“It’s good for you to meet people,” Jordie nods sagely at Jamie from his sprawl on the couch.
“I know enough people already.”
“No, like people. To bone and shit.”
“Shut up, Jordie.”
Jamie’s not not meeting people, he’s just not prioritizing it. He just got out of a long relationship anyway. A long, one-sided pining relationship. With the pining being mostly (entirely) on his end. But it was very important in his head.
“Matthew doesn’t count either,” Jordie somehow reads his mind. “He talked to you one time. And I’m not trying to be a dick, Jamie, but you know that isn’t the same thing. So like, go out. Meet people. Get your dick sucked and shit.”
“Fuck off,” Jamie kicks him in the shin and wanders away to his room.
Jamie downloads Tinder later that night. He doesn’t open it for two weeks.
“Hey, put that picture of us on Facebook, will you? The one from when we went to the beach?” Jamie pipes up from the kitchen table.
“Because I look okay in that picture.” He doesn’t look like he’s got a gut, even standing next to his brother. It’s miraculous.
“So fucking post it, Jordie! It’s important!”
Jamie doesn’t message guys first. His default assumption has always been that his matches are all people who think he’s someone else in his group shots, or those guys who swipe for everyone—if they’re genuinely interested, they’ll talk to him first. And he has a policy about men who are so clearly out of his league.
It’s nice to be able to look. He likes imaging any of the hottest guys could ever be into him—that he might match with someone and then run into them, that they’d remember who he was and strike up a conversation, flirt a little.
Jamie always swipes left on all them, in the end. They’re too hot for him, and it’s foolish to get his hopes up.
He and Jordie play on the same rec hockey team. Jordie’s known the guys for years, and Jamie’s played with them long enough now that they’re his friends, too.
After each game, most of the team will dump their gear in their cars and walk across the street to a little dive pub that serves greasy burgers and cheap beer, mostly to hockey players. The whole place smells like sweat and stale gear accordingly, but it’s Jamie’s favorite place to hang out.
“So, Chubbs, how’s the meeting people?” Jason, Jordie’s defense partner, is a loud mouth, and he teases Jamie as much as Jordie does. They’re peas in a fucking pod, honestly.
“He’s not actually meeting them, he’s on that um, the app thingy.” Jordie wiggles his fingers like that will help him remember the name. “The uh, Grindr! Yeah?”
Jamie nearly spits out his beer and Jason whips to give Jamie this wide-eyed, impressed look. “No, shit? Good for you, Jamie. Go get your dick wet, bud.”
“Jordie! It’s not—it’s fucking Tinder, dumbass! They’re completely different things, Jesus Christ!” Jamie is beet red and stuffs a fistful of fries in his mouth. His brother is legitimately the worst.
“Jobenn, did you just confuse Tinder with Grindr?” Jason is the only one who can get away with calling Jordie that. Jamie tried once and was dead armed for it.
“What’s the difference? I thought they were both like, aren’t they both dating apps?” He poses it aloud to the table of teammates and is met with a chorus of laughter and headshaking. “Seriously? What’s the swipy one?”
“Tinder,” Jamie manages through his mouthful of food.
“So what’s Grindr?” Jamie isn’t even going to tell him, but Jason leans over and whispers something that seems far more graphic than necessary.
“Oh! Fuck. No, don’t do that, Jamie.” Jordie shakes his head magnanimously, “you’ll find someone the old fashioned way.”
“Yeah, the way the Lord intended: swiping right on their face,” Jason adds, just to be a dick to Jordie, but Jamie ignores them both.
“I could use Grindr if I fucking wanted,” he mumbles petulantly. Jordie can’t tell him what to do. Jamie wouldn’t, because he doesn’t do shit like that, but he totally could—he doesn’t need Jordie’s permission to hook up.
Jamie starts swiping right more often. He even gets a handful of matches with guys who are really, really attractive, and it boosts his self-esteem a bit. But he still won’t message any of them first, which means all of his matches are an idle list of empty “Matched on” dates or have petered out after a Hi. Hello. exchange.
He checks out their moments and likes a couple, but it feels like he’s going through the motions. It’s a fun little side hobby or something, nothing to take seriously. He's not really going to get together with anyone.
