Series: My hockey fic, set in 2003
Notes: It's been an interesting week or two - not necessarily bad but not really good either. It's also the Stanley Cup Finals so we've been watching a lot of hockey lately, and whenever we watch hockey, Petrovin and Lee clamor for attention. I decided to take a break from my other story and see what they had to say.
Summary: Petrovin was traded away from the Oregon Pioneers two years ago. Since then he has gotten married and moved back to Russia when his NHL contract ended. Now, with his marriage and career is in shambles, he wonders about what could have been and the universe may give him a second chance in an unexpected way.
It was a dream that woke him. Petrovin had had them plenty of times before - dreams where Lee was happy living the rest of her life with him - but none had ever affected him quite like this one. They had been walking along that wilderness trail behind her apartment complex and he had been teaching her more Russian. She stopped abruptly, asking him what the word for 'father' was, a beautiful smile breaking over her face as she watched the realization of what she was saying dawn in his face. And then he had kissed her, and then they had some how made it back to her apartment (but not very far in the door) and then... he had woken up. It had been so real that when he opened his eyes he thought he could feel her in bed beside him and smell her perfume in the air. However, after a moment his senses adjusted and he remembered that he was in Russia and married to someone else, and she was in Oregan doing God knew what.
He sat there for a moment, shaking and feeling raw, before he finally managed to regain control of his emotions again.
It was a bit odd that the break up bothered him still; it had been over two years since they had gone their seperate ways, and they had never even been officially together in the first place. They couldn't be since the club would have fired her and he would have been fined as soon as they found out about it. A fine was a small price to pay for happiness, but Lee had refused to give up her job. Even after he had pointed out that Barrett would never give her the recognition she really deserved, she had clung to it as if it would somehow give her life, her existence some sort of validation. Why couldn't he and their relationship have been enough?
Petrovin glanced at his cell phone on the dresser where it was charging. A flashing notification on the front of the screen told him that he had missed a call while he was sleeping, and that there was a voice mail waiting for him. He knew that it was probably from his wife, telling him that she was staying over at her mother's again when she was really out with another man. He chose to ignore it but he couldn't help but curse when he saw that the time was 5:00 AM. His alarm was set to go off in another 30 minutes. Since he didn't see the point in trying to going back to sleep for just a few lousy minutes, he decided he might as well get up and get ready for practice now. He sighed and forced himself to his feet, wincing as pain shot up his thigh from his injured knee.
Usually a shower helped him wake up and to loosen up stiff and sore muscles. He stood with his hands pressed against the sides of the shower and his head bowed, and let the hot water pour over him and carry the remainder of the dream away. Only it wasn't really working this time. Not quite. Again he thought he smelled her perfume, he could almost feel her step into the shower behind him, hear the splash of her feet against the wet tiles. She had always enjoyed sneaking up on him in the shower...
But before Lee could slip her arms around him, or press her lips against his shoulders like she always did, Petrovin woke up with a sudden jolt. His foot slipped out from under him, and he couldn't catch himself in time, so he landed hard on the bottom of the shower. Pain shot up and down from his knee, but thankfully nothing else was injured. He reached up and turned the water off, and then ran a hand through his hair. The pain killers. That must be it. They had to be the reason he was hallucinating so vividly.
He ate breakfast - nothing too heavy, just a protein shake with peanut butter and various fruits - and dressed in jeans, an old Pioneers shirt, a sweater, and his heavy wool coat. He looked at his phone again as he left his flat; apparently he had missed another call during his shower escapade. He assumed that it was his wife again, and shoved it in his pocket. He was still not in the mood to deal with her lies.
Despite the freezing weather outside, he rolled the driver side window down on his SUV as he drove to the arena. The cold air kept him awake and prevented him from hallucinating again, but he couldn't help glancing at the passenger seat or in the rearview mirror every so often... just in case. Thankfully the phantom Lee did not make another appearance.
Petrovin was one of the first members of the team to arrive for practice. He exchanged greetings with his teammates as he changed into a pair of gym shorts and a team t-shirt.
"How much longer do you think you will be out?" One of the goalies asked.
"Not much longer, I hope." It had been over a month since the injury, and he was itching to get back on the ice. Hopefully the incident in the shower did not prolong his recovery.
Sadly it was not to be - the old man poked and prodded at his knee for a moment, shared a look with the team's head coach and then shook his head. "It is still too inflamed."
"You said it was showing signs of improvement last week." The coach grunted. He reminded Petrovin of a lump of dough: white and pasty, with no hair.
