Summary: Lives don't just happen, people take steps to get where they are. Series of one shots in my NYC series.

Author's Note: Finally finishsed one of these! I promised posting. Time is marked in the age of the Ducks. There'll be a small summary at the begining of each one.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

The Other Side: Bits from the Goodwill Games and the early days of his and Julie's relationship from Gunnar's perspective. 

Ducks Age 13

Los Angeles, California is a long way from home. That was the only thing on thirteen year old Gunnar Stahl's mind as he stood behind his Coach, trying his best to look intimidating as they threatened the USA team. This all seemed a little stupid to him. He just wanted to play hockey, this whole, we're at war, we must defeat the enemy thing was a little hard for him to grasp. It was also difficult for him to grasp something else about this team, that is, the two beautiful girls who were playing for them. Well, from what they had seen, one of them was playing, and the other one was riding the bench. She was a beautiful blonde, with sharp blue eyes and a shy smile. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. He noticed she was being constantly shadowed though, by the tallest, biggest, and most intimidating player on her own team.

"Wouldn't mind a shot on either of them," One of his team mates laughed. He smiled. The brunette he could pass on, but not the blonde. He was enchanted. Of course she would be an easy opponent, but a beautiful one.

He had been wrong. When she'd lost her temper at him and Sanderson that had been one thing, but then when she'd blocked his shot, that was unreal. She was something else that was for sure.

"Nice shot," Thirteen year old Julie Gaffney skated past her Icelandic rival, lightly pushing his shoulder. Gunnar Stahl found himself trying to hold back laughter. She'd proved him wrong. A girl like that, she didn't come along every day. Later that day as he packed his bag the TV was going in the background. Gordon Bombay was talking, his arm affectionately around her.

"If it weren't for Julie," He smiled, "We'd never have stopped them. We're really proud of her."

"Thanks Coach!" She was beaming, radiating joy and happiness.

"The little bitch," Olaf Sanderson shook his head, looking at Julie on the TV. "Who the hell does she think she is?"

"You notice that she's gorgeous?" Gunnar said.

"I did notice," Sanderson said. "I didn't say that I wouldn't want her. Just that she took away what was rightfully ours."

"You're just mad because she took you out," Gunnar laughed.

"And you're not?" Sanderson looked at him. "She took your chance at glory Gunnar! And she punched you, laying you out, a little girl!"

"She's not so little," Gunnar smiled.

The next day on their way out of the dorm, he noticed her, she was standing with her teammates. Her blonde hair was up in a pony tail and Dean Portman, picked her up and she kicked her legs laughing. Gunnar smiled, she looked over at him and waved, he waved back.

"Hold on," he heard her say, she jogged over. "You played really well. I got lucky."

"Not luck," he shook his head, "Skill, you were faster than me." She smiled. He put his hand out, she took it. "Until we meet again, Julie the Cat." Did she feel a jolt the same way he had?

"Bye Gunnar," she smiled and turned around. She ran back to the group and found herself lost in another huge hug from Dean, it lifted her off her feet. "Stop doing that!" She laughed.

"I can't," He smiled, "I can't believe you did it." He looked over. "Why were you talking to Gunnar Stahl?"

"I don't know," she shook her head. "I just felt like I should."

"You're insane," he laughed.

Ducks, age 26

At age 27 Gunnar walked around a gallery showing. It was a decent showing, the photography especially. He'd enjoyed one picture in particular. He'd probably buy it. It wasn't as though he didn't have the money and it would give an artist a boost something he was always happy to do. He stopped when two people walked in the door. It couldn't possibly be. Julie Gaffney could not have possibly walked into this room. She was as beautiful as he'd remembered, her smile less hesitant and the same sharp alive eyes. Her companion made her laugh. That cemented it, he would never ever forget that laugh. But she was with a man, a boyfriend maybe? He hoped not.

Later on in the evening, he saw her admiring a picture of The Met, The Egyptian Wing. Egyptians, Cats, Julie the Cat, he had an in. He walked over to her.

"It's the cats, right?" He said softly, she looked at him. "Why you love the Egyptians so much? They worshiped cats and you are one?" He smiled. "You do not remember me?"

"I didn't think that you'd remember me," Had been her answer. Not remember her? Not remember the girl who he'd had dreams about well, until this moment. He'd always fantasized, since he moved to the US, about running into her. Of course after running into her, seeing her again, the whole thing got hazy, it was quite likely that she would simply say, "Good to see you again," And then run the other way. But she wasn't she was talking to him, about art and well, everything. She was fascinating. Who had she become? This wasn't the same tomboy who had blocked his shot. He had to find a way to ask if she was single.

"I live with a photographer," She said, "This photographer actually." An in, once again, this was working out pretty well.

"So then it is serious?" He said. She looked at him confused.

"Oh! No, Carla," She explained, "She's my friend. Carla Estevez, the artist who took the photos."

"Then you are unattached?" He smiled. She laughed lightly.

"For now," She said. Ask for her number? No, that was too obvious.

"Good to know," He said, "It was good to see you again Julie Gaffney." He walked away. She lived with this artist. He shopped at this gallery all of the time. He could get her number, no problem. He was just glad that she was without her shadow from the past. As far as he could tell, Dean Portman was nowhere near her life.

He'd called her, asked her out, she'd said yes. She walked into the restaurant and he couldn't quite believe that this was actually happening. He was trying to keep his cool, and was doing pretty well. She was charming and engaging. They didn't dwell on the past, thankfully. They walked after dinner. He could barely stand being next to her he wanted her so badly.

"It's late," Julie said, "I should really be getting home." She wanted to leave. It was over.

"You aren't having a good time?" He asked. He hoped that he didn't sound as panicked as he felt.

"Oh, I am having a good time," She smiled shyly, "but I also have three very nosy room mates a few blocks away." He laughed and kissed her lightly. She seemed surprised.

"I live alone," He said quietly. He could feel the hesitation in her body as he held her close. She shook her head, "Not tonight?"

"No," she said, "not tonight." She kissed him again. They didn't say anything else as they. "Thank you Gunnar, I had a nice time." They kissed softly one last time. "Good night."

"Good night Julie." He smiled and hailed a cab. He would call her again, without a doubt.

Their second date, he took her to the opera. She was enjoying it and he was enjoying watching her enjoy it. She was wide eyed and beautiful. He couldn't contain himself and by the intermission and he couldn't stop kissing her. She welcomed each one with a gentle squeak. After they walked out of the opera house she pulled herself close to him and kissed him. He savored it, and she looked wonderful, sexy, she was wearing a backless red gown. He could feel the skin on her back tingle as he kissed her.

"Did you enjoy the opera?" He whispered, she nodded and kissed him again. "I can get you a cab."

"I want to see your place," She said softly. He kissed her again. He felt her melt.

"I'll get us a cab." He said letting her go.

"So," He said, leading her around, "This is it." She kissed him again.

"Through here?" She said walking ahead of him into the bedroom. He smiled, he loved American women. He kissed her and they pulled carefully down onto the bed. He was slow and deliberate in his lovemaking, wanting to enjoy every inch of her. After she lay beside him.

"Do you want to stay?" He asked. "It's late and I wouldn't want anything to happen to you."

"You don't mind?" She said softly, it was obvious she was exhausted.

"Mind sharing my bed with a beautiful woman?" He laughed. "No, I do not mind." She kissed him and snuggled close to him crooking her leg into his. He smiled and put his arm around her waist as she fell asleep. She looked even more beautiful sleeping. Finally, after thirteen years, he'd been able to get past Julie Gaffney's defenses.

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