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It was going on the third day after they flew back in from San Jose. The party had moved to Sid’s house, or what was left of the party, anyway – some of the family guys had retreated to celebrate in a more child-appropriate fashion and maybe also to fuck their spouses. At least, that’s one hundred percent what Conor would be doing if he had a spouse.

Instead he drifted through Sid’s house, a beer in hand that he wasn’t really drinking, just holding as a kind of talisman against sobriety. He watched Tommy and Schultzy for a while at their table hockey game, because of course Sid had one of those. He passed by Willy in the adjoining rec room, snoring in a recliner. From there a delicious, charred aroma, full of promise, tempted Conor towards the back of the house, but before he got there something turned him aside, into the entertainment room.

Dumo was there. Conor remembered, now, helping Muzz dump Dumo’s drunk ass on a couch the night before. They’d left water and aspirin on the end table, and Conor’d promptly forgotten about him. He was awake now. He was bent over, his elbows braced on his knees and his fingers laced around the back of his head. He looked… not like he was going to hurl, probably, but not comfortable. “Dude?”

Dumo looked up. He was flushed, and a sheen of moisture glistened on his forehead. “Shearsy,” he sighed.

The next moment, Conor’s nose caught up. “Oh, dude,” he said blankly.

“I know. I haven’t in, like—it’s been a long time. Playoff stress, I guess. You think Sid would be okay if I—?”

“Climbed him like a tree?” Conor suggested, disbelieving. He doubted a single one of them hadn’t thought of it, but they also had noses and Geno’s ever-watchful eye to remind them that Sid was taken.

“What? No, moron. If I, you know, waited it out here. I don’t want to go home.” The breathiness on the edge of Dumo’s voice made this declaration extra pitiful. “It’s just—there’s nobody there. And it’s cold.”

“Aw, buddy.” Conor did not point out that Dumo had a perfectly functional thermostat at his place and also blankets. He said, “I’ll ask Sid, okay?”

Sid was on the back deck, grill fork in hand. He caught a whiff of Conor and frowned, and Conor tugged him aside, away from Schultzy and Murray, deep in conversation about trout. “Dumo’s in heat,” Conor said quietly. “Is it okay if he just hangs here? Like, is there a room he can have?”

Sid’s expression cleared. “Yeah, for sure. Upstairs, the guest room at the end of the hall on the right? The blue one? There’s supplies and stuff. Whatever he needs.”

Returning to Dumo was like walking into a solid wall of arousal – Dumo’s, but almost immediately Conor’s, too. Conor had to stand in the doorway a moment, breathe shallowly, and remind his dick that this was not about it. His dick was irrelevant to the proceedings, here.

Dumo rose a little unsteadily. Conor slid under Dumo’s shoulder and helped him towards the stairs. Manhandling Dumo in heat was, frankly, a lot less trouble than manhandling Dumo drunk. He was in less danger of toppling them both over, for one thing. “I’m sorry,” Dumo mumbled. “For…” He shrugged, vague, but Conor could guess.

“It’s cool, man. Happens all the time.” Not to Conor, really; he was few people’s choice of alpha in time of need. But it happened to people, anyway.

Up the stairs and at the end of the hall, Conor got Dumo into the room Sid had described, and he closed the door behind them. Dumo collapsed onto the bed with a groan. Conor ignored the clear, hard line of Dumo’s dick in his shorts and instead went looking for Sid’s nebulous ‘supplies.’ He opened doors, peeked in the cabinets under bedside tables, and came back with lube, alpha musk, and two dildos still sealed in their packaging, unused. Sid’s sister was an omega, Conor recalled. Maybe that explained it.

He set it all next to Dumo on the bed – Dumo, who was pressing the heel of his hand against his crotch. Probably he was barely holding out until Conor excused himself to do something very similar in a guest shower somewhere. “I think you’re all set,” Conor said.

He reached out to pat Dumo’s shoulder, thought better of it, and tried to withdraw, but Dumo caught his wrist. “You could stay,” Dumo said. “If you wanted.”

Conor squinted. “How drunk are you, still?”

“I’m not drunk. I already had the water and aspirin you left out for me. Didn’t you see?”

Conor had not seen.

“I’m just in heat.” Dumo grimaced as he said it. He was still flushed, but his eyes were clear. “Never mind. It’s okay, man. I’m covered.” He withdrew his hand and stared at the floor, apparently waiting for Conor to leave.

