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Tyler’s apartment is quiet when he unlocks the door, the sound loud. Freddy went up to Toronto just a week after his semester ended, too burned out from finals to hang around Boston any longer. His mom came down around the same time, like always, and took Marshall back to Brampton. He wishes now that he would’ve waited, maybe got a sitter.

He throws his coat at the foot of the closet. He’s a little bit tipsy – beer chased by vodka chased by ginger-ale – and he smells like something sharp and sweet. From that girl, probably, where the insides of her thin wrists brushed against his neck. He danced with her, nothing more than the loose press of their hips together. A few songs, maybe. It wasn’t anything serious.

He grabs a glass of water from the kitchen, too cold in his hand, and heads for the bathroom. The shower starts strong, the spray hot. He washes off those last traces of perfume and the tequila Dougie split across his chest, jostled. Sweat clinging underneath. The pressure hurts as it catches the muscle of his back, tight and painful.

He crawls into bed with still-wet hair, blankets filling in space.

-

Tyler’s dimly aware of two things when he wakes up: the brightness of the room and the arm slung protectively over his hip. He’s still disoriented enough that he doesn’t think much of it, moving up into sitting position slowly.

There’s a huge bank of windows to his left and these thin, gauzy curtains, ones that Candace tried to convince him to buy when he moved to Boston. The sun’s strong behind them, making the room just this side of too-hot. A TV across from the bed, wall-mounted. The desk below is cluttered with hockey magazines, an iPad, and empty G2 bottles. The closet is a walk-in one – suit-coats, a rack of ties and belts. There are dress shoes on the floor.

This is not Tyler’s apartment. He has no idea how he got here or who he’s sleeping beside, face hidden in the pillow. He’s been sitting up long enough to wake him, though.

“Tyler,” he says, voice muffled and rough with sleep. “You awake?” He looks up with half-lidded eyes, dark hair a mess.

Something cold pulses through him. Tyler knows his face, not in this context, but he recognizes him from somewhere. He apparently knows Tyler. The hand on his thigh is comfortable, moving down to the bend of his knee.

“Uh, yeah. I, uh.” He has no idea what to say. “Washroom?”

He nods tiredly, smile sleep-thinned. “Okay.” He pats Tyler’s knee and turns over.

Tyler climbs out of bed, legs shaky. He notices a phone on the bedside table, his hopefully, and grabs it. He picks his way across the floor to where he thinks the bathroom is and, when he finds it, fumbles to lock it. He leans back against the counter and flips on the phone – some kind of iPhone, but smaller and with cut corners instead of rounded ones. The lock-screen’s a picture of Marshall, but it’s not one he’s ever seen before – him sprawled out on a blue couch, nose peeking out from underneath a soft-looking blanket. It’s cute, but his chest feels tight and his mouth’s gone dry.

It’s wrong.

He unlocks it and Tyler almost drops it when he sees the home-screen. It’s him and the guy in bed. They’re both red-faced and sweaty, grinning. There are the faint traces of a week-old hickey hidden beneath the collar of his shirt, his long fingers curved over Tyler’s waist. The guy’s hat has the Stars logo on it, or some version of it, and that’s. That’s how Tyler knows him, Jamie Benn. Must know each other pretty fucking well if Tyler’s waking up beside him.

His fingers are numb as he opens Wikipedia, tapping out Jamie’s name. He ignores the texts and emails he probably won’t know how to answer. His picture and the basics are there. He catches his own name as he’s scrolling down.

He drops his phone, then.

Spouse(s): Tyler Seguin (2015 – present).

-

He learns a few things in quick succession after that: it’s January 2016, he plays for the Dallas Stars, and there’s a wedding band tattooed on his left ring finger. Because he’s been married to Jamie for just over six months.

He doesn’t realize how long he’s been in the washroom until there’s a knock at the door, Jamie asking, “Tyler? You okay? It’s been like, twenty minutes.”

He locks his phone, awkwardly keeping hold of it. Only in his underwear. “Uh, yeah. I’m fine. Just a sec.” He runs a nervous hand through his hair and takes a deep breath. He opens the door with only a little trepidation.

Jamie’s right there, boxers riding low on his hips. Stomach just this side of soft. There’s a small grin on his face. “You get distracted or something?” He reaches out and Tyler lets himself be pulled in close. It’s surreal, but still comforting to know that Jamie is solid and real. Not some figment of his imagination, a hallucination. He fits his arms around Tyler’s shoulders and gives him a quick kiss on the mouth. “You obviously weren’t brushing your teeth.”

