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Five Days in Toronto

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It's the same every year--Carey tries to get P.K. to come out West with him, P.K. tries to get Carey to hang out in Toronto, they both agree that they need to hang out somewhere during the summer, and then training and roping and travel gets in the way and before either of them are entirely sure how it happened, it's August and training camp's only a month away and neither of them has made it anywhere.

"Seriously, Carey, just come for a week before we head to camp," P.K.'s saying, lying with his head dangling off his bed with the phone pressed to his ear. His webcam's broken again so they're stuck using phones instead of Skype, which is lame. Half the fun of talking to Carey is watching his stupid facial expressions. Also, Malcolm keeps evangelizing about FaceTime at him, which is starting to get creepy.

"Maybe," Carey says. "If things aren't crazy around here."

P.K. sighs. This is probably the tenth time they've had this conversation and he doesn't feel like he's any closer to getting Carey to come hang with him. He rolls over and sits up, shaking his head a little to clear the blood rush, and tries again.

"If you come in August we can go to the Ex," he says. "They have, like, horses and stuff."

"'Horses and stuff', real specific," Carey repeats dryly. "And I already said maybe." He's laughing though, so P.K. knows he can keep pushing.

"And we can go for good food and, uh," P.K. tries to think of things that Carey might like, "go...to the ROM?"

Carey's still laughing at him on the other end of the line. "You know I've been to Toronto before, right?" he asks. "Hell, I lived in Hamilton for a while."

"Hamilton's not Toronto," P.K. says, offended. "C'mon, man, that's like me saying I've been to Anahim Lake because I've been to Vancouver."

"It's only an hour away," Carey says. "And there are these things called cars, you might have heard of them, they let you go places and spend time there."

"Fuck off," P.K. says, laughing. "Hamilton's only got strip clubs and shitty malls. Come hang out in a real city and let me show you the real awesome places."

"Is Montreal not a real city?" Carey asks. Even over the phone, P.K. can hear his stupid mock-innocent face that he uses when he's nitpicking things just to make P.K. yell at him.

"No," P.K. says. "Anyway I'm just going to buy you a ticket so you have no choice but to come hang out with me."

"You do that," Carey says. "I'm sure I can find someone around here who'd like a free trip to Toronto."

"Prick," P.K. says affectionately.

"I'll buy my own ticket," Carey says. "You'd probably get one at ass o'clock in the morning just to be a dick."

Seeing as that was P.K.'s plan, he can't really argue, but that's not the important thing here. "So you're coming?"

"Yeah, I guess I may as well, seeing as you're practically crying over missing me."

P.K. grins. "Nah, I just want you here so I can hand you off to Malcolm and he can stop asking me about your gear."

"Oh, you should have just said that, if I'd known I was coming to hang out with him I'd have bought a ticket weeks ago," Carey says.

"Fuckin' goalies," P.K. says. "Whatever, man, email me the details and I'll let my mom know that you're coming."

"Yeah, yeah," Carey says. "You owe me a trip to see 'horses and stuff', though."

"Of course," P.K. says. "You can hang out with your horse people and I'll go impress girls at the hammer thing."

"Uh huh," Carey says. "Good luck with that."

Carey arrives a couple weeks later, wearing his stupid cowboy hat and boots and buckle, and P.K. rolls his eyes even as he's bounding over to hug him. Carey laughs and hugs him back, then ducks away when P.K. tries to knock his hat off.

"Mom's got plans to fatten you up," P.K. tells Carey as they walk to the car. "She thinks you're too skinny."

"Does this mean I get to eat her food all the time?" Carey asks. "Because I'm okay with this plan."

"Fat goalies are happy goalies," P.K. tells him. Carey nods sagely.

There's a whirlwind of hugging and greeting and talking when he gets Carey home, his parents and siblings all swooping in on Carey, who takes it good-naturedly. P.K. grabs Carey's stuff and dumps it into his room before heading back out to extract him from the clutches of his family.

"Give the man some breathing room," he says, prying Malcolm away. "He just spent all day on a plane. You can interrogate him over dinner."

His family is actually pretty good to Carey, not peppering him with too many questions as they eat. Carey's weirdly formal at first, super polite with none of his usual weird humour showing up. P.K. stares at him for a while and then kicks him under the table.

"Man, you don't have to be all nice with my family, they'll like you anyway," he says, ignoring the way his mom frowns at him. It's creepy seeing Carey like that.

Carey just rolls his eyes and asks for more rice, somehow managing to dodge P.K. as he tries to kick him under the table. He does relax after that, even joking with Malcolm and Jordan about their bad attempts at facial hair, but he still offers to help P.K.'s mom with the dishes when they finish. She waves him off, saying that he's a guest, and P.K. drags him into the living room and pushes him onto the couch before he can offer again.

"Stop being so perfect, you jerk," he says.

Carey laughs at him. "You've got low standards for perfection," he says.

"You've got low standards for everything."

"That explains why I'm friends with you." Carey's grin widens when P.K. flips him off. It's a good sight, even if Carey's back to being a dick; P.K. can't help but grin back and nudge Carey's shoulder.

"I'm glad you're here, even if you are a jerk," P.K. tells him, sincerely.

"Gaaaaaay," one of his brothers yells from the hallway.

