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Orbital Resonance

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November 2007...

Here’s a quick suggestion for how to survive as rookies at team parties where everybody, including the girls, are way older than you: bring a book or something. Because when you inevitably get bored, the methods for entertaining yourself are gonna be limited...

The first time Jonny saw Kaner’s dick hard, like really got an eyeful, he stumbled back onto Lapointe’s rec room couch in shock and then promptly fell off the edge, banging his head on a table. Kaner said he could, without fail, will himself into an erection and Jonny had asked him to prove it, and boy does he regret that decision.

It's not even that it's so big. It's that it's big in all dimensions. Long, thick dick. Big balls. Every part of Patrick's equipment is unexpected. Jonny wasn't prepared.

“What? This? It's no big deal,” Kaner says with a laugh, gesturing down at it. It bobs a little as he shifts on the couch, easy as you please. Like he isn’t working with a massive hard-on. “It’s just a dick.”

“No, no it is not,” Jonny says from the floor. Dear sweet baby Jesus, it looks even bigger from below.

He crawls around the table on his hands and knees, wary.

“What are you doing?” Kaner demands.

Jonny glares at him. “Maintaining a safe distance from that weapon.” It’s a porn dick. Like, if Kaner flames out from the NHL, Jonny knows how he’ll be able to keep himself in food and shelter. He can’t even feel inferior, because there is just no way, NO WAY his perfectly respectable-sized junk could even compare to that.

He’d had his pants down in order to further their "who's got the biggest boner" competition, which, while the terms hadn't been explicitly stated, had been pretty implied when they both opened their zippers. He wiggles his pants back up and refastens them, a little uncomfortably. Good thing he'd only gotten as far as rubbing himself through his underwear when Kaner made his big reveal.

"Hey," Kaner says, looking indignant. He gestures at Jonny with one hand. All of jiggles gently.

"Nope," Jonny says. "Good job with your dick, I guess." He stands up and walks out of the room with as much dignity as possible.

"Coward," Kaner mutters.

Jonny pretends that he didn't hear him. He spends the rest of the evening poking through Lapointe's sparsely-populated bookshelves, before settling down with a copy of The Da Vinci Code.


Patrick may have a really big dick, especially big for such a little dude, but he's also got about a .079 batting average when it comes to getting girls home. The problem is, Jonny suspects, he treats them too much like his sisters. Which means they in turn see a goofy, lovable boy next door that they enjoy hanging out with. That's fine for chicks you wanna date, but if you're planning to get laid that night? Not really cutting it. So. He goes home alone a lot.

But you know, not always.

And the girl he sucked face with for an hour before she dragged him out by his shirtfront ain't no joke. Jonny's suitably impressed. He’s not feeling it himself tonight. Too much energy after the game they just played, and while a blowjob and a hug would be nice, he’s not willing to put the work in to do either, so after Kaner peaces out, he settles up his tab and goes back to their hotel room.

He's got some excess energy and his own room for now. The road roommate code calls for one thing. Kaner hasn't hooked up enough for Jonny to know how much time he has to work with here. He takes off his clothes and lies down on his bed, gets the pillows piled nicely behind his head.

Fast or slow? He often likes to take his time, if he can. In his life, jerking off is a luxury. His dad once mortified him by talking in euphemistic terms about channeling his energies into his game, but he finds that the advice works for him, sometimes, to have that extra edge of frustration fueling him when he's on the ice.

He doesn't need it now, though, so instead he's thinking about Kaner and how long he'll be out.

He drags his hand over his stomach and worries the line of hair back and forth, thinking about it. Jesus, he doesn't even know how long he'd need to be with a girl if he was packing what Kaner has. A while, maybe. Maybe need to work with his hand and his mouth. Get her wet. He closes his hand over his dick, just cradling it for a second. Yeah. She was hot, but, god, tiny. Barely came up to Kaner's chin. He doesn't'd take some work. He starts squeezing, working his hand up and down. Maybe they wouldn't actually get to the main event. Jonny sometimes prefers oral. It's easier, sometimes. He likes pussy, likes feeling women fluttering against his mouth and his fingers, likes the way they taste. He bets Kaner likes it, he's so goddamn goal-oriented. He'd at least need to like fingering. Some form of foreplay.

Jonny licks his lips and starts moving his hand up and down the shaft. He thinks about the last time he fingered a girl, the way she'd clenched around his fingers. He'd taken his hand away and licked his fingers and she'd grabbed him by the hair and brought him down to kiss her. She was great. He might have gotten her number if she hadn't lived in New York. Good to fuck, flexible, rubbed herself off while he'd been trying to find the perfect angle. How would that work with Kaner, anyway? Does he have to take it slow even after he's loosened a girl up? Jonny is pretty normal-sized, he feels confident saying, and he's met some girls who didn't even want what he has. He's slowing his hand on his dick, thinking about that tight stretch, gripping harder. Yeah. He'll do it just like this. He rubs his teeth along the inside of his lower lip, and shifts his hips on the mattress. He moves into his fist, working his dick and his hand together.

He doesn't know how long it's been; he doesn't think too long. Someone walks by outside his door, a burst of sound. Shit, god, damn, he feels it against his eardrums, he's poised for the click of a key card in the lock on his door. That's what pushes him over the edge, that thrill of adrenaline that runs up his spine and down his legs, speeding up his heart rate and his breath in his lungs.

He comes over his hand and stomach, hot and sudden. He relaxes back into the pillows and just breathes for a long moment. No one is outside in the hallway. He's alone in his room.

Jonny takes his time cleaning up. He takes a leisurely shower and drinks a lot of water before he goes to bed.

Kaner makes it back to the room right before they're due to meet the bus back to the airport.

"Good timing," Jonny says.

Kaner yawns and scratches at his stomach, still wearing his suit from last night. It’s wrinkled now, which makes the fact that it’s a size too big look even worse.

"Mel made breakfast," he says. He grins, lopsided and small. "She was nice."

“Nice,” Jonny says appreciatively, clapping him on the shoulder. “Now hurry the fuck up, I don’t wanna be late.”

“Whatever,” Kaner replies with a douchey grin. “Good players adjust.”

Jonny tosses an empty water bottle at him.


It really fucks him up when he realizes he’s thinking about Kaner’s dick in the midst of his own hookup.

She’s riding him, thighs spread wide over his lap. He’s got himself propped up against the headboard so he can see everything—her high breasts bouncing, her stomach muscles flexing as she sinks down over and over. She keeps clenching down every time she bottoms outs, and goddamn, Jonny wishes he could dispense with condoms, feel her slick walls clinging to him.

She leans back, eyes shut, holding onto his shoulders so tight he’ll have welts. He watches the place where they’re joined, teeth sunk into his lip, and suddenly he’s picturing Kaner’s dick disappearing inside her pussy, stretching her pink lips wide. She’s letting out these soft little gasps now, but he considers the sounds she’d make impaled on Kaner’s cock. Would it be hurt, raw moans or these little hungry noises like she couldn’t get enough? Fuck. He’s disgusted with himself.

“C’mere,” he says, tugging her back in and rolling so that she’s underneath him, closing off the visual entirely. “What do you need?” he asks, rolling his hips to punctuate the statement. God, she’s tight from this angle.

“Ungh, do you mind if I—” she breaks off, a shudder rippling through her that he feels around his cock, “—if I take care of it?”

“Go for it,” he manages and feels her hand slide between their bellies. He can tell the moment she gets her fingers on her clit from the way she thrusts back against him.

If his aim was to forget about Kaner’s goddamn erection, he fails miserably, because now he’s picturing it from this angle. He’d fucked a girl before who had to take it shallow; instead of hooking her legs over his shoulders, she’d had him push her knees flat to her chest, legs between them, so she could push back against his chest with her shins if he was going too deep. He’d been skeptical at first, but it had worked, at least until he figured out how to lift his hips to get his cock in just the right amount, these short little stabs that had left her clutching at his shoulders and cursing at him. He wonders now if that’s what Kaner has to do. Or if, maybe, sometimes, he finds a girl who wants him to go hard—to fuck her with every inch of it.

Jonny’s orgasm is forceful and sudden, and way before she’s done. He’s profoundly annoyed at himself. This is so dumb. He needs to stop thinking about Kaner’s goddamn dick. To apologize, he eats her out while she fingers herself, tongue sliding between her middle and index finger as she drags them over her clit. She comes calling his name, so at least he acquits himself in that regard. Kaner’s dick thankfully doesn’t intrude any further on the proceedings.

They went back to her place because it was closer and Jonny still doesn't feel comfortable taking girls back to Seabs' spare room. Jonny doesn't like her mattress, though. It's too hard. At one point he thought he might bruise his tailbone, which would have been an embarrassing injury to explain. He lies there, slowly losing circulation in his arm, long enough that he doesn't feel like an asshole when he works his way out from under her head and gives her a kiss on the cheek.

"I gotta get back, early morning," he whispers.

"Uh huh," she mumbles, already curling back into a pillow. "Lock the door when you leave. Watch out. Marbles."

Marbles? Jonny mouths, perplexed. He pulls on his shirt and shorts and makes sure he still has his watch, wallet, phone, and keys. When he eases her door open he almost trips over a pile of fur right in front of him. Marbles runs past him and hops onto the bed.

Great, Marbles is a cat. Jonny's sinuses feel a little stuffed up already.

He decides, as he's taking a Claritin and searching for the tissues at home later, that Kaner's dick isn't the weirdest thing he's thought about during sex. Everyone has an unfortunate thought or two that doesn't bear scrutiny in the light of day. He can't think of anything weirder right off the bat, but something will come to him.

The next morning he needs a larger coffee than normal to get going and Seabs is busting his balls the whole time.

"I'm gonna drown you in the showers if you don't get off my case," Jonny says.

"Aw, princess," Seabs says. "You can sure try."

"Asshole," Jonny mutters.

His day doesn't improve in the locker room, because Kaner raises his eyebrows as soon as Jonny gets his shirt off.

"Good night, Toews?" he says. He's smirking while he says it, like Jonny's somehow a joke.

"Fine," Jonny says tightly.

"I can see that." Kaner pokes him hard on his naked shoulder blade, which stings. "Might want to get some ointment on there," he says innocently, and laughs when Jonny swears and bats his hand away.

After that bullshit Jonny takes no shame in eying Kaner in the shower and confirming his suspicions that he's a grower, not a shower. He's no slouch, but he's nothing crazy, either. Jonny's maybe bigger, which he deserves considering what he has to put up with.


Jonny played all his cards right, so he’s got no fucking clue why this girl is leaning in to touch her nose to his and saying, “You’re adorable.” What? Adorable? He remembers that one from when he first got to college, when he had no clue what he was doing and could barely keep from blushing around a girl.

“How old are you?” she asks.

He raises his brows at her. He’s in the damn bar, isn’t he? What, is she looking for some thirty-year old businessman here?

She grins at his lack of answer. “That’s what I thought.”

The bartender interrupts them to ask her what she’s having. “Two shots of Four Roses, single ice cube, make mine a double.”

Jonny gets left at the bar with an empty shot glass, no phone number, and his dignity in tatters.

When Kaner sidles up to him, Jonny is in a piss poor mood, and unless Kaner is here to buy him a beer and keep silent, Jonny doesn’t want to deal with him.

“Do you see that girl over there?” Kaner asks, nodding over at the opposite end of the bar.

Jonny turns his head, spotting a curly tow-headed blonde, sitting by herself and playing with the slender straw in her cocktail.

Kaner leans in close, the same way he would to go over a play on the bench. "Are you into her? Because she'd be into both of us. She told me." And then a smirk as he says, "I mean, she's more into me than you. But I don't know, she wanted me to ask."

Jonny’s shocked into laughter. That was definitely not what he expected him to say. “Fuck off, Kaner.”

“I’m serious, man,” Kaner replies, leaning back against the bar. “Take a good look. You’re telling me you’re not interested?”

She’s small, fine-boned, and when she catches him look at her she tilts her head. She's hot, but.

Jonny catches Kaner's chin and stares at him. "How drunk are you?" he demands. This wouldn't be the first time that Kaner went over-board with the excitement of being able to drink legally in Canada.

Kaner jerks his head away. "Dude, screw you!" he says. "Considering how you crashed and burned I thought maybe you'd be into something where I already did all the work."

"I didn't crash and burn, whatever," Jonny scoffs.

Kaner, fucking tool, looks very pointedly at the girl Jonny was trying to put the moves on. She’s talking to a different guy altogether, laughing hard at something he’s saying. Kaner snickers and raises his eyebrows at Jonny. After a second he shrugs. "Guess I'll tell her you aren't into it."

A threesome. Jesus.

Kaner starts to turn away. Jonny catches his shoulder.

"She wants both of us?" Jonny asks.

"Yeah," Kaner says. He licks his lips and his cocky facade cracks for a second. He looks over Jonny's shoulder and then makes eye contact again briefly, before looking back at his girl.

"Ah, what the hell," Jonny says, resigned.

"All riiiiiiiiiight," Kaner says, lighting up. "Showtime!"


Amy sits in between them on the cab ride back to her place, fingers of one hand tangled into Kaner’s hair, making obscene noises into his mouth as he slides his hand up her thigh. The driver makes eye contact with Jonny in the rearview mirror and he can feel himself coloring up. His cheeks burn even hotter when Kaner tears his mouth away and mutters, “Yeah, fuck, just like that,” his voice gone all gravelly and raw.

This was a terrible idea. If he wasn’t sure Kaner would chirp him into the next lifetime, he’d ask the driver to pull over right now. In the dim light of the bar Amy had been giggly, smiling big when he’d introduced himself. She’d been the one to pull them outside, Kaner with his arm over her shoulder, but she’d threaded her fingers through Jonny’s to get him moving. She’s still gripping his hand, resting between their touching legs. Her fingers flex as she shifts further toward Kaner.

The cab pulls up in front of a blocky apartment building. Amy lets go of Jonny’s hand as she and Kaner get out one side of the car. Jonny slowly gets out of the other side and then stops with the door open. He looks at where the cab driver is fiddling with his dash display, then over at Kaner and Amy, making their way up concrete stairs.

“Hey, man,” the cab driver says, “you want to go somewhere else, I’ll start the meter running again.”

“No. Thanks.” Jonny slams the car door shut and taps the roof, says, “Have a good night,” to the cab driver and steps around the car to the sidewalk.

“You get lost, there?” Kaner says as Jonny catches the trailing edge of the door and follows them inside.

Jonny doesn’t bother to respond, and puts his hand low on Amy’s back as they walk down a light blue hallway that smells faintly of mildew. He lets it drop back to his side after a moment. She unlocks the door to her apartment and ushers them both in with a cute little wave of her hand.

Jonny takes the plunge and steps through first. When he looks back over his shoulder, Amy’s drawn Kaner down into another kiss. Jonny bites his lip and looks around; there’s a bench against one wall, covered in clutter, and he clears a space off to sit down, waiting for them to figure their shit out. They look good together. Amy’s in heels so it’s easy to for her to meet Kaner’s mouth—Jonny thinks about how she’d have to raise up on her tiptoes to meet his own and smiles, settling back against the wall.

She shoves Kaner away suddenly, telling him to strip in a voice that has him scrambling to comply, baseball cap and long-sleeved shirt getting discarded somewhere.

“Jon, can you unzip me?” she asks, looking back at him over her shoulder. She lifts her hair off of her neck, exposing her vulnerable nape. Jonny gets to his feet again, carefully unhooking the clasp at the top and sliding the zipper down. She shrugs so that the straps fall off her shoulders and the dress dips in the back, exposing the lacy edge of panties and the dark line of a tattoo. When he traces his thumb along the ink, she lifts up, twisting to meet his mouth, lips brushing soft and wet over his own. She tastes like lip gloss and spearmint, and he has a sudden flash of realization that the spearmint is all Kaner, from the gum he was chewing just before they got into the cab. It makes him draw his mouth away.

“All right?” she asks.

Jonny smiles and gives her a gentle push at the small of her back towards Kaner, who’s finally struggled out of his jeans.

“Jonny?” Kaner asks, looping an arm around her waist.

Jonny swallows and looks back at the bench. “I’ll just watch.”

Kaner opens his mouth like he’s going to respond, but Amy pulls his head back down to kiss her instead. It sounds louder now in this one-room studio apartment than it had in the cab with traffic sounds all around them. Jonny can see how Kaner pushes forward and then pulls back, how it makes her shift into him, her open dress sliding even further down one arm and restricting her movements.

“Might want to help with the rest of that dress, Kaner,” Jonny says before he realizes he’s speaking. It’s a pretty obvious course-correction, though.

“Bossy everywhere, eh,” Kaner says into Amy’s neck, but it’s clearly meant for Jonny’s ears.

She giggles and twitches into him before backing up and letting Kaner’s hands push the dress all the way down to pool at her feet. “Kaner. That’s cute,” Amy says. She’s not wearing a bra. They’re standing sideways to Jonny, so he can only see flashes of nipple here and there, as Kaner comes back in to make out.

They move over to the bed, still kissing. Kaner has some decent technique, it looks like. But Jonny can tell he’s overwhelming her slightly, hands moving too brusquely over her skin, manipulating her like she’s a doll.

Jonny breathes out and leans back against the wall, “Ease off a little,” he tells him. Kaner doesn’t lift his head to acknowledge that he’s heard him. Jonny watches as the muscles in his back tighten, like he’s fighting against listening to him, but his palms slow as they drift up her sides and Jonny’s gratified when Amy arches up into his touch.

Kaner drifts lower, mouthing along her throat, sucking hard underneath her ear and likely to leave hickies like a complete amateur. She turns her head, meeting Jonny’s eyes, waiting for him to tell Kaner what to do better. Jonny clears his throat. “You’re gonna bruise her neck up. Use your lips and tongue lightly.”

Kaner pauses, but again he listens. Amy’s eyes slide closed and she lifts her hands, running her fingers through Kaner’s curls as he licks a line over her skin, trailing his tongue straight down to one high breast. His lips close over the nipple and Jonny can see he’s got this much down from the little caught ‘mmm’ noises she’s making. Jonny smiles when Kaner raises his mouth up to blow across one wet rosy nipple, tongue curling around the stiff peak in a delicate slide. Amy rolls her cheek on her pillow, pushing her hips up to meet Kaner’s. The slow rumbling sound that comes out of Kaner’s throat when she does makes Jonny swallow hard.

Kaner sweeps his palms down her body, tugging at the elastic waistband of her panties and sitting back to pull them off. Amy’s knees are up, but slowly she lets one thigh drop to the bed so that Jonny can see her perfect pink pussy, shaved bare but for the landing strip at the top.

Kaner swallows, that nervous hiss he makes when he’s got too much spit in his mouth. Jonny can hear it across the room. His erection is visible in his shorts, thick and obvious, but Kaner idles, just looking, like he’s unsure exactly what to do next.

“Gotta get her good and wet to take you,” Jonny tells him, spreading his knees and shifting. His own jeans are starting to feel a bit tight. Kaner shudders at the sound of his voice and drops his head, kissing her again.

Slowly, he dips two fingers deftly between her legs, parting her lips to sweep over her clit. He moans, tearing his mouth away. “Oh, fuck, she already is.”

Amy reaches over, fumbling in the dresser, and fishes out a Trojan that she hands over. He looks down at the little foil square in his palm and then smiles, soft and self-conscious and surprisingly sweet.

Fuck. Jonny realizes Kaner's too big for the condom and isn’t sure how to say it without sounding like a tool. He laughs in the back of his throat. “He’ll snap that one.”

“But!” Kaner interjects, cheeks a little pink, “It’s okay, I come prepared!”

He scrambles off the bed and goes to retrieve his jeans, leafing a condom out of his wallet.

Amy leans back on the bed, running her hand down her side and playing the fingers of her other hand between her legs. “You two are adorable,” she breathes, eyes sliding shut as she flicks her clit. That word again. Jonny finds it hard to object though when there’s a beautiful woman lying in front of him, thighs splayed to show everything while she drags her own slick over her clit.

Kaner knee-walks up the bed, putting the packet between his teeth so that he can push his shorts down his thighs. The sight of his porn dick, freed from the confines of the fabric, hits Jonny all over again. He shifts again on his bench and looks carefully at Amy’s face, the spreading flush of arousal on her chest.

Kaner moves to kneel between her thighs. Grinning around the condom in his mouth, he cheekily drops it between her breasts. It’s such a classic Kaner move. He doesn’t know why he’s surprised. The sudden rush of warmth and affection in Jonny’s middle is a little overwhelming. Amy swipes the condom off her chest, tearing it open in a smooth motion. She rolls it on Kaner with a practiced flick that makes Patrick choke, hips jerking. Jonny has to bite his lip to keep from making a sound at the sight of her small hand wrapped around Kaner’s dick. Her fingers don’t even meet around its girth.

“Um,” Kaner says, struck dumb.

Amy is sure of herself. Jonny knew she was older than them when she took them home, but her ease and nonchalance speaks to experience. Smiling, she draws Kaner back down to her, catching his mouth up. The tense muscles in Kaner’s back stand out in sharp relief and Jonny hopes he doesn’t blow his wad too early.

Still, Jonny doesn’t miss the deep breath she takes before fitting Kaner at her entrance, the shocked little moue her mouth makes as he starts to push in, tearing her mouth away to drop her head back to the pillows. Kaner groans with the effort of going slow. Slight tremors go through him at the soft gasping noises coming out of her mouth. Jonny gets it. Those overcome little mewls would do him the fuck in too. He can’t even imagine what she would feel like around Kaner’s dick—hot, tight, and perfect. Situated the way they are, he can’t see much, but he imagines her little pink cunt, filled up so good with Kaner’s cock. Kaner drops his head between his shoulders and Jonny knows that gesture. It’s the gesture right before Kaner gives up at the end of a conditioning stretch.

“Don’t come,” Jonny orders, voice firm.

Kaner groans. “Fuck you! I’m not gonna fucking come.”

Jonny holds back a smirk. Kaner must thrust in a little hard at that statement, because Amy cries out, hands flying up to the headboard, fingers curling around the wooden slats. Her cheeks have gone crimson and she keeps sucking her lower lip into her mouth and then letting it go.

“Sorry, sorry,” Kaner whispers, brushing a thumb over her cheek, barely rolling his hips.

Amy squirms underneath him, like she’s trying to get him better situated. It occurs to Jonny, watching the way Kaner gently fucks into her, just what she’s looking for.

“Kaner,” Jonny says, digging his thumb into his knee-cap, that sharp bite of pain to remind himself of his place. He clears his throat. “She wants you to go hard.”

Amy moans, squeezing her eyes shut tight. God, he was exactly right, he can see it in her face. Something happens between her and Kaner, because he lets out a ragged laugh, sound practically torn from his body. “Ungh. You like that idea, huh?” He pulls out and then snaps his hips forward with enough force that the headboard hits the wall with a good solid smack.

“Oh, god,” she breathes, thighs tightening around Kaner’s middle. There's a fine sheen of sweat rising up on the pale skin of Kaner's back, buttocks flexing with every stroke. Finally, Jonny can’t help himself anymore, and he palms the ridge of his dick where it lays pressed uncomfortably against the denim across his hip. They look so good like this, curly blonde heads together. Jonny has the abstract thought that maybe this is what Kaner would look like if he were a girl, sharp features, lush mouth. He licks his lips, mouth dry.

Amy’s brows furrow and he wonders what’s wrong only moments before she clutches at Kaner’s biceps, stilling him and saying, “Fuck, okay, that’s not quite…” She wriggles underneath Kaner, making him inhale. His arms struggle to keep him propped up above her. She puts her slender little palm at the small of his back and pushes with surprising strength. Kaner grunts and shifts his forearms up the bed to accommodate the motion. Amy’s eyelids flutter. Her fingers are digging so tight into the solid muscle of Kaner’s upper arms, the flesh has gone white around her grip. “Ah, yeah, just at that angle.”

Kaner’s a quick study; he gets his knees under him a little so he can raise up off of her enough to fuck her just like she wants. He can do things with his body that nobody ever thought possible. Watching the muscles in his back ripple as he thrusts inside her, Jonny muses that sex is hardly any different.

“Slow down a little,” Jonny rasps out. “You want her to feel it, eh?”

Kaner groans again, sounding almost anguished, but he slows the motion of his hips, getting the power of his thighs behind it. Amy starts making these breathy high-pitched noises like something straight out of porn. Jonny wonders, watching her face, the way she arches beneath him, if—if she could actually come like this, just from the way Kaner’s fucking her. His breath catches in his throat.

That’s never happened to him when he’s fucked someone—he didn’t think it could.

"Like that, keep on going like that," Jonny says, because he can see Kaner starting to lose it, and Amy's flexing with him, like she's trying to keep that rhythm going. Kaner can do it, Jonny knows he can. He leans back and stretches his legs a little, trying to give himself more space, because he's achingly hard now. He can't see more than just a glimpse of Kaner's dick moving as he thrusts in, Amy's lips flushed pink around it, but he can picture it now with just those little snapshots, that tight, hot, wet pressure. Jesus, it must be so tight for Kaner all the time. Maybe he's not giving him enough credit.

Amy's clenching around Kaner's body with each stroke now, and Jonny, watching from the sidelines, feels mute now with that expectant tension, watching her mouth open in a ragged gasp. He can't tell how long he's been sitting here, except he feels lightheaded like he's been taking short, shallow breaths for ages, and Amy and Kaner are both sheened with sweat. The hair on the back of Kaner's neck is standing out in dark little curls.

Kaner does something, grinds in and grabs her knee on the next thrust. It must do something great, because she groans, louder than she has yet.

"There," she says raggedly, repeats it, and then she's arching up and coming, the tendons standing out tautly on her neck. Jonny's never seen a girl's orgasm from a distance like this, beyond porn, always too preoccupied with himself. Her eyes open and lock with Kaner's, something passing between them that Jonny isn't a part of, because Kaner's head drops again as she relaxes back into the mattress, and then he's moving with greater urgency, pace getting erratic.

Amy turns her head and looks at Jonny as Kaner thrusts into her. Her cheeks are flushed, eyes glassy as Kaner moves her, and Jonny can't tell if she's even seeing him. She brings her arm over her head, elbow knocking lazily into the headboard.

"Come on, baby," she says.

Kaner flat-out whines at that, buttocks tensed as he punches out two more rapid thrusts, then one long grind that pulls another noise out of Amy's throat, her eyes fluttering shut again. Jonny is seeing Kaner coming, right now. His gut clenches at the thought, a wave of heat stabbing through him, something like arousal and mortification together.

Kaner and Amy start kissing, sloppy and slow and entirely focused on each other. Jonny stumbles to his feet. He's still so throbbingly hard, he has to adjust himself before he can take a step. He gets to the bed as they're starting to disentangle, Kaner easing out of her slowly. She's so red, Jonny almost wants to put his mouth there to taste her and feel the heat. Kaner shifts back and fumbles with the condom. He's flushed too, still breathing hard, dick softening slowly but still impressive.

Amy reaches out for Jonny and he crouches down gingerly. She lifts her face, so it's easy to tell that she wants him to kiss her. She's lazy now with her tongue, everything softer and slower than before.

"Anything we can do for you?" she murmurs.

"I'm good," Jonny lies. And then, honestly, "You were great."

Kaner's lying on his back now with his arm over his eyes. His dick is lying on his thigh. Jonny tears his eyes away.

"Kaner," Jonny says. "We gotta go. Almost curfew."

Kaner groans. "Buzz kill." He sits up, though, still not making eye contact with Jonny.

Amy laughs into her arm. Kaner leans over her and tickles her side, saying "What are you laughing at, huh?" as she giggles and twitches away from him.

"You guys are still cute," she says, smiling at Kaner. That's not for Jonny. He stands up and starts moving to the door.

"I'm calling a cab," he says. "Amy, nice meeting you."

"Have a good night," she says.

He closes the door and pulls out his phone. He has to walk outside so he can find the address to give to the dispatcher.

Kaner comes stumbling out a few minutes before the cab shows up. He looks disgruntled and sleepy and smells like sweat and sex, like he'd thrown his clothes on hastily without cleaning up.

He spends the ride slouched down with his head tipped back on the seat, eyes closed, while Jonny rubs his fingers over his knees to keep them out of trouble. Jonny looks over at one point and Kaner has his eyes half-open, gaze heavy-lidded and focused on Jonny's hands.

At their hotel, Jonny says, "You're paying the cab driver," and gets out when Patrick's still fishing around for his wallet.

He gets up to their room and goes into the bathroom, doesn't even take off his clothes, just opens his pants and jerks off leaning against the wall opposite the sink. He can see himself in the mirror. He's flushed and his dick is getting harder as he works his hand over it.

He hears the main door lock click open, the door opening and shutting, and then he's coming so fast it's like an out-of-body experience.

He washes his hands off at the sink, still staring at his own face in the mirror. He looks tired, eyes bloodshot. It's late. Without thinking about anything, he takes off his clothes and turns on the shower.

When he gets out, Kaner shoulders past him.

"Man, you knew I had to shower," he complains. Then, through the open door, "And you left your fucking clothes on the floor!"

He's taking off his own clothes as he speaks. Jonny jerks his eyes away, even though he's already seen everything.

Back in this hotel room, the previous couple hours take on an unreal sheen. Did Jonny really just do that? Does it count as a threesome if he saw both of the other two people come, even if he didn't?

There's no one he can ask about this except the person who was stupid enough to do it with him.

Craziest fucking thing he does his rookie season.

October 2008...

Jonny stops picking up when they give him the C. It’s not conscious exactly, it just doesn’t occur to him that that’s a thing he even could be doing. He has so much to prove and so much to earn. He’s always been taught that if he works hard and sets a good example, he’ll be worthy of being followed, but it feels harder to set that good example than it ever has before. Especially since training camp feels oddly listless, and then the team starts out the season on a losing streak that Jonny would give his right nut to reverse. If he could only get the puck to go in the fucking net any time soon.

Everything goes quiet in the locker room after Savvy gets fired, waiting to see how things with Quenneville are going to shake out. Jonny's supposed to be a leader here, but he doesn't know where they're supposed to be going, other than winning. The rookies look nervous. Jonny should be over there, talking to them, but he can't shake the feeling that he's still too close to being one of them, one year in the NHL and a Calder nomination or not.

He goes out with the boys, but not often, and he buys rounds when it's his turn. He works his way through conversations about the difference between Savvy and Q and what he thinks Quenneville and Bergevin are looking for, tries to walk the line between hearing grievances and fomenting unrest, supporting the coaching staff without seeming like a brown-noser. It's a lot of goddamn work.

Anyway, he leaves alone at the end of the night.

Their first game with Quenneville against the Blues is a fucking disaster. He almost can’t make himself stand up to talk about it, he’s so ashamed of his own performance. He put up the lone point in the shootout after they pissed away their lead in the third, but that doesn’t make up for his penalty in overtime in front of his new coach.

Eventually, he takes off his helmet and stands up, takes a breath.

"That wasn’t good enough. The question I have for you right now is do you wanna coast? Or do you wanna win? We got the shit kicked out of us at the end there and I can’t see a good reason why.” He looks around. Some heads are nodding, some looking down at the ground.

He wipes at his sweaty face with a towel, then continues, "There’s been a lot of change right now, but this group is good. Here, in this room. What we have here, we can do great things. This group is worth it. Take the night, come back tomorrow, keep your heads up, skate hard, we'll turn it around."

Seabs and Soupy start thumping the bench with the flats of their palms, then a couple other scattered, ragged whoops start up. Good enough. He sits back down. Kaner gives him a punch on the thigh, but otherwise doesn't engage. Slowly, conversation starts up again in twos and threes.

Eventually Sharpy leans over and says, "Some of us are thinking about going out later. Get some food, a couple drinks. Blow off some steam, then an early night."

"Cool," Jonny says vacantly. He's still replaying that hooking penalty he took in overtime. He keeps saying to the media that he doesn't know what they need to be doing better to motivate themselves, which he knows he shouldn't do. He should think of something, anyway.

"All right, Tazer. Take your skates off, at least," Sharpy says, and stands up to head to the showers.

Jonny ends up getting a ride back to the hotel with one of the trainers, long after everyone else has left.

There's light shining from under the door when he gets up to his and Kaner's room. When he unlocks the door, Kaner is sitting on the far bed with his laptop open. He looks up when Jonny walks in, brows raised.

“All right there, son?” he asks.

Jonny has to curb the impulse to snap at him. It’s present and bitter at the back of his throat all the time these days, like one little push is gonna send him over the edge. He exhales slowly and sinks back to his bed, all of his clothes still on. Kaner watches him, face inscrutable.

"Why didn't you go out with everyone else?" Jonny says instead.

Kaner shrugs and leans back against the pillows, attention returning to his computer screen. "Didn't feel like hassling with getting in somewhere good."

Jonny grunts. He takes off his tie and throws his jacket on top of his suitcase on the floor. He’s feeling overheated and itchy on top of irritable. He skins out of his button-down and kicks his way out of his pants so he’s just in his boxers, then leaves his clothes crumpled up at his feet and grabs the remote from the nightstand between their two beds. Kaner keeps clicking away, like he’s playing some weird game on his laptop. Jonny turns on the TV and starts cycling through the shitty cable offerings.

Eventually, Kaner says, “Jesus, pick something, huh?”

“You’re not even watching,” Jonny protests.

“I can still hear it,” Kaner says.

“You’re all, click-click-click over there, whatever,” Jonny says. “Like that’s not irritating.”

“Another breath-taking piece of maturity from our captain, Jonathan Toews,” Kaner mocks.

It’s like setting a match to tinder, how Jonny feels his temper ignite. His entire body tightens up, blood prickling from his head to his toes.

“At least I’m trying,” he grits out.

Kaner blinks at him, face taut. After a moment he shakes his head and lets out a laugh, “Wow, man. You need to like, jerk it and go to bed.” He looks at Jonny’s groin pointedly. “Maybe then you’ll calm the fuck down.”

Jonny’s vision goes black for a moment, an enraged heat going through him. He shuts his eyes, fisting his fingers into the comforter. It takes everything he has to hold it back, everything that he’s been bottling it up. The fear that he’s fucking everything up, that he was the wrong choice, that he didn’t deserve this, that he was never going to be able to earn anybody’s respect, and they were never going to be able to turn this goddamn team around, and just let it out in the single harsh exhale.

“I don’t know how you expect me to do that, you hanging around our room all the time,” he says.

Kaner gives him an incredulous look, and just like that, Jonny knows they’re both thinking about the same thing. Kaner says, “You’re a piece of work, Jonny. Go do it in the shower.”

“I’m comfortable here,” Jonny says.

“So, what, you want me to go first, or something?” Kaner says. He pushes his laptop aside. “Just whip it out, man, you’ve seen mine.”

The TV is blaring an informercial for bathroom-cleaner. Jonny turns off the TV. It wouldn’t be hard to what Kaner’s suggesting. Maybe it would even help, too. He’s been sleeping like shit lately. He rubs at his thigh.

“Jesus, ‘whip it out,’ classy, Kaner,” Jonny says, but he’s honestly considering it.

“You want me to say it all fancy?” Kaner says.

Jonny ignores the barb, bringing his hand up a little higher and palms himself a few times. “It’ll be weird if you don’t do it too.” He can’t imagine pulling out his dick with Kaner just over there watching him, which is maybe hypocritical.

Kaner huffs a laugh. “All right, man.”

Jonny glances to the right, enough to see that Kaner is shuffling out of his loose pajama pants.

“Oh, wait,” Kaner says, and swings his feet to the floor, bending over to rifle through his bag. His t-shirt stretches up, exposing his back and the groove of his spine, the strong muscles that lead down into his glutes. Kaner packed on weight over the summer. He sits up and moves back to the head of the bed, his travel bottle of moisturizer in his hand.

Jonny’s mouth twitches. Everything’s always a production with Kaner. Always gotta have the right accessories.

“You want some?” Kaner asks, when he sees Jonny looking. It’s almost sweet.

“No, I’m good,” Jonny says.

“Really?” Kaner says doubtfully.

“I’m not as high-maintenance as you,” Jonny says. He looks away, back toward the blank screen of the television. He slips his hand inside his underwear. He’s not erect at all yet, not even half-hard, but the potential has been there the whole time. It feels good as he starts rubbing at his foreskin, moving it delicately up and down, not retracting it over the head or anything, just starting a little gentle movement. There’s another flurry of motion in Jonny’s peripheral vision, as Kaner skins out of his underwear. Wouldn’t want to still be wearing it when that big dick of his gets going. Out of sight, he hears Kaner open his bottle of moisturizer and squeeze some out.

They’re both pretty quiet, especially right at first, but Kaner’s hand is noisy as it jacks over his dick. That sound is working for Jonny. It’s obscene, and hearing it from the next bed over gives him a thrill like he’s fourteen again, sneaking onto the family computer to find one of the porn-streaming sites he’d heard about from his friends. Eventually, Jonny has to pull himself out, working his cock through the slit in his boxers so he can fist himself freely.

“That—doesn’t hurt?” Kaner says breathlessly.

Jonny’s pelvic muscles clench, buttocks flexing, sensation zinging between his ass, balls, and dick as he startles at Kaner’s voice.

“Uhhhh, no,” he grits out. Looking between where Kaner’s dick is peeking out from inside his ringed thumb and pointer finger, shiny and flushed a dark red, and the tight stretch of Jonny’s foreskin working back and forth over the head of his cock, Jonny can see where Kaner might wonder whether Jonny’s chafing. But he’s leaking precome, and the drag just feels good. Jonny can see how hard Kaner’s fisting his dick, way tighter than Jonny would ever touch himself. He seems to like to go all the way to the root, then travel the entire long way back up to the head and squeeze, before sliding back down. Jonny has a sudden, heady flash of Amy’s small hand rolling the condom down over Kaner that makes his ears ring at the thought.

Jonny can’t tell how close Kaner is. It’d be weird to finish too early or too late. He’s getting pretty close himself. Jonny sneaks another look sideways. Kaner has his head tipped back and his eyes closed. He still has his t-shirt on, but is otherwise naked. He’s pretty close to fully-hard, Jonny thinks. So maybe not too long now.

Jonny shuffles down the bed a little bit, raises one knee and plants his left foot so he can give himself better access on the side facing away from Kaner. He keeps his hand moving on his dick while he works his right hand under his waistband to squeeze his balls. His breath rasps heavy in his throat as he works himself up. It doesn’t take long before he’s past the point of no return, spilling into his left hand, which just shows how revved up he was before.

Kaner’s still working his dick, pushing up into his hands with his hips, getting his whole body into it. Jonny blinks lazily, running his fingers up and down his softening dick, listening to Kaner grunting on the other bed. His briefs are stained and damp and will have to be changed, but most of his spunk stayed in his palm. He fishes his hand out and starts to clean up.

Eventually, Kaner comes with this whimpering gasp. Jonny might have made fun of him for it, if Kaner, still catching his breath, hadn’t said in tones of deep satisfaction, “Hah. You went first,” successfully distracting Jonny into wondering if Kaner had been deliberately holding on until after he’d finished.

“Shut up,” Jonny says, and throws his balled up, used tissue at Kaner’s bed.

“You’re disgusting,” Kaner groans, and bats it away. He slouches down and reaches for the tissue box on the nightstand.

Jonny gets up and wanders off to the bathroom to wash his hands and get ready for bed. He does feel looser. When he gets back into the main room, Kaner’s pajama pants are back off the floor, and he’s rolled up under the blankets with the light turned off on his side of the room.


It’s not something that he expects to happen again. But Kaner stops bothering to be discreet about it. On the morning of their game in Minnesota Jonny goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth while Kaner’s in the shower as he’s done a hundred times, and he finds Kaner on the other side of the glass door, head tipped back under the spray, palm braced against the title as he jerks himself off with easy slow strokes.

“Hi, good morning. Nice to see you pulling your pud first thing,” Jonny says, squeezing out toothpaste onto his brush.

Kaner laughs and Jonny sees from where he’s reflected in the mirror that he doesn’t stop.

“Half of jerking off was figuring out when to do it when you weren’t here,” Kaner says after another moment, like he can sense the face that Jonny’s making around his toothbrush. “Now? Why bother?”

Jonny rolls his eyes. He can’t see much more than Kaner’s back and the continuous motion of his arm, but Jonny can definitely tell he’s taking it slower this time, like he’s got all the time in the world. Which, Jonny supposes he does, since apparently it doesn’t matter if Jonny walks in on him anymore.

And the thing is, Jonny still doesn’t have the energy to pick up. He thinks about it on a few listless occasions in the days afterwards, but he’s so fucking tired. New people are a challenge he is not up to right now, even though it gets easier the longer he’s in the league. And if Kaner’s gonna subject Jonny to a jerkoff session the way he does that same night, after a few minutes of listening to the slick sounds of Kaner’s hand on his dick and his stupid barely hidden groans, it seems only fair to return the goddamn favor.

In Columbus, the hotel they’re staying at has a busted heater that feels like it’s cranked past 30° C and Jonny spends the entire time in their room skinned down to his shorts, damp with sweat.

Kaner comes out of the bathroom after taking a piss, blond curls dark at the nape of his neck, and says, “Sweet Jesus, I almost want to sleep in the tub.”

Jonny watches incredulously as he rubs the heel of his palm against his dick.

“It’s too fucking hot for that,” Jonny groans, throwing his arm across his eyes.

Kaner rolls his shoulders and adjusts his neck, the same way he does right before he hits the ice. “I’m hoping it’ll knock me out.”

He lets himself fall back on his bed and then shoves his boxers below his balls, drawing his hand along the shaft. It thickens up in his grip and Kaner reaches over to the nightstand between their beds where he’s started leaving his Cetaphil. Jonny wants to point out that sitting next to a box of kleenex as it is, if they have anybody in this room, they will know exactly what Kaner is getting up to. And how the fuck would they explain that. ‘Oh, yeah, totally cool, we jerk off together, sometimes.’

“Well?” Kaners says after a few quick pumps of his hand.

“What, if you do it, I have to do it?” Jonny asks, unimpressed, peeking at him from under his arm.

Kaner flicks his thumb over the plump head and it must be good, because he catches his lower lip between his teeth. Jonny finds his face going hot. There’s a sudden stirring of interest in his dick. It occurs to him that if he doesn’t do it too then he’s the dude lying half naked watching his teammate jerk off. He slides his hand into his shorts.

It’s hotter than hell in the room, though. The air feels thick, the specific smell of Patrick’s ‘unscented’ lotion pervasive. His hand on his dick is almost too much. The sheets, papery and body-warm beneath his back, crackle with every motion. Each stroke seems more laborious than anything else.

Kaner’s doing it quick and dirty this time, fist moving fast. Jonny can’t help looking and then he can’t look away. Kaner’s cock is what it is and Jonny’s fascinated by the way the head rises up out of the circle of his fist, strong tendons in his wrist flexing. Kaner makes a noise in the back of his throat that Jonny remembers from that night with Amy, and he wonders if he’ll forever be dragging that memory to the light to examine. He thinks of Kaner, only a few feet between them, fucking his own hand, and remembers the way he looked between Amy’s thighs, fucking her so hard.

The rhythm of his fist gradually falls into the same pattern he can hear coming from Kaner’s bed. He shudders, taking another deep lungful of the soupy air and tries to picture black behind his eyes.

Kaner comes before he does. Jonny has to fight against the impulse to look over, to see what he looks like, spilling out over his fist.

Jonny comes, gasping, too hot in his skin and stomach muscles banded up tight. He doesn’t open his eyes for a while afterwards, just lies there, breath slowly returning to normal.

The room is oddly silent, beyond the buzz of the goddamn heater, and when he finally opens his eyes back up again, he finds Kaner on his side staring at him, softened dick flat against his belly. He looks away when he sees Jonny looking back.

It’s sticky and gross and now the room smells like jizz and sweat and the stupid fucking lotion. Jonny rolls out of bed with a pained groan.

Kaner clears his throat, once and then twice, like something’s stuck in it, and then asks, “What are you doing?”

“I need a shower,” Jonny replies absently. “Try to open a window, will you? I don’t want to die of heat stroke in the night.”

Afterwards, cool water sluicing down over him, he wonders what goes through Kaner’s head every time he decides to do this.


“You’ve dialed back the crazy eyes,” Sharpy tells him at practice one morning. “Good on you, Toes.”

Kaner shoots him a significant look, hand sliding very deliberately on his stick. Jonny flicks him off, but it’s sort of lost in the bulk of his gloves. Kaner shoves his tongue into the corner of his mouth. They’ve also picked up four wins. So Kaner can suck his dick.

And then they lose to the Bruins. Two nights later, on home ice, they give up three shots to St. Louis in the first, battle their way back, and then drop it again OT. When they lose to the Sharks by just completely rolling over in the third after a monster second period, he feels like it’s all sliding right out of his control again. It's frustrating because he knows they can do it. He's got to believe in this team, his career depends on it, but he wants to, too, and falling short is breaking his heart. Doing it at home, not on the road, makes for an extra layer of agony.

He’s silent on the plane on the way to Phoenix. The game starts off good, like the entire team was listening when Q said they needed to start off hard and fast. They go up two right at the end of the first period, scoring the goals just a minute apart in one of those quick shifts of momentum in their favor that Jonny lives for. Then, right before the period ends, Hanzal lays a hard hit on Kaner that literally floors him, right on center ice. Jonny only sees it out the corner of his eye. When he turns, Kaner’s curled up, holding his head. He gets up and skates off on his own back to the bench while Jonny’s calling for a referee because what the fuck was that, and a minute later the period ends.

In the locker room, the medical staff take Kaner off to check him out.

“Clean hit on Kaner, boys, they called it a clean hit,” Q is saying at the front of the room. “But listen, we’re going into the second strong here, and I want us to keep it that way. Don’t lose your positioning. We’re playing our game, not theirs.”

Jonny grabs a bottle of Gatorade and wipes at his face with a towel. Eager and Bur are nodding, message received, as Q goes on to detail his expected match-ups in the second period. Kaner returns as he’s finishing, gets a wave of fist-bumps and pats as he clomps over to his spot.

“That looked like fuckin’ bullshit,” Jonny says. Kaner shrugs.

“Toews,” Q calls out, and Jonny shoulders his way over to where Q and Bergy are standing.

“We’re gonna let them push us around out there?” Jonny demands.

“Play the game, Jonny,” Q says. “Kaner’s fine. Let’s talk about our faceoffs for a second. I need aggression going into the second, which means I need the puck.”

“Yeah,” Jonny mutters, and tries to buckle down.

The second period is a mess, bouncing back and forth between the powerplay and the penalty kill, Kaner picks up his second hooking penalty of the game, against Hanzal, and 6 minutes in their lead is cut in half. It’s like they’re asking Phoenix to take it away from them.

“What’s going on?” Jonny asks him on the bench, pulling him in by his helmet strap.

“Nothing,” Kaner growls back, but his cheeks are red and there are white lines around his mouth.

Hanzal’s yapping away the next two times Jonny faces off against him. He grins, vicious, and mutters, “Enjoyed nailing 88 right on the logo. You boys gonna give me another shot?”

“Fuck you,” Jonny says. He’s not good at this part—responding to the trash talk in a way that turns it back on the other person. The jolt to his concentration is enough to lose him the faceoff, and the next one goes the same fucking way, ratcheting up his annoyance both times.

Coach is yelling at them all to get it together. It doesn’t sit well with Jonny, to have to take everything Hanzal’s dishing out with no response, while everything else falls down around them.

Toward the end of the period, Jonny hears Hanzal taunting Kaner as they circle around, setting up, “Gotta learn to take the pounding if you can’t avoid it, gotta take it.”

Like he and Kaner don’t belong here. Like they’re not trying to lead a team here.

Jonny gets the nod from Q to open the third period. Sliding up to center ice, Jonny pulls Steeger in as soon as he sees Hanzal lining up on the other side.

“I’m gonna fucking go,” he says. Steeger’s eyes widen and he nods. He’s probably going to get his ass handed to him on a platter. He knows it and Steeger knows it, but he’ll be damned if he lets someone think they can just run Kaner into the ground.

Hanzal opens his mouth as the ref is talking, but Jonny doesn’t give him the chance.

“You think you’re so tough?” he says. “You’re so tough?”

“You want to start with me?” Hanzal laughs. The puck drops. They battle, clashing sticks, and then Hanzal is sliding the puck back to Jovanovski, who dishes it along. Jonny straightens, grinning at him bright and fierce. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Steeger already anticipating him and heading Jovanovski off.

Hanzal skates off with a glib little salute and when Jonny sprints after him, skating hard into his space, thumping him in the chest with his stick, he blinks at him, caught off guard. As Jonny’s throwing off his right glove, Hanzal laughs like it’s the best day of his life.

“You’re asking for a beating, little boy,” he says, dumping his gloves to the ice and tagging Jonny in the chin well before he’s anticipating it. Jonny’s smart enough to keep his chin tucked to his chest, but other than that he can’t do more than hang on. His left hand is still trapped in its glove and his right is caught up in Hanzal’s jersey. But it doesn’t matter and when Hanzal manages to overbalance them both over back onto the ice, effectively ending it. He doesn’t exactly feel like he lost.

Kaner skates by the penalty box shaking his head, but he’s smiling while he does it.

He’s sweating bullets the entire time he’s in the box, hoping Phoenix doesn’t score during the 4-on-4. They don’t, thank god, but that doesn’t help when, thirty seconds after he’s out, Shane Doan puts one in to equalize the game.

In the locker room between the end of regulation and overtime, Kaner knocks his hand against Jonny’s knee.

“How are the ribs?” he asks.

Jonny scoffs. “Didn’t even feel it.”

“Tough guy over there,” Kaner says, but quietly.

Q isn’t happy with anyone going into overtime and the shootout. He taps Jonny first, saying, “Make up for that shit you pulled at the beginning of the third, eh.”

“Yeah, Coach,” Jonny says.

Jonny and Sharpy make their shots, and Khabibulin closes down both of Phoenix’s tries. Jonny’s feeling pretty good when he walks off the ice.

He’s feeling distinctly less good that night, an ice pack resting on his ribcage where Hanzal had drilled him. He’s lying flat on his back, listening to whatever Kaner settled on, something with a laugh track, when Kaner says, “Hey.” He sounds hesitant.