Tyler ducks his head. He swallows against the sick feeling rising in his throat. “Uh, no. I wasn’t.” He mumbles it, nearly all of the words getting lost in the expanse of Jamie’s collarbone.

Jamie laughs, though, head tipping back. He leans in for another kiss, slower and more thorough than the first. Tyler makes a little noise against his lips. It feels normal, not a bit new. Everything, from the weight of Jamie’s arms to his chapped lips, is familiar. Tyler breathes in hard through his nose. Grips a little harder at Jamie’s arms.

Jamie’s the one to break the kiss. “C’mon, I’ll make you breakfast,” he says, fingers pressing into the hair visible above the waistband of Tyler’s boxers.

Tyler nods. “Sure.”

-

Marshall clicks across the hardwood towards him, his steps slow and lazy. He noses at Tyler’s hand and thigh blindly, taking in his scent. The couch behind him is blue and there’s an open nest of blankets, plaid-patterned, tucked up against the arm. He kneels down in front of Marshall, letting him nose at his cheek. His tongue is damp. It’s centering.

He scratches behind Marshall’s ears, asks, “You hungry?” in his puppy-voice. Fur still soft and glossy, chestnut-brown. He only remembers that he doesn’t know where his stuff is when Marshall barks. It’s a happy sound. He can’t ask Jamie, but Marshall’s bowls are right of the fridge, just like they are in his apartment. There’s a good chance, then, the food’s under the sink.

Jamie’s already got things on the counter – cottage cheese and spinach, carton of eggs pushed up against the stove – and he’s humming to himself. It’s a bit like déjà vu, the way Jamie stands there. Runs a light hand over the small of his back where the skin’s pale and exposed. Jamie pushes into it, the grin from earlier returning. It brightens up his face and Tyler relaxes, even more so when he finds the sink cabinets child-locked. He takes the bag over to where Marshall’s waiting. Lets his hand linger on Jamie’s waist on his way back.

It shouldn’t be so easy, fingers feel too warm.

Jamie makes a conflicted noise. “Omelettes are hard enough without you interrupting.” He takes Tyler’s wrist. “Go and grab the protein shakes out of the fridge.”

He makes a face. He usually gets away with not drinking them (Freddy’s, “I’m not your mom, bro. I’m not going to force ‘em on you,” final). The trainers let him do the whole orange-juice-and-protein-powder thing, rice at breakfast. Maybe they’ve gotten better in three years. Jamie looks sympathetic, if only a little mocking, so probably not.

And that’s. Jamie already knows. That’s probably why there’s vanilla but also something pink, berry-flavoured. Between Jamie at the cutting-board and Marshall down by his feet, Tyler feels a deep ache settle in the center of his chest, one that just having Freddy around usually helps with.

He watches the easy line of Jamie’s back and takes quiet, lung-filling breaths. The smell of breakfast around them.

-

Today’s a free day. They got in from a week-long road-trip yesterday morning and skated late afternoon, worked out after. Tyler can feel a tight pull between his shoulders when he reaches across the table, pepper just out of reach. There’s probably something else bruised farther down. Jamie’s watching when he winces. Not like he knew, anyways.

Jamie puts down his fork. The sound is clipped and sudden and his face’s gone serious. “Your back still giving you problems?” Tyler nods. “Hell of a hit from Demers.” And his eyes narrow as he says it. “You wanna take a shower, loosen up a bit?”

He’s mostly finished eating. “Yeah.”

Jamie tilts his head back as Tyler gets up from the table, dishes in hand. He kisses the apple of Jamie’s cheek, nose wrinkling up in a ridiculous way. He drops his dishes in the sink and picks up his phone. He looks down at it, distantly jealous of how happy they look. How it’s not actually him. He kissed Jamie on instinct, like he knew what should come next. It’s not his instinct, per say, he wants.

Tyler wants.

-

The tattoo cups the top-most part of his forearm and curls around his elbow. Outside of the ring, this is the only new one. It’s part of his right sleeve, a continuation like he’s been planning. The edges, the black faded with time. Not a lot, but enough.

It’s the distance between Boston and Dallas – a thin line between destination points, sloping downwards across state-lines and nondescript land, torn away at the edges. The unimportant parts missing. He’s not sure what it means exactly, but he’s always tried to ink the best parts of him, catalogue all the highs. The moving and marriage. Moving on.

