So the first day in his new high school, Patrick forgets to be annoyed by the general Canadian-ness of everything because his lab partner is so, so cute.
“Hi,” Patrick says, dimpling. “What’s your name?”
Cutie looks at Patrick. He looks a little constipated, actually, but he’s still really cute. “Hey. I’m Jonathan.”
“That’s cute,” Patrick says. “I mean, cool. That’s cool. I’m Patrick.”
“Nice to meet you, Patrick,” Jonathan says. He’s smiling a little, now. “I think you’re, uh, cool, too.”
He turns away as Mr Quenneville starts talking, but he glances at Patrick when he thinks he isn’t looking. Jonathan’s trying to be subtle about it, too, like he doesn’t want to be caught.
What a cutie, Patrick thinks.
Winnipeg isn’t that far from Buffalo— at least, not as far as it could’ve been— and Patrick really misses being out on the ice back home, but he’s kind of excited to be up against these guys, too. He’s actually looking forward to it when the hockey tryouts dates get announced.
What he doesn’t expect is Jonathan being at the rink, and what he expects even less is Jonny with a C on his jersey, doing rounds on the ice already. Patrick thinks about saying something, but before he does, Jonathan looks up right at him from about ten feet away. It’s uncanny, like he knew he’d be there.
“Hey,” Jonathan says, skating over to the tryouts line.
“You’re the captain?”
“Yeah, didn’t you know?”
“No,” Patrick touches the C on his chest to make sure it’s real. The material of the jersey is starchy and stiff in the cold, and Jonathan takes a breath when he presses gently. “Are you seriously telling me your name is spelled like— toes?”
“It’s ‘Toews’,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, you’re here for tryouts?”
“Yeah. Used to play back in Buffalo, so.”
“Were you any good?”
He sounds like he’s teasing, but Patrick tilts his chin up anyway. “Worried that American hockey’s gonna steal your thunder?”
“You wish,” Jonathan says, smiling. He looks good when he smiles, all warm and sweet, and Patrick takes his time sliding his hand away from his shoulder, because wow, he’s so cute.
“Red looks good on you.”
Jonathan swallows and shakes his head. “I know what you’re doing.”
“And what am I doing?” Patrick says, grinning.
Jonathan opens his mouth to answer, but then another dude wearing the A blows the whistle and he shakes his head instead. “Time to go.” He says, skating away. “Don’t think I’m going easy on you.”
“Wasn’t counting on it,” Patrick calls after him.
Sometime after dinner, Patrick gets a text message from an unknown number.
Hey. It’s Jonathan. Welcome to the team.
FUCK YEAH, Patrick types back. DIDNT I TELL YOU???
Jonathan replies really quickly, like he’d been waiting for it. Yeah, you did. : )
“Mom,” Jackie complains. “Patty’s making weird faces at his phone.”
“Is he?” Donna says, looking up. “Oh, god, you are. What is it?”
Looking forward to practice, Patrick types back. Out loud, he says, “I made the school hockey team.”
“That’s wonderful,” Donna says.
“I know,” Patrick says, while typing, this saves me the trouble of asking for your number too, daringly.
His phone vibrates. The new text message reads, you’re so weird, I can’t believe we’re doing this
“Forget the meatloaf,” Donna says. “We’re going out.”
“Yes we are,” Patrick grins, and types: we can start with doing lunch.
The hockey clique’s a bunch of unusually good-looking dudes. Like, Pat isn’t saying every team’s ugly, but if any of these guys have ever taken a stick or a puck to the face he can’t tell. They’re nice, funny, and they don’t seem to care that Patrick keeps looking at Jonathan, or that they’re playing footsie under the table.
“So,” Sharpy’s voice drifts over as he’s twirling his fork in his pasta, “If your dad’s here for work then you’re staying semi-permanently?”
Patrick would look at him, but he can’t quite stop staring at Jonathan’s hands. “Yeah,” he says, absently. “We’re gonna go back every summer, probably, but I’m gonna start getting used to Winterpeg.”
Jonathan takes the bait. “It’s just you Americans aren’t tough enough,” he says, smiling like a challenge with his eyes all brown. “We’ll show you how we do it.”
“Oh, I bet you will,” Patrick says, licking his lips. Somewhere to his left, someone chokes on their water.
“Anyway,” Sharpy claps him on the shoulder, hard. “Don’t worry about it, okay? We’ve got you covered. We’re here for you. In fact, we’re right here.”
