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Jamie knows something is going on. He may not be able to remember when it started, or how -- it was both a slow slide into whatever the fuck is happening and a sharp sudden change. Today is hardly any different than yesterday: he isn’t doing anything different, and Tyler isn’t doing anything different. But it was different. Is different.

That’s definitely Jordie’s fault. His and Val’s. And, come to think of it, Jessica’s fault and Jenny’s fault. It was a lot of people’s faults. And none of those people were him or Tyler. They were just being normal dudes and their friends had to get all up in their perfectly normal business.

Jamie snorts at himself, rolling his eyes at how ridiculous he sounds even to himself, and catches Tyler’s attention with the noise. He gets a raised eyebrow, concern for whatever has Jamie making unhappy sounds, and shakes his head at Tyler to say that it’s nothing worth worrying about. As this unspoken conversation happens, though, he feels the weight of his brother’s gaze on them and he blushes before Tyler goes back to lacing up his skates.

Luckily, they’ve got drills to skate and pucks to hit and plays to run, so Tyler doesn’t have time to grill him on it and Jamie’s hoping that Tyler will forget by the time practice is over. He pushes himself a little harder than he normally would, and hits Jordie into the boards a little harder than he probably should considering he doesn’t actually want to take him out, but the guy kind of ruined Jamie’s whole everything, so, you know, he deserves it.

Jordie had actually sat Jamie down last night with as serious an expression as he could manage and staged what Jamie can only guess was an intervention, even though it was just him and Jordie and Jordie kept laughing at him, which Jamie is pretty sure isn’t supposed to happen during an intervention. But Jordie did get his point across: Tyler really likes it when Jamie compliments him. And Jamie really likes complimenting Tyler, specifically. Initially, Jordie had been horrified that Jamie was surprised by the information, but very quickly switched gears into proving that Jamie was an idiot.

Jamie had turned fire-engine red as the conversation progressed, and kicked Jordie out of his house when Jordie started reading out texts that Val, Jess, and Jenny had sent him asking questions on the theme of “So, like, what’s up with Jamie and Tyler?” Val’s most recent text had just been “Jamie + Tyler ??? )))))))” and Jenny’s had been “ew why is jamie so gross” Jess’s texts were just a series of texts over the course of the last few months, each of them occurring when she’d been hanging out with them, and each of them being the same barfing emoji.

Thing is, though, Jamie still can’t stop himself.

After Tyler executes a beautiful shot from the blue line, Jamie’s skating over to him before he realizes what he’s doing.

“Nice shot, Seggs,” Jamie says as he taps Tyler’s stick with his own, “good work.”

He’s rewarded with a blisteringly bright smile and blushes when he feels the heat spread from his chest to his extremities at Tyler’s response.

“Thanks,” Tyler breathes out, the word barely louder than a whisper, and maybe that’s why Jamie feels himself leaning into Tyler, but maybe it’s not.

Before he actually ... does whatever he was going to do, Jamie skates away backwards, bumping into his brother who definitely put himself in Jamie’s path in retaliation for the earlier hits. Jamie stumbles and feels his arms whirlwind, stopping himself from landing on his ass ungracefully (he is too large for falling to be anything other than hilariously sad). He hears Tyler’s laugh mix with Jordie’s and schools his face into a scowl, as though he could possibly be mad at the two assholes he chooses to spend most of his time with for being exactly the kind of assholes they always are.

Jamie spends the next few days noticing things.

It’s not like Jamie doesn’t know . He knows. He’s not stupid. He’s just managed to keep that knowing in a tiny little corner of his brain that he only pulls out late at night when it’s quiet and there’s no one around. He knows that most friends don’t get turned on by telling their friends how awesome they are at hockey. Or how fun they are. Or that their suit looks great. Or that they’re good at taking care of their dogs. Or -- well. He knows that “friend” is not really the word you use for anyone who turns you on that regularly. He just ... normally lets himself forget that what turns him on is making sure that Tyler knows how good he is. Lets himself forget until he’s alone at night, in bed, and then he’ll pull out those memories of Tyler’s face lighting up, of his blush as he stammers out thanks, or some reason why he’s not that cool, or that moment of surprise when Jamie says something Tyler really doesn’t think anyone believes. In those secret moments, yeah -- Jamie knows. He knows that he gets hard thinking about what it would feel like to whisper praise into Tyler’s skin, to smooth his hands on Tyler’s body, down his sides, across his chest and along his arms and tell him he’s beautiful, wonderful, talented, kind . He knows that he’s gotten himself off thinking about this, pushing his cock into his fist and imagining the sight of a flush spreading across Tyler’s body, imagining the sound of his breaths, the soft, sharp intake when Jamie says he’s perfect, the feeling of his wrists in Jamie’s hands, the taste of him as Jamie presses a kiss on the soft skin. He wants . He wants a lot . He can’t remember the last time he got off without thinking of painting Tyler’s stomach with his come, but when he’s done, he returns the memories to the place he doesn’t go and reminds himself that, well, just because someone smiles when you say nice things to them doesn’t mean they want you to fuck them. Unfortunately.