Those are highs.

-

He leaves the bathroom, damp and in a towel. He didn’t have the foresight to tackle the closet, moving in a panic. Jamie is a little bit bigger than him and wears his clothes looser, if the pictures on his phone are anything to go by. All of these Jamie-only shots that he probably coerced him into letting him take, blush thick across the bridge of his nose. The game-day stuff is off to the side, out of the way of their everyday clothes. He pulls out a Stars t-shirt that looks small against the others; it’ soft gray with bright green. Tyler’s confused for a half-a-second before he remembers Jamie’s hat, his home-screen. He shrugs it on and reaches out for a pair of sweats – no idea where they keep underwear.

Jamie’s sprawled out on the couch, Marshall asleep in his lap and wuffling softly, when Tyler walks outs. The collar of his shirt’s wet when Tyler puts his hand to it – equal parts shower and sweat. Skin hot where it’s touching fabric. The TV’s on – Tyler has no idea what Jamie’s watching, but it’s a reality show with too-bright colours and everyday people – and Jamie seems pretty into it. Normally he would chirp him, the way his mouth’s hanging open especially, but he’s at a loss as to what he’d say. A new sweat breaks outs across the palms of his hands, the bottoms of his feet. Squeak on the floor.

Marshall’s head flicks up at the sound, Jamie still transfixed by the TV. It’s some kind of quiz-show, now that Tyler can really see the screen. Jamie adjusts the bend of his legs, jostling Marshall enough that he gets to his feet. He easily slots himself into the space made for him. His arm is heavy around Tyler’s shoulders. He leans into it.

He’s just starting to relax when Jamie says, “I thought you hated this show.” His fingers brush mindlessly over Tyler’s chest. “And you’ve been pretty quiet this morning. You sure you’re okay?”

Tyler shifts under his weight. “Yeah, ‘m fine. Late night, you know?” He tugs at the hem of his shirt, bunching up with the movement.

Jamie snorts. “Ten o’clock is a late night?” He sounds amused. “You really are a quiet country boy now, huh?”

Tyler should probably say something. He can still feel Boston, Bruins hockey, under his skin. Hopes he’ll wake up tomorrow, back in his own bed. Where he should be. But it’s so good it is to be with someone like this, how relaxed he is. He’s married. He fits in somewhere.

Jamie nudges him with his elbow. “Tyler, hey. Look at me.” He cups his chin. “Are you… was it that hit? Is it your head?” Worry lines around his mouth. “I swear…”

Tyler gently pulls out of his grasp. “Jamie, no. It’s not my head.” He puts the tips of his fingers to his ribs. “Just moving slow this morning.”

Jamie’s mouth is still turned down, unhappy, so Tyler leans in and kisses it away. Jamie’s unresponsive for a half-a-second before he’s stretching up and pushing Tyler back against the couch. He wasn’t angling for this exactly, but it’s better than Jamie looking upset.

“Fine, I believe you,” he says, in between kisses. And then he stops, twisted awkwardly at the waist. His eyes are blown black and he’s panting. “I love it when you wear my stuff.”

Tyler didn’t notice the fourteen on his chest before. He’s noticing it now.

-

They just make out. Jamie’s hair is thick and soft in his hands. He likes it when Tyler pulls, not too hard, his mouth opening up more and more. He’s a good kisser, demanding but not sloppy. When Tyler’s hands slip free of his hair, Jamie holds his wrists back against the arm of the couch. He’s never really been in to being held down, but it’s casual and easy. He tests Jamie’s grip, and he lets Tyler move as he likes, staying loose.

Tyler doesn’t know how long they stay like that, but his shoulders are stiff and his mouth feels thoroughly bruised. Jamie’s worse, though. His cheeks are pinked up high and his mouth is so, so red that Tyler has to reach up and trace over his bottom lip, swollen and hot to the touch. Jamie twists away from it, his collarbones strong-curved. He flushes more than anyone else he can remember being with. It makes him smile, fond.

“That help? You more awake?” The concern’s there but it’s coy, too. He sits back on his heels.

Tyler stretches out underneath him, back popping. It feels good. “I guess.” He scrubs his hand over the top of his thigh. Jamie follows the movement, mouth quirking up. Tyler does it again, hitching his hand up higher. Jamie reaches down to press the pad of his thumb to the crease of his thigh and pelvis, through his sweats.

“So, that’s it?” He reaches around the back of his neck and pulls off his shirt.

