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Bottom Line, Signed

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“Phil.” Coach Sullivan taps the back of Phil’s thigh with his hockey stick. “Dr. McLane wants to speak with you upstairs.” Phil waits an extra second, but nothing more seems to be forthcoming. Sullivan turns back to Gonchar and asks a question about Schultz. The loss of Lovejoy means decisions have to be made on the blue line. Phil scratches his shoulder absently, sweat drying sticky, and heads toward the showers.

**

The medical offices are tucked away at the back of the arena. Dr. McLane’s office is decorated in soothing neutral tones with heavy wooden furniture. An athletic looking man, two older boys and a little girl missing several teeth smile at Phil from a picture frame sitting front and center on her desk.

“Please,” Dr. McLane says, “sit down.” She reaches over to grab a stack of tan folders and takes a moment to push a pair of small wire framed glasses up her nose. “Carl Hagelin has made some changes to his medical forms from last season.”

Phil’s eyebrows draw together. “I-what?” Phil says. She passes Phil a folder and waits while he glances through it. “Huh.”

“As you know,” Dr. McLane says, “all omegas on the team are offered the opportunity to designate an acceptable alpha or alphas in the case of an unexpected heat. Carl has submitted a list,” she gestures to the folder in Phil’s hands. “It has one name on it, yours.”

Dr. McLane beams at Phil as though he should be flatter; he’s mostly just confused. The possibility of an elaborate prank crosses his mind, but Dr. McLane doesn’t seem the type, sitting calmly across from him, waiting. Phil reads the papers carefully. Carl’s full name, birthday and ID number are typed across the bottom of each page.

“Carl has named you in case of emergency, but this does not obligate you in any way. If you are agreeable and willing to perform the intimate duties listed,” and Phil turns redder and redder as Dr. McLane says, “up to and including penetrative intercourse that ends in knotting, please sign the bottom line.” She hands Phil a pen.

Phil imagines Carl in heat, body driven by hormones, flushed and wanting. It’s a reach, if Phil’s to be honest. Carl’s one of the most self-possessed people Phil’s ever met. Still, Carl came to the team doctor and specifically requested Phil. He signs the paperwork.

“Thank you,” Dr. McLane says and ushers Phil out the door.

**

Phil expects the next practice to be weird, but Carl just bumps their shoulders together and takes his place on the opposite side of Bones.

**

10 games into the season, almost a point per game pace for the HBK line, and Phil’s forgotten all about unexpected heats and emergency alphas.

A mistake.

**

Bones leans in close to Carl and takes a deep breath. “Are you okay?” Bones asks, eyebrows pinching in toward his nose.

Carl pushes Bones back with a hand to his forehead. “I’ll make it through the game.”

Phil takes a deep breath of his own and he can make out a faint sweetness in the air, nothing too intense, but his sense of smell was damaged by the chemotherapy. Carl’s cheekbones are flushed pink and his blue eyes are bright. He looks lovely. He always looks like that to Phil, though.

“I’ll be fine,” Carl says again, insistently, at Bones’ continuing look of concern. He starts to say something else, but then he catches Phil watching and closes his mouth with a snap.

“Guys,” Sullivan claps his hands and the attention in the room focuses in. He takes a moment to look around, intense gaze lingering on Carl a moment, before he starts in on his pre-game speech.

Later, as they line up to take the ice, Phil sees Sullivan pull Carl aside for a few words. Whatever Sullivan says, Carl shakes his head and after another minute, takes his place in the line-up.

Phil says, “Hey,” softly and Carl smiles at him. The sweet smell is stronger, swirling around the two of them. “Have a good game, eh?”

“We will,” Carl returns and then it’s time to take the ice.

Carl scores the opening goal when the opposing defensemen falls on his ass for seemingly no reason. Phil spins Carl in a celebratory circle before Bones and Ma ̈a ̈tta ̈ and Letang crash into them happily.

Rust adds a goal shortly after and they head into the first intermission up 2-1.

