire burning in her eyes. He comforted her with his own eyes, soothing her hurt. Soothing whatever it was that made her sad…made her cry…made her run.

Sometimes they talked for hours, sometimes they sat in silence and let the ticking of the clock on the wall do all the talking.

When she reached up and brushed her fingers across his cheek, a shiver tremored through him. Her eyes screamed for his comfort.

His eyes fluttered closed as she gently pressed her lips to his, a dam inside him crumbling. His stomach flipped and his insides jolted, just as they always did. His fingers tangled themselves loosely in her hair, abandoning any and all thoughts of the world outside that small one room apartment. The gentle roll of thunder went unnoticed. The flicker of lightening went unnoticed.

Arms wrapped tightly, hearts beating fast, they fell into their faithful dance, just as they always did.

Morning came, and he had to release her from his arms to listen as apologies rolled off her tongue. Apologies for bothering him, for breaking down, for letting herself fall.

He ignored the pangs, just as he always did. Told her she was never a bother, that it was okay to hurt, that everyone fell.

Still wrapped on the couch, he rested his chin on her shoulder. She turned her head to look at him.

He saw that same look in her eyes that he always saw. The look that told him she didn't want to leave. That she wanted to stay just as much as he wanted her to. Neither of them ever let on with words, but their eyes constantly communicated.

"Stay here," he said quietly, his eyes probing hers. He knew what she was going home to, and it made him sicker and sicker by the second.

"I can't…" she whispered. "You know I can't." And he did indeed know. Boy, did he know. He had heard it plenty of times.

"You don't have to put up with him."

"You don't understand." She stared into his eyes, sadness clouding over them. "I just can't."

His hand cupped the side of her face, brushing its thumb across her cheek to wipe away her tears.

"I know."

Tears were dried, and she returned to her life. Returned to her world where he was rarely permitted. The boyfriend made it clear who was and was not welcome.

He ached when she left, but the small smile she parted with was enough to calm his heart back down. He reminded himself that he was her comfort. He made her happy, even if only the few times he was even allowed to see her. He loved her, and that was enough to let her go back.

Rain poured down on him as he stopped at the corner, looking into the large, white house. Droplets rolled down his face and water soaked to the bone, but still he stood. A pair of deep brown eyes caught his from inside the window and smiled a longing, broken smile.

No matter the circumstance, he would always catch her. No matter the time, he would always let her in. No matter the neglect and dislike she had for herself, he would always love her.