All right, this is new version of the first chapter. All the same things happened, now it's just better writing. Now I don't think I have to say this but just to be safe, I want to make it clear that this story is 100% fiction. I know nothing about any of the 1980 players' personal lives, other than what I'm writing is far from the truth. I don't really see this as a fanfic about any real people; rather it's a fanfic about the characters in Miracle, which of course we know was not entirely accurate either. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
I walked out of the sweltering July heat and into the lobby of my apartment building. The trek home from work had me soaked through my clothes, but instead of going upstairs to change I made a bee line for the mail room. I unlocked the metal mail box labeled: O'CALLAHAN. I'd applied to the University of Minnesota nearly five months ago and had yet to hear anything back. I was starting to get anxious because the first Olympic hockey practice was on the horizon.
I sorted through junk mail and bills until I flipped over an envelope with a return address from Minnesota. I dropped the rest of the mail in my haste to open it, and scanned it just quickly enough to read the words happy to inform and congratulations on your acceptance.
"Yes!" I couldn't help exclaim, all traces of reluctance about leaving Boston finally gone. I had been agonizing over this ever since my older brother Jack and three best friends (okay, I'll admit, my only friends) made the Olympic hockey team, so much that it almost overtook my excitement for them. Jack, Dave Silk, Jim Craig, and Mike Eruzione were all going to be spending the year in Minnesota to train for the 1980 winter games. Which meant I would be spending my senior year in Boston completely alone. I was estranged from both of my parents and Jack was my only family. As for Jim and Mike—I'd known both of them for four years, ever since my brother started going to Boston University. Dave and I had been best friends since we met our freshman year. I knew how much the Olympics meant to all of them. No way was I going to spend it halfway across the country and not witness it with my own eyes.
Too excited to wait for the elevator, I ran up four flights of stairs to the apartment Jack and I shared without stopping even though I tripped several times. Maybe I'd had too much coffee that morning. I threw open the door, slammed it closed, and leaned against it while I tried to catch my breath.
Jack, sitting on the sofa watching Happy Days, did nothing in response to my dramatic entry except slowly raise one eyebrow and ask: "Running from the fuzz?"
"No, I'm just excited," I panted, waving my acceptance letter around.
I hadn't wanted to tell him, not right away at least. When the head of the culinary arts department at BU told me that I might want to transfer because they didn't have the best program, I didn't even consider it. I didn't want to leave Boston where I was born and raised and thought was the best place on earth. More importantly, Jack and I were really close. With our tumultuous childhood, I don't think we could not have become as close as we were. We were sort of forced to take care of each other and had been doing do as long as I could remember. I knew my brother would be completely lost without me. Sure he was a year older and didn't even know he'd be lost without me, but it was true. I didn't want him to think I was transferring solely to be with him during the Olympics; he would think I was just trying to look after him and that would hurt his ego.
One of the schools with a great culinary arts program was the University of Minnesota. I only applied when I found out where the Olympic hockey team would be located. That was before they'd even gotten the news they had made the team, but I wasn't taken any chances.
"I didn't tell you, but I applied for the University of Minnesota."
"What? Why?" he asked.
"Remember how the head of my department said I should transfer since BU has a shit culinary arts program?"
"Yeah, and you said you loved BU too much to care."
"That was before I found out Minnesota had one of the best programs in the county. I applied and they accepted me. I'm coming with you guys!"
"Are you serious? Cal, that's great," he said excitedly. "Now we don't have to worry about who'll cook for us anymore."
"Would it kill you to learn how to make one meal for yourself?" I laughed. I often tested out new dishes on him and the boys since it was good practice. Even if it didn't turn out great they'd pretty much eat anything.
"Wait a minute, you know what this means, right?" he asked, his face turning serious. "You, Jennifer Mary O'Callahan, are going to be a Golden Gopher."
Ugh, I hadn't thought about it like that. "Don't say that! And don't call me that." I hated my real name, no one ever called me Jennifer. Ever since I was kid people had referred to me as Cal, a shortened form of my last name. I threw one of the pillows on our couch at him for good measure. It him square in the head.
