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We Have To Be Better

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Double OT. 6-5 loss. To say everyone was upset would be an understatement. The locker room had an eerie silence to it after they had filed in. AV had walked in, shook his head in disappointment, and told the team to pack their stuff up once they got back to the hotel so they could fly back to New York tonight. Hank sat in his stall, head in his hands, as he no doubt was reliving that last goal in his head.

The media swarmed in then out getting the normal “we need to be better” and “we have to put this game behind us and look to game 3” answers from everyone. Ryan sat in his stall, his anger and disappointment visible on his face as soon as the last interviewer left.

Brady frowned looking over at him. He knew how much pressure Ryan put on himself to make sure this team succeeded. Obviously every player put pressure on themselves to try and get this team a win, Brady included, but being the captain of a team down 2-0 in a series put extra weight on. Brady could see it was starting to eat him alive and couldn’t help but frown more.

He wanted to go over and tell Ryan that they’d get the Sens next time. They’d play better with the home crowd behind them. Everyone would be desperate for a win next game. Anything to get him to stop the constant streams of “I should have…” undoubtably going through Ryan’s mind as he shoved all his gear in his bag.

Slowly the team filtered out of the room with sad looks as the pain of the loss still lingered. Marc led Hank out, rubbing his back and talking softly, probably trying to convince the stubborn goalie that the loss wasn’t his fault and that, in fact, Hank was the only reason they were still in the playoffs.

“Come on, Sku-jay.” Derek said with a small smile, standing in front of his stall as Brady put the last of his gear in his bag, zipping it up.

“But-” Brady started, glancing over at Ryan who was still in his stall, staring blankly ahead.

“Just give him a few minutes alone, he needs it.” Derek stated, nudging the rookie out of the room.

They walked in silence towards the bus for a bit until Derek spoke up again, “He doesn’t get like that often, but when he does you just need to give him some space. If I learned one thing about him from college I think that’s it.”

“I just wish we could have won it.” Brady sighed as they neared the bus. “We had so many chances to.”

“We all do, Brades, hopefully we’ll take the next two. Just do me a favor and look out for him tonight?” Derek asked gesturing towards Ryan who was finally walking out of the building towards them. “I know you can tell he’s taking this harder than usual.”

After receiving a nod in response Derek climbed onto the bus with Brady on his heels. They both watched as Ryan boarded, finding a seat towards the back alone and sitting down. Brady’s heart broke a little bit. He really was taking this loss harder than expected.

~

“Why can’t we play well for a full 60 minutes!?” Ryan hissed through gritted teeth as he stomped into his apartment, Brady following behind him. Well, at least Ryan wasn’t looking like a kicked puppy anymore.

“Because that would be too easy?” Brady tried to lighten the mood only to get a glare sent in his direction. Alright humor was not the way to go. “Okay, but look at the positives. We pushed it to a double overtime. Kreids finally scored. Derek gained some confidence back with his goal. Grabs had a nice goal too. I scored twice. Hank played amazing as per usual. You had a really good game too, Ryan, two assists and some killer defense.”

“We. Had. The. Lead. And. Blew. It.” He replied in frustration throwing his bag on the floor and flopping on his bed.

Brady sighed, lying down next to him. They sat there in silence for a few minutes. Ryan trying to calm himself and Brady trying to figure out what to say next.

“I’m the captain of this team, I’m supposed to lead us to victory. So far we haven’t played the full 60 minutes each game in this series and it’s costing us.”

“We just have to put these loses behind us. We have game three coming up, we’re not out of this yet. You know this team is capable of coming back from that. Honestly I don’t think that’s what’s really bothering you.” Brady said softly, turning to look at Ryan. He sighed, meeting his gaze with a frown, all the anger there minutes ago gone without a trace.

“AV’s doubting me. I can tell it. He’s praised Karlsson more than me this series. The other team’s captain more than his own! I mean maybe he’s right, maybe I’m not that great of a captain. I’m not doing as much as I should and can. I need to be better. I need-”

Brady cut him off by cupping his cheek and kissing him. It was soft and sweet, with no urgency or rush. Ryan easily melted into it, immediately reciprocating the action and running his hands through Brady’s hair in an attempt to deepen the kiss.

Brady pulled away, leaning his forehead against Ryan’s. “You can’t beat yourself up too much about this, babe. We all love having you as our captain. You’re doing the best that you can, we all know that. No matter what you think, you did have a great game. I’m so proud of you for that. We all played our hearts out it just wasn’t enough this game and, yeah, it’s frustrating I know, but at least the team will be hungry for a win at home. Maybe that’s what we need.”

“...you are so going to take my job as captain when I retire.” Ryan laughed, sitting up. “And don’t think I forgot about your two goals and amazing defense tonight, babe. You’ll be getting some extra praise for that during the offseason.” He added with a wink causing Brady’s cheeks to redden.

“Do you at least feel better now?” Brady questioned, yawning. It was almost midnight at this point and they were sure to have a morning practice the next day.

Ryan nodded as he positioned himself so he was lying down with his head on Brady’s chest, Brady’s arm instantly draping itself around him to pull him closer.

“I love you no matter how you play or how this team does, you know that right?” Brady asked, kissing Ryan’s forehead.

“I know, I love you too.” Ryan mumbled, already half asleep. “Go to sleep. We have practice in the morning and I don’t think it’s going to be a particularly fun one if AV’s still pissed at us.” Brady smiled slightly at that before drifting off as well.