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Hostage to Hockey!

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The first time I saw your father, Alicia tells little Jack, I wanted to know who he was.

"Ugh, who are these guys," Alicia asks Karen. In theory, they're meeting their director and filming crew in the lobby of this hotel, half an hour ago. In practice, the director is nowhere to be seen, but a stream of big shaggy-haired guys in suits have started to file in. They seem distinctly unfashionable for Los Angeles. "Is there like a clown car of them out there?"

Karen looks out around the pillar they're loitering behind. (They're increasingly worried they're going to be asked what they're doing there, since they're not actually checking into the hotel.) "It's like a whole asshole bus," she reports.

They do somehow remind Alicia of the kind of business pack who fill a zillion tables and don't tip their waitresses. Maybe it's the boring ties. They're kind of rough looking for corporate types, though - Alicia spots a broken nose, a black eye, and a missing tooth, and she's not even looking all that hard.

"They look like goons," Alicia says. "Wow, maybe it's the mob!" Did mobsters rent buses, though? Wouldn't they have limos? A shorter, rounder guy has come in and pushes through the crowd of goons to the front desk, who start handing out keys.

Most of the whatever-they-are grab the keys and go, but Alicia's close enough to overhear one of them say a quiet "merci". Maybe they're the French mob.

Then the director shows up and starts berating them for being late, and Alicia stops wondering about shaggy guys in suits.

I was having my Hollywood adventure, Alicia tells Jack. After Samwell - I did graduate first, that was important, but then I figured, why not give it a chance?

"You're sure we have a permit to film here?" Alicia asks. They're standing behind a closed-off parking garage next door to the hotel. They'd walked right past a big no-trespassing sign to get here.

"You don't need to worry about the business details," the director says, "You're gonna look so gorgeous in that light, honey, just look at it!"

The early-evening light is pretty striking from this angle.

"You girls get into these," the director says, motioning one of his assistants forward with an armful of legs and sleeves. "Tony, you get the rappelling gear set up up top, yeah?"

Alicia takes the offered costume. It's a zippered black polyester catsuit. Karen's is similar, but gold.

"Well?" the director says. "Go on." He makes a motion with his hands that makes it clear he's expecting them to strip down right there. Alicia's done enough modeling that she doesn't worry too much about who's around when she needs to change clothes, but the director's little smirk annoys her.

"I'm going to," she says, motioning into the parking garage. "Uh."

Karen follows her, and they get behind a wall, at least, although any of the crew could come around the corner any time, and the director seems likely to do it on purpose.

"You think we're gonna get arrested?" Karen asks, as they struggle into the catsuits.

"I think I'm going to punch the next friend who tells me he has a friend who's casting for an action movie," Alicia says. That's probably unfair - this does seem to be an actual movie and not porn, or at least, the one other scene they've filmed so far, having a bar fight in evening gowns, seemed pretty elaborate for a porno - but Alicia really doesn't want to get arrested.

They come out in the catsuits and their own shoes (neutral heels, as requested) and the costume-carrying assistant comes at them with hairspray and makeup, while the director starts explaining the scene. They're going to rappel down from the top of the garage while a couple of extras in ski masks yell and "shoot" at them, and then at the bottom, Karen's going to yell "This way! I know where we can hide out!" to Alicia.

Alicia has no idea how this is going to fit together with what they'd shot at the bar - she hasn't seen a script - but rappelling sounds fun. Probably more fun if she wasn't wearing heels, but what can you do. They climb the stairs to the top of the parking garage, and then it turns out the extras aren't there yet, and someone on the crew walkie-talkies up that they need Karen back down there for some technical question about how the light is going to hit the gold catsuit, so Alicia's left waiting around on a parking garage roof.

It's a nice enough view, for LA: smog, cars, palm trees, the mountains in the distance. Parking lots and the big wheel of the Forum not far away. She walks along the wall, looking out, looking down, and - huh, that's weird: two guys in ski masks dragging a third guy with his arms over their shoulders, coming out from the hotel next door and heading for the parking garage.

