When Jeff took the job with the Aces, he knew nothing about hockey beyond what he read on their Wikipedia page ten minutes before the interview.
It had been a stroke of good luck that he happened to know a friend of a friend that got somehow got his portfolio on the desk of someone important with the hockey team. The next thing he knew getting offered a job with the PR team that paid three times more than what what the newspaper could offer him.
So, Jeff moved out to Las Vegas with barely any time to pack up his belongings, and the next day, he was finishing up the last of the paper work. After the morning of grueling meetings, Jeff went to go see the team on the ice. He wanted to practice getting a few shots to get an idea of how he was going to photograph them during games.
He did know how to get a good photo while the athletes were in motion, but he’d never done hockey before.
Jeff watched for a bit from the stands. The plays they were practicing were beyond his understanding, but it was fascinating to watch them skate with an unexpected grace as they chased after the puck. He got a couple of shots in and decided that they weren’t bad.
At the end of practice, Jeff started to pack up his camera when he realized that one of the guys had come up to him. The guy was still in his gear, though the helmet was tucked under an arm. His wild, blond hair was damp from sweat and pushed back carelessly. Jeff immediately recognized him as the captain, Parson.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before,” Parson said thoughtfully as he assessed Jeff.
“I’m new,” he explained after he’d introduced himself.
“I know.“ Parson’s tone was innocent, but the look in his eyes suggested otherwise. “I would have noticed you.”
Jeff, for a brief moment, thought he’d misheard, but Parson smirked, and that was when Jeff knew he was in trouble.
nose was wrong and fat and bulging too much into the right side of his face.
And his eyes were too far apart and unbelievably round. Not to mention, that he
only had a pencil, so the pupils were large, black, and, altogether, soulless. His
eyebrows were too dark and extended across nearly the entire forehead, looking far
too much like caterpillars. He had tried to shade the hair correctly, but it
just looked black and stringy. The chin jutted forward far too much. The smile
was just… wrong. There was no other way to put it. He had tried to sketch his
teeth, but they now seemed unrealistically blocky and square. The lips were
stretched back and looked more like a sneer than a smile. All in all, it was
terrible, unrecognizable, but he knew exactly who it was meant to be.
smiled, setting his pencil down. He made no claims to be an artist, but this
was probably his best work yet. Crutchie tilted his head, squinting an eye. If
his eyes were slightly out of focus, the drawing started to look more like—
that a drawing of me?”
jerked backwards, his heart pounding uncomfortably, as Jack sat down beside
him. “Uh, what?” Crutchie squeaked, fighting the urge to just grab the notebook
paper and stuff it into his backpack and just walk away and never return. He
could feel his underarms start to itch with sweat and the tips of his ears were
burning. Which was a sure sign that the rest of his face would be beaming a
bright red. Maybe, Jack wouldn’t notice—
much for that vain wish. “Blushing?” Crutchie asked, forcing out a laugh. “Am I
shrugged. “Oh, well, maybe a little. But, I might also be sunburnt and you know
what that does to my skin. I’m pale as an… oyster?” Crutchie tried, his mind
having suddenly gone frighteningly blank. Jack was inching closer and closer,
and now they were breathing the exact same air, and, god, Crutchie hoped his
breath didn’t stink. He had brushed his teeth earlier that morning, but what if
the minty freshness had faded away and Jack would smell it and lean back and
never talk to him again and—
oyster?” Jack asked, laughing. “What, have you been spending too much time with
Jack. Look, I’m just trying to eat my lunch, here, so…”
Jack asked, quirking an eyebrow in Crutchie’s direction. “Because, to me, it
looked like you were sketching a nice picture.”
snorted. “It ain’t that nice. I’m sure you’d do it a lot better.” He rubbed at
the back of his neck—which was still burning with embarrassment—somewhat sheepishly.
“The eyes are all demonic and the hair looks like something out of a vampire
moved to grab the paper and put it away, but Jack’s hand on top of his stopped
thoughts in Crutchie’s brain short-circuited and he could only think about how
Jack’s hand felt on top of his and, crap, was his palm starting to sweat and,
even though it was his palm, what if Jack could feel the sweat and— He froze,
suddenly realizing that Jack was talking and he hadn’t been able to comprehend
a word that had come from the other boy’s mouth. “Uh, what did you say?”
Crutchie asked, well aware that the burning at the tips of his ears and across
his cheeks and on his neck had increased tenfold.
laughed. “I was just saying that you shouldn’t throw it away or nothing. It’s a
nice picture. And, if you’d like, I can help you make it better.”
nodded, almost without thinking. He wordlessly accepted the pencil Jack handed
him and repositioned the paper to draw. Jack adjusted himself, so that he was
sitting right beside Crutchie, his right hand gently holding Crutchie’s right
wrist. “Okay, what’s first?” Crutchie asked, the words a soft whisper in the
loud, over-crowded lunchroom.
who are we drawing?” Jack asked.
to admit that he had been drawing Jack,
Crutchie lied, “Oh, that was an awful attempt at Race.”
huh?” Jack asked. For a moment, Crutchie feared that Jack would call his bluff,
but the other boy did no such thing. Instead, he began guiding Crutchie’s hand
as they drew a face. “First, we need a face. I’m a fan of angular jaws, so we’ll
just add to quick lines here… and here. And that’s our face. What do you want
to do next?”
eyes?” Crutchie suggested. “Race has… eyes.” Which, in hindsight, was a
completely idiotic thing to say, but Crutchie blamed it on the intoxicatingly
close proximity between him and his crush of about five years.
eyes are good,” Jack agreed, and Crutchie was overwhelmingly thankful that he
did not point out Crutchie’s stupid comment. Jack carefully guided Crutchie’s
hand as they sketched two soft eyes, adding a couple laugh-wrinkles at the
laughed. “Of course, he is. And let’s add some eyebrows… and a nose… and a
watched, amazed, as Jack helped him draw an excellent, life-like face. Though,
and he would never admit it to Jack, but the face wasn’t turning out exactly
like Race. The nose was too long, and a little crooked. And the smile wasn’t as
wide or sarcastic as Race’s generally was. But, Crutchie wouldn’t complain. It
was a far cry better than Crutchie’s poor attempt at art. “We need to add hair,”
and hair is the hardest part. For me, at least,” Jack admitted, as he guided
Crutchie’s hand, quickly adding some hair to the boy they had drawn. “How about
that?” Jack asked, once they had finished their drawing.
That’s not Race,” Crutchie said, dumbfounded. They hadn’t drawn Race at all. It
was Jack smiling up at him from the
know, but you hadn’t been drawing Race originally, either.”
immediately scooted away from Jack. “I—I was just drawing and, somehow, I don’t
even know how, it just turned into you and I’m sorry, but it doesn’t mean
anything,” he rambled.
wordlessly opened his backpack and pulled out a notebook. He pushed the
notebook over to Crutchie, and the other boy obligingly opened it and started
sifting through its pages. On each page, were drawings and drawings of
Crutchie. Crutchie looked up at Jack in surprise. “I…” Jack stopped, clearing
his throat. “I, uh, like you, too. I mean, if you like me, that is. I had
thought…” he trailed off, scratching at his left arm.
uh, do like you,” Crutchie admitted nervously. “So, uh, what now?” he asked,
go on a date?” Jack asked, smiling widely.
that sounds good.”
could take you to an art museum?” Jack suggested. “You’re actually pretty good.”