Two chapters in one day... I applaud myself.
At the end of regulation play, Nicky had never been so relieved. The Rangers had gotten three goals in the second, but the Caps managed to get them all back. Mojo had two himself and they battled right till the end, desperate to get fifteen minutes rest before going back out there.
Distracted by his daydreaming and photos, Nicky had failed to realize how badly he wanted to clinch the series in game five. Sure, hockey smarts say to dispose of your opponents as quickly as possible. Maybe they’d even get an off day, which his broken finger could really use. But mostly he wanted Devin there for it, he wanted to be kind of a hero even if he didn’t actually score the game winning goal.
Speaking of which, how many fucking shots can I take? he thought. So far tonight he’d had three on goal and more than that blocked in front on Lundqvist. He might not be on the sheet but he hadn’t been invisible on the ice.
Playoff overtime used to be easier, before the NHL went to shootouts in the regular season. Players were mentally conditioned that any night could bring endless extra hockey. But now they were used to five minute four-on-fours over really before they began. The prospect of another period was daunting because they’d already left it all on the ice.
“I’m going to die,” Devin announced. The entire bar seemed to agree. Alcohol consumption had slowed and food was finished – everyone just held their breath. Even the waitstaff were standing between tables with trays in hand, watching TV.
The buzzer ended the first overtime period and instantly the place sprang to life.
“I need more beer,” Brian said, ordering another round for everyone.
Nicky had been playing well, and Devin felt so, so sure he was going to get one. But as long as they won she didn’t care. Her desire for game five to end the series had reached Defcon One. She wanted to see them advance and she wanted to meet Nicky.
“Should I ask him if he wants to meet?” she said, apropos of nothing.
“Same as asking him out,” Brian answered, shaking his head.
“It’s not. He already asked you out,” Mel insisted.
Brian again. “But Ever been on a date where someone stays outside the window all night and never talks to you?”
“Brian!” Mel said.
“Sorry, it’s true. If you want to ask him out, do it. Sounds like maybe he needs the help. But these guys are all weird about their habits and especially in playoffs… I’m just saying. I don’t want to have to blame you if they blow it.”
He was right. Devin knew she would have to wait until Nicky felt comfortable. He’d contacted her first, after all, and sent her the first picture. And invited her to the game. He was definitely going to do something soon. Right?
“Of course, he’ll probably die when he sees that Facebook picture and delete his account. You’ll have to bring a sign to the game if you want to talk to him.”
Devin groaned. She’d been thinking about the photo all night – she’d probably think about it for the rest of time. Something like that should be private and intimate and… shared only with her. If she ever met Mike Green she’d give him a piece of her mind. But hopefully by then she’d have witnessed the real life version of what he’d sent.
“I approve your friend request!” Mel held an imaginary sign over her had.
“Relationship status: Backstrom.”
“Devin Mills is now single, with a little broken heart.”
“Oh you assholes are hilarious,” Devin said.
“Fucking Swedes!” Ovi shouted. They barreled into the locker room after a full twenty minutes of sudden death shutout. Lundqvist and Neuvy were both putting on a show as the teams between them slowly ran out of gas.
“Hey,” Mojo shouted back.
“Then you score fucking goal and send us home!”
They dropped onto the benches, soaked and spent. Gatorades, water, Power Bars all appeared. It was looking to be a very long night. Nicky had one shot in that frame and his busted finger ached like crazy. The trainer gave him a knowing look when he asked for Advil and gave him something stronger. Nothing more was said.
Coach gave them a pep talk and a few pointers, but all they really needed was rest. And for King Henrik’s bangs to fall in his eyes for just a second out there. After what seemed like no time at all, they were headed back onto the ice. Mike stood in the doorway, slapping guys on the ass.
“You’re gonna get one,” he said as Nicky passed. The called after him, “Girls love goals!”
“OhymGodIthoughtthatwasit,” Mel squealed. Her noise was almost lost in the din of the bar. On a rush, Nicky had just come down the middle. Mojo was on the wing, two goals on the night and everyone watching him. He saucered it to the middle where Nicky slipped it under Lundqvist… but not quite all the way under. His fellow Swede went down heavily and the puck was trapped beneath him.
