Tyler prepares before he goes to the Ference house for the first time. He puts clean edits of Lil Wayne and Drake on his iPod and wears a BU t-shirt that doesn't have his frat letters or a stupid slogan on it. He packs a bag of snacks (Lucky Charms and juice boxes for the girls, Doritos for himself) and makes sure he has his phone charger.
"They're a handful but you should be fine," Andrew tells him. "They know it's not a road trip. Help yourself to anything in the kitchen, and the TV package is ridiculous so there's a channel guide somewhere in the living room if you need it."
"Got it," Tyler says. He sees the list of emergency numbers taped to Andrew's refrigerator before he sees Stella, lurking in the doorway. She's wearing a pink t-shirt and a tiara is perched precariously on top of a pile of blonde hair. He waves at her, and she giggles back.
"You're in for it," Andrew says. "They've been making posters for their mom all night."
"Can't wait," Tyler says, laughing a little, and he's only halfway joking. He could think of worse ways to spend a Wednesday night than crafting with Andrew Ference's kids.
Andrew laughs with him for a second before crossing the kitchen to pick Stella up and kiss her cheek. "Bye," she says insistently, but she also reaches out and winds her arms around his neck, clinging.
"Guess that's my cue to go," Andrew says. He sets Stella down and grabs his bag from the chair next to Tyler. "I should be back around eleven if there's no overtime."
"Sounds good," Tyler says. "Good luck, man."
Andrew leaves, so Tyler turns to Stella. "You wanna show me your poster?"
"Uh huh," she nods, and Tyler follows her into the living room, where her older sister is sitting on the floor, coloring something with deep concentration. "That's mine," Stella tells him, pointing at a poster with an oval drawn on it.
"Nice snowboard," Tyler says. "Does your mom's have decorations on it? I bet it does."
"Mmhmm," Stella says. "You draw them."
Tyler sits down gamely and grabs a marker. "Okay, but you gotta tell me what they look like," he says, and takes orders from both of the girls on colors and shapes and shading. They keep drawing until there's no more posterboard left and one of the markers has run out. Tyler sits back to survey his work; one of the posters has glitter on it, and he's pretty sure it's also all over his jeans, but it looks pretty badass.
"You're mom's gonna love them, is she in Whistler now?"
"Yeah," Ava tells him. "We're Skyping her tomorrow so we can cheer for her."
"Awesome," Tyler says.
"Wanna see her ride?" Ava asks.
"For sure," Tyler says, so they troop to the den and Ava pulls up a YouTube page and types in 'Krista Bradford'. A full page of videos pops up, and she clicks on the first one. Tyler's pretty sure it's from the last X-Games. "Your mom's a boss," he tells them when the video ends.
"What's that mean?" Stella asks.
Tyler ponders for a second. "That she's really awesome at what she does," he says. "And also that she's really cool."
"Oh," Stella says. "Yeah. She's a boss!"
Tyler laughs, and gets a high five from each of the girls.
They migrate back into the living room because Ava wants to watch her dad play hockey, so Tyler surfs around the billions of channels until he finds NESN.
"Dad's a boss, too," Ava says, and Tyler nods in agreement.
"Definitely," he says. The girls generally know what's going on in the game, which is pretty cool; Tyler only has to explain a few things, and he's pretty sure he hasn't dropped an f-bomb in front of them. Stella gets sleepy before Ava does, but it's well before the game ends that Tyler decides it's time for both of them to go to bed.
"Come on," he says, nudging the pile of pink pillows they're both dozing on. Ava sits up and blinks at him blearily, and Stella sticks her arms out. Tyler's a sucker, so he picks her up and tucks her onto his hip. Ava looks at him contemplatively, but Tyler hasn't done any serious lifting since juniors, and he doesn't want to drop one of them on the stairs so he heads her off before she can hold her arms out, too. "You gotta walk, little lady," he says. "I know I look great, but I am a weakling and your dad could beat me up so easily if I dropped you on your head." She giggles at him a little and stands up.
They get upstairs and into their pajamas, and Tyler tucks them into their room. They actually both have separate rooms, he thinks, but Ava has two beds in hers and seemed content when he plopped Stella down in the extra bed, so he figures it's okay.
They both stare at him expectantly when he stands up to turn the lights off. He wonders what he missed. "Bedtime story?" Tyler tries. He's pretty sure he remembers some Dr. Seuss from his high school graduation.
"Song," Ava says. "Sing something."
Tyler stops himself from snorting, but it's a near thing. "I don't sing, princess," he says. It's a half-truth; he's been known to rap at parties, and he killed karaoke night last year with some fucking awesome Katy Perry. Both of the girls pout at him, though, and they've already got him so whipped that he doesn't think twice before pulling out his iPhone. "Okay, here," he says, and thumbs through his playlists until he finds the edits he'd loaded before coming over. He goes for Drake, instead of Weezy, because Drake is kind of quieter.
They're both half asleep anyway, so he's pretty sure they wouldn't care either way, but still. "He's Canadian," Tyler tells them as they doze. "Automatically makes him the best." He hums along to Shot For Me, and by the time the song's over, they're both breathing deeply. He keeps the music playing as he turns the light off and sneaks out of the room. He means to change it when he gets downstairs, because there's no reason for him to listen to clean edits now, but he likes Drake and he's lazy, so he just leaves it.
Tyler watches the rest of the game while the girls sleep. He gets halfway through the bag of Doritos he brought and almost upends it over the couch when Chara scores in the third period. "Fuck yeah!" he cheers quietly, and texts DZ, you owe me $$$ for the chara goal bitch. DZ is in one of the other frats on campus, and Tyler sometimes plays Civil War against him. Tyler's not exactly sure what his real name is.
The game ends 3-2, Bruins, and Tyler putters around for a little, channel surfing and cleaning up Dorito crumbs until Andrew gets home. He's aimlessly texting when Andrew pushes the front door open and drops his game bag in the foyer.
"Hey, good game," Tyler calls, hauling himself off of the couch.
"You watch with the girls?" Andrew asks. Tyler wanders into the kitchen and leans against the island. Andrew pulls off his hat and gets himself a glass of water. He holds one out to Tyler too, but Tyler shakes his head so Andrew sets it down on the counter and downs most of his own.
"Yeah, they crashed after the first period, though," Tyler shrugs. "Watched the rest and cleaned up a little."
"Thanks, man, you didn't have to clean or anything," Andrew says.
"No worries," Tyler tells him. "Centering passes were all off though," he adds, almost offhand.
Andrew snorts. "Yeah?"
"Mmhmm," Tyler says. "You probably already got roasted for it though, sorry."
Andrew laughs. "Hey, it's all good," he says. "You play or something?"
"Used to, back in Canada," Tyler nods.
"Used to?" Andrew asks, like he can't understand why Tyler still doesn't.
Tyler shrugs. "I blew out my knee in juniors," he says. "MCL, ACL. Career ender. It's cool, though, I still love watching and shit."
"But you were good? Must've been if you're trying to give me advice," Andrew laughs, and Tyler shrugs again.
"I watch a lot, what can I say," he says.
"You can come back from knees now, though," Andrew says. "Krista did, she thought she was done about ten years back, before we got married, and look at her now."
"The girls showed me some videos," Tyler says. "She's pretty great, seems like."
"Yeah," Andrew says, and Tyler wonders if he's wandering into forbidden territory. "Yeah, she is."
"I'm good, though," Tyler says, reaching for his water bottle. "Like, I don't really want to come back at this point, you know? It happened, it was cool, and I'm doing other shit with my life. It's probably better this way, I would've gotten bored eventually. Yolo, ya know?"
Andrew snorts. Tyler pushes himself off of the counter and grabs his backpack.
"I'll get out of your hair," he says. "Let me know if you need someone to watch them again, they're great."
"I'm not the one making that decision," Andrew chuckles. "If you pass their judgment, you're welcome back anytime."
Tyler takes the T back to campus and heaves himself onto the couch at the house. Marchy and Dougie are playing Call of Duty, so Tyler helps himself to a beer and watches, chirping them both a little.
"Where were you, anyway?" Dougie asks, not looking at Tyler as he concentrates.
"Babysitting," Tyler says. Dougie snorts. "No, for real, bro. It was cool. We crafted. I have glitter everywhere."
"Herpes of the crafts world," Marchy throws in, and Tyler laughs.
"For sure," he says, leaning back.
"Why were you babysitting?" Dougie asks. Tyler rubs his fingers together.
"Young money, cash money," he says.
"That's fair," Dougie says, and then groans as his character dies on the screen.
"My turn," Tyler crows, and wrestles the controller away from Dougie. "You ready, Nose Face Killah? You're going down."
"Bring it," Marchy grins, digging his elbow lightly into Tyler's side. Tyler smirks and they start up the game.
Things get going early the next weekend. It's one of the only weekends off the hockey team has, so Tyler and his brothers all play a few rounds of flip cup and then head over to the Sigma Chi house to meet Marchy and his boys. The party's already in full swing when they get there, and Dougie breaks off immediately, fistbumping a few guys in pursuit of beer.
Beer pong is already going, so Tyler wanders off to find Marchy. They've been pong partners since freshman year when they both rushed, and Tyler remembers a handful of solemn, drunken pinky promises never to play pong with another partner. He's not sure if he's imagining it or not, but he's not about to go back on a pinky promise.
"Ayyy," he calls when he sees Brownie chilling by the keg. "Sup, wifey."
Brownie gets him in a headlock and they wrestle for a minute before Tyler extracts himself to get a beer.
"No forty-hands tonight?" Brownie asks him, laughing, and Tyler snorts.
"You fuckers all left without me, I had to get some rando to undo my belt buckle when I had to piss," Tyler informs him, and Brownie dissolves into a fresh fit of laughter.
"I don't want to know, do I?" Marchy says, coming up behind Tyler and hip checking him. He's got a full solo cup in his hand, but Tyler passes him a second one anyway. He's always been a generous guy.
"Prolly not," Brownie says, and Tyler flips them both off.
"I was looking for you," he says, poking Marchy in the chest. "We have beer pong to dominate!"
"Ridiculous," Brownie says, shaking his head.
"Sore loser," Tyler tells him, and then he grabs his own beer and drags Marchy back through the house to call the next game.
They shoot the shit while they wait for someone to lose and Tyler decides they should shotgun before playing, so Marchy digs his keys out of his pockets and Tyler crushes the can against his forehead when he finishes chugging.
"You're a tool," Marchy tells him, but he's laughing.
"Says the bro who didn't even finish his beer, step it the fuck up, champ," Tyler throws back, and then all of a sudden it's their turn to play.
Tyler takes his shirt off within five minutes of starting. "The abs will distract him," he tells Marchy, gesturing at the Sigma Chi brother at the other end of the table.
"Sure they will," Marchy laughs, giving Tyler a once-over, but his shirt's off soon too, and Tyler's having fun, shaking his ass and making faces as the other pair tries to make their shots.
"Bitches ain't got shit," he yells after Marchy makes a behind the back shot. "Hey, kiss it for luck," he tells Marchy, holding the ball up to his lips. Marchy makes a face, so Tyler pouts. "Do it, bitch!"
Marchy flips him off and kisses the ball.
Tyler makes the shot, "all thanks to you, Marchy! Good luck kiss for the next one, come on," he shouts, pointing at his cheek. Marchy's a hockey player, he isn't about to question a superstition or a win streak, so he kisses Tyler's cheek. His stubble scrapes against Tyler's skin and Tyler wonders absently if girls like that.
They go on a win streak that lasts until DZ and his boys show up, and Tyler gets sucked into a circle of half hugs and fistbumps.
"Long time no see," DZ tells him, and Tyler shrugs.
"You got too good for little 'ole Boston, eh mister study abroad?" Tyler says, and DZ snorts.
"Rome didn't have shit on us," he says, and a round of cheering goes up from the boys. "Hey," he tells Tyler, "c'mere."
Tyler steps towards DZ and slings an arm around his shoulder. DZ slips a twenty into the front pocket of Tyler's jeans and tells him, "for the Chara goal."
"I knew you owed me, bitch," Tyler crows.
"Whatever," DZ laughs, and he and his boys drift off towards the keg. Tyler talks to Dougie for a few minutes before realizing that he's lost Marchy, and he doesn't want to have lost Marchy, so he does a few laps around the house until he finds him sitting on one of the couches, watching one of his brothers play Mario Kart.
