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Before any of them had music they had hockey. Well, sort of.

Hockey was something they did on weekends when they didn't have enough money for movies and couldn't take another round of Mario Kart without killing each other. Duncs and Pat had known each other since grade school and Jonny was the new foreign (being Canadian totally counts as being foreign it's like a whole other world up there) student and Seabs just showed up one day attached to Duncs’ hip and never really left.

They all played in some made up league two seniors had put together when they were tired of playing no contact pick-up games, and were miraculously somehow all on the same team. They were fucking stellar, too. To say they dominated that league was probably putting it mildly, which was probably why the hockey gods got mad when they realized a bunch of kids who couldn’t care less were playing like legends and stepped in, causing them to start dropping like flies once the second season rolled around.

It happened like this:

1. In October, Pat landed on his wrist awkwardly and broke it, and then had some idiot take a swing at it with his stick because the puck was next to his hand, and the way the bone was sticking out of his skin made Pat dry heave as Jonny called his mom and Duncs and Seabs carried him off the ice. He'd had to go into surgery and by that point it was pretty obvious to Pat that his stick handling days were over.

2. In November, Duncs took a puck to the face and lost six teeth on the ice, spitting the seventh out a few minutes later before passing it over to Seabs. His mom cried for, like, three hours and made Duncs promise to quit before he lost the rest.

3. In November, Seabs got a concussion after being awkwardly slammed into the boards by an overenthusiastic winger. After his mom got into a screaming match with that winger’s mom she pulled Seabs out of the league for good.

4. In December, two D-men checked Jonny into the boards so hard he fractured his rib and was set to be out for the rest of the season.

5. In January, they all spent a lot of time trying not to talk about hockey and in turn started talking about the only other thing they all had relative knowledge of: music (in hindsight Kaner's pretty fucking happy Duncs' Xbox had the ring of death or else they'd all probably be, like, gamer nerds and Kaner has a hard enough time getting laid as it is without adding that to the list of what he brings to the table).

And suddenly they all had a shitload of free time to spend arguing about stupid shit which maybe did make Pat a little happier than he let on. Jonny and Pat liked arguing with each other for the sake of arguing, it was just something they did. Pat was a talker and silence freaked Jonny out; it only made sense that they’d occasionally annoy the crap out of each other.

It was about two months after music entered the picture that Jonny started to wax poetic about how great the fucking Canadian music scene was which obviously meant  Pat had to go to bat for the American scene (unsurprisingly, Patrick could write a novel about the fights he and Jonny have had concerning national pride).

And since they really didn’t have any fucking knowledge about any music scenes (aside from The Sex Pistols, but everyone’s heard of The Sex Pistols) Pat took it upon himself to do some research.

He started with his parents since they were old and definitely around during the 70s and could probably make Pat's life a whole lot less boring by saving him from trawling through Wikipedia articles. His dad was still a little sour about Pat giving hockey up so easily so he wasn't much help, but his mom just lit up when Pat started asking her questions.

She dug out an old crate full of dusty records that had been living in the attic for the past decade and had him bring out the record player he never knew they had. 

Pat listened to those records until he knew them all by heart, wouldn’t shut up about them whenever Jonny tried showing him some shitty country band. Jonny used to get so bent out of shape over it, until Pat gave him some fucking Nirvana and watched him fall in love.

Everything changed after that.

Records were bought, cleaned, worshipped. Noses were broken in pits; shirts and CDs and picks were signed. He bought a bass, strings were broken, fingers cut and calloused, throats screamed raw. Pat's entire life boiled down to music. Music music music. There was nothing else that mattered; he couldn't change that if he tried.

Pat didn't start taking singing seriously until he got his bass and started spending an embarrassing amount of time writing shitty joke songs about his gym teacher (who practically got a fucking hard-on every time they played hockey just because Pat could still stickhandle better with a fucked up wrist than half the school could with two fully functional ones) and girls he had crushes on who'd spend half their time asking to touch his hair and the other half laughing at it. 

But it was okay, because Pat was gonna make it. No, really, he was… He just had to start an actual band first.

That part was slightly more complicated than everything else.

By the time Pat figured out what exactly he wanted to do with his band revelation Duncs had already joined a metal band, Jonny had joined some hardcore garage band (they played a lot of Minor Threat covers and not much else), and Seabs was more interested in what was going on behind the scenes than he was in learning an instrument. So, Pat waited.

And waited. And waited.

Until Jonny realized his band was going nowhere and Duncs realized his band mates were creepy as shit (okay he never actually realized that, but they did kind of suck) and Seabs helped Pat record some of the stuff he wrote so he could show the guys that he was actually fucking serious about the whole thing.

"Okay," Jonny said, clapping his hands together like he meant business. "We should probably go over band rules."

"Band rules?" Pat scoffed. "First rule: no rules.”

Jonny gave him a you’re-embarrassing-yourself-and-everyone-else-on-planet-earth-again look before moving on, “If we want this to work out we’re going to have to work hard; we can’t just wait for success to fall in our laps.” They talked about the band (or, Jonny talked and Duncan and Pat occasionally interrupted him when necessary) and what they all hoped to achieve until Pat thought he’d explode. Finally, when Patrick was starting to zone out, Jonny let them call it quits for the day, satisfied with their talk.

Pat had begun making plans with Duncs to go see a movie, maybe get something to eat with he and Seabs later when Jonny stopped him. “One last thing,” Jonny said, voice firm. “I’m not joining until we change the name.”

 

*

 

There are three things you need to know about Patrick Kane:

1. He’s a college drop out.

2. He’s in love with his best friend.

3. He plays bass like a fucking god.

Also, let it be known that Patrick could've come up with a much better name than The Blackhawks. I mean, The Blackhawks, really? What the fuck even is a Blackhawk? Pat could dream up better band names than that (Grower Not a Shower was truly a name for legends fuck what Jonny says), but, whatever, part of the get-Jonny-in-the-band-for-life deal mandated that Jonny got final choice on the name so Pat's just gonna have to deal.

"Our logo could've been a dick - a dick! How is that not the best fucking thing you've ever heard?" Patrick holds up a piece of paper with a bunch of different dicks drawn on it (he's supposed to be re-stringing his bass, but Jonny's late so he's not there to yell at Pat and make him practice the same bassline over and over again like a fucking drill sergeant) for Duncs to see.

Duncs looks pained. “Sometimes I have to remind myself that you really did trip in front of everyone at our graduation-”

Patrick reddens, hands almost tearing the piece of paper in half as he winces. “You swore to never bring that up!”

“How else will I convince myself that you actually graduated from high school? You still have the humor of a fucking sixteen year old.”

“Yeah, well, sixteen year old you thought I was fucking hilarious.” Patrick reminds him, jutting his chin out proudly.

“Sixteen year old me also thought Jonny Toews was a model citizen. Clearly, I was not the best judge of character.”

“You act like you’re Mr. Mature,” Kaner rolls his eyes. “Last week you dipped my hand in water to try to make me piss the couch when I slept over.”

“You can’t prove that.” He actually could if he wanted to, but pitting Seabs against Duncs wouldn’t end well for any of them.

Kaner hums, unconcerned. “You should come up with something better next time.”

Duncs nods, expression serious. “Is your hair off limits?”

“Just don’t give me a buzz cut.”

“Deal,” Duncs nods, looking like he just won the fucking lottery.

Jonny comes in then, still in his suit from work with his guitar slung behind his back, his shoulders all stiff.

Pat would tell him to fucking quit already – has many times already – but, the last time he did Jonny got really mad and lectured him about responsibility for, like, two hours and only stopped because it was getting late and he had to get up for work in the morning (he totally could’ve gone on longer though, because Jonny’s got a massive boner for lecturing Kaner about stupid shit). Jonny takes a deep breath and Pat can almost physically see him counting to ten in his head. He exhales slowly, “Sorry I’m late.”

Kaner waves his hand dismissively, “Who cares? Go get a beer or something, relax.”

Jonny gives him a disapproving look, all stern and shit like he’s fucking channeling Patrick’s mom. “I can’t get drunk with you; I’ve got work tomorrow.” Pat watches him put his guitar down, loosening his tie as he eyes Patrick suspiciously. “Please tell me you’re not drawing dicks again.”

Patrick holds up the paper he’s been working on, his face blank as he says, “I’m not drawing dicks again.”

Jonny lectures him for a few minutes on how he should be spending his time while at practice as he ditches his jacket and loosens his tie, dragging his amp out from the closet. Patrick listens with one ear, chiming in whenever Jonny asks him a rhetorical question just to see the way his face turns red.

When he’s finally done getting himself ready the lecture tempers off into silence, and Patrick watches the tension seep out of Jonny in waves as he strums his guitar a few times.

He takes another moment to roll his sleeves up, and when he glances at Pat he gives him the same small, happy fucking smile he gave him (right before laying down the law) when Pat asked him to be in his band – their band – it knocks something in his chest loose.

“Okay,” he says. “Let’s get started.”

 

*

 

They play a show at some shitty dive bar downtown about a week later even though Jonny hates putting on shows at bars, but it's the only place that agreed to be all-ages on a Friday night so Jonny's opinion is invalid at this point. To be honest, Pat kind of hates it too, but more for the fact that he gets carded every single fucking time he goes up to buy a beer than the fact that it's kind of a hick bar and everyone glares at them as they set up (even though they look like every other guy in the bar, blending in with Jonny’s flannel shirt and Pat’s ugly trucker hat).

Seabs is pretty happy though, singing along to the crappy country music they have on as he lugs in another two crates of merchandise.

"Really," Pat says, lifting the strap on his bass over his head. "That's your boy, Duncs. Really?"

"Fuck off," Duncs growls, but he has the decency to look at least a little embarrassed that he's carrying a torch for someone who knows all the words to a song about - Pat stops to listen - truck stop blues.

"Tell me, does he have a locket with your tooth in it?"

Duncs makes a face at him, baring what remaining teeth he has left. Duncs is extremely weird when it comes to his teeth in the way that he spent a bunch of money on quality fakes, but only wears them on special occasions like holidays and weddings. Seabs is the complete opposite though, only taking his out when he's drunk around strangers and finds their reactions to be fucking hilarious.

Pat's used to it, though. He supposes all hockey players (even hockey players that no longer call themselves hockey players) are used to shit like that. Plus, Pat was watching from the stands when Duncs lost his teeth, it wasn’t too gruesome. Duncs was kind of fucked up at the time due to the whole puck-knocking-out-his-teeth thing, but Seabs was even weirder, the expression on his face both mad as shit that it had even happened, but also honored that Duncs was trusting him to keep his teeth safe. It was pretty intense.

Kaner's pretty sure that was thanks to the weird serial killer obsessed part of Duncs, though, because normal people don't give their teeth as gifts. He doesn't even think serial killers give their teeth as gifts; don't they usually take the teeth of their victims? What would Seabs even want with Duncs’ teeth though? "God, where does he keep them?"

"Really, Kaner, just because Jonny wouldn't keep your teeth for you doesn't mean you have to be jealous." Duncs smiles, winking when Kaner rolls his eyes.

"Jonny wouldn't keep my teeth ‘cause he's not gross," Kaner says.

"Yeah? You keep telling yourself that, eh?"

Kaner groans, but leaves Duncs alone for the rest of the sound check. Jonny materializes just in time to fuck around a little on his guitar and check out the mic he never uses. Kaner's mic freaks out pretty much immediately and it takes a little over fifteen minutes for the bar's sound guys to figure it out; he gets bored of repeating check over and over again though and starts rapping some Kanye to keep himself entertained and Jonny in pain.

"I don't know what I saw in you, Kaner." Jonny says, peering up at Patrick from where he's perched on the stage floor by Pat's feet with his guitar in his lap.

"A wicked wrister," Kaner answers.

Jonny snorts, "Right."

"I was also the only one dumb enough to try being friends with you," Kaner continues thoughtfully. Before Pat surgically sewed himself to Jonny’s hip in high school, Jonny was kind of a major loner. To be fair, Jonny was kind of intense, and that’s generally not a quality most people look for in a friend (especially not in the ninth grade). But, Pat wasn’t most people, and Jonny kind of fascinated him (to be honest, people generally didn’t look to be friends with Kaner either so when Jonny showed up Patrick figured he’d give it a shot before someone could get to Jonny and tell him about the time Patrick threw up on Amy Falner’s shoes in the seventh grade).Here's a tip on how not to be seen as a disgusting loser in high school: don't go to school when you're sick with the flu because you'll puke on Amy Falner’s shoes  during gym class and no one will ever, ever forget it.

“There is that,” Jonny agrees easily, like it really was that simple.

And then there was the whole thing where Jonny just sort of staked his claim on Kaner when he realized Pat wasn't as big of a douchebag as everyone said he was. Jonny's kind of weirdly possessive; Pat tries not to think about it too often if he's being honest, because it makes his stomach do weird things.

Eventually, they finish the sound check and hang around the bar for a while until the kids who came to see them start showing up and Pat has to drag Jonny backstage before he starts freaking out about so many strangers knowing who he is.  It's still another hour and a half before they go on, though, because they've finally graduated from being an opener. Pat does some embarrassingly helpful vocal warm ups while the opening band plays a really shitty cover of a song Pat's pretty sure he loved when he was, like, fourteen.

Jonny's doing some weird stretches in the corner while Duncs taps his sticks on his legs in a quick rhythm and watches him with thinly veiled amusement; Pat would make fun of Jonny, but then he'd probably be all sulky on stage which would freak Pat out a lot so he stays silent.

Seabs comes back a few minutes after the opener packs up their gear, grinning excitedly at Duncs while they do their weird handshake and then slapping Jonny on the back extra hard just to fuck with him (Pat holds back a laugh when he sees Jonny’s eyes tearing up) before heading back out to their merch table. They file out onto the stage with Jonny leading the way and it's - it's fucking amazing. Everyone starts cheering as soon as they see Jonny and it makes Pat's face hurt from how hard he's grinning; when he reaches the mic stand he takes a second to just check everyone the fuck out because there are definitely more people here than there've been at any of their other shows. The lights are still shining on the front row giving Patrick a good look at the kids pressed up against the stage wearing their shirts; it’s unreal.

"Chicagoooo!” Pat strums his bass a few times while the crowd shouts back. "We're The Blackhawks and we're about to melt your fucking faces off with our awesomeness."

Duncs counts them in and they’re fucking on point. Jonny's throwing himself around like he always does, colliding into Pat every now and then with a huge smile on his face (Pat’s pretty sure this is the only time Jonny just lets himself go for once), and when Pat takes a quick breather during a song the crowd sings his words back at him and it's so fucking golden.

They play seven songs (more than they've ever played at a show before) and when Pat says their goodbyes the kids keep screaming for more and Pat would totally give them more - he could go on for another two hours if they'd let him - but there actually is another band after them and Pat would feel pretty shitty if he stole some of their minutes.

After, they all head back to Jonny and Kaner's place, stuffing their faces with anything they can find (a lot of sugary cereal, vegetables, and some bread that Jonny manages to turn into grilled cheese sandwiches) while gushing about the show.

They migrate to the front porch after a while, because even though it’s creeping closer to fall it’s still pretty muggy out and they all wanna soak up as much heat as possible before it’s gone, and Pat's been itching for a smoke since before they went on. He digs his pack out, sticking one in the corner of his mouth while he pats his pockets in search of his lighter. He hears Jonny clear his throat next to him and when Pat turns to him Jonny's offering him a light. Pat leans into the flame, "Thanks, man."

"You're getting fucking big," Seabs says a few minutes later, elbowing Duncs when he tugs his hat down to hide his face. "Seriously, pretty soon you'll be too big for that place."

"You think so?" Jonny asks, glancing at Kaner when he does and even though he's disgustingly sweaty he still looks so fucking good especially now that he's finally wearing something other than a suit for once and Pat can't see how Jonny wouldn't be too big for anything in this fucking town.

"Yeah," Kaner laughs softly. "We're in the fucking big leagues now."

"Damn right," Seabs high fives him before slinging an arm around Duncs’ shoulders.

It’s not until later, when he's brushing his teeth and making stupid faces at himself in the mirror, that he starts thinking about how many people were actually paying attention to them tonight instead of impatiently staring at their phones and counting down the minutes until they got off the stage. He starts thinking about all those people looking up at him with adoration and how they'd memorized his fucking lyrics. There are actual people out there that can recite Patrick's lyrics that aren't Patrick or Jonny.

He lasts about a minute before his thoughts start spiraling. He finishes brushing his teeth on autopilot, bracing his hands on the counter when he's done. A few minutes later Jonny knocks on the door, "Lock yourself in again?"

Pat ignores him because really, that was once and it's about time everyone forgot about it already. It's not his fault the door sticks and Pat couldn't get a good grip because his hands were slicked up with some pink lotion Erica gave him that smelled really fucking good.

Jonny doesn't go away though. "Pat?"

"What?" Patrick snaps.

Jonny hesitates, "Are you okay?"

"Are you okay?" Patrick mocks, exaggerating Jonny's accent.

"Right," Jonny sighs. "I'm coming in." Before Patrick can even tell him to fuck off Jonny's jiggling the doorknob to the right, forcing the flimsy lock to give up (they really do need to get that fixed), and strolling right in as if Patrick invited him inside. "What are you doing?"

"What are you doing?" Patrick crosses his arms. "Because to me it looks like you broke into the fucking bathroom like a total perv.”

"Trust me, Kaner.” Jonny says, mirroring Kaner. “The only perv here is you. Now fuck off, I need to piss and you've been hogging the bathroom for ten minutes."

Patrick gestures at the toilet, "So piss! We've showered together I think I can handle you peeing in the corner."

"We didn't shower together," Jonny rolls his eyes so hard Patrick’s tempted to ask if it hurts. "It was a communal shower at the gym you freak."

Patrick hums and says, "Details."

"Go the fuck to bed already, Christ. You've got work at six tomorrow."

"Fuck," Pat groans, hands rubbing his face wearily. "Trade places with me." Not that Patrick would have even the slightest clue of what to do in an office, but Jonny doesn’t have to wake up until, like, seven thirty for that so as far as Patrick’s concerned he’s got the better deal.

"Not on your life.” Jonny starts fidgeting with the drawstring on his sweatpants meaningfully then so Pat takes it as his cue to get lost. He makes one last face at Jonny's back before leaving the bathroom, flicking the lights off and snickering at Jonny's sounds of outrage as he goes.

 

*

 

On Sunday, Patrick wakes up just before noon, hands still curled around the Xbox controller, with his shirt stuck up around his armpits and Tazer sprawled out on top of him.The TV shut off during the night; when Patrick glances over at it to see who had the highest score before they both passed out it's blank. Fuck, he thinks, so much for that. Now, if Jonny doesn’t remember who won Pat’s gonna get steamrolled into playing another seven round NHL 13 tournament, laughing his ass off as Jonny chirps him, putting his all into it like it’s the Cup Finals and Pat’s his rival.

Pat lays there for another minute, trying to convince himself that the way Jonny's drooling on his chest is just gross and not endearing at all. To say he’s failing miserably would be an understatement.

