AN: Thanks to phoenixfire53 and hockeychick19 for reviewing the previous chapter! :)
Early August 1979
"Do you wanna come out with us for dinner?"
Anna finished what she was doing before turning her gaze towards the door, a small smile finding its way to her lips at the hopeful look on her brother's face. Before she could reply, Mike Eruzione, whose wrist she had just finished wrapping, voiced his own invitation.
"You should come," he said with a smile. "Some of the boys would really like to get to know you better."
She bit the inside of her cheek when she caught the glare her brother was sending to the back of Rizzo's head. They all knew that it wasn't a come on, just a genuine invitation to get to know each other better, but Mike just couldn't help looking after her, regarding everyone with a watchful eye when it came to his older sister.
She had been working with the team for a couple of weeks but she had stuck mostly to the Minnesotans that she had come to know during college. It wasn't that she had no interest in getting to know the other members of the team but more along the lines of being too busy with other matters.
"I'd love to really," she began to say. "But I promised my dad that I'll be home early. Next time though, for sure."
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," Mike mused from his spot at the doorway. "I get him tomorrow, right?"
"Don't let him hear you say that or you're gonna get a whipping," Anna joked, smiling when Rizzo cocked his head sideways in curiosity. "It's our dad's birthday tomorrow," she explained. "He likes spending time with each of us. Since you have practice off tomorrow, it was decided that it was Mikey's day so mom and I split today instead."
"Greet your dad a happy birthday from the rest of the team, yeah?" Rizzo said. "And we'll hold you to that rain check on hanging out with us. I'll see you at dinner, Rammer."
Mike waited until his teammate disappeared into the main part of the locker room before speaking again. "They like you."
Anna shot him a disinterested look, having no idea what to say and dreading the thought that he'd take it out of context much like he'd been doing about everything any of the other guys said to her.
"What? They do," he argued. "Even Baker noticed it."
"Leave it alone, Mikey."
"Where's Rammer?" Buzz Schneider asked as he dealt a new hand of cards for the guys who decided to play poker with him.
After dinner, the team had scattered around the common room of the dormitory floor that they monopolized, some watching TV, others playing cards or board games and a few just talking. He had assumed that everyone was there until his gaze swept across the room, the absence of their youngest player quite noticeable. Voicing out his curiosity seemed to have a domino effect, with others asking themselves the same thing.
"He's in our room," Baker replied. "I think he called his dad."
"Or just Anna," Mac piped up from his spot on the couch.
"He's not really helping with the whole team unity thing, is he?" Verchota mused. "If he's just gonna tail her when she's around or lock himself up in his room when she's not, it's kinda moot."
"I actually think that's why Anna hasn't really hung out with us."
"Know something we don't, Bakes?" Mac asked, a knowing smile on his lips, causing the other guys to shoot a few curious glances towards the two Minnesotans.
The blonde rolled his eyes at his longtime teammate and gave no verbal response, choosing to keep his eyes focused on the TV instead.
"Mac can't get over the fact that Anna and Bakes are only friends," Verchota interjected, explaining what his two teammates were on about before focusing his attention on Mac. "Quit playing matchmaker you idiot, before she decides to pull an OC and sock you. If anything was supposed to happen with them, it would have happened long ago."
"Well, see now Philly, you just got everyone even more curious," Buzz pointed out. Having already graduated by the time the older Ramsey started helping out with the Gophers' hockey team, even he had to admit to wanting to know more about her and how she fit in with some of the boys on the team, especially with how her brother acted around her and the latest revelation of sorts about a would-be romance with one Bill Baker.
"We're just friends," Baker argued. "That's all we've ever been and all we'll ever be, and no, that wasn't me being bitter. We're just not into each other like that."
"And young as he is, you're scared of getting pummeled by Rammer, right?" Mac teased.
"What is up with that?" OC chimed in. "I swear every time someone comes within five feet of Anna, he's shooting a glare."
"He's just protective of her," Baker replied dismissively.
"I'll say," Mark Johnson muttered.
Several heads snapped in his direction, prompting a faint blush to tint his cheeks. Even after spending just a few short weeks together as a team, they were quick to learn that the Badger wasn't much for words, leaving them amused that even he decided to put his two cents in.
"Leave it alone," Baker said, throwing everyone a look in hopes that they'd drop it.
Some of the boys looked about ready to pry even further but none of their questions managed to leave their mouths as Mike appeared in the doorway.
"Davey, Brots, you've got a calls," he said, calling their attention. "I heard the ringing from my room and answered both. It's your dads."
The two hockey players passed questioning glances, shrugging before getting up to go to their respective rooms to take the calls.
"What's shaking, Rammer?" OC asked after a few moments.
"Waiting for Anna," came the simple reply.
"She's coming here?" several people asked.
"I thought she was spending time with your dad," Rizzo mused.
"Yeah," Mike said with a nod. "And apparently, dad told her to come here coz she was bringing me something. I don't know what though."
"Mikey!" they heard her call from the end of the hallway.
"That was fast," Mac snorted.
"They do live just ten minutes away from the U, you know?" Baker pointed out.
"What you got?" Mike asked as his sister jogged her way over.