Jordie rolls his eyes when Jamie explains this, three days after that first conversation.

“Yeah, Chubbs, most people don’t want you to fuck them just because you tell them they had a good game,” Jordie says, “I’m glad you know that.” Jamie punches him half-heartedly for this, “But,” Jordie continues, as though he’s an idiot, “most people also don’t look like they’ve been fucked when you tell them they’ve had a good game.”

And dammit Jordie . Jamie had a system. Before all this, he managed to keep his want firmly in check -- not absent, but controllable, but now he looks in a way he wasn’t looking before. Now he sees the way that Tyler’s eyes widen when he puts his hand on Tyler’s neck and thanks him for the great pass. Now he hears the breath Tyler takes when Jamie pulls their foreheads together and says “Beauty goal.”  Now he feels the heat of Tyler’s gaze when Jamie smiles at him and says “You’re amazing.”

He doesn’t stop, though, and he’s still waiting for the panic to rise, or for the world to end, or for whatever he thought was going to happen if he let himself actually do this .

* * * * *

 

Tyler has no fucking clue what’s happening.

Like, something is going on, because Jamie’s being extra handsy lately and Jordie keeps sending these looks his way, and Val says stuff in Russian then laughs at him and Jess and Jenny and his sisters keep messaging him hearts and eggplants and that gif of him saying he likes stallions more

. Jamie Benn asks "Do you like horses?" and Tyler responds "I like stallions more"

He considers asking Jamie about it, but he’s 90% sure whatever’s happening is entirely Jamie’s fault, and he doesn’t trust anyone else to give him a straight answer, so he’s just going to have to deal.

It’s not easy though. Because he thought it was rough before, but it’s just fucking impossible now. Before, Jamie would really only just say nice stuff about him as it related to hockey. Before there were the normal hockey hugs and cellys and shit, but now there was, like, touching and saying nice things about Tyler as a human, not just a guy who plays sweet hockey.

Tyler was able to handle the little flutter he’d get in his chest when Jamie looked at him all sincere and said shit like “Good game, Seggs” with a soft smile. What he can’t handle is Jamie saying shit like “You’re amazing, Seggs” with his hand on the back of Tyler’s neck and his thumb accidentally brushing the hinge of Tyler’s jaw. He is too old to be getting this many awkward boners. Thank fuck he’s got his own place and doesn’t have to worry about people walking in on him jerking off because jesus christ .

And it’s not just, like, the general hockey-related praise that’s getting him hot anymore. At first, Tyler thought he was just, like, high on adrenaline or something after a game and hormones were getting mixed up and his dick was getting confused. But today Jamie rested his hand on Tyler’s shoulder and said “You’re a good friend” and Tyler felt his face grow hot and his stomach tense.

He has dinner with Jamie, like always, and tries not to be too obviously turned on when Jamie says “Awesome salad, man” because come on and somehow makes it to the end of the night without, ugh, exploding or whatever.

Jamie leaves, definitely looking at Tyler a little weird because his brain shorted out at some point in the last two hours and he hasn’t managed to say anything that makes any sense. All that comes out when he says goodbye is “Cool yeah I’m gonna bed, I’ll uh breakfast tomorrow?”

He’s lucky that Jamie is awesome because Jamie gets it and just laughs at him and says he’ll see him in the morning.

Not before hugging him and saying “You’re hilarious,” though.

Because Tyler’s life is just like that right now.

