NellieBly413672: Glad you liked it. It's fun to write Herb sometimes, because he's funny without actually trying to be, lol. Enjoy this one too and thanks for the review!
Meadow567: Thanks. I'm glad you liked it and enjoy this one too!
A/N: Sorry it took me so long to get this up. I know it's been months and there's no good excuse. I've had so much to do between finishing up school, getting ready to graduate, working, vacation, and getting ready to start Med School. On top of that, I had so many setbacks with this chapter it's not even funny. After spending more than five hours on it and being one scene away from being done, I lost the whole thing. Anyway, you're probably lucky I got it up at all, lol. Anyway, it's been so long that I'll remind everyone what happened last chapter. Most importantly, the guys beat the Soviets. The chapter ended the morning of the Finland game with Mac and Kelly promising to stay friends after the Olympics ended (that day). I think that pretty much sums it up. Without further adieu, here's the chapter.
The guys went on to play Finland and the game began like most of the other ones in the Olympics had. By the end of the first period, Finland was up by one. Now the team really needed to come out strong in the second period. After all, if they lost this game, the US team would end with a bronze in third place and although they beat the Soviets, the Soviets would come out on top. Herb reminded them of this between period, and the guys came out with new life and stronger motivation in the second. After an early penalty to Rammer for roughing and a successful penalty kill, Christoff scored unassisted shortly into the period. Unfortunately, it seemed Finland was just as desperate to win as the US. Verchota went in the box on a slash, and Finland scored thirty seconds later on a power play. Things didn't look much better at the end of the period either. The US was ending the second period a goal down.
"What's going on with them?" Kelly wondered out loud, mainly talking to herself.
Hannah answered anyway. "They've started every game like this. And they're only a goal down. A lot can happen in twenty minutes."
"Well, I'm glad you're so sure. I'm definitely having my doubts. They're not playing like they usually do. They really look like something's off."
"They're playing fine," Hannah argued. "They've still got time. Just because they're down a goal doesn't mean they're not playing well."
"They're getting stupid penalties," Kelly reasoned.
"One of them was stupid and shouldn't have happened," Hannah told her. "They've been in the box the same number of times as Finland."
"Ugh, I know," Kelly admitted.
"I hope Daddy scores," Lexi commented.
"I'm sure he'll try to score one for you Lexi," Hannah told the little girl. Lexi looked so cute dressed in all red, white, and blue, waving a little flag around. She looked like it was the fourth of July. In fact, most of the crowd looked festively dressed for the fourth.
After what seemed like a long intermission, the third and final period began.
Two and a half minutes into the period, Jimmy made a nice save off a hard shot from the corner. The deflection went right to Christian, who immediately looked down the ice at an open Verchota. To avoid icing, Christian took the puck down the ice and passed it to Verchota who one-timed it. Score!
The crowd went wild; the US team was right back in it with over seventeen minutes left to go. Mark's line was on the ice next. Christian stole the puck from a Finland player and passed it up to Mark. Mark crossed center ice and was going to take it in himself. Just as he was making it to the net, a Finland defender made it back down in time to stop him from shooting. The defender couldn't stop Mark from passing though, and he passed it to Mac who scored with a quick wrist shot. Again, the crowd went wild. Now they were up by one. Dampening the mood a little was a Finland breakaway and subsequent US penalty. Broten went in the box for hooking after preventing a Finish player from shooting. Two minutes later, the penalty kill ended, only to be followed by another after Christian went in the box for tripping. Twelve minutes to go, and they had to make it through another penalty. Jimmy had amazing saves in net to keep his team up by one. Hopefully that would be the last penalty for the US team. No one knew how much more they could take while staying ahead.
With just under six minutes left though, Verchota was put in the box for roughing. Herb looked like he might have killed Verchota had he been closer to him. He called a timeout to have the guys regroup before having to go through another penalty kill. The timeout was a good idea, because Mark scored less than a minute later off a pass from Christoff. It looked like Mark's goal may be the solidifier in the game. Finland went on to pull their goalie with just over a minute left. Jimmy's strong goal tending, and the strong defensive plays held the US team ahead two goals and they finished the game 4 to 2.
The atmosphere was amazing. It was almost as if no one believed the US team was able to pull it off. People were crying, screaming, cheering, hugging, and kissing. They really did it – they won the gold!
