Disclaimer: Don't own Miracle as told by Disney.
A/N: I've changed some things around to work for my story - nothing huge, I don't think. Some of the hockey related things are factual while others are pulled from my own experiences with the sport. Updated and Edited 2-24-14. Cleaned up the story and fixed some errors.
She was in the middle of serving one such table. Each boy had a packet laid out in front of them. Mara tried to be extra careful while balancing her serving tray. She placed pint glasses down on the table and then lowered a pitcher of beer very slowly, so as not to slosh it everywhere.
"Anything else?" Mara asked with a pleasant smile. When all the boys shook their heads, she left them to their work and weaved her way back to the bar to prepare for her next table.
Glancing across the room as the newest arrivals took their seats, Mara made sure that her notepad and pen were in her apron pocket, and then she trekked back across the room and stopped at the end of the table. A few of the faces were familiar. They had been regulars at Sally's over the last couple of years, but graduated from the university in the spring.
"Welcome back fellas," she greeted them. "What brings you back so soon after graduation?"
"Mara!" Phil Verchota said, grinning broadly. "You are looking at members of the Olympic hockey team."
Mara grinned at their proud expressions and nodded. "I have a hard time believing Herb kept you around, Philly."
"Awe, come on, Mara," Verchota replied as the other boys chuckled, "don't be like that."
"Anyway…" Mara cut back in, looking around at the rest of the group, "What can I get you boys?"
"Three pitchers," replied one of the boys she did not know, but he looked familiar.
"Hey, aren't you Buzzy Schneider?" she asked, finally placing him as a Golden Gopher hockey alumnus.
"Yeah, do I know you?" he asked.
Mara shook her head. "Nah, but I've been following the Gophers for as long as I can remember. My grandfather always took me to games when I was younger. Now you are a good hockey player!" She laughed at the offended look on Verchota's face. "Need anything else?"
A chorus of "no's" rang out with the exception of Verchota, "Yeah, how about a date?"
"Plenty of ladies out there, Philly," Mara replied, gesturing to the rest of the room as she walked away. "Take your pick."
While Mara filled up the second pitcher behind the bar, a fellow waitress came up next to her. "What the hell are Janny and Verchota doing here? I thought they graduated."
"Believe it or not, Kel, but they made the Olympic team – apparently that whole table did. I assume they are practicing around here. Herb Brooks is the coach."
"That's fantastic!" Kelsey said with a playful smile. "I do love hockey players."
Mara rolled her eyes and placed the final pitcher on the tray. She hauled them over and set the tray on the end table. Looking across the surface, she groaned to herself. Each of them had a packet of paper out on the table. She rolled her eyes and placed the pitchers in the middle of the table.
"What are you guys working on?" she inquired, passing out glasses.
"Coach gave us homework," Janny informed her. "It's some kind of psychology test."
"Did he say what for?"
"No. We're just supposed to get it done," replied one of the boys that Mara did not know.
"That's one hell of a way to celebrate the occasion," Mara replied with a sarcastic grin. "I'll leave you all to it then. Just let me know if you need anything – other than a date," she added quickly before Verchota could speak up.
"Need a refill?" she asked, picking up the empty pitcher on her way around to check the other tables. The four boys looked up from their papers, consulted one another, and then agreed on a second round. Mara peeked over one of the boy's shoulders, noticing the papers looked similar to the test that Verchota and his friends were working on. "You guys wouldn't happen to be on the Olympic hockey, would you?"
They all looked up at her, surprised. The one nearest Mara laughed. "As of a few hours ago, yeah we are. What gave it away?"
"The only other people in here working on a test are hockey players, so I figured it was a logical guess," she replied, nodding toward the other group of boys. "But you know… you do kind of have that hockey smell."
She smirked and walked away to get their refill. When she returned, the boy with the moustache asked, "What do you mean we have that hockey smell?"
"No one's told you? We Minnesotans can smell a hockey player from a mile away." She winked at him.
