Jamie got to know Jim a little during the end of the season, maybe a little better than some of the other guys since management sees him as one of the leaders of the team, which came with a few more meetings than some of the other guys had. Still, he's surprised to see Jim's name on his phone in the middle of summer.
They get through the pleasantries, and then Jim says, "Well, Jamie, I didn't call just to see how your summer's going."
Jamie didn't think he did.
"We're looking at bringing in some new players this year," Jim goes on. "We want to put you in a better position. I'm calling you because one of our options is an uncollared sub with a history of behavior that," Jim pauses, "has caused some concern. Now, I have no doubt he can be an asset on the ice, but if we bring him on, we're going to want your help in keeping an eye on him."
"What kind of help?" Jamie asks. It's no secret that they're likely to give him the C next season, but the way Jim is putting this sounds like he's asking about more than how Jamie as the captain would handle an uncollared sub on his team.
"Whatever will work," Jim says. "Frankly, I'm not sure how much he's going to need. This might just be a case of him being in a bad situation that will sort itself out once he's out of it, or it might be a case of him being an uncollared sub who's adrift without someone to look after him. We're not asking you to agree to collar him, just to work with him. We'll probably want you living pretty close, keep enough of an eye on him that you can rein him in if necessary, or turn him over to one of us to do it if it's not something you're comfortable with."
"Yes," Jamie says, "of course." He means it, both because it's what he'd do with the C and because it's what he's willing to do for his team. If he had a collared sub, it might be a problem, but he doesn't, so why not agree to a possibly play with an uncollared sub? Jim might not have put it quite in those terms, but it's pretty much what he's asking for.
"Great," Jim says. "That's going to make it a lot easier for us to go after this trade. I'll let you know what happens."
He does, by including Jamie in a group text later to let him know that they've dealt Eriksson for Seguin.
Jamie texts with Tyler a little over the summer. They're going to be teammates, whatever else is going to happen, and most likely linemates; they might as well start getting to know each other.
Near the end of the summer, a couple of days before they all have to be in Dallas for training camp, Tyler texts and asks, How traditional are you?
It's the first time they've even come close to talking about the fact that Tyler's an uncollared sub and Jamie's a dom.
More than some, less than others, Jamie sends back, which is what he usually says when people ask him that. When Tyler hasn't responded after a couple of minutes, he realizes that probably wasn't what Tyler was looking for and sends, I don't expect you to kneel or submit to me all the time because I'm a dom. Then after a few more seconds of thinking about it, And you damn well better carry your weight on the ice and in the room.
Fuck you, Tyler sends back. Of course I will.
Jamie knows when Tyler's getting into town, and also that he's living in Roy's old place, so he sends him a text: Welcome to Dallas! Come up for dinner if you're not too jet lagged.
"Think he'll come?" Jordie asks.
Jamie shrugs. "Maybe. We'll see." He already made sure they have enough food to feed three, and when they start making dinner, he gets everything out. If Tyler doesn't come, either he or Jordie will eat the leftovers later.
They're just barely getting started on dinner when the doorbell rings.
"All you," Jordie says, and he takes over the food so Jamie can go answer the door.
Jamie's met Tyler before, seen pictures of him, knows he's an uncollared sub, but he's not prepared for the force of that in a friendly personal situation. Tyler isn't submitting, exactly, when Jamie opens the door, but there's a vulnerability to him that wasn't there at All-Star Weekend, and the v-neck he's wearing makes his bare throat stand out like a beacon.
"Hey, man." Jamie holds the door open wider. "Come on in."
"Thanks." Tyler kicks off his flip-flops into the line of shoes next to the door.
There's a second where they just look at each other - Jamie's not going to be the one to initiate anything that might make Tyler uncomfortable - and then Tyler says, "This is kind of awkward," and steps forward for a half-hug, half-handshake that's less awkward because he said something about it.
Jamie rests his hand on Tyler's back for a second afterward, gives him just a tiny push farther into the apartment. "Jordie's in the kitchen. We're cooking."
Tyler throws a smile over his shoulder. "Cool."
It takes a little bit of time for Jamie and Tyler to get used to playing together, and to playing their natural positions again, but once they do, it's electric. Off the ice, Jamie and Jordie make the dinner invitation a standing one, and Tyler's at their place more than his own.
Jamie figures Tyler's success is at least half a fuck you to Boston, but the other half is all him in a way Jamie can't believe Boston couldn't make work. As he gets to know Tyler better, gets to know what he responds to and what he doesn't, watches him get himself picked up in a couple of bars, he thinks that Jim's two possible explanations for Tyler's previous behavior - bad situation or uncollared sub feeling adrift - might have been working together.
