Any situation in which someone goes to Sidney Crosby for any sort of relationship advice is truly a fucked up situation, lacking logic or good choices.
The second weekend in May, Patrick Kane was in Madison, Wisconsin and made a series of poor choices which were thoroughly documented by the internet. It was not a bright moment for him, the Blackhawks, the NHL, or humanity. This isn’t a story about Patrick Kane’s mistakes, it’s a story about what happened next.
On May Eighth Jonathan Toews texts Patrick Kane:
I wish I was surprised, but I’m not. I can’t do this any longer. I can’t be with you. I’ll see you in the fall.
Jon uses perfect spelling and grammar when he texts. It mostly goes unappreciated.
Patrick Kane texts back:
what no u luv my body
u just hate fun
r u still in chicgaco i am maybe gonna be there
u need me to be yr anti lame
jonny stop being a dick and text me back
Jonathan does not text him back.
May ninth through May thirteenth, Jonathan Toews does many things, all of which result in varying degrees of misery. He thinks about good times, and bad times. He works out more than he has to. He cleans every room in his place, including the almost empty ones. He maybe drinks alone. He definitely doesn’t read about what Pat’s been up to on Deadspin.
May fourteenth, Jon admits to himself that he’s not actually fine and decides try to change this. First: Location. He doesn’t want to stay in Chicago. He doesn’t want to go to Winnipeg. If it was an option he’d hibernate until the season starts. It isn’t an option, but he considers giving it a try anyway.
He’s dimly aware that he should be dealing with his emotions in a healthy way, not repressing, but that sounds unpleasant. He should probably talk to someone. He remembers hearing that somewhere, from an in-flight magazine, or a high school health class, or on daytime television. It might help.
Only who is he supposed to talk to about a bad break up when the person he broke up with is basically his best friend? He doesn’t want to talk to anyone on the team. He can’t, not really. He had tried awfully hard not make it obvious that Pat and him slept together sometimes. He doesn’t know how well that worked, but outing them now that there isn’t anything happening seems like a waste. The team doesn’t need their drama.
So he calls Sidney. This seems a little bit counterintuitive because Sid doesn’t excel at understanding intimate relationships, but it makes sense because he can be a really good friend. They really got to know each other during the Olympics, bonding under the pressure, and later the ecstasy of victory. Since then they kept in touch. Talking to Sidney about having a concussion was really helpful; he understood the frustration, but was so determined to get back to playing that Jon couldn’t really wallow in self-pity like he wanted. Jonny trusts him.
Sidney had good naturedly suffered through some Jonny’s complicated emotions about Kaner before, and this time was just the same. Sid avoids hockey gossip like the plague, especially during the offseason, but he listens patiently as Jon attempts to explain everything that’s happened and everything he’s feeling. He knows he isn’t really making sense, but Sid listens anyway.
Jon has all of this anger about Pat, about the blurry lines that illustrated their relationship, and the muddy colors they painted it in with. He knows what he’s feeling isn’t all about Pat, but a compound reaction to the playoffs and the media and the pressure, which is using his not-boyfriend’s bender as an inciting incident. Things might be getting to him. Probably.
Jonny feels guilty for unloading all of his relationship trouble on Sidney because he knows there won’t be any stories for him to listen to in return. Jon had been as uncertain as the rest of the world regarding Sid’s orientation until one late-night half-drunk conversation in which Sidney came out to him. Sid’s thinking, which he explained slowly and clearly, is a masterpiece in repression and compartmentalization. He likes men, but he likes hockey more. He packed away all of his gayness in a box marked after, and leaves it alone. It isn’t like Jonny’s all that engaged with his own bisexuality, but he’s amazed at how Sidney can ignore something so gigantic. Impressed, maybe, except it makes him sad that Sidney can’t just be all of himself right now.
Mostly he doesn’t think about it.
If Sidney doesn’t entirely get the relationship bullshit, he does understand the pressure. He knows it might make him a shitty friend but when the media is being terrible it’s nice to think that Sid has it worse than him.
Not many people understand the combination of internally and externally applied burdens Jonny carries, but Sid does. This understanding means that when Jon rambles about how Chicago tastes bitter, and Winnepeg looks empty, Sid gets the need to escape and invites him up to Nova Scotia.
