This is how it starts:
It’s the morning after their Calder Cup win (and on home ice, no less) and they’re both in Ebs’ bed, because that’s where they passed out when they finally stumbled into their apartment at somewhere around three this morning. Taylor hasn’t been awake long, even though judging by the sunlight he can feel through the window, it’s probably close to noon. He’s staring at the ceiling, trying to decide whether he actually has to put any effort into today or if it’s cool for him to just be a lazyass, when Ebs rolls over onto his side and says, “Hey, you know what we haven’t done in a while?”
And oh man, he’s not sure if it’s Ebs’ sleep-roughened voice or the look in his eyes, but Taylor knows exactly what he’s referring to, and judging by the way it immediately responds, so does his body.
Ebs must hear the approval in his tone, because he doesn’t even bother to respond, just drapes himself over Taylor and fits their mouths together like it’s barely been an hour since the last time they did this instead of almost a year.
It’s good. It’s almost too good, like maybe he’s missed it or something, and since his eternal response to having feelings is to be a sarcastic douche, he has to pull back to chirp Ebs before he says something really stupid.
“D’you even remember what to do with a guy? Little bit out of practice, eh?”
“Out of practice?” Ebs repeats, but coming from him it sounds like a challenge, which either never ends well or always ends really well for Taylor, depending on the situation.
“Yeah,” Taylor mumbles, his focus on sucking a mark onto the spot right behind Ebs’ jaw. “With the girlfriend and all. Just a little worried maybe you forgot what to do.” Hey, he’s never claimed not to be an asshole.
“I’ll show you ‘out of practice’,” Ebs grumbles, sitting up, straddling Taylor’s hips now, as he strips off his shirt. He slides a hand beneath the hem of Taylor’s shirt as he leans back over to kiss him again. It’s unhurried, like they have all the time in the world, and that’s not how they usually do this, so Taylor tries to speed things along, tries to tilt his head to get the angle that he wants. Ebs doesn’t let him, just licks into his mouth again, slow and dirty, as his hand rests on Taylor’s abs. Every once in awhile he’ll stroke the skin beneath his fingers lightly, and Taylor will feel the muscles in his stomach jump and twitch.
“If you’re not gonna follow through on that...” Taylor warns after several minutes of lazy, intense making out.
“You’ll what?” Ebs asks, rolling his eyes. Ugh, and people totally have the wrong impression of Ebs, because he’s such a dick, especially when they’re like this.
The thing is, he really seems to have a lot of fun teasing Taylor when they have the time. He’s never drawn it out like this before-- a lot of times when they hook up it’s intense and quick and a way to blow off steam after a bad game, or a really good one (the night of Sam’s eight point game had been fucking incredible, Taylor’s not sure they’re ever going to be able to top that)-- but making Taylor wait isn’t only something Ebs seems to enjoy, it’s also something he’s really fucking good at. Which makes him a giant rat bastard, in Taylor’s opinion, because it’s not like Taylor’s stingy with the giving out of the orgasms. At least, when they’re actually doing this, which they haven’t been for quite a while. Because of Ebs getting back with the girlfriend and whatever.
“Hey.” Ebs taps on his hip. “Focus.”
“I’d focus if you gave me anything to focus on,” Taylor shoots back, sliding his hand down Ebs’ shoulder and over his back till it’s resting on his ass, which is so awesome that he kinda feels sorry for people who aren’t him right now, even if Ebs does suck, and not in the good way.
“Oh, you want something to focus on?” Ebs raises his eyebrows, and his hand drops to the waistband of Taylor’s sweats.
Yeah. This is definitely one of those times that’s gonna end really, really well for Taylor.
It should be weird. They don’t usually spend the summer together. But they’ve been away from their place in Edmonton all season, and it really is a waste for it to sit empty for so long, especially since their lease was only for a year and so is expiring in September. So they don’t split up. And they don’t go home. And they also don’t stop fucking.
That in itself isn’t unusual, not when neither of them are in a relationship and they’re in the same place. What’s unusual is the way it’s happening.
He’s never spent whole days in bed with Ebs, alternating between fooling around and watching really bad daytime tv, not going farther than the kitchen and not bothering to get dressed. Ebs has never deliberately dragged him to the empty seats in the back corner of the theater so that they can spend the entire movie making out like teenagers. And they’ve definitely never held hands just because they felt like it.
“Dude,” Taylor says one day in June on their way back from the gym, “I know you’re maybe missing being in a relationship, but you don’t have to take all your mushy dating feelings out on me.”
