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You Make Me Smile

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Mike goes looking for Jeff after his workout. He knows she's here somewhere, probably, after he looks everywhere else and doesn't find her, behind the closed doors in the doc's office. If she's stuck in with them, it could be a while; Jeff always complains about the docs being overcareful with her.

Mike goes to get something to eat and texts Jeff to let her know to come find him when she's done.

"I thought you and Carts would be sewn together at the hip by now," Dewey says from across the room, like he's one to talk. Lewie's on the couch next to him in a room full of empty seats.

"She's still doing her stuff," Mike says, with a gesture as vague as what he knows about what kind of stuff Jeff is stuck doing.

Mike keeps half an eye on the door, so he sees it when Jeff comes in. She's smiling already, at whoever is behind her in the hall giving the tour, and then she looks into the room and smiles at Mike. It doesn't stop him in his tracks, because he's already on his way to her and his body keeps moving, but it makes him realize it's the first time he's really seen her happy since the last time they won a game together in Philly.

"Hey," she says.

"Hey," Mike mocks back, just to be a dick.

Jeff rolls her eyes and hugs him tightly.

Mike hugs her back just as tight. "Glad you're here, Cartsy."

They haven't even been hugging for that long when Dewey calls, "Get a room!"

Mike lets go of Jeff with one arm so he can flip Dewey off.

Dewey laughs like this is the best time he's ever had and comes over to them. "They brought you here to score, right?"

"Not with you," Jeff says. She greets Dewey with a half handshake, half hug that pulls her away from Mike. "Good to see you, man."

"It's been for-fucking-ever," Dewey says. It hasn't. "Rick here has been miserable." He hasn't.

Jeff eyes Mike and says, "Rick?"

Mike rolls his eyes, and Jeff gives him a smile that equates to her giving him shit for it.

"Jessica," Mike says pointedly.

"But no one calls me that," Jeff says, which is mostly true. Only her mom, strangers, and assholes who don't learn any better call her that. Maybe a boyfriend or two; Mike doesn't know that one for sure.

Brownie joined them at some point, and he's standing next to Dewey waiting patiently for them to be done.

Jeff turns away from Mike with a smile, still so much happier than he's seen her in so long.

"Hi," Brownie says, and he gives her the same kind of handshake he gave Mike when Mike was new. "Welcome to the team."

"Thanks," Jeff says.

"Let me know if anyone gives you shit," Brownie says, and Mike can feel himself tensing and see it in Jeff - she can take care of herself - before Brownie finishes his sentence with, "I can have Lewie send Dewey to his room." He finishes it off with a cuff to the back of Dewey's head.

Mike leaves Dewey and Brownie to scuffle it out and asks Jeff, "Wanna get out of here?"

Jeff glances across the room at the clock. "Can't. Press in a couple of hours, and other shit they want me to do before then." Her stomach growls, and Mike elbows her.

"Come on. There's food."

She grabs a plate and sits with him to eat.

"How was all your stuff this morning?"

"Same shit, different city," Jeff says. "It's like they think I haven't figured out how to use condoms."

Mike doesn't bring up the time they never talk about. They don't talk about it, and it was half a dozen years ago.

"Fuck them," he says instead, and gets a quick grin out of Jeff for it.

*

"Your house has no food," Jeff says, after they've gotten back from their road trip and gotten her stuff from the hotel and installed her in Mike's guest room.

Mike joins her in front of the fridge. "I think there's spaghetti in the cupboard. No sauce though."

Jeff's shoulders get very judgmental.

"In case you didn't notice," Mike says, "I haven't been home very much for the last week."

Jeff closes the fridge and turns to look at him. It's a very judgmental look. "I'm not cooking for us because I'm a girl."

Mike stares at her and then hits her shoulder. "What the fuck did they do to you in Ohio?" They've known each other their entire adult lives and this isn't the first time they've lived together; she should know he knows better than that. "You're cooking for us because you're better at it than I am and I'm nice enough to let you live in my house."

Jeff shoves him. "You'd let me do that anyway. You're grocery shopping with me."

Mike makes a face at her, but he doesn't really mind, and the look she gives him means she knows it.

They argue companionably over spaghetti sauce and cereal, grocery cart between them and no one paying any fucking attention to them.

"I'm cooking," Jeff says, and she puts her choice of spaghetti sauce in the cart. "My decision." She smirks at him. "Unless you want to cook."

Mike does not want to cook, and Jeff knows that as well as he does. He gets the cereal he wants anyway. They can have two kinds of cereal in the house.

He doesn't even regret it when Lewie comes over and chirps them for having Lucky Charms and Jeff smirks, happiness showing around the edges of it, and says, "Those are Richie's."

