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Friends and Lovers

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1. Prusty

"Chucky," Prusty calls across the locker room three weeks after Nail got traded to them, "you, me, lunch. You're buying."

"Can I come?" Brendan asks.

"No," Prusty says. He points at Nail. "You either." Then he turns around to point at P.K. "And definitely not you."

Alex shrugs at Nail - he doesn't know what Prusty wants either - and tosses him the car keys. Alex will get a ride home from Prusty later.

He doesn't actually mind going to lunch with Prusty, although he does make a token protest about having to pay. Prusty tells good stories, a lot of them with lessons about life as a hockey player without being preachy about it, and a lot of them that just make Alex laugh.

"Gally's jealous," Prusty says in the middle of lunch. "He got used to pretending to be your best friend when Yak was on the other side of the country."

It's probably a good thing Alex has food in his mouth, because if he didn't he would say that Brendan is his best friend, and then he'd have to explain about Nail.

"You might want to do something about that," Prusty says.

"I will," Alex promises.


2. Nail

Alex waits until they're in bed, after the game, after the celebration of their win, and after their private celebration, to bring it up with Nail.

They're cleaned up and settling into bed to sleep when Alex says, "Prusty said Brendan's jealous because he got used to being my best friend."

"That makes sense." Nail moves around a little bit before he settles in against Alex.

"Yeah." Alex runs his hand through Nail's hair.

"Oh," Nail says after a minute. "You want me to get out of the way so you can spend time with just him?"

"You don't have to," Alex says.

"It's cool." Nail kisses Alex's shoulder. "I'll go to the movies with Anna or something after practice tomorrow."

"Okay." Alex rubs his cheek against the top of Nail's head. "Can I tell him about us?"

"Yes," Nail says. "You should have told him before."

Alex shrugs as best he can with Nail tucked close against him. "Probably."


3. Brendan

Alex invites Brendan over after practice to play video games, which means he has to wait for Brendan to cuddle with every one of the dogs and the cat before they can play.

They've been playing for a while when Alex says, "Prusty says you're jealous. Because of Nail."

Brendan shrugs and doesn't look away from the screen, which means Prusty was right. "I know he's your-"

Alex cuts him off. "Boyfriend. He's my boyfriend."

That does make Brendan look away from the screen. His character dies a second later, but neither of them are paying attention to the game anymore.

"Isn't that illegal in Russia?"

Alex rolls his eyes. "We're in Canada, and I'm American." It might cause problems if it gets out, more for Nail than for Alex, but not like it would if they both lived in Russia year-round. "Only our families know."

"Thanks for telling me, I guess," Brendan says.

"You're welcome, I guess." Alex looks at Brendan. "You didn't ever want to date me, did you?"

"Ugh, no," Brendan says. "Maybe your sister." And that just means Alex has to shove him and they end up wrestling until they both bang their elbows on the coffee table.

They're on the couch playing video games again when Anna and Nail come home.

"Did you tell him?" Nail asks in Russian.

"Yes." Alex tips his head over the back of the couch so Nail can kiss him.

"Gross," Brendan says. "No one wants to watch you make out."

"You're just jealous you don't have anyone to make out with," Nail says.

"Maybe," Brendan says with a shrug. He twists to look over the back of the couch and yells toward the kitchen, "Anna, want to make out with me?"

Anna yells back, "No!" just as Alex and Nail make a coordinated attempt to tackle Brendan.

Brendan's a lunatic, so he laughs even while they wrestle him off the couch. "You have a sister, right?" he asks Nail. "Do you think she'd make out with me?"

Brendan might be Alex's best friend, but he's not going to stop Nail from hitting him for that one.