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Pat loves going out with the guys and getting wasted but it's always a bit nerve-wracking. She has to remember to keep her clothes on - but she's never been much of an exhibitionist so that's not too hard. And she has to keep her voice low, but it's pretty low for a woman anyway, so it's more that the guys just tend to get on her case for having a bit of a squeak. Plus she's been doing it for so long that it's ingrained habit and even when drunk she's not that likely to drop it.

There's no way to tell, with her clothes on, that she's not who she says she is, Patrick Kane, rockstar of the NHL. Even with her clothes off she's always been pretty boyish from all the working out and the hockey. Her tits are tiny, her hips aren't really girlish at all, and she doesn't have a cock but that's the biggest thing that might be noticeable.

It's mostly that if Johnny's there, she has to sit far away from him to resist doing something ridiculous, like climbing into his lap. It's not a thing. She's worked really hard to make it not a thing. They room together on the road and she just keeps her clothes on, which he probably appreciates. He keeps his on, too.

But yeah, when she's drunk, she sometimes forgets that she can't have that because she has hockey instead. She made the trade and she knew what it would cost, and she did it because she loves things like this, being on a team and having that kind of camaraderie. Well, she did it because she wanted to play the absolute best hockey she could play, but part of the reason she fell in love with hockey was the team.

The thing is, it was fine in high school. There were a bunch of dumb guys in high school, and she wasn't attracted to any of them, so it didn't matter. She wasn't attracted to much of anyone in high school to be honest. She always figured maybe she was a bit of a lesbian, although she never spent time trying to pick up girls. It was just hockey.

But she's not actually hockeysexual, unlike Sidney Crosby. It would be so much easier if she were. She could just wear clothes all the time, and shower at home instead of in the locker room, and they could win another Cup, and things would be great.

Stupid Johnny.

He's really fucking inconvenient.

Because of Johnny she has to keep a lookout for potential super hot girls who will humor her and then shut her down. She usually tries to pick ones who look like they might be bitches, then she doesn't feel as bad about leading them on because they aren't very nice when they walk away. It kind of makes her heart hurt if they're sweet and she has to be a jackass to get them to turn her down.

"Blonde up at the bar?" Seabs asks, leaning over to point her out.

"I was thinking the brunette in the red skirt," Pat suggests instead. It's cool that Seabs is willing to help her pick up chicks. He's a half-decent wingman, she just... doesn't actually want a wingman.

"I think she's with that guy," Seabs says, and shit, he's totally right.

"Blonde it is, then," she says.

Her name is Mary, and she's kind of sassy, and it's been fifteen minutes and she hasn't shot her down yet. In fact, she's totally leaning in, slowly, and her hand is on Pat's arm. It's the cleanest signal she's ever gotten, and now she has to figure out how to blow it and piss her off.

Mary leans in further, and then wraps her hand around Pat's neck and kisses her, slow and sweet.

"Wow," Pat says, when she pulls back, and she's honestly torn, because all her teammates think there's no way she can ever pull, and here she is, totally in. It would be sweet to prove them wrong.

Mary kisses her again, deeper and dirtier, and Pat kisses back because she's been giving off all the signals, and it's rude to do that and not follow through. She's seriously considering taking this girl home and just eating her out, because she could leave her clothes on if she did that, right? It would work out, and then she could say she got laid, and she's never done it before but being a girl herself should give her some competitive advantage, right?

If she were at all turned on, she'd seriously consider it, but she is definitely not at all a lesbian, and this is doing nothing for her.

Mary pulls back and smiles. "You're not that into this, are you?"

"I," Pat says, because what does she do now, admit she's not attracted to her at all? Maybe she could get slapped for her troubles, that would be sort of impressive. She'd probably have to come up with a good story for Seabs but she's got imagination.

"Why are you here?"

Pat shrugs, but Mary's looking at her expectantly, and this already isn't going well and will probably get worse. So she might as well go for broke. "I'm sort of, um. Into one of the guys."

"Oh. Oh! You're in the closet? Oh, honey, I'm sorry." Now she's looking at her with pity, and yeah, that's pretty fucking obvious, the guys are totally going to catch on to that.

"You know, shit happens," Pat says.

She heads back to the table, and yeah, they're all feeling sorry for her too. Great.

"You wanna head to a new place?" Duncs suggests.

"Yeah," Pat says. Not really, but this is what she gets for playing the party boy who bounces back from rejections and asks out the next unattainable girl immediately.

The next bar has multiple super hot women to choose from, women who are way out of Patrick Kane's league and thus far more likely to turn her down right away, before she has a chance to accidentally charm them or has to be a giant asshole.

"You want to go home?" Sharpy asks, after the fourth one. Pat's tired, and she figures she's done enough to shore up her reputation as totally into chicks but really inept at picking them up, so she agrees and takes the ride home.

"One of these days," Sharpy says, when he drops her off.

"You'll step into your true potential and score more than me?" Pat guesses. She doesn't need any sympathy for this, she's getting exactly what she wants out of it.

"Exactly," Sharpy says, shoving her out of the car. "See you tomorrow."

And, right, they're flying to Vancouver in the morning. Just what she's always wanted, a trip spent sitting next to Johnny on the plane and rooming with him in the hotel. She's used to it, but she's feeling a little more raw for some reason these days, and she doesn't sleep well that night at all.

She's awake with her alarm, and is totally on time at the airport, too, regardless of whatever people might say. She's sitting on the plane, all her crap loaded up, before they take off. That's what matters. She's going to sleep on the flight and be totally fresh for their afternoon skate, and then she'll go to bed early and get a good night's sleep and score a hat trick, or something. A hat trick would completely take her mind off all the other crap going on.

Of course, then she ends up sitting directly in front of Sharpy, and she can't sleep because he's kicking the back of her chair over and over again, always just when she'd managed to get comfortable. He probably wasn't even doing it on purpose; he and Seabs wrestled some at the beginning of the flight - which is stupid, they'd get better traction and have more space in their hotel room later, and that's what they usually did - and then he was working up some prank for Shawsy, which she could have told him was a waste of time. The rookie was smart. He'd catch on and ruin the plans, and Sharpy should give up and sit still and let her sleep now.

"Settle down," Johnny says, leaning over and putting a hand on her knee, like she's some dumb puppy and will respond to that kind of pressure.

"Sharpy's kicking me," she replies, trying not to whine too much. It's not like he's her dad or something, because ew.

"Sharpy," Johnny says, turning to look behind them.

"Captain Serious," Sharpy replies, and god she could just punch his smug handsome face in. Except she kind of likes Abby and wouldn't do that to her.

Johnny sighs and then he's manhandling Pat up and out of her seat, flipping up the armrest between them that neither of them was using anyway, and sliding underneath her while he pushes her over so they've switched sides. It's neat, it takes less than thirty seconds, and her skin feels hot where he touched her even through several layers of clothing.

"What," she grumbles. "That's my side. This is not my side. I don't like it."