“Awesome,” Patrick says, licking his lips again.
“No, Peeks, I mean we’re literally right here,” Sharpy says, and forcefully sticks a spoon in his hand. “And the only thing you should be doing with your mouth is eating. It’s only fifth period.”
So, like, new school, new kids, new scene, right? Patrick likes to think he’s fitting in well. He likes Jonathan, and he thinks Jonathan likes him, too, and everything’s pretty great. Nothing’s really weird till he’s walking home from the bus stop one day and he feels like he’s being followed.
Patrick’s read enough romance novels to know what comes next.
He turns around, but instead of Jonathan he sees— a tiny pug.
“Uh,” Patrick says. “Hey?”
The pug stares at him. Its black fur is sleek and clean; it looks well-taken care of, like it’s a pet, but there’s no collar. It’s tame, though, blinking when he comes near, and it butts his head against his palm when he reaches to pet it.
“Were you following me?” He says. “Where’d you come from, huh?”
The pug whuffs. Patrick picks it up; it’s just big enough to sit comfortably in his cupped palms, and it’s soft and wrinkly with chubby rolls. He cradles it to his chest because it’s got to be cold out here, poor little baby pug. The pug makes little snuffly sounds like it understands his cooing and it’s judging him for it.
“Don’t judge, lil’ bud,” Patrick says. It looks relatively clean, so he pats it off and wraps it up in his scarf. “You’re in luck, I’m full of love. You get some too.”
The pug whuffs again and noses at his hand. “Yeah, I know, it’s great,” Patrick tells it, grinning. “Want me to tell you ‘bout him? It’s this guy from school and he’s f— freaking cute, damn. He’s the captain of my hockey team, and he’s the cutest guy I’ve ever seen, and he’s, ugh, god. I can’t wait to make out with him under the bleachers.”
Pug stares at him, and it actually looks a little unimpressed. “Okay, I see your point,” Patrick concedes. “You’re right, we’d probably freeze. But the point is, I wanna cuddle him and hold his hand and go on dates and stuff, you know? And I just wanna, like—”
Patrick bends down a little and kisses its soft little face. Pug blinks at him for a moment, and then licks his nose.
“If only he’d do that,” Patrick says, sighing dreamily. “And I hope you don’t have fleas, pal. You get to sleep with me tonight.”
In the morning, the pug isn’t at the foot of the bed, where he’d left it last night. It isn’t in the house, either.
“It was pawing at the door,” Erica tells him, when he asks. “I think it wanted to go home,” which, well, okay. Patrick really, really liked the cute little guy, but it probably missed its owner, too. Or maybe it got bored of hearing about how great Jonathan was at hockey.
And speaking of—
He’s at the lockers getting his books when someone touches his elbow, and Patrick turns to see Jonathan, slightly out of breath and looking sweet as ever.
“Hey,” Jonathan says.
“Hey,” Patrick returns. Jonathan looks at him all over, and he warms. “Cutting it a bit close, huh?”
He gestures at his windbreaker. “Went for a morning run, so...”
Patrick wonders if he does it all the time. It really shows in his thighs, too, and Patrick can’t look away from them now that he’s noticed. “I really appreciate the results.”
Jonathan laughs. “You’re such a weirdo.”
“You’re the bigger weirdo,” Patrick says, stepping closer. “You’re lucky you’re so cute.”
His hands are firm and calloused from hockey, and they’re nice. Really nice. Jonathan goes a little red at that, too, which is even nicer.
Somewhere down the hall, the bell rings.
“I should go,” Jonathan says.
“Yeah, probably,” Patrick agrees.
They look at each other for a second, and then Jonathan leans in and kisses his cheek, fast and soft.
“See you at lunch,” he says, ducking his head, and then he just— leaves. Leaves Patrick standing there, dumbly.
“Yeah, I’ll see you,” Patrick says, belatedly.
He can’t stop grinning in class, giddy with happiness, and he even doesn’t care that people are staring. His cheek is warm where Jonathan kissed him. It’d been so perfect, the kind of easy thing he’d dreamed about.
Almost like Jonathan knew, somehow. Weird.
They take the bus home after school, and Jonathan laughs when Patrick not-so-subtly slides his arm around him. He’s all warm and the cotton of his pullover is starchy-soft.
“You’re so dumb.”
Jonathan presses his face into his hoodie. They’re sitting at the back and no one’s looking at them anyway, so Patrick feels daring enough to kiss the curve of his cheekbone, just under his eye.