This time, he’s ready for the way Jamie fits with him – the slip of his knee against Tyler’s outer thigh, the cold press of his toes to his calf. He finds the little catches of Jamie’s ribs automatically, squeezing when Jamie sucks in a breath. They’re both half-hard when Jamie rolls his hips down. He hasn’t been sleeping around much, not with management’s obvious disapproval, the subtle way the guys box him into the booth when they go out. Already on edge.

He moans at the dry rasp of friction, quiet under Jamie’s heavy breaths. It tickles a little, too. The drag of Jamie’s teeth over the shell of his ear makes him giggle. He tenses up – lots of guys aren’t into that sort of back-and-forth, tends to make the tension go awkward – but Jamie goes even further and digs his thumbs hard into the cut of his hips. Tyler’s knees come up and he tries to twist out of Jamie’s hold. Jamie’s laugh is louder than his.

A long shiver goes down his back. He doesn’t ask Jamie to stop.

-

The day goes by slowly, but comfortably. Tyler showers again, getting pulled in alongside Jamie. He hasn’t had the opportunity to really look at him – nervous or pressed too close together. He’s toned, not cut; gives nicely under Tyler’s hands. He’s not even that much taller than him, but he’s bigger. More. Likes when Jamie curls around him to wash down his skin.

They take Marshall for a walk, watch more TV (Tyler still recognizing exactly none of it), and Jamie makes supper. He outfits Tyler with something called a julienne peeler and a few zucchini. He’s only a little shocked when he looks down, mostly through the first one, and there’s a neat pile of noodles left behind on the cutting-board. Distracted by watching Jamie bend over to find bowls and pans. Hands working on their accord.

He can taste the garlic from Jamie’s tomato sauce on the back of his tongue already. He doesn’t realize what’s wrong with that until he’s halfway through his first bowl. The sauce staining the corner of Jamie’s mouth.

-

There are five photographs hung up in the bedroom hallway, individual steel-brushed frames. Rich blacks and clean whites. It must have been pretty sunny that day, the trees doing nothing to filter the light out. They’re unmistakably wedding photos, even though there are none of the wedding party – just the two of them.

They’re not wearing suit-jackets. A hot July day in Victoria. There’s a small crest of sweat along the sunken hollow of Jamie’s neck where his shirt’s undone, in the first one. He’s got his arm around Tyler, pressed in close. It’s strange to see himself like that, hands tucked between his thighs, head bent down. His own shirt-sleeves are rolled up to his elbows and his suspenders are stark against the white of his shirt.

The next one’s like that, too. Neither of them are looking at the camera. He’s fixing Jamie’s hair, tucking loose strands behind his ear. His fingers distort his profile, can just see Jamie’s eyes over the top of his wrist. They’re attentive and warm. Tyler’s own smile is small. The third one’s a continuation – lips together in a soft kiss.

The fourth is giddy. Tyler’s back is to the grass, sweat thin, and he’s laughing. Jamie is, too, from where he’s got his knees braced on either side of Tyler’s waist. It looks like something’s gone wrong, a true candid, but Tyler can only guess. He’s reaching out for Jamie.

The last one is his favourite. Their backs are to the camera, but he’s leaning against Jamie. Marshall’s at his back and there’s a corsage fixed to his collar, white-on-white. They’re looking out over the water. It’s their family. The three of them. The kind Tyler would want, if he had one of his own.

-

Their schedule is up on the fridge. A slew of mid-morning practices and a two-week homestand. He hasn’t been nervous about playing NHL hockey since that first month, that first October. It’s not the same. He knows he’s centre on the top-line with Jamie and someone called Nichushkin. He’s not expected to screw up in the same ways.

He wakes with the alarm. It takes him long enough to get out of bed that Jamie throws his practice clothes at him. He grins at Tyler’s annoyed face and walks off to get dressed. His back is sleep-stiff when he sits up, stretching his arms out and across. He’ll probably need PT for it.

Someone’s going to have to show him where that is. Tyler swallows and pulls on his t-shirt with more surety than he feels. Sleep-languid movements disguising the shake of his fingers.

-

Jamie drives them to the rink, picking up his keys without question. Tyler tries to stay cheerful and say things that aren’t how is it so fucking hot already? and that Detroit-Chicago series was crazy. Keeps his hands firmly tucked under his thighs. There’s nothing to distract from conversation.

