It hadn’t taken as much convincing as Brian had initially feared to coax Kahlan out of the house for the evening. It had been shockingly simple in fact: all he had had to do was tell her that their beloved B’s were up against their much loathed Canadiens. Brian’s hope had been that unhinging Kahlan’s inner Tasmanian Devil for a few hours on unsuspecting Montreal fans would be a good shove in the right direction for his sister.
There was something about hockey that brought out the best in Kahlan. Brian noticed that the closer the subway twisted its way onwards towards North Station the wider his little sister’s smile grew. It hadn’t taken much convincing to get her to leave the house for this: Kahlan wouldneverpass up an opportunity to verbally abuse Montreal Canadien fans, especially in large hordes.
They were both dressed in player jerseys, both at least a size too big for them. Kahlan’s hands were almost completely hidden by the length of the long sleeves on her Marchand jersey and while Brian’s wasn’t so long, he had plenty of space to comfortably wear a black hooded sweatshirt beneath his Lucic jersey.
Around the siblings was a sea of black and yellow, the air buzzing with the noise of individual conversations from around the train car. Kahlan nestled her head against her brother’s shoulder as the train roared onward more people piling in at each stop. There was something undeniably safe about Brian that Kahlan loved about her big brother that allowed her to breathe easy despite this being her first time out of her house in two straight weeks.
The interior of the TD Garden never failed to humble and awe Kahlan from the moment she stepped inside. Squished together with hundreds of like fans (and a handful of rival fans too) Kahlan clutched the season pass tightly in her hand, pressing it against her chest for added protection. She loved the smell of the Garden: the food stands, the people, but especially the clean crisp smell of the ice.
“Our seats are down here.” Brian held his sister’s arm and aided her down the flight of steep stone steps. “Lucky for us, the seats aren’t in the aisle so we won’t be up and down a million times.”
Kahlan slid in to the yellow seat and stretched her legs. Loge seating had been more than she could have asked for. She made a note to thank the Knights about a million times for these seats when she saw them. There were still about forty-five minutes until puck drop so Brian left to get them food while Kahlan sat and made friends with people in the surrounding seats. If there was one thing working her high school weekends and holidays away at the Céilí had done for her was make her personable and so mingling with strangers was never a difficult task.
By the time Brian returned with fries smothered in melted cheese and dollops of chili and two frothy cups of Bud Light Kahlan had become friendly with everyone in their section.
“Little thing like you old enough to be drinking?” A balding man with a pot belly teased from the row behind the McDara siblings as Kahlan took her first swig.
“You better believe it!” She knocked her plastic cup against Brian’s. “Cheers.”
Brian nodded as he shoveled down a handful of hot fries.
The moment the game started Kahlan’s trash mouth awoke from its long slumber. Like most Bruins fans, P.K. Subban was a Montreal player that Kahlan hated to her core: he was a diver and there was nothing the defender hated worse than a diver. It was a dirty move and on more than one occasion she’d been thrown off her footing due to it.
Every time a player in a red and blue uniform glided near the glass the people in the front row would viciously beat their fists against the paneling, taunting the player at every chance. Brian stole a peek at Kahlan and saw that her fey hawk like gaze was on fire as she cheered and taunted along with the crowd. It was almost impossible, hockey fan or not, to not be swept up in the excitement of such a mob mentality.
Kahlan’s eyes were trained on the puck as Zdeno Chara, the Bruins gargantuan captain sent the small orb of hard black rubber flying off the end of his stick. “Imagine getting hit by that?” Kahlan mused. “His last record was 105.4 MPH!” She excitedly punched at Brian’s arm as the pass successfully was cradled by Brad Marchand’s stick. The crowd rose section by section, like a giant wave that was rippling through the stands. The Bruins’ forward sent his stick up and then crashing back down on to the puck. A split second and then the Montreal goal light began to flash; the sirens blaring as the roar of the crowd nearly shook the building.
By the time the first period came to a close the score stood at 1-1. “Itshouldbe two up in our favor.” Kahlan grumbled as she and Brian stretched back in their seats. “But the zebras are blind tonight.”
“Just don’t start throwing things.”
“Onetime and you’ll never let me forget it.” Kahlan gave her injured leg a light pat. “Besides, this time I couldn’t outrun security.” She chuckled. “And I wasn’t the only one: mine just happened to hit the zebra. Any fries left?”
Brian passed his sister the last soggy scraps at the edges of cardboard container. “How soon will it be until you’re back on the ice?” He asked.
Kahlan sighed. “Unfortunately the odds are next season thanks to the fact my knee is about thirty percent plastic now.” She griped. “A few good hard hits and that percentage will probably jump if I’m back on my skates too soon.” She rested a hand on her right leg. “For the amount of blood they said I lost though, I should be grateful that I still have my entire leg.”
“Well, you’re prettier with two.” Brian teased her. “I’m sure the other teams will be happy that the Knights are lacking an enforcer.”
