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Not A Distraction

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Brendan knows Alex doesn’t want to seem weak—he’s an NHL player, he can take getting slapped by his girlfriend—but he’s apologizing for it, like it’s his fault, and it twists something uncomfortable, low in Brendan’s gut.

“…didn’t mean to cause any… distractions.” Alex finishes quietly.

Brendan wasn’t there, he’d only heard about what had happened second-hand, that Alex’s girlfriend had “snapped” and that things “got bad”. Alex’s friends had called 911, police came and his girlfriend was arrested.

Devante had been there, but he wasn’t talking.

Neither was Alex.

“It’s over. Done, Brendan.” Alex says when he asks about it, and when he presses, “should not be a distraction to you or any other teammates. I’m not pressing charges, okay? I’m not making this…” He waves his hands. “…bigger than it is.”

By all accounts, it was pretty big, Brendan figures. If other people called 911 because they were scared, either for themselves or for Alex, it was big. Much bigger than Alex was letting on, and whether Alex pressed charges or not, there would be an investigation.

“You shouldn’t be apologizing, Alex.” Brendan says.

Alex shrugs. “It’s not a problem.”

Brendan’s not sure what Alex means isn’t a problem—that his girlfriend assaulted him, or that he, as the victim, is apologizing for it. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

Alex smiles. “I’m a hockey player. She is…” He waves his hand dismissively. “A girl I know. She didn’t hurt me, I’m fine.”

Which is not the point Brendan was trying to make.

“Just forget about it.” Alex adds, hefting his bag from the bench near his locker.

Brendan hesitates, trying to think of what he wants to say.

Alex doesn’t give him the chance to say anything. “See what I mean? It’s a distraction. A problem.” He says.

“It’s not a problem, Alex! It wouldn’t be a… problem, not like that. It…” Brendan holds up a hand helplessly. “You were…” He sounds frantic, slightly desperate, even to his own ears, and hates what it must sound like to Alex.

“It’s a problem.“ Alex says gently, laying a hand on his arm. “This is what I mean about it being a distraction. You never act like this. I’m sorry.”

“Stop. Being. Sorry.” Brendan grinds out.

“Okay.” Alex looks around the locker room, glad they haven’t drawn that much attention yet. Smith-Pelly is watching with barely contained interest, but he hasn’t said anything yet, and Alex doubts he will. He was there, knows what all of this is about, more than anyone else in the locker room other than Alex himself at the moment. Price noticed, but he’s deep in conversation with Petry and hasn’t spared them any more attention past a glance at Brendan’s outburst.

“We’ll talk later, Brendan, okay? Not here.” He squeezes Brendan’s arm, appeased when Brendon nods heavily in acquiescence and seems to relax a little bit. He slings his bag over his shoulder. “Call me at home.” He offers, and walks away.