When P.K. gets back from his morning workout the next day, Carey's still asleep. It is only 5 a.m. out west, P.K. realizes, so he lets him sleep and calls JT instead.

"Come to the Ex with me and Carey on Friday," he says when Tavares finally picks up.

"It's 8 a.m., you fuck," JT says. "Also, no. I'm not watching you make eyes at him all day."

"Who the fuck says 'make eyes'?" P.K. asks. "And seriously, c'mon. He's going to be staring at horses the entire time, keep me company."

"Keep you company while you stare at him staring at horses? No thanks."

"I'll buy you chocolate-covered bacon," P.K. offers.

"I'm sure my trainer would love that," John replies. There's silence for a minute, then he sighs. "OK. We doing this as a group thing?"

"Yeah, okay," P.K. says. "You're in charge of rounding up the crew, though."

"It's your fucking date," JT says, but he gives in like P.K. knew he would. "Fine, but you're buying me ribs."

"Yeah, whatever. Let me know what's up."

P.K. pockets his phone and walks back into his room, where Carey's still asleep on the inflatable mattress on the floor. His hair's a mess and he's got one foot dangling off the bed. P.K. wants nothing more than to crawl under the blanket with him, but he's pretty sure that'd be creepy. All the joking about his big gay crush on Carey would be a lot funnier if it were a little less true.

He doesn't even realize he's sitting staring at Carey sleep until Carey cracks one eye open and says, "Creeper."

"Lazy ass," P.K. says in response. "Aren't you usually up and feeding horses by now?"

"Have you ever heard of these things called vacations?" Carey asks, yawning and stretching before sitting up. "Coffee?"

"In the kitchen," P.K. says, standing and offering Carey a hand up. Carey's always heavier than P.K. expects, height disguising the solid muscle of his frame. He stretches again when he's upright, and P.K. has to look away from the streak of skin between his shirt and sweats. It's always worst when he hasn't seen Carey in a while; he hasn't had time to build up his defenses against Carey's stupid face and hair and hands.

Luckily, Carey's pretty single-minded first thing in the morning, and he predictably beelines towards the coffee maker, taking the mug P.K. grabs for him and filling it up. Carey takes his coffee black, something P.K.'s never been able to manage. He's more of a milk and sugar guy, no matter how often he's been frowned at by his trainer for that. It's not like he drinks coffee all that often anyway, not like Carey.

Toronto's muggy August days are in full force this week, and Carey makes a face as soon as he sets foot outside.

"How do you run in this?" he asks P.K., wiping his forehead.

"It's not that bad really early and at night," P.K. says. "I'll wake you up for it tomorrow."

"Ugh," Carey says, but he doesn't argue.

P.K.'s car's a death trap, so hot that they have to wave the car doors to air it out before they can get in, but the AC kicks in as he heads into the city. He points out various landmarks to Carey--Sneaky Dee's, Chinatown, City Hall--but Carey mostly just cuts him off to tell him to keep his eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. He looks entirely too relieved when they pull into a parking lot near the ROM.

"Why does it have a growth?" Carey asks, stopping outside the building and staring at the weird "crystal" sticking off the side of the old building.

"Fuck if I know," P.K. responds. "I guess someone thought that looked cool."

"Right," Carey says. "They were wrong."

There's a couple day camps' worth of kids in the foyer when they walk inside. They manage to wade through them, making it to the desk without more than a few wide-eyed looks and whispers. P.K. picks up their tickets, waving Carey off when he reaches for his wallet.

"You're my guest," he says.

They meander around the exhibits for a while, looking at the mummies and weird stuffed birds and sculptures. Carey drags him around the Native section, trying to find anything from his people; P.K. drags Carey through the bat cave, which is a lot less creepy now than it had been when he was a kid.

"The cave it's based on is in Jamaica," P.K. tells Carey when they emerge.

"Cool," Carey says. "Remind me never to go there."

The dinosaur hall is surprisingly empty by the time they make it there.

"When I was a kid, they had all the dinosaurs in these, like, fake forests and stuff," P.K. says. "Jordan used to cry when we walked past the ones with the sharp teeth."

Carey looks at the current display, all white walls and neat labels. "That sounds way more fun than this."

"It was," P.K. says. "But dinosaurs are still awesome. Come on."

Even Carey's impressed by the Barosaurus, although he raises an eyebrow at the name. "'Gordo'?"

"Yeah, well," P.K. says, staring down the T-rex. "Man, I'm glad these things don't exist any more."

"Didn't they evolve into chickens or something?"

"I'm pretty sure chickens didn't come from T-rexes, Pricey."

The water dinosaur room is still the same as always, at least. When P.K. was a kid, he'd been terrified of the one closest to the door, which always seemed like it was watching him, waiting for him to blink so it could come to life and eat him. It still kind of feels like that, and he takes a step back and away from it just in case.

"I'm guessing Jordan wasn't the only one freaked out by these guys?" Carey asks, giving P.K. an amused look.

"I'm not freaked out by them," P.K. protests. "It's just staring at me."

"It doesn't have eyes, P.K.," Carey points out, but he leans gently into P.K.'s shoulder anyway. "This room is weird, though."

"Let's go get lunch," P.K. says, giving the dinosaur one last look.