"Shut up," Johnny says, and he shifts her around some more so that she's all slumped against him with her head on his shoulder. It shouldn't be comfortable; he's kind of bony in the wrong places, and the edge on his shoulder digs into her cheek, and he's stupid. She wants to hate him but he's gone back to reading something boring and not talking to her, and at least Sharpy isn't kicking her chair anymore, so she settles for sulking quietly and pretending she's asleep.

Next thing she knows, Johnny is shaking her awake, and the plane must have landed because everyone around them is getting up and getting their luggage out. And she's totally drooled all over his shoulder, too, which was sort of disgusting.

"Sorry," she says, wiping her mouth off on her own shirt and then rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Before she naps she always feels like a nap will fix her entire life, and after she naps she always wants to just nap more.

"Hope you enjoyed your nap," Sharpy says, leaning over the seat and ruffling her hair. She swipes at him but he darts away, laughing.

Skate goes okay, and then they have low-key hanging around playing video games in the hotel for awhile. Johnny doesn't like it when they go out and get drunk before games, and everyone is pretty seriously into keeping him happy when they aren't pranking him or chirping him.

Back in their hotel room, Johnny turns out the lights and flops down on his bed, and Pat can picture his stupid face as he curls up. She doesn't want to but it sticks in her head. His breathing evens out and it's pretty clear he's asleep, even though he probably got a solid night's sleep yesterday, too, because he's all responsible like that and doesn't stay up worrying about things like if someone will find out his deep dark secret.

He probably doesn't even have any secrets, but Pat does, and she can't sleep. It's stupid but she closes her eyes and remembers how Johnny's shirt smelled when he made her sleep on his shoulder on the plane. She wants to ask to switch rooms with anyone but his little face would be so disappointed and she couldn't take it. She loves yelling at him and beating on him but sometimes he just looks at her in a certain way and she caves.

Or alternatively he'd be super glad to be rid of her, too, and that would be even worse, and she doesn't want to know.

Pat stumbles up out of bed and goes into the bathroom to take a shower. Maybe it'll calm her down, and she'll be able to sleep, but at the very least it'll put a bit of physical distance between her and Johnny and at the moment it's exactly what she needs.

She lingers a bit, daydreaming about whatever; no one is banging down the door demanding a turn so there's no risk she'll get caught out naked, which is unusual for a road trip and feels a little bit luxurious. She should feel guilty but she can't.

It's only after she's dried herself off and drawn a little smiley face in the steamy corner of the mirror that she realizes she left everything outside the bathroom. She could put back on her dirty clothes, but she's feeling restless and all the lights are off and Johnny's asleep anyway, because it's the middle of the night. The hotel towels are huge, she'll wrap one or maybe two around herself and dash out and grab her bag and everything will be great.

She stubs her toe on the edge of the dresser. "Fuck," she says, flailing a bit and of course hitting her hand against the wall, just in the right way to make something in her recently-healed wrist tweak a bit. "Ow, goddamnit."

"Kaner?" Johnny says, and the blankets shift on his bed and he turns the light on as he sits up.

"Um," Pat says. "Go back to sleep. You're dreaming! This is a dream."

"What the fuck," Johnny says.

"Just, you know, just turn out the lights, and everything will be fine."

Johnny grabs for his phone, still staring at her with this kind of slack expression on his face.

"What are you doing?" Pat asks.

"Hey, Sharpy? This isn't funny, man," Johnny says, and wow, okay, that's not cool at all. She doesn't have a time turner or anything so she can't go backwards and like, not get out of bed to take the shower, or remember to take her clothes in with her, or wear her dirty clothes out, or not stub her toe, or any other of a giant number of possible better choices she could have made. But she can damn well prevent anyone else from finding out, and she takes a flying leap onto Johnny's bed and grabs at the phone, which he relinquishes with hardly any fight at all.

" - and I don't know what you mean, but I only fucked with Shawsy's room, I promise," Sharpy is saying.

"It's cool, we're cool, nothing happened," Pat babbles into the phone. "Everything is fine! Johnny's a little, you know, he's Johnny, and okay, I'll talk to you tomorrow." She hangs up and then pitches the phone across the room, so Johnny can't go for it easily.

Johnny is lying unnaturally still; normally if they were wrestling, which they sort of had been, he'd be all indignant about losing and trying to get her back, but instead he is lying there and covering his eyes with his hands.

"Yo, jackass, look at me," she says, because they're going to have to talk about this, apparently.

"Um," Johnny says, and he kind of peeks around the corner of his hand and then covers his face again. It's possible he's blushing. "Can you just..."

Oh, right, and there's the fact that she lost the towel at some point while trying to get the phone, and yeah, she's totally buck naked in his bed, even though there's a sheet between them.

"Whoops, sorry about that," she says, and jumps off the bed, grabbing a clean sports bra and pair of boxer briefs - it's just easier all around if she wears men's underwear, although she still has to be super careful of her luggage.

"Right, okay, decent," she says, sitting back on the edge of the bed, and Johnny uncovers his face and sits up and looks at her and kind of winces, and that's not very nice of him at all.

Not that she particularly thought he'd find her super attractive or anything, she's seen the girls he asks out at bars, but still.

"So you're, you?" Johnny asks finally.

"The one and only," she says.

"Is this some kind of freaky sex-changing thing?"

"What kind of things do you read about on the internet?" Pat says. "No, don't be an idiot, I've always been a girl."

"What about... the women's league, you know?"

"It's not the NHL," Pat says. He should just get it, how is it so hard to get? He's only ever wanted to play in the NHL, except maybe he's also wanted to play on the Canadian national team. Still.

He's staring at her, sort of shell shocked, and she thinks, maybe she should cover up, maybe it's too much, sitting around in her underwear. But then he says "what if they invalidate the Cup?"

"Damn right, what if? So you can't tell, okay?" Pat said. She hadn't even thought of that, to be honest. But it would be just like those jackasses to do something like that, and that's not going to happen because she won it fair and square while only lying about things a little bit in ways that shouldn't even matter.

"This is madness," Johnny says.

"Madness? This is hockey!" Pat says, because come on.

"Shut up," says Johnny, and at least that bit is back to normal. "Hang your towel up in the bathroom like an adult, and then turn the lights off. I need more sleep."

"You turned them on," Pat says, but she de-tangles the towel from the bedcovers flung all over the place and then hits the switch on her way back to her own bed.

"We're talking about this again after the game," Johnny says, and right, the game, and getting some sleep before it, that's why she'd taken the shower in the first place.

Pat throws one of her extra pillows at him, then pulls the covers up over her head. She flipped the deadbolt on the room, so there's no way anyone can get in in the morning even if they have a key, and even though there could be a lot of fall-out from this still she feels like a weight has been lifted off her chest. Plus she likes sleeping in fewer clothes, to be honest, and it's always been a little bit uncomfortable and hot to be in layers on the road. Necessary, and worth it, but still uncomfortable.

The next morning Pat sort of expects to get yelled at, a lot, but Johnny is quiet, settled and steadfastly totally avoiding looking at Pat, so she doesn't bother too carefully hiding that she's putting on extra layers and covering things up in her usual morning routine. Despite the fact that she's probably only had 4.5 total hours of sleep, she feels pretty awesome. That's not something to complain about.

