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When Sammie arrives for the first day of training camp, she finds most of the team gathered around someone in the player’s lounge.

She’d been planning to just fix herself a coffee and meet new people later but Lolly calls her over, “Hey Sammie, you haven’t meet the rookie yet. This is Bethan Miranda.”

Sammie would have liked to seem uninterested but it would be rude to ignore their captain. Besides, Miranda been their first overall pick two years ago and, when someone had blown up their league like she had the NCAA, it was hard to ignore her.

She holds out a hand as Lolly continues, “Bethie, this is Samantha Wagner,” but the girl looks straight through her and Sammie feels her smile turn fixed. She might not be a top 6 forward but she’s been in the league long enough, she’s paid her dues and doesn't intend to fawn over this upstart.

Still, no-one ever accused her of not being a team player so she laughs it off for now, claps the girl on the arm, ignoring her flinch. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to us soon enough.”

Bethan smirks. “I've got used to a lot worse. But I'm sure I'll manage.”

Sammie doesn't think the girl has the faintest idea what hardship or adversity means. She remembers the bad old days when they all needed one, if not two jobs to get by. Even though they technically got paid it was barely enough to cover travel costs to get to practices and games. She had scrimped and saved and slept on friends’ sofas just to be able to play, missed games to keep her job, called in sick to make travel plans work, never taken a day of vacation that wasn't for hockey. It had been worth it though to keep playing.

Then things had started to improve. They had got actual salaries, enough to live on during the season if she was careful: sharing an apartment, doing the occasional freelance job. Even though it was still nothing compared to men’s leagues, Sammie had been proud to say she was a professional athlete.

It’s only been in the last couple of years that things have really changed. Even past her prime, Sammie is earning more now than she had dared to dream - the sort of salary only an Olympian got ten years ago, when she first made the league.

Now kids like Bethan can come into the league, not even finishing college since she doesn’t need to worry about having a second career, and she’s going to be a superstar. Sammie recognizes the bitter taste, the snarling clench of jealousy whenever she looks at that carefree face.

The girl’s pretty too and she knows it, her long brown hair falling in artfully designed waves down her back. She’s wearing gym clothes but still somehow looks as though she's stepped off a photo shoot. Sammie runs a hand over her own short-cropped dirty blonde hair. If she's lucky, Sammie looks as though she's just got out of bed and, more often, as though she's pulled an all-nighter, with heavy bags under her eyes.

It isn't that she feels inadequate, Sammie knows she's good at what she does, even if it isn't as flashy as some, but even from a few minutes acquaintance it's clear Bethan considers herself above everyone else. She quirks her lips, raises an eyebrow, as if to say what else did you expect.

Sammie’s not too proud to admit she wants to take Bethan down a peg or two, hold her down and make that pretty mouth twist, hear her begging for mercy. Bethan doesn’t concede much to Sammie in height but she doesn’t have the same bulk nor the advantage of experience.

The worst part is that Bethan has genuine talent. When they get on the ice, Bethan’s perfect hair pulled back into a ponytail and her fancy manicured nails hidden in her gloves, Sammie keeps getting distracted from her own drills to watch. Her skating is smooth, she’s damn fast, her stickwork is precise, and her shot is a killer. The Wildcats need someone like Bethan after their last season was plagued with injuries. If only she wasn’t so full of her own self-importance.

Sammie had doggedly played through her own pain at the end of the season, even getting her chance on the top line. She’s back in her usual position for preseason, only now with their new star as her center to get Bethan started on sheltered minutes. Sammie doesn’t expect it to last.

Their first shift sets the tone for the game. Sammie intercepts a pass moments after going over the boards and passes it to Bethan who gets a breakaway, though her shot hits the crossbar and goes out of play. Then, after winning the face-off, Bethan makes a beautiful pass through the legs of the defender to Jeanie, their other line-mate, who puts it in the back of the net. And with that they are 1-0 up after less than five minutes of play.

Of course, their opponents don’t make it easy for them, and the Cats still have most of the same defensive issues as last season, but each time they draw level, Bethan goes and gets them the advantage again.

Though they get split up for special teams, Coach keeps them on the same line and Sammie feels a certain thrill in being able to keep up with Bethan, as they get elevated to second-line minutes. Sammie has her first multi-point game in two years, as Bethan gets her first hat-trick on the empty net to win them the game. If this is what playing with her is going to be like, Sammie can’t wait until the season begins for real.

