O_O I have no idea. I was sitting at my computer last night, reading nightsea's LJ entry about having all this lovely inspiration around her and yet being unable to write, when I started to get that itch. It was an itch in my hand that beat out a tattoo going something like this: Wanttofic, wanttofic, wanttofic. Thing is... it wouldn't give me a direction. It didn't want to work on OB, I knew that. It didn't want to work on anything that I'd already started. It wanted something new, something untouched, something clean... a blank slate, if you will. So I gave it rein and let it sniff around to see what it would find.
It found Adam Banks.
Back when I was writing "And the Fox Declared to the Hound", there was a scene where Adam confessed when he had fallen in love with Guy. I had just picked the most random, bizarre moment in MD history that I could think of -- something I knew Connie would never have approved of -- and let that be it. I never really thought about explaining it, because honestly, I didn't think I could or would ever have to. The problem with that sort of thinking, however, is that my mind can't let it go. It needs to know why something happened, even if it never shares with the rest of the world... especially when said conundrum is its own creation.
So, I've been puzzling over this for the better part of 7 years now, without coming up with a satisfactory answer for myself. Then, last night, out of nowhere... there it was. *shakes head* I love when my mind solves problems on its own without needing any input from me. *vbg*
So, 7 years after the original fic was published, and hopefully in the interests of gearing myself up to finally write the sequel... I give you 'Scenting the Prey', a.k.a. 'Why the Hell Guy crashing a Zamboni would prompt Adam to fall head over heals for him.'
Scenting the Prey
There was something seriously wrong with me. Maybe it was the pressure. Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was something else entirely. I was only 12, how was I supposed to know? Whatever the case, I thought it was a fluke, an exception to the rule. I thought that all the intense training that I had done that summer had purged it from me, leaving only my passion for my sport behind. Apparently I was wrong. Good G-d, was I wrong.
There's just something about the way he was standing up there -- tall, proud, not even the littlest bit embarrassed -- that I couldn't help but admire. He looked so self-assured. He always does. There is something about that that just draws me and now that I think about it... it always has.
Sure there are flashier players on the team. There are players who score more goals, players who are stronger at defense. There are players with stronger shots and some who are faster. Amongst all of them, he certainly isn't anything special, except... he's there. Whenever you find yourself caught in a corner and no way to clear the puck, there he is. When you're just far enough away from the goal that any shot you make won't even come close to accurate and you need a middle man to get it there... there he is again. When you're on a breakaway and two of the other team are gunning straight for you, he'll throw himself right into the melee to keep them off your back. I know it doesn't sound like much, but in a team sport, anyone who can integrate themselves so thoroughly into their team that they know what the other players need before they do... Anyone on such a team will tell you that that player is a G-dsend. They'll never rack up the awards or the praises the way their showier counterparts will, but they're worth their weight in gold, just the same.
I'd noticed all this about him before and never really thought much of it. He's my teammate and I'm glad of it, but that's as far as it ever went. But lately... lately I'd been thinking more about him than I should. He wasn't the first I noticed -- far from it, really -- but he's been the one who was most consistently in my thoughts since coming back from the off season. I suppose it's natural, really. At least that's what my brother said.
I almost died of mortification when he pulled me aside to have that little talk. I'm really not even sure how he picked up on it. It's not like I ever said anything, but he watched me play that last game with the Ducks... and he knows me. He'd seen me with my best friend from the Hawks, Billy Larson. He's seen how I am around my new team -- around Jesse, around Charlie. I didn't even realize that I had anything to hide from him until it was too late. Anyway, after that game (and my subsequent visit to the hospital), he came to my room and asked if we could talk. If I'd had any idea what it was he wanted to talk about... I'd have said "No." But I didn't know, so I didn't, and the conversation happened whether I care to remember it or not.
I suppose I should be grateful. I suppose I should be inordinately glad that he brought this whole thing to my attention before I did something that our Dad noticed. I suppose I should be relieved that he didn't think I was an absolute freak and just took it all in his stride. Somehow, that didn't make it any more comfortable. But I'm getting ahead of myself. He came to my room that night, my powerful, poised, charming older brother, and proceeded to turn my world inside out.
He sat down at my desk and smiled at me, indicating I should sit opposite him on my bed. We exchanged pleasantries for a while. He helped me pick apart my gameplay. In truth, in that respect, it was no different from any other post-game chat we'd ever had. It lulled me into this false sense of security. So that was why it was such a shock when he paused, smiled a little wider, then allowed this charming gem of a one-liner to pop out of his mouth, "So, I see you've started to notice your teammates, little brother."