The medal ceremony was beautiful and it made their great accomplishment that much more real. Hannah, Kelly, Lexi, and all of the other parents, siblings, and friends were so proud to see the team singing the National Anthem with gold medals hanging around their necks. Everyone could tell the guys were proud of themselves too. And everyone could tell how happy Herb was. He looked like a proud father of the guys, and he showed more emotion at the medal ceremony than he did in the last seven months combined. He wasn't just happy he was finally able to say he got the gold either, but he was so honored to be part of the great moment and it was so rewarding to have twenty guys as proud of their accomplishment as he was of them.
Two months later…
"I'll get it!" Lexi said as she and Mark entered their apartment to a ringing phone. They were just coming home after Mark finished practice and picked Lexi up from school. "Hi," Lexi said, as if she already knew who was calling.
After a minute of listening to one side of the conversation his daughter was having, Mark knew who was on the phone.
"Here Daddy," Lexi said after talking a minute more.
"Hey babe," Mark said after taking the phone from his daughter. It was Hannah.
Mark and Hannah talked for about ten minutes, just about their days and what was going on in general. They routinely talked almost everyday, and even though actually seeing each other would be ideal, at least they could talk all the time.
"So you're still coming up to visit in a few weeks, right?" Mark asked, hoping he would still be able to see Hannah soon.
"Definitely. And I can't wait," Hannah replied. "I miss you."
"I miss you too," Mark said.
"Daddy, I'm hungry," Lexi called. "Are you gonna make spaghetti soon?"
"Yeah, soon sweetie," Mark said, and then apologized to Hannah for the interruption. "Lexi's hungry," he explained.
"I'll let you go. I just can't wait to see you," she said.
"Daddy, I'm gonna make it myself," Lexi threatened, and Mark cringed as he heard the sound of noodles being poured into the pan.
"Lexi's going to attempt making dinner herself if I don't hurry up," Mark told Hannah.
"With my teaching, she'd probably do a better job alone than with your help," Hannah joked.
"You're probably right," Mark agreed. "But just in case, I really don't want the apartment to go up in flames so soon after moving in."
"Okay, I love you and I'll talk to you soon," Hannah told her boyfriend.
"Love you too. Bye," Mark said, hanging up the phone and quickly making his way into the kitchen to help Lexi.
Over that next summer, Hannah finally moved in with Mark and Lexi. Pittsburgh was a nice city, and she got used to it fast. Hannah was lucky and got a teaching job almost right away, and by Christmas, she was completely settled in at their apartment in Pittsburgh. Not only was she completely settled in, but Hannah really felt like a part of their family. She felt more like Lexi was her own daughter everyday. Christmas was the first she was able to make it back home to see her family. The three of them went to Minnesota and Wisconsin for the few days Mark had off. It was a pretty quick trip, but it was nice to get to spend the holidays with both of their families.
Christmas Eve was spent with the Johnson's at Mark's parent's house. That night while everyone was opening gifts, Mark pulled Hannah away to give her her gifts. The first was in a large shirt box. Hannah opened it and found papers inside.
"What are these?" she wondered aloud before reading them. They looked like official documents and across the top the "State of Wisconsin Department of Human Services" was printed. Leafing through, Hannah realized what was going on and got tears in her eyes. "Oh my God," she said, looking up at Mark. "Are these what I think they are?"
"Yes," Mark said. "Adoption papers. If you sign them, Lexi will officially be your daughter."
"Oh my God," Hannah said. Then it sank in. "But didn't Rebecca have to sign something saying she was giving up her parental rights?
"Yeah, and she did. Remember that week I was on the west coast road trip?" Mark asked. Hannah nodded, how could she have forgotten? They had a huge argument because of it.
Hannah tucked Lexi in one night while Mark was on a road trip with Lexi practically being in tears. It was late for Lexi to be up on a school night, almost ten; but Lexi never went to sleep before she talked to her dad. That night Hannah knew there was no game, but Mark never called to say goodnight to Lexi. Lexi tried calling him several times as well.
"Do you want to try once more?" Hannah asked. Lexi nodded. "Okay, let's go."
After dialing the number of the hotel and giving Lexi the phone, she patiently waited.
"Hi," Lexi said. "Is my Daddy there?" After the person on the other end responded, Lexi said, "Okay, but he needs to call me. When will he be back?" After Lexi started arguing with who Hannah assumed was Mark's roommate, she decided it was time to step in and took the phone.
"Where's Mark?" she asked, a little less than politely. Hannah was getting slightly fed up with this.