Logically, they should be the missing extras, but Alicia has good eyes. The man in the middle is the merci guy from the lobby, minus his suit jacket and boring tie. He came in on the goon bus, what's he doing with them?

Possibility one: the director has offered this random guy a cameo in his film. Not impossible, this isn't a SAG operation or anything. Possibility two: those aren't the extras, and Alicia is right now witnessing some kind of mob hit or kidnapping or something. Possibility three: they are the extras, and Alicia is witnessing something, because the director happened to hire criminals? Because the whole "movie" is, like, a money-laundering front? That would explain why there isn't a script.

"Hey," she calls over to Tony-with-the-rappelling-gear. "Are we shooting any other scenes today? Like with the, uh, the bad guys?"

Tony takes a drag on his cigarette. "Fuck if I know," he says. "I'm just rigging the ropes."

Alicia frowns. If the movie is some kind of criminal enterprise, and she performs her role knowing that, wouldn't that make her an accessory? Or even if it has nothing to do with her, if a crime really is in progress, she needs to call the police.

"I'm going to check this out," she tells Tony, who nods like she could jump off the roof without her rappelling harness and it wouldn't make a difference to him. As she starts down the stairwell closest to the hotel, she hears voices and freezes.

"Can we take these masks off now?" someone is asking. Young guy, sounds like. "I feel stupid."

"Yes, you can take off the mask," an older, deeper voice says, "And then go get the car."

"I don't understand why we had to put the masks on to leave the hotel when we walked in without them," the guy whines.

"Just go get the car," the older man snaps. "I'll watch out for anyone coming out of the hotel." She hears them go down the rest of the stairs.

Alicia steps out of her heels, picks them up in her hand, and tiptoes down the stairs to where she thinks she first heard them talking. She looks around, not seeing anything out of place, and then she hears a groan.

Around a wall, in a dark corner out of the way, the merci guy is lying on the floor, feeling his face with his hand.

Alicia rushes over.

Did Papa like you right away? Jack asks. The first time your father saw me, he asked if I was an angel, Alicia tells him.

Bob groans. He's lying on concrete, somewhere dark. The last thing he remembers clearly, someone had knocked on the door of his room, and then when he opened it they'd rushed at him with some kind of cloth... and now a woman is kneeling over him, a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, wearing some kind of tight black outfit. Maybe she's rescuing him?

"Are you a ninja?" he mumbles.

"An angel?" she says in English, which isn't what Bob had said, but it's honestly a better line. "Are you okay, sir?"

Bob considers this. The roof is swimming and he's not entirely sure he can feel his legs.

"No," he decides.

"I'm a leesha," she says, and for a moment he doesn't know what that is, until he realizes she's telling him her name. Alicia. "Listen, I've got to get you some help, will you be okay if I leave you for a minute?"

He grabs for her wrist, where she's got her hand on his face.

"Don't leave me," he says, and then repeats it in English. "I don't know where I am, Alicia."

"Oh, god," she says, mostly to herself. She tries to pull her hand away but she's got little bird wrists and he's a hockey player; he wins. Maybe she doesn't want to bust out the ninja moves against a man on the ground. "We have got to get you some help before those guys come back."

"Too late," Bob hears, and then there are two more people standing over them. One of them has a gun.

"What are we supposed to do with her?" one of them asks, a stringy-looking blond kid with a nasal voice.

"Can you skate?" the one with the gun asks.

"Uh?" Alicia says. "What?"

Bob slides his grip so he's holding her hand. It makes him feel safer, somehow.

"Ice girl," the man pronounces. Bob squints at her - is she an ice girl, not a ninja? She does have the look. "We'll take them both," the man tells the kid. "Help him up."

The kid and Alicia together are able to get Bob on his feet, and they weave down the stairs in a way familiar to Bob from heavy drinking and concussions. Neither of which he thinks should be in play right now. He notices while he's looking down that she's not wearing shoes. Shouldn't she have shoes?

