It was a big day. The Wild had not won a game in nearly two weeks, but this one was important. Trevor was especially particular about getting ready for the game that Saturday. Everything had to be perfect. Even if his team did not win, he had to be great. They were playing the Stars.
Trevor would not look bad in front of his old team. It was just not an option. His face was hard and determined as he walked to the rink. He could see his old teammates and his old coach. They had not taken notice of him yet. He hoped they would not until they game started. He was not particularly up to chatting with any of them. They had let him go. They had no right to be in his life anymore. Not unless they were there to be beaten by him.
Trevor was glad he was starting. He would be able to do damage quickly. He was also glad he was not in the front line. He would not have to stare down his former teammates’ faces. He did not want to hear what they had to say to him. He knew they had never particularly liked him. He was afraid the Wild players would come to his aid. He was unsure how they felt about him. Except Justin. For some reason, that guy was still hanging around him, and it had nothing to do with their coach’s instructions.
The game started quick and intense. A couple of fights broke out, which Trevor was sure to stay away from. He did not want the Stars to think he was still the way he was when he had been with them. He was a better player now. He could do this.
His performance reflected his determination and drive. He scored one goal and assisted in another. The Wild won five to two. It was the first big victory in a long time. Trevor felt elated. His team rushed around him at the end of the game. For the first time, he felt like he was truly a part of the Wild, and he liked it. He hoped that game would help everyone forget about the North Stars.
“Great job, boys!” he said to them all when they entered the locker room. He had never once addressed them all after a game, or at all. “Let’s go celebrate!”
There was a rousing cheer.
Trevor had never celebrated with his team. Neither the Wild nor the Stars. But this game seemed to call for it. It did not matter if the season was going down the hole. They would have another one to make up for it. To beat the state’s old team was a victory worth enjoying.
It was the third time that week Trevor dreamed about his past. He relived his childhood, except everything seemed darker and more haunted. He always felt trapped. He tried to escape, but there was never a way out. He was haunted as he walked empty hallways. He could hear his father’s booming voice ridiculing him. And his mother, too, condemning him for abandoning the family. For being the only thing he could be.
He woke up in a sweat, his heart beating quickly. It was still dark out. Something external had awoken him. Peering across his room, he could see Liam standing timidly in between the door frame.
“What’s wrong?” Trevor called for him.
Liam closed the door behind him before walking up to his bed. “I’ve been having nightmares,” he said quietly.
Trevor looked at him in surprise. The kid had not reported any bad dreams since he had first come to Minnesota. Trevor hesitated. He did not want the kid to be afraid; he had said he would protect him and take care of him. Liam did not deserve to have nights like this. Trevor sighed and said, “Me too, kid. Come on in.” He moved over so that Liam could climb into the bed with him. The boy wrapped his little arms around him and buried his head into his chest. Trevor awkwardly held onto him as well. He was still not good at this. He had an odd feeling that he could not place.
“Nothing bad is going to happen to me, is it, Trevor?” Liam asked with a hint of fear in his voice.
Trevor stroked his blond hair back with his hand. “No, Liam,” he said softly. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” This seemed to satisfy the kid, but the hockey player was left awake for awhile longer. He wished he had someone who made sure nothing bad would happen to him.
He thought about Heather and Justin. They cared about him. They wanted to help. Yet, Trevor did not know how they could make any real difference in his life. They were better off without him. Why did they waste their time with him? There had to be something there. Something he could not quite grasp. He was too tied to think logically. He closed his eyes and let rest take over him.
Trevor found himself with a lack of things to do on his week off. He did not want to call Heather or Justin. The longer he was absent from them, the stronger was his resolve to keep them away from him. But when he was near them –
Everything seemed different when he was around them but for different reasons.
Justin just made him confused. Trevor had mixed feelings about that guy. His teammate was nice and just trying to be his friend, and he could not figure out why. There was a caution sign around him.
Heather was different. When he was with her, he felt like he could believe that everything she was saying was true. He could not quite grasp it, but he felt something. Could he go on like this? He could not lean on her his whole. Something needed to change. She either had to be proven right or he had to leave for good.
He was staring out his window to the balcony as he thought about this late Thursday night. The world outside appeared dead, just the way he liked it. Snow covered everything in sight and turned the grass brown. Winter was supposed to be cold and white. At least he was not in Texas. He could not stand living there anymore. Whatever was happening to him now, it was better than what he had to deal with back then.
What did he have to deal with back in Dallas that was so bad? A team he hated, for one. Yet, the Wild was not a much better prospect. He was in the North now, so that was good. He was not getting into any fights. He had socialized in Dallas, but it could not fill the deep loneliness he had felt. There had always been something missing in his life. He thought he knew now what it was, but he did not know if to get it was worth the cost. He would have to try hardest, and even then, it might not be enough. What would happen if he failed and he had no energy left, not even for hockey? He had to put in all of his chips to succeed. He was not sure now that it was worth the gamble.
But to be with Heather…
There was a knock on the door. It was likely to be only one person. He turned to face the door. “Come in!” he called. “It’s unlocked!”
He heard the sound of the doorknob turning. Then in stepped Heather. There seemed to be a sea of emotions swimming in her eyes. “Trevor!” she gasped.