"Not here," the roommate responded.
"Where is he?"
"He's…out," the guy replied after a slight hesitation, as if deciding what to say.
"Out?" Hannah said. "That's the best you can do? Fine. Tell him that next time he decides to go out, he better keep in mind that his little girl is waiting for a phone call." With that, Hannah hung up.
She was pissed, and it didn't subside the next morning when Mark called bright and early. They argued on the phone about how Mark needed to put Lexi first. That led to another conversation about where he really was the night before. Whatever it was was obviously more important than Lexi.
"Are you accusing me of something?" Mark asked incredulously.
"Are you admitting to something?" Hannah shot back. "It's one thing if you don't call me. It's another to not call your little girl. She was expecting a phone call." They continued arguing about that point and Hannah was ready to hang up. "Maybe tonight you could call before you go out wherever it is that you go without your roommate."
"I don't understand why you don't trust me!" Mark yelled.
"Because you're lying. I thought you would have learned your lesson not to lie to me Mark Johnson!"
Their argument was over once Mark got home. He apologized profusely and Hannah forgave him. Lexi had forgiven Mark the minute she talked to him that next morning on the phone. Hannah admitted that she let things get out of hand as well, and both agreed that it was unnecessary to go back and forth on the phone like they did. Hannah completely trusted Mark, though she never found out where he was that night.
"Okay," Mark started. "The reason I was out and honestly, sort of forgot to call, was because I was with Rebecca. I was trying to get her to sign the papers. I didn't want to keep it from you, and the only reason I did was so that I didn't disappoint you. I wasn't sure Rebecca would sign the forms, and I know you wanted to adopt Lexi even if you never directly said it. If I told you and Rebecca didn't sign the forms, which was a definite possibility, I know you would be devastated."
"Wow. So you've known all this time?" Hannah said. Mark's west coast road trip was a month ago.
"No, my lawyer called three days ago to tell me Rebecca's lawyer faxed the signed forms over. All I needed to do was have you sign them."
"This is the best Christmas present ever!" Hannah said, giving Mark a huge hug.
"Hopefully you're going to eat your words after the next one," Mark said with a laugh.
"There's more?" Mark nodded and pulled out a small box. Hannah immediately realized what it most likely was.
"Oh my God," she half whispered as Mark got down on one knee. As Hannah realized exactly what was happening, she got tears in her eyes.
"Hannah, I love you more than I can even begin to tell you. You're amazing and I can't imagine not having you in my life. Not only are you an amazing girlfriend, but you're an amazing mother to Lexi. I hope that we can have an even bigger family someday, and I want spend the rest of my life with you as my wife. Hannah, will you marry me?"
By this time, Hannah was full out crying. "I love you," Hannah said, wrapping her arms around Mark's neck. After a second, she pulled away. "Yes, by the way," she added with a laugh, realizing she never really answered the question. She wiped her wet face with the back of her hand and looked at the ring Mark was now placing on her finger. It was beautiful, and totally perfect for her.
Lexi now walked over to the couple. "So are you going to be my Mommy now?" she asked.
"Yes sweetie," Hannah told her. "I'll be your Mommy."
"Why are you crying?" Lexi asked, with a curious tone.
"Because I'm happy," Hannah said, and smiled at Mark. "Really, really happy."
"You're not supposed to cry then," Lexi told her matter-of-factly.
Hannah just laughed and wiped her face again. "Okay," she told Lexi. "I'll stop crying."
The following August, Mark, Hannah, and Lexi were back in Minnesota for the wedding. Mark's family was all flying in from Wisconsin, and a lot of Mark's teammates came. It was really nice seeing everyone from the Olympic team again. Almost everyone made it there.
A few days before the wedding were the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Hannah wasn't feeling that great all day, and unfortunately she didn't feel better that evening for the party. Mark was worried that Hannah was starting to get cold feet, but Hannah knew that wasn't it. It almost felt like the flu. She would have never suspected anything else, until Kelly put an idea in her head that night. Now she began thinking the headaches, nausea, and backache was something else entirely. After stopping at the store after the party, she went back to the hotel. A little while after Lexi went to bed, Hannah curled up next to Mark, who was reading a magazine at the time.
"Are you feeling any better?" Mark asked, concerned.
"A little bit. At least I know what's wrong now."
"What is it?" he asked. "Do you think you'll be okay by Saturday?"
"Well, I think I'll be having good days and bad days, but overall, it's nothing that won't go away in nine months," Hannah said with a big smile.
