Auston Matthews - Part 29
Really long… preparing for more angry messages and asks…
I stare at my phone screen a long time, my fingers hovering over my keyboard with Auston’s name at the stop of my screen. Stifling a groan I click my screen off and throw myself back onto my bed. Ever since Mitch texted me earlier today all I can think about is Auston and the fact that he hasn’t talked to me. I don’t think he would have let Mitch text me unless he was okay with it, but he hasn’t texted, called or snapped me in the last three days.
Does he even care anymore? I think to myself and quickly shake the thought out of my head. Of course he cares. Auston may not have said it, but I know he cares about me just as much I care about him. I just need to be patient. I spent the last twenty-one years of my life without him, I can stand a few more days.
My phone rings on the pillow next to my ear and I nearly roll off the bed. I fumble with the screen and finally accept the call.
“Hello?” I say.
“Hi, honey,” my dad’s rough voice comes through the other end and I can’t help but smile.
“Hi, dad! What’s going on?”
“Still plan on picking me up at the airport tomorrow morning?” He asks.
“Yep, bright and early at 8:15,” I repeat what my mother told me on the phone yesterday morning.
“Good girl, you’re going with me to the game on Tuesday with me, right?” My dad asks, a little bit of hesitation in his voice.
“Yeah? Why wouldn’t I?” I ask him, frowning at the ceiling.
“Hey I don’t know! You moved out, didn’t know if that meant you were too cool for me or something,” he says defensibly and I giggle.
“You’re safe dad, we already know I’m cooler than you yet I still choose to spend time with you,” I say, rolling my eyes.
We chat a bit more until three o’clock hits and the Leaf’s game comes on, being one who can’t talk to anymore while watching hockey, I hang up with my dad and snuggle down into my couch with Zalla and Andie. This is the Leaf’s last game on their short road trip and the first night of a back to back, coming home to play the Blues tomorrow. While my dad primarily works for the Red Wings, he travels around looking at other team’s prospects and possible trade bait, which is why he’s coming when St. Louis is in town.
I had debated whether or not to watch the Leafs after Auston left, but it was the only way I didn’t feel quite so alone in this big house in a big city. Though I don’t cheer when they score, I just watch, much like my first game in Toronto with Auston’s family. My mind wanders to Mitch’s message about coming over when they get home, being a Sunday, their game is early and they will be home early tonight. I debate with myself if Auston will come with him or not. I highly doubt he would come, but I can’t help but get my hopes up.
The game ends in overtime with the Hawks scoring just seconds in, a score of three to two. The urge to text or call Auston is almost overwhelming and let out a wail of despair when my phone goes off but it’s only a snapchat from my friend. I miss him. I miss him so much.
I stare at my lock screen as I board the bus to bring us to the airport. It’s the picture I took of Y/N when she was getting her dress fitted on her second day in Toronto. The background is a blur, only her smiling face and body in focus. I puff out a small laugh that despite everything, nothing has changed, this picture was accurate then and it still is now.
When my screen lights up and starts ringing, I nearly jump. Looking around to see if anyone notices when I put the phone to my ear.
“Hey,” I say after making sure everyone in a few seat radius is occupied with something else.
“Hey, so I was able to track down Y/L/N before he went home. Looked like a fucking idiot walking around the Joe asking by the way,” Dylan’s voice says through the receiver.
“Great, can you text it to me? I’ll call him right when we land in Toronto,” I mutter into the phone, sinking down a little in my seat.
“Sure…” Dylan pauses on the other line like he wants to say something else.
“What?” I ask him.
“It’s just… does this have something to do about Y/N? We heard she moved to Toronto a few weeks ago, and I know you… ya know…” Dylan trails off.
I don’t say anything and Dylan sighs.
“I knew it. Look, I know you have a thing for her and she probably does you, but just… take care of her. I got to know her more last season before she got heavily involved in school stuff, she’s a great girl… very much like her dad just prettier,” Dylan laughs and I find I’m able to smile.
“I know Larks, she told me about you actually. Something about falling down the stairs and blaming the black eye on a high sti-“ I snicker into the phone and he cuts me off.
“Alright that’s enough story time. In my defense it was both the high stick and the combined falling that resulted in the black eye,” Dylan grumbles into the phone and I roll my eyes.
“Whatever, bud. But really, thanks for hunting him down for me,” I say seriously.