“I like the way you smell,” Jonathan breathes, which should be weird, but sounds all sweet instead. Patrick kisses his temple.
“You totally are the biggest dumb,” He whispers back, but he’s smiling, too.
Patrick goes to sleep happy and wakes up in love with the world and everything. Mostly because he’s in love with Jonathan, but it feels like the same thing.
He’s in a really great mood— kind of the way he usually feels after hockey or around Jonathan— and he’s way less shocked than he should be when he opens the bathroom door and sees the pug squirming in the sink.
Patrick stares. “Where’d you come from?”
The pug sees him and starts yipping, like a plea for help. That’s when Patrick realizes it’s covered in toothpaste and is probably really confused by how cold it’s feeling, and he ends up getting covered in the stuff while hauling a messy, squirming pug out of the sink.
“What were you doing?” Patrick scolds, but it’s difficult to stay angry at a tiny puppy that’s whining pathetically in his arms.
By the time Patrick manages to wrestle the pug under the showerhead, they’re both drenched. The puppy’s stopped making sounds like it’s being strangled, at least, licking at him happily instead. Everything smells like mint.
“Ugh,” Patrick grouses wiping at his neck. “I’ll give you ice cream next time, okay? But no more eating toothpaste.”
He gets a spray of water as thanks when the pug jiggles on its stubbly little legs, shaking its fur out. It’s just a little wrinkly and eagerly licking at his fingers, and it’s definitely the same pug from the other day.
Call Patrick crazy, but this little guy seems to really, really like him.
“Wait a second,” Patrick says, slowly. “How did you get in here?”
The pug squirms.
Patrick stares at it some more, and then bundles it up in a towel. It yips and submits to being carried.
Back in the bedroom, he realizes his window is open just the tiniest crack. The only options that make sense are 1) someone snuck onto his roof and put a tiny pug through the window and then climbed down his roof and disappeared, or 2) aforementioned tiny pug somehow got up to his roof and climbed through the window itself.
At this point, Patrick isn’t sure which is more disturbing.
“Oh, lil’ buddy,” he says, stroking its ear. “You’re not stalking me, are you?”
The pug whines, a little sadly.
Patrick sighs. “I thought so.”
The only thing to do, really, is to go pet-returning. Patrick doesn't really think there's precedent for cycling up to a neighbour with a little puppy and saying, "Excuse me, is this yours? And by the way, have you seen it stalking other people in vicinity?" but, well Winnipeg is weird.
"More like Winnipug," he says, grinning.
The pug, which had stuck its head out of his hoodie pocket, stares at him judgily. It wouldn't settle in the front basket and nearly caused him to crash from sheer terror, like, fifteen times, but gets all calm and content near him. It doesn't seem to like being touched by anyone else, too, which is a huge problem, because Patrick really needs to find who the lil guy belongs to.
By mid-morning, no one's claiming ownership of it. Jonathan hasn't replied any of his texts. The pug's gone all quiet in his hoodie too, only wriggling occasionally, and it isn't until Patrick pulls over by the store that he realizes why.
"Oh my god," Patrick says, picking it up. "No. Bad pug. Don't you know puppies can't eat chocolate?"
The pug rubs its Cadbury-covered face on him happily.
"You're going to be sick," Patrick scolds. "And you ruined my hoodie. Bad pup."
He tries to glare, but the pug whines sadly and does this thing with its cute eyes and chubby wrinkly face, and god, Patrick can't be mad at it. He's more worried than anything, now, and he's wondering where the nearest vet is when it wriggles in his arm and yips at a nearby pigeon.
It actually doesn't look sick at all.
That's... That's weird.
"You're a stalker puppy that eats chocolate," Patrick says, out loud. "What am I going to do with you?”
The pug presses its tiny paws on his shoulder and licks him.
“Ugh,” Patrick kisses its chubby little face. “I wish my boyfriend was here. He'd know what to do."
Patrick vaguely knows where Jonathan lives, so he ends up cycling down to his place with the pug in the front basket. The second he rounds the block, though, the little guy leaps out and lands face-first in a bush.
“Hey,” Patrick says, but the pug shakes itself and takes off up the front steps, yipping. It’s almost like the pug knows this place, which is definitely weird. Jonathan never mentioned he had a puppy.
Maybe that’s why he wasn’t replying; he’s probably worried sick out looking for it. Patrick texts him to let him know the pug’s okay, and then rings the doorbell while the excited little guy bounces around his feet.
