There were lots of wonderful things about finally winning the Stanley Cup. The knowledge of succeeding at the penultimate level of your profession. The triumph of beating every other team in the league. The victory celebration with your teammates. But as Wilson watched Rick skate around the ice, the thirty-five pound cup hoisted proudly over his head, it was so much more. It was awe. It was magic. It was a miracle.
They’d all played their hearts out during the playoffs, but they’d also pushed their bodies to the limits. They put all their energy into every shot on net. They stopped the puck with any part of their body they could. They got slammed into the boards and shoved to the ice but shook it off and got right back into the game. Of course, a shot of cortisone and some smelling salts on the bench didn’t hurt. But by the end of game seven in the final series, there wasn’t a player who wasn’t hurt bad and battling through it just for the win. The Eagles’ captain, however, wasn’t showing it in the least. The way he held that cup, taking the first lap around the arena for the fans, kissing it repeatedly, you wouldn’t know about his broken foot or the throbbing of his cheek with a gash that was going to need more than temporary stitches or the pulled groin muscle.
Holding the cup made it all go away for a whole minute. Nothing else mattered but that silver chalice, finally won. No, not won—earned. Earned through blood and toil and sacrifice. Earned through work and spirit and determination.
Rick and Wilson hadn’t talked about the first handoff. They were both superstitious enough to know that talking about even the remote possibility of winning was tantamount to shooting yourself and all your teammates in the head. Wilson had thought about it a couple times, as they’d drifted off to sleep together, and he’d have bet that Rick had thought about it too. But this was Rick’s decision, not their decision, and Rick was going to be a good captain. He was going to hand the cup to whoever the hell he wanted to and Wilson wasn’t going to take it personally.
He’d be happy for Blake or Reesey or Mikey or Stans or whoever. He’d grin like a son of a bitch, watching the goalie or the alternates or even one of the young guns get the honor of being the second guy to skate with the cup in front of the fans and families and the television audience watching live on NBC before local news kicked the telecast off onto the NHL network. Everyone deserved to be second, but it could only go to one guy.
He tried not to show any emotion as Rick turned, skating back to the team, starting to lower the heavy trophy. He found himself watching but not making eye contact. He didn’t want Wilson feeling uncomfortable or guilty or pressured. The cup meant many things and those three things weren’t anywhere on the list.
But then he felt the end of a stick jab in his back. And Brizzie, one of the alternates, elbowed him in the side. “Take it.” Someone else said, “It’s yours.” And someone else said, “Majors, you’re the man.” And a jolt of panic and understanding rushed through him as he realized Rick was heading straight for him with it.
Wilson started to shake his head. Tried to implore Rick to choose someone else. But his husband either didn’t get the signal or just didn’t care, because he came over, thrust the cup into Wilson’s paining chest, and gave him a look to show he was just as happy in this brief little second of time as he had been at their wedding two years ago.
Wilson’s hands, which he hadn’t realized he’d even lifted, closed around the lip of each end, holding more securely than he would have thought possible for something so large and heavy. And suddenly he was holding it up above his head and gliding forward to tumultuous applause. His two broken fingers stuck out weirdly, not curving with the others, but his grip was flawless. The pain in his neck vanished as he tilted his head back and pressed his dry lips to the smooth, metallic surface. The twang in his calf he’d only started to notice halfway through the first subsided, allowing him to sail effortlessly in a loop.
Everything around him was a blur—people, cameras, boards. All that was real was the coolness on his face and the heavy cup above his head that meant he now had everything he’d ever dreamed of.
When he got back to his teammates, he realized he had been so preoccupied with thinking about who Rick would hand it off to, he’d forgotten to pick Jonesy out of group and had to correct his direction at the last second. Pain shot through his calf and up his leg, making him bend at the knee, lose his balance. But he handed it off just in time and pulled back. He felt arms helping him clear out of the way. He raised his leg, not wanting to put any more pressure on it. And he was glided back toward one of the sports medicine trainers.
Even the staff was beaming with pride. They’d get their chance with the cup tonight as well, before families got out on the ice for photos, before it would make it back to the locker room for the champagne. Before it would leave to get engravings of all of their names.
“I thought for sure you’d drop it.”
Wilson chuckled into his husband’s breastbone, moving close but awkwardly around Rick’s cast. It was due to come off soon, but they still had to be careful until it did. The five cracked ribs between the two of them had taken the second-longest to heal but, now that they had, Wilson was determined to take full advantage of it. The fact that the cup sat on top of their low dresser, starting back at them, reflecting the morning sunlight onto their bed, just made it that much sweeter.
“I thought for a second you were gonna kiss me on national TV with it between us. I was terrified.”
Rick angled his head and did kiss him now. Slow, strong, just the way he liked it.
“I wonder how many people have had sex with the cup in the room,” Rick mused, breaking off eventually.
Wilson smiled. He’d wondered the same, just a few weeks ago when they’d been told the date Rick was going to get to spend with the cup. He wasn’t stupid enough to think he and Rick might be the first gay couple to allow it in their bedroom. But he knew they were the first openly gay teammates to get the cup, and that counted to him.
“Let’s add two more to the tally,” said Wilson.
There were lots of wonderful things about finally winning the Stanley Cup.