There's a wood-paneled station wagon idling at the foot of the stairs when they step out of the parking garage. The man with the gun motions them into the back, where the rear seats are folded down. Bob thinks about trying to fight - he's almost gotten his balance back - but what if they shoot Alicia? And he doesn't really want to get shot either. He climbs awkwardly into the back, followed by Alicia, and then the kid spreads a blanket over them so it's not completely obvious they're getting kidnapped back there.

Shit, he's being kidnapped, and he has a game tomorrow. Tomorrow? He thinks it's still the same day. That was the hotel, right over there, he's pretty sure.

The doors slam and the car peels away from the garage.

"Oh my god," Alicia says quietly. "Oh my god."

"This would be a good time for you to be a ninja," Bob says. "Or a... secret agent? Please?"

"Oh, god, you mean the catsuit?" Alicia says. "I'm an actress! The only fight I've ever been in was choreographed!"

"I've been in plenty of fights," Bob says. "But only in somewhat specific circumstances."

It's dark under the blanket, but Bob can feel Alicia looking at him.

"You are in the mob," she says, "I thought so. Oh my god this is a mob kidnapping."

Bob laughs, involuntarily. "I'm not in the mob," he says. "I play for the Habs."

"The what?"

"Hockey," he says. He doesn't talk to a lot of people who doesn't know who he is, let alone the Habs, but he supposes Los Angeles is full of bigger celebrities. "Playing the Kings tomorrow. Or I was, until..."

"Until this," she says grimly. He likes that she isn't panicking; she already sounds calmer than she had a minute ago. "Do you think that's why they're kidnapping you? To stop you from playing?"

Bob hadn't gotten as far as why this was happening yet, still trying to wrap his head around the fact that it was happening at all, but it's a good theory.

"Are you guys Kings fans?" he calls out.

"Kings fans?" the kid answers, sounding incredulous. "Fuck the Kings!"

"Shut up," the man says. "Both of you."

"I guess not," Alicia whispers. "Are you, like - could this just be a money thing?"

Are you rich, she means. Bob is rich - Bob has one of the best contracts in the game, right now - but there must be people in Los Angeles who are worth a lot more.

"Don't you have movie stars here?" Bob calls. "Or movie producers? Or the Lakers? I bet you could ransom Kareem for a lot more than me."

"Shut up," the man says again.

"Of course he might not fit in the back of the wagon," Bob says quietly to Alicia, and he's gratified when she giggles.

I liked his sense of humor, Alicia tells her small son. He made me laugh.

"Maybe a famous jockey," her co-kidnapee whispers. "Dey could fit several."

This is hardly the time to be noticing his accent, no matter how cute and sexy it is. Sexy? This is definitely not the time for sexy. She's being kidnapped and she's got to figure out how to get rescued before they dump her body in the desert and the vultures come.

"There's a whole team of you guys," she whispers. "How long will it take to notice you're missing?"

"I get a single with the captaincy," he whispers back. "Maybe tonight if people go to dinner. Maybe not until tomorrow."

That's not much help. Alicia tries to guess how long it's been since she left Tony on the roof. Ten minutes? Forty? Everything seems slowed down and speeded up all at once, since she'd looked up to see a gun pointed at them. How long will it take the crew to realize she's missing? Karen would come back to the roof, Tony would tell her Alicia went down the stairs, Karen would look for her and not find her. And insist on calling the police, right? Would the police listen, or just arrest them for trespassing? How would the police even find them?

"We need to signal for help," Alicia whispers. "If we're heading out of town, we need to get someone's attention before no one's around."

"I don't 'ave anything to make a sign," hockey guy says back.

"Ha," Alicia says, "I bet you're more used to people holding up signs for you than needing to make one." Do people hold up signs at hockey games? She doesn't actually know.

"Sometimes," he says.

"Do you have a name?" she blurts. Okay, not her smoothest moment, but these are trying circumstances here.

"Bob," he says, chuckling a little. "Bob Zimmermann."

"Okay, Bob," Alicia says, thinking hard. "Do you have a handkerchief? They really larded on the makeup, I might have enough spare lipstick on me to write 'help'."