“No problem, bud. Good luck,” he responds and we hang up. Instantly I get the phone number in a text and quickly save it. As the bus pulls up to the airport I mumble what I have planned to say over and over again as we board the plane and set off towards home. Towards Y/N.
Mitch sends me a text as soon as they land and I send in a phone order for delivery from my new favorite Chinese buffet who, I recently discovered, deliver. He mentioned that it’s him and two others coming, who he doesn’t name.
By the time they arrive it’s close to eight, coming directly from the airport. I don’t bother to get up from my place on the couch when they file in, too absorbed in my sweet and sour chicken. I scan the faces and turn my attention back to my plate when I don’t see the one I was looking for. Mitch, Morgan and Will shuffle to their respective spots they all claimed within the first few weeks of discovering my house. Mitch is in the chair beside me, Will is sprawled out on the sectional with the footrest and Morgan is sitting on the floor with his back against the couch by my knees.
Almost instantly I relax for the first time in three days and realize how incredibly tired I am. These thoughts are validated by Morgan glancing up at me after thanking me for his meal.
“Have you slept in twenty years?” He asks, a teasing tone in his voice and I scowl at him.
“Count to twenty and I’ll answer,” I reply sweetly and he scoffs at me.
“Good to be home, smartass.”
I nudge him with my foot and he flicks it with his finger making me squeal with the sting. Quickly, we fall back into the usual banter, I make Mitch go wash his hands before he even thinks about touching the Xbox controller and he huffs at me muttering under his breath as he makes his way to the bathroom.
No one mentions Auston and I don’t bring him up either. Soon enough, I doze off to sleep, my head on the armrest and my legs stretched out to almost where Will is sitting. I startle awake around three in the morning from an insignificant dream and blink in the darkness, disoriented. I move to sit up but realize there’s a blanket across me and my heart warms. Glancing around now that my eyes have adjusted, I can see Mitch reclined in the chair and Morgan on the other end of the couch where Will had been. I can hear Will’s soft snore coming from down the hall in the spare bedroom that I had thought I would be able to convert into an office but I had to put a bed in there instead thanks to a certain hockey player falling down my stairs one night after having a little too much to drink.
All of them seemed to have found blankets for themselves as well and their quiet breathing is reassuring. They stayed with me. My heart blooms and I snuggle back down onto my spot, sleep coming easy again.
A few hours later I tip toe around them, heading upstairs to shower and get ready to head to the airport to pick up my dad. Zalla and Andie seem to have learned how to tip toe as well as they slink across the hardwood floors, being my shadows like usual. When I pull my shirt on my bracelet jingles on my wrist, I had thought about taking it off the last few days, but I found too much comfort in the strong band and beautiful charms. I finger the charms gently as I make my way downstairs and sneak through the foyer and out my front door without waking a single one of the boys.
Zalla and Andie come with me, I know they miss dad as much as I do. They seem to sense my excitement as I drive closer and closer to the airport, their whines echoing in the backseat. Right as I pull into the pickup area my phone goes off.
“I’m outside, honey,” my dad’s voice comes through the car speaker and I think my dogs are going to combust in the backseat.
“I see you!” I squeal as I make the small loop and put my car into park before jumping out and into my father’s waiting arms.
“Hi, baby girl,” my dad coos in my ear, I think he’s just as emotional as I am. Happy tears trail down my face as he lifts me off my feet, his arms right around me. I inhale deeply, taking in the husky and smoky smell of my dad and our wood stove from home.
“I missed you,” I whisper and he laughs.
“I gathered that,” he sets me down and puts his hands on my shoulder, examining me. “How you doing? Big girl in a big city,” he winks at me and I giggle.
“I’m good, dad. It’s been a learning process. I now understand why mom never let me buy and eat an entire birthday cake myself.”
“Ahh yes, that was the first lesson I learned too,” he wraps an arm round my shoulders and leads me back to my car where my dogs are quivering with excitement. “You brought the girls!” He exclaims and leaves me on the sidewalk like a piece of gum, diving into the backseat and being licked to death by Zalla and Andie. I don’t blame him though, I would have done the same thing.
By the time we get back to the house, the boys are gone and for once the living room is spotless. I smile at the room and give my dad a tour of the now unpacked house, spending the rest of the day showing and telling him everything I’ve been working on at the university.