Sullivan is in the middle of diagraming a play on the white board when Carl gets up and walks out of the room. Phil frowns after him until Bones punches him in the side. He frowns at Bones and drags his attention back to the white board.

Carl doesn’t take the ice for the second period and is nowhere to be found during second intermission. Phil asks Sid, “Where is Carl? Is he okay?”

Sid says, “He’s okay, just a precaution,” and slaps Phil on the back bracingly. Phil winces and tries to focus on the task at hand.

They make do with some line jiggling, pulling out the win with a strong goaltending effort.

After the game, Carl still absent, Phil taps his fingers against his thighs, twitchy and bordering on annoyed, as Rust hands off the warrior helmet to Geno. The guys cheer loudly and Phil claps politely. He speeds through his shower, determined to find answers. He pulls up short at his locker. Chris Stewart, the head trainer, is standing next to Phil’s stall, tapping on his phone. “Hey,” Phil says.

Chris straightens up. “Phil.” He leans in closer. “Carl is waiting for you.” It takes Phil a moment, but then-

The flushed face, bright eyes and sweet smell all come together to make perfect sense. “Oh,” Phil says. Carl is asking for him. “Right.”

“Put on some clothes,” Chris says, “or don’t.” Phil hastily steps into his underwear and pulls on his sweats and a shirt, slips his feet into sliders. Bones raises an eyebrow at him, as they leave the locker room and Phil shrugs at him. Chris leads him past the massage rooms to the reinforced heat suite in the back of the medical facility.

“The fridge is stocked with prepared meals, Gatorade and water. There are condoms and various lubricants available.” Chris waves his badge over the access panel and the door beeps. “There’s a phone for emergencies at bedside.” He steps back and gestures for Phil to enter the room. “Call if you need anything.”

“Yeah,” Phil says absently and steps into the room. The door clicks shut behind him and Phil blinks in the low light. The furnishing is sparse: a dresser, a mirror, 2 bedside tables and a king size bed in the middle of the room.

The bed has a heavy comforter and Phil can just make out a Carl sized lump in the middle. “Carl?”

Carl sits up, blanket falling down around his waist, and says, “Fucking finally. That was the longest damn game. Did we win?”

Phil laughs, startled, and kicks off his shoes. Carl’s hair is damp with sweat and his bottom lip is split, bruised dark pink. Phil doesn’t know if that happened in game or Carl’s been chewing his lip while he waited on Phil to be done. “We won,” Phil says and draws closer. The air is warm. The whole room smells sweet.

Carl’s chest is bare and Phil would bet anything that he’s naked beneath the covers. Carl pushes the sheets away when Phil reaches the bed and yeah, he’s totally nude, dick hard between his muscled thighs.

“Heat?” Phil asks unnecessarily, but Carl just nods, sitting there, breathing through his slightly open mouth. “I was surprised,” Phil starts to say and Carl frowns at him.

“How?” Carl asks, “I don’t think anyone else would be surprised if they found us in this room right now.” Carl rolls up to his knees to get a hand around Phil’s neck, to pull him in closer. The touch of his hand is hot against Phil’s skin. “Sometimes,” Carl says, “I get wet for you on the ice.” He bites Phil’s lower lip. “Bones makes horrible jokes about it behind your back.” His hands drop to work Phil free from his pants. “I want you naked.”

It takes both of them to get Phil naked. Once Phil’s sweat pants are pushed down, Carl is more interested in groping Phil than making sure he doesn’t topple over removing his clothes. Phil grabs a handful of condoms before giving into Carl’s increasingly insistent hands.

Carl pulls Phil down between his legs with a little sigh and lifts his mouth for kisses. Phil kisses Carl until his mouth feels swollen and Carl squirms against him, hips hitching up towards Phil, hard cock leaving wet trails along Phil’s stomach.

“I want,” Carl says and then trails off, distracted. He noses along the scent glands behind Phil’s ear, tucks his face into the curve between Phil’s neck and shoulder and takes several deep breathes. Phil runs his hand down Carl’s side and waits. “Is something wrong?” Carl mumbles into Phil’s skin. He sounds confused and a bit put out. He’s still pressing his hips into Phil’s stomach, needy.