The warm feeling quickly evaporates back in the locker room as Sammie’s in the right place to hear Bethan boasting of her success to Jesse, who covers them for the local paper, “Yeah, it meant a lot to be able to come in and get a win. I felt like I was flying out there,” as though she'd won the game entirely by herself.

Afterwards, Lolly insists on their going out to celebrate their victory, even if it doesn’t count for standings yet. “Let's start this season as we mean to go on!”

Sammie joins in the general calls of agreement, checking Bethan will be coming along. At the bar, Sammie picks the same booth as Bethan, intending to look for opportunities to embarrass her. Instead, she finds the younger woman is quieter than she'd expected, seeming overwhelmed now they’re away from the rink.

Bethan is still too young to drink legally but that doesn't stop them passing her shots. Sammie carefully manages her own drinks, hangovers had got worse as she'd gotten older and that was no part of her plan.

Rather than making a fool of herself or giving away any embarrassing secrets as Sammie had hoped, Bethan simply gets affectionate. "I'm just so happy to be here," she tells everyone, along with how much she loves them all. By the end of the evening, Bethan is leaning heavily on Sammie's shoulder and she isn’t sure what to do about it.

Somehow despite all the more talented women on the roster, Bethan seems to have decided Sammie is her favorite. Well, she can use that and she starts to have a plan. She will draw Bethan in, letting her believe she is interested, and then brush her off, let her find out what rejection feels like. A little humiliation would do her ego good, teach her that no-one’s bigger than the team.

Still, there’s no rush to set that plan in motion. Sammie sees Bethan into a cab, fending off her enthusiastic embrace and only allowing herself to press her lips to the girl’s hair for a moment.

The next morning, Sammie has a coffee waiting for the rookie when she gets to practice, looking somewhat worse for wear. Bethan’s whole expression lights up and she’s beautiful, despite her limp hair and slightly bloodshot eyes.

Bethan looks embarrassed. “I’m sorry if I said anything out of order last night.”

In line with her plan, Sammie waves her apology off. “After that game, you deserved it. You’ve given yourself a lot to live up to though. Now just don’t give Coach any excuse to bag skate you.”

Bethan blushes and Sammie feels a rush of power at drawing a reaction. When they get out onto the ice, their night out doesn’t seem to have slowed Bethan down any and Sammie is very conscious of the decade and change between them.

Bethan starts out practicing with the first line, since last night showed she doesn’t to need to be eased into game pace. Sammie tries to focus on her own line’s drills but can’t help noticing the coaches are rotating different wingers in for her.

They’re over halfway through practice when she gets waved over to try, with Jojo on the other side. Plays work as easily as they had in the game, the puck seeming to flow smoothly from Bethan’s stick to hers and back. It must be Bethan’s skill as Sammie has never found passing this simple.

In their next preseason game, Sammie finds herself on the second line on Bethan’s wing. The game gets heated and she's expecting an incident. It happens halfway through the third period, when one of the opposition players, presumably frustrated at being down two goals, blatantly trips Bethan along the boards.

Nothing is called and Sammie sees red. Two long strides and she’s behind the opposing defender, then she slams her stick hard across the other woman’s shoulder blades, once, twice, until she goes down.

This time the whistle blows and she gets two minutes for cross-checking but it’s definitely worth it, not only for her own satisfaction but for the adoring looks Bethan is giving her from the bench.

When they kill the penalty and she skates back to the bench, Bethan smiles over at her. “Thanks,” she says softly, no doubt intimidated by the glare Coach is giving them.

Sammie shrugs it off. “They needed to know we wouldn’t let them mess with you.” She’s surprised to realise she means it, how protective she feels towards Bethan.

When the regular season starts, Sammie gets back into the routine of practices, travel, naps and games. Bethan seems to have become her shadow. Sammie's almost surprised she hasn't tried to turn up at her place on an off-day.

Sammie doesn’t want to go out after every game but it isn’t a hardship to let Bethan persuade her after a victory. It's getting harder to remember her plan but, every time she starts to forget, Bethan manages to irritate her once again with a look or a word.

After a particularly trying game when Sammie felt as though she’d spent more time in the box than on the ice, they are settled into a booth at their usual bar when Lolly nudges her to point out Jojo trying to get her attention.

“Isn’t that your ex?” Jojo asks, glaring in the direction of the bar.