He wiggles next to her, knees knocking against hers, and, after a moment, hands her a handkerchief.

"Hm, okay," she says, trying to figure out the best way to do this. "I'll just..." She spreads it on the floor of the car and tries to smear her lips to spell out "help". It's a lot of head motion and probably looks pretty obscene, even in the relative invisibility under the blanket, but Bob politely refrains from comment.

"Ok," she says, inching out from under the edge of the blanket, so she can see it in the fading light. There's a nice dark streak on the first vertical of the H, but it pales quickly, and is pretty much gone by the bottom vertical of the E. It looks like "HI".

"This looks like 'hi'," she hisses. "If we hold up a sign that says 'hi' people are just going to think we're a couple of kids back here screwing around."

"I don't think I'm bleeding anywhere right now," Bob whispers, after a moment. "You could probably split my lip with a punch?"

"Oh my god," Alicia says, "I'm not going to write in your blood!" It's dumb to be shocked - it's not a bad idea, and Bob would probably prefer a split lip to being dumped in the desert. He's got such a nice face, though. She's not sure she could bring herself to damage it.

"I hear you talking back there," the older man says, the one who'd had the gun. "I'd rather not have to chloroform you again."

"Can't we tell them where we're going yet?" the younger guy asks. "I thought we were going to get to talk to Zimmermann once we had him in the car, I want to ask which of his Cups was the most exciting."

"1978," Bob says, before the older man can answer. "Definitely 1978."

"Oh, yeah?" the older man says. His voice is suddenly different, like this whole time he's been playing the role of a tough guy, and now he's dropped out of character. "Not winning four straight?"

"Nothing like a tight series," Bob says. "Only thing better would have been winning at home. Don't know if I'll ever do it again, but I'll never forget."

"I respect that," the man says. "No disloyalty, but you guys had a good run there."

They sound like they could be two guys in a bar, talking sports. It's surreal.

"You are a fan," Bob says. "But not the Kings, or the Habs. Red Wings?"

"Whattaya gotta say a thing like that for," the man says. "Red Wings, you think I'm one of those octopus huckers? Listen, I was a fan of the best team there ever was, and when we bring it back it's gonna be the best team there'll ever be. The California Golden Seals."

He pronounces it grandly. Bob makes a tiny noise that Alicia's pretty sure she's the only one who can hear over the rumble of the engine, a very muffled snort.

"Northern California is really it's own state!" the younger guy says. "We need our own team. We deserve our own team. That's why we're doing this."

There's a pause.

"That's... why you're doing this?" Bob finally says. "For the Golden Seals?"

"The league won't listen," the older man says. "The owners are a bunch of crooks. But the fans are there! We believe! And this year we're running our own expansion draft!"

I didn't know much about hockey back then, Alicia tells Jack, who smiles at the idea of not knowing about hockey. Your papa was good at explaining!

If he laughs, they're going to shoot him, he can feel it. It keeps almost escaping, an incredulous, hysterical noise, but he needs the concentration of a face-off and the poise of a media scrum right now. Their plan is crazy, and he didn't know the Golden Seals even still had fans - they'd been gone for about as long as they'd existed, had never had a winning season, and Bob can't think of a single metric by which they could be the "best team" - but as long as he doesn't laugh, they can keep talking hockey, and nobody gets hurt.

"I'm flattered," he finally says, hoping he sounds plausibly flattered. "I'm... very flattered. But it takes more than one player to make a team, even if that player is me."

They both chuckle, which is good - making them laugh is good, Bob thinks.

"What if I told you that you're just one piece of a coordinated effort," the man says. "Right now, all across the continent, your team is coming together. Some of it's coming from a little farther away, it was real handy you being in LA this week. But we're in Detroit. We're in Philadelphia. We're in Edmonton."

Alicia makes a little noise. She's been quiet, listening to this, but somehow Bob has the impression that she's calculating furiously. It's extremely attractive, not that he needs to be distracted with that right now.

"I do have a contract through '87," Bob says apologetically. "I think the Habs might miss me?"

