It starts at the Olympics.
Okay, no, if Carey's being honest, it really starts at the 2011 All Star Game.
He's watching PK flirt with Jeff Skinner. There really isn't another word for it. Skinner is oblivious, because PK's clearly had some experience at walking that line between what's acceptable bro behavior and what's openly hitting on a dude. Carey probably wouldn't have even noticed, except PK is drunker and happier than usual and it's made him a little careless, a little too honest in the emotions on his face.
Carey probably wouldn't have noticed, except he recognizes that kind of wistful longing.
Oh, Carey thinks, huh.
He doesn't really know PK that well. They're teammates, and PK is a great player and a funny, friendly guy, and that's good enough for Carey. He didn't realize PK was as good as keeping his personal life out of the locker room as Carey is.
He never really figures out why he does it. He tells himself he just doesn't want PK to go too far, but PK isn't sloppy enough for that. But he watches PK squeeze the back of Skinner's neck, his hand lingering just a heartbeat too long, his eyes just a little too serious for his smile, and even though none of the straight guys around them notice, Carey follows PK to the bar when he gets up.
Carey slides in next to him where he's ordering another pitcher of beer.
"You really gotta be more subtle, kid," he says in PK's ear.
PK straightens up and snaps around, probably to tell Carey exactly where he can stick that kid -- he's only two years younger than Carey, even if he is a rookie -- and then the rest of what Carey said catches up to him.
He blinks at Carey, mouth open, and an expression like recognition, realization dawns across his face. "Wait, are you--?"
Carey raises his eyebrows and waits for PK to finish that thought.
PK has the sense not to ask Carey if he's gay in a bar full of hockey players. "Can we talk about this?" PK says instead.
"Nope," Carey says, and walks away with PK's pitcher.
So that's where it really starts, that moment of recognition in a bar in Raleigh, when Carey realizes he's not as alone in this as he always thought he'd be.
But the sleeping-together part starts at the Olympics.
There really is as much fucking around at the Olympics as everyone says.
Carey isn't out to anyone else on Team Canada, but he thinks he could blow the entire Swedish men's ski team in the cafeteria and everyone would just shrug and say, It's the Olympics. And probably, Well, they are Swedish.
He doesn't, obviously. He doesn't even try for a more discreet hook-up, because he wants that gold medal, and he wants to be the one in net when they get it. He's not going to do anything to jeopardize that, whether it's starting gossip or losing his focus.
He's pretty sure PK is taking advantage of the free condoms and an entire village full of the world's best athletes in the best shape of their lives, however. PK doesn't say anything, but he shows up to a lot of breakfasts with a huge, blissful grin on his face.
After the Austria game, PK catches Carey's eye across the lounge. He's on his way out with a bunch of figure skaters, men and women both. PK grins, tips his chin towards the door, an invitation.
Carey rolls his eyes, shakes his head. He ignores that twinge of envy in his gut over PK's easy, uncomplicated hook-ups, and goes to watch Sid play ping-pong again.
He regrets it when they win gold, though, because his whole body is lit up, like he's burning out of his gear with adrenaline and joy, and he wants to fuck. He wants someone else's hands on him, wants someone else's skin against his while he's still riding this incandescent rush of victory.
And he doesn't have so much as a random guy's phone number for a booty call.
There's practically no time left before the Closing Ceremony, before this is all over.
"Cash Money!" PK screams and slams into him, crushing him in a huge hug. They're out of their gear now, and Carey feels it the way he didn't on the ice. The locker room is so loud Carey can still barely hear him. "Holy shit, holy shit, holy fucking -- gold metal shut-out!"
Carey laughs, giddy. His face hurts with how hard he's grinning. He grabs onto PK. PK pulls back, meets his eyes. PK's grinning, too. He's close enough to kiss, and Carey's whole body shivers, goes hot at the idea. This would be so much better than some random stranger.
"You still got your room key?" Carey asks.
"Yeah, why?" PK says.
Carey flattens his palm against PK's side, curving over his ribs. He lets his eyes go heavy and he licks his lips, and PK's mouth drops open.
"Oh, fuck," PK blurts out, and Carey smirks. "Yeah, okay, wow."
