In response to a question on my last post… my original intention was to do daily posts with this story, but I got too far behind and I seem to have a lot on my plate right now… this weekend was a bad one for getting anything productive done, but hopefully it was a ‘once-in-a-while’ kind of thing.
Although I’m not sure if I’ll get back up to nightly posts… I’ll be aiming for a new post every 2 or 3 days.
I don’t like to leave you guys hanging, so hopefully that works out alright… I can promise it’ll never get down to just weekly posts on a regular basis though.
Also, I just realized WHERE I left this one hanging so… again… sorry! lol I should also let you know that I don’t really enjoy this update but I’m sick of trying to fix it so… forgive the rough edges and all that; I’m hoping to have another one up tonight to make up for this! Cheers! =)
Brooks was at an awkward cross-roads in his parenting career, with no good alternative; an impasse, so to speak. He didn’t want to bother Emily by trying to get her to watch Cosmo for a week, but at the same time, taking his daughter on a road trip to the west coast didn’t seem like a good idea either. And contrary to the ideas of his team-mates; eight months was not old enough to ‘fend for herself’.
He did the only thing he could do, with the amount of time that had been given to him; in the act of packing up every baby thing he had and loading it into the back of his SUV along with everything else that he’d need for their four day excursion in California.
Boudreau was not happy about the idea at all but, as his wife was going along with the team, he’d allowed Brooks to take Cosmo, with the understanding that she wouldn’t be in the way.
“All ready?” Mike asked as he came out the front door of their apartment complex, Cosmo already strapped into her baby seat; the device hanging from Mike’s arm. Brooks nodded and slammed the back door shut, coming towards Mike in order to tug the car seat away from him.
He opened the back door and secured it inside, glad that it no longer took him forever to strap her in. “So what are you thinking? How is she gonna be on the airplane?” Brooks could only shrug in response as he pulled out onto the road, and then out onto the bypass. They hauled ass to the airport, making it before any of their other team-mates. That had been the plan all along; get in early, board the chartered flight to the sunshine state and allow Cosmo to get comfortable with her surroundings before they were propelled thousands of feet into the air.
A six hour flight and thirty minute bus ride later, the guys were settling into their rooms at the hotel. When Brooks and Mike had first arrived in their room they were happy to find that someone had called a head and found a playpen for Cosmo to sleep in.
She’d been restless on the plane, to say the least. It was a good thing that the guys were too loud and rowdy to notice a little girl getting cranky; if anything she complained less that Ovechkin did, and as far as Brooks was concerned, that was good enough for him.
Now she was wide awake and exploring her new surroundings. She was booting around the floor on all fours, chasing after Mike; who of course, was also crawling.
“Boots!” She squealed as she caught up to him, grabbing onto his pant leg with a determined little fist.
When he laughed and rolled over, his smile changing into a look of pain as he let out a groan. “Oh no, Cosmo! No biting!” He sat up and grabbed her around the middle, tugging her away from his leg until she was sitting up in his lap. “What did I say about biting”
“Boots!” She squealed again, grabbing onto his bottom lip and tugging it.
“I wish she’s stop calling me that.” He murmured to Brooks as she laughed up at him. Of course Mike wanted her to be happy but he was having a hard time figuring out why she was convinced that he was a monkey from a kids TV show.
Brooks just moved over towards them and gently took Cosmo in his arms. He walked away from Mike and moved to open the door. “We’re gonna go for a walk, check some things out. Maybe stop and get some milk… you want to come?”
“Sure.” Mike shrugged, pushing himself off the floor and closing the gap between them. He moved in front of Brooks to open the door, and then raised his eyebrows when he saw an agitated Boudreau in the hallway.
“Brooks… you got a bit? We need to get together and talk about this ah…”
“Child?” Mike finished for him, harshly. Brooks sighed at Mike, giving him a ‘I really don’t wanna to do this’ glance, before handing Cosmo over to him.
“Yah sure Coach… I’ll be back in a while.” He added to Mike, as he turned and followed Boudreau down the hallway.
Mike watched them go, trying to console Cosmo as she let out a tiny whimper, her hands reaching out in the direction Brooks was leaving in. “Sorry Cosmo, you’re stuck with uncle Mike-“
“Yah sure… anyway, what do you wanna do? Wanna go… Chuck-E-Cheese! Cosmo! You’re a kid! We can go to Chuck-E-Cheese! Yes!” Mike yelled loudly. He grabbed Cosmo’s bag and slung it over his arm, before taking off into the hallway. “Oh Cosmo! It’s the greatest place on earth… they have toys and games… and pizza!”
“Ezza!” Cosmo screamed in agreement as they disappeared around the corner.
“Ok… it should be just over… ugh!” Mike groaned. His arms were starting to get tired and now he was just lost. Very, very lost. “I was sure that it was over this way… hey!” He yelled, jogging over to a guy rifling through the garbage. “Do you know where Chuck-E-Cheese is? You know… where a kid can be a kid?” He said, quoting the commercial for good measure.
The guy nodded and pointed down the street. “Left off of main, and then two blocks down.”
“Awesome! Thank you!” Mike beamed, heading down the street in the direction the guy had pointed him in.
They managed to find the building they were looking for a few minutes later, and Mike hurried inside, hoping that they were still able to beat the evening rush.
The waitress showed them to their seats and brought a high chair for Cosmo. “See Cosmo, who says you can’t trust strangers!” He grinned as he opened his menu and began flipping through it.