I confess, I had absolutely no idea what he meant. It wasn't anything good, I knew that from the look on his face. So all I could do was splutter out, "What do you mean, notice them? I play hockey with them! How can I not notice them?"
He chuckled a little, then shook his head, "I didn't mean on the ice, little brother. I meant off the ice."
If I hadn't been sure before, after that, I'd have known that whatever he was talking about wasn't anything good. Seeing how desperately confused and flustered I was getting, however, he took pity on me. He explained that it was perfectly natural, after such a high adrenaline rush and at this age, to get certain... feelings... after a game. It took me a full two minutes to understand what he meant and then I swear my nose almost started bleeding on the spot. Before I could jump up and start yelling out my protests, he put a gentling hand on my shoulder, "Calm down! I didn't mean anything by it, little brother. It happens to all of us -- some sooner than others. I just don't want you to mistake it for something it isn't."
Something it isn't. Even I could figure that one out. Translation? By all means, get hot and hard in the locker room after a game by staring at your teammates fresh from the shower... but it's just hormones. It doesn't mean anything and it doesn't leave the locker room. It's nothing more than a pubescent physical reaction, no emotions involved... and you don't bring it home or talk about it with the family. It was both balm and reassurance... and at the same time a clarion clear warning bell. Looking back, I have to give him credit for trying. He'd seen me with my friends, both on the Hawks and the new ones I was making with the Ducks. He'd seen how warm and caring my new teammates were... and he didn't want me making any kind of choices now that I might regret later.
Unfortunately, he had the opposite effect of what he'd intended. See, before, at least... I was innocent. I hadn't acted on any of the numerous feelings I'd had until then, because I honestly didn't recognize that I'd had them. Now that I knew... it was like releasing a tiger from its cage. It was a raging beast that I couldn't control, couldn't get a grip on. It was an opposing player on a breakaway that I couldn't catch up to and I didn't know what to do about it. And my brother, in his own special way, had let me know that there was no one to whom I could turn.
I've never in my life felt so lost -- not even when Coach Bombay pulled his trickery to get me playing for the Ducks. This thing was so huge and I was so small... and I just couldn't handle it. So, I did the only thing I knew how -- I ran. I withdrew from my former friends. I withdrew from my new friends. With school out for the year, it was easy to do. Then I threw myself into training with every ounce of energy that I had, praying that it would be enough to purge this thing from my head.
It wasn't. I ran drill after drill after drill, exhausting myself until the sun went down. I wrote play after play after play, then got up the next morning to run them all from every angle I could think of. And what did I succeed in doing with all that time on my hands? Well... with no one to play with, my mind supplied my teammates. They were my teammates in all their greatness and with none of their flaws. We were unstoppable and perfect and we won every game. And afterwards... in the locker room... but as my brother said, we don't talk about that. Let's just say that I took a lot of cold showers that summer.
So when Charlie and the rest of the Ducks showed up on my doorstep at the end of the summer, offering me a chance to play with them on the U.S. team... it was literally a dream come true. Seeing them all in the flesh, after so long having only the phantoms in my head for company, it was a heady rush that I just wasn't ready for and still haven't come down off.
I noticed Charlie first -- then again, I always notice Charlie first. There's something so sweet... so young and innocent about him, that I can't help wanting to shelter him. I know he'll grow out of it -- you can already see him starting to harden around the edges -- but until he does, that baby softness will be a constant source of fascination for me. In complete contrast to him? Jesse Hall. He's brash and loud and brave and doesn't take 'No' from anyone. He's everything I wish I was and know I will never be. He's strong, especially for an adolescent. Just trying to picture the man he'll be when he grows into that strength and sense of purpose... I hope we're still friends then, so that I can see it.
Les Averman... What can I say about Les? He's not classically good-looking -- he's got too many freckles, his glasses are too thick, his hair too red and curly... but if you'll notice what I've been babbling about, this isn't about looks. What I admire about Les is his ability to turn everything into a joke. No matter how dire a situation seems, he can always find something in it worth laughing about. And what would Lester Averman be without Goldberg, the unwilling straight man to his funny man? In spite of him always seeming to be the butt of somebody's joke -- or maybe even because of it -- I have to admire Goldberg, too. No matter how down anyone tries to get him, he just lets it roll right off his broad shoulders like a stone skipped over a pond. And that devious mind of his is never still for a minute.
Now, I'm rather ashamed to admit, that's as far as I got. You may have noticed that I left someone out. I could write you paragraphs about the ways in which I look up to Fulton Reed's quiet strength... but he wasn't there. Not yet. Not until later. And the immediate frission that his introduction caused between my new life with the Ducks and my former with the Hawks... let's just say it left me a little raw and I'd prefer not to dwell on it.