Brian swore. Devin just closed her eyes and said a little prayer.
It was answered just over twelve minutes into the second overtime period. The Rangers defense farted, Jason Chimera got behind the goalie himself right in the crease and put one in the net. Every bar in a three mile radius went crazy along with the players on TV. Madison Square Garden started on in disbelief.
“Fucking right!” Brian yelled.
“Fucking right!” Ovi screamed, thumping everyone on the back. They were half out of their gear, throwing stuff around and fired up.
“Pack it up and let’s get the fuck out of here!” Boudreau called above the racket.
They were in the air by midnight. Flying charter was fantastic for many reasons, not the least of which was you could use your cell phone. The technology didn’t actually mess with flight instruments, it just might someday advance to that point and the airlines couldn’t make new planes fast enough. So the rule stood, but only for commercial airlines.
Fatigue had quickly overcome victory and most of the guys were reclined and passed out. It was barely an hour flight to Washington. Nicky figured he could sleep in tomorrow, and so finally had a moment to look at his phone.
Immediately he knew something had happened: there were thirty friend requests waiting. He didn’t recognize any of the names. The notifications button said eleven, all “so-and-so commented on your photo.” But there was no photo, his profile was the same as it had been this morning. He clicked it a few times but nothing showed. On the message bubble, there was one notification.
I think your friends hacked your Facebook – they posted a picture of you sleeping on my wall. I took it down, but a bunch of people had already seen it. It’s here (link), no one else can see it unless they saved it before. Sorry!
PS: It’s a great picture. ;)
He opened the link and his heart sank. Only one person could have done that. Nicky grabbed the glass of water he’d been drinking, held it up and poured it right on the sleeping head of Mike in the seat next to him. Mike woke with a start, twisting in surprise; Nicky just unbuckled and walked to the bathroom.
It was exactly the kind of thing they guys all did to each other all the time. And exactly the reason Nicky hadn’t told anyone about Devin. But he clearly hadn’t been secretive enough. Not only did they know about her, but they probably knew he’d met her online. Mike wasn’t as dumb as he seemed; he’d figure out that’s why the computer had been out so much this trip. And the photos. Ugh, the lunches too. And the looking for presents.
Nicky saw himself in the mirror. He even looked embarrassed.
Back at the seat, Mike was wiping his neck with a cloth napkin. A couple of the guys were awake. Nick sat without saying anything, reclined his seat and closed his eyes. They could talk about this later.
Devin lay in bed. Should I send him a message? Nicky hadn’t replied about the photo, she wasn’t sure he’d seen it. Was he mad? Mad at her? Would he stop talking to her altogether now? She doubted that – it wasn’t her fault. But she did feel bad for being the reason he’d been pranked.
If I message him now, it’ll seem like I’m digging for those tickets. Which I would. But I’ll wait.
“Dude, I’m sorry! I thought it was funny!” Mike said, heading toward their cars. Nicky had been silent for the rest of the flight. Now he stopped halfway across the parking lot where streetlights reflected off puddles on the pavement.
“Is funny you make fun of me. No problem, Mike. But for her people see that picture and think I send it. Everyone she know can see that picture. What if her boss see, or her mother?”
Mike shrugged. He hadn’t really thought of that to be honest. There weren’t many twenty-something girls out there who were all that innocent, and the picture had not been dirty. But maybe it was a little too private to be plastered all over Facebook. And he hadn’t really thought about who might see it on Devin’s side.
“Now what she tell them?”
“She’ll tell them you like her. Because you like her.”
“I don’t know her.” Flustered and annoyed, Nicky said it without thinking.
“WHAT?” Mike almost yelled.
Fuck. The only way to explain why he was mad was to tell what he wanted to keep secret. And now he’d gone and told it anyway. He kicked his foot against the asphalt and shoved his hands into his pockets.
