Hi? I'm back? Sorry about that...


"So Mattie, we're partners all year long. Excited?" Gilbert smirked, eyes daring, though what the dare was, Mathew couldn't be sure.

"Yeah, sure," He mumbled, doodling on one of his notebooks rather than look at the other boy. He wasn't sure how to handle Gilbert. They'd technically known each other for years, but hadn't really spent much time together. The blond found himself fairly relaxed around the other simply due to his relationship with Francis. When it came right down to it, all Mathew really knew was that Gilbert was just as bad, if not worse, than his cousin. He loved Francis, of course he did, but that didn't change the fact that the french boy was, to be perfectly blunt, a man whore and a magnet for trouble.

"Way to be enthusiastic. Come on man, you're killing my awesome."

Mathew rolled his eyes and answered without thinking, "Sorry, didn't know your 'awesome' was an animate object."

"Course it is. Brought it to life myself," the boy tossed a cocky grin in the blonde's direction.

"Oh bravo. Actually I'm rather surprised you're here. Don't you only take classes with your friends or that contain large amounts of girls?"

"Well maybe I thought there would be girls here, ever think of that?" The boy challenged, but Mathew noticed a faint flush just touch the almost white skin.

"Mon petite Mattieu," The words floated down the hall, not quite able to reach the subject's ears through his ear buds. "Mattieu~!" This time the half sung words were accompanied by an arm sliding around the Canadian's shoulder, breaking through his thoughts and music.

"Bonjour, Francis. How are you?" the voice was almost too quiet to hear over the noise of the hall. Everyone was excited to be done with the first day and heading home again, leading to the noise level raising above the norm.

"Ah. I am fabulous, simply wonderful, though, sadly, in a bit of trouble. So, mon petite cheri, you will help your loving cousin out, non?" Francis, though appearing painfully confident at first, glanced over his shoulder with a touch of worry that was echoed in his tone. He continued quickly, without waiting for an answer, "Well, you see, I have made someone rather upset with me, and, as you are friends with this person, I would like your help."

"Who is it...?" Mathew muttered, leaning away fearfully.

"Ivan." The answer was blunt, and short. "Oh and, you should probably know, he's also mad at dear little Gilbert and Antonio. But-"

"No. No, no, no, non, no," Mathew gasped, pushing his cousin's arm away from him. "Ivan hates you three, I am not getting in the middle of that. Non. I value my life Francis."

"But you are friends, non? So maybe, if you approach him carefully, he will listen. Please try Mattieu?"

Under the pleading, pseudo-innocent gaze, Mathew cracked and, tossing the taller blonde a glare, mumbled, "Fine, I'll try okay?"

"Oh, Merci Mattieu! I just knew mon belle petite Mattieu wouldn't abandon me in my time of need!" The french teen's over-the-top joy wasn't dampened by Mathew's insistence that Ivan would most likely not listen as he all but danced off down the hall, leaving the Canadian staring after him.

Mathew scowled lightly as a string of sweat soaked hair fell into his eyes, not quite blocking anything around him, but still providing a small distraction. He didn't move to push it back like he wanted to, knowing that there wasn't time to stop. Instead, he pushed forward faster, skates slicing across the ice. Out of the corner of his eye he could just see Ivan approaching and passed the puck to Mathias, just a second or two before being checked by the massive Russian. Pain ripped through his right side and he let out a low whine as he connected with the wall. His head spun and he pushed himself up carefully, gripping the hand extended to him as support.

"Mathias scored." Ivan had a tendency to be rather short and blunt when he was losing, unlike when he was winning or off the ice when he smiled like a small child at just about everything. He could cause major injuries while smiling like that, though he would never consider hurting a team member (as was proven by his checking Mathew for any problems). He cared about hockey too much to endanger the team.

Mathew gave a small, noncommittal noise and glanced up at the taller boy before speaking, "It's weird playing against each other, eh?" Ivan nodded and, frowning for a moment before reviving his usual smile, skated off the ice. It wasn't until after Mathew had congratulated Mathias and was on the way to the locker room that he remembered his promise.

Mathew bit back a sigh as he slid into his house. It had gone just about as well as he had expected, the massive Russian had laughed, patted him on the back (all but crushing him in the process), and bluntly refused to forgive them. He could just feel his anxiety level rising. On one hand, he felt as though he should have tried harder, his cousin had been depending on him and this was sure to be the beginning of yet another all out war between Ivan and the trio. On the other hand, he was fairly certain that whatever Francis got, he and Gilbert probably deserved it (though Antonio was most likely at least partially innocent). That was just the way the three of them worked, Gilbert created plans, Francis encouraged him, and Antonio just smiled, but in the end, they all did it.

"Alfred," he called and he wandered through the house, firmly set on the idea of pushing his cousin and said cousin's insane friends out of his mind.

"Hey, Mattie! What's up, bro?" Alfred's voice floated out from their living room, a little ways down the hall from where Matthew stood.

"Not really anything, with you?" Mathew reached the room to see Alfred flopped out across the couch, one leg hanging over its back and the other over its arm. His head hand off the edge of the seat, eyes fixed on the television, though, from his point of view, it would have been upside down. In his hands, he grasped a xBox controller and his fingers were flicking away madly at the buttons.

"Nothing, did ya hear about Im Yong Soo's party?" he continued once he had received a quiet denial, "Yeah, apparently his parents are out of town on business or something and he's throwing a party Friday. Kinda surprised Yao's letting him though..."

Mathew 'hmm'ed in response, not really interested. They were both fully aware that Mathew didn't care about the party and that it bothered both his brother and cousin to no end, but his twin's lack of enthusiasm never managed to discourage Alfred.

"So, anyway, you gonna come nicely this time?" Al's smirk made it clear which option was best, "Or am I gonna have to drag ya?" The resulting argument lasted only a few minutes before Matthew, exausted from his previous practice, gave in to the older of the twins.

"I'm glad to hear it, Mattie."

I'm really sorry about the wait! Also, this chapter feels weird and awkward, I have had all of it except the last handful of lines done months ago I just haven't liked it and couldn't figure out the ending... Nothing ever sounds as good in my actual stories as it does in my head...

Thanks for reading! And, please review if you get the chance.