Dumo flushed easily when he was warm or embarrassed or drunk or, apparently, in heat. The night before, Schultzy had tried to chug from two bottles at once and spilled most of it down his shirt, and Dumo laughed so hard he’d turned nearly purple, so hard he landed on his ass on Sid’s deck. He’d caught sight of Conor laughing at him and grinned back, and Conor had felt something stir in the pit of his stomach, a kind of tug that he was too well brought up to pay any attention to.

Now here was Dumo again, just as blotchily red but not remotely as happy, and looking more sheepish by the moment.

“Do you want me to?” Conor blurted.

Dumo curled his fingers into the bedspread. The knuckles were white. “If you want.”

Conor crouched to meet Dumo’s eye. “Do you want me to?” he asked again, because it seemed like he knew the answer, but if he was going to do this, then he wanted to be wanted.

Dumo studied Conor for a moment. The corner of his mouth lifted. “Yeah?” he said, kind of breathlessly, although that was probably down to him being moments away from getting off.

Conor sighed, breathed in again, deep, pulling Dumo into his nose and his lungs and all the way down into his belly. Into his dick, filling out and straining against his shorts. On the next exhale, Conor rocked forward onto his knees and caught Dumo’s bearded jaw with his hand. He pressed a kiss to that teasing, happy corner of Dumo’s mouth.

Dumo turned his head, catching Conor’s mouth square on, and yeah, this was okay. This was going to be good. “Shit, come on,” Dumo said, leaning forward, grasping at Conor, trying to pull him in. “You gonna just fucking tease me or what?”

“Gimme a minute,” Conor said, disentangling himself and stepping back. He tried to sound amused and mostly missed, breathless, like Dumo had already sucked down all Conor’s air. Or maybe that was Dumo’s lure, rich and wet and dousing everything. Conor stepped out his shorts and flapped his hand at Dumo. “What, am I gonna fuck you like that?”

The words snapped in the air between them. Dumo sucked in a breath, wide-eyed, and then he kicked off his shoes, tugged his t-shirt over his head, shimmied out of his shorts without ever getting off the bed. Only his briefs were left behind, and maybe that would’ve gotten pulled down along with the shorts except for Dumo’s boner, holding up progress.

He was so tall. Conor mostly forgot that, somehow. Dumo was the first of the Wilkes-Barre guys to make it to the show, but he was still one of them, an equal - until now, as Conor surveyed the terrain and felt pretty damned unequal.

Dumo met Conor’s eyes. His cheeks were apple-red. “Please?” Dumo said, as though even now Conor might leave him hanging.

And fuck that shit. Conor Sheary, undersized and undrafted, just won the fucking Stanley Cup. He could do anything. Anyone. He stalked forward, feeling tall, then taller still as he stepped between Dumo’s legs and pressed Dumo’s face to his chest.

Dumo was gasping every breath. “Come on and fuck me, Shearsy. Shit.”

“Just, uh. On the bed.” Conor pushed Dumo gently away, and Dumo shoved backward until only his sock feet were hanging off the end. Sheary followed him up and knelt next to Dumo’s knees, tugging Dumo’s briefs down his thighs. Dumo’s dick rose up to meet him, flushed and firm and shiny-wet at the tip, but it wasn’t the attraction today.

Conor reached behind Dumo’s balls to his hole. One touch, and Conor’s fingers were covered in slick. Conor slid them against each other just to feel the glide. “Shit, Dumo.”

“That’s what I’m saying,” Dumo said – whined, almost, high and breathy. His hand closed around his dick, loose, like he could no longer bear not to be touching himself.

This close, Dumo’s lure was nearly overpowering. It coated Conor’s throat and the inside of his nose with every inhale. Conor lifted a finger to his mouth and licked it, exploratory. Conor wanted to explore everything. He wanted to see what it’d take to get his entire fist into Dumo.

Focus, Conor. Dumo wanted his dick, not the fucking scientific method. “Oh shit. Condoms.”

Dumo groaned. “Shearsy, you are fucking killing me.”

“I’m sorry, I’ll just—I’ll be right back.” I don’t do this that often, but he wasn’t going to admit that now. Fortunately it didn’t take much brain to rip open the wrapper and roll the condom onto himself. He took his glasses off and set them on the bedside table. He crawled back onto the bed and straddled Dumo’s legs, his knees and one hand planted for balance. He lined himself up.

“Come on, Conor, fucking stick it in already, you’re—shit.”