"Yeah," the man says, "We have ears in the business, I know you've been considering a trade, and I know they've been talking about unloading you."

Bob doesn't think the Habs want to unload him - he's still the face of their franchise even if they haven't had the Cup success lately of his first four years - but it's true that he's started to think about whether he wants to play his whole career in Montreal. The Penguins have as much as said that if their shiny new draft pick works out like they're hoping they'll be looking for some experience in the room to back him up. It could make a nice second half of his career. Bob had thought he'd been pretty subtle about looking into that, though, and now they knew out in California??

"We're still figuring out the money," the man says. "But, look, you'd be getting to play with Gretzky! With Yzerman! It would be like the Canada Cup all year!"

"Who doesn't want to play with Wayne," Bob says.

"That's the spirit," the man says. "And, hey, you like this girl? Consider her a signing bonus. And if you break our contract, well. She can break too."

We were pretty different, and maybe some people would have said it wouldn't work. Alicia strokes Jack's hair. But it did.

She's a hostage to hockey. It sounds like a B movie, or maybe a pulp novel - she'd probably have her hands tied and her blouse ripped half-off on the cover - and as long as she thinks about how ridiculous this is, she isn't going to cry.

Bob reaches out and finds her hand under the blanket, gives it a squeeze. His hands are really big, she notices. She can feel his calluses even with the back of her hand.

"You won't need to do anything like that," Bob says, voice shaking slightly. "I liked more your idea to make her an ice girl. Have you thought about equipment? I've been getting better numbers with wood than an aluminum shaft stick."

"I thought so," the younger guy says, "I thought you were using wood! I cut out your picture whenever I find it in papers and magazines and I've studied them very closely. But, okay, if your face-off percentage is up 24% since 1980, and you - "

He goes on. Alicia doesn't know how he can sit up there and talk about sticks and statistics when his friend just threatened to hurt her. How can they possibly think this is going to work? At some point, someone's going to realize there isn't a happy ending here, and she's very afraid of what happens after that.

They have to get out of this car. It's stuffy under the blanket and her chest feels tight, but she tries to make herself take slow, even breaths. She focuses on Bob's hand, still wrapped around hers. She's not alone in this, he's doing what he can to protect her, now she's got to do her part too and figure out a way for them out of this. Think of it like a movie if it's easier. How does ripped-blouse Alicia get out of Hostage to Hockey?

Ripped-blouse Alicia says she needs to pee and then climbs out the bathroom window. But that won't work, gas station bathrooms don't usually have windows, and anyways Gun seems like the kind of man who would have no problem following her in and watching.

Ripped-blouse Alicia seduces one of her captors. Better, except she doesn't get any sense that either of them has looked at her that way once. Gun is focused on the mission, and she doesn't think the younger guy sees anything but Bob.

... so it's not Alicia that needs to do the seducing. That... might be an actual plan?

Your papa turned on the Zimmermann charm.

Bob can't believe he's talking about his hockey statistics while he's lying in the back of a station wagon under a blanket being driven north at gunpoint where he'll form part of the core of the reconstituted California Golden Seals. The kid really knows his stuff - Bob wonders if he's supposed to be a coach of this new team? Assistant GM? They chat hockey for awhile until the conversation reaches a natural lull, and Bob listens to the noise of the road and wonders how far away they've gotten from Los Angeles.

"Hey," Alicia whispers. He's still holding her hand and it's nice, a warm, simple anchoring point in all the weirdness. He rubs a little circle with his thumb, and she scoots a little closer.

"Listen," she says. "They can't make it to northern California on one tank of gas, this state is huge, it's like, three Massachusettses just up to the bay. They're going to have to stop, they're probably going to have to separate, and that's when you have to seduce the younger one."

"Haaa," Bob exhales, a sort of weak "what" noise.

"He's into you," Alicia says. "He cuts out all your pictures. Now, listen, I know some guys don't like to - "

"It's not that," Bob cuts in. "I don't mind, I just have no idea how to seduce a man. If I want to go with a man I say 'hey' and nod, yes?"

