"It's a family outing to a sporting event," Pete said. "Good clean fun."
It was a hockey game. A playoff hockey game. There would be nothing clean about it, and Mikey was fairly sure most of the language in the stands and on the ice would not be family-friendly in any way at all.
He knew Pete wouldn't want to hear any of that. Besides, there was a more urgent issue. "Family outing?" he asked. "Are you British?"
"That isn't British. That's, like, suburban mom."
"Are you a suburban mom?"
"Today I am. I'm a suburban mom arranging our family outing to the Kings game, and you, suburban dad, need to get dressed and get ready to go. Now scoot."
Scoot. That was also new and different. Mikey eyed him for a minute, then retreated to the bedroom.
He had gone on plenty of family sports outings as a kid. His dad and uncle believed in pilgrimages to Giants Stadium, and to Mets games in the summer. That was cool and fine and good. He didn't really expect to be reenacting those experiences today, or ever, really, but apparently Pete had other ideas.
Pete also had a fully-stocked go bag for Bronx and a determined expression as he held the car keys out to Mikey.
Mikey looked at the keys, looked at Pete, looked at Bronx, looked back to the keys. "You never let me drive. You think I drive like a trained monkey. A badly trained monkey."
Pete gave him a stern look and shook the keys until Mikey took them. "Don't wreck this, Michael. We are having a nice day out as a family."
Bronx looked confused and skeptical as Pete pulled him up onto his hip. Mikey understood the feeling completely. But apparently this family outing bit was important to Pete. He could roll with it. That was his number-one skill in life. Mikey Way: roller with any and all things.
He did seriously consider giving up that skill on the drive to the arena. Pete apparently was under the impression that playing the role of suburban mom required embracing stereotypes about giving bad driving directions. The second time they almost turned the wrong way down a one-way street, Mikey tuned him out altogether.
The game was, predictably, brutal. Mikey wanted to devote all of his attention to trying to remember what off-sides meant, but Pete kept elbowing him to feed Bronx some Cheez-its, or grabbing his hand and beaming at him in a suspiciously dopey fashion, or making him buy cotton candy and beer from the wandering hawkers who were totally overcharging, shit. Mikey should've suggested they just bring a flask in Bronx's bag and a bag of raw sugar.
Halfway through the second period, when Mikey was consulting the cheat sheet he'd put in his phone for if high-sticking was a real thing or if the announcers were just fucking with him, Pete rested his chin on his shoulder and spoke quietly in his ear. "Hey."
Mikey glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "Hi."
"Thanks for doing this."
"The whole...going to the game thing. I know you think it's dumb."
Mikey was used to having these kinds of completely opaque conversations with Gerard, not Pete. "I bought the tickets. I'm the one who wanted to come to this game.
"Yeah, but the whole..." Pete waved his free hand, the one that wasn't holding on to Bronx. "Indulging me in pretending we're a real family doing real family things. Thanks."
Mikey put his phone down carefully on the floor between his feet, turned to face Pete, and whacked him on top of the head. Gently, but still. His point was made.
"Ow," Pete said, frowning, just as Bronx waved a fist under Mikey's nose and called him a bully.
"I'm sorry I was a bully," Mikey answered him, "but your dad's being a doofus." He turned his attention to Pete. "We are a real family, dipshit. You ever say that again, I'm gonna...take away your credit cards."
Pete grinned slow and wide. "Oh no, honey. Anything but that."
"That's right, little woman." Mikey looked back out at the ice again. "Shit. Why are there fewer people out there? What is going on?"
"Power play, dude." Pete took Mikey's hand in his and squeezed tight. "We need to get you a book or something."
"For real," Mikey sighed. "Fucking sports, man."
"Swear jar," Pete said, and gave Bronx a high-five.