“I don’t know her. I meet her on Facebook. She not believe I am me so I send her picture.” It sounded pathetic out loud, even hilarious. And tragic. I met a girl online, I’ve never even seen her, and I’m completely infatuated with her. Right.
Mike had two fingertips pressed to the center of his forehead like Nick’s story was giving him concussion symptoms all over again. His eyes were squeezed shut. “You don’t know her.”
Nicky shook his head.
“And I sent her a picture of you in bed.” More nodding. Mike laughed sharply. “Dude. I’m sorry. I thought this is some girl you’re seeing, hiding her from us, and I’m calling you out on it. Have you asked her out?”
Nick paused. If they knew Devin was at game five they’d want to meet her. They’d be relentless. He’d have to see her for the first time surrounded by twenty juvenile perverts he could not control. On top of that he’d be his usual nervous, bumbling self, thinking about kissing her the whole time. It would never work. He’d miss the only chance he was going to get.
“Then I’m inviting her to game five.”
“No! I change my password because you are asshole.”
Mike gave him a raised eyebrow. “I’ll friend her myself. I saw those pictures, she’s got a #52 shirt.”
Fucking hell. Nicky had forgotten that any of the guys could easily communicate with Devin directly.
“Okay, I invite her.”
“No you won’t.” Mike was already tapping on his phone.
“I already invite her. She say yes, her and roommate.”
Mike held up the screen for Nicky to see. It was the little gray box saying his friend request to Devin Mills had been sent.
“You have tonight to ask her out for after game five. Or tomorrow I’m doing it for you.”
Mike wheeled away before Nicky could say anything. He stormed to his car and shut himself inside the silence. Mike was not joking around – he’d ask Devin out. He might do it tonight. Hell, he might ask her for a date for himself. Devin was probably wondering what the hell was taking so long anyway. If she wanted to go out with him.
She does, right? Nicky was pretty sure Devin was flirting with him but between the internet and the language barrier it was tough to tell. But if they won in game five, they’d be heroes. There would be no better time and he might not get another chance.
The silliest part of the whole situation was how badly Nicky did actually want to meet her. He’d had a hundred fake conversations with her in his head, held her hand and kissed her goodnight. Frankly it was creepy how much he thought about her. Maybe Mike’s childishness was a blessing in disguise.
He’s still an asshole, Nicky thought.
An hour of not sleeping later, Devin gave up. As soon as she hauled the computer into her lap and opened the screen.
She instantly regretted it. Seventeen friend friend requests were waiting... why did people friend strangers? Who accepted this kind of stuff?
Why didn’t I think of this before?
Of course anyone who could track the photo back to her Facebook would be rooting around in her profile. Her security settings were pretty high - only friends and pages she liked could see all her photos. But there were a few things accessible to anyone and they’d probably already been swiped. Devin went to the Account button and changed her settings so that only people whose requests she accepted could see anything more than her name.
If I fucking see myself on Tumblr...
A few of the people who tried to Friend her had icon photos in Caps jerseys or swag - Devin ignored each request one by one. But the seventeenth one was not a girl.
“Oh I’ll friend you alright,” she said, clicking accept.
And there it was, Mike Green’s Facebook. He was not worried about photos ending up online, and because of that Devin had already seen a lot of the posted pictures. There were some updates and posts, but she was already clicking to type her own.
Nice win. All those extra intermissions for me to plot my revenge.
She smiled ruefully as she watched the post appear on his wall. As if she knew what she’d do. The only red alert left on the page was a single message in her inbox. From Nicky. And she was not longer annoyed.
Sorry the guys post that. They think always they are so funny. I have other picture to send from very good lunch at Cafeteria. I hope you like game tonight. Almost I get your goal in overtime! We are home so late but is nice to sleep at home instead of hotel.
For Saturday, I give your tickets at box office. I find good seats! Game start at 3. If we win, after game will you like to come out with me? If you want I bring some of the guys and Mel come too. They like to say sorry for today when they are stupid.
I think we win so I can meet you.
Devin rolled over, face down and dead.