Mike squints at the bed, studying it. He's still a little buzzed, and the room is dark, so it's a bit fuzzy, fuzzier than it should be. The smell is impossible to miss, though. "Nabs," Mike says. "What have I told you about giving alcohol to rookies?"
"Uh, don't do it?" Nabs asks. He looks at Mike with wide eyes, caught out in the same way he gets when he trainers ask him how many reps he did in the weight room.
Mike sighs. "Keep an eye out for them to make sure they don't overdo it."
"Right," Nabs says, nodding seriously. "That." He fidgets with his hands, glancing over at the bed out of the corner of his eye. "Uh, so what do we do now?"
Mike is half-tempted to tell him to just sleep in his bed, vomit and all. Let Nabs strip the sheets off of it if he wants. Getting the hotel to give them new sheets would mean alerting the coaches to what happened here, and they're all on a strict 'don't ask, don't tell unless someone needs to go to the hospital' policy about underage drinking. "We can share my bed for tonight, I guess," Mike says. His own bed is blissfully untouched.
He already regrets the offer as soon as he says it, but then Nabs pulls him into a bear hug, the kind they only really share on the ice. Mike thinks he's going to need to have a conversation with Nabs soon about buying better deodorant. "Thanks, Richie," Nabs says. "You're the best."
Mike's not really much of a practical joker. It seems like a lot of effort for not a whole lot of payoff, but somehow he gets roped into this disaster by Grennie and Clarkie. ("You're his center," they said. "He probably won't cause you bodily harm when he finds out.")
Right. The thing is, Pety sleeps like the dead. He will sleep through fire alarms and loud parties and small children jumping on his bed screeching. All of which have been tested at various points during the time that Mike has known him. This particular condition plus a team full of teenage boys means that Pety really should be nicer to his hotel roomie when they're on a roadtrip.
Which is how Mike ends up in Pety's hotel room hours after curfew with a handful of sharpies and some crappy suggestions ("Penises are a classic, but I dunno, maybe you could color in the rest of his beard or something?")
Pety is, as expected, already conked out, and Mike doesn't really want to draw anything on his face. Mostly, he just wants to go back to his own room and crawl into his bed and fall asleep.
He looks down. The bed looks really soft and the pillows look really comfortable. He knows the other guys are probably lurking outside the room, waiting for his report. They've been working on this prank for weeks. And Mike would hate to let him down. But what if--
Mike crawls into the bed, lets his eyes fall closed. It'll just be a minute. He can just take a quick nap, and then he'll be rested and ready to draw stupid things on Pety's face afterwards. It'll be fine.
He wakes as Pety kicks him out of bed, literally. Mike rolls off the edge and crashes onto the floor.
"What the fuck!" Mike yells. The floor isn't exactly comfortable, but it's still a flat surface that Mike could technically sleep on, so he's loathe to get up off of it.
"Sorry, Richie," Pety says, sounding entirely too chipper. For all that he's a deep sleeper, he's also fully awake the second he opens his eyes. "I don't swing that way."
Mike sits up and rolls his eyes at him. He has better taste than Pety after all. "Like I'd be desperate enough to fuck you anyway," he says.
The guys are really disappointed about the prank falling through, but the story of Mike sleeping with Pety and getting kicked out of bed afterwards seems to be almost as good. Thank god.
"Let me get this straight," Mike says. "You're the one who lost the bet, and I'm the one being punished for it?" He knew he should have put a stop to things as soon as Benny proposed the gallon challenge. Mike understands that the team is full of competitive guys, but why they have to be competitive about chugging milk, Mike will never understand.
Keefer huffs out an indignant breath. "I'll have you know that sleeping with me is not a punishment."
"Right," Mike says. "Sara definitely says otherwise."
Keefer throws one arm over Mike's shoulder, the way he does when he's trying to wheedle Mike into or out of something. "C'mon, you know she's just bitter because I dumped her after the dance, and like, you didn't have any complaints either."
"That time I slept with you, we didn't actually do any sleeping, Keefer," Mike says with a roll of his eyes, and besides, it was just handjobs anyway. "I never got to find out that you apparently snore like a foghorn."
"Please," Keefer says. "Benny is going to fill my skates with superglue if he finds out I didn't follow through with it." He's pulling out that pleading voice that he uses when he wants something from his billet family. They let him walk all over him. Mike is determined to not to fall for it, too, but then Keefer adds in the pleading puppy dog eyes. Fuck.
"Fine," Mike says through gritted teeth. "We can share a bed, but you owe me one. A big one." He makes plans to buy a pair of earplugs after practice.
Keefer smiles, his entire face lighting up. He shoves his bangs out of his eyes, and Mike is pretty sure Sara actually dumped him because he refused to ever get a haircut. "Yes!" he says. "Awesome! And if you're interested, we could also--"
"No," Mike says. "Just sleeping." Mostly because he wants to get this stupid thing over with.