Shawsy got soaked coming out of his room, which has Sharpy attempting to look innocent and failing completely and everyone else laughing. There's bacon for breakfast, so Pat has a bunch of that, because what's not to like. Then they have morning skate, and really everything feels pretty normal.

Although she can't help but notice that Johnny is looking at her all the time, just staring. There's no particular expression on his face when he does it, and he doesn't say anything to anyone, but it's weird. Pat's pretty sure it's way more than he usually looks at her, although everything he says is normal and his hockey playing is normal, too.

She sits with Sharpy for lunch, and then heads upstairs for a nap, and then it's game time and she's feeling pretty relaxed all things considered, not really thinking about the fact that someone outside her immediate family and her doctor (who's like, a relation anyway, so it's not that weird) knows her secret. It's hockey time, and she's great at hockey.

On their way out of the locker room Johnny slaps her hand and says "be safe" and that's a little weird, but he's always a little weird, he's got all sorts of strange rituals. They all do, really. She can't afford the attention span to really pay attention to his current weirdness, anyway, because the Canucks are stupidly good, and she has to skate extra well.

Kesler gets the first goal of the game off some bullshit move that really shouldn't have happened, so that kind of sucks, but they tie it up in the second and then in the third Pat has this ridiculous pass to Stalberg which just slides in, right past Luongo, and it's awesome. She's flying towards him on the ice to slap his back, and out of nowhere Kesler slams her into the boards, and there's this wash of pain down her side and she's lying on the ice, wondering what the hell just happened.

Fuck, her head hurts too. Fucking Kesler and his fucking dirty hits.

"Hey, you okay?" It's Sharpy, bending over her body on the ice, and what the hell? He wasn't even playing at the time. Probably. If she's lost parts of her memory that's not going to end well.

As she sits up, carefully, and then Sharpy pulls her to her feet, she realizes the roaring isn't in her head, it's the crowd. Because Jonny is beating Kesler, like, bad.

"What the hell is he doing?"

"He went after him when you went down," Sharpy says.

"Motherfucker," Pat says, picking up her stick and moving slowly towards them.

"Are you sure you're okay to skate?"

"Goddamnit, he didn't hit me that hard," Pat snaps, although she feels dizzy and her legs are kind of stiff. As long as she can stay upright on skates, and she's been able to do that since she could walk, she'll be fine.

Kesler is actually punching back, just not very well. The refs are sort of yelling at them to stop, but everyone else is keeping a wide berth, glaring at each other. What a bunch of fucking weirdos.

"Tazer, stop it," Pat says, getting right up in his space and grabbing his arm before he can throw another punch.

"Kaner," he says back, mouth twisting.

She shoves him backwards a bit, getting in between him and Kesler, who looks like he isn't going to be coming after them. He's a rotten dirty coward, but she knew that before.

"You can't do this," she says, low, so people couldn't overhear them.

"He hit you," Johnny says, and his voice is so distraught that she just wants to fucking cuddle him. It is not the appropriate time. He probably wouldn't want that anyway.

"You wouldn't have come after him like that before. You can't treat me differently, okay? I'm the same person. You have to treat me the same as before." She is steadily shoving him back towards the bench; there'd be some kind of penalty for this but if he would just calm down it would probably be better. You couldn't have people jumping over things and starting fights all over the fucking place. There's a difference between a little bit of friendly fisticuffs and fucking whaling on a guy, and Kesler might have deserved it, a bit, but Pat can whale on him all by herself if she wants to.

"But, Pat," Johnny says.

"If you get suspended because you're a fucking idiot I'm going to straight up murder you in your bed tonight," she says.

Johnny's only in the box for five minutes, and Kesler has two for the dirty hit, so it's not that bad. They end up losing in overtime, but Pat misses all of that because she's getting checked out, answering dumbass questions and getting brain scans and demonstrating that she can still walk in a straight line and trying to convince everyone that it's really not that bad. She never actually blacked out, and she's not some wimp who can't handle hockey. She's been hit before, and harder.

By the time she gets back to the hotel room, the rest of the team is all back, too. The couple people she sees in the halls seem down, and no one really looks like they want to go out. It might not be wise anyway; she could have played but she's not stupid, no reason to push her luck and screw everything over. Besides, the muscles in her back are kind of tense.

Johnny's sitting on the edge of his bed, head in his hands, and isn't that depressing.

"Hey, Tazer," she says, dropping her bag on the floor.

"I can't do this," Johnny says, something catching in his throat, and that's her fucking heart just breaking into fucking pieces, okay?

"Do what?" she asks.

"Pretend I don't know. Not look out for you." She has to avoid breathing a sigh of relief that he didn't mean 'not out you to the world and kick you off the team'.

"It's sexist, you know? You didn't have a problem when I was just a smaller man instead of a normal sized woman. I haven't changed sizes since then."

"I can't. I just can't." He gets up and paces a bit, then turns to face her. "What did the doctor say?"

"Inconclusive. They don't think I have a concussion, but they want to do some more tests tomorrow," Pat says. "I got some nice bruising, too, you wanna see?"

"No, I don't... damnit, Pat. How do you hide it, you know, when we all have to get our physicals and stuff?"

"Fucking easy, I just wrote into my contract that I got my own doctor. She doesn't have to lie because none of the paperwork asks if I'm a man, it just asks if I'm healthy."

"Oh." Johnny is pacing back and forth again, and their hotel room is so not big enough for that.

"Tazer, come here," she says.

"What?" he asks.

"You, come here. Sit down. I can't watch you pace like that."

"I'm sorry," he says, and sits down next to her on the bed immediately. It stings a bit; she never would have gotten that kind of response when he'd thought she was a guy. He'd have told her to shut up or get over it or something. But now that he knows he is all conciliatory.

She wraps an arm around his neck and rubs her knuckles into his head, hard.

"Ow," he says, and wrestles her around onto the bed, and it's great, just like it always used to be, until he accidentally grabs her chest and freezes.

"Fuck, sorry, oh my god," he says, and this was all going to hell and he'd probably quit hockey in shame, and she couldn't have that. She wouldn't be able to handle it.

Before he can retreat she wraps a leg around his hip and flips them over, so she's straddling his waist. He flails a bit and she grabs his arms and holds them down by his head.

"Pat," he says, sort of strangled sounding.

"Oh, fuck it," she mutters, and kisses him. It's nice; in fact, it's great. He's Johnny. He's warm under her, and incredibly fit, and it's one thing to know academically from distant observation that he's fucking hot - she tries not to look closely, she figures it's a little bit unfair because she never takes her clothes off for everyone else to look - and entirely another to know from direct prolonged physical contact with not much between them. There are no pads and jerseys and layers of crap and helmets like when they hug on the ice after goals.

He wrenches his head away, and she tries to follow, and he's still lying pinned although he could honestly probably get up if he really tried hard. They're both panting hard.

"Stop," he says, and okay, right. She sits back, letting go of his wrists and then climbing off him.

"Sorry," she says.

"It's okay, but we can't do that. I can't do that," he says.