It confusing as shit, but it doesn’t stop him from locking the door, waiting five minutes to be absolutely sure that Jamie isn’t going to come back, walking calmly to his bedroom and shutting the dogs out before sitting on the bed and palming his cock through his shorts. He sits there and lets it all wash over him, like a -- like a... wave? Or something? Tyler’s not really a metaphor guy, but he just kind of concentrates on how it feels when Jamie says something nice to him. It feels different than when Jordie congratulates him on a goal, or Val thanks him for helping him out -- because when Jamie says something nice, it doesn’t just feel like a compliment, it’s feels like he’s saying Tyler is worth it. Worth -- something, everything. Tyler moans when he thinks about Jamie saying that -- he hasn’t ever said it, really, but -- he might? Tyler can picture it, can picture Jamie’s dark eyes watching Tyler, can picture his lips as they form the words, and can imagine how it would feel for Jamie to say “You’re everything.”

There’s suddenly too much material between his hand and his cock, so he pushes the shorts down with one hand and reaches for his lube with another. Once his hand is slick and the lube is warmed up, he wraps his hand around his dick and revels in the image of Jamie leaning over him and telling him how hot he looks like this. He’s had guys and girls tell him he looks hot when having sex before (obviously) but it always felt like the expected thing to say. He never really believes people when they say shit like that -- not that he doesn’t think he’s hot (not that he doesn’t have his ESPN Body Issue shots saved on his phone because sometimes a guy needs an ego boost) or like good at hockey or fun or whatever, but when other people say it it never feels as real as when Jamie does. It never feels like they’re pulling at something inside Tyler that he doesn’t like to acknowledge, like they’re trying to tell Tyler how important he is.

He wants Jamie to watch him with the same gaze he uses when they’re on the ice, but he wants to be naked and touching his dick and being good for Jamie. He wants to show Jamie that he can do whatever he needs him to do and that he can do it well . He wants Jamie to fall apart under his hands, his tongue, his mouth and to whisper that Tyler is wonderful. Fuck .

He flips over onto his stomach and fucks into the mattress, letting out a whimper when he imagines Jamie covering his back with his body, pulling him in, and wrapping his arms around Tyler’s chest. His hips stutter as the head of his cock pushes against the soft fabric of his sheets and he thinks about how good it would feel to be wrapped up in Jamie, safe, warm, loved, wanted. Tyler chokes out a mangled moan when he comes, and enjoys a few blissful seconds of afterglow before reality makes its way back in.

He really can’t keep this up. Eventually, Jamie is going to say something and it’s going to be too obvious that Tyler isn’t just happy to hear something nice and then Jamie will be freaked out and weirded out and then Tyler’s gonna lose the best friend he’s got that isn’t a dog and wouldn’t that just be perfect.

You’d still be my friend if i was a fucking weirdo right? He texts Jamie before he passes out for the night.

A minute goes by, then his phone vibrates with Jamie’s reply

If??

Of course man -- always.

U ok?

Tyler doesn’t reply -- not sure he can say anything other than “You’re so hot and it turns me on A LOT that you say nice things to me, but other than that I’m good” but Jamie’s used to Tyler not always replying to difficult questions like “u ok?” He’ll just be extra smiley tomorrow and then Jamie will forget that he’s best friends with an idiot.

* * * * * * *

 

Operation Idiot is a go , Jordie sends to his accomplices when he’s at breakfast with idiots one and two.

Over the next hour, he watches, smug, as Tyler and Jamie’s lives fall apart. He sees when Val “accidentally” sends a text to Jamie instead of Tyler (and later, Val sends him a screenshot of their conversation and Jordie thinks about getting it framed). Jamie’s face has a seizure and he chokes on his coffee, and Jordie wishes he could take a picture of this. A few minutes later, he watches as Tyler’s face turns absolutely white when he reads a message from Jess. She wouldn’t tell Jordie what she was sending, but Jordie assumes it is horrifying, based on the sheer panic on Tyler’s face. Half-way through breakfast, Jamie gets a call from Jenny and actually leaves the diner and paces outside for ten minutes. She and Jordie had planned out how she should yell at him about keeping his feelings locked up inside and that it’s obvious to everyone that he’s an emotionally constipated manbaby who needs to fucking grow up. Jordie wasn’t sure if Cassidy and Candace would be into it, but they both agree to DM Tyler increasingly inappropriate suggestions about how he should tell Jamie that he loves him