Jonny cranks his head sideways to look at him.

“You wanna…” he says, and makes a crude gesture with his right hand.

“I can safely say, Kaner, that I’ve never been less in the mood,” Jonny says dryly.

“Yeah. Right.” Kaner lapses into silence.

“If you want to though, be my guest,” Jonny says, closing his eyes and waving the arm that doesn’t hurt gently in Kaner’s direction.

He’s exhausted and the anti-inflammatories are finally kicking in. He dozes off with the sound of the TV and Kaner’s short, gasping little breaths in his ears. He wakes up halfway when Kaner gently detaches the half-melted ice pack from under his arm. He’s solidly asleep before Kaner has turned out the lights.


It does happen again though, lying there working his dick with Kaner doing the same in the next bed. Every time there’s this bright little flare of danger in his belly. He’s not fifteen and horny every waking second. There isn’t a whole lot of excuse for the fact that they keep doing this. And he doesn’t quite know what Kaner’s angle is.

Kaner’s still getting tail. He’s not hitting .300 yet or anything, but he’s gotten a lot smoother with girls in the last six months especially. He comes back with stories sometimes now, like the time they’re playing videogames in Jonny’s new apartment, and he asks, looking weirdly diffident, “You ever let a girl, you know?” He lets go of the controller with one hand and makes a gesture Jonny can’t interpret.

“What’s that supposed to be, now?” Jonny says.

Kaner huffs, and flops back on the couch. “You know,” he says. “Stick it in.” He makes the gesture again. “Finger you.”

Oh. Jonny can feel the back of his neck going warm, but he still shrugs. “Yeah, sure.” He clears his throat. “You’ve never?”

Kaner blinks. “Nah.”

Jonny raises a brow. “Dude, it’s pretty tame.”

“It just doesn’t do much for me,” Kaner says stubbornly. “I’ve had a couple girls try, right? But, my dick is over here.” He waves at his crotch, like Jonny needs the directions. “Pay some attention to the front, you know? Why get fancy?”

Jonny rolls his eyes. Kaner’s so ridiculously single-minded sometimes. “Okay, player,” he says.

But mostly, Kaner seems to confine the nights that he hooks up to the days when they’re at home. Like he’s babysitting Jonny somehow. It’s not like this shit happens every time they’re left to their own devices in their room.

After another crappy shootout loss, though, this time to Detroit, and it’s like the very first time all over again. Jonny’s dialed up to 11 on adrenaline and frustration. When they get back to the hotel, Kaner takes a long hard look at him and then lies back on his bed, working himself out of his suit pants, not even bothering to take his sport coat and tie off.

It’s a hideous tie, Jonny thinks, but there’s something sort of cinematic about the way he looks in his charcoal suit, erection rising up out of his parted fly. Jonny had a girlfriend in UND who was older than him, who liked artistic porn. Kaner looks like something out of that, crisp lines and a sharp contrast between the crude action of his hand and the formality of his shirt-cuff and coat sleeve.

Jonny drops down onto the foot of his bed and grips the back of his neck, squeezing tightly.

“Come on, Jonny,” Kaner says. “Loosen up.”

Jonny rubs at his face, then opens his own pants. Might as well follow Kaner’s lead here. He knows enough now to be confident that it will make him feel better.

They win their next one 7-1, at home in their own building, another game against the Coyotes that they control from start to finish. The team celebrates that night. Kaner crashes into Jonny as he slides back into the booth toward the end of the night, sweaty from flailing around on the dance floor, glassy-eyed from the celebratory shots and beers their teammates have been providing.

“Toews, my boyyyyyy,” Kaner says. He grips solidly around Jonny’s shoulder, leaning in close so the brim of his backward cap presses into Jonny’s skull. “I’m telling you, man.” He makes the jerkoff motion. “Magic.”

“Get off me, loser,” Jonny says. His shirt is already damp on his back, he doesn’t need Kaner’s body heat pressed up against his side.

“Nothing but winners here, baby,” Kaner says. He wiggles in his seat, like he’s trying to dance to the club music blaring through the speakers. “Just you see. Just you see.”

“All right, bud,” Jonny says, humoring him.

It’s the beginning of a good stretch. They win at home again, then head out to play the Avalanche. Kaner had an antsy game against the Sens the night before, taking three high-sticking penalties along with his goal. Jonny’s not surprised when he comes out of his shower in Colorado to see Kaner stretched out with his dick out, that Cetaphil of his knocking around near his elbow.

“Is that what we’re doing tonight?” Jonny says. “Nothing good on TV?”

Kaner meets his eyes, arm still working, which he doesn’t ordinarily do. It makes it kinda weird to look your buddy full in the face when you’re jerking off next to him. Kaner’s lids gradually slide closed again as he bites at the corner of his mouth. Jonny pauses, feeling like he’s intruding for the first time since this whole thing started.

“Fuck, Jonny,” Kaner says, after an unnaturally long moment, “either do it or don’t.”

It would be easy enough to not. It’s early in the evening, he could watch a movie with one of the other guys or catch up on some emails or something. Jonny looks at the door behind him and discards that possibility. It’s far too much effort.

“Alright, alright.” He snaps his damp towel at Kaner’s bare thigh, making him hiss and his dick jump. Jonny swallows and ignores it, settling back on the mattress. He hasn’t jerked off in the shower on the road since October.

They open up the scoring the next day against the Avs, lose the lead, and then they’re fighting up from behind the entire rest of the game, until Buff wins it for them with his second of the night. Jonny’s ecstatic—he doesn’t even care that he only managed 17 minutes tonight and barely made an impact. It’s three straight wins in regulation, which they haven’t strung together all season. At long last, they seem to have hit their stride.

On the 13th, the night before they play the Blue Jackets, Jonny’s puttering around his apartment when his phone starts buzzing in his pocket. He was heading toward bed, so he’s not excited to look at the screen and see Kaner. It’s not like they carpool together or anything, their schedules are too different. Jonny has no idea what Kaner could need at this hour.

“I’m gonna see you tomorrow, what do you want?” he says.

“Captain,” Kaner says, mock-solemnly.

“Oh, Jesus,” Jonny says. “What?”

“The thing is,” Kaner says. “I think we’ve stumbled onto something here.”

“What would that be, exactly?”

“Jerkoff wins, man,” Kaner announces.

Jonny squints at his reflection in his window. “I don’t even know what that is.” He’s got an inkling, though, confirmed as Kaner goes on to elaborate his shitty superstition.

“It’s not a superstition,” Kaner says. “I think we’ve proven that jerking off helps us focus, and focusing wins games. This is pretty obvious, honestly.”

“It really isn’t,” Jonny says. No wonder Kaner called at eleven in the evening.

“Can you just go with it?” Kaner asks.

“Christ,” Jonny replies, rubbing at his forehead. “What does it entail?”

“I dunno, man,” Kaner answers, “put the phone down somewhere and get your dick out.”

“I need you to understand how insane this is,” Jonny tells him, even as he’s moving towards his bed, phone pinned between his shoulder and his ear while he unbuckles his belt.

“Just think about how goddamn joyous you’ll be to prove my ‘superstition’ wrong!” Kaner replies, letting out a little huff that tells Jonny he’s already started. “Bet you’ll blow your load first, Toews.”

“Fuck off,” Jonny replies, stretching himself out on his bed, pushing his boxers down his thighs. If that’s how Kaner’s gonna play it, then Jonny can afford to take his time with this. “Got your lotion, princess?”

Kaner snorts. “Hey man, if you wanna abuse your piece, that’s your business.”

“Joys of a foreskin, bitch,” Jonny replies, deeply satisfied, sliding it back so he can smear his thumb over the head. Kaner’s one to talk. He’s practically mercenary with his cock, compared to the way Jonny approaches it. Jonny has a sudden thought of that nimble right hand on his own dick and has to blink it away.

Kaner’s noises feel amplified by the speaker, pressed as it is to Jonny’s ear, his every hitching gasp and choked off ‘unh’ coming through loud and clear like he’s actually right there next to him. Jonny thinks he even hears the slick sound of Kaner dragging his tongue across his chapped lips.

He sucks a breath in through his nose at a particularly good upstroke, and ends up holding it tight in his chest before he lets it trickle out, newly self-conscious of making noise of his own. He bends his knees and plants his feet, taking advantage of the fact that Kaner can’t see him fucking into his own fist. He’s got to, one handed isn’t really his style, but when he bucks up and tightens his hand he can feel himself getting closer. In his ear, Kaner’s getting louder. Jonny backs off, stilling his hips. He goes back to just moving his foreskin up and down, letting the feeling gentle, then gets into it again and backs off.

“Are you cheating?” Kaner says. His voice has deepened, with this husk to it. “You sound like you’re cheating.”

Jonny laughs breathlessly. “I don’t even know what that would mean.”

“Hand’s gotta be on your dick, moving the whole time,” Kaner says instantly.

“I’m not cheating, I’m just better than you,” Jonny says.

“Huh,” Kaner stutters out with a little whine at the end. He’s close. Jonny can tell.

He goes back to pushing into his hand, that delicious squeeze that grinds everything together. It’s nice being alone in his room. He doesn’t have to worry about what Kaner might see. He can spread his knees wide, drop his legs down flat onto the bed as he gets close, but, wait, not yet. He pulls back again.

Kaner is swearing in his ear now, calling him a tight-assed fucking asshole, which is contradictory but heartfelt.

Jonny swallows and licks his dry lips. This time, when he pushes into his fist, he lets himself let go, lets himself find that perfect pressure, sliding his thumb over the head of his dick every time. There’s a point where coming is inevitable, can’t be staved off anymore. He’s all the way hard now, his balls taut. He reaches that threshold and tips over, breathing hard, legs sprawled wide as he relaxes. He keeps his hand moving and shivers with each almost-too-much stroke, gentling as he comes down.

“I hate you,” Kaner tells him, breathily.

Jonny takes his time replying, reveling in a good stretch he would never allow himself in their shared hotel room. “Your idea, champ.”

They have a shit first period against Columbus, but then Huet plays the game of his life, even when Walker keeps giving the puck away right in front of their damn net. Huet keeps them in it, allowing them to turn it around in the second and clinch the win in the third. When Seabs scores the empty netter, Patrick gives him a pointed glance that makes Jonny roll his eyes.

Before the game in Edmonton though, when they’ve been sent back to the hotel for their pregame nap, Jonny shucks his clothes off and then very pointedly climbs onto the bed, propping himself up on the pillows. He’s tired from practice and their grueling travel schedule, so his dick’s not really interested, but Jonny thinks back to last week’s episode of Friday Night Lights and imagines Minka Kelly between his thighs, staring up at him, licking her lips. Yeah, that gets him there pretty fast.

“Whoa,” Kaner says, settling back on his bed. “You’re going for it?”

“You have your assbackwards superstition,” Jonny tells him, eyes shut, starting to flesh out the Minka Kelly fantasy in his head. “This is me attempting to accommodate you.”

“Just admit jerkoff wins are a thing,” Kaner replies. Jonny can hear him unzipping and getting himself in hand.

Jonny pictures Minka taking him deep into her mouth, lips straining. “Jerkoff wins are not a thing.”

Which doesn’t explain why, with seven straight wins under their belt, Jonny finds himself on the phone with Kaner on Christmas night, jerking off, because they play the Flyers the next day.

“This is the dumbest idea you have ever had,” Jonny says, aggrieved, leaning against the wall in his bathroom. The sink’s running to cover any noise while he’s jerking it. “I can’t believe I had to abandon my family in the other room for this.”

“You know I’m right, baby,” Kaner tells him, voice thready as he does the same thing on the other end of the line. “But it’s cool. I get that it hurts you to admit it.”

Jonny curses at him and spills into a wadded up bunch of toilet paper.

On the 30th, they get shut out by Detroit right after their ninth straight victory. Jonny’s so pissed they fell just short of ten. Jonny wins only five faceoffs—Datsyuk and Draper dominate him over the dot, and Cleary checks Kaner into the boards early in the first. Q doesn’t let him back on the ice until the start of the second. At the end of the day, the only thing that makes him feel better is that it wasn’t because of shitty D or bad giveaways. Detroit outplayed them, simple as that.

“It’s still a record,” Kaner says, sliding into the seat beside him on the bus to the airport. He’s got an ice pack saran wrapped over his ankle and shin. He ungently puts his legs across Jonny’s lap, knocking him in the gut. When he makes a face, Kaner protests, “What? I need to elevate it!”

“Yeah, above your heart, moron,” Jonny replies, but he doesn’t make him move.

Kaner grins, knowing full well Jonny’s capitulated, and puts his headphones in to listen to his music loud enough that Jonny can make out the words.


At a friend’s New Year’s Eve party, Jonny meets somebody. Her name’s Annie and he doesn’t notice her at first because she’s playing the gloomy, slightly distracted shadow to her gorgeous redheaded amazon friend. But when she finally looks up from her iPhone and throws out a reference to Tropic Thunder that makes him burst out laughing, she’s hard to look away from. She’s a dancer for the Luvabulls and sometimes when the song changes or it gets to a verse she particularly likes she’ll throw out a quick hip hop move right in the middle of conversation. He kisses her at midnight, and as he licks her strawberry lipgloss off his lower lip afterwards, he realizes it’s the first time in three months.

“Wow, okay,” Annie says, leaning against his chest, “you’re pretty good at that.”

“You’re not so bad yourself,” he tells her, keeping his hands on her waist.

“Sorry, I was an asshole earlier,” she says, pushing her hair back behind her ear. “But uh, what do you do?”

“I’m a hockey player,” he says. He likes that she hasn’t moved to put any distance between them.

“Oh, do we have a team here?” Annie asks, eyes wide. He’s not even sure what kind of look must be on his face, because she cracks up, burying her face into his neck. “I kid, I kid, I see the banners in the UC. I know Chicago has a team.”

“So sure I’m in the NHL?” he says into her hair.

She lifts her chin to meet his eyes, looking cheeky. “Well, I hope so. I don’t do minor league scrubs.”

When they lose a second time to Detroit, Kaner of course has something to say about it. “First, congratulations on finally dipping your wick. Second, this loss is on you, man, for sticking your dick in somebody.”

“Peeks, how can you still have your ‘not-superstition’ after we already lost?”

“The universe knew you were going to break the code among men,” Kaner replies, thumping him in the back. “And now the magic’s all gone.”

“‘The magic,’” Jonny repeats in finger quotes and rolls his eyes.

They don't ever talk about it, but they stop jerking off in their room together. Jonny wanders off to the lobby to call Annie if Kaner’s in their room in the evening.

It’s interesting, being in a relationship again. He’s out of the habit of calling someone to chat about his day, but it’s easy to make the effort. Her schedule is compatible because of the Bulls, her hours similar. She’s always been a night-owl, she tells him, and non-game days, her afternoons and evenings are full of the dance classes she teaches and classes she takes.

“Do you have a link to that video?” Jonny asks, phone to his ear as he fumbles one-handed with his wallet, trying to get out his keycard. He swings the door open and bee-lines for his bag, grabbing his phone’s power cord. The room is empty, so Kaner must have gone out.

“You want to see me work it?” Annie says.

“How is that a question?” Jonny asks. He crouches down and starts search for the power outlet.

“Okay,” she drawls, and Jonny smiles. “I’m sending you a link, but this comes with terms and conditions. One: you have to tell me I look hot. Two: you can’t tell me about the kick-change I missed at the twenty second mark. Three: no constructive ‘suggestions.’”

“That sounds like absolutely nothing I would do,” Jonny says. “Except for the hot thing. I always think you look great.”

“Yes, flattery, that’s what I’m talking about,” she says.

Later, in the shower, Jonny’s jerking off and thinking of some combination of the last time Annie had gone down on him, plus that little frilly bra and tutu combo she’d been wearing in the video that had looked like something out of a showgirls act, when Kaner opens the door. It’s the first time he’s caught Jonny in the shower, not the other way around, and he’s poised for a smart remark, but Kaner just grabs his toothpaste and goes back out without comment.

By the end of that season, the jerkoff wins are just another part of that year for Jonny, sandwiched between their rocky start at the beginning of the season, Burish and Sharpy’s extended prank-war, and the Hawks’ first playoffs appearance in six years.

Those couple of months he and Kaner jerked off together.

December 2009...

He breaks up with Annie one month short of their one year anniversary. It’s his decision, but not one he was entirely ready to make, and he considers tossing his phone into the river on four separate occasions to make sure he doesn’t take it back.

He doesn’t see it coming—although maybe he should have. They’re at dinner one night at her favorite restaurant in Wicker Park. There’s a new waitress, a young bubbly thing who can’t be more than a few moments out of high school. She makes a nervous joke about carding them when they order wine and when Jonny smiles obligingly, Annie makes a miserable face.

“What’s up?” Jonny asks, when the waitress walks away from the table.

Annie shakes her head. “Nothing.”

The rest of the meal is awkward, the conversation dragging. Jonny can’t figure out if the problem is with him, or if she got stuck in traffic right before she got here, or what, because she’d been late.

Back in her apartment that night, she’s quiet and withdrawn, not making eye contact, and in the middle of picking out a movie to watch before bed, she stops and blows out a breath. “I’m sorry. I have to say this.”

He doesn’t liked the sound of that or the way she stares down at her nails, brow furrowed, one bit.

“I am trying really, really goddamned hard not to be jealous, Jon. But for fuck’s sake, could you turn it off sometimes?”

“Turn what off?”

“The flirting!”

“Do you have to do this again?” he asks, with a groan. They’ve been down this road before. Two weeks ago, after an event organized by Seabsie’s girlfriend, she’d made a joke about him fucking around that had rapidly turned into a serious argument when he hadn’t given her the response she wanted. He’d wanted to ask Dayna if something had gone down that night with the other wives and girlfriends, but he wasn’t sure it was his place to broach the subject.

“Do I have to do this?” she parrots, staring at him incredulously. “Come on, Jon. Do you know what it’s like watching everybody throw themselves at you? You don’t have to pay them so much goddamn attention! Not to my face.”

Ice goes down his spine. “Just what are you accusing me of?” he says, leaning forward.

She ducks her head, teeth grit. “I know the score, okay. I’ve been dancing for the Luvabulls since I was eighteen. I get how this goes. But you don’t have to rub my face in it!”

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about!” he shouts.

“You’re telling me you haven’t fucked around?” she demands. “That you haven’t even thought about it?”

“I have not,” Jonny replies slowly, furious, shaky with a sudden shock of adrenaline, unsure now why he feels so betrayed. “And I would not!”

“I don’t believe you,” she replies, head bowed, voice going soft.

He stares at her, hurt and heartsick. He’s never been accused of cheating in his life. She may as well have slapped him. “Well, I’m certainly considering it now,” he shoots back, sharp and vicious, getting to his feet. He paces all the way to her shitty, tiny studio kitchen, then stops halfway between the couch and the front door.

“And also,” he says, stabbing his finger at the door. “Her? That kid? She was like sixteen and I was being nice.”

“Stop shouting at me!” she says, throwing her hands up. “I’m not saying you were planning on fucking her.”

He looks at her, at the bitter expression on her face, and rubs his hand over his mouth, letting out a self-deprecating laugh. “Jesus,” he says, breathing deep. “Jesus. I don’t even know what you’re accusing me of, here. I’m sleeping with our waitress, I’m sleeping around on the road. You want to pick one?”

She doesn’t say anything, and she doesn’t apologize either. He nods, bone deep knowledge that he can’t do this if it’s going to be like this. He can’t stick around for somebody—not after nearly a year—who should goddamn well know him better than to say shit like that. “Well, that’s it then, isn’t it.” He scoops his keys and his wallet off of the kitchen counter and leaves without a backwards glance.

When he tells Kaner about it over beers at American Junkie, still pissed off enough that just talking about it makes him mad, Kaner says, “Well, I have to ask, dude, were you?”

“Was I what?” Jonny asks blankly.

“Thinking about screwing around?”

Jonny stares at him, taking a second to respond. Has Kaner been listening to him at all? “No! What the fuck!”

Kaner holds up his hands. “Relax, man,” he says, “I see you practically everyday. I know you haven’t done anything. But I don’t know what’s in your head. You don’t talk about this stuff.”

“Who has time to bang two chicks at once, babysit your ass, and clean up after this team? Tell me who?” Jonny replies, aggrieved.

“Only two?” Kaner answers with a laugh. “You are not dreaming big enough.”

Jonny punches him in the side and then puts his head in has hands. “Oh, fuck.” He’s getting a little choked up. In front of Kaner.

Kaner clears his throat. “You were really committed, huh?”

“Committed?” Jonny looks up at him. Committed is a big fucking word. “I don’t know about that. But, I liked her. I really, really liked her.” He shrugs and looks away. “But she didn’t trust me, I guess. So. There you go.”

“Yeah,” Kaner says, nodding slowly, like he’s ever dated anyone for longer than a week or two.

“She dances in spandex and high-tops three times a week in front of half of Chicago, and it didn’t occur to me once to get twisted up about it!” he says, and then thinks about that statement for a moment. Should he not have? Was she worried about it because it was what she was doing?

Kaner must see it in his face, because he knocks Jonny’s shoulder. “Don’t, man. Don’t go down that road.”

Jonny picks up his glass and drains the dregs, then thumps it down on the coaster. “Anyway. Old news now, I guess.”

“Guess I’ll buy you another round,” Kaner says. “You get one night of sympathy beer, then you’re back to paying your fair share.”

“One night, that’s all I get?” Jonny demands. “I’m double-fisting from here on out.”

“I’m still on my entry level, here, I have to save my pennies,” Kaner says.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “You make more than me, asshole.” Next time the bartender comes around he calls for a shot of top-shelf whiskey, just for Kaner.

He gets more than one night of drinking out of it, though. Kaner’s good about being his sympathy wingman, like that’s a dance he’s done a lot. Jonny cuts it off after a couple weeks, though. He’s over it, time to move on, he’s got other stuff to focus on.


Two months later, on the other side of the Olympics, Kaner’s the one down in the dumps. He’s not obvious about it, but he’s quiet in the locker room and spends a lot of time in headphones in their room watching stuff on his laptop alone. Jonny can't decide if he’s allowed to take Kaner out to commiserate when he was the one out there on the other side, trash-talking and taking home the gold. They haven't been on opposite sides of international competition since they started playing together, and while he's ecstatic to have won, especially on home ice, he's not looking to damage what he has in Chicago.

He does snag Kaner for dinner alone once when they're back with the Hawks. They've finished their food when Jonny leans back and tries to search out their waiter.

"Is it my turn to buy a sympathy-round?" he says.

"Not a fucking chance," Kaner says. "Another four years, we'll see about that."

Jonny snorts, but tips his glass in Kaner's direction in a silent salute.

A week later, the entire team goes out one night, and after he’s bought a round for the table, he considers his captainly duties discharged and goes to flirt with the hot blonde at the pool table. He’d noticed her when she’d leaned over the table to line up a shot, and the neckline of her simple button-down slid revealing the tantalizing edge of lace along a black bra.

He challenges her to a game, and they play a couple of times, trading wins back and forth, putting drinks and a couple of twenties on the line. She’s got a great laugh and it nearly kills him every time she leans over, ass in the air, as she’s taking a shot. She says her name's Rachel and she doesn’t know who he is, which is refreshing.

Finally, after he table scratches horribly and loses a good $100 he just won off her, he says, “Okay, that’s it, I’m raising the stakes.”

“Oh yeah?” she says. “Gonna let me take more of your money?”

“Sure,” he says easily. “But if I win, we get out of here.”

“Oho,” Rachel replies, smiling, hands loose on the pool cue. “Smooth.”


“Alright,” she tells him, “deal.”

Just as she’s about to win it, she meets his eyes and with a slow grin deliberately banks the 8 ball, giving him ball-in-hand. With the freedom to put the cue ball anywhere he wants, he easily sinks it and wins the game.

“Guess we’re getting out of here,” she says.

He looks around for the guys to tell them that he’s headed out and sees Kaner sitting by himself at the bar, fiddling on his phone. He looks tired and unhappy and it makes Jonny’s gut clench into a knot.

“That your friend?” Rachel asks, following his gaze.

Jonny nods, watching Kaner signal the bartender for another drink. He looks back at her and wonders if the compass rose tattoo on the inside of her wrist really does mean she's up for an adventure.

"Can you do me a favor?" he asks, reaching out and twining a long strand of her hair around his finger. When he leans in close and whispers what he wants from her against her ear, she shivers against him, lips parted and eyes wide. She licks her lips and nods.

Kaner’s surprised to see them when they find him at the bar. "Oh, you’re headed out?" he asks, probably wondering why Jonny hasn't just left with beautiful girl on his arm.

"Yeah, man," Jonny says, giving him a significant look. He loops his arm around her waist, pulling gently so that she’s right in front of him, blonde and beautiful and smiling. She's just the perfect height for him to lean down, chin resting on her shoulder. "Come with us.”

It takes Kaner a second to get what they're asking. Jonny watches understanding dawn on his face. "Yeah?" he asks, biting at his lip, looking back and forth between them.

Rachel's head moves as she gives him an obvious up-and-down. Jonny can't see it, but Kaner's gaze sharpens, and he's guessing she's giving him that challenging, flirty look that had lured him in over the pool table.

In the ride up the elevator back at Jonny's place, Rachel says, "You two do this a lot?" Jonny has his arm around her, fingers just dipping in on the smooth skin under waistband, while Kaner stands nearby with his hands in his pockets, looking at both of them.

Jonny raises his eyebrows at Kaner.

"No," Kaner says.

There's always a moment of awkwardness when Jonny takes someone home for the first time. Jonny hadn't realized how easily Amy had breezed over it with him and Kaner until he's trying to do the same himself. He nuzzles at Rachel's neck, draws her hair to the side to give himself better access. She shivers in the crook of his arm.

"We might have to tell Kaner what you want," Jonny says. "But he responds well to instructions."

The elevator dings as the doors open on his floor.

"After you," Jonny says, and lets her go first, then escorts her to his door as Kaner trails along behind them. He takes them through the apartment to his bedroom.

"That's a nice view," Rachel says, wandering away from him, over to the window. She's silhouetted with Chicago behind her.

"So's this one," Kaner says. He's still in the doorway, his arms braced up on either side.

She turns and laughs at him, and he grins back, like he enjoys that edge of mockery.

Jonny joins her at the window and puts his hands on her waist to draw her in, conscious of Kaner’s eyes on them. She trails her hand from his shoulder down his arm and gives an approving hum that makes Jonny smile. Her arms go around his neck as he bends his head and kisses her.

"Not regretting losing that game yet," Rachel says when they draw apart.

Jonny laughs ruefully. "You woulda had me this last round."

"She smoke you, Toews?" Kaner asks. He's closer to them now.

"Not even," Jonny says. "I put up a good fight."

"That's what he always says," Kaner says. He's close enough to reach out and slide his hand over her back. Rachel turns her head and lifts her chin over her shoulder, and Kaner brushes their mouths together.

The gut-punch of arousal Jonny feels at the sight of them together feels like déjà vu—which makes sense. They have been here before, if not for years. He strives to be honest with himself at all costs. Sometimes he thinks it’s the only thing that’s made any of this life possible, and being honest with himself now, he’s dwelled on that night with Amy a lot.

He takes Rachel's hands and separates them from around his neck, moves them to down to her sides, and steps back. He settles himself on the edge of his bed, watching them and wondering why, even though so much of this feels exactly the same, it also feels entirely different.

Rachel disconnects her kiss with Kaner, tipping her head back on his shoulder as he drops his mouth to her neck. She finds and holds Jonny’s gaze as Kaner reaches around and starts pulling apart her dress shirt, button by button. It’s a man’s shirt, Jonny realizes, with the buttons on the right side, and Kaner’s easily able to slide them out of their holes until the shirt gapes over her breasts.

She breathes deep as Kaner’s fingertips skim down over her belly and Jonny sees the exact moment on her face when it becomes a little too much, as Kaner’s millimeters away from unzipping her jeans.

“Hey, c’mere,” he says, voice soft, tilting his head.

Kaner’s arms drop easily from around her waist and she walks over, climbing into his lap. He kisses her slow and gentle, hand at her chin and the other at her waist, holding her to him. She’s a warm weight right on his dick and when she pulls away again, shifting her hips in a steady roll, she says, full of wonder, “You’re really into this.”

“Mmhm,” Jonny replies easily, ”you good?”

She bites her lip and then smiles. “Can you take your clothes off?”

Jonny meets Kaner’s eyes over her shoulder. Kaner nods once, slow smile starting up on his face, and Jonny smiles back. He gets to his feet, taking her with him, before turning and gently laying her back out on the bed. Kaner unselfconsciously pulls his long-sleeved henley up over his head, while Jonny does the same. Jonny looks over while he’s unzipping his fly to find her watching them intently.

“So you two obviously work out,” she says.

“Uh, yeah,” Kaner says. His dimples are popping out as he bites down on his smile.

“Are you workout buddies?” Rachel asks. Jonny straightens up after getting rid of his pants and boxer-briefs and she runs her hand over his stomach.

“Sometimes,” Jonny says. He sits down next to her on the bed and leans over and kisses her again. He parts the open wings of her shirt and slides his hands up and over the sides of her breasts, that black lace scratchy on his palms, and comes up to the tops of her shoulders, under the shirt. She shrugs her shoulders, and the shirt opens wider and starts sliding down.

“You can help me out,” she suggests, so Jonny carefully coaxes the sleeves the rest of the way down. The bed jostles as Kaner sits down on the other side, and then he’s helping with her left sleeve as Jonny works the right one off. Kaner frees her first, while Jonny gets hung up around the cuff, and when he looks up, Rachel has her hand in the curls at the back of Kaner’s neck as they kiss, their mouths moving slickly against each other. Her breasts are a soft, pale contrast to the scalloped edge of her bra. She lets her hand drift free and pulls back, breathing hard. Kaner sits up and puts his hands down flat on the bed on either side of his hips, so Jonny isn’t the only who’s noticed that she’s still more nervous than she’s letting on.

“I’m definitely the one who’s better with my hands,” Kaner says. “I finished first, five points to the USA.” He does that stupid point and shake thing, like he’s on the ice.

“Not true,” Jonny objects.

“Canada, zero,” Kaner says.

Jonny rolls his eyes and looks at Rachel, who is looking confused, but calmer. “We did this idiotic Olympic competition thing, with, like, popsicles and other stupid shit. I won, obviously.”

“Obviously,” she says, like she’s mocking both of them. “Anyway, I think I better handle these.” She bends over and unzips her boots, working them off and tossing them away from the bed.

Jonny slides back toward the headboard and leans back. “What about the pants?” he asks her. “See if Peekaboo knows what he’s doing.”

She presses down on her lower lip and then twists her mouth up like she’s thinking about it, exaggerated. “I guess Patrick could show me if he knows how to undress a girl.”

“Scoot on back here,” Jonny says, and gets her situated, back against his chest, while Kaner kneels down in front of them. He doesn’t fumble at all, undoing the button and zipper of her fly, then moves back to start working her pants down her legs. He drags his knuckles down first one leg and then the other as he pulls her free of them. She shudders and turns her face into Jonny’s shoulder.

Her underwear doesn’t match the bra, black with a cherry pattern. She laughs, a little self-conscious and then explains, “Wasn’t planning on hooking up tonight.”

Kaner reaches out for the waistband on her panties and she stops him with a hand on his wrist. “Listen, I’m not a fucking pornstar,” she says, firm. “There’s no hardwood floor.”

Jonny and Kaner both laugh, surprised by her. This is the girl who deliberately shanked her shot on the 8 ball. Kaner looks delighted with her.

“I’m into that,” he promises.

Rachel tugs on his mop of hair. “I bet you are,” she says.

Jonny runs his lips along her neck, from her ear down to her collarbone and back up, as Kaner hooks his fingers around the elastic of her panties and tugs it down. Sure enough, she’s not like Amy, nothing shaved, a wiry crop of reddish curls covering her mound and edging her folds.

Jonny cups her breast, thumbing the nipple, and dips the fingers of his other hand between her folds, pleased to find she’s already slick. Trepidation or not, she’s turned on. He circles her clit with one experimental press, and she arches obligingly within his arms. Kaner stares almost hungrily at Jonny’s hand between her thighs, gaze hot as Jonny slides first one and then two fingers inside her.

He presses up, towards her belly, and knows he gets her right on the g-spot from the way she tenses up in his arms, and clenching hard around his fingers. He pulls out and then slides back in, circling his thumb again over the hood of her clit. She gasps and lets her head fall back into his shoulder and curls her arms around his knees, planted upright on either side of her. She clenches again around his fingers, wet and elastic and warm. He eases his hand down between them to adjust his dick, and she leans forward, squirming against his hand.

He’s not sure what she’s doing for a second as she reaches behind her back and unfastens her bra, but Kaner’s obviously tracking the action better than him, even tenting his boxers like he is, because he’s there like a shot, reaching forward to slide her bra straps off her arms and cast it away. She leans back against Jonny again, and he grunts as it puts pressure on his stiffening dick. Kaner’s hands come back and trace at the red marks her bra had left on her ribcage, and then he’s sitting back on his heels. Jonny circles her clit and rubs his fingers inside her again, this time coordinating with his other hand on her breast, cupping it entirely in his palm. Her thighs are tensing as she rocks into his hand, but he doesn’t have much room to work with.

“Hey,” he says low into her ear, “can you bend your knees for me?” She shivers against him, and then follows his urging hand to raise her knees, feet still planted flat, spreading her legs open so that they’re pressed together all along their thighs, knees touching.

Kaner’s rubbing himself through the fabric of his shorts.

"Let me...let me see, hey?" she asks him breathlessly nodding her chin at where he's lazily stroking himself.

Kaner tilts his head, a coy half-smile on his face. "That's what you want?"

Jonny twists his fingers inside her. Her answering hissed-out yes could be for either of those things. Kaner shucks off his boxers anyway.

“Shit,” she says, startled. Her cunt clenches around Jonny’s fingers and he stills them, letting her grind down. Jonny presses his mouth over the skin of her shoulder, smiling. Rachel elbows him in the ribs. “You didn’t warn me about that.”

Jonny pulls his fingers free to wrap his arms around her waist, curling even closer. “Are you into it?”

She relaxes back into him. “God,” she says again. “Yeah.”

Kaner has been fisting himself slowly, working his way to full hardness, but his hand stutters when Jonny says, “You think you can take him? He knows what he’s doing.”

A shudder goes through her like a wave, like she’s imagining it. He hopes she’s imagining it. She nods once, short and sharp against his shoulder.

“Jonny,” Kaner says helplessly, staring at him. He’s flushed up now, cheeks pink, lips bitten red.

“Go get a condom, Kaner,” Jonny says.

She closes her hand around his left forearm, sliding it along until she can lace their fingers together. She moves his hand back to her clit and starts a gentle motion that’s easy for him to pick up, shuddering every time he brushes straight across her. The room is starting to smell like her and him together, sweat and her sex. Jonny lifts their joined hands and licks her fingers to taste her, then moves their wet fingers back to finger at her folds with the added friction from his saliva that isn’t as lubricating as her slick.

Kaner's back on the bed quickly, but he stalls out with the condom still in his hand, watching them. Jonny raises his eyebrows at him, but Kaner’s not making eye contact. He’s level with their feet and not moving any closer.

Rachel’s the one who goads him into moving forward. She reaches out with one leg and pulls him in, ungraceful but effective. Kaner gets the condom on, and Jonny watches almost hungrily as he rolls it down. He didn’t get to see this last time, not from this perspective. He was trying not to look. He didn’t think he should. Jonny doesn’t care now, though, and he wants to see Kaner’s dextrous fingers sliding the condom onto himself with a few practiced motions. He palms himself a few times, and Jonny hums deep in his chest.

“See,” Jonny murmurs. Rachel’s hair is sticking damply to his cheek. “He’ll take care of you.”

Rachel turns her face into his neck and nods. Her breath fans across his collar, fast and hot. She reaches out with her other leg, catching Kaner solidly around the waist. He slides forward on his knees. She stretches out between them and Kaner takes her hips and pulls her down into his lap. Jonny reaches down with both hands and spreads her lips apart. In the back of Jonny’s mind he’s satisfied that Rachel wanted Kaner to fuck her, that he gets to do this for Kaner. She’d been up for it in the bar, curious and intrigued, but there’s a difference between that and having her here between them, letting Jonny open her up for Kaner’s dick.

Two years have passed since the last time they did this, and it shows in how slowly Kaner pushes into her, how he pauses and asks, “Do you like to come first?” and waits for her to shake her head to continue his approach. Jonny can feel Kaner’s cock pushing her open, almost catching on his fingertips as Jonny holds her. She’s squirming distractingly in Jonny’s lap, trying to get more movement as she’s stretched wide around Kaner’s dick before he really starts to move, and even then it’s just short, testing strokes that Jonny watches with wide eyes. Kaner’s holding onto her thighs. She flexes in his grip, scissoring her legs around his solid waist as he moves into her. His core muscles are contracting smoothly, controlling the pace. Kaner’s stronger than anyone ever expects.

“God,” Jonny says quietly. Kaner looks up, then, and makes eye contact. He looks feverish, but Jonny feels like he’s on fire and probably doesn’t look much better. Jonny runs his tongue along his teeth, eyes dropping back to look at the way Rachel’s opening clings to Kaner’s thickness with every push. The condom is shiny with her fluid every time he withdraws and she’s breathing hard, hands tightening on Jonny as if to brace herself.

“I need—” she breaks off, reaching back and tugging Jonny’s head down to kiss her, fingers tight on his skull. On Kaner’s next thrust, her hand drops to the mattress and she moans directly into his mouth.

Kaner curses, rhythm faltering, and Rachel hisses, pulling her mouth away from Jonny’s. She extends her arm, trailing delicate fingers down Kaner’s chest, over one distended nipple. “Like what you see?” she asks.

Kaner shuts his eyes, an expression that’s almost pain passing over his face. He blinks them open again slowly, dazed like he’s just been rocked hard against the boards. “You want me to tell you what you look like?” he says hoarsely. “With him holding you—fuck—holding you up?”

Jonny swallows, mouth dry. It seems to take Kaner real effort to summon up the words, but when they come, it’s filthy and raw and terrible in how perfect it is. “You’re so little,” Kaner breathes. “Fuck, watching you take my cock as you lie there in his arms. You look like you were made for this.” He pauses, breathing deep, and she moans, tremulous and broken, hand tightening even further on Jonny’s.

“And,” Kaner pulls all the way out and then strokes back in hard, rocking her back into Jonny. Rachel throws her head back on his shoulder, back bending in an athletic arch, “your sweet tight cunt, so tight he had to spread you open for me. I—I can’t—” He leans forward, like he can’t stop it, head heavy on his neck. Jonny sees the muscles in his back tense up.

“Please,” she whispers, almost like she’s ashamed, “harder.”

Kaner laughs with a desperate edge, head dropping even lower. “Okay, babygirl, harder. It. Is.” He punctuates the three last words with a rough push of his hips.

To get better leverage, Kaner leans in close, folding her back into Jonny. He has to brace himself with a hand on the mattress outside of Jonny’s hip. Jonny tracks the tensile strength of the muscles running from his forearm, into his bicep, and along his shoulder, as he supports his weight, snapping in hard enough that Rachel’s pushed back into Jonny on every up-stroke. It’s a bit like getting every thrust by proxy, Jonny realizes, startled.

“Jon,” she exhales, drawing his attention back to her. Her cheeks have gone rosy, sweat gathering on her chest and collecting in the fine depression of her navel. She’s flawless. “Jon, are you—”

“Don’t worry about me,” he says, pressing his lips to her temple. He smiles where she can’t see it, and moves his hand back to its earlier position at her mound, finding her clitoris with the pads of two fingers and pressing.

Her ass clenches against him and Kaner makes a shocked noise, the sound wrenched right out of him. The arm braced next to Jonny trembles. Jonny keeps it up, teasing over her clit, sometimes with light strokes, other times a hard press, rubbing his fingers in a circle. She’s started whimpering, nails biting deep into the skin of his thigh.

“Oh, fuck, Jonny, your fingers,” Kaner says, strangled. Jonny nearly swallows his tongue.

Rachel comes before Kaner, eyes wide and astonished. It hits her harder than she must have been expecting and she arches back into Jonny, as if to get away from it.

“You’re okay,” Jonny tells her, running his hand through her hair. “You’re okay.”

She shakes in his arms, mouth stretched open on a silent o. She’s flushed so red she looks sunburned.

“Patrick, oh god, Patrick,” she says, voice wrecked, “I can feel it getting bigger.”

“Yeah, babygirl,” Patrick says, “I’m gonna—” He groans loudly as he orgasms in the middle of that sentence, shoving in one last time, getting in so close his mouth grazes Jonny’s shoulder.

Rachel’s still shaking, hand tensing spasmodically on Jonny’s thigh. Patrick lingers for only a moment before withdrawing, falling back to the mattress with a defeated groan, condom still on.

Jonny holds her close, running his hands up and down her sides, waiting for her breathing to slow. He murmurs nonsense to her until she’s calmed down.

“Can you come a second time?” he asks her, wrapped tight around her.

She pauses, lower lip caught between her teeth, and then nods.

Jonny detangles from her carefully, letting her drop back to the pillows piled up against the headboard. Her thighs tense up like she’s recalling the feeling of Kaner between them. He shifts down the bed, gently parting her legs to lay between them. He looks up at her with a smile, before dropping his mouth to where she’s red and wet and swollen. Distantly, he hears Kaner groan. Her thighs quake at the first touch of his mouth. She tastes like latex from the condom, but beneath that is a taste entirely her own. Jonny likes doing this, eating a girl out; he might’ve had her sit on his face if he thought her legs would hold her up.

She’s clenching nonstop in these little bursts as Jonny flickers his tongue over her, alternating between quick motions and long strokes. The long muscles of her inner thighs shake under his palms, and she keeps trying to bring her knees in and then dropping them apart as he holds her down.

She palms the back of his head, and when he lifts his face away, she says hoarsely, “I need—” and then stalls out. She reaches down and slides one of her fingers inside herself, and Jonny can see how she flutters around it, before she takes her hand out and puts it, damp, on his shoulder. She’s swollen and hot when he reaches in with one finger, and when he moves to stroke inside her again, she hisses. She says, “Just. Inside.”

She’s tender from Kaner, he realizes. The thought makes him grind down hard on the mattress.

When he bends down to put his mouth back to work, she slides her freed leg over his shoulder, heel pressing against the small of his back. She’s getting so wet again. He can feel it on his cheeks and his chin. Every time he works over her just right, her heel digs in and presses his erection harder into the bed. He groans, and she cries out above him.

Dimly, he can hear Kaner saying, long and low, “Fuck, Jonny, fuck.” The mattress shifts and Rachel moans, muffled, above him. When he lifts his head, she and Kaner are kissing. Her hand comes down, insistent, pushing down on the back of his neck, and Jonny grins and licks hard over her clitoris in response, making her buck up against him.

“There,” she says raggedly, “like that, god!” It doesn’t take much more than that, she’s so sensitive now that she easily comes apart under his mouth. Her fingernails bite into his shoulders, and she pulses around his finger again and again as she comes.

“Ah, stop,” she finally groans, and pushes him away with shaking hands, sliding her leg back down to sprawl flat on the bed.

He sits up and wipes his cheek on his shoulder, then runs the back of his hand over his chin as he cracks his neck, one side then the other. He’s been hard for what feels like hours, though his bedside table says they haven’t been here anything like that long.

“I think you two have killed me,” Rachel says weakly. “Ow.”

Jonny shifts forward and plants his hands on either side of her torso, then lowers himself gently down to brush his mouth across hers. She sighs and parts her lips for an open, wet kiss.

She hums, warm. “You taste like me.”

He laughs lowly, and sits back up, working at himself absently.

Kaner is on his side, facing both of them, but like last time, he’s looking sleepy, eyelids drooping as he traces his fingers lightly across Rachel’s stomach like he’s trying to keep himself awake. She catches his hand and raises it to her lips to kiss the back of it, like she’s saying thank you. Kaner shifts over and kisses her cheek chastely, and both actions are sweet like most of this night hasn’t been. The sight presses into Jonny’s midsection, squeezing him with a heavy, uncomfortable sort of tenderness.

Rachel turns and looks at Jonny. Her breathing is evening out. She looks relaxed now, spread out naked on the pillows. Kaner glances down her body lazily, his head pillowed on his forearm, and then he’s looking at Jonny too. Jonny was going to jerk off, he’s still touching himself gently, but with both of their eyes on him, it’s abruptly too much, even if they do both look like they’re on the edge of passing out. Maybe especially because they’re both so obviously done for the night. He’s alone here, out of step and awkward.

He shifts backward, sliding to the edge of the bed and swinging his feet to the floor. He brushes his hand down Rachel’s leg, and says, “I’m going to take a shower.”

“Hm?” she says, sleepily curious, but lets him leave the bed without saying anything else. Kaner’s eyes are shut when Jonny looks back.

In the shower, the water beating down on his neck and back, Jonny braces his forehead on the tiles and gasps as he lets himself think about what just played out on the other side of that door. He fucks his fist and thinks about Kaner fucking Rachel, about how he could feel him as he stretched her wide open, the power of his thrusts, the motion Jonny could feel when he was fingering her. He breathes in the warm, humid air and focuses on himself now, nobody else. He turns and leans against the wall so the water hits his chest and thighs. He rolls his balls with one hand and works at his dick with the other. Shit, Rachel looked so good stretched out over both of their laps, and then she and Kaner looked so good together.

Jonny groans and jacks himself faster. Like last time, he’s been turned on long enough that orgasming is first of all a relief, and then a soft come down.

He stands on shaky legs for a long time, tilting his face into the shower spray one direction and then the other, while the water washes everything down the drain.

When he comes out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist, Rachel is pulling her clothes on. Kaner looks passed out on the bed behind her, his breath whistling in and out in a gentle pattern Jonny recognizes from rooming together on the road. Someone, maybe Rachel, maybe Kaner himself, has pulled the bedcovers over him.

Jonny goes over to her, and puts his hand on her back as she straightens up from zipping up her boots.

“You don’t have to leave,” he says quietly.

She smiles at him, and smooths her hair down before drawing it over her shoulder. “No,” she says. “I should take off. Don’t want to overstay my welcome.”

“Let me call you a cab,” Jonny urges, and goes over to his dresser to grab a pair of workout pants, a t-shirt, his phone, and his wallet.

The cold wakes her up a little bit as they wait in front of his building.

“Was that enough of an adventure for you?” he jokes, and she rolls her eyes and elbows him, then burrows into his side.

“It was a little overwhelming,” she says honestly.

The cab shows up before he has to respond to that, before he has to admit that for him, too, it was a lot. Instead, he gives her a hug and a kiss on the cheek, opens the door for her, then leans down until the driver rolls down his window so he can give him sixty bucks to take her wherever she wants to go.

When he gets back upstairs, Kaner is still asleep. The room smells so strongly of sex that Jonny knows he’s going to have to change the sheets before he can get any sleep. He stands there looking at Kaner, not sure what to do next. His hair is a pale tangle across the pillow, and stubble is just starting to dust around the edge of his jaw, the product of a week without shaving. Eventually, Jonny shakes at his shoulder, making him stir and grumble into the sheets.

“Come on, Kaner,” Jonny says. “Wake up, bud. I gotta change the bed.”

“Ngh,” Kaner says, and his eyes slit open, showing his pale irises.

“You can move over to the guest bed,” Jonny says, and keeps shaking until Kaner starts to sit up.

He starts to push back the blankets and then stops, clearly startled to find that he’s naked.

“Oh right,” he mutters, scrubbing at his face, and starts feeling around the covers for something. Jonny reaches down and scoops Kaner’s boxers off the ground and tosses them at him, then turns and heads out to the linen closet in the hallway.

Kaner stumbles out of his room a few moments later, cheek creased from Jonny’s pillow. He yawns blearily and then says, "I'm starting to think you're on a hair trigger."


Kaner grins cheekily. "In bed, dude. You haven't fucked a girl in front of me once."

“Fuck you and your hair trigger, bitch,” Jonny throws a pillow case at his head. "This is the thanks I get for getting you laid. Unbelievable."

"Put up or shut up," Kaner replies over his shoulder, laughing, and heads into the guest bedroom.


Kaner doesn’t brighten up appreciably over the next few weeks, but he’s fine on the ice, and then everyone is buckling down and focusing on their second playoffs appearance in a row. Jonny has no time for anything outside of hockey, certainly no time to speculate on the possible existence of an Olympic hangover for one Patrick Kane. He’s relieved not to be dating anyone this year. It had been difficult to split his focus last year and he hadn’t really tried. In retrospect, while that hadn’t been the beginning of the end of that relationship, it probably hadn’t helped.

Jonny feels good in the lead up to the playoffs. They’re neck and neck with San Jose for first seed in the west and he’s thinking with the team they have, they can go the distance. He’s not sure if that’s false confidence or experience. He gets going about it in his and Kaner’s room one afternoon when they’re both waking up from their pregame naps before their game against Dallas. He’d dreamt that they were standing on home ice in the Finals. It’s ten days before playoffs start.

Kaner’s up before him, sitting in an armchair near the window with the heavy blackout curtain pulled halfway back so he can read a book. Dallas’s strong afternoon sunlight is streaming across that corner and turning his hair startlingly light. Jonny feels disoriented by the contrast with the rest of the darkened room as he starts telling Kaner about his dream.

Kaner knocks on wood when Jonny mentions center ice, and then says, “I don’t think it matters. Either way, experience is good and confidence is better, huh?”

“But overconfidence isn’t,” Jonny says.

“I dunno, Tazer,” Kaner says slowly. “I had to know I was good for a long time before I started getting the go-ahead. So who knows where I’da ended up if I hadn’t held onto that.”

“I guess,” Jonny says. He rubs at his eyes. He’s got a little headache going, probably dehydration. He's unsettled by that mental image of a less confident Patrick Kane who maybe hadn't made it to the NHL.