“Yeah,” Conor gasped. Barely in, and sparks already were flying under his skin. The next inches were like fireworks; that final glide was like coming home. “Okay?”

“Yeah, just—” Dumo rolled his hips, and that alone was very nearly enough to tip Conor over the edge. But he held it together. He pulled back slowly, and he sank in again. Dumo practically levitated off the bed. “Fucking fuck, do that again.”

Conor did it again. Dumo met him halfway, and Conor groaned. “You keep doing that, I’m not going to last very long.”

“What makes you think I want you to?” Dumo asked, grinning, eyes heat-bright. “Gimme your knot, Shearsy, come on.”

Conor bowed his head and thrust again. Dumo made a sound like he might have been dying. The next time, he rolled his hips in time to Conor’s thrust, and then Conor just about died.

Dumo met him again the next time, and the next. They found a rhythm, and Conor dripped sweat onto Dumo’s bare chest and Dumo’s hands were fisted in the bedspread, and then it started in Conor’s balls, hot and inevitable. “Dumo,” he warned. The orgasm crashed from the center of him all the way to his fingertips. Just as Conor’s knot began to take, Dumo came, too, tightening around Conor with a pressure so delicious Conor thought he might black out.

His elbows gave out; he sank down onto Dumo’s chest. He gasped through the last of his aftershocks and Dumo’s and the final swell of his knot. He shifted minutely, experimentally, just to be sure that he was locked in. He hissed at the pressure.

“Yeah, stud, you tied me,” Dumo said. His breath was still heavy, too. Clumsily he petted Conor’s hair.

“Everything you hoped for?” Conor asked, before he could stop himself.

“Well, I was hoping for a few more rounds, honestly.”

Conor gripped Dumo’s bare thigh, not quite a pinch: an assertion of Conor’s presence. Conor was used to making people remember him. “Obviously,” Conor said. A shiver prickled across Conor’s back. They should move, probably. Probably they should have at least turned down the bedspread before getting down to the boning. “But I mean, it was okay?”

Dumo shifted underneath Conor, craning his neck to look at him. He squeezed Conor’s arm. “Yeah, dude,” he said. He sounded a little uncertain, but that was probably just Conor’s neuroses talking. “Yeah, it was good.”

They drowsed stacked on top of one another. Eventually Conor’s knot went down and his dick came free, and he rolled off of Dumo. He tied the condom off and went to piss. He retrieved bottles of water from under the bedside table, and by the time he and Dumo had drunk their fill, Dumo’s lure was leaking into the air again.

Conor remembered the condom before things really got started, this time, and he and Dumo fucked under the sheets instead of on top, and when Dumo came he gripped Conor’s shoulders tight enough to bruise.

They went again. And again.

The next time Conor woke up, the room was dark. Dumo’s body heat alone took up most of the bed, much less the smell of him, edging ever closer to overripe. Conor inhaled it, wallowed in it. His dick twitched weakly, but that furious need had ebbed.

“So you probably do this a lot, right?”

Conor blinked up at Dumo, his face striped with bars of light from a street lamp, cast through the window blinds. Dumo’s arm was thrown over his eyes, and Conor had assumed he was still out. “Um, not really?”

“Right. I guess I always see you with those little beta girls.”

“I—guess? You mean like Marie? Or Yaryna?” It had never occurred to Conor to class them together that way. “They were—pretty different from each other. Aside from being betas.”

“But there was another one – Violet?”

“That was more of a hook-up situation.” Multiple times. With maybe some tears at the end, fuck.

Dumo slid his arm off his face. “But you seem to go for people that you’re, you know, bigger than.”

There was no reason to feel more naked now, answering random questions, than Conor had when he was busy putting his dick in Dumo. “Um, I go for people that’ll go out with me. Which are mostly betas, because they don’t care as much about whether I’m… proportional, you know? And I guess girls are more into the miniature jock aesthetic, although, I dunno, that part might be bullshit.” Violet had always been full of that. It was one of the things he’d liked about her.

Dumo considered that for a while. Or maybe he was just looking for patterns in the shadows on the ceiling. “You probably think it’s weird, though, an O going with an A who’s smaller.”

“Not really? If that’s how it works out?” Conor felt the last of his well-earned afterglow slip away. He shivered. “Look, I’m just gonna shower and like, get out of your hair.”

