Sometimes Jason regrets attending a small private university like Blackwood. Everyone on campus knows everyone's business. Everything is overly… Overly posh and rich; jewelry hanging around necks and Vineyard Vines collections draped on shoulders.

Which would make him a nasty hypocrite, but it doesn't mean Jason has to like it. With a class of just over a thousand, once word gets around, it gets around. He thought the whispers would have died down by now, but there is more than just the occasional, "Look, that's Richard Makkie's brother." Then again, this is a predominant hockey school.

So. That brings up his second regret. The fact that he goes to a university that spits out future NHL, CHL, and AHL hockey players on a regular basis. Of the colleges that NHLers decided to attend for a couple of years before joining the league, Blackwood boasts a pretty high percentage, just under Boston College. Except, Jason isn't here for the hockey. He's just here for the classes. And the attempt to find out just what the hell he wants to do with his life.

Because unlike dear brother Richard, he can't just play hockey and make a living. It just doesn't work out that way. Their parents like to say that of the two of them, Ray got the athleticism while Jason got the brains. Sometimes, Jason wishes he got part of the athletic gene, with all of his gangly limbs and five-eleven stature. Putting on weight and the muscle just didn't work out. It still doesn't.

He respects his brother though. Ray's definitely faced more problems of the two of them – after all, his brother is constantly in the public eye. Jason can always scrape under the door unscathed unless the media surrounding the Hurricanes decides to stick in a feature about the families. There was that one time a couple of years ago when Ray decided to drop his experienced, famous agent for the more notorious Lauren Allen-Cotes. Don't get him wrong, Jason has met Lauren. He would even go as far to say that she's badass (seriously, she is).

The catch? She was, and still is, the only prominent female agent in the NHL. That and the additional star by the side of her name: she's married to the goalie of the Penguins. Honestly, Jason doesn't know how the odds came together. It's not like Ray decided to switch from one agent to the other spontaneously. Instead, it's the blip in Ray's personality, something that shouldn't matter, but matters all too much in a predominantly white, heterosexual male audience. Admittedly, the demographic has been changing quite a lot, Jason can see that. He hears it too often from Ray.

Jason's happy for his brother, a little too much at times. Back to his original predicament, there are times he wishes that he isn't acquainted with Richard Makkie, first out player in the NHL, star of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Like right now.

"Hey! Dude, wait!"

Jason hunches up his shoulders to his ears and tucks his hands into his pockets. Ray tells him it makes him look like he has hapheobia, but he can't bring himself to care. Habits die hard, what can he say?

"Yo, Makkie! Wait!"

Jason slows down, but doesn't straighten or pull his hands from his pockets. The person behind him catches up easily, even though he is slightly out of breath. Whatever, Jason doesn't feel bad about it.

"What're you in a hurry for? Classes don't start until Monday, kid," the guy wonders beside him. He's got a slight accent, far too different from Ray's fellow NHLers to be either Russian or French.

Jason shrugs without looking up at him. "What do you need?" He'll let the "kid" pass; not like Ray doesn't call him that on a daily basis.

"Aatos Beaulieu." He steps in front of Jason and Jason nearly runs into him.

Jason frowns and makes a show of looking up at the boy in front of him. It's wouldn't be fair to call Beaulieu a boy. Jason's already tall, Beaulieu manages to one up him with a few inches. Speaking of Beaulieu, it's a name he recognizes.

Beaulieu is the first round third overall draft pick in the NHL draft a year ago. If Jason remembers correctly, this future NHLer is headed to the big league – or the farm team – next year. Which begs the question, why he is standing in front of him.

"Your brother planning on stopping by to his Alma Mater this season?"

Immediately, Jason scowls and tries to push past the tall blond in his way. "We'll see. I'll even ask him if he'll sign a few things for the school."

"Hey, hey," Beaulieu puts up his hands and much to Jason's surprise, throws in a broad smile. "I'm kidding. If I'd known that'd piss you off, I wouldn't have asked. Saw you walking across the Quad and thought I'd stop by."

"Okay." Jason side eyes him. "Hi."

Beaulieu's grin widens. "Hey, Makkie – or do you prefer Jay?"

"Jason's good," Jason clears his throat. "If there's nothing else…"

Deliberately sliding out of Jason's way, Beaulieu bows and indicates a hand in front of him. Jason's face burns with the touch of embarrassment. "Just wanted to remind you that the first practice is in two weeks."

"Not on the team, Beaulieu," Jason tosses over his shoulder. He doesn't think Beaulieu would reply, but he seems to be full of surprises.

"Never said you were. But I think you should try."

Snorting, Jason keeps walking. Beaulieu should tell the rest of his NHL caliber team this Makkie doesn't skate or shoot. That's not his job and never will be.

For all he complains about Blackwood, it does have its perks. The quiet trails at ass-o'clock in the morning, the dead, dark, empty track in the middle of the night. The inhabitants of Blackwell throw hardcore parties – Jason can certainly respect them – but late Saturday nights on the top of the chapel call his name.

There are more than a few students roaming around drunkenly, lit by the sidelights of the chapel. Jason lies on his stomach and raises his camera to his face, focusing the lens. The students weaving back and forth aren't the ones he wants to capture. Not by far. He wants to capture the gentle mist cloaking the air, the long shadows cast by the impeccable trees illuminated by the side lights.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

Just as he adjusts himself onto his elbows, a loud clatter of noise from the stairwell startles him.

"C'mon, Freshies have to-"

Jason finds himself staring face to face with the captain of the Blackwood hockey captain and his posse. The flash of teeth in the corner of his eye directs his attention to Beaulieu rounding up the group.