"Yo," Tyler shouts. He doesn't need to shout. Marchy is right there. Really close. Tyler blinks. "Beer pong partner for life," he insists.
"For sure," Marchy agrees easily, and Tyler slings his arm around Marchy's shoulders.
"Like, forever. You and me, bro, it's real," he says, wobbling a little when Marchy starts to walk them towards the kitchen to get more beer. "Hey, grab me one too, wifey," he says when Marchy opens the fridge and helps himself.
"Brownie's your wife, not me," Marchy says, raising his eyebrows in mild confusion. Tyler shrugs and waves it off. Marchy tosses him a beer anyway.
"Fucker," Tyler says when he opens it, because he's drunker than he thought and now his hand is sticky with beer from it foaming over. Marchy laughs at him. Tyler sticks his tongue out, and then gets distracted seeing how far he can stick his tongue out. He has a long tongue.
Marchy's staring at him weirdly. Tyler refocuses. "Leggo," he says. He holds his beer in his left hand and grabs Marchy's belt loop with his right and drags Marchy back out into the party. "We have a civil war tournament to start!"
Tyler wakes up on the Sigma Chi couch, not for the first time. He does have his keys and his phone, though, which is more than he could say a few weekends ago. He blinks a few times and pushes himself into a sitting position, taking a mental inventory of his hangover. His stomach feels fine, because he hadn't touched the tequila last night, so he stands up all the way and wanders into the Sigma Chi kitchen before he lets himself out, grabbing a mostly full bag of Doritos on the way.
The sun isn't doing anything good for the headache he's working on, so Tyler squints his way back to his own house and sits down on the couch in the darkened living room to watch a rerun of Teen Mom while he finishes the stolen Doritos. He kind of wants a full breakfast, greasy eggs and home fries and bacon, the whole nine yards, so he pulls out his phone and texts Marchy. bfast after prax y/y? hit me back, because Marchy has morning practices most weekends and that's one of those things that makes Tyler not even a little bit sorry he isn't playing anymore.
He goes upstairs after a while to plug his phone in and brush his teeth. He chugs some water and ties on his running shoes, because he's pretty sure he can jog off the hangover and Marchy has at least an hour left of practice, anyway. He grabs a pair of Fay-Bans on his way out and wears them as he does a slow lap of about half of campus, making it out to Nickerson before turning back.
There's a text from Marchy on his phone when he gets back. Tyler checks it, ready for greasy food and coffee, but it says can't, econ exam tmrw, rainchek?
Tyler goes to Dunkin by himself and then retreats back to the house to work on his coffee and watch some more TV.
"Didn't get any for me, you fuck?" Dougie asks Tyler, swiping for the coffee cup when he comes downstairs.
"Nope," Tyler says, dodging easily and refusing to share even when Dougie pouts.
"What crawled up your ass," Dougie huffs. Tyler doesn't answer, just turns the volume up higher until Dougie wanders away.
Tyler's lounging on the couch at the student union, idly watching Marchy do a problem set and snapchatting Dougie from Marchy's phone, when Andrew calls him again. Tyler had put Andrew's number in his phone as 'FERENCE FROM THE BRUINS', mostly just for laughs. Tyler has the phone numbers of a handful of NHL players, guys he knew back in juniors; he keeps their numbers mostly to chirp and to find out where they're partying when they come to town.
"Yo, it's you," Marchy says, tossing Tyler his phone. "Who's in your phone as Ference?"
"Andrew Ference," Tyler tells him, mouthing 'duh' as he answers the call. "Hey, what's up?"
"Hey, Tyler? It's Andrew," Andrew says.
"Yeah, hey, what's good," Tyler says.
"So we have an afternoon game in New York this weekend, and the girls really liked you last time, so I was wondering if you'd be around to babysit on Sunday?" Andrew asks. "It's not an overnight or anything, I wouldn't ask you to do that, don't worry."
"Sunday? Works for me," Tyler says. "What time you leaving?"
"Pretty early," Andrew says, sounding apologetic. "They'll have a sleepover at a friend's on Saturday night, probably, and then if you could pick them up and take them to the house Sunday morning that would be great."
"No problem," Tyler says. "Text me the address and shit?"
"Of course," Andrew agrees. "Hey, thank you so much – I have to run to practice, but I'll text you later?"
"For sure," Tyler says. "Bye, man."
He hangs up. Marchy is staring at him. Tyler tosses the phone back down onto the couch. Marchy raises his eyebrows.
"So," he says. "Don't tell me. Some guy you knew in juniors." He rolls his eyes a little as he imitates Tyler, so Tyler kicks him gently in the ribs. Marchy catches his foot and hangs onto it, his hand warm against Tyler's ankle.
"Nah," Tyler says, wiggling his toes. "I'm babysitting his kids."
Marchy snorts. "No, really."
"No, really," Tyler throws back. "I'm babysitting his kids, man. They're great, his ex wife is some pro snowboarder or whatever so I watch them during games sometimes."
"Yup," Tyler says.
"Why didn't you tell me? You know he's one of my favorite players," Marchy says, looking mildly hurt.
Tyler knows. Marchy wears a Ference jersey when they go to the sports bar near campus for games. "I'm telling you now," he says. Marchy's eyebrows are tented, and Tyler knows that means he's more upset than he wants to let on. "Hey, I'm sorry, bro," he says. "I'll see if he can get us tickets or something, make up for it?" He doesn't think it's that big of a deal, but he isn't about to let Marchy stay upset about it. Marchy's his boy.
"It's ok," Marchy says, but his eyebrows relax.
"Hey, you done with your problem set?" Tyler asks.
"Almost," Marchy says.
"Sweet, let's get food soon," Tyler says. "I want Taco Bell."
"You know there is literally nothing at Taco Bell that's on my diet," Marchy tells him, tickling his ankle gently.
Tyler squirms, trying not to laugh. "Ok fine," he whines. "You wanna get some girly salad at Wendy's?"
"Fuck you," Marchy says, releasing Tyler's foot and gathering up his things. "Let's just go to the GSU, pick up something there."
"Fine, you're boring," Tyler says. "You could be living on the edge, eating a Cheesy Gordita Crunch with me, but no."
Marchy flips him off, and they head to the student union.
Tyler wakes up at what feels like the asscrack of dawn to make a Target run before heading to the Ference house on Sunday. There's a midweek BU hockey game coming up, and he and Dougie are out of body paint. Tyler had suggested just using normal paint, 'cause the house has a ton of that leftover from making banners a few weeks back, but they'd experimented with it on Dougie's forearm and it hadn't gone too well.
Dougie keeps a car on campus, so Tyler grabs his keys and sticks a Post-It on Dougie's foot: took the car to get paint, i'll be back late afternoon promise not to crash.
He gets a cart at Target, because Tyler knows himself; he'll walk out with a cart full of paint and cardboard and anything red that he can find. He strolls through the food aisles first, grabbing a bag of Doritos as he goes. He snags a pack of juice boxes as he makes his way over to the craft supplies. Kids like juice boxes, he thinks. Hell, he still drinks them sometimes.
As predicted, he fills up his cart with posterboard, red and white body paint, and he finds a sweet pack of red sweatbands, so he grabs those too. He contemplates getting red spray-in hair dye, but decides not to. Dougie's pretty ginge already.
Before he leaves the store, he picks up a sing-a-long DVD of Mulan. His sisters had loved that shit when they were little; Tyler figures it might keep the Ference girls entertained for a while.
Dougie texts him as he loads his haul into the car. u can keep the car all day but that means i don't owe u for the paint.
thx bro, Tyler texts back. He punches the address Ference had sent him into the GPS and goes to get the girls.
"Can we play dress up?" Stella asks.
Tyler eyes them carefully, sizing them up. "You guys can play dress up," he tries, even though he knows there's no way he can get out of this without at least a tiara.
Predictably, Ava chimes in with, "You can play, too!" and so Tyler ends up sitting on the floor of the living room with the girls twirling around him. He doesn't have a tiara though; Stella had decided that he could be the evil villain, so he has one of the vacuum cleaner attachments tucked into his belt as a sword, and a few yards of red fabric pinned to his t-shirt. All good villains have capes.
He's getting a little sick of not being able to actually whack the girls with the vacuum cleaner attachments; he stopped playing hockey a while ago but he will always be a competitive asshole, and he's sick of losing. He makes a break for it while the girls are distracted trying to find something to use as rope, and lunges for the Target bags he put on the kitchen counter.
"Hey!" Ava calls. "You aren't allowed to escape!"
"I'm not escaping," Tyler protests, throwing his hands in the air. "I'm getting my ransom!"
"Ransom?" Stella asks.
"Sure," Tyler says, pulling out the juice boxes. "When you take a hostage, you offer a ransom. And if I can pay it, then I'm free," he explains.
Ava puts one hand on her hip. "Just juice boxes?" she scoffs. "Uh uh, not enough, mister."
"But wait, there's more," Tyler says, holding back a laugh. The girls clearly don't watch enough TV, because they don't react. He pulls out the sing-a-long Mulan. "Check it out, yo."
The girls inspect the DVD and Stella pulls Ava aside and they hold a conference, whispering to each other and glancing over at Tyler periodically. He does his best to look worried.
"Okay," Stella says when they march back over. "We accept the ransom. But only if you sing!"
"Deal," Tyler says, because Mulan is his jam, even though the Lion King is definitely his favorite as far as classic Disney goes. He holds out his hand, and both of the girls shake it.
He makes popcorn before they troop back to the living room, and gets the girls set up with juice boxes before popping the DVD in.
He does sing, and the girls do to, and then they get pooped and start dozing before the end of the movie, so Tyler gets them up and makes them put away their costumes and gets them to bed. He's on his way back downstairs when he hears Andrew open the front door.
"Hey, dude," he says, coming into the kitchen.
"Hey," Andrew says. "Were you cleaning or something?"
"What?" Tyler asks, confused, and Andrew points to his belt, where the vacuum cleaner attachment is still functioning as a sword. "Oh. Nah, dude, that's my sword. I'm a big bad evil villain, didn't you know?"
Andrew laughs. "I see," he says, and Tyler pulls the vacuum attachment out of his belt and puts it on the counter.
"How was the game?" Tyler asks. "We watched Mulan instead, no offense."
"None taken," Andrew says. "I am no match for saving China."
"Damn straight!" Tyler laughs.
"We won," Andrew says. "3-1, it was a good one."
"Nice, I'll catch the highlights," Tyler says.
Andrew pulls a check out of his pocket and slides it across the counter to Tyler. "I'm not rushing you out or anything," he says when Tyler stands up to leave. "I just know I'll forget."
"Gotcha," Tyler says, sitting back down and taking the check. He's never been great at math, but he's pretty sure that the amount written out on the check is way more than it should be. "Hold up," he says. "This is too much, man."
"Nah," Andrew says. "I got you out of bed early on a Sunday, you deserve it. Besides, you're paying for school." Tyler makes a noise of protest, but Andrew cuts him off. "It's fine, dude. Take it."
Tyler is paying for school, so he folds up the check and slides it into his back pocket. "You really don't have to," he says, "but thanks."
"No problem," Andrew says. "Busy week coming up?"
Tyler shrugs. "Not really," he says. "Gonna go to the hockey game on Wednesday, that's about it."
"Let me guess," Andrew says. "You're one of the guys who paints their chests and learns the names of all the guys on the other team to chirp."
"You know me well!" Tyler crows, laughing. "We also have a fathead of my boy who's on the team."
"Remind me to give you tickets to one of my games, sometime," Andrew says. "I expect a painted chest and a giant poster of my head."
"Deal," Tyler says. "Done. Sold. Just tell me when."
"You got the poster?" Tyler asks. Dougie doesn't look away from the mirror, just points to the opposite wall and nods.
"Yup. Hey, give me a hand with this," he says, and holds out the paintbrush to Tyler.
Tyler finishes painting the '3' on Dougie's chest. "Your turn, do me," he says, handing the paintbrush back. Dougie snickers, and Tyler flicks paint at him. "You only wish, dude," he says. "One track mind."
"I know you think I'm one of your harem and all," Dougie says, "but that doesn't mean I want to sleep you."
"Please," Tyler says. "Who could resist this?" He shimmies his hips a little, until Dougie waves the paintbrush around and smacks his elbow.
"You wanna be a Jackson Pollack or you want me to finish this six?" Dougie threatens.
"I don't like art that much," he concedes. "Hurry up and finish, I want a pic of this for twitter!"