There were towels and wash clothes and shampoo in the adjoining bathroom. Also a shower big enough for two. Conor scrubbed himself pink, until all of his and Dumo’s various bodily fluids were washed down the drain and he smelled fit for mixed company again. Probably he did, anyway; Dumo’s lure had so thoroughly overloaded Conor’s nose that he might not smell anything else for a week.

Dumo was gone when Conor walked back into the bedroom. Conor eyed the haphazard heaps of clothing discarded on the floor and braced himself to put his on again, but then he noticed a drawer pulled open in the chest of drawers near the bathroom door. Inside there were clean t-shirts and sweats.

Okay, now Sid was just getting a little creepy with the preparedness. Conor put the clean stuff on anyway. The sweats weren’t too long, which meant they were probably women’s, oh fucking well.

He ventured downstairs. Explosion noises were coming down the hall from the entertainment room, but the only voices were low. It felt later than he’d realized. He went to Sid’s kitchen instead, because he’d spent the day fucking a guy through his heat, and he was now starving.

Dumo was standing at the stove. Maybe Conor’s nose wasn’t entirely burned out, because he smelled something that made his stomach growl. “Hey,” he said, cautious.

Dumo glanced over his shoulder. “Hey. You want some?”

“Yes,” Conor said before he even got close enough to see what it was. Some kind of egg scramble, it turned out. There were definitely onions and mushrooms and maybe cheese.

“It’s stuff leftover from the burgers,” Dumo said.

Oh, right. Those burgers Conor had been going to eat before Dumo had distracted him. No wonder he was hungry. Conor filled a water glass from the fridge and downed most of it, and then he hovered by the stove until Dumo served the eggs up on two plates and handed over one of them.

They ate at the kitchen table in silence. Dumo scraped his plate clean, put it aside, and said, “Hey, thanks, man, for helping me out.”

“Sure. Of course. We Baby Pens gotta stick together, you know?” Conor attempted a smile of solidarity that didn’t feel entirely successful. It wasn’t like Conor went and hooked up with his buddies a lot, with or without heat sex. He didn’t really know how this went.

“Yeah,” Dumo said, although he didn’t look that happy about it, either. Maybe this had been a mistake. Conor had thought he was being the good friend, but this didn’t feel like friends. It felt exactly like the most awkward of his frat party hookups. “Look, I’m sorry,” Dumo said, ducking his head. “You were helping, and I made it weird.”

“You did?” Well, they were talking about this, apparently. So Conor would talk about it. “I kind of thought it was me making it weird.” Or feeling weird. Something.

Dumo looked up, startled. “What? No. You were great. I just shouldn’t have done this, I guess.”

“Gone into heat?” Conor said, bewildered. “Or had sex with me? But you—you asked me. I was going to leave you alone, I wouldn’t have—”

“I know. I know you wouldn’t. I just shouldn’t have asked. My fault.”

“Oh.” Tears prickled at the corners of Conor’s eyes – left over, no doubt, from half a day spent enveloped in Dumo’s hormonal haze. Conor didn’t want to know, but he was incapable of not asking, of not pushing himself into every fucking thing people tried to keep him out of. “Why not?”

Dumo swallowed, eyes fixed on the grain of Sid’s kitchen table. Conor was sure he wouldn’t answer, but then Dumo said, “Because I like you, I guess?”

Conor blinked at him. “What?”

“I just—” Dumo shrugged. “I like you a lot. I kind of have for a while. You know what heat’s like, with inhibitions and whatever. It just felt like it was my chance, you know? But that’s not fair to you, especially since I kind of have some hangups about, I don’t know. Being bigger than the people I’m with?”

“But you’re bigger than most people,” Conor said, because that was the one part he knew how to respond to.

Dumo gave him a wry smile. “You see my problem.”

“You’re a—a fucking hockey player in the fucking NHL. You’re a top pairing D! You’re a monster out there on the ice. How can you be upset about that?” How dare you, Conor almost said, but he wasn’t quite that mad.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s great on the ice. It’s just off the ice, it can get—weird.”

“Like today?” Conor’s voice cracked. “That was weird?”

“Wasn’t it? You telling me you didn’t look at me and wonder if you were gonna be enough?”

“What the hell?” Conor demanded. He shoved to his feet. His cheeks were wet, and he didn’t know when that had happened.

“Because I’m pretty sure every alpha I sleep with feels that way.”

Conor stopped short. He repeated those words over in his head, and he looked Dumo over very carefully. Dumo’s head was bowed, and his shoulders were rounded in. Conor sat back down, very slowly. “I’ve felt that way with a lot of people. Not just you.”