*

Mike wakes up hungover. He doesn't think this is quite what people mean when they talk about the Cup hangover, but it's probably the start of it. He opens his eyes carefully, but he was smart enough to pull the curtains closed before he crashed last night. He stretches a little, and a glint of light catches his eye. There's a ring on his finger.

At first he thinks that can't be right because he's supposed to have a ring, but they don't get them until next season. Then he realizes it's all wrong to be that ring anyway. It's a plain, heavy, gold band wrapped around his ring finger.

Mike swallows down his laughter. Is he really such a cliche that he got married in Vegas? What was he thinking? Why is he still wearing clothes? Why didn't Jeff stop him?

Then he blinks, and remembers the other hands sliding the ring on his finger. Hands he's seen tying skates, petting his dog, stirring pasta on his stove. Of course it's Jeff. Of course they were fucking idiots and he and Jeff got married last night. This morning. Whatever. Mike doesn't even know what time it is now.

Mike finally rolls over to look, and Jeff's sound asleep next to him. She's still wearing clothes too, so at least this isn't as bad as it could have been. Except that they're married, and Mike can see the ring on her finger from here.

He pushes at her shoulder until she blinks her eyes open and mutters, "Too early. Leave me the fuck alone."

Mike silently holds up his left hand.

Jeff blinks at him, blinks again, and buries her head in her pillow. "Later. Lemme sleep."

Mike doesn't really want to be awake yet either, so he goes to the bathroom, drinks as much water as he can stand, and flops back into bed.

When he wakes up later, Jeff's gone, and he takes a shower before he goes looking for her. She's in the main room of their suite eating a breakfast that makes Mike's stomach want to rebel.

"How can you eat?" Mike slumps down onto the couch next to her.

"I'll feel worse if I don't," Jeff says.

She sort of has a point, and Mike steals a piece of bacon off her plate. He didn't take off his ring because he wasn't sure what to do with it, and it suddenly looks even bigger and brighter on his hand. He shifts the bacon to his right hand.

There's a complicated look on Jeff's face that he doesn't know how to interpret. She's wearing her ring too, and she looks at both of them and then at Mike. She said later, but she's not saying anything - even her expression isn't telling him anything - and Mike doesn't know what to say.

He doesn't say anything, and neither does she, and he eats his bacon and takes his ring off later and they keep not talking about it until they're back in LA and then they keep not talking about it until Mike's fishing in Kenora and Jeff's on the beach in Sea Isle.

She still looks happy, about LA and about the Cup, and it's not like Mike has some pressing need to be unmarried, so it doesn't matter that much.

It's weird that no one knows about it, though. Like, obviously someone knows about it - Dewey and Lewie were with them, and there was whoever else was also in the chapel. But Mike's family doesn't know, and Dewey and Lewie don't seem to have told anyone, and Mike hasn't gotten any calls from his agent about it. That part's weird, and Mike tells Arnold about it when they're in the house in Kenora, just so he can tell someone.

*

The one blessing of the lockout is that Mike gets to stay in Kenora. LA is great, but there's nowhere else in the world that he loves as much as the lake.

I'm going to LA to skate with the guys, Jeff texts him. Cool if I stay at your house?

Mike looks at her words on the screen of his phone and texts back, I think California is a community property state. That makes it your house too.

Jeff doesn't reply to that, and the next time she texts him, it's about something else, and they keep on not talking about it.

When the lockout ends, Mike gathers up his stuff and Arnold, closes up the house in Kenora, and flies back to LA.

Jeff picks him and Arnold up at the airport, flip flops on her feet and hat jammed on her head. They hug for a long time, and where they'd be recognized at every moment in Philly, no one even notices them here, except for one annoyed person who glares while trying to maneuver a suitcase around them and Arnold jumping around at their feet.

Mike wraps his hand around Jeff's upper arm and squeezes. "Have you done anything but work out?"

Jeff laughs and pointedly doesn't offer to help carry Mike's bags. "We didn't all spend the whole lockout watching Duck Dynasty. I've been running on the beach too. You can come with me."

Mike makes a face at her, but he knows he's probably going to end up doing it.

When they get home, Jeff drops her keys into the bowl on the table and digs out a ring that she fits onto the ring finger of her left hand. Her wedding ring. The movements are so automatic she has to do it all the time. There isn't a tan line on her finger at all, so she only wears it at home.

The set of her shoulders dares Mike to say something about it.

He doesn't.

Despite the jet lag and staying up fairly late drinking beer on the balcony with Jeff, the time zone change means Mike still wakes up early in the morning. It's early enough that he hears Jeff's tap on his bedroom door and gets up to see what she wants. She's in shorts and a t-shirt he recognizes as her workout clothes.

Mike groans. "Are you really going to make me come with you?"