Dougie has trouble with keeping track of his left and his right – Tyler had discovered this while Dougie was blindfolded during Hell Week and had some trouble following instructions – so he knows he's gonna be the one responsible for keeping them in the right order. Even if they fuck it up and end up reading '36' instead of '63', it'll still be pretty obvious who they're there for; they'd printed out a giant fathead of Marchy's headshot and taped it to some posterboard to wave around. They get themselves lined up in the right order and Tyler gets one of the brothers in the living room to take a picture on his phone.
"Marchy's gonna love it," he laughs, handing the phone back to Tyler.
"Fuck yeah!" Tyler says, and they head back upstairs to grab Dougie's keys and head out.
"He's not even one of our brothers," Dougie points out.
"But more importantly, he is our bro," Tyler lectures. "Besides, it's whatever, Sigma Chi's aren't bad. And he's my beer pong partner for life. Gotta support! Plus, you invite him over to play video games when I'm not even here, so you can't say shit."
"Fair," Dougie says, grabbing his keys. "Let's go, dude, we gotta get there in time for warmups."
The kid on the other team they pick to harass is named Kevin.
"Get off your knees, Kevin, you're blowing the game!" Tyler and Dougie shout in unison as Kevin lays a hit on Marchy. Marchy's a scrappy fucker, so he shoves back and gets off the boards, heads for the bench for his shift change.
The rink isn't completely packed, but it's still pretty full and Tyler has to work to make himself heard over the crowd. For the really big games, they usually bring a megaphone, just to be obnoxious, but they'd figured not as many people would be at a Wednesday evening game. Apparently, there are more more of campus wants to avoid studying than Tyler had anticipated.
"Marchy should be moved up a line, he's making shit happen when he's on the ice with those guys," Tyler tells Dougie, but Dougie's more interested in chatting up the girl a row behind them, so Tyler rolls his eyes and turns back to the game.
Tyler puts his feet up on one of the couches in the lobby of the main gym. Marchy usually takes around forty five minutes after games, so Tyler figures he's got about ten minutes left to wait. He and Dougie had showered in FitRec after the game before parting ways, Dougie to meet the boys at the bar, and Tyler to wait for Marchy.
"Hey, bro, thanks for coming out," a few of Marchy's teammates tell him as they exit the locker room. Tyler knows most of them through Marchy and for being at every home game, so he salutes them and grins.
"Always," he says. "Step it the fuck up on your penalty kill before Cornell, though."
They chat idly about the third line and Tyler likes it, talking about the game with dudes who know which way is up. They've all tried to recruit him at one point or another, but they've also all backed off when he said no, which he appreciates.
"You coming to the Cornell game?" one of the guys asks as they make moves for the door.
"At the Garden? If I can get a ticket, for sure," Tyler says. "Thought it was already sold out though."
"We'll see if anyone has comps left," they all offer, and Tyler smiles.
"Thanks, man," he says.
They take off, and Tyler settles back onto the couch, pulling out his phone to text Dougie while he waits. It's not long before Marchy comes out of the locker room with his hood up and a Band-Aid on the bridge of his nose.
"Nice groufit," Tyler tells him, taking in Marchy's ensemble of grey sweatpants and a grey sweatshirt, both with '63' embroidered in red. "Nice nose."
Marchy laughs a little. "Guess it's gonna stick out even more now, eh?"
"Damn straight," Tyler says. They T it to where Marchy's left his car and once they get in, Tyler takes over the radio and puts Kanye on loud as Marchy drives them to their diner.
It's a ritual they've had since their freshman year, back when Marchy was still trying to work his way into the regular lineup. The night waitresses all know them now, and most of them know the game schedule too, so when they roll up and slide into their usual booth, there are two cups of coffee waiting for them.
"Nice," Tyler says, and makes a mental note to leave a big tip. He doesn't usually have enough money in the bank to tip more than a few bucks, but Andrew has continued to overpay him for watching the girls. "Hey, doin' ok?" he asks Marchy, leaning across the booth and gently poking the Band-Aid on Marchy's nose.
"Yeah, it's not broken or anything, just a cut," Marchy says. He'd taken an elbow to the face in the second period; Tyler had spent most of the rest of the game heckling the guy who did it.
"It was a cheap shot," Tyler says, and then turns to the waitress to order a large stack of chocolate chip pancakes. "You can have one, don't worry," he tells Marchy, who orders an egg white omelet.
"I don't get it man, you eat like, exclusively Doritos and beer and you have better abs than anyone on the team," Marchy says.
Tyler winks at him and pulls up the bottom of his shirt slightly, showing off. Marchy laughs. "What, fucker," Tyler says.
"You still can't wink without fucking up half your face," Marchy says. Tyler flips him off and laughs back.
They shoot the shit and talk through some of the game – Tyler's been Marchy's secret coach since their freshman year, except that it isn't a secret anymore and half of the team has hit him up for pointers.
"We play RPI away next week, you gonna make the drive?" Marchy asks him. Last year, Tyler and Dougie had driven the four hours to see that game, but Tyler shakes his head.
"No, sorry bro, I'm babysitting," he says. "I'll get the girls to watch the livestream, though, for sure."
"No way," Marchy says, "no fucking way are you having Ference's kids watch me play."
"Why not?" Tyler asks.
"They'll have really high standards and hate me before I've even met them," Marchy says, like it's obvious.
"I don't think they even know what icing is, and if they do, they don't care. I wouldn't worry too much," Tyler tells him. He likes that Marchy wants to meet them. They'll like Marchy; Tyler knows him, and he'd be a sucker for giving the girls piggyback rides everywhere.
It's almost midnight by the time they finish eating and head back to campus. Tyler has a 9:30 nutrition seminar in the morning that he's contemplating skipping, and he's missed some body paint on his left arm that's super dry and itchy, so he kind of wants to go home and shower. Marchy drops him off in front of the house, and Tyler unbuckles himself and leans over the center console, plants a smacking kiss on Marchy's bandaged nose.
"There," he proclaims, "now you won't have a scar."
"You're a fucking weirdo," Marchy tells him, but he's smiling, so Tyler flips him off and hops out of the car.
Tyler manages to get to all of his classes on Thursday, even his morning nutrition seminar. He doodles absently for most of the seminar, but he's still there. A for effort, he thinks. He shoots Dougie a text about lunch and stares at his phone until class ends and he gets a text, not from Dougie but from Andrew.
krista's here this weekend so you're off the hook, it says.
Tyler raises his eyebrows at his phone. He doesn't know a lot about Krista, just that the girls adore her and that she's a professional snowboarder. He suspects that Andrew is still pretty gone for her, but he hasn't figured out how to bring it up yet, so he hasn't confirmed anything. As much as he wants to know, it's not his business.
That'll be his philosophy until he and Andrew get drunk together, anyway, but Tyler isn't sure when that will happen. Andrew's his boss, so it feels a little weird, but he's also a professional hockey player, and therefore could probably drink Tyler under the table.
ok thanks 4 the heads up, Tyler texts back. girls must be pumped!
He's not really expecting Andrew to reply, but he does, within a few minutes: they're pretty psyched, she's great with them.
Tyler spends the rest of the morning texting back and forth with Andrew, and when he gets back to the house in the afternoon, he gets on Twitter and follows @ferknuckle. He screenshots it and sends it to Marchy.
stop being lame get on twitter look who u could be following!!!!!!!, he sends.
film sesh stop bothering me, Marchy texts back, so Tyler spends the next hour sending Marchy pictures of Andrew Ference, and also boobs.
Tyler's out at a downtown bar with Dougie, Marchy, and DZ and his boys, celebrating the hockey team's win at RPI, when he sees Ference sitting with someone Tyler doesn't recognize. Tyler makes eye contact and waves, sends Andrew a sloppy grin and Andrew laughs at him before turning back to his beer and his conversation.
"Yo," Tyler says, poking Marchy. "Yo, c'mere."
He grabs Marchy's elbow and drags him back from the group. "The fuck?" Marchy asks without heat.
"Andrew Ference, ten o'clock," Tyler tells him, stumbling into Marchy as a waitress squeezes through the space behind him. He catches himself on Marchy's shoulder and grins. "You're welcome."
Tyler watches Marchy's eyes widen when he spots Ference, and he smiles, loose and easy. "Wanna go meet him? Let's go," he says, pushing gently at Marchy's solid shoulder.
"No, dude, that would be weird, it's chill," Marchy says, and Tyler huffs, because Marchy's inferiority complex comes out at the weirdest times.
"What're you so nervous about," Tyler says, patting Marchy's cheek.
"It's just weird," Marchy says, and he looks uncomfortable, which Tyler doesn't want, so Tyler pulls back and releases Marchy's shoulder.
"More drinks, then we'll talk to him," Tyler decides, and heads for the bar before Marchy can protest.
Tyler gets all the way to the bar and then realizes that Marchy isn't with him. He pouts for a second, and then slides over to Andrew.
"Hey, friend," he says, and signals the bartender.
"Same as before?" the bartender asks.
"Two please, thank you sir," Tyler says, saluting him. "Not for you," he adds, when Andrew raises an eyebrow at him. Tyler grins. "You aren't my type, sorry."
Andrew laughs. "No hard feelings," he says, taking a pull of his beer.
"What're you up to out?" Tyler asks. "What are the munchkins up to?"
"Krista's here for the week," Andrew says, and Tyler feels dumb for not remembering. It was all the girls had talked about last time he'd watched them. "She's staying at the house, but I figured I'd give the girls some time with their mom alone, you know?"
"Sure," Tyler says, but he knows when a conversation is doomed, so he changes the subject. "Hey, see that guy over there?" He points over his shoulder to where Marchy is sitting. "Will you sign something for him?"
Andrew snorts into his beer. "Sure," he says. "You have anything?"
Tyler has a Sharpie in his pocket, but no paper. "It's ok," he says, holding out his own forearm. "This'll work." Andrew looks dubious, but he signs Tyler's forearm and pockets the Sharpie.
"For safekeeping," he says. "And also so you don't wake up with a dick drawn on your face. You're welcome in advance."
"You are a wise man," Tyler tells him. The bartender circles around to them with Tyler's drinks, so Tyler stands up. "Let me know if you need someone for next weekend, eh?"
"You got it," Andrew says, and Tyler heads back to his boys.
"For you," he says to Marchy, handing him his beer, and also showing him his forearm.
Marchy takes a minute to realize what's written on his arm, and then he bursts out laughing. "You are something else," he tells Tyler, tracing his finger over Andrew's signature, and Tyler beams at him.
"Bottoms up, boys," DZ calls. "Finish your drinks and then we're on to bigger and better."
yo come over after prax we gotta plan the 4pack, Tyler texts Marchy.
He's not sure how it became his job to plan the fourpack with Sigma Chi and two sororities, but someone had delegated it to him and Tyler won't lie, he is pretty good at planning maximum beer intake at parties. Marchy doesn't reply, but Tyler's pretty sure he's already at practice, so he doesn't sweat it, just chills on the couch in sweats and a wife beater because there's no way he's going outside in the rain. There's a Criminal Minds marathon on, anyway, and Tyler loves this shit.
"You're gonna start sleeping with a knife under your pillow again if you watch too much," Dougie reminds him when he gets home from class. Sometimes Tyler wishes he'd never told Dougie about the winter he'd spent skipping class and marathoning crime shows.
"Serial killers are a real threat, bro," Tyler chirps back. "Constant vigilance!"
Dougie snorts at him but leaves him to it. Tyler steadily munches his way through a bag of Doritos and three episodes by the time Marchy finally texts him back, a quick k on the way. He usually spells out words in full in his texts, so Tyler figures he's driving and doesn't bother answering.
"Hey, bro," he calls when he hears the door open and close. He's not sure if it's Marchy or not, but it doesn't really matter; all the guys in the house are his bros.
"Sup," Marchy says. Tyler twists around on the couch in time to see Marchy dump his gym bag on the floor by the door and wiggle out of a wet BU Hockey sweatshirt.
"Really coming down out there, eh?" Tyler asks, and Marchy nods, shaking water out of his hair.
"Fucking monsoon, yeah," Marchy says, and makes his way over to the couch. He's wearing shorts.
"Put a sweatshirt on, don't be an idiot," Tyler tells him, tugging one of his own sweatshirts off of the chair next to him and tossing it at Marchy.