When he'd come here with his family or school, they'd always gone to the McDonalds down the street, but this time they walk over to Over Easy for real food.

Carey orders a chicken wrap and says, "revenge for Jurassic Park."

P.K. grins at him. "Revenge is best served with home fries?" he asks, stealing one off Carey's plate.

"Damn straight," Carey says.

"So we're going to the Ex on Friday for the opening," P.K. says between bites of scrambled eggs. "Tavares is going to round up some of the guys."

"Okay," Carey says after a minute. "I didn't realize this was going to be a group outing."

"It's cool, they know you're gonna be communing with the horses or whatever," P.K. says. "I mean, if you don't want them there--"

"Nah, it's fine," Carey says.

"Okay," P.K. says. He'd kind of like to go with just Carey, really, but it's too late now.

P.K. considers taking Carey around Kensington Market and Chinatown, given that they're pretty close, but the mercury's been climbing steadily and there's neither clouds nor breeze to cut the heat. Instead, they head to the gym; even vacation isn't really a break from off-season training, especially with camp coming up. P.K. introduces Carey to his trainer, then gets down to work, throwing himself into it so he doesn't get distracted by staring as Carey stretches out in ways that don't even look physically possible.

Carey ends up playing with his brothers down in the rec room while P.K. gets roped into helping his mom dry dishes after dinner. He sends a couple longing looks towards the door until his mom swats him lightly with a towel.

"You see Carey all the time," she tells him. "Let them spend some time with him tonight. You know Malcolm's got a hundred questions for him."

"That's what I want to go save him from," P.K. says, but he stops considering escape.

"He's a nice boy," his mom says, eventually. P.K. shoots her a look, curious about the tone of her voice, but she just smiles evenly at him and hands him a casserole dish.

"He's okay, I guess," P.K. agrees.

When he checks in downstairs, Malcolm's talking animatedly about gloves, Carey's listening and nodding, and Jordan's sprawled out playing with his phone.

"Run while you still can," he hisses at P.K. when he sees him.

"Jays game?" P.K. suggests after another minute of watching the goalie convention. He can't remember the last time he saw Malcolm talk this much at once.

They head back upstairs, flopping on the couch and bickering over which of them has to get up and find the remote. P.K. wins, like he usually does, and Jordan finds it and flicks on the TV just in time to catch Bautista homer to give them the lead over the White Sox. P.K. cheers and high-fives Jordan as Bautista rounds the bases.

Carey joins them a couple innings later, wedging himself onto the couch next to P.K.

"Finally escaped?" P.K. asks, reaching up and ruffling Carey's hair.

Carey doesn't even try to duck away. "Some of us actually have wisdom to pass on to the next generation," he says. "What're you watching?"

"Jays game," P.K. says. "They're up by one against the White Sox."

"Nice," Carey says, leaning into P.K.'s side comfortably. "I don't think I've seen a Jays game since I went to one back when I was with the Bulldogs."

"What?" P.K. asks. "Like, live?"

"At all," Carey says. "I don't watch a lot of sports."

"We're going to--" P.K. pulls his phone out and pulls up the Jays schedule, then picks up tickets while he's there. "The final game of the series on Thursday," he finishes.

"Okay," Carey says, giving him an amused look. "As long as there'll be beer there."

"It's baseball, Pricey. Beer is essential."

P.K. takes Carey out on his run that night. It's still thick and humid out, but the heat has dropped off enough to make it tolerable. P.K. takes it as a chance to show Carey his neighbourhood, taking a more winding route than usual so he can point out his old school and the dead end he played street hockey in growing up. They stop in the corner store on the way back and Carey picks up popsicles for them. They sit in the park a block away, eating them and watching a kids' soccer game for a while, staying just outside the crowd.

"I like your lipstick," P.K. says, grinning at the way that Carey's mouth is stained pink by his cherry popsicle.

"Thanks, I thought it went nicely with this shirt," Carey replies.

"Very flattering."

They sit in silence for a while, watching the kids run around on the brightly lit field as darkness really starts to settle in. Usually P.K. would be home and showered by now, getting ready for bed so he can get up early and go running again, but he's pretty content to just sit here until they absolutely have to leave.

"This is nice," he says.

Carey glances up at him from where he's lying on the grass; the corners of his mouth curl up a little before he replies. "Yeah."

P.K. lies down next to him and tries not to grin too hard when Carey taps their toes together.

The humidity finally breaks the next day in the form of a sudden crashing storm, the previous day's blue sky replaced by roiling gunmetal clouds. P.K. and Carey sit on the front porch for a while, watching it. It's one of those strange, nearly solid rains, not much wind to blow the water into where they're sitting. When the lightning gets too close for comfort, they retreat, heading downstairs to play MarioKart with P.K.'s brothers until it's safe to drive to the gym.

This time, P.K. doesn't even pretend not to be watching Carey stretch. It's not like P.K. hasn't seen Carey's ridiculous flexibility before, but it's still amazing and unsettling to see how easily he can bend in ways that make P.K. ache just looking at him.

"What?" Carey asks, looking up.

"Just trying to figure out if you're actually made of elastics or something," P.K. tells him.

Carey grins and casually drops into something that's nearly the splits, laughing when P.K. winces.

"You should give this a try," Carey tells him.

"And sprain my entire body? No thanks," P.K. says.