Dumo laughed wetly. “Sucks, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah. For you, too, I guess.” Conor had trouble imagining it. He’d spent all his growing-up years straining for that next half-inch and mostly not getting it. But if he squinted, he could kind of see where Dumo was coming from. He could see how that would suck.

Dumo nodded, still not looking at Conor. “I mean, I’m not going to complain. Like you said, I get an NHL career out of it, and that’s pretty awesome. But. I kind of have some hangups.”

“I didn’t notice you were nervous,” Conor said.

“Oh, nah, man. Not during heat.” Dumo shot him a grin, easy and filthy. “There’s no room for nerves during heat. When I’m that revved up, my brain’s just one giant eggplant emoji.”

Conor laughed out loud. He downed the rest of his water glass and set it aside. “Man, we are impressive.”

“Right? Shit.” Dumo got to his feet, shaking his head. He grabbed his and Conor’s plates and took them to the sink. Conor followed with his water glass. Dumo scrubbed the dishes off and handed them over to Conor, and Conor put them in the dishwasher. Working together, those eight inches Dumo had on Conor didn’t seem like so many. Kind of like on the ice.

Dumo hand-washed the skillet last while Conor stood at his elbow. “But you—” Conor began. Dumo stilled, and Conor almost didn’t go on. Surely Dumo hadn’t meant it, and it would be dumb bringing it up again, right? But Conor never did know how to quit. “—you like me?”

This time, Dumo blushed. The flush spread all the way down his neck – and now Conor knew exactly far that flush went. He felt a flare of want in his gut, never mind that he thought he’d used all of it up today already. “I mean, yeah,” Dumo said.

“Even though I’m—” Fuck it. “Even though I’m fucking five-seven?” Generously, if he stood absolutely straight and they measured from the top of his hair. “What about those hangups?”

“Like you said, everyone’s shorter than me.” Dumo said this casually, with a shrug, like there wasn’t a difference between being Dales, for example, and being Conor.

Conor boggled at that for a moment, and then he tucked it away to consider later. “When you asked me to share your heat with you, I figured it was because I was, you know. Handy.”

“Oh. Um, no.” Dumo still looked embarrassed, but not—unhappy?

“And you liked it.”

“Yeah, man.” Dumo offered Conor a smile, small but pleased. “I liked it.”

It was dawning on Conor that Dumo wasn’t being polite or even understated. He was being shy. The very idea was ridiculous, Dumo was ridiculous, and yet it made something small and warm and bright glow in Conor’s chest. “Well. That’s cool.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I don’t get to have heat sex very often,” Conor confessed in a rush, to the sink. “I don’t have a lot of practice.”

“It’s because you go with all those betas,” Dumo said. He was laughing at Conor. It felt good. Friendly. Maybe something else, too, that Conor had never considered before.

“Maybe,” Conor admitted. He took the skillet from Dumo and wiped the inside of it with a dish towel the same shade of gold as on their home uniforms, and then Dumo hung the skillet on the wall with the others. “Hey, I think the guys are watching something. You wanna go check it out?”

Dumo shook his head. “I’ve got like one more go-round, here in a bit. That’s why I didn’t shower yet. Not just because I’m a slob.”

“One more—oh.”

“Yeah. It’s like, I get a breather and then one last shift. But I’ll be fine. This is the easy part. You go hang out with the guys.”

Conor folded the towel and hung it over the handle of Sid’s oven. He wondered where those hangups of Dumo’s had come from and who, exactly, had given them to him. What they’d said to bow his shoulders that way. Of course Conor wanted to fight them – a hockey instinct, an alpha instinct – and of course that was laughable.

He squared his shoulders, and he said, “But what if I wanted to—with you? Or would that be weird?” Now that they’d talked all this out, bared all these feelings.

Dumo eyed him carefully. “You don’t have to, just because of—whatever.” His gesture encompassed any number of hypotheticals and rhetoricals and intangibles and also the stainless steel fridge.

“But if I wanted to.”

Do you want to?”

Conor looked up and up to meet Dumo’s eyes, and he gave Dumo a smile. “Yeah. I mean, I haven’t gotten any taller, but I—I’d like to.”

Behind his cautious grin, Dumo had begun to turn red again. “Oh. Okay, cool. Um, it’s going to be a while, yet.”