"Laundry day," Marchy shrugs, but he pulls Tyler's sweatshirt over his head. "Fuck, I'm tired." He settles onto the couch, putting his feet up on the table and letting his head fall against the back of the couch. Tyler's sweatshirt is hilariously big on him, and he has to roll the sleeves up several times.
Marchy groans. "My ass will be sore all week, man, so unfair."
If Marchy had been standing, Tyler would've slapped his ass to make a joke out of it, but he's not sure what to do instead, so he pokes Marchy's thigh with his toes instead. "Buns of steel, my man, the ladies dig it."
"How would you know? Weren't you banging one of the laxbros recently?" Marchy laughs.
"Hey now," Tyler protests. "I am equal opportunity lovin'. And yeah, I was."
"What happened with that?" Marchy asks. Tyler glances over; Marchy's eyes are slipping closed.
"It ended," Tyler shrugs.
"Your decision or his?" Marchy asks, and it looks like he's trying to muster up enough energy to have a conversation about this, which Tyler doesn't really want. It's not a big deal, is the thing; it was fun and now it's over, which is how most of Tyler's hook-ups go, but most of his bros don't understand that he's cool with it, he likes it this way.
"Mine," Tyler tells him firmly. "Decided lacrosse is overrated unless you're Mark Matthews. Besides, he only played club and he acted like he was NLL."
"Fair enough," Marchy says. He rubs his eyes and forces himself to sit up a little straighter. "Man, I dunno if I can plan this right now," he admits. "I'm beat."
"No worries, I already did something- basically, all we need is to get some liquor for the girls, right, and like, cranberry or whatever they chase with, and we can just get something nicer than Keystone to make 'em happy, and then all we gotta do is put a tablecloth on the pong table and voila, we're good to go." He's making it up as he goes, but it sounds pretty good, actually.
"DJ," Marshy says. His voice is a low rumble, sleepy and relaxed. "We need a good DJ."
"I'm assuming you mean not Kaner, then," Tyler laughs, and Marchy nods, barely inclining his head.
"Hey, it's cool, we'll do this later. Wanna crash?" Tyler asks.
Marchy picks himself up a little bit. "Yeah, I'm good, I'll drive back to the house."
"Nah, bro, gimme your keys," Tyler says, holding out his hands. Marchy raises an eyebrow. "Bros don't let bros drive asleep." Marchy laughs, and pulls his keys out of his pocket.
Usually when Marshy crashes, it's after a long night of drinking and they both just fall into Tyler's bed. It's a big bed, and Marshy's kind of a short dude, so they fit pretty comfortably. They aren't drunk now, but it's pretty not awkward anyway. Marshy faceplants on the bed after Tyler loans him a pair of sweats, and Tyler stays up aimlessly texting for a while, trying to figure out who can DJ the fourpack. He's got his iTunes on shuffle, and the Drake edits come on after a while. Tyler laughs to himself and shoots Andrew a text. r the girls singing drizzy yet? he asks. Andrew replies after a minute, no, you haven't totally corrupted them yet. are you free Sunday afternoon to babysit?
for sure, Tyler replies. It's almost one in the morning, so he plugs his phone in and puts it on silent. He pulls his shirt off and kills the desk light before he climbs into bed next to Marchy, who's snoring gently. Tyler rolls himself up in the sweatshirt blanket he keeps at the foot of the bed and falls asleep before he has time to be annoyed by Marchy's snores.
Dougie wakes them up in the morning, laughing loudly as he takes a picture of them vaguely curled around each other.
"Are you tweeting that?" Tyler asks. He needs to brush his teeth.
"Of course," Dougie says, grinning.
"Baller," Tyler says. "Marchy, you've been added to the harem. It's Twitter official."
Marchy grunts and pulls the pillow over his face. "I don't wanna know."
"You really don't," Dougie says. Tyler flips him off and gets up to check his notifications.
"Who do you know that can DJ?" Tyler asks Dougie. They're on a Dunkin's run between classes, and the social chair of one of the sororities they're planning the four-pack with has been blowing up Tyler's phone, trying to make him get on top of his shit. It's a fruitless effort; he just turned 21 and he still eats potato chips for breakfast. "Someone who's not Kaner," he adds, because Kaner's his bro, but he has a history of getting distracted mid-party and abandoning the music selections.
"Uh," Dougie shrugs. "I dunno. What d'ya want?"
"I'll come in," Tyler shrugs, and they both get out of the car and head inside. He kind of wants a breakfast sandwich. "Iced coffee, milk and sugar," Tyler tells the girl at the counter, "and a bacon, egg and cheese, please!"
Dougie gives her his own order before turning to Tyler and raising his eyebrow. "Rhyming stopped being cute once you stopped reading Dr. Seuss," he says.
"Who said I ever stopped?" Tyler asks, grinning. It's kind of true; he'd read half of Horton Hears a Who! to the girls recently, before they all got bored and decided to make milkshakes instead.
"You're spending too much time babysitting," Dougie laughs.
"Gotta pay the bills," Tyler says, rubbing his fingers together.
"Great, that means you can pay for my coffee, too," Dougie says, and Tyler scrunches up his face but hands Dougie a ten.
"For real though, you've been babysitting every weekend, seems like," Dougie says as they get their coffees. "When was the last time you hooked up?"
"Uh," Tyler shrugs. "Couple weeks ago?"
Dougie looks at him, frowning. "Are you in a slump because of your laxbro?"
"No, bro," Tyler says, laughing. "Def not."
"Ok," Dougie says. "Whatever you say."
"Damn straight!" Tyler crows. "Glad you've finally learned."
Dougie snorts. "Come out with us tonight, if you aren't babysitting," he offers.
"For sure," Tyler says. "Where we gon' go?"
Tyler pesters Marchy into agreeing to come, so they end up at a club near campus with a few of Dougie's friends in tow. It's pretty crowded, but Tyler recognizes a dude he knows from his freshman year at a table near the bar, so they head that way.
"Yo, Blacker!" he calls, and Jesse stands up and holds his arms out.
"Dude, haven't seen you around in a while!" Jesse shouts over the music, and Tyler steps forward to hug him. Jesse slaps his back and slides his chair over.
"We'll get the next round if you let us crash your party," Tyler offers.
"Of course, dude," Jesse says, and Dougie snorts.
"By 'we', he means me," he tells Jesse, and Tyler nods, hip checking Dougie.
"Little bro knows what's up now," he laughs. "Only took him two years."
"You trained him well," Marchy says, and Tyler throws his arm around Marchy's shoulders.
"Fuck you both," Dougie says, heading for the bar.
"I'll go with," Marchy says, so Tyler sits down with Blacker and they catch up, shooting the shit until Dougie and Marchy come back with drinks. A few of Jesse's friends show after a few minutes, and Tyler had forgotten how much he liked Jesse. He's an easy guy to chill with.
When Marchy and Dougie come back, Dougie's holding a few beer bottles, and Marchy's holding a few handles of vodka.
"Who'd you sleep with to get those?" Jesse asks, laughing at Marchy in disbelief.
"Fuck you, I'd last longer than that," Marchy admonishes. He makes to hand Tyler one of the bottles and Tyler just tips his head back and opens his mouth. "And I'd get better than this," he adds, pouring some into Tyler's open mouth.
"That good, huh?" Jesse asks, winking, and Tyler almost chokes at the way Marchy's voice gets rumbly and low when he answers, "Mmhmm."
He sputters a little, and Marchy rights the bottle. "Too much?" Marchy asks, shaking his head. "When did you become a lightweight?"
Tyler wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "Never, asshole," he says, taking the bottle from Marchy and pouring another shot into his own mouth, just for good measure.
Once the alcohol starts to hit him, Tyler wants to dance. His ass was fucking made to shimmy, the club is crowded, and he's not about to pass this opportunity up. "Let's go," he yells, gesturing at Marchy. "Dance."
"You go," Marchy says, laughing, and Tyler flips him off as he drifts away towards the dance floor.
He's a good dancer, is the thing. It's common knowledge, after the time his freshman year when he and Marchy had a dance contest on a table at the Sigma Chi house. His hips find the beat, loose and easy, and he doesn't mind that all of his bros suck and wouldn't come with him. He'd want to watch himself dance, if given the opportunity. He doesn't blame them.
He dances with a few girls, but he isn't really feeling it with any of them, so he isn't too torn up when Marchy appears by his elbow, holding another bottle of something. Tyler can't tell what it is, but it looks nicer than the last alcohol Marchy had poured into his mouth.
"I'll be back," he says into the girl's ear, even though he isn't planning on finding her again, and he lets Marchy drag him to the edge of the crowd.
"Damn, you stepped it up for this one," Tyler says, taking the bottle, because this shit looks expensive. Marchy winks at him, and Tyler's cheeks heat up. "You didn't actually-"
"No, fucker," Marchy says, smacking Tyler gently. "I have standards."
"Do you?" Tyler asks, pouring a shot into his own mouth. It burns a little, but it's smooth. He hands the bottle back to Marchy.
"Yep," Marchy says. "I do." He keeps eye contact as he takes his own shot, and Tyler's feeling loose and happy and a little warm under the collar, so he tugs on Marchy's beltloop.
"Dance with me," he whines, and he fist pumps in victory when Marchy follows him back to the dance floor.
Tyler wakes up, hungover, to an email from each of the social chairs from the sororities he's planning the four-pack with. They've each sent him a list of dates they're available for the party, and Tyler's head is too fuzzy to deal with it, so he puts his phone on silent and rolls over for a few more hours of sleep.
When he gets up for real, he showers, makes some instant coffee because he can't be assed to walk to Dunkin's and Dougie's keys aren't on the hook, and then takes another look at the emails.
"Fuck," he mumbles, wishing he'd brought his laptop downstairs because the screen of his phone is too small for this. The girls only have two dates that overlap, and only one of those work with him, and he's pretty sure-
Sigma Chi is good for that weekend, but Marchy isn't.
bro, Tyler texts Marchy, sending it before he can get the rest of his thought out. houston we have a problem!!!
"Dude," Tyler says. "Madison fucking Square Garden, you're playing at Madison fucking Square Garden."
"Yes," Marchy says, slowly, like Tyler's stupid. "We play there every year."
"I'm just saying," Tyler says, snapping a little because he isn't stupid. "Why would we plan a party for the night you're playing at the Garden?"
"Because it's the only weekend that works for every house," Marchy says, and Tyler really hates logic sometimes.
"Yeah but like, you're planning it, you should be able to go!" Tyler tries.
Marchy shrugs. "It's cool, man. I get to play at the Garden."
"I was gonna try to come down and see it," Tyler says, trying not to whine.
"Yeah?" Marchy asks. He looks surprised.
"Yes, fool," Tyler tells him. "You're my bro."
He bounces his pen up and down a few times. "You shoulda told me," Marchy says. "I would've gotten extra comps for you or something." He sounds weird, so Tyler kicks his thigh gently.
"It's OK, I was going to seduce my way in," Tyler says. "Foolproof plan." Marchy raises an eyebrow and looks like he's trying not to laugh. "Hey, fuck you, I have a bangin' body," Tyler says.
"Really?" Marchy says. "I always thought you drew a six-pack on top of your beer gut."
"I hate you," Tyler says. He narrows his eyes and lets Marchy think he got away with it before launching himself across the couch and tackling him. Marchy grunts, and Tyler wrestles with him until he's sitting on top of Marchy. He takes one of Marchy's hands and puts it on his stomach underneath his shirt. "Beer gut, huh? You feel any beer gut here?"
"No," Marchy says, bucking his hips. Tyler doesn't budge.
The front door opens and closes. "God, get a room," Dougie groans. Tyler looks up to see him toeing his shoes off.
"Marchy thinks I have a beer belly," Tyler complains loudly.
"I just said you didn't, you fuck," Marchy protests.
"You don't," Dougie says. "Go stare at yourself in the mirrors at the gym for a few hours to reaffirm your self worth."
"Yes," Marchy says. "Please do. Get off!"
"Victory!" Tyler crows. "Suck it, Bradley."
Marchy makes a sound like he's gonna hurl and Tyler isn't sure if it's real or not, so he gets out of the way fast, flinging himself to the other side of the couch.
"Gotcha," Marchy taunts, sitting up and straightening his shirt.
"You are the very worst," Tyler says.
"I thought I was your bro?" Marchy teases.
"You can be my bro and a sucky person," Tyler says philosophically. "A rare combination, but not mutually exclusive or whatever." He pulls out the calendar on his phone again. "Are you sure you're good for that weekend?"
