Louis and I had been reading the paper all morning and drinking coffee, I had pretended to be disinterested so well that I almost forgot about Alexis and about all of the pain I had caused for my best friend. Reading the paper turned into staring at the paper and thinking about how awful I had been to David.
For the past few months I had been so selfish. First I was just angry about not getting the captain position on the team, but David had been nothing but gracious about it and had let both the alternate captains, Charlie and me, take just as much responsibility for success of the team. He didn't even take the captain role when the team got together; it was always Charlie commenting on the success or failure of the team. Being bitter was useless, and that had plagued me for nearly a year and a half.
On top of that I had just slept with his fiancée twice. That was inexcusable in every respect. I had legitimized it to myself by thinking I was in love with her, but I should have backed off.
Coming to these realizations all at once was jarring; I had been living in such denial and screwed up the most important relationship in my life. I had met David in the junior leagues and we ended up playing for the same team through some miraculous act of serendipity. He had checked a guy in our first game because he had hooked my skate with the blade of his stick. It was probably an accident, but David was more than happy to sit in the penalty box to make a statement that no one was going to fuck with his teammate.
After that incident, David had gotten a reputation for being one of the cleanest players in the league by avoiding all penalties. He stopped fights instead of starting them and didn't resort to fighting until this past season when someone body checked me again. That was right after I punched him out of jealousy for his relationship, and he still had my back.
All of these realizations were interrupted by a heavy-handed knock at the front door.
"Is she here?" David asked before I could greet him properly, and tell him I had just re-thought everything about our now broken relationship.
"What?" I was completely taken aback, and David was pissed. He got a look where his eyes went dark and he seemed bulker, more muscular just from the anger.
"Is she fucking here?" He demanded again.
"Who?" I reached out to hold onto his shoulder but he brushed me off.
"Alexis," He pushed passed me and brushed off Louis' greeting, but then his momentum wore off, as if a realization had finally hit him. He looked around my stainless steel kitchen, long couch, down my unadorned hallway and then back at me.
"She's not here." I said lamely.
"She's gone. She left." He opened his fist to show me a note, written on the back of a receipt.
I nodded my head and walked over to the bar in the kitchen, pouring a scotch. "Sit down." I said. I wasn't sure if he had listened until I walked back into the living room and saw him petting Louis' head. Louis was on the couch, even though he knew he shouldn't be, but I decided to let it slide. I put a glass at David's side and sat in my arm chair.
This had been the set up for some of my most important and horrible discussions. Madeline had discussed the end of our relationship in this position and had confessed to me that she had been sleeping with a different man for the entirety of our relationship. She even admitted that most of her weekend trips were not trips to see her mother, but were trips back up to Montreal to see him. I confessed my attraction to Alexis in this chair, and had finally realized that Madeline was not the only one to cheat in our relationship. I had been emotionally cheating on her for months before she broke up with me. Now I was about to have another horrible conversation with someone I had called my best friend for years, but now I hadn't really talked to him in months.
David picked up his glass, held it up in a silent "cheers" and downed the glass. I put mine drink next to his empty glass and he downed that one too. "Is that how Madeline did it?"
"I don't think Madeline's touched a receipt since she was in her teens." I said, trying to crack a joke. David shot me a look and I tried to retract my statement. "But yeah, basically. She packed up her things and said goodbye on her way out the door. I had just come home from a game. When did you find the note?"
"This morning." David said, crumpling up the receipt again and dropping it in one of the empty glasses. "I went to practice this morning and came home to the ring the jersey and the note." He wasn't looking at me, and Louis was very happy to have his undivided attention. "She called her brother a couple of nights ago, and a guy named Ryan." He told Louis. "Talked about how she cheated on me." I could feel my stomach bottom out, could feel my throat close and waited for him to continue. "Well it was you, wasn't it?" His voice had gotten too calm.