"Actually, more flexibility training's something I was thinking of adding to your schedule this year," P.K.'s trainer says, appearing out of nowhere like he always does when P.K.'s distracted from his workout. "I put it off because of the knee rehab, but with Carey here to use as an example, maybe I can get you started on the basics and you can keep it up when you get back to Montreal."

"Um, sure," P.K. says, because he knows better than to argue with his trainer. Carey grins, but P.K.'s pretty sure it's an evil grin.

An hour later, P.K. has sore muscles that he's pretty sure didn't even exist before that particular workout. His trainer claps him on the shoulder and says, "Not bad for a first go," which is pretty high praise from the man.

"You'll feel better after showering," Carey promises him, hauling P.K. off the mat he's been sitting on. "And then worse tomorrow."

"Great," P.K. says. "Thanks for that, Gumby."

"No problem," Carey says, cheerfully. P.K. kind of hates him.

He does feel better after his shower, and worse the day after that. Luckily, his mom's invited his sisters over, so after they get home from their morning run, he can get away with sitting on the couch and playing with his nephew while Natasha tells Carey about the show of digital painting that OCAD's putting on in the fall. To Carey's credit, he manages to look genuinely interested in her explanation of the fusing of the digital and traditional mediums, even though P.K.'s pretty sure he has no idea what that means. Carey's life tends to be hockey and horses; the evolution of art isn't a major part of either of those things.

"He's a good one," Natassia says, sitting next to him on the couch and reaching for the baby.

"Mom said something like that, too," P.K. says. "Good to know that he's got some fans in the T-dot."

His sister laughs and settles Legacy on her lap. "You know what I mean."

"Do I?" he asks her, wary of where this is going.

"Subtlety's never been your strong suit," she says. "Just letting you know I approve."

"We're not," P.K. says, awkwardly, keeping his eye on Carey as he nods at something Natasha's saying.

"I know," Natassia says. "But you want to."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he says.

She reaches over and gently smacks him in the side of the head. "Don't be an idiot."

"I think it's a little late for that warning," P.K. says, but he smiles at her.

"I tried to warn you when you were a baby, but you just never listened," she says.

He leans over and looks at his nephew, who stares back at him in that solemn way only babies can manage. "Hey, kid, when she tells you, listen better than I did, okay?"

"Listen to what?" Carey says, appearing suddenly behind P.K.

"Me, when I tell him not to turn out stupid like his uncle," Natassia says.

Carey laughs as P.K. sulks. "With you as his mom, I'm sure he'll do just fine."

"Suck up," P.K. says, grinning as Carey makes faces at Legacy.

"Here," Natassia says, handing the baby back to P.K. "I'm going to go help mom with lunch so she doesn't end up late for work. Don't drop him."

Carey plunks down next to him and leans over to waggle his fingers at Legacy, who tries to grab them. He misses the first couple of times, then catches Carey's pinky and hangs on tight. Carey grins delightedly.

"This is totally going on Twitter," Malcolm says. P.K. looks up to see him holding his phone up and shoots him an unimpressed look.

The picture is pretty cute, though, Carey making a dumb face at the baby and P.K. making a dumb face at Carey, so he retweets it when it pops up on his timeline. A few minutes later, his phone buzzes with a text from Kayla.

"Your sister says that if we've adopted a baby before getting married, your mom's going to be mad," he tells Carey, who laughs.

"Mom'd be fine with that, it's Kayla who'd be mad. She loves weddings."

"Really?" P.K. asks, surprised.

"Well, she loves wedding cake," Carey amends.

"Who doesn't?" P.K. asks.

Carey insists on driving when they head down to the Jays game, so P.K. plunks a Jays hat on Carey's head and hands him the keys. Time had been, P.K. would have just taken the TTC down, but these days he gets stopped too often, people asking for photos and autographs or trying to chirp him for playing for the enemy. He doesn't mind any of those things, really, but it does tend to make it hard to get places on time. Somehow, Carey manages to find what must be the only country station in the GTA and cranks it; P.K. rolls his eyes at all the songs about trucks and feelings and feelings about trucks, then grins when Carey starts singing along.

They overpay for parking and walk over to the Skydome. The day's been clear and bright and the roof is open, the sky above just starting to deepen in colour. It's a perfect night for baseball.

An usher shows them to their seats. P.K. drops his stuff off and runs to get them beer before the game starts, finally managing to buy a couple of Keiths after what feels like a decade in line. When he gets back to the seats, Carey's chatting to an attractive blonde woman in the seat next to him. P.K. takes a few seconds to tamp down the jealousy he doesn't have any real right to feel, then puts on a grin and walks over, handing Carey his beer.

"I can't take you anywhere without you finding the prettiest woman in the area," he says.

Carey laughs. "P.K., Anna, Anna, P.K.," he says. "She's been coming to Jays games since she was a baby, so she's been telling me all about their history."

"Nice to meet you," Anna says, holding out her hand. P.K. has to lean over Carey to shake it, pleasantly surprised at her firm grip.

"You too," he says. "I've been trying to get him into baseball but it's just not working. Maybe if they were on horses."

"There's an idea," Carey says, laughing.

"I'd hate to be in the cleanup crew for that," Anna says, dryly. "I see you made it out of the beer line. How bad is it? Should I expect my husband back before the seventh-inning stretch?"