He kisses the side of Carl’s head and tugs at the hair curling at Carl’s nape. Carl obligingly lifts his head to meet Phil’s gaze. “The chemotherapy you know,” Phil wrinkles his nose and Carl raises his eyebrows, “really fucked with my sense of smell. Not as sensitive as it used to be.”

“Oh,” Carl says, drawn out, “I can’t believe I” he stops, “so many things make sense now,” he finishes.

“What?” Phil asks, but Carl only gives him a considering look, blue eyes narrowed and mouth pursed. He looks way too serious for an omega in the middle of his heat. Phil watches, transfixed, as Carl reaches down between his own legs and brings his hand back up, fingers shining with slick. Phil opens his mouth to say something and Carl sticks two fingers in it.

Fuck. The taste of Carl explodes across Phil’s tongue and he goes from lukewarm to on fire. He grabs Carl’s wrist to make sure Carl doesn’t pull his hand away. He sucks at Carl’s fingertips, licks at the webbing between his fingers, chases the flavor of him.

“Yeah,” Carl says, voice smug, “get your head in the game.” Phil bites down on Carl’s middle finger and the smugness fades into greed. “Phil,” Carl demands, “put your dick in me.”

Phil releases Carl’s hand to roll them over until Carl is on top. Carl looks down at him with wild eyes before squirming into a more upright position and reaching into the bedsheets for a discarded condom. Carl has a birth control implant. Phil has seen it in the locker room multiple times, the outline clearly visible on the pale underside of Carl’s arm. It’s best not to take chances, though; heat is powerful and unpredictable. Accidents happen and they’re trying to fucking repeat as Champions. Still, the thought of Carl swollen with Phil’s baby is alluring.

He presses up into Carl’s hands and tries not to growl as Carl starts to sink down onto his dick. Carl settles with a tiny, triumphant noise. His eyes heavy lidded, but no less intense than normal. He rocks on Phil’s dick and they both groan.

“Do you like it?” Carl asks, undulating in Phil’s lap. Phil nods, jerkily, gasping for air, and Carl smiles. Pure evil has never looked so good. From there, it’s all Phil can do to hang on as Carl just uses his dick. Finding the right angle and working his hips ruthlessly.

Phil pulls one knee up to get some leverage and Carl bares his teeth at him. Carl’s cock is caught between their bodies; the head red and slick with pre-come. Phil swipes his thumb along the slit and Carl’s thighs tense around his hips. “That’s it,” Phil says, coaxing, “come on and give it up for me.” The pressure is building at the base of his cock, knot ready to pop. Phil grips Carl on the next downward thrust, fingers biting into the curve of his ass, and presses up, up, grinding his knot in.

Carl gasps, eyes focusing back on Phil’s face. He leans down for a brief, sloppy kiss before his cock jerks in Phil’s hand, come spilling over Phil’s fingers. Phil grits his teeth through his orgasm, hips twitching upward again and again as Carl clenches around his knot.

“Good job, eh?” Phil says, petting Carl’s head with his free hand when they both relax a bit. Carl bites down on his shoulder, sharp, and Phil’s hips jerk up, jolting Carl in his lap. “Fuck,” Phil swears, “you little shit.” Carl laughs and relaxes down against his chest, smearing come between them. Phil takes a deep breath.

“You’re going to be all bruised up,” Carl mumbles, like the state of Phil’s skin isn’t his fault. “Bones is going to give you shit.”

Phil tugs on the sweaty curls at Carl’s nape. “Your fault.”

“I’ll protect you,” Carl says, contentedly.

“Always fighting my battles,” Phil teases, thinking about Carl’s coldness to certain media, his proud giddiness at the Cup Parade.

“Always,” Carl says before slipping into sleep.

**

Bones gives Phil so much shit.

Carl somehow manages to avoid the worst of the chirping. Although, Phil is pretty sure Horny congratulates him loudly in the middle of the locker room while everyone is ragging on Phil. Pretty sure, because, you know, Swedish.

