Happy Sunday, Nats fans! We're here at Nationals field on a beautiful sunny day. The Nats are up by one run over the Pirates. We also have some special Washington visitors today: The Washington Capitals. The whole team has come out and it has been wonderful having them here.
"It looks like Screech and Slapshot are getting along nicely." I said, pointing at the two eagles dancing through the crowd of Caps and Nats fans. I was sitting in a row with Christophe, Charlie and Nicky. Cheryl and Jamie were both walking around, trying to avoid the cameras and the press.
"Yeah, I just hope we get the right eagle back at the end of the game." Charlie said, looking around for his wife. He had started to get a little jumpy about letting her out of his sight, especially when she was with Jamie. He was chronically afraid she would make new friends and he would be required to talk to strangers for prolonged periods of time.
We had gotten to the second round of playoffs, but not much farther and the team had been disappointed about it, but I felt we had played six clean games and could walk away with our heads held high. Now when we got together for practice it was more of a lazy skate around the ice and all of us shooting the shit with each other. Christophe and I had respected each others space at practice, but I could tell he was trying to make amends.
I hadn't heard from Alexis since I walked into my house to find the folded jersey and ring. It was an odd kind of heartbreak because I had known she had cheated on me and I knew she wouldn't have stopped. I also realized it wasn't my fault if she wasn't happy in the relationship, because I really did feel like I had done everything in my power to make our relationship happy. Now I was single and pretty happy being by myself, except I had to go buy new bed sheets because it felt wrong to sleep in the same "bed" I had slept in with her for so long.
Cheryl and Jamie came back and shook me out of my stream of consciousness as they scooted past Christophe and me to get to their seats.
"What did you bring me?" Nicky asked, looking at the tray of food Jamie had accumulated.
Jamie scoffed, "You didn't go out and get it, you don't get to eat it." She took a bite of soft pretzel and scrunched her nose at him.
Charlie turned to Cheryl, "I guess that goes for me too?" Cheryl nodded and took a sip of her soda.
"David," Christophe pointed at the huge television screen and I watched as a group of school kids came running down the aisle behind Slapshot and Screech. "You ready for this?"
Cameramen followed the group so they could catch every moment of this on camera. I wasn't sure if this was going to be actual footage, but either way it was going to be ridiculous and embarrassing to see posted on the internet in a couple of hours.
"Always." I turned to greet the kids and Slapshot gave me a high five. "Hi guys!"
An excited chorus of "hi" came back.
"Are you ready to cheer?" I had to kneel down to get anywhere close to their eye level. The first line of heads bobbed excitedly. "Alright, here's an easy one: C-A-P-S! Caps, Caps, Caps!" I clapped my hands and they joined in with me.
"No, that's not right." Christophe came up behind me and I stood back up to talk to him.
I was vaguely aware that our faces were still securely planted on the big screen and tried to ignore that fact as quickly as possible, "And what do you suggest?"
Christophe smiled, loving that we were doing this little skit for a group of children who would never remember it. "How about N-A-T-S! Nats, Nats, Nats!"
All of the kids laughed and joined in. We stood, jumping around with Slapshot and the kids, cheering "N-A-T-S!" over and over. Afterward, I signed what felt like a million youth shirts and baseball caps. Finally, the reporters showed up.
"So, David, how are you feeling after the playoffs are over for you guys." This was a nice opening question, but they insisted on shoving the microphone right up to my face.
"Pretty good." I said, honestly, "I think we played good games, and we got in good shots. It just wasn't our season, this year."
The reporter nodded, not amused. I didn't recognize him; he must be the new sports person at the Washington Post, or JP was just already trashed. "What are you hoping to get out of next season?"
"A couple more wins, a stronger team dynamic. I don't know, Christophe, what do you think?" I turned to him.
He looked surprised to be included in this. He finished signing the last of the children's mementos before standing and looking at me and then at the camera. "I think I'm gunning for a Stanley Cup."
"Amen to that," Charlie said, he and Christophe shared a high five behind my back, hopefully out of the camera's shot.
"Well, there you go." I said, "We're obviously already excited for next season and I can't wait to see the potential this team has."
"Do you think you'll have what it takes to get farther into the playoffs and potentially win the cup?" JP would have never asked that question. He was kind of a jerk, but a true DC sportsman, never questioning how much potential the teams had. He was an old-fashioned sports reporter who believed in the spirit of the team, rather than just looking at stats and crunching numbers. This new guy was definitely from out of town.
Christophe smiled, "I think this could really be our moment."
"And how do you guys plan to spend the summer?"
I gestured toward Christophe, "We'll probably take a couple weeks off, go to the beach, but I'll be spending most of my time in Washington, close to the ice."
The reporter looked at Christophe, "Same." He shrugged.
It kind of felt like old times. Just a little.
A/N: Y'all, wrapping up this story is so sad. I was debating on more chapters, but I didn't want it to drag. Thank you everyone who read this story and a special thank you to everyone who sent in reviews because it's always great to hear feedback. Speaking of which, it would be awesome if you guys could keep in touch and tell me what you'd like to read next.