When an off-season trade puts Bessette and Láska on the same team, they have to sort out their differences or face the consequences. But Bessette isn't going to let Láska have his way this time
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Copyright ©2012 Elizabeth Jewell
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They were running drills today, so that wasn't so bad. He could deal with just passing the puck back and forth to Láska and the others. There were quite a few others, too -- the coach had a good crop of prospects skating with the team. Most of them sucked.
Still, Bessette felt Láska's gaze on him like a blowtorch, or a laser beam, or something else painful and annoying. And when he looked up, Láska would, indeed, be looking at him, his pale eyes shrewd, his mouth smirking.
After practice, in the locker room, Bessette tried to keep to himself, talking only to the teammates in the stalls next to him, but he was just yanking on his street clothes when he again heard that voice behind him.
Bessette turned reluctantly.
"You and me, we should get together sometime."
"Sure," said Bessette. "Sure thing."
It all sounded perfectly normal, just a team veteran being nice to the new guy. But the look in Láska's eyes told Bessette it was something entirely different.
* * *
For a couple of days, Láska was annoying but tolerable, and Bessette was focused on hockey firmly enough that it was easy to avoid thinking about the situation at all.
Then they started playing skirmishes.
They put Láska and Bessette on opposite teams the first day. Bessette tried not to pay undue attention to his Slovak nemesis, but it was hard not to sense his presence there on the ice. It made Bessette nervous and keyed up and so fucking horny he thought he might bruise himself on the inside of his cup.
He was never sure what caused the final confrontation. He was running for the puck along the boards, and Láska's shoulder caught him in the chin. He knew damn well it was Láska -- also knew this wasn't the first time Láska had made contact. The Slovak was playing all out, giving Bessette and the others on the opposition team a run for their money, as if he thought he had something to prove. Maybe he did.
On the other hand, Láska was known for playing hard and giving everything he had. And, even though he wasn't exactly fighting for a spot on the roster, this was his first exposure to a new team, so maybe he wanted the coach to get a good look at what he could do.
None of that mattered when his shoulder clocked Bessette's chin, sending white stars sparking through Bessette's vision. Láska seemed unaware of what he'd done, his focus frozen on the puck as it slid back and forth from stick to stick, no one in the scrum quite able to lay claim. But Bessette blinked, his vision white, then red, and the next thing he knew he was on top of Láska on the ice, gloves discarded, pounding the motherfucker's face with everything he had.
Skirmishes happened, even in practice, so it wasn't much of a surprise that the coaches let Bessette go for a few seconds. But he couldn't stop. Didn't want to stop. All he wanted to do was pummel Láska's smug, stupid face until it was nothing but blood and dislodged teeth. He was screaming in a mangle of French and English, and he had no idea what he was saying.
Láska's face loomed then, and suddenly Bessette was on his back, the tables turned. Láska snarled right down at him, holding Bessette by the neck of his sweater. He, too, had begun to howl in his native tongue. Whatever he was shouting, it was loud and nasty and filled with spit.
"Enough!" That was the coach, and even the familiarity of that voice and Bessette's trained instinct to respond to it couldn't stop him from shoving his fist one more time into Láska's face.
"Enough!" Bessette heard it that time and, more importantly, felt hands on him, dragging him out from under Láska and back across the ice on his ass. He sucked air as hard as he could, trying to settle the flare of fury blazing in his chest. Láska had undergone similar treatment, with four teammates hauling him bodily back toward the boards.
"The fuck is wrong with you?" Coach was not happy. He had about four veins on his temples that looked like they were about to explode, and his eyeballs bulged as if they were going to fly out of his head and smack Bessette in the face. "Both of you? The fuck! The ever-loving mother holy fuck?"
Bessette said nothing, sullen now, his chin, shoulder, hip, and the back of his head throbbing. Láska said nothing, either, just looked at Bessette through those cool, blue eyes, narrow now, his thin mouth clamped shut.
"You're both sitting out," the coach ordered. Most of the fiery anger was gone from his voice now, but the low simmer was worse. "On the bench. Both of you. Now. And you two work your shit out somewhere else. I see anything like this happen again, you're both gonna wish you'd never strapped on skates."
Bessette said nothing. There was nothing to say. He had no doubt the coach's threat was anything but hollow. He made his way to his feet on his own, his teammates eyeing him warily, as if they were afraid to touch him for fear his disfavored status might be contagious.
Then Láska looked straight at him, eyes narrowing to the tilted slits of an angry cat. "You want to work our shit out at your place or mine, Philippe?" He spat Bessette's name, his voice as cold and brutal as the ice they stood on.
Bessette clenched his teeth. "Mine, you fuck ass motherfucker. Mine."
It was time they finished this.