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"Chucky." Gally is poking his cheek with growing intensity, but Alex refuses to acknowledge him; it's like three o'clock in the morning. He's a fucking psychopath, Gally is. "Chucky. I know you're awake, asshole."

Alex squeezes his eyes tighter. It's pretty easy to ignore Gally--or at least pretend to, in his case--but then he goes and tries to pull the covers off. Alex instinctively shoots up to pull it from him, kicking his foot out and hoping it hits his head, hard enough to hurt even if not for a concussion.

Gally must duck it, though; when Alex sits up, huffing, he's just sitting there unharmed and almost doubled over with laughter.

"Knew you were awake," Gally says once he's caught his breath.

Alex scowls. "You're such a fucking asshole."

"Your accent is horrible in the morning," Gally says delightedly. He says this every other day, whatever, like Alex couldn't speak and write better English than he does in his sleep.

"Fuck off," Alex says. "Going back to sleep. Help yourself out." He plops back on the bed, closing his eyes pointedly and trying to even his breaths.

Gally doesn't leave. Instead, he makes an annoyed noise in the back of his throat and straddles Alex, and shit, no, that--

"Get off," Alex demands, pushing Gally's chest, seriously needing him off before he embarrasses himself. "I'll punch you, I swear."

"No, you won't," Gally says. Alex could. Gally is smaller than him, Alex could for sure make him bleed. Could and would are different things, is all. "C'mon, get up, get up," Gally repeats, slapping different parts of Alex's body, his face most of all. Alex wonders if Gally doesn't notice that Alex is only in boxers, or if he just doesn't care. Alex cares, though, because Gally keeps moving and shifting, and Alex can feel a familiar pang low in his gut, knows it wouldn't take much for him to get hard if Gally moves a single centimeter this way, if Gally doesn't stop. "Chucky, get up, you lazy piece of shit."

"Fine," Alex says suddenly, sitting up as quickly as he can, so fast Gally tips over with a shriek and off of him, thank fucking God. He rubs a hand over his face, counting sheep in his head until he feels himself calm down. "Why are you in my house at ass o'clock and ruining my life?"

"Ruining," Gally scoffs, offended. “As if. You love me.”

Alex barks out a laugh.

“Anyway,” Gally continues loftily, “there’s a very important situation in the kitchen so I think you should come check it out. Now.”

“Did you burn down my kitchen?” Alex asks suspiciously. It’s not as if it hasn’t happened before.

“Maybe,” Gally says.

“I swear to God,” he says, shooting up and dashing down the stairs to the kitchen. He can hear Gally scramble and fall onto the bed and head after him, cackling like a maniac.

When Alex gets to his kitchen, there is definitely no fire. Things don't even look too out of place, last night's dishes still in the sink. The only thing that's different is the array of baking supplies sitting on the counter.

Gally has reached the kitchen, and he bounces right to where the pile is, picking up a bag of chocolate chips and grinning a winning smile. Or what he thinks is a winning smile, anyway.

"So I'm kind of hungry," he starts. "And I've kind of had a craving."

"Are you serious," Alex asks, standing there and staring disbelievingly. He can't even muster up the inflection to make it sound like a real question.

"Maggie wouldn't!" Gally exclaims, as if that's a good enough reason.

"Not only did you come into my house before sunrise, but I'm your second choice? To make you, what, cupcakes?"

"Of course not," Gally says, looking at Alex like he's the idiot. "Eating cupcakes right now would be dumb. Pancakes."

"Oh my God," Alex says, a little hysterically. "Oh my God, Gally, get out of my house. Or I'll get my mom to do it."

"Fuck off, you would not, your mom loves me," Gally scoffs, holding the bag of chocolate chips defensively. "Anyway, they're out at breakfast because they, quote, didn't wanna see the bloodbath, unquote when I woke you up. But it's cool because you're not mad and you're gonna make them for me, right?"

“No,” Alex says, turning to go. He’s not entirely sure what he’s saying no to, because Gally rarely makes sense on the best of days, but he’s fairly positive he’s given the right answer.