The locker room is complete chaos. People are streaming in and out, and it's easy to leave without being noticed. The last party of the Olympics is spread out all over the village it feels like, everyone drinking and laughing and dancing inside and out. The lounges are full, but the dorms are practically empty.
No one looks at them twice as they cut across the lounge. Half a dozen people come clattering down the stairwell as they go up. Carey doesn't recognize any of them, but they all Woooo! and high five PK and Carey when they pass.
The hallway on their floor is deserted, but Carey can hear people running one floor up, hears a crash and faint, muffled music and laughter.
PK opens the door to his room. His bags are packed, set neatly by the door, and the single bed is made.
Carey's still looking at the bed when PK grabs the medal ribbon around Carey's neck and pulls him into a kiss.
Carey groans against PK's mouth. All the breathless tension under his skin flares up bright and hot again, and the feel of PK's mouth, his body hard against Carey's is like winning gold all over again.
He shoves his hands under PK's hoodie and t-shirt, slides his hands over PK's bare skin.
They strip off their clothes, fast and uncoordinated. PK trips over his own pants and sits down hard on the bed. Carey snorts and PK flips him off.
Carey comes over to stand between PK's knees. They're both down to just boxers and their gold medals.
"Off or on?" Carey asks, sliding PK's medal ribbon between his fingers.
PK actually looks torn.
"Oh, shut up, you're thinking about it, too," PK says.
Carey doesn't deny it.
"Off," PK says finally. "We probably should wait until after the Closing Ceremony at least before we get jizz on them."
"I guess," Carey says.
He lifts PK's medal off over his head. PK is looking up at him, and for a second, this whole thing feels more serious than Carey meant for it to be.
Then PK hooks his fingers into the waistband of Carey's boxers and says, "C'mon, get your dick out, let's go," and the moment breaks.
Carey puts both their medals down gently on the nightstand, then shucks his boxers and climbs into bed with PK.
PK's naked now too and Carey stretches out on top of him, leans in to kiss him again. The slide of skin on skin, the warm, solid flex of PK's body under him sends a rush of heat through his veins.
He rolls his hips, rubbing his cock against the cut of PK's hip and feeling PK's hard-on press against his belly.
PK makes an approving sound in the back of his throat, slides his hand down Carey's back to palm his ass, pull him in tighter.
"What do you want?" PK asks, his voice just a little breathless.
Carey rocks against him. He could come like this, he could come from anything right now, but if PK's asking--
"Can I fuck you?" he asks.
PK groans. "Yeah, fuck, anything, Pricey."
Carey feels those words all the way down to his bones. He ducks his head, presses his mouth against PK's shoulder. He sucks a bruise into PK's skin, even though it won't show, and PK twists, pushing up into the weight of his body.
"I've got, uh, stuff," PK says, flapping his hand towards his bags.
Carey kisses the side of PK's throat, licks over the fast beat of his pulse, then rolls over onto his side.
PK gets out of bed and goes to dig through his bag. Carey props his head up with his hand and watches him.
Carey knows better than to crush on teammates, but he's not blind. He knows PK's got a spectacular body. It's just different to see it and know what PK's skin feels like under his hands.
PK comes back with an Olympic-branded condom and a handful of lube packets. His dick bobs with every step, and Carey sits up, reaches out to wrap his hand around it when PK gets to the bed.
PK squirms when Carey strokes him. Carey smoothes his foreskin back, the tip of his cock wet where it slides across Carey's palm.
PK rips one of the lube packets open with his teeth and squirts the contents into his palm. He swings one knee over Carey's hips and reaches behind himself with slick fingers.
PK bites his lip as he presses -- one finger? Two? Carey can't see -- into his ass.
Carey realizes he's still holding onto PK's dick and starts moving his hand again, slow, easy strokes.
"Mmm, yeah," PK says. He pushes forward into Carey's grip and back onto his own hand.
His dick jerks in Carey's hand and he braces himself with his other hand on the headboard. He leans in and kisses Carey, just a soft teasing brush of lips.
Carey's so hard it hurts. He changes his grip, lets his free hand slide over PK's hip and the curve of his ass, down to where PK's fingering himself. His fingers brush against PK's.
PK rocks back against the press of Carey's fingers, and Carey pushes the tip of one finger against the slick, stretched rim of PK's asshole, nudging in next to PK's finger.