“Unclench, man. We’re stronger this year than last year. Enjoy it.”

“Open the rest of that curtain will you?” Jonny says. “I feel like I’m still asleep over here.”

Kaner gives him a put-upon look and then drags it open, drowning Jonny in light. He blinks hard and groans, dropping his head back to the pillow. His body is not coming back online easily. When he finally rolls out of bed, he stretches his back out with another groan at the precise pleasure-pain of it. His boxer-briefs pull uncomfortably tight over his sleep-induced erection and he palms himself, trying to adjust the pressure. He looks over to find Kaner watching him, strangely intent.

“What?” he asks with another yawn.

Kaner shakes his head. “Nothing, just.” He clears his throat. “Still thinking about you having a hair trigger.”

“What the—” he picks a pillow off his bed and hits him with it while Kaner sniggers. “You little shit! You have literally seen me come!”

“Yeah, into your own right hand!” Kaner replies, hitting Jonny with the pillow back.

They wind up wrestling on Kaner’s bed. Nothing serious, they’re not trying to hurt each other. Jonny’s still discombobulated from sleep, which is why Kaner comes out on top, or at least that’s what he’s telling himself. Kaner’s got himself in a good position, ass planted high on Jonny’s chest, just enough pressure over his diaphragm to restrict his air, knees pinning Jonny’s biceps back to the pillows. It’s a move Jonny’s pretty sure he taught him himself. His dick is right there in Jonny’s face. He can make out the shape of it against Patrick’s thigh through the fabric of his sweats.

“Ugh,,” Jonny tells him through a dragged in breath, shutting his eyes.

“Suck it, Canada,” Kaner crows, “I win!”

He bounces on Jonny’s chest, making him gasp, because he’s an evil little son of a bitch, and then lifts off. Jonny takes a series of deep breaths, kicking out at him halfheartedly as Patrick gets off the bed. “1 in 10,000 times. I can live with those numbers,” he coughs out, rolling over onto his stomach.

Patrick smacks him on the ass as he heads to the bathroom. “Whatever you need to tell yourself.”

Jonny groans and drops his forehead to the mattress. Off to an auspicious start.


They drop their first game against the Nashville Predators, on home ice, in regulation. Jonny drops his head when the final buzzer sounds. When he looks over at Kaner, he looks like he wants to vomit.

Jonny does his best with the team and the media. He takes a turn on the bikes, and has to physically stop himself from pedaling too fast. They’ve got a game to win in two days.

Next to him, Kaner says grimly, “I want to get so drunk I forget that third period ever happened.”

“Yeah,” Jonny says heavily. He wipes at his face with a towel. “I think I have a couple Miller Lites kicking around. Think that’ll do the trick?”

“Not likely, and fuck you,” Kaner says, correctly interpreting that as a jibe at his alcohol tolerance, but he ends up following Jonny home anyway. It doesn’t take long before he’s slouched down more than normal on Jonny’s couch, starting to look red-faced and sweaty. They’re both too tired to need much before they’re feeling loose, though as promised, Jonny pulled out the piss beers.

“Overconfidence,” Jonny is saying dolefully, tipping his can of beer in a careful circle.

“Noooooooo,” Kaner moans, dropping his head back to stare at the ceiling. “You aren’t going to fucking jinx us with your stupid dream.” He sets his beer down, then the bottle of water he’d been hugging to his chest.

Jonny squints at him for a long moment before he figures out that Kaner is fumbling with his belt.

“What?” he says.

“Jerkoff wins, fucker, get to it.” Kaner nods at Jonny’s crotch.

“Not a thing,” Jonny says.

“I’m doing it,” Kaner decides, and opens his pants. He really can will himself erect, Jonny muses. It’s such a weird dick-related superpower.

“This really isn’t a thing,” Jonny says.

“Come on, get it out,” Kaner chants, “get it out.” He starts pawing at the waistband of Jonny’s pants, his breath damp on Jonny’s neck.

“Ugh, Jesus, okay!” Jonny shrugs him off. “Would you let me handle my own junk, Christ.”

“There we go,” Kaner says, satisfied, and leans back, eyes shut, hand a loose circle around the shaft.

Drunk, Kaner’s louder than he normally would be, louder even than he was in bed with Amy or Rachel. With cheeks gone ruddy and breaths stuttering out of his mouth unevenly, he works his shaft slow and aimless, almost like he keeps forgetting what he’s even doing. He thumbs his circumcision scar, a hint of a whine coming out of his mouth, hips lazily rolling to fuck up into his own fist.

“Jonny,” he says, eyes still closed, like he’s a stern parent reminding a child they’ve been called for dinner.

Jonny pulls down his zipper, the sound of the teeth of his fly coming apart artificially loud in his apartment. He reaches into his briefs.

That night with Rachel is holding down one of the slots in Jonny’s list of top five sexual experiences, so he’s thought about it a fair amount when jerking off. It’s reliably a turn-on to remember how hot it had been to be wrapped around her, watching and feeling her react to everything Kaner was doing to her. Having the guy right next to him is too distracting, though. Jonny can’t hold onto a single image. He’s having to rely on the purely physical sensations of his hand on his dick.

He shifts his legs wider and accidentally knocks his knee into Kaner’s. They weren’t sitting far apart on the couch before Kaner’s genius idea, and it seems like too much effort to shuffle sideways just so Jonny can stretch out in peace. He leaves his leg where it is. He really is exhausted, and that was without the beer. Even with Kaner going on like that next to him it takes a while to get into it. It’s a weird sensation, knowing that he could just fall asleep right here if he closes his eyes for too long, or maybe also orgasm.

“Finally,” Kaner sighs. Jonny rolls his head to the side. Kaner has his eyes open now, looking at Jonny’s hand on his erection. “Slow tonight, Toews.”

“We don’t all have your pop-up dick,” Jonny says. He’s breathing harder now, working in longer strokes and swiping at the head with his thumb, falling into that familiar pattern.

Kaner just groans as he catches himself in a brutal squeeze over the top of his dick, hissing when he slides it back down. No goddamn lotion near Jonny’s couch. They should have taken this party over to Kaner’s, where he probably has a masturbation station in every room. Kaner takes his hand away and licks at his palm, then smears it over the head and down. That must work, because he drops his head back down to the couch.

He’s locked into his own world now, pushing into his fist. Jonny has lagged behind again. He's not particularly close to coming. It’s probably not going to happen, he thinks, lackadaisically cupping his palm around the shaft. Just as he starts to think Kaner will have to provide the jerkoff win on his own, Kaner makes a positively lewd noise in the back of his throat, and comes hard, all over himself.

He slumps over against Jonny’s side, a warm weight on his shoulder. “Get off,” Jonny replies, shrugging his shoulder, trying to budge him.

“I just did,” Kaner replies, snickering.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “So fucking clever, man. They should let you write for SNL.” He sighs, hand slowing down completely.

“That’s pathetic,” Kaner says, digging his chin into Jonny’s shoulder.

“Oh, gee, sorry I’m not jacking it good enough for you,” Jonny replies.

“Jonny, Jonny, Jonny,” Kaner sighs mournfully, “It’s not a hair trigger, is it? Do you have trouble keeping it up?”

“You actually know that’s not true, you twat,” Jonny shoots back, elbowing him hard in the side, hand tightening.

“Not tonight, though,” Kaner laughs.

Jonny narrows his eyes and starts moving his hand faster. Kaner quiets down at his side. That’s right, asshole, Jonny thinks, satisfied.

Then Kaner says, “Man, you uncut guys. I’d never seen that, before you. Seems like you’re doing, like, nothing.” He’s still leaned in close, watching between slow blinks as Jonny works himself. His mullet is scratching at Jonny’s neck.

It doesn’t feel like nothing, but Jonny doesn’t bother saying anything, because he’s finally getting close.

He takes a couple short, gasping breaths, and Kaner says quietly, “All right.” It’s short, breathy, obviously just for himself, but he knows, he must be tracking exactly where Jonny is, how close he is to finishing, and that’s the thought Jonny carries with him as he spills over into his fist.

Kaner crashes in his guest bedroom again, but in the morning, when Jonny pulls himself out of bed, he’s already gone, along with the last of Jonny’s cereal and a banana. He did do all of the dishes remaining in the sink though, so Jonny only grumbles a little over his wheat toast.

They win the next game, lose the one after that, and so it goes. The Game 5 clusterfuck is the reason Patrick Kane makes his money though, after Hossa gets sent off with a five minute major for the hit on Hamhuis when they’re down with only a minute left in the fucking game. Shorthanded, Q pulls Niemi in a last second desperation play and Kaner taps in a rebound off Sharpy with only 13 seconds left.

“Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit,” Patrick’s screaming when Jonny slides into him and Sharpy.

“You nasty fucker,” Jonny tells him, grinning so hard his face hurts. A crowd of other bodies slam into them, dogpiling them, cheering and shouting.

“Just the way you like it,” Patrick yells into his throat, jubilant laughter bubbling up. “Just the way you like it.”

Hossa scores right out of the box, almost like they planned it, but all anybody can talk about is Patrick’s Hail Mary goal. It’s like all the vitality that’s been missing for the past few months is suddenly back in his smile. Jonny’s relieved to win, but he’s amazed how much of that is because it feels like Patrick Fucking Kane is finally back again.

They sew the series up at Bridgestone Arena and then it’s on to the Canucks.

Jonny’s stressed out when they start the process over again by once again losing spectacularly on home ice in Game 1 though. Patrick makes a jerking off motion in practice the next day while Q reams them out. Jonny flicks him off. They’re getting through the Canucks. They did it last year. They’re doing it again this year. Fuck all the noise.

They destroy the Canucks in Games 2, 3, and 4 and then play another disaster of a Game 5 after they were sure they had it in the bag. Overconfidence again, it’s gonna kill them.

“Don’t say it,” Patrick tells him on their flight back to Vancouver for the next game before Jonny even opens his mouth.

Jonny blows out a breath. “You don’t know what I was gonna say.”

“Blah blah, arrogance, don’t think it’s ours just because blah blah blah, we have to earn the win.” Patrick pops his gum obnoxiously and raises his brows. “Did I miss anything?”

Jonny rolls his eyes and punches him in the shoulder. They kill it in GM place. The press even jokes they should rename the arena for them given how many times they’ve won in front of this crowd, so he chooses to believe his needling works.

And then because nobody thinks it’s just gonna be handed to them, they knife through San Jose in four games. He goes out with the boys, buys his obligatory round, and then he calls it quits. They can celebrate if they want, but he’s going home to watch tape. They haven’t come home with anything yet and nobody gives a fuck about the Campbell Bowl.

“Toes, I thought we were over this stuff,” Sharpy says, grabbing him by the neck and shaking when he announces he’s leaving.

“Over what?” Jonny blinks at him.

Sharpy snorts out a laugh. “Ah, nothing, you little psycho.”

Jonny has never loved anyone as intensely as he loves Patrick Kane when he scores that overtime goal to win the Cup in Game 6 of the Final. If Patrick asked him to drop to his knees and suck his dick right then, Jonny would probably do it, he’d even swallow the gravy and tickle his balls, because this is as good as it gets. Jonny’s 22. Other kids his age are graduating college this month. Well, here it is. Jonny made it to the goddamn finish line. There’s a cup that’s gonna have his name etched into it for as long as hockey is played. If that’s not graduation, he doesn’t know what is.

The next couple of days pass in a complete blur of drinking and partying and sex. Jonny gets laid a lot. He doesn’t remember much of it, getting drunk over and over again to keep ahead of the hangovers.

One part does stand out, though. He’s trashed out of his mind at some party, getting a suckjob from a pretty girl. He hadn’t even had to work for it. She’d just been sitting next to him on the couch in the basement den when the party moved upstairs, leaving them behind. Jonny had been contemplating getting up and finding himself another beer, and then the next thing he knew she had whispered something filthy in his ear and was leaning over into his lap, prying his fly open.

He likes how crazy into it she is, taking him deep. He almost can’t watch her sink down inch by tantalizing inch, afraid he’ll shoot embarrassingly quickly. It’s unusual—he likes blowjobs as much as the next guy, but sometimes Jonny can’t finish in a girl’s mouth. He runs a hand along her spine, feeling the vertebra move under his fingertips as she bobs her head up and down. The slick pop her mouth makes when she pulls off to adjust to a better position makes him suck in a breath hard. She tilts her head up at him, smiling coyly before wrapping her lips around the head again. The sounds she’s making, the wet drag of her mouth over his skin—fuck it if he comes too fast. He watches fascinated, holding his dick for her mouth.

There’s a noise from the stairs and Jonny jerks his eyes up to find Patrick hanging on to the bannister, barely upright himself, cheeks pink, eyes wide.

Jonny can feel himself go scarlet and he’s just about to stop her and say they have company when she runs her tongue down along the underside of the head, working under his foreskin to lick over his frenulum, finding that one spot that’s almost too intense. Overcome, Jonny’s eyes slide shut and he shudders hard, thigh muscles locking up. When he blinks them open again, Patrick has disappeared. She starts tonguing that spot over and over again with only the barest pressure, sort of the same way he’d flick a clit, lips still providing suction on the head. He thinks of Patrick getting an eyeful of Jonny sitting here, stroking this girl’s back, brushing her ponytail out of the way so that he can see her pink lips tighten around him, and he comes so hard his eyes roll back in his head.

In the weeks afterwards it’s all tangled up in his head, Patrick’s presence. He was there. Jonny knows this. But it’s funny how it’s taken on this deliberate cast. Like they planned it. Like it was Patrick’s turn to observe Jonny. Well, it’s gonna be hard for any blowjob that follows to measure up to that one.

March 2011...

Usually, the thing about a Cup hangover is that management tries to keep the team the same to reproduce exactly what they had a second time. Almost nobody ever manages a repeat, because the same team isn’t actually the same team and they can’t recapture that spark long enough to get them there. This is not the Blackhawks’ problem. Because of Campbell’s outsized contract, they come back in the fall with what feels like an entirely different roster. And you can’t just pull chemistry out of your ass. They win more than they lose, but only barely. And their situation, neck and neck for the 8th seed in the playoffs going into the last few games, is not a place Jonny ever wants to find himself again.

Jonny’s noticed that Kaner’s started wringing out his fingers on his left hand every time they come off a shift, pressing at the muscle that runs into the knob of his wrist and into his thumb. At first it’s just a quirk, but after a while it’s hard to miss the growing strain around his mouth.

“Probably just a little tendonitis,” he says, when he catches Jonny looking the night they play the Blues. Shaking his hand out and putting his glove back on, he clears his throat. “I’ll see about getting some cortisone shots.”

Jonny nods. They post a win, which is good, because they desperately need that right now, and afterwards Kaner stays late with the trainers.

“What’d they say?” Jonny asks when they hit the road for Detroit the next day.

Patrick shrugs. “They gave me the shot, told me not to use either hand for any ‘unnecessary activity.’” He makes finger quotes and then laughs. “Save it for the playoffs, baby.”

“Wait, you’re having trouble with your right as well?” Jonny asks, wanting to thump him in the side for not saying something sooner.

“Nah, not any more than usual, they just don’t want me to overcompensate and fuck it up.” He says it like everything’s fine.

“How many shots, Kaner?” he asks, voice low.

Kaner makes a face like he doesn’t want to answer. “Three.”

Jonny blows out a breath. Three. Three is not something to fuck around with. The thing is—they’ve got two more games against Detroit. If they don’t win them, they can kiss the playoffs squarely goodbye. They can’t afford to bench Kaner right now. They both know it. It still makes Jonny uneasy.

Three days later, losing their last game of the season on home ice, Jonny wants to throw himself off a building.

“There’s still a chance, there’s still a chance,” Kaner keeps saying. Jonny hates having to depend on anything that he can’t influence himself.

They go to Seabs’ place that night to watch Dallas play Minnesota. If Dallas wins, they’re done. Smitty shows up with a bottle of Old Sazerac that Seabs takes from him with a laugh. “I’m impressed,” he says, “didn’t seem like your style.”

Smitty shrugs. “The not knowing is killing me.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Jonny says.

When Minnesota gets a goal past Lehtonen 6 minutes into the first, they all cheer. It feels like being a kid again, watching from the other side of the glass and hoping your team can pull through for you. The Wild manage to stay one step ahead for the entire game and by the time they score the empty netter, the entire team is on their feet jumping up and down. They’re in, they’ve made it.

“I told you!” Kaner yells into his ear, sloshing beer everywhere.

Jonny draws Kaner in with an arm around his neck, laying a smacking kiss on his cheek. “Yes you did, you little shit.”

Jonny's never dreaded the post-season before in his life, but part of him is dreading it now, and when they lose their first game against Vancouver it's almost—not a surprise. Infuriating, yes. Surprising, no. He finishes the game hoarse from shouting, trying to get something, anything to happen out there. They don't even get on the scoreboard.

Kaner's antsy in their hotel room when they get in. He won't stop talking about what they need to fix two days from now. Usually Jonny would be right there with him, but tonight he just wants to drink some hot tea, check on Kopecky, who got taken out in the dying minutes of the second period, and go to bed.

He gets the first two, easily, but when he gets back to their room after visiting Kopecky, Kaner's still jittering around, picking up the TV remote, changing the channel once, setting it down. He's rubbing at his left hand again, too.

"Please don't tell me we need to figure out how to score on Lu," Jonny says before Kaner opens his mouth.

"He's like a brick wall," Kaner says.

He's shifting around, like he wants to go for the remote again. Jonny grabs it and moves it over to his own nightstand for safekeeping.

"Why are you so high-strung here, you're making me look relaxed," Jonny says. He's obscurely offended. Kaner's fucking with the natural order of the universe. Their team's already down one in the series, Jonny doesn't need any weird shit.

"Ugh," Kaner says, flopping back onto his bed. He flexes his hands against the bedspread.

"I think you need to let off some steam." Jonny gestures meaningfully at his crotch.

Kaner sits up and glares across the aisle between their beds. "No unnecessary activity. Doctor's orders and you know it."

Jonny squints at him dubiously. "Pretty sure they didn't mean masturbating."

"Did they give you a medical degree when I wasn't looking?" Kaner demands. He deflates. "It's been a week, this sucks so much."

"Seriously, Kaner, I'm pretty sure you can jerk off," Jonny says. He's starting to feel a little bad. Kaner looks really crestfallen.

"I'm pretty sure I want to win, so," Kaner says.

That strikes Jonny hard in the chest. Kaner always wants to win. They're completely alike in that way. Kaner sniffs and rubs his nose against his shoulder. Even his terrible mullet is tangled and sad-looking.

"Jesus," Jonny sighs. He rubs his hands over his face. With a slowly-mounting feeling of disbelief he says, "Do you...want some help? With that?"

"Uh," Kaner stutters. And then, when Jonny's about to rescind his offer, hastily, "Yes, yeah, man, absolutely."

"You want to come over here, then?" Jonny says.

"Why am I the one who's gotta move?" Kaner says, almost automatically, it seems, because he's already getting up and sitting down next to Jonny, grabbing his Cetaphil on the way.

"I have to use that?" Jonny demands, but, shit, of course he does, this is Kaner's masturbation station over here.

Kaner's already tenting a little bit. Jonny unzips Kaner’s pants, then presses on his belly until he leans back a little and gives Jonny some room to work.

Kaner flinches when Jonny touches him for the first time. Jonny is startled too, by the solid blood-warm shape of him, but he manages to keep it off his face, he's pretty sure. It's awkward, fishing Kaner's erection out of the slit in his briefs, even with it rising cooperatively toward him. He's never done it from this side-angle, not with someone else's dick. He fumbles a little, and Kaner sucks in a breath, like maybe that felt good or terrible.

"Okay?" Jonny says, checking his face.

He's biting at his lower lip, dimple creasing his cheek on one side. "Yeah," Kaner says. His voice is already lowering.

Jonny squeezes out some of the lotion, and just the smell of it reinforces what he's about to do. He closes his hand tentatively around Kaner's dick and strokes a few times to smear the lotion around.

Kaner clears his throat. "You can do it harder that that, man." He shifts restlessly.

"Give me a second," Jonny says testily.

"I'm just saying—" Kaner says.

Jonny tightens his hand on his next stroke and is rewarded by Kaner choking off his sentence, words tangled into a low grunt in his throat. Amazing how that works.

Kaner's dick just keeps getting harder and bigger in his hand. Looking back, he remembers how small Amy’s hand and then Rachel’s had looked around it, testing the limits of their delicate-fingered grip. His thumb just meets the tips of his fingers around Kaner’s porn dick. It’s still large for his hand, but he can’t help thinking, as he strokes, thumb and index finger tight on the head with every pull, just the way he’s seen Kaner do it a hundred times, that it fits. Jonny doesn’t think it’ll take much, Kaner’s overdue, after all, and when Jonny speeds up just slightly Kaner drops his head back to the headboard with a hard thunk that must be painful. He doesn’t even seem to notice.

Jonny keeps that pace up, working him steadily. Then, going on a line of intuition, he tightens his hand even more when he gets to the head of Kaner's dick. The reaction is dramatic: Kaner's hips jolt up toward Jonny's hand, forcing his dick through his fist, and Kaner hisses, "Shit!" like it was punched out of him.

Jonny's seen that before.

One more hard stroke and Kaner's rearing his head back, eyes squeezed shut, and spilling onto his stomach, Jonny's hand, his own pants. He stays panting with his head resting against the headboard as his dick slowly softens.

Jonny brings his hand away, curious, and sniffs at it. Kaner's spunk smells slightly different than his own. He has a brief fragment of a thought, that maybe it would taste different, too, before the wave of disbelief that had been sitting just off-shore for this whole experience crashes over him. He reaches hastily for a tissue. He grabs a handful before chucking the whole box at Kaner.

"Ow," Kaner says.

"Clean yourself up, loser," Jonny says. "I want to go to bed."

"Oh. Yeah," he says vaguely, and fumbles with the tissues.

Kaner's starting to look more alert, which of course leads to bitching: "Jesus, you couldn't try and aim? What a mess."

"So sorry your orgasm wasn't up to your standards," Jonny says dryly. He gets up and stalks off to the bathroom. He needs to wash his hands and also, now he's got his own erection to take care of. What a lot of work.


They drop two more. Jonny’s at the end of his rope. Kaner ends up clocking more ice time than Duncs in the last one, trying to yank a win out of his ass. He claims his wrist is alright at the end of it. Jonny’s pissed about Torres and he’s pissed about Q’s decision to play Seabs, and he’s furious at the way they just let that one slip out of their hands. It must show, because Patrick makes a joke about jerkoff wins and Jonny bares his teeth at him.

"I'm just saying, if there's ever a time for it," Kaner says.

They're headed to the door together. Kaner flexes his hand as they walk.

"Seems like it's getting worse," Jonny says. Kaner shrugs. “Did they x-ray it?”

"What do you think?" Kaner says, shooting him a look.

Jonny lifts his hands. "Hey, just asking."

“Better me than Sharpy,” Kaner cracks.

Jonny stops him with a hand on his arm. “You’re not still thinking about that Rosenbloom article are you?” It was months ago. And it was fucking stupid. The nerve of that guy, trying to rank who he’d rather have injured. Jonny doesn’t believe in jinxes, but he’d still thought that was pretty classless in the wake of Sharpy’s knee injury in March.

Kaner shakes his head and grins. “Nah, y’all would suck without me. Rosenbloom can suck a dick.”

Jonny laughs weakly. He’s tired of this whole thing. It’s one of the few times in his life he’s looked inside himself and wondered, god, maybe whatever it is they need to get through this round of the playoffs? He just doesn’t have any of it left. They’ve canceled practice in favor of a team meeting. He doesn’t even know what he’s going to say to them.

"We're not getting fucking swept by the fucking Canucks," Jonny mutters.

"Presidents' trophy-winners," Kaner says.

"Who gives a shit," Jonny says.

"Yeah," Kaner says fiercely.

Their defense keeps coming up short. Seabs is out. Jonny’s suffering a major crisis of faith, but he’s got to believe they’re not going down like some glass-jawed little bitch.

He ends up sitting alone in his car in his building's parking spot for a while, thinking about that interaction.

Shit, it's Kaner's stupid superstition. He blows out a breath, then pulls out his phone. Want me to come over later? he sends.

Kaner sends back something that looks like a text-version of a penis.

classy, Jonny writes.

Obviously, Kaner’s superstition couldn’t possibly give Bolly a four point night his first game back after missing more than a month. Although Jonny already knows that’s what he’ll claim. Jonny isn’t even bothered. Kaner can write mathematical proofs about his jerkoff win theory for all he cares, he’s that relieved right now. And then two nights later, Crow gets his first playoff shutout. All hail the jerkoff win.

In the locker room the day afterwards, Paul tosses Kaner a water bottle that he dodges rather than catches.

Paul stares at him. “What the heck was that?”

“You said no unnecessary activity!” Kaner replies. Jonny looks up from tying his skates.

“Yeah, like don’t golf 18 holes or participate in any push up contests!” Paul replies, smothering a laugh. “You can catch a water bottle.”

“Oh,” Kaner says, picking the water bottle up off the floor. He meets Jonny’s eyes. Jonny stares back at him, hands twisted into his laces.

Kaner abruptly starts laughing.

"You shit-sipping asshole!" Jonny proclaims. Paul looks back and forth between them, then visibly decides not to ask, turning to hand a water bottle to Soupy.

"Guess I'll owe you one," Kaner says, then amends hastily, when Jonny glares at him, "two. I'll owe you two."

"Damn straight," Jonny mutters.

Sharpy leans over. "Peeks, did you make Captain Serious fetch and carry for you?"

Kaner grins. "Something like that."

"Can you get my helmet for me?" Sharpy says to Jonny. "I'm a little worried about my back."

"You should be worried about your neck with that big head," Jonny says.

"They're all connected, Jonny-boy," Sharpy says serenely.


When the Canucks force them out in overtime in Game 7, once Jonny catches his breath, mostly he feels a calm, blank sense of resignation so deep it's almost relief. The off-season is welcome.

Two nights later Kaner has his head propped on his right hand, slouched over, elbow on the table, when Jonny gets back from the bar with another pitcher. It's a little closer to horizontal than Jonny expects this early in the night. Next step looks like head-down on the table. Sharpy is spread out next to him with his arm along the back of the booth. He raises his eyebrows at Jonny, then leans over and mutters something to Kaner that makes him shrug lethargically.

"Time to hit the head," Sharpy says. "Kaner, shove over."

Kaner slides out and shuffles onto the opposite bench, then grabs his beer and pulls it in front of him.

Sharpy slugs Jonny on the shoulder as he gets out. Jonny looks after him, then turns to Kaner, who's back to staring into his own glass.

Jonny sets the pitcher down, then shoves in next to Kaner. No one else is in the booth, but that's not likely to last long.

"To a good summer, eh?" Jonny says after he's refilled their glasses, tipping his until it taps against Kaner's.

"Good summer," Kaner mutters.

"I'm thinking I'll go up home in a week just right away," Jonny says. "Maybe come back and close everything up later." He's looking at the shadows under Kaner's eyes, always where he shows fatigue first. Right now, in dim lighting, it looks like someone pressed thumbprints there, where the skin is thinnest.

"Cool," Kaner mutters.

"What about you?" Jonny prods.

"Dunno," Kaner says. "I think I've got. Stuff."

"How informative," Jonny says. He nods his chin. "How's the wrist?"

"Weak as shit, what do you think?" Kaner says. He blows out a breath. "Guess I'll have to try and strengthen it. I mean, I don't know. Fucking blows."

"Yeah," Jonny nods. He grips Kaner around the nape of the neck and shakes a little. "Gotta take care of yourself, though."

"Fuckin'—" Kaner leans back and traps Jonny's hand behind his head. "Don't start that shit with me."

"Just saying," Jonny says mildly. He takes a drink with his other hand.

"Next you're going to say we did everything we could, it just wasn't our year," Kaner says accurately.

Well. Now Jonny knows what Sharpy was trying to warn him about.

"Which isn't true," Kaner says. "I don't think it's as good on my own." He rolls his head to the side to peer at Jonny. "Not as lucky." He rolls his hand into a loose fist and bounces it on the table in the most pathetic jerkoff sign Jonny's ever seen. "I tried before Game 7, and look at that one."

"Are you saying we lost because I didn't jerk off with you?" Jonny says. He's glad the table is empty. Kaner's maybe drunker than he realized. His tolerance always goes to shit toward the end of the season, especially if he hasn't been sleeping, but this is worse than he anticipated.

"We didn't do everything," Kaner says sadly. "Didn't earn my money."

"Oh boy," Jonny says. "Pretty sure that's not how you earn your money, Kaner."

"Obviously," Kaner says. "I couldn't shoot the puck for shit though. So."

"What are you, the only person on this team?" Jonny says. "Come on, Peeks. Don't make me pull out the speech."

"No," Kaner sighs. "No speeches." He squints at Jonny. "I'm just saying. It wasn't as lucky."

"Okay, bud," Jonny says.

"I'm going to get so laid when I go home," Kaner says.

"Guess that's a goal." Jonny retrieves his hand so he can nudge the pitcher of beer to the other side of the table. He didn't get it for him and Kaner to split. He sees Sharpy, Bolly, and Stalberg heading back their way, thank god. "I don't know what you're waiting for, though. You could stop sitting on your ass in this booth so long they decide to name it after you."

"All in good time," Kaner says. He brightens up. "Do you think they would name it after me? That'd be cool. I'd come here all the time."

"88 PKane?" Jonny says. "I think 19 JToews would look better."

"Not a goddamn chance," Kaner says.

He's looking more cheerful by the time the booth has filled up again. He doesn't leave their table all night except to hit up the bathroom, but he at least stops communing just with his beer glass.


Jonny has the guys he sees during the summer, his friends from home and from other teams, guys he trains with. He keeps in touch with his team, but remotely, unless he's in their vicinity. So while he's texted back and forth a few times with Kaner, he’s been hearing about his clubbing ‘adventures’ through teammates and blog articles. Kaner’s clearly taking that goal to get laid very seriously. Fans are giving him a ton of shit for it, but Jonny kind of finds the whole thing hilarious. It’s like the ‘Dude, Where’s My Car’ approach to picking up chicks. What he does not find hilarious is that he hears about the wrist fracture the same way.

"I can't believe you wouldn't jerk off during the playoffs and then you went and busted your wrist lifting," Jonny says, when he sees him again.

The team is milling around the hotel ballroom waiting for the convention to start. Kaner's black wrist brace is obvious.

"Yeah, yeah," Kaner says.

Seabs, eavesdropping on them, starts laughing and claps Kaner on the shoulder. "There's some dedication."

"That's what I've been saying!" Kaner says. "Instead, this guy over here just wants to bust my chops."

Jonny shakes his head. "The jokes write themselves."

Aside from the wrist brace, Kaner looks good—regained muscle mass in his shoulders, a slight tan, hair neatly cut. He's a little bigger, even, than he usually is by this time of the summer.

"So when's the surgery?" Jonny asks.

"Tuesday," Kaner says.

"Get it over with, I guess," Jonny says.

"That's what they tell me," Kaner says. He cracks his neck. "I’m tired of doing stuff one-handed, I can tell you that."

Seabs says, "We're in town for the next week. Let me know if you need anything."

Knowing Kaner's family, his mom or his sisters are coming into town to take care of him, but Jonny stays quiet. He wants to shake Kaner, because there’s clearly something going on, but Jonny knows that he can push Kaner as hard as he wants on the ice. Off it is a different story. Jonny’s smart. He’s always known not to try. Never been on the other side of Kaner’s cold anger at what he term’s ‘people trying to fuck his shit up.’ He froze Bur out once for a solid week after they argued about his ridiculous stereo system, because Bur was worried he'd lose all his money buying stupid toys. Later he'd confessed to Jonny that Bur had scared him with all that bankruptcy talk, but he'd gone on to get himself a financial planner, so all's well that ends well.

If Kaner’s going through something, he’ll have to work through it on his own, because he won’t accept help from any of the rest of them.

Kaner grins at him as the double-doors open and Jonny grins back. “Careful with that other wrist, eh?” He makes a jerking off motion with his fist. “After the success you’ve had, you’re gonna need it.”

Seabs chuckles and Kaner narrows his eyes at him. “Why you gotta be like that, Toews?”

October 2011...

Jonny completely forgets that Kaner owes him a handjob until a week into the season. They’re out at a bar, Kaner’s about to close with this cute brunette, and suddenly the perfect revenge for the way he totally manipulated Jonny into giving him a handjob comes to him.

“Hey, man,” Kaner says, when Jonny comes up next to them at the bar, nonchalantly gesturing for the bartender. “This is Tina.”

“Hi, Tina,” Jonny says, and then turns to the bartender, ordering another beer.

He can tell that the next words out of Kaner’s mouth are going to be some variation of ‘I’m gonna take off.’ Jonny turns to him and says, very purposefully, “I think you owe me one, man.”

Kaner stares back blankly. “What? You want a drink?”

Jonny raises an eloquent brow and watches realization dawn across Kaner’s face. He shoots a quick look at Tina and then leans in, whispering furiously, “Now? You want it now!”

Jonny smiles at Tina over Kaner’s shoulder and then looks back at Kaner. “Yup. Now.”

Patrick stares at him in disbelief. “I hate you.” He shakes his head and Jonny grins back beatifically. “I hate you so fucking much.”

“Pay up, Peeks,” Jonny says, just as the bartender slides over his beer. Jonny raises it up for a salute.

Kaner has to laugh. He knows he’s been had. He shakes his head one last time and then blows out a breath. “Hey, so, change of plans,” he tells Tina, looking apologetic.

“Is your friend having an emergency?” Tina asks, unimpressed. Jonny coughs to hide a laugh.

He can see how badly Kaner wants to turn that back on him, but to his credit, he just says, “Sorry,” and pays for her next drink along with Jonny’s beer.

As they’re walking away from the bar back towards their table, Kaner says, “Guess you better finish that beer fast, asshole.” He shakes his head and elbows Jonny in the side so hard Jonny narrowly avoids spilling beer down the front of his shirt.

“Quit it,” Jonny says, and shoves him.

“I can’t believe you did that, complete cockblock operation.”

Jonny shrugs and takes an unrepentant swig. Kaner’s been frustrating to be around lately, still carrying around some sort of hang up like he did Convention weekend, still not talking about it. Jonny can’t tell if it’s frustration over his newly-tentative puck-handling, the trade-talk that buzzed around all summer, or something unrelated to both. Either way, Jonny’s not sad to be getting in Kaner’s way a little bit.

Kaner follows Jonny home in his own car, and when Jonny lets him in, he’s bitching about how much he hates the building’s parking garage.

“Maybe if you didn’t drive something that maneuvers like an elephant, you wouldn’t have trouble with those compact spots,” Jonny says, leading the way to the living room.

“Can’t all drive a shoebox,” Kaner says. “Also, fuck you, I’m amazing at parking.” It’s true, too, Kaner drives his Hummer with surprising delicacy.

He drops down onto the couch and knocks his knee against Jonny’s. He’s worrying at his lower lip with his tongue when Jonny looks over.

“Well?” Jonny says, slouching down and spreading his legs a little wider.

“I can’t believe you,” Kaner says, but he reaches over and unzips Jonny anyway. Jonny isn’t hard when Kaner touches him, but it won’t take much to get him there, already excited at winning this little contest.

Kaner starts out hard and fast enough that Jonny hisses and jerks back. “Jesus, stop, dipshit,” he says, reaching down to bat Kaner’s hands away. “You’re not wringing out a towel.” He cups his hands protectively in front of himself.

Kaner laughs. “Sorry, no, I know how you like it.”

Jonny warily pulls his hands back, and this time when Kaner touches him, he works his fingers lightly over the shaft in short strokes, like he knows he needs to make up for the earlier rough handling. Jonny leans back and widens his knees more and Kaner shifts closer. As Jonny’s dick hardens, Kaner’s strokes get longer but still light. When he cups his entire hand around him and pulls all the way up and over the head for the first time, Jonny has to drop his head back and close his eyes at the rush of sensation, blood pulsing in his ears. Kaner’s hand is so much bigger than the girls who’ve jerked him off before, the whole experience familiar on a couple of axes but also foreign and so much better than his own hand because of it.

Just as Jonny’s settling in to those long, wicked strokes, Kaner switches to sliding Jonny’s foreskin up and down over the head, breaking up his earlier rhythm. He’s keeping his grip light, so it’s not uncomfortable, but it doesn’t feel quite like Jonny’s heading straight for an orgasm anymore.

“What are you—” Jonny says, confused. It’s like Kaner’s playing with Jonny’s dick. He turns his head. Kaner’s staring raptly at his hand on Jonny’s erection.

“That’s so weird,” Kaner breathes.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Jonny says, voice wavering on the last word as Kaner drags his hand slowly up, and back down, catching his thumb over the head. “But. You think you could, uh.” He shifts on the couch.

Kaner slides his hand all the way down to the base of the shaft and back up, and that time Jonny can’t keep himself from groaning and trying to follow Kaner’s hand, shifting up.

“Better than when it’s by yourself, huh,” Kaner says.

Jonny hums low in his chest. Jonny doesn’t usually come with just a hand on his dick, but Kaner’s hand, those clever, long fingers and that wide palm, is taking him apart. He’d started off this night thinking he’d get one over on Kaner. Now he’s beginning to think it’s going to end up the other way around. Maybe it’s because it’s not his hand, he can’t predict exactly what Kaner’s going to do. All he can do is follow it. He swallows, his throat dry. Kaner speeds up a little bit. He’s not doing anything fancy, but he doesn’t need to be. He strokes up the shaft, thumbs the head, then drags his fist all the way back down the length to Jonny’s balls, over and over again, in the same pattern Jonny uses for himself when he’s jerking off one bed over. Usually, Jonny would be thrusting into his fist by now, and that would help tip him over into coming, but that feels like it would definitely mean that Kaner won this round, so he sprawls back even more and keeps his hips still.

“Trying to outlast my wrist, Jonny?” Kaner asks, much closer to his ear than he realized.

“It’s your—fuck—good wrist,” Jonny replies, breaths coming hard, “you can handle it.”

Kaner snorts. “Pun intended?”

“Ah, fuck off,” Jonny says.

“You want me to leave?” Kaner says, and stops moving his hand. Jonny can’t help the little upward buck of his hips at that cruel tease.

Kaner,” Jonny groans.

“I got you, I got you,” Kaner says, and Jonny can hear in his voice the shiteating grin he’s probably got on his face, but he abruptly doesn’t care, because Kaner starts moving his hand again, finally, and suddenly Jonny isn’t close to coming, he’s right there. Kaner twists his entire palm over the head of Jonny’s dick and back down. Involuntarily, Jonny curls up and away from the back of the couch, turning sideways toward Kaner’s moving hand. He comes in wet pulses that seem to get everywhere.

It’s not until Kaner shoves him away, saying, “Shit, that tickles,” that he realizes he turned his face right into Kaner’s neck, eyelashes tracing over the thin skin of his throat.

“Sorry,” Jonny mumbles, and slumps back onto his side of the couch. He blinks up at the ceiling for a second, trying to catch his breath. His body is buzzing.

“I’m gonna go and, uh,” Kaner says, “wash my hands.” He stands up and wanders toward the hall bathroom. A second later Jonny hears the door shut and the water start running.

Eventually, Jonny feels around for the tissue box, so he can dab at his front, tucking himself gingerly back into his damp underwear. Everything he’s wearing is going to have to go in the wash, Kaner managed to ensure that, somehow.

“You’re an asshole,” he calls, standing up. When he turns around, he notices that there’s a line of jizz cutting across the couch cushion. It’s the same cushion that David stained with coffee a year ago, so Jonny can’t just turn it over to hide it, he’s got to try and get it out. “Seriously?” he groans, and stomps over to the kitchen to wet a paper towel.

“Way to do as much property damage as possible, Kaner,” he shouts, and bangs on the door as he passes, then pauses. The water is still running in there, like Kaner’s trying to set a world record for cleanest hands. “And you’re not washing your hands, you fucking liar!”

He hammers on the door again, then heads back to the living room. Kaner emerges looking flushed but unrepentant a few minutes later while Jonny is still dabbing at the couch cushion.

“Oops,” he says cheerfully, and sticks his hands in his pockets.

“If this stains, you’re buying me a new one,” Jonny says, unamused.


Kaner pays his debt in full a few weeks later after a stupid loss to the Blues, immediately following a shitty 6-2 loss to the Canucks. Jonny’s stressed out and pissed off. Their power play is about as cohesive as a game of lawn bowling and he nearly takes a reporter’s head off in his post-game interview.

Back in their room, Jonny pauses at the foot of his bed, mind blank. When Kaner sidles up behind him, arms going around his hips to unzip him from his trousers in a couple of quick utilitarian motions, Jonny just watches his deft hands in isolated shock. He thinks about telling him he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get hard, but his cock starts to stiffen pretty much as soon as Kaner gets his hand around it.

“C’mon,” he says, breath hot on Jonny’s ear. Kaner’s just tall enough to hook his chin over Jonny’s shoulder without having to stretch up. He doesn’t bother with anything fancy. At this point, Jonny wouldn’t be able to take it. His strokes are mercenary, fast and steady. Jonny watches the motion of his forearm, tendons flexing with every pull. It could be Jonny’s own hand, except for the way the fingers are tapered differently. His knuckles aren’t as prominent. Jonny’s thoughts feel like balloons loosely-tethered to how Kaner’s making him feel, and from that perspective, Jonny has the bizarre observation, watching it pump his dick, that Kaner’s hand is beautiful.

He comes before he was expecting it, Kaner stroking him through it. It’s not a good orgasm, but something tense and shaky inside him lets go, and he sags back against Kaner. The only noise in the room is the industrial buzz of the heating unit and the sound of his own muted breaths. They stay like that for a long moment, Kaner taking his weight, until Jonny’s too aware of all the places they’re touching.

Kaner clears his throat and his arms drop away. Jonny’s unsure what to say. He presses his palm to his temple, then grips the back of his neck. The relentless pressure in his head has eased. Kaner moves away and this time Jonny can see him go to the sink and wash his hands.

“Hey, psycho, you feeling better?” Kaner says.

Jonny’s still hanging out of his pants, so he tucks himself away with shaky hands, then sits down on his bed. “Yeah,” he says, ignoring the jibe. He feels heavier in all his limbs, like now that Kaner’s taken away the weight of his anger and frustration, all that’s left is the fatigue that was lurking underneath.

“Shit. I’m gonna crash,” he says. He strips right there, doesn’t even hang anything up, just lets his suit and shirt and tie pile up where they land near his suitcase. In the bathroom, Kaner’s starting to make his familiar nightly routine noises, washing his face and brushing his teeth. Jonny rolls himself into bed without even turning off the light. He watches through slitted eyes as Kaner putters around the room, changing out of his suit. He’s blinking longer and longer when Kaner comes over and folds Jonny’s suit pants and jacket over a chair. When the light switches off, darkness settles on him like a soft blanket. He falls asleep easily, Kaner still shifting around in the other bed, and doesn’t wake up until Kaner’s alarm goes off the next morning.


They beat the Canucks four games later on their own ice and, that night, in the hotel bar with the rest of the team, hopped up on good spirits and winning, Jonny drinks more than he normally would. But at least he’s not the only one. Kaner’s singing the wrong words to “Super Bass” when he gets back to the room about a half hour after Jonny.

Jonny’s already in bed, texting a chick he hooked up with in Calgary last season and liked enough to get her number. They’re gonna be back to play the Flames, and Jonny’s hoping, if he plays his cards right, that he might be able to take her out.

Kaner keeps singing until Jonny flings a pillow at him and tells him to quit it. Batting the pillow aside, Kaner runs his tongue over his teeth and says, “I think you should jerk me off.”

Jonny snorts, putting his hands behind his head. “You? What’d you do? That goal they credited to you was all me!”

“Eh, I can take care of you too. I’m a generous guy.”

"Is that so," Jonny says.

"I'm just saying," Kaner says, throwing himself down on the bed next to Jonny hard enough to jostle him. "That was a quality handjob, you're not messing around. Best one I got from another person."

“I don’t know why that would be at all. Oh, maybe it’s because I have a dick?” He thumps Kaner in the side. “I should goddamn well hope it’s the best your sorry ass has ever had.”

Kaner cracks up into Jonny’s pillow. It’s true though. Girls have a hard time getting the rhythm and the pressure right. Both times, Kaner took him apart in no time at all.

“Yeah,” Jonny says.

“Yeah, what?” Kaner asks, still sunk into Jonny’s pillows.

Jonny rolls his eyes. “It was better when you did it.”

"That's what I'm saying!" Kaner exclaims, muffled. He flops over on his back and stares up at the ceiling.

Jonny throws his arm over his eyes and groans. Blood is already flowing south at the thought of it. “C’mere then,” he says and rolls over, reaching out and undoing Kaner’s trousers with one hand.

Kaner sucks in a breath when he gets his hand around it. It’s been a shock, every time, when he first wraps his hand Kaner's dick, just how thick his cock is, how much he tests Jonny’s grip. And every time, he's already been hard.

"You're the one on a hair trigger," Jonny says thickly. "Don't know how you keep that under covers."

Kaner huffs a laugh, breathy and low. "Natural skill, baby." He turns facing Jonny so they're curved toward each other. It's easy for him to reach out and shove Jonny’s boxer-briefs down underneath his balls. He's not soft in Kaner's grip either.

Kaner bites at his lip as they stroke each other, staring down at his working hand. Kaner’s apparently got jerking Jonny off down to a science, because even though he’s doing it left-handed, Jonny’s approaching the point of no return fast. Their elbows knock together, jolting them painfully, and Kaner rolls in closer so that his arm’s not at such an awkward angle. He’s started making these soft caught sounds, like he’s trying to hold it back because he’s so far up in Jonny’s space.

Jonny’s eyes slide closed as Kaner starts thumbing along the vein on every down stroke, biting hard at the corner of his mouth. He’s genuinely fucking Kaner’s fist now. He's finding it hard to keep a rhythm going, tightening and loosening his hand more in response to what Kaner's doing to him than any conscious motion. Kaner doesn’t seem to mind though. When Jonny opens his eyes, he finds Kaner staring down his body at the motion of Jonny’s hand on his dick.

“Fuck,” Kaner says, lingering on the k. At some point he’d moved in close enough that they’re sharing the same pillow. Jonny hadn’t noticed.

He comes with Kaner blinking hazy blue eyes at him, blond lashes catching the dim light in the hotel room. Kaner slowly brings his hand to a stop, working the last few spurts out of him. But it almost doesn’t matter, because Kaner’s not there yet. The bridge of his nose has gone red and from this angle, even through the gabardine of his trousers, Jonny can see the way he’s tensing his hamstrings up. He’d bet if he could push Kaner’s shirt up, he’d find the muscles in his abdomen banding in taut relief. Kaner keeps flexing his come-covered left hand as if he wants to grab onto something.

“Jonny,” he says.

“What?” Jonny asks.

“Just—” Kaner moans, bringing his left wrist to his mouth, seemingly uncaring that it’s the hand Jonny came all over. He rolls his hips forward, meeting Jonny’s fist with force, and drops his hand to the bed. “Don’t stop.”

Jonny laughs, feeling generous. “Wasn’t gonna.”

After that, it doesn’t take much, a few firm strokes from base to tip and Kaner comes on a forceful shudder, eyes winched shut tight. It takes him a while before his breathing settles, long after Jonny’s shifted onto his back and tucked himself away.

“Are you falling asleep?” Jonny asks suspiciously, after Kaner stays quiet and unmoving next to him.

“No,” Kaner mumbles. He’s a disheveled mess when Jonny turns to face him, clothing rucked up, pants open, soft dick lying against his thigh.

Jonny nudges his knee. “You smell like a bar.” His phone buzzes on the nightstand, and he remembers that he’d been texting his Calgary hookup before this all started.

“I smell like winning,” Kaner says nonsensically. He rolls himself up to a sitting position before Jonny has to respond to that, then grimaces down at his hands and stumbles to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees him starting to change out of his suit while Jonny flips back to his message screen. He pumps his fist in victory discreetly down at his side. No class for her the morning after their Calgary game, he’s all set.

See you then, he writes.


They slide into an easy routine after that. Only ever on the road, and only when they aren’t hooking up with somebody else. Kaner starts seeing a girl in December which kills it for a stretch, but that’s over before Christmas. They’re on the road when Kaner comes back in from taking a call in the hallway and tosses his phone on his bed, then drops down onto his back and scrubs his hands over his face.

“Everything cool?” Jonny says, looking up from his magazine.

“Yeah,” Kaner says, muffled. He lowers his hands to the bed on either side of his head. “Jenny’s going back to dating her ex. Whatever.”

“That was fast,” Jonny says.

“Thanks, asshole,” Kaner says.

“Want me to buy you a beer?” Jonny goes back to looking at fishing rods.

“No,” Kaner sighs. “Too much work.”

“To go to the hotel bar?” Jonny snorts. “Okay, lazy.”

Kaner brings one of his hands down and scratches at his stomach. He turns his head and looks over at Jonny speculatively.

Jonny shuts his magazine and sets it aside, mouth closed around a smile. “I’m not getting up.”

Patrick raises his brows. “What are you talking about?”

“Fuck you,” Jonny replies, rolling his eyes, “you know what I’m talking about.”

“And he calls me lazy,” Kaner mutters as he ambles over to Jonny’s bed.

Halfway through, when Jonny’s head has emptied of anything but the sensation of Kaner’s palm skating along his shaft, Kaner breathes out, “You know this is weird, right?”

Jonny meets his eyes, his own arm still working. “Mmm, and whose genius idea was it?”

It takes Kaner a moment to answer, eyelids fluttering, because Jonny’s done something particularly right. “You didn’t have to go along with it.”

There’s a moment where Jonny could say any number of things—that this is easier for both of them than putting their shoes on and going downstairs to the hotel bar, that his life hasn’t been what other people consider normal for a long time, that it’s working for them so what’s Kaner’s problem. He doesn’t say anything, though, just closes his hand tighter around Kaner’s dick so his mouth falls open on a gasp, and that ends any meaningful conversation.

