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All That You Can't Leave Behind

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Steven Stamkos/Michael Del Zotto; Hotel rooms


Steven doesn't understand why his fellow players are so upset over having to room by themselves on the road. Truth is, times like this make him think it might be the best part of the new CBA. Sure, this guy over here would say he misses rooming with that guy over there, and that he simply can't function without someone waking him up from his game day nap, or making his coffee for him, just the way he likes it, but Steven isn't one of those guys. At least, not right now, he isn't.


Steven decided about three road trips ago that he actually enjoys having the entire room to himself, as empty and lonely as it can sometimes feel. He's always been a pretty independent person, but it isn't about that. It's the mere fact that if he did have a roommate, Steven knows he wouldn't be allowed to enjoy the opportunity that should be knocking on his hotel room door at any minute. He wouldn't be able to lay on his uncomfortable bed, alone and anxiously awaiting the sound of a heavy, rhythmic pounding on solid wooden door.


Instead, he's free to lay in silence and let his mind wander to all the moments in the past that had brought him to where he is today. However, he isn't thinking of shooting pucks in his parents basement, skating on a frozen pond in Ontario, or hearing his name called first in the 2008 NHL Draft. Those are all thoughts he could have at any time, anywhere. What he's thinking about now is the moments that came immediately following the draft.


Steven loves to let his mind linger on the memory of stepping outside the Scotiabank Place and into the humid night, the air clinging wet to his skin. The whole night had been a blur of excitement and expectations, with one moment seemingly running into the next. As much as Steven had looked forward to the draft, he could honestly say he was glad it was over. At least then, he knew what he future held, and he knew what to expect. What he wasn't expecting, however, was the feeling of a hand clasping down on his shoulder.


Probably the only part of that night that Steven remembers perfectly is the way he had spun around to be greeted by Michael's smile, and the look in Michael's eyes as he grabbed at his wrists and breathlessly whispered 'I got us a hotel room.' Steven was rendered speechless, and almost breathless by the way Micheal's eyes were a deep pool of promise, and Steven knew right then and there that he'd never be able to pull himself from the hold Michael had on him.


Simon Gagne/Vincent Lecavalier; Welcome home


Simon gently ran his fingers along the sharp edge of the silver framed name plate hanging over his locker stall. Even after all the years he had spent on the Flyers, seeing his name printed on the orange and black card, right next to the team's logo, once again felt weird. Things had come full circle, and in more ways than one.


He was right back on the team where it all started, and he had just played as a visitor in an arena he had considered home not all that long ago. Every team he had played on was special to Simon, every experience held something to be treasured. Philadelphia had been his home for so long, and the amount of memories he made there could last a lifetime. He had finally realised his dream of raising the Cup with the Kings, and he would be forever grateful for his short time there.


Then...then there was Tampa. Simon knew he hadn't been there long, only one season, but in many ways Tampa was different. It had something the other teams didn't have. The Flyers or Kings may have held shared memories or championship rings, but the Lightning had Vince. And perhaps that reason alone was why Simon would always love his time there.


After their game against the Lightning, Simon had stayed behind in the visitor's lockeroom for what seemed like hours, and his team had abandoned him long ago. He was lost in his thoughts and memories, just standing there, letting his fingers trail over his name plate, and his mind play on how much things have changed in a couple short years.


Last time Simon was in this same building, he was suiting up in the home team's locker room, and pulling on a black sweater with a lightning bolt crest. He was spending the precious moments after the game with friends, not standing alone in a room with his thoughts. Hell, even the name of the building had changed.


But Simon hadn't stayed behind because he had nowhere to go or no one to spend time with. On the contrary, Simon was waiting for someone.


As he heard the sounds of dress shoes over carpet, and felt a presence that he had come to know quite well, Simon knew he didn't have to wait any longer. His heart raced as the footsteps grew louder and closer to him. A smile broke wide across Simon's face as the familiar cologne swirled into his nose, and he didn't have to turn around to know Vince was standing right behind him.


Simon felt Vince's lips move over the back of his neck, and the sensation took his breath away. He leaned forward, steadying himself on the shelf in front of him as Vince's wet lips danced over the sensitive skin of his neck, skating just above the collar of his dress shirt. He felt like he could lose all sense of control, and he almost did when Vince found just the right spot behind his ear and started to explore it with his tongue. Finally, Vince broke away slightly, hovering his lips over Simon's ear and whispering in a voice as smooth as silk.


"Welcome home, mon ami."


Daniel Girardi/Ryan Callahan; Bruises


Dan could feel Ryan's eyes burning on his skin as he stood at the foot of the bed, facing the dresser and slowly unbuttoning his dress shirt. He may have had his back to Ryan, but Dan didn't need eyes in the back of his head or a mirror in front of him to know what Ryan was staring at.


Ryan had been sitting on the edge of the bed, with his eyes transfixed on the blue, black, and green splotch marring Dan's skin since the second he had uncovered it by sliding his pants down past his hips. Dan knew the bruise on his hip was huge, and he knew it hurt like hell. He also knew he couldn't take any more of Ryan's silent observance.


"Staring at it won't make it go away, y'know," Dan said, making damn sure his exasperation showed in his voice. He didn't move to face Ryan, he just simply held his gaze on the reflection of Ryan's intense blue eyes in the mirror.


The look of concentration and worry disappeared from Ryan's face, and he became almost visibly deflated, defeat written all over his face as his breath escaped him in a loud sigh. "I just wish I could've done something."