"Well," the captain draws out. "This is awkward."

Taking in the half dressed, weary freshmen, Jason's lip twitches up. "Perhaps stumbling back half dressed like they're taking the walk of shame is enough. Easiest initiation."

"This isn't the initiation," the captain chortles. "That was last month during Pre-O."

Jason cocks an eyebrow and the captain matches his stare with his own. He gestures at the state of the blindfolded players. "By all means, enlighten me."

"You've got some fancy words, Jazz," Beaulieu pipes up from the back. Without further ado, he shoves to the front and appraises Jason with the familiar wide grin, dimples and all.

"Jazz?" Jason repeats.

Beaulieu shrugs, "You said you didn't like Jay or Makkie, so I have to improvise." He turns away from Jason and waves at his captain. "Let's head to the ice complex. Traditions can be changed."

"You're leading this one," the captain warns Beaulieu.

"Leading the hazing?" Jason taunts. His brother's gone through the same thing, though more prank-based. He has heard more than his fair share of warnings from Ray about frats and their initiations, and this one doesn't look too good.

Once more, Beaulieu grins and bows his head. "Who said anything about hazing? I was thinking judging trick shots. We usually vault them off the chapel and see who can hit the targets, but doing them on the stands are fine too."

Jason feels the heat on his cheeks rise as he takes in the eyes on him. He opens and closes his mouth a few times, but no words come to mind. For who knows what reason, Beaulieu throws an arm around Jason and laughs.

"Tag along Jazz. I'll pay you fifty if you take action shots."

Someone help him, the only thing Jason ends up saying is, "Name's not Jazz."

The only thing Beaulieu does is jostle him closer and tug him down the twelve flights of stairs in the chapel.

Turns out, the team actually is making the rookies take on ridiculous trick shots. Shooting an apple off the left goalpost from fifty feet away? Not as easy as it sounds, even if some of these guys are headed to the NHL. Of course he has a couple of lucky videos where the guys have gotten a couple of nice shots. A particular favorite would have to be the one attempt that blew up a water bottle.

Jason isn't going to lie, the shots he's getting are a sight to behold. The way the stick bends against the ice just as it touches the puck, the dangerously slight curvature to the blade. The pure strength of their arms are captured by the flash of the camera, shadows cast in the ridges. The shots he keeps returning to though are the ones of just the hands and the stick.

These more focused and have more depth than his action shots. The dark lighting in the rink is a setback, but with some touching up, he can brighten the background. The way the hands grasp the tape, trusting and demanding, with hidden strength suggest what they can do. If he flicks through the pictures quickly, one hand slides its way down the shaft as the other directs the stick in anticipation for the puck.

If he has to choose one shot though, it wouldn't be the photos he has of the hands. Despite himself, the picture he has of Beaulieu is his favorite. It's candid to say the least, with two half-dressed freshmen in the background. The focus is solely on Beaulieu; the camera faded out the others in the back. The flash sends shadows running down Beaulieu's jaw line. The shadows aren't the thing that make it the one photo. Admittedly, it has to do with Beaulieu utter delight in who knows what out of the range of the camera. The beatific smile in light of the dimness of the rink makes Jason return to the photo again and again.

"So, be honest, is this what you do on a Saturday night?" Beaulieu's voice sounds from somewhere behind him.

Jason jumps. From the resounding laughter behind him tells him Beaulieu hasn't missed it.

"What part of it?" Jason retorts as he grabs his wits from the ice.

Beaulieu sags against the boards and waves a hand absently at Jason's camera. "The sneaking up the chapel in the middle of the night. And the whole camera thing."

Jason lifts his camera and snaps a picture of Beaulieu with the flash on in retribution.

"Hey, ow. No," Beaulieu protests, rubbing a hand over his eyes. "I'm not saying that it's a bad thing."

"That'd make you a hypocrite considering your entire crew was doing the same thing," Jason points out.

Why Beaulieu laughs is beyond him. "You got me there, Jazz. So you get any good shots?"

Wordlessly, Jason steps a little closer to show him the photos. "The lighting is a little too dark to get clear shots of everything."

"Impressive," Beaulieu whistles. "You do this professionally or what? These look like they belong somewhere."

"Not professionally." Jason holds his tongue on his website and prints. That's something he tends to keep quiet about. Photography is just a hobby and it's his; not something someone would associate with the name Makkie and think hockey. That is, unless he makes it the subject.

"You know, you still haven't answered my question about Saturday nights."

"Tough." Jason snaps the cover onto his lens, then regrets his attitude. "Only on nights where the lighting is good enough."

"So you're kind of like an impressionist?" Beaulieu smiles as Jason looks sharply at him. "I know my art periods. Kind of. Had to take an art history course last semester."

"I wouldn't say I have any particular construct," Jason answers carefully. He hasn't thought of this before actually.

There's a lull in the conversation as Beaulieu straightens and Jason looks the other way for lack of something to say.

"So," Beaulieu coughs. "I don't have fifty on me. I didn't think that'd you'd actually stay the whole time."

Jason looks down and thumbs the worn edge of his trusty Cannon. "I don't expect you to pay me. They're just photos." Photos that he'll watermark and put up later.

"You're a character," Beaulieu chuckles. "I'll pay you back for the pics."

"It's not necessary," Jason protests halfheartedly.

Beaulieu pats Jason on the shoulder. "Jazz, I'll pay you back. Fifty like I promised you. Send me a couple of the prints, yeah? You can send me the best pics."

A.N: It's been a while. Hope you enjoy it!

If you're looking for a more hockey-based (will have more actual hockey within the chapters) story, check out Across the Ice.