Jonny doesn’t have any reason to be in Nova Scotia. It’s a place that carries almost no associations for him, good or bad. It sounds wonderful. He books a flight out of Chicago for later on in the week, but just the promise of escaping the city is a huge relief.
Sidney picks him up at the airport wearing dorky sunglasses and a baseball cap, which might have worked better if they weren’t in Halifax and the hat didn’t have a Penguin’s logo on it. It doesn’t hide who he is, but it does seem to send keep away signals, or something, because they hardly get stopped. It does give them something to talk about in the car, because mocking Sid is a much better idea than addressing the idea that he basically fled to another country because of a bad break up (never mind the fact that going to Canada for the summer had always been the plan, and Pat and him weren’t really dating, no really, they weren’t, they had just been friends who hooked up sometimes). Sid doesn’t seem to mind. It’s only goofy affectionate teasing, and it’s not like he would rather talk about emotions.
They spend Jon’s first day there doing nothing. He stares at the water and adjusts to the time difference, which feels worse than it is, but maybe that is just how poorly he had been sleeping in Chicago. Sid doesn’t hover, but looks concerned. Jon appreciates this because his life kind of sucks at the moment and he’s glad someone else cares.
In the morning Sidney makes them egg white omelets with turkey bacon. Jon tries to compliment him, but Sid just says he’s glad to be cooking for someone other than himself. After breakfast they fish some. They don’t catch much, but it’s nice to sit quietly by the water.
They work out together. They both know how important it is to keep up with their conditioning, but having someone to compete with makes it better. They’re pushing each other, and it’s fun.
They fill their downtime with fishing and reading. Sid doesn’t make fun of him for reading books written in French, and actually seems interested in hearing what it’s about. It’s tranquil, and exactly what he needs.
Absolutely nothing happens. He loses track of time, blinking and finding himself in early June. The past month has been so peaceful and felt so right. He could imagine the summer going on like this forever. It isn’t just the laid back schedule, it’s Sid and their familiar camaraderie, which has translated easily into comfortable domesticity.
It’s a little bit perfect. Jon would happily spend the rest of his summer like this. The rest of whatever. It isn’t until Sid is making them tea after they get home from jogging in the rain that Jon realizes Sid would be a great boyfriend. This realization doesn’t come as a surprise, but it isn’t exactly comforting. Sid’s a friend, but Jon had never thought of him like that before. The more he thinks about it, the better it seems, and he doesn’t know if he’s ok with feeling like that.
The distance would suck. Neither of them are good at relationships. There are a million reasons why he should stop thinking about it. But he can’t stop.
In the past year Jon’s realized he wants something solid and durable in his life, something that will last after hockey. The concussion made him really realize that he won’t be playing forever, and that would suck, but knowing that what came after would be something like this time he’s spending with Sid, that would make it seem less depressing. The playoffs really made him wish that he had something outside of hockey to seek solace in.
And whatever this thing with Sid is could be it. He wants it to be.
The problem is that he doesn’t know what Sid wants, if Sid wants anything, because Sid and emotions don’t really agree, right? (Which Jon has to admit is part of Sid’s charm, and admitting that to himself is ten kinds of awkward.)
He can’t stop thinking about the possibility of something, and it’s kind of terrible and distracting. If Sid notices him behaving strangely, he doesn’t say anything. They just keep to their routine of fishing and reading and conditioning, which works pretty well, except for the moments where Jon wants to kiss Sidney and then freaks out a little bit. But otherwise it’s still great. Even with the new panic hanging out with Sid is so much better than moping in Chicago had been.
But eventually he has to get some distance, and goes home to Winnipeg. He doesn’t just leave, that would be rude. He books his flight before telling Sid, whose expression changes slightly. Sid insists on driving him to the airport, even though this means leaving his property, which he normally goes to great lengths to avoid. He follows Jonny inside, even though he doesn’t have to.
Saying their goodbyes in the middle of the airport is awkward. Jon’s trying to think of what to say when Sidney really unexpectedly pulls him into an actually terrible hug.
“I really enjoyed your visit,” Sid said before letting Jonny go.
Jon’s still a little bit in shock because of the contact but he manages enough words to make a polite farewell before hurrying through the security checkpoint. He wonders if what they just had could be considered a moment.