"Oh, um, right," Pat says. She has no idea what they're talking about, and she isn't particularly sure how to ask for clarification either. "I won't say I didn't mean to do it, because I totally meant to molest you, but I won't do it again if you don't want to."

He looks totally miserable, and she doesn't know how to fix that.

"It's not a big deal," she says. "It's casual sex, right? I mean, whatever."

"I don't really think it'd be just casual sex," Johnny says. "You're my teammate, and my roommate, and maybe my best friend, and so it's not some random one night hookup."

"You're maybe my best friend, too, and that's totally the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me," Pat says.

"Shut up," Johnny says, but he's looking a little more normal, like he's not about to go drown himself in the shower or something dumb, so she's counting that as a win.

She'll just ignore the little part of her heart that's trying to curl up and die inside her chest, because it was completely stupid to think that he'd obviously just fall in love with her immediately if he found out she was a girl. He barely dates at all, there's no evidence to assume he's not hockeysexual just like Crosby definitely is, and she's stuck being Jonathan Toews-sexual and that sucks for her.

But she's got hockey still. Things could be worse.

In the morning Johnny smiles at her, and it's a little rough around the edges but it's better than nothing. She ditches him at breakfast, eating with Sharpy instead, who's all low key about it, talking about who knows what random crap and just being a laid back guy.

"You're my favorite," Pat tells him after he grabs her another cup of coffee, and he grins and screws up her hair again and that's not okay but what is she going to do about it, anyway.

Johnny is sitting with Duncs and Seabs and they're both alternating between watching him carefully and shooting Pat worried looks. It's a bit of a mind fuck, enough to make her think maybe she screwed up getting dressed and wore her underwear outside her clothes, or worse maybe she's naked, like that dream she has sometimes. She keeps her hands curled tight around her coffee mug because you're not supposed to let them see the whites of your eyes, or something.

Seabs says something to Johnny, and he looks up and makes eye contact, and he's so tired. She'd give him her coffee if she thought he'd drink it, but he probably won't. She raises her eyebrows instead, because he's always saying she makes stupid faces, and he nods back, which means everything is okay. As okay as it gets after finding out your maybe-best-friend is a different gender than you thought.

They sit next to each other on the plane, like normal, and it's as if a bit of tension just leaks out of the whole team. Things are cool. The tightness in her chest, leftover from the night before, unwinds a little bit. It'll be weird for a little while more because Johnny's a stubborn bastard but she'll wear him down and they'll be who they are again soon enough.

They beat the Oilers pretty soundly at home, and then they're back on the road to face the Jets. The game gets a little chippy but it's not a huge deal and they get that win, too, in regulation. Johnny doesn't go after anyone for her honor, either. Afterwards they go out for a mini Cup reunion with Byfuglien and Ladd, and since everyone is into catching up and reminiscing and trash talking, there's not much call for Pat to go show off her lack of prowess at picking up girls. It's for the best, really, since she hasn't been feeling like flirting even for fun recently.

"Hey, Kaner, man up already and get the next round," Ladd says, interrupting her thoughts, and wow, she'd really zoned out. She rolls her eyes but heads up to the bar. She can't quite avoid seeing Johnny wince a little bit when he hears Ladd, but she can avoid making eye contact and legitimizing his stupid feelings.

"Are things okay?" Ladd asks her later, when people have spread out a little bit to play pool or darts or whatever and they can have some actual private discussions. Pat tilts her head but doesn't immediately respond. "Tazer's been kind of extra protective of you, I think."

So it's not just her imagination, then. She shrugs. "I hadn't really noticed."

Ladd's looking at her, like he sees something and she should know what it is, and she wonders if it's because he's not around them all the time anymore, if he's seeing things which aren't there because he's forgotten how they are, or if they've changed a bit and this is the new normal but he's not used to it, or if he's right and something's off and no one on the team wants to say anything for some weird reason.

"Maybe it's leftover worry about my wrist injury," Pat says.


Ladd looks skeptical, so Pat changes the subject to how silly Winnipeg is, a topic she loves because it gets on Johnny's nerves. She has a lot of things to say about it, and Ladd seems happy to comply, telling her stories about fan interactions. But he's still watching her carefully, and he keeps it up the rest of the night even once people are all sitting around the table with them again. It's awkward because her whole disguise depends on people seeing what they expect to see, which usually means they can't just stare at her all the time.

They can't leave Winnipeg fast enough after that.

Of course, they face the Panthers next, and it's just stupid reunion after reunion, and Pat has to invent some kind of dumb excuse for why she needs to stay in and not go out with everyone, and probably that does nothing for her image at all. But sometimes it's so tiring, and it's better to stay home and have them all think she's coming down with some kind of disease or who knows what rather than have to party.

But she's making it. Nothing keeps her down for long, and she might be having a crisis of something or other but it doesn't mean she has to give up. She's got what she wants, she just has to maintain it.

Then, obviously because this is what would happen next, Johnny gets a concussion. It's a bad hit, and it looks like he'll be out for awhile.

Pat has played without Johnny before, uh, obviously. And they've played on opposing teams, too, in the past. So it shouldn't be a thing. And yet, somehow, it is a thing. The stupid bit, the reason she hates herself sometimes and the reason her heart is stupid and she tries not to listen to it, is that she doesn't just want hockey anymore. She wants hockey and Johnny together because they're the best together, and she can't imagine having hockey without Johnny.

After a night of drinking alone, which she tries not to do because introspection never gets her anywhere good, she thinks it's possible, slightly, a bit, that if she had to pick between Johnny and hockey she'd pick Johnny.

In the morning she decides it was a function of drinking, and that she's not drinking anymore, but her heart hurts when she sees Johnny sitting on the sidelines watching them, or in his suit at a game, and maybe it's true after all.

"This is not how my life was supposed to go," she says, while on the phone with her mother.

"What, sweetheart?" her mom says.

"I just, this isn't what I pictured."

"The hockey? I know you guys haven't had the best season but you probably can't have the best season every year."

"No, that's pretty much what I pictured. Johnny's not what I thought, though."

"Oh, Pat," her mom sighs, and she feels tears prickling her eyes, and that cannot happen. It's not allowed. She didn't sign up for tears.

"Did you know I was in love with him?" she asks, and her voice cracks, and there's a sob caught in the back of her throat. It's a good thing she doesn't have to be anywhere soon.

"Patty," her mom says, like she used to when Pat was a kid and was mad about something at school or hockey, and she can't be this person, she can't do this.

"You can only be you," her mom says.

"What?" Pat asks, sniffling and wiping her nose on her shirt. Whatever, no one is there, no one will see that she's gross, and they'd probably all guess that she was anyway.

"You have to be who you are. You're Pat Kane."

"It sucks."

"Well, what can you do to make it not suck?"

"Win another Cup," Pat says, because it's true. "Or the Olympics next time, maybe."

"Maybe you should find something that would make it not suck which isn't directly related to winning hockey games," her mom suggests, and wow, that's easier said than done.

"Johnny," she says. Only sort of related to hockey, so that counts, right? "Whatever. Tell me what my sisters are up to."