March 2012...

There comes a certain point, an undeniable instant of perfect clarity, where Jonny knows he’s fucked up. But in the middle of a nine game skid the headaches and the vomiting hadn’t mattered. All anybody could talk about was the Blackhawk’s historical losing streak. He spent so much of his life hurting. Pain was weakness leaving the body. He shouldn’t have waited to see them turn it around before shutting it down. But, he was having the best season of his career. On the day that he finally gave in, he was only one goal away from 30 and it was just halfway through February. It could’ve easily been a 40 goal season.

Not even a week later he drives his car into support beam because his eyes aren’t tracking properly, and Jonny goes back to his apartment, after sitting in that ambulance in shock, trying to refuse treatment, a knot of panic tightening in his chest. It isn’t just a headache. It isn’t just vomiting. This is worse than he’s ever been through before. He can’t see properly, he’s walked into his nightstand three separate times. If he closes his eyes, he can’t find his nose on his face. And the cold wash of fear that runs through him, standing there in his hallway, lights off, because his pupils can no longer adjust on their own, he has no defense against. He fucked up. And he can’t take it back.

So this, then, is what regret feels like. It runs bone deep, stoppering up his lungs. Prepare yourself, he thinks. Prepare yourself for the worst.

The days that follow run together. He gets benched from games, from practice, from traveling with the team. His mother wants to come down, but she can’t make his head better and her fury at him, for being so careless with himself, is only rivaled by his anger at himself. It’s more than he can face up to right now. When the news breaks to the press in the second week of March, just about the only person not yelling at him is Kaner.

Kaner sends a steady stream of meaningless texts. About the gifts he has to buy for his buddy’s wedding, and did Jonny fill out his bracket for March Madness yet. He sends pictures of the ‘sick’ shoes he picks up at some store in St. Louis and demands that Jonny send him recommendations for places to eat even though he’s got Yelp on his damn phone, same as Jonny. How he’s started watching The Killing and the lead actor, some Swedish dude, apparently, appeared in Safe House.

can’t believe you went to Safe House without me, you twat

oops, he gets back a few hours later.

Jonny’s learned by now that if he doesn’t respond in what Kaner deems a timely manner, he will start sending him horrible song lyrics which inevitably get stuck in his head and really grody porn. You’d think he’d learn after the first multimedia message. He does not learn.

motherfucker he sends back, this is your cure for my head? ihu



Ah ah ah, don’t lie toews. that h stands for heart

He works out as much as his body will allow. This season isn’t over for him. He’s determined. The hardest part about it is the continuous gnawing boredom. There’s not a whole lot he can manage. Watching TV is hard, reading is not a sustainable activity. Kaner offers to set him up with an escort service to pass the time.

i should set YOU up with an escort service!!! Jonny swears he can hear Kaner’s laughter all the way from Trump Tower.

weak, man, how many hours of sitting in the dark did it take to think up that one?

One saving grace, as March grinds slowly onward, is that the team is doing well, even without Jonny in the lineup. His recovery is frustratingly inconsistent though, first steady improvement, then a dip back down that keeps him back off the ice even just for light workouts for over a week. Kaner actually visits him in person after that setback, seeing him briefly before they play the Capitals.

“Figured I’d see if you’d turned into a vampire in here,” Kaner says cheerfully when Jonny lets him in.

“So kind,” Jonny says. He’s grateful, though, and not just because his own apartment is starting to drive him stir-crazy.

Kaner tells a few stories about a couple of the new Rockford guys, passes along some gossip he’d heard about upcoming coaching changes in Montreal, and mostly watches him with an eagle eye.

“Stop it,” Jonny says testily. He slugs Kaner in the arm. “You look like you’re waiting for me to pass out in front of you.”

Kaner rubs at his bicep and doesn’t look particularly repentant. “Just trying to make sure I can give an accurate health report to the boys.”

“You guys are doing good,” Jonny says. “If you pass along bullshit about me turning into a vampire, at least include that part too.” Kaner shrugs. Jonny reaches out and takes his shoulder, shakes it briefly. “I mean it,” Jonny says. “You’re doing well.”

Kaner glances down and then cocks a smirk sideways at him. “I might give you a run for your money at center when you’re back.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Jonny says, letting go and settling back.

“Solve our second line center issue right there,” Kaner says. “Put me up for the Selke later.”

“Funny guy,” Jonny says.

So Kaner’s doing fine. He keeps texting Jonny; at least once a day they exchange messages about the most inane shit. When Jonny’s phone goes off in the early hours of the morning following a complete blowout loss to Nashville on home ice, Jonny actually thinks he’s being pocket-dialed.

“What,” Jonny says. It’s silent on the other end, and he sits up and says, “Kaner? Hello?” and repeats himself a few times. He’s getting ready to hang up before he hears a long, indrawn breath on the other end of the line.

“Fucking Christ, Jonny,” Kaner says eventually, long and low. The words are all run together.

“It’s the middle of the night,” Jonny says, rubbing at his eyes. “What are you doing calling me?”

“Sorry,” Kaner says, and now Jonny can identify that particular slur to his voice as Patrick Kane two sheets to the wind. “Sorry, Jonny.”

Jonny sits up and turns on the light, squinting against the glare. “Where are you, are you out somewhere?”

“This’s bullshit,” Kaner says. “I’m done with it.”

“What?” Jonny says.

“I’m serious,” Kaner says. “I fucking sucked out there, couldn’t do a damn fucking thing. Couldn’t make anything happen.”

“Hey, hey,” Jonny says.

“I don’t want to do this without you,” Kaner says miserably. “I’m all alone out there.”

“Hey, Kaner,” Jonny says. He gentles his tone. “You’re doing all right.”

“Fucking bloodbath. I hate it,” Kaner says.

“Nobody likes a loss,” Jonny says. “Come on, Kaner, are you at home?”

“Yeah, I’m at home,” Kaner says. “Like I wanna show my face in Chicago tonight.”

“Good, that’s good,” Jonny says, ignoring his last comment. He scrubs a hand over his face and has to stifle a yawn. “You know you’re not alone, bud. Got a whole team of guys out there with you.”

“And they’re all counting on me to be better than I am.” Kaner has the edge of a gasp lurking under his voice, like he’s struggling not to cry.

“Hey, you’re playing your heart out there,” Jonny says. “I know it, everyone who knows anything knows that.”

“Yeah,” Kaner says raggedly. “Sorry.”

“Come on, you’re doing fine. Gonna give me a run for my money, right?” Jonny says.

“Not a chance,” Kaner says bitterly.

“You will,” Jonny says. “You always show me up.”

Kaner breathes out noisily into the phone. “Okay.”

“I’m sorry,” Jonny says. He’s not sure why he’s bothering to say it. Who knows how many details of this conversation Kaner’s going to remember anyway, but it feels necessary to admit here, if only to himself, that he has to shoulder his share of the burden for this mess.

Kaner scoffs. “It’s not your fault.”

Jonny swallows. “It’s not yours, either.”

“So it’s nobody’s fault, hey, Jonny?” Kaner says softly.

“No,” Jonny says. His head is starting to set up a tiny throbbing behind his eye.

“I’m sorry I called you. It’s too late,” Kaner says.

“It is, so you should get some sleep,” Jonny says.

“Yeah,” Kaner sighs. The phone cuts out as suddenly as it rang, and when Jonny checks the screen, Kaner’s hung up on him.

He lies awake for a while after he’s turned the lights out, thinking about Kaner saying that he was all alone out there. That’s one luxury he’s always had, since he joined the Hawks. Him and Kaner, always paired up even as they had to find their own way through their respective careers. He’s left Kaner on his own on the ice now, though, and he doesn’t know when he’s going to be back, and the thought scares him shitless.

The throbbing behind his eye has turned into a drum-beat by the time he takes a migraine pill and goes uneasily to sleep.


Is he ready, by the time playoffs roll around? As ready as he’ll ever be, he supposes.

When Q decides he wants to play him, Kaner, and Hossa on the same line against Phoenix, outwardly Kaner takes it well. He says the right things to the press and he nods without complaint, but Jonny doesn’t miss the deep breath he takes. Playing him at left wing makes his third position of the year.

He drives Jonny home, because Jonny still hasn’t purchased a new car, and his hands are tight on the wheel.

“You wanna talk about this?” Jonny asks.

Kaner makes an ugly noise. “No, I don’t fucking want to talk about this.”

Jonny raises his brows.

Kaner sighs. “It is what it is, man.”

When it doesn’t work, and they’re stretched to the limit, Jonny sees from the way he chews at the inside of his cheek that it’s taking everything he has not to say to Q “you should have known this would happen.” But whether or not they’re being utilized properly hardly matters with the way Hossa goes down in Game 3. They lose that one and the next one. When Game 6 comes, it doesn’t even slide out of their fingers. It gets yanked from them. For the second straight year, they’ve been booted from the playoffs in the first round. Jonny doesn’t even know what’s happening with Kaner at the end there with the misconduct penalty. He’s not on the ice when Kaner gets sent off, slamming past everyone on the way to the locker room. He calms down enough to come back out once the game is over for the handshake line, but his face is still set and miserable when he slides to a stop near Jonny.

“Fuck, Tazer,” he says, like he’s going to apologize. Like Jonny, shoulders drooping in defeat and disappointment at this final end to a frustrating last half of a season, needs one from Patrick Kane of all people.

Jonny has to stand up straighter then, turning square to face him. “Did your best, Kaner.” They’re skating slowly into each other. He taps Kaner’s padded back, waits for him to nod before he leads the way to the line of Coyotes players. Kaner follows behind him.


Two days later, when Jonny turns up at Kaner’s door to lure him out for a beer, shots of shitty Cuervo, whiskey, whatever Kaner needs, he answers with a pair of shoes wedged under his arm and two baseball hats on his head. Jonny blinks.

“Hey,” Kaner says. “Come in.” He backs away from the door and then turns and heads down the hall toward his bedroom.

“What are you up to?” Jonny asks, trailing him down the hall. It had been a split-second impulse to stop by here after he finished dinner, concerned by the radio silence from this part of the world. He hadn’t expected to find Kaner cleaning. Or, as it turns out, packing. Kaner has a suitcase open on the floor, and is crouched down carefully sliding his sneakers inside. “Where are you going?”

“Gonna see some friends,” Kaner says dismissively. He takes off the hats and folds them in half, nested together to preserve the brims. He’s newly-shorn. He hadn’t done the mullet this year, but he’d still been getting long in the back, and those curls are gone now, hair clipped close to his head. It takes a couple years off. The back of his neck looks bare as he bends his head down, trying a couple different spots in his suitcase until he’s satisfied.

His phone buzzes where it’s plugged in on the nightstand and Kaner gets up and checks it, then makes a scoffing sound when he reads the message. He looks up. “Rosenbloom wants to trade me again.”

“What an asshole,” Jonny says, straightening up from his lean against the doorframe.

Kaner grins and shakes his head. “Simmer down, Jonny. Don’t get in any fistfights for me.”

“Anyway, who’s texting you that bullshit?” Jonny demands.

Kaner tosses his phone onto the bed and heads to his closet. “You know I like to know what they’re saying about me.”

Jonny shakes his head. He doesn’t read his own press. The only people who matter already tell him everything he needs to know.

Kaner pauses in front of his closet a second too long, fingers hovering over the hangers.

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” Jonny tells him, softly.

Kaner turns around. “Don’t I?”

“C’mon. You’re not getting traded.”

Kaner barks out a harsh laugh and scrubs his hand across his face. “I know they’re not going to fucking trade me.”

Jonny stares at him, unsure where this is going.

“You gotta be thinking it, man,” Kaner says, yanking a bunch of shirts off hangers haphazardly. “What if this is it for me?”

“What, getting knocked out of the playoffs?” Jonny replies, dryly. “I think we can manage to get you there a few more times before old age sets in.”

Kaner gives him the finger, dumping the shirts in his suitcase. Jonny’s just about to mock him for his inability to dress himself when Kaner slowly unfurls the fingers on his left hand, eyes on his wrist flexors as they shift under the skin. Jonny swallows. Kaner’s skill with the puck didn’t lie only in that wrist. Whenever somebody gives Kaner shit, whether it’s when he orders the wrong pizza toppings, or plays his music too loud, or gets them lost in the middle-of-fucking nowhere, Jersey, Kaner says loftily ‘good players adjust’, shit-eating grin firmly pasted on his face. He does it to be a pain in the ass, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Jonny doesn’t want to tell him that he’d sat in his apartment, blackout curtains drawn, and been afraid of the same goddamn thing.

Kaner looks up, catching Jonny staring at him, and clears his throat. He rolls his wrist in a tight, familiar gesture, then drops his hand back to his side.

“If you need to do something about your wrist…” Jonny starts.

Kaner shrugs. "Nah, whatever, it's been getting better all season, I think. Anyway, you staying around here for a while? Gonna go up north and work on your tan?"

"Excuse me?" Jonny says. He taps Kaner hard in the stomach, making him whoosh out a breath. "You're downright pasty compared to me, and you're going to come back in September looking the same way."

Kaner elbows him back, jostling him a step sideways. "I'm going to look good this summer."

"Long way to go," Jonny says, then widens his stance as Kaner plows into him again, trying to edge him sideways.

Soon they're scuffling, trying to avoid tripping over the edge of Kaner's suitcase and the side of the bed, scattering piles of clothing across the floor. Jonny goes down first, toppling into the bed as his foot slides on a slippery pair of athletic shorts. He catches a fistful of Kaner's t-shirt and pulls, getting him off-balance, and then has to scramble to the side so Kaner doesn't take out his nose with a wild elbow.

"Sonofa—" Kaner huffs, a thread of laughter in his voice. He lands half on Jonny and half on the bed, flailing as Jonny twists around to pin him flat to the mattress. He bucks up against Jonny's thigh, then grapples with one arm tight around Jonny's neck, trying to get leverage to throw him off.

"Hah!" Jonny crows, taunting. Kaner's hand snakes down, fast, between their bodies, and suddenly he's got a dangerous grip on Jonny's dick that makes Jonny freeze and suck in a breath.

"Yeah, how'd you like that?" Kaner says.

"Can't win outright so you gotta cheat," Jonny says breathlessly. "I see. I see."

Kaner tightens his hand, maybe to be threatening, but instead it makes Jonny groan, eyes fluttering closed, like now his body thinks this is going somewhere else.

When he pries his eyes open and drops his chin, color is high on Kaner's face. He says, "Yeah?"

"Fuck. Yeah," Jonny says. He can feel Kaner's growing erection. This time when Kaner twists his hips, Jonny lets himself slide off as they both roll onto their sides. Kaner just got on basketball shorts, easy to get his hand into, but Jonny's wearing shorts with a button and zipper, and he hisses when Kaner fumbles at the fly. He's all revved up from wrestling, primed for any touch.

Kaner curses when Jonny gives him his first solid stroke. They haven't done this since the end of February, and Jonny had forgotten how good Kaner's hand feels, those nimble fingers, that perfect pressure. He slowly opens his eyes, almost difficult over how tightly he'd squeezed them closed.

Kaner has been biting at his lower lip; it's wet and shining in the light from the overhead, inviting. Jonny's stomach tightens in anticipation or apprehension. He can't stop staring at the red, wet bow of it. Then Kaner changes tacks on him, reaching up with both hands to pull him in and press their mouths together. Typical. They're on the same wavelength here like in so much of their lives.

Jonny stops stroking Kaner to grab at his hand, holding on as he deepens the kiss. It feels like gravity pulls him right back to their earlier positions, slowly dropping his weight down onto Kaner as he tries to get closer. He feels warm and light-headed, like he's spent too much time on the beach in the sun. His body seems to be acting under its own volition, thigh slotting between Kaner’s, hips rolling together. They find an easy rhythm. Kaner makes those little moans Jonny’s heard for years, but it’s another thing entirely to taste them. Their dicks lie hard, trapped between them. He feels the tender head of Kaner’s cock skate over the thin skin low on his belly, alien, and it sends a lightning flash of aroused trepidation through him, then a dawning awareness.

He lifts his head only the requisite few millimeters it takes to breathe out, “Not too much friction?”

“Fuck, it’s fine,” Kaner tells him between dirty kisses. Jonny shifts and Kaner exhales out harshly. He brings his forearm to the small of Jonny’s back and just hauls him right where he wants him, dragging him back down. It’s working for Jonny, so he doesn’t fight that easy display of strength.

It’s stupid how fast this is winding him up—Kaner’s tongue sliding alongside his own, the sounds of the mattress protesting as they rock against each other.

Kaner cups his jaw, fingertips edging delicately over Jonny’s cheekbone, the vulnerable skin under his eye, and then over the shell of his ear, like he’s trying to reassure himself that Jonny’s whole. The thought swamps Jonny with a dazed tenderness and he has to pull away to breathe into the salt-damp skin of Kaner's collarbone, bracing his hand against the bed as Kaner cradles him.

He’s using the full power of his back and thighs, shoving his dick against Kaner’s abdominals, feeling the muscles tense and contract. He used to have a thing with a girl who liked to grind her clit on his abs; she’d just use him, get him all wet and sticky, before thrusting herself back on his cock. He imagines coming all over Kaner's stomach, smearing the rippled muscle with the mess, what it would look like pearling on his pale skin.

Kaner tilts his head and catches his mouth up in another kiss, shifting underneath him in a way that makes Jonny groan, for the unexpected pressure on his dick.

"Shit, Jonny," Kaner pants, so close his lips catch Jonny's mouth with each word. The fingertips of his lower hand dig into Jonny's side, as Jonny grinds down, and then he whines and comes hard between them, shuddering. His hand tenses on Jonny's face and then relaxes back to tangle with the hair at the nape of his neck.

Biting hard at his lower lip, riding that edge, but not quite there yet, Jonny stares down at his still face. It’s not really a problem for girls, but Kaner’s dick has softened between them and Jonny doesn’t want to just keep thrusting against him. Well, a part of him does, he’s that close. Kaner’s eyes slowly flutter open as Jonny’s fighting not to simply squirm from the insistent pulse of blood in his cock.

Kaner gets an elbow under him, lifting up, and just as Jonny’s thinking that’s his cue to pick himself up, Kaner dumps him onto his back, flipping them so that he’s on top. “Not gonna leave you hanging,” he says, voice rough. He reaches between them, making a tight tunnel of his fingers, stroking Jonny swift and sure. Jonny can’t stop the uncoordinated jerk that runs through him, mouth dropping open around a moan as Kaner works him, almost better than he would do himself.

Kaner bends his head, kissing Jonny through it. Although kissing isn’t the word. Jonny’s been kissed. This feels like Kaner’s fucking his mouth good and slow, the spit-slick slide of their lips making obscene noises. Overwhelmed, his senses narrow down to what Kaner's doing with his mouth and his hand. He comes like that, starved for breath, dizzy and shaken. He has to pull away and turn his face into the pillow, reaching down to still Kaner’s hand on his dick.

Kaner makes a noise like he was the one who just came and then rolls off of him, yawning hugely. He sprawls out on his back and stretches his arms up over his head, then collapses back down. He's fading fast, while Jonny's still struggling to catch his breath. He wasn't expecting any of this.

Sure enough, when Jonny glances over, Kaner's down for the count, face turned away from the light and peaceful.

In a second, Jonny thinks, he'll wake Kaner up so they can talk about this. Lassitude is starting to seep into his body. It hasn't been long since the end of their exhausting series, and he feels like he just used entire muscle groups he's never touched even in the most athletic sex. His eyes are burning with fatigue. He closes them briefly, just for a little relief, then pries them open again. Kaner's breathing has settled back into that familiar rhythm next to him that makes Jonny even sleepier.

He thinks, he'll just close his eyes again, and then he'll wake up Kaner.

In the middle of the night he stirs a little, conscious of being shoved gently, but the room is dark and he's warm under the covers. He sinks back to sleep almost before he's aware he was ever awake.


He wakes up with the sun hot on his face, shorts bunched uncomfortably around his thighs. The bed is empty, covers rucked up where Kaner was sleeping. Slowly he pulls himself upright. It takes Jonny a few moments to get back to the land of the living, but when he does, he realizes that Kaner’s suitcase is gone.

“What the fuck?” he says aloud, wiping sleep sand from his eyes. A cursory search of Kaner’s apartment reveals that Kaner has indeed rolled out without saying goodbye. Jonny has to laugh. He makes himself coffee and texts Kaner, you do this to the ladies? no wonder you don’t get repeats, before heading back to his place to shower and change.

The only problem is the days pass and he doesn’t hear anything but dead silence. That would be odd at the best of times, but in the wake of what happened, Jonny’s beginning to wonder what the hell is up with him. Kaner plays his cards close to the chest sometimes, in places where Jonny is not anticipating it. He did not anticipate this. He opens up his phone to text Kaner again, but his message history still shows his last text, asking if Kaner made it back safely. The message looks pitiful, sitting unanswered for a week already. He closes his phone.

A few days later his brother and a few buddies fly down to crash with him and he puts it out of his mind, enjoying the good weather, trying to straighten out the entire portion of his life he backburnered struggling to get better.

He and his mother haven’t been speaking as much recently, which is his fault. David made sure to tell him as soon as the subject of him visiting came up how much she’d been sighing and worrying over him.

“She’s disappointed,” David tells him very seriously over dinner.

“Alright, alright,” he says, frustrated. “I’m hearing you.”

He knows this hasn’t been an easy year for his brother either, bouncing back and forth between Toledo and Rockford. Jonny loves his brother and he’s proud of him, no matter what happens, but this is the first time he’s the one in trouble with mom, while David gets to play consoling faithful son. It’s grating, having the roles reversed, but he gets why David’s milking it for all it’s worth.

Jonny doesn’t read Deadspin so he doesn’t hear about the Mifflin Street Blockparty until he’s out at a bar one night for the first time in ages. David’s fucking around on his cell while they’re waiting for Dan to come back with a round and all of a sudden he bursts out laughing.

“What’s up with you?” Jonny asks, eyebrows raised.

David shakes his head, handing over his cellphone. “Kaner never changes, man.”

Jonny takes one look at the picture of Kaner in the green shirt, wet with alcohol, lying on the ground in the middle of a crowd of cheering people, and wants to toss David’s cellphone away from him.

"Are you fucking serious?" he says.

David eyes him. "It's on the internet, bro."

"Jesus." Jonny shakes his head. He pages through another few pictures, then shoves the phone back at David. Kaner goes MIA, completely silent on him, and then shows up here? His own phone is going to start going off any minute, he just knows. Like the cabbie bullshit when they were just kids, when Jonny actually turned his phone off to avoid fielding questions about something that wasn't his business in the first place.

He drinks the next round and lets the conversation go on around him, tracing his thumb over the edge of his phone in his pocket. He unlocks his phone and navigates to Kaner's name in his contact list, scans over that lone, weeks-old you alive? Landed safely? that's preceded by an endless exchange of mundane comments and reminders about team outings.

As expected, Jonny is inundated with requests for comments over the next week. The Hawks front office tells him to keep quiet about it as they craft their response, and he's happy to do it.

He does text Kaner a couple of times, short messages offering his support, again to no response. So this is what it feels like to be on the opposite end of a Patrick Kane cold-shoulder. He hadn't even recognized it.

He flies back home and goes camping far away from civilization. It's like a weight lifts off his shoulders as soon as he sees the "no service" message on his phone. The calendar's just edging into June by the time he rolls back into his home in Winnipeg, sunburnt, mosquito-bitten, and relaxed.

He'd turned his phone back on when he was filling up at a gas station an hour outside of the city, and then had held onto his mellow even as he felt it start to buzz in his pocket. After he unloads the car, he sits down on the couch and starts cycling through his messages and inbox. Most of it can be classified into spam, messages from his teammates and friends, and business from his mother and Pat Brisson and the Hawks’ front office. Usually Pat emails him and Kaner together about their joint endorsements and it's not unusual for them to discuss as a group. Pat has messaged both of them about a couple different lucrative opportunities, but Kaner hasn't responded once, and Brisson's repeated notes on the same topic make it clear he's not responding in private either. Jonny reads through his string of emails with a slowly rising sense of irritation.

Kaner not wanting to respond to Jonny's messages about his well-being or whether he's going to attend one of the NHLPA player meetings is one thing. Not responding to their agent is a whole other level of bullshit.

Jonny pulls out his phone. He writes, all right asshole. Ignore me all you want but stop freezing out our agent or I'll be on your doorstep in five hours to talk about this.

He shoves his phone onto the coffee table, full of righteous indignation, and wanders off to finish putting the rest of his gear away and start a load of laundry. When he gets back, Kaner has written back, just, someone's paranoid, the little shit. He's also responded to the most recent of Pat's requests.

Jonny rolls his eyes up to the ceiling and blows out a breath, resisting the urge to write back with anything biting.

He emails a follow-up to Kaner's message to Pat, saying, sounds good to me.


By the time of the convention, Jonny’s let go of most of his irritation. He can’t hold a grudge to save his life. He’s never had the time or energy to waste on shit like that. He can out-stubborn anyone, but it’s not his way to hang on to anger.

But. When he sees Kaner again and he gives Jonny that lopsided grin of his, saying “Hey, ‘sup?” Jonny still punches him in the solar plexus. Not hard, just the way he would to David to remind him who’s boss when he was being a hyper pain-in-the-ass when they were teenagers. Kaner gasps, taking a deep swallow of air.

Jonny feels better now. “More where that came from,” he says over his shoulder as he marches off.

“Oh, baby,” Kaner calls after him when he’s got his breath back. Jonny shoots him the finger without looking back.

Jonny notes that he looks more like himself, healthy. He’s smiling and joshing around with the guys, not holding himself apart the way he had been at the end of the season. Nobody brings up what happened in May other than to say his t-shirt making skills are for shit, to which Kaner makes some stupid ‘your mom’ joke.

But things don’t just slot into place the way they were. Jonny and Kaner often feel separated from the rest of the guys, just for the way the organization treats them. Now though, Jonny feels like they’re separated from each other, the roles that have been created for them—Jonny the staid captain, Kaner the prodigal party boy—never more clear. Those creations aren’t entirely artificial, as much as Jonny resents the ‘captain serious’ moniker, but he and Kaner have always been far more similar than different.

Jonny can’t say for certain what Kaner’s damage is—why he spent a weekend drinking himself blackout drunk, getting into tangles with the cops and jackass college kids alike. The way he’d been at the end of April, that sharp edged laugh at the prospect of being traded—Jonny hadn’t known what to make of it. Kaner’s whole life he’s had to fight to get his and the cocky devil-may-care attitude might’ve been the only thing that carried him through it. But that wide grin was a truth that hid the lie—Kaner got this far because everybody told him ‘no.’ That didn’t mean he wasn’t still hoping and waiting for their goddamn approval. Jonny always knew just how far to push, but that didn’t mean anybody else did. Least of all Kaner.

Kaner played his best, even as a game went to shit around them, when this perfect implacable calm came over him. He made people believe he was untouchable. This? Was Kaner playing angry.

Jonny'd give him shit about it like the other guys—his stupid sunglasses and that god awful t-shirt—because that’s status quo. Only, he’s wondering now if Kaner was attempting to give him the fade back in May, like he was a moonstruck hookup who got the wrong impression. It wouldn’t be Kaner’s first crap idea of the summer. They crossed a line that night, and if Kaner had stayed the next morning they could’ve gotten that straightened out. He hadn’t thought either of them had gotten the wrong idea there, only Kaner apparently did.

Kaner has another two months to get over himself before they've got to be on the same page. After that, Jonny's going to stop giving him space on all of this, accusations of getting up in Kaner's business or not.

October 2012...

Adam Burish's proposed charity game is one of the few unadulterated pieces of good news Jonny hears that entire fall once the lockout is made official. Bur has an idea about bringing the band back together, as many of the 2010 Blackhawks as can show up, and then a mixed-bag team of players from other teams that are interested.

He writes back as soon as Bur sends a tentative email, promising he'll be there. He keeps track of everyone else's responses, not even realizing what he's waiting for until Kaner emails back, saying that his schedule is still up in the air and he'll see if he can make it.

He and Kaner communicated through Brisson all summer, trying to decide what their strategy should be in the event of a lockout. By the end of August Jonny, frustrated, texted Brisson, tell Kaner he should go. That'll send a message. From that point on, Jonny had followed remotely as negotiations on Kaner's behalf with several European teams had gotten complicated.

When Kaner’s finally able to commit, Bur immediately ropes him and Jonny in for the press conference along with Sharpy, saying they need to pull their weight in order to play in his most awesome hockey game. It’s for a good cause, so Jonny doesn’t mind, but it occurs to him, as they’re waiting for Kaner to show up so they can go out and meet the press, that things really might not be alright with them still.

He’s all smiles when he finally arrives, even for Jonny, but as Kaner falls in step behind him as they walk out, it doesn’t feel entirely natural anymore. And as Bur teases them throughout the presser and they laugh obligingly, it feels more like they’re actors simulating their relationship than two people actually living it. They know all the right moves, all the appropriate things to say, but it doesn’t feel real. At the end of it, Kaner keeps sneaking these glances at him, like Jonny’s entirely incomprehensible to him and he’s not sure what to do about it.

This doesn’t bode well for the game itself. Jonny brushes off plans to head out for drinks afterwards and goes back to his apartment, unsettled.

When Kaner strolls into the locker room out in Rosemont, hockey bag over his shoulder, it strikes at Jonny how long it's been since he's seen that familiar sight. He catches Jonny’s eyes, small smile playing at his lips, and Jonny allows himself to smile back. Bur goes across the room to welcome him and Jonny returns to gearing up, but he starts paying attention to the room around him, soaking in the energy of all of his guys readying themselves to play a game.

Soupy sits next to him, carefully wrapping a stick. Jonny claps him on the back, pounding hard on his shoulder pads a few times.

"Hey there, Captain Smiles, feeling good?" Soupy says.

"You know it," Jonny says cheerfully.

They warm up on the ice, goofing off more than anything. Jonny manages to slam into everyone on Team Chicago at least once, and steals pucks from as many people as he can catch. He saves Kaner for last, plowing into him and stealing the puck off his stick at the last minute, leaving Kaner shaking his head.

Jonny circles back around and holds out his fist for a tap, saying, "Been keeping up with your conditioning?”

Kaner pops his mouth guard out with his tongue and then pops it back in. Jonny can see him contemplating the dirty joke. After a pause, Kaner just nods and says seriously, “Yeah, been uh...working out, making sure to be ready any day now.”

Jonny doesn’t wince. Six months ago, he would’ve made the nastiest fucking joke on the planet in response to that opening.

"How many points tonight?" he asks, keeping his tone light.

"For me, or you?" Kaner leans on his stick.

"You," Jonny says.

"One more than you." Kaner grins.

"Ah, we'll see about that," Jonny says. He scans the stands, which are more full than he'd expected. He looks back at Kaner, says what he should’ve said the first time. "Good to see you though. Feels like it's been too long."

"Yeah," Kaner says, and rolls his shoulders like his pads are sitting awkwardly, before Laddy comes at them from up the ice, yelling about getting a move on.

They have a good time with it, excessive scoring and goal celebrations alike. The lines Dempster rolls mostly come down to him pointing at Jonny and Kaner and saying “you two together and the rest of you...figure it out,” which makes all of them laugh. It kinda blows Jonny’s mind that he was one of the first people ever to believe in the Blackhawks as a team, dragging the Cubs to their playoff games, talking them up in the papers, saying that they were splitting his loyalty to the Canucks. Jonny had genuinely been sad when he’d been traded to Texas over the summer.

The crowd is great, cheering and yelling. And for Jonny’s part, he’s having fun with it, horsing around just as much as everybody else, but they pull off a couple of beautiful plays as well. The stands go nuts when Kaner one-times the puck off of Jonny’s pass, and Kaner slams into him on the celly, whooping. Jonny’s cheering himself, but it catches in his throat when the pattern of Kaner’s harsh exerted breathing hits him with a sudden sense memory. It’s so similar to the way he sounded that night before he came all over them both, even here with laughter edging it. Jonny has to shake him off to put a little space between them.

Kaner's on fire though. Everything about this game suits his playing style, where no one's checking hard or grinding it out along the boards. He scores on Backstrom again and Jonny finds himself inexorably drawn to him him, swooping down and pulling hard on his jersey. Kaner beams at Sharpy and then him, indiscriminately happy. When Jonny nets one, Kaner throws himself into the bowling celly as Jonny pitches his glove across the ice at everyone. The hockey is easy, Jonny realizes with a giddy joy tinged with relief. Hockey has always been easy.

Kaner does what he always does—ekes out a last second goal to tie it up and send it over to the shootout. Dempster sends Jonny out first, so of course he spectacularly shanks it. Kaner chirps him hard back on the bench and puts one past Backstrom with his classic flare. They lose it in the end. Kaner affects outrage when Carcillo borrows one of his moves to score the winning goal on Anderson, but he’s voted MVP of the game for his four goals. As they head to the locker room, Jonny says, "Good going-away present from Chicago for you, that MVP?"

"I'll take it," Kaner says.

He glances at Jonny and opens his mouth, but then Bur is barging into him from behind, shouting about Kaner's magic hands showing everyone up and how he hadn't missed that, and Jonny moves on.

They'd organized a media scrum after the game, a chance to generate some good publicity for their charitable cause and also the NHLPA while they were at it. Kaner and Sharpy are clustered together in the first group, leaving Jonny free to shower and change before he takes his own turn.

He passes the crowd in front of Kaner right as he says, "It's really hitting me now that this is my last night in Chicago." He pauses and looks straight ahead, into the array of recording devices in front of them, eyes unfocused, then spins a line about how excited he'll be to come back and play after the lockout. Jonny turns that comment over in his head all through showering and dressing. Kaner's like that sometimes, doesn't anticipate how something's going to feel until he's there.

Good players adjust, Jonny thinks.


The text message from Kaner when it comes is a surprise. Jonny’s out running errands when his pocket buzzes. He fishes his cellphone out of his pocket and finds an all caps text WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST EAT? followed by a dim picture of a description on a French menu.

It takes Jonny a moment to make out the fine cursive, but when he does, he busts out laughing.

you already ate it? Jonny writes back. you don't want to know

fuck you everyone started laughing when I took a bite. what is it?

Jonny shakes his head. He pops the trunk of his car and starts slinging in his bags of groceries, then closes it and leans on the fender. tetine de vache. Cow's udder. How'd it taste? He can't help but chuckle, just looking at the message. He has to appreciate a well-played practical joke, especially when someone else is the target.

Kaner doesn't respond right away, long enough that Jonny gets in his car and drives back to his apartment, only checking his phone in the parking lot. It just says, I'm going to kill Seguin.

Going on impulse, Jonny writes, just got home. Wanna talk?

It takes Kaner a while to get back to him, maybe because fifteen minutes had passed between his reply and Jonny's answering invitation. Jonny taps through his apps for a second, then puts his phone down and unloads his groceries into his kitchen. His phone buzzes, rattling across the countertop. hit me up on skype, it says.

Kaner's sprawled out on a couch with a bland square of wall behind him when he answers Jonny's call request. He's got a bowl balanced on his stomach.

"Nice angle," Jonny says, staring at his double-chin.

"Thanks," Kaner says. He looks tired. Well, it is nearly midnight there.

"You're still hungry?" Jonny asks. "Hard to believe that. You never told me what cow's udder tastes like, by the way."

"Fuck you, I'm washing the taste out of my mouth." Kaner takes a big spoonful.

Jonny peers closer, but there's really no mistaking that virulent color combined with macaroni noodles. "You're disgusting," he says, awed. "Is that KD?"

"At least I know what I'm eating." Kaner stirs the spoon in the bowl.

Jonny can't help but make a face. "Do you really? That shit tastes like plastic and disappointment."

"Lies, it tastes like cheese and happiness," Kaner says. "Anyway. How's Chicago?"

"Cold," Jonny says. "We've been keeping up the informal practices. People come in and out. How's Biel?"

"Cold," Kaner says with a mocking twist to his mouth. "Quiet." That twist turns into a crooked smile. "Big ice, lots of room to skate around."

"Bet you love that," Jonny murmurs.

"It's not bad," Kaner says.

"Don't get too comfortable over there," Jonny says.

"Not too much risk of that," Kaner says with a grimace.

Jonny leans back in his chair. “You’re not tearing it up over there?”

Kaner laughs, gesturing around the apartment with the spoon. “You try getting around my mom, man.” He shrugs. "Plus the language thing. Isn't great. I mean, I've traveled in Europe before so I thought it'd be cool, but." He licks his lips, and in one second, Jonny can tell, he'll have reached his internal limit for complaining.

"Yeah." Jonny nods. "Seriously though, how the hell did you end up eating tetine de vache? That's kinda out there."

Kaner groans. "Segsy was all, 'oh try this, it's really good,' and the menu's all in French and German, so how the fuck was I supposed to know."

"Uh, because you've been playing hockey for most of your life," Jonny says. It's pretty elementary that a prank like that was coming.

Kaner sneers at him. "Spoken like someone who could have read everything on the menu. Maybe you should be over here instead of me."

"Can't, busy," Jonny says pleasantly.

"What are you doing?" Kaner asks, leaning toward the screen as he shifts his weight. It makes the picture wobble so that Jonny recoils.

"Jesus, stop," Jonny says. "I don't need to see up your nose." The momentary jostling had given him a flash of vertigo, too, but he decides not to mention it, just looks over his screen at his blank television for a second. When he looks back down, Kaner's looking at him, waiting. "I'm going to a clinic in Georgia next week."

"A hockey clinic?" Kaner frowns. "What the hell is in Georgia? They don't have a team there anymore."

"No, it's a medical clinic," Jonny says. "For, uh, chiropractic neurology."

"Head doctor?"

"Yeah, something like that," Jonny says.

"I didn't realize you were still having trouble," Kaner says.

Jonny shrugs, rubbing at the back of his neck. Finally, he says, "I guess that's what we'll find out. Sid likes these guys, and he would know."

Kaner chews at his lip like he wants to say something, but instead he changes the subject. “I saw Skyfall a few nights ago.”

“What? It’s out already?” It isn’t supposed to come out for another week in the US.

Kaner grins at him. “It was so—”

Jonny interrupts him, “Don’t fucking spoil me, asshole!”

“Just, Jonny, you’re gonna be so creeped out when the bad guy pulls his—”

Jonny covers his ears. “No! You’re not going to ruin this movie for me.” Kaner’s the worst about shit like this, always walking into the room when they’re in the middle of a movie and being like ‘oh has the scene where he shoots the cop happened yet?’ or if he’s seen it enough times, he’ll start reciting the lines along with the characters. Jonny learned early his only defense was to make sure to go to the theater with Kaner the first time he saw a film, because plied with popcorn and a cherry coke, he’s silent as the grave.

“You’ll like it, you’ll like it. Jesus, that’s not a spoiler!” Kaner replies and then yawns hugely. He really does look wiped. Jonny hopes those dark circles under his eyes only look so stark because of the lighting.

“Alright, champ, I’ll let you finish your cheese and happiness. It looks like you need to sleep.”

Kaner flips him off as he smothers another yawn, but he doesn’t protest. “G’night, man. Or, good afternoon or whatever.”

Jonny snorts. “Get some rest.”

He’s just about to cut off the connection when Kaner says, “Uh, good luck at that clinic?”

Jonny pauses. He’s not scared. He’s been playing, he’s been alright. The brain is plastic, that’s what they keep telling him over and over. So plastic it apparently stopped bothering to inform him when some things were not quite right. Jonny breathes out. “Thanks.”


The next morning he jokingly sends Kaner an email with the subject line ‘Appropriate Food For Kindergartners’ with a list of the French words for Kaner’s favorite things to eat so that Tyler Seguin can’t get the drop on him again.

The reply he gets back, a few days later at the clinic is just one sentence: Be straight with me, did you know you could get English language menus? Moments later it’s followed up with you totally did, didn’t you, dicksuck! Jonny starts cracking up despite being mentally and physically exhausted in pretty much every conceivable way. They’ve been working him hard, trying to address the issues he was dealing with. He didn’t think he had it in him to laugh anymore, there just didn’t seem to be any energy.

He and Kaner keep in contact for the rest of his time there. Kaner doesn’t ask what it’s like and Jonny’s grateful. There are times when he feels the hot prick of tears at how much his body is betraying him, and he’s not sure he could handle breaking down in front of Kaner. Eventually though, progress is made, and at the end of the week, he feels like he’s gained a lot of missing functionality back.

Kuc gets wind of the whole thing somehow and calls him up for quotes for an article he’s publishing. It pains Jonny to admit that he was playing fucked up. That he wasn’t even 100% during that low-contact charity game. He just wants to put this whole ordeal behind him. Around noon on the day it drops he gets a text from Kaner saying, coming to biel now?

Jonny chuckles and texts back: don’t know. can they afford it after paying for your useless ass?

Kaner’s response is immediate: I’m sure they have the whole 5 dollars you’re worth in a bank account somewhere.

Jonny doesn’t get a chance to respond to that epic burn before Kaner sends another text asking if he’s around to talk. Jonny was in the middle of working out and he needs a shower, but he decides it can wait until after he talks to Kaner.

When the video link pops up on his MacBook it reveals Kaner lying on his bed, chin pillowed on his forearms.

“What’s up, man?” Jonny asks.

Kaner grins when he sees him, chewing his ubiquitous piece of gum. “I just needed to share my triumph with somebody.”

“You finally figured out how to tie your shoes? Congrats, man!” Jonny jokes.

Kaner doesn’t dignify that with a reply. He lets out a deeply satisfied sigh and shifts on the bed.

Jonny narrows his eyes at him. “Did you ask to talk just to tell me you got laid?”

Kaner nonchalantly pops his gum. “You have no idea how much of a victory this was. I have been sitting on this story for a whole day! You remember how hard it was in high school?”

Jonny laughs. “Hell no. I was in boarding school.”

“Yeah, yeah, you were probably fucking teenies out by the gym, I get it. For the rest of us poor suckers though, it was hard to find a place. Me and the gearshift in my car made a lot of memories. And lemme tell you, it’s like that all over again. My mother has me on lockdown.”

“That is so sad, man,” Jonny replies. “Just, so sad.”

Kaner groans, dropping his forehead to his arms. “I know.”

“But you triumphed…” Jonny prompts.

“That I did.” Kaner exaggeratedly pushes his tongue into his cheek. “My first threesome, holy cow.”

On the one hand, this isn’t actually Kaner’s first threesome. But if Kaner thinks this is his first threesome, it means that the time with Rachel definitely was the only other time he’d done something like that. And that’s news. Jonny knows everything he’s thinking must be reflected on his face, because Kaner colors up.

“You don’t count,” he says, ducking his head again.

“I...don’t count?” Jonny replies with a soft laugh.

“No, you don’t,” Kaner answers. “Shut up. This was with two girls.”

“Yes, yes, your epic triumph,” Jonny answers obligingly. He’s not sure why the fact that Kaner doesn’t count it bothers him. Probably because Jonny thinks about that night a lot, had imagined a million different ways it could’ve gone differently.

“Fuck, it was though,” Kaner says with a voice full of wonder.

Jonny balances his chin on his fist. “That good, eh?”

Kaner blows out a breath. “You have no idea. Have you ever—”

“Man, you know I have,” Jonny says. He’d told that story early in his rookie year, well before their night with Amy, because up to that point his night playing strip poker and then naked wrestling with two cardsharp coeds at UND was the craziest thing that had happened to him in his short sexual history.

Kaner laughs. “Shit, I’d forgotten about the time you actually lost your shirt in a card game. Only you.”

“Whatever, I thought you were going to tell me about your ‘real threesome.’”

“Yeah,” Kaner says. “I dunno. It was different than that.” He shakes his head. “Here I am, right, out at this bar, and these two girls come up to me, just talking nonstop in German, like I know anything they’re saying. So I stop them, all, nein, nein, no deutsche.”

“Nice German,” Jonny says dryly.

Kaner sneers at him. “Laugh it up, asshole, it did the trick, because the next thing they said to me was in English, and it was just, I’m completely serious, ‘we’re looking for some dick.’”

“What?” Jonny squints at his laptop screen.

Kaner’s beaming, gleeful. “Right? I just about spilled my beer all over the bar. I checked with them, though, ‘cause I thought for sure they had their English wrong.” He shrugs, head moving on his stacked hands. “Turns out they were, uh, together. But sometimes they like to go out and find someone to take home, I guess.”

“Two Swiss lesbians took you home?” Jonny says, incredulous. Kaner’s turning red again, like now suddenly he’s feeling bashful. Jonny leans back in his chair. “Well?”

“I dunno, man,” Kaner replies, mouth tugging up at the corner. “Just, goddamn, they were beautiful, like you wouldn’t believe. It sounds weird, but they just kinda used me like a prop, and I wouldn’t normally say I’d be into that, but—”

Jonny involuntarily pictures it, Kaner sandwiched between two girls, touching and kissing him, but mostly paying attention to each other. Yeah, he could see how that would play out kinda like porn. Of course it was hot. He clears his throat. “So how did you take care of business?”

“I did what they told me to do,” Kaner smirks at him, but after a moment he shrugs. “I’ve never had to last so long in my life though, bro.”

“Oh yeah?” Jonny shifts a little on his seat, suddenly aware again of the drying sweat on his skin.

“Christ, it was work. Men are not built for this shit. And Lise kept kissing Annette and playing with her nipples while I was fucking her, and she was clenching down so tight on every stroke. It took everything I had not to nut right there.”

Jonny swallows. The little movie in his head keeps playing, Kaner’s thick cock piercing this girl open while he took her, her girlfriend kissing her sloppy and wet. He could envision every moment down to a tee—even the little moans that Kaner would make trying so hard to hold off. “I take it you acquitted yourself?” he says, hoping his voice sounds normal.

“I acquitted myself with style, thank you! I have been informed the next time they need a dick, I will be invited back.”

Jonny rubs at his eyes, inadvertently amused. Same old Kaner. “I’m really happy for you, dude,” he says dryly.

“I’m gonna have to like, practice,” Kaner says very seriously.

Jonny means to come back with another wisecrack, but what he actually ends up saying is, "You're good at that though. Not coming too soon."

Kaner pauses, teeth caught in the corner of his mouth. He’s close enough to the screen that Jonny can see every indrawn breath. “Yeah?” he says after a moment.

Jonny swallows again, mouth suddenly desert dry. “Yeah.” He didn’t mean to say it, and now he’s regretting opening his mouth, because he can see Kaner withdrawing slightly, color still high, shifting away from the screen on the bed. He says, “Sounds like a good time, man. Good job, I guess.”

Kaner quirks his lips. “Thanks.”

“Was that it?” Jonny asks. “Is our conference over?”

“It’s a great story!” Kaner protests.

“Yeah, but unlike some lazy assholes lying around in Switzerland, some of us just came from the gym, so if that’s all, I’m gonna go shower,” Jonny says.

Kaner waves a generous hand at the screen. “Nah, I’m done. Go on. Have fun.”

“Thanks,” Jonny says. “Talk to you later. Good luck with your game tomorrow.” Hopefully the smile he’s wearing looks normal. It feels a little tight on his face.

“Later, Tazer,” Kaner says.

Jonny closes out of that conversation itchily aware of how turned on he is. When he’s standing in the shower later, he doesn’t even try to stop himself from thinking about what Kaner just told him as he wraps his hand around his cock. His body feels good from his workout. His head feels good, finally, and Jesus, Kaner wasn’t wrong, that was a good story. He almost wishes he could have been there, maybe sitting in the room like he had with Amy, watching these two girls move Kaner anywhere they wanted him to go. He comes with his face tilted up into the shower spray, and staggers out on wobbly legs, toweling off and dressing in a daze. He wanders out in search of something to eat. He’s starving.


He starts measuring his days in between skype conversations with Kaner. The lockout drags on. Every time it looks like they’re close to reaching an agreement, it manages to fall through. Jonny’s getting so twitchy about it he’s had to stop drinking coffee. Kaner’s started rolling his eyes every time he brings it up, calling it “that which must not be named.”

“You had me ready to pack my bags earlier, I’m not listening to you,” Kaner says over Skype when he’s in Davos, preparing to compete in the Spengler Cup.

“I thought it was gonna happen,” Jonny says morosely. He props his head on his fist.

“Squeezing your stick too tight there, Jonny-boy.” Kaner raises his eyebrows suggestively.

“Don’ that. With your face,” Jonny says. He knows that face. It’s the suggestive jerkoff win face, which Jonny is honestly a little surprised to see.

“Hey, I’m just saying,” Kaner says. “Could be lucky.”

“When are you playing Team Canada? I’m not gonna give you any luck,” Jonny says.

Kaner laughs. “Worth a shot.”

A week later, after Team Canada successfully wins the tournament, Jonny calls back to gloat to Kaner’s face.

“You weren’t even on the ice,” Kaner protests, after he’d shut Jonny down twice on Skype before eventually letting the call go through.

“My spirit was with my team,” Jonny says smugly.

“I’m on your fucking team,” Kaner says.

“When it’s nation battling nation, buddy, you’re not on my team,” Jonny says.

Kaner rolls his eyes. He looks tired. There’s a gash above his lip that’s been stitched up and for a moment Jonny wonders if he’s teased him too hard, but Kaner says in a rush, “I just want it to be done with. I don’t care about it anymore. Just. Let them figure their shit out already.”

Jonny understands and at least he’s here. He knows that Kaner hasn’t been having an easy time of it. His mom hadn’t adjusted well and the travel had been ten times as hard with teammates he barely knew, wrestling with languages he had less than a rudimentary understanding of. Jonny’s been running workouts here and steadily going insane in an entirely different way.

When Kaner rubs at his stitches, eyes narrowed in purpose, Jonny already knows what’s coming.

“Take it out,” Kaner tells him, voice firm.

“Are you ordering me to jerk off with you?” Jonny asks.

Kaner shifts around on his bed, unbuttoning his fly. “I am making shit happen.”

Jonny rolls his eyes to ceiling.

Kaner’s got his tongue between his teeth and he says, “Jonny, if you don’t do it, you’ll be the guy watching me jerk off on camera.”