"Charming," Alicia says, although she doesn't react otherwise. "What about if you want to seduce a woman?"

"I ask if she wants to come see my Cup rings," Bob admits. He's a pig, he knows it, and he finds himself embarrassed to admit that to Alicia, but he's also glad she seems so calm about his encounters with men. He'd halfway expected her to snatch her hand back, but it's still there, small and smooth under his palm.

"I'm sure he would love to see your Cup rings," Alicia whispers. "But, okay, what about..."

The plan she outlines sounds ridiculous, but Bob guesses that fits the situation.

"He's not going to leave the keys in the ignition though," Bob says. "There's no way. You should get out and run and find someone to help us."

"I will if I have to," Alicia says, and Bob likes how practical she sounds about it, like she's not going to let anything stop her, even having to leave him behind. It hasn't escaped him that it's pretty much his fault she got kidnapped, for stopping her from leaving for help when she first found him. "But I'm not going to have to, these guys's heads are full of hockey and nothing else. You watch."

We complemented each other - um, the different strengths kind, not the nice words one. Although some of that too, sweetheart.

"We're down to a quarter tank," the younger guy says - The Target, Alicia thinks. "Should I get off here? I don't remember if there's another one after this for awhile."

"Sure," Gun says, and Alicia feels the car slow down for the first time in what feels like hours. They grind to a stop, and then even through the weave of the blanket Alicia can see that there's light out the car windows instead of darkness.

"Wait, shit," the target says. "Should we have chloroformed them again?"

"Nah," Gun says. "Bob doesn't want to see the lady get hurt, they won't be any trouble, right Bob? They're going to stay right under that blanket while I go in and pay."

"Oh!" the target says. "Can you get some coffee and see if they have hot dogs or something? I'm starving."

Gun makes a scoffing noise, and the car door opens, and shuts.

"I've got the gun," the target announces nervously, "So don't try anything."

They pop their heads out from under the blanket anyways. The lights of the gas station make Alicia's eyes water.

"Can we get hot dogs?" Bob asks. "I didn't have any dinner, and you would not believe how much I need to eat during the season."

"Uh," the target says.

"Come on," Bob says. "You're my coach now? You got to take care of me."

"I'm assistant GM," he says.

"Ohhhh," Bob says; it sounds fake to Alicia, but then, she's a professional. Ish. "You take care of me and I take care of you. Well. You let me know when you want your GM privileges." Alicia kicks him under the blanket, and he winks at the guy. So fake. God, they're doomed.

"What do you mean GM privileges?" the target asks. "Like a box at the rink?"

Bob laughs. It sounds unbelievably fake but maybe the guy is buying it? "I thought you had guys inside the business. I mean what players do for GMs. You know?" He makes a dick sucking gesture.

"Holy shit," the target says. "No fucking way." Holy shit, he's buying it.

"I'd do it right here," Bob says. "We're behind the gas pumps, the guy inside won't see, your friend's in the john - but no problem if you don't want."

He's jumping in with too many arguments, Alicia thinks, the guy's going to get suspicious, but then the target says "holy shit" again and opens the door of the car.

"Yeah, come on back," Bob says, "Let's see what you've got," and the guy gets out, closes the door, and starts coming around to open up the back.

The second that door shuts, though, Alicia is sitting all the way up, and, yup, she can see keys in the ignition, and then she's scrambling forward madly over the seats, and the guy is yelling "hey", now, he's turning back towards the front of the car, but Alicia is already there, turning the key, slamming the lock button, and the guy lifts the gun and points it at her but fuck that, Alicia has her foot on the gas and she's out of there, she's gone. She careens out of the gas station, back under the highway, and, bam, I-fucking-5 south, they're heading back to Los Angeles.

Bob whoops and climbs forward too, until he's in the passenger seat next to her.

"Beauty," he tells her. "You beauty, that was beautiful, I can't believe that worked."

"We still only have a quarter tank," Alicia says. "But all we have to do is get to somewhere with a phone and report an attempted kidnapping." She looks over at Bob. "You did really good," she says, rounding up now that it actually worked. "He bought it! You did it!"

