Patrick had a letter written on his wrist when he was born, small and even in black pen-print. Well, technically it started to show up a day after he was born, like a bruise that takes time to settle in. Patrick doesn’t remember, obviously, but his parents will tell him whenever he asks, how small it was and how it just... faded in, a little ‘J’.
He was seven by the time it finished, soft black letters stretching up his wrist into Jonathan, his soulmate’s name. Jonathan’s handwriting is really small, enough that Patrick can cover the letters up with just two fingers if he has the urge. He doesn’t, though, because he thinks if he covers it up, maybe he’ll miss him—maybe he’ll walk right by him, and neither of them will even notice. That would be more terrible than missing a shot in the last period of the game.
He wishes the name was a little bit bigger, sometimes, easier to read from far away, but his mom says that it’s unlikely to find him by accident anyway, that he’ll have to search, like most everybody, when he turns eighteen and he’s old enough to leave home. Patrick usually just frowns and goes outside to practice shooting the puck, even though he can only do it on the driveway when they’re at home.
The thing is, he doesn’t want to wait until he’s eighteen to find him, to find Jonathan. Eighteen seems like it’s awfully far away. He’s only seven, and he already feels like he’s been waiting forever.
Jackie’s name finishes out when she’s nine: Richard, and they all kind of new that was going to be it—what else could ‘Richar—‘ spell? But he’s glad it’s there, it’s done, and he got to see it, before he has to leave. Leaving is hard, and he hates Detroit for months because of how much he misses Buffalo, his mom and dad and sisters, and his Grandpa, especially, but there’s hockey, and Jonathan’s name is familiar as ever on his wrist.
He manages to stop missing home quite so much, let’s himself fall into hockey, the reason leaving Buffalo was something he could do—something he had to do. But sometimes, he’ll just lie awake, watching the ink on his hand, even though it’s been finished and filled in for years, and won’t ever change again. He just... likes to wonder.
Jonathan isn’t that rare of a name though, and he meets more than he can count over the years, both in Buffalo and in Detroit. Most of them spell it wrong; they add an ‘h’ where there shouldn’t be one, or if they do spell it right, their wrists always say Sarah or Anna or Emily. They never have Patrick written in. He was excited to ask, the first couple of times, but the fourth or fifth time he gets a shrug or an apologetic smile, the disappointment is so thick that he goes out and buys a wrist guard, one of the ones that they design to hide your name, for people who aren’t looking for their soulmate.
It’s—he feels defeated, every time that it isn’t Jonathan, all sleek, straight lettering in perfect black pin-print. But it only takes a couple weeks before he throws the stupid wrist cover out, because he wants to find Jonathan, no matter what, and if he’s hiding because he’s in some kind slump, it’ll be his own fault when Jonathan walks by and he doesn’t even notice.
He meets Sam when he’s drafted by the London Knights—in Ontario, not, like, England, but moving to Canada is still hard, because it means he’ll see his sisters and his parents even less often than he already does. Sam shyly shows him wrist, where Patrick’s name is written out, kind of loopy lettering in blue ink. Patrick almost wishes his handwriting looks like that; that his wrist had Sam written on it, if just so he doesn’t have to say sorry. He and Sam get to be really good friends though, through the season, and Patrick has sex for the first time when he’s seventeen, in a mediocre hotel room while they’re both trying to be as quiet as possible even though they can’t stop laughing and letting out high-pitched snorts at how ridiculous it all is.
He feels kind of bad for a while after, until Sam laughs at him and says, “What, like I have a crush on you? Whatever, you’re not the only Patrick in the world.” Patrick laughs, and they have sex again—it’s a pretty good system, really, and lasts through to Worlds, when Patrick gets picked to play for the under-eighteen U.S.A. team.
Patrick is a messy mix of excitement and nerves; he works on his puck handling for an extra hour after practice for as long as he can manage, until his coach starts yelling at him to go home and get some rest. He ends up just calling his family and talking to his sisters the night before he’s set to leave—because sleeping on queue isn’t something he has completely down yet, let alone when he’s packed and ready to board a flight to Sweden in the morning.
When they get there, every player is given wrist guards that they’re required to wear off the ice, even though Patrick doubts he’s going to find anybody named Jonathan while randomly walking around a foreign country—Jonathan might be a common enough name in the U.S., but Sweden? He doubts it. But then one of his teammates shrugs and says finding out your soulmate is playing for Canada or something would suck, especially right before you have to play against them, and Patrick realizes why wrist guards are the best idea in the world.
He still wants though, still absently rubs his thumb over the letters on his wrist, still wonders if Jonathan plays hockey, or if he’s into sports at all, if he wants to find Patrick as much as Patrick wants to find him. Patrick wishes he could just be with Jonathan already, have that stupid bubbly feeling he gets in his chest when he thinks about it actually meaning something, instead of him just daydreaming all the time. He wants to know it’s reciprocated too; to know that’s it, that’s the guy I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. He knows it’ll be—it’ll be everything, more than his sisters or his parents or hockey, because he’s grown up watching his parents, and his grandparents, and he’s watched every romance movie you can think of, and he wants that so badly sometimes he can’t help but stare up at the ceiling and ache with it, clenching his fist like maybe Jonathan could feel it, wherever he is, could feel Patrick squeezing his name.
But he’s in Sweden, dressed head-to-toe in red, white and blue, practicing on the ice with his team until somebody kicks them off, because this is huge. Worlds is bigger than maybe finding Jonathan, and he can wait. He’s waited this long already—they picked Patrick to represent the entire country and he’s not going to blow that by doing something stupid.
It’s almost nice, the wrist guard. Nobody can see your name, nobody can worry about it. Everyone is here to focus on hockey.
It’s easier too, when he resolves not to ask or do anything until after the tournament; it’s easy to wait. He doesn’t want to get his hopes up, is the thing, because he’s been disappointed too many times to not know how that feeling messes with his game. He’s in Sweden for Worlds—he can’t have anything messing with his game, it’s just not a fucking option.
But it’s good—it’s good because they win, game after game after fucking game, and Patrick goes home wearing gold and not worrying about the name on his wrist, because at least right then... hockey is more important.
They ask him back for World Juniors—the under twenty tournament, this time, but they ask Sam too, for the Canadian team, and they celebrate by getting drunk on Sam’s parents’ terrible beer, and having terrible sex in Sam’s room, and both promising that they’ll bring back gold, even though only one of them can.