Conor was pretty much running on instinct here, and instinct wanted Dumo as convenient for knotting as possible. So maybe Conor was still tuned into some of those heat hormones. “You wanna just head on up and hang out? Watch stuff on my phone?”

It was easier walking the stairs with Dumo the second time. For one thing, Dumo was fine walking on his own two feet. For another, Conor’s whole body was thrumming with anticipation instead of just nerves. He’d done this before, and Dumo had liked it, and he was going to do it again. He was going to do it better.

They shut the door, and this time they locked it behind them. They cozied up together at the head of the bed, and Conor got out his phone. Conor had learned this about Dumo: he didn’t really have opinions about actors or shows, but he’d laugh at any random funny thing you put in front of him. Lonely Island videos from YouTube, for example. “How have you never seen I’m on a Boat?”

Dumo shrugged against Conor’s shoulder. “You never showed it to me before.”

“It’s not just me, dude. Everybody knows I’m on a Boat.”

“I don’t,” Dumo said, unperturbed. “So you gonna show it to me, or what?”

Another time, Conor would have been tempted to tease him. But now Dumo’s shoulder was pressed against his, and there was a pleasant, anticipatory heat in Conor’s gut. “Yeah, man. I’m gonna show it to you.”

Dumo grinned through the whole thing. Conor suggested Like a Boss next, which Dumo had at least heard of. “Thank god,” Conor said. “I don’t know if I could sleep with you again otherwise.”

“Like you could resist this,” Dumo said, cautiously smug in a way that made Conor want to kiss him. And he could kiss him, because they were in bed with the door closed, and Conor was going to fuck Dumo again in a little while. Kissing was allowed. Deliberately Conor set the phone aside, leaned up, and caught Dumo’s mouth. Dumo opened willingly as soon as Conor licked against his lips, and he hummed with approval as Conor pushed inside. He gripped Conor’s shoulder and pulled him closer.

Conor’s neck twinged after awhile. He pulled away, braced himself on Dumo’s shoulder, and straddled Dumo’s thighs.

“Smooth,” Dumo said, like he was trying for a chirp, but the breathlessness gave him away.

“You like it.” Before Dumo or the voice in Conor’s head found a way to disagree with that, Conor took Dumo’s face in his hands and kissed him again. Dumo groaned under him, his hands closing around Conor’s hips. This was good. Conor liked this, bending to kiss Dumo, thumbing along Dumo’s bearded jaw, pressing his forehead to Dumo’s when they needed a breather.

And when Conor sucked in those much-needed breaths, Dumo’s lure, weakened but still unmistakable, wafted up to him. By the time Conor noticed it, he was already stiffening up. “Shit.” He adjusted his weight on Dumo’s thighs. “How you doing?”

“Good.” Dumo rested his forehead on Conor’s shoulder. “Good,” he breathed. The word was warm through Conor’s t-shirt.

“Do you want to—?”

Dumo shook his head. “Not quite there yet. You could keep kissing me, if you wanted.”

Conor pressed his lips to Dumo’s ear. “Yeah. I could do that.”

He took his time. Dumo’s lure built in Conor’s nose, but slowly, without urgency, as Conor explored the inside of Dumo’s mouth and the curve of his jaw and the ill-defined border of his beard along his cheek. “You ever gonna shave, man?”

“I’ve been drunk or in heat for three days straight, when am I gonna—nngh.” The last word was a little strangled as Conor took a fold of skin along Dumo’s neck between his teeth. Dumo’s grip tightened around Conor’s waist. Conor nibbled his way up to Dumo’s jaw and back down again. “We could take our clothes off,” Dumo said.

“Oh, yeah?” Conor smiled against Dumo’s neck.

Dumo reached for the hem of his t-shirt, but Conor got there first. He tugged it up over Dumo’s head as Dumo obligingly lifted his arms, though Conor let Dumo shove his own pants off. The full force of Dumo’s lure hit Conor’s nose. “Shit, I thought you were almost done.”

“One last hurrah,” Dumo said. “I told you. C’mon, you too.”

Conor dropped his clothes over the side of the bed. When he turned back, Dumo was still braced against the head of the bed, his legs stretched out in front of him and open in a V, like they were pointing the way. Dumo’s dick was only just beginning to get into it, but behind it his hole glistened, inviting, full of promise. “V marks the spot,” Conor said.

“You are so heat-drunk right now, dude,” Dumo said, laughing.