The door opens. “Hello,” Patrick says. “Are you— uh, Mrs Toews?”
“Yes,” She says. Mrs Toews opens the door wider, and that’s when the pug starts pawing at her delightedly.
“So I guess it’s yours, then,” Patrick says, relieved. “I’ve been looking for the owner all day. Jonathan never told me he had a dog.”
“You know Jonathan?” Mrs Toews says. She looks surprised.
The pug starts yipping at her, almost reproachful. She laughs and picks it up, and says, “Of course,” even though Patrick hasn’t actually said anything. It’s almost like she’s talking to the pug, but lots of people talk to their pets anyway.
“You must be Patrick,” Mrs Toews says, gesturing for him to come in. “Call me Andree. I’ve heard so much about you.”
“Oh, um,” Patrick says, warming. He wants Jonathan to be here, suddenly, wants them to meet his mom together, hand in hand.
“Don’t worry,” Andree says, “He’ll be back soon. Would you like to stick around? This guy seems to love you,” she says, waving a little pug paw at him.
“It’s okay,” Patrick says regretfully, even though the pug is making adoring eyes and he wants to see Jonathan more than anything. “I’ve got to go. I promised my sisters I’d take them out to skate.”
The pug whines sadly. Patrick’s really, really gonna miss it.
“Chin up, lil’ pup,” Patrick says, kissing it on the nose. “You’ve got Jonny to love you, I’ll see you again soon,” and waves at Andree as he leaves.
Hey bb, Patrick texts Jonny, later, I found your puppy, why didn’t you tell me you had one?
He adds, By the way, I missed you.
Pat doesn’t get a reply till late at night, and even then, it just says, Slipped my mind. Thanks
His phone lights up a second later.
I thought of you all day
I did, too, he sends back, grinning. At some point, he’s gonna have to break it to him that his puppy has the makings of a canine house-burglar, but “I think your pet broke into my room and watched me sleep” can probably wait a couple of days.
He really, really means to mention it at school, but they keep sneaking under the bleachers to make out before lessons begin. It’s unreal and awesome and Jonny is a wonderful kisser, wow.
“Hey,” Jonathan murmurs, into his mouth, “So this weekend, do you maybe want to go camping?”
“I mean, uh,” Jonathan’s so warm and he feels so nice, “My mom said we could take her car and drive up for a bit. So like, not camping, exactly, but there’s a lot of room and we can sleep in the back.”
“Oh,” Patrick says, bumping their noses. “Can we really?”
Jonathan shivers a little under his hands.
“Yeah,” he breathes. Patrick presses little kisses to his hair, stupid with love.
“I’d like that,” he says. “I’ll ask my mom and get back to you, okay?”
“Okay,” Jonathan says, smiling with his eyes all crinkled. Patrick just has to kiss him then, soft at first, but hungry and sweeter, later, and he can’t quite remember what he wanted to say this morning, but it doesn’t seem important anymore.
He doesn’t see the pug for the rest of the week, and every time he remembers to ask Jonathan about it, something comes up. Jonathan keeps forgetting to reply his texts about it, too. It’s not like it’s really important, but he does end up blinking awake sometime in the dead of night, wondering if he’d dreamed up the puppy-sized silhouette at his window.
Jonathan drives by just after nine on Saturday. Patrick's planned it so his parents are just on the way out to Erica’s in-like skate practice, so there's minimal awkwardness for everyone involved. Jonny just looks really embarrassed and sweet through all the talks— ideal boyfriend material right there— and even the mortifying be-safe warnings are bearable with Jonathan’s hand clasped in his.
Patrick loves his family, but he’s still relieved when they go and he can finally kiss Jonathan for the first time all morning.
“Come on,” Jonathan says, breathlessly, “I packed sandwiches and extra sleeping bags.”
Patrick’s brought chocolate and extra jerseys, so they even out. Jonathan takes him up one of the hills the long way, too, so he gets the scenic route. It’s awesome and lush and green and unreal, and the old mixtapes feel like an extra out of a movie. Everytime he looks over at Jonathan he can’t believe it’s real.
“Stop that,” Jonathan says, after a while. Patrick likes that his eyes go all crinkly when he’s pleased.
“I can’t,” Patrick says. “You’re just so, wow.”
“Articulate,” Jonathan says, but he’s smiling all sweet.