"Come on, that did not hurt."
"It did too, you're strong."
"Shut up. I'll only be at the U of M for for a year."
"I mean, if you're okay with it," Jack said, shrugging. "You'll be like a double agent."
"Yeah, like a Russian spy, except I'll be one of the good guys."
"Right. Hey, did we get any other mail?"
"Um." I looked sheepishly at my empty hands. "I think I may have dropped it."
He rolled his eyes. "Classic Cal."
Just then there was a knock on the door and Dave walked through it without waiting for an answer.
"Silky!" I yelled.
"'Ello govnah," he said in a British accent, bowing to me.
"How do you do?" I played along.
Jack sighed heavily. He was never much of a fan of our antics.
I ignored him and grabbed Dave's shoulders in a dramatic fashion. "Guess what guess what guess what."
"What what what?" he asked, spinning me around. We always got a little hyper when we were together.
"I got accepted." Dave I had told because I told him almost everything—well, everything that had happened in my life past a certain point. Not about my parents. Not about our dad's drinking, not about our mom walking out on us, not about the abuse and how it only got worse after she left. It wasn't because I didn't trust Dave; he was one of the few I did. I just didn't like to talk about that stuff. He knew, though. I know Jack had told him some at point.
"Oh, thank god," he said, releasing me to wipe fake sweat off his forehead. "I had no idea what I was going to do without my best friend. Isn't this great, OC?"
Jack glared at both of us. "Super."
I burst out laughing. "We have to celebrate."
"Okay, but no bars," Dave said.
I gaped at him. "Why not?"
"Because you always get drunk. Plus, we have to pack."
"I do not always get drunk," I said indignantly. "And I don't need to pack; I have plenty of time."
"We're leaving in a few days, Cal. Aren't you coming with us? Or are you waiting until school starts?"
I thought about spending the rest of the summer here by myself. "No way. Fine, I'll pack soon."
"We should still do something," Jack pointed out.
"Okay, I can't stay mad at you guys," Dave said happily.
"Let's go out to eat," I suggested.
"Why are you always so fixated on food?" Jack asked me.
"I'm a chef, remember? Chefs have to love to eat. It's the first requirement."
Luckily, I got my way and that evening we went out to eat at our favorite Chinese place with Mike and Jimmy.
"Have you guys packed yet?" Mike asked.
"Yes," Dave and Jimmy said at the exact same time Jack and I said: "No."
"Guys, we're leaving in less than a week."
"Relax," I said, waving my chopsticks at him. "Has anyone ever said you need to relax?"
"There's sweet and sour all over you face," he said flatly. That had everyone at the table laughing for about five minutes.
"Anyways," I said after they finally calmed down. "Why haven't any of you told me about who your teammates are going to be?"
"OC and Silky are being immature," Jimmy informed me.
"They're acting immature?" I pretended to be shocked. "Impossible!"
Davey flicked me on the ear and I swatted at him.
"What Jimmy means is that there are a lot of guys from Minnesota," Mike said.
"No shit?" I laughed. "A team based in Minnesota with the former head coach of the Gophers has many players from the U? Who knew?"
"Smart ass," OC quipped. "What Rizzo means specifically is Rob McClanahan."
"No way. You don't mean that guy from the '76 playoffs?"
"The very same."
"Uh-oh." I knew what kind of conflict that was going to cause. McClanahan had put my brother out of the game with a cheap shot and the Gophers ended up winning. I was watching from the stands and when Jack limped off the ice, I had never hated anyone more.
"Uh-oh is right," Mike said wearily. "But that was over three years ago and we're all on the same team now, so it's time to put that behind us."
Jack grumbled, and I was skeptical. I knew I wasn't exactly going to be making friends with McClanahan; the other guys I didn't really have anything against. I had to admit Jack was carrying on this grudge a bit longer than necessary, but like I said, we were really close. We fought the same battles, and we had the same enemies.