Eventually, he reaches down, carding his fingers through Jonny's hair lightly, muttering his name until Jonny finally cracks an eye open. He takes one look at Kaner, groans, and shuts his eye again, "Not yet."

"Not yet?"

Jonny grunts.

"Okay," Kaner hesitates. It’s not that Kaner’s afraid of morning Jonny per say, it’s more so that once operating at full capacity Jonny likes seeking revenge on the people who woke him.

Jonny once put pink fucking hair dye in Kaner’s shampoo bottle because Kaner woke him up a half hour before his alarm was set to go off on accident (looking back, Kaner might be willing to admit that holding an Xbox tournament with Duncs and Seabs at midnight and begging them to stay on past six, celebrating his wins by spazzing out around fragile lamps and nightstands, was not his best idea). "We can stay here for a little longer, I guess."

Jonny's quiet then so Kaner figures he's dead to the world again until he starts making irritated noises.

"What?" Kaner asks, exasperated. "Seriously, use your words."

Jonny hums.

"What?" Kaner breathes. "What is it boy? Is Jimmy stuck in a well?"

Kaner tenses up, waiting for a punch to the gut or a knee to the groin, relaxing only when he realizes Jonny’s too tired to do anything that isn't breathing unbelievably loudly and lying very, very still. Jonny finally mumbles, "Hair."

"Hair?" Kaner eyes him. "Oh, hair." Patrick dutifully goes back to stroking Jonny's hair, smiling a little as Jonny grumbles happily, finally falling back asleep a few minutes later.

He's woken up two hours later by Jonny trying to somehow get up without waking Kaner up; there are a lot of frustrated noises involved and not a lot of progress being made. Kaner decides to take pity on him, "Tazer."

Jonny freezes, "Kaner?"

"I'm awake now," Patrick points out.

It takes Jonny a second but then he says, "Oh." And scrambles off as gracefully as possible (which is to say not very gracefully at all). Jonny stretches once he’s up, shirt riding up a bit in the front, and Kaner closes his eyes again. He listens as Jonny shuffles to the kitchen, dragging his feet the entire way, calling out “We don’t have any eggs, do we?” a few seconds later.

"We haven’t had eggs since the Great Depression,” Kaner moans, perking up. “Does this mean we can go grocery shopping?"

"Yeah," Jonny sighs, coming back into the living room looking determined. "We can go grocery shopping. You need to change first."

Kaner fist pumps because he knows obnoxious shit like that makes Jonny have to count to ten in his head in order to keep himself from punching Kaner in the face. "Uh uh,” Kaner says, shaking his head. “I'm good just like this."

"You spilled beer all over yourself last night; you smell like a bar." Jonny protests, gesturing at Kaner spastically. “And you’ve got fucking barbecue sauce all over your pants.”

Kaner looks down at his pants. Huh, how’d that happen? "What's your point?"

Jonny glares at him, “You’re a disgusting human being, you know that?"

He goes back to looking like he’s about to enter battle then so Pat takes it as his cue to get his ass up and find the car keys. Grocery shopping is one of Patrick’s favorite fucking things to do with Jonny because it almost always ends in disaster, like, nine times out of ten Jonny ends up having to apologize to someone for their behavior and Patrick has to apologize to Jonny for making him have to apologize in general.

This time goes marginally better than every other time in the way that Jonny doesn’t shove Pat into any precariously balanced glass jars (that make a shit ton of noise when they shatter), and Pat doesn’t challenge Jonny to a shopping cart race that ends in a hundred dollars worth of damage, their pictures being taken and put on some sort of Wall of Shame thing, and Jonny refusing to talk to Patrick for the rest of the day (because Pat totally won by a good three seconds and Jonny’s still the sorest loser he’s ever met).

Jonny actually lets them get good shit this time, too. Pat dumps Pop-Tarts, eggs, milk, Bisquick, chicken fingers, fries, and two cartons worth of cherries (Jonny’s been craving cherries lately, Kaner doesn’t really know what that’s about, but they stain Jonny’s lips red whenever he eats them so Pat’s totally okay with buying however many boxes of them Jonny wants) into their wagon, practically buzzing with happiness every time Jonny nods in approval at his choices.

Jonny makes pancakes when they get home since Pat “behaved himself” at the store, they lounge on the couch with their plates in their laps as the Sabres lose miserably to the Red Wings in the background, taking advantage of the only time they don’t have work or band practice to get to.

They don’t really do anything all that interesting for the rest of the day. They watch all the hockey they can find, flicking between channels during intermissions, only switching over to cheesy action movies when football starts coming on.

Eventually, Jonny gets sick of watching Bruce Willis and Stallone and whatever other action heroes have come on in the last few hours run around shirtless and bloody, and drags out his guitar and amp, plugging his headphones in so Patrick can still hear the TV if he wants to.

Patrick sits there quietly for a few minutes, twisting his hands in his lap, ears straining to hear the slightly off twang of Jonny’s guitar over the surprisingly loud credit music blaring from the TV.

He doesn't recognize what Jonny's playing, doesn't even know if it's something he wrote or not, but what he can hear sounds soft and tinkling and kind of makes Patrick want to lie on the floor for a while with a cigarette in his mouth.

Jonny doesn’t even notice Patrick watching him, just keeps his eyes on his guitar, his mouth quirked up into a tiny smile.

Jonny could stay like that for hours, could play until his fingers bleed, and it’s kind of intense to watch. Whenever Patrick watches Jonny mess around like this he gets this feeling like he’s interrupting something, or like he’s witnessing something private. It really fucks with his head.

Patrick lets himself intrude for a little bit longer before finally going and finding the book his sister mailed to him. He stretches out on the couch with it, mentally bracing himself for the level of corniness all young adult novels achieve these days (or at least the ones his sisters send him). This one’s got a blurry picture of a girl walking through a graveyard as the cover picture so it’ll probably be even worse than he imagined.

He’s still gonna read the whole thing, though. When he finishes he’ll Skype with his sisters and let them talk at him about it like they’re his own personal book club.

Could be a lot worse, though.

They could want to talk to him about nature shows like Jonny does.

Although Jonny always tells him the interesting shit like how big shark teeth are and how powerful giraffes’ legs are. It’s kind of cool.

When Pat can’t take any more of his book and Jonny’s worked out maybe half a song they migrate to the kitchen, turning the radio on as Patrick makes them chicken fingers. Jonny’s tapping his fingers along to the music, asking Patrick if he wants to do anything after Jonny comes home from work tomorrow. Jonny thinks they should go see a movie, but he’s not willing to see anything animated, no matter how much Kaner begs him.

The whole thing’s just – nice. Living with Jonny is easy in a way that Patrick never really even thought about.

It hits Patrick just how fucking domestic he and Jonny are then, after he’s made them dinner and Jonny’s set the table. It’s probably a bad sign that he doesn’t immediately start running for the hills (or a bar, whichever’s closest). Whatever, he’ll worry about it some other time, preferably when Jonny isn’t across the table from him laughing loud and unabashed at some stupid joke Pat made with his mouth full of food and his eyes all crinkled up. And even though Jonny looks like a total dork, Patrick still feels a burst of pride at having made him laugh like that.

God, he is so fucked up over Jonny it’s ridiculous.

 

*

 

Jonny's drumming in the basement when Pat gets home from work, reeking of coffee and sweat. He drops his keys on the kitchen counter before bypassing the basement door completely as he walks down the hallway, because there's no way he's dealing with this shit right away. He needs time to, like, come up with a game plan or something.

He takes his time in the shower, hoping Jonny'll have worked out all his aggression by the time Pat gets out. As soon as he does and opens the bathroom door back up though it's made obvious Jonny's gonna be down there for a while. Some old Minor Threat record gets put on as Pat gets dressed, the pounding of Jonny's kit synching up to that of the track.

It takes Patrick another ten minutes to finally make it downstairs, cradling a couple Gatorades and his smokes, and Jonny doesn't even notice him when he steps off the landing. 

Patrick doesn't even wanna know how long he's been at this. If Patrick had to take a guess he'd say hours.

Jonny's in a pair of black boxer briefs, dripping sweat with a flush spreading up from his chest to his cheeks, and Jesus Christ do his fucking thighs look good.

Seeing him like this reminds him of the first time he saw Jonny drumming, back when they were only seventeen, and Jonny was still in his (absolutely horrible) garage band and Pat was still without a band of his own.

Jonny used to play shirtless – like a total tool – and Pat could see how sweaty he was whenever the lights shined on him as he pounded away at his kit. He got that psycho kill-you-in-your-sleep look when he played too, all dark eyes and ticking jaw and whenever he'd stretch his arms up before bringing them back down hard Pat could see the bruise on his hip from when he'd crashed into his kitchen counter while drunk the previous night.

Jonny always made playing like that - with that much intensity and focus and emotion - look easy, like being able to play almost every instrument he got his hands on was nothing special. It really turns Patrick on in the worst way.

He’d totally explain it if it made any fucking sense at all, but seeing as it doesn’t he mostly just pushes it to the back of his mind, only remembering it’s there when shit like this happens.

Now, Patrick feels like they're seventeen again, even aches for a cigarette like he did back then whenever he went to see Jonny play, which was a lot. Pat went to every show after that first one, even when it felt like his ears were going to start bleeding in protest.

Pat waits for the song to end before stepping in, turning the volume down as he sets a blue Gatorade on the snare, earning a glare from Jonny. Patrick flops down onto the couch across from the kit, "Hey."

Jonny nods.

Patrick takes a seat on the couch and lights a cigarette. "You planning on rejoining your shitty old band or something?"

"We weren't shitty," Jonny snaps.

Kaner raises an eyebrow, pushing forward. "Sure, and Duncs' band was the next Slayer."

"At least we fucking had bands."

"Hey," Kaner pouts. "I could've had a band." Jonny takes a swig of the Gatorade Pat brought him and even that comes off as judging. "I could've! I was waiting for you."

Jonny's glare softens a bit at that and when he spots the pack of Newports Pat brought down with him he doesn't even try to bum one off him like he usually does when there’s no one there to call him out on it, which is always a good sign. Jonny rolls his eyes, "You're so lame."

Pat laughs, "Whatever. Tell me what happened."

Jonny bites his lip, avoiding Pat's eyes like he thinks Pat’s going to fucking judge him. "I hate my job."

"Wow," Pat says, sinking further into the couch. He takes a drag off his smoke, raising his eyebrows, "That’s something I thought I’d never hear. Welcome back to fucking reality, Jonny. I’ve hated your job since day one."

Pat’s been waiting to hear this shit for-fucking-ever. Out of the four of them Jonny has the worst job - hands down – Pat may be everyone’s coffee bitch for five days a week, Duncs may crawl under cars and risk having them fall on him at any moment, and Seabs may have to deal with snotty fourteen year olds begging him to fix their Xbox’s, but all of that’s still better than doing paperwork all day. Like, who the fuck would actually enjoy doing math all god damn day? Patrick couldn’t even stand to do math for forty five minutes a day back in high school. Pat couldn’t even make it through a year of college let alone being stuck in an office cubicle for the rest of his life.

Still, it is Jonny they’re talking about, the only person who can out stubborn Patrick on any given day. He probably shouldn’t have been surprised that Jonny’s chosen career track lasted so long since he’s been obsessed with it since high school when his aunts and uncles basically humiliated him on Christmas by (drunkenly) letting him know their thoughts on his plans for the rest of his life (being in a band with Patrick). It was like one day Jonny was all set to chug slurpees, play video games, and have seemingly endless Die Hard marathons with Patrick, and then the next he was bringing over his math workbook and freaking out about his Calculus grade to Pat over the phone (Pat didn't even know their school offered Calculus).

Jonny would go on and on about becoming an accountant and how much money he'd make and benefits - fucking benefits - Patrick's 22 and he still doesn't give a shit about benefits. He didn’t really mind the rambling that much though; Jonny’s voice sounded all deep and warm over the phone and the later it got the more he’d start slipping up, replying to Patrick in French instead of in English.

It’s probably not really a secret anymore, but Pat could listen to Jonny talk for hours.

"It's a good thing you already have a job then, huh?"

"Yeah?” Jonny frowns. “And what would that be, Kaner?"

"You're in a band!" Kaner throws up his hands. "Christ, Jonny, it's like you forget sometimes. Quit or don't quit your job - it doesn't matter - either way you're gonna end up getting fired when we start going on longer tours."

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Kaner’s tempted to start counting to ten for Jonny, but that would probably just insure his imminent death by Jonny’s hands.

“Oh, fuck off.” Kaner snarks. “You know what I mean. But, if you’re gonna quit, you should wait until after we get the heat fixed.”

Jonny groans, hanging his head in his hands. “Shit.”

 “Yeah, but, whatever,” he waves his hand, ignoring the ash that falls onto the floor and the dirty look Jonny sends him. “We’ll figure it out. Also, you’ve got another hour down here before Mrs. Shellern starts knocking on the door to complain so get to it.”

Mrs. Shellern’s this scarily intense soccer mom who lives next door with her banker husband and three middle school sons. She’s got bleached hair and fake, pointy nails that could probably gouge out Patrick’s eye with ease. Patrick makes it a rule to not piss her off, Jonny doesn’t really care about Patrick’s rule (probably because Mrs. Shellern’s sweet on Jonny and insists he calls her Debbie). It’s actually really mind boggling since Patrick’s always been a favorite amongst moms whereas Jonny tends to stammer a lot and ends up making hilarious backhanded comments that always come back to bite him in the ass later on.

Jonny rolls his neck, smirking when Patrick flinches at the loud cracking noises. “I think I’m done for tonight.”

Pat perks up, “Wanna watch Rocky?”

“Which one?” Jonny asks, eyes narrowing.

Patrick ignores him, “The one where he runs up all the stairs and all the kids follow him.” Patrick even reenacts the part where Stallone jumps up and down excitedly just in case Jonny somehow forgot.

“Fuck, that’s the one where the Russian kills Apollo, right?” That’s Jonny’s least favorite one.

“I thought he was German?” He didn’t really look Russian; he had the whole blond hair and blue eyes thing going for him.

Jonny shoots him a look, “He’s Russian.”

“You seem to know an awful lot about him.”

“Almost as much as you know about Stallone.”

“Oh fuck off,” Pat shoves him. The dude’s talented and he makes a lot of movies with an excess of blood, is Patrick supposed to act like he’s not all for that? “You wanna watch the movie or not?”

“I guess,” Jonny sounds put-upon, but he’s grinning at Patrick so Patrick slings an arm around Jonny’s shoulders when he comes out from behind his kit and doesn’t even comment on how rank he smells. Clearly, Patrick is the best friend anyone could ever ask for.

“I could probably get you a job at Starbucks,” Pat muses.

Jonny deadpans, “Just what I’ve always wanted.” But he ruffles Pat’s hair after he says it so Pat’s finding it a little hard to care all that much.

Pat punches him in the arm anyway, “Yeah, I know you wish you could spend more time with me, Jonny, but, dude, we live together. Think it’s time you spread your friendship wings and left the nest.”

Jonny mock gags, “That was almost as cheesy as the line I used to pick up your mom last week.”

Hey,” Pat punches him again, a little harder than last time. “As if anyone other than me would even give you the time of day.”

Jonny just grins at him, all sweet and happy, and Pat really wants to kiss him. Instead, he hands him the rest of his smoke and goes to set up the movie. He calls, “You’re on snack duty. I don’t care what it is as long as it’s edible.”

“How about whatever’s growing on the plates in the sink?”

That reminds him, he should really do the dishes. They were supposed to be taking this week off from any and all cleaning duties (Tazer found a coupon for an already cheap cleaning service in a magazine last month and started drafting up a budget list to make sure they’d be able to afford it), but then their heating broke and the front burner on their stove tried to burn Patrick alive so they’d had to redirect their cleaning service money elsewhere. Jonny’s still sulking about it, but that’s only because he’s on bathroom duty this week. “Perfect.”

 

*

 

Pat comes home from a double shift to a note on the fridge from Jonny reminding him that he's got the house to himself until midnight and that he's on garbage duty. He rolls his eyes but does as he’s told, tying off the garbage bag, and heading back out the front door. He's taking the lid off the can and dumping the bag in when Duncs' car pulls up. "Hey," Pat waves when Duncs gets outs. Duncs waves back and Pat rolls his eyes, "Make yourself at home; I'm gonna go change.

When Pat comes back out into the living room Duncs is kneeling in front of the DVD player still in his grease covered work clothes, candy and movie cases scattered around him. Pat snatches up a packet of skittles, "Guess it’s just us tonight, dude. The losers are at that concert ‘til, like, midnight I think.

Duncs sneers, "Fucking country music, man."

"Fucking country music," Pat agrees, eyes narrowing. "Jonny was fucking stoked when Seabs invited him; he'd thought for sure you'd go." To be honest, stoked is probably putting it lightly, Jonny was fucking over the moon. Like, Pat was kind of expecting to come home early one day to Jonny jerking one out on the couch with his ticket taped to the TV. He wouldn't stop talking about it, you'd think the guy (some dude named Chad or Brad or Tyler) was the second coming of the Ramones, but Patrick's pretty sure he can't even play guitar. Pat just really doesn't get the allure of country music.

Or Jonny for that matter. Because really, how great can someone who regularly attends country shows be? And why does Patrick have a fucking monumental thing for someone like that?

"Yeah," Duncs sighs, running a hand through his hair. "Brent invited me, but I said no."

"You said no?" Pat asks, incredulous. “You know, I’m not really a relationship expert or anything-”

“You don’t say,” Duncs interrupts. “Saw or The Collector?”

“Just put on Saw, dude, I know you want to.” Kaner glares at him for a second before continuing, “But, usually when the person you like asks you to go out with them, you go out with them.”

Duncs flops back against the couch, stretching out on the floor as the first trailer starts playing. “We’re not talking about this.”

“Why not?” Kaner whines pitifully.

Duncs reaches back blindly and smacks his leg, “Shut up, it’s starting.”

“You were too nervous to go, weren’t you? You realized if you said yes it’d be a date.”

Duncs ignores him, “Watch the movie, Kaner.”

“And we’ll talk about it after the movie?” Kaner tries.

Duncs gives him a slightly horrified look, “No.”

“Why not?” Kaner whines.

“Why do you think?” Duncs rubs a hand over his face, like Kaner’s so difficult he’s giving Duncs a headache. He’s starting to understand why Duncs and Seabs have somehow managed to get stuck the way they are for so long if this is the way Duncan gets anytime feelings are brought up.

“I think we’re both pretty pathetic,” Kaner says honestly. “And I also think you’re my best friend which means you’re obligated to listen to me whine.”

Duncs groans the way he always does when Kaner plays the best friend card (it’s not like it isn’t true, and it almost always gets Kaner what he wants) before digging the remote out of the couch cushion and pausing the movie. He glares at Kaner, sinking lower in his seat like if he makes himself small enough the couch will just swallow him up, “I hate you.”

Kaner grins, bouncing in his seat. “You really, really don’t.”