Pat tries to avoid Johnny after that, because she doesn't know what to do with him and there's nothing like having uncomfortable crying revelations on the phone with her mother for making all her stupid issues clear. Johnny's trying to make it kind of normal, but he's also staring at her a lot and not touching her, so it's not normal at all. But they have a road trip for several games, and Johnny doesn't travel with them so he can concentrate on healing, and Pat's play is sloppy and terrible and she still gets a hat trick against the Flyers and she doesn't even know how it happened.

She feels like she's going to jump out of her own skin after the game and somehow she's calling Johnny from her hotel room instead of meeting up with Sharpy for food.

"That was sick," Johnny says when he picks up the phone.

"I'm totally better at this without you," Pat says. Johnny scoffs, but he sounds happy. "I don't even know what I was doing out there, it was ridiculous," she admits.

"Are you rooming by yourself?" Johnny asks.

"Yeah. It's awesome, I don't even miss you," Pat says, which is a lie. His face is stupid and she doesn't want to look at it but she still misses it. "You know I've roomed with a lot of other people before you, right? It's always been fine," she adds, because he worries.

There's a banging on the door and a rattling of the door handle.

"Shit, that's probably Sharpy, I wonder if he has a key?" Pat says. "I better go, I have to get dressed." She's good at dressing fast, she has to be, so it's totally fine and she's just tying her shoes when Sharpy throws open the door dramatically.

"Oh, you aren't dead," he says.

"Talking to Tazer," Pat says. "Sorry to disappoint."

"What's he got to say?"

"He's impressed by how awesome I am," Pat says. Her phone buzzes where she tossed it on the bed, and Sharpy grabs it.

"He says 'you're a fucking idiot'."

"He has a hard time expressing his emotions," Pat says. "All sorts of signals get crossed in his brain, you know how it is. Also I hung up on him to hang out with you so maybe he's jealous."

She has a bunch of shots at the bar, and not nearly enough food to soak any of it up, and she chats lazily with Sharpy, Seabs, and Duncs while the rookies dance around for her amusement. Or maybe not precisely for her amusement, but it's a better story that way, so that's how she's going to tell it. It's a good night, and she's just going to settle back and enjoy it.

She doesn't see Johnny the next two weeks. It's not a big deal, just like she needs a little space, and he can probably do with a little space too, and this is the perfect sort of excuse for that. She has to go to practice and keep in shape and all that crap, and Johnny isn't around for any of that because he's not allowed, so it's just natural it would happen that way.

"So," Duncs says, sidling up to her after practice. "Tazer's new puppy, pretty cute huh."

"Guess so," Pat says. She hasn't seen it - she didn't know it existed, but there's absolutely no reason for that to make her jealous because she's staying away from him on her own and he isn't obligated to seek her out or anything, 'maybe best friend' aside.

"Weird he named it after you," Duncs says, "since you don't seem to care."

"I'm super awesome, everybody names everything after me," Pat says. Her emotions are all over the place - now she's all happy he was thinking about her. This has got to fucking stop.

"Yeah, 'Kaner Won't Come Visit Me or Answer the Phone' is kind of a weird name for a dog, but you take what you get, I guess," Duncs says.

"Oh for fuck's sake, he only called me once and I was in the shower," Pat says.

"Yeah, but you guys are like, inseparable. I think he's pining," Seabs says, and when did that fucker sneak up next to her on the other side?

"He's got a concussion, it's not the same as pining," Pat says.

Still, because she's Pat and he's Johnny, she heads over to his place after showering and grabbing a change of clothes at home.

"Seabs thinks you're pining and Duncs says you got a puppy and named it after me, and that sounded like a cry for help, so I brought food," Pat says. "I got you something healthy so don't whine at me."

Johnny makes a truly hilarious face at her, but he gets out glasses of water and they end up on the couch playing video games - Pat lets Johnny pick NHL '11 over and over and over again because she feels sorry for him that he can't actually play hockey at the moment - with a healthy amount of vigorous shoving back and forth.

Pat scores a totally sweet goal with a move she picked up from Seabs, and Johnny grumbles and kind of throws his whole body at her and she falls off the couch. In retaliation she hooks a leg around him as she's falling, and manages to pull him down on top of her, which was not exactly her original intention. At least he doesn't hit his head on the table.


"Pat," Johnny says.

"I'm not trying to turn you on or whatever! I wouldn't do that," she says, and then she thunks her head down onto the floor. Great, now he'll know she's still thinking about the fact that he turned her down.

"Uh, I didn't think that," Johnny says.

"Also I don't want to make you more concussed," she says.

"Good," Johnny says, pulling back up so he's kneeling and then offering her a hand up.

"Maybe I should go home," she says.

"I haven't kicked your ass yet," Johnny says. "You have to stay for that."

"You can't kick my ass," Pat says. "Not possible. Fine, I'll stay to watch you fail, but I want beer."

Johnny gets hyper competitive after that, which makes Pat double up on trying to knock him off the couch. "Are you allowed to have this much exercise? Because you could be playing hockey right now," she says, taking a break to drink some more beer.

"This is not even close to playing hockey," Johnny says, elbowing her sharply.

"I know, you aren't allowed to throw elbows in hockey," Pat says.

Johnny hooks an arm around her neck and tries to smother her against a couch pillow, but Pat is a genius and kicks his controller away and then scores two goals while he scrambles to get it back.

"You are never going to recover from that most illegal of all moves," she says, grinning at him.

"All your moves are illegal," he replies, but he's grinning, too.

"You didn't really get a puppy, did you?" she asks, and he laughs so hard he falls off the couch again, which is a point for her.

So she was worried about things being obnoxious but it seems like those worries were unfounded. Things are totally normal. She even gets an approving nod from Duncs, which is rich, like she needs his approval or anything. They're a bunch of mother hens, the whole team.

Johnny persists in staying home a lot, except for coming to some practices and visiting the doctors, but Pat goes over to his place a lot and they rack up some high scores and eat a lot of takeout. Things are good overall because they're getting closer and closer to playoffs and they're playing well.

Johnny gradually starts suiting up for practice, even though they're all cautioned to not hit him under any circumstances, and the first time he makes it all the way through a morning skate they miraculously don't have a game right away and they all go out to celebrate.

Pat really hasn't been celebrating much of anything recently, since Johnny's hurt, because she's going over to Johnny's and he's not going out, and she somehow doesn't realize until she's back in the bar, staring all her teammates in the face, that she'd have to go pick up some girls again. She's never really thought about how much work it was when she was doing it regularly, and how much she'd rather just be sitting back drinking or playing pool or whatever than wasting time faking picking up someone who wouldn't be interested if they ever got naked together.

But this night shouldn't really be a problem for that, because Johnny probably still has to take it easy, and since he's so responsible that means he won't drink much and will go home pretty early, and so Pat gets a ride over to the bar with him and figures she'll just tag along with him as well when he goes home.

Except that, after they arrive, Johnny hardly sticks around at their table at all. Instead he goes back and forth to the bar over and over, grabbing people drinks and flirting with the hot female bartender, in a way that's over the top and not like Johnny at all.