“Sucks,” Gally sighs. “‘Cause if you don’t do them, I’m gonna show PK those pictures from that time, and then who knows if it won’t end up on Twi--”

Okay, okay, fine, shit, okay,” Alex cuts him off, walking forward and snatching the bag. Gally is grinning victoriously. Alex doesn't think there are words. "I'm going to take my key back. Don't know why you have in the first place."

"You say the same thing like, every week. No, but really, pancakes, Chucky. Pancakes."

Gally can't cook at all. It's really pathetic. Alex has seen him try to boil pasta and start a kitchen fire in result. No one really trusts or allows him around stoves, and it's caused him to be depressingly reliant on takeout or whatever Josh and Maggie force him to eat. Or, even worse, bothering Alex to make him something.

Gally is already over a lot, and that usually ends up with him staying over for dinner more than a few times. Alex's mom makes the best fucking food ever, so he can't blame him too much for mooching off her. The issue was the first time Gally saw Alex on dinner duty, and the way he'd chirped about it for weeks, ragging about how Alex is a good domestic maid. Since then, he uses every single opportunity to (attempt to) blackmail Alex into making things for him, and although Alex can usually ignore him, it would be way better for everyone ever if that picture didn't get sent to PK.

"Doesn't this go against your diet plan?" Alex asks him, hitting him in the face with the bag.

"I don't know what you're talking about, shut up. The ingredients are organic, anyway."

Alex snorts. "Organic choc chips, right."

He makes Gally help, ignoring his complaints but making sure to keep a close eye all the same. They somehow manage to get the pancakes done in less than an hour. They're huge and there are far too many of them and an outrageous chocolate to batter ratio that Alex knows for sure is defying every single rule on their diet plans, but Gally is grinning wide and telling Alex he's the best friend ever--as if Alex had a choice--and Alex likes seeing Gally happy, all blackmail aside, so.

His mom and Anna get back just as they're putting the syrup on. Alex can feel their eyes on him as he hands the bottle over to Gally. Alex would really, really prefer if they didn't look at him that way, especially not with Gally right there.

His mom idly insults his intelligence in the way only she ever can, masking it in concern and shaking her head. Alex is so, so glad that she didn't say that in English; it's bad enough how flushed and embarrassed he feels with it fired at him in Russian. Anna laughs.

"Hey," Gally says, frowning—pouting, even, he hates when he doesn't know what's going on every second of Alex's life and he especially hates not understanding it--"what am I missing here?"

"Nothing," Alex says, shooting Anna a glare when it looks like she's going her big mouth.

"Mom was just telling Alex how sad he is," Anna tells Gally anyway, completely ignoring Alex. At least she could have said worse. That's the guideline Alex has had to operate when it comes to his family for all his life.

"Sad? Like depressed?" Gally pokes Alex in the cheek, scrutinizing him with questioning eyes. "He doesn't look depressed."

Alex slaps his hand and away and snaps, "eat your pancakes," looking steadfastly down at his food and shoving more into his mouth on the first bite than is sure to be wise.

Anna and his mom disappear from sight. After a few moments of silence and slathering on way more syrup than they should, Gally questions, "you're not actually depressed, are you? That'd be shit."

"Jesus, Gally, no," Alex replies, rolling his eyes. Gally has the weirdest tendencies. He's rarely worried at all, but when he is, it's about the most ridiculous things. And usually simultaneously the sweetest. Alex feels less pessimistic about his feelings at times like this. "Anna's just stupid. That's not even what my mom said."

"Okay," Gally says. "Cool." He goes back to his pancakes, but Alex can see the furrow in between his eyebrows. With an incredibly deep internal breath and maybe a pep talk, Alex bumps his shoulder pointedly and squeezes Gally's knee. Gally grins.

*

Brendan Gallagher is by far the worst person in this province, country, continent, world to room with. Alex has heard horror stories across the league about repulsive roommates, but he's sure that in their entirety, they can't be worse than Gally. No one can be worse than Gally. Alex could make polls and surveys about this and people in Slovakia would have no choice but to agree with him.