No, the one I left out -- and in retrospect, it's a little funny -- was Guy Germaine. You see, in spite of my expounding upon his virtues just a little while ago, I hadn't really noticed him up to that point. It's no real wonder, even. He just sort of faded into the background, lurking quietly in Connie's shadow, the back half of "ConnieandGuy". That lady casts a large shadow, let me tell you. It's hard to see anyone hiding in it with her dazzling presence such a distraction. So, I didn't notice him and he didn't register and we move on.
When we all got to the Taylor Falls training facility, that's when I knew I was in trouble. I'd thought that being back among my team would accomplish what being without them had so clearly failed to do. It didn't. I was drowning in this thing and there was no one that I could ask to point me in the direction of the shallows to practice my dog-paddle. I thought about talking to one of the other guys, but figured that unless they had similarly "helpful" older brothers at home, they'd just be freaked. Then I'd lose them all and I sure as hell didn't want to risk that. I thought about talking to Coach Bombay -- somehow, I thought he'd understand -- but figured that discretion was the better part of valor on that one. I didn't want to get kicked off the team, after all. I thought about talking to the new teacher... but I don't know her and the thought of talking to any woman about sex makes my mind gibber in pure panic.
So, that leaves me with no one. And that's when it happened. I was just beginning to think about indulging in a fit of screaming hysterics at the thought of entering the locker room with my friends when there was this resounding crash. I jerked myself around to stare at the source of the sound to see them: Jesse Hall, Fulton Reed... and Guy Germaine. They were standing on top of the Zamboni which they had just... crashed... through... the rink... wall. Fulton and Jesse were high fiving each other and acting their usual crackpot, X-games selves. Nothing unusual there. And then... there was Guy. He was just standing there, casually calm and proud amidst the chaos, like it had all been his idea. And who knows? Maybe it had been.
At that moment, I finally realized the danger in someone like him. You don't notice him... and you don't notice him... until one day you turn around and there he is. He's under your skin with that quiet, almost apologetic confidence and that unassuming smile and you have no idea how he got there or what to do to get rid of him. After that, I started to notice him more and more. I couldn't help it. It almost became an obsession. For example, how did I never notice what a good hockey player he is? We play on a team together -- you'd think I'd have known.
That first day that we all played together as a real team, Coach Bombay had given Dwayne Robertson a rope and told him to "round us all up". Charlie got caught first. Julie and Averman fell quickly, too. Goldberg was easy as cake. I was so damned flustered that he even caught me. But Guy... somehow, every time Dwayne got close, he just slipped right on by. He was the only one uncaught by the time Coach called a halt to the game. The funny thing is... none of us were really that surprised. On some level, we all know he's one of the most skilled among us, it's just that you never really notice it.
I guess I should have been glad that the way things fell out, I didn't get a chance to pursue my obsession. I wasn't really ready for all that that would entail and he only had eyes for Connie. I'd have broken my heart on him and never had the courage to try again. So, all in all, it's a good thing that when I finally decided to act against my brother's advice and take my little locker room musings out of the rink, it was sweet, innocent Charlie that caught my eye. He was the right choice at the right time for both of us... though ironically enough, in the long run, Charlie turned out to be straighter than any of us and broke my heart in his own way.
But that's a whole different story and really it's of no consequence, because what I really took away from our relationship was more important than that any of the stupid fights we had afterwards. I learned that my brother, my all-knowing, all-powerful brother... was wrong. It is OK to take these feelings out of the locker room and they can be more than just physical. Once I knew that, I was ready to face the rest. In the long term, Charlie was never going to be the one. We were too young and he grew up away from me too fast, almost overnight, but he bought me time. He stalled me in revisiting my youthful obsession until I was old enough to give it the attention and weight it really needed. For that, I'll be forever grateful.
Because really... once Guy Germaine was under my skin, it was all over. And now, far from wondering how to get rid of him, I find myself wondering how to keep him close without scaring him off. It will be a challenge, the greatest of challenges... but after watching him all these years, I know he'll be worth the effort. And if I'm lucky, he'll find me just as hard to dislodge as I've found him. In the meantime, I'll wait and I'll watch, biding my time until he's ready. And then when he is... we'll just see who catches who.
And now for some chibi-silliness:
Guy: That was really all there was to it?
Guy: *slow smirk* You were pubescent, stubbornly horny for all of us, and just happened to notice me at the right time?
Adam: *beat red* *mumbles*
Guy: *chuckles* I don't think I caught that last.
Adam: *enunciates* I never said it was a good reason.
Guy: *just laughs*
Portman: *shakes head* It's always the quiet ones...
Questions, comments, pineapples?