Disclaimer: I do not and have not ever owned or made money from The Mighty Ducks.
Charlie Conway wasn't a confident person. Yes, in front of his teammates and coach he would stand up straight and proud, lead the team cheering onto the ice, and be there to lend an ear, but that wasn't really him. His mask made him out to be a hot-headed and controlling person who could be the heart of the team, even if he only felt like a shadow. When he stepped on the ice, he could see flashes of various horrible scenes occurring. He could see himself trip and fall, skate into the boards, miss a shot, and just generally screw everything up for his team like he had been doing since he first started hockey. His hands shook with nerves every game, his stomach would get queasy, and he swore he heard a high pitched squeal in the air, but his hockey gloves helped his hands and his ever faithful mask would hide the rest.
But sometime his confident mask would crack when a significant event happened to the team. The first time was when Adam Banks joined the team. Charlie was the captain, and when the Hawks player came over he felt threatened but it was his job to welcome the new player. Charlie pushed down any resentment and jealousy and sincerely extended his hand to the Hawk. He felt a crack in his mask, but he knew no one noticed, since Jesse had immediately stopped Charlie and took all the attention on himself. They never looked hard enough to know who their captain really was, and that hurt a little but Charlie pushed it aside because he loved hockey, and this team.
The second and third time he felt a large crack form in his mask was during the Junior Goodwill Games. When they suffered their first defeat at the hands of Iceland, Charlie felt inadequate and weak. Once they left the ice he had comforted his team in the locker room, but no one comforted him. Banks was there, but the former Hawk just stood by his side silently. Charlie would have liked to have had someone hug him or just tell him he did a good job. Then before the final game when he gave up his spot so Banks could play, the resounding cheer that echoed down the hallway was heartbreaking. Banks was smiling, the team was smiling and cheering, and Bombay had a victorious sparkle in his eye. Charlie had stayed back an extra moment as the team flooded out of the locker room so he could compose himself and fight the tears that formed.
The final crack was when Coach Orion took away his 'C'. The letter he had always worn, the letter that gave him his fake confidence, the letter that actually made him feel like a part of the team and not as the kid who could possibly screw everything up. That letter was gone, and Charlie didn't know what to feel anymore or how to act. The only reaction from his team was Dwayne pointing out that Charlie should be captain, and Banks placing a single hand on his shoulder. The rest of the team was silent and then they descended into their own problems and lives. Charlie didn't say a word as he gathered his things and left.
Charlie had escaped away to the lake on campus, and that is where Banks found him. The taller boy just silently sat beside him, and Charlie was getting tired of his quiet act. Why couldn't he just say something? It wasn't that hard and Charlie didn't care what he said, just something. Charlie gave a heavy sigh and started preparing to stand but Banks shot out a hand and stopped him.
"I know it's hard for you, but don't give up." Banks said softly. Charlie gave his friend a weird look, unsure of what he was on about. "Charlie I know you fake it. It was easy for me to see since the first time I saw you on ice. I know because I fake it as well. It doesn't matter how good we are, we will always doubt ourselves." Banks explained, his eyes locked firmly on the water so that he wouldn't show his embarrassment.
"Banks..." Charlie trailed off not sure on what to say to his teammate. "What do you fake?"
Adam sighed. "Everything, I'm just as terrified as you before getting on the ice. I'm just as insecure about my skills as you. You had the Captain title to carry you, but I had you. I'm terrified that I won't live up to my father's expectations, but when I saw you bravely lead the Ducks to win after win, it gave me courage. If you leave, I don't know how I will find the courage and determination to get on the ice and play my best."
Charlie gaped at his friend. Banksie, Adam Banks was scared like Charlie? The Ace that everyone relied on, the boy who scored more goals than the rest of the team combined, the player most likely to succeed was scared? Charlie wasn't sure if his brain could process that properly. The very concept seemed too surreal for him. Instead of answering, he just scooted closer to Banks and used a hand to turn his face so he could stare him in the eye, searching for the truth to his words. For some reason he wasn't surprised when he saw that Banks was completely sincere. "Why did you never say anything?"