He nods along to Jamie’s one-sided dialogue about working on their PK and back-checking. Jamie seems content just to babble, talk about hockey, Stars hockey, in that soft voice. Tyler watches the unfamiliar streets of Dallas pass by, one after the other, and tries to imagine how he – this Tyler – made a life here, in a place that’s not Boston. How he did it with a teammate, someone like Jamie. Because Jamie’s nothing like what he usually goes for. He doesn’t seem like the type to spend nights out in clubs or do the whole shots-girls-sex-repeat thing.

He’s the type of person that Tyler sees other people with – the guys on his team with their wives and families. He likes going out, fucking around with the boys, and coming home to Marshall. Falls asleep because he’s hockey-tired, susceptible to its adrenaline crashes. The sleep’s fitful.

He blinks twice, hard press of his lids, and shakes his head. Jamie’s gone quiet, biting his lip. They’re stuck at a stoplight, a handful of cars in front of them. He drives with his hand on the gear-shift, even though the car’s clearly an automatic. Tyler’s own hands twisting in his lap. He’s only a little surprised when Jamie reaches out for his wrist. Hand dry in his own.

Normally, Tyler’d laugh at him, but Jamie just. He does it unconsciously.

-

He’s been to Dallas’s rink, but he’s never been to their rooms. He sticks close to Jamie, casually as he can, doing his best to memorize their route from door-to-door. It’s pretty easy once they get into the dressing-room – their stalls right beside each other and his stuff set out and waiting. All of his gear is branded the same, thank god; he hasn’t seen his sticks yet, but if he’s got Bauer skates, he’s got the sticks. Probably some new model he won’t recognize, but that’s how it works here.

The Seguin-Benn nameplate just the smallest of thrills.

Tyler is thrown off, however, when he’s pulling on his base layers and someone’s hand claps down on his shoulder, jovial. “Segs, man. How’s my favourite brother-in-law?”

He closes his eyes. He knows Jamie has a brother and a sister, but. Names that begin with ‘J’. He racks his brain quickly, straightening out the fit of his shirt as he does it. Jordie, it’s Jordie.

“Jordie, hey.” He puts as much enthusiasm into his voice as he can. Just like he’d greet Marchy or Bergy, even though Bergy’s always kind of amused by it, like he’s tolerating it. “I’m great. Good day off with the hubby, you know?”

Jordie makes a pained face. “Gross, man. That’s my brother,” he says, but it’s flippant. Like he’s used to it. The tightness around his lungs relaxes a little. “How’re you holding up?”

It takes a second for Tyler to figure out what he’s talking about, reaching for his garters. His back twinges, less hurt than before, and oh. Yeah. “It’s okay. Still out of whack, but it’s not bad.”

Jamie looks up at that, from where he’s clipping up his own socks. Jordie looks sympathetic. He turns Tyler towards himself, leaning in close. “You should’ve said something. You okay to skate?” His grip is tight on his wrist.

He nods his head. “Yeah, yeah. It just feels kind of achy. I’ll get it massaged out after.”

Jamie fixes him with a critical look. Hopes the twitch of his mouth doesn’t cause him to second-guess Tyler’s answer. He’s taken a couple of hits in his career. He knows when he’s can’t-actually-play hurt and this isn’t that. Jamie lets out a long sigh. “Okay, but I’m coming with you.”

“Sure, babe.”

Behind them, Jordie makes gagging noises.

-

When Tyler steps on the ice, it doesn’t matter that he’s not back in Boston with the Bruins. It’s good, the best he’s felt since he got to Dallas. His blades cut firmly into the ice, sharp and clean the way he likes, as he skates across centre ice and down the wing. Curving around the practice goal and out, rink-air cold in the back of his throat. He knows he’s smiling, that it’s ridiculous to be so excited about a morning skate. He feels less ridiculous when Jamie steps out onto the ice, momentary dip of his eyebrows, before his whole face lights up. Smile same as Tyler’s.

He knocks their shoulders together as he skates past. Jamie anticipates it, leaning in, and he’s solid behind the hit. He smirks at Tyler, cocky, and yeah. Jamie does look like the type. He’s a strong skater – good pace and good feet – and Tyler watches, transfixed, as he gets one of the freshly-iced pucks on his tape and clips it in. A clean shot.

He looks smug, confident in every line of his body. Tongue pulling across his bottom lip.

Practice is full of that same sort of sureness. Tyler’s not used to this kind of chemistry – bounced between lines, second to every other centre. Their play is strong across each set of drills and Tyler gets caught up on the other guys pretty quickly, where they are on the ice and how they work together. He sticks close to Jamie and Val, who communicates mostly with nods of the head and quick flicks of his mouth.