"We did it!" Bob says back. He reaches out and flips on the radio. It's "Let's Go Crazy," and Alicia laughs. She's always hated driving barefoot but she presses the pedal a little harder, picks up a little more speed, passes an 18-wheeler and cuts back over to the right.

"I'm going to make it back in time for practice," Bob says. He sounds so simply, innocently glad that Alicia is all at once burning to kiss him. Like all the libido that was smothered under the blanket is roaring back and, my god, is she tempted to pull over, drag him into the back, and jump his bones.

She looks over at him, and he catches her eyes, and his eyelids go heavy, just a little bit, but enough. There's intent in that look.

Alicia forces herself to look back at the road and passes another semi. She leaves one hand on the wheel and toys with the zipper at the neck of her catsuit with the other.

Bob takes an audible breath.

And then they see and hear the highway patrol car coming past the semi behind them, lights and siren on. It drops in behind them, and Alicia looks down at the speedometer - not great, but not awful, and they did need to get in contact with the police. She pulls over with a sigh of relief and is completely unprepared for the pair of officers who come forward with guns drawn, yelling at them to get out of the car and lie down on the ground.

Dates with him were exciting, Alicia tells Jack.

Bob is so done with having guns pointed at him.

The team lawyers have always told him not to say anything if he gets arrested for something, but Alicia is an arguer, and it can't hurt to listen. Apparently Louis Stone and Gary Davis, a pair of upstanding citizens from Oakland, had courteously invited their new friends to go for a drive with them, only to be horrified when their new friends drove off with Gary's car, stranding them at a gas station. "That is not what happened!" Alicia keeps yelling. "Did Gary and Louis mention the gun they kept pointing at us? Or their cockamamie plot to resurrect some stupid dead hockey team? I can't believe this!"

Bob's not superstitious, but he thinks this is maybe his fault for saying he thought he would make it back to practice. Indeed, by the time the team arranges his release, it's mid-afternoon the next day, and he's hardly going to have time to eat properly before the game. He's stiff from a night spent in jail and an evening before that in the back of the station wagon, he's not sure whether he needs to offer to pay back his bail or whether they'll take it out of his pay, and he has no idea what to do about their expectation that he'll leave Alicia behind.

"She saved my life," he tells the lawyer. "I would have panicked and they would have shot me. She saved my life being there and then again getting us away."

"We'll see," the lawyer says. "But the best thing you can do right now is go play."

"Well," Bob says. "I'm going to marry her. So keep in mind that's the future Mrs. Zimmermann." He doesn't know he's going to say it until he says it, but once he does it seems like the most logical thought he's ever had. When you meet a woman like Alicia, you marry her, end of story.

"Oh," the lawyer says. "We'll see what we can do."

I decided I was going to marry him the first time I saw him on the ice.

"Thank you so much for coming to pick me up," Alicia tells Karen. "The no-shoes thing was getting old."

"I am dying to hear this story," Karen answers. "How do you go from on location with me one minute to grand theft auto the next?"

"Augh," Alicia says. "That is not what happened."

"That's not what the papers say," Karen says, motioning over her shoulder to the stack of newspapers in the backseat. Alicia twists and retrieves them and hisses at what she reads.

"'Very Bad Bob: Hi-Speed Chase With Hollywood Starlet'? 'Zimmermann Steals More Than Pucks'? This is garbage!"

"You got upgraded to 'starlet' at least," Karen says. "You can put that on your resume."

Alicia starts peeling out of the catsuit the second she's through the door of her apartment - she's been wearing it for about twenty hours longer than she would have liked - and turns the shower on as hot as it will go, which, sadly, isn't all that hot.

Aside from the whole out-on-bail situation, which is clearly going to be a mess to sort out, it bugs her that she didn't get to say goodbye to Bob. They'd had a special connection going there, and even if nothing was going to come of it, it would have been nice to get a little closure.

She's just gotten out and is wrapping her hair in a towel when there's a pounding on the door. Oh god, what now. More police?