"Scared you won't be able to keep up?"

Mike puts on some clothes, digs out running shoes, and clips a leash onto Arnold. Jeff is annoyingly cheerful about it all, and she leads them down to the beach at a fast walk that's clearly meant to be their warm-up.

It's not like Mike hasn't done anything during the lockout, but it's obvious that Jeff's pacing herself slower than usual for him. He pushes himself harder because of it, and after a while, Jeff stops holding back. It means she gets ahead of him, and she turns and jogs backwards.

"Slowpoke."

Mike flips her off because he's breathing too hard to tell her to fuck off. Maybe he can push her into the Pacific.

Jeff laughs and says, "You have to catch me first," like she knows exactly what he's thinking. She probably does.

He doesn't push her into the Pacific, not then, anyway. When they get back to where they started, slowing down into a slower jog, and then a walk, then Mike tackles her into the ocean.

Jeff yells, "You fucker," and pulls him down with her, and Arnold runs into the water barking in excitement at his people rolling around in the waves like he usually does.

All three of them are dripping wet by the time they get home. Mike hoses Arnold off outside while Jeff ducks into the garage to grab a towel to dry him off with. They let Arnold into the house then, and the two of them stop in the garage and strip down to their underwear so they don't drip water all over the house.

Mike runs an assessing eye over Jeff in her sports bra and boyshorts, the same thing he does at the beginning of every season, checking to make sure his team is ready. His eyes catch on her abs, which look unreal, like the kind of thing you only see in ads for miracle weight loss scams.

Mike pokes her stomach. "Really, what did you do during the lockout?"

"Gotta be in shape if we're going to repeat," Jeff says. She pokes Mike's admittedly softer stomach. Not that he doesn't have muscle, but it's a little deeper hidden. "What did you do during the lockout?"

"I skated." Mike goes into the house ahead of her. "And I just have to get pucks to you."

Jeff pauses at the door to leave her keys and get her ring, and then she follows Mike up the stairs laughing.

After three days of too early morning runs and Jeff making Mike wash dishes because she cooked, Mike digs out his ring and starts wearing it around the house. Jeff looks at it the first time she sees it, and Mike, for one of the few times in his life, can't read the look on her face.

*

They're both still giddy when they get home from their fourth win over St. Louis. Jeff didn't score in this game, but she's been amazing all series, all season, a whole career spent taking passes from Mike and putting them in the back of the net. They exchange keys for rings at the door, and Mike watches, breathless, as Jeff puts hers on and then quirks a look at him, silently asking what he's looking at.

It's adrenaline, probably, and months of wearing rings anytime they're home alone, almost a year of being married.

Mike reaches out, his left hand to hers, and laces their fingers together awkwardly. "I can't imagine doing this with anyone else," he says, and he knows Jeff remembers that; it's what she said to him when he handed her the Cup last year.

"Mike," she says, and there's one of those few unreadable looks on her face.

"Jeff," he says. He moves slowly enough that she can stop him if she doesn't want to be kissed. He reads the yes on her face and in her body and stops trying to go slow. He tries to push, the way he always pushes, and stubborn, steadfast Jeff doesn't let him. She kisses him back on her own terms, doesn't give up any ground without making him work for it.

They don't kiss for very long, just long enough to make Mike want more.

"I really want to fuck you," he says.

Jeff stares at him for a second, and then her eyes crinkle up with laughter. "Smooth, Mr. Carter," she says.

Mike doesn't care that she's chirping him, because she looks happy and everything about her is still saying yes.

"Upstairs, Mrs. Richards," he says. "There aren't any condoms down here."

It doesn't stop her from laughing at him, but they go upstairs, and kiss again at the top of the stairs, in the hallway, just inside Mike's room. They leave their clothes on the floor, and Mike gets a condom out of the drawer.

"You sure you know what to do with that?" he asks when Jeff takes it from him.

She flips him off, and then uses those same long, strong fingers to open the foil and roll the condom down onto him. Mike almost chokes, and Jeff smirks at him.

She's better in bed than she was before, that time they don't talk about, but so is he, and they're both still giddy and Mike keeps catching glances of the gold on her hand and they're both breathless and happy when they're done.

They lie side by side on their backs, and Mike holds out his left hand, waits for Jeff to hold hers out too.

"I really hate," Mike says, feeling too good to put any actual heat into it, "that the fucking reporters in Philly were right about us."

Jeff snickers, and then she says, "Not really. Not then."

Mike turns his head to look at her. He can see that she's thinking about the same thing he is, that time they don't talk about, and concedes her point.

"I love you more than I love anyone else," Mike says.

Jeff curls her hand around Mike's, rolls them onto their sides so Mike's the little spoon. "I know," she says. She kisses his neck. "It's why we got married."