PK hisses in a breath, so tight around Carey's finger. Carey turns his wrist, slides in deeper.
"God, all right, condom," PK says hoarsely.
Carey eases his finger out and lets go of PK's dick, fumbling for the condom. PK's opened up another thing of lube and he dribbles a little on the head of Carey's dick before Carey rolls the condom on, squirts the rest on after that.
Then he sinks down on Carey's cock.
The hot clutch of his body punches the breath out of Carey's lungs and he grabs PK's hips.
PK rolls his hips experimentally and Carey makes an embarrassing noise. PK grins down at him and starts moving.
Carey lets his hands slide down the length of PK's thighs, just to feel the incredible ripple of muscle. God, PK could probably ride him forever. His mind goes a little fuzzy thinking about it, but he wants, he needs--
"Can you, can I--" He can't get the words out, but PK gets it anyway, rolls them both so PK's on his back and Carey is between his legs.
Carey crushes their mouths together, raw and panting, and then pulls back enough to line his cock up and slide into PK.
He thrusts into PK hard and fast and PK snaps his hips up to meet him, his hands hot on Carey's back, blunt nails digging into his shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, c'mon," PK is saying and Carey can barely hear him over the frantic pounding of his heart.
Carey comes with a ragged shout, a white hot wave crashing through him, like that intense joy on the ice made into something tangible, physical.
PK groans under him and reaches down, wraps a hand around his dick. Carey's still braced over PK, still inside him. Carey can feel the drag of PK's knuckles against his belly as he jerks himself off, and then PK's coming warm and slick between them.
"Fuck," PK says, deep and heartfelt.
"Yeah," Carey says, and his voice sounds wrecked.
He pulls out of PK as carefully as he can, deals with condom without making too much of a mess, then lies down next to him.
Except it's a single bed, so "next to" means "half on top of." PK slides his arm around Carey's shoulder and doesn't complain.
Finally PK says, "We're gonna be late."
"Hmmmph," Carey says. He doesn't want to get up just yet.
"Dude, I will dump your ass on the floor, I'm not missing the Closing Ceremony of my first Olympics because you got your brains fucked out."
Closing Ceremony, holy shit. Carey opens his eyes. He's grinning again, and when he lifts his head, he can see PK is, too.
Everyone knows what happens at the Olympics stays at the Olympics, and Carey figures having sex with PK would be one of those things. The memory is already a little unreal, mixed up with that unbelievable feeling of winning gold.
Florida's warm enough that Carey goes out running instead of sticking to the treadmill.
PK's in the hotel bar when he gets back, flicking through his phone, an almost full glass of wine in front of him. He's wearing dark jeans and a crisp grey button down, nicer than what most of the guys would wear in the hotel, but not too unusual for PK. Carey detours over to drape his sweaty body against PK's back.
PK doesn't even flinch. "Good run?"
Carey sighs and straightens up. "It's a run. Are you seriously on Grindr right now?"
The not-talking-about-it thing lasted until the end of that All Star Break. PK kind of wore him down after that. Which is why Carey knows that PK doesn't hook up in Montreal, that PK has a Grindr profile with a fake name and a real picture of his abs that he uses when he's on the road in the US. Why PK knows that Carey was seeing someone back home last season, but it didn't work out.
"Yeah, but...I don't know, I was just bored." PK closes the app and puts his phone away, puts some cash down next to the wine. "Not a lot of exciting options near by anyway."
PK falls into step with Carey as they head for the elevators.
"It's just a lot of work sometimes, you know?" PK says.
Carey gives him a sidelong glance. "Hooking up?"
"Yeah. Like, finding someone who looks decent, who doesn't know you, all the small talk while you try to decide if you really do want to sleep with them, then all the negotiation, 'what are you into? do you like it if I do this?' "
The elevator doors open on their floor, and PK follows Carey to his room.
"And then you have start from scratch the next time." PK flops down on Carey's bed and picks up the remote. "Right?"
Carey starts peeling off his sweaty running clothes. "I guess," he says, muffled by his t-shirt. Honestly, it's making him tired just thinking about it. It's why he doesn't do one-night stands that much.
"And it's not like I'm going to date anyone in Montreal," PK says with a sharp, unamused little laugh, "but it would just be nice to sleep with someone I already know and like for a change. Right?"
