Okay, yeah, I should be updating Good People. And Revenge of Atticus Moon. I APOLOGIZE, OKAY, THIS JUST POPPED INTO MY HEAD. And I figure, since it's one of those "I'll update when an idea hits me" fics, it's okay to start.
My ever amazing Psychic Sister Halo (SisAngel) made me an amazing video for my birthday using the song Long Live by Taylor Swift. And since then I've been sort of obsessed with the song, 'cause it's gorgeous and is just begging for someone to put it to BTR vids. So here I am, writing it.
Disclaimer: Ugh. Own it, I do not. Sad, I am.
Also, note: I know nothing of hocky. I tried very hard to research everything I wrote, but if there is anything incorrect feel free to tell me and I will try to fix them. xD
Not beta'd, so any mistakes you see are my own.
I take requests, so anything you want to see, feel free to tell me. :)
Summary: James went in hating hockey, and came out with three new best friends.
We will be remembered"
Long Live – Taylor Swift
"This is embarrassing," eleven-year-old James Diamond huffed underneath his breath, trying to grip the hockey stick between his ridiculously thick gloves. His skates skidded across the ice and he wobbled for a moment, terrified of falling on his face. Again.
Why oh why was he being forced to play a sport? He had just entered the sixth grade but his father seemed set on him being the "athletic" one in the family, since his sisters were both following in his mother's cosmetics career and he was the only male in his family.
He was also the youngest. Shouldn't that mean he should get out of these things? And here James thought he was the baby of the family.
"You're doing it wrong."
James looked up and scowled at God's gift to hockey Kendall Knight, the twelve year old pride and joy of Crystal Peak Middle School. He was leaning on his hockey stick staring at James with furrowed, expressive eyebrows. James straightened up immediately—a little too fast. His skate slipped and he was falling backwards before he could even gasp out a scream.
Faster than James could comprehend, Kendall grabbed his shoulder and hoisted him upright, not letting go until James had steadied on his skates and wasn't in any immediate danger of smashing face first into the ice again.
"You okay?" the blonde asked.
James glowered at his amused expression. "Fine," he muttered. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Kendall said cheerfully. "Anyways, I told you, you're doing it wrong."
"Doing what wrong?"
"Holding the stick." Kendall reached over. "Here, you need to hold it like this."
He righted the stick in James' grip and suddenly James felt a lot better about holding it. He tapped the end against the ice, relieved that it no longer seemed to be tugging him down with all its weight. He eyed Kendall suspiciously, trying to tell if he was making fun of him. "Uh, thanks."
"You're welcome," Kendall said again with that obnoxiously bright smile.
James waited for him to say something else, but the blonde simply skated away and left James balancing precariously on the ice.
Within the blink of an eye James was flat on his back, groaning as he tried to shove off the heavy weight of Carlos Garcia—also known as The Crazy One. This kid had launched himself off the school roof and into the dumpster just because it looked like fun. James was unaware he played hockey. Then again, this was probably one more legal excuse to attempt to kill himself.
The tiny Latino boy scrambled to his feet with ease, skates and all. He grinned toothily at James and gave him a hand up.
"Sorry!" he said in a loud voice that made James wince. "I was going too fast."
"It's okay," James muttered, fixing the grip on his stick so he had it like Kendall had shown him. He began hitting the pucks against the walls like the coach had instructed him.
Carlos didn't leave immediately. He dug the point of his blade into the ice almost shyly, still grinning like an idiot. "My name's Carlos," he finally blurted.
"I know who you are," James grumbled, ignoring him.
"And you're James Diamond," Carlos said happily. "I didn't know you liked hockey!"
The Latino skated in front of him with ease, blocking James' next shot. James glared at him as the boy leaned forward curiously.
"Then why are you here?" he asked, a little too innocently for James' taste.
"Because." James grunted as he slammed the stick against the puck. Carlos danced out of the way and the puck hit the wall, bouncing back almost hard enough to hit James in the skates. He sighed. "My dad's making me."
"Oh." Carlos' eyebrows furrowed as he studied him before he brightened considerably. "It's okay! I can help you!"