He comes off the ice feeling light and happy – the best he’s felt in days, Boston included. He likes that Jamie’s always there when he looks over, always within touching distance. He’s not alone. He’s not distracted like he can be in Boston, either. He has no idea what the stakes are here, but Dallas isn’t a hockey town, and there’s no unrealistic pressure from the media, from the fans. The do-or-die kind.

It’s different.

-

He’s pulling off his pads when he notices Val looking at him, mouth in an expectant twist. He’s a little uncomfortable, not sure what Val’s waiting for. “What’s up, man?”

Val wipes down his skate blades, shrugs. “You know where we eat?” He throws his towel into his stall, hangs up his skates. The blades glinting dully under the lights.

Tyler makes a face. He still hasn’t looked at his texts, the slow fill of his inbox, or the calls he lets go unanswered. “I thought it was your turn to pick?”

He shakes his head. “I pick last.”

“Uh…” He looks over at Jamie, but he’s talking to Brenden. He taps his thigh to get his attention, bare skin cool under his hand. Jamie looks at him, just over his shoulder. “Where do you want to go for lunch?”

Jamie raises his eyebrow. “With you and Nishky?”

Tyler snorts. “Yeah. Who else?”

Jamie’s eyebrows dip a little, face going blank and smooth. He rubs the pad of his thumb over Tyler’s knuckles. “Thought that was your guys’ thing, bud.” Sweat cooling on his palms. “And you promised me you’d do PT.” Tyler’s entire body goes tense, minute shake of his hands. He doesn’t look away from the torn collar of Jamie’s shirt. “Let Nishky know and we’ll all go out together.” He squeezes his fingers. “Just this once.”

Tyler nods.

-

He’s much stiffer than he thought. He actually groans when Mike starts working into the muscle between his shoulderblades, up into the back of his neck. Jamie makes concerned and amused sounds in turn, watching. Val laughs silently from behind his phone. He can feel himself blush when Mike works out another knot with deft fingers, a borderline moan, but he doesn’t actually care. Not used to this kind of muscle tightness, deep-seated soreness. He usually bounces back pretty quickly, not matter what the hit. He’s only just out of his teens.

But he’s not. This isn’t Boston. He’s twenty-four and married. The pain numbs it, just a little. The quiet laughter in the room. Not all that much time.

-

Tyler does end up choosing where they go, but only after holing up in the skate-room and UrbanSpooning restaurants close to the rink. Jeff carefully follows his instructions to sharpen the cut of his blades, even though the request was met with a raised eyebrow and his own sheepish silence. Whatever, he needed the space to think. Val did text him about lunch, amongst other things. Something about watching The November Room on Sunday night – TV or movie, Tyler doesn’t know. There are texts from Cassidy and Brownie.

He’ll deal with it later.

Jamie and Val are definitely ready to go, Val actually sighing when Tyler’s done. He decides on a sushi place just a few blocks over. It’s got four stars, so it has to be good. Jamie gives him a soft smile, says, “You’re spoiling me.” Hand trailing carefully over his shoulder.

Val groans. “No, you promise not do in front of me. Too cute.” There’s a bit of a smirk there, though. That’s weird to Tyler, but he’s not up to thinking too hard about it.

-

Lunch doesn’t go quite as badly as Tyler thought it was going to, but there are moments. Tyler forgets about their traditional shot of sake, surprises Jamie by having sea urchin roe (Marchy ordered it for him once after a couple of hits of vodka), and can’t talk about the girl he apparently set Val up with.

His face is hot by the end. Drinks his miso just a little too quickly. Jamie cups his hand over the back of his neck when he starts coughing, thumb smoothing over the top knot of his spine. Val looks concerned, but not in any way Tyler can pin down.

He splashes cold water over his face in the bathroom. Deep breathes. The check’s waiting when he gets back to the table.

-

Tyler’s caught off-guard when Jamie catches him around the waist, chest tight to his back. The fabric of his hat is rough against the skin of his neck as he leans down, kissing the slope of Tyler’s shoulder. He pushes into it, hand coming at to grab at Jamie’s hair; he knocks into the brim, instead. Falls away. Jamie laughs and reaches for his hand, tucking it into the hair at his nape. He’s solid behind him.