"Do you mean… I mean… are you pregnant?" Mark asked, a smile emerging on his face.
Hannah nodded. She wasn't exactly sure how Mark would take the news. After all, they were getting married in a couple days, but they hadn't discussed when they wanted to start a family.
"So you're okay with this then?" Hannah asked.
"Of course. Are you kidding?" Mark asked. "I'm thrilled," he said, obviously genuinely happy. "I'm shocked," he admitted, "but thrilled."
"Okay. I was only wondering because we never talked about it." Hannah knew they both wanted more kids, but she just assumed that they hadn't discussed when exactly because they weren't married. They also had a lot on their minds with planning the wedding since getting engaged.
"So you're really pregnant?" Mark asked, as though it still hadn't sunken in yet.
"Yeah. I haven't gone to the doctor's yet, because I didn't even think I was until your sister put the idea in my head earlier tonight."
"I can't believe it. I mean, I knew it was a possibility I guess, but it never occurred to me that it would happen again. Well… I knew it was bound to happen eventually, but I never thought it would be before we were married. Not that I'm opposed to it at all, because I'm obviously not, I have Lexi. It's just, what are the chances it would happen again before we were married?" Mark rambled.
"You're obviously a very fertile man," Hannah joked.
"This is incredible," Mark said, attacking Hannah with a kiss and knocking her backwards onto the bed. Hannah laughed while trying to kiss Mark back. As soon as she stopped laughing enough to kiss him, he pulled away and asked, "So are we telling everyone during the wedding or reception or what?"
"I don't know. I almost think we should wait. Not because I don't want people to know, but I think our wedding day should be about us as a couple. If we tell people about the baby, more focus will be on that. I just think we should have time to enjoy it ourselves first. Plus, I don't know how far along I am or anything. I don't want to be bombarded with questions I can't answer. We should probably see the doctor before we start telling everyone. Plus, I've heard it's bad luck to tell people during the first trimester."
"Okay, that's fine with me. And when we decide to start telling people, I think Lexi should be one of the first to know," Mark added.
"Okay," Hannah agreed. "I can't wait to tell her she's having a baby brother or sister. She'll be so excited!"
"You better wait to tell her. If she finds out, I guarantee everyone else will know within the hour."
"You have to give Lexi more credit than that. After all, she's kept a few secrets over the years."
"Yeah, and there's always a price attached," Mark added with a laugh, being reminded of the bribes he had to make over the years. His biggest cost yet was the proposal, which happened accidentally.
"I'm so nervous," Mark told his dad early Christmas Eve Day as the father and son were in the kitchen attempting to make breakfast. "I don't even know why – I'm ninety-nine point nine nine nine percent sure she'll say yes. What do you think of the ring?" Mark then asked.
"Beautiful," Bob responded, admiring the ring. "I was feeling the same way as you when I planned my proposal. Certain of the answer but nervous as hell."
Just then, a third person came wandering into the kitchen. "What's your proposal, Grandpa?" Lexi asked. Then, "Ooo, what's that?!" about the ring.
"When I asked your Grandma to marry me," Bob replied to the first question.
"Is that what Daddy's asking to Hannah?"
Mark gave his father a "don't tell her" look, but his father wasn't paying attention.
"Yes he is. And that's what this pretty ring is for."
Lexi walked closer to her grandpa to get a good look at the ring.
"Lexi, you can't tell Hannah about this. It's a surprise."
"This is a big secret," Lexi said.
"Yeah, it is," Mark said seriously.
"Are you asking today?" she asked.
"Yep, later tonight."
"That'll be ten dollars then."
"Lexi," Mark sighed. Just because he bribed Lexi to keep secrets a few times, now she thought she always got money for keeping secrets.
"Hannah!" Lexi called loudly. Hannah was upstairs.
"Fine, ten dollars," Mark agreed quickly.
"Per hour," Lexi said.
"What?!" Mark said in disbelief.
"I need to make my money somehow. And considering there are a lot of hours until tonight, I need a lot to keep me quiet."
Mark did the math quickly in his head. It was eight now, so he would owe Lexi at least 120 dollars. Wonderful, he thought.
Mark was never sure if Lexi would keep secrets without the bribes, but everything so far has been too important to try. At least Lexi didn't really spend money yet. After a while, Mark just put it in the bank for her. What a good start to her college savings.