Of course, Alex can't really complain about it anymore, because of how Anna laughed at him for twenty minutes the last time he did and how Prusty asked him, "why don't you just get a room to yourself?" and walked away without another word when Alex made up some bullshit answer about routine.

Alex might not have any intentions of not rooming with Gally, but that doesn't mean rooming with Gally is a hundred percent enjoyable, either.

Like now. It's 12 AM and Alex is trying to sleep, has been trying to sleep for an hour now, and Gally is fucking around on his iPad, volume up so high that Alex can hear almost perfectly even with the headphones in. And Gally is obnoxious, too, bursting into laughter every other breath and rustling his bag of fruit loudly every time he takes another piece.

Alex is going to kill him.

"Gally." Ignored. "Gally." Gally stops crinkling his bag for a total of two milliseconds, but still doesn't properly acknowledge Alex. Seriously. "Brendan!"

Gally wrenches out his headphones, finally turning towards Alex and sighing, "what?"

Alex is distracted for a moment by Gally's mouth, red from his strawberries and spit-slick, and it's embarrassing when Gally has to repeat himself before Alex has the good sense to answer.

"Can you stop making so much noise and just go to sleep?" Alex asks, blinking away the short haze. He'd intended to sound far harsher than he does, instead of tired and exasperated. He usually intends to be something else when it comes to Gally, something less... obvious and complacent. But, well.

"Why didn't you say anything, dumbass?" Gally asks, throwing a piece of apple at him. Alex opens his mouth to say something, but Gally continues, "wouldn't wanna disturb your beauty sleep," with a grin.

Alex is thankful for the low lighting of the room, hopes that it's hiding the horrible, horrible blush on his face. He knows he should say something else, a chirp about how quickly Gally agreed or a comment about how he wouldn't know anything about beauty sleep, but he can barely manage a half-assed and completely weak shut up before turning the other way and falling asleep.

*

The next night, after Pricey gets a shutout against the Red Wings on home ice, PK gives the team the ultimatum of going out for drinks or getting kicked out of the team. It's a good enough offer, and they end up at a cramped and homely bar, on their god-knows-which round of beer.

They've been here a while, and a couple of the guys have already headed out, wives and kids to get home to. PK is at the stage of drunk where he's not even chatting away in everyone's ear anymore, instead clinging to Pricey's side and murmuring whatever, hands waving expressively and beer near sloshing over as he tries to get his story across.

Alex is dealing with much the same situation, squashed against Gally in the booth. Gally is a total and complete lightweight. Alex has tried to get him not to drink eighty bottles of beer like Max has been subtly pushing for, buying him round after round and laughing under his breath the more slurred Gally’s words become. He’s completely wasted, face smushed into Alex’s neck and breathing heavily. He’s musing pig philosophy into Alex’s ear, and Alex realizes it’s definitely time to go when Gally asks, low and curious, “what if pigs couldn’t fly?”

Max barks out a laugh when Alex announces that they're leaving. "Get your boyfriend home safe," he finally says, voice deadpan even as his mouth continues to twitch.

Alex ignores him.

Alex isn't entirely sober either, Russian disappointment for being affected by weak North American beer aside, but it's more of a buzz rather than actual drunkenness, so it's forgivable. He manages to hail down a taxi just fine, shoving Gally in and giving the driver his address when he follows. Alex doesn't think Gally even has his keys, gear bag forgotten back at the Bell Centre.

Gally gives up on the nonsensical chatter a few minutes into the ride, his head lolling onto Alex's shoulder. When they get to Alex's, it's a challenge managing to get the door unlocked and Gally upright at the same time. Gally is drowsy, pliant, warm, and it's making Alex's life a lot harder than it should be, imagining Gally that way because of him instead of the alcohol.