Carey tosses his running shorts towards his suitcase and turns back to PK. PK lets his head roll to the side to look at Carey.
Carey is suddenly conscious of the fact that he's almost naked, standing there in just a pair of tight black briefs. That PK is sprawled out in his bed watching him.
"Right," Carey says, but he's forgotten what he's agreeing with.
PK drags his eyes back to the TV, and it looks like it's an effort. There's a thread of tension in his body that wasn't there before.
Carey's thinking about that last night in Sochi again.
"Right," Carey says again, slowly.
PK looks back at him.
"Like a friends with benefits thing," Carey says.
PK clears his throat. "Yeah."
The air feels charged, breathless between them for a moment, then they're both laughing.
"All right, c'mon, let's go," PK says. "I mean, do you even have any other friends in Montreal?"
Carey scrambles onto the bed, palms PK's dick through his jeans and that shuts him right up.
Carey blows PK, and then PK sucks him off.
Carey's lying there in the afterglow, thinking he really needs to take a shower now. PK taps his fist against Carey's knee and says, "You have the best ideas, man."
Carey gives him a thumbs up.
PK gets out of bed, pulls his jeans back up. "See you at breakfast?"
"Uh-huh," Carey says around a yawn.
"Cool," PK says, and heads for the door.
Carey takes a shower, then has the best night of sleep he's had since he got back from Sochi.
If PK wants to give him credit for this idea, Carey's not gonna argue, but he kind of didn't realize how much he was missing until PK brought it up.
He's done the long-distance thing, and maybe if you were really in love it would work, but Skype sex isn't the same thing. And PK was right about how much easier hooking up with someone you know is.
They win the last game of the season at home, and it's great. The team goes out afterwards. Carey is ready for the playoffs, he's got a good feeling this time around. No one's getting crazy drunk, but it's nice to blow off a little steam. It's even nicer to be able to split a cab back to PK's place, spend a couple hours making out like teenagers, until they both practically come in their pants.
Then Carey goes home, lets the dogs out one last time, and goes to bed.
It's easy, uncomplicated, and exactly what Carey needs right now.
So, yeah, Carey knows when it started, but he doesn't know when it changed.
The playoffs start out great, a sweep of the Lightning, beating Boston on their own ice, but they end with Carey out with a fucked up knee and an exit in the Conference Final.
Carey talks to PK over the summer, texts and e-mails, mostly. He doesn't hook up with anyone. With rehab and then getting back into shape, he doesn't have the energy for it. He doesn't know what PK does. It's not really any of his business.
It's not like he's thinking about it all the time over the summer, but when he shows up to training camp, it occurs to him that he doesn't know where things stand with PK.
Ten minutes after they take the ice, PK skates up to him and tries to give him a facewash. They end up wrestling on the ice, flopping around and laughing while the Gallys look on dubiously.
Carey gets PK pinned, because PK isn't really trying hard. PK goes limp and grins up at him.
"So," PK says, with a pointed shimmy of his hips. "You doing anything after practice?"
Carey knows exactly where they stand after that, and he's pretty okay with it.
They pick back up like the summer break never happened.
Carey gives up four goals in Tampa Bay and Therrien doesn't put him in for the third. Dustin gets hung out to dry, too, and they give up three more. It's a shit show. Carey stews over it all the way home. PK takes him home and rims him until he can't remember his own name, let alone how bad that game was, then jerks off all over his stomach.
PK gets the game winning goal a week later, and Carey blows him in a bar bathroom when they're out celebrating with the team.
It's easy to slot sex with PK into the rhythm of his season, into wins and losses, road trips and home stands. PK knows when his groin is bothering him, when he doesn't want to put weight on his shoulder. Carey knows the things PK likes, knows that he's ticklish behind the knees but goes crazy for hickeys on his inner thighs.
PK doesn't fuck with his game day rituals, and he doesn't complain about Carey not staying over when Carey goes home to take care of his dogs.
(PK does try to get him to have a threesome with someone he sees on Grindr when they're out in LA.
"No," Carey says. "Just -- no."
"But look at his shoulders," PK says, holding his phone out. He's grinning, bright and wicked, and Carey isn't entirely sure he's serious, but this is definitely not a time when he is going to call PK's bluff.
"No," he says again. Even if those are some really nice shoulders.)