Dallas is a good situation for Tyler, professionally and personally, and while he doesn't exactly ask for anything from Jamie, Jordie, or any of the other doms, Jamie can see the way they all treat him like a sub without denying that he's capable and competent of running his own life. Collar or not, none of them are going to let him feel like he doesn't have doms he can turn to.
The first time Coach is really tough with Tyler, Tyler comes out of it quiet, doesn't show up for dinner, and is subdued for the next couple of days.
The next time it happens, Jordie tips his head toward Tyler, and Jamie nods and takes charge of saying to Tyler, "Come up to our place," when they get to their building. He probably should have done it the first time, but he didn't quite realize that Tyler was going to need some aftercare.
Tyler blinks, and then says, "Marshall."
Jamie squeezes Tyler's shoulder. "Go get him and bring him with you." He gives Tyler a little push toward the elevator.
Tyler gets out at his floor while Jamie and Jordie go up to theirs, but ten minutes later he knocks at the door. He's changed into sweats and a soft-looking striped crew neck, and he has Marshall with him.
Jamie lets him in and goes to the couch where he and Jordie already have the Xbox on and controllers out. They play a lot of video games anyway, and this way they won't be pressuring Tyler into anything in particular.
Tyler looks at both of them for a moment - Marshall goes over to greet Jordie without any hesitation - then sinks down to sit on the floor next to Jamie.
Jamie strokes Tyler's hair whenever there's an opportunity for him to take his hands off his controller.
When Tyler starts leaning into Jamie, Jamie calls a halt to their game and suggests naps instead.
"I can," Tyler says, pushing himself up from the floor.
"Stay here," Jamie says. He puts his arm around Tyler's shoulders, loose enough that Tyler can get away if he wants. "The couch is comfortable."
Tyler agrees without them having to try to convince him, and Jamie gets him a pillow and a blanket, then crouches down next to him and strokes over his hair. "Comfortable?"
Tyler nods, and then his eyes slip closed, eyelashes dark against his cheeks.
It takes a hell of a lot of self-control for Jamie to leave him there and go upstairs to his room, so much that he doesn't have any left to keep himself from jerking off to a fantasy about what it would be like to have Tyler submitting to everything Jamie could give him.
Tyler's still asleep when Jamie and Jordie get up from their naps. They let him sleep for now, Jordie taking Marshall out for a walk and Jamie getting started on dinner.
Tyler wanders into the kitchen while Jamie's cutting up vegetables for stir-fry. Jamie stops what he's doing to get Tyler a bottle of Gatorade out of the fridge. He opens it before he hands it to Tyler.
Tyler takes a long drink, and blinks at Jamie slowly.
"Jordie took Marshall out for a walk," Jamie says. He watches Tyler nod, and then Tyler's eyes stray from his face to the vegetables on the cutting board.
Jamie picks up a piece of carrot and holds it out. Tyler reaches for it, but gets the idea when Jamie pulls it back and then offers it to him again, holding it up where Tyler can eat it directly from his hand.
Tyler's cheeks turn pink, but there's a curve to his lips and something soft around his eyes that make Jamie pick up a piece of mushroom and hand feed that to him next.
He hasn't gotten very far with dinner when Jordie comes back, too busy watching the wash of color on Tyler's face and the sweep of his eyelashes while Jamie feeds him pieces of this and that.
Jordie doesn't comment, just pushes the already cut up vegetables to one side of the cutting board where Jamie can get at them before cutting up the rest of them.
"Did they ask you to?" Tyler asks Jamie in the car on the way home on a day when Jordie took a maintenance day and didn't come to practice.
Jamie turns down the radio. "Did who ask me to what?"
"Did the team ask you to be my dom?"
Jamie glances over at Tyler. Tyler has his head turned all the way to the side to look out the window. He can't just say no, because that's not entirely true.
"Jim told me they were thinking about trading for an uncollared sub. He didn't tell me who." Jamie glances over, but Tyler's still looking out the window. "He asked me if I would keep an eye on you. I said yes, but I would have done that for anyone." Jamie thinks for a second about what else he needs to say to Tyler now. "I wouldn't have done as much as I have if I didn't want to. If I didn't want to do it for you."
Tyler doesn't speak the rest of the way home, but he finally looks at Jamie in the elevator, turning to face him and put himself between Jamie and the number panel before Jamie can hit the button for his floor. "Do you want to come to my place?"