"How do you know we're not from Minnesota?"
Her eyebrows soared and she gave a little snort. "Really? The accent's a dead give-a-way, but your pal's shirt comes in a close second. No one from these parts would be caught dead wearing a Boston shirt."
"Fair enough," he replied with a satisfied nod.
"Well, anyway, congratulations on making the team. It's a shame you can't celebrate properly."
The boy wearing the Boston shirt spoke up. "It's awful – three hundred questions."
"Seriously? Yuck! Good luck, boys." Mara walked away shaking her head. As soon as she walked behind the bar, she was ambushed by Kelsey.
"So who are those boys?" she demanded. "And how come you always get the good tables?"
"I have no idea. Don't you make conversation with your customers?"
"Well, yeah, but yours always seem more interesting," Kelsey explained. Mara glanced over toward Kelsey's section: a few groups of girls, an older couple, and a mix of what looked like couples.
"Okay, fair point. The table I just came from, those boys are also playing on the Olympic team."
"Really? How do you know?"
"They smell like hockey players," Mara replied sarcastically. She glanced over at the Minnesota table just as a couple of new arrivals joined them. She smiled and cut in before Kelsey could comment. "Oh look, Robbie is here!"
"Rob McClanahan?" Kelsey practically squealed as Mara walked away. "He is so dreamy."
Unfortunately, Mara was not out of earshot when Kelsey finished her thoughts on Rob. She rolled her eyes in response to her boy-crazy co-worker. Nearing the table, she could not help but grin as she watched Rob and his friend greet the group of boys.
"Robbie McClanahan!" she said loudly. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again."
Pulling her into a hug, he replied. "I told you I was going to try out for this team."
"I didn't think you'd make it!" Mara jested. "I guess Herb knows what he's doing after all."
"I hope he does," Rob replied. "Oh, real quick, this is Mark Johnson." He gestured to the boy standing beside him.
"Nice to meet you, Mark."
"Did you meet all these other guys?" Rob asked, looking around the table.
"No, we weren't formally introduced, because someone doesn't have any manners," she told him, shooting a pointed look at Verchota. He narrowed his eyes back at her.
Rob pointed to each boy as he introduced them. "You know Janny. That's Buzzy Schneider. You know Christy. Bah Harrington and Mark Pavelich."
"Excuse me? Did you just call him 'Bah'?" Mara asked just to clarify.
"Family nickname," Bah explained with a shrug.
She nodded and Rob spoke up. "Mara's grandfather is the rink manager, so you'll probably see her around."
"Glad we got that out of the way, Rob. I wouldn't want anyone to think I was stalking them or something." Mara grinned. Needing to get back to work, she asked the two boys if they wanted drinks.
"Just a couple of glasses would be great!" Mark said.
After returning with the glasses, she leaned into Rob and quietly said to him. "I met some of your other boys over there."
"Yeah, I saw them when I came in."
"Boys from Boston, eh?"
"Yeah, Herb really knows how to make things interesting."
Mara chuckled in agreement and then went to check on the table from Boston. They were short one body at the table. "I see you lost one. Did he give up?"
"Yeah, he needed to get out of here."
Mara nodded. "Well, boys, my shift is nearly over. Do you mind if I give you the bill? Brenda should be taking over my tables; she'll take of you if you need anything else." They pooled their money together and handed it to her. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you boys around."
Moving around to her other tables to pick up their bills, Mara stopped at the Minnesota table last.
"Can I get you guys anything else before my shift is up?" she asked. Most of them shook their heads.
"Are you sticking around for a while?" Rob asked.
"Not tonight," Mara replied with a frown. "We'll have to catch up another time. I've been in since before the lunch crowd and I've got to be up early tomorrow."
"Come on, Mara, stick around," Verchota prodded, smirking. "We haven't even danced yet."
"Like I said earlier, plenty of other ladies around tonight, Philly," Mara added with a wink. "See you boys later."