Somewhere in March, Carey's standing in the backyard watching the dogs snuffle enthusiastically around the bushes where they saw a rabbit yesterday, and he realizes he hasn't slept with anyone except PK since before the Olympics. Is that weird? He thinks it might be weird.
He calls the dogs back in. Upstairs, PK is asleep in Carey's bed, snoring aggressively, and Carey decides he doesn't care if it's weird.
This is working just fine for him.
It's harder to get by the Sens than it should be, and they can't even take the Lightning to seven games.
The flight home is dead quiet. PK passes up his usual seat to come sit next to Carey. Anyone else, and Carey would tell them to fuck off, but he can't bring himself to say it to PK.
Carey rode with PK to the airport when they left, so PK gives him a ride home.
He pulls up in front of Carey's house, turns the engine off. Usually Carey would invite him up, even after a loss, but Carey's not in the mood to fool around. He just wants to go to bed and leave this season behind.
"Night," he says.
"Night," PK says.
Carey's got his hand on the car door when PK says, "What are you doing this summer?"
PK flexes his hands on the steering wheel. "Do you want to come visit?"
PK looks at him, then back out the windshield. "My family's having a reunion, well, a big party, really, the first week of July. I thought maybe you could come hang out?"
"I, ye-- shit, no, I've got a charity thing," Carey says.
PK nods. "Some other time, maybe."
"Sure," Carey says.
He hesitates a moment longer, but PK doesn't say anything else. Finally, Carey claps him on the shoulder and gets out of the car.
Carey doesn't get around to visiting PK over the summer, but they hook up at the NHL Awards.
Carey's going to give him shit forever about that red velvet suit, but he can't complain about how PK fucks him after Carey sweeps the awards.
It's a pretty great summer, all things considered.
PK's waiting for Carey in the parking lot when the first day of training camp is over.
"Hey," PK says. He's smiling, but it looks tight, small.
"Hey," Carey says. PK mostly stuck with the rookies and the prospects in camp. Carey hadn't thought PK was avoiding him, but maybe he was wrong.
"Can we talk real quick?" PK asks.
"Sure," Carey says. "You wanna come over, or--"
PK shakes his head. "Not, it's not a big deal. I just, um. Wanted to say, I don't think we should do the friends with benefits thing this season."
"What?" Carey says.
PK grimaces. "This has been-- fun and everything, but I'm getting older, and I want quit doing the casual thing and try for something a little more serious. And I can't really do that if I've got this going with you. So."
"Oh," Carey says. He feels off-balance, at a loss.
"We're still going to be friends," PK says. He reaches out and grips Carey's shoulder, gives him a gentle shake. "Duh. You just have to hook-up with people who aren't me."
"Wow, what a hardship." Carey makes it sound right, completely deadpan, and PK grins.
PK's grin is almost right, too. He lets his hand drop. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay? We can do lunch with the Gallys. Chucky's moping without Prusty here, and someone needs to shake him out of it."
"Sure," Carey says.
He watches PK walk to his own car, and can't figure out why his stomach feels so weird, hollow and unsettled.
PK's right, they're still friends. The sex was never the important part of that, so it shouldn't feel like he's losing something so significant.
Carey does what he's always done when something's bothering him, which is focus on hockey.
Whatever he's feeling about PK, he doesn't let it affect his game. They start the season on fire, nine in a row in regulation.
PK's still there to give him his helmet taps on the ice, to throw his arm around Carey's shoulders in the locker room and call him Cash Money in that delighted tone of voice. They just don't go home together afterwards.
And it's fine. He's fine.
Then he gets hurt.
It's a week a first, then two. He misses nine games. Condon holds the fort down, they stay at the top of the division, Carey wins three in a row when he comes back.
And then he's hurt again.
A week, they say, but he knows better by now.
He doesn't know if it counts as drunk dialing if you're on painkillers, but he calls PK and says, well, he's not really sure what he says, but it works, because PK shows up.
PK clucks his tongue, calls Carey an idiot, and then makes him lie down.
He gets a fresh ice pack for Carey's knee and a bottle of water.
"How bad is it?" PK asks.
"They said I could pick surgery or rehab," Carey says.
"Shit," PK says. "What are you going to do?"