Once we get to the arena there are hardly any people milling around yet. But that’s what happens when you get there two and a half hours before the puck drops. My father is familiar with the arena and leads the way through the bowels of the Air Canada Center, sticking close behind him and avoiding looking anywhere but at his back.
Every time my father stops to talk to someone, I reach up to the ball cap I had thrown on before leaving the house and pull it a little farther down my head. No one my father stops says anything to me, which I’m used to from my years of following him around as a child. It isn’t until we turn down a hallway to head to the elevator that someone acknowledges me.
“Mike, how are you?” My dad exclaims, clasping hands with the Leafs head coach. I can’t help but peek up at him, my dad and he had worked closely together over the years until Babs left Detroit to take on Toronto, growing up I had been close with one of his daughters when we were dragged by our dads to various games and practices.
They make small talk a minute before Mike notices me standing behind my dad’s shoulder.
“Y/N! I didn’t see you there. Heard you’re doing some big things in the Astrophysics department,” Mike winks at me and my cheeks warm with the smile forming across my face.
“That she is,” my dad says, squeezing my shoulder, a proud look on his face that I beam under.
“I heard you’ve been here over a month and haven’t come to visit me yet,” Mike quirks an eyebrow at me.
‘I’ve been here!” I gesture to where I know the family room is down the hall before I realize what I’m doing and I try to play if off as fixing my hat. My dad and Mike both raise their eyebrows at me. “Don’t give me that look,” I blush under their stares and look away.
“She’s got a point Mike, she has been here,” my dad says, smirking at Mike and I scowl.
“I’m surprised she admitted it,” Mike adds, both of them clearly enjoying themselves.
“Shouldn’t you be yelling at your players or something,” I mutter and he laughs.
“Only if they piss me off, Y/N,” he says, though he does glance at his watch. “Though I do have other things to get going besides yelling.” He shakes my dad’s hand and pats my shoulder. “I look forward to seeing you after the game, and you,” Mike then directs his attention to me. “I look forward to seeing you around here more often as well.” I make a noise in the back of my throat and nod at him with his knowing smile on his face.
We head back down the hallway to elevator right when a group of boys rounds the corner in front of us. I immediately see Mitch and I know Auston will be right behind him. I duck into my father’s side and try to stay in his shadow praying that no one notices me.
“Y/L/N!” Someone shouts behind me and both my father and I whip around on instinct. Babcock is standing down the hallway we just left, leaning against a door frame, a smirk on his face.
“Ms. Y/L/N, to be exact. I forgot to comment on your hat, looks better than red and white in my opinion,” he says and I can feel the stares of nearly everyone in the hallway. Frowning, I reach up to the ball cap and pull it off my head. I turn it in my hands a Toronto Maple Leafs logo glares up at me, I hold it at arm’s length away much to amusement of the people watching me. What the…?
“Now the real question is, are you going to put it back on?” Mike winks at me and then disappears into the door frame he had been standing in.
I look from where he had been standing back to the hat and eye it warily. Turning on my heel I continue walking slowly with my dad, growing closer and closer to the group of guys still watching me. When I’m within fifteen of them I huff out a small laugh and plop the hat back on my head, adjusting my pony tail.
“Where did I go wrong?” My dad muses beside me and I smile at him, continuing to ignore the gawking Leafs players to my right. They had been trying since I got to Toronto to get me to wear some sort of Leafs gear and apparently one of them had left a hat one night and I grabbed it by mistake.
“Nineteen years ago when you showed me the sky,” I say back to him and he laughs softly, putting his arm around my shoulders and kissing the top of my head.
“Then I wouldn’t change a thing,” he says and I squeeze his hand. Here is the only boy that would love me no matter what I did.
My dad takes me up to the scouting booth where much of the Leafs front office people are. He talks with Brendan Shanahan for a few moments as I make my way to one of the free seats and try to ignore everyone around me. It used to amaze me that my dad worked and knew all these people, now I just want to watch hockey.
We have to wait quite a while longer before the actual game starts and nearly the entire time my dad is either talking to someone in person or on the phone. I take the free time to people watch as fans file in, I start making a mental list of how many Matthews jerseys I see. I lose count very quickly.
The game wears on, a nail bitter to the very end, even though the Leafs are up by two after an empty netter with two minutes left. With a final score of six to four in the Leafs favor, everyone leaves happy. My dad looks at his watch and mutters to himself, rubbing his face.