Pat eventually has to go up to the bar herself, to get beer for Sharpy and Shawsy, who are lazy jackasses who had better practices and so were owed drinks due to the pact they'd made. She's all prepared to be upset with the bartender but then the chick has the nerve to smile at her and be all pleasant and nice while getting the drinks, and she can see why Johnny's spending a lot of time up here talking to her. Plus she's legitimately pretty hot in person, not that Pat is a lesbian. The bartender has great short curly blond hair and is relatively tall for a woman, taller than Pat but probably wearing heels. And she's wearing a sleeveless shirt, which Pat envies because it's hot but she doesn't dare wear sleeveless things out.

In a sleeveless shirt Pat's arms would definitely look better because she works out all the time; it's hard to keep up with the guys but she makes it happen. But the bartender doesn't look half bad, her shoulders are pretty well defined for someone who doesn't need to build muscle professionally. So Pat can't fault Johnny's taste at all.

"That bartender is pretty hot," Shawsy says when Pat gets back. He leans drunkenly on Pat's shoulder and sips his beer. "She kind of looks like you actually, if you were a chick."

Pat honest to god snorts her beer out her nose, and fuck, that's painful.

"Shawsy, you are drunker than you thought you were," Sharpy says.

"But it makes sense!" Shawsy's waving his beer around, and Sharpy rescues it from his hand before it spills all over the floor or someone else. "Kaner and Tazer are all bromance-y, I mean, why wouldn't Tazer go after a chick version of Kaner?" He gestures so violently he nearly falls over, and Sharpy wraps an arm around his waist to hold him up, passing his beer back to Pat. She is so drinking it, she doesn't owe Shawsy a beer anymore after that little outburst.

"Maybe you're done here," Sharpy says. "Kaner, you want a ride home?"

"Yeah, sure, I came over with Tazer but he seems busy and we didn't talk about going home together," Pat says, because if Johnny's going to hook up with some girl who at least one person thinks looks just like Pat, she's not sticking around to watch that. Johnny's back up at the bar, and he's all leaning over to whisper to the bartender, and Pat needs to get out of here before she does something she'll regret, like staring too long at his ass.

They drop Shawsy off first, and make sure he gets safely inside, and then Sharpy pulls away from the curb and Pat leans her head against the window.

"Okay?" Sharpy asks.

"Is it weird he's interested in her?" Pat asks.

Sharpy sighs. "I don't think so, I mean, you're not a girl and he's pretty straight. He might be into you if you were."

"Right," Pat says, and has to blink super fast to keep from crying. Fuck. Fuck, everything is a disaster.

Pat hides her phone so she won't drunk dial Johnny or any other super embarrassing and horrible thing like that. Then, of course, she oversleeps because her phone is her backup alarm and it's hiding and can't wake her up, so she's late to morning skate and gets yelled at, so when she finally gets back home she's really not in any mood to talk to Johnny about his great time with the bartender from the night before, and she ignores the texts and voicemails she has from him.

She almost runs into him in the parking lot the next day for practice but she recognizes his car and takes a detour so she won't end up walking anywhere when he is, and it feels good; her heart won't turn over inside her chest if she just never has to see him or talk to him again.

Of course, he's coming to more and more things as he recovers, so it's actually getting harder and harder to avoid him, but Pat has a lot of practice being sneaky and using wily moves on the ice, and she's totally good enough to get on and off the ice every day without having to have any conversations with Johnny for two home games in a row, and then they have three road games, which are much easier because Johnny stays home and Pat gets a hotel room to herself and she doesn't miss Johnny's stupid breathing in the other bed when she's falling asleep or his dumb habits in the bathroom in the morning.

They have an extra day off after the first two road games and Pat spends it mostly in bed, reading Twilight and comforting herself that at least she isn't Bella, or Edward.

She's legitimately a little bit excited for the last game of the regular season. They've already clinched a playoff spot so it doesn't really matter what happens, but it's Detroit so it'll be a good game and would be a great win if they could do it. And after this the pressure will be on, they'll have to be the best at everything, but right now she can just enjoy the hockey. She gets on the plane last, as is her usual habit, and she's singing along with some cool music in her head and feeling pretty good about things, and there's Johnny, sitting in his usual seat.

She forgets all about her goal to not talk to him ever again and sits down next to him. "I thought you weren't cleared to play."

"You don't talk to me, so how would you know?" he asks.

"I talk to Q," she says.

"It's pretty rich that you will go talk to Q for updates on me instead of talking to me yourself."

"It's pretty fucking rich that you think I'm even checking up on you at all. Q just tells us things in team meetings and I can't help it if I have a good memory," Pat says.

"You think we're not on the same team or something?" Johnny says.

"They pay me to play hockey, not to be your best friend," Pat says.

"No, you did that all on your own, didn't you?" Johnny's face looks terrible, and Pat wants to stop everything and get off this ride, but she can't, she doesn't know how to make that happen.

"Yeah, well, I'm taking it back," Pat says. She wishes she'd sat anywhere else, or called in sick, or something, anything, to not be here, breaking her heart.

"You don't just wake up and take back years of best friends," Johnny says.

"Maybe best friends," Pat reminds him.

"Fuck you," Johnny says.

Around them everyone is talking loudly, like they're actively trying to drown out the argument, and Pat is abruptly conscious of the fact that Johnny knows things he isn't supposed to know, things she's never told anyone but her family, and he could get her in a lot of trouble.

"I didn't just wake up and decide," she says, because in that moment she isn't sure she can trust him, and she hasn't felt that way since the day they met. "This is something that's been going on for fucking years okay? I just didn't want to admit it to myself." That's true, at least, she can't pin down at all when she started falling in love with him.

"Fuck you," Johnny says again, and he looks like his head is about to explode.

"Real original," Pat says.

Johnny stands up abruptly and motions to Sharpy. "You deal with - with Kaner," he says, and there's a tiny itty bitty totally there pause where he was about to out her, use the feminine pronoun, and fuck him anyway if he can't control himself. She's better off without him.

"What was that about?" Sharpy asks when they've moved all their stuff around and he's settled in next to her.

"I hate him," Pat says.

"He's not actually playing tonight, so you didn't miss anything, okay? But he wanted to travel with the team, get back in the swing of things, because he'll be playing for the playoffs."

"I don't care," Pat says, crossing her arms like she's a petulant child. She doesn't want to talk about it, she just wants everyone to leave her alone so she can wallow in ruining the best thing that ever happened to her. If this ruins hockey for her, too, she doesn't know what she'll do but it'll be something drastic.

"Yeah you do. Can you at least keep it together on the ice tonight? You guys can work out your issues later," Sharpy says.

"There's nothing to work out," Pat says.

She plays a shitty game, and she knows it. No assists, no goals, and somehow everyone else on the team is doing what they need to do and they make it to overtime, and then to a shootout, and it's a disaster. She feels lifeless out there and Q is about to call her up and she's going to do something stupid like not even hit the puck at the goal or fall flat on her face.

"I miss Tazer," Shawsy says, his head turned away so Pat can't really hear the rest of the conversation.

