anyway, the usual:
Title: You Can Play
Rating: PG-13, for some language
Pairings: Cherimon, one-sided!Hexacoollike, side!Phan, and eventual Tomdell Swilsom.
Summary: Alex, Charlie, and co. play for the Missoula Mountain Lions, a minor league hockey team in Montana. Alex and Charlie are in a committed and happy relationship, except that being gay and in love with your teammate isn't exactly smiled upon in the world of professional sports. Add in Tom, who's in love with Charlie but won't do anything about it except moan to his best friend Vondell, coach John Green and general manager Hank Green, and a series showdown with the cutthroat Slash Girls for the Calder Cup, and you've got enough drama to go to the big leagues.
Author's Notes: okay firstly if you enjoy this story even in the slightest, you should go thank Perri (medusacascade) because she came up with the idea, and did a lot of hand-holding and editing and yeah she's seriously the best go thank her <3 secondly, if you're not a hockey expert but you'd still like to read this, I'd advise you to check out the Wikipedia page for ice hockey, specifically the game and playoffs parts to get a general overview of what's going on here. I tried to keep from going too technical to avoid confusion, but those might help. a lot of this story was also inspired by the youcanplay project, which is fabulous and you should check it out. also, the jgreen speech at the end is an abridged actual quote from this swoodilypoopers video about homosexuality in sports, which is also fabulous.
“Hey everyone! It’s Michael Buckley for the Daily Buck on Channel Five, Missoula’s top news station! Holla!”
“He certainly does talk fast, doesn’t he?” Charlie said, handing Alex his cup of tea and sliding down next to him on the couch.
Alex smiled back and took a sip from the mug. “It’s a good thing you’ll already know this, then, isn’t it?”
“So!” The newscaster’s peppy voice brought Alex and Charlie’s attention back to the screen. “Today on the Daily Buck, we’re celebrating hometown hero Charlie McDonnell with the top five moments in his hockey career, handpicked by our sportscasters here at Channel Five. Hi Charlie, if you’re watching!” Buck added, waving. “You probably aren’t, because you’re probably at the rink, practicing, because you are such a dedicated and wonderful hard worker! We love you, Charlie!” Again, Buck waved. Charlie blushed a little and sunk lower into the couch. Alex laughed.
“Number five on our countdown—Charlie is drafted by our junior league team the Missoula Maulers in 2007 at the young age of just seventeen!” If Charlie’s cheeks were rosy beforehand, the only way to describe them after Buck began to sing would be fire engine red.
“Well he was just seventeen, if you know what I mean, and the way he played was way beyond compaaaaaaaare…”
Alex slipped his arm around Charlie’s shoulders as the former covered his face with his hands. “Oh, come on—if Buck is your craziest fangirl, then that’s probably a good thing. Now stop blushing and watch your TV special.” Reluctantly, Charlie removed his hands.
“After his first season with the Maulers, Charlie’s save percentage earns the fourth spot on our countdown, an incredible 0.877!” Buck continued. “But even that pales in comparison to the December 7th game the following season, third on our countdown. In the shootout after a 2-2 tie with the Houston Aeros, Charlie, the Boy with the Golden Glove, blocked all three shots from the opposing team! All three! I haven’t seen anyone with game like that at eighteen since Justin Bieber, and with the next two picks, Charlie could certainly give the Biebs a run for his money, all one hundred and eight million dollars’ worth!” Again, Buck began to sing, this time making up an impromptu dance to go with his (quite off-key) falsetto. “I got money in my hands that I’d really like to blow. Swag, swag, swag, on you. Chillin’ by the fire while we eatin’ fondue. If you’re ever up for some fondue, Justin, just give me a call! You too, Charlie! It’ll be a great time!”
Charlie choked on his tea. “Cheer up,” Alex supplied as he whacked his back. “You can always use that the next time he interviews you.”
“Yeah, I doubt I’ll be forgetting that mental image any time soon,” Charlie said sarcastically once he had his breath back.