“Please Brian, you’re making it sound like I’m some sort of Chara sized giant.” Kahlan sat back and chuckled. “All my hits are perfectly legal.”
“You’ve been ejected…twice.” Brian reminded his sister. “You’re small even in those pads, but you hithard.”
Kahlan shrugged. “It’s all perspective my dear brother.” She reached in to her pocket, her fingers reaching for the smooth clear stone.
“Still play with that little thing?” Brian said when he noticed. “Does it help?”
“It’s a placebo effect mostly.” Kahlan defended. “And sometimes, I’d like to think it brings a bit of luck.”
Only five minutes in to the second period a fight broke out among the players. Kahlan’s beer nearly toppled over as she shot upwards, her feet pounding against the concrete floor. She cupped her hands around her mouth and hollered: “Knock him out Boychuck!” Her entire body rippled with adrenaline. “HIT HIM!” As two referees skated closer intent on breaking the two players up Kahlan’s shouts altered to, “C’mon you freaking zebras! Let them fight!”
With a swift strike Boychuck sent a gloved fist hard in to the Montreal player’s chin. A solid hit that made the player crumble to the ice belong. Only then did the referees spring in to action and break the two up.
The crowd roared as both Boychuck and the Montreal forward were led to the penalty box. Everyone was still on their feet when the Bruins scored their second goal, putting them ahead of Montreal 2-1. The noise rumbled, the Crowd Meter shooting straight to CRANKED. Kahlan turned and high fived anyone close enough and practically toppled her brother over from the thrill of it. “GOAL!”
The final score ended in the Bruins favor: 3-1 with the third goal credited to Seguin. People crammed on the North Station train like sardines. Brian was able to grab Kahlan a seat while he held tight to a pole as the train sped onwards. The sea of black and yellow fans was as loud as they’d been in the stadium; in too good and victorious a mood to be quiet.
“What a game.” Brian mused as he fought to keep his balance.
“So glad we did this.” Kahlan agreed. “You’re the best big brother in the world. Like, ever.”
“I won’t tell Kieran you said that.” Brian promised with a smile.
“Your idea of making me feel better involved taking me to see Boston destroy Canada.” Kahlan reminded him. “Kieran’s idea of ‘helping’ was to hand me a bottle of whiskey, and then leave me alone with it.”
“Believe it or not, that was better than Laila’s idea.” Brian nudged her playfully. “She wanted to get you high and put you in front of the Lion King.”
“Ohhhh! No freaking way!” Kahlan groaned, disappointed. “I would havetotallydone that one!”
“I don’t doubt it.”
Within a few stops the train emptied and Brian managed to take a seat beside his sister. Kahlan stretched out and nuzzled her head tenderly against her brother’s shoulder. Having been a senior when Kahlan and Kieran had entered their freshman year in high school Brian had worried he’d be spending his final year watching his younger sibling’s backs. But Kieran had been a shadow among the masses of students, and if Brian hadn’t driven him to school every morning he would have sworn the raven haired boy didn’t exist.
Kahlan had been much the same, ducking her way through the hallways with Tory or a handful of other age wise Knights clumped together, rarely needing her elder brother for much but always greeting him warmly whenever their paths crossed.
Still, whenever Brian met those bright eyes so different from his own passing through the halls his heart leapt, a fierce wave of protectiveness flooding through him. Like now, Kahlan’s eyes fluttered shut, lulled by the rocking of the train car Brian’s arms instinctively tightened around her shoulder. “I’ll wake you when we get to our stop éan beag.” He promised.
Across the aisle Brian noted an elderly lady lean over to the man beside her and say, "What a sweet couple."
Brian smiled. He didn't look like Kahlan, nor any of his siblings in fact. He was a McDara and Kahlan an O'Rourke plain as that. He lacked the elegance in his features that even Kieran possessed traces of, the almost Elf-like qualities of his sisters.
The walk from the T stop to the Barrows was relatively short but Brian found himself half dragging Kahlan down the block anyways. She was exhausted as her adrenaline rush from the game completely fled her system, and she’d popped two pain killers right as the third period had come to a close which made her drowsy. Thankfully for Brian, Kahlan was light and it wasn’t much of a strain to help her up the stairs to her bedroom. She dropped on to her mattress like a rag doll and curled her arms around the nearest pillow.
“Night Kay.” Brian couldn’t help but be amused as Kahlan lazily tried to kick off her right show with her left one.
“Goodnight Brian.” Kahlan mumbled and snuggled herself in to bed. She was still wearing her jersey and jeans but Brian figured she’d be fine though he did help her with her sneakers. “Thank you.” Kahlan’s voice was becoming disconnected.
Brian lean in and lightly kissed his sister on the cheek and by the time his back straightened Kahlan was fast asleep. Tiptoeing out the door Brian lightly shut her door and made his way down the hall to his own room.
The next morning Kahlan shifted as a slit of light broke through her shades and fell in a harsh line across her eyes. She sat up in bed when something cold and heavy slipped from between her fingers and hit the hardwood floor below with a loud knock!
It was Tory’s lighter.