“You remember,” Jamie says, and his mouth is so close to his ear that Tyler shivers. His voice smooth. “You remember that night in Calgary, after your four-goal game?” Jamie’s hand trails down his flank, rough callouses catching on his shirt and the thin denim of his jeans.

He doesn’t remember. He doesn’t remember his own games in Calgary, trips through western Canada completely cut out with their shortened season. They blend in with the ones in Edmonton, in Winnipeg. He likes that he’s become that kind of player; it’s not much of a stretch with Jamie or Val.

Jamie’s hand skims above the waistband of his jeans. He flicks the button open, teasing. Tyler arches his back and he can feel how hard Jamie is against his ass. He groans low in his throat instead of responding, not wanting Jamie to stop what he’s doing. Not wanting to ruin the moment.

“Mmm, yeah.” He sounds so smug, sound brushing the ends of his hair. He pulls Tyler in tighter with one hand and brings the other up to his mouth. “Lick.” Salt on the flat of his tongue. “You were so good; assisting on my goal, getting your own.” His mouth is hot and wet behind Tyler’s ear. “And you let me fuck you in front of the bathroom mirror. Flushed everywhere.” He finally, finally wraps his long fingers around Tyler’s cock and he fucks up into it almost immediately. “Wanna see you like that again, pink all over. Distracting me at lunch.”

He lets Tyler set the pace for only a few brief moments before pulling away. Tyler whimpers at the loss. “Jamie, please. C’mon.”

Jamie’s laugh is light. Nothing mean in it, not like some of Tyler’s hookups. “Bed, Ty. Let’s go.” He slips out from behind him and takes him by the hand, still wet with his spit. It’s a little gross, but he’s too turned on to care.

He sits down on the edge of their bed and pulls Tyler down to straddle him. He has to wrap his arms around Jamie’s neck to keep his balance. Jamie pulls him down for a kiss, hand cupped under his chin. It’s sweet-hot, and Tyler’s having a hard time thinking beyond rightnowrighthere, even more so when Jamie gets his hand back into Tyler’s open jeans and starts working his cock. He keens, but it’s hard to move when he’s sprawled across Jamie’s lap.

He’s distantly aware that he’s not doing anything for Jamie, arms locking tighter around his neck, but Jamie doesn’t seem to mind. His forehead is pressed to Tyler’s chest, holding him securely around the waist as he thumbs at the cockhead. He curls over Jamie, noises muffled by his hair.

“Jamie, I… ‘m gonna come.” He starts to pull away, hands coming undone, but Jamie doesn’t let go.

“C’mon. Do it. Come for me.” Mouth warm above the pulse of his heart, through his shirt.

Tyler comes with a muffled shout, making Jamie’s grip slicker. He’s still trying to catch his breath when Jamie tips him out onto the bed and starts to strip down. When he’s down to his boxers, cock hard and straining, he crawls up over Tyler. The tips of Jamie’s fingers linger over the inside of his thighs, and he’s wearing a small smirk. Tyler’s own laughter is so sudden that he doesn’t actually realise what Jamie’s doing at first. He’s fucking tickling him, moving down towards the insides of his knees. Which is worse, way worse.

And Jamie knows that.

Tyler likes the sound of his glee-tipped laugh, how he kisses over his ribs, smile pressing shallowly into his skin. He still can’t quite catch his breath and Jamie gets lazier and lazier with it as he rubs off against Tyler’s hip. More occupied with tracing the after-sex flush that ends at his sternum.

Tyler doesn’t know what happened in Calgary, but he wishes that he did. What happened after.

-

He can’t keep his legs still once he’s geared up. Green-on-green completely unfamiliar. The room’s loud with music he doesn’t know, can’t get lost in. Everyone’s in a pretty good mood, now that they’re playing at home for the first time in a handful of weeks. Crowd trickling in during warm-ups. Their energy already infectious, for sure, but it’s not right. They’re cheering for the wrong person. A second-choice kinda-rookie who plays for Boston, in black and yellow.

He takes a deep breath, helmet knocking against the back of his stall. His hands are sweaty in his gloves. He feels like he’s bringing the mood down, even when they call for line-up. He’s not sure where Jamie goes, where he’s supposed to be himself, so he mixes into the middle of the line-up, letting Eaks clap him on the shoulder.

Tyler’s not actually looking when Jamie walks by. He taps him on the neck, glove caught in his right hand. He’s looking at Tyler with an overwhelming intensity, eyes gone dark, and he can see it coming before it happens. He doesn’t have to shift up on his toes with his skates on, which is nice, and Jamie’s mouth on his is sweet. Thumb pressing hard into the drop of his jawline.