“Fuck,” Duncs sighs, tipping his head back to stare at the ceiling. “Start talking, then. We’ve got three more movies to get through before they get back, and you’re not allowed to talk during any of them.”

Kaner nods solemnly before launching into his feelings speech, mouth moving a mile a minute as Duncs listens intently.

 

*

 

They meet Sharpy on Halloween in the parking lot of a church (church basements are surprisingly spacious) while they cool off after their show. He's sweaty and smiley and dressed like a member of Pearl Jam; he looks so out of place it reminds Kaner of when he got separated from his parents at a flea market when he was little and an old lady had to help him find his mom again. Pat kind of wants to help this guy find his daughter, because he clearly hasn't been to one of these things since the nineties and there's no way he'd come out from under his rock to see their band play.

He stops a few steps away from Pat and just kind of leers at him. Pat flinches, "Jonny!" Jonny looks up from where he's reading Pat's notebook in the van, the doors wide open in a poor attempt to air out the rancid smell of sweat. "Uh, there's someone here to meet you?"

The guy laughs at this, but he finally stops staring at Patrick so Patrick counts it as a win. He watches the guy dig in his pocket and pull out a card, handing it to Jonny when Pat continues to stare at it. "I'm Patrick Sharp from UC Records, but you can call me Sharpy since you've already got a Patrick of your own."

Pat's, like, 75% sure his jaw isn't actually on the floor, but hey he could be wrong. Jonny's doing his stupid robot act again, pretending like he isn't freaking out just as much as Pat is, but Pat sees right through him. He's also clutching Pat's notebook to his chest like a lifeline and glaring at Sharpy every time his eyes drop to it curiously; Pat feels like his virtue is being protected by Jonny Toews, what a joke.

"Jonathan Toews," Jonny says, snatching the card from Sharpy.

"Right, so, great show." Sharpy says, grin in full force. "Haven't been to one like that in a while."

Pat's tempted to ask exactly how long is a while, but Jonny shoots him a look like if he even thinks about opening his mouth Jonny'll rip out his tongue so he keeps quiet. "Thanks," Jonny says, voice flat.

Sharpy pushes past it like a trooper though (most people last about three seconds when faced with that particular brand of Toews awkwardness), "I'll get to the point: we're interested. We've been hearing about you guys for a few months now; I would've come out sooner, but my wife just had a baby and things were a little hectic." He looks sheepish, like if he could've postponed the birth of his kid for a little while longer he would've.

"Congrats!" Pat cheers, ignoring the urge to pat Sharpy on the back. "Boy or girl?"

"Girl," Sharpy smiles, pulling out his wallet to show Patrick a picture of the wrinkliest baby Patrick's ever seen.

"Adorable," Patrick coos. Jonny snorts somewhere in the background and Patrick flips him off. "Shut up." If Pat wasn't fully committed to this whole rock star thing he's pretty sure he'd end up teaching a kindergarten class somewhere, handing out gold stars and letting little girls put sparkly barrettes in his hair like his sisters did when they were kids. Pat just really likes kids, which is good because they always seem to flock to him at family parties and BBQ's.

“How long have you guys been in a band together?”

“Since high school,” Pat says, taking a drag off his smoke. “So we’re pretty much stuck with each other now.”

Sharpy makes a face, “You’re not still in high school?”

Patrick splutters, turning to glare at Jonny when he hears his familiar fucking cackle pick up behind him. “I’m 22!”

Sharpy gives him a disbelieving look, “Listen kid, if you’re gonna lie about your age at least choose something a little more believable like nineteen.”

Patrick fumbles out his wallet, dropping his cigarette in his haste, and practically shoves his license in Sharpy’s face. “I’m 22, dickbag! Look, it says it right there.”

“How do I know it’s not a fake?” Sharpy asks, eyes wide in feigned innocence. Pat’s already working himself up into a mild rage, cheeks turning red and body buzzing, because he doesn’t actually know how to prove his license isn’t a fake. If he knew how to do that he probably wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble on his 21st birthday when he could finally drink in public with Jonny instead of in hiding.

Luckily for Pat, Jonny picks this moment to stop being a complete and utter douche and helps him out. “It’s the hair,” he explains, gesturing at Pat’s head. “It makes him look like he’s still a baby. Everyone gets confused when they find out he actually has gone through puberty.”

“They do not!” Patrick squeaks, turning even redder when Sharpy raises an eyebrow at him. Pat is a man, okay? A manly man of…man-ness. Any man’s voice would be a little fragile if they just spent a half hour screaming their heart out for a bunch of misfit teenagers and college kids.

“Alright,” Sharpy grins, holding up his hands in mock surrender. “Are you guys working on an album?”

"We're still in the writing stage, I guess." Pat fishes his smokes out of his pocket, reaching out for Jonny's lighter when he can't find his own. "We've got six songs written so far - music and lyrics - and we should have another six finished in the next couple months."

Sharpy raises his eyebrows, but he looks excited. "That's really soon."

"Yeah, well," Kaner smirks. "You know how we do."

Behind him, Jonny makes a noise like he's dying. "Kaner."

Kaner hears someone else howling out his name a second later, and when he peeks around Sharpy he sees Duncs and Seabs heading their way, both leaning heavily on the other while still somehow managing to walk perfectly in sync. Pat doesn't know how the fuck they do their freaky mind-meld thing so easily. If he and Jonny tried moving like that they'd end up on their asses in five seconds flat.

Pat and Jonny are better at knowing when the other's about to fall, he thinks. Jonny's got a knack for steering him around shit that could trip him up and Pat's pretty good at steadying Jonny in the nick of time, keeping him from falling on his stupid face.

"Duncan!" Kaner howls back, fist pumping obnoxiously. "Dude!" When Duncs gets super drunk he turns into, like, every stereotype of a douchebag frat boy ever invented, Kaner still hasn’t figured out how or why alcohol makes him revert to bro-speak, but Kaner gets way too excited about it to question it. It also helps that he’s fucking fluent in bro-speak (Tazer’s pretty good too, but that’s only because he used to hang out with some complete asshole in college).

When they get a little closer Seabs warns, "He's gonna puke soon."

Kaner and Sharpy both take a cautionary step back which makes Seabs' mouth flatten into a hard line as he tugs Duncs in closer, like Kaner and Sharpy are insulting him by not wanting to be puked on. "I think that's my cue." Sharpy nods at Duncs. "I look forward to meeting you when I'm not at risk of being puked on. I'll see you guys at your next show."

"Nice meeting you," Pat calls, watching Sharpy wave over his shoulder as he leaves. Pat might actually learn to like the dude. Whether or not he's from the Stone Age. 

Kaner's jerked out of his Sharpy appreciation a moment later by the sensation of his notebook smacking him in the face.

"What the hell?" So much for Jonny protecting his fucking virtue (not that Pat would want that, he actually really wants the opposite of that). He bends down to pick it up, brushing off gravel and smoothing out the page it landed on. "Dude, not cool."

"You look like an idiot standing there," Jonny huffs. "Get in the van already." Pat rolls his eyes and climbs in next to Jonny, because sometimes it's easier to just do what he says than to argue. Duncs and Seabs are leaning against the front bumper waiting for Duncs to hurl; if Patrick narrows his eyes he can just make out Seabs' hand rubbing soothing circles on Duncs' back. 

Jonny steals Patrick's notebook back a second later, smoothing out the pages even more and grunting something that sounds suspiciously like an apology.

"I like this one," he mumbles a few minutes later, pointing at the page.

Patrick peers over his shoulder, "Yeah, I thought you would. It's got solo potential."

It didn't when Patrick first wrote it. He was actually hoping to write some basic acoustic riff he could play himself hoping it'd make it a little less obvious how Pat basically wrote a love song for Jonny. At least he didn't slip up and write his name into the song anywhere (he'd tried playing around with J names like June or Jesse, but it felt too much like a lie so he erased them). In the end he figured what better way to distract Jonny from Pat's lyrics than by giving him permission to write a show-stealing solo. Patrick is so fucking generous.

"Yeah?" Jonny grins, excited.

"Yeah," Kaner grins back. "Make it good."

Tazer snorts, "Everything I write is fucking good."

God, Jonny's an asshole. Kaner would be lying if he said he didn't love that about him. Kaner shrugs, running a hand through his hair, "When you’re right you’re right, Jonny."

*

They don't talk about meeting Sharpy (which is mostly due to the fact that Jonny thinks he’s a fake) until he starts buying them all a round after their shows.

Sharpy introduces them to a lot of people, too. Patrick actually recognizes most of them from when he worshipped them in high school. Most of them are out of music, working regular service jobs now, but a few of them are still in bands and they let Patrick know that if he ever wants tickets to their shows he can have them.

Sometimes Sharpy brings other people from UC Records to meet them; some dude Sharpy calls Burs starts hanging around a lot more often, monopolizing Sharpy’s attention as soon as Sharpy lets the conversation drift away from music.

Kaner likes him well enough, but Jonny gets this constipated look on his face like he always does when he can’t tell if someone’s fucking with him or not. Duncs seems to tolerate him, doing his best to distract Tazer from whatever idiocy Burs, Sharpy, and Kaner are about to partake in.

It’s not long after they meet Burs that Sharpy starts bringing up studio time, showing them pictures of all their gear and equipment and some of the people who have recorded there before. Kaner’s all for it, itching to get in there and do what he does best, his fingers leaving smudges all over the pictures Sharpy hands to him like if he presses hard enough he’ll be able to reach in and pull out the fucking vintage, candy red Jazz Bass he can see leaning against the wall in the back corner of one of the pictures. Kaner’s been salivating over that bass since he first discovered it when he was sixteen; it’s a fucking beaut (it also costs over 2,000 dollars which is way out of his budget).

Duncan’s a little more subtle, mostly just hanging all over Seabs with a huge fucking grin on his face, all loose from their show, nodding occasionally and listening with rapt attention whenever Seabs starts gushing about UC’s sound systems. Jonny’s just – Jonny. The only time he gives any indication that he’s interested is when Patrick starts asking about pedals and switches.

“We’re not even finished with the album yet,” Jonny finally says, knocking back his beer. Patrick deflates next to him, he really wanted to get his hands on that Jazz Bass.

Sharpy just waves his hand, “You will be, and when you are we want you to record it with us. Sign with us.”

Duncs shrugs when Tazer looks at him, downing the rest of his drink and pointing something out to Seabs in one of the pictures, setting Seabs off on another tangent.

Sharpy and Burs turn back to Jonny and Burs picks up his drink, “It’s just something to think about, Tazer. We’re just putting ourselves out there, giving you options, letting you know we’re interested.”

“Yeah,” Jonny sighs, gaze meeting Patrick’s. “I understand.”

*

Thanksgiving – American Thanksgiving – as well as Patrick’s belated birthday get together is held at Kaner and Tazer’s. Duncs and Seabs show up at around three, loaded down with enough beer to get the entire city of Chicago drunk and a fucking sheet cake from the grocery store with ‘Happy 13th Birthday Patty!’ written in pink frosting on it, and make themselves at home while Kaner slaves over the mashed potatoes and Jonny tries not to burn the fucking chicken wings.

Kaner doesn’t know how he got saddled with cooking duty since it’s his fucking birthday party, but it probably has something to do with how crazy Jonny and Duncs tend to go during the holidays. Duncs actually wanted to bring over an entire fucking turkey to cook, as if he wouldn’t burn down the house in the process, and Jonny kept trying to get Kaner to invite his entire family out, as if they have enough money for that.

“Honestly, I’m just relieved they didn’t bring an entire turkey.” Kaner thought for sure they’d be getting a visit from the fire department after Duncs burned their house down. “We got so fucking lucky. You saw the way Duncs looked at me when I said he couldn’t, right?”

“Don’t tell me,” Jonny rolls his eyes. “You think he’s planning something.”

“When the fuck isn’t he? Seriously, you remember-”

“Kaner,” Duncs trills suddenly from the living room. “Phone!”

Patrick shoots Jonny a look.

“Go answer it; I can handle the potatoes for a couple of minutes. It’s probably your family.”

Kaner hands over the beater to Jonny, instructing him on how much milk to pour in as he leaves, and goes to answer the phone. Duncs and Seabs are relaxing in the living room, Seabs’ arm slung around Duncs’ shoulders with what looks like a Peanuts special on

He sends Duncs a suspicious look as he takes the receiver, “Hello?”

“Patrick!”

“Mrs. Toews,” Patrick grins. Mrs. Toews is awesome; she’s actually way more fun than Jonny could ever even hope to be. “Jonny’s in the kitchen, if you give me a second I can go get him?”

“That’s alright, Patrick. I’m just calling to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!” Patrick can hear Jonny’s dad in the background, his voice muffled as he yells out a Happy Thanksgiving as well. “Bryan sends his wishes, too.”

“Thank you,” he grips the phone tighter, remembering how much he misses the Toews’ now that they’ve moved back to Winnipeg.

“Also, I was wondering if you’ve received your birthday card yet?” she asks, sounding slightly worried. “I thought it would be there by now.”

Patrick hasn’t received a card yet, but he hasn’t checked the mail in a few weeks so it’s probably in there. He tells her, “It’s probably stuffed into the mailbox, waiting for me to get it. I’ll check the mail when I take out the trash later.”

She laughs, “Alright, Patrick. I’ll let you get back to the rest of the boys. Tell Jonathan I’ll talk to him soon, alright?”

“Yeah, of course.” Patrick nods even though she can’t see him.

“I’ll talk to you soon, cher.”

“Yeah, bye, Mrs. Toews.”

Patrick fields phone calls for the rest of the day from his parents, his sisters, the Sharps, and Duncs’ mother. They all call for the same thing, asking for Patrick if someone else picks up the phone (Mrs. Keith actually scolds Duncs for lazing around instead of helping with the food first). After he gets off the phone with Mrs. Keith he escapes to the bathroom because he can feel himself tearing up and he knows that if the guys see him they’ll chirp him about it until the end of time.

His eyes must still be a little red when he comes back out if the amused smirk on Jonny’s face is anything to go by.

“Shut up,” Patrick shoves him. “It was nice. It’s not like I get to see them all the time; it’s nice to know they haven’t forgotten about me.”

Jonny’s face scrunches up at that before going carefully blank which means he’s experiencing feelings again. “You’re not that easy to forget, Kaner.” His hand cups the back of his neck nervously. “I mean, shit, how could anyone forget a fucking frizzy haired midget who doesn’t know when to shut up?”

“Fuck you,” Kaner smiles, forcing Jonny into a hug, holding on tighter when Tazer pats him on the back as if to say ‘okay, please let go now’.

In the end, everything comes out nicely. The chicken wings aren’t charred and the potatoes aren’t as soupy as Patrick feared they’d be, and all the food they ordered arrives on time as well. They crowd around the kitchen table, exchanging smiles at each other before digging in. After dinner, Patrick makes everyone coffee while Jonny sets up the cake and the three of them sing Happy Birthday to Patrick even though shit like that always embarrasses him. But, the cake’s actually really fucking good and nobody shoved his face in it this year so Patrick marks the day off as a success.

  *

The three of them camp out in Seabs’ basement one night, determined to finish the album once and for all even if it kills them.

Patrick’s been working on the last two songs for weeks, unable to write anything that wasn’t subpar, and now that they’re finally here and his job is done Jonny can’t make up his mind about his guitar parts. Normally, Patrick’s content to let Jonny make up his mind in his own time, but they’ve only got one guitar and Jonny keeps having to re-tune it every time he switches from standard to D and Patrick’s just about ready to snap all his fucking guitar strings.

While Jonny’s being an indecisive moron and Pat’s fuming in the corner, Duncs is calmly tapping his sticks on his stomach as he stretches out on the only couch in the room, patiently waiting until he can start laying out his drum tracks.

It’s already three in the god damn morning. Patrick is just so fucking tired at this point. He shouts, “Can you just fucking pick something? Jesus fucking Christ, Jonny, it’s not that hard.”

“Last time I checked you were the fucking bassist,” Jonny hisses, voice mean and steely.

“Yeah and as your bassist I’m telling you to fucking pick already! It’s not like you’re diffusing a fucking bomb here, it’s not red wire or blue wire complicated. Pick one and move the fuck on.”

Jonny looks like he’s ten seconds away from smashing his guitar over Patrick’s head, and Patrick’s so beyond done with him at this point that he doesn’t even care. He’s been pretty good about not pushing Jonny just to see how far he’ll bend, but that’s literally all he wants to do right now.

Duncs must see it in his face, or he sees the homicidal expression on Jonny’s, and sends him upstairs for some more Red Bull.

It doesn’t really work the way Duncs intended it to. When he gets back downstairs Jonny just picks up where they left off and they spend the rest of the night driving Duncs to the point of insanity with their incessant bickering. Eventually Duncs leaves, heading upstairs to get some sleep; Jonny looks at him with wide eyes like he’s not only disappointing Jonny, but the entire country as well.

Regardless of bedtimes and indecisiveness, they finish the album just two hours after sunrise. Pat and Jonny don’t talk for another three days, forcing out apologies to one another at the insistence of Duncs and Seabs. Pat could’ve held out for longer, but Jonny looked kind of desperate when he apologized and Duncs had threatened to shave Kaner’s head in his sleep if he didn’t make nice (and if he’s being honest, he was starting to miss Jonny’s stupid monotone voice and was very close to cracking anyway).

Jonny calls Sharpy the morning after he and Patrick start talking again to let him know they finished the album. A week later they’re attending meetings at UC Records to sign a contract and record the album somewhere that isn’t a cramped basement. Pat’s pretty glad they’re talking again, because as soon as they get home from work they’re talking each other’s heads off about the whole thing, still in shock and only slightly sure that they didn’t kill each other in Seabs’ basement the other night after all, and that this whole thing really is happening.

 

*

Sharpy offers to have them over for dinner the night after the deal with UC Records is made official (the contract was reviewed for a final time and signed by the three of them that morning), but when Duncs finds out they're going to be hanging around Sharpy's five month old he politely declines, and instead makes plans to hit up that sleazy country bar they played a show at with Seabs. Patrick hopes they’ve at least got some good liquor otherwise Duncs’ brain will probably rot from all the shit music which would really suck ‘cause he’s the best drummer Patrick’s ever seen, and now that they’re fucking signed (god, he’ll never get sick of saying that) he wants it to be all smooth sailing from here on out and that would definitely put an end to that.

Duncs should’ve listened to Patrick when he suggested he bring Seabs to the karaoke bar that’s only, like, ten blocks from their place. Patrick thought it was a great idea, but as soon as he said karaoke Duncs’ face went kind of green and he did his best impression of Jonny’s dead shark eyes so Pat shut up and let him go.

Patrick, on the other hand, was actually ridiculously excited to meet the rest of the Sharps; they had to be something special to be able to put up with Sharpy’s lame ass for extended periods of time. Jonny didn't seem nearly as excited about meeting them, but as soon as he found out Kaner was going he was suddenly all in.