"What was there to say? You never spoke up so I never saw the point to." Charlie felt even worse now. He used to be good at seeing his teammates problems and helping them, but he had missed what Banks was feeling. Feeling completely dejected, Charlie dropped his hand and looked away, ashamed with himself. "Charlie you couldn't have known. I didn't come out here to make you feel worse."
"I figured... but you really do suck at comforting someone Banksie." Charlie mumbled.
The Ace gave a small slightly bitter chuckle at that, but his eyes didn't leave Charlie. "Well this is my first time." He gave a wary grin, and Charlie felt a slight smile break out on his previously depressed face. Banks smiled in kind and Charlie saw a happy glint enter his eyes. "You smiled, so I can't be doing all that bad."
"Cake Eater." Charlie responded, his smile not wavering.
"You're not completely terrible at this I guess. But I will miss you at practice when you go all varsity and leave me behind." Charlie had started out happy but as he spoke, his tone got more petulant. Banks was probably the closest thing he had to a best friend, and now he was going.
"I...I don't want to leave the Ducks. " Banks admitted.
"I don't want you to go, but Banks... you're good enough to be with them, you shouldn't let us hold you back." Charlie explained to him. He never wanted the Ducks to break up, but he knew Banks deserved this shot. His feelings shouldn't cloud his judgement, and the Charlie always prided himself on the ability to advise his teammates on what was best for them.
"So you're not going to tackle me, and put me in a headlock when we meet on the ice?" Banks teased.
"Well I might do that for the hell of it." Charlie laughed.
"Hmm... you can try Spazway but I can beat you every time."
"Pfft. Whatever Cake Eater, I'll check you so hard you will see stars." The former captain argued.
"Yeah right. With that weak girly body on yours Spazway, you will run into me and knock yourself out."
Charlie snorted. "This is all man right here." He gestured to his body. "Muscles and testosterone. Check for yourself if you don't believe me." Charlie challenged at Adam's disbelieving look.
That seemed to be the cue Banks was waiting for as a smirk graced his lips and he looked entirely too smug with himself. "I think I will." Charlie didn't have a chance to react as Banks leaned in and kissed him, one hand holding the back of his neck and the other trailing down his chest.
Charlie felt something warm and wet touch his lips and he instinctually opened his mouth, pushing himself into Adam and responding under the others soft ministrations. Banks' hand kept moving down and Charlie felt a moan building up in the back of his throat. When Adam's hand reached his pants and gave his crotch a little squeeze, Charlie squeaked instead of moaned, and Banks pulled away.
"Hmm... I guess you are all man." He winked. "Minus the mouse noises."
The entire situation finally caught up to Charlie and he promptly blushed. He couldn't believe what just happened, and his face was burning hard. "Adam!" He scolded and then coughed.
"We'll talk about it later Charlie." Banks whispered into his ear right before he planted a chaste kiss on his cheek. "Believe me we will continue this."
Charlie could hear the absolute promise in Banks voice, and a shiver ran down his spine. He felt his body leaning towards the other boys body trying to steal his body heat and just be closer, but the taller boy pulled away. Charlie could only let out a soft groan of protest as Banks stood up and walked away. The conversation had not gone the way he thought it would at all, but he couldn't be completely disappointed in the events. He would need to figure out what his kiss with Adam meant though. He wasn't gay, at least he didn't think he was. He thought that Linda girl was cute, but he wasn't exactly disgusted by Adam's kiss. The entire thing was confusing but he hoped talking with Adam later would clear some things up.
Come the unofficial JV/Varsity game, Charlie felt himself getting frustrated. He wasn't able to talk to Banks and now he had his friend playing against him, and when Banks got close enough that Charlie could feel his breath on the back of his neck, it distracted him, and all thoughts of hockey disappeared. With Adam so close, Charlie just wanted to turn around and kiss the other boy. He restrained himself but in his lapse of attention, Banks took his chance and hooked Charlie, spending them both flying and sliding down the ice.
"What the hell Banks!" Charlie cried, turning over and trying to shove the heavier boy off him.
"Don't worry about it Spazway, I only did it to finally be able to embrace you." Banks whispered. He started getting up, but his hand 'accidently' slipped and he was lying on top of Charlie again, their breath mingling. Banks stared straight into his eyes and smiled. "We'll talk soon." He whispered again before he finally removed himself from Charlie.