He settles him on the big couch, the one that's mostly comfortable for sleeping in, shoes and jacket off, pillow under his head and thick blanket from the linen closet tucked tight around his body. When Alex looks down at him like this, mouth slack and eyelashes soft against his cheek, it hurts so much it's fucking insane, the type of thing he has no problem admitting to himself when it's this late and he's not entirely sober. It's not something he's ashamed of, per se; it's more of a survival mechanism, and he knows better to disrupt that.

"Fuck," he says under his breath, sighing and turning for the stairs.

*

Sometime later in the middle of the night, Alex is roused awake by the sound of his door opening. It's noisy and it creaks, so whatever stealth might have been attempted is wasted.

When Alex forces his eyes to half-mast, rising up slightly on his elbows, he finds Gally standing in the entrance, holding onto the door.

"It's really cold down there," he says in explanation, voice sleep-rough and arms moving from the door to wrap tight around his torso. "My balls were shrinking."

"Guestroom?" Alex asks. Gally makes a face. "Fine, okay. Come." He scoots over, lifting the comforter and ignoring the pounding of his heart.

Gally beams. He slips under the covers quickly; Alex is both thankful and disappointed about the monstrosity that is his bed, giving enough space for Gally to comfortably lie down with an appropriate amount of space between their bodies. Alex can still feel all of Gally's body heat radiating.

They get through the night without any problems. Anna's the one who wakes him up, walking into Alex's room as if she owns the place. Her eyebrows shoot up when she catches the scene.

"It's not," he says in Russian, mindful of the way Gally is wrapped all around him, still asleep and breathing wetly into his neck. "We're not--we didn't."

She doesn't say anything in reply to that, just murmurs, "I'll convince Mom to leave you alone. Go to sleep," and that's how Alex knows this is for sure and absolutely and irredeemably pathetic.

*

And then it keeps happening.

Only a few days later, they're in their hotel room after an embarrassing loss to the fucking Bruins. Alex is fuming in bed, angry at himself for taking too many penalties and not even points, angry at the entire team for not even managing to force it into overtime for a point. Even Gally is too somber to do anything other than immediately climb into bed.

This time, Gally doesn't even wait 'till the middle of the night to get out of his adjacent bed and stand in front of Alex, saying, "I can't sleep."

"Count sheep," Alex snaps. He thought even Gally could see how not in the mood he was for this right now. Especially Gally.

"Chucky," he says. He sounds really unhappy and so unlike himself. Alex feels himself deflate all at once; he might hate feeling this way more than most things, but he hates Gally being that way more than even that.

"Do you wanna--" He swallows down his annoyance, forcing himself to calm down so he can take care of Gally. "Wanna watch a movie?"

Gally shakes his head. "Can I sleep with you? Like last week, at your house; I slept really good then."

"Um," Alex answers. "This is a twin bed."

"Okay?" Gally asks, staring blankly at Alex like he doesn't get the point. He doesn't wait for Alex to answer after that, just gets in, crowding under the covers and all up Alex's space. Motherfucker.

*

After that first time, Gally usually doesn't ask, just climbs in. The times he does ask, his reasons are weak as fuck. He doesn't always fall asleep right away, and those times, they'll sit in their separate beds, watching TV or eating, generally just fucking around. Then Gally will be going to sleep, blankets up tight around their shoulders, legs tangled with Alex's with Alex steadfastly refusing to focus on the points where their bodies are pressed flush and tight.

Alex wonders if he should just ask for a room with a single king bed, for obvious reasons, but then everyone would assume that they're sleeping together. Or, well, sleeping together-sleeping together, and he doubts Gally will want that.

Alex is so fucked over his best friend, and it's only getting worse.

*

It becomes a pattern, a routine. Gally gets into bed with him more times than not, even if it's under different circumstances than Alex has been fantasizing about for ages.

Alex has taken to wearing pajama pants and some ratty, too-tight t-shirt on these nights, even though he prefers sleeping only in boxers. It somehow manages not to get too awkward, gelling into just another one of those things the guys would rag on them about--if Alex ever planned on telling anyone ever--until it isn't anymore.