“What are you thinking about?” I ask him, he only every does that when he’s stressed.
“What? Nothing, just we have a little time before my flight leaves. Want to get some dinner?” He asks standing up and gathering his laptop and notes.
“It’s almost ten…” I stare at him.
“I didn’t say we have to go an eight course meal, Y/N,” my dad laughs. “I just need something to hold me over before my short flight home to your mother.”
“Alright,” I sigh, standing next to him and stretching, my hand brushes against the hat and I smile.
I drive my dad through Toronto as he looks for someplace we wants to eat and he finally decides on the restaurant that I went to with Auston’s family on my very first night here. As I sit down at a table just a short distance away from where I sat then, I almost feel the bracelet heat on my wrist. I touch the charms as my dad busies himself with the menu.
“You seem awfully intrigued by that bracelet, Y/N,” my dad says, not even looking up from his menu. Okay, maybe he’s not as busy as I thought.
I shrug my shoulders and put my hands on my lap.
“Let me see,” my dad presses, putting his menu down and reaching towards me. I obey and place my wrist on the table in front of him, he gently lifts it and examines the little dangles.
“This middle one is quite extravagant,” he muses, touching the blue and gold one. “Who gave you that one?”
“Auston,” I mutter, my cheeks flaming and my dad chuckles.
“Should have guessed,” he whispers more to himself than to me and I frown at him. I hadn’t mentioned anything about Auston to either of my parents, though my mom suspected it, I had never confirmed anything. Before I can ask, he puts my wrist back on the table and pats my hand before turning his attention back to the menu.
“You’re being weird today,” I tell him, picking up my own menu.
“What else is new?” He asks, not looking at me and I nod in agreement.
Once I’m able to get him to leave and into the car towards the airport, I finally ask.
“Is there a reason you didn’t want to go back to my house before your flight?”
“What are you talking about? We were already out, no need to go all the way home and then back in just under two hours.” He’s talking fast and avoiding my eye contact. I pull up to a stop light and eye him.
“Dad… I live less than fifteen minutes from the airport…” I quirk an eyebrow at him and he squirms in his seat, thankfully I got my poker face from my mama. “You just going to avoid my eye contact the rest of the way?”
My dad turns his head slightly towards me and opens his mouth but seems to think better of it and looks forward again. “Yes.” He says and I sigh at him.
We ride in silence the rest of the way until I pull to a stop outside the entrance, it’s a ghost town, not a person in sight. Sadness aches in my chest, it had been so nice having my dad with me all day, it kept my mind off of things. Now that he’s leaving and I have to go back to an empty house, a sadness comes over me.
“Are you positive you and mom can’t just move here?” I ask him, tears in my eyes.
“Oh, Y/N, as much as we miss you… I think you’re doing just fine on your own, baby,” he reaches across the console and wraps his arms around me. I lean into him and nuzzle my face into his neck.
“But I miss you,” I whine and he laughs.
“I think there are quite a few things you would miss in Toronto if you were to leave,” he whispers and I can hear more behind his words.
“You’re going great kid, I’m proud of you,” he squeezes me once more before letting me go and reaching into the backseat for his briefcase.
“Love you,” I say as he climbs out of the car.
“Love you so much more,” he answers and winks at me, closing the door gently and tapping the roof.
I blow him one more kiss and wait until he gets inside the airport to pull away. A few tears fall during my short ride home. I had thought having my dad here, even for a day, would make me feel so much better and now that he’s gone, I feel a hundred times worse and even more homesick. Even when I pull into my driveway, I can’t get myself to climb out and walk inside for another ten minutes.
When I finally get myself composed, I step out of the car and trudge through the snow to my front door, not even noticing the other car sitting in my driveway. I fumble with my keys at the door, I realize my porch lights aren’t on. I tap the glass around the out light bulb and stop myself. That is exactly how horror movies start out, dumbass. Finally getting the door open I step in and close the door behind me before I even realize that the lamp that I always keep on in the foyer is also off.
I hear a snap and suddenly there’s a light near my feet and I squeal, whipping around and pressing my back to the door looking around in a panic. Looking down at the floor I’m surprised not to see some half eaten zombie crawling towards me but a rope of what looks light white Christmas lights, which lead through the foyer and into the hallway behind it.
I eye the lights for a minute and taking a deep breath, I step forward.