The wedding ended up being beautiful, and so many people came. It was especially nice that so many of the guys from the Olympic team could make it. Mark had played against many of the over the past year, but Hannah hadn't seen them, and not all went into the NHL. Like Mark, many of the other guys were settling down now. Even OC had a serious girlfriend. He and Jenny were still good friends though; practically best friends. No one ever really understood their weird relationship, but they did and that was all that mattered.
Mac and Kelly were also both doing well, though not together. Each of them was in a relationship, and they were both happy. They did have a somewhat awkward moment at the wedding though.
For the few days before the wedding, they saw quite a bit of each other, yet there was so much to do, they didn't get chance to talk much. The reception was the first chance they had to really talk, and they began by literally running into each other.
"Sorry," Mac said, bumping into Kelly while going to get a drink. "I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
"Hey Mac," Kelly said. Mac hadn't realized who he bumped into at first.
"Hey, how's it gong?" he asked.
"Pretty good. You?"
"I've been good," he said. After a few seconds of silence, Kelly's boyfriend cleared his throat as if waiting to be introduced.
"Sorry," Kelly mumbled. "This is Steve. Steve, this is Mac."
"You're one of Mark's friends from the Olympic team right?"
"Yep," he affirmed. Then he introduced his girlfriend. "This is Sara. Sara this is Kelly, Mark's sister."
"Hi Kelly," she said, shaking her hand. From the respective significant others meeting Mac and Kelly, it was clear neither had ever mentioned anything that might have happened between them just over a year prior.
"So…" Kelly said, trying to break a sudden awkward silence. "What happened to staying in touch?" she asked Mac.
"I guess we didn't do a very good job at that, did we?" Kelly shook her head. "Oh well. Too late for that now I guess," Mac added, half under his breath. Luckily no one heard him. He didn't even mean to let a comment like that escape his mouth. He was happy now. Plus, Kelly and him would have never been able to stay friends. He knew there was almost too much between them in a sense.
After parting, Kelly and Mac went to enjoy more of the reception with their significant others, and ran into each other again later on.
"Hey," Kelly said. "Having fun?"
"Yeah. It's great seeing everyone again," Mac said.
"Yeah, you probably haven't seen the guys in a while."
"You're right, I haven't. It's been nice seeing other people too though," Mac said, locking eyes with Kelly.
Kelly blushed and looked away. Mac realized what he was doing and knew he needed to stop. He sort of changed the subject.
"So, you look really happy now," he commented.
"I am," Kelly said. "Steve's great." Kelly chose her next words very carefully. "We've been together about ten months now, and I can really say he's the first boyfriend I feel like I can possibly spend the rest of my life with." Kelly's emphasis on boyfriend went unnoticed by Mac. Kelly was trying to point out the fact that he wasn't the first person she felt this way about, and only the first guy she dated that she felt that way about.
"I feel the same way about Sara too," Mac said. "We met on my first week in Buffalo. She showed me around town, and after becoming friends, we decided we wanted more. A year later, we're still happy together and I think it'll be forever." Mac debating adding something to the effect of I wish we stayed friends though, meaning himself and Kelly, but decided against it. He knew there would have been too much sexual tension for them to have remained friends.
"I wish we would have stayed in touch," Kelly said for him. "I miss having you as a friend."
"We're still sort of friends."
"Just because my brother is your friend, doesn't make us friends," Kelly said.
"That's why I said sort of."
Kelly just laughed a little and said, "You haven't changed a bit."
Nine months to the day after the wedding, Hannah gave birth to a baby boy in May of 1982. Christopher William was born in Minnesota right as NHL playoffs were starting. The Johnsons were living in Bloomington, Minnesota now after Mark was traded to the Wild about halfway through the season. Lexi loved having a baby brother, and she was always trying to help take care of him like he was hers. She thought that because she was six she was old enough to take care of Chris.
Over the next several years, the Johnsons moved quite a bit for Mark's hockey career, but it didn't stop him and Hannah from having a daughter too. Amanda Marie was born in July of 1985, just two days after Kelly's second baby, Joshua Daniel. Kelly's first, Jacob Matthew, was born in April of 1983.
Late in August, just before Mark had to start training camp, his family all got together for one last summer picnic at his parent's house. The newest additions to both Mark and Kelly's families were six weeks old now, and as cute as could be. The kids were all playing together while Mark, Hannah, Kelly, and Alexandra and Bob Johnson were enjoying some snacks while watching the kids.