Charlie's cheeks flushed again, and he was glad that no one would notice since he was already red from playing. Banks was confusing him more, and he wanted this straightened out soon. Should he try to keep talking to Linda, or was he Banks' boyfriend now? He never thought he would have to deal with this since he never thought his attention would wander from hockey.
"Conway get your head in the game!" Guy Germaine yelled.
Charlie sighed before he mentally slapped himself and put his focus back into this game and beating the self-righteous pricks that called themselves Varsity. As he skated towards the face off, Banks skated in beside him, and the tingling and distracting feelings were rushing back again. Charlie didn't know how he would make it through the rest of this game if this happened every time he got near Banks. But apparently that didn't matter since as soon as they started playing again, Banks dived on him, and a full out brawl broke out.
Charlie's helmet went flying and suddenly he was on his back in the middle of a large fight. Banks was on top of him, and Charlie couldn't stop himself being drawn into this bright blue eyes. Adam got that smirk again and suddenly in the midst of chaos he was being kissed. It was like a whisper of butterfly wings before it was gone, and Banks was jumping up and trying to put Dwayne into a headlock. Even though he was close to being sliced to death by the trampling skates around him, Charlie felt like it would be a near impossible task to wipe that goofy smile off his face. He should probably take that as his answer as to Linda or Banks.
Just as Charlie got up ready to tackle Banks and touch his boyfriend? Lover? Whatever Banks was to him, the lights flickered on and Coach Orion was skating onto the ice with a furious expression. Banks skated to his side as Coach Orion started physically pushing the Varsity members off the rink. "Whatever happens just stay. Just stay." Banks said softly while his hand brushed Charlie's. Charlie nodded, and Banks skated away.
A moment later when Orion's was demanding they take off their Duck jerseys, Charlie was sorely tempted to leave this joke of a coach, but Adam's words flittered through his head. Gripping his stick tightly, Charlie looked away and sighed. When he felt Orion's heavy stare settle on him, he slowly stripped the jersey off and dropped in into the pile they had going. Banks told him to stay and he would listen, but damn did that boy owe him later.
Charlie got his reward later when he heard a soft knock on his door. Opening it he saw a sheepish looking Adam waiting on the other side, and Charlie was never more grateful that Guy had taken off for the evening to study and spend alone time with Connie. Charlie stepped to the side and let Banks into his room. He closed the door quietly, scared that a loud noise might alert the rest of the team to Banks' presence in their dorm. Turning around, he barely had a second to mentally bemoan at the terrible state of his room, when a warm body was gently pushing him against the door, and slightly chapped lips were on his own. Charlie's eyes closed and he sighed at the feeling, firmly in acceptance of this new relationship. Adam seemed to take his sigh as something different as he went to pull away but Charlie grabbed his shirt and pulled him back. He wasn't ready to stop this.
"Charlie..." he groaned succumbing to Charlie's persistence and kissing him again. The kiss started heating up, Charlie's grip started tightening, and Adam was pushing him harder against the door. Adam's fingers travelled under his shirt and tickled his sides. Charlie gasped and arched further into him, his entire body flushing and demanding more.
Adam was the more sensible of the two and he started slowing down the kiss, removing his fingers from Charlie's shirt, and putting barely an inch of space between them. Charlie whimpered, and followed Adam not wanting it to end. "Charlie..." Adam moaned as he removed his lips. "I can't stay long and we need to talk." He stated quietly.
"Why? Guy won't be back for an hour or two." Charlie argued.
"Varsity will check on me soon to make sure I'm not hanging around you guys." He explained. "We need to talk about us."
Charlie gave Banks a bemused expression. "What's there to talk about? Were dating right?" Suddenly all the confidence he had from his brief moments with Adam vanished.
"You really want to be my boyfriend?" Adam asked with a tinge of awe in his voice.
Charlie gave a questioning eyebrow at the taller boy. "I wouldn't have let you kiss me like that if I didn't." Wasn't that obvious?
A heart-stopping smile broke out on Banks' face. "I'm glad."
Even though Charlie never wanted to stop staring at that beautiful smile, he knew he needed to. That uncomfortable thrilling heat that he feels every time Adam kisses him was coming back, and he wasn't sure that he would let Banks pull away again if he gave into it. "I-is that all you wanted to talk about?" Charlie stuttered out.