"It's the only one that works, send the email already," Marchy says.
"Fine," Tyler says, and he sends the email to the other three social chairs. He feels kind of shitty about it, but that dissipates as he and Marchy eat their way through five cartons of Chinese takeout and a mini-marathon of Criminal Minds.
Tyler usually doesn't babysit overnight for Andrew, but when Andrew calls him, clearly desperate, on a Saturday morning and explains that the usual sitter has the flu, Tyler just says, "Don't worry about it, bro," and gets out of bed. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
"I owe you so big," Andrew says.
"It's cool," Tyler tells him, looking around his room for a clean pair of jeans.
"I'll get you tickets to a game, I promise," Andrew says. "Seriously, thank you so much."
"It's cool," Tyler tells him again. "I'm gonna go get my shit together, I'll be there soon."
He hangs up and finds a pair of jeans. He has a midterm coming up, so he packs a bookbag, this time; it's only half full of food (half a Subway sandwich he found in the fridge, a bag of chips, Twizzlers, a Gatorade), and he does put his anatomy textbook and a legal pad in it.
Andrew's halfway out the door when Tyler shows up, and he looks stressed. "Go," Tyler tells him. "Win your game, it's cool."
"You are the best," Andrew says.
"Damn straight!" Tyler says, and then claps a hand over his mouth because there are kids in the house. He glances around, and Ava and Stella come into the foyer.
"You said a bad word," Stella accuses.
"Yes I did," Tyler apologizes.
He looks on as Andrew scoops up both of his kids and hugs them goodbye. "Be a boss, daddy," Ava says solemnly. Andrew laughs, and glances at Tyler.
"We had a vocab lesson," Tyler says, half smiling. Andrew puts his kids down. "Come on, let's let your dad go be a boss," Tyler tells the girls, who stand in the doorway and wave at their dad as he drives away.
Tyler sits down on the couch to study after making the girls sandwiches and taking them upstairs for their naps. He gets out his textbook and everything, and he makes it through taking about half a page of notes and doodles before his eyes start to slide shut. Hanging out with the girls is more exhausting than he ever could've imagined. He doesn't remember being this tired even when he was training regularly, back when he was serious about hockey.
He changes positions a few times, trying to keep himself awake, but it doesn't work, and the next thing he knows is waking up to the front door opening and closing.
Tyler jerks into action, standing up so fast he gets a headrush and holding his textbook in what he hopes is a threatening way as he creeps towards the front hallway.
"Hey," Andrew says, coming into view. Tyler lowers the textbook. "You okay?" Andrew looks like he's about to laugh.
"Myeah," Tyler says. His voice is a little rough from sleeping, and he's not sure what time it is. "Thought you were breakin' in or something."
"No offense, but a textbook wouldn't be very effective if I was," Andrew says. "But I appreciate the effort."
"I armed your security thingy anyway, so," Tyler shrugs. "If you were a bad guy, we woulda been okay."
"Glad to hear it," Andrew says, and he comes over to the couch and sits down. Tyler sits next to him and puts his book down on the coffee table. "Anatomy?"
"Mhmm," Tyler says. He rubs his eyes. "Midterms are next week, gotta hit the books."
"Dude," Andrew says, his voice sounding suspiciously serious. "You should've said something, I could've found someone else to come last night."
"It's okay, for real," Tyler tells him. "I probably got more done here than I would've at the house, anyway."
"Okay," Andrew says, and he sounds kind of dubious, but he doesn't get a chance to say anything else because Ava and Stella are awake from their nap, and they waste no time throwing themselves at their father.
They tackle him and Andrew grunts, flopping onto his side to let the climb on top of him. "Hey," he says, and he sounds happy. "I found my two favorite ladies!"
"No, silly," Stella tells him. "We found you!"
"Yes you did," Andrew says, poking her nose. "Good job." Andrew slides the girls onto the couch and rights himself. "Did you have fun with Tyler?"
"Yep!" Ava says. "Lotsa fun. He took us to skating today."
"Yeah?" Andrew asks, looking at Tyler. "Did he show you any moves?"
"No," Stella pouts. "He said he didn't have skates."
"I said I didn't have skates with a toe pick," Tyler corrects.
"Whatever," Stella continues. "He said he hurt his knee so he couldn't skate with us anyway."
"We told him it didn't matter cause Mom hurt her knee too but she still rides!" Ava says loudly.
Tyler grins. "I told you guys, your mom is just more awesome than I am."
"That's definitely true," Ava says, grinning cheekily, and Tyler scoops her into his lap and gives her a noogie.
"Did you guys have fun with her the other weekend?" Tyler asks the girls. He sneaks a glance at Andrew, because he's pretty positive that this is risky territory, but Andrew is smiling as he lets Stella high five him over and over.
"Yes," Stella says. "'Course we did."
"You looked like you were having fun that weekend, too," Andrew says. "You and your boy."
Tyler raises his eyebrows. "My boy?"
"The one you had me sign your arm for," Andrew clarifies. Ava snorts, and Tyler's pretty sure she's making fun of him, so he tickles her stomach gently until she squeaks at him to stop.
"Marchy?" Tyler asks.
"Sure," Andrew shrugs. "Looked like you two were having a good time," he says, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, which-
Well, which Tyler's never really thought of. "Huh," he says. "That's- Marchy's not even my wifey, you know?"
"Who's your wifey?" Stella asks, putting her chin on her hands and blinking at Tyler.
"Brownie," Tyler answers. "Marchy's my bro, you know? My beer pong partner for life, man."
"Okay," Andrew says. "My bad, dude. No harm no foul?"
"For sure," Tyler answers. Ava pokes him hard in the chest. "What, munchkin?"
"What's beer pong?" Ava asks.
"Um," Tyler says. He looks back at Andrew, who is trying very hard not to laugh. "It's a game," he comes up with.
"Can we play?" Stella asks, and Andrew does laugh, now.
"Sure," he says, and he lifts Stella up so he can stand. "Go into the kitchen and get some juice," he tells her.
Ava clambers off of Tyler and follows Stella into the kitchen. Tyler stands up and he and Andrew trail after the girls. "Sorry," Tyler offers. "It slipped out."
"No worries," Andrew says. "Seriously. I've been trying to get them to drink the fortified juice shit, the kind with the extra calcium? 'Cause they both hate milk, but they won't go for it. So we're gonna use that, and it's gonna be great, because then I won't have to nag them later."
It takes the girls a while to get the hang of it, and they use the widest rimmed glasses they can find in the kitchen. Tyler and Andrew split up, and Andrew and Stella beat Tyler in a best-two-out-of-three series. Tyler misses a lot of shots on purpose, and pauses the game to snapchat Marchy a picture of Ava holding the ball. replaced u sucks2suck, he captions it. He keeps his impressive array of trick shots in check for the series, but busts out a behind the back shot when the girls ask him to, and by the time they clean up the spilled grape juice, the girls are ready for dinner and Tyler is ready to leave, as much as he likes chilling with them.
"I'm gonna split, man," he says, putting the last of the glasses in the dishwasher. "Let me know if you need me next weekend?"
"Of course," Andrew says. "I'm away Wednesday, but I'll send them to a friend's, it's an overnight."
"Cool," Tyler says. "Hey, tell them I said bye? Gotta run and catch the T," he adds, apologetic.
"I got you," Andrew tells him. "Thanks again for doing this."
"No problem," Tyler says, and salutes him as he heads out the door.
Marchy replies to his snapchat with a picture of himself pouting. There are blue tears drawn onto his face. but we pinky promised, it says.
Tyler doesn't see it until a day later, because he's barricaded himself in his room, turned the Internet off on his laptop, and given Dougie his phone for safekeeping. It's what he always does when midterms or exams roll around. Tyler knows himself; if he goes to the library, he'll see someone he knows and get distracted, and if he has access to the Internet or his phone, he'll end up either texting his entire contacts list or playing Candy Crush.
He gets his phone back from Dougie when he emerges from his room to microwaves some pizza rolls before he passes out. He's finished the chapters he needs to know and he's pretty sure that there's nothing left to do but pray.
"Still alive?" Dougie asks, tossing Tyler his phone.
"Barely," Tyler nods. "Thanks, dude."
"Sure," Dougie shrugs. "Prolly need to charge it."
Tyler checks; it has about ten percent battery left. He ignores his missed texts and checks the snapchat from Marchy. He tries to screenshot it but it disappears too quickly.
He stays in the kitchen while he eats his pizza rolls, because he's pretty sure he would fall asleep if he brought them upstairs to eat in bed, and that would be a waste of perfectly good freezer food. He snapchats Marchy back a picture of his face with a heart drawn around it. u r my 1 and only, beer pong 4 life, he says.
"You wanna run tomorrow?" Dougie asks as Tyler's on his way back upstairs.
"Nope," Tyler says. "Gotta get my beauty sleep in before this fucking test."
Dougie laughs a little. Tyler shrugs.
"Wake me up and I'll tell the TriDelts that you have herpes," Tyler warns.
"Fuck off," Dougie laughs.
Tyler gets a group text as he leaves his anatomy midterm. His brain is fried, so he reads it on autopilot as he walks to the student union to get coffee. lunch mtg to talk about 4pack? is the first text in a chain that includes the TriDelt social chair, the KD social chair, and Marchy.
He doesn't bother reading the rest of the thread, just types out just got out of class sry whats the plan?? and gets in line at the Starbucks.
"Large," Tyler says when he gets to the front of the line. "Grandissimo. As big as they come."
The girl working the counter laughs, and pushes a cup of coffee roughly the size of Tyler's head across the counter towards him. "That work for you?" She asks.
"Mmm, you are a miracle worker," he tells her.
His phone buzzes after he gets his change. meet at TriDelt in 20, it says, so Tyler starts walking.
"Yo, sorry I'm late," he says when he walks in the door. He drops his bag by the door and heads to the dining room, where Marchy and the two girls are sitting. He sits down across from Marchy and flashes a tired smile at the girls. It's the first time he's seen Marchy in a few days, because of Tyler's self-imposed studying exile, and Tyler grins when he sees him.
"How was your test?" Marchy asks.
"It was fine, I hope," Tyler laughs. "Guess I'll find out sooner or later."
"I hope you did great, good luck and everything," one of the girls cuts in, "but we still don't have a DJ and we gotta find one, this thing is in a week and a half."
"Right," Marchy says. "So let's get down to business."
Tyler can't stop himself from singing, "To defeat the huns!" And it's worth it when Marchy kicks him under the table as he laughs at his own joke.
"Yo," someone says, tapping Tyler on the shoulder.
"Sup," Tyler answers without turning around. He wants to get to the gym before it closes, because he hasn't pretended to work out in a while.
"You still looking for a DJ for next weekend?" It's DZ. Tyler slows down a little.
"Yeah, why, you know someone?" Tyler asks.
"Yeah, guy I know owes me one," DZ says. "You know Tazer?"
"Nope," Tyler says, and he feels weird saying it, because he usually knows everyone. "Who is he?"
"Friend of Kaner's," DZ says. "I don't have his number, but Kaner def will."
"Thanks, dude," Tyler says, pulling out his phone to text Kaner.
"This mean I get in free?" DZ asks, laughing a little.
"You're my bro, you can get in free anytime," Tyler says, wiggling his eyebrows, and DZ ruffles his hair before Tyler can turn to go into the gym.
Tyler picks up two coffees and a box of Munchkins from Dunkin's on his way home that night. Marchy usually comes over after his night practice to shoot the shit for a little, and Tyler's pretty sure the house is running low on snack food.
"I have good news," he announces when he comes in the front door. He doesn't see Marchy's sneakers in the hallway, but it's okay; he does have good news, and everyone in the house should appreciate that.
"Are those for me?" Dougie asks as Tyler peers in the kitchen. He points at the box of Munchkins and raises his eyebrows hopefully.
"Nope," Tyler says. Dougie's eyebrows aren't nearly as persuasive as Marchy's.
"You suck," Dougie informs him, and goes back to staring into the open refrigerator. "What's your good news?"
"I found a DJ!" Tyler says. "I am a rockstar, go ahead and say it." Tyler's pretty sure Dougie's rolling his eyes, even though he can only see Dougie's back.
"Secrets, secrets," Tyler sing-songs. "You'll find out next weekend, bro."
"Secrets, secrets are no fun, unless you share with everyone," Dougie points out.