Jonny snorts. “I’m gonna be 25 in four months and I’m still doing this shit with you. Let me just take a moment to reflect on the sad state of my life.” He moves his laptop off his belly and to the side so that he can unzip his jeans.

“It’s for a good cause,” Kaner says. “The best cause.” His voice is getting that deeper rasp to it that Jonny hasn’t heard in a while. It makes his stomach clench. Jonny glances at the screen where Kaner’s starting to get hard, dick obvious and flushed in his fist. He looks away, back down at his own hand moving lightly, but he can still see the rhythm of Kaner’s hand in his peripheral vision. It’s like it’s the first time they’re doing this all over again—how uncertain Jonny feels about how this is going to turn out.

Kaner started this, Jonny thinks with renewed irritation for his mental vacillation. He squeezes his hand over the head of his dick and breathes out, sliding down the bed. Despite his ambivalence, it’s easy to get into it, hips starting to thrust up on each stroke.

Kaner startles him when out of nowhere he says, “Augh, stop, your computer’s moving all over the place, you’re gonna make me motion-sick.”

Jonny pauses. “I didn’t know we were making a show here.”

“You’re right there, what am I supposed to do, look at the wall?” Kaner asks, incredulous, as if doing anything else never occurred to him.

Jonny makes a big production of turning his head to look at this screen. “I’m sorry,” he says sarcastically, “how do we make this good for you?”

Kaner laughs. “Gonna show me some moves, Jonny?”

Jonny sits up, moving the laptop a little distance away so that Kaner can see more of him. “You want a show, you’re getting a show,” he tells him, stripping off his t-shirt and stepping out of his jeans and underwear. Naked, he settles back down flat on the bed. It’s a little cold in the room. Jonny tries to not to waste too much energy heating his place in the winter, and he shivers now that his skin is bared to the air. “You tell me what that’s like, perv.”

“Well,” Kaner says, drawing the word out, hand stilling on his dick, “mostly hilarious, right now.”

Jonny flips off the camera and then very deliberately runs his hands down his body.

“This,” Kaner tells him, laughing, “is amazing.”

Jonny ignores him and thinks about what he would do if a girl asked him to do this. He tenses his abdomen, running the very tips of his fingers in the divot between them, lingering at the depression of his belly button. He does it two more times, dragging his fingertips lower each time, before sweeping his hand back up again, ignoring his half hard dick.

When he finally wraps his hand back around his dick, his head tips back in an unexaggerated arch—it feels that good. He wonders if Kaner is actually watching or if he’s just staring at the wall after all. He’s a little afraid to turn and look, but Jonny goes hot all over at the idea that Kaner could be watching this, devouring this the way Jonny devoured his threesome story. Either way, he treats it like the display that it is, keeping his pace slow, gently drawing his foreskin back and then smoothing it back up again, hips lifting involuntarily off the bed.

Jonny’s lips part and he touches the tip of his tongue to one canine, dragging it across his teeth. With his other hand, he cups his balls, stroking down over his sac to press immediately underneath on his perineum. His hips come off the bed a second time when he does. He slides his fist up and down, abdomen and ass tightening as he pushes into each stroke. He can’t help picking up speed then, pursuing his own pleasure. He turns his head to the side when he works his hand just right, open-mouthed, throat convulsing, eyelashes fluttering at the feeling. When he opens his eyes, he’s gazing right at the laptop screen. Kaner’s staring at him intently as he slides his hand desperately over his own cock. He makes this caught, trapped little gasp in the back of his throat when their eyes meet that sends a wave of heat flushing through Jonny’s body.

“Patrick,” Jonny hears himself say, low and heartfelt.

Kaner whines, head rearing back as he comes all over himself, and that sound, heard so many times before, tips Jonny over the edge right after him.

Kaner cuts the connection while Jonny’s still blinking up at the ceiling, trying to level out his breathing. When Jonny turns his head, all he can see is his own dazed face staring back at him. It reminds him of waking up alone in Kaner’s apartment, and then the radio silence for weeks afterward. But this time Jonny can picture that laser focus in Kaner’s eyes when he stared at him, how fascinated he was. Just thinking about it makes Jonny’s dick twitch in his loose grasp. He blows out a breath, scrubbing at his forehead with the back of his wrist. He gets up and cleans himself up and goes for his phone.

ok bro, he types out with fingers that are still tingling a little bit. He hits send with a sense of vindication.


The lockout ends two days later. Which is not related to Kaner’s dick at all, no matter what he might try to claim, assuming he ever talks to Jonny about it. Hockey’s back, and Jonny’s almost numb to it. All he can think about is Kaner. Kaner. Kaner. And Jonny’s not even sure what he’s going to say to him. At their informal practices, the guys keep making fun of him for being so spacey. Unsurprisingly, Kaner never responded to his text, though that got overridden by the wave of excited come home messages that went winging over the Atlantic when the end of the lockout was announced.

There’s this odd buzzing feeling in his chest. He’s been nervous in his life—at the draft combine, going into sudden death overtime on the make it or break it games, waiting to be named to the Olympic squad. He’s heard other players who claimed not to get nervous and he’s always thought they were lying. But those situations, he could always picture what was going to happen, or at least the outcome he wanted. This time around, he pictures seeing Kaner again, and he doesn’t know. The look on Kaner’s face, the hot crush of his mouth. Jonny has tried not to let himself think about it, but there’s a point where even his discipline begins to crack.

He circles around to what he’d said before he gave in to Kaner’s insistence last time. They’ve been doing this for five years. Why do they keep coming back to it? He’s not playing these games anymore, can’t keep pushing the envelope of what he considers acceptable to do with friends, even one as close and important to him as Kaner. He’s known for years that jerkoff wins were bullshit, regardless of Kaner’s superstitions.

He’s in the gym, lifting, when it hits him. Jonny wants something. He wants something from Kaner. More than whatever those furtive jerkoff sessions were. More of that night, even though it set everything so off balance. He finishes his set and wipes his face with a towel, scrubbing hard enough to sting his skin. He feels calmer as he sends it winging over to the laundry bin and heads back to the shower. He doesn’t care what happens anymore—having a purpose has always been more than enough. Jonny was not made for this kind of stasis.

As he’s dressing, his phone buzzes with an incoming message. Kaner’s coming back tomorrow. He lands in the afternoon. Jonny’s chest goes tight again in anticipation, and he takes a harsh breath before letting it trickle out. Well, now he knows his timetable, at least.

Kaner's track record for sticking around hasn't impressed Jonny at all, so he doesn't text him with a heads-up that he's stopping by. Kaner’s eyes widen when he opens the door and sees him, and he looks backward over his shoulder before he faces front again.

“Hey,” Kaner says, hanging onto the end of that sentence.

“Welcome back.” Jonny shoulders his way through the door.

“Uh. Yeah.” Kaner closes the door. “Less than two hours ago.” He shuffles forward and Jonny realizes a split second beforehand that he’s going in for a hug, opens his arms hastily. He keeps it brief, pushing past, tugging his scarf free of the neck of his coat as he goes. Jonny very purposefully removes his coat and gloves, setting them on the kitchen counter, while Kaner watches him in silence. Now that he’s here all the wind has gone out of his sails and he isn’t sure what to say. He’s good at getting ladies into bed, but it’s a bit hard to turn the charm up on a guy who’s been in the shower while you read the paper and took a shit on the toilet next to him.

He’s never wanted to have sex with somebody he knew like this.

“So…” Kaner says awkwardly, going to the sink and pouring himself a glass of water. He doesn’t even offer one to Jonny, which normally he’d be chirping about. They’re both so off their strides.

That horrible buzzing tightness in Jonny’s chest intensifies. He has to say it. He can’t not, but oh god, he’s never been so terrified in his life.

Kaner’s face is blank when Jonny looks back at him, the cool mask he gets when he’s being viciously chirped making his features strangely serene. That face again. The one Kaner had leveled him with at the convention as if Jonny didn’t fucking know him. And the thing is—Jonny doesn’t know Kaner when he looks at him like that. It burns him so much, because it feels like it shouldn’t even be possible. Jonny has always had the dictionary on Kaner. He hasn’t always known how to process it, but now it’s like the book’s been slammed closed on him. He’s just going to have to go for it.

“Look,” he says finally. “I don’t even know what we’re doing here. If this is some sort of game for you, I’m tired of playing it.” He runs his thumb in a line down Kaner’s countertop, pressing in hard enough that the edge of his nail turns white, then glances up at Kaner’s still face. He feels weightless, a rush of blood in his ears, like he’s jumping off the edge and going into freefall. “If you don’t want to do this…” He shrugs. He doesn’t know how to finish that sentence.

That impassive look Kaner’s wearing falters. He says, “Shit, Jonny,” and, oh, his stomach is plummeting now. This wasn’t how he wanted it to go.

He looks away, focuses on Kaner’s glass-fronted cabinet and presses his lips together. He catches a flurry of motion out of the corner of his eye and turns his head, surprised to find Kaner so close up in his space. Kaner’s eyes are fierce on his, a look Jonny still can’t decipher, though it’s close to how he looks on the ice when he goes out determined to make something happen.

He yanks indelicately at Jonny’s shirtfront, catching his jaw and hip when he’s in close and dragging him into a kiss. Kaner hisses when he pulls away, and Jonny remembers the stitches on his upper lip.

“Sorry,” Jonny says dumbly.

“Don’t say sorry, asshole,” Kaner says, working his fingertips under the hem of Jonny’s henley, pushing it up to bare his skin, nails skimming the exact same spot Jonny had teasingly touched himself that night on camera. At the intent look on Kaner’s face Jonny shivers and slumps back against the counter, goosebumps raised on his naked belly. Kaner brushes his mouth over Jonny’s ear, voice gone low when he says, “Gonna take it off for me, Jonny?”

Jonny shuts his eyes, breathes in. “If—if that’s what you want,” he replies, stumbling.

“You knew what you looked like, god, you knew,” Kaner says, trying hard for a note of levity that ends up stretched taut. His hands run over Jonny’s torso as Jonny tries to catch his breath, stomach fluttering against Kaner’s palms.

Jonny’s cheeks flame up, blood burning hot under his skin, and his laugh, when it comes, is ragged. “This was not my plan of action.”

“Yeah?” Kaner queries, holding his gaze. “What was that?”

“Walk in here, shove you up against the wall, and fuck you?” Jonny offers.

Kaner’s answering grin is fierce and bright. “Good players adjust,” he says and frames Jonny’s face with his hands, careful of his stitches this time, as he leans in and gives Jonny one of the filthiest kisses he’s ever received, rolling their hips together so that Jonny can feel the beginning swell of his dick behind the fly of his jeans.

“Jonny?” he whispers against his mouth, putting some space between them.

“What?” Jonny replies, hauling Kaner in closer.

“No wall,” Kaner says, shifting away and towing Jonny out of the kitchen toward his bedroom. Jonny leans back and makes him put some strength into the grip he takes on Jonny’s wrists, then abruptly stops pulling so that he can stumble forward and steady himself on Kaner’s hips. “I’ve been up for over a day and you want me to have sex with you standing up?” Kaner mutters into Jonny’s mouth when they’re within reach of the bed.

Jonny laughs, feeling suddenly light and expansive. “My plan could use some work,” he admits, and lets Kaner tumble him back onto the mattress. He sits up so he can strip out of his shirt, then stops and watches as Kaner takes his clothes off. He moves so well, but Jonny isn’t used to noticing the economical shrug of his shoulders as he removes his shirt, and he’s fascinated by the play of muscle down his back as he bends and removes his pants and shorts.

“Shit, Patrick,” Jonny says, hoarse. Kaner shivers, mouth dropping open, like that works for him. He’s goosepimpled when Jonny reaches out from the bed and pulls him in. “Patrick,” Jonny repeats, pressing a kiss to his chest, and Kaner sways in, one of those little moans caught in his throat.

Kaner leans in to help him get his jeans off, but they keep getting distracted and the fabric winds up caught halfway down Jonny’s thighs, his boxers bunched in much the same fashion. It isn’t graceful, but Jonny manages to roll Kaner under him, pinning him to the mattress. “Just gimme a second here,” he says and climbs off the bed so he can get them the rest of the way off without accident.

Kaner makes a sound in his throat while Jonny’s back is turned, when he shifts his weight to toss his pants aside. “What?” Jonny asks, turning around.

Kaner’s dick lies flushed and hard against his belly and he raises his palm off the bed like he wants to take himself in hand, but stops at the last moment.

It’s cold in Kaner’s room, the winter chill coming in off his big windows. His nipples are stiff, rosy little peaks. Jonny wants to get his mouth on them. He leans forward and tugs his duvet and sheets out from underneath Kaner before climbing beneath them, blanketing Kaner with his body and pulling the covers up over them both.

“Can’t see anything this way,” Kaner protests, sitting up on his elbows to meet Jonny’s mouth.

Jonny’s so stupidly easy for that. He’s what his college girlfriend called a ‘naked person’—he likes clothes, certainly more than Kaner who still allows girlfriends and his mother to do most of his shopping—but Jonny’s also perfectly happy to wear nothing at all. Kaner spent a lot of time complaining about that when they were first rooming together. Always going on about how he should put some fucking clothes on—which, to Jonny, had been patently ridiculous because they were naked in the locker rooms together all the time. The naked thing didn’t start out about being looked at, but it probably grew out of being in the locker room, constantly in and out of clothes, surrounded by people who weren’t supposed to look at him.

“You can look later,” Jonny says hoarsely, before bending his head to close his lips on one of Kaner’s distended nipples.

“What are you—that’s not really—" Kaner cuts himself off at the first hard wet suck.

His nipples are the same pink as his lips, Jonny notices, flickering his tongue over one. It stiffens up further against his tongue and Patrick trembles hard, dropping himself flat to the mattress as Jonny shoves at the tight little bud over and over. He moves over to the next one, hit hard by the sight of his spit shiny on Kaner’s chest. Soon though, it becomes impossible to ignore the way Kaner’s shoving his dick up against Jonny’s belly.

“You want something?” he asks.

Patrick looks down at him with hazy eyes, tongue swiping out over his lower lip. He looks like he can’t even get the words together. Jonny thumbs over one wet nipple and Kaner goes very still beneath him, barely bothering to breathe, like he’s close and doesn’t want to pop too early.

Jonny reaches over to the nightstand and pulls over Patrick’s bottle of Cetaphil, squeezing out a dollop into his palm. He gets it slicked up and reaches between them to take both their cocks in hand. Kaner looks at their dicks stretching Jonny’s hand as he pumps once and then darts his eyes back up to Jonny’s face. Kaner’s hot against him, longer and thicker. It feels surreal to press them together like this—the lotion he’s always had to use for Kaner greasing up his own cock as he pulls them off. At first he keeps his grip slow and measured, taking his time, getting used to the feel of Kaner’s dick in his hand again, even pressed up against the underside of his own. And then faster and faster as the muscles tighten up in Kaner’s throat. It’s hot under the blankets now, sweat rolling down his spine, and Kaner’s started thrusting up into Jonny’s grip, rocking him forward. Jonny has the sudden image of Kaner fucking him, just like this, with Jonny on top. It sends a little frisson of fear through him, even as he finds himself pulsing out over his hand, coming like a shot.

Kaner curse beneath him, abs all painted up with Jonny’s come. He’s breathing hard, chewing desperately at his lower lip, fingers tracing over the shifting tendons in Jonny’s forearm like he’s trying to make sure it’s real. Jonny somehow manages to reorder the scattered pieces of his brain and remembers to keep jerking him off, fascinated as always by the sight of his big hand around Kaner’s big dick. Kaner doesn’t last much longer. He drags Jonny down by his neck, about to lean in for a kiss when the last stroke over the head of his cock sends him over the edge and aborts the motion. He drops back, cheek pressed to the pillow, an expression like pain crossing his face.

Jonny hovers over him, staring down at him before it becomes too much and he rolls off to rest in the middle of the bed. The covers are all kicked out of order now. His skin is still hot enough he doesn’t care.

“Where’d you go?” Patrick asks, after a moment.

When Jonny turns his head, there are only a few inches between him and Kaner. “Hmm?”

“When you came,” Kaner says, turning over onto his side with an effortful groan. “What were you thinking about?”

Jonny feels a different heat go through him this time—embarrassment and shame and yes, desire. He has to shut his eyes against Patrick’s curious face. “I thought about...” He clears his throat. What is there to lose at this point? Time to call a spade a spade. “I thought about you fucking me.”

Kaner stares at him, lips parted, and then rolls over on top of Jonny, pinning him down to the mattress—it’s the most energy he’s ever seen from Kaner in the aftermath of coming. “Are you serious?”

Jonny shuts his eyes again. “Yes,” he tells him.

“You called me Patrick,” Kaner says nonsensically, pushing his thumb into the corner of Jonny’s mouth.

Jonny shrugs. He doesn’t know how to explain that ‘Kaner’ hadn’t really seemed appropriate in that moment. It wasn’t a conscious choice, though, not something premeditated. He smiles, Kaner’s thumb moving with him. “You liked it.”

He opens his eyes in time to see the way Patrick flushes at that, which doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here. “Isn’t that your name?” Jonny jokes clumsily.

“Yeah,” Patrick says. His lips quirk. “I don’t know if you’ve ever said it though, I thought you didn’t know it.”

Jonny squints up at him and scoffs. “I’ve said your name before, Patrick. On camera tons of times, for one.”

“Okay, Jonathan,” Patrick says.

Jonny rolls over him so he can grin down at his face. “You’ve definitely never called me that.” He brushes their lips together, but they’re both smiling too much to really kiss. “Patrick,” Jonny mutters, right into his ear.

“Shut up,” Patrick laughs, twitching underneath him.

“I feel like I’ve got something to prove now,” Jonny says. He shifts back onto his side. He’s starting to cool down now, noticing the chill of the bedroom on his skin where he isn’t pressed against Patrick.

Patrick stretches and then relaxes back into the mattress. “Nope,” he yawns. He’s starting to look sleepy, eyes half-lidded, hair tangled on the pillow.

Jonny feels unutterably fond, staring at his familiar face. He reaches down and pulls at the sheets, untwisting them from Patrick’s ridiculously expensive comforter to lay the covers smoothly over both of them. Patrick’s basically asleep by the time Jonny finishes, the one-two punch of jet lag and an orgasm taking him down for the count. Jonny isn’t quite there yet. It’s barely nine pm, and his body is still buzzing with the aftermath while his mind is preoccupied with turning over what just happened. He thought for sure Patrick was turning him down. Patrick’s clutch for Jonny, though, he always delivers in the big moments. Maybe Jonny should have expected this, but it had been a heavy, scary thing to carry around and he’s always done his best to deal in absolutes. You will get drafted. You will make the roster. You will get the ice time. Anything less than certain, he tries not to bargain on.

“I’m gonna stay, okay?” Jonny says quietly. Patrick doesn’t say anything, but his hand moves under the covers to rest on Jonny’s thigh.

In the morning, Jonny wakes up to an empty room, thin gray light only just filtering through the half-open shades. He feels groggy in the unfamiliar bed and didn’t sleep soundly, unaccustomed to sharing, though Patrick’s bed is big enough that they hardly even brushed elbows last night. He sits up. If Patrick made a run for it again, Jonny’s going to do something extreme. He thought they’d worked something out last night, even though the details were vague. He’s not doing that again. His heart can’t take the adrenaline.

He stumbles upright and heads for the door, shivering. It’s like a meat-locker in this entire apartment. Jonny’s all for being energy-conscious, but Patrick better turn the thermostat back on sometime soon. He finds him in the kitchen, and that split second of relief gets buried beneath the need to say, crankily, “Turn on your friggin’ heat, Patrick. Jesus.”

Patrick was fiddling with his coffee maker, but he looks up then and grins. “I’ve missed you in the mornings, Toews. Skype just couldn’t do you justice.” He turns his attention back to filling the carafe with water.

“Why are you up so early?” Jonny complains, crossing to lean against the counter near him with his arms crossed. It’s not exactly where he was when Patrick jumped him last night, but close enough.

Patrick flicks his eyes sideways, trailing them gratifyingly across Jonny’s naked chest. “It’s afternoon in Switzerland. You can go back to sleep though. I’ll even turn on the heat for you. Or you could go put some clothes on, you nudist.”

“Really?” Jonny says, unimpressed. “Back to that?”

Patrick flushes slightly, lips twitching. “You’re the one complaining about being cold!” he protests. He shifts over and grabs two mugs from the hooks under his cabinets, brushing against Jonny as he moves. He sets them down near the coffeemaker and turns to face Jonny with one hand braced on the counter.

Patrick has always possessed a specific sort of reserve, and Jonny’s feeling it now, watching him worry at his lower lip. Any other morning after, Jonny would know how to proceed. As usual, Patrick is in his own category. He shifts closer and uncrosses his arms, then decides to hell with it. He reaches out and wraps his arm around Patrick, palm spread across the small of his back, and feels the breath he lets out before sliding into the gentle pressure Jonny exerts to align their bodies.

“Good morning,” Jonny says. He ducks his head down and brushes their lips together, Patrick’s body heat bleeding through his t-shirt where their bodies are touching. They make out lazily while the coffee brews. Jonny still feels sleepy and a little slow, content to work his way closer and closer, draping more of his weight onto Patrick’s sturdy body while he and Patrick explore each other. Jonny’s never had that luxury before, always had to be aware of his own size, but Patrick can take it.

Eventually, Patrick pulls away. They tried to keep it light out of consideration for his stitches, but his lips are still red and slick, holding Jonny’s attention. They form into a smirk, and then Patrick says, “I guess I can think of a few other ways to warm you up.”

Jonny groans, dropping his head onto Patrick’s shoulder. Did he ask for this? He’s starting to regret his life choices.

The heat comes on when Patrick has Jonny stretched out on the bed, exploring the line of his neck with his teeth. “Easy, I’m not your fucking mouthguard,” Jonny hisses.

“Always gotta tell me what to do, huh?” Patrick laughs, but switches to open-mouthed kisses instead.

Jonny’s sweating when he rolls his hips up, frotting against Patrick, heading toward frantic. They both groan when Jonny gets his hands around Patrick’s ass and drags him down as he grinds up.

“God, you always,” Patrick says, going up on his forearms as he works his cock against Jonny’s in a sinuous repeated motion. “I could always tell,” he pants. “When you were close. I could tell.” He’s staring so intently at Jonny’s face that he has to turn his head away and close his eyes as he thrusts up. “Like that,” Patrick says. “God, like that,” and Jonny comes with Patrick’s wrecked voice in his ear, swearing profanely.

Patrick’s shifting restlessly when Jonny opens his eyes. He uses his grip on Patrick’s ass to urge him on. “Keep going,” he says hoarsely.

“Fuck, Jonny,” Patrick moans. The muscles of his buttocks flex and tense against Jonny’s fingers as he really starts to roll his hips. The glancing pressure on Jonny’s softening cock is just starting to edge into too much when Patrick makes one last sharp stroke. His head drops between his shoulders as he spills onto Jonny’s belly.

They both just lie on the bed for a while afterward, Jonny basking in the warmth of the room as his body calms down. He looks over when he notices Patrick twitch once, like he’s heading toward sleep. Sure enough, Patrick’s eyes are closed, face slackening. Jonny taps him on the stomach. He gasps, eyes flying open.

“Nope,” Jonny says, and chivvies him upright and into the shower. When they get out, the coffee is still warm and it’s a much more reasonable time for breakfast.

Patrick starts looking more awake on his second cup, enough that Jonny’s instantly suspicious when he leans back in his chair and runs his tongue over his lower lip, pressing delicately at the corner of his mouth in a way that almost distracts from the sly smile that follows afterward.

“So,” he says. “Jerkoff wins ended the lockout, huh? Told you it was lucky.”

Jonny pitches his napkin across the table at him. “Don’t make me regret this,” Jonny says.


Training camp starts up and when it ends only a few short days later Jonny’s pleased to see that nobody’s dragging ass. The Rockford boys have been playing all season and Patrick’s in fantastic shape, soaring through battle drills, making them chase him up and down the ice. During a quiet moment, while Patrick’s stick handling a puck by himself in the corner, Jonny skates up and steals it away from him, starting a game of keepaway along the boards. Patrick quickly regains the puck only to lose it again when Jonny poke checks it away from him. Back and forth it goes, until they’re mostly laughing and shoving at each other. Finally, Kitchen breaks it up by shouting at them to get their asses in gear.

Afterwards, Jonny catches Seabs staring at him speculatively.

“What?” he asks, tapping him in the side with his elbow.

Seabs shrugs and shakes his head. “I dunno, man,” he says, but he’s still got a weird look on his face.

So Jonny crosses his hands at the top of his stick and lays his chin upon them. “No, seriously. What?” he asks again.

“You’re like a dog with a bone.” Seabs rolls his eyes and shoves at Jonny’s helmeted head. “It used to be sometimes, when you first came up? I dunno, it felt like there was us and then there was you and Kaner off doing your thing.” Jonny raises his brows and Seabs shrugs again. “Kinda felt like that again just now. Hadn’t seen it in a while.”

Jonny looks down the ice at where Kaner’s taking pitiless shots at Razor and thinks about it. They’d certainly never meant to set themselves apart. That had mostly been done for them, making the team after that camp, getting the ice time that the other young guys couldn’t even dream of, let alone command right out of the gate, rooming together, all the fucking promos like the front office knew they were money even before Jonny and Patrick had any idea what that meant.

Patrick slides to a stop in front of him, spraying him with snow, and says, “We’re going to Shanghai Terrace tonight. You and me, I’ve decided.”

He skates off again, chasing a loose puck, before Jonny can even respond. Jonny calls after him, “Yes, your majesty!” with a beleaguered laugh.

When he looks back over at Seabs, Seabs nods at him. “See? Only person I’ve ever seen you take orders from.”

Jonny snorts. “I’m not that bad...”

“Yeah, okay, you listen to the coaching staff.” Seabs laughs at him. “Sometimes.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Jonny scoffs, bumping him back into the boards and then accepting his retaliatory strike as they shove each other around. After a second, they slow down so they’re just standing elbow-to-elbow and watching the action on the far end of the ice. Jonny says, not looking at him, “Do you think it’s a problem? Me and Kaner?”

Seabs gives him a stick-tap on the back of his calf. “Never has been before,” he says cheerfully, and skates off.

Jonny and Patrick have eaten a lot of meals together, though not without company as a rule. They end up debating which dumplings to order, because Jonny wants to order the foie gras and duck dumplings mostly because they sounds crazy, and Patrick wants boring ones.

"I know what foie gras is," Patrick says. "We're not gonna have a repeat of the cow udder here."

Jonny laughs. "That was a good one, eh?" He shakes his head. "I don't know why you come here if you won't try anything fun."

"I like what I like," Patrick says, wrinkling his nose.

Jonny swirls the ice cubes in his drink, looking at him across the table, and decides he likes this, being here with Patrick. When the waiter comes to take their order, he tips his tumbler toward Patrick, indicating that he can start. Patrick, triumphant, orders shrimp dumplings, pork potstickers, and beef chow fun. He makes a face when Jonny orders the pork belly and Peking duck salad.

"You'll like it," Jonny says after he's handed his menu over the their waiter. "Pork belly's like bacon."

"If I don't I'll just get more dumplings," Patrick says.

"You're paying," Jonny says flippantly. "I assume, since you issued the invitation."

Patrick shrugs, but doesn't protest.

There’s a group of girls at another table, talking loudly and laughing, enjoying themselves. Jonny assumes they’ve just come from work with the way they’re dressed. He watches one of them reach out and easily stroke another girl’s hair back behind her ear, exchanging fond looks, and remembers Kaner’s Biel threesome.

He clears his throat. “Did you ever sleep with those two girls in Biel again?”

Kaner gives him a tragically mournful expression. “We tried to hook up one more time, but it kept interfering with my schedule.”

"How sad for you," Jonny says.

"Yeah, yeah," Patrick says, good-natured.

"I still don't get your logic," Jonny says. He glances around, but they're not seated close to any other tables. "You know." He makes quotation marks with his fingers. "First threesome."

Patrick blinks at him. Jonny raises his brows. “You all right there?”

Patrick clears his throat, fiddling with his napkin. “I gotta be real with you, bro, I’m starting to wonder if you were using me as your method to pick up chicks.” He grins cheekily.

“Yes, right, the only two times I’ve ever taken a woman home you were there—because it was so much easier to do it that way, with your stupidass involved.”

“I dunno, Toews,” Patrick says, leaning back in his chair, “only person I’ve ever seen you get laid with is—oh hey wait for it, wait for it—me!”

“You’re not gonna bait me,” Jonny replies dryly.

“No no, of course not. You’re very successful with the ladies. I’m just saying, both times I was the one doing all the work.”

Jonny snorts. “Patrick, is this your dumbfuck way of asking me to pick up while you watch?” He takes a long swallow from his water glass, holding Patrick’s gaze. He sets the glass down and props his elbows on the table so he can lean forward. “Because, you could just ask.”

Patrick laughs. “We both know you like to be watched.”

And just like that, Jonny loses control of the situation. It takes everything in his power not to drop his eyes in embarrassment. He wishes he weren’t so transparent. He shakes his head. “Pick a girl, then, asswipe, and you’ve got your wish.”

Patrick snickers, delighted. “But Jonny, just earlier today you were whining about how draining training camp was. Sure you can handle the strain?”

Jonny kicks him under the table. “You’re pushing it, Peeks.”

Patrick bears the pain manfully. “Tonight then, after we leave here. There’s a bar on Wabash.”

“Fine,” Jonny tells him easily enough.

The first order of dumplings arrives and conversation ceases as the waiter makes space at the table. Seeing the steaming plates of food, Jonny realizes he’s hungrier than he'd thought.

“Are you gonna be okay?” Patrick asks after the waiter has left. Jonny’s just getting ready to tell him that he thinks he can handle having sex with a beautiful woman when Patrick clarifies, “With your head, I mean.”

Jonny stares at him, a little stung. He stabs one of Patrick’s dumplings with his chopsticks, stealing it. “I said I was fine. I wouldn’t lie to you.”

“No I didn’t—I didn’t mean it that way,” Patrick replies, pushing the plate of dumplings closer to him. “I just—all I could think about in Switzerland was how much I missed hockey and how stupidly fucking glad I was that the lockout was happening.”

“What?” Jonny replied, dumpling suspended halfway to his mouth.

“You were still having symptoms in November, asshole,” Patrick points out. “You were nowhere near 100% at the playoffs and not a single one of us had any idea.”

Jonny thinks the fans might’ve after that disastrous first-round exit, although hanging their post-season losses on his concussion isn’t fair to the rest of the guys. Jonathan Toews does not make or break the Blackhawks alone, no matter what the media infuriatingly likes to say.

“What about you?” Jonny shoots back, fighting back a desire to close his hand around Patrick’s left wrist and push in along the bone, as if he might be able to feel the evidence of any lingering trauma.

Patrick’s lips quirk. He follows Jonny’s eyes to his hand. “Yeah,” he says and leaves it at that. They both know it. The way things were at the end of last season—who could say if Patrick would’ve come back the same without the extended rest. Jonny wishes he hadn’t gone to Wisconsin and drank himself half-to-death because he was too damn scared to talk to somebody about it, but that’s a yelling match for another day. Maybe another century.

In the bar, Jonny makes Patrick buy him a drink for implying that he wouldn’t be able to get it up. It’s actually more of a club, which figures. More Patrick’s hook-up scene than Jonny’s. He’s already resigned himself to dancing at least a little bit. It’s more daunting than he’d expected, to survey the crowd looking for someone who might want to go home with both of them. The other two times had been so spur-of-the-moment, not much forethought required.

He takes a fortifying sip of his drink and tilts his head to one side and the other, stretching out his neck. Patrick starts laughing, hanging onto his shoulder.

“Ready? Got your game face on?” he shouts.

“Suck my dick.” Jonny elbows him off. Patrick raises his eyebrows, biting down on a lewd smile, and Jonny nearly chokes on his next sip. That’s something to think about, anyway.

He and Patrick get drawn into two different circles on the dance floor for a few songs before Jonny ends up back at the bar, watching Patrick dancing in close with a blonde in an almost backless dress. Patrick’s fingertips are flirting down her spine, stopping just above the edge of the cut-out back. Her name is Dana, Jonny finds out when Patrick brings her over. Jonny buys her a drink, but doesn’t go out of his way to encourage her to stick around, and she wanders back into the crowd quickly.

“I thought I was supposed to do all the work,” Jonny says, forestalling the aggrieved look on Patrick’s face.

“Suit yourself,” Patrick says.

Jonny’s on his own again when he meets Michelle, who snags his shirt-front to invite him onto the dance floor with her after he saves her from falling in her high heels when she’s knocked off-balance by someone lurching toward the bar. She’s got masses of curly dark hair that she keeps lifting off her slender neck, and no problems grinding her ass back against him as they dance.

At the transition to the next song, she wiggles around and props a hand on his chest, laughing up at him. “You’re a better white knight than a dancer.”

Christ, Patrick’s gonna love her. “Thanks,” Jonny says, smiling.

She turns her back on him again, then glances coyly over her shoulder, reaching back for his hands and placing them back on her hips. “Here, just hold onto me.”

As the beat picks up, Jonny sees Patrick wending his way toward them through the crowd. He can’t quite read the expression on his face, the light is too uncertain, but he gets close enough that Jonny can bend down toward the curve of Michelle’s neck and tell her, “Michelle, this is my buddy Patrick. He might be a better dancer, no promises though.”

She lets go of one of his hands to curl her arm around Patrick’s neck as Patrick’s hands slide down her sides to meet Jonny’s. At the end of the song, Patrick leans in and says something Jonny doesn’t hear that makes Michelle throw her head back and laugh, collapsing back into Jonny’s chest. His fingers are still tangled with Patrick’s on her hips.

Jonny says, “Can we buy you a drink?”


It starts out good. Michelle’s a good kisser, and her breasts are as beautiful as the rest of her. Jonny dips his head down to trace his lips across the edge of her bra, reveling in her soft skin under his mouth. He hears Patrick’s rough intake of breath when he closes his mouth over her nipple through the thin fabric, a contrast with Michelle’s long sigh. When he tilts his head up, he can see Patrick staring at him over her shoulder. Abruptly, Jonny remembers doing the same thing to Patrick, though without any barrier between them, and he wants to rise up on his toes and kiss him, trace that sound back to its source. He doesn’t know if he’s allowed to, though. They didn’t exactly lay out the rules here. He lifts his mouth to Michelle’s instead, kissing her as deep as he wants to kiss Patrick.

She’s almost as tall as him in her heels and when he spins her around to unzip her dress and she goes to kick them off, he forestalls her. “Leave ‘em,” he says, coasting a hand up the inside of her thigh to brush at the lace at the juncture of her thighs. Her legs tremble as he works his fingers under her panties, stroking across her slick inner lips before circling her clit.

“Are we just gonna hang out here?” she asks, head falling back to his shoulder, gesturing expansively at his foyer. The words are steady, but he feels a tremor go through her when he circles her clit a second time.

Michelle purrs, arching catlike within his arms. She reaches for Patrick, drawing him in to meet her mouth. The filthy wet sound of their tongues echoes loud in his hallway. She has to bend her head, just the way Jonny would to do it.

“Here, like this,” she says when she pulls back, and takes Patrick’s hand, directing it between her legs. For a moment, there are too many fingers—Jonny’s rubbing over her clit, and her hand moving Patrick’s wide strong palm where she wants it—but Patrick curves his middle and index back, sliding them inside her, and they make it work.

She moans, spine stiffening against Jonny’s chest, widening her stance to give them room. “Keep going,” she tells Jonny, urging him on with a little roll of her hips. Jonny continues stroking her, working her wetness back into her skin. Sometimes, accidentally, he slides against Patrick’s knuckles as they twist inside her and she moans hard, head lolling on his shoulder.

Jonny tugs the cup of her bra down with his unoccupied left hand, sweeping his thumb over the nipple, watching it stiffen up. Patrick exhales, cheeks visibly pink even the dark hallway, and bends to suck the rosy nipple into his mouth.

They bring her off that way, pinned on their hands, her dress bunched around her waist, the smell of her tight little cunt mixing with the faint gardenia of her perfume. When she comes, barely a few minutes later, it’s with Patrick kissing her, letting her cling to his shoulders while she grinds back against Jonny’s dick with purpose.

She tightens her legs on their hands, stilling them when she’s done. Her breaths come hard. Jonny stares down at the rise and fall of her breasts, popping up over the edge of her bra, her panties, pulled askew around her thighs so that they had room to maneuver. He and Patrick are still completely dressed.

“Where’s the bed,” she asks after a moment. Jonny pulls his fingers free and wipes her wetness on her other peaked nipple, watching Patrick follow the motion of his hand with hungry eyes.

Patrick clears his throat and nods back over his shoulder. “After you,” he says, voice rough. The sound of it goes straight to Jonny’s gut.

She makes a pleased noise and detangles herself from them, shimmying her hips so that her dress falls to floor in a puddle. She takes a moment to push the panties down off her thighs and to unfasten her bra, but she leaves the heels on, just like Jonny asked, clicking purposefully down the hall off to his bedroom.

“Well?” she says over her shoulder. He notices now there’s a tattoo curving down her spine, into the small of her back, but he can’t make out what it is.

She lies down on his bed, an arm propping her head up, watching them as they undress. She doesn’t even blink when Patrick steps free of his shorts, monolithic cock bobbing between his thighs.

“It’s your show, Toews,” Patrick says, fisting himself gently, eyes on Michelle.

She smiles and brings her feet up the bed, heels leaving dents in the covers, and spreads her thighs, giving them a nice view of her perfectly waxed pussy, lips all flushed up. “Taze?” she asks lazily, as she strokes over herself.

“My last name,” Jonny clarifies. When they first came up, Patrick’s peculiar habit of turning his dentalized fricatives liquid had been at its strongest. He doubts the Tazer nickname ever would’ve come into being if it weren’t for that. He knee-walks up the bed until he’s between her parted legs, running a hand up her thigh and over her ribs to cup one full breast. She curves upwards, breasts lifted for his perusal, and pulls him down to her, running her hands down his back as she brushes their mouths together. The mattress dips as Patrick sits down beside them.

When her legs come up around his hips, her mons grinding against his pelvis, the head of his dick slipping tormentingly between her folds, Patrick makes a low sound in the back of his throat. “God, you two look—“ he breaks off. “You gonna fuck her for me, Jonny?”

She cants her hips up in another teasing motion, and he glides slickly over her again, head of his dick catching on her clit if her shiver is any indication. If he flexes against her, he’ll be inside, that simple. Patrick presses a condom into his hand before he can even ask for it and Jonny looks over at him as he’s rolling it down his erection. Patrick’s staring at him through narrowed eyes, lower lip red and swollen like he’s been chewing at it. Jonny feels another strong impulse to lean over and kiss him again and abruptly forces it down, taking himself in hand and positioning himself at her entrance.

He hesitates, looking down at her, and Patrick asks, “You gonna show me you can make a girl come on your cock?”

Jonny drops his head and blows out a breath. The first thing that comes to his mind is to tell Patrick to get the fuck over here and Jonny will show him about coming on his dick. As soon as the image overtakes him, it’s all he can imagine. Fuck. Why they hell are they doing this again?

After a long pause, Michelle bites at her lip, wriggling underneath him, and Jonny gets with the program. She moans gratifyingly as he pushes inside, thighs coming up to grip his middle. On his first forward stroke, she tightens her legs around him, holding him inside her, before letting him pull back. She’s wet enough that every thrust inside her makes sloppy noises, even as she clenches down so tight around him. One dangerous stiletto catches on the back of his thigh, drawing a stinging line down it, and Jonny thrusts in harder than he meant to, feeling her ripple and pulse around him.

It doesn’t take long before she’s clinging to his shoulders, nails digging in as he fucks her, pulling all the way out and directing his dick with his hand in short sharp stabs that are aimed to hit her clitoris with every time he pushes back inside.

“Jonny,” Patrick says, “I can’t see anything.”

Michelle whines when he rolls them over, pulling her on top of him. She rises up, thighs clenching around his hips, and then lowers herself again. Jonny’s eyes practically cross at that tight, liquid heat around his cock.

The mattress shifts as Patrick moves up behind her, fondling one of her breasts while his other hand just slide along her stomach as she moves.

“How’s that?” Jonny asks breathlessly. “Is that better?”

Michelle grinds down, rubbing her clit against him as she leans down and kisses him. He can hear Patrick say, “Shit, you two look perfect—” before he cuts himself off. Jonny opens his eyes and sees Michelle with her head turned to the side as she and Patrick kiss. Patrick goes quiet after that, though, occasionally dipping his fingers down into Michelle’s folds.

Jonny runs his hands up her thighs, feeling how her muscles are moving as she rides him, trying to get his head back into it. He’s never had trouble coming from fucking unless he’s uselessly wasted, but instead of getting closer it just feels like the tide of his orgasm keeps receding further and further from him the more Michelle moves. She’s started making high-pitched, desperate little gasps at each down-stroke. Her cunt tightens on him in little fluttery beats of pressure.

“Are you close?” she asks, hair sticking to her sweaty cheeks.

Jonny groans, frustrated. It had been so hot at the club, him and Patrick dancing with her together. He doesn’t understand how Patrick feels so much farther away here, on Jonny’s bed.

He looks over Michelle’s shoulder at where Patrick is watching them. He doesn’t know what his face is saying, but Patrick moves then, flattening himself out on the bed on Jonny’s left side. He cups Jonny’s face in his strong hands and kisses him. Jonny opens his mouth gratefully and lets Patrick stroke their tongues together. Michelle is fucking him and Patrick is kissing him, and it gets all confused in his head then, like maybe he’s fucking Patrick too, like it’s him who’s riding him, clenching down on his cock each time. He comes finally, shuddering, Patrick kissing him through it, with his hand wrapped tight around Patrick’s wrist.

He doesn’t let go for a long time. Michelle climbs off of him and settles on his other side, stretching out her legs, and Jonny honest-to-god has to work to keep from passing out. He’s exhausted, not just physically, but mentally. As it is, he only rouses himself when he hears Patrick and Michelle having a low conversation over his head that ends in Patrick saying, “I think he’s down for the count.”

“I’m skipping the gym tomorrow,” Michelle says. The mattress flexes as she bends and kisses Jonny on the cheek, then Patrick.

“I’m up,” Jonny mutters, opening his eyes and releasing Patrick’s wrist.

“Sure, sure,” Patrick says, passing a hand over Jonny’s hair. He sits up as Michelle rises from the bed, starting to walk with slightly wobbly steps toward the door. Jonny watches, still feeling dazed, as Patrick slides back into his shorts and follows her into the hallway. Jonny forces himself to deal with the condom before lying back onto the pillows.

Outside, Patrick says, “Here, want me to get the back of that?” and then their voices trail away. Shortly afterward, the main door to his apartment opens and closes.

Jonny falls asleep when Patrick comes back to bed. He wakes up the next morning with Patrick snugged up tight behind him, head ducked down on the pillow they’re sharing, like he’s trying to hide behind Jonny’s shoulder to get away from the light streaming in through the curtains Jonny never got around to closing.

Patrick’s breath is feathering across Jonny’s shoulder blades. Jonny hasn’t been awake for long when the rhythm of it changes as Patrick wakes up. A thought has been slowly surfacing as Jonny blinked at the shifting patterns of light and shadow on his carpet.

“Hey,” he says, throat froggy with sleep. “You didn’t get off last night.”

Patrick shrugs, hair scratching along Jonny’s neck. After a second, Jonny rolls over to face him. “Didn’t mean to leave you high and dry.”

Patrick turns onto his back and stretches his arms above his head, cracking his spine. “You didn’t get off the last couple of times we did that.”

Jonny stares at him for a long moment, unsure what to say to that. Patrick thought he just—what, walked out of the room completely unbothered?

“With Rachel and, uh. Amy?” he checks, just to be sure.

Patrick nods, knuckling at his eyes. “Seemed fair,” he yawns.

“Jesus,” Jonny says, awed. “You’re such a dumbass.”

“What’s that suppos—” Patrick starts, and then yelps when Jonny mercilessly flips the covers down. “Hey!” He’s tenting his briefs with his morning wood. Jonny works his way down the bed, tracing his hand down the middle of Patrick’s chest, along his abs, and down the ridge of his hard-on. Patrick lifts his hips into Jonny’s palm as he moves, so at least his body isn’t as much of an idiot as the guy behind the steering wheel. He gets Patrick’s underwear off, then shoulders his way between his legs, and licks his palm. He strokes Patrick’s cock a few time just to get the lay of the land.

“I haven’t done this before,” he says warningly, “so don’t be an asshole.” Patrick’s staring at him, open-mouthed, and Jonny tries to tamp down on a laugh. “Tell me if I do something wrong,” he adds, feeling generous, before he lowers his mouth to Patrick’s dick.

It’s not actually that different in some ways than going down on a girl. The little floods of precome are like the rush of wetness when a girl’s getting wetter. He can feel how Patrick responds to every move of his hand and his mouth. He can’t take much more than the head and even that stretches his lips wide open, so he works the rest with his fist. When he pulls off, wiping his chin on his shoulder, Patrick’s stomach tenses like he’s trying not to move. Jonny returns to his dick, running his lips along the ridge of the circumcision scar. The difference in texture fascinates him. He opens his mouth again and goes down.

“Shit, look at you,” Patrick says above him. One of his hands comes down and brushes along Jonny’s cheek before falling back to the bed. “God, the way your mouth looks, so fucking filthy, Toews.”

Jonny pulls away so just his lips are pressed against Patrick’s slit, slow, so he can sink back onto the head, and Patrick groans like that visual is bringing him actual pain. This time when Jonny backs off, Patrick’s hips flex upward.

“Like that, huh?” Jonny says. He brings his forearm up to band across Patrick’s abdomen, holding him down. He’s not sure enough of his skills here to deal with any wild movements. He keeps his other hand ringed around Patrick’s dick. Patrick’s all the way hard now. Jonny remembers that blowjob after the Cup win, how that girl had licked at the underside of the corona and he’d almost come on the spot. Patrick’s frenulum is exposed. It might be too much.

“Tell me if this doesn’t work,” he warns, and tilts his head so he can flicker his tongue lightly over that line of skin, almost like he was working over a clit.

Patrick breaks into a stream of swearing as his dick jumps in Jonny’s grasp, precome beading over the flushed red head, his hands tightening into fists on the sheets. Jonny backs off and swirls his tongue over the head, then traces down over the scar tissue, running his tongue over it, fascinated. Patrick’s head thunks down on the pillow, and his thighs shake against Jonny’s shoulders. It’s as much of an ego-trip as when he goes down on a girl. More, maybe, because Patrick seems so overwhelmed. Jonny’s grinding down on the mattress. Both of his hands are busy or he’d be jerking himself off right now. Patrick’s chest lifts and falls like a bellows as Jonny explores the vein on the underside of his cock with his mouth, keeping a punishingly-tight grip on the base of his shaft.

Patrick knuckles at Jonny’s shoulder and runs a shaking hand over his hair. Jonny lifts his head. Patrick’s mouth is bitten red, and he’s flushed all the way from his chest up to his cheeks.

Jonny licks at his lips. “You trying to tell me something?” he rasps. “You should just tell me.” He grins. “Like I don’t know what it’s like.”

“Jesus Christ,” Patrick groans. “Suck me then. Stop fucking teasing.” His hand goes to the nape of Jonny’s neck, but he still doesn’t push down, his strong fingers just cradling Jonny’s skull.

“Whatever you want,” Jonny says, meaning it embarrassingly sincerely.

He takes Patrick’s cock into his mouth again, and Patrick hisses out, “The way you take it so good, you should see yourself.” He sounds unhinged. Jonny loosens his grip on the shaft and starts moving his hand in time with his mouth sliding over the head, keeping a fast rhythm. Patrick moans, his fingers scrabbling in Jonny’s hair.

Jonny pulls off, working his hand as he presses Patrick’s cock toward his belly. This time he slides his palm all the way up to the head, and it pulses in his hand as Patrick tenses up and comes.

Jonny props his chin on his forearm across Patrick’s thighs. His lips are buzzing and his mouth feels parched. He’s also achingly hard and trying not to shift on the mattress.

“Christ, Jonny, get up here,” Patrick rasps. He’s still shaking a little bit, patting at Jonny’s cheek like he’s missing his fine motor skills. Jonny clambers up the bed, feeling scarcely more coordinated. “Hi, that was amazing,” Patrick mutters, nuzzling at Jonny’s face before kissing him deeply. Jonny rocks into him, rutting against his hip. He doesn’t need much, just Patrick’s wide palm closing around him and pulling steadily, before he’s spilling over Patrick’s hand and onto his stomach.

Jonny keeps catching Patrick’s eyes on him as they make their leisurely way through their morning. It doesn’t seem bad, but Jonny can’t tell what he’s thinking. The third time Jonny goes to read a headline off his phone to Patrick and finds him already looking at him, he raises his eyebrows. “What?” he asks.

Patrick coughs. “Nothing.”

Jonny sets down his phone. “You know. Both times, before? I jerked off after—god the first time I was so fucking terrified of you walking in.”

It feels risky, reopening this conversation, but he's bothered by Patrick thinking all these years that Jonny was just along for the ride. What did he think Jonny was getting out of it? Trying to get off yesterday with Michelle was the only time it had felt like work. Patrick hadn't seemed that into it either, despite the fact that it'd been his brilliant idea. And frankly, Jonny isn't in a hurry to repeat last night. He's hooked up with people before where the chemistry just vanished halfway through and he did what he had to not to be an asshole, but he's never come back for more. It seems like a waste of an evening he'd rather spend getting himself and Patrick off with no intermediaries.

He clears his throat. "Anyway," he says. "I was into it."

Patrick chews on his ever-present gum, then shrugs. “Okay,” he says mildly. “That’s good for the ego.”