Sammie looks over and frowns when she recognizes who the Swede is pointing at. Dayna had never understood why hockey was so important to her. It had been a messy break up, and Sammie had been grateful for the support she’d had from the team.

Some of their newer teammates also turn to look, because no-one ever turns down gossip. “Near end of the bar, the one with the twists,” Sammie hears Jeanie telling them. “Yes, in the yellow dress, that’s her.”

Bethan glances up and Sammie sees a look of surprise cross her face. With her soft pastel clothes and perfectly painted nails, Dayna probably doesn’t look anything like the sort of person she would expect Sammie to date.

Except Sammie can hear her asking Jeanie, “Her ex-girlfriend? I didn’t realize...”

Jeanie frowns, and Sammie wants to hug her as she demands, “Do you have a problem with that?”

“No. No!” Bethan exclaims. “I mean, that would be kind of hypocritical.”

Sammie is surprised to feel a jolt of satisfaction at hearing Bethan admit that though she tells herself it is only because it will make her plan work smoother. Sammie has never made a secret of being a lesbian but, unlike some of the others on the team, it had been a while since she’d had a long-term relationship so perhaps it wasn’t so strange if Bethan hadn’t realized.

The way Bethan’s still looking makes Sammie wonder if it could it be something more. Objectively, Sammie would admit she has a type and Bethan has a lot in common with Dayna appearance-wise, though she’s definitely younger. It couldn’t hurt for Bethan to realize that, but in a moment Dayna was going to notice she had drawn attention, which would be bad.

Reaching for a distraction, Sammie asks, “Who wants to come dance?” It doesn’t take much to persuade Bethan onto the dancefloor, which is already fairly crowded. Most of the dancers are in same-sex couples so they don’t stand out. It isn’t officially a lesbian bar but the clientele are largely queer and the bar staff are pretty good at warding off creeps so it stays safe.

Sammie finds a space for them but keeps some distance, making Bethan be the one who closes it. She might be getting older but she still has some moves and, if they end up pressing together as the floor fills up, Sammie definitely isn’t complaining.

Even less so when Dayna joins the dancing with a shorter butch woman who is presumably her new girlfriend. Sammie tries to ignore them but Bethan is suddenly practically grinding against her as though she is trying to stake her claim. It would be almost amusing if Sammie thought there was any chance Dayna would care.

When it comes to putting Bethan into a taxi this time the rookie will hardly let go and, though Sammie lives in almost the opposite direction, she ends up letting herself be persuaded to share the ride. She suspects Bethan wants more, though she has no intention of taking advantage while she’s this drunk.

Bethan insists on taking the middle seat so she can rest her head on Sammie’s shoulder. She goes quiet for such a long time that Sammie starts to wonder if she’s gone to sleep. She lifts a hand to brush loose hair out of her eyes when Bethan suddenly opens them and looks up at her.

Sammie freezes, then goes ahead and does it anyway. This is what she wants, isn’t it? Bethan’s attention focused on her, as though she were someone who mattered , building up the trust between them.

“You know, it’s stupid,” Bethan starts, a flush rising on her cheeks.

“What is?” Sammie asks, only half paying attention.

“Did you know I picked Colgate because you played there?”

Sammie’s heart skips a beat. She’d been pretty good back in college, enough that she knew she didn’t want to give it up, but never quite good enough - not to win the Frozen Four, nor make the National team, nor be a top line player - so to think that she had somehow inspired someone as talented as Bethan is a shock.

“I watched an interview with you,” Bethan goes on, apparently oblivious to Sammie’s crisis. “When you told that guy you weren't playing for men to watch.”

Sammie remembers that one. The interview hadn’t even been with her but she hadn’t been able to stand back and listen to her teammate being humiliated like that. She’d wanted to put a fist through the guy’s face for being a patronising dick but then she’d suddenly known exactly what to say. He hadn’t had a comeback and she’d pulled Holly away while he was still gaping.

She wishes for that eloquence now with Bethan staring up adoringly at her from only inches away.

Then the driver clears his throat and the moment breaks. “We’re here.”

Bethan flings herself out of the car, face flushed red. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Sammie half wants to follow but that isn’t in her plan so instead she takes a deep breath and tells the driver where to go next.

She hadn’t counted on Bethan having actual feelings for her and certainly not on her own conflicting emotions. So, things aren’t exactly going to plan but at least they’re winning more than they lose this season so she can distract herself with games and practices, though they are still playing on the same line.