The actual tournament is pretty much the same as last year, in the beginning—same rules, down to the wrist guards, and most of the players are even the same, because most of the guys are Patrick’s age and so jumped up from the under-eighteen teams along with him. This time though, Patrick feels physically aware of the fact that his draft year is just around the corner, and if he does good here, there’s no doubting that he won’t get drafted early, by a good team—maybe he’ll even make it to the NHL, if he plays hard enough, if he impresses the league enough. He’s had scouts watching his games for ages, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything on its own, and beyond that, he wants to bring home gold again, because he thinks he can.
It’s all distracting enough that he barely even registers that there actually is a player named Jonathan playing for Canada this year. It’s not until they’re three minutes into the first period and one of his teammates nudges him to scoot over on the bench, making him look up and over where Toews is skating across the ice, chasing the puck like it’s some kind of lifeline.
He knows Toews—well, knows of him. They’ve never talked, or even bumped into each other, but Toews is a big deal, drafted number three by the Hawks earlier this year, even though he’s apparently skipped joining the team for the sake of going to college or something. Patrick can’t imagine telling an NHL team to wait, but he’s never actually seen Toews skate in-person, and he gets now, maybe, how Toews can afford to.
He shakes it off and jumps on the ice when his line is up, and he plays hard, trying not to take it personally when Toews doesn’t even spare him a look when he doesn’t have the puck. They end up losing, three to six, and he’s exhausted and pissed as all hell when he finally gets back to the hotel. It’s not even the first time they’ve lost in the tournament yet, and they need to
—they need to do better than this.
“Fuck,” he says, sitting on his bed, exhausted and frustrated and going over everything in his head, trying to figure out what else he could have done, specifically—what he’ll need to do in the next game if he wants to help the team climb out of this stupid slump they’re in.
His roommate is listening to angry music that’s loud even though he has earphones in, turned away from Patrick. Patrick thinks he’s thinking the same thing: it’s World Juniors—they don’t have time to be in a slump.
Patrick rubs at his wrist, familiar black ink staring up at him, and after a minute, sighs up at the ceiling. It’s not like he wanted it to be Toews, the guy looks like a dick, and he’s Canadian, but it’s still disappointing when he starts hoping, just a little, and gets let down, like somebody snuffing a candle out with their boots.
Toews didn’t even look at him during the game though, and it’s not like he could’ve missed Patrick’s name, right? So it’s not exactly likely that Toews is harboring Patrick’s name under his wrist guard. He thinks he would’ve at least gotten a look, if he had been. And after that initial, whatever, admiration of the guys’ skating skills, it’s not like Patrick fell in love or whatever, he was just a random guy, a random hockey player. It’s not as if any of the other twenty Jonathan’s he’s met ended up being his Jonathan. It makes sense that Jonathan Toews wouldn’t be either.
Patrick should just give up, concentrate on hockey and forget all about the name on his wrist.
“Right,” Patrick says after a minute, and when his roommate bothers to look up, like he heard it, he says louder, “Fucking Canadians,” and then, “Fucking Germany,” just for good measure. His roommate snorts and goes back to his music, and Patrick shoves a pillow over his face to try and drown out the noise so that he can get to sleep.
They beat Slovakia six to one three days later, their ticket to the quarterfinals, and then they win against Finland too, and it’s two for two when they go up against Canada the second time. It’s kind of stupid, how an hour before the game, Patrick is walking backwards so he can keep yelling at Jack—just chirping, nothing that important—and he manages to bump right into Jonathan Toews.
He spins around, apology already out of his mouth by the time he realizes who it is.
Toews is dressed up in maple leafs, all white and red, but he’s rubbing the back of his neck and shrugging kind of, whatever, like he’s being chastised or something, even though Patrick’s the one who was walking backwards and bumped into him.
“It’s alright,” Toews says, and it seems like he means it. Weirdly embarrassed, Patrick is suddenly glad he’s wearing his wrist guard, the ink on his wrist safely hidden from sight. Toews spells his name right, is the thing, no ‘h’ or extra ‘o’, and it’s Jonathan, not John, or Johnny, or—
“Jon, we should get going,” somebody says, and Patrick looks over, another player coming around, wearing the same Canadian jumpsuit that Toews has on. Patrick can’t help but think that Toews pulls it off better, even though maple leaves aren’t attractive on anyone.
“Yeah, uh,” Toews starts, but he does something funny with his hands before wishing Patrick luck in the game, turning on his heel, and disappearing back down the hall with his teammate.
Maybe, Patrick thinks, after the game today, he’ll just man up and ask Toews if he can see his wrist. Or get Sam to do some investigating for him. It won’t matter, since however the game goes; they won’t be playing against each other again in the tournament, and the next time they’ll play against one another somewhere else won’t be until they’re both in the NHL, probably a good year or two from now, at the least.
So, after the game then.
It’s a wild game; neither team manages to make more than one goal the entire time, not until they end up having to go all the way to a shoot-out. Patrick can’t fucking get the puck in the net, is the problem. He thought, for a second—but Price covers it and the puck doesn’t make it over the line. Toews scores on Frazee three times, and Patrick’s frustration just keeps building up. The shoot-out feels like it’s never going to end, neither team giving up the chance at the gold medal game.
It’s the seventh round when Price blocks Mueller’s third shot, and that’s... that.
Canada screams and makes a scene all over the ice, while Patrick and his teammates try not to do anything too embarrassing, like start crying where the cameras will catch them. It’s a disappointment he can feel everywhere, heavy and stifling, and the chance at bronze doesn’t make it feel any better.
He doesn’t end up trying to find Toews after the game—doesn’t care enough to bother, and when they go through the line, shaking hands, Toews gives him a look, like, sorry, man, and Patrick feels like it’s more than just the game, so maybe he already knows what name is under Patrick’s wrist guard anyway—maybe Sam told him, or maybe he could just tell, what with the way Patrick watched him during the game, and when he’d bumped into him earlier in the hall, outside the locker rooms.
If he could be more defeated than he already is, two missed shoot-out shots, and a semi-final loss at World Juniors, he would be, just from that stupid fucking expression on Jonathan Toews’ stupid fucking face.
They win bronze, but it feels hollow after gold.