I took a deep breath in as I decided what I should say. I couldn't lie again, but somehow it seemed cruel to tell the truth. Then he looked up at me. His eyes looked heavy, his whole body looked like it was weighed down with grief. "Yeah." The word slipped out and David closed his eyes. "David-" I started, but he held up his hand, his eyes flashing back open.
"How could you even do that?" I couldn't place the tone in his voice, as if he didn't even know how he felt at this point. "How could you even bring yourself to do that? How long did Madeleine cheat on you?"
"Our whole relationship." I said, wishing he would look away for just a second.
"The whole fucking relationship and you made me that guy. You put me in the exact same situation."
"I know, but David," I started again and he didn't cut me off and I realized I wasn't actually sure what I was going to say. "I thought I loved her." This was probably the dumbest thing I could have said in that moment.
David bristled immediately and I thought he was going to throw something. "You thought you loved her? I loved her. I was ready to give her everything. I did give her everything. And you thought you loved her. This is too fucked. What the hell did I do wrong?"
"Nothing." I said emphatically. The memory of how much I blamed myself when I first found out Madeline had cheated on me even before I started to drift away from her. "This doesn't have anything to do with you. As a person or as a man."
"Why did you let it happen?"
"I don't know. I fucked up."
David nodded, but stayed quiet. "You going to offer me another drink or not?" He finally said. It was two o'clock in the afternoon, but I decided not to question him. I had become somewhat of a scotch connoisseur right after I realized I would probably be alone for the rest of my life. I stood up and took the glasses with me, reading the now soaked receipt before I threw it out: Sorry. Goodbye.
I wondered where she had gone and then realized it didn't matter. She had chosen to leave completely and maybe that was the healthiest decision.
"You know," David said when I walked back into the living room. He was lounged deeper into the couch and Louis was loving sitting at his side. "I don't remember the last time I was here."
"It's been a while." I said, handing him the glass. This time he took a smaller sip and put it down at his side. "Probably almost a year."
David nodded, thinking as he looked around the room. "You fucked my fiancée, I'm not about to get over that quickly." He clarified.
"I know." I said, waiting to see if he had something else to add.
"You've also been my best friend for five years." He didn't look at me, instead looking at the framed vintage capitals jersey I displayed on my wall out of direct sunlight.
"I did the math on the way over." He said, finally looking over at me and taking another sip of his drink. I left my drink on the table in case he felt the need to help himself again. "Five years." He put his drink back down on the table. "And you still felt the need to fuck my girlfriend." He added.
"Just keep the jabs coming, I'm not going anywhere." I said, secretly wondering how much of this I would actually be able to handle.
"You know what makes having David Werner's sloppy seconds worth it?" Ryan was sprawled out on the bed in his boxers and didn't actually care what my response would be. "The fact that he actually got my sloppy seconds."
"You're disgusting." I said, scrunching my nose at him and feeling dirty. This was a horrible decision, but I didn't know what else to do after messing up the most stable and perfect relationship of my life. Anderson was right; I am hopeless when it comes to relationships and I can never just be happy with what I have.
"Lex." Ryan held out his cereal bowl. "Could you please?"
"Refill my bowl." He said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Yeah." I said, climbing out of bed and taking the bowl.
The reporters were ruthless for the first couple of days they saw David alone at practices. "David, can we get a comment on your playing style in the past few days. You seem off your game." "Do you think your slump in play is jitters for the playoffs or the fact that we haven't seen your fiancée in a while?" "Where did Alexis go? You guys were inseparable."
Usually, David could brush them off pretty well, or at least re-direct the questions to the game rather than his personal life. Today seemed a little different though.
"Hey guys," I stepped into the spotlight, putting a hand on David's shoulder, "Do your worst."
"Okay," JP said with a microphone toward us. "Are you guys nervous coming up to the draw for the first round of playoffs? Especially now that the style of play has gotten sloppy." He added the dig at the end of his question while looking directly at David.
