Back It up, Baby

Jumping to Conclusions

Brandon’s house wasn’t huge, not in the way that James’ was but, there was enough of it to explore. I woke up before him, showered and then wandered around for a bit. It was weird being in his house, having a key and not really knowing him at all. The pictures throughout his house told his story though. She had been right, he was a farm boy. Pictures of his home in Alberta with various members of his family lined the walls. There were pictures of him in Carolina, Pittsburgh and even in the Czech Republic when he won gold at the World Juniors.

He definitely had something that I didn’t have, strong family ties. I had only spoken to my mother once since coming to Pittsburgh and Dad twice. I was never really close with my grandparents or aunts, uncles or cousins growing up and with no siblings, there was no one else really to bond with. Really, the only people I would consider family that I talked to on a regular basis were Tuukka and Pekka.

I was flipping homemade, healthy pancakes when he came down from his room, still in his pyjama pants. I didn’t know what to expect, to be quite honest, I didn’t know what this was at all. Something about the uncertainty of it kept driving me farther into this weird, little friendship we had. For the first time though, I actually found Brandon attractive. I mean, sure, before I had thought he was good looking but, then he opened his mouth and ruined the appeal. Walking into the kitchen though, shirtless, dishevelled hair, wiping sleep from his eyes and that scruff on his face, he looked like a man and he looked good.

“So, this isn’t going to be some Christian Grey shit, is it?” I asked as Brandon sat down at the kitchen island. I slid a couple pancakes onto a plate for him and then handed it over. He raised an eyebrow at me while I made my own plate and fetched maple syrup from the fridge. When I sat across from him, I gave him a pointed look, “seriously, this isn’t some kind of Fifty Shades fucked up thing, right?”

He shook his head, no, before diving into his pancakes. I frowned, cutting mine into pieces before slathering it with syrup. “So what’s the deal then?”

He shrugged, thinking about for a second and slowly chewing. “I don’t know. When you want to come over, you come over. I haven’t done this before either. By the way, I called James.” I stared at him, trying to comprehend what he was saying as he shovelled the rest of his pancakes into his mouth like I was going to take them away. “I’m going to drop you off at his house and then he’s going to drive you to practice this morning. You know, so it doesn’t look weird.”

“What did you tell him?” I sputtered, nearly choking on air. Brandon shrugged.

“I told him the truth,” I raised an eyebrow at him, my hands clenching the side of the kitchen island. He didn’t even bat an eye but, he looked straight into mine. “The cab driver was being what you thought was a sexist pig. You jumped out and I found you wandering past my house when I went to lock the door. The nice guy that I am, I gave you a place to crash since we were obviously in no condition to drive.”

A hint of a smile crossed over his stony face. I decided then that it was his eyes that hid his true emotions. His dark eyes always told the story of a cynical, wise beyond his years man trapped inside a young body. His smile shattered his elder exterior in moments like these, hinting that there was more to him than he let on.
I picked up an apple from the fruit bowl that sat next to his refrigerator. I grinned at Brandon, breaking the rest of his facade and letting his boyish smile free. I was still grinning when I took a giant bite from that apple, so sweet and delicious. Leave it to Brandon to have the best apples in Pittsburgh.


James drummed on the steering wheel of his BMW. I had learned quickly that he never sat still. His fingers, his foot, his knee, something was always bobbing or tapping or drumming. I figured the man was just excitable. He always had the most fun on the ice and had the most energy. Rarely, did you see James take a break. Even if we were at team dinners, he would lean over and talk to people or be throwing things and leaning back in his chair. It didn’t even occur to me that, this time, he could possibly be nervous about something.

We turned into the Consol Energy Center parking lot when he finally spit it out. Throwing the Beemer into park, he turned to me, “so Beau and you are pretty good friends, eh?”

“I think you have to be to tolerate his disgusting habits when living together,” I chuckled. James gave me a sympathetic look and instantly I regretted my words.

“Well, see, Beau told us that you guys were planning on being roommates and a couple of us guys were talking about it last night and think its a bad idea,” James ran a hand through his hair, sighing. I stared straight out the front of the car, there was no way this was happening. “We just know Beau. We know that he’s kind of a slut and we all feel like its not a good idea for you to have to deal with his endless parade of girls.”

Girls like me, I thought to myself. Of course Beau would be a man whore, of course this would be happening. I bit my lip and leaned my head against the seat, “who is we?”

“Sid brought it up, Kuni, Simon, Flower and I all agreed,” he admitted. For a second he didn’t say anything and then chuckled, “Geno said that he saw you take down Deryk and was pretty sure you could handle yourself.”

“Shit, I forgot about that,” I muttered to myself, groaning a bit. James just laughed a little more.