James scowled. "How?"
"I can teach you stuff!"
The boy's announcement only made James want to bang his head against a wall. "I said I don't like hockey, Carlos."
"Well yeah." Carlos skated around to face him again. "But hockey's fun. I think you just don't like it 'cause you're really bad at it."
Scratch that. James was just going to strangle this kid now and be done with it.
"But once you play it for real, you'll like it," Carlos said, beaming. "You'll see!"
James didn't think so. But, as he found out, once the tiny Latino boy had something set in his mind nothing could change it. He dragged James around the rink, showing him skating techniques (during which James has fallen down three times), how to backcheck when the other team had the puck (four times), how to body check (too many to count), and how to play the many different positions (only twice this time). By the end of practice James had never been so sore.
Carlos skated up to him as he tried to climb off of the rink. "So!" he said brightly, not even out of breath. "Looks like you're a good Left Winger."
James blinked, trying to remember what that was. "The guy on the left side."
"Yep. Don't worry if you get a little lost. I'm Right Wing, so I'll be right with you. Just, you know, on the other side." Carlos took off his gloves and jerked his chin at Kendall. "Kendall's Two-Way Forward. He's been playing hockey as long as I have, but he's crazy good."
"I'm sure he is," James sighed, a little too exhausted to be thinking about the team's Number One. He followed Carlos to the locker room, pulling off his gloves with his teeth and placing them in his duffel bag.
"So?" Carlos sat next to James and grinned. He nudged him with his elbow. "How was it?"
James groaned, not wanting to admit it. "Okay, Carlos, you got me. Hockey's okay."
Carlos, much to his surprise, let out an excited whoop. Almost every head turned as the small boy leapt up onto the bench and danced a little jig, skates and all. Then every head turned again. Apparently, Carlos did things like this a lot.
The younger boy didn't seem to care. He finished his dance and plopped back down next to James. James had to crack a smile.
"You really are crazy, aren't you?"
"Absolutely." Carlos beamed at him. "Life would be boring without a little crazy." He pulled off his skates and undressed in record time.
James, on the other hand, was having a difficult time taking off his pads. They kept getting stuck when he went to pull them over his head. "God," he grunted, tugging at them. "How do you guys do this?"
"You're supposed to unstrap it first," Carlos said with a laugh, leaning over and undoing the straps. Immediately they loosened enough for James to take them off.
James sighed. "I don't know how you do this every day." He studied his fingernails. "I think my cuticles are bleeding."
Carlos shrugged. "You get used to it." He suddenly looked worried. "You… are going to get used to it, right James?"
"Yeah." James gave him a weird look. "It can't be that hard."
"Oh." Carlos let out a breath. "It's just… you're kind of the first friend I've ever had, and—"
"Wait, what?" James held up a hand to interrupt. "What do you mean, friend?"
The look on Carlos' face could only be described as crushed. His face fell and his eyes dropped to the floor, and he shifted from foot to foot. James realized how that had come out and cringed.
"I think my mom is looking for me," Carlos blurted. His cheeks had suddenly tinged red and he didn't look at James again as he turned and fled from the locker room.
"What did you say to him?"
James turned to see Kendall leaning against the locker, staring at him with intense green eyes. He looked like he was already on his way out, and James was dismayed to see that he was the last one still not dressed. He sighed and tugged on his T-shirt, shoving his jersey and pads into the duffel bag.
"It came out wrong," he muttered. "He just said that I was his first friend, and I was trying to ask him what he meant by that."
"Carlos greets every newbie," Kendall said, crossing over to him. "They all think he's weird, even despite how nice he is. You were the first one to humor him, and now you hurt his feelings."
James glared at him. "I didn't mean to!" He folded his arms over his chest. "And besides, I don't see you standing up for him. Didn't you see those guys tapping Carlos on the helmet with their sticks? He didn't even tell them to stop—just waved like they were saying hello. He's too stupid to even understand they're bullying him!"
As soon as the words were out of his mouth James realized what he'd done wrong. Kendall dropped his bag and stalked forward, trapping James against the lockers as he leaned in, a fierce glare set in his eyes.