They're in their hotel room in Ft Lauderdale, and don't really have any valid excuses: they won tonight, securing the top slot in the Atlantic, and 71° is hardly cold enough for the blankets not to be enough, but Gally still got into bed with him, face tucked into Alex's neck and arm thrown over his waist, as if this isn't weird at all.

Alex doesn't know what to say, never knows what to say, so he sticks with a completely lame, "don't drool on me again," in what he hopes is a vaguely threatening tone.

Gally snorts. "Shut up and go to sleep."

Later that night, maybe 2AM, Alex isn't awake, not really, but he can feel a familiar warmth all throughout his body, and a heaviness in his gut. There's a pressure on his cock and this feels like, like…

And that's when he's definitely for sure awake, because he's in bed with Gally and they've been rubbing against each other in their sleep and he's about to fucking come, and he doesn't know how to react to this freak occurrence; this is something else entirely.

He's frozen for a moment, staring at Gally's face so close to his, mouth open and breathing wetly, face flushed bright red, splotchy in some places, eyelashes fluttering. He's got a leg thrown over Alex's waist and is still moving against Alex, insistent and uncoordinated. Alex really doesn't wanna move, but he doesn't--this can't be how. He's not going to have sex with Gally for the first time and have it be because he was unconscious and didn't know what he was doing.

He forces himself to extricate Gally's limbs, ignoring the whimper and the way Gally leans into the warmth when he gets off the bed.

It takes a lot more effort than it should to wait 'til he's in the en suite to take out his cock , but he comes so fast and so hard it physically hurts, slumped over the bathroom sink and wondering if he should kill Gally or himself first.

*

When he gets back in the room, it's to find Gally sat up on the bed, looking very, very embarrassed. If Alex wouldn't rather die than talk about this with Brendan Gallagher, then he's sure he'd be able to appreciate how fascinating it is. Gally doesn't usually have enough shame to be embarrassed.

"So," Gally starts. "I'm sorry. That was really awkward, I swear I didn't know what was happening, I was way asleep. I'm super sorry, let's not talk about it again."

Alex licks his lips. "Okay."

Gally opens mouth, closes it, and then opens it again. "Does this mean you won't sleep with me anymore?"

Alex opens his mouth to respond, with what he doesn't even know, but Gally just continues, a little defensively, "I know this was awkward, but it's not like I meant it, Chucky, so."

"Okay," Alex repeats, slower this time. What does Gally even want him to say? "Cool."

"Cool," Gally repeats, suddenly beaming. He throws a pillow at Alex, as if they hadn't just gone through a really horrible experience, and misses horribly. Alex forces himself to tamp the nausea down, because he's not that pathetic, and can be aggressively normal if need be.

"Can't aim on or off the ice," he says, throwing the pillow back.

"Fuck you, Chucky," Gally says easily, "and come back to bed," so Alex does.

*

Alex likes to think that he's not purposely or extraordinarily dense, regardless of what Anna and his mom like to say. He knows dense, he knows Gally, and he's definitely not that bad.

Alex has noticed that something was different about Gally after Ft Lauderdale. Things have only been a little awkward for a few days, but even then not that bad. Even after, though, with things patched up and way smooth, Gally is... weird. Well, Gally's always weird, but it's a different type of weird.

He spends a lot of time just staring, looking at him like a total creep. Alex is used to Gally staring at him, usually to annoy Alex or annoy Alex into doing something, but these stares felt scrutinizing, like Gally is trying to figure it all out, and then as the weeks go on, intense like he gets it now and wants more.

He touches Alex more, too, which really really says something. Gally touches Alex so much already, more than everyone else he knows combined, family included.

When he asks PK, "have you noticed Gally acting weirder?" PK just looks at him like he's an idiot. "What? Dude, no, Gally is always this fucked, it's Gally." So.

It's probably not so noticeable to anyone else, either, but Alex is well trained in paying copious levels of attention to Gally so he knows it's there, and he's surely not stupid enough to not understand why or trace back where Gally's sudden--thing comes from.

*

Which is why, when Gally kisses him a few weeks later, he's able to say that he's mostly kind of somewhat not surprised.