.Val texts "gross i don't want to no how hot chubbs is pls stop seggs ((((" then Jamie replies "???????" Val responds "lol jokes" and Jamie answers "VAL WTF"

Jordie is really going to enjoy this day, watching Tyler and Jamie pretend like everything's totally normal and they haven’t just had their feelings ambushed by their closest loved ones -- they have to head to the arena, change into their gear, practice, work out, and head home. They have to look at each other and catch each other looking at each other all day . Jordie congratulates himself on being awesome and spends the rest of the day high fiving Val whenever they’re near each other.

He almost regrets it when he’s driving the idiots home because they are both just the most awkward people. The sexual tension in the car is unbearable, Jamie keeps laughing this weird laugh at literally everything Tyler says, and Tyler keeps squirming like there’s something in his pants (Jordie will not think about what is in his pants ). When they get to Tyler’s, Jordie “remembers” that he has to meet Jess somewhere on the opposite side of the city from Jamie’s and kicks Jamie out of the car. Once he’s out of sight, he pulls over and texts his brother.

You like him, he likes you, we’re all rooting for you.

But if you don’t say something to him, Jamie, I’m going to make your life a living hell.

Fuck you is the reply he gets, but it’s in Jamie’s hands now. (He also will not think about what Jamie’s hands are going to do.)

* * * * * * *

Jamie and Tyler are standing in Tyler’s driveway, awkward and silent in a way they haven’t been since they first met. Jamie rocks onto his heels and sighs at the text from his brother, scowling as he pecks out his reply. Tyler rubs the back of his neck, unsure what to say, but sure he needs to say something.

“I can, uh, give you a ride home if you want?” Tyler says, a little louder than he intended, “or, you can stay for dinner again?” He continues, when Jamie looks up at him and seems disappointed at the offer of a ride.

“Leftovers?” Jamie asks, for something to say.

“Yeah.”

“Cool.”

They stand there for a few more seconds. Jamie clears his throat. Tyler turns toward the doorway, then --

“You’re the best person I know.”

It’s quiet, but it isn’t uncertain. This is the voice Jamie uses when he’s telling the team that they can win, that they can be the team they need to be. The voice he used on Jordie when he was panicking about how much he liked Jess. The voice he uses when Jenny calls him, frustrated and angry.

Tyler stops in his tracks, doesn’t know why he feels like he got all the air pushed out of him. He can’t make himself turn around, though -- because turning around means he has to reply and what do you even say to that? What do you say when Jamie Benn calls you the best person he knows? Thanks? You too?

Tyler’s internal panic means that he doesn’t notice that Jamie has walked up behind him, doesn’t notice until Jamie puts his hand on Tyler’s shoulder and tugs, silently asking him to turn around and, well, Tyler can’t say no to that. With his hand still on Tyler’s shoulder, Jamie dips his head a little (he’s not that much taller than Tyler...) so he can look Tyler straight in the eyes.

“I hope you know that, Tyler.”

Tyler nods, amazed that he has that much control over his body.

“Do you---” Jamie starts, then his face does a weird scrunching thing and whatever he was going to say just fizzles out.

This time, Tyler’s the one to clear his throat.

“What -- what is this?” He tries to keep his face calm, expressionless, because they’re outside and anyone could see this and Jamie must come to that same realization because his face slams shut and he pulls Tyler into the house.

They walk to the living room and sit on Tyler’s couch, absently greeting Marshall and Cash who bark excitedly at Jamie.

It’s Jamie who finds his voice, first. “I, uh, want to tell you you’re amazing all the time” There’s a quaver in his voice, but he continues. Stubborn. “I want to be the one who gets you to believe that you’re the fucking best, and” there’s a long pause and Tyler leans in just in case whatever comes next comes out in a whisper because he is not missing it. “I want to kiss you while I do it.”

Tyler blinks. Processes.

“You should.” Tyler can barely recognize his voice it’s so fucking wrecked, but he said it and Jamie definitely heard. They’re both blushing and shaking but Jamie reaches his hand to cup Tyler’s face, strokes his thumb along Tyler’s lips. “You’re perfect,” he whispers it, then, louder “You’re perfect.”