Jonny squints at him for a second longer, but Patrick refuses to engage any further, tapping out a text message to one of his buddies back in Buffalo. He’s in a fantasy league with those guys and he’s been crushing all of them after managing to snap up Megatron, Jason Witten, and Arian Foster. It feels like Jonny can’t turn around without finding Patrick fiddling with his lineup. It’s Falcons vs. Seahawks and Texans vs. Patriots this coming Sunday and he’s been looking at player stats and making predictions all week.

After a moment Kaner fistpumps. “Yessss!”

“What?” Jonny asks.

“Matt Ryan just went up on the trade wire. I need him for Sunday’s game.”

Jonny snorts.


The season starts up and they ruin the Kings’ home opener. Patrick’s appropriately gleeful. They’re no longer rooming together, but that night, while Jonny’s talking on the phone with his mother, the connecting door suddenly opens up, revealing a sheepish looking Patrick.

“Hi?” he says, looking at Jonny. “Thought that sounded like you.”

Jonny laughs and says goodbye to his mother. “They put us in the rooms next to each other, eh?” He’d gone up to bed earlier and he hadn’t even noticed where they stuck Patrick.

“I guess so.” Patrick wanders in and collapses onto Jonny’s bed.

“I thought I just got rid of you,” Jonny objects. He knocks his knee into Patrick’s thigh.

“They knew you’d miss me,” Patrick says. He picks up the remote and starts flipping through channels on the TV Jonny had left on mute.

Jonny shakes his head. “Try again.” He reaches over to take the remote back, and Patrick switches hands, holding it away. “You have your own TV!” Jonny says, exasperated, but he’s already shifting his weight so he can strike.

“This one’s better,” Patrick says, grinning obnoxiously.

“That’s it,” Jonny says. He lunges as Patrick scrambles for the other side of the bed, laughing breathlessly. Those fussy little accent pillows fly everywhere. One slips under Patrick’s hand and he goes down onto the mattress, still clutching the remote. Things are just starting to get gratuitously handsy when someone knocks on Jonny's door. Jonny lifts his head from the bed, releasing his grip on Patrick's waist. Patrick slides off of him as the knock comes again.

Jonny gets up, tugging on his shirt and running a hand over his head to try and flatten his hair down as he walks to the door. When he opens it, Duncs is leaning against the doorframe, checking something on his phone.

"You still have that book I loaned you last week?" he says, and then looks up. He glances over Jonny's shoulder, eyebrows rising.

Jonny turns. Patrick is still on his bed, but he's just sitting cross-legged against the headboard, flipping through channels on the TV again. The bed's pretty destroyed, pillows scattered and coverlet hanging off the side. The connecting door to Patrick's room is hanging wide open.

Jonny clears his throat. "Sure. Finished it on the plane ride over here. You want it back?"

"Yeah," Duncs says. He waits as Jonny finds it in his bag and hands it over, then just shakes his head. "You two weirdos."

Jonny rolls his eyes and closes the door behind him. "I just gave him back a book about a guy who killed people in bathtubs," he complains, walking back toward Patrick. He glances in the full-length mirror as he passes. He looks pretty disheveled still, hair ruffled, color high on his face.

"That's what you get for raiding his library," Patrick says, passing the remote from hand to hand, staring at a slow-mo Ravens replay. He tosses the remote down and stands up. "Anyway, guess that's my cue." He wanders back toward the door to his room, clapping him on the shoulder as he passes. "Night, Toews."

"Goodnight, Kaner," Jonny says.

The door closes, leaving it silent in Jonny's room. A second later, the TV buzzes to life on Patrick’s side of the door. Jonny scrubs his hands over his face, then finishes pulling the bedcovers the rest of the way off to crumple on the floor, tossing two pillows back to the head of the bed. He clicks off the TV and stands next to the bed for a second, disquieted. He wouldn't have minded if Patrick had stayed, actually, finished what they were heading toward when Duncs interrupted. It might have crossed a line, though. Jonny doesn't know. This part he’s been leaving up to Patrick.


With so many games to fit into the compressed season, they’ve been busy. They keep picking up the W over and over and they haven’t lost in regulation since the season started. People on ESPN have been arguing over whether their point streak is more impressive than the one the Miami Heat have going.

When they lose in a shootout to Anaheim on home turf, their first game back in Chicago in two weeks, Jonny’s not exactly surprised. The team’s a little run down. Patrick’s visibly starting to fray and Jonny’s so horny he doesn’t know what to do with himself. The schedule has made it hard to hook up, which is not a first in his life, but Jonny ordinarily doesn’t have the person he wants to fuck skating beside him on the ice and in the dressing room within reach. It’s the perfect combination to make him crazy, Patrick right in front of him, potentially there for the taking.

After they wrap up with the beat reporters, Patrick’s subdued. Jonny know he’s probably blaming himself for those last two failed powerplays, on top of missing his shot in the shootout, but Fasth’s having a hot start and Patrick has to know that.

Jonny falls into step with him as they head to the parking lot.

Patrick glances at him sideways. "Hey," he says quietly.

"Hey, you going in my direction?” Jonny asks, the urge to tug Patrick over by his shoulder and draw him into the filthiest kiss he can muster welling up within him.

Patrick rubs at the back of his neck. He hesitates for a moment, but when he meets Jonny’s eyes he’s smiling. “I suppose I could do that.”

When they get back to his place, Jonny’s gratified to find that he’s not the only one who’s desperate for it. Patrick has him up against the wall of his foyer between heartbeats, palm spread in the middle of his chest and thigh pressed between Jonny’s. Fingers sunk in Jonny’s short hair, he kisses like he’s starving for it.

“I hope you didn’t have any plans,” he says, breathless, pulling back to work his fingers at Jonny’s belt. “Nowhere to be.”

Jonny chuckles, but it’s raw, overwhelmed. He’s missed this—Patrick’s hands and mouth on him. He considers how many times he’d nearly thrown the door to Patrick’s room open in the last few days. How many elevators and small nooks and crannies he considered jumping him in. How many times he took himself in hand and thought about Patrick’s dextrous fingers closing around him.

“I hear my bed’s a nice place to be this time of year,” Jonny replies.

“Oh yeah?” Patrick smirks back. “What’s the weather like?”

“Hmm,” Jonny replies, closing his palm on Patrick’s dick. With his other hand he reaches along the wall and punches up his thermostat. “Clear skies, high seventies—hot enough to take your clothes off.”

They stop being silly when Jonny gets them both naked, flat on the bed. Slow making out edges into rubbing off on each other, a little frantic, a lot messy, the lube that Jonny keeps for hookups slick between their bellies. Patrick keeps shaking and shuddering under him, these high little whining noises coming out of his mouth.

“What, did you give up jerking off for Lent?” Jonny jokes.

“Very funny, Ash Wednesday is tomorrow,” Patrick replies, “Besides, like I’d ever—” Patrick reaches down, both hands going to Jonny’s ass to manhandle him right where he wants him. One of his thumbs accidentally skates across the cleft, not even particularly close to his hole, but Jonny’s helpless to stop the groan that comes out his mouth at the shocking zing of sensation. His muscles clench up tight in response. Patrick stares up at him, face open with surprise as he finishes his sentence, “—be that stupid.”

Jonny breathes hard, body going tense. Patrick catches his chin and says, "You like that?" right hand kneading one of Jonny’s cheeks. Jonny doesn’t have a coherent response for him. He tears his face out of Patrick’s grip, dropping his forehead to his shoulder. Patrick’s fingertips hover inches away from his cleft, but it’s enough of a tease that Jonny trembles hard.

Patrick pushes his hand between their bodies, slicking his fingers in the sticky lube there and then swiping them more deliberately down between Jonny’s cheeks.

“Ungh,” is all Jonny manages as Patrick presses over his hole with his middle and index fingers. He can’t help the inexorable tilt of his hips backwards. He’s relaxed enough, turned on enough, that the tips sink in without resistance.

“Oh, fuck, Jonny,” Patrick whispers and then he’s swiping his hand between them again, picking up more lube and then bringing his hand back, carefully pushing those two fingers inside.

Jonny gasps against his throat, rendered useless by Patrick’s hands on him. Patrick curls around him, fingers crooked inside. The tip of his ring finger runs teasingly over the tight furl of his opening, like he’s considering pushing it inside.

“Do it,” Jonny whispers, pushing back against it. Patrick moans like Jonny’s the one taking him apart and then slowly forces the third finger inside. Jonny’s had his own fingers inside him and he’s let girls finger him before. The sensation of Patrick’s broad knuckles twisting inside him, thrusting in and out in steady pushes, is more intense by half. When Patrick rolls them over, Jonny goes easily.

“Oh, god, you’re so hot for this,” Patrick breathes, braced over him. He catches Jonny’s mouth in a kiss, biting at his lower lip, made sloppy and rough in his eagerness. When Patrick pushes his fingers back inside, he draws his knees up around Patrick’s waist, keeping him in close. In the same breath, he breaks the kiss, determined to see what Patrick’s hand looks like, long fingers disappearing inside. Patrick curses again and crooks them upward, dragging across that spot inside that makes Jonny’s hips come up off the mattress, seeking more if it.

Restless, Patrick shifts above him, drawing his attention. His cock is angry and red, hot as the tip glances over Jonny’s belly, head wet with precome. His face is pained, need twisting up his expression. Jonny’s not sure he’s ever seen him like that. He looks down between them, at Patrick’s dick so flushed and hard, and has to look away, teeth sunk into his lower lip. Fuck, he wants that inside him.

"Did you bring anything?" Jonny asks urgently.

Patrick breathes out unsteadily. "Yes."

Jonny unwinds his legs from Patrick's waist, lets them drop back down on the bed. Patrick stays still for another second, until Jonny nudges at his shoulder, and then he slides his fingers free and shoves off the bed to find his wallet inside his pants pocket. Jonny shivers, muscles tightening and releasing. He runs his palm down his stomach and wraps his hand around his dick, just cradling himself for a second.

Patrick pitches the condom at Jonny's chest and crawls back between his legs.

"Really?" Jonny says, taking hold of the package before he pulls Patrick back in to bite at his irreverent smile, but it actually helps, pulls him back from that frantic edge he was riding.

"Have you done this before?" Patrick asks, his hand kneading at Jonny's ass as he rolls their hips together. "I might need some, uh—" he bites his lip, his cock sliding against Jonny's, "—some pointers. Tell me how you want it."

Jonny has to work to clear his head, then snorts. "I don't fucking know." He grasps at Patrick's wrist, his still-wet fingers. "This is as far as I've gone."

"I guess you'll just have to tell me if I do something wrong," Patrick mutters, surging forward and kissing Jonny. "That shouldn't be difficult. Just do what comes natural."

Jonny rolls his eyes and shoves Patrick back onto his heels. "Start with this, then, genius," he says, pressing the condom back into Patrick's hand. Patrick sketches out a ridiculous salute and rolls it onto himself. Jonny swallows, watching the latex sheath his cock. The moment stretches out, Patrick’s dick bobbing in front of him, and then Jonny wraps one of his legs around Patrick's waist and muscles him back in. "Slow, I think," Jonny says. His voice is soft, but steady. Patrick nods, tip of his tongue pressing at the center of his lower lip, and Jonny feels his hand fumbling between their bodies as he grasps his dick. Jonny looks down and then wraps his hand around his own dick, flattening it against his belly so he can see the crown of Patrick's cock pressed against his hole. He can't help the way his muscles flutter at the slight pressure Patrick's exerting.

When Patrick pushes inside, he takes Jonny at his word, a long, achingly slow, persistent motion that Jonny can’t track, he's too overwhelmed, head dropping back to the pillow as he moans. Patrick stops then, though he’s still shifting a little bit inside Jonny’s body like he can’t help it. One of his hands is gripping Jonny’s leg tightly just above the knee, and he’s shaking all over, a fine tremor Jonny can feel everywhere.

Jonny pries his eyes open. They’d squeezed closed without his permission, but he has to see this, he needs to see Patrick fucking him. He’s been fascinated for years and now he’s impaled upon it, stretched to the limit. Patrick Kane is inside him, struggling not to blow too early.

“Jonny, you good?” Patrick asks, a little desperately.

Jonny exhales. “Yeah, yeah, c’mon,” he says, shifting his hips, arching as Patrick slips even further inside of him. “Oh, fuck.”

His fingers bite into the flesh at Patrick’s biceps, probably too hard, but he needs something to hang onto as Patrick slowly starts to fuck him in earnest. That slick drag inside feels utterly alien. It’s like he’s sixteen again, thinking, this is sex.

“Jonny,” Patrick pants, “you gotta talk to me here.”

Jonny blinks his eyes wide and looks back up at Patrick’s strained face. “What do I—” He drops his head to the pillow, taking short, panting breaths. He’s still caging his dick against his belly, and it’s throbbing in his hand. He tries again. “What do you want me to say?”

“Fuck, anything,” Patrick says. “Tell me it’s good. Is it good?” He whines on his next stroke, head dropping down between his shoulders.

“Don’t you dare lose it, you little shit,” Jonny says fiercely. “Keep going.”

Patrick’s biting hard on his lip, face twisted. Sweat darkens the hair at his temples. “Not gonna come, not gonna come,” he stutters out. He stabs in short and sharp with his hips and that right there is just perfect. Jonny needs that again—Patrick’s cockhead striking his prostate, lighting him up.

Jonny flexes his body, directing all the strength into his pelvis to roll them over again. Patrick goes with a soft exhalation, hands flying to Jonny’s waist as Jonny gets his knees under him. Patrick’s eyes are glassy, his hair flat on his forehead, and he’s so red across the bridge of his nose. He’s a mess, but god he looks good, neck arching as Jonny braces his palms on Patrick’s shoulders and fucks himself back on Patrick’s cock.

Jonny makes himself shake on the first thrust. Patrick’s hands steady him as he rises, and he sets himself to a rhythm that narrows his attention down to the feeling of his body moving over Patrick’s cock. When Patrick’s fingers trace around his sensitive, stretched-wide rim, the spike of friction makes him tighten down. They both groan.

“Touch me,” Jonny orders breathlessly. Patrick presses his fingers in even more, and Jonny swears, dropping his head as his nerves shiver between pleasure and pain. He grabs Patrick’s hand and brings it to his cock, which is tracing a line of precome on Patrick’s stomach. Patrick starts jacking him as Jonny moves, rocking between his dick and his hand.

Jonny makes the mistake of looking into his eyes. Patrick’s staring up at him with something akin to wonder and Jonny’s close now, skin hot everywhere Patrick’s gaze touches. Thrusting back harder than he meant to, he takes Patrick’s dick deep, and they both cry out. His palms slide slippery with sweat on Patrick’s chest as he struggles to brace himself on arms that are beginning to give out.

He comes with Patrick shoved up inside him, muscles locking up tight with tension. He’s a little shocked and appalled at the mewling noises coming out of his mouth, but he can’t stop himself, it’s that intense. Patrick works him through it, stomach muscles contracting underneath Jonny’s spilled come. His fingers glisten with it. Jonny stills atop him, and Patrick’s hands go back to his hole, pad of his finger running along the place where they’re joined. He looks between them like he still can’t believe it. Jonny bites off a harsh gasp, tensing involuntarily in a way that makes Patrick push his hips up off the bed, fucking deeper still. His thighs quake. When Patrick thrusts again Jonny twists away instinctively, trying to take less of it, because it’s starting to tip from good to overwhelming. Patrick forcibly stills himself, though Jonny can feel the rapid beat of his pulse under his palms and exactly how hard he is, even as Jonny goes soft between them.

“We can stop, we can stop,” Patrick mutters hoarsely. He rubs his hands up Jonny’s thighs from knee to hip, then continues traveling up his spine to press in at his shoulder-blades, drawing him down into a kiss. His palms trace wide circles on Jonny’s back, half-soothing, half skin-hungry as they kiss open-mouthed, wet and deep. Jonny closes his eyes and feels that coiled-tight control Patrick’s exerting. He pulls away to breathe against Patrick’s cheek. He remembers, those two other times with those girls, the way they’d looked, cunts all pink and perfect, sucking him greedily in, and the place where it had hovered on the edge of too much written on their faces. What does his face look like now, he wonders?

Patrick says, “Let me—” and carefully rolls them over again, kissing along the vulnerable skin of Jonny’s eyelids. Jonny doesn’t even know what to do with that, but as Patrick goes to withdraw, he finds himself clinging, hands dropping to grip Patrick’s tensing ass cheeks and hold him in close.

“Nah,” he breathes, rocking his hips in a slow lazy roll, “just like this.”

Patrick lets out a faltering breath, exerted. “Jonny, you don’t—oh god.”

It’s too much. It’s much too much, but Jonny doesn’t want to let him go, and as Patrick mimics his rhythm, fucking him with measured, indolent strokes, he finds himself growing hard again. He can’t take it. His nerves are shot and he’s shaking underneath Patrick.

“S’ good, Jonny, so good,” Patrick tells him reverently, voice slurred like he’s drunk.

Jonny’s biting his lip bloodless. He’s good at pushing himself past what his body feels like it can take, until he’s got nothing left in the tank, and he’s good at being rewarded for it. A lot of what he loves most other people consider too much. He can take this, he wants to take it. Patrick is impossibly hard inside him, and Jonny doesn’t have to do anything here but hold on.

Patrick changes the angle of his strokes and then he’s gliding over Jonny’s prostate, lighting up that jangle of nerves with every drag of his cock and Jonny loses it. He’s never been a talker in bed, but right now he can’t stop.

“Just like that, just,” he groans, nervy and overcome, “like that. I can handle it, god, Patrick, I can feel everything, you’re so good.” Words spill out of him like water from a broken dam. He says, “And your dick, your goddamn porn dick, you don’t even know. I wanted to know how it felt.” It feels like the gospel truth when he rolls his head to the side and gasps, “I’ve wanted this forever.”

Patrick makes a choked, broken sound, grinding in hard. His cock expands even more, wrenching a cry from Jonny, and Patrick comes, just like that. He’s got Jonny pinned, pressing far inside him as he pulses. It shatters Jonny, leaves him completely unmoored. His cock twitches between their bellies as he comes dry a second time, unexpected and almost painful. Gasping soundlessly this time, his body strains tight against Patrick’s weight, spine caught in an uncontrollable arch. It spasms through him for a while before he finally relaxes back onto the bed, eyes wet at the corners.

Jonny drifts, his mind blank, as his pulse slows and he catches his breath. Patrick’s weight is just starting to become too heavy when he mumbles into Jonny’s collarbone, “Did you just come again?” His tone is wondering.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” Jonny says on autopilot, but he’s still reeling, happy not to be meeting Patrick’s eyes at the moment. He can feel physical discomfort on the horizon, waiting for him to move. He’d never felt anything like that. So this is sex, he thinks again.

Patrick disengages carefully. It’s a relief now. Jonny pushed himself pretty far, so there’s pleasure and pain both echoing through him. He stretches out, eyes closed, then opens them when he feels the mattress shift near him. Patrick is sitting up on the edge of the bed, facing away from him, then bends over as he reaches toward the trashcan. Jonny traces his fingers up Patrick’s spine before he thinks about it. Patrick sits up and he lets his hand drop back to the mattress.

“I’m beat,” Patrick yawns, looking over his shoulder at Jonny.

“What a surprise,” Jonny says, and Patrick makes a face at him. He shrugs. “So stay over.”

“You do have this comfortable mattress,” Patrick muses.

“You should get one,” Jonny says. He rolls gingerly to his feet and heads to the bathroom to wash up. His thighs feel gelatinous, the tender insides sore from the cut of Patrick’s hips. He wets a washcloth, dragging it down his belly to clean off his own mess. He has to take a moment to brace himself up against the sink as the sense memory goes through him again. It takes actual mental effort to force himself to run the washcloth up between his cheeks, swiping off the lube smeared tacky over his skin. His pinky catches on the rim of his hole and it’s so hot and over-sensitized, Jonny shivers helplessly, hand falling away. He’ll have to take a better shower tomorrow. Now he’s too exhausted to even contemplate standing up under the spray.

When he returns to the bedroom, Patrick has turned off the overhead light and closed the curtains, leaving only Jonny’s bedside lamp on. He’s still awake, though, on his side facing Jonny. He’s blinking slowly as Jonny draws back the covers. Jonny swallows hard. He remembers Patrick fucking Rachel and passing out in this very bed afterwards, Jonny shaking his shoulder to wake him. Now he’s too tired to think about what he just did. He feels wrecked, like he just came off a hard workout, and his eyes don’t want to be open, so he eases himself onto the bed and sinks into sleep almost instantly.


Jonny wakes up the next morning with Patrick warm along his back. The room is cool. It’s early enough that the thermostat hasn’t kicked on yet. Jonny luxuriates for a moment in the softness of the pillow and sheets, and the cozy contrast of the outside air to the pocket of bedding they’ve warmed with their shared body-heat. Patrick, he realizes dimly, is asleep almost on top of him. He squints at his pillow. They haven’t shared a bed much, but he thought Patrick usually kept his distance. Not this morning.

Jonny shifts, legs spreading slightly as he stretches, and feels Patrick move with him. That’s his morning wood, nudging the curve of Jonny’s ass, he realizes with sleepy startlement. He goes to roll away, but Patrick murmurs behind him as he wakes up, palm anchoring his hip.

“No, stay,” Patrick mutters into the back of his neck, almost sweet, and then his hips flex forward and his cock slides between Jonny’s thighs, head catching his swollen rim and making them both groan. Patrick’s fingers flex spasmodically on Jonny’s hip and Jonny’s own morning erection stiffens up fully. He’s too tired to turn over and start something, too aware of the soreness in his ass. But when Patrick noses along Jonny’s nape and starts to fuck in between Jonny's cheeks, sliding down his crack and rubbing up behind his balls, Jonny finds himself pushing back into it. He flexes, buttocks tightening around the shaft of Patrick’s dick.

Patrick makes a punched-out noise, choking, “Oh,” and shoving in with greater force, pushing at Jonny’s perineum. Jonny grabs his own dick and they rock together, closing a circuit that’s winding Jonny up slowly. Patrick’s hand on his hip slides back to palm at his ass, at where his muscles are clenching and relaxing. He mouths at Jonny’s shoulder, and Jonny shivers and closes his eyes, working at his foreskin as that glancing pressure on his crack and his balls makes his stomach tighten in pleasure-filled anticipation. When Jonny squeezes his thighs together around Patrick’s cock, Patrick groans, a low rumble that vibrates from his chest through Jonny’s back where they’re pressed together.

“How is this so good?” Patrick says, disbelieving, his lips brushing Jonny’s skin with each word. Jonny doesn’t bother to answer. He keeps working himself, fist speeding up to match Patrick’s thrusts. His cockhead catches on Jonny’s rim again—Jonny has the abstract thought that if he pushed hard enough, he’d be inside him. It makes him jerk in Patrick’s arms, like he was zapped with a livewire. Patrick’s grip on his hip tightens and it’s the bite of his ragged fingernails into his skin that finally sends Jonny over the edge. As he’s coming, emptying himself all over his sheets, he thinks—what would it be like to get fucked like this for real? Patrick wrapped around him, holding him close, body moving inside him.

Patrick’s motion becomes erratic and he comes moments later in a hot gush between Jonny’s thighs. Jonny’s left winded, back sealed stickily with sweat to Patrick’s front. Patrick breathes in humid gusts against the back of his neck, minute tremors still going through him.

“We have practice in an hour,” Jonny says, trying to drag some semblance of calm back around him.

Patrick groans and rolls away. “Don’t remind me.” He scrubs at his face as Jonny throws the wrecked covers back and stands up. He’s walking away when he hears Patrick make a low, pained noise behind him. He looks over his shoulder. Patrick has his eyes fixed on Jonny’s lower body, his ass, maybe? Patrick walks over to him. Jonny raises his eyebrows.

“That’s a sight to see,” Patrick says quietly, running his hand over Jonny’s ass, and down between his legs where Patrick’s come is slicking his thighs. Jonny’s throat works at that careful touch, spent cock twitching against his leg.

“Don’t start something here we can’t finish,” Jonny says, wishing desperately that they had more time. But they have to be out the door in forty minutes. He catches Patrick’s face in his hands and kisses him, then pushes him away.


Jonny’s shoveling pucks out of the net when he hears Sharpy and Patrick behind him. They have their heads bent together like they’re scheming something. Jonny skates over, suspicious.

“Dinner out is not gonna cut it,” Sharpy is saying. “Don’t you have anything better for me?”

“You’re the one who forgot Valentine’s Day is tomorrow,” Patrick points out.

“Hey,” Jonny says brightly, cutting in to a hard stop. He aims most of the snow shower at Sharpy. “Is Sharpy nominating himself for husband of the year again?”

“This is a private conference.” Sharpy crosses his arms and bumps Jonny away. “Come on, Kaner. I need some ideas.”

Patrick shakes his head, grinning. “Maybe you should do an anti-Valentine’s. The Logan’s screening a bunch of horror movies.”

Sharpy looks ready to murder Patrick and Jonny laughs. “They are not! He’s bullshitting you. They’re playing a Humphrey Bogart retrospective.”

Sharpy’s expression turns speculative. “Like, Casablanca?”

“Nah,” Patrick interrupts, “It’s To Have and Have Not.”

That surprises a laugh out of Sharpy. “How do you know this?” he asks, looking incredulous.

“We went to The Maltese Falcon last week.” Patrick shrugs. He clears his throat. “But Mrs. Kane didn’t raise no stupid sons. Take her to To Have and Have Not, my sisters love that one.”

“That’s not actually a bad idea,” Sharpy says slowly.

Patrick cuffs him on the head. “I know what I’m about, man.”

Sharpy nods. “I guess I’ll throw some muscle around—try to get a table at Tru.”

“Classy, Sharpshooter,” Jonny says dryly.

“Hey, my lady awaits,” Sharpy says. “You two clowns ever nail down a woman for more than two seconds you’ll understand.”

Jonny rolls his eyes and skates back to the net. Behind him, he hears Sharpy ask, “Anyway, what about you? Got any plans?”

“None I’m going to tell you about, dirty old man,” Patrick says.

“Get back to work,” Jonny shouts, and starts shoving pucks in their direction. Patrick cuts one out of the group, banks it off Sharpy’s skate, and stickhandles backward on the ice. Sharpy goes after it, and Patrick spins away before a whistle blows and calls them all back together.

Patrick looks at Jonny sideways as they skate back toward Q, Sharpy forging ahead. “I feel like I might need to be on-call tomorrow.”

Jonny laughs. “Okay, Doctor Love.”

After practice, Jonny says, “Hey, did you notice? You kept bugging me about Band of Brothers, it arrived in the mail at my place the other day.”

Patrick’s face brightens. “Oh, no way.” He settles his hat on backwards. “We gotta watch it, I haven’t seen it in forever.”

Jonny tweaks the brim of his hat, making Patrick put a protective hand over his head. “If you have plans, though,” Jonny teases.

“Oh, big ones,” Patrick says.

“Bring over food when you come,” Jonny says.

It takes some concerted effort to actually watch anything, despite Jonny’s best intentions. Patrick’s still wearing that backward baseball hat when he walks in carrying a pizza, nothing to impede them when he gets his arm around Jonny’s neck and pulls him down to kiss in Jonny’s kitchen. They make out long enough that Jonny’s hands creep up Patrick’s back and push into his hair, dislodging his hat so that it falls to the floor.

Patrick pulls away and laughs into Jonny’s t-shirt. “I was actually just saying hi,” he says, looking up.

“Hi,” Jonny says, grinning.

They get through Currahee and then when Jonny’s bent over, putting in the next disc, he turns around to find Patrick staring at him, gaze hot and heavy-lidded. Nothing will do but to kiss Patrick when he looks like that. He really does mean to watch the next episode, but somehow he winds up pressing Patrick back into the couch and tonguing past his lush red lips, filthy and slick. Patrick’s hands drag up his back under his shirt before Jonny pulls back and takes it off, and then they’re on his stomach, tracing firmly up his abs. Jonny stares down at him, hands on his shoulders. Patrick leans in and noses down the line of Jonny’s throat. He swallows, and Patrick moves his mouth to his nipple, which tightens under his breath before his lips have touched it. Patrick closes his mouth over it and sucks, lightly at first, then harder when Jonny gives a low groan, his hands biting in on Patrick’s shoulders.

Patrick pulls away to grin up at him. “You did that to me and I almost creamed myself,” he says. “Thought I’d see if you liked it.”

Jonny rubs his fingers over Patrick’s skin around the neck of his t-shirt, dipping under the fabric to press in against his nape. Patrick runs his tongue over his lower lip and Jonny nearly groans again, and then he’s following the urging of Jonny’s fingers, returning to sucking wet kisses across Jonny’s chest, one nipple and then the other.

“You can always see them,” Patrick hums, scraping his teeth over Jonny’s pectoral, “through your shirts.”

“Fuck,” Jonny says, struggling for coherence, “same goes.”

Completely involuntarily, he’s starting rolling his hips against Patrick, pushing his dick into the hard muscle banding his belly. When he rocks backwards, Patrick’s erection presses at the seat of his jeans, light undirected pressure on his ass, a reminder that makes him consider getting a condom and just taking Patrick inside, sinking down on his dick as far as he can handle it. But it’d been so intense, Jonny’s not sure he’s ready for that again. It's enough to have the thick hot ridge of Kaner’s dick shoving up against him as he moves.

Patrick’s got his head thrown back against the couch cushion now, looked at Jonny from under hooded eyes. “Fuck, Jonny,” he says, low and appreciative. “I’ve had girls ride me, you gonna give them a run for their money?”

Jonny’s never been in this position on his couch. He’d never crawl into a girl’s lap. He’s not sure why that gives him pause him more than anything he and Patrick have done together on a bed. He braces his hands on either side of Patrick’s head and kisses him hard, tugging at his lower lip with his teeth as he pulls away. Patrick’s hips jolt up at that, and Jonny grinds down.

He aims a fierce grin down at him. Patrick should not have done that. He’s got to know he can’t throw down like that and expect Jonny to just walk away. He rucks the soft cotton of Patrick’s shirt up, shoving so that the fabric is caught up around his armpits. Bending his head, he closes his lips over Patrick’s right nipple, pulling it into his mouth and dragging the flat of his tongue across it before sucking with soft steady force.

Patrick holds himself powerfully still, Jonny feels the tension lock up through him, as he fights not to shake and moan under the onslaught of Jonny’s mouth.

Jonny moves to the other nipple, swirling and tracing over the areola, avoiding the stiff peak, just edging it with his tongue. Patrick lifts up, motion frenzied as he thrusts up against Jonny’s weight, trying to situate him just the way he likes atop his dick. Jonny’s not having it though, and he gets his knees under him on the couch and lifts up, leaving Patrick high and dry.

Patrick makes a choked off noise, gasp following it, like he can’t believe what Jonny’s doing. He’s still ignoring the wet rosy tip of Patrick’s nipple, licking out in wide strokes just beside it. Over and over he does it, until Patrick is actually struggling beneath him, just like when they wrestle and he’s losing. He reaches for Jonny, trying to get his hands on him so he can direct him where he wants him, but Jonny catches both of his wrists up, holding them still at his sides. When Patrick lets out a frustrated cry, he lifts his head so he can pin them back to the armrest, and then resumes his methodical torment.

“Oh fuck, Jonny, oh fuck,” he says, voice frantic and delirious. Jonny’s never heard him sound like this before. Not this wrecked.

He waits a beat. Then two. And then finally he passes his tongue directly over the bud of Patrick’s nipple. He uses the underside of the point of his tongue, lightly, so lightly, but it’s enough. Patrick’s hips lift off the couch, thrusting up against nothing. He tugs hard at Jonny’s grip, almost enough to break it, fighting it to the last, as he comes. The sound out of his mouth is the same shout he makes when he’s missed several good shots on goal, frustrated, like Jonny tore it from him. Jonny tightens his lips down, sucking hard as it passes through him. Patrick sobs desperately the whole while.

His breathing slows and he drops back to the couch. Jonny can’t help taking one last swipe over the nipple, making Patrick gasp and jerk. He pulls his mouth off with a sloppy smack and sits up, still holding Patrick’s arms down, to survey his handiwork. Patrick’s got his eyes shut tight, cheek pressed into his taut shoulder like he was trying to protect himself. A flush recedes over his chest as he comes down from the orgasm, but his nipples still stand at hard little points, shiny with Jonny’s spit. He looks fucking flawless.

Jonny lets go of one of Patrick’s wrists to wrench his pants open and pull out his cock, stripping himself in a faster rhythm than he usually likes. His head spins. Patrick’s chest is still heaving.

“Looks like you made a mess of yourself, Peeks,” Jonny says, deeply satisfied, working his fist. Patrick opens his eyes, still looking dazed. His eyes track down to Jonny’s flexing forearm. Jonny tightens his hand one more time over the head of his dick and then he’s coming all over Patrick’s bared stomach. Patrick catches the back of Jonny’s head with his freed hand and pulls him down, kissing him through the last of his orgasm.

Afterward, Patrick punches lightly at Jonny’s stomach. “Asshole,” he grumbles. “Move, now I have to deal with this problem you caused me.”

Jonny stands up from Patrick’s lap, tucking himself away. He stretches his arms above his head, cracking his shoulders, and then considers Patrick sprawled out across his couch. “Shower’s yours.”

“You gonna come with?” Patrick asks as he hoists himself up to his feet. Jonny’s sticky and his sweat has started to cool on his skin, making him uncomfortably clammy.

“Yeah,” he says after a moment, lips tilting up at the corner, and finds himself drawing Patrick in for another kiss.

They keep making out in the shower, water hotter than Jonny likes because that’s how Patrick wants it. Halfway through, Patrick gets hard again, pushing insistently against Jonny’s hip.

“Really?” he asks.

Patrick laughs, but he’s a little pink. He slicks his wet hair back off his face, water cascading around them. “Kinda happens a lot around you, man.”

He brings his arms around Jonny’s waist, fingers dipping down between his cheeks to run over his hole. Jonny bites down on his lip and lets out a soft ‘mmm.’ Patrick drops his eyes to Jonny’s rapidly filling dick and then drags them back up to Jonny’s face, grinning with his tongue pressed to the corner of his mouth, proud of himself. He does it again, fingertips made slippery with water, enjoying the way Jonny shivers.

“You gonna let me fuck you again?” he asks, voice dropping an octave, tilting up to brush his mouth across Jonny’s.

Jonny’s drops his head back on his neck, eyelids fluttering as Patrick continues to play his fingers over Jonny’s rim. He hisses when Patrick pushes in a little bit, still sensitive. He noses along Patrick’s cheekbone and then over across the lobe of his ear. “You asking me to say I liked it?”

Patrick smiles against Jonny’s jaw. “If you want.”

“It was okay,” Jonny says, then laughs and flinches back when Patrick pinches his ass. He comes back in and wraps one arm around Patrick’s shoulders, bracing the other on the tiled wall behind Patrick. “You made me come twice on your dick. I wanted you to fuck me this morning but we couldn’t.”

Patrick is shamelessly riding his thigh now, his fingers kneading at Jonny’s flesh. “I would’ve done it.” He tilts his head back, eyes closed against the shower spray, and Jonny bends to take his mouth again.

They both come with the shower beating down on them, the air foggy with steam, skin to slippery skin. They clean up with handsy inefficiency, groping at each other and soaping up random body parts before tumbling out of the shower stall to dry themselves with similar distraction.

Patrick steals fresh clothes from Jonny’s closet and drowses through Easy Company landing and making their way across Normandy, his wet hair slowly dampening a circle on the upper arm of Jonny’s long-sleeved shirt as he slumps down further and further on the couch. When the sky outside Jonny’s windows darkens with sunset, he pokes Patrick awake to eat reheated pizza for dinner.

Jonny’s hooked by the time Patrick leaves that evening. He makes Patrick come back to finish watching it with him after practice the next day.

“Beer and World War Two dramas,” Patrick says flippantly when Jonny returns from the kitchen with two beers in hand. “Top ten Valentine’s Days, right here.”

Jonny raises his eyebrows. “I think that says more about your standards than anything else,” he says, settling next to him on the couch.

“Oh, come on,” Patrick scoffs. “Name a better one, then. What guy even likes Valentine’s Day? And I was there when you were with whatshername. Annie. You were stressing, trying to figure out what to do.” He puffs his cheeks out, like that’s what Jonny looked like back then.

“I was not!” Jonny jabs him in the ribs.

“You absolutely were.” Patrick fends him off. “Too worried to even enjoy your fancy dinner.”

“Whatever, you weren’t there at the end of the evening when I was feeling just fine,” Jonny shoots back.

“Just fine,” Patrick says, amused. His gaze is flickering between Jonny’s eyes and his mouth, so it’s not a surprise when he leans in and kisses him, hand going to Jonny’s knee. “Just fine,” he repeats, pushing Jonny back into the couch cushions.

Jonny has to admit, Patrick’s right about one thing. Valentine’s Day is crap. This one could easily beat every candlelit dinner, especially when Patrick starts working his way down Jonny’s jaw and throat, skating his hands ahead of him to open Jonny’s pants and take out his dick, which starts to harden in his hands. Jonny still doesn’t put Patrick’s intent together until Patrick is sliding off the couch and muscling Jonny’s knees apart.

“Oh,” Jonny chokes, throat dry. His cock jerks in Patrick’s grasp.

Patrick grins up at him. “With me here, Toews?” He swipes his tongue over his lower lip, which is red and glistening. Jonny honest-to-god can’t tell if it’s on-purpose or not, but it turns his crank anyway. Jonny came three times yesterday, three times today, and now Patrick’s going for four which’ll be a record for any person he’s ever had sex with. He thinks, if they applied themselves, they could do this all day. In some ways it feels like teenage experimentation, relearning his body in Patrick’s hands, trying to get as much out of it as they can, because who knows when it’ll stop or they’ll be interrupted.

Patrick strokes from the base of his dick to the tip and then smoothly retracts Jonny’s foreskin to run his tongue over the shiny wet head. Just the contact of his tongue, Patrick licking him, lapping at the head of his dick—the visual is overwhelming. Jonny squeezes his eyes closed, then pries them open again. Patrick waits, making sure he has Jonny’s eye-contact, before he sinks his mouth down. Jonny shakes, so revved up he’s almost embarrassed. Patrick just goes for it, trying to take him as deep as he can manage.

“Christ,” Jonny mutters, wrapping his hand around the shaft, stopping the progress of Patrick’s mouth. “You don’t have to ung—you don’t have to deepthroat me on the first try.”

He doesn’t know how to say Patrick’s pretty lips on him is more than enough. Patrick pulls up and then sinks his mouth back down until he’s kissing Jonny’s fist. As a horrible tease, Patrick pulls off, mouth so swollen and used, and dips his head to flick his tongue across the line on Jonny’s sac. He does it again and again. Jonny squirms against the couch, left hand flattening on the cushions. He pushes his palm down hard, hips involuntarily flexing, grip tightening on his dick. Patrick chuckles, moving with him. He rolls Jonny’s balls in his hand and then dips lower, dragging his tongue down to the spot just below them, a long swipe that edges along his perineum, making him wonder frantically what that would be like if Patrick kept heading south.

He rises back up again, mouth closing around the head to suck hard, laving the underside. Oral’s always hot, but mostly Jonny wants the hot cling of a pussy, or the tight tunnel of a hand stroking him off. With girls, he almost always made them stop after a while so that they could do other things. Now, as Jonny holds himself up for Patrick’s mouth, his spit drooling down over his knuckles as he enthusiastically sucks at the head, such an idea seems laughable.

Jonny pushes Patrick in the side with his knee, trying to tell him to pull off, but Patrick just raises his eyes to meet his gaze, smiling around his cock, and then deliberately slides his mouth down to Jonny’s knuckles again. He backs off a little and sucks one more time, and that’s it, Jonny’s coming down his throat, muscles knotted tight and his fingers clenched in the couch cushion. Patrick swallows around him, cheeks hollowing, and Jonny hunches forward with the aftershock.

Patrick pulls off with a pop and leans his chin on Jonny’s thigh, digging into the long muscle while Jonny’s still trying to catch his breath.

“Ah, hey, stop,” Jonny says weakly, pawing at the back of Patrick’s head.

He laughs, digs his chin in one more time before he eases off. He raises one hand, pointing at the ceiling like he does when he steps onto the ice in front of a cheering crowd. “Boom! Just fine, eh?”

“So that how it’s gonna be?” Jonny knees him hard in the ribs, while Patrick darts up out of range and laughs, eminently pleased.

“That’s how it is,” he replies, tongue between his teeth.

Jonny shoves his still wet dick into his pants and kicks out at him. “You’re gonna get it, son.”

In reply, Patrick makes the two-handed “suck it” gesture at his crotch with relish. It makes Jonny burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of being told to bow down and suck Patrick’s dick only immediately after Patrick went to his knees for Jonny. “You fuckin’ joker,” he says between chuckles. “That was beautiful, man, just beautiful.”

“Yeah?” Patrick spreads his arms. “Who just made you come in five-flat?”

“Fuck you, five minutes,” Jonny protests without any real heat. Patrick’s hard, swollen dick pushing up against the front of his jeans. It’s a pretty sight. Patrick undoes the fly and slowly pushes at the waist band, palming himself through his boxer briefs. With that cock, he really does look like an advertisement for gay porn.

Jonny lifts his chin in a single nod and says, “You want me to take care of that?”

Patrick’s eyes darken. “Please,” he says, voice betraying the typical blowjob rasp.

“C’mere then,” Jonny replies. Patrick saunters over, staring back at Jonny because he knows exactly what he looks like when he does that. Patrick looms up over him, expression intense, before Jonny pulls him in between his knees and tugs him down onto his lap.

“I think I won Valentine’s Day, Jonny,” Patrick says.

“Whatever you need to tell yourself,” Jonny answers, before kissing him.

Afterwards, sitting sprawled out on the couch, Patrick’s legs thrown over his lap because he doesn’t believe in personal space, Jonny feels compelled to explain, “I can’t usually finish when I’m getting sucked off.”

Patrick raises his brows. “That’s like all dudes—it’s a process.”

Jonny shakes his head. “Nah, it’s worse for me.”

Patrick has a thoughtful expression on his face. “You came when I walked in on you that time at that party.” He clears his throat. “After the Cup.”

Jonny doesn’t need clarification. He flashes back to Patrick standing on the stairs, gaze heated, expression tense, and carefully doesn’t say he’s pretty sure he came because Patrick was watching him. He shrugs and clears his throat. “I dunno, man, doesn’t usually happen.”

Patrick leans his head back on the couch and meets his eyes, deliberately running his fingers over his lips. Jonny flushes hot with arousal even though he came not a half hour ago. Patrick smirks and Jonny can’t help leaning in to kiss him, feel that ridiculous talented mouth on his. At some point, he’s sure of it, it’ll stop feeling so imperative.


Jonny knows how to play angry, to take it and fuel it into something usable—this restive, unrestrained fury burning through him in the middle of the San Jose game is something else.

His play gets sloppy. When he slams Joe Thornton into the boards from behind, he feels wildly out of control. He just can’t get his head together tonight. The thing is, he liked Thornton—when they were teammates. He certainly made no bones about wearing 16 when they played for Canada. But last season Thornton was up in his face. And Jonny knows he’d pissed Thornton off over the dot, but he’s not gonna forget that Thornton punched him in the head from behind, and then suckered him right in the face with a ref between them and Jonny trying to hold him at arm’s length.

Thornton couldn’t know how it would roll out, but Jonny’s pretty twisted over the fact that all Thornton got was a goddamn roughing penalty and Jonny spent months thinking he’d lost hockey. Jonny was game to let it go. But here tonight, just like ten days ago at HP, Thornton has been riding him into the ice and it feels like mockery. Jonny’s at the edge and he doesn’t know how to rein it in.

The play is ongoing, but any moment now they’re gonna call a delayed penalty and the Sharks will be on the powerplay. They’re at 0-0 right now. It’s an easy choice to make; if he’s gonna put the Hawks on the kill, he’s gonna put Thornton into the goddamn box next to him.

Distantly, even as he’s asking Thornton for the fight, he knows he’s going to get demolished. But just like that time he fought for Patrick, Jonny doesn’t think there’s a way for him to step away from this one. Not this time. This is his fucking building. Thornton blinks at him, open-mouthed, as Jonny cross-checks him with his stick a third time. Jonny’s putting all his frustration into it. He shoves him again and Thornton finally nods. “Yeah, okay.”

It’s brutal, but he holds on to the contents of his stomach this time. When he comes back to the bench, beaten up and bloodied, right eye already threatening to swell shut, the guys are saying stuff to him, laughing about how shocked they are. He barely hears it. Patrick’s at the end, already turned to face him. His face is hard to read, but as Jonny blows by, Patrick taps him on the shoulder. And something inside him relaxes. Patrick gets it.

They finished the last episode of Band of Brothers yesterday, staying up way too late the night before a game day, so Jonny’s not expecting it, but Patrick follows him home again.

“Well, he only kind of wiped the floor with you,” Patrick says almost consolingly, as they’re standing in the kitchen waiting for food to heat up in the microwave. “Could have been worse.”

Jonny touches the patch of friction-burn under his jaw where his chin strap caught as Thornton ripped his helmet off. “I don’t even want to see what you’d look like fighting,” he says, only half-joking.

“I bet I’d have a killer instinct,” Patrick says. He turns Jonny’s face toward him and examines his eye, touching the puffy skin around it with careful fingers. He shakes his head. “Man, you are fearless.”

Jonny’s eyebrows draw in, and then he winces and smooths out his forehead when it makes his eye throb. “Why’s that?”

“‘Cause you can’t connect a punch on the ice if someone paid you.” He lets his hand slide down to Jonny’s shoulder. His mouth curls. “We all knew how that was gonna go.”

“Ah, shut up,” Jonny says.

“Jumbo,” Patrick says. He’s grinning now. “You looked like you were trying to scale a mountain.”

Jonny frowns. “He’s not that much bigger than me.”

“Fearless,” Patrick pronounces again, and then, thankfully, he must read Jonny’s growing irritation, because he knuckles Jonny on his good side and changes the subject.


The next morning Jonny wakes up to an empty bed. He hears voices from the kitchen and goes to investigate. Patrick’s talking on the phone with somebody and Jonny catches the tail end of his question. “...did they give him a SCAT2 evaluation?”

Jonny snorts and walks into the kitchen in pajama pants to get a glass of orange juice. His ribs are bruised up all along the left side. When Patrick sees him, he ends the call.

“Aw, Peeks, you worried about me?” he says, voice singsong, expecting Patrick to chirp him hard.

But Patrick rubs his neck and shrugs, setting his cellphone down on the counter. He looks discomfitted and now it’s awkward. Jonny stacks and unstacks a pile of magazines on his kitchen counter, trying to figure out what to say.

“I matched my baseline,” he says, catching Patrick’s eyes. It’s strangely tense. Jonny doesn’t know why he suddenly feels like his heart is in his throat waiting for Patrick’s answer. Patrick turns and gets himself some cereal.

“That’s good, man,” he says. He grabs the milk from the fridge and passes back to the counter without looking at Jonny. “You’ve got a nice shiner. Some guyliner going on.”

The moment passes.

“Fuck off,” Jonny tells him, unable to think of a better comeback, and restrains himself from reaching up to touch it.

Patrick takes his breakfast over to the living room and turns on the TV. Jonny picks up the cereal box and shakes it, then decides he’ll just finish it in his own bowl, since Patrick’s freeloaded his way through most of it. He sits down gingerly next to him with his own breakfast. His torso is definitely protesting as he starts moving around. Basketball highlights are up on the screen. Jonny feels personally like it’s a little early for sports newscasting, but he keeps his mouth shut.

Patrick wordlessly shoves the remote over to Jonny’s side of the coffee table. Jonny eyes him, then decides he can live with the talking heads.

“You going to do March Madness brackets again?” he asks.

“A little early for that,” Patrick says, voice inflectionless, then shrugs. “Probably. My buddies are going to want a second run at me, they didn’t get much of a chance with my fantasy team.” He looks back at the TV screen.

Patrick takes off after breakfast, clapping Jonny on his unbruised shoulder on his way out the door. Jonny, who’d been about to ask what Patrick’s plans were for the rest of the day after practice, closes his mouth and shuts the door behind him.

Their schedules just don’t seem to match up much for the rest of the homestand, which at first is disappointing, but the second time Patrick blows him off, Jonny starts to think it’s deliberate. It’s irritating and Jonny’s not feeling too good about it. He thought they were over this and for Patrick to disappear on him for god knows what reason—it reminds him of how it felt over the summer, tense and afraid and so impotent when it seemed like Patrick’s world was imploding. Patrick wouldn’t let him fix it then, and he’s not trying now. Jonny tries to restrain his impatience over the whole thing, to remind himself that they’re doing fine on the ice, so whatever’s going on can’t be too serious, but this see-sawing isn’t for him.

He corners Patrick five days after that Sharks game, grabbing him after practice. It’s the start of another rare break in the schedule, and one where they actually have a full day off. He thought maybe they’d hang out, but Patrick’s still not making eye contact anywhere other than team meetings and on the ice.

“What’s going on?” Jonny asks bluntly. They’re all alone in a hallway, because that’s where he’d seen Patrick, heading out of the building while Jonny is still juggling a few jerseys and photos he’d been asked to autograph.

“What?” Patrick says. His gaze flickers from Jonny’s face to the door behind his shoulder.

“Come on, what,” Jonny says. “Don’t give me that crap. You’re like a ghost around here, nowhere to be found.”

Patrick shrugs. “I dunno. Just haven’t been feeling it,” he says casually.

Jonny gives a disbelieving laugh. What? He just hasn’t been ‘feeling’ like hanging out? What kind of crap is that. He can read Patrick’s body language as clear as day, the defensive tightening of his shoulders, the twitch of his cheek as he bites down on one side of his mouth. He says, “You got something to say to me?”

“You’re the one who tracked me down,” Patrick says, like he’s reminding Jonny of something he doesn’t know. “What, you want to sit and talk about feelings?”

Jonny snorts. “‘Cause I’m really asking you to bare your soul here, fucker.” Patrick’s at least looking him straight in the eye now, which settles something in Jonny’s chest. He’s such a little shit sometimes. Jonny’s got no patience for it.