The closest he gets to actually meeting up with a guy is setting a date and a time, but the guy’d reached out to him at the last minute and told him he’d been seeing someone else and it was getting serious. He was deleting his account and he had to cancel.
Jamie goes out to the pub with Jordie instead. And mopes.
“I think you need to like, put yourself out there more. Talk to people.”
“That’s not me. I don’t talk to people.”
“Yeah, that’s kind of the problem here. How many people have you dated in your life? Like seriously dated.”
“No. You can’t count Ashley, that was high school, and she was a chick. You knew the whole time you weren’t into her.”
“Not right away,” Jamie steals a mozzarella stick from Jordie’s plate.
“So two then?”
Jamie shrugs. He’s only 25, that’s not that bad.
“Okay, here’s the part where I get brotherly on you. Are you listening? You’re young, you’re fit, you’re a decent looking guy. You're nice and all that shit, probably a pretty good lay ‘cause you’re considerate, blah blah blah, please do not confirm or deny that. Point being, you’re a catch. Some guy would be happy to date you. But you’re never going to find anyone if you’re too afraid to talk to them. And if you’re afraid to even talk to them on your app or whatever? Jamie, come on. That’s sad.”
It stings to hear, but Jordie isn’t wrong.
Jamie pours himself the rest of the pitcher and downs it. “You’re driving,” he grabs another mozzarella stick.
Jamie’s pleasantly buzzed, but still feeling moodily sorry for himself. Jordie’s flipping through crap TV channels, so he pulls out his phone.
Jamie swipes left on a few guys whose bio say variations on “DTF” and “hook ups only.” He finds a guy he’s seen around the ice rink a few times, who seemed nice enough.
There are a couple younger looking dudes, probably from the university nearby, but Jamie’s got a policy on the guys at least being old enough to drink if he’s going to swipe.
And then he finds Tyler, 23. His picture is him shirtless, sacked out on the couch with two dogs napping on him. His got two tattoo sleeves that would make Jordie jealous in their intricacy, and his abs look like someone cut them out of a marble slab.
Jamie checks out his other pictures; a couple group shots with friends, a goofy picture of him in thick-framed glasses at a bar. A picture of him playing street hockey—
Tyler’s bio opens with a Gretzky quote and Jamie has to roll his eyes, but the rest is fine. He talks about his dogs and loving the Maple Leafs, “with great reluctance.” He mentions being a master’s student at the university, in kinesiology.
And he doesn’t have to include it, but he is 100% out of Jamie’s league. Like, maybe even into the next stratosphere.
“He’s cute,” Jordie looks over his shoulder and Jamie jerks his phone away—and apparently presses the heart with his thumb.
“Shit! No! Goddamn it, asshole! Look what you made me do!”
“Oh my god, I liked it!”
“…So? He was cute! He had a dog and I thought I saw hockey! What’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing! He’s too pretty!”
Jordie blinks at him. “Wow, how terrible.”
“You don’t get it! Just—oh no!” Jamie stares at the flashing red dot.
“I think we matched.”
“That’s good!” Jordie punches him in the arm.
“No! That means like,” Jamie trails off. It means…he actually has an opportunity to talk to Tyler? Maybe get to know him? A chance to not be such a... a him about all this shit? “I should message him or something.”
“Yes! That is a very good idea! That’s how it works right? Just pick something you liked about him and say that! It’s seriously that easy!”
Jamie fucking hates this putting himself out there stuff, but it seems so simple when Jordie puts it like that.
Hey. Cute dogs.
thanks!!! theyre my babies
What are their names?
marshall is the big brown one, and cash is the black puppy. you play hockey??
Yeah, I play rec at the Iceplex. You?
i played when i was little, but stopped around 8. i play street with some guys in my program though
You go to State, right?
yep! what about you, are you a student? what do you do?
No, not in school. I do the accounting at my brother’s garage. He does classic car restorations.
Jamie has zero idea why Tyler swiped for him. Or why he replied to Jamie’s message. Or continues to reply to Jamie’s messages.
He has no idea why Tyler offered Jamie his phone number so they could text outside the app. He has no idea why Tyler likes sending him pictures of his dogs when it “looks like they’re smiling” or selfies of him getting ready to climb a rock wall for one of his classes—
dude its so high!
He has no idea why Tyler wants to know what Jamie’s up to today, how his hockey games went, what his team’s record is. But he’s really enjoying having someone to talk to on the regular who isn’t his brother.