"I'm not too worried. I've heard the Sharks are favored to win the western conference and the Bruins are favored for the eastern conference, but you know what? Everyone loves an underdog. We plan to be that underdog; no matter what team we draw for the first round. The team's excited and we can't wait to start in on playoff hockey, that kind of excitement is hard to contain, so our practices haven't been as tight. That's okay, I'm sure Chuck here will have something for you." I pulled Charlie in before he could escape into the locker room.
"Hey guys," Charlie said, fixing his hair in front of the lights of the cameras.
"How do you feel about the playoffs, Charlie?" I asked so the reporters couldn't get another dig.
"Oh, I'm pumped. Can't you see my beard coming in?" He scratched his chin covered in stubble.
"Can't you see mine?" I said showing off my perfectly shaven face.
"That's bad luck and you know it." David chimed in, rubbing the stubble on his own face. Charlie reached over to clap him on the shoulder, happily.
"I'll work on it." I said, smiling at him and loving the fact he had finally cracked a little.
Charlie and I stood with the press for a couple more questions after giving David a way out of the spotlight.
"But seriously, what's wrong with Davie?" Charlie asked once we were out of ear and camera shot of the camera.
"He'll be fine." I said, patting him heartily on the back. "We're going to make it to round two, I promise."
"Round two? How about to the playoffs, Sir." Charlie looked severely hurt at my comment and I couldn't help but laugh. "I mean, no matter what we're going to go into round one of the playoffs as a fresh team since we're all going to get a couple days of easy drills beforehand. And we have to have a viewing party with all the suits for the draw. More importantly we need to pick a place to go with the cup."
"Don't jinx it, Chuck." I said, pulling off my jersey and checking a bruise across my ribs I had just gotten at practice. It was already looking nasty and swelling up.
"Yeah, whatever. Grow a playoff beard." Charlie pulled on a t-shirt before sitting down to take off his skates.
"Thanks for that." David said to me, quietly so everyone else kept to them selves.
I nodded to him and smiled. "Anytime. Those ass holes can't help themselves."
"Your boy's on tv." Ryan turned up the volume so I would have to hear.
One of the reporters stuck a microphone in his face harshly, "Do you think your slump in play is jitters for the playoffs or the fact that we haven't seen your fiancée in a while?"
David looked at the reporter, but didn't respond. He looked a little broken and I silently urged him to speak. He leaned on his stick and then slowly started to open his mouth but another reporter interjected. "Where did Alexis go? You guys were inseparable." David snapped his mouth shut, I knew he wouldn't answer such a direct personal question, but more importantly the reporters should know he is never one to divulge that kind of information on the spot.
Suddenly someone else came into the frame. I was standing in the kitchen, trying not to pay attention to the television, but now I had to turn properly to look at who had just joined in. It was Christophe, his hair looking as perfect as ever and he smiled widely, putting and encouraging hand on David's shoulder before turning to the press. In comparison to David, Christophe looked over the moon and I wondered if they were on their way to being friends again.
"Okay," Christophe said, turning to face the reporters head on, "Do your worst."
One of the regular reporters stepped forward with a microphone closer to Christophe's face, "Okay. Are you guys nervous coming up to the draw for the first round of playoffs? Especially now that the style of play has gotten sloppy." That last line was clearly meant for David, and David looked down at the ground, but I could see Christophe subtly pat him on the shoulder, reminding him not to give them any emotion as he gave his answer. There was a sadness about him too, but I assumed it had always been there. There were small wrinkles around his eyes and I couldn't see them through the television, but I knew they would be there, especially since he was talking to the press.
Christophe finished his statement and then pulled Charlie into the shot, having him speak to the camera. I turned away, seeing all three of them together was too much and now David had interjected and the press had given a soft laugh.
I went back to standing in Ryan's dingy kitchen, waiting for water to boil and realized I had just become exactly like one of the heroes in my French books. I had looked out for myself above all else and I had ended up alone and without love.
A/N: Sorry if this is choppy to read, I wanted to get as many perspectives as possible.