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Part of the team

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Ford looks at the piles of paper scattered around the table and groans. “This is just for the room assignments for the roadies?”

“Sadly, yes,” Lardo says, patting her on the back. “It only looks complicated though. I mostly have a system you can stick with, you’ll just have to worry about the new frogs next year.”

“Somehow I almost wish I was trying to schedule rehearsals again,” Ford mutters.

“Here,” Lardo hands her a small red folder. “Look, this is the basic set up, okay? I have one for hotels that have strictly doubles, one that has doubles and singles, and hotels where you might have to squish 3 per room. It happens sometimes.”

“Okay,” Ford flips the folder open and compares the sheets side by side. “So some people are always together, some people move around, and - what are those red exclamation points at the bottom?”

“Those mean absolutely not,” Lardo points out one pair. “Like, Whiskey and Tango get along really well normally, but before a game Whiskey needs quiet, and Tango always has questions. Terrible combination, as we discovered on their first roadie. Tango and Nurse is actually a good combination, because Nurse likes a bit of a distraction, and he can usually direct the conversation back to a somewhat relevant topic. Whiskey and Dex get stuck together a lot, because they both appreciate the quiet, unless I know Chow and Dex have a comp sci project due. Then I’ll try and put them together because they’ll probably be up half the night anyways, and then you don’t have two pissed off roommates. Ransom and Holster shouldn’t be split up, because frankly, it just makes them sad, and then they pout, which is a little bit pathetic but also endearing?”

“Okay,” Ford draws the word out slowly. “I feel like I’m going to need a cheat sheet the first few times I do this.”

“It really is a lot simpler than it seems. There aren’t really any huge conflicts on the team, because they spend so much time together they have to work it out eventually. If you really mess up, the boys will just change rooms behind your back. They did that a few times my first year, so don’t take it personally. But, I’ll get you doing the room assignments for the rest of the year, and that way I can double check and make sure they’re all good. On that note, they leave on Friday for the next roadie, so buckle down and get started.”

Ford pulls a notebook out of her bag and starts drawing up a chart with the hotel information that Lardo hands her, referring back to older hotel room assignments and the absolutely not list. She gets about halfway through before she sighs, groans, and flips to a new page. Lardo chuckles quietly, but not meanly, while she sits across the table with her sketchbook and watercolour pencils.

It’s quiet, just the two of them, and Ford is glad Lardo suggested working on this over at Faber instead of the Haus, because she has no idea how she would have been able to work on this with all that racket. She loses track of time, and it’s nearly an hour later when she looks up from her planning.

“I think I might have a workable list,” she tells Lardo.

“Hmm?” Lardo looks up from her sketchbook. “Oh cool, swap.” She holds out her hand for the list and passes over her sketchbook in return.

“Um,” Ford starts, then stops.

“It’s okay, you can look,” Lardo assures her, examining the list. “It’s not some kind of test to see if you do or not.”

Ford looks at the pages Lardo’s been working on, a series of the hockey team doing things other than hockey. They’re done in soft watercolours, one sketch blending into the next. She doesn’t recognize all of the boys yet, but she sees a sketch of Bitty bent over his phone and laughing, Dex half in a dryer, Chowder holding what looks like a painful yoga pose, Nursey in what looks like the Haus kitchen sipping something out of a mug. The later sketches are still in the rough stages, so it’s a bit harder to make out details, but -

“Is that me?”

Lardo looks up at Ford, then down at the sketchbook page. “Huh? Oh, yeah. I'm thinking about doing my senior art project on the team. The problem will just be finding a way to fit everyone because I don't get that much space really, so I'm playing around with different mediums. I kind of like the contrast of soft watercolours with hockey bros but it's just an idea.”

“Oh,” says Ford, “That's really cool.” She runs her fingers over the sketch of herself. The team. She smiles.