Despite how cute he is, though, Jonathan’s lack of musical education (country music? Like, is that even real?) is nothing but horrifying. Patrick loops Hooked on A Feeling about five times while shimmying in the passenger seat until Jonathan knows when to sing along to the bridge.
“Oh my god,” Patrick says, happily, “I’d kiss you, but I don’t want to die.”
He’s warm all over from exertion and feeling on top of the world. Jonathan licks his thumb when he leans over to pop a piece of honey-nougat chocolate into his mouth, too, and he laughs.
“Ew,” Pat giggles, making a face at him. Jonathan wrinkles his nose in a crappy imitation of that, and it’s somehow weirdly familiar—
“Oh yeah,” he says. “Wait. I’ve been trying to ask you all week, what’s with your puppy?”
“What?” Jonathan says, distractedly. “It’s, uh, fine.”
“Really,” Patrick says, “Because I think it’s stalking me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Jonathan says. It doesn’t escape Patrick’s notice that he’s gripping the steering wheel, like, really hard. “It’s a puppy. A normal puppy. Normal puppies don’t do that.”
“Uh,” Patrick says, “Okay. Toblerone?” and starts plotting.
Pat is sixteen years old and isn’t really good at making plans yet. Asking Jonathan why he’s weirdly secretive about his puppy while they were making out seemed like a good idea in theory, but in practice it just makes Jonathan stare at him.
“You’re thinking of the pug?” Jonathan says. “Right now?”
“No,” Pat says, and then amends, “I mean, yes, but not like, now.”
Jonathan moves back to stare at him properly. It’s not like he’s got much room to go in a small family car with the seats pushed down, but even so, he’s doing a remarkable job of trying.
“I just want to know why you’ve got a stalker pug you’ve never told me about, okay,” Patrick says. “And it watches me when I sleep, and it wrinkles its nose the way you do yours—”
Jonathan sighs and sits up.
“What?” Patrick asks, confused.
“Come on, Pat,” Jonathan says, darkly. “You know it. You know what I am.”
“Uh, Canadian?” Patrick says.
“No, the other thing,” Jonny hisses. “Say it!”
“My boyfriend?” Patrick says, nonplussed.
Jonathan puts his face in his hands. He mutters something.
“You better not have said I was god damn fug,” Patrick says, pulling the comforter aside. Jonathan relaxes a little in his arms, but he still looks miserable.
“No,” he says. “I’m a were-pug. That’s what I said. I’m a were-pug, okay?”
“So like, a werewolf, but you turn into a stalkerish baby pug? You’re the pug?”
“Yeah,” Jonathan says. He looks embarrassed.
“Huh,” Pat says. He gasps for effect.
Jonathan sighs. “I can’t— I can’t control it, it happens when I sleep sometimes. My, um. My other side, it likes you. I think my first instinct is to just run out looking for you when I turn.”
“So, like, your pug side loves me,” Patrick says, grinning.
“Shut up,” Jonathan says, but he’s red now.
Patrick’s cheeks hurt with how hard he’s smiling. “You could just have told me, you know,” he says. “I’d leave the window open for you. You get to sleep with me.”
He keeps stroking down Jonathan’s back slowly, carefully, because Jonathan looks way more freaked out than he is. His eyes are a little wide.
“Wait, what? Are you actually okay with this?”
“Yeah, duh,” Patrick kisses him on the cheek. “Is that all that was?”
“Is that all— I’m a were-pug,” Jonathan repeats.
“We all have a few animal instincts inside us,” Patrick says, kissing his other cheek.
“I can’t believe you,” Jonathan says, hopeful and fascinated and horrified. “You’re crazy, Pat.”
“Maybe,” Patrick concedes, as he presses him down against the comforter, “But I’ve got a cute boyfriend and a baby pug. So far, I’m winning."
It’s Sunday. Jonathan-pug is curled up in his jersey, because he likes sleeping on it now. Patrick’s petting it absently while starting this awful series called Twilight. It’s terrible, but Patrick’s beginning to see a few patterns he’d missed the first time around.
“So the boy fell in love with the pug,” Patrick pronounces, shutting the book. Jonapug whuffs and butts its head against his thigh, as if in agreement.
From downstairs, the smell of freshly baked pastries waft up the stairs and into the room. “Let’s hope you change back before Monday,” Patrick says, bundling Jonathan-pug up in his arms and kissing its fuzzy little face. “I’m not cleaning your poop again. You only get once piece of pie.”