Trevor took a step towards her. He was alert, wondering if something was wrong. She usually did not come over unannounced this late. “What is it?”
“Where have you been?” she said. She strode across the room until they were a yard apart. “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
That was all she was worried about? He relaxed his shoulders. “I’ve been busy.”
“Please tell me you’re not rethinking everything again.”
Trevor shrugged. “There’s a lot to think about. I told you I might change my mind.”
“But we need to be together!” Heather exclaimed.
Trevor shook his head. “No, you’re wrong. Maybe I need you, but you need to be away from me.”
“No!” Heather cried, stepping closer. “I want to be with you. Don’t you understand? Not for your sake, but for mine! I love you!”
Trevor’s eyes widened, and he staggered back, surprised. His mouth was slightly opened in shock. He could hardly think. He could not believe what she just said. No one had told him that since… He could not remember when. He had been a young child.
“No,” he whispered in horror. “You can’t. That’s- No.” His heart was thudding.
Heather took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then she stepped towards him. “I love you, Trevor. That is not something you should be afraid of. I love you in the purest sense of the word, but I’m also in love with you. Please, let me love you.” Her eyes were almost pleading.
Trevor shut his eyes as if that could blind him to the whole situation. “Get away,” he said in a low voice. “I can’t do this.” His eyes shot open when he felt her touch his arm. He tore his arm out of her grasp, his eyes wide.
“I’m not going to leave,” Heather said in a steady voice. “That’s what I came here to tell you. I don’t care that you think we can’t be together. It’s my choice. I am not going to leave you alone.”
Trevor tried not to think about the implications of what she was saying. He could not draw the logical conclusions that his heart already felt. “Get away!” he shouted. But he was the one who was afraid and non-threatening. She was in control. All he could do was back away from her.
“You said you love me,” Heather said, taking a step forward for every step he took back.
“Yes,” Trevor said. “I do.” Of course he did. That was the whole point of what he was trying to say. He loved her too much to let her do this to herself.
“Am I the only one you love?”
Trevor frowned and did not respond. He was unsure what she was getting at.
“Do you not love anyone else? Not even yourself?”
Trevor remained quiet. He thought the answer was obvious enough. Then he thought of Liam. Did he love him? He was not sure. If he did, it was not the same love he felt for Heather. He decided it was irrelevant to the question she was asking him. He glanced at the floor.
“You don’t want to cause me any pain,” Heather said slowly. “But if I love you, wouldn’t it cause me more pain to be away from you than whatever it is you’re afraid of happening if I stay? You should know the answer to that question.”
He did. He wanted to deny that she really loved him and say it was just a tactic to get him to consent to her will, but he could not do that. It made too much sense of her actions. He could find no other explanation. He clenched his teeth together. Why was she doing this to him? Why could she not leave well enough alone?
“And having someone hate someone you love causes you pain, right?” Heather went on.
Trevor shut his eyes again. He wished he could shut his ears.
“So, if I love you, then you hating yourself causes me pain. And if you love me, you would not want that, so the only solution would be for you to love yourself.”
“Stop!” Trevor shouted, opening his eyes in terror. It was becoming difficult to breath. “Enough of this! Get out of my home!”
Heather crossed he arms. “I thought your home was Chicago,” she said pointedly.
Trevor stood there gaping at her, not sure what to say. Did she have to contradict everything? Did she always have to win? It was his fault. He let her come too close. He let her see too much. He should have found someone else to take care of Liam. He should have never let her back into his life. He should have never let her care.
“What’s going on?” said a sleepy voice.
Trevor spun around to see Liam standing there with tired eyes. He was at a loss for words. How was he supposed to explain the situation to a kid? He could not even come up with a good enough lie; his mind was still in shock.
“Trevor doesn’t want anyone to love him, honey,” Heather said gently.
Liam turned to Trevor and frowned. “But I love you, Trevor.”
The NHL player gritted his teeth in frustration. This was not the evening he had planned. “Just go to bed,” he said through clenched teeth. He as a kid; what did he know about love? He was young and innocent. He probably loved everyone he came in contact with. It did not mean anything special.
Liam turned to Heather. “Is he going to be okay?”
Heather gazed at him sadly. “I hope so, dear. Do as he says. Go to sleep.”
Liam nodded. “Ok. Good night, Heather. Good night, Trevor. I hope you feel better.” Then he trotted off to bed.
Weariness took over Trevor as he watched him go. All of the stress from the previous conversation was beginning to make him feel exhausted. He looked at Heather tiredly.
“You can’t keep this up,” Heather said, barely above a whisper.
“I know,” Trevor tried to growl, but it came out as more of a whimper.
Heather walked up to him. She placed a hand on his upper arm and he flinched but did not pull away this time. “Just trust me. I know what I’m doing. I’m not going to give up on you Trevor.”
He turned his head away so as to not look at her. His breathing had finally calmed.
“Think about what I said,” she dropped her hand. He looked up and saw her walking towards the door. Before she left, she turned back and said with sad eyes, “I love you.”
Trevor cringed. Why? he wanted to ask. Why me?
He turned around, teeth clenched, and pounded the wall with his fists. It was time to decide.