"Using words like that," Kendall said quietly, "makes me think you're more of a bully than they are." He took a step back and gave James a look of disgust. "Carlos is the nicest guy on this team. I take care of my teammates, and if you want to be one of us you need to treat us like your brothers. Otherwise, you can find another sport to put on your transcript."
He left without another word, leaving James feeling like a piece of rotten fruit.
James came to practice the next day beyond determined to make it up to Carlos. He didn't see him in the locker room, but as James got dressed (seven minutes to get the pads on this time—new record) he did spot a newcomer.
It was Hortense Mitchell. He was the geekiest, nerdiest anything in the entire school. He was looking around, a trapped look on his face, as James' new teammates gave him sneers and odd looks. James had to admit, it was bizarre seeing him here. Hortense had moved to Minnesota in third grade, but already he was the teacher's pet at both the elementary school and the middle school. He didn't talk to people much—they usually didn't answer well—but he was scary smart.
Hortense made a beeline for Coach Anderson's office, stares following him the whole way. James tried not to wear the expression he saw on everyone else's faces. He knew what they were thinking: why was a no-life like Hortense Mitchell talking to their coach? And why did it look like the coach was putting him on the team?
"Hi, James," someone said brightly. James turned around to see Carlos come in and give him a cheerful smile, as if yesterday hadn't happened at all.
"Hi, Carlos," James said warily. He was afraid of saying something mean without thinking about it, like he'd done before. To his credit, the small Latino boy looked bashful as he put his duffel bag down.
"Sorry about running out on you like that," he apologized.
James shook his head in amazement. "I can't believe—Carlos, I'm the one who should be apologizing. I didn't mean for what I said to come out that way. I was just confused, because you're just this happy person and it was so weird to hear you say that I was your first friend, 'cause, you know, I figured you would have… more." He finished the run-on sentence lamely, blushing like mad. "I'm sorry, Carlos."
"S'okay." Carlos shrugged and then pulled James into an unexpected hug.
"Um. Okay." James tried not to feel awkward. "What are you doing?"
"I'm hugging you," Carlos said in a 'duh' voice. "My mom says that every time you make up with someone, you're supposed to hug it out. So I'm hugging you."
James shook his head as Carlos released him, but he was more amused than upset. "You're a weird one, alright."
They turned to see Hortense standing there looking horribly out of place. He looked down at a piece of paper, and then at Carlos. "You're Carlos Garcia, right?"
"Yep!" Carlos said brightly, waving once. "And you're Hortense Mitchell. Are you joining our hockey team?"
The already pale boy seemed to lose all color in his cheeks. "Um, yes. I mean, kind of. I mean—" He took a deep breath to try to get his apparent panic under control. "Coach Anderson told me to find you and ask for a tutorial."
"Okay!" Carlos grabbed Hortense's arm and immedia-tely dragged him off to the other side of the locker room so he could show Hortense how to put on the pads and skates and helmet, leaving James to shake his head in wonder. He really did greet every newbie… but it was hard to imagine anyone not liking the kid.
As James turned to tie his skates he caught Kendall's eye. For a moment the two stared at each other, until Kendall nodded once and returned to what he was doing. James nodded, too, thoughtfully as he finished and grabbed his stick. Kendall, though bright when greeting him and downright terrifying when threatening him, was obviously a good guy. He looked out for his teammates. He didn't hold grudges.
Much as he hated to admit it, James was grudgingly starting to respect the blonde.
Hortense was surprisingly good at hockey. James stuck around to help Carlos, thinking the stereotypical nerd would fall on his face multiple times like he did. Unfortunately, that wasn't case. Hortense balanced perfectly on his skates, rattling off about how by countering his weight on equal sides, blah blah blah, he was able to keep from falling over. He moved with all the grace of an elephant, but when he got the hang of it he was wicked fast.
"You're good!" Carlos complimented by the end of practice, slapping Hortense on the back.
The nerd—Hortense—smiled for what seemed like the first time ever. "Thank you, Carlos."
"You've got terrible lungs though," Carlos went on. "Looks like you'll be a good Defenseman."