P.K. blinks when she mentions her husband, then relaxes back into his seat, feeling stupid as he does so. "Uh, it's pretty bad," he says. "You might want to start sending care packages."

She shakes her head. "The service here used to be so much better," she says, sadly. "At least the baseball's finally picking up again."

Now that he's not dealing with his ridiculous feelings, P.K. decides that he likes this woman. The three of them chat right up until the game starts, P.K. and Anna trying to get Carey up to date on the team.

"Arencibia?" Carey says. "Why does that sound familiar?"

"He's a hockey fan," P.K. says. "Preds, I think. And he's friends with Biz and some of the Leafs guys."

Carey makes a face. "Maybe that's it."

"Are you hockey fans?" Anna asks them.

P.K. glances at Carey, who says, "We play, actually."

"Oh, that's nice," she says. "My husband's a big Leafs fan. I like watching it sometimes, but I'm really more a baseball person."

Carey makes an exaggeratedly alarmed face at P.K., who has to smother his laughter. Luckily, the P.A. announces that the game is starting, so they're saved from further conversation by the anthems.

The night goes well. Anna's husband, Derek, is a little surprised when he sees her new friends, but to his credit he keeps the hockey talk to a minimum. The Jays pull out a win, Romero keeping the Sox runless for six innings and Lawrie sending Encarnacion and Rasmus home in the fourth. Things get a little tense when Chicago finally gets on the board--P.K. says some not very nice things about the outfielders while Carey pats him sympathetically on the shoulder--but in the end, the Jays take it 3-1. P.K. doesn't even have to miss any of the game to get more beer, as Carey takes over that job after the first run. All in all, it's a great evening.

"So?" he asks Carey as they walk back to the parking lot.

"So?" Carey echoes, looking at him with raised eyebrows.

"Baseball's awesome, right?" P.K. asks.

"I had fun," Carey says. "It's still got nothing on the rodeo, though."

P.K. shakes his head. "I'll make a fan of you yet," he says, seriously.

"You're welcome to keep trying," Carey says, laughing, but he throws his arm over P.K.'s shoulders.

The next morning, they head to the gym early, getting training out of the way before heading to the Ex to meet up with the guys. P.K.'s getting better at the crazy stretching stuff, but he's still amazed at how easy Carey makes it look. He's still feeling the burn in his ligaments as they walk onto the fairgrounds in the early afternoon, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen on to keep them safe from sun and fans. P.K. grins at Carey's Jays hat, tapping the brim happily.

"I'm incognito," Carey tells him.

"Uh huh," P.K. says. He spots John, waiting by one of the game booths, and waves energetically. "Hey, JT!"

"Hey, man," John says, jogging over. He gives P.K. a hug and then does the same to Carey, who looks bemused. "Nice that it's not 30 and muggy out."

"Fuck yeah," P.K. agrees. "What's up, what are we doing?"

"Waiting on Gags," John says, "and Eric and Chris, if they ever text me back to let me know they're coming."

"Gagner's in town?" P.K. asks. "Awesome."

"Yeah. Stammer's already down in Florida, though, crazy fucker," John says. "So what've you been up to? Showing Price the sights?"

"I've seen dinosaurs and baseball players," Carey says. "Apparently these were the things missing in my life."

"Can't have that," John says. "Have you learned not to let P.K. drive yet?"

"I've secretly been looking into getting licenses revoked," Carey says, straight-faced. John laughs.

"Fuck you both," P.K. says.

The rest of the guys show up and they wander into the main grounds, keeping an eye out for anything of interest and comparing trainer horror stories. Carey does a surprisingly decent impression of P.K.'s face as he's stretching and JT laughs so hard his eyes water.

"I'm never letting you hang out with my friends again," P.K. tells Carey, who smiles innocently at him.

They go on a few rides, but Eric gets vertigo on any of the high ones and the rest of them are mostly little kid things, so they quickly drift back towards the booths and shopping. Sam gets waylaid by an overenthusiastic Tupperware saleswoman in one of the booths and comes out looking shellshocked and carrying a bag of plastic containers; P.K. buys chocolate-covered bacon and makes everyone try it.

"It doesn't even taste like chocolate," John says, making a face.

"It really doesn't," P.K. says, sadly. He'd had such high hopes.

"Well, at least we can say we tried it," Chris says. "What next? The deep-fried nanaimo bars? The deep-fried butter?"

"The fuck even," John says, staring at him. "I'm pretty sure I'd have a heart attack just from looking at that shit."

"How about deep-fried cola?" Chris offers, grinning.

"OK, well, I promised Carey I'd take him to see the horses," P.K. says, glancing at his watch. "So we're going to go do that instead of killing ourselves with food. I'll text you guys when he's done or I go crazy."

"Have fun, kids," Eric says, waving. "Don't buy anything you can't fit into a suitcase."

P.K. knows he made the right decision just by the way Carey's face lights up when they walk into the Horse Palace. It's not a place that P.K.'s spent much time in before, but Carey seems to navigate by some sort of instinct, walking through the stalls like he's been here every day of his life while P.K.'s still adjusting to the smell and dim lighting. A few minutes later and Carey's deep in conversation with some of the people working with the horses. P.K. can hear most of what they're saying, but it's like they're speaking another language, so he just wanders around and looks at the horses. There are some that are super tiny; P.K. thinks about Eric's advice and wonders if he could fit one of them into a suitcase.

