Chapter 1: Friends and Enemies

AUTHOR'S NOTES: All the names of my characters are completely random, no similarity to actual persons, living or dead, should be assumed or inferred.

Some of the characters are very loosely based on actual people (I may reveal which ones later), but the names of the schools and towns are completely fictitious. The rating is for language and developing situations that will eventually emerge.

Please review! The plot line isn't set, I need ideas!

Saturday, January 9, 1999

"Sakic passes it off to Forsberg, into the attacking zone. Forsberg shoots...he scores! Game winning goal! The Avalanche have defeated the Flyers, three to two!"

"YES!" Shawn Rogers leaped off the sofa, pumping his fist in the air. His friend, Nick Richmond, shook his head and sat disgustedly on the other side of the couch. Nick angrily tossed the Playstation controller aside and turned the TV off.

"Oh come on Nick, you might beat me one of these days," Shawn grinned, as he placed his controller on top of the TV and followed Nick into the kitchen. Nick just growled and muttered to himself.

Shawn and Nick were both sixteen year-old sophomores at Becton Valley High School in northern New Jersey. They had been great friends since they started playing street hockey together back in grade school. They both loved the sport and had played it for so long, which is why not too many people were surprised that they were two of the best players on Becton Valley's ice hockey team.

Shawn's medium-length hair was slicked back by a massive amount of gel, and his nearly six-foot tall figure was accented by his broad shoulders. He did a lot of working out to prepare for the hockey season, and it definitely showed. However, his friends believed that his personality left something to be desired. Shawn had never been terribly outgoing, only choosing to speak when he had to, or when he announced Becton Valley sporting events on the school's local access television station. Shawn did not mind this at all, he preferred to stay away from the center of attention as much as he could.

Nick was shorter, but no less stronger than Shawn. Nick made up for his lack of size with incredible speed, both on and off the ice. He never really took care of his short, blond hair, choosing to constantly keep the appearance that he had just rolled out of bed.

Nick rummaged through Shawn's pantry and pulled out a pair of granola bars. He offered one to Shawn and they both sat down at the kitchen table.

"Big game against Belleville tonight, I hear their goalie is really good," Shawn was glad to see that Nick had already forgotten about the video game and was concentrating on Becton Valley's game that night.

"Nick, you seem to forget that we have one of the best offenses in the conference. Belleville will not beat us."

Nick looked a bit unsure, but said nothing. He took a big bite out of his granola bar.

Shawn changed the subject. "So, is Kristin going to come tonight?" He grinned widely, knowing that Nick would stop brooding at the slightest mention of his girlfriend.

"Hell yes," he replied. "She always comes to see our star player," he was grinning himself.

"She has the hots for you, not me," Shawn replied, drawing a loud laugh from Nick. Kristin Donovan was extremely short and slender, but Nick admitted that it was her hair that first drew him to her. She was a natural red-head, but always left a tinge of purple dye in it, usually swirling it around in different styles each day. They had been introduced at the Sophomore Social last month, and had been nearly inseparable ever since.

"Does Alexandra know about tonight's game?" Nick shot back. Alexandra Barnett was Shawn's weakness, mostly because she was so wildly popular, and that they had been friends since they were little kids. Alexandra had a model's body, and everyone admitted that she was stunningly beautiful. She relished the attention and constantly teased the boys with her looks. She had grown up in the same neighborhood as Shawn, and had always been friends with him. But Shawn would always deny that she was anything more, because he hated how loud and outgoing she was.

"Yeah, she knows," Shawn didn't sound like he cared either way.

Nick looked at his watch. "Yikes, only four hours before the game. I need to run home and take care of some things. I'll see you later."

"Bye Nick," Shawn waved at Nick's retreating form. The phone rang as soon as the door slammed shut.

"Hello," Shawn answered with his usual monotone voice.

"Dude! Where have you been? I thought we were going to the mall today?" Shawn groaned. It was his best friend, Jason Caldwell. Jason was the most high-spirited person that Shawn had ever met. He had an uncanny knack for working with computers, and was proud of the massive electronic setup he had at his house. However, all the hours spent in front of his computers drastically reduced Jason's athletic ability, and he hated anything to do with physical activity.

"I'm sorry Jay, Nick came over and I got stuck playing NHL '99 on the Playstation all afternoon."

"Oh, I thought you were hanging out with a girl or something."

"Please, don't start with that stuff again."

"You really need a girlfriend Shawn. Someone who can perk you up and make you live a little."

"Thanks for the advice," Shawn replied wryly. Jason never let the subject drop, especially when Alexandra was around. But Shawn had no interest in relationships right now, and he found it hard to believe that he would find that interest anytime soon.

"What's wrong with Alexandra? She's always been your friend, and I highly doubt that she'd turn you down."

"That's just it Jay, she's my friend, nothing more than that."

"But...just look at her!" he sputtered, amazed that Shawn was not going out with her already. "She's beautiful, she's got more then half a brain, and she's got a great sense of humor! What's not to like?"

"Why don't you ask her then?"

"Oh please, she'd never look twice at a fat slob like me. She always approaches you, and you act like she's not even there."

There was an uncomfortable silence for a moments until Jason spoke again. "You do know that you can always talk to me man, I've got all the advice you'll ever need."

"Ok then, tell me how we can beat Belleville tonight."

"Oh that's just a silly hockey game! There will be tons of girls there tonight! They all know you're really good, but you don't give anyone a chance!"

"I'll know when the time comes."

"You need to stop believing that the time will never come."