"No... I wanted to see how you were doing after the game today. I know I was a little rough and probably hurt you. I wanted to make sure everything was okay between us." He explained.
Charlie dropped his eyes to the floor and seriously considered what Adam said. He hadn't thought much about the game since afterwards he spent a lengthy time hating on Coach Orion, and plotting out several terrible ways for the man to go, but not that it was brought back to the forefront of his mind, he needed to think about it. Was he mad at Banks? He thought he should be since the other boy did play fairly rough and stopped him from getting a goal that one time, but he wasn't. "Should I be?" Charlie asked looking up into the Varsity players eyes.
Banks gave him a quirky little half smile and slowly shook his head. "I hoped you wouldn't but I needed to check. After all the progress I have made with you, I didn't want it ruined because of one game."
A heavy sigh escaped Adam's lips. "Charlie... I have been dropping hints to you for a while now that I liked you. Did you honestly never notice how I was always so close to you and you only? Or how I only seem to focus on you? After we beat Iceland I handed you the flag and held onto your arms, hoping you would see the hidden gesture in that."
"Gestures? I just thought you liked me better than the others since I couldn't threaten your spot as Ace, and the flag was because I gave you my spot." Charlie stated, absolutely sure that Adam hadn't shown interest like he insisted. Charlie was positive he would have picked up on it if he had.
"You're cute when you're oblivious." Adam chuckled. "I have liked you for awhile now Charlie. I was waiting for the day that you noticed, but at the lake when you said I could check you manhood, well... that was too good to pass up."
"But I'm Spazway. Shouldn't you like Julie? She's a really good hockey player and stuff, plus she's pretty." Charlie argued.
"Conway Conway Conway... I don't like girls, I like you. You are a lovable, kind-hearted idiot that is absolutely adorable when you trip. Julie doesn't compare to you."
Charlie still wasn't getting it. "So you're gay?"
The completely baffled expression on Banks' face made Charlie wonder if he had asked the wrong thing.
"No Charlie I am not gay." Adam stated. Charlie was getting more confused. If Banks wasn't gay than why did he kiss Charlie? "I'm Charlie Conway-sexual. I am and have only ever been attracted to Charlie Conway and I don't see that changing anytime soon."
Charlie nodded his head. "So am I Adam Banks-sexual?" He needed a term to identify this new development in his life.
The Cheshire like grin on Adam's face assured Charlie he had asked a good question. Yes Charlie. You are and will only ever be attracted to me, kissed by me, touched intimately by me, and I will be the only one to ever see you fully naked. Never forget that."
"Um.. .sure?" Charlie responded.
"Good, now that that's all cleared up I really should go. I can't be caught in your area or the Varsity will make practices even harder on me."
Charlie could understand that. He didn't want Banks to suffer in practice, so when he saw the discarded library book on the floor he slipped out from between Banks and the door and scooped it up. "Here. If they see you walking in the hallways tell them you went to the library to get this for your English assignment."
Banks eyed the Shakespeare to English dictionary Charlie was holding and chuckled. "You do know that English is one of my strongest subjects right?"
"Yeah but Shakespeare uses all those 'Thee's and 'Thou's, and even weird and harder words like..." Charlie flipped open the book and read the first word he saw. "Abjure. What does the mean? Or this one...'Jaundice'." Charlie had flipped the book a second time to prove his point.
"Abjure is to swear to abandon or solemnly reject. Jaundice is like yellowness like a sign of envy or jealousy." The Ace explained.
"That's just not normal." Charlie responded right away, secretly wondering if his boyfriend was an alien.
"If you did the assignments you would know them too, now give me that book. I need to leave." Banks swiftly snatched the book from Charlie's hands and tucked it firmly under his arm.
"Right, Varsity and all that." Charlie reaffirmed.
Five minutes later after another lengthy and steamy kiss from Banks, Charlie was left sitting on his bed, cuddling his pillow, and staring at the wall like a grinning moron. He wondered if this is what love felt like, because it was a very nice feeling.