Sharpy's house is smaller than what Kaner had pictured (he'd been thinking four floors, huge windows, a private lake maybe), but is still really nice and cozy and reminds him of his parents' place. There's a lot of music memorabilia hung up on the walls, framed posters and tickets, and a couple guitars in the living room. But there's also a lot of art hanging up, too. There’s one picture hanging up above the sink in the kitchen that Patrick actually recognizes, his mom’s got the same one hung up in her living room.

“Hey,” he says, grinning. “My mom has that same picture back home.”

Abby, who is actually as awesome as Kaner suspected she’d be, smiles and starts telling Patrick all about it. Abby’s really really into art, like, she even knows the history of the artist and all these random facts about the painting (like how many prints there are and what year it was made and in what country). Patrick learns a lot about art in the span of an hour as he helps Abby with the mashed potatoes. He has absolutely no idea what Jonny and Sharpy are doing, but when Jonny comes into the kitchen to wash his hands before they eat his hair’s all messed up and he’s missing his tie.

The corner of Kaner's mouth quirks up in amusement, “What happened?”

"Maddy," Abby laughs, moving out of the way so Jonny can get to the sink. Jonny's cheeks are turning red.

"You played with Maddy?"

"I don't think you can really call it playing," Jonny admits, weirdly shy. "She mostly just pulled my hair and stole my tie."

"That means she likes you," Abby teases. When Jonny gives her a doubtful look she smiles. "Seriously, she does that to Patrick all the time. We finally caved and gave her one of his ties to sleep with."

"Yeah, Jonny," Kaner bumps him with his hip. "Have some faith in yourself. I knew one day you'd find a kid who'd love you, shark eyes and all."

"Shut up," Jonny rolls his eyes, but he's still blushing. "Wash your damn hands."

Dinner is nice, the conversation flowing easily between the five of them (Maddy contributes with the occasional shout or giggle), and Jonny’s actually relaxed next to him for once, laughing freely.

When they’re finished, Abby carries Maddy upstairs for bed, staying just long enough to read her a story and sing her a lullaby before coming back down and joining them in the living room. It’s then that Kaner starts noticing the looks Abby and Sharpy keep shooting each other, eyebrows raised and lips quirked up. Jonny doesn’t even pick up on it, just sinks further into the couch, babbling away about some lake in Winnipeg since surprise Sharpy’s from Canada, too. Kaner’s starting to think they just hand out Visas to Canadians with the requirement that they all come and invade Patrick’s life.

Sharpy lets Jonny finish what he’s saying before sharing one last look with his wife and spitting out whatever the fuck he wants to say, "So," Sharpy drawls quietly, leaning back in his chair. "How long have you guys been together?"

"Since high school," Pat answers, confused. "You know that."

"No," Sharpy waves his hand as if dismissing the thought. "I meant how long have you been together together? Since high school, too, right? I can totally tell."

Jonny goes stock still next to him, any calm leftover from dinner bleeding out, and Kaner blushes furiously, stammering, "Uh - I mean, like, we're...not?" he turns to Jonny. "Dude?"

When Jonny still doesn’t say anything and Sharpy’s smile is finally starting to slip away, Abby stands up, looking incredibly embarrassed as she heads for the kitchen, shouting, “Does anyone want coffee? Dessert? I’ve got cookies!”

Kaner would actually love to stay for both coffee and cookies, no matter how awkward it may be, but hell would have to freeze over before Tazer would let that happen.

On cue, Tazer forces out a thin smile and says, “Actually, it’s getting pretty late. I think we should get going.”

Sharpy stands immediately, “Of course, it’s been a long day.”

Jonny nods, still smiling like he’s got a stick shoved up his ass, and reaches out with one hand to shove Kaner towards the door. As they pass the kitchen he calls, “Thanks so much for dinner. Everything was delicious. You’ll have to come over sometime.”

“Lovely meeting you two,” Abby says, peeking her head out of the kitchen.

“Likewise!” Jonny all but slams the door behind them.

Like Patrick knew he would, he disappears to the basement as soon as they get home. He doesn’t even come out to glare disapprovingly at him when Patrick calls him a drama queen.

Duncan calls him later while he’s at the bar with Seabs; he holds the phone between the two of them so Patrick can hear them both clearly. “Kaner! Dude, how awesome was today? Pretty fucking awesome, right?”

“Totally awesome,” Kaner agrees, nodding his head.

“You got signed, and we’re going on fucking tour!” Seabs slurs into the phone, whooping loudly. Kaner really wishes he was out with them.

“Duncan, you know you’re my roommate, right? Because I’m such a good best bro I’ll even let you have the bed by the window.”

“Bro, you know I love you, but that’s not gonna happen.” Duncs tells him, sounding apologetic.

“Why not?” It’s not like he’d room with Tazer. If they’re lucky Tazer will claim Seabs who actually had Jonny live with him for a week during the spring break of 12th grade when Jonny’s family went on vacation in Winnipeg. If Seabs made it out alive then, he can make it out alive now.

“He’s rooming with me!” Seabs cheers, demolishing Kaner’s hopes.

“Yeah, I’m rooming with Brent. ‘Cause here’s the thing, bro, I love you, like, a whole lot, right? But, I kinda love Brent more?” Duncs pauses, voice softening like he thinks he’s hurting Kaner’s feelings, like he thinks Kaner didn’t already know this shit. “But, only a little bit more. So, that’s okay, right?”

“I don’t know,” he trails off, acting like he needs a moment to think it all through. “Seabs, you love Duncs more than you love Tazer?”

Seabs scoffs, like the idea of loving anyone more than Duncs is ridiculous. “Yeah, man, Duncan’s my-” Kaner thinks he’s gonna say bro, wonders if acting like a frat boy when drunk is somehow contagious, but then he just says, “Duncan’s mine.”

“Yeah?” Duncs asks, so softly Kaner almost doesn’t hear him.

“Yeah, you’re mine. You live with me so you’re rooming with me.” As an after thought he adds, “Sorry, Kaner.”

Duncs echoes him.

“Bros,” Kaner drawls, laughing. “It is A-OK. Enjoy your fucking evening, and don’t drunk dial me in three hours.”

“No promises,” Duncs says, hanging up a second later.

Well, at least Duncs and Seabs are having a nice night. Jonny’s shitty music starts blaring from the basement, then; Kaner groans, grabbing his headphones and flopping onto his bed, pulling his pillow over his head. If Mrs. Shellern comes over to complain about the noise Tazer’s gonna have to deal with it, because Kaner is officially off duty.

Duncs actually manages not to call Kaner again for the rest of the night, but he does get a call from Seabs at around nine the next morning, wanting to make sure Kaner really is okay with having to room with Jonny. “I honestly never expected to room with Duncs, dude. I was just messing with you guys since you were so wasted.”

“We weren’t wasted,” Seabs protests feebly.

“You guys professed your love for each other,” Kaner reminds him. “It was beautiful, I teared up a bit.”

Seabs sputters for a couple of seconds before saying, “You tear up over everything, Kaner. You’re such a fucking cry baby.” And hanging up.

Kaner’s so glad he’s friends with so many emotionally mature people.

 

*

 

The first show of the tour is actually the Cup Champs album release party. Patrick spends all his beer money on buying hard copies of the album and catches the rest of his boys doing the same.

The turnout for the party is way better than Patrick thought it would be, the room packed from wall to wall with teenagers, college students, and UC Records employees along with the other band going on tour with them that they still haven’t gotten a chance to meet yet.

Patrick gets stopped by a bunch of people, asking him to sign their shirts and CDs and anything else they can get their hands on as he meanders around the room. He actually cringes a little when he gets asked to sign over the album cover; his signature looks out of place, making the whole thing look tacky. It probably has something to do with the hockey fanatic in him, but tagging the Stanley Cup (even if it’s just a picture of it) makes him feel like he’s committing an unforgiveable crime.

Jonny catches up with him as the opening band – Instigator – goes onstage, looking harried and like he’s about to go into shock. Patrick puts his hands on Jonny’s shoulders, shaking him a little until he starts looking annoyed rather than scared.

He bats at Kaner’s hands, “What’re you doing? Stop.”

“This is a party, Jonny.” Kaner says slowly, gesturing with one hand. “Loosen up a bit, have some fun.”

“I’m plenty loose.” Jonny juts his chin out, like he can actually intimidate Pat into thinking he’s comfortable around crowds.

Kaner gives him a pointed look; Jonny’s standing so stiffly he looks like he might break something. “Don’t hurt yourself, bud.”

“Fuck off,” Jonny’s shoulders droop a little as he glances up at the stage. “Are these guys even any good?”

Patrick shrugs. To be honest, he couldn’t really care less about Instigator. They could go onstage and not even know how to play their instruments, he really doesn’t give a fuck, as long as he gets to go out afterwards with his band and blow everyone away he’ll be fine. “Probably; have some faith.”

Jonny sticks to Kaner’s side while Instigator set up, managing to act like an actual human being when they’re approached for autographs.

They’re debating whether or not they should try to find Duncs and Seabs when the microphone screeches suddenly, Instigator’s singer gripping it in his hand as he glares down at someone in the crowd. “You wanna fucking go? If you wanna go we can go, dude. It’s up to you.”

He pauses, clearly waiting for a response.

He laughs a second later, rearing back and spitting on the stage floor. He’s grinning, expression manic. “Yeah, man. You find me after the show and I’ll break your nose for you, no problem.”

Instigator’s drummer’s cracking up behind him, like this is something that happens all the time and never fails to get old. Their bassist, this built dude with a Cup Champs shirt on, leans on his mic stand just long enough to sigh, “Shawsy, you done?”

Whether Shawsy’s done or not, the lead guitarist starts the first song and the rest of the band falls into step behind him.

After that, it takes about five minutes for Jonny to drag Kaner into the pit during Instigator’s set.

Instigator are intense to say the least – lots of chugging guitar and crashing symbols - definitely more Jonny’s style than Kaner’s, but Kaner’s still pretty into them. They’re also insanely angry; it makes the room vibrate with the force of it, and as the show goes on more people come out of the crowd with bloody noses and split lips. Instigator’s anger is infectious; even Tazer’s buzzing next to Patrick as they get jostled around.

Surprisingly, they make it out of the crowd in one piece, leaving just before Instigator’s set ends to start warming up backstage. Duncs and Seabs are already back there when they step inside, heads snapping to Kaner and Tazer suspiciously. Tazer chooses to ignore them, “Did you catch their set?”

“Who?” Seabs asks. “Instigator?”

“Who the fuck else?” Kaner makes a face. “They’re like Jonny’s band in high school except, you know, actually good.”

Duncs and Seabs exchange a look. Seabs looks hesitant, “You liked them?”

“Was I not supposed to?” Jonny looks confused.

“I mean, their singer did almost get in a fight before the show even started. You hate people like that.” Kaner doesn’t even care about that, thinks he’d be content to spend the next few months watching Instigator’s singer get in fights. Violence has been a part of the scene since the beginning, it’s like hockey in the way that the fighting just makes it all that much more exciting.

They’re prevented from talking about it any further when the Instigator boys come traipsing off the stage, sweaty and loud as they all talk over each other. Kaner’s not even a little surprised that Shawsy’s voice is the loudest. He is, however, when Shawsy catches sight of Jonny and just sort of freezes in place, gazing up at him with stars in his eyes.

Their bassist stops just as suddenly, eyes narrowing in Shawsy’s direction. He warns, “Mutt.”

“Holy shit,” Shawsy grins. “Holy fucking shit! You’re Jonathan Toews!”

“Uh, yeah,” Jonny mumbles, hand rubbing the back of his neck. He’s looking at Patrick like he wants help, but fuck that. Patrick wants to see this shit through. Like a total idiot he says, “That’s me.”

“Dude, I’ve been a fan of you since you were in Goon.” And Shawsy looks so earnest about it, like he really did love Jonny’s shitty old band.

Even Jonny looks shocked. “Really?”

“Duh,” Shawsy laughs, quiet and shy. “Didn’t everyone?”

At this Kaner bursts out laughing, eyes tearing up when Shawsy glares at him. Jonny mostly looks relieved not to be the center of attention anymore. Jonny asks, “How old are you?”

Shawsy crosses his arms and huffs, “Nineteen.”

“Oh, man,” Kaner wheezes. “You were still in your formative years when Tazer was in Goon, no wonder you liked them.”

"They were good," Shawsy grumbles.

"Yeah, if you like sloppy covers and lots of screeching feedback then, sure, they were fucking fantastic." Kaner chokes out, wiping his eyes.

"And fighting," Jonny snorts. "Don't forget about all the fighting."

Patrick actually did forget about most of the fighting, thinks maybe there was so much of it that it just became a non event, something normal to expect at Goon shows.

Shawsy looks fucking delighted at the idea of violence. "Fuck, why'd you break up? I was gonna go see you guys for my fifteenth birthday."

Jonny points at Kaner, expression soft and slightly proud. "This asshole finally decided to let me in on how fucking talented he is. Perfect timing too, I was beginning to worry he'd be stuck in high school his whole life." Jonny straightens up a bit when he says, “You guys were good, though. Way better than Goon could ever be, seriously.”

Shawsy preens under the compliment, but before he gets a chance to say anything his bassist is pushing him away, turning to look back at them over his shoulder, “We’ll meet properly after the show!”

“Nice meeting you!” Kaner calls after them, turning to Duncs.

“You corrupted a fourteen year old boy, Tazer. How’s that feel?” Duncs asks, smirking as he crosses his arms.

“Shut up,” Tazer groans. “Both of you.”

“You’re literally the reason he is the way he is. He’s fronting Goon 2.0, and he breaks people’s noses for fun. All because of you.” Kaner sniffs. “I’ve never been more proud of you in my entire life.”

Tazer flips him off, “Go warm up and get out of my face.”

When they walk out onstage there are three thousand people waiting for them, watching their every move. Kaner feels like he’s soaking all the energy in the building up, letting it swim around in his veins. It’s one of the most nerve-wracking and exciting experiences he’s ever had.

Kaner stage dives during one of Tazer’s solos, just drops his bass and goes for it, not even caring if he hits the floor. There are just so many people here, screaming for them, singing along and waving at Patrick like they want him to jump in the pit with them so he does. Sweaty hands push and pull at him eagerly, tugging at his shirt and pants, lifting him up and away from the roar of the crowd, bouncing him from person to person like they’ll never get tired.

When security manages to get a hold of him again they haul him back on stage, turning back to the crowd just as Patrick grabs the mic, tripping over his bass strap as he makes contact with the mic stand, belting out the rest of the song on his back, trying not to laugh as an upside down Jonny pops into his field of vision to make sure he’s okay.

The rest of the show is just as crazy, and when they go play their last song they don’t even make it halfway off the stage before they hear chants for an encore. Kaner comes back out first, waiting on Jonny to pick what he wants to play, and for Duncs to get a drink and rest for a minute or two.

They play a two song encore and when they do finally make it off the stage for the last time Kaner pulls Duncs and Jonny into a hug, grinning as they laugh above him.

 

 *


Patrick’s never been so cold in his entire life. Their heat broke in Wisconsin, and they haven’t managed to scrounge up enough money to get it fixed so they’ve been making do. Of course, making do was easier when the temperature was above freezing.

He’s bundled up in three layers and two fuzzy, hole infested blankets that smell absolutely fucking disgusting (like gasoline and sweat and that weird smell brand spanking new t-shirts get when they’ve been crammed into cardboard boxes for too long), but his teeth are still chattering and he’s moved from the occasional shiver to a constant state of shaking now so it’s not like he’s about to relinquish his death grip on them anytime soon. His wrist is starting to throb like it always does when the temperature drops below freezing, sharp pain shooting up his arm every few seconds. He tries squeezing his wrist with his other hand to maybe trick it into thinking its warm, but his hand’s too cold to make any difference.

Jonny’s just fucking peachy next to him in his stupid sweatshirt and mittens and healthy fucking glow like he thrives off sub zero temperatures. Patrick would say something, but he doesn’t have enough blood flow in his arm to be able to really pack anything into his punch when Jonny spits some bullshit about Canadian winters making Minnesota seem like child’s play.

Patrick’s almost at the point where he yells uncle and begs someone to cuddle with him (purely for body heat sharing purposes only, obviously). It doesn’t help matters when Duncs twists around in the passenger seat, eyes leaving Seabs for maybe the first time since the last rest stop, and pulls the collar of his sweatshirt down from over his mouth to say, “Uh, Pat? Your lips are turning blue.”

Pat tries to say “no fucking way”, but he almost bites his tongue off due to how hard his teeth are chattering so he aims for the strong and silent angle instead. It helps that when he clenches his teeth hard enough to hurt he’s momentarily distracted from the ache in his wrist.

Duncs just looks even more concerned though, which is the complete opposite of what Kaner wanted to happen. “I have no fucking clue what you just said.”

Jonny chirps, “What else is new?”

“Fuck off,” Kaner groans. Whatever, if he bites off his tongue its Jonny’s fault. Kaner can’t be held responsible for his actions when Jonny Toews is around.

“You fuck off.”

“Fuckin’ un-human, man. Fuckin’ freezing my balls off and you’re over there all, like, Canadian.” he spits, unwrapping his hands from their cocoon to see if he can rub some warmth back into his mouth.

“Kaner, just because you think the word Canadian is an insult doesn’t actually mean it is.” Jonny says, breath fogging up the window.

“How the fuck are you understanding him?” Duncs interjects. “It doesn’t even sound like English.” Jonny doesn’t even have to look at Kaner to understand him; he just keeps his stupid fucking shark eyes focused on the window, as if there’s even anything interesting to look at out there. Kaner’s glad Seabs volunteered to drive the rest of the way, because he has no fucking clue where they even are at this point, he can’t even find landmarks – it’s all just one snowy field after another.

“How can you not?” Jonny sounds so fucking smug right now.

“You sound so smug,” Patrick grits out. “You’re so fucking weird, dude.”

“Am not,” Jonny protests. “And don’t call me ‘dude’.”

“Bro,” Patrick drawls. “Broski. Brah.”

“Shut up,” Jonny huffs, finally turning away from the window to glare at Patrick. “You’re – oh shit.”

“What?” And now Jonny looks worried.

“Your lips are blue,” Jonny says, hand coming up like he wants to fucking touch Patrick’s mouth. Normally, Patrick would be all for that (he’s been told he has incredibly soft lips and he’s totally proud of that), but, his lips are blue. Isn’t that the first sign of hypothermia or something? Oh god, he’s gonna die in fucking Minnesota. Minnesota. That’s worse than dying in Winnipeg for fuck’s sake.

“I can’t die in fucking Minnesota!” Pat wails, miserable. “There’s nothing here! You’d have no reason to come visit my grave. I’d have to haunt a fucking barn.”

“That’s true. Even the hockey team here sucks,” Seabs chimes in.

“Whoa,” Patrick holds up his hands.  “Don’t you think that’s a little harsh? Cut them some slack, dude, they’re practically infants.”

Seabs smirks, “You’ve just got a weakness for underdogs.”

“Is that what they’re calling the Sabres these days?” Jonny snorts. “What’re they, 6-35?”

“They’re fucking 13-29 and you know it, Tazer!” Patrick shouts, burrowing deeper into his blanket nest.

