Monday, January 9, 2012

The One Where Viktor Wins

Alternate Ending - Replaces Chapters FOURTEEN+

(Starts after Fiona finishes Christmas Dinner with Jon & his parents and leaves him standing in front of their building. She gets in the car and...)

Viktor was walking through the kitchen with a bag of pretzels when he heard the knock.  Thinking it a strange hour for the building maintenance or cleaning staff to need something, he went to the key hole.  What he saw made him whip the door open.

“Hi,” Fiona said, voice shaky.

“Are you okay?”  He stepped into the hallway, pulling the door behind him until it rested barely closed.

Oh my God....

Bile rose in Fiona’s throat like she might be sick.  She took a half-step backward, horrified at her own presumption.  He wasn’t alone.  She’d turned up uninvited, talked her way past the doorman, only to interrupt a Christmas that Viktor was spending with someone else.  Just like she had.

I am Jon.  I am that bad.

“Hey, hey.”  Viktor reached for her.  His arms slipped around her as he whispered, brushing his free hand over her hair.  Her eyes filled with tears.  “Fi, what’s wrong, honey?”

“I... I’m sorry...,” she tried to step back.  

“It’s okay, shhhhh.”  He squeezed, as if there were any way she could get free against his will.  “Hammer’s here, is it okay if he knows?  I can kick him out.”

I don’t know what Nik would be knowing exactly, but if she’s here in this state in that dress then it’s something, he thought.

Fiona let her entire body drop against his chest.  Nicklas was here.  Not a date.  Not a girl.  Just Fiona still painting the world with Jon’s brush.  Viktor tilted her face up and kissed her cheek, then smiled.

“Come on.”

She felt every bit as self-conscious as Viktor felt proud when she followed him into the living room.  Hjalmarsson was sprawled out on the chaise, long legs dangling off the foot rest.  He did a double-take at the sight of Fiona and scrambled up.

“Hey, hi.  Fiona.”  With zero stealth, he looked at Viktor.  Viktor just nodded.

“Be right  back.”  And he tugged Fiona down the hallway.

He handed her a stack of clothes and arched one eyebrow.  Fiona tilted her head then turned her back.

“Help me.”

The zipper pull was minuscule between his fingers, and Viktor let it drop to run them instead along her upper back.  Her shoulders sagged a little at his touch.

“Are you okay?”

She nodded.

He chuckled, turning her around to face him.  “That wasn’t very convincing.”

She pressed her lips together in an poor attempt to smile.  “I had a fight with Jon.”

Viktor looked at his hands, so big around her smaller frame.

“He thinks he loves me.”

Viktor watched as his hands moved down her arms.

“Are you in love with him?”  He asked because it needed to be said.

Fiona looked down, sighing softly.  “No.  I thought I... I believe Jon can be a good person.  But right now he’s not.  And I’m not a good person when I’m with him.  I can’t love someone I don’t respect, even if it’s myself.”

“What happens when he figures out how to be that good person?”

“When he earns it, then I’ll be happy for him,” she said with a little more confidence.  “Because he deserves to find someone who runs to him, instead of away.”

Their first kiss had seemed to Fiona like Viktor was asking her permission.  Now she felt the same tiny plea as she pushed her lips to his.

He said yes.

“Hey, thanks for letting me hang.  I’m gonna go,” Hjalmarsson got to his feet again as they came back into the room.

Fiona shuffled over in a pair of rolled up sweatpants and a long-sleeved Vermont Catamounts shirt, pushed his chest and dumped him back into the chair.  “Park it, Hammer.”

She curled her feet under her legs and when Viktor sat down, she nestled in against him.  Hammer gave his road roommate a pointed look and Viktor just smiled, draped his arm around Fiona and went back to watching the movie.

She woke up on the couch.  A blanket was carefully spread over her side, the TV still on and Hjalmarsson’s chair empty.  Footsteps moved deeper in the apartment, she followed.  Viktor sat at his desk in the semi-darkness, clicking keys on his laptop.  The harsh light bathed his face and bare chest until he closed the lid.


Fiona knew she would never get tired of watching him walk toward her, especially half-dressed and half-asleep.  He pushed hair from his face and wrapped his hand into her over-sized shirt.  Pulling her toward the bed, Viktor flipped down the blankets and drew her underneath, then wound an arm around her waist and kissed the curve of her neck.

Minutes later they were asleep.

It was early.  Fiona slept like a rock and woken all at once, like suddenly remembering something she needed to do.  It was tough to untangle herself from Viktor, made only slightly easier by the fact she was fully dressed.  

Except for shoes.  No way she was teetering out of his apartment in that dress or those high heels.  So Fi borrowed a pair of flip flops from the back of his closet, pulled her coat on over the borrowed pajamas and called a cab.

