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One Last Chance

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The year Maggie turns 28, her career in the NWHL is ended because she tears her ACL. Right after giving an assist that scores her team the winning goal. Maggie was never one to laugh at irony, and this… Well, she doesn't think she'll ever be able to laugh at this. She's benched for the rest of the season, no prospects of finishing her contract or transferring to another team.

The worst part isn't the pain or the surgery or even the interviews where she has to keep it together and not cry as if she didn't just lose the best thing in her life. The worst part is that on Monday she has to show up for work. Not the NWHL. Her day job. Because there's no way she could live in North Branford, Connecticut, on the $25,000 a year salary that the Connecticut Whalers were giving her. At least medical transcription was quiet. She could sit all day. She'd be sitting all day for a few weeks to come, actually, and the thought made her tear up.

Hockey was such a huge part of her life. What was she going to do without it?
*****
Walking out of physical therapy, Maggie sat on a bench. Walking hurt. Existing hurt. But whenever she finished PT, she felt like she's accomplished something. The doctors said she would definitely be able to skate again, and that was… well, maybe that was enough.

“Hi, Maggie Cole?” a woman asked.

Maggie opened her eyes.

It’s Georgia Martin. General Manager to the Providence Falconers and all around babe at the age of 45. What the fuck is she doing in North Branford?

“Uh, yeah?”

“I'm Georgia Martin. But I'm sure you know that.” Georgia smiles at her. “I heard about your injury and I wanted to offer my condolences. It's always sad to see good talent go down like that.”

“Thank… you?” Maggie has never been good at taking compliments. “You didn't really come all the way from Rhode Island just to tell me my life sucks right now, did you?”

Georgia laughs. “No, I had something else in mind. May I take you to dinner?”

“Well, you did come all this way,” Maggie says, almost like she's talking to herself.

Georgia smiles, and holy shit, did you see that? Because that's definitely the best smile Maggie has seen in a while.

I am so boned.

“Where do you want to go?” Georgia asks.

“That depends,” Maggie says, “do you prefer seafood or French?”

“French,” Georgia says quickly. “I'm allergic to iodine, so I can't eat fish.”

“Le Petit Cafe it is,” Maggie decides.

Chapter Text

If she wants me to be her kept woman, I’m saying yes, Maggie tells herself as they sit down to eat. She’s never actually eaten here before – the dinners are $55 per head. It’s a four-course meal, but still. Maggie can’t remember the last time she went out to eat and spent more than $20 on herself. She feels mildly guilty about asking Georgia to take her here, but the woman makes more than a million dollars a year. She can easily afford it. And it’s certainly the nicest place that North Branford has to offer.

 

To her credit, Georgia doesn’t blink at the price.

 

“Ooh, they have duck,” she murmurs.

“You like duck?” Maggie asks.

“I’m an absolute fool for duck,” Georgia explains, looking up from her menu.

And Maggie feels a spark.

 

Maggie won’t deny that she has a thing for older women – at least according to her porn search history – but she’s never considered anything more than a relationship with them. After all, she’s only 28, and most of the older women she’s met are doing completely different things with their lives, which is kind of intimidating to throw yourself into. But she doesn’t know where this meeting with Georgia is going. Georgia said she has an offer, but it’s clear that Georgia didn’t come all this way to take Maggie to lunch. Trying to pursue a one night stand with someone who is trying to start a working relationship with you is a bad idea.

 

On top of all that, Maggie has the absolute worst gaydar. It’s not even a gaydar; it’s just indistinguishable from her romantic and sexual attractions. Some were sapphic and into her. Some were straight. Some were sapphic and not into her. She just can’t catch a break.

 

“So, Georgia, what did you bring me here for?” Maggie asks. “It must have been hard, tracking me down to my doctor’s office right after my appointment and all.”

“Actually, I just called your coach. He was happy to tell me everything after I confessed that I wanted to offer you an assistant coaching job for the Falconers.”

Maggie struggles not to choke on her water. It’s a close call. “How, um, interesting,” Maggie says. “Have you talked to my agent?”

“Yes, and I even sent her a potential contract that we’ve written up. I brought a copy along if you’re interested,” Georgia said, reaching for her purse. “But there’s no hurry. I don’t even know if you’re interested.”

Maggie took the contract, flipped through it quickly. $100,000 dollars annually to start, with salary raises depending on her performance and the performance of the Falconers.

Jesus. “Uh, yeah. I’m interested.”