It feels weird at the draft. Patrick’s had scouts watching his games for years, more and more in the last few months, and he’s pretty sure he knows which teams are actually wanting to grab him—as much as they call it the draft, a lot of it is decided ahead of time. He actually thinks, and his whole family thinks, that the Blackhawks are going to draft him. But then they won the lottery, and Patrick’s nervous, palms sweaty, because first pick... is a big deal. Would they use first pick on him, seriously? And if they don’t, is he going to have to wait until the second round, or will a different team draft him?
It’s not like he has his heart set on Chicago or anything, but he’s had enough time to get used to the idea that Chicago wanted him, what with all their scouts and phone calls, talking to him like he’s already one of their players or something.
He’s worrying about nothing though, because Chicago says, “We proudly select Patrick Kane,” and he has to hug his parents, and figure out how to walk to the stage without falling over or something, still kind of dazed. He got told, a lot, when he was kid, that he was too small to play the sport, that in real hockey, he’d be more of a liability than an asset. See ten years later, and he’s going first in the draft.
He pulls the jersey over his head, trying to smile and make it seem genuine, because he is happy, he is, and it’s just, this is seriously happening. This is why he left home when he was fourteen, why he gave up living with his family, and seeing Jackie grow up, and Jessica and Erica, all because he wanted—he wanted to play for the NHL, and now that’s what he’s doing.
He’ll have to make it through camp first, but.
He tugs on the Chicago hat, and then grins at the cameras for all he’s worth.
They ask him, once, if playing Toews would be an issue. Patrick doesn’t think it would matter even if he’d said yes, because this is hockey—there are only thirty teams in the NHL, and chances are you’re going to end up playing with someone you’ve played against before. Or the opposite, playing against someone who used to be your linemate. It’s just something he’s going to have to deal with, so he shrugs and says no, and then finds out that Toews actually is playing this year—he’s going to be at camp with all of the other rookies.
It’s not a big deal, but Patrick slips on the wrist guard he doesn’t usually wear unless he’s doing press or whatever, before hiking his bag up over his shoulder, getting ready to work through hockey’s own version of boot camp, and get a fucking spot on the Blackhawks team if it kills him.
Working with Toews is the easiest thing in the world though. Patrick thinks some guys just have skating styles that mesh well, and it feels like that’s what he and Toews have, because they work... really fucking good together. It’s surreal at first, when they’re playing a scrimmage game at the end of the first day, and Toews slams into him, wrapping an arm around Patrick’s neck like they’ve done this before or something.
His lungs feel like they’re on fire, and he’s pretty sure his legs are going to give out if he doesn’t sit down soon, and he’s sweating enough to fill a tub, but it feels good too, a new level that he’s matching, that he’s keeping up with, that he’s fucking on top of. There are a lot of good guys in the camp, not just Toews, but Patrick has to admit he’s kind of surprised he’s getting along as well with Toews as he is.
It makes him all the more embarrassed about the name on his wrist though, because Toews hasn’t said a word about it.
He goes to sleep staring at his wrist, at the letters that haven’t changed, still refuse to give him a hint. He’s eighteen, now, so he’s old enough to sign up for one of those online “find your soulmate!” database searches, but that seems... he doesn’t think he’d have time right now, even if he could find Jonathan. It’d be too hard trying to split his time, and he’s exhausted already, just from one day of prospect camp. It’s going to be just as bad during the regular season, especially if he actually manages to make the Blackhawks. Not that it won’t be busy if he plays for the Ice Hogs his first season, but he honestly thinks he can go straight into the NHL if he keeps this pace up.
He ends up putting his wrist guard back on before he falls to sleep.
Camp ends, and Patrick nods and smiles and does the professional thing when they tell him he and Toews are definitely on the team, when he’d rather be jumping up and down like a five-year-old, excited about, whatever, Disneyland or something. He’s on the fucking team! NHL, here he comes.
Toews hits him on the way out of the meeting, and says, “You want to catch dinner?”
They just grab it at the restaurant in the hotel, but then they start arguing over hockey—both of them carefully avoiding any mention of Worlds, because that shit is not on. They mostly get into a debate about which teams are going to be the hardest to beat in their division this year, and Toews has, like, strategies that he’s trying to get Patrick to buy into even though Patrick’s mostly of the opinion that you can’t plan for that kind of crap, let alone this early. They haven’t even played one game yet.
“You need to calm down, Toews,” Patrick says, finally, spearing his broccoli and brandishing it.
“I do not,” Toews protests, “I’m just making sure we’re ready, Jesus.” He makes a weird face and adds, “And it’s Taves, not—“
Patrick chokes and starts laughing, and Toews just scowls and says, “Fuck off, just call me Jonny.”
Patrick almost doesn’t want to—it’s easier to call him Toews, but, well, it’s not his fault Jonathan is a common as fuck name. Patrick wishes his soulmate had had some rare fucking name, like... Bernard. He doesn’t think he’s ever met anyone named Bernard before. That would’ve made all of this so much easier, it’s not even fucking funny.
“Jonny,” he says, once he’s swallowed, and Jonny just glares at him, like he’s waiting for a joke to follow.
“Shut up,” Jonny says, finally, and Patrick just grins and keeps eating his vegetables.
Actual pre-season practices feel just as hard as boot camp, only they actually get days off every once in a while. The first couple, Patrick just catches up on sleep. He gets put on a line with Jonny and Sharpy, another Patrick, after a while though, and somehow the three of them work really fucking well together.
Sharpy is a fucking genius. That is, he’s good at hockey, no doubt, but his true talents come out in the locker room, when Johnny won’t shut up about a play and every guy around him is resisting the urge to stick their fingers in their ears, and Sharpy just says, “Does anybody have a sock?” and Jonny’s fucking glare—
The entire team is cracking up, and Jonny is just pissed as all hell, but it’s in a good way, and Patrick hip-checks him with a grin. Jonny hesitates in his lecture just long enough for Sharpy to come behind him and actually drop a sock on his head—one of Duncs’, Patrick thinks, because Duncs is watching like he knows what’s coming. Duncs better fucking watch out though, Jonny’s living with him right now.
It all dissolves into a wrestling match that ends with five or six people tagging along to Seabs and Duncs’ place so that the underage’s can get drunk, and that ends up in a Rock Band competition that, let’s face it, nobody wins. Patrick does pretty well, compared to the rest of the guys; he and Jackie have dance-off’s frequently enough that he thinks he has some related experience that helps in the long run. He makes sure to complain into Seabs shoulder that it’s not right for him and Duncs to not own DDR though, because Duncs isn’t listening, and Patrick would’ve beat all these losers at Dance Dance Revolution, make no mistake.