Shawn was silent, that really hit home. He didn't have to reply though, because he heard his mother's car pull in the driveway. "I've got to go Jay, my mom just got home, I'll probably have to unload groceries again."

"Ok Shawn, see you tonight."

"Bye," he slammed the phone back in its cradle. Why doesn't anyone get it? I just want to be left alone...

Alexandra Barnett peeled off her heavy jacket as she entered the Memorial Ice Rink in downtown West Becton. She wore a short white sweatshirt and tight-fitting jeans. Her friend, Elaine Freeman, wearing a similar outfit, was right at her side, still adding to the heavy makeup that she already had on. The two girls drew quite a few stares, not only from the people they knew, but from the fans from Belleville who had driven over to see tonight's game.

"Alexandra!" She turned toward the voice and groaned once she realized who it was. Jared Wheeler was the smartest person in the sophomore class and never let anyone forget it. Alex had never known anyone who was more conceited then Jared. Not even me, she giggled to herself.

"Hey Alexandra, looking great as always," Jared was grinning broadly. Alex smiled back, but she inwardly cringed. Jared wasn't the most likeable person.

"Thanks Jared," she said, sounding quite bored.

"That was really funny what you did to Emily yesterday. She looked like she was about to cry!" He started laughing, and then pointed towards the concession stand. "Hey there she is now!"

Alex glanced over and grinned once Emily Manson caught sight of her. She hastily averted her gaze, bought a soda, and nearly ran off into the crowd, trying to get as far away from Alexandra as possible.

Alex never had a real reason for disliking her. Emily simply bothered her, mostly because of the two white star-shaped tattoos she wore, one on each cheek, spaced evenly away from her nose. Something about that irritated Alex, which is why she enjoyed making fun of her.

Alex smirked, remembering yesterday's prank. Emily was just getting off the lunch line, holding a small tray with a soda, a bagel, and a salad on it. Alex filled a large cup of chowder and casually pushed her way to the front of the line. Just as Emily was walking through the doors leading from the serving area to the cafeteria, Alex calmly tossed the bowl over her head, scoring a direct hit, spilling chowder all over Emily's hair.

Everyone had laughed hysterically. Everyone except for Shawn, which didn't surprise her at all. She loved having Shawn as a friend, but she really wished that he would be more animated. He would be a lot more fun to be around.

"She deserves it," Elaine piped up.

"Yeah, she just does," Alex replied.

Jared interrupted them, "well let's go ladies, we don't want to miss the big game." He extended his hand, assuming that the two girls would want to go with him.

Alex glared at him. "We'll see you later Jared." She and Elaine went off by themselves and found a seat amongst a large group of upperclassmen boys, leaving Jared standing speechless in the lobby.

Emily hurried to the rink, not wishing to even make eye contact with Alexandra again. She had never done anything to her, and couldn't understand why she was so hated. She found a seat in the middle section of the bleachers, between the Becton Valley side and the Belleville side. Her best friends, Anna Ricks and Victoria Reeves, saw her and waved before making their way over to sit together.

"Hi Emily!" Anna was so boisterous when she wasn't concentrating on her latest art project. She ran a hand through her curly red hair and straightened her large glasses before sitting down. Victoria came up behind her, her ponytail waving back and forth amidst her dirty blonde hair. Victoria, or Vicky as her friends called her, played the trumpet in the marching band, and was much shorter then her friends. Emily and Anna both nearly reached 5'5", while Vicky was barely taller than five feet. This didn't faze her though, and she persevered through the ridicule associated with her height and the band.

"Hey guys, didn't think you'd come tonight," Emily said to both of them. The light reflected off her tattoos, brightening her entire face, as well as accenting her short brunette hair and sky blue eyes. She had never told anyone why she had gotten those, and her friends simply acted as if they weren't even there.

"Well there's nothing else to do, everybody's here, so why not?" Anna never needed a reason to do anything.

"What about you Emily? I don't think you've missed a game this season," Victoria said. "Why the sudden interest in the hockey team?"

Emily shrugged, "no reason I guess."

"I bet you've got your eye on someone," Victoria's smile was nothing but mischievious.

"And I think you're crazy," Emily quipped before looking away. None of the hockey players would even give her a second look. The only one who thought she wasn't completely crazy because of the tattoos was Shawn Rogers, but he always kept to himself. He was also the only one who hadn't laughed at her misfortune yesterday. She sighed, and then decided that this was not the best time to lament on her lack of a love life.

Anna bailed her out. "Emily's got better tastes then to go after some hockey player. They smell awful, especially after a game." All three laughed and settled in to watch the game.

A few moments later the whistle blew, and the two teams took the ice. The Belleville Broncos wore dark maroon jerseys, with the logo of a horse standing up on its hind legs. The Becton Valley Wildcats wore their white and blue home jerseys with the snarling panther head displayed prominently on the front.

Shawn and Nick skated out together and took their respective positions, Shawn at center and Nick on defense. Nick waved to the crowd when he spotted Kristin, who yelled back, wishing him luck. Shawn simply stared at the opposing center in front of him, their eyes locking in a death glare.

We are not going to lose this game!

The puck dropped, and the Belleville center leaned his entire weight into Shawn's body instead of going for the puck. Shawn immediately fell backwards, drawing a cheer from the Belleville crowd.

This is going to be a long night, he thought.

FINAL NOTES: Hope this opening chapter wasn't too confusing. I tried to introduce a lot of characters at once, and I didn't plan on this first section to be so long. But just bear with me, there will be a lot more action (and not as much hockey) in later chapters. If you took the time to read this far, please tell me what you think!