They’re sat on Gally’s bed, watching a shitty Russian movie because Gally wants to be able to relate to Alex and for Alex to never lost touch with his culture. Alex had just stared at him blankly until Gally told him to sit the fuck down and watch the fucking movie, and it’s not like Alex ever has anywhere better to be. They’re only twenty minutes in, and it truly is absolutely horrible: slapshot comedy and awkward entendres that Gally would enjoy if he had more than just the subtitles to go by.

As it is, Alex has spent more time explaining the movie to Gally than he has actually watching the movie. Gally finally admits defeat, saying, “What the fuck, fuck it,” and pushes the laptop away from the crease of space in between their legs, throws a leg over Alex’s waist to straddle him, and then kisses him, all happening so quickly that Alex doesn’t even know how or when or why to reply.

He sits there frozen, eyes wide open and feeling every point of contact prickling his skin like needles.

Gally pulls back to look at him impatiently. “Chucky,” he says exasperatedly, like Alex is the one who just pounced on him, “what are you doing?”

Alex’s automatic response is a weak, “what are you doing,” like one of Plek’s worst comebacks.

“Kissing you,” Gally says. “Seriously, get with it.”

“But--” Alex starts. He doesn’t know how to say what he wants to say in English, how to transfer the language and connotations across correctly, so he shuts his mouth instead

“You’re not actually surprised, Chucky,” Gally tells him, leaning his face back a little. “Are you?”

Alex knows Gally enough to hear the tiny bit of nervousness and anxiety in his tone when he asks that, and Alex might not want to admit it to himself, but he doesn’t want to leave Gally hanging like that. He knows how it feels; he understand the fear of rejection better than most, and it’s truthfully a little embarrassing that Gally was the first to make a move when he definitely hasn’t been pining like an idiot for months.

“No,” he admits, earning a grin from Gally.

Alex takes the prerogative to pull Gally in by the back of his neck, keeping his eyes on Gally’s and the surety and assurance he sees there. There are smile wrinkles along his eyes, and it only serves in making him more—Gally. Alex kisses him and is glad that, once in a blue moon, Gally is smarter than him and can do the things he can't.

*

It's two weeks later, and Gally is still saying, "I still can't believe I made a move before you did."

"Gally, I swear," Alex groans, pulling the covers up and over his head. "Get out of my house."

"No," Gally says, "listen to me. This is important. This proves that, like in everything else on this entire planet, I'm faster and better than you. I liked you for like, three minutes, and I did more than you did in what was it? Seven months?"

Alex stares up at the ceiling and reminds himself that he doesn't want blood on his sheets. Maybe if he doesn't speak, it won't be seven AM and Gally won't be in his house.

Of course, he should have learned from previous experiences how totally untrue this is.

Gally straddles him--Gally really likes doing that, Alex has noticed, and it's definitely not something he minds--and leans in close. "You should be honored, Chucky."

"Should I?" Alex asks, staring up into Gally's eyes, flecks of gold and gray in the green and making Alex... making him sound like a teenage fantasy novel. He needs to shut up.

"Duh. It means that you're stupid good at sex even while you're asleep." Gally's thumb is tracing his bottom lip, pulling at it and using his other hand to press against the pulse-point beating under Alex's skin.

Alex bites down on the inside of his cheek. "Thanks. That's nice. Get out of my house."

Gally ignores him in favor of biting lightly down on his ear and whispering, “you know what else it means you’re good at?” Alex barely has time to breathe, let alone reply, before Gally continues, “making me breakfast,” and pulls back to wink obscenely at him.

Alex stares at him. And stares at him. And stares at him.

Finally, he puts a hand up to do he doesn’t even know what, but he’s sure it’s going to injure and possibly maim Gally. Gally jumps off before Alex has a chance to, though; he finds satisfaction in seeing Gally fall face first onto the floor, if nothing else.

“I hope you broke your nose,” he says to the ceiling.

“Fuck you, as if you’re not going to make it for me, anyway,” Gally laughs from the floor and, well--yeah, he’s got a point.