"Aw, I wasn't that bad, was I?" Keefer asks, and there's the puppy dog eyes again, and Mike really hates him.
"I'm already doing you a favor, Keefer," Mike says. "Don't push your luck." Mike went to pet training when he was a kid, and there was this whole thing about not rewarding negative behavior. He's already toeing the line by helping Keefer out at all.
"Fine, just don't be surprised if I pop a boner," Keefer says.
"Whatever," Mike says.
"Mike," Coach says, pulling Mike aside after practice. "I wanted to talk to you about Gravelding."
"Yeah, sure," Mike says. Gravs is one of their rookies, from upstate New York. He's been shaky and inconsistent, but he'll probably get his shit together eventually.
"I think you should sleep with him before the next away game," Coach continues.
"Wait, what?" Mike says, because he's pretty sure he misheard.
"He's talked to the trainers a bit about his insomnia and homesickness. I think it would do him some good, have his captain around in case he needs the emotional support."
"Uh," Mike says. Everything about this conversation is surreal. A refusal is on the tip of his tongue.
Coach notices it. Of course Coach notices it. That's what he's paid for after all. "The guys really look up to you," he says. "They feel as though they have a responsibility to you. But it has to go both ways for it to work. You have to feel a responsibility to them, too."
"Right," Mike says. There were lots of speeches about leadership before they gave him the 'C', but he's not exactly sure how this is supposed to apply to him sleeping with a teammate. "Okay."
Coach pats him on the shoulder. "You're a good kid, Mike. I know we can count on you to take care of this team."
Mike finds Gravs in the locker room before the next practice. "I'm not fucking you,." Mike says.
Gravs' eyes go wide. "Uh," he says, voice going squeaky.
"Coach talked to me," Mike says. 'Sure, I'll sleep with you, but I'm not fucking you."
Gravs clears his throat, ducks his head. "Er, yes. Thanks, Richie."
Mike punches his shoulder to make sure he knows they're still cool.
Mike's tying his laces in the locker room when Hesh approaches him. "Hey," Hesh says. "Gravs told me how you helped him out last week." Gravs put up an assist and flattened a couple of Wolves in the game after Mike shared a bed with him. It was fine. Gravs doesn't snore and he doesn't hog blankets and he doesn't kick, which is more than Mike can say about Pety, Keefer, or Nabs. Hesh is Gravs' D-partner, another American rookie, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Gravs talked to him.
"Yeah," Mike says. "It's cool. It's for the good of the team." Crap, now he's the one quoting those stupid captain responsibility lectures.
"I was just, you know, wondering if you could sleep with me next," Hesh says. He shuffles a little side-to-side, full of jangling nerves.
"Uh," Mike says.
"No fucking," Hesh says, very seriously. "I know."
"Okay," Mike says. "As long as we have the ground rules established, sure."
Hesh is not as good at sharing a bed as Gravs is. First of all, he's 6'6" and 230 pounds, which means there's very little room for Mike to fit on the bed as well. Second of all, he's a cuddler, which Mike could deal with if it didn't feel a little like being smothered by a 6'6", 230 pound blanket.
"Thanks, Richie," Hesh says the next morning. He smiles at Mike gratefully.
"No problem," Mike says, patting Hesh on the back. He's already mentally going over the day's schedule trying to figure out when he might be able to squeeze in a nap or two. He's sure Coach isn't going to be happy to learn that Mike's now going to be the one with a sleeping problem.
"-- so that's how I ended up sharing a bed with Heshmatpour," Mike says, kicking off his shoes.
Jeff squints at him from the bed. "You know you could just tell me that you hooked up with them. It's cool. It's not like I'm going to be weird about it." He rolls onto his back, stretches his long arms up over his head, every muscle in his upper body flexing. And okay, Mike is eighteen, so he gets hard at pretty much the sight of anything. When it's the guy he's fucking on the regular, mostly naked and looking very willing, all bets are off.
"And I would tell you if I actually hooked up with any of them. Give me some credit here." Mike says. He wouldn't be here if he didn't trust Jeff with the truth.
"Sure," Jeff says, laughing. "Just so you know, your life is weird as fuck."
"You're telling me," Mike says. He pulls his shirt over his head and pulls his pants down, appreciating the way Jeff's eyes are fixed on him, like he's not willing to look away.
"I can't believe Kanko kicked you out of bed," Jeff says, voice going deeper, rougher as Mike straddles his hips. "He doesn't know what he's missing."
"What, you want to write a testimonial for me or something?" Mike asks. He drops a kiss to Jeff's sternum, then takes a bite out of Jeff's left nipple, feels Jeff buck underneath him.
"Hmmm," Jeff says, "Give me a good enough blowjob and I'll think about it." He smirks at Mike in a way that's trying to be smug but mostly just looks affectionate instead. He uses his giant hands to push Mike lower down his body.
Mike would probably chirp him for bedroom etiquette, but his mouth is kind of full so he just flips Jeff the middle finger instead.