By the end of the night, Patrick declares Sharpy his best friend, and Sharpy declares it’s their right, as the two Patrick’s of the team, to torture Jonny until the end of their days. He’s a little drunk by then, but Patrick whole-heartedly agrees with the sentiment even as Jonny sulks on the sofa with gross Canadian beer. It’s pretty great, all-in-all, even with the hangover he has at practice in the morning.
When the season starts, it’s the best—he feels fucking unbeatable. It’s just hockey, but it’s... it’s like everything is just clicking, like it’s more than that, somehow. It’s hockey, but it’s—it’s fucking NHL hockey, so maybe that’s the difference. It’s a whole different level, the kind people buy tickets too, or record on their televisions. It’s like Worlds every day, only better, because this team is his, he belongs to it.
His parents fly down to watch his first game, with his sisters. They all wear brand new Blackhawks jerseys and cheer like crazy people in the audience; Jackie even has one of those foam fingers that she tries to shove in his face after the game. He doesn’t even mind, just grabs it from her and wraps her in a huge hug. They insist on meeting the team, and Patrick happily introduces them after warning the guys that if they think inappropriate things about his sisters, he’ll hit them with a puck in the face.
Patrick has accuracy with a puck, so it’s not a phony threat.
None of the guys have names written on his sisters’ wrists anyway, so he doesn’t worry too much. Sharpy charms his parents, Seabs towers over them, and Jonny says hello, like he’s pretending to be polite or something. His mom sends him a questioning look, but Patrick just grimaces and shakes his head.
He’s already whined to his sisters about it, but apparently they didn’t transfer the message.
Patrick gets to meet Sharpy’s girl too, after a few games. Her name is Abigail according to Sharpy’s wrist, but it’s just Abby when she introduces herself. They’re obnoxiously cute together, Duncs says, but like he can even talk; him and Seabs are tied at the fucking hip. Patrick tries to get Abby to dump Sharpy for him by saying, “Hey, you know my name is Patrick too, right?” but Jonny interrupts and says, “Like she’d dump Sharpy’s face for yours, Pat.”
Abby, predictably, cracks up, while Sharpy preens.
Eventually, halfway through a morning practice, Jonny scowls at him and Sharpy as they talk, and when Sharpy turns and asks what’s wrong, Jonny just says, “You both need nicknames.”
It’s unfair, because Sharpy is already Sharpy, and most of the guys have gotten around to just adding an ‘r’ to the end of Kane, making it Kaner, and that totally counts as a nickname. Jonny brought it up though, and Patrick has to throw a gatorade at his head when the entire team won’t stop trying to come up with increasingly terrible and embarrassing nicknames for them. Mostly for Patrick though, because they’re fucking mean.
Sharpy latches onto Peekaboo and refuses to let go.
Patrick refuses to follow Jonny home even though they’d had a sort of silent agreement to play video games after practice since there’s not a game that night. Whatever, he’s mad, and his friends all suck.
It’s halfway through the season when they win their fourth game in a row, Patrick with a goal and an assist, and Jonny with his own, and they stupidly, drunk on happiness and too much cheap beer, go back to their hotel room and start making out against the back of the door.
Jonny makes these dumb noises in his throat though, and every few seconds he pulls back to take in shuddering breaths before pushing Patrick harder, kissing him wetter and sloppier, like he can’t seem to kiss and breathe at the same time. Patrick can’t even think of why it’s a bad idea, just kisses back, desperate and all coiled up, until Jonny gets a hand down the front of his jeans and licks up Patrick’s neck at the same time, warm breath making the hairs on the back of Patrick’s neck stand up, and heat pool in the bottom of his belly.
Patrick gasps Jonny’s name out—not Jon, or Jonny, but Jonathan, every syllable spilling from his mouth, and it startles him enough when he hears it, when he realizes he said it, that he’s pulled back to reality, to the fact that this is Jonny—stupid fucking Jonny, boring all the time, competitive to the point of idiocy, the messiest fucker Patrick’s ever had to room with, and probably his best friend, more than Sharpy, or Sam, or Jackie, and definitely, definitely, not the Jonathan whose name is written out on his wrist, perfect black lettering, small and straight.
Not even if Patrick has spent the last few months wishing that he was.
He thinks, wildly, that he should pull back, that he should say no, because yeah, he did this with Sam, but he can’t do it with Jonny; it’ll fucking break him when he wakes up and takes in that none of it is real, that it won’t last, that it can’t mean anything. But he just pushes back for all he’s worth with a strangled moan, rocking his hips up and into Jonny’s hand, his dick already leaking.
He wants to memorize every stupid noise that Jonny is making, every short breath and haggard grunt that slips out against the damp skin of Patrick’s throat.
They move to one of the beds, and Patrick can’t get his clothes off fast enough on the way there. He knows he’s short for a hockey player, and skinny too, because if he can’t be big he needs to be fast, needs to be able to shift in and out between guys bigger than him if he wants to get a shot on goal, but as he slips his thumbs into his boxers to pull them down, shove them off, Jonny sucks in a breath so loudly that even Patrick can hear him. He flushes red, feels the heat rising into his face and turns his head quickly, too embarrassed to look Jonny right in the eye as Jonny looks at him like this.
But Jonny looks ridiculously pleased when Patrick shakes his head and scrambles up onto the bed after him, climbing on top of him. He doesn’t know where he wants to put his hands first. Jonny is filled out, lean but not skinny, not like Patrick is. Instead he’s all corded muscle and smooth skin, what looks and feels like miles of it. He still has that stupid look in his eyes though, and his mouth is quirked into a satisfied smirk. Jonny and all his stupid facial expressions, Patrick thinks, are probably going to be the leading cause in his death one day, but he’s okay with that because he’s finding out that Jonny’s sex face is just as constipated as his hockey face, and he’s pretty much in love with both of them.
Jonny reaches up and slides a hand around Patrick’s neck and yanks him down, muffling Patrick’s surprised objection by kissing him again, slipping his tongue into Patrick’s mouth and rocking his hips up at the same time. Patrick lets Jonny move them around, just as bossy in bed as he is on the ice; he lets himself be pressed into the sheets and lets Jonny manhandle him everywhere, raking his hands over Patrick’s chest and his stomach and his back when he can’t help but arch up into Jonny’s body, like he’s supposed to, like they—like they fit that way.