When Charlie's mom Casey called him with the news that Hans had passed away his brain shut down. He walked around in a daze and felt very disconnected from the world. Hans couldn't have possibly passed away. Hans was like a skate-sharpening god, and Gods don't die. They live forever and make the world a better place. Charlie didn't want to admit to himself that his mentor and good friend was gone forever, so he did the only thing he was good at. He went to the rink and skated laps. That's where Banks found him.
The other boy didn't speak. He just skated onto the ice, and fell into step with Charlie as he mindlessly did lap after lap. When his legs started protesting, Adam put a hand on his shoulder and helped by giving him a push when he needed it. When his legs were about to buckle, Adam put an arm around his shoulder and supported him. And when he was finally ready to admit that Hans was dead, Adam turned his around and embraced him with both arms, his shoulder ready. Charlie knew then that he was in love with Adam Banks.
When the tears stopped, they drifted towards the players bench and sat down. Banks kept an arm around him, and Charlie leaned into his side, needing the support to stay up straight. "It's hard to..."
"But we have to..." Adam whispered.
"He was just..."
"But he was human..."
"I'm really going to..."
"He will too."
Charlie turned and buried his face into Adam's neck. His arms came up and clung to his boyfriend, needing a moment to escape somewhere else before he could gather the courage to go and tell the rest of the Ducks. His mother had left that task to him, and all he managed was a quick text to Banks before he fled to the rink. But now they deserved to know, and Charlie didn't want to break down while delivering the news since as Captain- well former Captain anyways- he needed to be strong for them. But for now, he was glad that Adam was willing to be strong for him.
When the day of the funeral arrived, Banks had confidently walked up to Charlie's door and knocked. The Varsity player was driving Charlie down, and even though the other Ducks gave Banks the stink eye, Charlie was grateful his boyfriend was there. They left together and the Ducks slowly trickled out from behind them. Charlie was going early to help set some stuff up with his mother, but the Ducks would be taking the bus and arriving later. Banks had called his father for a ride, and told Charlie that he would get him there on time. It also gave the former Captain time to alone to compose himself in the backseat.
During the ceremony, Banks stood at Charlie's side, their arms lightly touching and hands softly brushing. Each little touch gave Charlie strength and allowed him to hold onto his frail control just a little longer. He didn't want to cry in front of the Ducks, but it was hard to swallow the tears. When he looked up, everyone was concentrating on the coffin except one person. Gordon Bombay was staring at him and Banks, with an all knowing look in his eyes and it scared Charlie. He knew that a relationship between two men wouldn't be received well, and now his former coach knew and would probably completely reject him. It was too much on this day and finally the tears broke through the dam and flooded down his face. Banks didn't hesitate to grab his hand and give it a firm squeeze. Charlie looked away from Bombay.
The next morning Charlie woke up to his alarm clock and went to kick the covers off his bed but he hit something instead. Something that made a distressed noise. Charlie's eyes shot open and his body stilled in fear when he saw Bombay sitting on the end of his bed. "W-what are you doing here?"
"I want to show you something Charlie. Come on get out of bed and get dressed." Bombay said in his old coach voice. Charlie watched the man as he left, and then he bolted out of bed and threw on some clothes. Only when he was reaching for the doorknob did he stop. Didn't people used to take gays out to the desert and beat them to death of something? He remembered hearing that somewhere and now it was floating in his brain, telling him that Bombay could possibly be leading him into a trap. There was a fire escape outside his window... Charlie could sneak out it and run for his life. But another thought came forward.
There were no deserts in Minnesota.
Relieved to know that Bombay wasn't about to lead him to his death, Charlie exited the room and met up with his former coach. Bombay drove him toward Eden Hall and to the rink. Charlie was curious and scared. Was Bombay going to try and replace desert with ice rink? It would fit them both being hockey players, but he didn't think his former coach was the type of man to desecrate an ice rink like that, but you never know. The hadn't seen each other in a while.
When they took a seat in the stands, Charlie finally had the courage to ask. "What are we doing here Coach?"
"Charlie, I wanted to explain to you that you shouldn't always judge a person by what you see." Bombay explained.
"Okay...so you aren't going to kill me?" Charlie needed to know.