Winnipeg is whatever. Seeing his parents is awesome, but everything else is not so good. It seems less rewarding to train by himself. Spending time just hanging out in his house is lonely. He misses Sidney. He can admit that. It makes him really uncomfortable, but he isn’t good at lying to himself. It isn’t in his nature to ignore things, his instincts are to face it head on and find a way to make it work. Only in this situation he doesn’t really have a clue about what he should do.
So he gets a bit drunk and feels sorry for himself. He wishes he had better friends. Kaner being a disaster is what got him into this mess in the first place. It’s been weeks since Pat’s shown up drunk on Deadspin, but that doesn’t mean Jonny’s ready to talk to him; it’s still too raw. Even if they were talking Kaner wouldn’t have anything helpful to say. He needs to be friends with people who are better at relationships and feelings.
Sharpy is decent at these things, being married to a wonderful woman and all. He might have some wisdom to share. But if he called Sharpy and asked for advice about how to maybe seduce Sidney Crosby he’d get laughed at. No advice Sharpy could possibly give would be worth the mocking he’d have to endure.
This would all be so much simpler if he was into someone who wasn’t Sidney Crosby. Sid is terrible at relationships and feelings. Jon knows he isn’t great, but Sid’s so much worse. It would be hilarious, but right now it’s really inconvenient and Jon hates how he has no idea what’s going on in Sidney’s head. It’s frustrating.
Thinking about this is way too hard. He gives up, finishing his beer and going to bed. He doesn’t sleep well.
There’s a corner of his mind that’s terrified that everything he’s feeling for Sidney is an epic rebound from ending things with Kaner (which wasn’t a break up, because they weren’t dating to begin with, so screw you). Because if his subconscious was going to steer him towards someone completely opposite of Patrick Kane, it would be steering him to Sid. From Jon’s perspective the only thing Pat and Sid have in common is that they’re both obsessed with hockey, which is basically a requirement for Jon to be interested in someone, so it doesn’t count.
Maybe he just needs to go out and get laid. He hasn’t had sex with anyone since before the playoffs started. Hooking up would be awesome, and would probably distract him from thinking about Sid or Kaner or anything.
He decides to go out and have sex with a beautiful woman. It’s simple because he’s a pro hockey player in Canada, and he doesn’t care if she likes him for him and not his celebrity, he just wants to get laid. He sits at the bar nursing his beer until a girl catches his eye, then he gets up and asks if he can buy her a drink.
Her name is Erin and she has dark hair and full lips and curving hips. It’s nothing magical, but he really enjoys fucking her. It’s a fulfilling experience. She doesn’t even mind when he leaves to sleep at home.
The only problem is that once he gets home he’s wide awake and confronted by how empty his house is. It sucks. Staying at Sidney’s was very quiet, but he wasn’t alone. That was really nice.
Sleeping with a beautiful woman didn’t fix anything. Maybe he should sleep with a guy because all of his complicated emotions are about male people. Spending some quality time with a dick other than his own might be just what he needs. Only he’s a professional hockey player in Canada, and picking up would be more hassle than it’s worth.
He winds up jerking off, fucking himself with two fingers, with his other hand on his cock. It’s good enough, and really distracting. His orgasm leaves him exhausted enough to pass out, still messy, which he’ll regret when he’s not desperate for sleep.
He feels way better in the morning. He feels like he can finally get everything in focus and make a plan. The world looks manageable again, just waiting for him to shape it to his will.
He starts the day with a really good workout that leaves his body buzzing. Of all the tasks set ahead of him keeping up with his conditioning is certainly the simplest.
The next thing he should do is try to work things out with Kaner, do something responsible and adult that will make the season better. He kind of doesn’t want to, but he’s the captain, so he can’t just ignore it. What he can do is take small steps. He sends Pat a link to something stupid and funny on the internet, a metaphorical olive branch, opening a line of communication with the hope that they can be friends again.
With these tasks off to a good start it would be really easy to leave the whole whatever about Sidney alone until tomorrow, but Jon isn’t known for choosing the easy option. He knows what he wants, a relationship with Sidney. It wouldn’t be easy because sometimes they can both be too closed off, and the distance would suck, but it’s still what he wants. He wants to build something with Sidney that will last, something he can depend on, creating someplace to remember and have to return to.