"It's so cute how Lexi acts like a mom to all the kids when they're playing together," Kelly commented. Lexi, now a few months shy of nine, was old enough that the younger kids all looked up to her and listened to her. Chris was three, her cousin Jake was two, and then there were the two babies. At least now she had a sister too, because Mark was a little worried that Lexi would start dressing Chris up in her dance costumes and giving him makeovers. In a couple years, she could do that with her sister.
"Mommy," Jake said, running over to Kelly. "When will Daddy be here?"
"Soon, sweetheart," Kelly told Jake. "Play basketball with Lexi for now."
"But she can't help me make baskets," he protested.
"I'll play with you buddy," Mark said, getting up to play with the kids. Kelly watched her son play with her brother, and smiled at her adorable son. Jake was the perfect combination of Kelly and her husband – he had Kelly's dark hair and his father's chocolate brown eyes, along with his black Irish dark skin color. It was Kelly's guess that Josh would take more after her. So far the little hair he had was a shade lighter, his skin was a little lighter like Kelly's, and his eyes matched Kelly's hazel ones exactly. A few minutes later, Kelly knew her husband had arrived, because Jake sprinted over to be the first to greet him.
Two weeks before Christmas in 1987, Kelly was at the mall with her kids, doing some Christmas shopping. While the boys ran ahead to look in the toy store, Kelly was following behind and noticed a familiar face walking the opposite way.
"Mac?" Kelly asked. She knew it was him, because he looked the same; she was just surprised to see him.
"Kelly?" Oh my God - it's good to see you," he said, giving her a hug.
"It's good to see you too," Kelly said. "How have you been?"
"Great. How about you?"
"Same as you. So what are you doing in Minnesota? Last I heard you were in New York playing for the Rangers."
"I actually retired two years ago because of injuries. It got to be too much. I work at Morgan Stanley in St. Paul now."
"Wow, you've been in St. Paul for two years and I didn't even know," Kelly said.
"Wait – what are you doing in Minnesota? I thought you lived near your parents in Wisconsin."
"I moved here about two years ago too." Kelly moved to Minnesota with Steve and the boys because of Steve's job. Kelly found a job in Minnesota as well, and was settled there.
Just then, Jake ran out of the store and over to Kelly.
"Mommy, can I buy something?"
"No, sweetie. You know I'm not buying you anything before Christmas. Santa won't know what to get you if I buy you toys now."
"Aww, fine," Jake said with a pout, knowing his mom was right.
"Hey, you're supposed to be with your brother. You can just wander off and leave him," Kelly said.
"He's right in the window, I can see him from here," Jake responded before running back into the store. Kelly just shook her head and smiled.
"Wow, so you have two kids," Mac said awkwardly.
"Yep. Jake's four and Josh is two."
Mac didn't know how to ask his next question, but figured out a way to do it without sounding nosy. "So is it safe to say you ended up marrying Steve?" He assumed she had because if her oldest was four, that meant Kelly had him a little over a year after the wedding.
"I did," Kelly said, though not going any further on that note. "Are you and Sara still together?" Kelly asked. For some reason, Kelly had an inkling that he wasn't married even without looking at his left hand.
"No. We wanted different things and went our separate ways. It wasn't meant to be."
Kelly nodded in understanding. She didn't know whether to tell him her most recent news, but decided against it. Little did she know, Mac's next statement would bring that news to light.
"So, how is Steve doing?"
Kelly could have given a basic answer, but instead made a classic Kelly remark.
"He's doing alright… at least one or two other women a week." The comment shocked Mac, and suddenly he wished he hadn't wanted to know why she wasn't wearing a wedding ring. Right after they spotted each other and began talking, Mac noticed Kelly wasn't wearing a ring. Until he saw her kids and she said she married Steve, he thought she was possibly single. Then he was even more confused about not seeing a ring. With her latest comment, he felt guilty for asking.
"Sorry," Kelly immediately said. "That was more than you needed to know. We're not together anymore. We've been divorced for nearly a year."
"I'm sorry," Mac said sincerely. "I shouldn't have asked."
"Not your fault. I'm just still a little bitter about the situation. Steve barely sees the boys, but he has all the time in the world for his new wife and her kids."
"I thought you said he's "doing" at least one to two other women a week?" Mac said confused.
"Oh he is," Kelly said. "And she knows it." Mac just raised his eyebrows in disbelief, not needing anymore explanation.