"I take it you're not a rodeo rider, too?" someone asks him from a few feet away.

"Oh, no, definitely not," P.K. says. "That's Carey's thing. I'm just--hanging out."

The speaker's an older man, tanned and in a plaid shirt and cowboy boots that both look well-worn. He nods at P.K.'s answer.

"Your friend knows his stuff," he says.

"Yeah, he loves all this," P.K. says, gesturing to the horses. "If I ever make it out West, he says he's going to try to teach me to ride, but this is probably the most time I've spent around horses in my entire life." He looks back at the tiny horses, which are flicking their tails. "What are those?"

"Those are miniature horses," the man says, walking over to stand next to him.

"Like, ponies?" P.K. asks.

"No, ponies are bigger. These are specially bred for their small size."

"Wow," P.K. says. "I'm P.K., by the way." He holds out his hand and the man shakes it.

"Carl," he says.

P.K. ends up learning a lot more about miniature horses than he'd ever expected. He's sure he's going to forget most of it within a week, but at least it gives him something to do while Carey does his thing. Carl's explaining how miniature horses are starting to get used as companion animals when P.K. hears Carey calling his name and looks up, just in time for a lasso loop to drop over him and tighten around his arms.

"Really?" he asks Carey, who's laughing, as are the men with him.

"Hey, you're a more interesting target than a fence post," Carey says.

"If you're going to rope people, shouldn't you at least go after Skillsy the pylon?" P.K. asks, trying to wiggle out of the loop.

Carey just grins and tugs on the rope so P.K. either has to walk over to him or fight to keep his balance. He's tried the latter route a few times and mostly lost, so he just puts aside his pride and walks over, giving the men standing next to Carey an awkward half-bow.

"Not bad, kid," one of the guys says. "Not exactly a bull, though."

"I was one," P.K. says, vaguely insulted. "Then I graduated."

The men all give him blank looks while Carey tries not to laugh.

"He played for the Belleville Bulls," Carey explains. "And he thinks he's funny."

"I'm hilarious," P.K. protests. Carey just tugs the ropes tighter and P.K. sighs, resigned to standing around, unable to move his arms or defend himself.

Happily, the guys Carey's talking with have to go shortly after P.K.'s forced inclusion in the conversation, so Carey unties him and gives the rope back, patting P.K. on the back as P.K. works out his shoulders.

"Thanks for being an easy catch," Carey says as they walk through the stalls again, smiling in that weird quirky way that makes P.K. smile back even though he wants to say something insulting.

"Yeah, well," he says. "I guess I'm pretty easy for you." He gives Carey a stupid cheesy smile to offset the truth in the words.

He calls a goodbye to Carl as they pass the miniature horses, pointing them out to Carey and telling him about their breeding history. Carey asks him a lot of questions, some of which he can actually answer, and he's still talking about them when they meet up with the rest of the guys.

"I kind of assumed that Carey'd be the one talking your ear off," John says.

"P.K.? Shut up for that long?" Carey says. P.K. makes a protesting noise but can't really argue. He does talk a lot. It's not his fault he's interesting.

They wander a while longer, briefly checking out the figure skating and dog show and sand castles before grabbing ribs from the ribfest and collapsing in a tiny bit of shade before anyone else can grab it. Gags has sunburn across his nose and P.K. feels like, well, like he trained all morning and then ran around the Ex all afternoon. Carey leans against him as they eat, too warm but P.K. doesn't mind. Across from them, John raises an eyebrow; P.K. ignores him.

"So, when are you going to abandon us to go out to B.C. and raise miniature horses with Pricey?" John asks as they walk back into the crowds. He's quiet enough that Carey can't hear them, up ahead with the other guys, but P.K. checks anyway.

"I'd never do that, I'd miss your ugly mug too much," P.K. says.

John laughs. "Not as much as you'd miss his pretty face," he says.

P.K. really can't argue that. He's glad that the season's coming up, even if he misses home when he's in Montreal. He gets antsy during the off-season, misses real games and his teammates, misses Carey. It'll be weird this year, no Skillsy to keep him grounded, but P.K.'s really hoping he's matured enough that he can do that himself. He's looking forward to the new coach and the new guys--the last season had been miserable, the team stagnating and turning on each other out of sheer frustration. This year's going to be better. They're going to be awesome.

"Hey," Carey says, dropping back. "Eric says there's fireworks in, like, ten minutes."

"Awesome," P.K. says. "Where we going for them?"

They manage to find them, mostly by following the sounds of the cannons that seem to be accompanying them. It's just dark enough for them, colours exploding high above them and some sort of classical music playing along with the display. It's all pretty great, but P.K. finds himself watching Carey just as much as the show, fascinated by the way the lights reflect off his face, shifting and changing him. Carey catches him staring, but he just smiles and looks back up, so P.K. decides he may as well continue.

Once the show is ending, they start heading back to the entrance. The hockey players all have long days coming up, even on the weekends. They do stop at the hammer game, where P.K. wins a giant stuffed unicorn that he presents to Carey.

"To add to your herd," he says, laughing.