Jamie sends him pictures back sometimes: His laced up skates. The post-win scoreboard. This ’69 Firebird Jordie’s been working on detailing. He avoids pictures of himself—there’s no way he can even get close to competing with the shirtless, sweaty selfie Tyler sends at the end of his hike one weekend.
In fact, he sends a grand total of two selfies: one of him from before a game, in all of his gear (everyone looks chunky in hockey gear, he reasons) and one of him after a day of babysitting his cousin’s daughter, who’d done her best to turn him into a smurf with facepaint.
good look! blue is really your color ;)
It’s late on a Friday and Jamie and Jordie are out postgame with about half the team. They’ll probably be here until last call at this rate; Jamie’s just got his plate of chicken fingers and Brenden’s returning with two more pitchers. There’s no rush to be anywhere else.
did you guys win?
Yes! Beat our biggest rivals. I think we moved up a spot, too.
sweet! what are you up to now then?
Drinks with the team to celebrate.
fun. i wont keep you then. just wanted to see about the score :)
No, it’s cool. What are you doing?
studying. onsite exam tomorrow
On a Saturday!?
at the mercy of the high school’s baseball team for this one haha
Sucks, but you’ll do fine.
thanks jamie. and congrats again
“Who the mother fuck is blowing up your phone?” Cody looks over at the screen and Jamie hides it in his lap.
“No one, mind your fucking business.”
“It’s his phone boyfriend,” Jordie smacks him on the back.
“What’s a phone boyfriend?” Cody is still reaching for it and Jamie powers it off to protect himself from grabby hands.
“I’m just talking to him, that’s all. It’s not a thing. He’s not my boyfriend.”
“Did you meet him on Grindr?” Jason smirks until Jordie claps a hand over his mouth.
“The only person who is allowed to tell my brother to get laid is me.” Jordie takes the opportunity to down the rest of Jason’s beer.
“So you’re fucking this guy then?” Brenden is able to dodge Jordie’s flailing arm.
“Is he fucking you?” Logan offers from down the table.
“Everyone at this table can go fuck themselves,” Jordie announces in a huff, refilling his glass and helping himself to Logan’s last potato skin.
Jamie’s drunk enough to be more amused at Jordie’s frustration than embarrassed for himself. He’s been around these guys long enough now to be able to tell the difference between who they’re trying to rile up.
Jordie is always an easy target.
Jamie gets home after 1:30 and doesn’t remember that he’d turned his phone off until he goes to plug it in for the night.
It pings with a few messages the second he turns it back on. They’re all from Tyler, and he sprawls out on his bed to read them.
well i’ll let you hang with your boys then. night
The next message was sent 45 minutes after that—a shirtless picture of Tyler in a full length mirror. He’s got basketball shorts slung dangerously low on his hips, and his abs look fucking amazing in the dim lamp light. It's very different from the sweaty, shirtless selfies Tyler's sent before.
“Holy fuck,” Jamie saves it. Then deletes it. Then saves it again. Whatever. Tyler sent it to him, yeah? He doesn't have to feel guilty for wanting to keep it.
Twenty minutes after the picture:
um sorry if that was too forward. you can ignore that.
it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I’m so sorry! I turned my phone off because the guys were trying to steal it from me. Forgot to turn it back on.
Not too forward at all.
You look really nice.
I mean, way more than nice. You're super hot.
Jamie seriously sucks at this. He looks at his phone, at the mirror hanging on the inside of his closet door. He’s drunk enough to think this is a solid plan.
It takes him ten minutes to get the lighting in a way that doesn’t make him look lumpy, and another five to suck everything in in a way that doesn’t make him look like he’s sucking it in.
When he’s as satisfied as he thinks he’ll get, Jamie hits send.
He waits just long enough for it to read delivered before deleting it from the conversation and his photo album.
In the morning, maybe he’ll have forgotten about it.
wow i kind of freaked out there a little didnt i? sorry about that.
you look hot as shit btw
Thanks. And don’t worry about it.
It was nice to see later.
hey, do you have any games this weekend?
I’ve got one on Saturday at 6:45.
at the plex right?
if you wanted, i could meet you there and we could do drinks after or something? a date?
if you’re free
“He wants to meet me, Jordie! For a date!” Jamie shakes his phone in Jordie’s general direction, like that will somehow communicate his panic about this. “What the fuck do I do?!”
