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Hold Onto Sixteen

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Sam isn't home 15 minutes before his mom calls up the stairs, “John’s here.”

Sam leaves his suitcase half-unpacked on the bed and jogs down the stairs to see John in the hallway, stick in one hand, skates in the other, and a grin on his face. Sam matches it automatically. “Hey.”

“Hey.” John eyes him and Sam shifts on the balls of his feet. He’s had a bit of a growth spurt in the past six months, and the Musketeers’ nutritionist has him eating almost twice the calories he was before. He’s still getting used to his new body and sometimes – mostly when he trips up the stairs or stumbles on a sidewalk crack - he feels a bit awkward and gangly.

There’s something in John’s look, and Sam laughs a little. “I have a couple inches on you now.”

John raises an eyebrow. “Still gonna kick your ass.”

“Best of 3?” Sam’s already grabbing the equipment bag he had dropped in the front hall when he got home. It’s cold in Ontario in December and Sam’s fingers feel cold and brittle, his laces cutting into the callused skin above his knuckle, and he suddenly worries that too many practices in the state-of-the-art Sioux City arena have made him complacent.

“Come on, old man.” John’s already at the door to the rink and he’s motioning for Sam to hurry. “Sioux City made you soft?”

“Asshole,” Sam swears, grabbing his stick and thinking, not for the first time, that it’s a little frightening how John reads his mind sometimes.

“I’ll go easy on you the first round, eh?” John fishes a puck out and passes it to Sam. “You first.”

Normally, Sam would protest, but he is actually a little worried that he’s going to get his ass kicked, so he catches the pass and starts skating towards John. Sam dekes left – a skill he’s been practicing with the team – and the puck hits the left post and in. It clinks, loud and satisfying in the open Canadian air, and Sam forgets the cold, forgets the fancy arena and the heat-controlled locker room.

Sam lets out a loud whoop and John glares at him, fishing the puck out of the net and starting back the other way. John moves right and Sam forgets Sioux City and his awkward teammates and his messy roommate, because Sam still knows John’s body, how he skates and passes and which moves he likes, and this feels natural. The past six months fall away and Sam feels good, strong, fast, and he laughs when his next shot hits of the right post and goes in.

“That’ll show you soft.”

John rolls his eyes, but he’s grinning. “You’re such a dork.”

“Whatever.” He stickhandles to him. “You missed me.”

John bites his lower lip, eyeing Sam in the same way he did in the hall earlier, and Sam almost asks what’s on his mind, but then John is shaking his head and reaching out to take the puck from him. “Again.”

It isn’t a question.

They play another 15 games, only stopping to turn the lights on when it gets too dark to see the goal posts, before Sam stops at center ice, chin resting on the top of his stick. His muscles ache in a way they never do after team practices, and he feels settled, content.

“Hey, look, it’s still here.” John is half-buried in a snow pile and Sam’s eyes light up because he had forgotten that they still had a six-pack squirreled away there. John appears again, his sweatshirt and gloves a little wet from the snow, holding the beer up triumphantly. They both take off their skates and settle together at center ice. Sam’s shoulder brushes John’s as they sit and he smiles, opening his beer and taking a long swig.

They’re silent for a moment, the air quiet and it must be after midnight because there’s no noise from the houses around them. Sam’s missed this, so much, and he physically aches with it.

“What’s Sioux City like?” John’s staring up at the stars above them and doesn’t look at Sam as he asks.

Sam shrugs anyway. “Different.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, just- different. American.”

John laughs and takes another sip. “Yeah.”

“My roommate washes his socks in the sink and leaves them hanging all over the bathroom.” John laughs and Sam frowns at him. “It’s gross.”

“It’s funny.” John tells him pointedly, finally turning to look at him.

Sam laughs. “Yeah, I guess it sort of is.” John grows quiet and Sam doesn’t know what he said, so he tries to smile and brush it off. “There’s this other guy on the team – Jell-O - on game days he eats nothing but Jell-O.”

John laughs, but it’s small and he finishes his beer, reaching for another. “I’ve only been out here a couple of times since you left.” Sam’s chest tightens and John must know, because he looks back up at the stars. “Only a couple times. Your dad’s been begging me to – says someone should use it. But-” He looks back at Sam again and now Sam aches in an entirely different way. John visibly swallows. “But it’s not the same without you.”

