Heart In Hand by salifiable is a novel-length Slash Fic about two Ice Hockey players in the National Hockey League. It was originally a Real-Person Fic about Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, but the author changed the names of characters and teams when she realized that it was garnering a Periphery Demographic of people outside fandom. For convenience's sake and to avoid confusion with actual players, we will be using the names provided in the newer version.
Darryl Colton is a star NHL player for the Pittsburgh Hawks with all the publicity it entails. He prefers to stay out of the limelight, but that becomes impossible when he finds himself starring in a reality TV series with his rival Aleksey Kuznetzov of the Washington Bears. Despite their team allegiances and their clashing personalities, friendship grows quickly between the two until it becomes something more.
The examples below may contain spoilers. It is advised that you read the fic before proceeding.
Heart In Hand provides examples of:
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Although it's made clear that they do have a good relationship with each other, Darryl's sister Brynn embarrasses and teases him, often teaming up with his teammates or Alex.
- Award Snub: An in-universe example in the climax, where the Hart trophy goes to Darryl, not Alex, presumably because Alex is bi.
- The Bet: Darryl's spur-of-the-moment bet that he will sleep with Alex if the latter scores a "Mexican hat trick" (six goals in one game) kickstarts their relationship. This plays with the standard Romantic Comedy plot of the hero approaching his love interest to fulfill a bet, only to find himself falling for her for real.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Media speculation about the man Alex is caught kissing includes "is drugged, is underage, is a prostitute, is a drugged underage prostitute".
- But Liquor Is Quicker: Darryl drinks vodka to work up the courage and lower his inhibitions before sleeping with Alex.
- Career Versus Man: Darryl provides a Rare Male Example when the photograph of him kissing Alex is leaked, but he is not identified as the person pictured. He fears that his NHL career would be destroyed if he owns up to it, but if he stays silent, that means Alex will have to face all the media attention alone. He chooses his career, but later finds that the two aren't mutually exclusive.
- Closet Key:
- Alex, for Darryl. Although Darryl does not express attractions to other men even after meeting Alex, he identifies as gay by the end of the story.
- Darryl for Alex is a downplayed example. Alex states that he has "fooled around" with male partners before, but it's implied that Darryl is the first time he had fallen in love with a guy, and that Alex did not consider himself bisexual before.
- Clueless Chick Magnet: Darryl. When an attractive woman at a nightclub mentions that she's cold, talks about "wanting something to warm me up" and spills a drink over her top, he reacts by giving his sweatshirt to her.
- Cool Old Lady: Alex's mother, former Olympics gold medalist in basketball, beats current NHL players soundly at a game of backyard basketball. She is also fiercely supportive of Alex when the photograph of him kissing another man (Darryl) is leaked.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: When Alex comes out of the closet, Canadian and American reactions are mixed, but positive overall. The Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, on the other hand, threatens to ban him from ever playing in or for Russia. Darryl reflects on (and feels somewhat guilty about) how he would never have to face the same ordeal just because he is Canadian.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: When Darryl mentions to his friend Ethan that he "isn't sure" about whether his first time sleeping with a girl (actually Alex) was consensual, Ethan immediately assumes that Darryl raped her, when in fact the consent was dubious on Darryl's part.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: Used in-universe to Bluff the Impostor. Talking to a girl at a bar, Darryl suspects she is lying about being a hockey fan, so he mentions "the tipoff after the second half" that "led to the fifth field goal". An ice hockey game starts with a faceoff, is divided into three periods and involves teams attempting to score goals.
- I Have This Friend...: Darryl uses a variant to talk about his relationship with Alex to his friend - he doesn't hide that it's his own problems, but he frames it as "girl trouble".
- Love Epiphany: Happens to both of the protagonists. Darryl has this realization when Alex visits his house while Darryl is recovering from a flu, and Alex about two months later, when Darryl kisses him after a visit to a school.
- Noodle Incident: Darryl's teammate Janssen threatens to reveal "that thing with the thing that happened three years ago" if Darryl doesn't air the footage of himself running away from his fangirls.
- Pun-Based Title:
- The title refers to the climax, where Darryl approaches Alex with the Hart trophy in hand. It represents his apology and his "heart" (or love) for him.
- The Show Within a Show's title styles the two protagonists' names into gun models: "AK-47 [Aleksey Kuznetzov] & Colt 45 [Darryl Colton]".
- Questionable Consent: The first time Darryl and Alex have sex, Darryl is intoxicated, and felt that he had the obligation to fulfill the "bet" even though he really didn't want to. It's addressed in-universe in that Alex feels guilty about it afterwards and Darryl himself still feels unsure about whether it was consensual, long after the deed is done.
- Show Within a Show: The reality show following the lives of Darryl and Alex grows to be extremely popular. Later on, it changes its format to focus entirely on Alex and the aftermath of him coming out of the closet.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Not only did Darryl never have any sexual interest in anyone until he ended up sleeping with Alex on a regular basis, but he confirms through an experiment that he literally can't get it up to the thought of anyone - female or male - other than Alex.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": Alex names a stray cat "Gary" after the unpopular NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, because he has "dark hair, a funny face, and a really really tiny..."