In the end, heats are heats. Carl doesn’t make a big deal out it. His behavior barely changes, quick to defend Phil to the media and a friendly solid presence in the locker room.

Phil tries not to feel guilty about jerking off to the memory of Carl’s fingers in his mouth.

**

The team keeps winning more than losing, sitting comfortably in a playoff spot. Back to back wins in Florida and the guys want to go out and have a little fun. Phil almost begs off. Ekblad slashed his wrist in the second period and he mostly wants to ice it and go to sleep.

Except, Carl sits next to him on the bus and says, “You coming out?” He must see the hesitation on Phil’s face, because he leans in close and says, “Come on, it’ll be fun. I’ll protect you from your adoring fans.”

Phil laughs. “Who’s going to protect you from the fans?”

Carl beams. “We’ll work something out.”

Geno picks the club. Says he and Anna went over the summer and it’s nice. Phil doesn’t like the first five songs the DJ plays but the VIP section is secluded and comfortable and that’s enough for right now. Carl pushes him into a padded booth, brings him a beer, and hits the dance floor with Tanger and Daley.

Daley dances mostly with himself and the occasional ass tap from Tanger. Carl dances with Tanger in between laughing at Daley and shouting at Patric. They’re both dorky dancers, but that doesn’t seem to matter to their appreciative audience. Men and women alike watching them laugh and drift in and out of each other’s space.

Phil takes a swig of his beer and looks away.

“Hi.”

A woman with long brown hair, a tiny blue dress, and a smile stands next to the booth. “Hi,” Phil says. He looks around to see who she’s supposed to be with and she points to a gaggle of girls laughing with Rust and Wilson.

“I got tired of standing,” she says and waits, expectant.

What the hell. Phil shrugs and says, “Please, sit.”

She slides into the circular booth and says, “Madison.” He can’t tell right off the bat if she’s an omega or a beta.

“Phil,” Phil says and she laughs. It’s a nice laugh, clear and high.

“Not your scene,” Madison says and points to the dance floor.

“No.” Phil is more of a lounge type guy.

“I understand that,” Madison says. She gives a little sigh. “My feet are killing me and this dress keeps crawling up. I can’t wait to take it off.” Phil’s eyebrows go up and she giggles. “I was wondering-“

Carl slides into the booth on Phil’s opposite side and Phil turns to look at him automatically. His hair is curling around his face, tiny, damp tendrils at his temple. He grabs a water bottle and takes a drink. Phil watches him swallow.

“Hi,” Carl says to Madison.

“Hi,” she says. Her smile is tight. They sit silently for a moment. Then Madison says, “Thanks for letting me rest for a moment. I think I’ll see what my friends are up to.”

Phil watches her pick her way back over to the group of girls standing at the bar. A blond with curly hair leans in to say something to her and Madison shakes her head.

“A fan,” Carl says, one eyebrow raised when Phil looks over at him. Phil shrugs and Carl stares at him some more. “Okay,” Carl says. He sits his water bottle down. “I’m ready to go.”

“But,” Phil says, “we just got here.” None of the other guys who came out look anywhere near ready to pack it in. Even Sid is laughing, squinty eyed, at the bar with Flower.

“You didn’t even want to come,” Carl says. He tugs on Phil’s arm, trying to get him out of the booth. Phil resists instinctively and Carl stops pulling. “Do you want to stay?” Carl glances back toward Madison meaningfully.

“No,” Phil says. He slides out of the booth and follows Carl outside.

Carl sits close to him in the cab. Sits with his side pressed to Phil’s and his hand high on Phil’s thigh. Phil’s afraid slouching might result in Carl cradling his junk; his posture’s never been better.

Phil pays the driver, because he feels bad for cutting the night short. Carl’s room is maybe three doors down from Phil’s, but Carl doesn’t even pretend to head to his room. Instead, following Phil inside his room and kicking off his shoes. “Drink?” Phil says. He waves a hand toward the room service menu.