“Back to business, sorry. Number two on our countdown here on the Daily Buck happened back in 2009, when he was drafted by the Missoula Mountain Lions! General manager Hank Green said at the time that he, quote, ‘Couldn’t wait until Charlie’s deal with the Maulers expired and he was of age to play in the AHL.’ His brother John Green, head coach, was just as excited, stating that, ‘Missoula’s a great city, I believe we’re going to win a Cup here, and guys like Charlie McDonnell only increase my confidence in that.’
“Well, sadly, it’s been three years, and still no Calder Cup for the Mountain Lions, sadface.” The newscaster gave a mock pout. “But all hope is not lost; we’re halfway into this season, and signs are promising! The boys have been working hard down at Target Center, and that’s most evident in our number one most important moment in Charlie McDonnell’s career. Are you ready for this one? Oh, I’m even getting nervous and I already know what it is!” Buck wiped fake sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.
“Our number one moment is Charlie’s record-tying four shutouts this season! Four for you, Charlie, you go Charlie! And the season’s only halfway over! Who knows what else could happen, especially if the Mountain Lions make it to the playoffs this year! Hoo, wouldn’t that be something? Well, that’s all the time we have for today’s sportscast! Thank you very much for watching, and tune in tomorrow for our special on the Montana Grizzlies and their progress in the March Madness bracket so far! It’s gonna be grrrrrrreat!” The announcer feigned a clawing motion, then giggled. “Okay, that was bad. Hope you liked it, Charlie! Bye bye!” Buck waved, and then the station cut to a commercial.
Alex stood up and shut the television off. “You know, I think they forgot one thing in that list,” he said, striding back towards the couch.
“What’s that?” Charlie said, the corner of his mouth hitching up in a smile.
“Oh, just the fact you’re dating your team captain,” Alex smirked, leaning over Charlie with one arm placed on either side of his head.
“Well, I don’t know how professional that—“ Charlie was cut off by Alex’s lips against his own. It was long, and slow, and warm. It vaguely reminded Charlie of the tea he held in his hands.
Gently, Alex pulled away after a minute. Charlie’s eyelids fluttered open, Charlie barely recalling he’d even closed them in the first place. Alex had that effect on him a lot of the time, making Charlie forget what he was doing or what was going on around him. While it wasn’t something he could exactly control, Charlie at least tried, because temporary short-term memory loss wasn’t exactly something you wanted to happen to you in the middle of an ice hockey game, especially if you’re the goaltender. Prolonged stares at teammates were also the sort of thing that aroused suspicion at your sexuality, which was again not something you really wanted if you were trying to make a name for yourself in the world of semi-professional sports (a name that wasn’t a homophobic slur, that is.)
So no one knew, except for their families, about Alex and Charlie. They did it for their careers, mostly, and even though Missoula was more liberal than the rest of the state, it certainly wasn’t a bad idea to take the precaution.
Charlie stared into his boyfriend’s eyes for a moment before pushing him back with one finger on his chest. “Let’s get to practice.”
“So does anybody here watch Degrassi? Ow!”
“Phil, I told you! They don’t have Degrassi here in America! They have, like… Dawson’s Creek or something.”
“Michael, have you heard Muse’s new single yet? I heard it on the radio yesterday, and I thought it was fantastic!”
“Yeah, I have, actually; I thought the chorus was pretty strong, but the violins didn’t seem totally necessary…”
“Enjoying other people’s conversations, Tom?”
A blue-haired head swiveled around to glare briefly into the eyes of Vondell Swain before dipping down to strap on its shin guards. He supposed his best friend had a point. Tom always had his ear to the ground--whether intentionally or not—and stayed on top of team gossip.
“Why do you even bother listening, anyway?” Vondell continued as he secured his shoulder pads. “It’s not like they ever talk about anything interesting.”
“Well, you never know when an obscure Canadian pop culture reference will come in handy,” Tom replied, grinning, as he nodded in the direction of Phil and Dan, two defensemen from Montreal acquired at the beginning of the season. Tom and Vondell were almost certain they were dating—although not openly, for obvious reasons—mostly because of how unbearably domestic they were.