Jordie blinks at him. “You still haven’t met him yet?” It’s calm, but Jamie hears the disbelief.
“The hot as fuck guy you’ve been texting with for two weeks, whom you met on a dating app, wants to meet you. For a date.”
“Why are you acting like this is a problem?”
“Because I’m—” he makes general waving gestures to his belly. “Like, a six. And he’s a ten.”
“You're a six?”
“In that range, yes!”
“What fucking scale are you using, Chubbs? You’re not a six! You’re at least an 8.”
“No one with the nickname Chubbs is an 8, Jordie!”
“Stop screaming at me. Just fucking go out with him. If he’s not into it because you don’t have a six pack then he’s too shallow for you anyhow. It’s not like you aren’t fit. You play hockey.”
“I think the beer and fried foods afterwards negate all that.” Jamie sighs.
Definitely, that sounds like fun.
yea? awesome!!!! :)
My game should end around 8. Is that too late? There’s a place near the rink with beer and food we could go to.
not too late at all! i’ll see you there then
Jamie is sitting in the locker room, trying not to look like he wants to puke his guts up.
“Chill, Chubbs. It’s just the Ice Breakers. We beat ‘em like 8-1 last time we played them,” Shep beams him with a wad of sock tape.
Jamie’s been checking his phone every five minutes. He doesn’t know if he’s hoping Tyler cancels or if he’s hoping Tyler’s going to confirm he’s coming.
“He’s not worried about the Ice Breakers. Jamie’s got a date!” Jordie doesn’t need to sing-song it to the whole locker room.
whats your team name?
haha! nice. i finished up my paper early so i might come now if that’s cool. maybe catch some of your game too
Ok, sure. We’re on the back rink.
“Fuck! Jordie, he’s going to come early.”
“That’s awesome! I’ll feed you the puck. You can impress him with a hat trick or something.”
“Don’t let him see me until after I’ve showered, okay?”
“Are you for real right now?” Jordie squirts him with some water.
“Yes! That’s gross! You know how much I sweat!”
“Isn’t he in school to be some kind of sports therapist? You think he’s never seen a sweaty dude before? What the hell are you gonna do when he actually wants to sex you up and shit?”
“It’s not good first date etiquette!”
“You’re ridiculous, little bro.”
“Holy fuck he’s here,” Jamie wishes he’d said it quieter the second he does.
“Who?” Colton scans the near-empty bleachers.
“S’ that him in the snapback?” Shep looks up. The stands are always pretty empty—a couple of girlfriends and the occasional parent dropping in to watch; Tyler stands out among the regulars.
“Yeah, shit. Shit.” Jamie grabs for his water and guzzles some down, spitting the rest at his feet.
“Wow, you really don’t do this much do you?”
“It's fine. Maybe he won’t know which one I am.”
“Yeah, maybe he can’t read,” Shep plucks at the nameplate on the back of his jersey before standing up and waving so obnoxiously while pointing at Jamie, Jamie's actually frozen for a half second before he can pull him back down to the bench.
“Don’t! What the fuck, dude!”
“Relax, Chubbs! We’re gonna make you look good,” he elbows Colton in the side. “Aren’t we, Colt?”
“We’ll feed you all night, buddy!”
which benn are you?
n/m i guess you can’t answer
are you 14? unless you grew a huge beard since you took those pics of you
wow dude! you would straight up destroy me in one on one
“Wait, so is that one Chubbs’ new beau?” Jason points from the bench. Jamie's going to deny it but he's beaten to the punch.
“Yeah. Tyler. He’s coming with us for drinks after this.” Shep gives a wide smile.
“No! We are going by ourselves, alone together, to the same place,” Jamie corrects. “And none of you will speak to us or embarrass me. Please. Just one date, that’s all I ask.”
“But your second date, we can totally humiliate you right?” Brenden looks down the bench at him.
“If there’s a second date, but please, give me a fighting chance.”
“You know we're all rooting for you to get laid, bro, we’re not gonna mess that up for you.” Jordie taps him with his stick. “You’re on,” he gestures to Logan skating back for a change. “And you keep your head up for that pass! We’re getting you the hatty!”
i threw my hat but someone who works here yelled at me. oops!