Tyler’s mouth falls open and he closes his eyes, can’t let himself see how much Jamie means it if he doesn’t want to die right this second. So that Jamie doesn’t think he’s freaking out in the bad way, he turns his face into Jamie’s palm and breathes in. He takes another breath, in then out, and opens his eyes to see Jamie’s wide eyes staring back at him, to see dark pupils and a red flush and Jamie’s tongue peek out to wet his lips and then Jamie leans in .

His lips are -- fuck . Jamie tastes like Jamie . He presses his lips into Tyler’s, soft but sure and insistent, and Tyler’s entire body just shakes when Jamie’s tongue passes over Tyler’s bottom lip, sucking it in between his teeth and holding it for a second.

“Fuck,” Tyler’s voice shakes when he gets a second to breathe, “ Jamie .”

He hears Jamie laugh, then Jamie’s pulling him back for more. They’ve hardly touched and Tyler is done. Just done.

“Tyler,” Jamie breathes his name into Tyler’s ear, “God, Tyler, you’re just --” Jamie makes a strangled noise, and Tyler can feel him tense up, can feel him panicking and that just makes Tyler freak out and panic and--

He pulls back, looks -- really looks -- at Jamie.

“I don’t know what this is.” He wishes he didn’t sound so unsure, so scared, but it’s taking all of his willpower not to run around the living room screaming, so he’s pleased, at least, that the words made sense.

“You’re just --” Jamie huffs, frustrated, “you’re just so...” He trails off, but he’s still looking at Tyler, brings his hand back up to his face and just looks at him. “You’re so perfect, Tyler, and you don’t see it .”

“I’m not--” Tyler barely gets the words out before Jamie makes a sound like he’s been hurt and Tyler can’t let that happen, so he doesn’t finish the sentence. “Okay, so.”

“So.” Jamie’s face has gone soft, fond.

“Uh. Bedroom, maybe?” Tyler tries to make it sound easy and natural, but he’s just dying .

“Yeah,” Jamie laughs, and -- that’s close enough to easy and natural, so Tyler smiles and walks to his room and knows Jamie is following him by the sound of his footsteps and the feeling of being really seen. Not just looked at, but fucking seen.

He still can’t quite figure out what to do with his body, doesn’t really know how to control it in a world where Jamie looks at him like that, but he gets to the bed and sits, waiting for Jamie to do...something.

Jamie does something . Jamie pushes Tyler onto his back and settles him on the bed, moving his limbs and the pillows around so that Tyler is comfortable. The whole time whispering little things like “Yeah” and “good” and “perfect” and “God, Tyler.”

Jamie’s still wearing all of his clothes when he starts to undress Tyler. Tyler tries to reciprocate, but Jamie just bats his hands away.

“Later, okay? I promise -- I want you to -- do everything you want to do, but,” Jamie pauses, takes in a ragged breath and Tyler’s never seen him look so wrecked , “let me do this. Please?” And Jamie is just overwhelmed, overwhelming, so Tyler nods, not entirely sure what he’s agreeing to but sure that whatever it is he’s going to fucking love it.

Jamie takes Tyler’s shirt off, pushing it up his body slowly and stretching out the neck a little to get it over his head without any uncomfortable face squishing. He trails his hands across Tyler’s chest and whispers “Beautiful” and Tyler shivers and thinks he’s never actually felt beautiful before.

Jamie moves his hands down Tyler’s stomach and undoes his zipper. He pulls off Tyler’s pants and boxers and skims his hands along Tyler’s legs as he does it. When he’s got Tyler naked, he settles himself on his thighs and just looks.

“Shit,” Jamie’s got a look on his face like he’s taken a hit from Chara and Tyler doesn’t know what to do with the fact that he’s the reason Jamie looks like that. Jamie slides a finger across Tyler’s lips, then dips his hand along his jaw. Slowly, he moves his hand from Tyler’s face to his collarbone, to his chest, like he’s going to map out every inch of skin he can see. He traces Tyler’s Cup tattoo, and a small smile blooms on his face. “I can’t wait until you get the next one.”

He leans down to press a kiss on Tyler’s neck, and when Tyler reaches up to pull Jamie closer, Jamie grabs his wrists and presses them back down into the mattress. “Let me do this for you,” he asks again.