Jonny’s hand only presses against Patrick’s wrist once, and he pulls back quickly at the feeling of velcro instead of skin, pressing harder into the kiss to compensate for making it awkward for a minute, Patrick thinks. He flexes his wrist, idly, but then kisses back just as hard, willing to forget, at least for right now.
Patrick comes with his mouth biting onto Jonny’s shoulder, Jonny working his cock frantically in his fist. Patrick thinks his fingers are pressing so hard into Jonny’s skin that he’ll have bruises. It takes a minute to calm down enough to try and help Jonny get off, but Jonny is jacking off quickly, biting his bottom lip and staring at Patrick’s face like that’s a normal thing to do when you’re drunkenly having sex with your best friend.
Patrick doesn’t look away though, and Jonny comes on Patrick’s stomach before falling forward, folding in on top of Patrick, sweaty skin sticking to sweaty skin. Patrick’s heart is up in his throat, so loud he’s sure Jonny can hear it, can feel it, but he doesn’t say anything, and neither of them seems willing to get up any time soon, beyond Jonny eventually sliding off onto the other side of the bed.
Patrick uses the corner of the comforter to wipe the come off his stomach, grimacing, before he throws the comforter off the bed altogether, Jonny helping with what seems like his last bit of energy. It’s warm enough that they can make do with just the sheets. He’s still covered in sweat though, and he’ll smell god awful in the morning, but Jonny’s calf is pressed up against his, and moving away really, really, isn’t an option.
Patrick wakes up with the thought that he doesn’t have to, because their flight back to Chicago isn’t until something like noon. But then he registers the warm hand settled on his stomach, and recalls that, yes, he and Jonny had made a couple spectacularly bad decisions last night, and now they’re going to have wake up and be awkward and, like, deal with things. Awesome.
He doesn’t want to, really, but he rolls over anyway, and looks at Jonny’s face, slack with sleep. He gets hit with a wave of want so bad that he just—he just wishes he could slide back under the sheets with Jonny and curl in next to him, wake him up by mumbling good morning in his ear, or kissing him all soft and morning breathy, or both. Maybe Jonny would even let Patrick take the lead, when he’s still all sleepy in the morning, let Patrick take his time to roam and memorize everything about him, or maybe he’d be even more of an asshole than usual, complain about not having his coffee yet even as Patrick takes his dick in hand and jacks him off.
Patrick presses the heel of his hand to his forehead, the velcro of his wrist guard scraping against his skin.
He kicks Jonny. Jonny flops a hand out, hitting Patrick in the stomach, and mumbles something, so Patrick kicks him again and says, “Wake up, jackass, you smell and you’re in my bed.”
Jonny blinks awake, confusion and petulance a mixture of emotion all over his face. Patrick looks to the ceiling and closes his eyes, hoping it just looks like he’s still tired too. He can feel the bed shift as Jonny starts to sit up after another minute, a long enough pause that Jonny must be realizing where he is, and why.
“Morning,” Jonny says, finally, and Patrick opens his eyes, looking back at him.
The sheets are rumpled around Jonny’s waist where he’s sitting up, looking inappropriately perfect and terrible. His brows are furrowed, though, like he’s still not sure what he’s doing here, with Patrick.
“Morning,” Patrick says back, casually. He manages it pretty well, because there’s nothing else to say, really. Sometimes, you have sex with your friends. It doesn’t mean anything, because it can’t—because everyone knows exactly who they’re going to end up with, by the time they hit double digits. There’s no reason for his throat to be caught, for him to feel sick with nervous anticipation at what’s going to happen now.
“Yeah,” Jonny says again, and then stretches, rubbing at the back of his neck sheepishly, like he’s acknowledging how awkward this is, if just because neither of them were really expecting it to happen. But then Jonny drops his hand, sucks in a breath, and says, "I know we're not soulmates.”
Patrick tries not to let the hurt show on his face at the words, because they’re fucking true, he knows that, Jonny knows it, but he didn’t—he didn’t want to hear Jonny say it. He obviously needs to work on his facial expressions, because Jonny starts and reaches out to grab Patrick’s elbow, stumbling over his next words. “Shit, that's—sorry," he ends up saying, and then covers his face with his hand, like he’s the one that’s embarrassed here, out of his depth.
Maybe he is, but Patrick doubts it. Patrick had Sam, yeah, but Jonny had fucking T.J. Broshie. Oshie. Whatever.
"I just meant it'd be cool if you wanted—" Jonny keeps on, after a minute, looking at Patrick kind of hopefully. He just moves his hand between him and Patrick, gesturing at their naked bodies and the bed they fell asleep in together last night to finish the sentence though, because if nothing else, Jonny still sucks at rational human behavior and communication.
Patrick painfully translates the hand gesturing as if you wanted to fuck until we find said soulmates for real. It maybe wouldn't be so pathetic if Patrick wasn't already pretty sure the real Jonathan could never stand up to the one in front of him. He’s pretty sure you’re not supposed to think things like that, and he wonders if this is how Sam felt when they’d been fooling around, but he doesn’t see how. This stupid ache in his chest is too much, too big, and he doesn’t think he could have missed it on Sam’s face.
Jonny doesn’t seem to see it on Patrick’s though, so maybe not. After a minute, he answers, voice cracking just a little, "Yeah, uh, sounds... good.” He thinks the odd way his voice sounds can just be attributed to how early it is, to how he just woke up. Maybe Jonny won’t even notice.
And Jonny just smiles anyway, clearly relieved that the conversation is over and went in a mutually beneficial direction. Or so it must seem to Jonny, Patrick thinks, depressed already. He can reflect on how terrible a decision this is all he wants, for as long as he wants, he’s never going to say no. Jonny gets out of bed and heads to the shower a minute later, stretching slowly in a way that means Patrick can’t look away. Jonny’s muscles flex and stretch under his skin, tantalizing without meaning to be.
Patrick wants to lick his way up Jonny’s spine, press his fingers into Jonny’s skin, barely pliant; he wants to kiss all of Jonny’s bruises away, the ones a week old, souvenirs from the game against L.A., and the ones from last night, not hockey related in slightest. Instead, Patrick just averts his eyes until he hears the tell-tale click of the bathroom door closing shut.