It's a guy in a suit, who hands her an envelope. "I've been asked to give you this," he says, "And to escort you to the game, if you'd like."

The envelope holds a ticket to that night's Canadiens-Kings hockey game, starting in less than an hour.

"Yes," Alicia says. "Yes." Then she's suddenly trying to do her hair and makeup as fast as possible while also looking as good as possible - if this is the last time she sees Bob, she wants him to see her at her best. What do you wear to a hockey game? Big sweater? Jeans? Go.

Her seat turns out to be right by the glass, and the players are already out warming up when she gets to it, zooming around in complicated patterns doing bewildering things with sticks and pucks. She looks for Bob, and spots his name on the back of a jersey just as he turns and spots her.

Even across the ice, she can see how his face lights up, until he's beaming at her. He breaks from whatever he's doing and skates right over to her, putting his glove up on the glass. She puts her hand up against his like they're doing the Wrath of Khan thing, only not sad; she's not sure she's ever felt happier. She wants to see if she could keep making Bob make that smile all the time. Like, for the rest of her life.

... it's probably good she hasn't started keeping sign-making materials on her person, even if it would be handy for kidnappings, because she's pretty sure it's too early in the relationship to hold up a "marry me, Bob Zimmermann" sign. But. Okay. She knows what she wants, at least.

The players skate off the ice and then skate back on and there's the anthem and then a whole bunch of very fast-paced milling around. Hockey seems to be much less structured than baseball or football, just one big melee, but it's fun. Bob is constantly hopping on and off the ice and the guys all shout at each other and Alicia thinks she's probably going to get really into this, if she gets to go all the time. Twenty minutes in there's an intermission, and then they're going again, and Alicia's not ready for it to be over when they get to the end, but then suit guy is back, asking if she would like to come meet Bob behind the scenes.

She would like that.

And we lived happily ever after, Alicia tells Jack. He's asleep, but she likes to finish the story properly.

Bob had thought Alicia was beautiful before, but like this, in a big cable-knit sweater without all the movie makeup, she's gorgeous. He had thought through what he wanted to say, trying to come up with something a little suaver than his usual, but all he can do when he sees her is to take her hands and stare.

"Hi," she says.

"Hi," he says.

"Thank you for the ticket," she says.

"Yes," Bob says. "Ah."

"So," Alicia says, smirking a little. "Want to show me your Cup rings?"

He feels a wash of heat from his face to his knees. "Yes," Bob says. "They're in Montreal. Want to come back with me?"

She grins harder. "Yes," she says, "But I was hoping we could go somewhere closer first."

"I have a hotel," Bob says. "I mean, I can't fly back with the team because of the terms of the bail, but they got me a different hotel, at least."

She kisses him, right there in the hall, while guys from the team walk past and whistle. And then they do go back to Bob's new hotel, and it's a very, very good night.

And then in the morning he gets a call.

"Get this," the team lawyer says. "Turns out same time as you were in your car situation, Yzerman beat the shit out of someone who tried to jump him, and someone drugged Gretzky's drink."

"Ah?" Bob says, still bleary and confused.

"They got a warrant on the Yzerman guy and his house was full of guns and Golden Seals jerseys. And a big chart of who they were going after. So your story's corroborated, and you're off the hook, you're free to go back to Montreal."

Bob thanks him, giving Alicia, next to him, a thumbs-up sign.

"Were you serious," he asks once he's off the phone. "That you would come with me?"

"I guess we could date over the telephone for six months," Alicia says. "If you'd like that better."

"I would not," Bob says.

"Good," Alicia says, "Me neither."

"But weren't you filming a movie?" Bob asks.

"Plenty of fashion industry in Montreal," Alicia says. "I think I've had enough action-movie for awhile."

Bob kisses her, and thinks that he too has had enough danger, but he'll never have enough Alicia.

Alicia tucks the blankets more closely around her sleeping son. Someday she'll explain why they practice kidnapping drills and why all of Jack's nannies come from the bodyguard agency. But right now, he's so small and soft and peaceful, and Alicia really did get her happy ending.