After their local sports writer asks how it feels to be playing with Bethan, and Sammie has waxed lyrically about Bethan’s skill, she realises she's getting more invested in this plan than she'd intended. She needs to either bring it to fruition or else give it up.

“You know she has a crush on you,” Liv points out, over the veterans’ standing lunch date.

“I’m making the most of it while it lasts,” Sammie replies, with an obvious wink, to general laughter, but she isn’t quite sure she believes it herself.

Every time she saves Bethan a seat next to her at team meals or during video review, every time she brings in Dunkin Donuts coffee because she knows it’s Bethan’s favorite, Sammie knows she is encouraging Bethan’s trust in her and her apparent crush. Bethan does try to reciprocate the offering of coffee but she manages to break the machine on the first attempt and is banned from touching it again.

On the road Sammie usually liked to get her own room where she could, seniority had to have some uses, but when their next road trip of the year comes around, she lets it be known that she would be prepared to share with her newest liney.

She plans for the trip, even taking the time to trim her fingernails in preparation. She still thinks about putting Bethan in her place, but the fantasies have shifted. Sammie imagines the girl writhing under her, face twisted in pleasure as she fingers her.

After winning the first game in a shootout, they all have a couple of celebratory drinks in the hotel bar. No-one wants to stay out long as they have an early departure the next morning.

When the others start to drift away, Sammie holds back, lingering over her beer. Bethan hovers at her side, nervously tearing the label off her bottled coke until they are the last two remaining.

Bethan bites her lip and Sammie feels an urge to kiss her, to smear her perfect make-up and taste. The hunger rises inside Sammie’s core and she can’t wait any longer.

“That color looks really good on you,” she says.

“Thanks,” Bethan looks flattered and Sammie seizes the opportunity.

“It would look even better on my bedroom floor.”

There is a moment when Bethan looks at her open-mouthed and speechless. “Are you serious? Really?”

Sammie smiles and nods, then knocks back her drink. This is the point where she finds out if she has judged the situation right.

“Yes!” Bethan looks as though she wants to drag her back to the room immediately and Sammie doesn’t see any reason to deny herself. They manage to restrain themselves in the elevator but, once they make it back to their room, the control snaps.

Sammie takes Bethan’s face in her hands and kisses her just as she had imagined, enjoying her soft, full lips against her own chapped ones. Bethan moans and Sammie presses her tongue in, lightly running it over Bethan’s.

Off the ice Sammie tended to stick to jeans but she’s seeing the appeal of Bethan’s skirt suit right now. It’s easy to push up to her hips as she presses the younger woman against the wall, to reach under and slide a finger along the outline of her labia. Sammie can feel how wet she is through her panties,

Bethan’s low-cut top makes it easy for Sammie to slip her bra straps off her shoulders, freeing her breasts. Sammie gets a handful, running her thumbs over Bethan's hard nipples, before lowering her head to suck one into her mouth.

There is a thud as Bethan’s head hits the door where she has flung it back in pleasure.

“Shall we move this to the bed?” Sammie steps back, wanting Bethan to make the next move, to show she’s willing. She draws the line at pressuring her; if this is the point Bethan baulks, Sammie can always revert to her original plan..

They make it onto the bed where Bethan seems keen to reciprocate, reaching for the buttons of Sammie’s blouse. “Let me touch you.”

Sammie lets the rookie help her out of her top and sports bra. She isn’t ashamed of her appearance, but she is hardly Bethan’s equal. She carries a lot of muscle but not all of her bulk can be attributed to that and she definitely doesn’t have Bethan’s defined abs.

Bethan doesn’t seem to mind. “Can I?” she asks, hand hovering over Sammie’s breast. When Sammie nods, dry mouthed in anticipation, Bethan strokes her fingers lightly across her chest, then more firmly once she becomes confident her touch is welcomed.

Sammie hasn’t even considered her stretch marks to be appealing but, as Bethan kisses her way along them, she might change her mind. Her nipples harden at the touch and she reaches out to stroke up and down Bethan’s back.

After a minute or so Bethan pulls back and Sammie worries she has changed her mind but instead Bethan asks breathlessly, “What now?”

“What do you want to do next?” Sammie tries to keep her tone undemanding. There is plenty she would like to do.

Bethan flushes. “I don't know. It’s not like-”

“You have done this before?” Sammie asks. The thought of being her first is incredibly arousing.

