Brooks didn’t want to kill anyone, so he tried to pretend like he couldn’t feel Jose flicking his ear from the row behind him.
The annoying little French-man was leaning up through the seats, suppressing a laugh as he continued to poke at his ear; as if Brooks didn’t already realize he was there.
He wanted to turn around and punch him, but that would get him in trouble with Boudreau; and, then the guys would never leave him alone. No, as long as he didn’t do anything, they’d eventually get board and move on to something else. At least he hoped so.
“Alright boys, we need to celebrate tonight!” Knuble yelled from somewhere at the back of the bus. “Listen up… I finally asked Melissa to marry me so… drinks are on me!”
Half the bus cheered, the other moaned, Brooks said nothing.
“You can’t get married Knuble! You’re like a baby! What are you 21, 22?” Morry complained, getting a few nods from the rest of the guys on the bus.
Knuble gave him a questioning glance. “Dude, I’m 37.”
“Fuck you are old.” Semin laughed, and Brooks couldn’t help but chuckle along at that. I didn’t really pay attention to anything else though, he simply turned and glanced past a sleeping Mike, until he could watch the view fly by out the window.
“Aww see! He’s not even paying attention, he’s watching his boyfriend sleep!” Ovechkin sneered from a few seats in front of Brooks. It’s wasn’t what he was saying, but the tone that caught his attention, and he turned towards Alex.
“What did you say?”
“Oh we were just talking about celebrating tonight, but you were occupied so you missed it…” He answered, laughing at his own line of thought.
“I mean, we’d invite you guys to come but we really don’t want to break up this ‘Broke Back Mountain’ thing you’ve got going on…” He added, earning a few hoots from his Russian counterparts.
“Shut the fuck up, Alex.” Brooks snapped, trying to keep his voice down, but he managed to wake Mike.
“What’s going on?” He yawned sleepily, glancing around to see everyone staring at him.
Brooks opened his mouth to say something, but Alex spoke above him. “Just talking about how queer you are.”
Mike sighed, not bothered, but annoyed. “We’ve been over this Alex… I won’t have sex with you. I’m sorry, I’m just not interested in men that way.”
“Oh please Mike, you’re so far in the closet you’re in Narnia.” Knuble cracked, causing Mike to laugh along. Unlike Brooks, Mike didn’t take the gay comments to heart, he could laugh them off and deal with them. Brooks couldn’t.
“Brooks, I just realized what it is you remind me of… a gay letter” Alex pressed, as he started to spin around in his seat.
Rolling his eyes, Brooks exhaled loudly. “What does that even mean?”
“You only come in male boxes. Get it?”
2 days later
Brooks laid on the couch in his apartment. Mike was laid out in the lazy boy chair to his right, while Cosmo was sitting on his stomach.
His legs were pulled up towards him, leaving enough room for Emily to sit at the bottom of the couth.
They were watching Might Ducks and laughing as Coach Bombay tried to find kids to play on his hockey team. “See Cosmo, that’s his mistake… he’s focusing too much on his defensive players, everyone knows it’s all about the forwards.”
“Oh Puh-leeeez!” Mike groaned, tilting his head backwards to look at Cosmo. “Don’t listen to your dad, he’s just jealous because he knows real men play defence… and you wanna be a real man, right Cosmo? Just like your Uncle Mike.”
“No way! She’s gonna be a big time forward like her dad, crushing the competition with body-weight and sheer willpower.”
“You guys forgot that Cosmo’s a girl again… didn’t you?” Emily chuckled softly as she glanced at her watch.
“No!” Brooks said defensively, grabbing Cosmo under the arms and lifting her easily; spinning her until she was looking right at Emily. The little girl gave her a two-tooth grin and clapped her hands, squealing. “This is the face of a killer. She’s going to be the toughest hockey player in the history of the world.”
Emily leaned forward and kissed Cosmo on the forehead. “Sorry that I have to leave you here with them alone… keep them in line ok?” She laughed, standing up and pushing herself.
“Where are you going?” Brooks and Mike chimed together.
Emily laughed at their unison. “It’s Friday night, I work… I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“Woah… you work? I thought you worked here now?” Brooks asked, his eyes popping open.
“No, I look after Cosmo when you guys have games, I still have a job.” She snorted, shaking her head as she headed out the door.
Brooks stared after her, his mouth a jar. “Here’s your one chance Fancy don’t let me down! Here’s your one chance Fancy don’t let me down! Now don’t let me down! You’re momma’s gonna help you get uptown!” Mike started to sing in a high voice.
Snapping his head back down Brooks glared at him. “One more word, and I’m breaking your Reba McEntire Cds.”
It was unusually for Emily to be thinking of anything else but the numerous men around her, after all, her livelihood deepened on them having a good time; but she still found herself thinking about Cosmo, Mike and Brooks, and where she had left them.
They were probably still curled up on the couch, watching Mighty Ducks and trying to explain to Cosmo what icing meant, and how to shoot a knuckle-puck. The idea made her smile, and distracted her enough that she didn’t see Jake come up behind her.
“I’m not gonna lie to you Emily, you’re incredible.” He said coyly, his hand running along the smooth, bare skin of her back.
Emily didn’t even stiffen or feel awkward, he wasn’t the first guy that had made a pass at her while she was working.
“What can I say, I’m talented at what I do…” She said, glancing over her shoulder to smile at him; that smile she could pull out when she needed to. The smile that hid any kind of real emotion she was feeling, the one that allowed her to do her job convincingly.
He smiled back, his eyes half-hooded by the effects of the alcohol on them. Normally a girl wouldn’t feel flattered to have a drunk guy hitting on her, but Emily felt a little smug. There were girls on the stage taking their clothing off - legs open and tits out - but he was still looking at her. So maybe she wasn‘t exactly dressed like Mother Teresa, but she wore as much as she could, given the line of work she was in. “Aww… well thanks for the offer Jake, but I got someone to get home to after.” She lied, the lie that went hand in hand with the smile. She always said that when someone tried to take her home and it wasn‘t in the game plan; her fall back, imaginary boyfriend.
He nodded, sheepishly. “I figured as much… hot girl like you… but still, Brooks Laich, that’s pretty cool.”
Emily’s eyes widened as she realized what Jake was thinking.; after all, he had seen her talking to Brooks the day he’d come over to her apartment. She figured it was dangerous ground, Brooks was a mild celebrity in Washington and it was probably in her best interest to just set the story straight. But she didn’t. “Oh yah… he’s fantastic… everything a girl could ever want in a man.” She finished firmly, realizing that she wasn‘t actually lying anymore.
Jake held up his hands in defeat, giving her one last wistful smile before heading back across the club to watch the girls that were still on the pole.
Emily checked her watch and sighed. She was pretty much done here, she was usually always done with the men half-early; she wish the same could be said for the women.
Unfortunately, the women were much more demanding on her skills, time and energy then the men, and they were all waiting for her upstairs.
Grabbing her large, stuffed, black bag, she sighed to herself as she headed up towards the second level of the club.