Carey takes it, laughing. "I'm sure he'll blend right in."

They split off at the entrance, the rest of the guys turning down P.K.'s offer of a ride, even when he promises them that Carey will be driving. Chris and Eric head to the streetcar; Gags gives them a quick wave and a "see you during the season!" and disappears towards the far parking lot, Tupperware in tow.

"I guess the next time we see each other, we'll be enemies. I look forward to scoring on you," he says to Carey, grinning.

Carey just shakes his head and looks unimpressed. "I'm sure that's a very nice dream," he says.

P.K. gives John a hug and says, "hey, take care, man."

"You too," John says. He gives Carey a hug too. "Good luck in Frenchland."

They drive home in relative silence, P.K. feeling the long day catching up with him. He's still loathe to go to sleep when they arrive home, though; tomorrow's Carey's last full day, and even though they'll be at camp in a couple of weeks, it still sucks to say bye. Either Carey's feeling the same or he's still running on Pacific time, because he turns to P.K. and says, "lemonade on the porch?"

"Sounds good," P.K. says, grabbing them some glasses while Carey gets the lemonade out of the fridge. They settle in, still quiet, watching the cars go by and the lights in the houses across the way turn on and off.

"You don't have many stars here," Carey says, looking up at the sky.

"Too much light," P.K. says. "There are a few."

"When you come home with me, you'll see real stars," Carey says. "All over the sky, hundreds of them."

"Yeah?" P.K. says. "Sounds pretty."

"It is," Carey says. He sounds wistful. P.K. loves Toronto, he does--it's his home, even if it's loud and dirty and congested and half the people in it hate him for wearing the wrong logo--but he knows that his feelings about his city are nothing like Carey's feelings about his home. Suddenly he really wishes he'd found time to head out there.

"Next summer," he says. "I mean it. You can try to teach me to ride and show me the stars and everything."

Carey turns to look at him. In the dim light on the porch his eyes are dark and unreadable, and his face is expressionless aside from a slight tilt of the head that P.K.'s pretty sure means he's considering something.

"Okay," he says, eventually. "But if you don't keep your word, I'm coming here and tying you up and putting you on the plane as luggage."

"I'm sure security'll love that," P.K. says, laughing.

They sit a little longer, but P.K. can't stop yawning, so eventually he gives in and clears up their stuff, putting the lemonade back in the fridge and dumping the glasses in the dishwasher. When he walks back out onto the porch, Carey is leaning against the railings, looking up again.

"Counting the stars?" P.K. asks, coming to stand beside him.

"Something like that," Carey says. He turns to face P.K.; they're close enough that P.K.'s irritatingly aware that Carey's taller than him even without his stupid cowboy boots on, and also that all it would take to kiss Carey is a slight lean and a moment of insanity.

"Right," P.K. says, awkwardly, wondering if he should step back or something.

Carey just stares at him, though, then lifts a hand and puts it under P.K.'s chin and leans in and kisses him.

It's a soft kiss, soft and quick and kind of dry, and if P.K. weren't vividly aware of the slight feeling of pressure still left on his lips when Carey pulls back, he'd almost think he'd gone crazy and fallen into some sort of hallucination. But no--Carey's still right there, mouth quirked uncertainly, and his hand is a little late in dropping back to his side, so P.K. reaches out and grabs it, pulling Carey closer and kissing him properly, his other hand coming up to the back of Carey's head to get the angle right, and when Carey kisses back, P.K. spends a few seconds thanking every god he can think of for it.

"Oh, good," Carey says when they break apart again. "I was really hoping I didn't just fuck things up."

"Not at all," P.K. says, grinning at him. "In fact, I think you just made them really awesome." He looks up as a car drives by, realizing that they're pretty visible. "Although, uh, let's not do that on the porch again."

"Right," Carey says.

They go inside. P.K. pops his head into his parents' room to say goodnight, hoping they can't read his face well enough to know what just happened. It's not like he and Carey are going to do anything much, not with his family around, but still.

When he gets back to his room, Carey's sitting on his bed, carefully taking off his boots and putting them next to the dresser. He looks up when P.K. closes the door behind him, smiling, and P.K. grins and walks over and pushes Carey backwards onto his bed, then follows and kisses him. They make out for a while, muffling sounds in each other's mouths. It should feel stupid and teenager-y, sneaking in makeouts with his parents just down the hall, but it's fun instead, running his hands up Carey's shirt and laughing when Carey bites his ear. Maybe they don't have the time and space right now, but P.K.'s pretty sure that things are going to be awesome when they're back in Montreal.

Carey sleeps on his bed with him that night, out like a light while P.K.'s still coming down from his endorphin high. He wakes up before Carey again, but this time he doesn't have to daydream about curling up next to him, seeing as he's already pressed against his side. He watches Carey sleep for a while anyway, thinking about the night before, then gently shakes him awake so they can go running. Carey opens his eyes slowly, then smiles at P.K.

"Hey," he says, and P.K. leans in to kiss him because he can.

It's just barely dawn when they hit the streets, the streets empty aside from the occasional early riser--or late nighter--driving by. There's a slight crispness to the air that makes P.K. think about fall, even if it's still a while off. Summer may be sticking around, but it can't last forever; hockey season is coming, hockey season and Montreal and Carey.