“No.” Carl stretches up to his tip toes, hands linked. His nipples are hard, standing out clearly behind his black t-shirt. Phil doesn’t bother looking away when Carl glances over at him. Carl will be able to smell the attraction anyway. “I don’t think I ever said thank you,” Carl says. Phil tilts his head to the side. “For helping me with my heat,” Carl clarifies. He doesn’t wait for a response, simply continues, “You took good care of me.”

There, Carl pauses, shooting Phil a sidelong glance to watch as his words land. An alpha loves to be appreciated, craves praise for a job well done. Phil takes a deep breath and Carl smiles. The slightest hint of sweetness reaches Phil across the room.

He holds out his hand. Carl walks over quickly and Phil catches his wrist once he’s within reach. “You want me to take care of you tonight?” Phil asks. He strokes his thumb across Carl’s wrist and Carl’s pulse jumps under his touch. Phil leans in close, barely believing his audacity and says, “You want to sit on my dick again.”

It’s not a question, but Carl breathes out, shaky, and says, “Please.”

“Yeah,” Phil says, “take your clothes off.” It’s hard to be self-conscious about his body when Carl is practically falling over himself to wiggle out of his skinny jeans. Phil strips off methodically and palms his dick. Carl’s eyes drop to Phil’s hand and his fists clench by his side. “I thought I was the only shy one in this room,” Phil says and Carl gives him a narrow eyed look.

Carl pushes Phil back to sit on the bed and drops to his knees in front of him. He buries his face in the crease of Phil’s thigh and takes a deep breath. When Carl looks up at Phil, his pupils only have a thin ring of blue surrounding them.

Phil puts his hand on Carl’s head and Carl pushes up into his touch. “You want to suck my dick?” Phil touches his thumb to Carl’s bottom lip and Carl closes his eyes and opens his mouth. “Fuck,” Phil says, “fuck,” and guides his dick into Carl’s mouth.

Carl sucks him sloppy, lots of tongue and too soft suction. Phil tugs on Carl’s hair and he moans loudly. Alright, then. Phil fucks up into Carl’s mouth, carefully, and Carl opens his eyes, but doesn’t protest. Phil fucks in again and again, keeping his thrusts shallow. Carl looks fucking out of it, drunker than the amount of alcohol Phil saw him consume. His hands open and close on Phil’s thighs.

“You’re so pretty,” Phil says. He leans over Carl’s back to cup an ass cheek. “How wet are you, right now? Let me see.” He eases his dick out of Carl’s mouth and pulls him up into the bed. Carl sprawls easily beneath him, legs spread.

The insides of Carl’s thighs are shiny with slick. Phil grabs Carl under his knee and spreads him wider to get a look at his hole. It’s tiny and pink, soft looking. Phil pushes his thumb in.

“Oh, my God,” Carl gasps and his leg jerks in Phil’s grip. Phil blushes, but that doesn’t stop him from fucking his thumb in and out a few times before getting the rest of his fingers wet.

Phil’s jerked off to the memory of Carl’s taste for weeks, fuck if he isn’t going to get his face in there. He urges Carl to roll over to his stomach and pull his knees beneath him. The taste on his tongue is indescribable. Phil just knows he wants more. He spends blissful minutes licking Carl out, curling his tongue around Carl’s rim, fucking in and out of him. The wet sounds are loud in the room, accompanied by incomprehensible pleas coming out of Carl’s mouth.

Carl whines when Phil pulls back and wipes his face with the back of his hand. Phil bites the plump curve of his ass. “You got a condom?”

“In my wallet,” Carl gasps.

Phil looks over to where Carl dropped his clothes. Yeah, no way he’s getting out of bed to go through Carl’s pockets. “New plan,” Phil says and arranges Carl on his side, facing away from him. Phil pushes Carl’s thighs together and fucks between them.

Carl jerks off to Phil’s rhythm, breathing harshly through gritted teeth. Phil peppers Carl’s shoulders and neck with kisses, sucks bruises into the tender skin beneath his ear.

