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Kent glides his hands up Alexei’s shirt, palms splayed flat against the broad expanse of his chest. He’s mostly hairless there—Kent thinks maybe it’s because they’re still fairly young. He’s pretty sure Alexei doesn’t shave it all off, but whatever it’s about, it works for him. Alexei is a work of art under his hands, painting a tactile picture that makes Kent’s mouth water even to this day, four years after their first date.

Kent shudders as Alexei’s face tucks into his neck, his lips pressing soft, warm kisses against the skin there. He pays special attention to the spot right over Kent’s pulse, because he knows Kent loves it so much.

“Ah babe,” Kent groans, arching his hips into Alexei’s. “Fuck.”

“Is what I’m trying, but you so chatty,” Alexei murmurs, but in spite of his words, his hands travel along Kent’s bare torso, his fingers toying with the hem of Kent’s boxers.

“Yeah well… you’re way fucking over-dressed for what I want to do to you.”

Alexei huffs a laugh, pulling back, but not far. “So chatty. Always complain, you too much this, too much that. Is wonder you live with me.” All the same, he pulls back further to grab his shirt by the hem, pulling it over his head.

Kent feels the woosh, hears the soft plop as it falls to the floor along the side of the bed. There’s a rustling noise as Alexei’s trousers go next, and then a warm leg inching between his—much more hairy than the chest.

Kent hums in satisfaction, letting Alexei push him back against the pillows. He turns his face up, expectant, and is rewarded with lips on his, a tongue pushing into his mouth in a mimic of a slow fuck which drives him absolutely wild.

“Fuck, babe,” he murmurs, “god I want you. I want…” His hands are travelling all over Alexei’s body. He fucking loves it so much. He wriggles, his feet brushing up along Alexei’s calves until… “What the fuck is this.” He’s pushing then, with concerned hands, shoving Alexei back, feeling his way down until he’s touching hospital tape and something that feels like gauze. Kent’s had enough busted shins and foreheads to know what it is. “What happened? Did you get hurt.”

There’s a pause, then Alexei says, a little hesitation in his voice, “Is nothing.”

“Did you need stitches?” Kent demands. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Not stitches,” Alexei says, and he reaches for Kent, trying to draw him back to the pillows. But Kent is a stubborn bastard who refuses to be moved until he’s satisfied. He keeps running the tip of his finger along the tape and gauze, trying to assess how large it is. “If I’m tell you all hockey injury, maybe we talk forever, never stop.”

Kent huffs. “Babe, I know your job is…whatever. Violent and shit. But this feels…it’s big. You have to tell me when shit gets serious.”

Alexei’s clearly had enough of the fussing, because he grabs Kent by the shoulders and hauls him back, pushing him into the pillows and silences him with a long, slow, filthy kiss. “Is surprise,” he murmurs once Kent is kissed quiet. “I’m…if you patient, I’m tell you later. You trusting me, yes?”

Kent wrinkles his nose the way he knows Alexei likes, and he’s rewarded with a kiss to the tip of it. At this point he knows it’s not an injury, so the only other thing that would make sense is a tattoo. Which then doesn’t make too much sense if it’s a surprise to him because even without his scleral shells, his natural eyes don’t see much more than faint light and movement. He’s never seen colour, never seen detail. So why…

“Oh god, did you get one of those fucking tattoos where they implant little balls under the skin? You…fuck that shit’s…”

“No,” Alexei says with the smallest chuckle. “I’m think about it, but is seem too much work, too much recovery for hockey.”

Makes sense since Alexei has to strap into ridiculous amounts of padding and uniform every day.

“So what…”

There’s a heavy finger pushing on his mouth, drawing along his lower lip in a way that goes straight to Kent’s groin, and effectively shuts him up again. “I’m tell you. Promise. But you having to wait little while…just little bit, okay?”

Kent huffs because he’s never exactly been a paradigm of patience ever in his life, and doesn’t really want to be. When he wants things, he wants them now. But he’s willing to concede on this one, especially with the way Alexei starts to make his way down Kent’s chest with his mouth.

By the time Alexei gets his lips round Kent, sucking at the tip, then taking him all the way in, Kent’s mostly forgotten about the surprise.

***

“Man, you seem extra pissy today. What the fuck is going on?”

Kent spins in his chair, catching the leg of the table with the top of his foot, and huffs. “My boyfriend is an asshole.”

“Your boyfriend is Alexei Mashkov who could like, kill a man with a teaspoon.”

“Yeah well…he’s also an asshole…”

“Who worships the ground you walk on, who shows up with fucking flowers and your favourite coffee and will stay for hours listening to your dumbass students and my dumbass boyfriend talk about his stats and season.”

Kent folds his arms. “Nurse…”

“What?” Derek asks. “Seriously I mean, I know being in a relationship can be a pain in the ass but…”

“He got a tattoo.”

There’s a pause before Derek says, “Dude like…okay this is gonna sound fucked up but, you can’t even see it. Why would it bother you?”

