Maxim loved parts of his bedroom. He had a big window that overlooked Stanley Park, it had a really wide windowsill, and his bed was pushed up against it. At the same time, there were things he hated about it; he hated that the building was somehow built so that raindrops never hit the window, hated that the room was small, hated that the door was on the left of the closet, and that the closet had sliding doors. Maxim hated that because he couldn’t hear the rain falling, because his room felt deceptively familiar, because if he looked across the room in the dark, he thought he was somewhere else.
It’s been years since Maxim lived at home, but for some reason, he still gets hit so hard by homesickness sometimes. It doesn’t help, the way his room here reminds him of his room at home, so much that when he’s slow to wake up in the mornings, he’s been mistaken before. He’s heard footsteps and thought they were his siblings, so young and hyper, and thought that at any minute, his mother would walk in and wake him up. It’s been years since Maxim actually lived at home, and it’s been years since he saw his family on his birthday. He should have known that would happen, realistically, but it had never crossed his mind before it happened for the first time. This many years later, it’s still inexplicably jarring. He doesn’t tell his teammates, doesn’t tell anyone, because he’s twenty-seven, he shouldn’t be this sensitive to things like this.
In the late afternoon on his birthday, Maxim is sitting in bed, leaning back against the wall and staring out the window. It’s raining, of course it’s raining, but he’ll never hear the rain against the glass. Watching the rain makes him think of being at home, sitting on the heater in the floor next to the sliding glass door, his brothers playing video games, the sound of his dad’s footsteps in the hallway, his mother telling his brothers to quit yelling so loudly. He misses everything, misses living in a noisy house and never being alone.
The silence is the worst part. He hates living alone, but he’s too old to have a roommate, really, so it’s just him, and he hates it. He just got off the phone with his family, talked to his parents and the brother who still lives at home, and the sounds had killed him. He stares out the window, rubs at his eyes with his fist and tries not to think about how they’re so far away, the sound of dishes rattling and voices and that weird music his brother likes a familiar melody that he’s only hearing in his mind right now.
When the doorbell rings, he decides to ignore it. Besides, no way he’d live it down, if it was one of his teammates and they saw he was crying. On his fucking birthday. When did his life get this pathetic? He thought he’d hit a low when he fell in love with a teammate, easily one of the stupidest, most painful things he could have done to himself.
There’s a knock on the door, but it sounds closer, and then his bedroom door opens. Kevin walks in, all smiles. “I had a key, and-” he falls quiet. Maxim rubs his hand over his eyes, hoping he can convince Kevin that no, he wasn’t crying, why the fuck would he be?
It doesn’t work; Kevin comes over to climb onto the bed next to him. He wraps his arms around Maxim wordlessly, and this, the way Kevin comforts without question, Maxim can’t take it. He buries his face in Kevin’s shoulder, lets Kevin hug him tight.
“J’ai le mal du pays,” he whispers, and Kevin holds him a little closer, like he understands. He must; Maxim remembers hanging out with Kevin one evening, getting a call from Kes asking what this phrase meant.
“It’s okay,” Kevin murmurs against his ear, “it sucks, I know.” He sighs a little unsteadily, adds, so softly, “I hate seeing you sad.”
“I’m sorry,” Maxim mumbles.
“No, don’t- it’s okay, I just. I wish I could fix it, always.” He lets Maxim sit back a little, watches Maxim wipe away tears, a sorrowful look on his face. “why don’t you tell anyone?”
“It’s stupid,” Maxim looks down, shakes his head, “I’m too old to be homesick.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Kevin tugs Maxim back to him, back into his arms like Maxim never should have left. Maxim is quiet for a while, just the sound of Kevin’s breathing in the room, the apartment already so much less quiet.
“How come you hate seeing me sad?” Maxim asks after a while. Kevin hesitates.
“Promise not to – hate me, or something,” he says. Maxim moves back so he can look at Kevin, meet the startlingly blue eyes, an alarming amount of worry in them. “I just- you- everything’s different, when it comes to you.”
“What?” Maxim can’t work out whether this is good, bad, worse, and the look on Kevin’s face isn’t helping.
“I- I don’t- can’t-to you-” Kevin fumbles with the words, then he sighs out a breath, looks straight at Maxim. “All I want to do sometimes,” he finally says, a sort of final assuredness to his words, like he’s going to stand up for this, even though he doesn’t want to say it, “is kiss you. Everything you do makes me love you.”
“Did you come here to tell me that?” Maxim asks, because he doesn’t know how to comprehend this, because it’s actually happening, and he’s having trouble keeping up. Kevin kind of smiles.
“Why would I plan to come over here and ruin your birthday? I just came to say happy birthday, that’s all.”
“That wouldn’t ruin it though,” Maxim says, “that’d, um. That’d make it the best one. Ever.”
The way Kevin brightens at that, Maxim loves it. “Well, then, anything for you,” Kevin says, and he takes Maxim’s face in his hands gently, kisses him just the way Maxim never thought he would, sweet and slow and tender, like he wanted this to last.
“This just a birthday present?” Maxim asks, when Kevin draws back to lay kisses along his jaw.
“Sure,” Kevin says easily, “but if that’s the case, we’re gonna pretend every day is your birthday. Because this is an every single day thing. Isn’t it?” he looks up quickly, blue eyes suddenly filled with hesitation, and Maxim grins.
“Every single day,” he agrees.
They spend the rest of the afternoon in bed, and Maxim doesn’t mind that he can’t hear the rain against the window, because now, that’s just a part of his new home, the one he’s making here on the west coast. It’s just part of this home, like the feeling of belonging he shares with his teammates, like the swell of happiness he feels when they step onto their ice, like the way it feels when Kevin whispers I love you, like this is the place he’s meant to be.