“I’m going to come all over you,” Phil says and Carl gasps, hand speeding up on his dick. Phil reaches down to thumb at Carl’s cockhead and Carl tenses all over and comes twitching against Phil. “Yes,” Phil hisses. He pulls Carl back against his body and fucks into the tight, wet space between his thighs maybe half a dozen times before spilling over. There’s a faint pressure at the base of his cock where his knot forms, but Phil hasn’t knotted outside of heat since he was a teenager.

Carl squirms over onto his back and tips his chin up looking for a kiss. Phil kisses him softly, pushes his hair back from his face. He places his hand on Carl’s stomach, rubs across the cut of his abs. Carl’s cock is lying against his thigh, still half hard and smeared with come. The pink of his cockhead is just peeking out of his foreskin. Phil bends down and sucks it. Carl shouts, legs kicking out, and Phil pins his hips to the bed and tongues his slit.

Phil lets up, gentling his mouth, when the sounds falling from Carl’s mouth start shading into overwhelmed. He’s a little disappointed, almost wants to roll Carl back over and eat him out again, but Carl’s biting his bottom lip and shivering.

“You want me to turn on the shower?” Phil rubs circles over Carl’s hip bone.

Carl shakes his head. He clears his throat and says, “I’m not even sure I can stand right now.”

“Okay.” Phil drops a quick kiss to his temple. “I’ll get you a towel.”

It’s tempting to jump in the shower for a quick rinse off, but Phil doesn’t want to leave Carl by himself for too long. He wipes off quickly and then wets another towel with warm water and heads back to the bed room. The blanket has been stripped from the bed and Carl is curled up on his side on top of the sheets. He turns to look at Phil sleepily when he steps back into the bedroom.

A wave of warmth sweeps over Phil. Carl’s so strong and outgoing all the time; it’s different to see him in a softer light. He moves easily at Phil’s direction, letting him clean sweat and bodily fluids from his skin. Carl makes protesting sounds when Phil moves away and Phil shushes him.

“I’m just getting rid of the towel.” It’s only a few steps to toss the dirty towel into the bathroom and climb back into bed. Carl tucks beneath Phil’s chin, legs tangling with his. “You staying here?” Phil asks.
Carl hums an affirmative and relaxes into sleep. Phil stays awake a bit longer, combing his fingers through Carl’s hair.

**

Phil wakes up to a hand on his shoulder. He scrubs a hand across his sticky eyes. Carl is wearing his clothes from last night, hair curling forward into his eyes. He says, “I’m going back to my room to get dressed.” Phil makes a disappointed sound. Carl smiles and places a quick kiss at the edge of Phil’s mouth. Phil watches him pick his way across room and out the door. He closes his eyes when the door closes and slides back into sleep.

The shrieking of his phone alarm is the next thing Phil hears. He groans, rolling over to bury his head in the pillows and inhales a nose full of Carl. “God,” Phil mutters and grinds his hips into the mattress. He flings out a hand and grabs his phone to silence the alarm. He needs to get up and into the shower. Most of the other guys have probably already eaten breakfast. He feels itchy in his skin.

Showering barely makes a dent in the uneasiness crawling over him. The eggs are cold at the hotel buffet and the coffee is shit. Carl sits next to Horny on the bus ride to the airport. Fine. That’s fine.

“You okay?” Carl asks as he drops into the seat next to Phil on the plane.

“I hate planes,” Phil says.

Carl laughs. “Trust me, I remember.” He reaches over to grab Phil’s hand.

Phil leans back in his seat and closes his eyes. He feels better, more grounded. Carl doesn’t say anything when Phil’s grip tightens at takeoff.

**

Workouts are a necessary part of being a world class athlete. Phil hates them. He puts his head down and concentrates on pedaling. Kunitz is on the stationary bike next to him, blissfully quiet. Carl grunts softly across the gym and Phil’s eyes drift helplessly over to where he’s doing hip thrusts. Carl’s dark blue shorts are rucked up, exposing the paleness of his upper thighs. Phil licks his dry mouth.