"Mommy, we want McDonald's," Jake said, running out of the store with Josh in tow.
"In a few minutes sweetie. Mommy's talking."
"Hi," the little boy said to Mac.
"Hi Jake," Mac said.
"How did you know my name, mister?"
"I'm a friend of your Mommy's," Mac said with a smile. "You can call me Mac."
"Hi Mac. That's a weird name. Do you want to come to McDonald's with us?" Mac looked at Kelly. He didn't want to be rude and say no, but at the same time, Mac didn't want to take the kids offer either. After all, Kelly was the one Mac wished had invited him.
"Mac probably has better things to be doing than spending an hour or more at McDonald's with us," Kelly said. Right away, Mac assumed that was Kelly's way of uninviting him. "We would love the company, but don't feel bad saying no," Kelly then told Mac.
"Well, I don't want you to be pressured into me joining you because of you kids. But I would love to catch up. Maybe we can actually stay in touch this time, living in the same city and all."
"It wouldn't be pressure at all. I would love to have you join us. It'd be nice to talk to you again."
During lunch, Jake talked to Mac a lot. So much in fact, that he and Kelly barely got to talk at all. Mac could tell Jake was really outgoing, while Josh was quiet. He would barely look at Mac aside from giving him shy glances every now and then. Any time Mac caught Josh looking at him though, Josh would immediately hide behind Kelly once again. It was funny, because Josh looked more like Kelly, but Mac could tell Jake had more of Kelly's personality traits. In fact, Jake reminded Mac a lot of Lexi in those months leading up to the Olympics.
"Don't take it personally, Mac," Kelly cut in, interrupting Mac's thoughts. "Josh is shy with everyone. He won't even leave me to go with his father anymore because he's hardly ever around," Kelly explained as Josh continued to eat his Happy Meal hiding behind his mom.
"Yeah, Josh is super shy. I think it's because he's little," Jake said.
"You're not shy at all though, are you?" Mac asked with a laugh, thinking about how much the kid talked. And once Jake found out Mac played in the NHL he really wouldn't stop talking about how cool it was and how he played hockey too.
"I just started playing this year. You have to be four to start playing. I have to play all the positions, but I like being a center like Uncle Mark." Jake barely stopped for a breath – or a bite of his cheeseburger.
After lunch, Mac got the feeling Kelly was trying to ask him something, but she was hesitating.
"So, thanks for coming to lunch with us. It was nice trying to catch up although Jake monopolized a lot of the conversation," Kelly said with a laugh.
"Yeah, I enjoyed it," Mac said.
"Well… maybe we could go out for coffee or drinks or something to talk sometime, without my little record player over there," Kelly said, trying to make the invitation seem casual. In reality, it was casual, but at the same time, Kelly couldn't help but think a date would be nice.
"Are you asking me out?" Mac asked, laughing a little.
"Well," Kelly began, her face turning red. "It wouldn't really be a date, but I would like to catch up. I mean, it could be a date, but I'm sure your girlfriend would be opposed to that, so just a casual coffee would be fine." Kelly had no idea if Mac had a girlfriend or not. She just used that as a cover.
"What if I told you I'm single?" Mac asked. "Then would it be a date?" he asked, amused to hear her answer.
"Well… I guess… if you wanted it to be," Kelly said. Her face was red again, and she didn't know why she was getting flustered like that.
Mac smiled. "Sure. I would love to go out with you. How's Saturday night?"
"Great," Kelly said. "I have to make sure I can get a babysitter, but it shouldn't be a problem."
"Seven o'clock?" Mac asked.
"Sounds great." After exchanging numbers and going over more details, they decided said good-bye, both excited for their date Saturday.
Mac and Kelly both had a great time on their date. Mac thought they really seemed to hit it off, and nothing changed between them over the past seven years since Lake Placid. In fact, it almost seemed they were more compatible now. Kelly really enjoyed her evening too. Mac was the first guy she went out with since Steve, but she knew he was different from other guys. He didn't seem to be bothered at all by the fact that she had kids, whereas most other men would. Kelly figured part of his understanding came from being friends with Mark. When Lexi came into the picture during the Olympic training, Mac learned what it was like to have a kid around constantly, and he became accustomed to it. With other guys, Kelly usually felt that even if they understood her having a kid, they couldn't really empathize with her situation, because they never experienced it. Mac sort of did, so Kelly felt more comfortable with him.