“Yeah yeah, I know it cause you won’t fucking shut up about it.” Jonny pitches his voice higher when he says,  “‘Oh, Tazer, we only lost by four this time.’”

“Keep talking shit, man. And hey, while you’re at it, remind me how many Cups the fucking Jets have?”

“I hate to interrupt,” Duncs says, having at some point gone back to reading his creepy killer book. “But, we’re an hour away from civilization so if Kaner’s going to survive this tour someone needs to think of something.”

“Americans,” Jonny rolls his eyes, reaching out and yanking Patrick in. Patrick goes limp, letting Jonny manhandle him to his liking for a minute until Pat’s tucked up nicely against his side, Jonny’s arms wrapped around his shoulders and waist. He grunts, “Can’t even handle a little cold.”

“It’s twelve fucking degrees in here, you fucking asshole.” If Pat’s lucky maybe four of those words were discernible through the clacking of his teeth.

 Jonny just ignores him though, leaning back in his seat with this pleased look on his face, like he’s solved everyone’s problems in five seconds flat. Whatever, Pat thinks, he’s getting the better end of the deal anyway. He snuggles up a little closer, tipping his head to rest against Jonny’s shoulder, trying to leech out as much heat as possible.

But instead of pushing him away like Pat thought he would, Jonny just slumps down a little more and rests his chin on top of Pat’s head, giving Pat a quick squeeze as if to thank him for giving him such a comfortable place to rest his head.

They make it to the nearest town about an hour later without having to rush Pat to the hospital. Pat calls Sharpy to deliver the good news when they check into their motel and Sharpy’s tinny laughter only gets louder when Patrick starts bragging about Jonny’s human space heater abilities. Pat should probably be trying to hide how giddy he is about (fake? Does it count if it’s for survival purposes?) cuddling with Tazer in the back of the van, but he’s going onstage in four hours and needs to channel all his nervous, excited energy into something other than smoking so this’ll have to do.

Besides, Sharpy always listens to what Patrick has to say, even when he’s drunk and can’t go thirty seconds without slurring out Jonny’s name. Plus, Sharpy’s the one who booked them a show in fucking Minnesota so if Patrick talks about Jonny’s thighs for a little too long just to gross Sharpy out who can blame him?

They stay on the phone until Jonny comes back with extra blankets and a hot chocolate for Patrick. Patrick would stay on the phone with him, but as soon as he puts Sharpy on speaker Sharpy tries bringing up the whole cuddling thing and Patrick is not having that so he promises to call him back after the show, taking his drink and blankets from Jonny gratefully. Jonny rattles something in his pocket a couple times, finally pulling out a bottle of painkillers and handing it over, Patrick takes it with a questioning look.

“You kept squeezing your wrist in the van,” Jonny explains, ducking his head. “Those were the strongest they’d give me,” He scowls. “You think they’ll help?”

“Yeah,” Patrick nods even though they most likely won’t. Patrick used to take really strong prescription painkillers when he first broke it, and then for a while afterward. He stopped taking them when they made him sleep through Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, though. His wrist was doing a lot better then anyway, he just resigned himself to having to deal with a couple months of shitty-ness when the seasons changed.

The pills will probably knock him out though and it’s not like he’ll be in pain if he’s sleeping so that’s gotta count for something. “These should do it. Thanks.” Jonny hangs around for a little while after that, waiting until Pat gets sleepy and can’t keep his eyes open anymore, before leaving to hang out with Seabs, letting Patrick know he’ll be back to wake him up for sound check. Patrick hums a little and flops his hand in a wave, smiling when Jonny laughs as he shuts the door.

Before he falls asleep he gets this vague thought that he should call his mom and let her know he isn’t going to die in Minnesota, but then she’d start worrying and would tell his dad who would find a way to travel with Patrick for the rest of the tour which would be the worst thing to ever happen in the history of ever. So maybe Pat will call his mom tomorrow and just leave out the part about him almost dying. Yeah, sounds like a plan.

 

*

Patrick starts feeling homesick about three weeks into the tour, body sore and sluggish from sleeping in the van most nights and eating fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Patrick can almost feel his stomach rotting from all of the grease he’s been filling it with lately.

To make matters worse, Sharpy isn’t even on the road with them anymore, he flew back home to Chicago with promises to meet them in a couple of weeks. Patrick really wishes he could’ve taken the day off and flown back with him, maybe had some of Abby’s cooking. It’s not even that Sharpy reminded him of home or anything, it was more that he could easily distract Patrick from even thinking about Chicago. Sharpy wasn’t with them for long, but he’s already dragged Patrick into about a hundred different pranks (most of them involving Tazer).

His homesickness eases off a bit when they get to stay at a motel for the night, but that’s mostly because Jonny has to be the most annoying fucking roommate on the planet. Patrick loves living with Jonny, has been doing it for years and doesn’t see that changing any time soon, but if they’d had to share a room Patrick would’ve moved out.

Jonny is a total slob. He has absolutely no respect for the divider between the beds separating Patrick’s side of the room from Jonny’s, just keeps throwing his fucking trash wherever he wants (which is always on Patrick’s side of the room) and doesn’t pick it up until morning when they’re getting ready to leave. Patrick’s not a clean freak by anyone’s standards, but after the third time he’s stepped on and nearly tripped over an empty water bottle in the middle of the night he’s ready to throw a fit over it.

Jonny also likes working out in the room when Patrick’s just trying to watch some TV, wind down from the show, and hopefully get more than five hours of sleep. Instead of relaxing like Patrick, Jonny would rather do push-ups in his fucking underwear because pants “restrict his movement”. Sometimes, Patrick can’t even believe Jonny’s an actual real-life person.

Plus, most of the time Patrick’s too exhausted to even pretend to ignore Jonny when he’s half naked, grunting and panting in front of him as he obsessively works out. Patrick’s getting pretty good at hiding any awkward boners though, so that’s always a positive.

He’s been Skyping with his sisters more than he would if he were home as well. They’re just as good as Sharpy at taking his mind off the fact that he’s in a roach motel in some backwater town. They fill him in on what’s been going on back home, and sometimes his mom takes a break from whatever she’s doing to sit down and chat with him. Jonny usually plops down next to him as soon as he hears Patrick’s mom’s voice, smiling when she says his name. She treats Jonny like he’s one of her kids, and he might as well be with the number of times she’s fed, clothed, and doted on him in the past nine years.

And don’t get him wrong, Patrick wouldn’t trade this shit for the world, but sometimes he really misses his fucking house and his room and the entire city of Chicago. But, he’s been striving for this since he was a teenager and who knows if they’ll ever get to do it again so Patrick works on pushing his homesickness to the back of his mind and focuses on all the good shit happening, like touring the country and playing music with his best friends.

Besides, as soon as he gets home he knows he’s just going to want to go back out there and do it all over again.

 

*


Somehow - and Pat doesn’t really know how – it’s come to his attention that he and Jonny spend more time in the van than anyone else. It’s both great and horrible. Great because Jonny makes everything better; horrible because the van reeks of puke and sweat.

They’ve tried airing the van out, spraying entire cans of Lysol, and even buying a shit ton of cheap air fresheners and hanging them on every available surface, but when that all failed Patrick just started smoking in the van more, hoping the stale smell would seep into the seats and overpower everything else. Surprisingly, it’s working better than the Lysol did.

Jonny always makes them listen to the same fucking album when he drives, too. Today they’re listening to some band from California that apparently hates living in California? The music’s pretty good though, lots of chunky guitar and pounding drums, if Patrick ignores the lyrics he could get into it (he could also get into if he wasn’t being forced to listen to it over and over again).When it starts over for the third time Patrick starts breaking the songs down in his head to keep from going insane, separating riffs and rolls and rumbling bass, tabbing it out in his head as best he can.

Jonny’s happy as a fucking clam next to him, though, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel absently, looking soft and relaxed with the sun shining on him. Patrick doesn’t know how he does it; Patrick can’t even keep his fucking hands still for a half hour, they shake when he doesn’t have his bass slung over his shoulder, giving him something to pour himself into.

Jonny talks a lot when it’s just them in the van, about all kinds of shit, but mostly about music. Pat watches him and listens, nodding and humming when Jonny glances at him as they wait for the light to change at an intersection to check if Pat’s still listening. He spends a couple of blocks talking about Zeppelin and Ian MacKaye, and even though Patrick’s heard all this shit before he still likes hearing it. He usually ditches the whole robot act when he talks about music, too, putting actual, like, emotion into his voice, continuing on happily when Patrick agrees with whatever point he’s making.

Patrick doesn't think anyone ever really realizes the way music pulls Jonny out of his shell. Jonny can talk for hours and hours about it and Pat's right there with him, watching the way Jonny's cheeks flush pink when he realizes he's spent a half hour talking about the fucking solo structure in Nirvana songs (at this point in his life Pat could teach a lecture on Nirvana's solo structures himself). And then there's the way he is on stage.

It's like he's plugged into his amp - being forced out and around the stage with the music - moving with every chord change and line Patrick sings. Tazer's everywhere on stage; you can't fucking miss him. Pat loves it. He weeps for the days when Jonny was trapped behind his drum kit, when he was blocked from sight by his idiot bandmates.

Jonny lights up when he plays and it's fucking incredible; Patrick sometimes still can't believe he gets to share a stage with him.

To be honest, Patrick still can't believe he gets to have normal, everyday Jonny, too.

The whole sightseeing thing started the fourth week of their tour when they finally figured out how to get enough sleep while still managing to be awake early enough to get some sunlight. Duncs and Seabs tagged along the first couple of trips, but then Duncs started making excuses and Jonny told Pat that Seabs was asking him a lot of really weird questions about the two of them (like who was paying for what and were there souvenirs involved and then he just flat out gave Jonny twenty bucks and told him to “treat Kaner to something nice”, which, Jonny always treats Kaner to something nice Seabs doesn’t have to bribe him) so now it’s just him and Jonny.

It’s become a tradition, and even now when they’re exhausted they’re still packed into the van, greedily knocking back coffee and Red Bull with the windows all down. The sun’s bright and warm on Patrick’s skin, and if he sticks his face far enough out the window he can just about escape the rancid smell of the van and get a taste of the salty ocean air. God, Patrick can’t remember the last time he’s even seen the ocean.

“We should go to the beach,” he says.

Jonny gives him a look, but Patrick ignores it, focusing instead on the way the sleeves of his too big hoodie (that looks suspiciously like the one Seabs was wearing last week) swallow his hands whole and how the red pillow lines still on his face from this morning make him look sleepy and how his hair’s so messy Patrick might have to start sitting on his hands to keep from reaching out and touching.

“Do you even know how to swim?”

“Yes!” Patrick scoffs. His grandpa taught him how to swim when he was little and his family would road trip it out to the east coast for the summer. They’d lived near a small lake, and sometimes when they were lucky their entire family would drive out to Jersey for the ocean.

“If you have to wear floaties it doesn’t count, Pat.”

Pat laughs, “Fuck off.” He lights another cigarette and waves at the little girl in the minivan next to them. They keep driving for a while even though they’re supposed to be saving gas, but Pat had read something about an aquarium at the hotel and he’s totally into the idea of comparing Tazer to whatever sharks they have.

After a while, Pat’s ready to give up hope on that idea since they still haven’t seen any signs for it. He’s about to seriously suggest going to the beach instead (‘cause they’ve seen at least ten signs for that) when they stumble across a sign for an art museum. Jonny swerves into the exit lane before Pat can even say anything, jaw ticking when some idiot from a lane over starts yelling at him.

The building looks like any other art museum Pat’s ever seen: white with huge banners tacked to the walls. The tickets are surprisingly cheap; they get stuck in line behind a bunch of kids on a field trip for a while, but a couple of them let Patrick join in on their Concentration game when they catch him watching with interest so that’s pretty fun.

They buy a disposable camera before they head into the actual exhibit area itself; Patrick takes a quick snapshot of the museum’s plaque by the entrance so he’ll have proof for his dad that he did something educational on tour and that it wasn’t all just booze, cigarettes, and torturously long van rides.

When they finally do get inside they take crappy pictures of all the art, laughing at the expressions on the models’ faces. Jonny starts peering at the pictures with his eyes squinted, rubbing his chin like he’s got a goatee, spitting some bullshit about “modern Picassos” and “amazing uses of color”; Patrick snorts so loud the other patrons in the room turn to glare at him. When he turns back to Jonny and shoves him lightly Jonny grins big and bright at him, happy as all shit to be the reason Pat makes an ass of himself.

Jonny comes across a picture of a naked lady before Patrick does, but its Pat’s idea to take a picture in front of it. Jonny doesn’t even bother to look appalled by the idea, just nudges some lady and asks if she’ll take their picture, acting all innocent when she gives them a dirty look. Patrick doesn’t even know why he does it, just that he wants to remember this day when the tour’s over, hell, when the band’s over. There’s also a part of him that likes the vague feeling of nostalgia he gets whenever he looks through some of their old high school pictures (it’s also nice to have photographic evidence that there was a time when Jonny didn’t tower over Patrick like a fucking giraffe).

They spend a couple more hours in the museum, grabbing lunch at the food court, before heading back out to their trash heap of a van. When they get back to the hotel Pat teaches Duncs and Seabs how to play Concentration, cracking up when Jonny gets dragged into the whole thing.

They don’t get the pictures developed until a few days later when they’re in Arizona, filling up the van at a weird mini shopping court kind of place. Seabs is passed out in the back of the van, catching some sleep before it’s his turn to drive again, Duncs is leaning against the side of the van waiting to pay for their gas, and Jonny and Pat are drinking slurpees like they used to in the fucking 10th grade before Jonny went all calculus crazy while Patrick thumbs through the pictures roughly, handing Jonny the rejects and pocketing the one intended for his dad.

Jonny laughs when Patrick finally finds the picture of them, hooking his chin over Patrick’s shoulder in the way that Patrick pretends to hate.

They look like shit, zitty and unbelievably young (so young Patrick might have to go a little easier on everyone who still thinks he’s in high school); Jonny’s doing his stupid half smirk thing with his hair all fucked up and Pat’s wearing the moronic spider hat he won at an arcade back in high school. But he still gets the urge to glue the picture into his notebook so he won’t lose it.

“That’s a beauty, huh?” Jonny snorts, breath cool against Pat’s cheek.

“Yeah,” Patrick laughs. “Yeah, it’s something.”

 

*

Kaner's happy, smiling at strangers and laughing instead of yelling when Sharpy leans over to ruffle his hair as he makes another joke about Kaner’s age. He's also been getting away with tracing his fingers along the back of Jonny's hand for about a half hour now, because Jonny doesn't want to be the one to ruin his good mood for once (Pat's pretty sure he's still riding a show high too, what with how bright his eyes are).

Jonny’s always been good at not freaking out when Kaner gets handsy (which is pretty much all the time) so it shouldn’t be a surprise, but it feels different tonight. He doesn’t want to use the word intimate because even just thinking it makes him feel like he’s handing over his balls on a silver platter, but if he had to use a word to describe it that would probably be the one.

Maybe it’s because they’ve just finished an amazing set, full of crowd surfing and sweaty, smiling faces. They were fucking spectacular. Pat's sure they've never sounded better.

They're in Colorado for two days, heading out tomorrow at around six. Usually, they’d spend the day doing some sightseeing, but Jonny and Patrick came out here back when Jonny was looking at east coast colleges and consequently have already seen everything worth seeing so they don’t feel too guilty about staying out late drinking with the guys instead of calling it a night to prevent hobbling around museums with massive hangovers.

Pat can’t tell if this place is supposed to come off as an Irish pub or a sports bar (there’s an alarming number of shamrocks and flat screens hanging on the walls), but it’s warm and dim and the place is crowded enough that he’s the only one who hears it when Jonny leans in and says, “Bet you want a smoke, huh?”

Pat’s fingers still, his attention redirecting to the pack of smokes in his front pocket.

Jonny gives him a knowing look, downing the rest of his beer as he pushes off his stool, his fingers brushing against Patrick’s skin where they're twisting up in the front of his shirt. Pat lets himself be led through the crowd slowly, watching the way Jonny’s shirt pulls tight across his shoulders when he twists between people. 

When they stumble out onto the sidewalk Jonny tugs him around the side of the building, maneuvering them around so that Pat's leaning against the brick wall and Jonny's close enough that Pat has to tip his head back to look him in the eyes, gaze momentarily getting caught by the scar on his cheek. Jonny leans in a little closer then, and for a second Pat thinks about closing the distance between them and kissing him, just fucking going for it – fuck everything. But then Jonny's hand slips into Pat's pocket to get his cigarettes for him and he's smiling the way he always does when he wants a free smoke.

Pat rolls his eyes, parting his lips a little for Jonny to tuck a cigarette between them, fists clenching in his pockets when Jonny glances down, breath hitching as Patrick's tongue darts out. It's a few seconds before Jonny moves again, lighting Pat's cigarette for him, breath coming faster when Patrick slumps back against the wall more, holding back a moan as he inhales.

Jonny rasps, "Good?" His hands are worming their way back under Patrick's t-shirt, coming to a rest on his hips. Pat wants to scream a little from how fucking good it feels to have Jonny touching him like this. 

Patrick nods, "Yeah, yeah s'good, Jonny."

 And god, they're not even fucking drunk. They haven't been here long enough for that and he's so fucking grateful for it. So unbelievably grateful that tomorrow when they wake up no one's going to try to explain away what happened, because Pat's tired of pretending like it doesn't get to him, like Jonny hadn't crawled under his skin all those years ago and refused to leave.

Pat’s always going to want this, can't imagine not having it. He whispers, "You 'n me, Jonny, right?" 

"Always, Pat." Jonny says quietly. He passes Jonny his smoke, throat going dry when Jonny's cheeks hollow as he inhales. 

"Yeah?" Pat asks; his heart's beating so loud he can barely hear himself talk. "You promise?"

Jonny exhales shakily, nodding his head, and he looks so fucking earnest as his fingers dig into Pat’s hips a little harder. Pat hopes he leaves bruises. "Promise."

"You can’t back out," Pat insists, his hands clutching onto Jonny’s shirt, and he’d be embarrassed about it, but Jonny's eyes are so dark and they haven't left him since they came out here, and Pat would do any-fucking-thing in the world to always have Jonny's eyes on him like this.

One of his hands leaves Pat's hip and Pat panics for a second, thinking he fucked it up, before Jonny reaches up and tosses the cigarette down on the pavement. Jonny's voice is rough like he smoked a whole pack when he says, "I won’t, Pat." 

Then he's dipping in and kissing Patrick. It’s good – god – it’s so fucking good. Jonny’s lips are soft against Pat’s and he makes this pleased little sound in the back of his throat when Pat opens up for him, the kiss tasting faintly of menthol.

Jonny kisses like he plays onstage – intense and bruising and like he can’t get enough – it makes Pat’s hands shake where they’re pressed against Jonny’s cheek and neck. Jonny’s hand slides up to cup the back of Pat’s neck, twisting up in Patrick’s hair a second later and tugging hard. Pat arches against him, inhaling sharply when their hips press together.