“All right, Kaner,” he says, shaking his head. “You do you.” He turns to walk away. “When you get over yourself, let me know.”


A few days later at the end of practice, Duncs sits down beside him on the bench as Jonny’s unlacing his skates. “What’s up?” Jonny asks.

“What’s up with Kaner?” he asks, jerking his chin at him. Patrick’s almost all the way to dressed and he’s got his headphones in his ears as he straps his watch back on. It’s uncharacteristic of him to shut everybody out like that—except when he’s pissed.

Jonny blows out a breath. “Hell if I know,” he replies.

Duncs shrugs. “Yo, Kaner, what’s up with you?” he pitches his voice across the locker room. Everybody else pauses and turns to look.

Patrick gives him the finger without raising his eyes, turning the volume up on his iphone with his other hand. Duncs laughs and clutches his chest. “Shot through the heart.”

Patrick swings up his bag and leaves without saying goodbye to anybody. “Damn,” Sharpy says, towel wrapped around his waist, staring after Patrick, as he blows out of the dressing room.

“We need to get him laid, because that puck he hit me with in scrimmage?” Duncs says, “Ain’t no joke.”

Jonny hums absently, but doesn’t say anything. Across the room, Bicks is singing the chorus to Bon Jovi, miming an air guitar. The mood has been jovial—it’s hard to hate 33 points in a row—but everyone’s starting to get a little wired as expectations in and outside the room rise. No streak lasts forever. Patrick’s edginess in some ways feels like part of a general tension winding everyone up. Jonny finds himself spending more time in conversation with Hoss, whose calm demeanor and wry sense of humor is grounding.

But the streak does continue, all through what remains of their homestand. Patrick quits being as standoffish. Jonny doesn’t know what to make of it. He doesn’t issue Jonny any invitations and doesn’t follow him home at all, but he’s looking at him. He sits next to Jonny when all the boys go out right before they leave town, after their overtime win against Edmonton, sliding into the chair Seabs abandoned to take a phone call.

“Good game there, bud,” Jonny says, clapping him on the knee.

“Thanks,” Patrick says, kicking back lazily. He’s flushed from the alcohol. He licks his lips, glancing sideways at Jonny, and then looks away. At the end of the night, Jonny hesitates after he says goodnight to the table, and getting a lazy wave, heads home alone.


On their road game against St. Louis, they shut out the Blues, extending their streak to 20. Jonny gets the sort of game he’d love to have every time, scoring two of the three goals, the first in the opening 12 seconds of the game. He’s buzzing on the way back to the hotel, giddy with the win. He’s thinking maybe he’ll go back out once he gets changed because he doesn’t see himself settling down anytime soon.

“You going up to your room?” Sharpy asks when he sees him heading towards the elevator bank.

“Yeah, why?” Jonny asks.

“Drop this off with Kaner?” Sharpy asks, tossing a small object over to Jonny before he can say yes.

Jonny catches Patrick’s watch out of the air. He should probably just let it drop—the thing is that tacky—but he doesn’t want to think about what expensive bling Patrick would buy to replace it.

Jonny raises his eyebrows.

“He left it in the locker room,” Sharpy explains.

Jonny sighs. “Alright, I’ll bring it up to him.”

When he knocks it takes Patrick a moment to open the door, and when he does, Jonny sees why. He must’ve been in the middle of changing—he’s standing in only a pair of boxer briefs, looking surprised to see him.

“Uh,” Patrick says intelligently as Jonny’s eyes involuntarily drop down his torso. Jonny hasn’t looked at him like this in two weeks. Patrick’s abs contract under his gaze. He’s hardening up, Jonny watches his cock swell, fabric molded in an obscene stretch over the head of his dick. He drags his eyes back up to Patrick’s face.

Patrick’s lips tilt mischievously and he says, voice low, “Hell of a game for you, Toews.”

Ever the cocky motherfucker. Jonny opens his mouth to snap out a reply and then thinks better of it, backing Patrick back through the door with all of his bulk. As soon as it shuts behind him, Patrick’s on him, fist twisting in his sport coat as he angles up to kiss him. The watch drops, forgotten, from Jonny’s hand. Patrick’s stubble scratches Jonny’s chin, his lips are soft and his mouth hot on Jonny’s.

He’d missed this—he’s finding it hard to catch his breath already, pulse hammering in his ears, but he’s got to try and keep his footing. He tugs Patrick up against his dick, squeezing his ass to hold him in tight. The muscles clench underneath his palms. They stumble further back into the room, Patrick fumbling for his fly, unzipping him after two tries. He grunts as Jonny backs him into the dresser.

All the tension of the last two weeks slams through him, making him wild. He wants to ruin Patrick, to reduce him to an incoherent sobbing mess. He wants to fuck Patrick boneless. His body moves ahead of his mind, knocking Patrick’s hands away and spinning him. Patrick cooperates easily, but at the last second he pushes back, just to remind Jonny that Patrick’s allowing him to do this. Jonny smiles into his shoulder, reaching between them to unceremoniously tug Patrick’s boxer briefs down his thighs to reveal his ass. Patrick startles, leaning forward to brace his palms on the slick top of the dresser. A ripple runs through the smooth columns of muscle alongside his spine—he looks over his shoulder to meet Jonny’s eyes.

When Jonny slants toward him, tugging his dick free of pants, the lapels of his jacket fall open around both of them. Patrick shivers as the fabric brushes his bare skin. The rest of Jonny’s restraint frays and he snaps his hips forward, pushing his dick between Patrick’s thighs. This is nothing like the time Patrick did this to him—this furious, urgent thing making him less than careful. The electric shock of his dick sliding along Patrick’s perineum, nudging up behind his balls, is expected and yet no less devastating. Patrick rocks forward, a surprised whine coming out of his mouth. Jonny’s middle goes liquid, a wave of sensation ricocheting through him, making him curse. Patrick tightens his stance around Jonny’s dick, pushing back against him. The pressure of his thighs is exquisite—Jonny regrets that he’s not gonna last long.

Needing more leverage, Jonny puts a hand down on the dresser, unexpectedly coming down on top of Patrick’s. He means to move it, but Patrick spreads his fingers and Jonny’s slot in between them. Patrick makes a desperate noise in the back of his throat and cranes his neck back, kissing Jonny with fraught intensity over his shoulder. Jonny runs a palm across his belly, pulling him in closer, and wishes he could see what they look like. Experience tells him Patrick’s pale skin is flushed up, his steel-strong arm muscles corded as he holds himself up against Jonny’s weight. Patrick’s not a small guy, but against Jonny he looks that way, and the thought of it, Jonny wrapped around him, bracketing his body in his arms, is too much.

He breaks away from the kiss and breathes, overtaxed, into Patrick's shoulder blade, teeth scraping the soft skin with every drive against him. The choked sound out of Patrick’s mouth hits Jonny like a ton of bricks. He snaps his hips up harder than he meant to and Patrick's head drops down, the delicate knobs in his spine standing out. He doesn’t remember a time when he wanted another person so fiercely in his life. Jonny’s close, shoving his dick along the cleft of Patrick’s ass with all the power of his thighs, the way made slippery with his own precome. Somehow, Patrick manages to tense his thighs even further, muscles solidly gripping at Jonny’s dick. And he can’t hold it back anymore, he comes hard, smearing up Patrick’s thighs.

His head throbs with the beat of his heart. His suit clings to him, damp and uncomfortable. Jonny barely notices. He wants to be able to keep this image of Patrick for a little while longer. Patrick’s arms tremble where they hold him up. The fingers tangled with Jonny’s have gone white-knuckled. Jonny lifts his palm up and Patrick’s hand flexes, a sinuous motion. Unable to stop touching him, Jonny crowds in even closer, until he’s plastered up along Patrick’s back, forcing Patrick to straighten against him.

“Jonny,” Patrick says, voice thick.

Jonny doesn’t answer. He hooks his chin over Patrick’s shoulder so he can see everything and then wraps his hand around Patrick’s dick. Patrick’s chest jumps like he got the wind knocked out of him. It looks obscene. Jonny’s still completely dressed, the blue striped super 120s of his sleeve a stark contrast to Patrick’s sweat-sheened skin and the boxer-briefs that remain stretched taut, pushed low on his thighs. Patrick’s head lolls on his shoulder as Jonny starts to stroke him. He does it fast, utilitarian. He knows him, he can tell Patrick doesn’t have much further to go.

Patrick’s barely standing by the time he’s done, sagging back while Jonny holds him up. Jonny runs a hand down his quad, fingertips pushing in gently. It’s shaking. He’s breathing in raw harsh gasps like Jonny made him run a mile at 60% incline. Jonny dips his head, nuzzling at Patrick’s cheek until he turns his face to be kissed, sloppy, open-mouthed, but after a while enough is enough. Jonny only clocked eighteen minutes tonight, but he’s suddenly exhausted.

It seems too much effort to even go through the door to the adjoining room, so he strips down and ends up in bed with Patrick, arm across his middle, watching it rise and fall with Patrick’s breaths.

“What’d you come up here for?” Patrick asks, turning his face to meet Jonny’s eyes. It’s dark in the hotel room with the curtains drawn, but there’s enough light that Jonny can just make out Patrick’s features.

Jonny laughs, weak and exhausted. “You left your watch at Scottrade. Sharpy asked me to give it to you.”

“My watch!” Patrick says, reaching for his wrist like he hadn’t even realized it wasn’t there. “Fuck.” He laughs. “After the way you beat their asses, I doubt they would’ve turned it in to lost-and-found. Where is it?”

Jonny gestures towards the door. “On the floor somewhere, I got a little distracted.”

“Yeah,” Patrick replies with a sated smile. He doesn’t get up to go look for it.

Jonny huffs, amused. “I was gonna go out tonight. Not anymore, though. You did me in.”

“I don’t think that’s the story I’d tell,” Patrick says, grinning. His eyelids are drooping, he looks sleepy and affectionate.

Jonny can’t hold himself back. “So I guess you’re over it, eh?”

Patrick shrugs and turns to lie on his back, staring up at the ceiling. “Yeah,” he says. Jonny stares at him, and finally he rolls his head back to look at him. "Listen, man, I don't want to play hockey without you. That shit was awful."

Jonny swallows hard. He doesn't want to think about last year anymore than Patrick does. "I don't have any immediate plans to get injured again. But should the occasion arise I'll keep your wishes in mind."

Patrick elbows him in the gut. "Don't fucking jinx it."

"Ow," Jonny replies, hands going to his injured side. He can't believe Patrick threw a two week hissy fit at the thought of Jonny going on IR again. It seems he's a popular guy, what with Hossa refusing to play on anybody else's line. It's not like he genuinely worries about either of them ever getting traded, but if they do end up somewhere else, he wonders if Patrick will still be calling him up for jerkoff wins. Jonny has to restrain a chuckle at the thought, saying loftily, "Whatever. I'm going to live to be 500 years old."

Without warning, Patrick turns over onto his stomach and covers Jonny's mouth with his hand. Jonny looks up into Patrick's face, shadowed and inscrutable in the darkness. Slowly Patrick lifts his palm and bends to kiss him.


The sex wasn’t the only reason Jonny had missed Patrick those two weeks he kept his distance, but he had missed it. In Detroit, Patrick goes down on him in Jonny’s room after morning skate. Jonny returns the favor, and then they both end up passing out together for their pregame nap. Jonny wakes up to Patrick’s alarm on his phone going off ten minutes before Jonny’s is set to, the man himself still snoring with his face mashed into Jonny’s bicep. It’s not smart, Jonny still gets pranked with some frequency by teammates, but he can’t force himself to care too much. He does shake Patrick awake, though, and sends him back to his own room to shower and change.

That night, Patrick has an electric end to the game. He forces overtime with an equalizer in the dying minutes of regulation and then gets a highlight-reel shootout goal after Jonny fails to sink his own shot. On the plane on the way back to Chicago, he leans in close, and at first Jonny thinks he’s trying to be heard over the noise of the airplane. Then he realizes Patrick is sliding his tongue along the inside of his cheek, miming a blowjob.

Jonny shoves him back, and Patrick starts laughing. “No, it’s my new thing! Magic!”

“It’s not magic,” Jonny says firmly. “Go back to your seat, asshole.” Patrick turns away, still throwing a grin over his shoulder, and Jonny adds belatedly, “But good job, eh?” He rocks his hand, mimicking those sick kicks Patrick had thrown in on his way to beating Howard. “That was ridiculous.”

Patrick pokes his tongue in his cheek one more time before he disappears back down the aisle, still laughing.

Jonny's wiping the floor with Patrick at pool the next night when he gets his elbow jarred at a crucial moment, someone backing into him as he's leaned over the table, preparing to shoot.

"Yes!" Patrick exclaims from across the table as they both watch the cue ball roll off by itself, far from anything else.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" Jonny hears from behind him as he straightens up. A slender hand lands on his arm and he looks over to find a pretty blushing brunette biting at her lip. The group next to him and Patrick has expanded out from one of the high cocktail tables, slowly getting closer to where they’re playing. She must have walked right into him.

"Don't worry about it," Jonny says. “It’ll give this guy a chance to get back in the game,” he nods over at Patrick, who has his hands wrapped around his pool cue, braced on the floor, waiting.

Patrick scoffs. “Gonna run the table,” he brags.

“We’ll see about that,” Jonny says, winking at her.

“Were you winning? I hope I didn’t ruin it for you,” she says to Jonny.

“Hah, that’s what he’ll claim when he loses,” Patrick says. “Interference.”

She blushes harder but still laughs along with Jonny. “Well,” she says, “I was heading to the bar. Can I get you a drink as consolation prize?”

“I’m good,” he says, picking up his half-full bottle of beer. “Seriously, don’t worry about it.” Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Patrick starting to scope out the table. Jonny works his way around the table so he doesn’t have to shout at Patrick to heckle him.

“Well, if you lose, you know where to find me,” she replies. “I settle my debts.”

Jonny smiles. “Good to know.”

She waves and heads to the bar. Jonny watches her go. Great legs, great smile—he could’ve been in pretty easy if he worked it right and yet he has zero interest in doing anything with her at all.

Patrick’s trying a couple of different angles on the cue ball, but he looks sideways at Jonny when he gets close. “Didn’t want to invite her to join us?”

“I don’t think she was that into pool,” Jonny says. He rolls his eyes when Patrick draws his cue back, makes a couple testing strokes, and shifts position again. He always slows way down when he’s trying hard not to lose.

“She was into something,” Patrick says lightly.

“You gonna actually play here, or what?” Jonny rubs at the back of his neck.

“I’m coming up with my strategy,” Patrick says. “Can’t rush perfection. You weren’t interested, though?”

Jonny frowns. “Why, were you?”

“She wasn’t hitting on me,” Patrick says. He draws back and shoots, pocketing a stripe and scattering the other balls. It doesn’t look like much of a strategy for how long he spent on it. He purses his lips and moves to the other side of the table to start the process over again. “She was hot, though,” he says without looking up.

Jonny’s been looking at him, the breadth of his back as he bent over the pool table, the curl of his fingers over the cue. Jonny’s not in a sharing mood right now, if that’s what Patrick is suggesting. Last time hadn’t been that fun, anyway. He’d come eventually, but only because of Patrick. Otherwise, the whole thing had taken kind of a sucky turn.

“I guess,” Jonny says. Patrick’s next shot goes nowhere, though it does set Jonny up for a decent run. “Good strategy,” he laughs, trading places with him.

“Ah, suck my dick,” Patrick says. “There’s a slant to this table.”

“Excuses, excuses,” Jonny says.

He’s made his next two shots and is lining up for his third when Patrick says, “Still though, wouldn’t even let her buy you a drink, huh?”

Jonny pauses, then completes his stroke. His aim is off, and he swears as the cue ball goes into the pocket instead of the two-ball he’d been aiming for. He straightens up and plants his stick on the floor. “Why are you hassling me about this? Are you asking for something here?”

“Me?” Patrick raises his eyebrows. “Nah.”

This whole conversation is going in an irritating, unsatisfying direction. Jonny just wanted to play a game of pool, not try and figure out what the hell is going on in Patrick’s head. He doesn’t know why Patrick’s pushing this. If he’s trying to ask for something he should just come right out and say it rather than fucking around.

“Your turn,” Jonny says, a little short. He takes a step back and finishes his beer, sets his empty on a spare table.

Patrick crouches low like he’s checking an angle, but he stands up too quickly for that. “You really didn’t want anything there?”

Jonny’s patience snaps. “Am I talking for my health? I said no, Patrick. Let it go.”

“I’m just saying,” Patrick says, and that’s the problem, because Jonny has no goddamn clue what he’s saying. If there’s some rule in the playbook he’s supposed to be getting here it’s gone right over his head. But it doesn’t matter, because he’s tired of Patrick pushing at him. If he wants to go bang some chick, he can do that, rather than poking at Jonny to take one home with him.

“You know what?” he says. “Not tonight. You’re pissing me off.” He sets down his pool cue and grabs his jacket.

“Hey, Jonny—” Patrick says.

Jonny, already on his way to the door, holds up two fingers in a peace sign just like Patrick would and keeps walking. He’s not even sure why he’s suddenly so furious. All he wants to do is find a flat surface and watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and just not think about this shit for a while.

In the moments like this, it’s really easy to wonder what they’re doing.


“Come back to mine?” Patrick asks tentatively as they’re leaving the UC the next day.

Jonny’s not irritated anymore. He woke up a little pissed, but when he jerked off and imagined coming all over Patrick’s face and it had kind of taken the edge off. Besides, it’s hard to stay mad at Patrick for any length of time. Jonny can barely ever hold onto a grudge, even when he should. He still doesn’t know what the hell that was, but Patrick’s sheepish face tells him all he really needs to know. Patrick feels bad about refusing to drop it. So as far as he’s concerned, they’re cool.

He’s starving though. He was gonna go home and make himself a big bowl of pasta and then pass out. “Yeah, if you feed me,” he says, sure that Patrick will order late-night takeout, but when they get back to his place, Patrick makes him sit down at the breakfast bar, while he putters about the kitchen. He throws together an entire breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.

He spatulas an egg sunny-side up right on top of Jonny’s pancakes just the way he likes it, even though he wrinkles his nose and makes gagging noises when Jonny breaks the yoke and lets runny egg run down over them.

“Quiet. The only things you can cook belong on a diner menu,” Jonny replies, eating with the fork in his left and the knife on the right—another thing Patrick makes fun of. It’s good though. Patrick’s come a long way from crushed eggshells in the batter and burnt rubbery scrambled eggs, even if he uses pancake mix out of a Bisquick box.

Patrick used to be too scared of getting food poisoning or salmonella to cook meat at all, despite the fact that he likes his burgers rare and his steaks bloody. Patrick trusts professionals with food, but not himself. Which is probably the wrong order of things. He tosses milk if it’s too near its sell by date, even if it doesn’t smell or look off, and he always drops eggs in water to see if they float. Jonny has yet to see him actually discover a bad egg, but it’s amusing to watch the whole production, so he only pokes at Patrick a little bit.

“Want more?” Patrick asks, indicating the mixing bowl full of pancake batter at his elbow.

“Nah, I’m good,” Jonny says, mopping up the last of his egg with a piece of pancake.

Patrick nods and sticks the bowl in the sink, running the tap to rinse it out.

“You could save it, you know? Put it in the fridge for next time,” Jonny points out.

Patrick makes another face. “It might go bad.”

This is the guy Jonny has seen eat nachos directly off a table in a sports’ bar.

Patrick looks good tonight, hair curling at the nape of his neck, the shirt he’s wearing brings out his eyes. It clings to his shoulders and biceps, pulling tight across his chest as he cleans up the dishes. Jonny doesn’t know what’s on the agenda for the night, but he knows what he’s hoping for. He comes around the counter to press Patrick back up against his fridge, kissing him slow and careful. Patrick edges his thumbs under the hem of Jonny’s sweater, rubbing circles over his hipbones.

Jonny pulls back, palm braced on the fridge near Patrick’s head. “Wine me and dine me and take me to bed, eh?”

Patrick looks up at him, a slow mischievous smile spreading across his face. “Something like that.” He brings his hands around to Jonny’s ass and squeezes. “Although we both know you’re easy.”

Jonny snorts. “I have a dick, you’re good at sucking it.”

“Classy.” Patrick laughs. “That what you want then?”

Jonny looks pointedly down the hall toward the bedroom.

Patrick likes to help him get undressed, always there, hands sliding over his torso to assist in pushing his shirt off or working to get Jonny’s jeans off his legs. He gets Jonny stripped and pushed back into the pillows, kissing his way down his chest when the thought occurs to him of how often he’s done this same thing, not even to Patrick, but to every girl he’s dated on his way to eating her out. It’s just one of those random thoughts that crosses his mind inappropriately, but he laughs this time.

Patrick props his chin on Jonny’s diaphragm. “What are you laughing at?” he asks without heat. “Am I doing something funny?”

“No,” Jonny says hastily.

“What?” Patrick repeats, suspiciously now.

“No, I was just thinking,” Jonny says. “Who knew, turns out oral isn’t that different between guys and girls.” He scratches his hand through Patrick’s hair, trying to subtly encourage him to keep going.

He doesn’t expect Patrick to scoff, eyebrows drawing together in bafflement. “The hell are you talking about? They’re totally different.”

Jonny laughs. “Oh, okay.” He tries to think of how to put it, since Patrick’s clearly not going to drop this. “The feeling of doing it isn’t that different, I don’t know, I think my approach is pretty similar.”

Patrick gives him a skeptical look. “Having a dick in your mouth is way different than licking a clit. If you’re going to compare them, rimming’s way more like going down on a girl.”

“You speaking from direct experience here?” Jonny asks, curious. He’s pretty sure the answer is no, but he’s willing to be surprised.

“Whatever, I’ve seen stuff,” Patrick says.

Jonny cracks up. Only Patrick Kane would bring up porn as evidence to support his sex argument. “Okay, stud. Prove it then.”

“I could do that,” he says, maintaining eye contact even as his cheeks go a bit pink.

Jonny raises his eyebrows. After a moment, Patrick lazily shifts off of Jonny, cocky smile firmly in place. Jonny inwardly shakes his head. He turns over, propping himself up on his elbows and presenting Patrick with this back. Patrick doesn’t do anything immediately, so Jonny turns his head to look at him.

“Well?” he asks.

That spurs Patrick into action. He leans over Jonny, hand on his shoulder bearing him down to the bed and catches him up in one of those deep kisses he’s so good at. “You better be careful, Toews,” he says against Jonny’s mouth, “what you’re getting yourself into.”

Before Jonny can even respond, Patrick’s smoothing a hand down his spine, dragging it down so that his thumb runs between Jonny’s cheeks. Jonny shifts on the bed, pillowing his head on his folded arms. He’s already hardening, dick trapped between his hip and the mattress. He digs his toes into the sheets as he spreads his legs so Patrick can kneel between them. His stomach tenses when Patrick’s hands open him up. He breathes out, trying to relax. Patrick licks a wet line from his sac all the way up over his hole, chin scratching over his skin, and Jonny chokes, the air clogging in his throat. Patrick’s hands bite into Jonny’s ass as he does it again, then he switches to little fluttering licks that make Jonny shift restlessly, and that, fuck him, are totally from the clitoris playbook.

“How’s that?” Patrick asks breathlessly, lifting his mouth away. Jonny groans in frustration, back arching and shoulders rolling as he presses his forehead harder into his arms. “Oh, pretty good?”

Jonny doesn’t even need to see the grin on his face, he can feel it when Patrick licks his way back in again. He’s using more and more of his upper body strength to keep Jonny spread as Jonny rocks against the mattress. He goes back to tonguing at his hole, until Jonny is pushing back insistently into his mouth. When Patrick goes down to explore the delicate skin just over his sac, Jonny’s hole clenches spasmodically. Patrick runs his finger over it, and the shock of rougher skin after the slick wetness of his tongue makes Jonny buck.

“Ah, fuck,” he grinds out. He wants Patrick to fuck him, wants him to open him up with his dick. “Patrick,” he says, voice ragged.

Patrick drags himself up Jonny’s body, blanketing him. “What do you want, Jonny?” he whispers into his ear.

Jonny turns his face to the side, breathing damply into his own skin. He bites at his lip rather than respond—it’s too difficult to ask for it. Patrick chuckles, moving back down again. He bites at Jonny’s cheek, scraping his teeth over the skin, before spreading Jonny open with his thumbs and forcing his tongue just inside. A wounded noise comes out of Jonny’s mouth as Patrick stabs his tongue against his hole over and over. This is the moment, Jonny thinks, that if he were girl, Patrick would be sliding two fingers inside and angling down. Patrick lets up, licking across his swollen rim with a broad swipe.

“You were built for this,” he says, breath ghosting across the spit-slick skin.

Jonny laughs raggedly, holding himself still with great difficulty. “Was I?”

Patrick hums against his skin and goes back to tonguing at Jonny’s entrance, until it starts to get so slick, Jonny can feel his spit running down his balls. It’s odd to so desperately, urgently need something that he’s only barely even familiar with, but he feels empty. Patrick’s mouth on him isn’t enough.

“You need something?” Patrick asks, swatting at one of his cheeks when Jonny pushes back with too much force. Jonny groans as Patrick raises himself up to lean over him again. He can hear the goddamned triumph in his voice. Patrick’s casual arrogance shouldn’t be so attractive, and yet it always has been. Greedy for more contact, Jonny pushes back against him again and Patrick’s hard-on slides over the small of his back, leaving a slick trail of precome so close to where he wants it.

Jonny breathes out. “I want you to get one of your condoms and fuck me,” he says as Patrick sweeps his hands down his sides.

Patrick hesitates. “It’s not enough—maybe a little prep—”

Jonny pushes up off his knees, rolling his hips back so that Patrick’s dick slides right over his entrance. “ good,” he says. That makes Patrick hop to it.

Patrick gets a condom on and seemingly squirts lube everywhere. Before he lines himself up, he sinks two fingers in Jonny and they go in so easy, Patrick curses. “Oh shit, you really are—”

Jonny shudders as Patrick strokes those fingers inside him, searching out his prostate and dragging across it. He looks back over his shoulder as Patrick puts one hand on his hip, pulling out his fingers. Patrick’s lips look red from how he’s been using them, Jonny always notices, but Jonny’s still slick from them, all along his crack and down his balls, and the thought makes him flush hot. Patrick strokes his hand over Jonny’s side and presses in at the same time. Jonny’s mouth opens in wordless surprise as his eyes flutter shut. He thought he knew what to expect, but he’d forgotten what this feels like, to be breached open here, all his focus narrowed down to the thick push of Patrick’s cock inside him. Patrick’s working into him in slow strokes, getting incrementally closer, his hand firm on Jonny’s hip.

“Like that, fuck, like that,” Jonny slurs.

“How are you so—” Patrick starts. Jonny doesn’t know how that sentence ends, because Patrick grabs his hips in both hands, pulling out and thrusting back in all the way, and all he can hear is his frantic pulse in his ears. He groans. Patrick responds by fucking into him steadily, like he knows Jonny only wants more. The mattress shifts under him. He widens his stance, digging his fingers fruitlessly into the sheets, fighting to keep his balance. His ass clenches around Patrick’s dick and they both moan. Patrick swears fervently, pushing in as far as he can, rocking Jonny forward onto his hands. He grinds his hips in little circles, then pulls out and pushes back in, over and over.

Jonny’s shoulders burn. He tries to get his hand around his throbbing dick, attempting to get some pressure so he has something to rock into, but he slides on the bed, braced arm shaking, and he goes down on one elbow instead. He drops his forehead as he closes his other hand around his dick. On Patrick’s next thrust, he drags over Jonny’s prostate, and Jonny whines, shoving back, tightening his hand over his own dick. He’s so close, he can hear himself telling Patrick that in desperate, profane words, if Patrick just keeps doing that, exactly like that.

“Come on, you’re clutch, come on,” Jonny says nonsensically. Patrick tightens his hands bruisingly on Jonny’s hips, pulling him up even higher, and keeps rolling his own hips perfectly. Jonny strips his hand over his cock, brutally tight, and when Patrick slips off-rhythm, it doesn’t even matter anymore, because Jonny’s coming in spurts, chest heaving, mouth open against his wrist.

His body goes tense everywhere, small shivers running through him. He can’t help clenching down rhythmically on Patrick’s dick, even though it’s started to edge over into pain. It makes Patrick’s thrusts even more erratic. Jonny can’t see him, but he could bet Patrick’s head is dipping on his neck right now, that he’s gone all red and flushed down his chest.

He’s glad of it, when Patrick comes, because he feels extended to the limit. The thrusts inside him that shot vivid sparks behind his eyes just moments ago now ache. The cock he accepted into his body now feels like an invasion. His hole feels hot and abused, rim so sensitized the backwards drag of Patrick withdrawing seems to go on forever.

He’s not prepared for Patrick to pull out and haul Jonny up to put his mouth right back on his hole. The point of his tongue over Jonny’s swollen rim makes him shout and jerk. Patrick does it again, because he’s merciless, and Jonny just wants to crawl away from the sensation even as he pushes back into it.

“Stop, stop,” he cries finally, trembling so hard he’s not even sure how Patrick can hold onto him. “Oh, god, stop.”

Patrick lifts his mouth, skimming a kiss over the small of Jonny’s back. “You’re okay,” he says, palm running up Jonny’s side. He crawls up the bed to lie beside him.

Jonny laughs weakly. He used that one in front of Patrick once. He reaches back and thumps Patrick in the rib. “Stealing my lines?”

“Ow, Jesus,” Patrick says, flinching back. “Nailed me right on a bruise.” He settles close again. It’s too warm, but Jonny doesn’t make him move. Patrick’s oddly silent.

“That was nice,” Jonny teases.

“Nice?” Patrick replies, incredulous, swatting his thigh. “I wouldn’t call fucking you in the ass nice.”

Jonny turns over, holding back a grin. The muscles in the small of his back protest with the move. “Oh no? What would you call it?”

Patrick gets held up trying to think of the right words, opening and closing his mouth in search of an answer. “Fuck, I don’t know. Awesome? Hot? Surprising?”

“Surprising?” Jonny asks with a raised brow, not sure what to make of that.

Patrick flushes bright red. “Oh, just shut up. You know what I mean.”

Jonny doesn’t actually. “You calling me predictable, normally?”

“Well,” Patrick starts, lips curling as he tries to hold back a smile.

“Because I’m not the one with superstitious traditions here, Kaner,” Jonny says.

“Dude—” Patrick says.

“I had to jerk off in a restaurant bathroom for you,” Jonny says, fending off Patrick’s hand, which is reaching to cover his mouth.

“Ancient history—”

“I had to lie to my mother about why I was all red when I came back to the table, and then she made me stop and get TheraFlu—”

“That was ages ago,” Patrick says, propping himself up on his elbows.

“I’m just saying, if there’s one of us who goes with the flow here,” Jonny says, right before Patrick chucks his pillow at him.

“Whatever, crazy,” Patrick says, rolling on top of him. “I’m trying to give you a compliment.”

Jonny rolls his eyes. “If you consider that a compliment, keep working.”

Patrick unfairly retaliates by trying to tickle him, setting off a wrestling match that ends with them crosswise on the bed, Jonny pinning Patrick down, both of them breathing hard. Jonny’s exhausted and now the small of his back echoes with a deep ache, but he’s for sure not letting Patrick win. “Fuck you for making me do that,” Jonny says, tightening his knees around Patrick’s middle so that he really feels it.

Patrick goes soft and pliant under him. He tips his chin up, blue eyes bright. “I always used to think about fucking whenever we would do this.”

Jonny’s grip on him relaxes and Patrick sits up underneath him, shifting so that Jonny’s straddling his lap. “See?” he says, hand curving around the back of Jonny’s skull as he draws him down into a kiss. “Surprising.”


No win streak can last forever, but Jonny's still disappointed in that moment that they finally lose in regulation. Not as disappointed as Patrick though. By the time he's finished talking to the media in Colorado, Jonny’s disappointment has turned into relief. The other shoe has dropped, he can stop anticipating it, and they can move on.

"Fucking mile-high city," Patrick says bitterly, wandering into Jonny's room through the open adjoining door.

"Had to happen sometime," Jonny says.

"That's how you're going to play this?" Patrick says, dropping down onto the bed carelessly, jostling Jonny.

"It's the truth," Jonny says. "So, yeah, I guess so."

Patrick doesn't say anything. When Jonny looks over he's got one hand behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. Eventually he shakes his head. He rolls into Jonny’s space, climbing on top of him.

“Hi,” Jonny says, looking up at him.

Patrick smiles down at him and then skims his lips across Jonny’s mouth before moving to his throat. Well, if that’s how he wants to distract himself, Jonny can live with that. He turns his face into the pillow to give Patrick more access, letting Patrick mouth down the the column of his throat. He likes this, having Patrick’s weight pressing him down, but usually his favorite part is having that tender mouth on his. When Jonny gets impatient, tugging him back up, he just smirks down at him.

They kiss like that for a while, soft and slow, Patrick tangling their hands together and pinning them back to the bed, but it never develops anywhere. Jonny’s aroused, but it’s not insistent, and when Patrick yawns into his mouth for the second time, Jonny laughs and shoves him off.

“Let’s just sleep,” he says.

Patrick looks like he wants to argue, but he yawns again and thinks better of it. “I hate this place,” he say brattily, eyes sliding shut as Jonny yanks the covers over him.

Jonny smiles and the last thing he remembers before he falls asleep is Patrick burrowing deeper into Jonny’s pillow rather than using his own.


They lose to the Oilers next on home turf and that is less easy to shrug off. Jonny’s glad of the four days off between games. It feels like the first time they’ve had to breathe in a long while.

“If we leave now we can catch the tail end of South by Southwest,” Patrick says with a tired laugh as they’re driving along Wacker after the loss. Erica’s in Austin right now and Patrick’s been expressing displeasure about molly and flower crowns and booty shorts for the past few days.

Jonny snorts. “Have you ever even been to a music festival?”

“Does Warped Tour count?” Patrick asks.

It’s dark in the car, so Patrick can’t see the judgement on his face, but apparently he senses it anyway, because he punches Jonny in the arm.

“Don’t act like you’re some connoisseur of taste, Canada.”

Jonny rubs at his arm, grinning, and doesn’t engage. Whatever, he’s got better taste than Patrick by any metric.

“She’s gonna be fine, you know?” Jonny says, reaching over to grip his knee.

“Yeah,” Patrick replies with a sigh.

He can’t catch Patrick’s eye while he’s driving, but Jonny feels this rush of emotion so strong it swells up his heart and threatens to drown him. He very carefully removes his hand.

When disaster strikes a few days later while they’re in Columbus, it’s not Erica, but Jacqueline.

Patrick appears in the open doorway between their rooms after taking a shower.

“I’m gonna close this, okay?” he says, with his hand on the doorknob. Jonny looks up from his book. “Gonna facetime Jackie. She’s got some sort of hipster boy drama.”

Patrick closes the door and Jonny stares at it, mystified. Patrick didn’t need to tell him that. If he wants to close the door he's always welcome to do so—Jonny wasn’t gonna get pissed off about it. He realizes with a start that they just haven't. Not since that game against the Blues.

It’s weird being in the room after that realization, so he goes to find the other guys to play some videogames and ends up watching this show Forbrydelson with Johnny and Nik for far too many episodes. They’d claimed that they hadn’t needed the subtitles to understand the Danish, but had politely bothered to turn them on for him.

When he finally gets back to the room, a little later than he meant, he finds the door between their rooms open again.

Jonny briefly considers not going through it and then wonders what the hell is wrong with him. Patrick looks up from his laptop when Jonny walks through the door.

“She gonna survive?” Jonny asks.

Patrick makes a face. “Pretty sure she’s not gonna break up with this sack of shit.”

“Rough,” Jonny says, knee-walking up the bed. Patrick sets his laptop aside as Jonny straddles his waist. “Eh, you know, Jackie’s pretty strong minded. She’ll figure it out eventually.”

Patrick drops back to his pillows. “I’m just fucking tired of being the male perspective, like I have any insight into this loser. She said her decision would all depend on his behavior over the next couple of days, so I said, in that case, I hoped he was an asshole to her.”

Jonny laughs, he can’t help it. “How’d she take that?”

Patrick cups Jonny’s dick through his shorts. “She hung up.”

“You mighta earned that,” Jonny says, eyes sliding shut as Patrick starts to circle his palm.

“Hah, this coming from you? There was a time you could barely remember my sisters’ names.”

Jonny bends to kiss him. “I knew their names. I just really didn’t want you to think I was hitting on them.”

"Sure, that's the story now," Patrick says, grinning up at him.

"That was the story then, too!" Jonny protests. Patrick nips at his throat in response, fingers gripping at Jonny's rapidly-hardening cock, and Jonny tips his head back.

Patrick has his hand inside Jonny's shorts now, pulling his dick out. When Jonny goes to return the favor, he finds Patrick still soft, though he rolls his hips eagerly into Jonny's hand.

"Slow, eh?" Jonny says.

"Or maybe you're just on a hair trigger," Patrick says. He's fucking around with Jonny's foreskin the way he still sometimes likes to do, those nimble fingers dragging it down over the head and back up. It doesn't turn Jonny off, but after a while it doesn't do much for him either, and Patrick knows it. He's looking up at Jonny with a teasing grin on his face, the very tip of his tongue pressing down the center of his lower lip. He sings, "Hair trigger, hair trigger."

Jonny's already cradling Patrick's dick in his hand. He reaches down and brushes Patrick's hand aside, pressing their cockheads together. With another quick motion of his hand, he's sliding his foreskin up to cover the tip of Patrick's dick. He’s not really thinking about what he’s doing, but Patrick makes this sound like he’s swallowed his own tongue, eyes going wide and shell-shocked. He fills up quickly, so quickly Jonny can’t keep them together.

“I was just inside—” Patrick babbles. “I was just inside you.”

“Now who’s got a hair trigger?” Jonny shoots back, a little breathless. It was just for a moment, but the feel of Patrick’s cockhead against his like that, his foreskin sliding so smooth over it—he trembles remembering that overwhelming burst of sensation before they came apart.

Patrick dumps him off of him, following him over. “Fuck, Jonny.” He gets them both wrapped in his hand and pulls them off, pushing in between Jonny’s thighs so he can get in tight, swearing the whole while. It’s fast and hard. The way he keeps thrusting their dicks together in his tight fist is so hot, all Jonny can do is watch in open-mouthed wonder at what it looks like. The plump head of Patrick’s cock bumping against his own; he’s letting out so much precome, leaking like a faucet, he doesn’t even need to go for his favorite Cetaphil.

When it’s over they’re both left winded, lying sprawled out across Patrick’s mattress.

“Why do I feel like I’ve just run a mile?” Patrick moans, flat on his stomach, limbs splayed.

Jonny sits up on his elbows and gets a gratifying view of Patrick’s buttocks flexing as he shifts. “So liked that,” Jonny says.

Patrick rolls onto his side with some effort. “Pretty good party trick,” he says.

Jonny quirks his eyebrow. He’s not going to forget how affected Patrick was any time soon.

“Ah, shut up,” Patrick says, flushed and smiling. “You surprised the hell out of me.”

“Not predictable after all?” Jonny asks, recalling their earlier argument.

Patrick rolls his eyes. “I was telling you that you were surprising, asshole!”

Jonny laughs, dipping down. Patrick reads the play and tilts his head up obligingly into a kiss, until Jonny has to draw away. He smacks Patrick across the ass and goes back to his own room to shower and get ready for bed. He keeps glancing in the mirror as he’s brushing his teeth, eyes snagging on the open door between their two rooms. Patrick’s light is already out.

He hesitates after he’s worked his way over to the doorway in the dark. Patrick’s voice comes sleepy and deep, muffled like he’s buried in the pillow. “Jonny?” he says.

“Yeah,” Jonny says quietly. He finds the edge of the bed and pulls back the covers. He’s sliding in under the sheets when Patrick’s arm wraps around his middle, tumbling him down toward the center of the bed.

“Whoa,” he says, stomach dropping out at the sudden unexpected move.

“Get over here,” Patrick mutters into the back of his neck, warm breath drifting over the vulnerable skin.

Jonny holds himself still. He’s not sure he’s ever gonna get used to the way Patrick so casually handles him, probably the way he’s always done for everybody else he’s ever been with. He curbs the impulse to elbow Patrick in the gut to get his own back, establishing their usual order, and allows sleep to creep in around his consciousness.


With twenty-two guys in the same room day-in and day-out, spending all their working hours together, fighting for space in the lineup and minutes on the ice, there's always some minor drama going on. Jonny keeps an eye on it to a certain extent, but keeps out of it as long as it doesn't affect their play. So, he's aware of Stalberg's slow descent into sullen anger at the opportunities he's not being given that he thinks he's earned.

There's not much Jonny can do other than keep telling him to work hard and play smart, but he watches it continue to fester with a growing sense of unease. They’ve slowed down. The injuries are cropping up. Just as they’re getting Hossa, Shawsy, and Frolik back, Sharpy’s down for the count. The second line is still a rotating cast of players with Patrick as one of the few fixed points. With Sharpy out too, Jonny knows that Patrick’s feeling pressure, both real and imagined, to carry the line.

Bicks gets moved up into Sharpy’s spot and Patrick doesn’t make a fuss about it. Bicks is doing well this year and as Patrick points out after practice, he’ll bring some heft to his line, which was running a bit light between him and Bolly.

“Good players adjust,” Patrick says very earnestly over a dinner of sushi when Jonny asks if he’s okay with it. He’s been quiet in practice, headphones back on.

Jonny socks him in the shoulder. “I’m being serious, jackass.”

Patrick grins around a mouthful of sashimi. “Me too.”

The next day after practice, as soon as Q’s out of earshot, Stalberg starts swearing up a storm, kicking at the bench in front of his stall. Jonny’s content to ignore it—he’s learned by now that when some guys get frustrated it’s best to just stay out of their way. If they want a buddy, he can do that. If they need him to mind his business, he can do that too. Stalberg can curse out Q’s mother with as many Swedish insults as he wants as long as its behind closed doors and he’s not dragging the other guys down. Sometimes guys need to hate their coach in order to go out there and prove to them that they deserve to be there.

Something happens as he’s pulling his jeans on. One moment, he’s listening intently to Saader detail some issues he’s having protecting the puck and getting around unshakable D and the next he hears Patrick snap out, “Whoa, what the fuck is wrong with you, man?”

The room grows silent, all eyes turning to see Patrick standing in front of Stalberg, hands up. He’s already dressed in his street clothes. Stalberg is still in his sweat-soaked UnderArmour, too busy talking to get changed.

“This is bullshit! I’m lucky to average ten minutes a night out there,” Stalberg says. “I skate my nuts off for this team. I deserve to be playing on the goddamn second line. So what’s your fucking problem?”

“My problem?” Patrick shoots back. “I got no fucking problem. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

Stalberg straightens up to his full height. “You tell Q you can’t work with me? That we have no chemistry?”

“What the hell? You think I’m running to Q like some little bitch trying to get you off my line?” Patrick gives a disbelieving laugh. “You’re delusional.”

A scuffle breaks out, Stalberg shoving Patrick hard, tripping him up against the bench. Patrick nearly lands a loose punch before Hammer and Bolly tug Stalberg back up off of Patrick and Jonny belts an arm around Patrick’s waist to haul him away. Patrick’s furious, he can feel it from the way he’s vibrating in his grip.

“You wanna be on the second line, motherfucker? You have to earn it,” he says venomously, shrugging Jonny off. The words are quiet, but they ring loud in the room, like Patrick shouted them. His shirt is all twisted up, the neckline stretched out of place, and he yanks it straight before picking up the last of his stuff and shoving his way past the guys before anybody can stop him.

Jonny doesn’t even have a shirt on. He glances back at where Duncs has Stalberg corralled, muscling him toward the showers. He should stick around, see if Stalberg needs him to play kindergarten teacher, but he doesn’t want to. He scrubs at his face. Saader sits wide-eyed next to him.

“Gotta let off steam somehow,” Jonny says, and Saader smiles uncertainly. Conversation is starting up again, Shawsy predictably first to make a joke, but there’s an unsettled air to the room. Jonny really should stay. Patrick can and has taken care of himself plenty in the past.

Jonny grabs his t-shirt from the bench and jams himself into it, then shrugs on his jacket. He claps Saader on the back. “We can talk later, maybe try some stuff tomorrow morning, eh?”

“Sure, Tazer,” Saader says, and Jonny heads for the door.

Patrick’s car is gone from the parking lot, so Jonny heads over to his apartment. When he knocks, it takes Patrick a long time to answer the door.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he says, almost angrily, when he sees Jonny on the threshold. He doesn’t wait for Jonny to answer before he’s walking back into his apartment, but he leaves the door open behind him for Jonny to walk through.

He’s standing in the living room, staring out the window, though Jonny doubts he’s seeing anything. His jaw is clenched tight.

Patrick’s rarely at the heart of this sort of team drama, so Jonny isn’t practiced at what to say here. Jonny opens his mouth, but before he can start, Patrick says, low and vehement, “Where the fuck does he get off, huh?”

Jonny sits down on the couch behind him.

“Like I haven’t worked for what I have?” Patrick turns and takes two angry steps, “He thinks he’s owed something? That I haven’t had to fight to prove myself here? Every fucking day.”

Jonny understands. Of course he does. He knows better than anybody how much Patrick’s poured into this game—letting them put him at center and left wing, constantly shuffling his linemates so that Patrick feels like he has to do the work of two players, double-shifting and playing so hard he stress-fractured his left wrist. Patrick rubs at that broken-and-repaired wrist as he paces, like he doesn’t even realize. It kills Jonny when he hears windbags like Roenick talk about Patrick coasting on his talent and not delivering on his promise, because Patrick has given up a lot. He’s let Bowman and Q give him the garbage assignments like he’s still some IceHogs call-up fighting to keep his spot on the roster, even as they’re relying on him to play twenty minutes a night, and he’s done it without complaint.

Patrick drops his hands to his sides and stops, still looking out the window. He puts a hand on the back of his neck and squeezes. "Sometimes I just don't know," he says, brittle. "What more do I gotta prove to you guys?"

He turns, finally. This time, when he says, "What are you even doing here?" he sounds tired. "Why aren't you back there?"

Jonny shrugs. When Patrick keeps looking at him, he says, "I've got Duncs practicing being the bad cop. He's going to have to get used to dealing with tantrums, with that kid on the way."

Patrick rolls his shoulders, rubbing at his cheek with his palm. "Shit."

He drops down onto the couch within reach of the arm Jonny has draped along the back. When he sags back, letting his head rest on the couch cushions, his hair brushes along the inside of Jonny's wrist. He closes his eyes and his face goes blank.

Tentatively, Jonny says, "You know none of us think—"

Patrick holds up his hand. "Whatever. I'm over it."

"You gotta know it's not true," Jonny persists.

Patrick lets out a long breath and then shakes his head.

When he looks over at Jonny there’s a crooked smile on his face. “So what are you buying me for dinner?” he asks.

Jonny's chest feels tight with everything else he wants to say, but he knows he’s not going to get anywhere with Patrick right now. Patrick’s decided this conversation is over, so functionally it is. He swallows and Iets it go.

“Fuck you, what am I buying you for dinner?” Jonny replies, trying to match Patrick’s bright tone. “Why don’t you buy me dinner?”

Dinner transitions into Jonny staying the night, but that catch in his chest doesn’t ever quite ease. He lies awake for a long time with Patrick asleep next to him. It’s funny, the things they can and can’t talk about. He can say anything in bed, can give point-by-point directions for what he wants Patrick to do with his hands and his mouth and his dick, but there’s still a wall Jonny isn’t allowed past. He wants to be, though. He rolls over onto his back and grinds his head in the pillow, frustrated. If he’s thinking honestly about it, he hasn’t wanted to be with anyone other than Patrick for a long time.

Jonny can touch Patrick anywhere he wants, but he’s got no clue how to tell him that he likes him. He only wants to do this with him. That reserve is what’s keeping Jonny up at night. Once Patrick’s done, he’s done. Jonny’s not ready to give this up.


Patrick and Stalberg's spat blows over as quickly as it had appeared, ending with a fist-bump at the end of practice after a day of cold-shouldering on both their parts. A few days later Patrick’s buddies from New York blow into town.

"Guess you're going to have to find some way to occupy yourself, because I'm gonna be hanging with my boys," he says with a shit-eating grin, starting to bounce to some invisible beat.

"How will I manage?" Jonny says dryly, but he feels a vague unsettled hollowness in his chest.

He couldn’t entirely say what’s bothering him, just that he goes home that night and doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s not the same as Patrick acting like an asswipe for two weeks and leaving the rest of them all out in the cold. The last time Jonny saw him have a moment like the one he just had over that duff up with Stalberg, frustrated and scared all chased with that bitter edge, he disappeared off the face of the earth. When he reappeared it was as a drunk mess in a barrage of camera pictures. He doesn’t like worrying about Patrick. For years he was the most stable point in Jonny’s life. But ever since last February, when it felt like Jonny’s whole life was coming apart at the seams, he feels like he’s been tossed out on the open ocean. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it’s a churning, roiling mess with monsoon winds threatening to overturn his precariously balanced existence. Things used to be simple—in the days of jerkoff wins, before they started hooking up, before that stupid kiss.

But he thinks of Patrick pushing inside him, bare skin to bare skin, the perfect spur of his hips under Jonny’s palms and his firm weight pressing Jonny down. His stomach swoops pleasantly and he goes hot all over. There have been times over the past two months when he’s found himself blinking and red-faced just remembering. If Patrick slams the door on that, shuts him out the way he did last summer—it’ll leave him bereft in more ways than he’s quite ready to face. He’s not quite sure how to do without him now.

The awkward disquiet eats at him for a whole three days—he bums around his apartment when he’s not at the rink. They finished Band of Brothers. Jonny doesn’t watch a lot of TV and he feels like none of the movies on Netflix are interesting at all. Jonny does not do well with boredom. He ends up making a spreadsheet of all of his DVD and Blu-Rays. It’s not a completely insane idea, although Patrick would be rolling his eyes right now, giving him shit for being a freak. He’s always paranoid he’s going to buy something twice, a spreadsheet has been on his to do list for a long time. Then when that’s done, he checks off another to-do list item and starts standardizing all of the information on his music files in iTunes.