Patrick brings his wrist up and takes the guard off slowly, looking at the name underneath. The letters are still there, the same as they always have been, but this time, his stomach churns just looking at them. It feels like a betrayal, what he’s doing—but to him or his soulmate? Or Jonny, even, by letting this happen when he doesn’t even know that Patrick is head-over-heels for him. It doesn’t matter; the guilt sits in his throat until he hears the shower turn off.
He slips the guard back on, hiding the letters from view.
Jonny clambers down Bowman’s stairs, pushing into Patrick’s area of the basement like he doesn’t think he needs to be polite or whatever. Just because he lives with Duncs and Seabs, it’s like there’s nothing sacred anymore.
“Woah, hey, are you crying?” Jonny starts, surprise easy in his voice, and he jumps down the last three steps.
“Fuck you, I am not,” only he is, he really is, because the movie he’s watching sort of came out of nowhere with the tear jerking, and he’s not insecure enough in his masculinity to not cry when Will Smith is having to sleep in a train station bathroom with his kid, and the janitor is banging on the door to try and make them leave, but they have nowhere to go, and fuck Jonny if he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t cry when shit like that happens, seriously.
Patrick wipes at his eyes and grabs for the remote, pausing it quickly before Jonny can make him miss something.
“What do you even want?” Patrick says, swallowing the lump in his throat.
“Uh, run?” Jonny says, but then shakes his head. “We’re going for a run, get dressed.”
“I didn’t say I wanted to go on one of your excursions across the city, man,” Patrick says blankly, because he would’ve remembered if he’d been roped into doing that. Jonny tries to drag anyone and everyone out with him, but the smart folks have figured out that if they go, they will also die. Jonny doesn’t stop.
Jonny shrugs. “I texted you; now I’m here. Get dressed and let’s go.”
Patrick weighs the pros and cons of ignoring him—probably, Jonny will not just let him, which means he won’t be able to finish his movie in peace, there might be wrestling—the painful kind, not the sexy kind, because Stan Bowman lives upstairs and it’s just not happening. On the other hand, if he goes running, he’s going to waste his only day of freedom in two weeks.
“I hate you,” he says after deliberating, and Jonny snorts, like he already knew this would be his conclusion.
Jonny does let Patrick run straight into a McDonald’s to buy something nutrition plan destructive with only minor complaints though, so there’s that. Also the part where they end up fucking at Jonny’s place while Duncs and Seabs are out, that’s pretty nice too. Jonny totally planned for it, actually, and Patrick figures it out right around the time he has his mouth on Jonny’s dick, and Jonny says, “Shit, Pat, yeah,” while tugging kind of too hard on Patrick’s hair, but hey, initiative deserves a reward or whatever, and sex is a thoroughly better way to burn off calories than running is.
But after they both come all over Jonny’s bed—and Jonny complains about having to do laundry again or something—Patrick pulls his sweats back on and plops down on the couch in the living room, and orders his movie off the television so that he can actually finish it some time today. Jonny tries to protest—“Duncs will kill you if you mess with his TiVo, Pat.”—but Patrick just makes him sit the fuck down and keep quiet while he watches Will Smith be awesome.
Jonny rolls his eyes but settles in, only asks a few questions to catch up to speed, and Patrick’s only distracted by Jonny’s plain black wrist guard once, when he reaches forward to grab his glass of water off the coffee table. Patrick thinks they’re good enough friends now that he could ask, that maybe he should, but the idea twists his stomach in knots.
He doesn’t ask, because he doesn’t want to know.
They lose a couple games in a row, enough that Patrick goes home with Sharpy so he can try and drown his sorrows in liquor instead of enduring Stan Bowman’s judgment from two floors above him. Sharpy, at least, seems to understand, and gives him lots of cheap beer. Abby gives him fruity stuff with more soda than actual alcohol after a while, but Patrick can’t even be picky at this point.
“We’ll win the next one,” Sharpy says eventually, but he has Abby lying next to him, her head settled on his shoulder while she reads a book, scribbling in little notes, a highlighter in her mouth. Patrick, for a minute, meanly thinks that it can’t be so bad for Sharpy—it’s not his first year on the team, and hockey isn’t everything for him, he has his soulmate, he has her, right there.
All Patrick has is hockey, and he’s messing it all up.
Oh, and he has a misguided crush on one of his best friends, let’s not forget about that.
God, Patrick wishes he could’ve driven to Jonny’s after the game tonight instead of Sharpy’s. As much as he likes Sharpy, he wants—he wants to curl in close to Jonny and listen to him mutter about what they should be doing better in the game, wants to feel Jonny’s fingers comb through his hair, gentle and comforting, while he complains about Patrick’s passes or whatever. That would be better than alcohol could ever be, strawberry-kiwi flavored or not.
But Patrick isn’t stupid either, knows that tonight, Jonny isn’t in the mood to comfort Patrick, doesn’t want to waste time on some teammate that can’t even make a pass connect on the ice. Patrick barely had one shot on goal tonight, and it didn’t make it in; God, he’s not even fucking worth the effort, is he? He needs—he needs to break out of this zone that he’s in, needs a puck to find its way to the back of the net more than he’s ever needed it to before.
Jonny is angry and pissed and just as frustrated as Patrick is. He’s more likely to throw something at him than let Patrick fall asleep next to him, whether they fuck first or not. He’s definitely not going to let Patrick follow him home and kiss him open until they forget about their stupid slump, as much as Patrick wants to.
If Patrick had tried to reach out to Jonny after the game tonight, they would have ended up screaming at each other from opposite sides of the hallway. It’s pathetic that Patrick knows that, and he still wishes that Jonny was his, that that was his right, that it was his job to—to make Jonny feel better. He wants to do it anyway.
He laughs at how stupid it sounds in his own head. He must have been thinking for pretty long though, because Sharpy says, “Hey,” and when Patrick looks up, Abby is gone.
“Yeah,” Patrick answers, tired. “Can I crash here?”
“Of course,” Sharpy says, but he’s looking at Patrick funny, like he’s not sure how to deal with him. That makes two of them, Patrick thinks.