Jonny yanks on his hair some more, practically radiating smugness when Pat lets out a soft moan. He feels hot all over even though it’s only, like, thirty degrees outside. Between kisses Pat breathes, “Knew you had a thing for my hair, freak.”

Jonny’s voice is thick when he says, “Your hair’s embarrassing.”

Kaner makes an indignant noise, nipping Jonny’s bottom lip gently. Jonny groans, pulling back enough to press their foreheads together. He mumbles, “Pretty sure I just have a thing for you.”

“Yeah?” Kaner grins, his belly giving an excited swoop.

Jonny rolls his eyes and nods, “Yes, Patrick.”

“That’s good,” Patrick presses their hips together, mouth dropping open at the sound Jonny makes. And Jesus Christ, Jonny’s hard. Jonathan fucking Toews is hard for Patrick in the alley behind a bar in Colorado. Patrick fucking loves his life, god damn. “Cause I’ve got a thing for you, too.” He’s especially got a thing for how pink and wet Jonny’s lips are right now, but that’s another story.

“Yeah?” Jonny angles them so that their dicks are pressed up together and grinds against him, real slow and hot. “Couldn’t tell.”

“Smooth,” Kaner chokes out. “Fuck.”

“We should go back inside before they start looking for us,” Jonny pants, still rutting against Kaner steady and slow.

Kaner shakes his head and grits out, “We should kiss some more.” The corner of Jonny’s mouth twists up, and he looks – fond. Patrick can’t think of a better word to explain it. Jonny’s cheeks are pink from the cold and he’s wearing Patrick’s old Sabres cap from high school, and Patrick really wants to keep kissing him fucking stupid. “I think my idea’s, like, a trillion times better.”

Jonny lets him lean back in, making eager sounds when Kaner noses his way along his jaw. Pat gets away with pressing sloppy, open mouthed kisses down Jonny’s neck until he starts biting, then Jonny’s muttering in French and putting space between them, watching Patrick shiver as the cold air seeps back in.

Patrick whines, just a little, “C’mere.”

Jonny keeps on mumbling in French, looking at Pat like he’s something special and running his hand through his hair roughly. Pat lets him go, leaning back against the wall and catching his breath. Finally, Jonny says, “We’re going back inside now, Pat.”

Normally he’d fight Jonny on it, but Jonny’s mouth is all swollen and Pat stripped him of his English so instead he just grumbles, “Fine.”

Jonny smiles and ducks in for one last kiss, slinging an arm around Pat’s shoulders to bring him close. He kisses Patrick on the forehead and it’s so fucking grade school, but it still makes Pat’s eyes droop closed. It’s nice. But, nice isn’t really the right word to describe the whole thing.

Kissing Jonny is like – like hearing thousands of people screaming your name like you’re all they want in life only a thousand times better.

 

*

After the night in Colorado, Jonny makes it his job to kiss Patrick every chance he gets. There are why-am-I-awake-at-this-ungodly-hour kisses, that-was-a-great-fucking-show kisses, go-to-sleep-before-I-knock-you-out kisses, and Patrick’s favorite: we-haven’t-kissed-in-a-bit-so-let’s-fix-that kisses.

There’s also the whole added thrill of kissing in secret; since they’re with Duncs and Seabs almost 24/7 they have to take advantage of every chance they get, there’s a lot of kissing in supply closets and scummy bathrooms and the backseat of the van and their room when they get the treat of staying at a hotel for the night. Kaner’s never been so easy for kissing in his entire life. He’s also really into the idea of, you know, getting his hands on Jonny, like, without clothing, but whenever he tries Jonny just mumbles something in French again like he did that first time and puts some distance between them.

Which, whatever, Kaner can totally be patient if Jonny needs some more time to get used to the idea of having full access to Kaner’s everything. Kaner’s pretty mind-blowing so he gets it. It’s a lot to take in.

Besides, Kaner’s kind of confused about what it is they’re actually doing? Like, okay so they haven’t actually talked about anything other than that night and even then nothing was really established. But, even though they didn’t put a label on it doesn’t mean Kaner doesn’t know what the fuck he wants them to be to each other, shit, he’s known that since he was in high school. But, there’s no way he’s gonna come out and say that, especially not to someone like Jonny.

The last actual, legitimate relationship Jonny was in was over a year ago with this girl from college. She played in a band and had an east coast accent just like Patrick (yet somehow was never made fun of for it) and was hardcore in love with the LA Kings. Patrick couldn’t figure out if he wanted to kill her or get down on one knee and propose to her. She was that awesome.

Jonny was pretty star struck around her, too. But, after the five month mark he started canceling plans with her, instead choosing to lounge around at home with Patrick. She was pretty cool about it at first, but after about a month of that she broke up with him. Jonny didn’t even seem all that upset, he moped around for a couple of days and then snapped out of it. It was pretty fucking weird.

So Kaner thinks it’s pretty fair to say that relationships aren’t Jonny’s strong point. But, he also thinks it’s pretty fair to say that if they don’t talk about this whole thing soon it’s going to blow up in their faces whether or not they’re ready for it.

*

 

Someone throws their bra onstage one night, like it's the 80’s and The Blackhawks are a dreamy hair metal band complete with leather pants and shredded shirts. It fucking blows Patrick's mind.

It's actually a pretty nice bra, red and made of satin with a tiny bow between the cups. If Patrick had a bra like that he wouldn't be throwing it onstage for a bunch of lame dudes from Chicago, he'd treasure that shit. Patrick has three sisters; he knows how expensive bras are.

Patrick doesn't really know what to do with it; after a couple of minutes he picks it up and hangs it around his mic stand, grinning big and sleazy when the crowd cheers extra loud.

After the show he doesn't know if he should just leave it there or what and the look Duncs gives him like he knows Kaner's struggling makes him decide to just pocket the thing and be done with it. Except then they go back to the hotel after the show for a quick shower and change of clothes and the second Patrick shuts the door behind him Jonny turns on him, telling him to just throw it out already and Patrick decides right then to keep it.

They all go out with Instigator later, even Saader comes along, making Patrick wonder if Instigator are even capable of separating for over a half hour, and Patrick's still got the bra stuffed into the back pocket of his jeans.

By some miracle, it's not until Patrick's shitfaced and having a smoke with Jonny and Carbomb outside the van while everyone else meanders around, avoiding having to stuff themselves back in their respective vehicles that the bra finally falls out of his pocket.

Shawsy whoops when he sees it, obnoxious and ecstatic, like he's never seen a fucking bra before. “Where'd you get that?"

Kaner shrugs, palming the bra. "Someone threw it onstage."

"And you kept it?"

Kaner looks down at the bra in his hand, feeling Tazer's eyes on him. "Yeah, felt like a waste to throw it out."

"A waste," Tazer says flatly, but Kaner can see the small smirk lurking in the corner of his mouth. "In case you forgot, you don't have tits."

"Technically," Kaner says, winking at Tazer like an asshole. "I don't need tits to wear it." And that settles it really; Tazer groans as Patrick drops his smoke and strips off his shirt.

Shawsy crows again, "Saader, c'mere you gotta see this."

Getting the bra on is more of a challenge than Kaner thought it'd be, mostly because he's drunk as shit and can't get his hands to get the fucking clasps together, but Carbomb takes pity on him and helps him out, fastening the clasps quickly. The cups aren't too big, either A's or B's and they don't have any padding so they just rest against his chest loosely. The satin feels pretty nice against his skin.

"Uh, what's going on?" Saader asks when he comes over, looking to Jonny for an explanation.

"It's a bra, Saader." Kaner drawls slowly, snatching Jonny's smoke from him. "Haven't you ever seen one before?"

"Not on someone who looks like you," Saader smiles, bringing a hand up to hide his laughter.

Kaner swishes his beer around, dropping ash on his shirt when he bends to pick it up. Jonny holds his hand out for it wordlessly. "We don't have a camera, do we?" Kaner asks, fiddling with the bra straps.

"Don't think so,” Jonny shakes his head, expression rueful. “You have your phone?"

"It's dead, yours?"

"Broken, someone dropped it in the fucking toilet a week ago." Jonny says dryly.

Kaner shrugs, sheepish, "It was an accident." And it was. Kaner was drunk, trying to piss standing up instead of just taking the safer route and sitting his ass down, and the phone fell out of his pocket when he started to tip forward and had to catch himself against the wall. He’d only had the phone, because his was dead (as usual) and Sharpy had asked him to call when he’d made it back to the hotel.

"How'd that happen?" Shawsy asks, always so fucking nosy. Kaner loves the kid to death, but when he’s not fighting he’s asking a million and one questions. And now, when Bollig’s not there to get him to shut up, Kaner wants to nip that shit in the bud.

"Irrelevant," Kaner says quickly.

"I have a phone," Carbomb waves his phone around, looking unsure as if to whether or not they're serious.

"You've got everything, man. I fucking swear." Kaner pats him on the back. "Alcohol, phones. Take a picture of us real quick."

Patrick arranges Jonny to his liking, ignoring his grumbling. He sticks his smoke between his lips and wraps his arm around Jonny's waist, the neck of his beer bottle pressing against Jonny's hip, and perches his free hand on his own hip like girls always do in pictures. Tazer slides an arm around Kaner's shoulders, tugging him in closer.

"Okay," Carbomb says. "On three."

"You know,” Tazer whispers. “You look kinda hot in the bra.”

"What?" Kaner squawks. "Are you serious?"

The flash goes off and Carbomb hands his phone over to show them. It’s about twice as ridiculous as the picture they took in the art museum back in California: Tazer's smirking smugly at the camera, his fingers tugging gently on one of the bra straps while Patrick peers up at him, his face flushed and his mouth open in protest. The hand he had on his hip's a blur by his head, flailing unconsciously.

“Somehow,” Shawsy says suddenly, turning to Patrick. “You’re exactly like I thought you’d be.”

Patrick leans into Jonny’s side and laughs, “Glad I’m not a disappointment.”

 

*

 

Jonny corners him after the show, sweaty and desperate, his fingers clutching onto Patrick's shirt like he's afraid he'll disappear. His eyes are dark and focused, watching Patrick as Patrick licks his lips and shifts his weight to his other foot.

"Jonny," Patrick says, slowly. "What're you doing?"

Jonny shudders, lips parting as he leans in, breathing quick and shallow against Patrick's neck. And Patrick feels like he can't get enough air, his body going from zero to a hundred in seconds.

Tazer's shaking against him, mouthing sloppily at his neck. Actually, Patrick’s pretty sure Jonny’s giving him a hickey which he never does. It’s like an unspoken rule between them: no hickeys allowed. Patrick’s kind of ridiculously excited to see if he has one tomorrow morning. Patrick’s mouth drops open on a gasp, "Fuck, Jonny, someone's gonna see."

And Patrick doesn’t want anyone to see. Sure, a couple of people have seen them draped over each other backstage, messing around with the crappy acoustic guitar Jonny bought for thirty dollars a couple of weeks ago, or leaning in so close their foreheads touch when they’re trying to hear each other over Instigator performing in the background. But, the only person who’s seen Jonny like this is Patrick and he never even knew a show could get him like this, and he wants to keep it this way because god does he love it. Loves the way Jonny's pressing him into the wall, hips moving against him slowly. His voice is muffled against Patrick's skin when he says, "I don't care."

Patrick laughs, high pitched and breathy, he sounds nervous and disbelieving even to his own ears. "Yeah, you do." Jonny shakes his head. "C'mon, we should go."

Jonny pulls back, just enough to look him in the eye, “Go where? We’re sleeping in the van tonight.”

“Well, we're not fucking in the hallway,” Patrick tells him firmly, rolling his eyes as he pushes Jonny away gently. "There's like a million rooms back here, one of them has to have a lock on it."

Jonny groans, disappointed. "Fine, fuck. Let's go."

It takes them all of ten minutes to find a supply closet with a lock on the inside of the door, Jonny shoves Patrick inside before Pat can get out an ‘I told you so’, following him in and pressing their lips together hard once the door shuts behind him.

It's dark and cramped inside, the strong scent of bleach making Patrick's eyes tear up, and Patrick wishes they could’ve found a place with a little more light. But, it's quiet inside, and he can only faintly hear the sounds of crew members milling around and the crowd pouring out of the building and onto the sidewalk so it’s better than it seems.

Patrick finds himself caring less and less though as Jonny kisses him sloppy and rough, too much teeth and space between them, and he feels some of Jonny's desperation seeping into him.

And Jonny's so tense against him, wound up so tight anything could make him snap, and Patrick wonders if Jonny could come like this, just from rutting against Patrick with Patrick's tongue in his mouth. The thought makes Pat's dick hard, his belly going hot and tight when Jonny moans into his mouth.

Patrick lets them kiss for a while, tugging Jonny back by his hair when the noises he’s making become impatient, letting out a pleased sound when he sees how swollen and red Jonny's mouth is already. He wants to fucking bite him; wants to make him bleed and see if that’ll push Jonny over the edge.

Jonny's breathing heavy and loud, trying to duck back in to kiss him again, whining when Patrick won't let him. Patrick wants to fuck him so bad it hurts. He presses his thumb to Jonny's bottom lip, running over it gently before tugging it down a little. He whispers, "What do you need?"

Jonny's voice is hoarse when he chokes out, "You," he swallows, throat clicking. "Fuck, just need you."

Patrick groans, his dick fucking aching in his jeans, and god it really just doesn’t get any hotter than Jonny begging for him. "You got me, Jonny." Pat moves his hand down to grip the back of Jonny's neck, his other hand sliding down to cup Jonny's dick through his jeans. "I'm gonna give you what you need, okay?"

Jonny moans, hips jerking forwards into Patrick's hand. "Yeah, yeah, do it."

The sound of Jonny's zipper being pulled down has Jonny sucking in a breath, and when Patrick gets Jonny's dick out the relieved, breathy sound he makes has Patrick aching to get on his knees for him right then and there, has him wondering if he'd make that same sound as Patrick shoved his dick into Jonny’s mouth.

Jonny's thick and wet in his hand, and Patrick has a moment of just sheer disbelief that he has Jonny's - his best fucking friend's - dick in his hand.

"Pat," Jonny whines, his arm slung around Patrick's shoulders like he needs help staying upright. "It's not fucking rocket science, c'mon."

"Shut up," Patrick grumbles, but he starts jacking him off anyway, making use of the slick already there to make the slide of his hand better. "You should be a little nicer to the person jacking your fucking cock for you."

Jonny shudders against him, his head falling back against the door as his hips fuck up into Patrick's grip. "Fuck," he pants. "Fuck, shut up."

And Patrick thinks maybe Jonny's cheeks are red, maybe he's biting his lip the way Patrick wants to, but he's really finding it hard to take his eyes off the way his hand looks wrapped around Jonny's cock to check. He pants, “You better fucking do me after.”

“I will, I will.” Jonny’s already making these thin, breathy sounds and resting his head against Patrick’s in a way that has him breathing loudly against Patrick’s ear; it should be gross, but Patrick’s having a hard time seeing it as anything other than hot.

“You’re gonna come already, aren’t you?” Patrick pants, twisting his wrist a little on the upstroke. “Christ, you’re easy.”

“Fuck you,” Jonny grits out, but he’s coming a second later anyway. He groans, loud and long, and grips Patrick’s shoulder tight as he shoots off in Patrick’s hand.

Patrick works him through it, letting go when Jonny’s grip loosens and he starts slumping against the wall. It takes him a couple of tries to get his own zipper open, his hands shaking and his brain replaying the sound Jonny made as he came over and over again.

“Fuck,” he hisses, fingers slipping again. “Fuck, I can’t – wait, yeah, yeah that’s it.” He finally gets his hand around his cock, smearing Jonny’s come on his dick as he does. It feels so fucking nasty and Patrick’s getting off on it way more than he should. It doesn’t help any that he can feel Jonny’s fucking shark eyes on him.

“Thought you were gonna help, dickbag.” Patrick grunts, leaning in Jonny’s side. “Staring at my dick like you hate it isn’t going to get me off, just an FYI.”

Jonny snorts next to him, but finally reaches down and tangles his hand with Patrick’s, helping him bring himself off. “You talk way too much.”

“You like when I talk,” he whines, hips fucking up into their hands. “I do it just for you.” He actually couldn’t stop talking at this point if he wanted to; he always tends to babble when he’s close to coming.

Jonny laughs then, and it’s actually the sound of his stupid, smug laugh that has Patrick biting his lip as he tenses up and comes, letting out an embarrassing moan. Jonny smirks at him when he opens his eyes, “That was fast.”

“It’s almost like you don’t want me to suck you off next time,” Pat says, stuffing himself back into his jeans and wiping his hand off on the wall. “Put your fucking dick away, Christ.”

Patrick reaches over and does it for him, careful as he zips him up. Jonny’s hand comes up to cup his jaw, tilting his head just a little so he can slot their mouths together. When they pull back he smiles and says, “You’re something else, you know that?”

And Kaner almost wants to tell him he loves him. “Yeah, you too.”

 

*

TJ Oshie opens for their band in St. Louis.

For a second Patrick thinks, no way - just no fucking way -, it's gotta be a trick of the lights, like, there's no way the burnout Jonny clung to in college is somehow here - with them. But then Oshie faces the crowd to signal something at the sound dude and, yeah, that's definitely him.

Patrick doesn’t – he can’t – he thought he was done with that asshole fucking years ago and now he’s opening for their fucking band? Out of all the bands in the fucking world it has to be Kaner's and Oshie's that play a show together (ugh, together, Kaner gets a bitter taste in his mouth just thinking it).

The whole thing makes Pat wants to find Sharpy and fire him (even though it's not really his fault, and Kaner would still love him even if it was). He also feels like getting ridiculously wasted, so wasted that if he threw a fit and refused to play until Oshie got kicked out he could blame it on the alcohol instead of his intense, years long hatred for the guy. Pat just – he does not like TJ Oshie.

And it totally does not have anything to do with the way Oshie seems to hate him right back. It's not like Oshie making fun of his music (Pat will never ever forgive Jonny for showing Oshie something he wrote, like, seriously? It took Patrick forever to feel comfortable enough to show Jonny and he really thought it'd be okay to show Oshie?) or the way he looks when he plays or even just the way he looks in general (seriously, Patrick had enough of people laughing at his hair and/or face in high school to last a lifetime) bothered him or anything, and it certainly didn't make him consider bashing Oshie's face in. If it came down to it Patrick could totally take on Oshie, though. Without a doubt. Kaner can be scrappy when he wants to, he’s sure of it.

Patrick rocks back and forth on the balls of his feet, fingers tapping against his leg and tugging on his shirt restlessly. He's pretty sure his hands would be shaking if he, you know, could stop moving long enough to actually check; he’s so fucking mad his body doesn’t know what to do with it. He lasts about thirty seconds before just going for it and lighting a cigarette; the whole place smells like weed anyway so what difference would it make?

Pat thinks maybe if he just stands there and stares at the floor and concentrates really hard on not doing something stupid he’ll be okay, but then Jonny finds him and he’s grinning so wide it looks like his face is gonna split right down the middle.