"Whatever," Tyler says. "Anticipation heightens the actual moment, ya dig?"
"Stop reading Cosmo," Dougie tells him. Tyler would flip him off, but his hands are full.
"There's an unclaimed Hot Pocket in the freezer," Tyler says instead, because he can be a helpful person and good big brother when he wants to be.
He heads upstairs and kicks open the door to his room. Marchy is lying on his bed, playing a game on his phone. "Yo, I was looking for you," Tyler says.
Marchy grunts, so Tyler puts the box of Munchkins down and sits on the bed next to Marchy. He waits until Marchy dies on the screen of his phone to nudge his elbow and pass over the coffee. "Hey, bro," he says.
"Thanks, dude," Marchy says, taking the coffee. "Did you- yes, Munchkins, bro you are my favorite."
Tyler grins, because he likes being people's favorite. "How was practice?"
"Rough," Marchy admits. "He's laying into us before Cornell." Tyler makes a noise of sympathy. "I think it was the last really bad one, though," Marchy says. "He can't kill us all right before the game next week, you know?"
"Yup," Tyler says. He heaves himself up and brings the box of Munchkins onto the bed. "I gotchu." Tyler loves hockey- watching it is one of his favorite things, and he has a ton of respect for Marchy for slugging it out in college, because Marchy's realistic about it, he knows he's only got an outside chance at getting drafted. But Tyler's really fucking glad he isn't playing anymore. "Did you do eleven in a minute? That drill was the fucking worst."
"Yeah," Marchy says. "I may never be able to move my legs again."
Tyler reaches over with his foot and tickles the back of Marchy's knee with his toes. Marchy jerks his leg reflexively and Tyler laughs. "Looks like you're moving just fine to me!"
"Suck a bag of dicks," Marchy moans. He reaches for the box of Munchkins.
"So I found a DJ," Tyler says as Marchy bites into a chocolate one.
"Yeah?" Marchy asks, spraying crumbs everywhere. Tyler punches him in the shoulder.
"Watch it, bro, I gotta sleep here!" Tyler says.
"Sorry," Marchy says, his mouth still full. "You can come crash at mine, fuck it."
Tyler shrugs, because he's pretty okay with that, and he needs to do laundry anyway.
"So," Marchy prompts. "Who'd you find?"
"You know Kaner," Tyler says, and it's rhetorical because everyone knows Kaner. "Apparently he has a partner in crime."
"Huh?" Marchy asks.
"Yeah, I didn't know either," Tyler says. "But apparently he has some bro named Tazer who has a solid reputation of not leaving parties to get laid halfway through, and the best part is that he owes DZ a favor."
"You aren't DZ," Marchy points out.
Tyler shrugs. "Yeah but DZ'll do me a solid," he says. "And if he won't, I'll talk to Kaner."
"Didn't you and Kaner study abroad together?" Marchy asks. Tyler nods. He and Kaner had spent a few months living it up in Switzerland on a summer trip run by the university.
"If by 'study abroad', you mean trash the student housing place and drink a lot," Tyler laughs.
"Pretty sure that's what study abroad is, dude," Marchy says.
"Fair," Tyler says, because he's pretty sure that's all DZ did in Rome. It was a good time, chilling in Europe; Tyler feels vaguely sad for Marchy that he had to stay stateside for hockey. He leans over Marchy for the Munchkins and grabs a glazed one.
"You're heavy, get off," Marchy grumbles, pushing lightly at Tyler's shoulder where Tyler is draped across his torso.
"How am I heavy?" Tyler asks. "Do you even lift, bro?"
Marchy snorts. "For a dude who never works out, you have better guns than half my team," he says.
Tyler grins, because it's true, and then flexes. "Suns out, guns out," he says, even though it's winter and they're inside.
"So you gonna talk to DZ? Kaner?" Marchy asks, wiggling a little to try and dislodge Tyler.
"Yeah, I'll text 'em both," Tyler says, pulling his phone out of his back pocket. He sends a group text, whose dick do i have 2 suck 2 get tazer to dj the 4pack. Marchy flicks his temple and Tyler presses send.
"I hope you're joking about that," Marchy says.
"You're the one who told me to suck a bag of dicks," Tyler points out. Marchy laughs, surprised, and Tyler's head bounces on his stomach.
"Yeah, but I didn't want you to get an STD," Marchy concedes.
"Don't worry," Tyler says, making eyes up at Marchy. "You're my one and only."
"Lies," Marchy says. "You replaced me as your beer pong partner with a seven year old, how can I ever trust you again?"
His eyebrows go up, but he grins, so Tyler knows he's joking. "Sucks to suck," Tyler says.
"That doesn't even make sense," Marchy tells him, but Tyler just shrugs and grabs another Munchkin.
"You guys don't play again until Cornell, right?" Tyler asks. Marchy hums an affirmative. "Come out this weekend, then."
"Okay," Marchy says easily. "I'll come out if you give me the rest of the chocolate ones." He points at the Munchkins.
"Won't that fuck up your diet?" Tyler points out.
"Go big or go home, though," Marchy says, grabbing another one.
"Truth," Tyler says. "Okay, deal," he adds, and they pinky promise.
They migrate to Sigma Chi once they finish the Munchkins and Tyler's bed is covered in crumbs. Marchy's bed is bigger than Tyler's, which makes no sense because Tyler's way taller, and they both crash relatively early, coming down from their sugar high. Tyler wraps himself up in the extra blanket Marchy keeps, and falls asleep thinking about what Andrew had said, half-wanting to roll over and spoon Marchy, just to see what it would be like, but too tired to make himself move.
"Yo," Tyler says. He's pretty sure Andrew is driving somewhere, cause there's a lot of background nose. He thumbs up the volume on his phone. "How's it hanging?"
"It's good," Andrew says. "The kids are in the car with me, say hi."
"Hey, munchkins," Tyler obliges. They both shout things that he can't quite make out, and he laughs. "Good luck on Saturday, dude, just wanted to check and see if you need me to come by?"
"Yes," one of the girls shouts.
Andrew laughs. Tyler can hear him turn on a blinker. "No," he says. "They have a sleepover planned, we should be good. Thanks, though."
"For sure, for sure," Tyler says. "You know they're the leading ladies in my life."
"Shouldn't have let them hear you say it, now they'll really have you whipped," Andrew laughs.
"What's whipped?" one of the girls, Tyler's pretty sure it's Stella, asks.
"Whipped is when you want Tyler to carry you up the stairs and he does it even though you're big enough to walk up by yourself," Andrew explains. Tyler laughs. "Hey, we gotta go to skating lessons, but thanks for checking in," Andrew says.
"No prob," Tyler tells him. "Adios, muchachos!"
Tyler catches up with Kaner at the Qdoba closest to campus. He's biting into a taco when Kaner shows up, smelling like weed and making grabby hands at Tyler's food.
"You holding?" Tyler asks. Kaner nods. "You gonna share with the class?"
"Sure," Kaner says, so Tyler hands over the taco. "Thanks dude."
"No problem," Tyler says. He takes the taco back from Kaner and takes his own bite. "How's it been? Haven't seen you since Switzerland, bro."
Kaner grins. His mouth is still full. "It's good, man, it's chill. I miss raging with you, though, we gotta fix that."
"For sure," Tyler says. "Come to the house next weekend."
"You guys throwing something?" Kaner asks.
"You know it," Tyler says. "We just gotta find a DJ."
Kaner puffs out his chest. "You're lookin' at Boston's finest."
"You're from Buffalo, you shit," Tyler laughs. Kaner flips him off. "We're looking for a duo, though."
"I gotta partner now," Kaner tells him. "Thought I told you?"
"Nah, man, DZ did. Never met him," Tyler says.
"You don't know Tazer?" Kaner asks. Tyler shakes his head. "Surprised you don't know him, he's Canadian too, eh?"
"Then I'm sure I've ridden a moose to class with him at some point," Tyler says, and Kaner starts laughing like it's the funniest thing he's ever heard.
"Wanna meet him?" Kaner asks. He stands up before Tyler can answer, and they're on the move.
Kaner pulls out a joint once they get outside. He offers it to Tyler, who takes it as well as the lighter Kaner has in his other hand. "Thanks, bro," he says, lighting up and inhaling.
"No worries," Kaner says. He takes the lighter back and lets Tyler take another hit before holding his hand out for the joint. "Tazer should be at the BU Beach, let's go."
"Outside it?" Tyler asks.
"Yep," Kaner says. "He plays Frisbee or some shit."
They trek halfway across campus and Tyler's glad he grabbed a jacket before leaving, because it's colder than he thought.
"Him," Kaner says, stopping short and pointing with his free hand to a tall guy with brown hair. He's wearing a plaid shirt and a down vest and as Kaner takes another hit, the guy, Tazer, jumps up to catch a Frisbee.
"Gimme that," Tyler says, making grabby hands at the joint. Kaner flips him off and hands it over. Tyler takes a hit and passes it back. He holds the smoke in for just long enough and exhales before he has to cough. "Okay," he says. "Let's go."
They drift towards Tazer. "Yo," Kaner shouts. "Tazer!"
"Hey," Tazer says, and wow, Tyler's pretty sure he worked up more enthusiasm when he went to his sister's friend's bat mitzvah after getting his wisdom teeth out. "Who's your friend."
"This is Segs," Kaner says. "We lived together in Swissland."
"You play on the ultimate team or something?" Tyler asks, grinning. A girl he used to hook up with was on the ultimate team. They had a couple of pretty chill parties, and most of them liked to wear as little clothing as possible, which Tyler was always down with.
"No," Tazer says, blinking at Tyler.
"Okay," Tyler shrugs, determined not to feel uncomfortable. "That's cool too."
"Can you not," Tazer says, looking at Kaner and gesturing towards the joint. "We agreed on this."
"We agreed I wouldn't smoke at your place," Kaner corrects. "I am in the open air right now and you can just breathe in the other direction." Tazer blinks at Kaner a few times, but Kaner seems unfazed.
Tazer drums his fingers along the side of the Frisbee. "So," he says, and doesn't follow it with anything.
"You busy next weekend?" Kaner asks anyway, because apparently Tazer is saying a lot more in his one syllable monotone than Tyler is picking up on.
"Nothing that can't be changed," Tazer says. "Why."
"Wanna DJ with me?" Kaner asks. He blows a puff of smoke in Tazer's direction, and Tazer flips him off without moving a muscle in his face. Tyler stops himself from laughing, because he's pretty sure that wouldn't be appreciated.
"You mean for you," Tazer says, and Tyler's not positive, but he thinks Tazer might be joking.
"Semantics," Kaner says.
"Didn't know you knew that word," Tyler says, grinning, and it startles a smile out of Tazer. Tyler resists the urge to fist pump.
"Let me guess, your frat is having a party," Tazer asks, turning to Tyler.
"Yeah, pretty much," Tyler says. "We can pay you, but not a lot."
"As long as you don't try to pay me in Keystone," Tazer tells him.
"Deal," Tyler says. He considers going for the pinky promise, but thinks better of it and holds out his hand to Kaner for the joint instead.
"Text me deets?" Kaner asks. Tyler takes his hit and nods.
"For sure," he says, passing the joint back. "Later, dudes."
He pulls out his phone and texts Marchy as he walks away. get cheese fries with meeee, he sends.
i have prax in 30, Marchy sends back. u high?
maybe but cheese fries!, Tyler texts. Marchy doesn't reply, so Tyler swings by the house to bully Dougie into coming, because he's got a DJ for the four-pack and he's gonna damn well celebrate.
It's a pretty low-key weekend. Tyler's not even really sure what's going on at the other houses, and he's not too concerned with it. Nobody's gonna be having anything big, not with the four pack next week, and Tyler is pretty content to kick back with just his bros.
They're playing flip cup in the kitchen when Marchy shows up, wearing jeans and a BU hockey t-shirt that looks like it's seen better days. "Marchy's on my team," Tyler shouts, successfully startling Krug into flicking the bottom of his cup too hard and sending it flying.
"We all know," Dougie says, rolling his eyes.
"I didn't know," Krug says defensively, frowning at Tyler. "Also, fuck you."
"How did you not know?" Dougie asks. "They're-"
"Beer pong partners for life," Tyler and Marchy finish together.
"But we're not playing beer pong," Krug points out.
"It's the principle of the thing," Tyler says. "You'll learn, grasshopper."