"You have not been pushing yourself have you?" The physician asked.
"No - but I did slip and fall." Petrovin admitted. He did not feel the need to go into details about where he had slipped and fell though, or why. He knew his coach did not like him, and had been dropping hints to the media about how he thought Petrovin was getting to be too old to play. The last thing he needed was for it to get out that he was going crazy.
"How much longer before he is well?" Coach dough demanded.
"One week? Two?" The physician shrugged.
"Fine. We will keep him on the injured list then."
"See Kiril for a massage, then ice. Lots and lots of ice." The old man rattled off instructions after the coach had stormed off. "Do you still have enough of the pain killers I gave you? I can prescribe more..."
"No, there is enough."
"Good." The physician patted him on the shoulder distractedly and then moved on to his next patient - one of Petrovin's teammates who was complaining of a sore groin.
Petrovin returned to the locker room, which was now full of hockey players changing into gear and joking around. For a moment, and only for a moment, he wondered what was happening in Portland. Were they getting ready for a game? Was Lee waiting in the corridor discussing plays with Harold or Barret? He shook his head to clear it, and sat down on the bench in front of his locker.
"Your mobile rang." Oleg, a fellow defenseman whose locker was next to Petrovin's, said and jerked his head at his teammate's coat.
"Your mobile. It rang. Twice." He bent over to lace up his skates, grunting out the words.
Petrovin fished the phone out of his coat pocket and silenced it. "There, now you will not hear it."
"You are in a fine mood. Is the wife on her rag or something?"
"The wife is in Moscow with her mother." It was an easy lie, and something he had gotten used to repeating over the months whenever she disappeared.
"Interesting. I could have sworn that I saw her last night at the Red Room. She was dancing with that volleyball partner of hers... What is her name... the one with the..." He made a gesture, that vaguely resembled a woman with a large chest.
"No, she is in Moscow."
Oleg gave him a sympathetic look. "They do say that everyone has a twin somewhere. Perhaps that is who I saw."
"That must be it."
"You are not skating today?"
"No, not today. They say it may be another week or two. Maybe longer."
"Perhaps you should take some time to visit your family as well."
It was a good suggestion, but with his mother and sister gone, the only family he had left was his father and his aunt. He had never gotten along with his father very well; while hockey was Petrovin's life, and he was grateful for the opportunities it had given him, he had never agreed with his father's decision to send him off to CSKA at such a young age. He also did not appreciate being forced to drill on those rare visits home when he would rather have been playing with his friends. His aunt was nice enough, but she had been the one that introduced him to his wife and pushed them together whenever possible. Now she was pushing him to save his marriage when he wasn't sure he wanted to.
He sighed. "Perhaps. Perhaps a vacation is what I need."
He continued to muse on the idea while Kiril worked the sore muscles around his knee and while he let his leg dangle in the whirlpool tub afterwards. He could visit the dacha. He would be far away from his wife and anyone else trying to meddle in his affairs. And it had been a long time since he had visited the Dacha - at least three years. In fact the last time he had been there, Lee had been with him, and they had spent three bliss filled weeks where they hadn't had to worry about who might see them together or what they might think.
Maybe he would ask that girl who lived in the flat three doors down if she would like to join him. He did not know her name, but she was pretty enough, and she always giggled and smiled at him when he passed her in the hallway. He also knew she was a good cook: she had started making meals for him whenever his wife was away.
Yes, that would do the trick! A week away at the dacha with a pretty girl would surely snap him out of this fog and chase these memories of Lee away. Deep down he knew it wouldn't, but he clung to the idea as he listened to the coaches notes after the practice had ended. He quickly changed back into his street clothes and drove back to his austere building that housed the luxury flat his wife had talked him into purchasing.
Thankfully the pretty girl was home and was more than amiable to the idea of ditching her job for a week away with him. He could almost hear Lee's voice in his ear asking him what he was thinking, but he ignored it and made plans to meet the girl in the parking garage in an hour.
He changed and packed a small bag full of warm clothes. Then, after turning down the heater and turning off the lights, he pulled out his phone out of his pocket. This time he would be the one telling his spouse that he would not be home when she returned from wherever she had gone.
Just like Oleg had told them, he had missed two calls while at the arena, and another one on the drive home. He slid his thumb over the flat screen to unlock it, and frowned when he realized that the number that had been calling him had not been his wife's, but had been a former team mate's instead: Harper, the Captain of the Oregon Pioneers.