The Pylons win handily, on the back of Jamie’s four goals, but Jamie can barely enjoy the glory.
The team piles into the locker room but he’s already stripping as fast he can.
“Jamie gets first shower, fuck faces!” Jason hollers the second he’s in the room. “He needs to pretty himself up for his fancy date!”
The rest of the team trickles in, whooping and bellowing various levels of inappropriate things about each other, but they all let Jamie claim one of the showers first—he’s smart and goes for the one with the best water pressure.
“Y’all better keep down your voices or you’re liable to scare him away,” Shep tosses his helmet.
“Whoa,” Trevor jumps up. “He’s already here? You've found yourself an eager little beaver, Chubbs!”
“Wait, was it that kid in the hat?” Logan peeks out the crack of the door.
“Is he still out there?!” Jordie clambers over the disarray of bags to look. “Aww! Jamie, he’s cute as fuck! Better than his pictures, even!”
"He is? Move, let me see!"
Jamie pretends not to hear them from the showers. Maybe Tyler will run away in the meantime or something and he won’t have to face him. (He doesn’t want him to run away.)
"Yeah, he is cute! Nice work, Chubbsy," Cody clucks his tongue. "Shit, I think he heard me.” The locker room door slams shut.
Jamie’s never dressed so fast in his life, throwing on his jeans and t-shirt, toweling his hair only enough so that it’s not dripping.
“Listen, if any of you fuckers come within ten feet of me tonight, or if a single one of you calls me Chubbs or Fats or Jabenn,” he points at Jason for that one, “I will literally debone your dicks. I’m fucking serious.”
“There’s no bones in dicks. I feel like you of all people should know that, Fats,” Brenden chimes in but immediately holds up his hands in cessation. “Just getting it out my system. Have a great time.”
“Yeah, we’ll be spying from a safe distance,” Colton nods. “For our dicks’ sake.”
There’s a chorus of agreement from the rest of them and Jamie is halfway out the door with his bag when Shep screams for him to “wrap it up!” And someone—Jamie’s new favorite teammate, whoever it is—must sock him in the shoulder because his yelp is louder than any more comments from the peanut gallery.
Tyler is fiddling with his phone near the bottom of the bleachers when Jamie spies him. He takes a deep breath and goes for it. He can do this, he just scored four goals, damn it.
Tyler whirls around, and shit, Jordie was right. He’s even prettier in person, up close. Jamie almost drops his bag.
They step together and Jamie’s just going to go for a handshake but Tyler’s grabbing for a hug before Jamie can get his arm out. He hugs him back.
“Sorry if I smell. I showered but.”
“No, it’s fine! I was just texting you to take your time, if you wanted celebrate with your team some. Four goals, man!” He claps Jamie on the back.
“No, they’re—they’re being assholes,” Jamie throws a look over his shoulder at the locker room door—it’s cracked open, but not enough that he can tell who’s looking out. He throws a finger that direction anyhow and the door slams shut again.
“Well then, I’ll celebrate with you!” He beams and tucks his phone away, following a half-step behind Jamie to the exit.
“So this place I usually go after games, it’s across the street. They’ve got a decent menu, and pretty good beer selection, if that sounds good.”
“Yeah, that’s perfect.” Tyler keeps swaying into him, bumping their shoulders together. Jamie can’t tell if it’s on purpose.
“We could go somewhere else, too? But I rode here in my brother’s truck so I’d have to tell him if I'm going to take it.”
“No, across the street is fine. I parked in the lot so, I’m already here.” Tyler shrugs and smiles, like Jamie didn’t just vomit all kinds of stupid, indecisive words at him.
“Okay. I just gotta toss this stuff in the truck then. They really don’t like nasty gear in the restaurant.” Jamie feels like his face is burning, the more he talks. He hopes Tyler at least thinks it’s from the exertion of the game.
The pub is just a jog across the street, on a road that sees basically only rink traffic at this time of night, but there’s a set of games starting soon and players have started arriving, so the two of them end up side by side on the median waiting for a clear.
“Have you been here before?” Jamie is shit at small talk.
“No, actually. I’ve heard of it. My roommate said they’ve got good burgers and shit.”
“Yeah, s’usually what we get.”
“It’s a big postgame spot for the rink, obviously. Being so close.”