Neither of them has much energy after the day before, but they still drag themselves to work out. P.K.'s training schedule really picks up in the few days, ramping up the intensity before camp starts, and he's sure Carey's is the same. Carey watches him stretch, smiling a little when P.K. catches him at it, and P.K. wonders if Carey's been doing that all along and he'd just missed it. Carey's always been better at subtle than he is.

The house is filled with people all day, P.K.'s parents and siblings in and out, so they don't get any real alone time. It's nice anyway, sitting next to Carey on the couch and knowing that he could lean over and kiss him, if he really wanted to deal with the comments from the peanut gallery. By mid-afternoon, though, P.K. is nearly itching with the desire to get away from his family and spend some quality time with Carey before he leaves, so he announces that they're going out for dinner and practically shoves Carey out to the car before his mom can guilt-trip him into staying.

"We're going to Dangerous Dan's," P.K. announces once they're in the car.

"That sounds...safe," Carey replies sardonically.

"It's sketchy as hell and the servers hate everyone, but they make the best burgers in town," P.K. says. "You'll love it."

"Sketchiness and rude waiters, of course I'll love it," Carey says.

P.K. grins at him and pulls out of the driveway.

They should probably talk at some point, he thinks, but there's a time and a place for that, and navigating Toronto's weekend traffic isn't it. Neither is Dangerous Dan's, which is somehow even worse and better than P.K. remembers it being. Carey looks around doubtfully, but he trails after P.K. and sits in the booth anyway.

"'Tasty Wang'," Carey says, looking at the menu with an eyebrow raised.

"Told you this place is awesome," P.K. says.

"I'm pretty sure this is a month's worth of cheating on my diet," Carey says when his food arrives, greasy burger covered in toppings next to a pile of real fries.

"But totally worth it," P.K. says, digging into his own burger happily.

"I can't believe you're eating pineapple on a hamburger," Carey says.

"Want a bite?" P.K. offers, holding it out.

Carey shakes his head and takes a careful bite of his instead. He chews thoughtfully for a minute, then shrugs and swallows.

"Not bad," he says.

P.K. fixes him with a look. "Really? That's it?"

Carey laughs and takes another bite. "Fine, it's worth it," he says.

As tempting as the dessert menu is, P.K. resists it and picks up the bill when the waiter eventually comes by again.

"So, was that our first date?" Carey asks once they're back in the car.

"I don't know," P.K. says, grinning. "I think we have to kiss for it to count."

"What kind of cheap date do you take me for?" Carey says, but when they arrive back at P.K.'s place, he leans over and kisses P.K. chastely on the cheek.

They sit with P.K.'s family for a while, Carey's foot pressed up against P.K.'s under the table. Malcolm tries to get as much advice as he can before P.K.'s dad cuts him off with a laugh, reminding him to let other people talk.

"Man, I'm pretty sure that Malcolm's said more in the last four days than he did the rest of the year," Jordan says, ducking when Malcolm tries to swat him.

"I hope you enjoyed your stay here," P.K.'s mom says to Carey, who glances at P.K. and smiles and ducks his head a little.

"It was really fun," he says. "Thank you for having me."

"Any time," P.K.'s dad says.

"Maybe next time P.K. won't try to keep you to himself the entire time," Malcolm says. "Like he doesn't see you enough during the season."

"Fat chance," Jordan says. P.K. tries to kick him under the table but misses when Jordan ducks away.

"Boys," their mom says.

"Sorry," Jordan says, but P.K. doesn't hear one bit of real apology in his voice, and Jordan grins as soon as their mom isn't looking.

Everyone hugs Carey goodbye when they finally head off to bed.

"I think my family is going to miss you more than me," P.K. says once they're curled up in his bed again.

"Well, obviously," Carey says, but he's nuzzling into P.K.'s neck as he says it so P.K. doesn't mind so much.

It's harder than usual to haul themselves out of bed the next day. P.K. doesn't want to send Carey back West, even if they'll see each other in less than a month. They've barely had any time together, and P.K. feels like he has about a year's worth of making out to make up for.

Somehow they manage to get to the airport early. They sit in the parking garage for a few minutes, talking about Carey's flight home. Then Carey says, "So, I'm getting back to Montreal on the tenth. We should do something. Have the guys over, maybe."

"How about we forget the guys and just take advantage of not having my parents right down the hall?" P.K. asks. He's got priorities here, unlike Carey, apparently.

Carey's grinning at him when he looks up, though.

"You fucker," P.K. says, affectionately, and Carey looks around and leans in and kisses him quickly.

"Yep," Carey says. "And I think I like your plan better."

"Fucking right you do," P.K. tells him.

The hug goodbye at the security line, ignoring the looks from the sleepy businessmen all around them.

"Get your laptop fixed so we can have Skype dates!" Carey yells at him as he's walking away. P.K. laughs and waves.

Just as he's getting back to his car, he gets a text from Carey: that was a pretty nice set of dates.

P.K. shakes his head and grins, thinking back over the week. Even if he hadn't really intended them to be dates, they kind of had been--dates and a whirlwind tour of his hometown. The fact that Carey liked both parts of it makes him happy.

He drives home with the windows open and Carey's stupid country station on, counting the days in his head until they see each other again.