Her own doorman didn’t blink at the outfit she wore home.  Fiona stopped at her condo and changed into yoga pants and her own t-shirt.  Then she went back to the elevator and hit the penthouse button.

For the first time ever, she knew for sure that Jon would be alone in his bed.  Without trying to be quiet, she opened the door and headed straight for his room.  Face down, arm out onto the empty side of his huge bed, Jon was fast asleep.  Fiona climbed on top of the covers and squeezed his hand.

She had to do it three times before he rolled and opened his eyes.  He smiled sleepily at her, then woke up a little more and looked again, eyes wide.  She gave him a tiny return smile.  Jon dropped his head back into the pillow.

“You hate it when I let myself into your place.”  He didn’t have to see what she placed next to his ear.  The key tinkled as it landed.

“Last time.”

There were a lot of things Jon could say - he might feel better for saying them, but it wouldn’t change anything.  If you told someone you loved her and she still walked away... well, Jon did know how to lose.  It just didn’t happen often.

Fiona watched his body rise and fall, wondering who would get to see it next.  She hoped it would be a good long time and by then, maybe he’d choose someone who saw a little of what she saw - the real Jon.

“What if I need you?” he asked quietly.  It had become so easily to rely on Fiona to help out in sticky situations.  But that was precisely the problem.

“You won’t,” she simply said.  “But you can call me only in emergencies.”

Jon gave up and rolled to face her.  She looked so beautiful, sitting with her arms around bent knees and leaning against a pillow.  When he thought of Fiona, he thought of her here, in his space.  Like she belonged among his things.

“Fi, I don’t want to lose you.”

“You’re not, but you never really had me either.  I think we both got a little confused about that.”

He hadn’t been confused; he simply hadn’t thought at all.  Fiona probably knew that but he felt no reason to correct her.  If it was kindness then he would take it and then some.

“So that’s it?  No last chance?  I feel like you changed the rules all of a sudden, Fi, and I didn’t know. I can do this, if you let me.”

“That’s why, Jon,” she kept her voice even.  “It can’t be something you have to do.  I wasn’t something you wanted, not as much as all those other things.  Now I want something else.”


She shrugged, picking at a piece of hair.  “You won’t have to see us.  I can stop coming early to the rink and Jenny can wait on you guys at the bar....”

“No.”  Jon surprised himself a little by speaking at full volume, in his captain voice.  Fiona looked right at him.  After a second, he cracked a smile.  “There I go, telling you what to do again.”

She smirked.

“Don’t stay away, Fi.  Please.  I... I would rather not be reminded every day that I’m an asshole, but don’t stay away, okay?  Just... just stop being so nice to me all the time.”

That got a laugh.  Fiona felt a surge of affection for Jon, but it was hindered by recent memories.  “I don’t want this screwing with the team, Jon.  Last time, you....”

“I punched him.”

“You scared me,” she admitted.  That was much worse.

“I won’t do it again,” he promised.  She knew by his Captain Serious face that he meant it.  Jon might lose his cool once, but he did not repeat mistakes - at least not when it came to hockey.

“But I’m not going to like it, Fi,” Jon continued.  While he was telling the truth he might as well get it all out there.  This could be his last chance.  “And I’m not going to sit by and do nothing if I think he’s not the best thing for you.  So don’t expect me to keep my mouth shut.”

“Protecting me now, are you?”

“Isn’t that what you were doing, all those times I called you up here to help?”

She smiled though they weren’t happy memories.  “Looks like I did a shit job.”

“Another thing we both got confused about.”

Viktor rolled over, then rolled over again.  That wasn’t right.  There should be something in his way.  He slapped a hand over the pillow and crunched a piece of paper.

Going home for a minute.  I promise I am coming back (again).

He was in the kitchen when his buzzer rang.  Fiona must have run into the dayshift doorman who was less inclined to let beautiful young women in short dresses up to the apartments of rich and famous bachelors.  He almost pressed the button, then thought better of it.

Fiona hadn’t really tried to convince this doorman to let her up to Viktor’s apartment.  Her damsel in distress act had worked once but now she was so happy she couldn’t stop smiling.  In the mirror across the room she briefly considered that she looked like a serial killer.

Then the elevator door dinged open.  And Viktor was walking toward her again, as hulking and perfect as ever, in sweatpants and a gray t-shirt she thought she could cut through with her teeth.  He grinned right back at her.

“Richard, this is Fiona,” he said to the man behind the desk.  At the sight of a wealthy tenant, Richard’s attention perked right up.  

Fiona thought Viktor would finish his sentance, “this is Fiona, my....,” but he didn’t.

“She can come right up any time she wants.”

Viktor grabbed her hand and took her upstairs himself for the first time.