He has no real way of finding what Sid thinks about this prospect. Any subtle attempts to find out, to test the waters would prove unhelpful. If it’s really something he wants, the best thing to do would be to ask Sidney out in a direct manner using small words.
The problem with this plan is that it’s terrifying, could go wrong in so many ways, and basically amounts to initiating a conversation about feelings with Sidney Crosby. It looks really fucking moronic.
It really is the best plan possible.
Jon buys a ticket back to Nova Scotia for the end of the week.
He rents a car in Halifax and trys to pay attention to the road and absolutely nothing else. It almost works. He’s won the Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold, he can totally have this conversation.
He gets to Sid’s house, going down the super long driveway that makes it possible for Sid to live a kilometer from his nearest neighbor. Before he knocks on the door Jon takes a deep breath. Talking to Sidney about his feelings: totally doable. Absolutely.
Sid takes forever to answer the door, because he doesn’t like unexpected visitors. Making them wait might sometime be enough to make them go away. Jon just keeps knocking. It can’t be said that he isn’t dedicated to his pursuing what he wants.
Sid eventually opens the door, because he’s too polite and Canadian to ignore someone indefinitely, but there’s a scowl on his face until he recognizes Jonny. Then he just seems confused.
“Hey,” Jonny says. He has to take a minute to gather up his courage. Sid looks like he might be happy to see him, which is comforting.
“I thought you were in Winnipeg,” Sidney says, puzzled and ernest. “And don’t you still have a key?”
“I was. I do,” Jon says. There’s no way he can make this conversation comfortable. “I think we need to talk.”
“Alright,” Sid says. He still seems skeptical.
“I really enjoyed spending time with you this summer. It was...pretty much ideal? It was really good. And I want it. I want it to last. So I was wondering if you’d go out with me?” Jon feels so stupid and wishes he had brought flowers because if he’s going to live out a cliche he shouldn’t hold back. “I just really want this—I want to have all the time with you—and dating seems like a good place to begin.”
Jon is ready for silence. Jon is ready for a closed door. Jon is ready to repeat himself.
Sid says, “Yes.”
Jon can believe it because he knows it’s a great idea, but he’s really happy that he didn’t have to explain to Sid exactly why because apparently Sid agrees with him, he must, because Sid said yes. It’s basically fantastic.
Sid says, “You should come in,” and Jon is already taking a step forward before the sentence finishes with, “because I don’t think my neighbors need to see our first kiss,” which makes Jon stumble before speeding indoors. He’s too excited to question Sidney’s paranoia.
He stands in the foyer while Sid closes and locks the door. He doesn’t move as Sid moves towards him. He lets Sid’s hands find his and weave their fingers together. He’s perfectly still when they’re only inches apart, sharing the same air. He closes his eyes but can still feel Sid’s breath hot against his neck, a reminder that this is really happening.
Their first kiss is hesitant, lips brush against each other dryly, but it’s enough. It feels like a promise. Jon wants it to last forever, but he has to pull away to tell him how important this is. “I’m fucking crazy about you,” He says. “I think I want this forever.”
They’re still holding hands.
“Do you understand?” He ask.
“Of course I do,” Sid says. “This makes sense. It always has. I’m glad you see it too now.”
“I knew we would be great together because it makes sense,” Sid says, using the same steady tone he uses to explain to brilliant hockey plays. “We make sense. I saw that, but I also saw that you were...preoccupied,” and Jon knows he must mean Kaner, or maybe winning, but probably Kaner, “so the best thing for me to was to be patient and a good friend and waited for you to figure it out too.”
Jon is just amazed. Who knew Sid could be so good at these things (relationships, feelings, etc.)? Actually it makes a lot of sense because he approached the situation rationally with a well thought out plan that worked, which is how Sid approaches everything.
Jonny listens to Sid talk about how this can work wonderfully. That even though they live half a continent away from each other and won’t be able to spend most of the year together Sid wants this. Sid is talking about their future. He says, “I don’t need someone there with me, I need someone to come home to.”
“Exactly,” Jonny says, and leans in.
They kiss again. It’s their second kiss. Jon doesn’t know why he’s counting, because he knows there’s going to be some many more that he won’t be able to keep track.