“Of course, but...” Bethan bites her lip and Sammie waits her out until she admits, “Once,”

Sammie feels a wave of heat wash over her. “Feel free to explore then.”

Bethan licks her lips as Sammie spreads her legs apart, letting her look her fill. She touches Sammie lightly before lowering her head. She starts off cautiously, pressing soft kisses to her entrance, but slowly grows bolder.

Sammie very much enjoys Bethan’s efforts. She evidently has some idea what to do, for all her claims at inexperience, alternating her focus between Sammie’s clit and her folds. Sammie maybe clamps her thighs a little tighter than necessary around her head, but it doesn’t seem to put Bethan off any.

She pulls Bethan’s hair out of its neat ponytail, running her fingers through it, letting them tug roughly.

Bethan gasps and Sammie pauses, holding her fingers still, until Bethan tilts her head, saying, “Please?”

Sammie does it again, more deliberately, and Bethan moans. The vibrations only enhance the sensation where Bethan is now eating her out with evident enjoyment. She looks forward to reciprocating, can hardly wait to find out if the girl tastes as sweet as she looks.

She’s getting close and uses her grip on Bethan’s hair to guide her to where she wants it most. Bethan redoubles her efforts and the pleasure builds, rippling out through Sammie’s entire body. As she comes, it feels as though her whole body spasms.

Bethan is still catching her breath when Sammie twists their legs together and flips their position, before working her way down Bethan's body. Her breasts are stunning, her stomach shows just a hint of fat over strong muscles and then Sammie reaches her destination between Bethan's legs.

Sammie pushes Bethan’s knees up towards her chest, kissing the inside of her knee to make her squirm and then up her thighs. When she finally gets there, Bethan is amazingly responsive. Sammie licks a broad stripe up her center and the girl moans. As she circles Bethan’s clit with the tip of her tongue, Sammie has to hold her thighs apart when she convulses.

She laps at her slick pussy, enjoying the sharp taste. Bethan is almost dripping with desire and it makes Sammie feel powerful, knowing she's brought her to this point. Sammie slips a finger easily into her and Bethan shakes apart. Still Sammie doesn’t pull away and between the fingers massaging her passage and her lips and tongue working her clit, Bethan is soon coming.

Sammie doesn't stop though Bethan makes a half-sound of protest and, when her hands come down to Sammie’s head, it isn’t to push her away. She keeps going, now with her tongue delving inside and thumb teasing at Bethan’s clit until she brings her to orgasm a second time.

When Sammie comes up for air, Bethan has her eyes closed and her chest rises and falls sharply as she catches her own breath. She is flushed all the way down and Sammie can feel how hard her pulse is still racing.

As she admires the beautiful sight laid out before her, Sammie admits she doesn't want this to be a one-off, she can't imagine speaking the words she had originally planned on.

If Sammie’s honest, this has gone way beyond her original intention and she can't even find a spark of that jealousy anymore. Sure, Bethan can be arrogant at times but she's earned it and now, naked and vulnerable, Sammie only wants to take care of her.

She strokes the strands of sweat-soaked hair off Bethan's forehead and the girl opens her eyes, smiling softly up at Sammie. “Is it always like that?” she asks, in a tone of wonder. Sammie wonders how she could have ever seen her as selfish and egotistical.

“It can be,” she says, unable to keep a smile off her face. “Maybe we can test that out another time?”

The way Bethan’s face lights up suggests she hadn’t been certain there would be a next time. “In the morning?” she asks, tentatively.

“Do you want to stay?” Sammie finds she means more than just here and now. She wants this girl at her side for a long time.

“I'd like that,” Bethan says, looking hopeful. “I like you.”

That's… a lot really, more than Sammie would ever have hoped for. “You could do better,” she instinctively demurs.

“No, really,” Bethan pushes herself until she is sitting up, and meets Sammie’s gaze. Her expression is pure focus, the same look she gets just before she scores. “You're this amazing player, you know so much and you've been so kind to me.”

Sammie thinks about admitting that she had an ulterior motive to her kindness but it didn't seem important now. It got them here and that's what matters. She has lean over to press kisses to ever part of Bethan she can reach. Bethan returns them eagerly and when Sammie leans back she tells her, “You're going to light up the entire world.”

“Maybe you can help me?” Bethan asks, eyes bright.

“I'd like that.” Sammie’s never been anyone’s mentor before but there’s got to be a first time for everything. She finds she's looking forward to it.