God, Patrick didn't even think about what Jonny's reaction to this bullshit would be. Not that he'd have much to think about; Jonny's reaction to anything Oshie related is to smile and laugh a lot.

Jonny slings an arm around Patrick’s shoulders, drawing him in close and pressing a quick kiss to the top of his head. When he pulls back he tips his chin towards the stage where Oshie’s band is doing a quick sound check, ducking in close so Patrick can hear him over the music, "Can you believe it?"

"No," Patrick says flatly, because he really can't. Then he gets this horrible thought that Jonny knew about this. "Did you tell him we were playing here?"

Jonny gives him a funny look which on its own is amazing, but the fact that he was able to take his eyes off Oshie for more than five seconds is astounding. "No? I haven't talked to him since before we left."

Patrick relaxes a little where he’s tucked against Jonny’s side.

Up onstage Oshie's gesturing wildly at his band, the drink in his hand sloshing all over the floor (Patrick will probably slip on it and break his neck later), and the neck of his guitar about an inch away from knocking the mic stand right off the stage.

The odds of Kaner and Oshie playing the same show in St. Louis (if they were still in Chicago it’d be a different story) have to be astronomical which clearly means the universe is conspiring against Patrick. There has to be some sort of silver lining in this whole thing, Patrick just has to find what it is. Then it hits him, "So, if you didn’t know he was going to be here does that mean he doesn't know we're here?"

"I don't know," Jonny says helpfully. "Maybe."

Well, that's good enough for Patrick. They're only in St. Louis for the show, staying just long enough to hit a drive-thru for some food before heading east for the last leg of the tour. If Pat can get them all packed up and in the van before Oshie finds his way backstage after the show he can get them out of there before Jonny and him rekindle their friendship flames. That leaves Patrick about fifteen minutes to dismantle their gear, pack it in the van, pack up any leftover merch, meet and sign things for fans, and get the rest of his band into the van in one piece.

So basically, Patrick has absolutely no chance of preventing the rekindling of aforementioned friendship flames.

He groans, "I need a fucking drink." He stands on his toes trying to see above the crowd as he looks around the room, "Where's the bar?"

"Uh, I don't think there is one. They weren't even marking hands at the door."

"Shit," Patrick moans, miserable.

Tazer snorts, raising an eyebrow. "You gonna be okay there?"

Patrick wants to say no, even opens his mouth to, but he gets cut off by Oshie's voicing suddenly booming through the building. He slurs, "Heeeeeey,"

Patrick rolls his eyes, feeling slightly betrayed when the crowd happily yells back at Oshie.

"We're The Blues and for the next half hour you're gonna be in love with me," Oshie laughs, leaning heavily on the mic stand. Half the room screams for him and their drummer counts them in, Oshie's voice warbling out a couple seconds later.

Patrick tries every distraction technique he knows to keep from actively listening, but the sound guy in this place is actually really good for once, making Patrick's attempts pretty useless.

Jonny sticks around for about thirty seconds, pulling Pat in close for another quick squeeze before disappearing into the crowd. Well, Pat thinks, there goes his last distraction. Patrick kind of hates him right now.

Patrick tries criticizing Oshie's band next, but they aren't even half as terrible as Patrick thought (and hoped) they'd be. They are a little sloppy at times though, their drummer getting too excited every few bars and pushing everyone too fast, but that's something that can be fixed easily with enough practice.

The only thing Patrick likes about Oshie’s band is how Oshie sounds absolutely nothing like Patrick; it’s like they’re on complete opposite ends of the scale. For one thing, Oshie’s pretty fucking terrible at singing from his gut so there's absolutely no emotion in his voice. Kaner would get bored watching him even if he didn’t hate him so god damn much. What’s music without emotion?

Patrick's fucking cried onstage before (to be fair, his wrist was still achy from the cold and hurt like fuck every time he strummed his bass, but it happened during a slow song and when the lights flickered out over the audience he could see he wasn’t the only one crying).

Oshie doesn't really do anything all that interesting, he mostly smiles at the crowd between lines and keeps his eyes trained on his guitar like he can't play properly unless he's watching his fingers slide up and down the frets.

Patrick takes comfort in their differences, finally calming down enough to be able to stand still without feeling like he’ll explode at any second.

The rest of their set is pretty uneventful; Oshie's shown no signs of knowing that he and Jonny are here as a headliner, and Patrick thinks he might actually be able to get them out of there before someone tips him off. So, of course, it’s right after Patrick’s faith in the world is restored that everything goes to hell.

Oshie’s band mates are tuning instruments and chugging their waters, their backs to Oshie as he pants into the mic, "So how many of you are here to see The Blackhawks?" The crowd cheers louder than they have all night and Patrick feels himself flush with happiness. "Yeah, they're pretty awesome, huh? Hey, so, how about their guitarist, huh? That’s one talented, dude."

More cheering erupts as Pat's stomach sinks.

Oshie laughs a little, "Well, it just so happens that Jonny and I used to be college buddies back in the day. I wrote this song for him a while ago and I was hoping he'd come up here and play it with me."

Patrick might actually go to jail for murdering Oshie, he’s about 85% sure of it. There’s no way Jonny’s going to get onstage with Oshie and his band, especially when Oshie will probably want Jonny to sing and the last time Patrick tried that onstage he got the silent treatment for a week.

"Joooooonny," Oshie sings. "C'mon, I know you're out there."

It takes another minute or so before people in the crowd start cheering, yelling both Jonny and Oshie's names, until Jonny finally makes his way to the barrier, security helping him climb onstage. Patrick watches, jaw dropped, as Jonny and Oshie exchange a few words, Oshie’s hand on the mic to stop anyone from hearing. It’s a couple more minutes of that, the two of them suddenly breaking apart when Oshie’s band mates return to their marks, eyes trained on Oshie as they wait for his signal.

And then Oshie takes off his guitar and – and gives it to Jonny. Jonny puts it on, not even bothering to adjust the strap, and strums it a few times, the crowd going wild even though he hasn’t even really done anything yet. But, fuck, Patrick would be the same way if he was in their place; Jonny’s fucking amazing.

Oshie says something to Jonny that leaves him laughing and rubbing the back of his neck the way he always does when he’s embarrassed, and then turns back to the audience. "This is a song Jonny and I wrote when we were 19; it's called 'Don't Taze Me, Bro'."

The song's not bad, made up of easy riffs that make it obvious how much Jonny's grown as a guitar player since he wrote that song with TJ, and the lyrics revolve around some epic college party (probably the one Jonny and Oshie got arrested at like total dumbasses), and Patrick listens dutifully.

Jonny's different onstage with Oshie, like, so different he's almost unrecognizable to Patrick. Patrick keeps waiting for him to start flying around the stage like he usually does with The Blackhawks, but Jonny stays where he is. Pat's confused about it until he sees the way Jonny and Oshie are gravitating towards each other. There's really no other way to put it. When Oshie leans left so does Jonny, if Jonny takes a step back Oshie pulls the mic stand closer to him so he can follow. It's - different.

About halfway through the song Jonny starts leaning on Oshie, like he doesn't freak out when Patrick clutches onto his shirt in the middle of a show for five fucking seconds to ask him if they can rearrange the set list. Jonny looks settled on stage with Oshie, settled and comfortable.

Patrick fucking hates it.

He starts looking for the bar again before the song's even finished, ignoring the way the crowd begs for more when Jonny finally gets off the fucking stage. He doesn’t find a bar, but he does find Carbomb which is the next best thing. Carbomb gets him fixed up with warm, shitty vodka and shoots the shit with him while Patrick gets drunk. Pat tries not to hog the whole thing, but every time he offers the bottle to Carbomb he just smiles ruefully at him and pats him on the back, saying something like, “You need it more than me, my man.”

Instigator go on after The Blues so Kaner leaves the bottle backstage and maneuvers his way back into the crowd, letting himself be pushed and pulled and hit as Shawsy sings about breaking some dude's nose. It's fun; plus, nobody comes up to him in the middle of a song and asks for his autograph or for a picture so for once he can just focus on the music.

He doesn't see Jonny again until he heads backstage towards the end of Instigator’s set to grab his bass and do some warm ups. Even then, Tazer's in the corner talking with Oshie as he does his stupid stretches.

Duncs comes and stands by Patrick for a minute or two, giving him a slightly disapproving look before glancing over his shoulder at Tazer. Pat kind of wants to punch him, because he's the least subtle person Patrick's ever met in his entire life, and the last thing Patrick needs is Oshie catching sight of him and rushing over to shit talk him some more. He also doesn’t need Tazer coming over to lecture him about playing while drunk.

When Instigator come off Shawsy makes a beeline for Patrick, beaming at him as he declares, "History has been made."

Patrick ducks the hand Carbomb reaches out with as he passes, sticking his tongue out when Carbomb laughs. "What're you talking about, Shawzer?"

"You! In the pit! For my band!" Shawsy gestures excitedly at him, big and expansive like Patrick might've missed the part of his night where he got sweated on by strangers and kicked in the face by a crowd surfer (multiple times).

"You guys were great," Patrick says honestly, and they were, too. They're still finding their way out there, but they've come such a long way from the beginning of the tour that it’s truly something special to see.

Shawsy looks like he's gearing up to say more, but then Saader starts waving him over to the exit and Bollig calls, "Hey, mutt, let's go. You said you'd buy Saader and me a beer after the show; let Kaner finish warming up."

Shawsy's grin gets even bigger, and he sends Patrick one last apologetic look before patting him on the back and meeting Bollig and Saader by the door, Bollig's arm sliding around Andy's waist once he's within reach. Kaner’s still having trouble figuring out if Shawsy’s with Bollig or with Saader; it doesn’t help that whenever he tries to ask Shawsy refers to them both as Brandon.

Kaner doesn’t bother waiting for Tazer to finish his conversation with Oshie before walking out onstage. That should’ve been the first clue that this show wasn’t going to be like the others.

In short, the show’s a disaster.

Okay, so that might be an exaggeration. They sound amazing, they always do. The crowd’s screaming for them and cheering them on, but Kaner spends the entire first half of the show wanting to punch Jonny in the face and Jonny spends the entire first half of the show completely oblivious to Kaner’s intense rage towards him.

Kaner supposes that makes sense since Tazer spends most of the show flitting from one end of the stage to the other, navigating around Kaner like if he comes within ten feet of him he’ll spontaneously combust into flames.

Maybe Tazer’s just picking now to have his huge freak out over possibly being in some sort of relationship with Kaner. Maybe he hung all over Oshie with intent, like he wanted Kaner to know he’d never match up to fucking TJ.

About halfway through the show Kaner spots Carbomb hanging out by the amps and waits for the song to end to get his attention, miming taking a drink, hoping he gets it. Carbomb laughs, even though Kaner can totally see how nervous he is, and Patrick should really take that as his cue to let it go, but he’s already pretty drunk so instead he leans into the mic and calls him onstage. “And bring the fucking vodka with you.”

Carbomb comes out a couple of seconds later, looking sheepish as he carries the mostly empty bottle out. A few kids in front start a ‘Carbomb’ chant that quickly spreads throughout the crowd; Kaner slings an arm around Carbomb’s shoulders when he sees how red he’s turning. Fuck, it’s like as soon as he steps out from behind his kit Carbomb slips back into his slightly less manic alter ego Danny Carcillo.

“Give it up for Carbomb!” Kaner slurs into the mic, grinning so hard it hurts when the crowd screams back at him. Carbomb gives a little wave, half jogging off the stage when Tazer aims his fucking death glare at him. Jonny looks like he’s about to stomp over to Kaner and he panics, maybe just a little, and says, “Just in case any of you were worried, I’m not actually as young as I look, I just turned twenty three. I’ll leave the underage drinking to Tazer if you know what I mean.”

Half the crowd laughs and the other half looks confused. Tazer looks like he wants to murder Patrick, and Patrick hears Duncs’ bass drum pick up, warning him to start the next song. He takes one last swig of his drink, setting the bottle down next to his mic stand. “This is a song I wrote about drunken assholes in frats. It’s called ‘It’s for You, Now and Forever’.

Kaner takes a step back from the mic, glancing over at Jonny and raising an eyebrow. Jonny’s so mad his entire face is red. It’s kind of hilarious. Kaner lets the staring match go on for a couple seconds longer then leans back in and says, “Start the fucking song, Tazer.”

Tazer does.

*

Sharpy calls him the next day at around two, Kaner practically lunges for his phone when it goes off, hoping it didn’t wake Jonny, but when he looks over at the other bed it’s empty. Kaner’s surprised his head isn’t pounding in protest, he must’ve slept off most of the hangover in the van on the way to the motel last night. Sharpy doesn’t even wait for him to say hello. “Why are there a bunch of sixteen year olds blogging about how much you hate your guitarist?”

Patrick lies back down, pulling the covers over his head. “I don’t know."

Sharpy lets out a loud breath, “Are you breaking up?”

“What?” Kaner’s heart pounds. “No! Why? Did Tazer say something to you? Does he want to break up?”

“Whoa,” Sharpy shushes him. “Toews hasn’t said anything to me. All these blogs are saying you want to break up so I’m asking you.”

“No, fuck, Sharpy, they’re just kids. We’re fine.” Kaner closes his eyes, and thinks he can hear Maddy shrieking about something in the background. “This is only our first tour, we’ve got another two years as a band at least until we break up.” Kaner huffs out a laugh, and ignores the twisting in his stomach when Sharpy remains silent.

“Peeks,” Sharpy says gently. “What did I tell you when this tour first started?”

Kaner swallows, it sounds extra loud in the suffocating silence under the blankets. If Jonny were here Kaner would be forced to listen to his snoring, or if he was already awake he’d be watching the weather channel with the volume up way too loud. Patrick really wishes Jonny was here. He says quietly, “That I could talk to you about anything.”

“Exactly,” Sharpy says. “So, is there anything you want to say?”

The thing is, he could tell Sharpy. He could tell him that he and Jonny have been fucking for about a month now and that Kaner still doesn’t know if this is just a tour thing or if Kaner can call his parents when he gets back home and have them invite Jonny over for dinner as his boyfriend. Sharpy probably already thinks they’re a couple, fuck, he did back before any of this started, and even just the idea of it had Jonny running scared. He lies, “No.”

Sharpy hums thoughtfully, “So if I ask Duncs he’ll tell me that I’m being ridiculous? That everyone is fine and the blogs are exaggerating shit?”

“Yes.” He would. Duncs wouldn’t tell Sharpy anything that had to do with Jonny and Kaner. Sharpy should know that by now, but he’s grasping at straws and doesn’t want Kaner to know. “I told you: we’re fine.”

 Sharpy sighs and Kaner can picture him pinching the bridge of his nose like he always does when someone’s being an idiot and Sharpy can’t just flat out tell them that. “Alright, then I’ll talk to you later tonight after the show.

“Okay.”

“And Kaner,” Sharpy says, right before he hangs up. “I’ll be out there in five days, if it’s not fixed by then you’re going to have to fill me in.”

Kaner goes back to sleep for about  an hour then, peeking his head out from under the covers slowly, like he’s giving Jonny time to just magically appear in the other bed. He’s not there, and even though Kaner knew he wouldn’t be he still feels a rush of disappointment.

They don’t have to check out of the hotel until tomorrow morning when they leave for North Carolina. Jonny’s probably staying with Duncs and Seabs in their room; now that he thinks about it, he’s actually surprised Duncs isn’t sleeping in the bed opposite his.

When Kaner finally gets out of bed he heads directly into the bathroom for a shower, drafting up his apology speech to Tazer. He’s not sure if he should get on his knees to apologize or just focus on the important parts like “please” and “sorry” and “forgive me”. He should definitely leave out the part about telling Tazer to go join Oshie’s band if he’s so miserable playing with Patrick.

He’s thinking about getting dressed, maybe finding some decent coffee and a muffin or something to bring to Tazer, when Tazer puts a crimp in his plans by actually coming back to the room. He freezes when he sees Patrick, but then breezes right past him, flitting around his side of the room the way he would if he was packing up to leave.

Patrick sits down on the end of his bed, toweling his hair dry. He tries, “Tazer.”

Jonny flinches when he hears Patrick, but keeps on ignoring him.

“Jonny, I’m sorry.” Patrick rushes out. “Okay? I’m sorry. I acted like an asshole and you didn’t deserve that.”

Jonny still doesn’t say anything.

Patrick sighs, flopping back on his bed. “How long are you going to be mad at me? Not until the end of the tour, right?” Patrick prays it’s not until the end of the tour. He’s not sure he could last that long with Tazer giving him the fucking silent treatment. That shit gets old fast.

“Is that really what ‘It’s for You, Now and Forever’ is about?” Jonny finally asks, tight and controlled. Patrick has no fucking clue what he’s talking about. He doesn’t remember all the shit he spouted last night. It must show on his face because suddenly Tazer’s saying, “Christ, Patrick. You don’t even remember, do you? Here let me help you.” Jonny stops what he’s doing, slumping over a bit where he’s standing. He sways back and forth on his feet a little and when he starts talking his words are slurred, “This – this is a song I wrote about – about drunken assholes in frats.”

Patrick watches him, feeling like a complete douchebag. Jonny straightens up, “Then you stared at me for a while. Didn’t know you thought so highly of me, Pat.”

“Fuck you,” Patrick says, angry even though he has no right to be. “You’re the one who went onstage with Oshie, hanging all over him like you wish you were in his fucking band. Like you wish you were fucking him and not me.”

Jonny stares at him, body tense and breath harsh. Patrick just wants to start all over again, wants to curl up in a ball and have Jonny leave the room, maybe knock this time and wait for Patrick to properly apologize. “You’re such an ass, you know that?” he laughs, cold and mean. “Fuck, is that what this is all about? You’re fucking jealous of TJ?”

“There’s nothing to be jealous of,” Patrick huffs. “Look, I said I was sorry. I can’t change what happened. If you wanna ignore me for the foreseeable future then go right ahead, I can’t stop you.” He can annoy him into yelling at him later on, though.

“Fine, whatever.” Jonny throws his hands up. “But, if you pull that shit again we’re going to have a problem.” Jonny leaves after that, not even bothering to pretend like he came back to the room for anything other than to chew Pat out.

Pat knows he’s still angry, that he’s only accepting Pat’s apology because it’s what’s best for the band and the easiest course of action. He also knows that in five days when Sharpy gets there their mutual civility towards each other isn’t going to be nearly enough to stop him from interfering.

Patrick behaves himself at the show later that night, remaining sober and even apologizing to Carbomb for involving him in the whole thing when Instigator comes off the stage. He doesn’t say anything to Jonny, though, just does his job and talks to Duncs or the crowd whenever Jonny needs to tune his guitar. He even sticks to the original set list, aware that he can’t deviate without letting Jonny know.

Jonny, for his part, doesn’t even act like he’s mad at him, just keeps flying around the stage, twisting around Patrick to avoid crashing into him whenever he comes close.