Petrovin pulled a chair out from the dining room table and sat down, all excitement for his plan to get away suddenly fading away to nothing. He and Harper had kept in contact after he had been traded to New York and then after he had left to go back to Russia when his contract ended. However, Harper wasn't one to talk on the phone - due to the time difference between the two regions, he preferred to email instead.
He dialed the number for his voicemail and waited while the electronic voice told him that he had four new messages marked urgent.
"First message." The electronic voice said. There was a beep and then Harper's voice came on, "Hey Alexei, we need to talk. Call me back." There was a click as he hung up the phone.
"Second message." The electronic voice said again. Again, it was followed by a beep and then Harper's voice filled the air. "Hey, Alexei. It's me again. I have some news... it's not really fitting to leave it in a message, so call me back. Soon. Alright?"
"Alexei. I don't know what time it is where you are, but I really need you to call me back. It's about Lee. It's important."
There had only been two other times in Petrovin's life when he had been filled with a feeling of dread; the first time had been when his coach for the CSKA youth team had pulled him aside to tell him that his mother had been killed during a robbery. The second time had been when the doctors had told announced that his sister's cancer had come back. Now was the third time: he felt as if everything had gone completely still and as if it was way too loud at the same time. His couldn't stop trembling. He wanted to stop the messages before the next one played, but yet he couldn't bring himself to end the call. He found himself starting to pray even though he didn't particularly believe in any one diety. Please let it be news that she quit. Please let it be word that she ran off and got married. Please let it be anything but...
"Last message." The electronic voice declared.
"Look," Harper started without any preamble. "I wasn't going to do it this way, but you aren't calling back, and I checked and I know it's afternoon there so you should be awake unless you're passed out drunk somewhere - but you could always drink more than she could, so I doubt that's the case. I don't know what's going on. Maybe you already know and that's why you won't call back, because... I mean... I know things ended badly between you two but... I dunno." There was a heavy sigh. "There was an accident. Lee's bug - do you remember that stupid thing? - well it flipped and Lee... Lee's not doing so good. She's in ICU and they're saying that there's been massive head trauma, and complications with blood clots. She might not..."
"End of messages." The electronic voice cut Harper off. "Do you want to save or delete your messages?"
He continued to stare at the phone long after the voicemail system had hung up on him, and the touch screen had gone dark. Lee had been in an accident. Lee had been badly injured. Lee might not make it. Lee could already be dead.
Was that the reason why she had been plaguing him so much today? Had she already passed on and it had been her spirit visiting him to say good-bye?
No, Petrovin refused to believe it. She was stubborn. She did not give up easily. She would still be alive. She must be. And instead of being on his way there to be with her and his former teammates, he had been here, ignoring Harper's phone calls because he thought it was his wife and planning a vacation with a girl he wasn't even sure he knew the name of.
He knew what he had to do; there would be no trip to the dacha - instead he would fly back to Portland. He purchased a ticket for the first flight available and left a message for his general manager and the coach of his current team to let them know he would be gone for awhile. They were not happy with him, but he hung up before they could start yelling. All that mattered now was getting to Oregon to be with Lee.
On the way down to his SUV he stopped by the pretty girl's flat and broke the news to her that they would have to postpone their trip. He explained that there had been an emergency in the family. She was more than understanding, and acted as if she had believed all along that he wouldn't really take her anywhere. It made him feel like a cad - and rightfully so. He promised himself that he would find a way to make it up to her when he got back. If he came back.
His phone rang again while he was checking in for his flight. He took his boarding pass from the attendant and stepped to the side to answer it. "Hello?"
"Alexei!" Harper sounded both surprised and relieved at the same time. "Look Lee had an accident."
"I know, I heard your messages. How is she?" He regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth. She had been in an accident- of course she was not doing well. "Is she...?" Petrovin couldn't bring himself to say it.
"No. She's hanging in there. She's one tough cookie."
"Good. I am on my way." There was silence on the other end. Petrovin imagined Harper staring at the phone with his jaw hanging open, like he did when something surprised him. "My flight is suppose to land around 9 tomorrow night." He continued. "Do you think that you or Laurel might be able to pick me up? I can take a taxi if it is too much."
"No, we can come and get you, Alexei. The boys will be glad to see you. And I'm sure Lee will too, if... when, she wakes up. But, listen, is your team going to let you do that? I've heard stories about what they did to that kid Anaheim drafted a few years ago when he left without permission..."
"I do not care." He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand. "I cannot check my phone on the plane, but, please, keep me updated."
"Of course. We'll see you tomorrow."