And Tyler gets it, now. Gets what Jamie wants, what he needs to do for Tyler. So he lets him. Lets him breathe in the skin at his hipbone, lets him press a kiss to his shoulder. Tyler lets Jamie whisper words of praise into his neck, his stomach, his palms. Tyler lets Jamie build a map of “perfect” and “so good” and “everything,” tracing faded bruises and old scars and places where other people breathed other words that Tyler couldn’t believe.

When Jamie finally finally gets his mouth around Tyler’s cock, it’s almost too much and Tyler can’t stop his hips from pushing up into Jamie. Jamie just hums, but presses his hands down on Tyler’s hips and continues. He moves his head up and down, licks his tongue around the head and then pushes as far as he can before pulling back up. He’s slow -- slower than Tyler would normally like, doesn’t have the aggressive, pushy style that he usually prefers, but every time that Tyler’s hips start to push up, Jamie’s hands tighten, then soothe the spots where his fingers pushed in. Jamie takes one of his hands and moves it to Tyler’s cock, using it to add pressure, a twist, to swipe across the wetness when Jamie takes a breather to look at Tyler and say something else utterly devastating like “How did I deserve you?”

Tyler is suddenly desperate, and Jamie must see it, must feel the tightening of his muscles, because he turns his attention entirely to Tyler’s cock and swallows him down, keeping Tyler’s cock in his mouth until he comes, until Tyler starts whimpering at the too-much-sensation.

He raises his eyes to meet Tyler’s and -- fuck -- Jamie’s eyes are so dark, his lips are swollen and wet and he’s breathing so fast and Tyler pulls him up -- Jamie lets him pull him up and kiss the taste of his come out of Jamie’s mouth. He’s too fucked out to do much of anything but he maneuvers Jamie until his cock -- through his pants because Jamie is still wearing all of his clothing -- is pressed against the join of Tyler’s leg. He pushes up into Jamie at the same time as he brings his hands to Jamie’s fly, hands shaking and jittering and he gets it undone and shoves Jamie’s pants down. When Tyler feels the heat of Jamie’s cock against his skin, he gasps, and pulls Jamie in tighter, moving his hips to encourage Jamie to fuck up against him. Jamie doesn’t take much coaxing, thank god, and soon Jamie is making small noises in Tyler’s ear, low, breathy, interspersed with “so good, Tyler, you’re so good for me, fuck so good” and Tyler thinks, this is almost as good as getting fucked .

Jamie’s hips speed up and he gets a hand between them, pushing his cock harder against Tyler, rubbing his fingers -- the fingers that he traced Tyler’s body with -- over the head of his cock. He makes another low noise, breathes out “ Ty-- ” and Tyler feels warmth land on his stomach. Jamie lets his weight fall on Tyler, presses his face into the crook of Tyler’s neck and whispers more words that melt into each other, into Tyler.

Eventually, Jamie stirs and shifts off of Tyler, but before Tyler can complain, he pulls Tyler against him and nuzzles him until they’re looking at each other.

“Jamie --” Tyler doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know how to make sure this moment isn’t just a moment that he remembers, but means something big and good. He can feel his eyes pricking with tears and he can’t even try to hide how on the edge he is.

Jamie smiles, but Tyler sees the tears forming in his eyes too and--

“Jamie you can’t cry,” Tyler whispers, urgent, “If you cry I’ll cry and if I start I don’t think I’ll be able to stop.”

“Sorry man,” Jamie’s smile brightens and his eyes glisten, “I can’t help myself. You’re just so--”

He trails off again and Tyler’s gonna have to get Jamie a thesaurus of something because this is just frustrating . Tyler’s annoyance must show on his face, because Jamie laughs, laughs with his whole body and tugs Tyler impossibly closer.

“You’re just so everything, Tyler. It’s overwhelming.” They’re both quiet as the words settle around them. “I don’t know what to do with my feelings half the time, and the other half of the time I’m terrified.”

“Yeah,” Tyler says, pushing his hand into Jamie’s hair, pressing his face against Jamie’s shoulder. “Yeah.”

“I’m scared shitless,” Jamie’s whispering, now, so quiet it’s almost like no one else could possibly exist, “but you’re worth it.”

Tyler tightens his grip on Jamie and he can’t help it: he believes him.