They start up a fiercely competitive game of civil war after a while. Tyler throws most of their shots, while Marchy runs around the table hip checking Dougie out of his way, until Marchy complains about being tired. "I had practice earlier, fucker," he says, draining one of the cups. "Your turn, lazy asshole." He pokes Tyler in the chest.
"You know I'm all talk," Tyler says. "This bod is all for show, I am slow and weak and we will lose." He pulls up the bottom of his shirt, showing off his abs, and he watches Marchy look at him. He likes being looked at.
"Keep your shirt on," Dougie calls from across the table. "It's not that hard."
"You're just jealous of the six-pack," Tyler says, grinning and flipping Dougie off. Dougie makes his next shot, and Tyler drains the cup. "Loser does shots," he adds, because he and Marchy are winning pretty handily.
"Why are we doing shots?" Krug asks warily. Tyler grins and shakes his head; he is in the prime of his drinking career and he doesn't need a reason to do shots.
"Teach him our ways," he tells Dougie. "I thought you said he was rushing?"
"Maybe he will, if you don't scare him away," Dougie says, and Tyler laughs, because he's one of the least scary people he knows.
They do the shots anyway. "What's even happening tonight?" Krug asks. Dougie shrugs.
"Probably nothing," he says. "Wanna find a bar?"
Krug nods. "You guys in?"
"Nah," Tyler shrugs. "I wanna catch the game."
"Cool," Dougie says. "Catch up with you guys later, then."
He and Krug head out. Tyler grabs a few beers and follows Marchy to the living room.
"Thought you wanted to actually go out tonight," Marchy says, raising his eyebrows. Tyler passes him one of the bottles.
"Eh," Tyler shrugs. He sits down next to Marchy on the sofa and flicks on the TV. "Didn't wanna miss the game."
"Is Boston finally getting to you?" Marchy jokes. "Or are you still a Leafs fan?"
"Hometown team, asshole," Tyler says, digging his elbow into Marchy's side. "Nah, though, you know I like the B's."
"You spend enough time at Andrew Ference's house," Marchy agrees.
Tyler laughs. "Speaking of," he says, wiggling around on the couch to pull his phone out of his back pocket, "smile, bro!" He sticks his tongue out at the camera on his phone and leans into Marchy's space to get them both in the frame. He manages to keep from laughing at Marchy's eyebrows shooting up as far as they can go until he takes the picture. He texts it to Andrew, rooting for u bro fukcing go be a bsos.
They start a drinking game halfway through the first period, because there's plenty of beer to get through and Tyler isn't about to waste it. He's feeling pleasantly buzzed by the first intermission, and mostly drunk by the second.
"We need fewer rules next time," he tells Marchy, leaning into him a little. "There's still so much hockey to be played."
"That is how it goes," Marchy says. His voice is low and grumbly and Tyler can feel the vibrations of it from where his head is tucked precariously against Marchy's ribs. He's halfway lying down, watching the game mostly sideways. "Are you feeling it already, lightweight?"
"Fuck you, I'm bigger than you," Tyler says, tapping the neck of his bottle with his teeth.
"Not where it counts," Marchy says, and Tyler rights himself. Marchy's holding a straight face, but the corners of his lips are twitching.
"I don't believe you for one second," Tyler says as soon Marchy's shit-eating grin comes out.
"You should," Marchy says. He drops a hand to his junk and spends a long moment adjusting himself, staring straight at Tyler.
"Fuck," Tyler says, and on the screen, Lucic scores. "Drink!"
"Bottoms up," Marchy says, and drains his bottle.
The Bruins win, 4-2, and Tyler texts Andrew again, a thumbs up emoji and a congratsssssss.
"Hey," Tyler says, putting out his arm and grabbing Marchy's wrist as Marchy moves to get off the couch. "Stay."
"I'm not sleeping on your couch, dude, it'll kill my back," Marchy says. He's blinking sleepily, because too much beer has been know to put him to bed. Tyler stands.
"You don't have to," he says, because Marchy has basically never crashed on the couch, he's always crashed in Tyler's bed. "Duh."
"Okay," Marchy says. "Dibs on your sweatshirt blanket."
"Fuck off, that shit is mine," Tyler says, because the sweatshirt blanket is one of his most prized possessions. It's the most comfortable thing he owns and it says Brampton Canadettes on it, because one of his sisters got it for him as a joke.
Andrew texts him back as they stumble up the stairs. thanks dude, don't party too hard without me.
at the hiuse wathced w/marchy, Tyler says back, and Andrew replies almost instantly.
sure he's not your wifey, it says, and Tyler snorts.
u kow nothgn Andrew ferece, he sends back.
His room is a mess, but he has clean sheets and so Tyler toes off his shoes and shucks his jeans and shirt. He dives for the bed and grabs the sweatshirt blanket before Marchy finishes pulling off his own t-shirt. Tyler rolls himself up in the blanket and bats his eyelashes at Marchy.
"You were saying something about the blanket?" he says innocently.
"I was saying how much I hate you," Marchy says, and then he yawns. Tyler yawns too, because he can't not.
"You do not, I'm your favorite," Tyler corrects. His jaw pops.
"You'll be my favorite if you share the blanket," Marchy offers, and that's enough incentive for Tyler to unroll himself part of the way, grab the free corner of the blanket, and sling his arm around Marchy. The blanket falls over Marchy, who takes the corner from Tyler and yanks another few yards of it free from being wrapped around Tyler's body. "Now you're my favorite," he says.
Tyler grins, because Marchy's his favorite too, and then wiggles closer to Marchy. He tucks his face against Marchy's neck and blows a raspberry, just because he can, and Marchy can't jerk away too far without giving up the blanket.
"Asshole," Marchy says.
"Whatever, you love it," Tyler tells him, and lets his muscles start to relax, half his body pressed against Marchy's.
When Tyler wakes up in the morning, too early because he has to piss, they're spooning, his semi pressed against Marchy's ass and Marchy's snores filling the room. The blanket is abandoned on the other side of the bed, because apparently the heat got kicked up a notch or two, and Tyler's mouth tastes like the time he drank milk and ate grapefruit, plus beer. He grunts, twisting to dislodge his arm from underneath Marchy, and sits up. He really has to piss.
He grabs his phone on his way to the bathroom; his twitter mentions are mostly chirps from Dougie about being an old woman and staying in last night, and he has a text from Andrew. i know everything, grasshopper, it says, and Tyler laughs because maybe Andrew has a point.
Tyler takes a few sips of water out of the sink before he heads back to bed. Then he texts Brownie, what does being my wifey mean.
He puts his phone on silent and folds himself back around Marchy. He likes the way Marchy's ass brushes against his dick – he's too tired to want to get off, and Marchy's sleeping anyway, so that would be creepy, but it feels nice, and Tyler falls back asleep easily, one arm draped loosely around Marchy's waist.
The second time Tyler wakes up, it's because Marchy is moving. Tyler blinks sleep out of his eyes and rolls slightly away from Marchy so they can untangle their limbs.
"Sorry," Marchy says. His voice is soft and raspy from sleep. "Hang on, I'll be back."
"'S okay," Tyler mumbles back. He rolls into the space where Marchy was and mushes his face against the mattress.
Marchy shuffles towards the door and Tyler tilts his face just enough to watch him. His boxer briefs are scrunched up around his heavily muscled thighs and if Tyler was closer, he'd slap Marchy's ass.
Hunger gets the best of him, despite his efforts to fall back asleep, so Tyler sits up and scrubs a hand through his hair. His jeans and t-shirt from last night are in a heap on the floor. He sniffs the t-shirt and it still smells clean, so he tugs it over his head.
"Hey," he says when Marchy comes back. "I think Dougie bought Cinnamon Toast Crunch yesterday."
Marchy bends over and retrieves his own t-shirt. He pulls it on and emerges with his hair sticking up. "Let's go eat it," he says.
Tyler finds the box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch hiding above the refrigerator. "Do we have any bowls?"
"Not clean," Marchy says, pointing at the sink. It's full of about a week's worth of dishes.
"Well," Tyler says. "That's what solo cups are for, right?" He grabs two from the cupboard and tosses one to Marchy. "Cheers, bro."
"Why are we here?" Brownie asks.
"Puppies," Tyler tells him. "Fucking duh."
"How'd you even find it?" Brownie says. "Hadn't pegged you for the animal shelter type."
"You know those like, stress relief dogs they bring to the library during finals and shit?" Tyler asks.
"Sure," Brownie says. "First time we ever went to the library was to find those adorable fuckers, didn't we?"
Tyler laughs. "Yeah, man, we did," he says. "I went again last semester and dude I found the best one."
"The best one?"
"Yeah, c'mere," Tyler says, and he grabs Brownie's forearm, drags him past a few corgies, and then stops short. "Him. He's the best for sure." Tyler squats down so he's on the same level as the chocolate lab and sticks his fingers through the bars of the cage. "I named him Marshall." He wiggles his fingers a little and Marshall stands, stretching himself out before he pads over to Tyler and starts licking his fingers.
"Why Marshall?" Brownie asks.
"Marshall, like a Martian," Tyler says. "Ya know?"
Brownie laughs. "Sure," he says, and Tyler knows that's the voice he uses when he thinks Tyler is crazy and he's just being humored, but he doesn't care because Marshall is nosing at his fingers and wagging his tail.
"What're you gonna do if someone buys him?" Brownie asks.
Tyler smacks him on the knee. "Way to be a buzzkill, you fuck," he says. He sits down and stretches his hand out to scratch at Marchall's ears. "I'll buy him when I graduate," he says. "Present to myself."
"I'll pass that on to Momma Seguin," Brownie laughs.
"Do you still text her?" Tyler asks.
"For sure, dude, your mom's the shit," Brownie says.
Tyler beams. "Hell yeah, fuckin' right," he says.
Brownie sits down too, and stretches his own hand through the bars to pet Marshall. His wrist bumps Tyler's and Tyler flips him off with his free hand.
"There's enough Marshall for two," Brownie says, and his voice takes on the faux-philosophical affect he seems to have picked up in his years as a gender studies major. Tyler usually tunes him out when he starts talking like this. "But is there enough Tyler Seguin?"
"Of course there's enough Tyler Seguin," Tyler says, withdrawing his hand so he can hold his arms out for extra effect. "Do you see this?"
"Then how come you're texting me at seven in the morning asking what it means to be your wifey?" Brownie asks.
"Well," Tyler says. "It's a legit question, we never defined our relationship."
"And you want to define it now?" Brownie asks. He looks like he's trying not to laugh.
"Consent is sexy," Tyler tells him. "Shouldn't you know this, Mr. Gender Studies?"
"I'm glad you pay attention when I talk," Brownie says. He winks at Tyler. "Okay, let's do it. Hetero life partner, that's what I always figured."
"So like," Tyler says. "Can you have a hetero life partner and another life partner? Or is that polygamy or some shit?"
"Well, don't you already have another life partner?" Brownie asks. Tyler frowns. "Isn't Marchy your beer pong life partner or something?"
"Beer pong partner for life," Tyler corrects. "But, yeah, I mean."
"I'd say it's not polygamy," Brownie muses. "I think you're in the clear."
"What if I ask him to be my wife?" Tyler asks. "Not wifey, but. Wife."
Brownie laughs. "Bro, I think Marchy would appreciate male pronouns."
Tyler flips him off. "Fuck you, you know exactly what I mean."
"I do," Brownie nods. "And if you're asking for my blessing, as your wifey, you've got it."
"Hey, you free tonight?" Andrew asks when Tyler picks up the phone.
Tyler's gotten pretty used to Andrew calling or texting at weird times of the day; he figures between kids and an NHL schedule, he's got no choice but to keep strange hours. Tyler checks his watch; it's ten A.M. and he's pretty sure the Bruins don't have a game today.
"Think so, why? You guys have a game rescheduled or something?" Tyler answers.
"Nah, but the girls asked if you wanted to come over for dinner," Andrew says. "You up for it?"
"That depends," Tyler laughs. "Are you cooking?"
"You bet your ass I am," Andrew says. "It'll be the healthiest thing you eat all week; I saw the Doritos bag in the trash last time you were over."
"At least I cleaned up," Tyler laughs.
He borrows Dougie's car and goes over to the Ference house a little after five. The front door is open, so he lets himself in and finds the girls in the kitchen. Stella's got a handful of forks clutched in her fist, and Ava is trying to carry three full glasses of water at once.
"Woah there," Tyler says, swooping in because he can see that disaster coming a mile away. "Why don't you give me those, babe?" He takes two of the glasses from her and she starts sipping on the third, so he lets her keep it.