When they come off the stage Jonny bumps his shoulder into Patrick’s companionably, giving him a small smile. Patrick can see how uneasy he is underneath it though, so he makes sure to smile extra big in return, lighting up even more when Jonny laughs.

They’ll be okay, if only because Patrick is infinitely better than TJ fucking Oshie could ever be and he’s not about to let Jonny forget that.

 

*

 

Things do get better between them, no matter how unbelievable that may be. Duncs stops throwing him worried looks in the rearview mirror, and Sharpy doesn’t even mention what the fans are saying about the two of them. In fact, for the first couple of days he’s there Sharpy doesn’t mention the whole Jonny and Pat debacle at all, and Patrick starts thinking he’s forgot about the whole thing, but then Jonny starts bringing up Oshie.

Or, rather, Jonny won’t fucking stop bringing up Oshie. If Patrick has to listen to Jonny tell Sharpy about how “cool” and “awesome” it was it was to play with TJ again he’s going to jump out of the van, whether it’s moving or not.

Sharpy mostly finds the whole thing amusing, even when Kaner chews him out for booking them a show with Oshie’s band in the first place. “I just don’t get it,” Sharpy says one night, when they’re stopped at a gas station loading up on fuel and snacks. It’s just Kaner, Sharpy, and Duncs in the van and Duncs looks like he’s starting to regret not going with Seabs and Jonny. “Why do you hate the guy so much?”

Kaner throws his arms up, exasperated. “He’s an asshole! The only time he’s ever been nice to me is when he tried to get me to bail him out of jail!” Kaner turns to Duncs. “Back me up, man.”

“Oshie is an asshole,” he says flatly, same as every other time Kaner tries to get him to trash talk Oshie. “Are you seriously bent out of shape about Jonny playing with him, though? It was for one song, Kaner. Let it go.”

“I’ll let it go when Tazer does,” Kaner snaps defensively (which he really doesn’t see happening any time soon, especially since Oshie’s started sending Jonny Snapchats of stupid shit like his dog and his crap dye job).

Duncs rolls his eyes as Sharpy cracks up. “You’re fucking dramatic, you know that?”

“Fuck you,” Kaner huffs. “Pass me my fucking smokes.”

Sharpy throws an empty carton at his head, “You’re fresh out, kid.”

Oh, yeah. He knew that. It’s possible Kaner’s been smoking more than he should be since the show in St. Louis, it may or may not have something to do with the fact that Tazer hasn’t kissed him since the morning of that show and hasn’t even given the impression that he misses kissing Patrick as much as Patrick misses kissing him. It may or may not also have something to do with how Patrick still doesn’t have the slightest fucking clue about what they are to each other.

He’s been trying really hard lately not to think about it, but trying not to think about it makes him feel anxious which in turn makes him smoke a whole lot.

Pat briefly entertains the thought of quitting for about two minutes, but then Tazer and Seabs come back and Duncs shoves him out of his seat so he can sit next to Seabs. He ends up in the back with Tazer, who rolls his eyes when Sharpy tells them to buckle up, and Pat starts tearing the empty cigarette carton into pieces so he has something to do with his hands.

When Tazer catches him at it he puts his hand over Patrick’s, “You’re making a mess.”

Coming from the biggest slob he’s ever met. Pat gives him an incredulous look, “I’m making a mess?”

Jonny at least has the good sense to look embarrassed, but then he’s reaching into his pocket and pulling out a brand new pack of smokes. He drops them in Patrick’s lap, “I saw you ran out last night,” he shrugs. “You always forget to get new ones.”

Pat shoves the scraps from the first carton into Jonny’s sweatshirt pocket, ignoring his protests and how warm his hands are. Patrick really just wants to hold his fucking hand right now. Instead he says, “Thanks, man.”

 

*

 

There’s only three weeks left in the tour, and Kaner feels like he’s somehow woken up in an alternate universe, because now, seemingly out of the blue, Kaner can’t go two minutes without Tazer sauntering over to him and leaning against him or jostling him out of place or even fucking nuzzling his face into Kaner’s shoulder (which was pretty gross considering Tazer was drenched in sweat and basically wiped it all off on Kaner) while they’re on stage.

It’d be easier to deal with if Kaner wasn’t channeling all of his fucking energy into ignoring Tazer when they’re up there performing. In fact, it’s almost as if the more he ignores Tazer, the more he gets bumped into and sweat on.

Kaner doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal, to be honest. Ignoring Jonny on stage just seemed like the best course of action and would definitely insure that Kaner won’t humiliate himself or his band again. Plus, it’s not like Kaner ignores him when they’re not on stage.

Kaner sits out in the sun with him now that it’s spring and it’s finally starting to warm up, bickering and laughing at one another easily. Jonny’s a little touchier now than he was before, always reaching out to grab Patrick’s wrist or to fuck with his hair, his eyes searching Kaner’s for some kind of reassurance. Kaner doesn’t know when Jonny started thinking he needed permission to touch Patrick, but he doesn’t like it.

He’s chattier, too. But, only after shows; he sticks to Kaner’s side and Kaner barely notices the wide berth everyone gives them.

So naturally, it all goes to shit in Virginia. And, really, Patrick should’ve known they wouldn’t be able to finish the tour that easily.

Jonny changes the set list – for the first time ever – when the show’s nearly over and Patrick shrugs to himself, following Jonny’s lead as easily as he always does. Jonny picked a fast song, one of their harder ones to play live, and Patrick focuses on his fingers sliding up and down the fret board of his bass and on singing the right words at the right time.

Everything’s going okay until Jonny starts bumping into him every few seconds, harder each time. Patrick wants to tell him to fucking quit it, that he’s distracting Patrick, but he’d have to stop ignoring him in order to do that.

Patrick thinks Jonny must’ve gotten the message somehow, because he’s backing away and giving Kaner some room to fucking breathe. Kaner takes a couple of steps back as well, letting the crowd scream his words back at him, and it’s then that Jonny comes out of fucking nowhere and slams into him.

Patrick knows he’s going to fall the second Tazer makes contact with him, but it’s when he stupidly tries to catch himself on his mic stand that he really fucks up and ends up tripping over a cable and crashing into his mic teeth first.

Kaner stays very still for a minute, his bass squashed underneath him uncomfortably, and it takes him a moment to notice the way his mouth’s throbbing. It doesn’t even hurt until he swipes his tongue across his teeth to check if he’s missing any, sharp pain making his throat tighten and his eyes tear up. He tries breathing through the pain, in through his nose and out through his mouth, but it only makes his mouth hurt even more, and it’s then that he realizes how quiet it is.

“Pat?” Jonny’s hand is on his back in the next second, rubbing it in soothing circles, and he sounds scared. “Pat, are you okay? Let me see your face.”

Pat groans, immediately wishes he hadn’t, and sits up. He presses his fingers to his mouth as gently as he can, and when he pulls them away they’re a little bloody.

“Don’t touch,” Jonny says sharply. “Fuck, we’ve got to get you to a dentist or something.”

Duncs and Sharpy come rushing over then, Sharpy handing him a towel for his mouth as Duncs helps him up. Tazer tries to help too, but Duncs glares at him until he backs off. He hisses, “What the fuck is wrong with you? I said pay more attention to him on stage, not body slam him into his fucking microphone.”

“I didn’t mean to!” he looks miserable and Patrick can’t even pretend to be mad at him.

“Jonny,” Sharpy says, voice calm. “Get Brent and the Instigator boys to help you pack up the gear and let everyone know the show’s over.”

Jonny looks like he wants to protest, but both Duncs and Sharpy glare him into submission. He nods meekly and picks up the microphone from where it fell.

“Your teeth are fucked,” Sharpy tells him when they’re backstage. “Your lip’s busted, too. That’s where the blood’s coming from, but it’s minor so don’t panic.”

Patrick waves his hand as if to say, “Me? Panic? Never.”

Sharpy laughs, it sounds slightly hysterical. “Fuck, you scared me for a second, Peeks.”

Patrick squeezes his shoulder reassuringly.

“Okay,” he says, nodding. “I’m going to find you a dentist and he’ll fix your teeth, and then we’ll deal with everything else.”

Patrick gives the plan a thumbs-up and lets Duncs steer him to the couch while Sharpy digs out his phone. “Your teeth are actually more fucked up than mine right now. How does that feel?”

Patrick narrows his eyes and shoves him lightly, feeling a little better when Duncs grins at him. Kaner startles a bit when he realizes Duncs has his fake teeth in.

Duncs looks embarrassed, “Brent and I were planning on going out after the show.” He pauses. “On a date.”

Kaner smacks him, fist pumping a second later. Why the fuck was he left out of the loop?

“You were dealing with all your Tazer bullshit,” he says, practically spitting out Jonny’s name. “We were both going to tell you once you guys were back to normal.”

Patrick raises his eyebrows, wanting to know how in the hell this finally happened.

“Uh,” Duncs says, cheeks turning pink. “We fucked in St. Louis.”

Kaner’s eyes bug out and he can’t help the shocked noise he makes, wincing the second it leaves his mouth.

Duncs shoots him a look, “Don’t talk, idiot.”

Patrick doesn’t get to hear the rest of the story, because Sharpy comes back, looking only slightly more frazzled than before. “I found a dentist, but he’s closing in an hour so we need to leave now. Jonny and Brent will meet us there.”

At the dentist’s, Pat’s given a bunch of heavy duty painkillers and his mouth’s numbed as well. They do what they can, but Patrick’s going to have to see another dentist when he gets back to Chicago for a more permanent fix. Patrick runs his fingers over his lips and tries to sing without slurring when they’re finished working on him. It’s safe to say he’s a little woozy from the meds.

Patrick doesn’t know how they’re paying for this shit, doesn’t even know how he’s going to afford to get them fixed in Chicago, but in no time at all he’s being helped out of his seat by Duncs and shepherded into the van so he guesses the bill’s been taken care of by someone.

Sharpy books them a motel about five miles away, and Duncs dumps his and Kaner’s bags into the same room.

“What’re you doin’?” Kaner slurs, sitting down heavily on his bed. “What about Seabs?”

“Tazer’s rooming with Seabs,” Duncs tells him.

“Tazer’s my roommate,” Kaner protests. “Mine, not Brent’s.”

“Tazer also just broke half your fucking teeth, so maybe you should room with me for a little while.” Duncs says, crossing his arms with his mouth pressed into a flat, hard line. And Kaner gets why he’s mad, hell, if their roles were reversed and Seabs shoved Duncs into his mic Kaner would be fucking furious, but it’s not like Jonny meant to hurt him.

“Okay,” Patrick says, crawling up the bed. God, the blankets in this place fucking suck, Patrick feels like he’s rubbing fucking steel wool against his face. “You’re right.”

“You’re damn right I am,” Duncs grins, voice firm. He looks so fucking weird with a mouth full of teeth it’s actually blowing Kaner’s mind. Kaner hasn’t seen him like that in years.

“Take out your fake teeth already,” Kaner moans into his pillow. “You’re freaking me out.”

Duncs huffs out a laugh, “You’re so fucked right now. Listen, I’m gonna go find Sharpy and when I get back me and my teeth will read you a bedtime story so you can sleep this shit off.”

Kaner hums, flopping a hand up in a half assed wave. Duncs moves around the room for another minute, flicking all the lights off and grabbing his keys. When he leaves Kaner waits two minutes before diving for the phone, narrowly avoiding tumbling off the bed in the process, praying that Tazer’s in the room next to him.

It takes him two tries to get the right room, but when he does Jonny picks up right away. “Patrick?”

“Asshole,” Patrick lisps, fingers pressing against his mouth again. “These blankets fucking suck, bring me some new ones."

Jonny’s voice is feeble, “Pat-”

“Jonny,” Patrick interrupts. “You have two minutes to get your ass in my room.” Patrick hangs up before Jonny can say anything, clumsily placing the phone down and laying back against the headboard. He should probably go check out his teeth in the bathroom, but he’s not sure if he’d actually make it.

Jonny shows up exactly two minutes later, laden down with extra blankets for Patrick that look significantly softer than the ones he has.

Jonny herds him back into bed, his hands up like Patrick’s an animal with a tendency to bite. That reminds him, “How fucked are my teeth?”

“Pretty fucked,” Jonny says quietly, perched at the end of the bed.

Patrick frowns, “Does that mean Oshie’s better looking than me now?” What if having gross teeth is a deal breaker for Jonny? Honestly, Patrick’s seen him freak out over less.

“What?” Jonny stops fidgeting, his eyebrows raised. “No. What the fuck are you even talking about?”

And maybe Patrick shouldn’t have invited Jonny over, because the pills are really fucking with him and now seems like as good a time as any to finally discuss the whole Oshie thing. “Does he sing better than me?”

Jonny stares at him blankly for a moment, and then he scrambles up the bed, straddling Patrick and gripping onto his shoulders hard. He shakes him a little, “Listen to me: you’re the best, Pat.”

Patrick can feel himself blushing, “You mean it?”

“Yeah,” he laughs, soft and happy. “Yeah, I mean it.”

“Well, in that case,” Pat says smugly, trying to suppress his smile.

Jonny laughs at him again, ducking down to kiss him, and even though Patrick can’t really feel it what with his mouth being numb it’s still a really fucking nice kiss. Or, at least it was until he starts drooling everywhere. Jonny leans back, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, “Gross.”

Kaner waggles his eyebrows, “You love it.”

Jonny cards his fingers through Patrick’s hair gently, the corner of his mouth twisted up. “I do.”

“Yeah?” Patrick breathes, fighting the urge to close his eyes. Jonny’s fingers just feel so nice, and the pills are finally starting to make him feel drowsy.

“Yeah.”

Patrick smiles, big and bright, “Me, too. Even though you’re a fucking asshole.”

“Thanks,” Jonny’s eyes are focused on Pat’s teeth and he’s starting to look guilty again so Pat reaches up a hand to tug him down, pressing their lips together soft and easy.

It figures that’s the moment Duncs comes back. He shouts, “What the fuck are you doing in here?”

Tazer actually looks like he might piss himself. Kaner knows the feeling.

Jonny’s still sitting on top of him, so Patrick pushes him off quickly and waits to see if Duncs is going to attack. When he doesn’t move Kaner blurts, “I can’t believe you fucked Seabs and didn’t tell me.”

Jonny sits up, eyes wide, “You fucked Seabs?”

Duncs goes red, his hands covering his eyes. “Oh my god.”

 

*

 

It takes Patrick twenty four hours to convince Duncs that Tazer is no longer public enemy #1, and even longer to convince Tazer himself. But, it’s not like he has anything better to do now that they’re driving home.

Patrick can’t sing with his mouth still fucked up and half the time he’s too loaded down with painkillers to do anything other than sleep so the tour ends in Virginia, a whole three weeks early. Sharpy makes sure that everyone with tickets gets a full refund, and that when Patrick’s better they’ll drive their asses out to the east coast for a mini tour.

Patrick doesn’t think he’s ever talked about TJ Oshie as much as he has in the last few hours, but when he finally gets all the bullshit off his chest Jonny looks at him like he’s proud so Patrick figures it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Plus, Tazer makes out with him in the backseat when they stop for gas and lets Patrick listen to his iPod with him for a while, pressing a kiss to the top of his head when Patrick rests his head against Tazer’s shoulder.

Things with them have been incredibly fucking easy since they finally sat down and discussed their relationship like grown adults. It was still really fucking awkward, Jonny was kind of non-verbal for the first few minutes while Patrick rambled on endlessly about his feelings (and Jonny’s thighs, he definitely brought up Jonny’s thighs a few times). But, Jonny broke down eventually, and admitted that, yes, even though Patrick is a disgusting human being he does indeed want to be with him. Like, sleep in the same bed and fuck slow and sweet on Sunday mornings and sign both their names on any cards sent to family members be with him.

It takes them a couple of days to get back to Chicago, and Patrick laughs as they all throw their arms up, cheering loudly when they cross the border. Patrick couldn’t have picked a better time to come home, all the trees and flowers are blooming again and even though it’s not warm enough to sit out in the sun Patrick still kind of wants to. He presses his face up against the window of the van, closing his eyes for a moment because it honestly feels like he’s been gone for a year and he’s so happy to be back home he could cry.

Jonny doesn’t say anything as they all chat excitedly about being back home, but when they pass their old high school he squeezes Patrick’s hand and Patrick really wants to be at home already.

Sharpy drops them off first, waiting until they get all of their bags and gear out before speeding off so fast Patrick briefly thinks he smells burnt rubber. He honks as he rounds the corner at the end of their street and then the van’s out of sight, and it’s just him and Jonny.

They both stand in their front lawn for a minute, shielding their eyes from the sun as they stare up at their house in awe. It’s not even like they have a nice house, it actually really needs a new paint job and all their flowers are dead and their screen door’s missing the screen, but it’s theirs.

“We’re an embarrassment to the neighborhood,” Jonny says, slinging his bags over his shoulder. “Fuck, was it always this ugly?”

“Always,” Patrick nods. “It used to be uglier; remember when we first moved in and two of the windows were broken so they just put plastic bags over them?”

Jonny groans, “What the fuck were we thinking?”

“That we wanted to live together,” Patrick says, shrugging. “And we didn’t really care where as long as it was with each other.”

“Wow,” Jonny turns to him. “That might be the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me.”

Patrick blushes and shoves him, “Shut up. Stop gawking and help carry our shit inside.”

Jonny rolls his eyes but does as Kaner says, and the first thing Kaner does when he gets inside is open up the windows to let in some fresh air. It takes them about an hour to unpack, start the first load of wash, shower, and order delivery. When Patrick comes back into the living room he flops back onto the couch, reveling in the fact that he doesn’t have to move for the next week if he doesn’t want to. He can sleep in tomorrow for Christ’s sake. It is so fucking glorious to be home.

Jonny comes back out in his underwear and a ratty old t-shirt. Patrick allows himself to stare for a second, because he can fucking do that now any time he wants, before beckoning Jonny over to him. Jonny stretches out on the couch next to him, sliding in closer when Patrick throws an arm around his shoulders.

“So,” he says, eyes meeting Jonny’s. “We’re really doing this, huh?”

“Yes,” Jonny says, warily. “We’re really doing this.”

“So then I can say it now, right?” Patrick grins, tightening his hold when Jonny starts to squirm.

“Do you really have to?”

“I, Patrick Kane, am really fucking in love with you, Jonny Toews.” Patrick raises his voice when he says it, too, just to make Jonny cringe even more.

Jonny’s cheeks are so red Pat’s tempted to check if they’re hot to the touch. He avoids Patrick’s eyes, mumbling, “I love you, too.”

“See?” Patrick kisses his cheek. “That wasn’t so hard.”

“Freak,” Jonny says, but Patrick can see the pleased smirk hiding in the corner of his mouth.

“Your freak,” Patrick says happily, leaning in to kiss Jonny. And kissing Jonny in the privacy of their living room feels just as intense as it did the first time, back behind the crowded bar in Colorado. And even though Jonny’s a total weirdo, and a slob, and from Canada Patrick’s more excited to be his fucking boyfriend than he is about anything else in his life. They’re going to be fucking amazing together.