“Shhh, I’m hunting for treasure.” Conor crawled between Dumo’s legs and bent his head. There was a tang to Dumo’s lure now, like the first hint of vinegar in wine opened and left undrunk too long. Last hurrah, indeed. Conor dropped almost onto his belly and shoved at Dumo’s leg. Dumo obligingly bent his knees and opened wider, until he was right there in Conor’s face, pink and already shiny-slick. Conor shifted the final two inches forward, and he licked over Dumo’s hole.

Dumo hissed, muscles tightening under Conor’s tongue. Conor nosed closer, licking in this time, and Dumo groaned out loud. The lure seemed thick as water in the air, and Conor was hard enough that just the friction from shifting to get a better angle sent pleasant little sparks up his spine. He leaned closer, pressed in deeper just to hear Dumo groan again. He licked a circuit around Dumo’s walls while Dumo’s legs trembled with holding still. Slick welled up on Conor’s tongue.

Finally Conor eased back, swallowed a few times, rolled his head forward to stretch out his neck. Dumo was still right there, and Conor traced the edge of Dumo’s hole with a finger: an experiment. His finger came away slippery. He pressed the tip of his finger in. Dumo squirmed, and Conor froze, uncertain.

“Come on, man,” Dumo said, scooting incrementally nearer. “If you’re going to do it—”

Conor pressed deeper. There wasn’t even any resistance: his finger slipped right in. Dumo’s groans and squirms were Conor’s guide into this unfamiliar terrain. He was tropically warm, as fragrant and slippery as the sea. Conor wanted to press his tongue into Dumo again, but he wanted this more: to watch his fingers disappear.

But now Conor’s hand was buried up to the knuckles, and even as ready as Dumo was, going any further was going to take some effort. “Are you sure you want—?”

“Yeah, man,” Dumo said breathlessly. “Do it.”

“I want it to be good for you,” Conor blurted, unable to help himself. He pressed his face to the inside of Dumo’s thigh and hoped Dumo would somehow miss that note of uncertainty. A beat later, Dumo’s hand landed on Conor’s head and began to pet his hair. Conor bore with that for a moment, face hot. Finally he dared to lift his head.

“Conor,” Dumo said roughly, at the edge of his restraint. “The thing nobody gets about me? Even with how—whatever I am, how not-dainty, whatever? Is that I’m still an O, which means I’m really fucking easy.”

“Oh,” Conor grunted, torn between sheepishness and being really, really turned on.

Dumo’s expression settled into something like fondness. It made Conor want to hide again. “Yeah. I’ll tell you if something doesn’t feel good, but I’m just glad you’re here with me, okay?”

“Okay.” Conor tried out a tentative smile.

“Now, if you don’t fucking shove your hand up me, I am going to kick you off the fucking bed.”

Conor coughed on his laugh. “Okay, okay.”

In the end, it took Conor narrowing his fingers as much as he could, tucking his thumb in, and easing forward a bit at a time. Dumo breathed through it with his head thrown back against the headboard, hands fisted in the pillows, until finally the pressure around Conor’s knuckles eased. Slowly all the tension Dumo had been holding went slack.

Experimentally Conor spread his fingers. Dumo’s groan was as rewarding as the new impression of room, of new places to explore. “You’re like the North Pole,” Conor said, and he didn’t even care that it made no sense, because Dumo laughed, and that made the muscles around Conor’s hand flex in interesting new ways.

Conor wriggled his fingers some more. He tried sliding his wrist in and out, millimeters at a time, just to feel Dumo shudder around him. Dumo was hard now, too, wetness beading at his tip. “Conor,” Dumo said, shuddering again—and when had he dropped the Shearsy? How long ago? “If you’re gonna tie me, you better pull out now.”

“I—do you want me to? We could—like this—”

“I like you on top of me,” Dumo muttered.

And Conor—Conor just wanted to do what Dumo liked. He took a deep breath; it was like taking a hit of something, brain fogging and heat pooling even hotter in his belly. He concentrated on narrowing his hand again, on being as small and as flexible as he could, and slowly, slowly he retreated. His hand came out gleaming. Slick spread like webbing between his fingers, and, filled with wonder, he held it up for Dumo to see.

Dumo only grinned. “Told you I was easy.”

That required another kiss. Conor crawled over Dumo and bracketed Dumo’s thighs between his knees. “You are so fucking hot,” Conor murmured. Dumo twitched underneath him, and Conor drew back in alarm. Dumo’s mouth twisted into a smirk, but something uncertain lurked in his expression. He stared at Conor like he was waiting for Conor to take it back. Like he was bracing for it.