Jamie's mouth goes dry. If Tyler is asking what he thinks he's asking. "What do you want?"
"I want you to do more than what you have so far."
Tyler's wearing another one of those v-necks he loves, making his collar-less neck look even more bare. Jamie's eyes get caught there, then he drags them up to Tyler's face. "Yes," he says, and only the knowledge of how bad it would be if the elevator security footage got out keeps him from touching Tyler until they're inside Tyler's apartment.
If their chemistry was good before, Jamie domming Tyler, more than just the lighter maintenance he was doing before, takes it to a whole new level. They're tuned into each other, off the ice and on, and they go on a shared points streak that rivals anything in franchise history.
They split their time between Tyler's place, which is better if they want to play without chance of human interruption, and Jamie's, which is better if they want company of other people.
Tyler makes breakfast for Jamie one morning, an almost shy smile on his face when he puts a plate of eggs in front of him. Jamie looks at the plate and Tyler's face, and then pulls Tyler down onto his lap. He kisses Tyler's neck, in a spot that would be covered by a collar if he wore one.
"You can cook."
"Some," Tyler says. He leans against Jamie's chest. "I wouldn't starve if you didn't feed me all the time."
Jamie kisses his neck, the hinge of his jaw, just behind his ear. "I like feeding you." He picks up his fork and feeds Tyler a bite of eggs to make the point.
Tyler's eyes flutter closed, and he leans more heavily against Jamie.
Jamie watches his face and tightens the arm he has around Tyler's waist. "If we didn't have to go to practice," he says.
"After practice," Tyler says, and he slides off of Jamie's lap when Jamie lets go of him.
Neither of them stop smiling all day.
Thanks to them - thanks to Tyler - they make it into the playoffs. Tyler invites not only his family but some of his friends down to watch a couple of games. Jamie's met a lot of his friends, the ones who don't play hockey, but this is the first time he's meeting Brownie, even though he's heard a lot about him.
Brownie is a dom, which Jamie didn't know for sure before he met him. He thought maybe, based on some of the stories Tyler tells, but he also knows from some of the stories Tyler tells that Tyler's hooked up with other subs. Not that Tyler's ever said outright that he and Brownie have hooked up, but Jamie was pretty sure they had before, and is almost positive about it once he sees them together. Given that, and given that Brownie is Tyler's best friend, Jamie's not that surprised when Brownie manages to get him alone.
"Man," Jamie says after a minute of Brownie talking about things that aren't Tyler, "you don't have to try to work up to it. I know you want to talk to me about Tyler."
"I, yeah," Brownie says. He braces his hands on the counter. "He seems good, happy. Here, with you."
Jamie nods. "Yeah, I think so." He pauses, not sure if he should ask. "You and he-"
Brownie shakes his head before Jamie can finish the question. "Nah. We've played, but we don't quite work together long-term." He lifts a shoulder in a shrug. "It is what it is." He looks at Jamie seriously. "If you haven't figured it out, he'll take orders, but he really likes being taken care of."
"I'm taking really good care of him," Jamie promises.
"Good," Brownie says, "that's good."
Tyler comes into the kitchen then, and smiles at both of them. It breaks up the conversation, but Brownie seems satisfied, so probably there won't be a second one.
When they go to bed, Jamie staying over with Tyler despite his guests since they basically live together anyway, Jamie thinks about that promise. He does take good care of Tyler, making sure he's happy, making sure he's getting what he wants, hand feeding him any time they have time for it. There's one more thing he could do, which he's been thinking about for a while anyway.
They make out for a little bit once they're in bed, because Jamie enjoys kissing Tyler, and it's one of the simple things Tyler so obviously loves, so giving it to him just makes it better for Jamie.
Jamie stops kissing Tyler sometime after his eyes have adjusted enough to see Tyler's face in the dark. He runs his hand over Tyler's cheek and down to his neck. "Do you want to be an uncollared sub?"
He can feel Tyler's heartbeat jump under his palm.
"No," Tyler says, almost too softly to be heard.
Jamie bends and kisses his neck. "Do you want to wear my collar?"
"Yes," Tyler says. "Yes, please."
Jamie presses another kiss to his neck before he moves up to let Tyler kiss him desperate and messy. "I'll get you one you like," Jamie says. "You can help pick it out." He takes Tyler's mouth in a deep kiss that Tyler melts into. "I'm going to take such good care of you."