“Did it ever occur to you that I am trying to date you?” Ebs asks, making the left turn without letting go of his hand.
And, huh. That actually hadn’t occurred to Taylor. Like, at all. And now it’s all he can think about, because if Ebby’s trying to date him, then he should probably try to date him back, right?
So he starts paying when they go out to eat sometimes, but that doesn’t quite have the effect he wants because they usually switch off anyway.
“What are you doing?” Ebs asks one night when they’re at Earls and Taylor’s beaten him to the check again. He’s laughing. Taylor fights the urge to roll his eyes.
“I’m trying to date you too, asshole,” he huffs instead, which, okay, maybe that isn’t any better. But Ebs’ cheeks turn a little pink and he looks pleased, so Taylor figures he’s doing something right.
They may or may not hold hands when they leave the restaurant. Whatever. It’s crowded.
Horc, because he’s a good captain, has a cookout on Canada Day for the guys who are in town, and also the guys who show up anyway. Taylor spends the first hour or so inside playing with Hordi’s baby, because he’s finally old enough to be cute. Jonesy and Jamie stay in the living room, too, and the way Jonesy keeps looking over at Jamie makes Taylor wonder, but he’s definitely not gonna ask.
“Hey, buddy, look.” Taylor covers his face with the baby blanket, because Declan’s face when Taylor suddenly reappears is priceless. Horc’s hardwood floors aren’t very comfortable, though. He’s pretty thankful for the quilt.
“What are you doing in the floor?” Bre asks, dropping down next to him as she and Nuge come in with Ebs and Whits.
“Playing with Declan.”
Unsurprisingly, Bre immediately begins cooing over Declan. Nuge flops down on the couch, looking slightly pained.
Bre rolls her eyes. “Please. I love you, but I have stuff to do. Plus, I like being able to give them back,” she adds before smothering Declan in kisses. His little nose scrunches up at the indignity. It’s pretty great.
Ebs takes the seat on the couch behind Taylor, who sits up and leans back against his legs. Whits sees them and groans.
“God, are you two at it again?”
Taylor tilts his head back so he’s looking at Ebs upside down. Ebs is grinning. He grins back.
“Ugh. I’m gonna hurl.”
“One day, Ryan Whitney,” Jamie warns cheekily, “you’re gonna meet someone who makes you smile like that, and I am going to laugh my ass off.”
Taylor doesn’t think that Ebs makes him smile any special way, but he’s never gonna interrupt someone chirping Whits. Maybe she was talking about Ebs, though. He does kinda do that stupidly fond, gap-showing, head-ducking grin thing when Taylor says something verging on mushy, or does something sweet, or is just generally around.
“Who would want to date Whits?” Ebs asks.
“Fuck off, like you’re dating anyone.” When Ebs just stares at him, Whits groans. “Wait, you’re like, dating Hallsy? I thought this was just a convenient booty call thing.”
“Hey, stop talking about booty calls around my toddler,” Hordi pipes up from where Taylor thought he was napping on the other couch.
“Whatever, my point is, I thought you two were like...you know.”
Ebs laughs. “We were, but I think he’s grown on me.”
“Like a fungus,” Bre pipes up.
“Whatever.” Taylor bats at Ebs’ hand where it’s resting on his shoulder. “You’ve been in love with me since day one and you know it.” Then he freezes, because neither of them have actually used that word. But Ebs just huffs and bumps him with his knee, reaching for his hand and tangling their fingers together.
And that’s not him denying it.
So clearly when they get home the only logical thing for him to do is lock the door behind them (because like, last time they didn’t Nuge just waltzed on in and got an eyeful) and drag Ebs to his room, which is basically their room these days, and practically shove him down onto the bed.
Ebs grins up at him, slipping his fingers into Taylor’s belt loops. “Sorry, did you need something?”
“Asshole.” When he kisses Ebs, he sort of expects it to feel different, but apparently saying the words out loud doesn’t magically change things. He wonders if maybe you have to be direct about it. It’s worth a try, anyway. “I love you,” he says clearly. “In case you missed that earlier.”
Ebs’ smile goes all soft-edged and fond, and he lets go of Taylor’s jeans to loop his arms around his neck instead, pulling him down for another kiss. “Yeah, I think I kinda got that.” He wriggles around a little, clearly trying to get comfortable, and Taylor shifts till they’re both in a good spot.
“Good. Just wanted to make sure.”
He’s not concerned about Ebs not saying it back yet. He doesn’t need to hear it to know it’s true. Besides, Taylor’s pretty sure he can get him to say it by using his mouth the right way, and he doesn’t mean repeating the words himself.