“Our head coach from the Eagles, our lower league – Coach Tony Mancini – recommended you. And one of our assitant coaches is moving to a different spot in the franchise –”

“Really?” Maggie asks. “Where?”

“He’s going to be the head coach of our new NWHL team.”

 

Oh. She can see what wasn’t said, there – how they were intending to make a bid for her transfer, but she got injured. Good ol’ Tony, who she met over a decade ago when he was in Juniors for cryin’ out loud, whispered some kind of magic in Georgia’s ear. And now they’re here.

 

She’d feel like they were pitying her, but they’re offering her four times the money they would if she were just a player on their new NWHL team.

 

“I’ll discuss the contract with my agent,” she tells Georgia.

Georgia smiles again, and Maggie swears that spark is still there. “Perfect,” she says. “Now we can spend our lunch talking about the team.”
“Right.” Maggie smiles. The team. And not your amazing cleavage.

Chapter Text

“They want me to watch tape with them,” she tells Robbie. “They said it was to see if I get along with everyone else.”

“But let’s be real, Mags, it’s a working interview.”

Maggie scoffs. “Well, duh. But now I’m nervous.”

“Of course you’re nervous, there’s a huge fucking salary on the line. Just remember, this is your chance to interview them, too.”

“What am I gonna do?” Maggie asks. “Just say no if I don’t like them?”

“Well, yeah,” Robbie says.

“Hm,” Maggie starts with some exaggeration, “let’s see, should I take a $25,000 pay cut, or double my salary? Hard decision there!”

“You don’t think there are other teams that are going to offer you something?”

Maggie entertains the idea, then remembers that Manny was the one who offered her name to Georgia. “Uh, no. Definitely not.”

“Well, if you hate it, maybe another team will give you an offer after you’ve coached for a little bit. And watching tape with them will tell you what kind of environment it is.”

“Yeah, right. I’m meeting the coaches, not the players.”

“What happened to the Maggie that gives as good as she gets?”

“She got a torn ACL and no job prospects.” Maggie laughs, but Robbie doesn’t laugh along with her.

“Are you seeing a therapist?” Robbie asks. “Because you sound like you need a therapist.”

“I can’t afford a therapist on top of physical therapy and the paycut I’m taking,” Maggie confesses. “It’s just not in the budget.”

“That’s stupid,” Robbie says. “The NWHL is stupid.”

“Okay, yeah, but what are you gonna do?”

“Nothing,” Robbie says. “I’m out in California becoming a marine biologist.”

Maggie laughs again. “Sure you are, boo.”

*****

It’ll hurt Maggie’s knee to drive all the way to Providence – it’s a two hour drive – so Jessica Koizumi is driving her. She used to be the team captain and graduated to coach a few years back. But her career didn’t end because of an injury.

 

Still, Maggie is grateful for her support. Excited, even? Back when Maggie started on the team, she had the biggest crush on Jessica. But alas, the woman was spoken for. Or however you wanna put it. Plus, who wants to start sports drama by dating their teammates? She’d hooked up and dated players and personel from other teams – had one or two fairly serious relationships, even – but she isn’t the kind of person to shit where she eats. Which is also why she wasn’t going to do anything with Georgia if she took the job.

 

“Thanks for coming, Jess,” Maggie says. “You can come in, if you want.”

“I really can’t,” Jess says. “They invited you. And this is about a job. It would be weird. I’ll just go see a movie and you can text me when you’re all done.”

Maggie nods.

 

She walks up the drive, which… why are there stairs? She hates stairs. She didn’t used to think about them, but now she thinks about them all the damn time. She has to hop up each little step to get up to the porch and ring the doorbell. She promises herself that she will never buy a house with stairs.

 

Jack Zimmerman opens the fucking door.

“Cool, you’re here,” he says. “Come on in.”

“Thanks,” Maggie says, doing her best not to lose her shit. What the fuck is he doing here? Isn’t this supposed to be a coaches only thing?

“Everyone else is in the living room or the kitchen,” Jack explains. “They’re actually really excited to meet you. That’s why we’re at my house; everyone else said theirs wasn’t fancy enough.”

Maggie thinks about the fact that she lives in a one-bedroom apartment with a cat. “Do you usually watch tape with the coaches?”

“Yeah,” Jack says. “I’m captain, so I feel like I’m the buffer between the coaches and the team. Anything the coaches feel like they need help getting results for, or anything the team wants the coaches to know but aren’t comfortable saying, that’s what I’m here for.”

“That’s cool.” My interview just got a lot fucking harder.