Sam wants to say nothing’s the same without you but instead he blurts out, “I hate Sioux City.” And he didn’t mean to say it. He never meant to say it, because he’s been homesick for months but it suddenly feels more real and Sam doesn’t know how he’s gonna leave this all again, leave Canada and his sisters and this rink, leave John.

John turns onto his side. “It can’t be that bad. You’re playing hockey, right?”

“Yeah.” Sam opens another beer, too, and takes a long swig. He’s too young to even have a fake ID in the States and, anyway, the team is monitored at all times, so he hasn’t had anything to drink in forever. His tolerance must be way down, because he’s feeling a little light-headed and when he turns to look at John, John’s a little fuzzy around the edges. “The rest sucks though.”

“I’ll be really homesick.” The when I leave is left unsaid, because they both know it’s inevitable. They both want to play hockey, and to do that they’ll always be on the move, always be just arriving or just leaving. It’s one of the sacrifices that Sam’s dad has been drilling into both of them for years.

“It’s worth it,” Sam promises, because it is.

“Yeah.”

John’s biting his lip again and he still looks sad and Sam says, “I miss you,” before he can stop himself or before he can say anything else that’s way more embarrassing. Because he could have said I miss seeing you every day or I miss sleeping with you when we practice too late and you crash in my bed or I jack off thinking about you every night.

It must have been enough, though, because John is biting his lip again and then John is kissing him. His lips are cold and chapped and his mouth tastes like beer and his mouthguard and it’s the best thing Sam has ever felt. Sam wraps a hand in John’s hair and John moans, pulling away to kiss at Sam’s neck, leaving large, wet marks and Sam makes a noise deep in his throat that sound a lot huskier than he’s ever sounded before.

John bites at one of the spots, then swipes his tongue across it and Sam’s whole body shutters. “God, John-”

John pulls back and smiles at him. “I’ve been thinking about this for months. Ever since you left. I wanted to do it last summer, but-”

Sam can only nod, pulling John down to kiss him again. His hands move down to cup John’s hips and pull him on top. Their dicks connect and it feels amazing. Sam is harder than he’s ever been and he thrusts into the feeling, brushing against John’s own erection and they’re both groaning.

“This is so much better than my hand,” John tells him and he’s blushing and Sam grins, arching his hips and his dick is pushing painfully against the fly of his jeans, but it’s cold outside and he’s not about to take his pants off. Instead, he just kisses John and spreads his knees so that John can settle between them.

“You feel so good. John- . Keep-. Yes.” Sam knows he isn’t making much sense, but he’s been thinking about this since he’s been old enough to think about it, and John is warm and hard and matching his thrusts.

John kisses him, biting at his lip and burying his hands in Sam’s hair and he speeds up. He’s breathing hard into Sam’s mouth and he lets out a low groan into Sam’s lips as his whole body shakes and that is the hottest thing Sam has ever seen. He grips John’s hips, holding him still so that Sam can arch of the ice and push against John’s body, hot and strong. Sam loses all sense of rhythm as he buries his head in John’s neck, pressing wet open-mouthed kisses there as he arches his back and comes with a deep grunt.

“Fuck,” he whispers, stretching out against the ice and it feels good against his heated body. Above him, John squirms and reaches down to adjust his pants.

“I need a shower.”

“Yeah,” Sam agrees, but just stretches up for another kiss. John doesn’t protest, just melts into it. Eventually, Sam’s lips get tired and he pulls away to smile up at John, who grins at him.

“I’ve missed you, too. Just- so you know.”

Sam laughs. “Someday.”

“Hmm?”

“Someday, we’re gonna be together again. In the NHL. It’s gonna be epic.”

“Oh yeah.” John nods, all serious, and then kisses him quickly before scrambling up. “Shower.” Sam follows, slower, before John stops at the edge of the rink to look at him. “Shower. Then sleep. Then more hockey.”

Sam laughs, reaching out to kiss him just because he can, then, “Race you to the showers.” John swears and chases after him.