Hortense nodded. "I think you're right. After three years you would think I'd have acclimated to Minnesota's freezing weather conditions and elevation but my lungs don't ever seem to—"
He rattled off another list of things that could be medically wrong with his lungs but James wasn't listening. He noticed Carlos' eyes had gone blank, too, so at least he wasn't alone when he couldn't comprehend a word the smarter one was saying.
"Right," Carlos said after Logan stopped to breathe. "That is exactly what I mean."
"Carlos," James butted in, genuinely curious, "why do you assign positions to everyone on the team? Shouldn't the coach do that?"
"Oh, he does," Carlos said flippantly. "I just give him my recommendation, since I'm co-captain." He leaned forward and whispered, "Coach says it's the most important job, so I gotta know what I'm doing."
"That's cool," James said, and he meant it.
They helped Logan out of his pads when he spent two minutes straight attempting to take them off himself, and all three started to walk out to the curb where their parents would pick them up.
"You know," Carlos said as his mother pulled up, "I think this season's gonna be a good one."
Hortense sent a look in James' direction, but the taller brunette was already nodding. "I think you're right, Carlos."
"I'm in," Hortense sighed. "Just try not to hurt me too much."
"You're funny, Hortense," Carlos laughed, mock punching him in the shoulder as he got into the car. "You don't need to tell us that."
It was the first game of the season and they were losing by one point. James was sitting on the bench, having yet to get into the game, and his toes tapped impatiently as he watched. They were well into the third period, and despite his initial protests that he did not want to play this sport, James found himself itching to get on the ice.
Carlos, as it turned out, was an amazing teacher. He taught James everything he needed to know about being Left Wing. He frequently invited him (and Hortense) over to watch NHL games, both just for fun and to study. And although James and Hortense—the two newbies—seemed to be his top priority, he alternated with the rest of the team, too.
James realized that his teammates tapped Carlos on the helmet out of affection, not annoyance, their way of saying thank you. Carlos never once boasted about his role as co-captain and never asked for respect, and in doing so made James like him more.
Carlos was on the ice now, and it amazed James to see him in action. He'd always known Carlos was a good skater but when he was in his game the boy flew. For once his size didn't seem to work against him and he shot around the rink like a bullet, fast and efficient, there one moment and gone the next. He handled the puck with apparent ease, and never kept it to himself as he worked with Kendall, the Center (or Forward, as Carlos calls him), and Luouski, the current Left Winger.
Kendall was a beast. If Carlos amazed James, Kendall was eighty times better. The blonde was lanky and tall for his age, but he was fast. Wicked fast. When he handled the puck it was like he never had it at all, so he skated around Defensemen with ease and they let him past, not realizing he'd ever had the puck in the first place.
But it wasn't enough. The other team was good, too. And violent.
"Sub!" Coach Anderson hollered as Luouski was slammed into the boards. The blonde boy, whose first name James didn't know because the coach called everyone by their last names, got up groaning and skated off the ice.
James' heart pounded as Coach Anderson's eyes narrowed on him. "Diamond!" he yelled. "You're on."
He popped up immediately, nerves in a bundle. This was his chance to prove himself. The moment when either he was a hockey player, or just a pretty boy swinging a hockey stick. James glided out onto the ice, flashing a grin at Carlos as the Latino boy waved and nodded at Hortense, who returned it.
Kendall eyed him for a moment as he glided to his position on the left side, before turning forward to face off with the other team's Center.
James leaned forward, waiting for the puck to drop. He closed his eyes for the briefest second, exhaling his breath in a gray puff of moisture and knowing that today, he wasn't just someone to take a picture of. He played hockey.
The puck dropped. James' eyes opened. And as Kendall slammed the stick against the tiny black piece of plastic, James was already moving.
They moved up and down the rink, passing, stealing, backchecking when the other team had the puck, and rushing the net when they got the chance. James was breathing hard but loving the action. Scrimmage was nothing compared to this. This was faster, scarier—and it hurt more.
James winced as he barely avoided being slammed into the boards like Luouski was. He was passed the puck and was starting to skate forward when something smashed into his helmet. He was startled off balance, leaning into the boards and holding his head as light flashed in front of his eyes.
