Exchange Value

by: Tammy
Rating: R
Summary: Jason's thoughts after(during) Petr scored the goal that won Game 1.
AN: Whatever it Takes was indeed the Stars motto. They didn't really follow it. "Whatever it takes to get you through the night" is one my favorite lines from 90210. Brenda and Dylan 4 Eva.


Our motto was "Whatever it takes."

It meant we'd give it all--we'd do anything--to get to sixteen.

After our first game our coach kindly changed it to 'It's Going to Take a Heck of a Lot More Than The Sorry Effort We Gave in Game 1.'

And it did, and we did.

We came back hard, and I watched as our team gave their all, and stayed patient and believed in theirselves enough to remain cool, and then watch Mike squeeze one by Tommy.

His eyes lit up and the largest smile I'd ever seen spread across his face. I wondered if he smiled as much Sunday night as he had that night four years ago. He even backed into the glass, opening his arms for his teammates just like he had that memorable night. They truly had given their all, all those years ago. If they had to go on for another period, they wouldn't have made it; Brett's groin was gone, and the Stars could only thank Benoit's shoe lace.

It was hard, but it was easy. Strange dichotomy, I know. Like that "I love you, but I'm not in love with you" bullshit, but giving it your all, playing your hardest is quite possibly the easiest thing out there.

If your team is down one goal in the final two minutes, it doesn't matter if your lungs are burning, if your legs are begging you to stop, you can't; you won't. It doesn't matter what your body is screaming at you; you have to get that goal.

So when we went into that intermission, down only one, we made a pact in the room. Time to step it up; give our all. After all, what did we have to lose?

So we did.

We got a big goal from Brendan, and never seemed to stop coming. Like waves on the sand, or the tide, with our heart beats matching the tempo. An even rhythm, and our minds telling us to keep with it, keep with it, and that we'd be rewarded eventually.

It was so easy. We laughed on the bench in disbelief, amazed at how we were still going, still giving it all, and maybe just wondering why it wasn't over yet.

But it wasn't, so we kept going. Kept churning. Legs tired, body splayed out behind the net, and yet you keep going, and find yourself backchecking and lifting the stick of a defender to get that puck back.

My body ached, but I ignored it. Whatever it takes. My feet throbbed, but I stared out at center ice, waiting for the puck to drop to begin another overtime period. Whatever it takes. Sometimes my mind would begin to lull, but then a teammate would hit me on the shoulder, or someone would hand me a water bottle and I'd refocused. Whatever it takes.

It's amazing how willing I was. I'd do anything, really. Whatever it took. I'd give up my body--willing to take a hit for the team. Anything for the team; anything for the win. Anything.

Somewhere between the third and the fourth, or maybe the fourth and the fifth overtime period, when our minds were becoming delirious and all we could do was suck in air, and shovel power bars in our mouths, while we rehydrated the normal way, or the "common way" via i.v., Derian murmurred something. Our coach hadn't said anything; what could he say? After all, we were giving our all. I wasn't sure if he was exhausted, or if he really was trying to say something, but it didn't matter, because no one was listening. There was a slight rustling as some guys spoke, but for the most part we kept to ourselves, just trying to keep our heads above water.

I balanced my elbows on my knees, cradling my jaw in my hands, staring down at the ground, giving my neck, and mind, a rest. Green carpet with flecks of red, yellow, and blue. A cough, and I glanced up to see my mirror image--similar stance, but a rookie staring back at me; gaunt eyes and small stature, and looking at me for something.

"Good game, kid."

And that was it. He stared at me, his eyes lighting up and burning into mine; I had said what he needed to hear, and without a thought I had given it to him. Whatever it takes. He smiled, and it caught me off guard, so I smiled back.

The fifth overtime came, and ended so quickly, with a small deflection and the mightiest of yells and celebration. I watched him briefly before filing out behind my teammates, filing out behind the jersey with the 39, trying my best to bore a hole in it with my eyes, and forget what I had seen, forget what I had said, and hadn't said.

"Whatever it takes," had been our motto. I was willing to give it all for my team, for a chance to win the cup.

Yet, I hadn't with him. I hadn't, even when he was staring at me, wide eyed and waiting. I knew what he wanted to hear; I knew what I had to do. Whatever it takes. But when I needed to make my move--when there was no d-man, goalie, or need for fakes or dekes--I had frozen. All I had to do was tell him that I loved him, but I couldn't do that. Three words. That's all it would take for him to sigh and smile, and stay forever with me. Or at least stay for another day. I struggled against myself, my voice drowning, no, strangled in my throat, and I imagined he could see me fighting, see the turmoil. I imagined that would be enough. I hadn't done whatever it took to make him stay; I hadn't said those words he so desperately needed to hear, but surely he could tell that I wanted to. Surely he could tell I loved him, even if I didn't say it out loud.

Surely, I was wrong.

And now he was on the other side of the ice, celebrating his goal, and I, I was seeking solace in a rookie who had no idea what he was getting into. Thinking I liked him, and not knowing he was just a substitute. A replacement, no not even that--something temporary to fill the void between now and tomorrow morning. I'd deal with the repercussions tomorrow. Tomorrow, just like always. For now it was 'Whatever it takes...'

Whatever it takes to get you through the night.