"Where's your room? I need to talk to you in private."
His brows furrowed in worry before wordlessly pushing his body off the doorway and walked towards her, putting a hand on the small of her back to guide her to his room. He was peering over her shoulder and trying to get a look at the envelope she was holding in her hand, but before he could ask what it was, a very happy Neal Broten came bounding out into the hallway and gave each Ramsey a huge hug.
"I just got drafted by the North Stars!"
"Dude!" Dave Christian called through the open doorway of his room. "I'm on the Winnipeg Jets!"
Mike looked at his sister with wide eyes, his hopes shooting through the roof when she grinned back at him.
"Is that a letter about the draft?" Neal asked, pointing to the envelope Anna was still clutching in her hand, already figuring out that the calls he and Davey had received were similar to the reason why the older Ramsey had paid a visit. "Dad said a letter came and that's how he found out."
"Open it," Davey urged.
Anna handed the letter over to her younger brother, her smile getting even bigger when she saw the excitement on his face after reading the return address as one for the NHL. She chuckled as he tore at the seal, leaning her head against Neal's shoulder and looping an arm through Davey's as they waited for Mike to finish reading his letter.
"I'm a Buffalo Sabre," he breathed out.
Anna stepped to one side as the three hockey players gave each other those characteristic man hugs that barely lasted a second and ended with claps on the back. The three boys' cheering had attracted the attention of the guys in the common room, several people popping their heads out the door and eyeing the four out in the hallway with curious glances.
"We got drafted!" Neal announced happily. "You're looking at the future North Star, Jet and Sabre," he continued, pointing to himself, Davey and Mike respectively.
"That definitely calls for a celebration."
"We can just chill here."
"We'll go out and buy some beer and snacks."
"You're staying Anna, and that's final."
She didn't even have time to utter a protest as her brother grabbed her hand and pulled her into the common room, grinning widely as he ignored her pleas to let go.
"Mikey," she whined.
"Stay, please," he said, engulfing her in a hug. "We can go home tomorrow. Mom and Dad will understand. Please."
"Yeah, Anna," Mac interrupted, moving forward and trying his best to circle the brother and sister in his own arms. "Hang out with us."
She threw her head back in laughter when her brother got an incredulous expression on his face before pushing the older player away. "Alright, I'll stay."
She lifted her head from the back of the couch, eyes squinting at the light shining behind Baker's head. "I'm good," she said tiredly. "Just a little tipsy and a whole lot of tired."
"Wanna head to bed?" the blonde asked. "Rammer's sharing a room with me. He doesn't look like he's done partying yet so you can have his bed for a while before he stumbles in."
Their heads turned to look at Mike, both smiling as they watched him enjoy goofing off with some of the guys. He and Mac had stuck close to each other, talking excitedly about the fact that they could both be headed for the same team in the NHL once the Olympics were over, going as far as making plans to live with each other when they get signed.
"Come on," he urged, tugging at her arm. "You can borrow some of my clothes to sleep in. Your brother's will just drown you."
Anna saw the question in Mike's eyes as she stood up, hoping that her sleepy smile conveyed what it was that she was up to. The single nod of his head and turning of his focus back to the laughing group of guys around him told her that he did. As she walked out of the room, she was left oblivious to the looks sent her way.
She followed Baker to their room wordlessly, murmuring a thank you when he handed her one of his old jerseys and a pair of boxer shorts to change into.
"You going back to the party?" she asked just before he closed the door to give her some privacy. He raised his eyebrows in response to her question. "I was hoping you'd stay and we could talk for a bit. I'm not really that sleepy yet. I'm just not a party person."
"Go ahead and change," he said with a smile. "I'll be right outside the door so just call me when you're done."
"Where'd Bakes go?"
"He's with Anna," Mike replied absentmindedly. "They're in our room. She was sleepy."
"He's been gone for a while," Dave Silk muttered under his breath. "Is he sure sleeping is all they're doing?"
"Shut up," OC whispered back hotly. "Do you want Rammer to beat us up if he hears you talk about his sister like that?"
"Coz that's the only reason you want him to shut up, huh Jack?" Jim Craig mused, smirking at his teammate. "I think Anna's the only one oblivious to the looks you've been sending her way. Try and make it seem like you're not ready to eat her like she was a piece of steak and maybe Rammer won't hit you."
"She's with Baker anyway," OC grumbled, causing the guys around him to chuckle.
"Come on, Jack," Rizzo said in a sympathetic tone. "He said nothing's going on and that they're just good friends. Maybe he stayed back to talk to her before she fell asleep or maybe he was tired and decided to go to bed too."
"I don't know," Silky interjected. "Two good looking people locked inside a room after a few drinks," he trailed off.
"You're not helping," Jimmy said with a roll of his eyes. "Look Jack, if you like her, that's fine. But make sure that if you do decide to pursue her that you'll use your head –"
"The right head."
The three Boston boys turned blank stares on Silky, not amused by his interruption.
"As I was saying," Jimmy continued. "Use your head or you might end up with a couple of guys out to tear you limb from limb. We may not know exactly what's up with Rammer and Baker but it's obvious that they'd do anything for Anna."