“Or—“ Tom shook his head in the opposite direction at Ed and Michael, Missoula’s seasoned offensive partners, “if I ever need to pretend I care about mainstream alternative rock music.”
“Uh huh,” said Vondell, clearly not convinced. “You wanna know why I think you’re such a nosy prick?”
“Actually, I believe the term you’re looking for is ‘observant.’”
“You’re a nosy prick—“ Vondell continued, ignoring Tom, “because you think—no, you hope—that someone on this team pays more attention to him than you do. You hope that someone knows something, or heard something you didn’t that will make everything okay—that it was never true and everyone was wrong—they really were just good friends. You hope someday he’s gonna walk in all by himself, and that’ll give you the green light to run up to him and say—“ Vondell paused and swept the room over to make sure no one was paying attention. Even after determining no one was, he lowered his voice. “’—I love you, and I’ve been in love with you ever since they drafted you here three years ago, during which time I whined to my far-too-nice-for-his-own-good best friend Vondell, so will you please, if only for his sake, go out with me—‘”
“CHARLIE!” Tom squeaked as the locker room doors swung open and the goalie and Alex Day, their center, entered. Tom ducked his head down and began anxiously fumbling through his duffel bag. Vondell just sighed and continued to strap on his equipment.
For no less than the millionth time in the past three years, Tom’s internal monologue wailed why me please just let me die as Charlie set his gear on the bench and opened his locker—the one right next to Tom’s. As he frantically tried to remember what exactly his hands were supposed to be doing, his situation grew exponentially worse.
“Oh no…” Charlie muttered. “Hey, Tom?”
From an outside perspective, Tom supposed his reaction looked something like a raccoon caught digging through a trash can in a suburban neighborhood in the middle of the night. He tried to answer “Yes?” but his voice cracked and he ended up making a sort of vaguely affirmative noise. Vondell snorted.
“Do you have any tape I could borrow for my stick?” Charlie asked, giving no sign of having noticed Tom’s nervousness.
“Tape? Oh, uh, sure.” Again, Tom resembled a borderline-rabid raccoon in a garbage can as he plowed through his gym bag. Honestly, he didn’t know why people didn’t use that comparison more often when describing how they looked in front of the guy they liked. It—wait, what was he searching for again? Raccoons? Garbage? Small shiny objects?
“Here,” came a voice from the other side of Charlie’s locker. Alex pressed his own roll of tape into the goalie’s hand. “I told you that you forgot something when we left the apartment this morning.” Alex and Charlie both smiled.
“Thanks anyway, Tom,” Charlie said, turning back to the bluenette.
“Sure!” Tom said a little louder than necessary. Feeling the stares of others from around the locker room, Tom awkwardly excused himself. “Gonna go… Sharpen my… skates.” He strode briskly from the room.
“But Tom—“ Charlie started, then stopped as he was gone before he could finish. Charlie frowned and turned to the right wing who was now left next to him. “Why’s Tom going to sharpen his skates if he’s already tied them on?” Charlie asked.
“Ehh…” Vondell hesitated. “Well, you know Tom; he’s a bit… eccentric when it comes to certain things.”
“Oh,” said Charlie quietly. He weighed the roll of tape in his hand, thinking. He stared at the dressing room doors for a moment, and then slowly began wrapping his hockey stick.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Tom cursed himself as he wobbled down the hall to the skate room. Honestly, why was he so bad at this? It was never a problem on the ice, because Charlie was their goalie and he a left wing, meaning Charlie was normally behind him. The ice always had a way of going straight through his skin and shocking whatever paralysis Charlie induced out of him. It was the one place he was always able to focus and leave behind the rest of his problems.
Why was it so hard, anyway? Tom wondered as he swung open the glass door to the skate and stick sharpening room. He was relieved to find it empty, meaning he could be alone with his thoughts.