Carl tips his head back like he knows he’s being watched and catches Phil’s gaze. Phil may be imagining things, but Carl’s last set of hip thrusts are downright provocative. The way Carl curls his hips up, holding the extension at the top. Phil bites his bottom lip. He can see the shadowed bulge of Carl’s cock between his legs. The relief is real when Carl collapses back against this gym floor with a little sigh.

“Thank God,” Kunitz says, mildly, pedaling steadily, “one more set like the last one and I would be on the floor trying to suck his dick.”

Phil’s foot slips off his pedal, banging into his shin. “Fuck,” Phil swears. He draws his leg up and wraps a hand around the injured spot.

“Are you okay?” Carl asks, rolling up to his feet. His eyebrows are drawn in concern. Eyes flickering between the shit eating expression on Kunitz’ face and the pained draw of Phil’s mouth. Several of the other guys have paused in their workouts to look at Phil.

Phil steps off the bike gingerly. “Yeah, I think I’m done here.” He limps off to the showers. Kunitz keeps pedaling.

**

“Carl’s my best friend, you know,” Patric says, out of the blue while Phil’s trying to figure out just how badly he lost at fantasy football.

Phil blinks at him. “Okay…”

“He’s sensitive,” Patric, says, insistent, “easily hurt.”

It’s probably not a good time to start laughing, but it’s a struggle. Easily hurt is not a phrase Phil associates with Carl Hagelin. He nods seriously at Patric, though, and Patric seems satisfied, clapping Phil on the shoulder before moving off to tease Flower.

“What was that about?” Carl asks from behind Phil’s shoulder.

Phil startles, turning to face him. “Nothing.” Carl gives him a suspicious look before nodding a little. Phil is sure he’s making a note to ask Patric later.

“I’m going to cook tonight,” Carl says, casually, “if you want to come over?” He shifts his weight slightly from foot to foot and looks at Phil from beneath his lashes.

“Yeah, sure,” Phil says. “Anyone else coming?”

Carl’s eyebrows draw together slightly. “No.”

Oh.

**

The smug look on Carl’s face as he watches Phil eat is really more appealing than it should be. Phil pats his mouth lightly with a napkin. “That was, “Phil looks down at his empty plate sadly, “really good.”

“Thank you,” Carl says, graciously, and pushes back from the table to collect the dinner wear. Phil gets up to help, but Carl directs him gently toward the living room. “Find something to watch.”

Carl’s living room is dominated by a large, plush, sectional and an enormous flat screen television. Phil gets distracted by the multitude of pictures placed around the room: pictures from the Stanley Cup Finals, from the Swedish national team, his family, a few college pictures.

Phil picks up a frame featuring a picture from the championship parade. Carl’s grinning at him, hair tousled, bright eyes hidden behind black shades. He’s struck by how many of Carl’s pictures feature the two of them.

Soft footsteps alert Phil to Carl’s presence before he presses against Phil’s side. “One of my favorites,” Carl says, leaning in to look at the picture in Phil’s hand.

“I’m not that photogenic,” Phil says.

Carl takes the picture from him and places it back on the shelf. “It’s one of my favorites,” he repeats.

The couch is as comfortable as it looks. Phil settles into the cushions when Carl pushes him down to seated and sprawls out with his head in Phil’s lap. The television ends up on a cooking show. Neither of them pay much attention.

Phil strokes his fingers idly through Carl’s blond hair and Cark hums and closes his eyes. “Patric told me to be nice to you,” Phil says.

“Really?” Carl says. He doesn’t open his eyes. His fingers twitch down by his thighs, but otherwise he remains still.

“Am I nice to you?” Phil asks. He tugs a little bit on the soft strands between his fingers and Carl looks up at him.

The eye contact doesn’t last for long. “You could be nicer,” Carl says. He has his head tucked against Phil’s stomach. Phil rubs his thumb along Carl’s temple.

“Go on.”

“I like,” Carl says, “holding hands and going to movies. I liked to get fucked on my stomach.”

Phil pets his head. “Anything else?”

Carl sighs and wiggles closer. “I’ll let you know when I think of it.”

“Okay,” Phil says.

He can work with that. He can definitely work with that.