It’s not like he’s never heard of guys who are dumb enough to fall in love with people who aren’t their soulmates, but he’d never thought it would happen to him, let alone in the middle of what’s supposed to be the best point of his life. He’s playing hockey in the NHL, you’d think he’d be concentrating on that, not—ugh, it sucks, all of it.
Sharpy gets up and goes to a hall closet, pulling out an extra blanket. He drops it on the end of the sofa, but instead of leaving, he sits back down, kind of heavy, and looks at Patrick meaningfully, and says, “Kaner, whatever you and Jonny are doing—be fucking careful, alright?”
Patrick looks up, but can’t even bring himself to be mildly surprised that Sharpy’s figured it out.
“We’re friends,” Patrick says, finally, because he doesn’t want to add fuel to the fire. “It can’t be more than that, you know?” He sighs and leans back, lets Sharpy take the bottle out of his hand. “You get what you can, I guess,” he adds, somber.
Sharpy doesn’t get it though, because he makes a face and says, “That’s bullshit, Kaner. Tazer doesn’t deserve that. Neither do you.”
Patrick hums assent, but Sharpy doesn’t try to beat his high-ground morals into him anymore, maybe because Patrick’s too drunk for them to stick anyway. Sharpy just shakes his head and flicks the light off as soon as Patrick lets himself fall into the sofa cushions and start trying to get comfortable. There’s a water bottle on the table that Abby had intelligently brought out earlier, and Patrick grabs for it weakly after a minute, trying to head off the hangover he’s going to have in the morning.
He gets to sleep eventually, replaying shifts and shots in his head until they all start bleeding together.
Three days later, Jonny hits him in the arm on the way out into the second period, score still at zero for both Chicago and Vancouver, and Patrick grins. “Let’s go,” Jonny says, “gotta’ make it worth it for them,” and tilts his head up to the fans in the audience. They’re yelling for the game to start up again, excited, red jerseys all over the place, and Patrick wants to hear the Scorpions over the loud speaker so bad he can already hear the chorus in his head.
He doesn’t end up getting a goal, but he gets an assist off of Burs’, and they win the game.
Patrick’s not technically legal to drink yet, and neither is Jonny, but with eight other guys they manage to muscle their way into a downtrodden sports bar anyway. Besides, it’s only illegal if they actually drink, right? Not that Patrick’s planning on abstaining like Jonny over there, but apparently he’s had bad experiences with the law or something, so none of the guys can even chirp him that bad for it. They fucking won; they’re out of the stupidest slump ever, it’s a good enough reason to go out and have some real fucking fun for once, instead of hiding out at Duncs and Seabs’ or Sharpy’s place.
The guys’ are all dicks though and when they order for him, they just get him a coke and then laugh at his face. He tries to smooth talk the bartender instead when it doesn’t work on the guys, but he just laughs and says, “Try again when you don’t look like a freshman in high school, man,” and Patrick sulks his way through half a coke and replay of the Cubs game on the television in the corner.
After a little while though, Burs’ lets him sneak a shot anyway, carefully working it so that Sharpy is blocking anybody’s view if they might happen to walk by at the wrong moment. This is why Burs’ is better than everybody else on the team. Not that he isn’t a pretty terrible fucker when him and Sharpy team up on the road, but Patrick can usually get out of it relatively unscathed so long as he sells off his room key. Whatever, Jonny deserves what he gets for being such an asshole all the time.
“I don’t know who came up with the idea that Canadians are polite,” Patrick announces to the table at large, and gets a look from the five guys who are, like, actually Canadian. He shrugs.
Jonny says, “Who are you to talk?” at the same time that Seabs says, “Somebody who’s never played hockey?”
Patrick protests, “Hey!” and Burs’ starts laughing and says, “Yeah, yeah, whoever they are, they clearly never met one of you in your natural habitat, or they’d’ve figured out what assholes you all really are.”
“Our natural habitat, eh?” Sharpy says, grinning. The bickering starts and Patrick has to maneuver around his chair to squeeze out behind Sharpy and the wall, needing to go piss. When he comes back out though, the table’s a bit quieter, and Sharpy does this funny nod thing towards this pretty redhead sitting at the bar, looking right at Patrick.
Patrick pauses, because, what?
Seabs says, “Go,” all hushed like, even though he says it loud enough that everybody can hear it anyway. Jonny isn’t looking at him, but he’s talking to Buff so that doesn’t really mean anything. If they’re messing with him, he’s going to... do something. He doesn’t need to be drunk to pull out his powers of embarrassment, and he’ll drag the guys down with him.
He walks over to the bar anyway, and the girl says, “Hi.”
“Hey,” Patrick says back, still wary but cheeky enough that he can flirt back. He thinks he’s supposed to offer to buy her a drink or something, but he’s not old enough and the bartender is already looking at him like he’s getting ready to shut him down, so Patrick just goes the honest route and says, “Do you know why they sent me over here?”
She glances back at the guys and they all hastily turn around in their seats and try to act like they weren’t staring.
Whatever, it’s not like Patrick needs help picking up girls or something, he can pick up fine. Not that he ever has, unless Sam or Jonny count, but whatever, he doesn’t actually want to.
“I do, actually,” and she tilts her head and gestures down to where she lifts up her skinny wrist, bracelet dangling off of it. Underneath the bracelet though, his name is settled, messy cursive in pale blue pen. It looks like pen, anyway, although the color is kind of weird for pen—colored pencil, maybe? It isn’t Patrick’s handwriting though, and he says, “Oh, uh,” as she adds, “My name is Sarah, with an ‘h’.”
Patrick cringes, and she seems to get it even before he says, “Sorry, it’s not—“
“It’s alright,” she says, quickly to stop him from saying what she’s probably heard dozens of times before, just like he has, just like anybody has. She keeps smiling, if a little less brightly, and asks, “No ‘h’?”
None of it, Patrick thinks, but instead he just sighs and says, “Yeah, no ‘h’,” because that’s true too, and he’s met so many John’s and Johnny’s that he wants to stab something, whenever it happens.
“Well, let me buy you a drink anyway, for being nice about it,” she says, gesturing to the bartender. He gives Patrick a look, but already with the program, he blurts, “Just a coke, thanks.” The bartender must take pity on him, because he doesn’t even say anything about going back to high school this time. Patrick thinks with Sarah as an audience, he’d have to say something back, and that’d just be embarrassing for everyone, let’s face it.