The referee's whistle blew. Carlos was by James' side in an instant, helping him up.
"You okay?" he said around his mouth guard.
"Yeah," James said, shaking his head and adjusting his helmet. "What was that?"
"Guy whacked you in the head with his stick," Carlos said, taking out his mouth guard to talk. He looked pissed. "High-sticking's a penalty. They're down a player."
"James," Kendall said, skating up to him. "Think you can play?"
James straightened up, fire in his eyes. "Bring it."
Kendall grinned at him and slapped Carlos on the shoulder. "Hortense!"
The boy looked up at him, a trapped look on his face. "Power play," Kendall said, a glint in his eye. "You're on point."
"I'm what?" Hortense squeaked, but Kendall was already skating off to the center to face off again.
James moved back into position, the pain fading as he focused. This was their chance to rush the net, to score, to tie. If they could get the puck into the net in two minutes, they had a shot at overtime, and a chance to win the game.
Hortense stuck close to James as the game started again. Power Play meant that, since they had one extra player than the other team, they had a higher chance of scoring on them. Kendall was captain and he called the shots, so when he ordered Hortense from his usual defensive position to an offensive one, Hortense had to switch. And while his lungs may have had difficulty getting used to how freezing Minnesota, his alarmingly competitive nature was a force to be reckoned with.
The puck was Carlos'. The tiny Latino swerved around the bigger players, wove between two Defensemen, and took a shot. The goalkeeper blocked it and sent the puck careening towards James, who intercepted the rebound. He skated around the net towards Carlos and came in a full circle, noticing both the opposing team's Forward and one of their Defensemen were moving to block him. Logan came to his rescue, though, sliding in front of both and cutting them off from their mark. James noticed Kendall at the left hand corner of the goal. He curled his skates in the other direction and made the best pass he'd ever attempted, right to Kendall's stick. With the flick of his wrist, the puck was sent into the goal faster than the goalkeeper could block.
The buzzer sounded, and the four boys raced back to their side of the rink, screaming in triumph.
It was then on they realized how good they were as a team.
"That was insane," James gasped, taking out his mouth guard as they finally skated off the ice after the first and only overtime game. "I can't believe we won!"
"Believe it," Carlos said, grinning, slapping his helmet twice. "I knew this was gonna be a great season!"
"That was exhilarating," Hortense said, dropping his matter-of-fact attitude and trading it for flushed cheeks and a new, excited light in his eyes. "If the season goes this well it will look amazing on my transcript."
James had to laugh. "Hortense, we're not in high school yet. You don't have a transcript."
"Ivy League schools look at every school you've been to," Hortense informed him.
"Shh!" Carlos said suddenly, hushing them with a finger to his lips. "Kendall's about to make a speech."
Kendall stood on the bench, blonde hair highlighted by the lights of the locker room. "Great game you guys!" he said. Every voice went silent, every eye glued to the captain. Kendall continued, "We played like a team out there. Those guys sent us everything they had, and then some. We showed them that when we come together we can do anything. I'm proud of you guys! We're going to have a great season!"
James arched an eyebrow as Kendall jumped down from the bench. "Does he do that a lot?"
"What, give speeches?" Carlos shrugged. "Before and after every game. And sometimes during when we're losing really bad. It's kind of his thing."
Kendall made his way to the three and grinned at them. "Hey," he said casually, messing up Carlos' hair. "You guys were great out there," he said.
"You're the one who made the goal," Hortense said modestly.
"Yeah, but I couldn't have done it without you guys." Kendall ran a hand through his hair. "Hey, look… you wanna practice sometime outside of our usual ones?"
James looked surprised at the offer. He looked at Hortense, who looked equally taken off guard. Their captain, Mr. Superstar, was asking them to practice with him?
Carlos swung an arm over James' shoulder, giving him a wink. "I think it's safe to say you're in," he advised them.
And despite each of their differences—James' reluctance to play, Hortense's nerdiness, Carlos' infectious happiness, and Kendall's speeches—the four became inseparable from that day on.