Over the next several months, Mac and Kelly grew closer, and Jake and Josh grew closer to Mac too. Jake was already outgoing from day one around Mac, but even Josh began opening up after a couple months. It really seemed like Kelly and Mac might actually be on their way to true happiness with each other.
A little less than a year and a half after having lunch in McDonald's, Mac and Kelly were married. Ten months later in December of 1989, their daughter Krysta was born.
By the end of the 1990 season, Mark retired from the NHL and played in Europe for two seasons, as his father coached his old team, the Penguins, to a Stanley Cup victory in 1991. A few short months after winning the Cup, Bob was diagnosed with brain cancer and died by the end of the year. Mark continued playing though this, but moved back to the states in 1992. Mark, Hannah, and their three kids settled in Wisconsin where Mark coached high school teams, and then the Badgers Women's team starting in 1996. Kelly, Mac, Jake, Josh, and Krysta were still living in St. Paul, but the brother-in-laws got to see quite a bit of each other because both families went back and forth between Madison and St. Paul often. Mark and Kelly's mother moved back to Madison after Bob died, and both Hannah and Mac's parents still lived in the Twin Cities area.
Lexi was now a 23-year-old college graduate and going on to get her Master's is early childhood education like, for all intents and purposes, her mom Hannah. She had a serious boyfriend as well, who had just a week before asked Mark for her hand in marriage. Mark loved Jason like his own son and immediately approved. The proposal was supposedly coming tonight. Lexi's brother Chris was a 16-year-old high school junior with a promising hockey career ahead of him. He hoped to eventually go on to receive a scholarship to his dad's alma mater and play as a Wisconsin Badger. Amanda was 13 and in middle school, growing up far too fast for either of her parents. Being the baby, they wanted her to stay their little girl forever.
On the other side of the family, Kelly's boys were doing great too. Jake, 15, and Josh, 13, both played hockey for their school's teams. Jake was a high school Varsity center, and Josh was a defenseman for his middle school team. Their step-father taught them well, and treated them like his own kids throughout their childhood. Their real father still hardly after saw them, especially since he was relocated to Tokyo for his job as an electrical engineer. Mac and Kelly's daughter Krysta was now 11 and in fifth grade. She played street hockey occasionally, but had no interest playing on an organized team. In all honesty, she wasn't very good anyway. Both Mac and Kelly knew she did far better in water, swimming, than she would ever do on ice.
As for the other guys on the Olympic team – most of them were married with kids of their own, even the ones that were least expected to settle down. Verchota, Silky, and OC, were all happily married with kids and scattered across the country. Coming up in about a year, Mark and Mac were trying to get a 20th reunion party set up so everyone could see each other again and meet each other's families. They were trying to get something together in Lake Placid were their dream to win the medal was made complete, and hopefully they would be able to talk Herb into coming with his family as well. Currently there was word that Herb was the front runner for coaching the US Olympic team again in the next winter Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City.
"What do you think about doing a reunion in Lake Placid then?" Mac asked at the dinner table on Christmas.
"Sure. I wonder how much it's changed in the last nineteen years?" Mark wondered.
"I hear it's a popular tourist attraction now," Mac said. "One of my buddies in Buffalo goes up there to ski every so often and always sees tourists checking out the rink.
After a few minutes of other conversation and eating, Mac spoke up again. "Wouldn't it be cool if-"
Mark cut him off and stole his words, along with Kelly and Hannah, speaking I unison. "If they made a movie based on the miracle Olympic story."
Mac laughed. "I guess I've mentioned that before."
"Only several thousand times, honey," Kelly replied.
"You have to admit it would be cool though," he said.
"I bet they'll never make a movie. They already made one back in '81," Mark said, talking about a TV movie.
"Fine. I bet you a hundred dollars that they make another movie someday," Mac told him.
"All right, bet's on," Mark agreed.
A/N: The end. I just want to thank everyone for your constant support in my writing this. Thanks to NellieBly413672, meadow567, rejazz, katydid13, and iheartobama for your reviews. They really mean a lot and without reviews I wouldn't have the motivation to update. And another big thanks goes to Nelliebly for all of your support and advice in my stories so far. A big part of the reason I started posting my stories in the first place was because of you. Thanks! I'm sorry to say that this was probably my last story for a while. I have an idea for another, but I don't know that I'll have time during Medical School, and I hate making people wait months for updates. I always feel really guilty. I'll probably write when I can during the year and maybe start posting next summer after I have a lot done. Anyway, thanks again!