After saying our goodbyes and moving out of our apartment, my brother and I packed everything we owned into my Ford Cortina and started out on a monster of road trip that crossed nearly half the county, eight states, and over 1,000 miles, to start our lives anew in the Twin Cities. We followed Jimmy, Silky and Rizzo in his car, since he and I were the only two that had ones. It took the better part of two days with a night spent in the cheapest hotel known to man a few miles outside of Toledo. I had never been farther west than Chicago before or this far away from home. The idea that I wasn't coming back to Boston anytime soon made me break out in a nervous sweat.
The first couple weeks in Minnesota were a whirlwind of moving cardboard boxes, job hunting, getting my schedule ready for when school started in August, and getting used to the fact that for the first time in my life I would not be living in Boston. I never thought I would leave my hometown (as many bad memories as I had there, it was still the only place I'd ever lived) for Minneapolis of all places. Or Saint Paul. Wherever the hell the U was, anyway. I still didn't understand the whole "twin cities" thing.
"Two eggs, over easy," my boss, Tommy, hollered at me. This wasn't quite the kind of cooking job I'd dreamt about having, but it paid the bills and tuition that wasn't covered by scholarships. Dave was living with me and he'd gotten a job as soon we settled in, so half the rent was taken care of. I wasn't sure he'd be able to keep up with the job, though, and from what I could tell so far the coach, Herb Brooks, was a real hard ass. Slightly insane, too. That was just going off what they'd heard from former Gophers.
I finished up my orders on the grill and pushed my bangs off my forehead. I had started cooking when I was around thirteen, out of necessity more than anything. I quickly discovered I loved it. My father was a drunk and my mother had left us when I was twelve, so I took on the responsibility of keeping Jack and I fed early on. Cooking was the one thing I could see myself doing professionally—well, the only thing that had any creativity whatsoever and could actually provide me with a reliable job. For a while I wanted to be a fine arts major, but I eventually convinced myself out of that one. I had grown up without having a lot of money, and I didn't want to spend the rest of my life putting up with the same shit. Sweating over a grill in a college diner wasn't glamorous, but it was good practice.
I took a break from the grill for the rest of my shift and started waiting tables. Over the course of my time here, I was gradually meeting all of the players on the team through showing up at bars, campus parties, and occasional visits to the diner. There were so many of them, and they all seemed hell-bent on getting to know me upon finding out I was Jack's sister. What I couldn't deny was how friendly they all were; offering to show me around town, introduce me to people so I wouldn't be lonely, telling me the best places to hang out, etc.
I knew most of the players' names but not their faces. I was a huge supporter of the Terriers; back in Boston I went to every home game. I knew more about college hockey than anyone who wasn't actually a player or coach should know. I knew the goalie who wasn't Jimmy was Steve Janaszak, and I recognized the Gophers captain Bill Baker. He was all blond hair and cheekbones, a face that was hard to forget. I smiled wryly to myself. Dating my brother's teammates was never a good idea to begin with, out of the question if they were from the U of M.
Of course, I was going to be graduating from UM, and I had no problem with the school itself. It was a good school and everything, but I did spend three years going to every game against them screaming profanities and praying they would fail so my boys could win the championship. I would always be a Terrier at heart. Taking care of my brother and being close to the most important people in my life were more significant than the name of the college on my degree.
I was shaking my head as I picked up Neal Broten, Dave Christian, and Mark Pavelich's dirty dishes. They, on their second time meeting me, had giving me a hug as a greeting, called me 'Callie' and asked if I was settling in on all right, then left the diner promising that they would see me around.
"Didn't believe the whole 'Minnesota nice' thing, did you?" Tommy asked as he fell into step next to me on the way to the kitchen.
"Not entirely," I admitted. "But college kids from the U are supposed to hate college kids from Boston University. Athletes are, at least."
"You're one of us now," Tommy said jovially, helping with some of the plates. "And those guys aren't going to let some silly rivalry isolate you or any of the rest of the Bostonians you came with."