“Because I can’t see it,” Kent says with a huff. “He says it’s for me, but he won’t tell me what the fuck it is, keeps saying it’s a surprise. And it kind of feels like he’s taking advantage because even if I wanted to be sneaky and peek at it, I couldn’t.”

Derek hums. “I guess…yeah I mean I could see how that feels a little fucked. But also like maybe trust the guy that whatever he has planned for you, it’s probably gonna be amazing. Dude’s like two steps away from planning one of those flashmob proposals.”

“I swear to fuck, Nurse, if he’s planning that and he’s got you in on it,” Kent warns, “I will murder you myself.”

“Well…he hasn’t. At least he didn’t ask me for shit. But you didn’t say you’d tell him no.”

Kent laughs. “Like I’d tell Alexei no if he asked me to marry him. Fuck, who do you think I am?” He sits back in his chair and tries not to be in a strop about the dumb tattoo. After more silence he says, “So like…are you almost done or what?”

There’s a slight crashing noise like a knee hitting a desk, and a sheepish laugh as Derek says, “Oh uh. Yeah totally, except no, I haven’t really started writing yet.”

Kent’s eyes narrow. “Do you even have a paper on this shit? Or are you making it up for an excuse to come play with all my crap?”

Nurse laughs. “Okay that’s not above me but…no, I really do have the paper. I just wanted to try out the text to speech but I’m not sure how it…”

There’s silence, then a slightly tinny, not-quite-computer-y but not quite natural voice that reads out, “…him with her legs spread wide. He runs his hands up, cupping her milky breasts, and his throbbing man meat looks ready to penetrate.”

“Oh fuck,” Derek says as Kent bursts into laughter. There’s a scrambling noise and, “How the fuck do you turn this off, shit oh my god…”

“…her head thrown back, arching into him as he pummels her like a knight thrusting a javelin at his target…”

“What in the actual fuck,” Kent asks, wiping at his eyes, “are you reading, holy fucking shit, Nurse! Are you trying to get me fired?”

The voice finally stills and the only thing that can be heard is Kent’s giggles and Derek’s heavy breathing.

“Are you reading fucking hetero porn on my computer?” Kent eventually demands.

There’s more silence, then Derek bursts into laughter. “I thought it would be funny. Fuck. Rans sent me this online novel, right? I didn’t realise it would be so loud, what the fuck, Parse?”

“I don’t even want to know what you two get up to,” Kent says, sitting back again. “Jesus Christ.”

Derek chuckles again. “I wish I’d been recording that. Shit.”

Kent’s phone chimes, and he digs it out of his pocket. The screen reads out, “Text Message from Alexei, heart emoji.”

“Nerd,” Derek says.

“Normally I’d wait to read this but since you’re all about the porno shit, why not. He usually sexts me this time of day.”

“No!” Derek tries, but Kent opens the message.

“Pick you up at eight. Don’t make plans, have big evening. Parenthesis parenthesis parenthesis parenthesis.”

“Parenthesis?” Derek asks.

“My stupid fucking phone won’t acknowledge his little Russian smileys. They don’t use eyes because they’re fucking weirdos. Beautiful fucking weirdos.”

Derek laughs. “Well I guess that was more mild than I expected.”

“If you’re really hard-up, I can tell you about the dicking I got last night but…”

“How the fuck do you still have a job!” Derek demands.

Kent laughs. “Anyway, if you hurry up, we can catch Bits with pie.”

There’s a scrambling sound, and another crash, then Kent is kicked in the shin. “Fuck. Let’s go. I’m starving.”

***

Kent steps off the kerb and into Alexei’s dumb Prius, which putters off into the street. Neither of them say much, but Alexei’s hand reaches for Kent’s, and they hold hands like a couple of idiots in love. Kent’s never been so fucking happy.

He also smells food, and he also recognises the route they’re taking from Bitty’s place, so he turns and frowns. “Are we going home? Did you seriously make me go to Bits’ place only to take me fucking home?”

“Is big date surprise,” Alexei says, and his voice is weirdly tight and tense like Kent has never heard before.

He pulls away slowly, and Alexei’s fingers don’t chase his. “Uh. Are you…fuck are you like breaking up with me? Because if you are, just do it here and let me go back to Bits’ where there’s ice cream and booze.”

“Kenny I…what…myshka I never…” Alexei fumbles. There’s a hard jerk to the left, and the car rolls to a stop several miles from their place, so Kent assumes he just pulled up to another kerb. “Never say that. I’m…I love you, myshka. My solnyshko.” His hands are on Kent’s face, drawing him into a kiss, making the fear feel like a bad dream. “Okay?”

“Okay,” Kent breathes against Alexei’s lips, curling his fingers round Alexei’s wrists. “Shit, I’m sorry. I just…you scared me. You’ve been acting so weird and I don’t…I don’t know what the fuck is going on.”

“Promise, I’m tell you everything when we getting home. Is all good…I’m…think so. I hope.”

That doesn’t exactly ease his worry, but Kent knows Alexei isn’t like…leaving now or whatever so he can calm the hell down. There’s still a slight tremble in his fingers as he grips his cane and follows Alexei up the stairs and into their place, but his nerves are starting to settle.