Dan finally spun around to meet Ryan's eyes, only to have him immediately shoot them to the floor. "Like what? Stop the puck with your mind?"


Ryan shrugged meekly, and Dan's expression softened. Dan padded across the carpet, stopped in front of where Ryan was sitting, and brushed his left knee over Ryan's, signaling for him to slide his knees apart so he could wedge himself in between them. "Look, I know you want to be all 'oh Captain, my Captain', but blocking shots is part of the job."


Ryan let out a small laugh, but kept his eyes trained on the floor, even as he began to lightly trail his fingers over the bare skin of Dan's thigh.


"It's just...." Ryan started, before stopping himself to try and find the right words. "It's just you're so perfect, and I hate seeing you hurt."


Dan looped his fingers around Ryan's wrist, and gently pulled him up until they were face to face. He pressed his lips to Ryan's, letting all the heat and passion course between them. After he pulled away slightly, Dan let his lips curl into a smile, and spoke with his lips brushing over Ryan's.


"Well, there is a good kind of hurt, y'know. Why don't you show me."


Brad Richards/Henrik Lundqvist; Withdrawal


Brad never wanted to get inside the mind of an addict, he never wanted to understand them. He had always thought that creeping around the dark corners of a drug addled mind was a terrible way to spend your time.


Eventually though, Brad came to understand that chemicals aren't the only thing someone can become addicted to. He realised it's just as easy to fall under the spell of a certain behavior or a certain activity. Or in his case, a certain person.


Brad had tried to deny it until he was drained of all energy, but nothing could change the fact that he was addicted to Hank. Just hearing his name sent a fire coursing through Brad's veins that made his head spin. Seeing something that belonged to Hank - his goalie pads hanging in the locker room, or his Rangers hat perched on the shelf - made Brad's heart pound. Those things were Hank's. They belonged to him, and had touched his skin.


None of this, however, compared to the high Brad felt every time Hank was around. Brad had hated using that word at first, hated the negative connotations, but that's truly what it was. Being around Hank was a high, and it was the best possible kind.


The crystal clear blue of Hank's eyes stole all the air from Brad's lungs. The way Hank's hair fell into his face made Brad's skin crawl with the need to reach up and brush it back into place. The way Hank's lips brushed over his whenever they were together, or the way he would gasp Brad's name into the darkness, it all left Brad's pulse racing, his throat dry, and his heart pounding out of his chest.


And of course with every drug and every addiction, comes the heart wrenching withdrawal.


Mere seconds after Brad slipped from Hank's bed, he was always struck with an anxiety that he could never shake off, no matter how many times he had been in that exact same place. Restlessness always coursed though him as he quietly slipped out the front door, wondering just how long he had until Hank came to his senses and robbed him of the best thing he had ever known.


Brad couldn't even remember the last time he had slept through the night, but he knew it wasn't while he was alone in his own bed. No, the last time Brad had been able to sleep was when he was laying in Hank's bed, wrapped in his arms.


Brad hated to call himself an addict, complete with pulse pounding highs and mind numbing withdrawals, but that's exactly what he was.



Brad Richards/Henrik Lundqvist; Toys (I took it upon myself to add a past Brad Richards/Vincent Lecavalier, and current Ryan Malone/Vincent Lecavalier element to this one)


Brad could feel the charged air crackling around him as he stared at Vince, every muscle in his body tense, and his jaw clenched so hard he felt it might break. He hadn't really been prepared to run into Vince outside of the locker rooms, and after the initial shock wore off, it occurred to Brad that Vince had been talking.


"How could you?" Vince hissed, repeating his earlier question that had gone unanswered.


Brad heard a choked laugh come from behind him, and he jumped slightly, hoping no one noticed. Truth was, the tense moment that had come crashing down around Brad had caused him to utterly forget where he was, and that Hank had been standing behind him. So, when Hank had made his feelings known through the condescending chuckle, it was almost as shocking as the moment he walked out of his own locker room to come face to face with Vince's accusing stare.


Brad blinked hard a couple times, trying to regain his composure. "Do what, exactly? Walk out of my own locker room, with one of my teammates? Or is it who I'm walking out with?"


Brad's tone was heavy, weighted with a million emotions, and he made sure to put extra emphases on the word 'my.'


"Come on, Vince. We all have our toys. Our ways to pass the time. Some are just more fleeting than others." Brad's meaning wasn't lost on Vince, and he knew exactly what, or rather whom, Brad was referring to.


Vince was momentarily taken aback. He wanted to yell. He wanted to throw things. But most of all, Vince wanted to tell Brad, as loud as his voice and throat would allow, that he was the one that ended things between them, so he didn't get to criticize or analyse whom Vince had chosen to move on with.


Instead, Vince just narrowed his eyes on Brad's, a million thoughts whirling in his head, trying to think of the perfect thing to say. Any words Vince may have had died on his tongue the second he saw a sly smile creep onto Brad's lips, and his gaze shoot to the entrance of the visitor's locker room. Vince didn't bother to look behind him to see what had drawn Brad's amusement, because he knew, somehow he just knew. He could hear the shuffling footsteps, and feel Ryan's presence before he ever saw him approach. He just shut his eyes and wished he could be anywhere else, because dragging Ryan into something that he himself didn't even want to be part of was the worst possible outcome he could think of. But somehow, Vince had a feeling things were about to get much, much worse.