"No, I suppose not." I said, marveling at the pessimistic attitude which I had brought with me. I seemed to be adjusting better than I thought I would. I wondered how my guys were going to take joining up playing together wither their sworn enemies. In fact, they were having their very first practice that afternoon, and I was going to head over to the rink as soon as my shift ended. When I was planning my school schedule, I made sure I had time to stop by every once in a while between shifts and classes. Mostly because OC and Silky had kept up a steady of stream begging: "It's the Olympics, Cal. We're going to be in the Olympics. This is a big deal." They were a still a bit in awe of the whole thing, as was I, which is the main reason I found the practices so interesting. Herb Brooks coaching method was also intriguing.
After I left work when I walked into the stands, I saw the place was completely deserted except for me and two dozen guys in multicolored jerseys on the ice. Practice was in full swing. I chose a good seat and started flipped through a textbook I'd just bought for a class I had this upcoming semester: Contemporary Cuisines. I kept one eye on the ice and one eye on the book. They were doing a lot of drills, nothing too exciting. Herb Brooks circled around the edge of the ice menacingly. I wondered if it was normal for a coach to be yelling so much at his players this early on in the season. It didn't seem like anybody would have had time to do a whole lot wrong.
Eventually I got bored of the drills and the book, plus I was hungry. I packed up my stuff and went out to the concession stands in the lobby. Luckily they were open. A while later later I was sitting at the counter halfway through my second hot dog when a guy about my age took a seat a few stools down. His face was smeared with blood, some of which was coming out of his nose. He took a handful of napkins out of the dispenser and started mopping his face with them.
My mom was a nurse. At least she had been when I was growing up. I didn't know what she was doing nowadays. I hadn't seen her since I was twelve, never heard anything from her after that. But Jack and I were always getting hurt as kids. We played lots of sports on streets and vacant lots and we played rough, as you had to in Charlestown. We were constantly coming home with scrapes, scratches and bruises. Not to mention all the times Dad whipped us with his belt hard enough to draw blood or gave us a black eye with the back of his hand. I had so many memories of my mother tending to our injuries.
"You're doing it all wrong," I blurted out.
The guy slowly looked up at me. "Sorry?"
Even though he was bloody, I could tell he was pretty good looking. He had wavy dark hair and dark eyes, a strong chin.
"You'll make it worse," I explained. He still didn't get it. I sighed and put my hot dog down. "First of all, you need water." I caught the attention of the man who was running the concession stand and asked for a glass. When he gave me one I took a napkin and dipped the corner in. "Come here."
He looked a little unsure but shrugged and moved to the stool next to mine.
"Hold still," I instructed and started to dab his face where it was bruised, wiping away the blood under his nose and cleaning the wound on his cheek. He closed his eyes and had a look of utter peacefulness on his face. A few seconds later I realized I'd been dabbing longer than necessary.
I cleared my throat and moved away to throw out the bloody napkin. "That should do it."
He opened his eyes. "Thanks. I feel much better."
"It's no big deal," I said even though it sort of was. I didn't usually help strangers—I was slow to warm up to people in general. Must have been because I was from Boston. I turned back to the concession stand and asked for a bag of ice, just for something to do.
The guy took it with a smile and pointed a finger at me. "Let me guess: pre-med, senior year."
I rolled my eyes. "Nice try."
"No? You just like to take care of people?"
Um, not exactly. "Only a select few." As soon as I said it, I knew it wouldn't come out the way I intended.
"Just good looking men, I bet."
Fantastic. He thought I was flirting with him. I really needed to work on my social cues. "Don't flatter yourself."
He chuckled a little. "No, you're right, with the way I look right now."
"The ice is supposed to go on your face," I said. He was crunching the bag in his fist.
"It's too cold."
"Well, it's ice."
Ah, yes, I recognized this. Two sarcastic people meeting for the first time. Bloodshed, death, nuclear warfare. Probably best to remove myself from the situation. But I just couldn't help myself.
"How'd a pretty boy like you get a face like that, anyway?" He looked so clean cut. Smartly dressed in a fitted T-shirt, jeans with no holes or frays, even his outgrown hair was neatly combed.