“Then Suttsy mentioned something about me having extra space in my house and I thought that was actually a good idea,” he continued. I knitted my eyebrows together, turning in my seat to face him. Now I was intrigued. He smiled. “Look, you would have space. My spare room is at the other end of the house. You’d have your own bathroom and everything and then we’d share everything else. Just think about it.”

I nodded, glancing down at my hands for a second, “I like the idea but, let me talk to Beau before I say yes, okay?” James’ smile grew, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe someone was actually excited to live with me. I narrowed my eyes at him, “you said this was Sutter’s idea.”

“Yeah,” he pulled his keys out of the ignition and opened his door. “He was pretty persistent about it too. Maybe he just knows how much of a pain in the ass Beau can be.”



I couldn’t focus and I badly needed to. We had a game tomorrow and, at this rate, if there was any need to put me in, I would not perform well. The more the guys took shots on me, the more frustrated I got. Shot after shot went in, I was stopping less than I was letting in by a long shot and part of me felt like Coach was already regretting giving me the position.

Sid skated over, tapping his stick against my pads, “hey, are you hungover?” I shook my head. “So is it the last preseason game that has you all stressed out?” I shrugged. He skated closer, pressing his visor against my cage. “Don’t worry about it. We’ve all seen you at your best, we know what you can do. We have faith in you but, you’ve got to have faith in yourself.”

“Thanks, Sid,” I smiled. He nodded, skating away to line up for a drill. The groups switched as I stretched a bit. Our goalie coach was working with Fleury for a bit, leaving me to take shots from the guys during their drills.

I watched Coach explain how the drill worked. The centres move their asses up to me and screen while two defensemen try to help out and two other forwards try to score, only one shot and one rebound and the screener can’t touch the puck. Alright, simple enough.

But then Geno, Kuni and Neal’s line came up and Kuni’s shot didn’t even need a rebound. I was so frustrated with myself that I was on the verge of tears, so I sprayed myself in the face with water. If any escaped, I could say it was the water bottle. The next line came up and a familiar jersey was in my face, ‘SUTTER’.

Tuukka temper came over me, and suddenly I was cross checking him with such force that he actually spun around when he started to fall. A skate flew up, catching around my blocker and dragging me down after him. He ripped off his helmet as we laid, tangled up in each other on the ice, “what the fuck is your problem, Larch?”

“Keep your fat ass out of my face, farm boy,” I yelled back, pushing myself off the ground. His eyebrows knitted together and he shook his head.

“It’s a fucking drill,” but, I was already pushing him again. I couldn’t get a hold of it, it just kept bursting out of me. Sutter grabbed a hold of me and suddenly we were tumbling to the ground again. A whistle blew numerous times before either one of us heard Coach.

“Sutter, Larch, get up and off my ice. You two are done,” he screamed. The guys all stared at us as we got up in silence and skated off. I followed him down the runway back to the locker room before I said anything.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You promised me no Christian Grey shit!” I threw my blocker at him as I sat in my stall. Brandon turned around, the most confused look on his face.

“Okay, I only said yes to that because I have no fucking idea what you are talking about,” he threw my blocker back at me, pegging me in the head. I sighed.

“Fifty Shades of Grey? Billionaire Christian Grey wants to have a dominate relationship with this college girl who is super naive. He basically acts like a super creep, watches her at school and her job and whatever because hes like stupidly infatuated with her,” I stared pulling off my pads as I talked. “You told James to ask me to move in with him, nine houses away from you, it’s kinda fucking creepy.”

Brandon scoffed, “grow up.” I stopped undoing my left pad and stared at him. He rolled his eyes, chucking his shoulder pads into his stall. “I told him to let you move in because Beau’s a slut and literally has a phone full of random girls. I figured you’d have enough of him on the road and also because James is the only one, besides myself, who doesn’t have a roommate and he should since he can’t take care of himself.”

“Oh,” I said softly. He shook his head.

“Yeah, oh is right. Grow up and stop acting like a child,” he pulled off the rest of his gear. “I know you take lessons from Tuukka but, shit like that will not be tolerated here. You have personal issues, you deal with them outside of the arena. Stop acting like a 14 year old, you’re 18.”

“I’m almost 19,” I muttered, stripping off my hockey socks. Now I felt like a huge asshole. Brandon was just trying to help and I had a huge meltdown over it. He frowned at me so, I bit my lip, “I turn 19 on Friday.”

“The game in Ottawa?” I nodded. Brandon grinned from ear to ear. “Oh, I’m telling all the boys. You’re going to get shit faced.”
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Just addressing something quickly, the roster is all weird, you'll notice. I don't care who has and has not been trade/left the team, my roster is going to stick whatever I feel like. The main characters won't change and thats all that really matters anyway.