Bombay gave him an indulgent look. "No, I'm not going to kill you." He didn't say anymore after that and they waited in silence. Finally, soft classical music started and Charlie sat up straight. He was starting to think this was the weirdest way to kill somebody. Then a door on the rink opened and a man pushed a girl in a wheelchair onto the ice. When Charlie looked closer, he could see it was Coach Orion. Yup, his death was getting weirder and weirder.
"Several years ago Orion and his daughter got into a car accident..." Bombay started. Charlie listened intently to his former coach, soaking up the man's words. He learned the real reason that Orion quit the pro's and he couldn't blame the guy. He too would have left if he needed to take care of the most important person in his life. For now that was his mother, but Banks was coming up fast.
"I guess I could be nicer to Coach Orion, but I still don't get why we're here." Charlie stated.
"Just like you judged Coach Orion, you also judged me quickly yesterday. You were terrified when you thought I discovered your relationship with Adam Banks. Charlie, I may not have been that open with you when you were younger but I will tell you this now. I don't care if you're gay, I just want you to be happy. If Adam Banks makes you happy than I won't say a word to anyone. Not even Casey. I will support you in this but you need to be happy." Bombay explained.
"But I'm not gay." Charlie argued.
"Oh? We're my eyes lying to me?" Bombay asked, highly sceptical.
"Well, no.. but I'm not gay. Adam says I'm Adam Banks-sexual, so not gay."
Bombay let out an echoing laugh that attracted the attention of Orion and his daughter. The two gave them curious looks as Bombay wouldn't stop that loud embarrassing laugh, and Charlie attempted to hide his face in his shirt.
"You're Banks-sexual, duly noted Charlie." Bombay finally got out when his laughing calmed down and Orion had taken his daughter off the ice, probably to escape that crazy man watching them.
When the game ended and the Ducks had won, Charlie couldn't keep the happy smile off his face or the tears from blurring his vision. When Adam lifted him up in a strong hug, and refused to let go until the rest of the team tackled them and the entire group fell to the ice. It was a truly happy moment for Charlie. They had beaten the Varsity team and were allowed to stay at Eden Hall, Coach Orion had finally decided that Charlie had earned the right to wear his 'C', but more importantly he had played with Banks again and it was wonderful.
The mood was broken when Linda had come onto the ice and looked at Charlie with en expectant expression and starting leaning into towards him. He was pretty sure he knew what she wanted, I mean there was no mistaking that her lips were puckered and coated in some glossy lip stuff, but he didn't want to kiss her. He was with Banks, and she was a girl. Her name wasn't Adam Banks and that meant it was wrong to kiss her. Charlie was only saved when Banks grabbed him from behind and pulled him into another victory hug, steering him away from the female that wanted to kiss him. He failed to see the vicious glare Adam threw at the dumbfounded girl, but he didn't mind because he was celebrating a win.
Later that night while Guy was away again, properly celebrating with Connie, there was a knock on his door. When the door opened a crack, a hand shot out and quickly opened I wide enough for a body to slip through and there was Banks. He was dressed in his usual nice jeans and polo, but he was carrying a bag with him.
"What's in the bag?" Charlie asked while trying to peek inside it.
"Oh nothing much... just some movies, a bottle of champagne I liberated from my father, and candy.
"What?" Charlie didn't think he heard right. "We can't drink alcohol!" he hissed in a whisper. He didn't want to say it too loudly in case someone overheard and reported Adam.
"Oh calm down, no one will know. You don't have to drink it if you don't want to but I really want to spend the night with my boyfriend cuddling on his bed while corny sports movies play in the background."
Charlie melted. Adam Banks was a closet romantic, and he really loved that about him. "Fine...Lets cuddle." Contrary to his reluctant tone, Charlie dived onto his bed and sat up impatiently for Adam to join him. The other boy took his time to put a movie into Guy's VCR, and then take the bottle out and open the candy. Charlie started bouncing in impatience waiting for the boy, but Adam dropped a light kiss on his lips and he calmed down.
When the boy finally joined him, Charlie stared at his handsome face and sighed in contentment. "I love you." He whispered.
Adam smiled that beautiful smile at him and repeated the words. "I love you too." After that both boys turned to the TV and watched as the movie started. It was a perfect date to Charlie, and he couldn't wait for many more to come.