At midnight, just as he’s settled down to read a book his mother sent him, his phone goes off and he nearly drops it in his haste to answer it. David’s called him this late a couple of times and there have been team emergencies. It could be anybody. All the same, he doesn’t even have to look at the number to know it’s Patrick.

“Jonny, are you there?” Patrick says, shouting into the speaker to be heard over the sound of pounding music and people yelling and laughing.

Jonny winces, holding the receiver away from his ear. It’s been a while since Patrick drunk dialed him.

“Jonny?” Patrick repeats and this time Jonny notices the agitation around the way Patrick says his name.

“Yeah, man, I’m here,” he replies.

“Come get me,” Patrick says. “I need you to come get me.”

“Hey, is everything okay?” Jonny asks, already going for his shoes. He toes them on with his cell pinned between his shoulder and his ear, looking around urgently for his keys.

“This is all so fucked up,” Patrick says and then he laughs mirthlessly. “So fucked up.”

Jonny swallows. “Just tell me where you are.”

Patrick rattles off the address and Jonny promises to be there in fifteen minutes. It’s some fancy penthouse party, not hard to find.

It's quiet on the streets and in Jonny's car, one of those nights where his tires pass smoothly over the pavement, and he waits alone at the stoplights. The party is disorientingly loud. He doesn't see Patrick on his first scan of the room and is worried he might need to brave the patio before he finds him slouched in an armchair fiddling with his phone. Jonny goes over and drops down onto the arm of the chair, nudges his shoulder. It takes Patrick a second to switch his focus, but when he does, his face lights up.

"Hey, Jonny," he says. "Are we leaving?"

"Got the car downstairs," Jonny says. Patrick seems less agitated now, but he still stands up quickly, grabbing at Jonny's shoulder for balance. Aside from that, he doesn't seem trashed, more tired as they're waiting for the elevator.

In the car, Jonny glances over. "Your friends gonna be okay?" He doesn't really care, but Patrick might tomorrow.

"Yeah," Patrick says, drawing the word out. He tilts his head back against the headrest and slouches in the seat. "Fuck, I shoulda just stayed in with you tonight." He rolls his head to the side, facing Jonny. "This shit isn't fun anymore. Woulda been better. Were you up? Sorry. Sorry, Jonny."

"I was up," Jonny says, trying to forestall a repeat of his name and an apology, which Patrick sometimes seems to fixate on, maybe because they almost rhyme. He puts his hand on Patrick's knee and shakes it. "Don't worry about it, eh?"

"Woulda had more fun with you," Patrick says.

That catches him off-guard. Jonny doesn’t know what to say. He wishes desperately that he knew what motivated that phone call—if it really could be that simple. When he glances over, he finds Patrick staring out the window, expression opaque, and now the silence has gone on too long.

He settles for a lame joke. One that won’t telegraph so much of what he’s feeling right now. The way that simple pronouncement creates space inside his chest for hope. "Fun is pretty much my nickname," Jonny says. "You know."

"Lies," Patrick mumbles. He heaves a sigh. "Anyway, thanks for picking me up."

"Anytime," Jonny says.

"I just wanted you to come get me," Patrick says.

Jonny has to clear his throat before he says, "Anytime, right?"

All the lights are still on at Jonny's apartment in the foyer, living room, and kitchen. His book is face-down on the couch. Jonny's almost ashamed at the signs of his hasty departure, but Patrick's eyes pass over them without curiosity. He starts stripping as soon as he reaches the bedroom. Jonny slides his palm up Patrick’s naked back, then presses firmly on his spine to direct him away from the bed.

“Shower first,” he advises.

“Jeez, fine,” Patrick says, resigned, and wanders toward the bathroom.

Jonny kicks Patrick’s discarded clothes into a pile in the corner as the water turns on in the other room. They smell like alcohol and smoke, like a night out, and Jonny doesn’t want that smell in his bed. He undresses and walks into the foggy bathroom to get ready for bed. That antsy energy that kept him up, jittering around his apartment, has faded, his whirling thoughts quieted. He’s still brushing his teeth when Patrick finishes his clearly perfunctory shower and turns off the water. He comes up behind Jonny as he’s wiping his face dry and wraps an arm around his waist, pressing his still-wet face into Jonny’s shoulder.

“Hey,” he says, lips buzzing on Jonny’s skin.

“Hi,” Jonny says. He drops the towel into the sink carelessly and turns in Patrick’s grasp. Patrick tips his face up and Jonny drops down into a kiss that he feels thirsty for, palm spread across Patrick’s shoulder blade, the other hand curved around his jaw. Patrick makes a deep, satisfied noise, rocking into Jonny before settling back on his feet. He pulls away slowly, and Jonny lets his hand slide down to rest on his shoulder. He sweeps his fingertips along the solid muscle, catching and skipping across Patrick’s damp skin. It’s been a long three days, but he’s not actually looking to start something. Jonny’s just missed him.

Patrick muffles a yawn against his shoulder, cheek brushing Jonny’s thumb.

“Time for bed, eh?” Jonny says. Patrick shrugs, and Jonny gives him a gentle shove out of the en suite. As soon as Patrick’s out of sight and shuffling around, getting under the covers of Jonny’s bed, Jonny turns around and takes a moment just to breathe in and out. He doesn’t know where they go from here or what to do about the warmth that exploded in his chest as Patrick repeated ‘should’ve just stayed in with you’ over and over. Frozen, standing there, palms braced against the sink, searching his own reflection for answers, it feels that much heavier of a thing. Jonny blinks at himself in the mirror and exhales. None of this worrying is helpful and so he excises it from his brain and thinks about what he needs to accomplish tomorrow at practice instead. After a moment he follows Patrick to bed.

The next morning turns into a hectic juggling act of trying to get them both ready for practice, since they have to stop by Patrick's place beforehand to grab his bag. Patrick is washed-out and a little hungover while Jonny's just tired and grumpy, and they end up sniping at each other over Jonny's tendency to hit the snooze alarm a few times before he gets up.

"And you're bitching at me for making you late?" Patrick says, holding open the door to the coffeeshop. He steps up to the counter and places an order for a latte and a cappuccino, then waves off Jonny's wallet.

Jonny leans on the counter. "I don't know why you always act like it's a surprise," he says.

"Maybe I keep hoping one day it'll change," Patrick says darkly.

"Good luck with that," Jonny says, and takes his coffee. He tips it toward Patrick. "Thanks."

Patrick goes his own way after practice, meeting up with his friends for lunch before they leave town to make up for ditching them. Jonny's napping when he wakes to the sound of the front door opening and Patrick's footfalls in the hallway. He drifts for while as the water turns on somewhere in the apartment, and then the bedroom door opens quietly. Jonny slits his eyes open and reaches for his watch on his nightstand as Patrick crawls into bed.

"Go back to sleep," Patrick mutters, rolling close.

"It's already been an hour," Jonny says blearily. He turns onto his back and yawns, scrubbing at his face with both hands, and blinks up at the ceiling. "Slept too long already."

"Uh oh," Patrick says with gentle mockery. "Missed your twenty-minute nap window."

"I'm gonna sleep like shit tonight," Jonny says. He stretches, back arching up, and then collapses back onto the mattress. Sunlight is flooding Jonny’s bedroom from his open windows. He hadn’t closed the curtains, because he hadn’t intended anything beyond a short nap. Patrick is on his side, head pillowed on his folded arm, facing Jonny. He doesn't seem sleepy, eyes bright and amused as he looks at Jonny, the blue picked out vividly in his irises. "C'mere," Jonny says, reaching out his arm into that warm light. This morning was so hasty.

Patrick shifts over obligingly, blanketing him as he rests his elbows on either side of Jonny's head. He brushes his lips across Jonny's lightly, a contrast to the solid weight of his body pressing Jonny down and waking a hunger in him that's been simmering for days. Jonny wraps his arms around him, the cloth of Patrick's t-shirt sliding rough under his palms as he pulls him in closer and deepens the kiss. He skates his hands down Patrick's back to find bare skin.

Patrick shifts against him, then pulls away to give him a filthy grin. "Oh, hey," he says, rubbing up against Jonny's growing erection. "Looks like you're waking up."

He knows that Patrick is expecting some cheesy joke in return, but Jonny takes him seriously, drawing his knee up between Patrick’s thighs. “Yup, looks like,” he says, voice full of gravel.

Patrick’s own dick has already firmed up against his thigh. He rolls his hips, riding Jonny’s leg, and laughs, dropping his head to Jonny’s shoulder. “How convenient,” he says. He lifts his head and captures Jonny’s mouth again, and Jonny’s attention narrows down to the slick press of his lips and the slow friction of their bodies moving together. Patrick’s controlling the pace of things, taking his time working them both up. Jonny works his fingers under Patrick’s boxers to feel the muscles of his buttocks flexing smoothly. Everyone talks about Jonny’s ass, but he’s developed his own fondness for Patrick’s compact strength.

They’re both starting to sweat when Patrick goes back up on his elbows to look down at Jonny. He runs his tongue along the swell of his lower lip, honing Jonny’s attention. “Hey,” he says. “You ever think about fucking me?” He shifts his hips in Jonny’s hands.

Jonny’s thought about it. He’s used to fucking women, of course he’s thought about it. Some of that must cross his face, because Patrick chuckles. Jonny asks, “You want to try that?”

Patrick tilts his chin. “If I don’t like it,” he shrugs, “we’ll do something else.”

Jonny raises his eyebrows. He shoves the covers off of them and sweeps his hand down Patrick’s back, then drags his fingertips slowly along the crease of his ass, feeling Patrick lift into his hand. He thinks he can make it good for him—Jonny’s done anal before this, even though Patrick hasn’t. He hadn’t really thought about it at the time, when Patrick said he’d never done it before, but he wonders now if that’s because of his outsized dick. Which Jonny so eagerly fucked himself on. His cheeks heat with a frisson of embarrassment.

“What are you thinking about, Toews?” Patrick asks, voice low.

“How to fuck you,” Jonny says. He’s only lying a little bit, he was thinking about it.

“Do you need some tips?” Patrick says, relaxing into a smirk.

Jonny rolls his eyes, and shifts his weight to roll Patrick off, onto his back. “I’ve done this part before,” he informs him.

“Just let me know,” Patrick laughs. “I’m here to help.”

Jonny flicks at Patrick’s t-shirt. “Taking these off would be a start,” he says, voice dry, and moves toward his nightstand, leaving Patrick to undress behind him.

When he turns around, Patrick is stretched out, naked. Jonny runs his eyes up his body appreciatively, not tired of the sight. He drops the lube carelessly on the mattress as he comes back in close to kiss him. He takes Patrick’s hands and laces their fingers together, pressing them back against the pillows and covering Patrick’s body with his own. They just kiss for a long time, the dirty, open-mouthed kisses that never fail to coax those small noises from Patrick’s throat. His hands tighten and relax around Jonny’s as he presses up into Jonny’s body, and eventually he moans low in his chest. Jonny shifts over and gets his knees between Patrick’s legs, letting go of one of his hands to reach down and grasp Patrick’s thigh, bringing his knee up so Jonny can fit.

“I never thought about it before Rachel,” Jonny says honestly, the words pulled out of him by the way Patrick is moving with him, trusting the urging of his hands, following his lead. Patrick opens his eyes, gaze intent. Jonny licks his lip. “But after that, I thought about us maybe taking someone home, fucking her at the same time.” He looks at the hollow of Patrick’s throat, sheened with sweat, Adam’s apple moving as he swallows. Jonny says softly, chest full, feeling shaky, “Never thought we could get closer than that.”

Patrick surges up against him, wrapping his arm around Jonny’s neck and pulling him back down so he can press their mouths together, kissing him deeply. Their bodies are tight against each other as Jonny works himself back from the brink of trembling emotion.

He breaks the kiss and presses his forehead against Patrick’s, then has to back off to get the space to fit his hand between their bodies. At the first press of his finger inside Patrick, he pulls back even further so he can see the way Patrick’s mouth drops open, the look of surprise before his eyes close. His brow furrows like he’s unsure of the sensation, but it smooths as Jonny crooks upward, seeking that specific spot.

He must find it because Patrick’s eyelids flutter. “Fuck, that feels—” he cuts himself off as Jonny presses harder, dragging his finger over the gland. Patrick twitches throughout his whole body, so Jonny does it again, slicking up his hand with more lube so that he can twist in another finger. Jonny angles his wrist so he can curl his fingertips into Patrick’s prostate and press his thumb to his perineum at the same time.

Patrick shakes, bringing his arm across his eyes like if he looks and sees himself pinned on Jonny’s hand it’ll be too much. Jonny circles his fingers, dragging one then the other across the gland, and then thrusts back in hard with both to push on that same spot. Patrick cries out, thigh muscles going tight. Jonny works over it again and again.

Patrick turns his cheek into the pillow. “Shit, I didn’t know,” Patrick says, clutching a handful of the sheets. The veins in his arms are corded like he’s been lifting weights.

“There’s a lot of shit you don’t know,” Jonny tells him, unable to hide the soft huff of amusement as he bends down to kiss him again. It’s awkward, Jonny’s arm working between their bodies, Patrick clinging to him, sucking at his tongue as his hole sucks greedily on Jonny’s fingers. Patrick makes a little choked exhale into his mouth as Jonny forces in a third finger, hips rocking upward. Jonny thumbs at his lip with his left hand, tilting Patrick’s chin further into his kiss as he keeps up a steady rhythm with his hand.

When Jonny drives up against his prostate again, Patrick’s hand drops down to his dick, squeezing at the base, like he’s trying to stave off coming. He wrenches his face out of Jonny’s hand.

“Jonny,” he chokes. “If you’re gonna. You gotta do it now.”

“Yeah?” Jonny murmurs, and feels Patrick nod, chin digging into his shoulder. He slides his fingers free and disentangles their bodies, moving over to grab a condom. When he turns back, Patrick has rolled onto his stomach, head pillowed on his folded arms. Jonny’s hands aren’t quite steady as he rolls the condom on. He puts his hand on Patrick’s shoulder as he straddles him, sinking down onto his thighs, then trails it down Patrick’s spine, feeling muscles shift. He circles his fingers around Patrick’s hole and dips two inside.

“Jonny,” Patrick groans. “Come on.”

“I know,” Jonny says. He removes his fingers and shifts his hand to the bed, kneeling forward. He presses in as slowly as he can, holding his dick steady. He doesn’t go in far, keeping his weight on his knees and elbows as he feels Patrick tighten and then release around him. He can only see a sliver of Patrick’s profile like this, his eye blinking, the curve of his cheek. When Jonny lowers himself all the way down so he’s pressed to Patrick’s back, working his hips shallowly into him, Patrick turns his head and drops his forehead to his crossed wrists, quaking against Jonny’s chest. Jonny presses his lips to Patrick’s shoulder and then the corner of his jaw.

“What do you want?” he says, hoarse.

Patrick groans and turns his head blindly toward Jonny. Jonny kisses the side of his open mouth and rolls his hips in again, just a little deeper. Patrick spreads his legs, pushing back against Jonny’s knees, forcing him to work to stay where he is. He stays wordless.

“Come on, Patrick,” Jonny says. ”What do you—”

“Is—Is this what it’s like when I...” Patrick shudders and trails off, arching up against Jonny’s weight.

“Yes,” Jonny says. “This is what it’s like.” He’s glad Patrick can’t see his face. That tender feeling is back. It makes him rub his hands over Patrick’s upper arms, body wrapped around him, so they’re fitted together from arm to back to knee.

He strokes in again.

“Oh, fuck,” Patrick says. His breath puffs across Jonny’s wrist. “Fuck, just, make me come.”

“What do you want?” Jonny repeats, keeping his strokes as steady and controlled as he knows how, abdomen banded tight with the strain, but he wants Patrick to respond, to talk to him. He gets Patrick just right, then, because he hears him make that little gasping sound he knows so well. “I used to hear you,” he says raggedly. “On the phone, I used to hear that and I knew what you were doing.”

“Ah, god, me too,” Patrick says, hunching up into Jonny’s body. “It got me so hot, god, fuck me.”

It’s a relief to let go and really thrust in. Patrick cries out and tenses, then relaxes back onto the bed. Jonny braces himself, hands tightening on Patrick’s arms. He strokes in powerfully and Patrick takes it, Jonny’s thrusts moving them together. His entire body is curling in and hitching out, ass, quads, and stomach contracting. Patrick’s so tight around him, clenching arhythmically, making Jonny’s eyes cross. He imagines that he can feel Patrick’s heartbeat through his back.

“I thought you were gonna make me come,” Patrick bites out, that old note of competition back in his voice. “Think you’re not up to it?”

Jonny would laugh if he wasn’t two good strokes away from the edge. He pulls up off Patrick, not missing the way that Patrick makes a noise of complaint and shoves back, as if to follow his dick.

“Fuck you, Peeks,” he says breathlessly, urging Patrick onto his side and spooning up behind him. “Always have to be difficult.”

When Jonny pushes back inside, he keeps himself propped up, half braced over Patrick as he nibbles at his ear and closes his fist around Patrick’s dick. If he doesn’t keep himself focused on Patrick right now, the heavy width of his dick in his palm and the taste of his skin, he’ll blow way too early. Every thrust inside is fracturing his control just enough.

Patrick twists in his grip, burying his face further into the pillow as if to hide his face and everything he’s thinking. He’s moaning hard now, leaking all over the place as Jonny jerks him off, keeping pace with every push inside. Jonny stares, mesmerised at the sight and feel of himself fucking into him, pushing Patrick’s dick into his hand. The sunlight on the bed is casting everything in warm shades, Patrick’s skin, his own hand, the creased sheets. Jonny tightens his fist. Patrick shouts, jerking against him, and then Jonny gets assaulted with each wracking convulsion as Patrick comes all over the place. That amazing, obscene squeeze on his dick takes away the last remnants of Jonny’s composure. He buries his face in the join of Patrick’s neck and lets himself go, body strung tight as he comes.

His heart is beating like a drum. It takes Jonny a second to realize they’ve collapsed forward, him half on top of Patrick as they lie together. Jonny is so grateful for Patrick’s solidity in this moment. He doesn’t think he could move if the bed was on fire. Patrick is quiet beneath him, not pushing at him to get off. After another few breaths, Jonny makes a great effort and heaves himself onto his side, pulling out carefully, then keeps moving to lie on his back. His entire body is humming.

He looks over. Patrick drowses into the pillow. “You don’t want to shower?” he says.

Patrick cracks his one visible eye open and mutters something about 20 minutes. His breath evens out quickly after that, and Jonny reaches out to pull the crumpled covers over him. He pauses with his fists in the fabric, staring at the sheen of lube smeared on Patrick’s hip from Jonny’s fingers. He finishes casting the blankets over Patrick and slides off the bed, heading toward the en suite. He’s a mess. He could shower, but if he waits, he can get Patrick up in 20 minutes so they can wash up together, then remake the bed and go to dinner somewhere, then come back and go to bed. He can see it all, laid out in his head, like he’s got the right to dictate the rest of Patrick’s evening.

He washes his hands and grabs his bathrobe from the back of the door, then walks back out and ends up watching Patrick from the doorway. He’s shifted onto his side, still curled up into the pillow.

The book Jonny got from his mother has migrated to one of his nightstands. He goes back to the bed and picks it up, then slides back in. Jonny has no clue what the hell he’s doing, but in 20 minutes he’ll wake Patrick up and then he’ll see if he wants to shower and get dinner. Take it one step at a time.


The team’s momentum picks back up as they clinch their playoff spot at the beginning of April, and they go on another win streak that leaves Jonny grinning after games, full of energy during practice and morning skates. It's always easy to put other worries out of his head when things are going well on the ice. Sharpy comes back for two games and then is out again, Rosie and Hammer are in and out of the lineup, but otherwise the boys stay healthy and the energy is good.

Stalsy is still a slightly dark spot in the locker room. Jonny takes him aside one evening when everyone's out at a bar, just checking in. Patrick watches him with a wry twist to his mouth and, when Stalsy's not looking, tips his beer bottle in their direction before turning back to his conversation with Saader.

"You think I'll be traded?" Stalsy asks, after Jonny's complimented him on his recent point-streak.

"I don't think that's your job to worry about right now," Jonny says.

Stalberg nods, looking reluctant.

“Just keep focused on the next game, eh?” Jonny says.

“Yeah,” Stalberg says, eyes traveling away from Jonny’s face. That’s about the best Jonny can hope for, begrudging agreement. He changes the subject to a band he knows Stalsy likes and lets it go.

Jonny’s started spending a lot of time in his own head, trying to keep his equilibrium. It’s hard not to just watch Patrick as he moves, all his little facial quirks and clever gestures. It’s a losing battle, but he does his best to not be caught blatantly staring. He’s working so hard at it he almost misses it a few days later, after practice, when Shawsy starts feeling up Patrick’s arm as they’re getting changed, exclaiming about how soft the material of his sweater is. It takes Jonny a moment to realize the fitted black sweater Patrick’s wearing, broad shoulders filling it out and the taper of his waist accentuated, is one of Jonny’s. It’s not the first time in the last couple of weeks that Patrick’s stolen his clothing—earlier in the week it was an expensive Alexander Wang t-shirt and before that a soft charcoal Steven Alan henley. The crewneck Patrick yoinked that morning while Jonny was in the shower is Rag&Bone. He doesn’t know how somebody with so little interest in clothing and such a severe lack of style keeps gravitating towards the most expensive items in Jonny’s closet.

“You’re being weird, man,” Patrick says, barely raising his eyes from where he’s throwing stuff in his gym bag as Shawsy keeps stroking his arm.

“Fuck that,” Shawsy replies, “this thing is amazing.”

Seabs looks up from where’s tying his shoes and starts laughing. “Lookit you, son, getting all fancy. Your mom finally started taking you shopping in the big kid stores?”

“It was your mom, actually, after I gave her the night of her life,” Patrick says, slinging his bag over his shoulder. The sweater looks good on him though. Jonny loves that goddamn sweater, but the way it’s clinging to Patrick’s pectorals and biceps, he may just have to relinquish it.

“Isn’t that Jonny’s?” Saader pipes up.

Everybody swings around to look at Jonny where he’s sitting, still sacked out in front of his stall and only half dressed. He has to fight down a blush underneath their scrutiny. “What? I decided to let him borrow some of my swagger.” He smiles and shakes his head. “Peeks needs all the help he can get.”

“Saader, how do you even know that sweater is Jonny’s?” Duncs asks, eyes narrowed.

Saader, always one to flush when he’s the center of attention, goes abruptly crimson. “He uh...wears it a lot.”

Kaner coughs to hide a laugh. He glances sideways at Jonny, raising an eyebrow. He’s been mocking Jonny for having a shadow all season.

“It’s 100% cashmere, since you’re all so interested,” Jonny says, taking pity on Saader and redirecting everyone’s attention. “I’ll send out the address, all you poor slobs can get one.”

“Hey, no, I actually want one,” Shawsy insists. His face falls a second later. “Oh, but I’m allergic.” He stops fondling Patrick’s arm.

“Guess you’ll just have to stay ugly,” Bicks says, and dodges the ball of tape Shawsy pitches in his direction.

Jonny's got a lunch meeting, so he watches his sweater, and Patrick, walk out the door without him. He follows it up with a two hour video call with his mother about some of his endorsement deals.

"We will put them all in July, yes?" she says. "Because, who knows."

"Mom," Jonny says, pained.

"What, Jonathan, I am just being practical."

"Sure, July is fine," Jonny says. He tilts his head, stretching his tight neck and shoulders.

After they end the call, Jonny sprawls back on his couch with his hands over his head. His head is too full of numbers and dates. He wants Patrick to come back and let Jonny feel him up in his sweater.

Patrick didn’t say anything about hanging out tonight and there are things that Jonny needs to take care of. He hasn’t been the best about keeping in touch with his friends back home. Two days ago he had a text from Dan asking if he’d gone radio silent because he started banging somebody. He still hasn’t answered that one—he doesn’t know what he could possibly say. He’s kept this thing with Patrick inside himself for years. Their connection to each other is a hard thing to articulate, how Blackhawks hockey and all these amazing things wouldn’t have happened without it. He and Dan have never had a real conversation about Patrick. Not once. Jonny didn’t do that by design. He and Dan talk about things, but Patrick Kane and what it was like to be in the shit with him, trying to revitalize a franchise, steadily growing deeper and deeper entangled in him? He wouldn’t know how to make somebody understand that he wants it this way, because when he tries to say it out loud, it just sounds fucked up.

In the beginning, playing pro had felt like some dream that he’d wake up from at any moment. Winnipeg, his parents, and friends had inhabited the true world outside of this fantasy. But it had steadily, slowly reversed, to the point where being on the team, skating on Patrick’s line, hoisting that cup up with him, had been more real than anything else. The thought of opening up about it now is akin to stripping down to his jock and getting on the ice.

After a couple minutes deliberation, he finally send a text to Dan saying Haha, just wiped from the compressed schedule. Talk soon?

It’s not a lie, even if it is a horrible over-simplification. Jonny doesn’t even feel guilty about it.

I want my sweater back, he texts Patrick.

The response comes ten minutes later: You’ll have to take it off me.

Jonny rolls his eyes and chuckles. Your parents didn't teach you how shirts work? You start at the bottom and pull up.

Patrick's response is immediate. Thanks for the tip, asshole. And then, you suck.

I thought I was being helpful, Jonny writes.

Jonny's gathering up the papers he'd spread across his coffee table during his conversation with his mother when his phone buzzes with Patrick's return text. You should tell me how you'd take it off me.

Jonny shakes his head. Is that supposed to be dirty-talk? Pretty weak effort.

Ooh, baby, Patrick writes back.

Jonny's been smiling the whole time, he realizes when he slides his phone back into his pocket.

He's rummaging through his kitchen cabinets for a snack when Patrick texts him again. I know something else you can suck.

Jonny turns to lean against the counter. That's the line you're going with?

Well, jackass, I don’t see you stepping up to the plate

Jonny thinks for a moment and then sends back, I’ve been thinking about you wearing my clothes. How you probably smell like me now. Makes me wanna take it off you, get you under me. Get my mouth on you. Fuck you until you taste like me.

Moving back to the living room and settling down on the couch, he stares at his phone, waiting for it to buzz. Patrick doesn’t take long. Uh.

Jonny chuckles. He knows that’s a good ‘uh’ and not a what-the-fuck ‘uh’ because Patrick would never hesitate to tell him the latter. You know what you look like when you’re close? Cheeks all red, biting at your lips. The way your dick gets even bigger when you’re about to come? I wanna get you there and keep you that way. For hours.

Fuck you, is what he gets back. Jonny laughs. He wonders what Patrick is up to right now. He hopes he’s squirming.

Yeah? Would you make it good for me? I know you would, Peeks. You always do. Never knew I’d be so into that. Your dick inside me.

Five whole minutes pass without a response. Jonny’s starting to suspect he’s jerking it right this moment and he can’t help teasing, Oh I’m sorry, you busy right now?

The message he gets back has a picture attached and Jonny swipes it open, expecting something obscene, possibly a return of all the disgusting porn Patrick used to send him when he was concussed. He’s completely unprepared for the artfully arranged shot of Patrick’s dick, his beautiful deft hand gripping the shaft. He didn’t even bother to take his clothes off—fly unzipped, Jonny’s sweater still on, the sleeves pushed up his forearms. Jonny swallows, tipping himself back on the couch.

Patrick’s next text only says, Game. Set. Match.

Jonny snorts. Better come over and prove you earned that match point, he replies.

He rubs his thumb over his sternum as he waits for Patrick's response. His assent doesn’t take long. Why would it? Jonny knows Patrick’s into this. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is the pervasive ache inside Jonny’s chest—the one that dogs him through his waking hours and makes him wonder, what does the end of this look like?


The last few regular-season games are always odd. Jonny and Patrick and a bunch of the other guys are kept out of the lineup, so Jonny has to watch his team lose from his couch. It's a necessity he's resigned to—no one wants to get injured right before playoffs—but it still burns him. He complains about it to Sharpy when they're out at lunch, maybe because he knows he's being ridiculous, and Sharpy's always gleeful to point that out.

Which he does with alacrity, sighing and rolling his eyes to the ceiling, saying, "Boo hoo, I'm Jonathan Toews and I didn't win enough games this season, so I'm gonna cry about not playing one game."

"Ah, fuck off," Jonny says, leaning back in his chair.

"No, I like this, whine more," Sharpy says.

"All right, all right, point taken," Jonny says. "How's the shoulder doing?"

Sharpy rotates his arm, then flexes his bicep, the tool, because that's definitely what Jonny was asking for. "Right as rain," he says cheerfully.

"Good, we've missed you," Jonny says.

"Thanks, Captain,” Sharpy says. “Maybe I’ll keep bringing the winning streaks back with me.”

“If you don’t, I’ll know who to blame,” Jonny says. He flags down their waiter and hands his card over.

“Now you’re just being mean. Thanks for lunch, though,” Sharpy says flippantly.

It’s a beautiful day, finally warm enough for short sleeves, and a relief after the heavy rains earlier that month. All the trees are getting their spring leaves. He and Sharpy end up just walking for a while to enjoy the weather.

“I guess it’s nice to not be on a plane right now,” Jonny acknowledges, tilting his face toward the sun. He slides his sunglasses on right afterward, and Sharpy laughs at him. He does mean it, though. This time of year, it’s easy to feel like his whole world has narrowed down to the rink, either playing or anticipating their next game. Chicago means hockey and hockey means winter. He sometimes forgets the city has other seasons.

When he says that, Sharpy shakes his head. “Tunnel-vision Toes strikes again.”

“I was just saying it was a nice day,” Jonny protests. He’s gotten a lot better, he thinks, at balancing hockey with the rest of his life. He thinks of Patrick, who he'd last seen wandering sleepily around Jonny’s apartment, not dressed, so Jonny could have his one-on-one meal with Sharpy. Patrick inhabits a unique space in his life, half-hockey, half something Jonny enjoys despite hockey.

Sharpy laughs. Jonny makes a face and bumps into him so he staggers forward a step. "I take it back," Jonny says, straight-faced. "We don't need you for the playoffs, why don't you take a vacation?"

"I think I got plenty of rest already this season," Sharpy says. "Besides, no take-backs. You already said you missed me."

"Knew that was a mistake," Jonny says.

They’re approaching the smoothie shop that Patrick loves. He claims it has better fruit shakes with protein powder than anywhere else in the city. Jonny’s never thought it was anything special, but Patrick has actually fought his way through rush hour traffic and found parking for his monster vehicle so he could go in and order the Strawberry Powerjolt, or whatever it was. Jonny slows his steps, eyeing it.

"You like this place?" he asks.

"Not really," Sharpy says. "Kaner always makes me go when we're in the neighborhood, though." He raises his eyebrows. "Don't tell me he got you hooked, don't we get enough protein shakes we don't have to pay for?"

"Yeah," Jonny says. "You can wait outside if you want."

"Gladly,” Sharpy says. “I have to call Abby anyway. She told me if I went by a grocery store I should pick up like five different things, and I can’t remember any of ‘em.”

“You’re such a good listener, Abby must be so pleased,” Jonny says.

“I am, and she is,” Sharpy says with dignity. “One day you’ll learn, my friend. It’s the little things that make for a happy marriage.”

Jonny scoffs and heads for the door. Behind him, Sharpy says, “Hi, honey. What did you—diaper wipes, mustard, milk? Oh, and flowers? You forgot those at the grocery store?”

Jonny rolls his eyes. Yeah, Sharpy’s great at the little things.

There's a line almost to the door when Jonny walks in. He pulls out his phone. "Hey," he says, when Patrick answers, "I'm at that place you like."

One of the blenders goes off, and Patrick says, “Oh, dude, yes.”

“So you want me to get you one?” Jonny asks.

Yes,” Patrick says.

Jonny grins. “Okay, okay.” He shuffles forward a step as the line moves, twisting to the side to let two girls edge past him out the door. Patrick apparently isn’t the only person devoted to this place.

In his ear, Patrick is saying, “Strawberry açaí powerblast with ice instead of yoghurt.”

“Yeah, got it,” Jonny says, scanning the menu board. “Where are you? Are you still at my place? Or did you go back to yours?”

“Nah, I’m still hanging out,” Patrick says. His voice dips down; he sounds like he’s smiling when he says, “One of those I’d have to get dressed for.”

“Oh, would you?” Jonny says, amused. “Well, don’t be in a hurry, I’m just about done here.”

“Awesome,” Patrick says.

“Are you excited for me, or this terrible smoothie thing?” Jonny asks. He turns and looks out the window. Sharpy’s still on the phone. Jonny pulls his phone away from his ear and looks at it.

“It can’t be both?” Patrick is saying tinnily.

Jonny brings the phone back to his ear. “No, you have to pick one,” he says absently, still looking at Sharpy outside, jarred by a rising sense of familiarity.

“Oh, jeez, tough,” Patrick says, light and affectionate.

He starts making a list of their relative pros and cons, but Jonny's not listening to the individual words anymore, just the tone, which doesn't sound like anything Jonny's ever heard Patrick direct at his teammates or friends. It's the little things, Sharpy said. He's been saying shit like that since Jonny was a rookie, since well before Abby was his wife, professing to be some font of wisdom for love and romance despite all the evidence to the contrary. Did Jonny miss this? If he did, though, he doesn't think he's the only one.

"Hello?" Patrick says.

Jonny swallows. "Hey." He's getting close to the front of the line, mind racing. “Sorry, Patrick, gotta go,” he says before disengaging the call, arm dropping numbly down to his side. What does he even do with himself now? This thing is so much bigger than fucking around, he’s known that for a while now, but for the first time he’s starting to believe that may be true for Patrick as well.

He orders Patrick’s smoothie on auto-pilot, stumbling through the necessary words as he’s thinking about Patrick rolling over onto his stomach, asking Jonny to fuck him. That wasn’t nothing, he realizes. They call his name for the stupid smoothie, and he walks out, holding the sweating cup, calculating eventualities the way he would in a game, down a goal with only minutes left on the clock.

Jonny’s calling this play, completely aware that it could explode in his face, but he’s got to try. He sees possibilities stretching out in front of him—it’s almost scary to imagine—what he wants might not ever happen. But he hasn’t gotten anywhere in life by being afraid of failure. He absently waves goodbye to Sharpy when he says he’s gotta head out to hit the grocery store.

He's lucky he doesn't get in another car accident on the way home, he's that distracted behind the wheel. Patrick has music blaring from Jonny's stereo when Jonny walks in. The volume turns down as soon as he closes the door behind him, and when he enters the living room, he finds Patrick stretched on the couch, still in the soft workout pants and faded t-shirt he’d been wearing when Jonny left.

“How’s Sharpy?” he asks, rolling to his feet.

“He’s fine,” Jonny says, handing the smoothie over when Patrick reaches for it. Everything he wants to say is clogging in his throat at the sight of him.

Patrick takes a drink and makes a face, saying, "What is this? Did they put yoghurt in this?" He smiles as he makes fun of Jonny for getting him the wrong disgusting fruit protein shake.

He's such an asshole, Jonny thinks helplessly. He can't look away. Patrick's always captured his attention. Like everything about them it started on the ice but quickly extended beyond it. Jonny's stomach squeezes tight with something like fondness, but fiercer.

"You're such a dick," Jonny says, reaching for him. He doesn't give Patrick a chance to respond before he's taking the cup from him and setting it down so he can haul Patrick in. He clenches his fist in the worn-thin shoulder of Patrick's t-shirt, cups the back of his neck, and kisses him. Patrick makes a soft, startled sound against Jonny's mouth, hands closing around Jonny’s hips as he shifts his weight to keep his balance, and then he's opening up to Jonny, head tilted up in Jonny's grasp as he kisses him back with matching intensity.

Without breaking the kiss, Jonny backs him up into the living room wall, cradling Patrick’s head with one hand to protect him when he thrusts him against it. Patrick obligingly arches into him, arm coming up around Jonny’s neck as if he could pull him even in closer than they already are. Jonny wonders if he’ll ever get tired of this. It doesn’t seem possible—Patrick’s solid strong body, the taste of him, the way his skin feels under Jonny’s palms—but it goes further than that. Patrick’s knit so close to his heart, threaded through tissue and muscle, sewn so far inside him he can’t imagine living life any other way.

They stumble back into Jonny’s bedroom, crashing into the opposite wall and clipping the door frame in their haste to get undressed without taking their hands and mouths off of each other.

Jonny trips Patrick back onto his bed, coming down on top of him, biceps flexing to keep his full weight off of him.

“Hey, not that I’m complaining,” Patrick says breathlessly, “but what’s the occasion?” His cheeks are flushed and he’s smiling. His hands flirt with the waistband of Jonny’s boxers.

Jonny has to bend his head and kiss him again, attention narrowing to the glide and friction of their lips moving together. He pulls away, gaze tracing over the lines of Patrick's face. When he meets his eyes, they are still smiling in the creases at the corners, warm and curious. Jonny licks his lips. His heartbeat, already fast, picks up another notch. "How long since you were with anybody else?"

They're so close, no chance for Jonny to miss how Patrick turns even redder. He tips his head to the side, eyes sliding closed, hands still on Jonny's back.

"How long, Patrick?" Jonny asks, lips gliding across the hot curve of Patrick's cheek. He's no steadier than the stuttering breath he feels Patrick take against him.

Neither of them ever got anywhere by making the safe plays. He braces himself on his forearms, hovering over Patrick. He says, "Do I even need to get a condom?"

Patrick shudders, hands tightening on Jonny’s body. He opens his eyes and licks his lips. “Not if...” he trails off and swallows. “Not if you don’t want one.”

“I haven’t been with anyone without you since before the lockout,” Jonny says honestly. It’s the easiest thing he’s ever said, light on his tongue. He ducks his head down and Patrick tilts his head up, and then they are kissing with a return to the frantic, frenzied pace that sent them stumbling down Jonny’s hallway, but this time Patrick’s arms are banded tight around Jonny’s waist, holding him close.

Jonny lifts his head, a thread of spit snapping between their lips. He pauses a moment to take Patrick in, to run his eyes over him as the afternoon sun lights up his lashes and messy curls.

“Jonny, sometimes when you look at me like that...” Patrick trails off.

Jonny runs his thumb along Patrick’s jaw, dipping down to his throat as if he could urge him to complete that sentence. Patrick’s adam’s apple bobs under the press of his fingers.

“Like what?” Jonny asks.

“Like you lo—” Patrick stumbles again, cutting off the word before it’s fully voiced. Jonny’s barely seen him appear anything less than fearless. He looks terrified right now.

Jonny breathes out. “Yeah,” he replies, finally throwing that down.

Patrick makes an anguished noise, tugging Jonny back down to bite at his mouth in the same move as he rolls Jonny under him. He works his hands between Jonny’s body and the bed, tugging up, forcing Jonny to spread his legs around Patrick’s hips. Patrick groans when he does, shoving in even closer. Jonny’s underwear is only a thin barrier against the heat of Patrick’s erection as it rides the crease of his ass. It’s so good. Jonny just wants more. He wraps his arm around Patrick’s shoulders, feeling his muscles bunch as he drops his head and bears down on Jonny. Jonny pushes into that glancing pressure, into Patrick's tight grip on his ass, tipping his head back on the pillow.

Patrick’s lips slide along his throat and down to his clavicle. Jonny shivers and angles his head back, but Patrick keeps moving down his chest to fasten his mouth on Jonny’s nipple. Pleasure from that wet, sucking pressure arrows down his body to throb in his dick and balls, making him tighten around the ridge of Patrick’s cock. They’re locked in a closed loop now, Patrick’s lips on Jonny’s chest pushing him down into Patrick’s hands, Patrick thrusting between Jonny’s cheeks. Jonny slides his hands from Patrick’s shoulder to grip the back of of his neck, digging his fingertips into Patrick’s skin.

Patrick turns his head to the side to breathe, then comes back up to kiss him again, open-mouthed and deep, falling in to the same rhythm that he’s rolling his hips, until Jonny’s head is spinning and he’s clutching onto him, hand tangled in his hair, trying to keep up.

“God,” Patrick rasps. He presses his mouth to Jonny’s neck, muffling his next words. “I want to, can we—can I fuck you?”

He moves his hands down Jonny’s thighs, exerting subtle pressure on his tensing quads. Jonny flexes his hips up against Patrick’s and Patrick trembles above him, like it’s hard for him to hang on.

When Jonny murmurs a soft, “Fuck, do it,” Patrick’s fingers bite down into the muscle and then he’s lifting himself off Jonny, fumbling at the side-table for lube and condoms. Patrick goes to tear a foil packet off the roll of his stupid Magnum XXL’s he’d stashed in Jonny’s nightstand, and Jonny grabs his wrist.

“You don’t need that,” he reminds him, voice rough.

Patrick swallows with a loud click. “I’ve never—with anyone,” he says, face turned partially away. Jonny can’t entirely explain the hot possessive urge that wells up in him at that pronouncement—that nobody’s ever taken Patrick’s porn-dick bare. His mouth goes dry, he doesn’t have words for this. He settles for stripping off his underwear and widening his thighs, hand dropping between them to stroke over his hole.

“You’re gonna fucking kill me,” Patrick whispers, avidly following the motion of his hand.

Opening him up is a clumsy affair, they’re rushing it and Patrick seems nervous, like he’s gonna fuck this up somehow. By the time Jonny tells him he’s ready to take him, they’re both pretty worked up. Jonny had tried jacking Patrick’s dick while Patrick was screwing him open on his fingers and Patrick had cursed and knocked his hand aside.

Now Patrick’s thumbing him open, fitting the head of his dick at Jonny’s hole and then pushing, bringing his pelvis flush with Jonny’s ass in one smooth stroke. Jonny digs his heels into the mattress as he raises his hips, arching his spine, shocked and amazed at what it feels like to have Patrick ungloved inside him. His mouth falls open. He must look really stupid: overwrought, about to come apart.

Patrick breathes like he’s having trouble getting enough air, head listing forward on his shoulders, hiding his expression from Jonny. Patrick vibrates, buzzing like he’s been electrocuted.

“C’mon, move,” Jonny tells him, angling himself back onto Patrick’s dick. Patrick cries out, but gets with the program, pistoning in and out of him steadily. Jonny’s not really ignoring his own dick, but he’s not exactly focused on it right now either. He’s so full. When Patrick slams home, he almost can’t breathe. He reaches a stabilizing hand up to the headboard, sweaty palm sliding across the surface. Patrick shifts over him, spine curving, and then he’s pushing up on his arms so that he can look between them, watching his cock disappear inside Jonny’s body.

“Oh, fuck,” he says, ragged and desperate, “fuck!”

Jonny doesn’t know what’s happening at first, but then he feels it, Patrick getting just that little bit bigger inside him and then he’s groaning, arms just barely holding him up off of Jonny as he comes. He’s a mess of apologies after, still buried to the hilt, still hard inside him. Jonny winds his arms around him, lips sliding over Patrick’s jaw. It’s fine. He’ll get his. Patrick always makes sure of it.

He thinks of all the times Patrick’s regaled him with his sexual misadventures, struggling not to nut too early, because he prides himself in that. Jonny’s seen it even, with Amy. But Patrick couldn’t hold on this time. He came like a shot after only a few minutes because of Jonny.

“Patrick, fuck,” he says at a loss, drawing a hand down Patrick’s spine, head lolling on his pillow. He wants to keep him here for a moment, just like this.

“I can keep going,” Patrick tells him. He's glassy-eyed, biting at his lip, but he starts moving again, rocking Jonny back into the pillows.

Jonny looks down, disbelieving, and has to close his eyes at the sight. There’s an edge of desperation to Patrick’s strokes, but he’s still pushing on, still filling Jonny up. Patrick takes a breath that’s so strangled it’s almost a sob, face taut with strain. Jonny swears and fumbles for his own dick, working himself over with as tight a grip as he can stand. He bucks up into Patrick’s next stroke, and Patrick moans. He shifts, palm coming down near Jonny’s hip so he can get his back into it, jabbing up in short thrusts over Jonny’s prostate that make Jonny writhe, caught between Patrick’s body and the bed. He tips his head back, staring blindly at the ceiling, one hand on his dick, the other digging hard into Patrick’s ass, feeling the muscles contract with every short drive of his hips. He’s panting now. Every stroke brings him closer to coming. Patrick makes trapped, distressed noises above him, still impossibly hard inside him.

“Shit, Jonny,” Patrick groans. “Are you close? You feel—” He gives up on words, mouth dropping open.

“Yeah,” Jonny says drunkenly.

His hand tightens over the head of his cock. When he comes hard, clenching around Patrick’s dick, he wrenches a pained noise from Patrick’s throat. Patrick shoves forward, arms buckling, and then he’s coming again, teeth bared. Jonny is still trembling from the aftershocks and Patrick sounds slaughtered.

“How…” Jonny asks when he can breathe, hand flexing on Patrick’s hip. He feels like he was hit by a freight train. Like he was fucking Kronwalled.

“Wanted to make that good for you,” Patrick says, voice cracked. They lie in a messy tangle of limbs, Patrick sacked out right on top of him, Jonny’s come smeared all over them. And Patrick’s still inside him. Finally Patrick gets his knees under him and disengages, carefully pulling his cock free. They both whimper. Jonny flexes his legs and Patrick looks down again between their bodies and promptly curses.

“What?” Jonny asks weakly.

Patrick stares at Jonny’s hole. After a beat, he look back up to meet his gaze, blue eyes intent. “All my come is leaking out of you.”

Jonny catches at Patrick’s hand and tangles their fingers together. “Peeks,” he says and it comes out a little raw.

“Yeah,” Patrick replies and he palms Jonny’s cheek, leaning in to brush his lips over Jonny’s mouth.

They’re both unsteady in the shower, leaning on each other. Jonny keeps getting side-tracked by little details, like the flushed-red shade of Patrick’s lips, the curve of his back as he turns away to rinse off under the shower spray, his hands reaching for the soap. He hadn’t realized how he’d been denying himself permission to look at Patrick until now, when he feels free to look his fill. Patrick keeps catching him at it, and every time his eyes flicker lazily half-closed, a small, crooked smile flirting around his mouth.

They’re drying off afterward when Patrick twists sideways, peering down at himself. He huffs, amused. “Not even the playoffs and you’re putting bruises all over me.”

Jonny looks over. He’s poking at the prints Jonny left on his hip from gripping him so tightly. Jonny swallows, a wave of heat sweeping through him from just the memory. He doesn’t say anything.

Patrick glances up at him, still running his fingers over his hip. He smiles, a little dirty, and palms Jonny’s side on the way out.

Jonny’s happy, he realizes. Chest full-to-bursting happy. Everything is going to be alright.

June 2013...

They win it all. They win it through Jonny’s dumb penalties in Detroit and his scoring drought, fighting back from the edge to move on to the next round. They win it through people claiming Patrick’s not pulling his weight, until he shows them up big in game 5 in LA, shutting the haters up with a hat trick. They win it with Michal Handzus as a second line center after the Sharks gave him up for a chump change 4th round pick. They win it through Jonny getting decked by Boychuk and Shawsy taking a puck to the face. They win it thinking they’re headed into overtime yet again.

Patrick gets handed that Conn Smythe and it feels like the answer to years worth of shitty reporters dumping on Patrick’s game and his size and his drive. Jonny feels so full-up with pride and vindication. Patrick’s had to believe in himself when no one else would, but now he’s got an MVP trophy with his name on it.

They blew the doors off this thing. And drunk off champagne and out celebrating within an inch of their lives, accompanied by what feels like most of Chicago, it’s funny how it can still feel like just the two of them. These last few weeks everything has changed, but the difference is nominal. Jonny sees that now.

Ice Cube’s ‘You Can Do It’ booms through the speakers and Jonny’s not entirely certain Patrick didn’t demand the DJ play it because right now, he’s dancing and loudly singing along. “‘Mama move them hips,’” he shouts, shimmying. “‘Baby shake them cheeks. I got dick for days. You got ass for weeks.’”

Jonny laughs so hard he’s near to tears, Patrick dancing up on him and the rest of the guys taking it in stride. “You better hope there are no cellphone videos of this,” he yells to be heard over the beat.

“‘I can do it, put your ass into it,’” Patrick yells along with Ice Cube, rolling his hips.

Surrounded by bodies and the pulse of light and music, it doesn’t seem like such a stupid idea to tug Patrick in and press a kiss to his neck, right under his ear, skin soft and vulnerable where he’s shaved off his beard. Jonny pulls away, pleased with himself. When he meets Patrick’s eyes, they’re sparkling.

“Man, you two are so fucking wasted right now,” Shawsy announces, double-fisting beers.

“Yeah, what the hell!” Crow says, “You haven’t made out with my neck yet! This is preferential treatment!”

Patrick falls against Jonny’s side, snorting with mirth. “Would you like me to kiss you, Corey?” Jonny offers.

“Yeah, I think I deserve one right here,” he says, pointing at the apple of his cheek. Jonny leans in and lays a loud, smacking wet one on him.

“What about you, Shawsy?” Jonny offers when he pulls back.

Shawsy crosses his beer bottles in front of himself as if to ward Jonny off. “Nope, nope, I’m really good, thanks!”

The song changes and the guys disperse. Jonny gets lost for a time taking pictures with people, having drinks pushed into his hands. He’s not drinking most of them, he learned from last time, but he still likes this part, even if he keeps having to backwash shots into his empty beer bottle. When he finds Patrick again, he’s being cruised hard by a pretty brunette with a nice rack.

“Interested?” Jonny asks, sidling up alongside him.

“Nah,” Patrick replies, adjusting the brim of his baseball cap as he looks up to meet Jonny’s eyes. “I already know who I’m going home with.”

He knocks his shoulder against Jonny’s, head ducked back down so that his expression is hidden. Jonny smiles down at him. He doesn’t need to see it to know what Patrick’s face is saying. It took them a long time to get here, but they made it, because that’s just what they do.