This whole thing is stupid. Pat was good at hockey before Johnny, and just because she had a brief moment of insanity where she thought she might love Johnny more than hockey doesn't mean she can't get over it and start loving hockey first again. She doesn't need Johnny to be great. She's never needed Johnny at all.

She takes a deep breath, and stares at the net, and she can't help picturing Johnny's face there, for a moment. Seriously, fuck him. She skates, and she shoots, and she scores the fucking game-winning goal because she's awesome at hockey and she'll keep being awesome at hockey.

After they celebrate on the ice, and in the locker room, she's still picturing the goal over and over on the way back to her hotel room. But now she's picturing it with Johnny actually there, and feeling a little bit guilty about shooting a puck at his face, because dentistry and plastic surgery are expensive, and she might be hating him now but that doesn't mean she wants to destroy his life completely. She can be the bigger person about this.

"It's cool, it'll be better tomorrow," she says as she's opening the hotel room door, giving herself a little mini pep talk.

"What?" Johnny asks.

He's lounging on the bed in workout clothes like he doesn't have a care in the world and she wants to punch him in the face. She's never felt more violent and she plays hockey for a living. Of course, she also wants to climb him like a fucking tree and make him fuck her against the wall so hard it breaks open so clearly her judgment can't be trusted.

"Nothing," she says, turning away and putting her stuff down. There's a bit of an awkward silence but if she just ignores it everything will be fine. Everything has to be fine.

"Nice goal," he says.

"I pictured your face in the net," she confesses abruptly. He flinches, and she feels simultaneously victorious and horrible, and something is definitely wrong with her.

"Look, can we talk about this?" he asks. "Because I know why I'm mad at you, and I suspect you do too since you were ignoring me on purpose, but I have no idea why you're mad."

"I don't want to," Pat says.

"But you admit there's something to talk about," Johnny says.

"Stop being the bigger person. I'm the bigger person in this relationship. Why are you so hateful?" Pat says. She wants a long shower, maybe to drown herself in it for a little while, and she wants a hotel room to herself, and she doesn't want to deal with Johnny and his stupid Johnny-ness.

"Kaner," Johnny says. "Pat. Is it Patricia?"

"You can't know that."

"I want to know everything," he says, and his eyes are all scary intense, and she doesn't know what to do with herself so she slumps on the other bed.

"You'll slip up and say it. I heard you almost slip up on the plane," Pat says. "You can't think of me as a girl."

"It's hard not to," Johnny says, and there's a little edge of miserable in his eyes, and she likes it. He should be miserable too.

"Yeah, well, make it work," Pat says. "And leave me alone, okay? Leave me alone through the playoffs, and I'll disappear over the summer and work things out, and things will be better in the fall." Because if she wasn't over him by then she'd have to do something drastic, much more drastic than not talking to him for months.

"Pat, I just want to know what's wrong," he says.

"Well, you can't," she says. She's damn well not putting herself out there for rejection again. It was humiliating enough the first time.

"If this is about the phone messages..." he says, leaning forward like he's going to reach out and touch her, which is not okay. There won't be touching.

"No," she says, because she didn't listen to them so that's not even a factor.

"I meant it, okay? I still mean it. I was drunk, but it was all true," Johnny says.

"What was all true?" she asks.

"What I said, on the messages I left you."

"I didn't listen to them," Pat says. She promised herself no more awkward confessions, Johnny deserves what he gets from her which will be nothing, but if he's going to confess to drunk dialing maybe he gets a little bit of honest confession out of her for that.

"You didn't - what?" Johnny asks.

"You don't speak English now? I didn't listen to them! I hated you, and I didn't listen to them, and what don't you understand about that?" Pat says.

"Did you delete them?"

Pat gets her phone out. "Not, like, on purpose, but I think they disappear after a set time."

Johnny sighs, and he sounds a little bit broken, at least cracked around the edges, and it's not fair. She's the broken one, he doesn't get to be broken.

"Well, do you just want to tell me what your problem is? Like, if you think they're so important you probably remember them, you could give me the recap." Not that she wants it, but she's been conditioned to respond to Johnny when he's sad, to try to make him happier. She can't even complain about Stockholm Syndrome because she kidnapped herself.

"I, look, I don't really want to."

"So make up your fucking mind! You want to talk about it, you don't want to talk about when I'm willing to listen. What the hell do you want?" Pat asks.

Johnny looks down at the floor and rubs an awkward hand over the back of his neck. "I want you to tell me what's wrong, because I'm confused."

"It's not my job to un-confuse you," Pat says.

"Please," Johnny says. His eyes are all big like he's actually trying to make some cute face at her, and he's totally failing, and she isn't convinced at all. But he did say please, and he never says please, he usually shouts and orders and demands, and she should reward good behavior, right?

"Pat," Johnny says, and she realizes she's just staring at him, wide-eyed, and fuck fuck fuck, this is so going to end badly.

"I," Pat says. "I'm going to take a shower." Johnny swallows weirdly, and he shifts and looks away from her, and she doesn't know what to do with him. She heads into the bathroom and locks the door; not that Johnny's ever really given her reason to distrust him, but she's a little bit distrustful. If he's going to try to push the issue, which it looks like he might, she doesn't want it to be while she's wet and naked.

She spends longer than she might otherwise, using up all the baby bottles of shampoo and conditioner even though her hair isn't long, and then using the entire lotion bottle too. It feels excessive, and her hands are a little bit slimy, so she has to wash them, and then she thinks about blow-drying her hair, which is ridiculous. She never does it, the curls look so strange blown out.

Somehow Jonny procured a lot of beer while she was showering, and he motions her over and has her sit next to him on his bed. "Blues are playing the Jets," he says, and yeah, that's Johnny, always finding more hockey to watch.

"How's Oshie," she says, not that she particularly cares but if she gets him talking about other things there's less of a chance he'll bring up their unfinished conversation from before.

"Good. Had a really nice shot on goal in the first period."

Pat slouches down next to him. It's dangerous, she should get on her own bed, but the beer is over here and Johnny is handing her a new one every time she runs out.

The game is tied 1-1 and they're halfway through the third when her eyes start getting heavier. Now she really should move, but it's comfortable; Johnny put them both under the covers at the last timeout and she's got a bunch of extra pillows piled around. It's good.

"I'm just going to," she mumbles, gesturing at her own bed. Johnny grabs her hand and holds it down so she won't block his view of the game, and fine. She'll go in a minute, maybe when it's over. She'll just rest her eyes for a second in the meantime.

When she wakes up it's much later; the curtains are closed but it looks like the sun might just be coming up around the edges, a bit of light filtering in. She isn't sure what woke her, and then she hears the television on, some late night/early morning announcer discussing how awesome her goal was. She's been on television before, obviously; she's scored the winning goal before. It still sends a chill down her spine, a little thrilling ripple of awesome, and she shifts a bit in bed.

That's when she realizes she must still be in Johnny's bed, because he's literally wrapped around her, tucked up against her from shoulders to hips, and one of his legs is between hers, and he's got a hand pushed up under her shirt, resting on her stomach.

She can't lie there and think about how it's unfair she's never going to get this for real. She should have moved before she fell asleep, but it's way too late for that. Now she just needs to get up and out before this gets any worse.