“Oh, sure! Is anyone else from your team coming?”
“I don’t know,” Jamie lies.
They dart across the street and Jamie picks a table near the back once they’re inside. The team usually takes spots near the bar and from here, he can keep an eye on them—no funny business. He trusts Jordie to stay away—so long as he stays sober enough, but the rest of them would gleefully look for opportunities to annoy him.
The waiter comes around and Jamie and Tyler each order a beer, chat about Tyler’s dogs, Cash’s attempts at obedience class.
“Did you know dogs can get expelled from that stuff? I seriously had no idea, but they said if he chews up any more toys, he’s out!”
Jamie and Tyler both look up when the Pylons pile in, noisy and boisterous.
Jordie gives a curt nod, but the rest of them dutifully pretend he’s invisible.
A beer and a half deep for the both of them and Jamie’s feeling a little more relaxed. Tyler’s funny and engaging, doesn’t let the conversation dwindle in an awkward silence where Jamie might have. He's genuinely having fun being social.
“So, Jamie, what brought you to Tinder, then?”
Jamie shrugs. “I wasn’t really meeting people,” he admits. “I mean, between work and hockey, I don’t really do the club scenes. This is about as much of a bar as I go to and that’s usually with my teammates.”
“Yeah, I used to do the club thing, in college and what not.” Tyler waves his hand around dismissively. “It was fine when I was younger, but my grades suffered a little. I was actually on academic probation for a semester. That was kind of the wakeup call.”
“Maybe that’s where Cash gets it from.”
Tyler bubbles with laughter, a bright, giggling sound that makes Jamie feel warm. He’s even prettier when he laughs.
“Could be, I guess. The rebellious puppy stage.” He takes a sip of beer and Jamie watches his throat work to swallow it. It wipes the smile off his face. “Anyway, I came out here for grad school and it felt like a college do over, but I still want to meet people you know? I know next to no one besides the guys in my program and a few of my roommate’s friends.”
“Yeah. I pretty much just know my team.”
“Have you been using it long? Tinder, I mean.”
“A month or so,” Jamie nods.
“Same. Not many dates though.” Maybe the surprise shows on Jamie’s face. “What?”
“Oh, no. Just, you’re really hot.” Damn his loose tongue. “And funny, and friendly.”
“Well, I could say the same,” he lifts his glass and cheers Jamie’s. “So, how many dates have you been on?”
“Um,” Jamie buys time with a long sip.
“Come on, you can tell me. I won’t get too jealous, promise.” Tyler winks playfully.
“Jealous of zero?” Jamie scoffs, and maybe realizes too late how that makes him sound.
“Wait, really?” Tyler is smiling, but it doesn’t seem mocking. “And here I thought two was bad. And, believe me they were bad.”
Tyler chats about the other dates, how he’d been stood up for one of them and the other had spent the whole time trying to get him in bed.
“He was legit not even subtle either,” Tyler giggles. “I swear to god, all his game came from bad pornos. Even if I was into it from the start? He’d have killed it with his ‘come on baby, just come back with me, come on.’”
“Wow, that is fucking terrible,” Jamie catches himself giggling, too, but it doesn’t embarrass him as much as it normally would, not with the way Tyler’s lighting up.
“And then there’s the rest of the guys who I just have to straight up unmatch, you know? So many dick pics.” Tyler makes a weird face.
Is that, is that a thing that guys do? He hasn’t sent a picture of his dick to anyone, ever. He’s never even taken one of his dick. (Okay, maybe once, but that was just out of morbid curiosity.) And certainly no one’s ever sent him one.
“Oh, uh. Yeah. I guess.” Jamie shrugs and takes a sip of his beer.
“No,” Tyler looks at him in disbelief. “You’ve evaded the dick pic barrage?! You must have better radar than I do for the creeps then. I mean, I’m totally cool with that if we’re like, a little down the road with stuff, you know? Maybe if I’ve already willingly seen it live and in person, then I can appreciate a good dick pic. But to just…spring that on a guy, pardon the pun—”
It startles a laugh from Jamie so loud that he notices Jason and Jordie turning around to look at him.
“—that’s just bad manners. You know?”
Jamie catches himself agreeing. He’d never sent anyone a topless picture of himself either, but he’d done it for Tyler. If down the line, they were in a place where it was cool to send him something a little more than that…
…well maybe Jamie could manage.