“Well?! What did he say?” Mike asked, pulling the door open, before Brooks had a chance to reach for his room key.
Mike had been watching through the peep whole since he had tucked Cosmo into bed; almost a half hour before.
Brooks shrugged, not particularly wanting to relive the longest day of his existence. “Not a lot really… he just reiterated the fact that we need a nanny, that we can’t bring her on road trips and that this can’t have any impact on the way we play.”
“What a douche.” Mike decided finally, glancing over his shoulder at Cosmo as he spoke. “What did you say to him?”
“Not too much. I didn’t want to be in there any longer than I had to be… plus after all that I had to go sit beside Ovie and do a press conference.” He sighed as he dropped down on his bed and rolled onto his side. “Like I even needed to be there… his head’s so big he takes up the whole stage. Plus, it’s awkward sitting next to him when Boudreau keeps trying to blow him the whole time.”
“Alright that’s it… you know what you need?” Mike asked as he headed towards the room to Brooks, grabbing onto his hand and trying to pull him to his feet.
Mike answered before Brooks had a chance. “A group hug!”
“It’s not a group hug when there’s just two of us Mike…”
“Well, a duo-hug then!”
Brooks mumbled something along the lines of, “that’s… kinda weird…”, but he stood up anyway and allowed Mike to wrap his beefy arms around him.
Mike sighed and tried to push some good vibes into Brooks, who wasn’t hugging him back.
“Should we maybe stop?” He asked finally, trying to wriggle his way out of Mike’s grasp. “Ok yah, this is starting to get awkward.” Brooks huffed finally, pushing Mike away.
They both took a step back from each other and looked away uncomfortably before Mike cleared his throat and Brooks grabbed for the TV remote. “So how about them Wizards?” Mike said, forcing his voice down an octave, to which Brooks just rolled his eyes.
“Let’s just go to bed Mike…” He sighed, putting the remote back on the night stand and throwing back the covers of his bed.
Mike didn’t object, as they both began to strip down to their boxers, before climbing into their respective beds.
Mike was fast asleep and snoring lightly within minutes, to which Brooks was annoyed. He wished he could fall asleep that easily.
Instead he laid on his back as the lights of the city glowed in through the large plate glass windows. He had one hand under his head, the other thrown carelessly across his bare chest; the sheets covering him from the waist down, only.
He exhaled lightly and closed his eyes, trying to focus on anything that would help him fall asleep. He needed rest, he knew that; Cosmo would be up sometime through the night and he still needed to find some way to get 8 hours of sleep before the game tomorrow night.
He could already feel the exhaustion expanding through his body and the last thing he needed was to be out of it during the game. After the discussion he’d had with Boudreau earlier, he didn’t need anymore fuel for the flame.
After all, Boudreau’s words were still running rampant through his head.
“I respect what you’re trying to do Laich, but it’s just too much… I mean, enough is enough.” Boudreau was staring at him in a mock-authoritative way. Like the student teacher who can’t really tell you what to do, but they believe they can anyway.
“Sorry, not sure that I’m following you… enough is enough about what?”
Rolling his eyes Boudreau had answered like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “The kid! Get rid of it…” He exclaimed, exasperated. “Look Laich, I’m sure that somewhere down the road you wanna have kids, but that’s a woman’s job. You guys play hockey and your wives stay home with the kids… you don’t see any of the other guys bringing their kids on the road.
If you don’t have someone to take care of her for you, then you either hire someone, or find a family that can.
We’re winning the cup this year, and I can’t have you risking our success because you’ve got diaper duty at 4 in the morning. Comprende?”
There were so many things Brooks wanted to say in that moment, but his initial emotion of anger was held at bay by the fact that he was completely dumbfounded. “You’re talking about my daughter-“ He had finally managed to sputter, before he was cut off.
“A daughter you didn’t even know existed until a week ago.” He snorted. At those words, spoken in that accusing tone, Brooks finally found his backbone.
“You’re exactly right. I didn’t know she existed until a week ago… but that makes no difference in how I feel about her now. She’s mine and as long as I’m here, she will be too… if you have a problem with that, then it’s your fucking problem.
You want me gone, then you trade me… but don’t think for one second that if I had to chose between this team, or her, that you’d even stand a chance.” He’d growled, turning around and following one of the PR reps out onto the stage to take his place beside Ovechkin.
He could feel the heat of Boudreau’s stare on him through the whole interview, but he didn’t care. Any anger his coach was feeling was insignificant in comparison to the way he felt right now.
Brooks kicked the sheets away from his body. Even in the early October night, he could feel the California heat creeping in around him.
Finding a relaxing position, he rolled onto his side and closed his eyes as his consciousness began to drift away.
He wasn’t sure how long he was out before he woke to the sound of a muffled whine. Sitting up he glanced across to room to where Cosmo was standing, her hands clutched tightly to the top lip of the playpen-her grip being the only thing that was keeping her on her feet.
Giving her a tired grin, he pushed himself off the bed and moved across the room, lifting her out of the playpen and squeezing her against his chest.
He walked back over to his bed and laid her down in the middle, assembling the pillows until he was positive she couldn’t roll off the bed.
Dropping down beside her, he extended his a finger to meet her awaiting hand. She squeezed his large index finger and smiled up at him. “Dada…” she yawned happily, before her grip loosened and her eyes fluttered shut.