It’s not that bad, Tom thought. I mean, Charlie’s just another guy. I can talk to other people! At the end of the day, Charlie’s just another person, just like me. Well, except that he’s a lot better with people than I am. Plus, he’s a lot more genuine, and gives good constructive criticism. And even though he’s shy, he’s still nice to talk to, because everything he says he says so eloquently, and intelligently, and he’s thoughtful without making you feel like you’re conversing with a textbook, and oh God, I am so ridiculously screwed. Tom could just hear Vondell’s “I told you so;” even though his best friend was down the hall and he was having this conversation in his head, Tom heard it enough to remember what it sounded like.
Tom groaned and scrubbed his hands over his face. He needed something to do. He always thought better when he was working, or creating. He spun around, eyes hunting for (and subsequently finding) his preferred brand of hockey stick. He grabbed one off of the rack on the wall and turned it over in his hands.
As he plugged in the hand-held sander and passed it a few times over the blade of the stick, Tom found his mind drifting back to The Charlie Problem again. What was he going to do about The Charlie Problem, anyway? It certainly wasn’t getting any better, and after three years, it wouldn’t exactly just go away if he wished hard enough. The only other alternative to dealing with it or getting over it would be to talk to Charlie about it, but if Tom’s track record was indication, that certainly wouldn’t be happening any time soon.
Tom supposed that if circumstances were different, maybe he wouldn’t be agonizing over this so much, but the fact of the matter was that they lived in Montana. Not New York, or California, or one of those states where people were okay with you being yourself, but freaking Montana, where all you needed to do to get your teeth knocked in by a gang of cowboys was hold hands with the person you loved, who just happened to be the same gender as you. Tom had heard the horror stories. Missoula was probably one of the best cities in the state to live in if you were gay, but it was still awfully conservative if you went too close to the city limits.
Not to mention the minor detail that he and Charlie were both hockey players (see: public figures) and he knew Charlie was already uncomfortable with the amount of press he got. If anyone in the media found out he’d been harboring a crush on Charlie, there was also a risk they’d find out about Alex and Charlie’s relationship, which would be a nightmare for both of them.
Which brought Tom to the final and—in his mind at least—most impairing Reason He Cannot Date Charlie McDonnell: Alex Day. Although they had never actually come out or directly implied they were in a relationship, Alex and Charlie were about as coupley as could be. They lived together, went everywhere together, and were easily the best players on the Mountain Lions. They were the Dream Team—nickname courtesy of Ed and used by, literally, everyone. Even their coach, John, and general manager, his brother Hank, had used it no less than three times between them to refer to the two of them collectively, although they may not have understood the moniker’s full implication.
The team knew about Alex and Charlie, and no one was really bothered by it, mostly because A. one of the first things you learned playing on a team was not to meddle in other people’s shit if you actually wanted everyone to work with each other, and B. John and Hank wouldn’t hire bigots. This may be one reason why the Mountain Lions hadn’t won a Calder since they’d taken over, but Tom saw not having to work with hateful assholes as more of a perk.
Tom switched off the sander and wiped off the blade to examine his work. He just needed to wrap some tape around the shaft and he’d be finished.
A soft tapping noise made Tom look up from his work table. “Uh, Tom?”
It was Phil, fully equipped and standing in the doorway of the skate and stick room. “Vondell sent me here to get you. We’re about to head down to the ice.”
“Oh. Uh, sure, okay, be there in a minute,” Tom said in a dismissal tone. “Just gotta get my helmet and stuff.”
“Okay. See you down there.” Phil walked out and met up with a similarly tall, similarly dark-haired teammate waiting for him in the hall. Dan. Through the glass windows of the skate room, Tom watched as they wobbled down the passageway to the ice side by side. They paused at the double doors that lead onto the rink. Gently—as gently as two men could in full hockey uniform—Phil and Dan knocked their shoulders together and then their helmets. And then they smiled.
It was at that moment that Tom felt very small; small, and alone, and completely insignificant.
It was at that moment Tom decided he was going to get over Charlie McDonnell.
part two here!
- Current Location:bed.
- Current Mood:accomplished
- Current Music:Let It Be- The Beatles