A few minutes later, he heads back over to the table and slumps down into a chair, cradling his coke. The guys look at him expectantly, and he realizes for the first time since joining the team that none of them actually know what the name on his wrist is. He never used to keep a wrist guard on, but this year, he hasn’t taken it off for longer than it takes to get in and out of the shower.
“That wasn’t, uh, her?” Jonny finally says, but he’s not exactly looking at Patrick—he is, but he’s staring at Patrick’s hairline, which is weird.
“Nah,” Patrick says, casually, wondering if he can get out of this without revealing his big ass crush on Jonny. “You okay?”
Jonny mumbles something quickly, probably an affirmative, but Sharpy says, “So it’s just Sara, no ‘h’? That’s what she said, right?”
“Uh,” Patrick hesitates, and then, “No? I mean, no, where the fuck did you Sara from?”
Sharpy looks at Jonny sharply, and Jonny’s already sitting up straighter, and actually fucking looking at Patrick’s face. Patrick startles, because Jonny looks mildly surprised, maybe even confused. It’s the face he makes when the ref makes a bad call for the other team, like: I don’t know if that makes sense, but should I be upset about it or not?
Patrick pauses, and then it hits him. “Fuckers, you all thought my soulmate was named Sara? You could’ve asked.”
“What’s your soulmate’s name?”
It’s Jonny, and it’s fast, the words tripping out of his mouth like he didn’t actually mean to say them. But he’s still staring at Patrick, like he wants the answer. Patrick feels hot under his collar, and he turns to look at the rest of the table instead. “I don’t think you deserve to know. Seriously, where’d you get Sara from?”
“Kaner,” Burs says, and Sharpy is almost glaring at him, Jesus, but Jonny makes this noise, a frustrated growl, almost, and he says, “At Worlds, Ryan asked you, after—after our game.” Jonny has the decency to grimace for bringing it up.
Patrick feels bizarrely out of place though, doesn’t even mind that much at the reminder of the game they lost after nine rounds of a shoot out. “Ryan? Which Ryan? Nobody fucking asked me anything at Worlds. Why do you even care?”
Jonny angrily says, “Because my soulmate’s name is Patrick, dumbass!” and he rips the velcro of his wrist guard off at the same time, pushing his wrist up and into Patrick’s view. Nobody is actually saying anything anymore, and Patrick can’t stop staring at Jonny’s wrist—right over the veins, Patrick’s name is scrawled out in green pen, kind of clumsy and leaning to the left, exactly the way—exactly the way Patrick’s handwriting looks, when he’s not just scribbling out his name on a photo of his face for a fan.
That’s his name on Jonny’s wrist.
That’s his name.
“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” he says weakly, and then looks up, at the table, at Jonny. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he asks again because Jonny isn’t answering, he’s just staring at him, like he’s still waiting for an answer. Patrick fumbles up and smashes his mouth into Jonny’s, a little bit desperate and a lot stupid. Jonny kisses him back like he’s just as needy, like he wants to be kissing Patrick just as much. Vaguely, Patrick can hear Sharpy say, “Shit!” on the other side of the table, but he doesn’t care; Jonny’s his soulmate.
He pulls back, sucking in a breath, says, “You’re not kidding me, right?”
Jonny curls his hand into Patrick’s hair and tugs, says, “Show me your goddamn wrist, Patrick,” but he’s already pulling at Patrick’s wrist guard, his hand uselessly limp in Jonny’s grip. He tugs it off and glances down, and Patrick’s heart is in his throat again, even though it has to be—it fucking has to be.
Jonny’s forehead pressed down against Patrick’s shoulder, and he’s saying, “Shit,” under his breath, but when he pulls back and looks up, he has this terrible smile on his face. He still hasn’t let go of Patrick’s wrist, the Jonathan staring up at both of them.
“You seriously didn’t know my wrist said Patrick?” Jonathan asks, quiet, even as the guys start talking over them, Sharpy already chirping them for being idiots—Patrick can’t even get mad, because fuck, they are. “It’s not like I kept it a secret. I asked Sharpy the first day of camp.”
“You should’ve asked me, fucker,” Patrick says, but he’s still finding it hard to swallow. “What, not a good enough Patrick for you?”
“I wanted to ask at Worlds, I just—“ and Jonny sounds frustrated again when he says it, but he shakes his head and changes tactic, says “What’s your excuse then?” instead.
And alright, maybe he should answer that, or turn and actually talk to the guys—or better yet, get in a cab and drag Jonny somewhere more private, because this is probably going to hit the internet in five minutes, tops, they’re making out in a fucking sports bar, but all he ends up saying is, “I love you,” and it makes Jonny freeze, and somebody else whistle.
“Fuck off,” Patrick says at large to the table, finally looking away from Jonny.
“You idiots could have helped at any time,” Jonny adds, although there’s obvious skepticism in his voice. He’s standing up too, tugging Patrick up to stand next to him. Patrick doesn’t hesitate, tripping to stay with him as he starts moving.
Sharpy yells, “I tried! I talked to him about stringing you along! He didn’t listen!”
“There was no stringing along!” Patrick yells back as Sharpy gets smaller, and Duncs yells, “You better not do anything on my sofa, Toews!” before they can duck out the entrance doors, escaping the incredulous looks of everyone in the bar, the heckling of their teammates.
It’s barely even ten, but it’s cold because it’s Chicago in the middle of winter. They have to wait for a cab too, but Jonny can’t seem to stop touching Patrick anyway, running his hands down Patrick’s arms, his fingers rubbing against his wrist, the guard long forgotten back on the table inside the bar.
“When I said,” Patrick swallows, looking up at Jonny’s face—and God, his face is the same as ever, stupidly perfect—“when I said I love you, I meant, before we—I wasn’t even looking, anymore, I just wanted... God, I didn’t think you’d stand up to you. Fuck,” he trails off, realizing he sounds like a weirdo. “I mean, I love you, not just your name or whatever,” he mumbles.
But Jonny is grinning all smug-like, and says, “God, you’re stupid. Me too, Pat, probably for longer than you.”
The picture that actually ends up on Deadspin in the morning is the one with Jonny pressing Patrick up against the brick wall outside the bar, hands cupping Patrick’s face, and kissing him so hard that neither of them even notice the girl with the camera phone, or the taxi that’s waiting for them.
It doesn’t matter—Patrick is playing for the NHL, and his soulmate—Jonny—is right next to him on every shift.