“Good luck out there, yeah?”

Tyler nods. Cool taste in his mouth. “You, too.”

-

Jamie scores their third shift out. The game’s pace is quick and clean, the best circumstances to play under, and Tyler feels confident now that he’s got some minutes in. Their line works just as well as it did in practice. Tyler’s reading Jamie and Val’s positions on the ice without much issue and his passes are connecting with ease. The Avs aren’t any more physical than they usually are, either. Their back-checking definitely needs work, Jamie’s right, and their defence get the better of him more than once.

But Jamie’s goal is beautiful and it completely changes the atmosphere of the arena. Val gets the assist off Tyler’s pass from just behind the blueline, Jamie on the right side of the defenseman. He goes high and the puck hits the back of the net, nice and solid. It feels good, just like any other goal from his team. Jamie’s already skated off by the time he gets there, but he’s looking over Val’s shoulder for him. He wants Tyler there, too. He knows that on instinct.

Val pulls back, enough that Tyler can push himself up against Jamie in an awkward half-hug. Crowd absolutely wild around them. Jamie fits a hand around the back of his helmet and presses their foreheads together. They don’t do more than share breath.

He feels needed. Doesn’t want to stop feeling like that.

-

They win that night, three goals to Colorado’s one, and Tyler has no problems with the team’s plans to go out. He hasn’t had a good night out in awhile. Even before the playoffs, it was usually just him and Marchy hitting up college bars and doing shots with whoever came up to their table. And that last night, that was like being babysat. He’s got Jamie, though, and no one expects him to set the pace. Do stupid shit.

Tyler can’t stop smiling.

They catch a ride with Jordie and Brenden, holing up in the backseat. Jamie’s in a really good mood, relaxed all over. He leans back in his seat and doesn’t let Tyler settle, just pulls him right into his side. He’s giggling as he leans in for a kiss, chaste for just a moment. Tyler wants more than that, though. He pushes Jamie back against the door and levers himself up. He worries at Jamie’s bottom lip before biting down. Likes the noise he makes.

Jordie’s voice is loud over Brenden, the music. “Not cool, guys. Save that shit for the bar.” He can feel Jamie’s chest shaking under his hand, but neither of them stop. Jordie makes an annoyed noise, even louder. “Seriously, I will pull over and disown you as my brother.”

Tyler feels pretty comfortable flipping him off.

-

Jamie’s the one to put in their drinks order. He comes back with two beers, a brand Tyler doesn’t recognize, and he spends the whole night forgetting about them. Secondary to the way he’s tucked up with Jamie, talking to Val about his girl. The conversation flows easily (Tyler actually read through his texts to both Val and Arianne, so he’s not totally out of the loop anymore). Jamie stops paying attention halfway through him and Val brainstorming date ideas – a definitive no to caviar-tasting. He nuzzles into Tyler’s neck, not asking anything from Tyler other than just being there.

He ignores the round of shots that Alex brings to their table. No one offers, either. They get home just after midnight.

-

The bed’s cold when Tyler wakes up. He throws his hand out, feeling around for Jamie. Sometimes he sleeps right on the edge of the mattress. It’s just the slide of sheets beneath his hand. He groans into his pillow, damp under his open mouth. “Jamie,” he says, hoping he might just be in the closet, the bathroom. Doesn’t want to drag himself all the way out into the kitchen. “Jamie.”

He gets no answer back.

The room’s dark. His head feels fuzzy, a not-quite hangover right behind his eyes. Stale taste of beer. He climbs out of bed and throws open the curtains. He doesn’t see Dallas.

-

The jersey’s familiar when the PR woman gives it to him. The woman, Jen, gives him a small smile as Tyler unfolds it. Bright, bright green. “You and Shawn’ll be the first guys to wear them. Well, after Jamie.” A beat. “Congratulations, by the way.” Her smile is genuine.

Tyler nods. The familiar stitching of the number under his hand. The ‘Seguin’ isn’t as familiar – it’s missing the hyphenated ‘Benn’ that he had the first time, stretched so wide across the set of his shoulders. It’s substantial, a promise.

He still has the first text and more besides. He likes to look at them whenever the nervousness or the doubt, the anger, feels like too much. He knew, hoped in a distant way, that it might happen. But it’s still a shock, to not be wanted.

welcome to the stars man. looking forward to getting to know you.

its jamie btw.