"I got in a fight," he scoffed with a lifetime of irritation from being called 'a pretty boy.' "I'm a hockey player."
That much was obvious, I realized. We were in an ice rink arena, after all. But what were the odds? "Who do you play for?"
There must have been a fight and I missed it. Stupid hunger pains.
"What did you say your name was?"
"I didn't. It's Rob McClanahan."
That settled it. "I'm pretty sure I know who did that to you."
"What do you mean?" He had the same confused look on his face as when I'd first spoken to him. The one I had thought was sort of cute. What the hell, O'Callahan? He was the enemy!
"I mean that it was my brother. I'm Cal O'Callahan, and I think you deserved that." I indicated the mess of his face
"Cal O'Callahan?" he repeated.
Everyone always needed to comment on my name. I definitely wasn't about to explain it to him.
He shook his head a little, probably trying to clear it. "How can you say I deserved it? You don't even know me."
"I know that you're oh-so-fond of giving people cheap shots."
"That's what this is about? The '76 playoffs?"
Yes. And no. I was already fired up due to the fact that he acted like a snide jackass, this was just an excuse to take it out on him. But that would take too long to explain. "Damn right it is."
"Well, you know what?" he shot back. "Boston would have lost even with him in the game."
"Are you calling my brother a bad player?"
"Now you're getting the idea. I think he's juvenile and has anger management issues. He's crazy!"
"Shut up about him." My hand curled into a fist at my side. I'd always had an Irish temper. It was the one thing I had gotten from my father, personality wise, and I despised that fact. I hated to think I was similar to him in anyway, but it was the alcoholism that made it really bad. And I wasn't an alcoholic.
"No, I won't! Because he's the ass here and I can see you're a lot like him."
I've heard much worse said about Jack—I've heard much worse said about me—but I don't know, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I didn't think before I reeled back and punched him in the solar plexus, the place where it knocks the wind out of you. It threw him halfway off the stool. One hand grabbed the counter so he wouldn't fall to the floor, the other grabbed his gut.
"What is with your family?" he yelled, looking more disbelieved than angry.
I must not have hit him hard enough. I was seriously considering doing it again when we were interrupted.
"What's going on here?" Rizzo and Dave had just walked into the lobby in their street clothes. Practice was over.
McClanahan glared at me and awkwardly righted himself, sitting back on the stool. Rizzo and Dave put two and two together. This instance, believe it or not, wasn't the first time they'd walked in on me punching someone.
Rizzo dropped his hockey bag to the floor with a dramatic thud, marched over to me, seized my arm and started pulling me away. "Come on."
"Let go of me," I barked, but he didn't until we had walked out of the lobby and through the front doors.
"What the hell are you doing?" he demanded once we were outside.
"Giving him what he deserves."
"Are you kidding me, Cal? You have got to let this go. It's not even your problem."
"Don't give me that. You know it is." He knew how close Jack and I were. His problems were my problems and vice versa. "He was badmouthing OC. What was I supposed to go?"
"You can't go around punching people you hardly know!" Rizzo yelled. "Or anyone you do know," he added quickly. He took a deep breath, trying to calm down. He seldom lost his cool but he hated OC's and my temper. It was practically the only thing that could make him lose his. "We're on a team now so you have to get used to this. Get used to him."
I hated upsetting Rizzo; he always tried to look out for me and to keep me out of trouble. He was almost like a second brother. I stared at my sneakers. "I'm sorry," I said quietly.
"Don't apologize to me. Tell that to Mac."
I looked back up. "No way."
"Cal, come on."
"I can't," I said earnestly, staring him hard in the eyes. The thought of facing McClanahan, or anyone else, after what I'd just done made me want to curl up in a ball and disappear.
Rizzo must have sensed my panic. He immediately softened. "Okay," he said gently, right back to his normal self. "All right, Callie, that's okay."
But somewhere in the pit of my stomach, I knew it wasn't.
So that's it! The second chapter should be up tomorrow or the day after. Also shout out to fcch13, thanks for commenting on my author's note! It's never too late to start reviewing :D