It's easier said than done, of course. Johnny is like a fucking octopus, she tries to move her legs but he's got 8 or something and he uses them to hold her in place. And then she tries wriggling to make him move, which works, except he tightens his arm around her and pulls her in closer so she's half under him.

"Mmm," he says, and he can't be awake because he's like, nuzzling her neck. It's got to be some automatic reaction, or he thinks she's someone else, like the hot bartender, or who knows what. Anyway, it calls for drastic measures, and she jabs her elbow back against his ribs, hard and fast, and everyone's always said she has sharp elbows so it's really disappointing when that doesn't work either.

"Shh, sleeping," he mumbles, and he's rubbing little circles on her stomach with his thumb.

"Johnny," she says. "Stop that."

"What," he says, and now he's awake and slightly grumpy Johnny, pulling back and running a hand through his hair. She feels cold all over where they were touching, which was nearly everywhere, and she can't stop from shivering. He puts a hand on her thigh, which is unfair. "What?" he asks again.

"You can't just do that," she says.

"Do what?" he asks.

"God, are you really this dense? We can't just cuddle like we're dating. That means separate beds, no spooning, no - fucking - you had your hand up my shirt."

"Right," he says, and his face is grumpy and his voice is way more upset than his usual morning grumpiness, and she hates that she knows that.

"Fuck you, you can't be mad about this. You're the one who turned me down," she says, and immediately regrets it, because there's nothing like talking about things she swore she'd never talk about again.

"For one night of casual sex," Johnny says, and he's still mad, which, seriously.

"I don't think that was specified," she says, sitting up and throwing back the covers. It's cowardly to walk away from this argument but she can't be here. She needs time by herself to get over him.

"You were pretty damn specific. You said it wasn't a big deal, it was just a bit of fun," Johnny says. His fingers tighten on her thigh, and he's going to leave stupid Johnny finger shaped bruises or something, and she's going to have to close her eyes when she changes clothes to avoid seeing them.

"Okay, you were the one freaking out. You were, like, having a panic attack or something, and I wanted to have sex, for once in my life, with someone who knew who I was and wasn't freaking out about it," Pat says.

"I," Johnny says, and stops, because he's an emotionally-stunted man.

"Spit it out so we can get this over with," she says.

"You're a virgin?" he asks.

"Oh my god. This is not happening to me. I just wanted to play hockey the best I could, why is this my life?" Pat says.

"Stop being so dramatic," Johnny says.

"Dramatic? You think this is dramatic? You fucker, I'm in love with you! I can be a hell of a lot more dramatic." She doesn't have time to panic about ripping the bandaid off the giant hole in her heart because Johnny flips them around so he's lying on top of her, framing her all over with his body, and for a moment she really wishes this was happening under better circumstances because it is pretty awesome.

"You're in love with me?"

"Did your concussion fuck up your hearing?" she asks. His face is closed off, she can't read anything he's thinking.

"Pat," he says.

"Right now I mostly hate you for making us have this conversation, but in general, at other times, I love you. I don't know why, but it's this dumb thing where I'd pick you over hockey, I mean, if I had to and it was an emergency, not that I'd ever want to do that. And I hope you're happy because we're never talking about this again," she says.

"That's the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me," Johnny says, and she wants to hit him, she almost does it, but then she looks at his stupid face again and he's smiling fondly, he actually does look happy, for the first time in a really long time.

"Well, good for you," Pat says, and shoves at his chest. He grabs her wrists and holds them down next to her head, and it doesn't escape her notice that this is a mirror image of how they were lying on the bed last time they talked about this.

"You want to know why I was so upset about it being one night of casual sex?" he asks, and she doesn't, she wants to forget this happened, but he's still got a soft look around his eyes and he's probably going to tell her anyway, so she keeps quiet. "Because you're my best friend, and I didn't think I could have sex with you once and then pretend it had never happened and go back to living like before."

"And instead of saying that, you just rejected me and made me think you weren't interested at all and then you flirted with that stupid bartender and why are you so horrible?"

"What stupid bartender?" Johnny asks.

"Never mind," Pat says. "If you're serious about this, and I'm serious about this, and we've already covered all of that, can we just make it official and have sex now?"

"I don't think we should have sex because it's the playoffs," Johnny says.

"Oh my god, it's playoff beard season, not playoff celibacy season. What is wrong with you?" Pat says.

"I think it will fuck with the team dynamic," Johnny says. Pat wiggles her eyebrows at him, because hell yes it's going to fuck with the team dynamic if they fuck each other, but it'll be better by default because it's them, and it's sex, how could it not be? But Johnny's still looking really serious about the whole thing, and she's stubborn but he is more.

"For the record, you are objectively the worst," Pat says. "I'm going to register an official complaint."

"Can you do it after we get a couple more hours of sleep? We don't have to be anywhere for awhile," Johnny says, and she's barely shrugging in agreement before he manhandles her around so they're in the same cuddling position they were before, his hand all tucked up under her shirt and rubbing circles on her stomach with his thumb again.

She doesn't exactly mind as much anymore, not that he's allowed to know that, so she grabs his hand and somehow, she's blaming him, they end up holding hands. But that's probably okay, she can deal with it if she has to.

In the real morning, when they wake up because Johnny's alarm goes off, she feels better than she has in ages. She can't remember the last time she felt this good; maybe after she realized she'd pulled everything off and had been drafted first overall and all her dreams were coming true.

She kisses Johnny in the bathroom, after they brush their teeth, and it's not weird. He pushes her back against the counter, trapping her there with his hands on either side of her hips, and she's not that much smaller than he is but she's just small enough that it works.

When he pulls back he's breathing hard, like he just pulled a double shift on the ice. "Johnny," she says, pulling him for a quick nipping kiss. "Just think, we could have already had sex."

"No," he says, but he's laughing, and this is pretty great.

Sharpy raises an eyebrow at her when they come downstairs, and pulls her aside to ask if everything is fixed.

"I just slept really well last night," she says, and she's blushing a tiny bit because for real, the reason she slept well is she was all wrapped up in Johnny. And she can see him out of the corner of her eye, and he's ducked his head down a bit and he's grinning to himself, so she's probably not the only one.

"Come over?" Johnny asks, when they're heading off the plane.

"I have things to do," Pat says.

"Like what could you possibly have to do," Johnny says.

"Brush up on my stage makeup." She drops her voice, so no one can overhear them, although no one is that close at the moment.


"How do you think I grow a beard?" she asks.

He makes a hilarious face. "I didn't think about it."

"I'll come over after, okay?" she says, and he smiles and nods.

Seabs is getting into his own car next to hers, and he grins at her. "Honeymoon back on?" he asks.

"No sex during the playoffs," she shoots back, and he frowns and shakes his head.


"That's Captain Serious for you," she says.

She needs to go shopping for fake beard supplies because she doesn't have much left over from last year, and then she has to go make all that happen, and she loves the playoffs but it's a pain. But Johnny is waiting for her, and there's hockey to play, so she can't complain too much.

She gave up a lot to do what she loves, but she doesn't regret it.