Category Linkin Park

Standing in the Middle by TrashFoot

Starry Eyed

Grabbing his duffel bag and adjusting his sweatshirt, Rob Bourdon was ready to leave. He pushed his way through the locker room door, having already said his goodbyes to his teammates. As he made his way to the lobby of Madison Square Garden, he noticed how much quieter it was now than it was when he entered the locker room just one hour ago. Of course, there was the occasional straddler or a passing janitor or security guard, but other than that, nothing.

“Otis, Otis please,” Rob heard a man say. He looked in the direction he heard the voice, and saw a grown man kneeling in front of a child who was crying on a bench. “Please stop crying. I’m sorry we missed him this time, but there’ll be other chances.” Rob stood there, mouth agape at the sight of the older man.

“But dad,” the boy whined, “what if there are no other chances to meet Rob Bourdon?” Huh? Rob thought. Me? After all his time with the New York Rangers, Rob was still surprised people were fans of him; that he was their favorite player, and that some of those fans were children, and some of those children, quite frankly, had attractive fathers— at least from a distance. Before he was aware of what was going on, Rob’s legs were moving him towards the two.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” Rob’s mouth spoke for him before his brain could think of anything. The black haired man turned his head to look at who was talking to them, as the boy— his son?— quickly wiped tears away from his eyes as he was obviously very well aware who this person approaching them was.

“R-R— uh, Mr. Uh, Mr. Bourdon sir— mister, uh, can- can you s-sign this, please?” The boy stuttered and hiccuped through his question as he pushed a glossy picture of Rob his way. “I-I even have a pen.” He added on quickly, shoving a Sharpie his way with the other hand.

“Yeah, of course!” Rob agreed, placing his duffel bag on the floor and kneeling if front of the boy as the older man stood and moved out of the way. “Who am I making this out to?”

“O-Otis!” He hiccuped again and smiled wide as Rob briefly noticed some of his tears were already beginning to dry on his reddened cheeks. Rob painted over the picture with the Sharpie as he wrote: To Otis, Hope to see you on the ice one day! Rob Bourdon. Handing the picture back to Otis, he saw a look of disbelief grow on his face and a gasp escape his lips. Otis sat and stared at it for a moment.

“Otis, what do we say?” The man asked. Rob took this as an excuse to take a better look at him in order to see if he really was as cute as he initially thought. Yes, definitely.

“Thank you, Mr. Bourdon!” He said before getting up and running around the lobby, picture firmly in hand. He began to yell, “Yes! I got his autograph!” and do a dance.

“That was really nice of you. Thank you for that.” The man said to Rob as he chuckled at his son’s actions.

“Oh, it’s no problem. I’m guessing your his dad?”

“Yeah. Mike.” He confirmed as he stuck out his hand.

“Rob.” He took his hand and shook it.

“Yeah, I know.” Mike said, laughing.

“Oh, yeah.” Rob laughed too and placed his hand on the back of his neck as he blushed.

“Well, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, you probably wanna go home.”

“No, it’s—”

“Otis, buddy! We gotta get going!”

“Alright! Thanks again, Mr. Bourdon!” Otis said, grabbing his dad’s hand as they began for the door.

“Yes, thank you!” Mike said, looking back at Rob as he gave a little wave and a big smile.

“You’re welcome!” Rob said to them, smiling back at the handsome stranger. “Mike.” Rob said quietly to himself as he watched them walk out through the doors, a smile still stuck to his face.


Rob shoved his way through the lobby doors of Madison Square Garden. He had spent the entire subway ride trying to hype himself for practice before their game against the Devils. He was afraid it would be a little harder to get pumped up today since him and the rest of the team got back that morning from Philadelphia and their game against the Flyers.

As he walked through the lobby, he passed by the bench where he had met the man— Mike— and his son just about a week before. Mike’s face flashed in his memory. His black wiry hair spiked up into a fauxhawk, the near-scruffy beard growing in around his jawline, the way his eyes lit up and the way he smiled at the sight of his excited son. It was all so beautiful. As he made his way through the building and approached the Rangers locker room, he shook away his thoughts before entering. This action didn’t make the thoughts go entirely away, though. They only scattered themselves within his brain, hiding away in crevices so they can reappear later.

“Hey, Phi. Hey Joe.” He greeted his friends and teammates as he passed them and got quiet greetings in return. Then there was the sight of two more of his teammates: Cody Kimball and Niklas Plank. Cody was shirtless, and the other was halfway done placing his practice uniform on as they playfully started shoving each other as Rob came back down to reality. As a hand accidentally glanced over Cody’s shirtless pec, he yelled out with a laugh: “Dude! What are you touching me like that for? What are you, gay?” Rob inwardly flinched at his teammate’s question.


As the game ended, Rob wanted to come down from the adrenaline the game gave him and maybe even forget how poorly he played that night, but before he could, he was chosen to do a post game interview with some of the press that MSG allowed in. In the midst of it, one of them asked:

“I’m sure taking a loss like you guys did tonight isn’t the outcome you expected, do you think your gameplay was at all affected?” One of the men in suits asked.

“If anything, my gameplay probably affected the outcome. I mean, I know I wasn’t as focused as I should’ve been or wanted to be, I just—” Rob could tell he was about to make an excuse for his playing tonight, and he was sure that’s the last thing the press wanted to hear. This was a post-game interview in the NHL, not a ride home with his parents from one of his high school hockey games. “You know, next time I just gotta do better, make sure I get focused correctly beforehand.”

“Alright, thanks.” And before he knew it, the interview was over. Rob knew the true reason behind his inability to focus: his crush— on a stranger, no less. One he’d never see again.

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