“Okay like…please don’t make me wait for whatever the fuck this is,” Kent says as he puts his cane on the hook by the door.

“Okay,” Alexei concedes. He kisses the corner of Kent’s mouth. “You go sit on sofa, I be right there.”

Kent wants to argue, but he figures doing that will only prolong whatever the fuck this is, so he trudges over and flops down and tries not to pout too much. He counts in his head, and a hundred and two seconds pass before Alexei is back in the room, settling next to him,

His knee pushes against Alexei’s, and when Kent touches it, he realises it’s bare.

“So I’m…finding article online. Tattoo artist, he is making tattoos you can hear.”

Kent freezes. “Uh. What?”

“Is…I’m not remembering much English word for it but…he making this tattoo. Then I’m put app on my phone, and it telling you message.”

Suddenly Alexei’s calf is on Kent’s leg, turned slightly. Kent put his palm over it, and the skin is warm, and soft, hairless from where it had been shaved for the tattoo. “Um. So…can I…where is it? Where…”

Kent falls silent when Alexei curls his hand over Kent’s, taking two of his fingers and tracing what feels like lines, different lengths, up Alexei’s calf. It doesn’t really make sense to Kent, he can’t really translate whatever the fuck it is visually, to touch, but he knows there’s more to it, so he waits.

He hears Alexei fumbling with his phone, probably on the app. There’s the beeping of him turning on his volume. Then there’s silence. Then there’s movement.

Then, out of the phone speaker, comes Alexei’s voice. “Solnyshko, I love you so much. Want to spend rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”

The silence after that is profound, almost physical. Kent can feel it in his bones. He’s got a death-grip on Alexei’s arm, and he’s shaking a little more, and confused and hopeful and terrified all at the same time.

“What?” he starts, but he hears thickness in his own voice, and feels a burning in his throat. He knows Alexei wants to marry him but this…

“Was on Roadie, we play Sharks,” Alexei explains in a small voice. “I’m finding tattoo shop, they put sound in tattoo. Hear it on app. I love you so much, Kent. Want to marry you, want to have moment forever. So I’m think…is…okay? Kent?”

Kent realises that he hasn’t answered, and it all kind of comes crashing down at once and he’s crying and laughing and trying to find Alexei’s stupid face so he can kiss him, which he does eventually, even if it’s a disaster and messy. “It’s okay. Fuck, I fucking…I love you so much you fucking asshole. God. Yeah. Yes, I’ll marry you, what the fuck. Who gets a proposal tattoo Jesus.”

And Alexei is laughing too, and kissing him back, and the phone clatters to the floor as Kent is pressed to the cushions and kissed and kissed and kissed.

“Oh,” Alexei says a minute later. He pulls back, then presses a small, square box into Kent’s hand before nuzzling Kent’s neck with his large nose. “I’m not forget big rock.”

Kent’s still half crying, and with shaking fingers as Alexei noses up and down the side of his neck, he opens it. He touches the ring inside. It’s thick-banded, square, a jewel in the middle. Weirdly perfect, and everything he imagined it would be.

“Put it on me, dickhead. You know that’s how these things work.”

Alexei laughs wetly and takes the ring. “How I’m knowing, Kent? Never propose before.” His fingers ar shaking too as he slips it onto Kent’s finger. A perfect fit. He kisses it, then the palm of Kent’s hand, then up his arm and along his neck, then finally ending with a slow kiss to his mouth.

They make out for what feels like hours, and Kent thinks maybe this situation calls for fucking, but he’s way too keyed up and Alexei doesn’t seem like he’s interested in anything but this. They eventually settle, curled up along the length of the sofa. Kent’s toes are running up Alexei’s smooth calf, and his brow is furrowed in thought.

“So that tattoo thing is pretty fucking cool like…I could get one and it would actually be something I can access.”

Alexei hums. “Mmhmm. Am thinking this.”

“Like Kit’s meow, or the way you groan when I suck your dick,” Kent says with a wide grin.

“You dirty,” Alexei says with a laugh. “But I’m think you get whatever you want.”

Kent closes his eyes, and nuzzles closer. “So. You really wanna marry me.” It’s not a question, but Alexei answers him anyway.

“I’m think I know this long time ago. When we sitting at table, and eating calamari for first time, and you throw glass across the restaurant.”

Kent smacks him. “Totally not my fucking fault, asshole.”

Alexei chuckles again. “I know. But thinking then, maybe I know…you forever. Mine forever,” he clarifies.

“Yeah,” Kent says, breathing the word like a sigh, curling into Alexei’s chest. A little time passes, and then he smiles. “I hope you realise we’re having the wedding of the century. Like…you better not retire for a long fucking time. Because it’s gonna be expensive.”

Alexei laughs, kisses his temple, then reaches for his hand to twist their fingers together. “I’m expect nothing else, myshka. Only best for you.”

“Exactly,” Kent says, then adds very quiet, “which is why I have you.”