His stomach growls loud enough Tyler can hear it and he blushes.
“Dude, you should eat or something! I mean, you must be starving after the game. I didn’t mean to hoard this.” Tyler slides a menu at him, but Jamie already knows it inside and out. He looks anyway.
Tyler orders a sandwich and Jamie orders a burger with a second side of fries. He’s hungry enough not to be embarrassed about it, but Tyler steals half of them when Jamie offers so it works out.
“You’re like, the hottest, cutest dude to ever message me,” Tyler blurts at one point. “Is there like, a catch? I mean, you’re nice, too. You like hockey, you’re not asking me gross questions about my sexual history. Instead, you want to know about my dogs. So like, what’s…”
It throws Jamie for a loop. “Um… I… wait.” All that beer on an empty stomach has caught up to him, faster than his burger can absorb it. He blinks to clear his head of the fog, because there’s literally no way he just heard what he thinks he did.
“I’m sorry, that was rude of me. I’m as bad those other guys now, aren’t I?” He shakes his head and looks far more devastated than Jamie thinks he’s got a right to.
“No, I’m just—no one’s ever called me hot before? Let alone someone who looks like… well, you?” Jamie scratches the back of his neck. “I feel like I should be asking about the catch, to be honest.”
“Dude, Jamie. When I matched with you, I did the most embarrassing dance, I swear to god. You could even ask my roommate—you shouldn’t, because then he will demonstrate it and you’ll think I’m a massive idiot, but. You’re like, so my type.”
Jamie is certain he looks floored. Even more so when his phone buzzes and Jamie sees the text from Jordie.
U look weird bro. it goin ok? should i come chase him off
Jamie looks over at the bar to find half the team turned around to look at him. Tyler follows his eyesight.
“You know those guys?”
“Yeah, s’my team. Like, all of ‘em.”
“Wait, really? Have they been there the whole time?”
“Most of it? I told them to leave us alone. They’re…embarrassing.”
Tyler assesses them for a moment before turning back thumb pointed over his shoulder. “Hey, is that bearded guy related to you or something? I recognize him, you both had Benn jerseys but, like, he’s obviously not you.”
“My older brother,” Jamie shakes his head at them and texts back
fuck off we’re fine
“He’s the most embarrassing of all of them.”
“So the fact that he’s headed over here is about to get really entertaining for me isn’t it?”
Sure enough, Jordie is bringing a half-empty pitcher from the bar over. His cheeks are ruddy, which means Jason’s been letting him drink IPA again instead of making him stick to Molson.
“Hey! You boys look like you’re having a swell time! Tyler, is it?” Jordie sticks out his hand.
“Tyler, Jordie. Jordie, Tyler.” Jamie mumbles quick as he can. “Can I help you?”
“Relax, Chubbs—shit,” his eyes get big and Jamie actually feels bad for him for a half-second. He probably didn’t mean to call him that. “I’m so sorry. Sorry.”
Jamie gives him an expectant look.
“Oh! Yeah, I was just gonna offer you guys the rest of this. Jason says I can’t have more.”
“I said that like, two beers ago, Jobenn! Don't go making me look like a bad babysitter!” Jason hollers, giving Jamie a sheepishly apologetic shrug.
“So, uh, here,” Jordie slides the pitcher at them and slinks back to the bar. Jason slaps him on the back and shakes his head like he’s an idiot—at least one of them has his back.
“I guess I’m driving him home later,” Jamie scrubs a hand through his hair and empties the rest into his and Tyler’s glasses.
“Hey, look. I’m sorry if I made you feel weird, ‘cause of what I said. I was just a little surprised. Most of the guys who message me don’t really actually seem interested in anything about me, or wanting to know anything about me. I didn’t mean to make that seem like there was something wrong with you.”
“No, I was kind of more, thrown that you’d said I was your type. That I’m hot,” Jamie admits.
“You really shouldn’t be, you’re—” Tyler shakes his head with this reverential half smile. “Kind of amazing? And adorable. And I’ve had an absolute blast. The game was awesome—you’re a total beast, by the way. You’re hilarious, you’ve been sharing food with me—always a plus in my book. And you have a cute laugh,” Tyler bites his lip.