Carey rubs his eyes. "I want to do what's right for the team."
PK sits down on the edge of the bed. "What's right for you is what's right for the team."
Hearing that makes something in Carey's chest squeeze tight.
"Look, whatever you choose, we're behind you," PK says. "You know that, right? And, uh, you don't have to decide right now, okay?"
Carey looks down at where his hand is lying next to PK's. "Can you..."
Carey takes a deep breath and looks up. "Can you stay over tonight?"
PK's quiet for a long moment. "Yeah, man, of course, whatever you need."
"Thanks," Carey says.
When he asks, he really honestly means if PK can stay as a friend.
But when PK leans down to straighten his pillow, Carey leans up and presses their mouths together.
PK's mouth is as sweet as he remembers. Carey closes his eyes and cups PK's jaw in his palm.
"Please," he says against PK's mouth. "Please."
PK sighs into the kiss. He pulls his mouth away, but only to kiss the corner of Carey's jaw, the side of his throat. He nudges Carey back and kisses all the way down his chest, over his collarbones and rib cage and the tense muscles of his stomach.
His mouth is unbelievably gentle on Carey's cock. Carey isn't hard, but PK gets him there, slow and patient.
Carey forgets about the pain in his knee, the dull throb of it washed away under the soft, wet heat of PK's mouth. When he comes, it's like something warm and bright spilling through him.
He can barely keep his eyes open afterwards, unraveling under a wave of tiredness.
"PK," he mumbles, reaching for him.
"Shhh," PK says. "Just sleep."
Carey tries to frown, but he's already under.
When he wakes up in the morning, PK's not there, but it looks like the other side of Carey's bed has been slept in.
His pills and a bottle of water are laid out on the nightstand, and he takes his dose.
He puts his brace on and gets up carefully. He can smell coffee and at the top of the stairs he can hear PK's voice.
"You remember Duke, right?" PK is saying.
"Yes!" The voice is tinny and faint, but Carey's pretty sure PK is Skyping with his nephews.
Carey starts making his way down the stairs. He doesn't intend to eavesdrop, it's just that he needs a break halfway down.
"So you're at Carey's place."
That isn't a nephew, that's Natassia.
"Yeah," PK says.
"I thought you stopped doing whatever it was you guys were doing."
"We did," PK says.
His sister is silent, and PK sighs.
"I know," PK says.
"You're going to get yourself hurt," Natassia says.
"I'm a hockey player," PK tries to joke. "You already knew that."
Carey's heart is beating fast for no reason at all.
"I'll get over it," PK says.
Natassia makes a skeptical noise.
"I know he doesn't want what I want," PK says. "I'm not-- holding on to some false hope here."
"He's an asshole," Natassia says.
"He's not. I'm the one who changed my mind, he never said he wanted anything other than something casual."
"You're my little brother, so he's the asshole," Natassia said. "And I will tell mom kick his ass on the mom's trip."
"Oh, god, please don't," PK says.
Natassia has to go after that. Carey's still sitting on the stairs when PK comes out of the kitchen, iPad in hand.
He stops when he sees Carey and his face goes blank.
Carey licks his lips.
"What do you want?" he asks.
For a second, he thinks PK won't answer. Then PK straightens his shoulders and says, "I told you. I want something more serious. I want a real relationship."
"You didn't say you wanted it with me," Carey says.
"Because you don't want one with me," PK says.
Three months ago, Carey would have agreed with that.
"I haven't slept with anyone else since Sochi," Carey says in a rush.
PK's eyes widen. "What?"
"I miss you so much, even though you're still right here, even though I see you every day." Carey takes a deep shaky breath. "I want what we had before, but I want it to make you happy, too. What do you -- what can I do?"
PK smiles, but it looks painful. "You can be in love with me."
"Oh," Carey says. And it's like everything slots into place, the whole world coming into focus. "Okay, yeah. I can do that."
PK stares at him and there's that slow dawning recognition on his face again, like he can see Carey really means it. Which is good, because Carey can see that this is not the best declaration of love ever made.
PK shakes his head. "So did you want coffee or what?"
"Yes, please." Carey pulls himself up and limps down the rest of the stairs.
PK slides his arm around Carey's waist and takes some of the weight off his bad leg, and when he does, he turns his head to kiss Carey's temple very gently.