“Really hot,” Conor said. He leaned in, tangled his un-slicked hand in Dumo’s hair, and with his lips and his tongue on Dumo’s mouth he tried to convince him where words couldn’t. Except the words came anyway: “Out by the Lemieuxs’ pool, at the party – I wanted to tie you then.” Dumo made a noise of protest. “No, for real. You were all sprawled out in that deck chair, and your legs were so fucking long.”

Against Conor’s cheek, Dumo murmured, “When you dig pucks out of the corner, the way you move on the ice, that shot from your knee—I love that shot. And that wrister, when you won game two, oh my god.”

“Oh yeah?”

“And your—your glasses.” Conor scoffed, but Dumo said, “Shut up, they’re really hot.”

Conor pulled back, just to look. Dumo was right there, looking back at him, flushing and hopeful and so fond, and Conor bent and kissed him again. Dumo’s hands brushed over Conor’s ribs, and every time Conor tried to pull back and get back to business, Dumo chased his mouth again. “I thought I was gonna bone you,” Conor said finally, laughing. He shifted, and that only brought to mind the fact that fuck, he was hard.

“I just really like you,” Dumo said. He screwed his eyes shut. “Sorry, I know that’s not fair to say right now. You don’t have to say anything.”

Conor couldn’t afford to get distracted by the affection welling up in him. He had things to do. Still, he went for Dumo’s mouth one last time, kissing and coaxing until Dumo’s grimace smoothed out. “I’m gonna,” Conor said, and he reached for the condom he’d remembered to leave on the bedside table. Wrapped and ready, he shifted his weight back and pressed the tip of his cock to Dumo’s opening, wet and inviting and so warm. Dumo tensed under Conor, grunting, and Conor pushed in.

Last hurrah or not, a lot of the heat fog had cleared. This time Conor noticed Dumo’s shallow puffs of breath, the noises he made in the back of his throat. Dumo’s fingers dug into Conor’s ribs, and he arched his back in time with Conor’s thrusts. His cheeks were blotched with red, his mouth open, his eyes shut, and that was the last thing Conor noticed before certainty began to build in his groin. He dropped his head and took them to the end, to Dumo clenching around Conor’s knot and spurting hot strings of come across his own stomach.

Conor collapsed onto Dumo. Jizz went squelch between them, but that was a problem for later. Dumo’s hand came up to stroke along Conor’s spine. Dumo’s mouth was too far away, so Conor contented himself with kissing the hollow of Dumo’s throat. Here Dumo was fragile, enormous defenseman or no.

Dumo was fragile other places, too, which Conor would never have guessed. Conor wanted to protect them all. The longing was like a tangible feeling in his chest, fierce and aching and certain.

--

Conor woke to the warm glow of sunshine on the bedroom curtains. Sometime during the night he’d stirred just enough to come unstuck from Dumo’s chest and roll over. Now Dumo was warm against Conor’s back, his arm thrown over Conor’s waist. Conor lay quietly and looked again at that memory of Dumo that night after they won the cup, drinking a beer, laughing as Muzz got thrown into the pool.

Dumo’s breath stuttered, and the arm over Conor’s waist slid away. Conor turned over. “Hi,” he said. His heart was beating way too fast for whatever time of morning it was.

“Hi,” Dumo said cautiously.

“I want to go out with you,” Conor blurted. His face heated as Dumo blinked at him, but Conor didn’t let himself roll over or hide. “You’re awesome, man. And I’ve—I mean, I’ve noticed you for a really long time. I just didn’t ever think about it because I didn’t think it mattered.”

“We should talk about this later,” Dumo said. “When we’re not, like—”

“Still in heat hangover?”

The corner of Dumo’s mouth lifted. “Yeah.”

“That’s smart,” Conor agreed. He wasn’t even disappointed, because he was pretty sure how that conversation later would go. He was looking forward to it, even. “Hey, did you know Sid’s got a two-person shower in that bathroom?”

Dumo laughed outright. “Oh yeah? You know I’m not going to want to fuck anyone for like a month, right?”

“Dude, me either,” Conor said, sitting up, and it was barely even a lie. His dick was feeling pretty tender. “I’m just saying, you stink.” He crawled off the bed and offered Dumo his hand. And, reeking and raw in places and still laughing, Dumo took it.

[end]