“Well,” Jamie ducks his head, “flattery will get you everywhere. And, I’ve had a great time, too. Best date in,” Jamie trails off as he tries to think back. It’s meant to be a joke—Jamie’s literally never had a date this easy before—but Tyler looks like he’s hanging on every word of that sentence. “In ever, dude.”
Tyler’s visible exhalation has Jamie trying to contain a bashful smile.
They talk for a while longer, until most of the Pylons have trickled out and only Jason and Jordie are still hanging out.
Jamie doesn’t even notice when Jason wanders over.
“Hey, sorry to cut in,” Jason extends his hand to Tyler. “Jason, nice to meet you.”
“You know I'd love to be your brother's keeper longer,” he gets a hand around Jordie’s shoulder despite Jordie’s pouting. He’s not as drunk as he was an hour ago, but he’s still pink in the cheeks. “But I’ve got to get home myself, so, I’m afraid I’ve got to return this to you.” He gets Jordie in a headlock, “Jobenn, it’s been real. I’ll see you Monday night. Jamie, thanks for winning that for us, and Tyler, great to meet you.”
Jordie shoos Jason off and wanders over to play Big Buck Hunter while Jamie apologizes for him and pays his and Tyler’s bill—“I’ve got a tab here, so it’s no big deal.”
“Awesome. I’ll get the next one then,” Tyler grins and Jamie returns it.
They walk back to the Iceplex lot, Jordie trailing behind them like he’s not with them, and Jamie leaves him at the truck to walk Tyler to his car.
“Anyway,” Tyler nods to the beat up Corolla. “This is me.” He rocks on his toes and Jamie catches himself looking off. He wants to hug him—actually more than that—and the precedent is kind of set since Tyler had hugged him earlier.
But then Tyler is ducking in with his hands on Jamie’s shoulders, and Jamie closes the distance to kiss him.
It’s fucking awesome.
“That was fucking awesome,” Tyler murmurs against his lips and Jamie has to giggle.
“Agreed. I had a really great time.”
“Me, too. I would love to do it again. If you don’t have anything going on this Wednesday night, would you want to meet up for dinner? I could pick you up. Or we could meet somewhere. Or like, you can pick me up. Or whatever.” Tyler bites his lip like he’s nervous and Jamie leans down to kiss him again.
“Yeah, that sounds awesome.”
“Cool. I’ll—I’ll text you details tomorrow, okay?”
Jamie kisses him one more time before Jordie starts knocking on the truck window and they finally part ways. To his credit at least, Jordie is apologetic.
“Didn’t want to interrupt the lip lock, brother, but also I didn’t really want to wait around for that.”
“Whatever, lightweight. You know you’re not supposed to drink the heavy beers. You have to stop letting Trevor pour for you.”
“Pssh, and give Jason the satisfaction? Never!”
They drive in companionable silence for a bit before Jordie pipes up again. “That looked like it went really well, though.”
“Yeah. I mean, if you didn’t scare him away with your interruption, I’m pretty sure he’ll be good to come sit with us next time.”
“But, just so you know though, after tonight, I get a free pass to show your next girlfriend that baby picture of you peeing in the backyard.”
“No way! I barely even bothered you!”
“You called me Chubbs!” Jamie gives him a weak facewash at the next red light.
“Fine,” Jordie cedes.
It doesn’t take long before Tyler essentially becomes the Pylons’ fan section. He comes to every game that he’s able and cheers extra loudly for Jamie’s goals.
He kisses Jamie when the team comes off the ice, never minds that he’s sweaty or smelly.
“Want me to go snag a table across the street for you guys?”
“Yes, please,” Jamie smiles and kisses him again.
“All right, see you in a few.” He smacks Jamie’s ass and winks, then sticks his tongue out when Jason and Jordie make barfing sounds at them.
Jamie rinses off and finger combs his hair—Tyler never minds if he’s a little unkempt after playing, doesn’t even wrinkle his nose at the lingering glove smell—then tosses his gear bag and sticks in the back of Tyler’s Corolla before he heads over.
“Hey, babe!” He lights up like he didn’t just see Jamie fifteen minutes ago. “So, the Yellow Rose are for us, and the Molson for your brother,” Tyler smirks. “And we’ve got burgers coming. Extra fries.”
"You're the best," Jamie grins and kisses him one more time. Because he can.