"Thanks," Andrew says over his shoulder as Tyler takes the glasses out to the table. Stella follows him, dutifully putting a fork at each place setting.
"No prob," Tyler says. "So, what am I eating?"
"We," Andrew laughs, "are eating peas, and mashed potatoes-"
"I made them," Ava interjects.
Andrew ruffles her hair. "You mashed them," he corrects. She rolls her eyes. "And steak tips, except for this one," he squeezes Ava's shoulder, "who is trying out being a vegetarian, so she gets a fake chicken patty with cheese."
"Goin' veggie, huh?" Tyler asks her, taking the bowl of peas Andrew hands him and following him back to the table.
"Yup," Ava says, sitting down and grabbing her fork, ready to dig in. "We watched a video about-"
"Foie gras," Andrew supplies.
"That, in school," Ava continues. "So now I don't eat meat."
"It's been three days," Andrew tells Tyler. "Krista's a vegetarian, too."
"Gotcha," Tyler says. Stella comes out of the kitchen with her own glass and heads for the empty seat next to Tyler. She sits down and puts her own glass down, but it lands on the folded corner of her cloth napkin and topples over.
Tyler jumps up. "Shi- uh," he says.
Stella collects her glass and starts blotting ineffectively at the puddle of grape juice with her napkin. "You said a bad word," she says solemnly.
"Yes I did," Tyler says. "I'm gonna go wash my mouth out with soap."
He makes his way into the kitchen and tugs his shirt off over his head. It's white, and there's a giant purple stain covering the front of it. He turns the faucet on cold and holds the shirt under the water.
"Sorry about that," Andrew says. Tyler snaps his head up.
"Hey, it's no big," he says. "Just a t-shirt."
"Still," Andrew says. "I'll lend you something to wear back."
"I've got my sweatshirt," Tyler says. Andrew raises his eyebrow. "Okay," Tyler concedes. "Ruling with an iron fist over here."
"How else am I gonna keep those two in check?" Andrew says.
"Fair," Tyler laughs.
"Nice ink," Andrew says, pointing at Tyler's torso. He's got a half sleeve he's been meaning to add to, and the rib tattoo he got with Marchy.
"Thanks," Tyler says.
"What's it say?"
"This one?" Tyler asks, pointing awkwardly at his rib tattoo. Andrew nods. "Solo Cup Champions, 2011," Tyler tells him.
Andrew snorts. "Come on, you gotta give me more than that."
"We had a Solo Cup Tournament," Tyler explains. "Kind of like Beer Olympics, you know? Every game we could think of involving a solo cup. So me and Marchy are beer pong partners for life, right, and we won it. And then we got the tats."
"Let me guess- you got the tats right after, huh?" Andrew laughs.
"Yup," Tyler nods. "Marchy's was spelled wrong, too, the guy wrote champions with two a's. We had to go back and get it fixed the next day."
Tyler turns off the faucet and wrings out his shirt. The front is still mostly purple.
"So let me get this straight," Andrew says. "You're telling me you got matching tattoos with a guy you aren't dating?"
"Yeah, well," Tyler shrugs. "I'm rethinking that."
Andrew grins at him. "Let's go find you a shirt."
Kaner texts him as he's sitting in his nutrition seminar the next day, pretty out of the blue, where u at, and then, when Tyler doesn't reply for about a minute, can u hear me now can u hear me now??????
Tyler stops himself from laughing and slouches a little so he can text under his desk. in class y?
tazer has Questions, Kaner replies instantly, make him stop buggin me idk shit about bpm.
fine meet me outside bsc in 20 idk what that is either fyi, Tyler tells him, and then slides his phone back under the cover of his binder and resumes tapping his pen against his cheek.
Kaner and Tazer are waiting for him outside the building when Tyler's class ends.
"Yo, you got shit on your face," Kaner drawls, and Tyler frowns, because the beginning of the beard he's working on looks great.
"Pen," Tazer supplies. "Left cheek."
"Oh," Tyler says, rubbing at it ineffectually. "Whoopsie daisies." Kaner giggles. "So Tazer," Tyler says, flashing him a charming smile. Tazer doesn't respond, but Tyler's pretty sure he isn't actively offended, which is basically happy for Tazer. "I hear you have some questions about BPM, and so do I, because I have no idea what that is."
"Beats per minute," Tazer says, "and mostly I have questions about your speakers."
"Okay, cool," Tyler says, because he can answer those. "We have two. And an auxiliary jack."
"What kind of speakers? Is there a sub-woofer?" Tazer presses.
"Uh," Tyler says, and he takes it back, he can't actually answer these questions.
"I have one, if you don't," Tazer says. "How about a table?"
"We usually just put the laptop on the TV stand," Tyler tells him.
"You usually don't have me," Tazer says, and next to him, Kaner rolls his eyes and makes a fish face at Tyler, who doesn't get what Kaner's trying to communicate, but laughs anyway.
"How about this," he tries. "You bring whatever equipment you want, and we will find a place for you to put it."
"A safe place," Tazer insists. "Where beer won't get spilled all over my shit." He quirks an eyebrow a little bit, and Tyler is ninety percent sure that means he's joking.
"You will have a beer-proof corner," he promises.
"Nobody puts baby in the corner," Kaner throws in. Tazer punches him.
"That doesn't even make sense, dumbass," Tazer says.
"Your face doesn’t make sense," Kaner throws back. Tazer lets out a long-suffering sigh, and Tyler checks his watch.
"Yo, I gotta bounce," he says. "Lemme know if you need anything else."
Tyler plants himself on the couch and starts marathoning Criminal Minds the afternoon Marchy jets for New York. He has the box set of season four, so he opens a bag of Cheetos and works his way through three episodes before anyone interrupts him.
"Yo," he says when the door opens. He cranes his neck over the back of the couch to see who it is. "What's good."
Dougie comes into the living room and sits next to Tyler. He reaches for the Cheetos. Tyler hands them over because it's mostly crumbs and fake cheese dust left, and the fake cheese dust is the best part, but the look on Dougie's face when he reaches into the almost-empty bag is pretty great.
"You suck," Dougie says.
"I've got nothing on your mom, though," Tyler says. Dougie flips him off.
"Marchy and the guys take off already?" Dougie asks.
"Yep," Tyler confirms. "Couple hours ago, they're prolly there by now."
"Sucks that we couldn't go," Dougie says. He balls up the Cheetos bag and throws it at Tyler's head. Tyler bats it away before it hits him.
"Gotta be faster than that, sucka," he tells Dougie. "I have cat reflexes." Dougie snorts. "It does suck, though. I feel like a shitty fan."
"What'd Marchy say?" Dougie asks.
"What do you mean?"
"Like, his personal cheering section won't be there, I'm assuming you told him," Dougie says.
"Yeah," Tyler nods. "I did, he was okay with it." He shrugs. "I feel like a kind of shitty friend though, I mean. My bro is playing at Madison Square Garden and I'm not there with a poster of his face, I feel like a failure."
"Why aren't you going? 'Cause of the four-pack?" Dougie asks.
"That, but also that it was sold out like, instantly," Tyler says.
Dougie punches him in the arm, hard. "Dude," he says.
"Do you babysit for Andrew Ference, or have you been lying to me?" Dougie asks. He looks like he's about to laugh.
"Yeah, but why is that even relevant?" Tyler asks. "Also, that hurt, fucker." He rubs his arm.
"Toughen up," Dougie tells him. "Did it really not compute in there-" he pokes Tyler's forehead, "that you could ask the famous hockey player who trusts you with his kids to get you tickets to a hockey game?"
"Shut up," Tyler says. "I did think of it, I just didn't ask him."
"Why the fuck not?" Dougie asks. Tyler shrugs. "Well, I say either do it or stop complaining."
"Fair," Tyler says. Dougie watches him expectantly for a minute. "I'm not gonna do it right now, dickweed, I wanna see who the serial killer is." He gestures at the TV, where Criminal Minds is still going.
"You own these DVDs, you've seen this before," Dougie laughs.
"Whatever, man, it never gets old," Tyler tells him.
Tyler texts Andrew when the episode ends, hey got a sec?
He pockets his phone and helps Dougie start moving furniture. They've got to get the house into acceptable party shape, so they push the couches mostly against the walls and start moving everything potentially breakable to the basement. There's not much left in the house that's fragile and hasn't already been broken, but there are a few trophies and shit that the alums would probably be pretty pissed about.
Andrew texts him back as Tyler wanders into the kitchen, yeah what's up.
"Taking a break," Tyler hollers to Dougie, who grumbles something Tyler can't hear. He thumbs through his contacts and calls Andrew.
"Hey, what's going on?" Andrew says when he picks up.
"Remember how you said you owed me one, that time I watched the girls overnight?" Tyler asks. "Can I cash in on that?"
Andrew laughs. "Yeah, do I have to come bail you out of jail or what?"
"If you really thought that, you wouldn't let me around your kids," Tyler snorts. "I'm not in jail."
"Good," Andrew says. "So what's going on?"
"How much pull do you have at Madison Square Garden?" Tyler asks, hedging.
"Not as much as I do at TD Garden," Andrew says. "Why, you tryna get tickets to something?"
"Yep," Tyler says.
"I can call some people," Andrew says.
"Awesome, but here's the catch," Tyler tells him. "It's tomorrow, and it's sold out."
Andrew hums into the phone. "What is it?"
"Uh," Tyler says. "Marchy's playing there, against Cornell."
"I see," Andrew says, and Tyler swears he can hear a shit-eating grin in his voice. "Lemme call you back?"
"For sure," Tyler says. "Thanks, dude."
"No worries," Andrew says. "And for the record, you didn't have to cash in your favor on this," he adds. "I would've done it anyway."
Tyler smiles. "You're a really good dad," he says.
"Tell that to my kids next time you come over," Andrew teases. "I'll call you back in a minute."
Tyler gets two beers out of the refrigerator and heads back out to the living room. He tosses one to Dougie.
"Asshole, now I can't open it," Dougie grumbles. "Did you talk to Ference?"
"Yep," Tyler says. He makes a show out of opening his own drink, and sticks his tongue out at Dougie.
"Put your freakishly long tongue away," Dougie tells him. "What'd he say?"
"Said he's gonna call some people and get back to me," Tyler says. "We have anything left to take care of here?"
"Nah," Dougie says. "Nothing till Kaner gets here tomorrow to set up."
"Sweet," Tyler says, because moving furniture around is probably more of a workout than he's had in weeks and he has a sneaking suspicion that his arms are gonna be sore tomorrow. "Call of Duty?"
"Duh," Dougie says, so the boot up the game. They play it sitting on the floor, because the couch is too far away for the controllers to reach, and Tyler's getting his ass handed to him when his phone rings.
"Pause, pause, fucker," he shouts, reaching for his phone. Dougie doesn't pause, he kills Tyler on screen instead, and Tyler socks him in the arm. "You are the worst," he says, pressing 'answer call'.
"Hey," Andrew says. Tyler presses his finger to his lips and glares at Dougie.
"Yo," Tyler says. "Anything?"
"Yeah, man, you're good to go," Andrew says. Tyler fist pumps and stops himself from cheering loudly, because he doesn't want to blow out Andrew's eardrums. "Just give them my name at the office and they'll have a ticket for you."
"You're my favorite," Tyler tells him. "Seriously, Yzerman used to be my favorite, but you just beat him in a shootout."
Andrew laughs at him. "I'll pass that on to him," he says. "You got a way to get to the city?"
Tyler looks over at Dougie. "Hey, man, can I borrow your car tomorrow?" he asks, holding the phone away from his face.
"You just shushed me," Dougie says. "So no."
"Seriously, dude," Tyler tries.
"I would, but for real we need it to get the booze here," Dougie says, and Tyler wants to smack himself because he's the one who volunteered Dougie and his car to bring the kegs over.
"Right," he says. He puts the phone back against his face. "I'll figure it out, I guess," he tells Andrew.
"If you can get a bus or train ticket, I'll drop you off at the station," Andrew offers.
"Thanks, dude," Tyler says. "Seriously, thank you."
"No problem," Andrew says. "Just text me if you need a ride."
"Will do," Tyler says. He hangs up, and Dougie looks at him expectantly. "He got me a ticket, are you dumb?"
"Nah, I just wanted to make you say it," Dougie says. He grins and throws Tyler's controller at him. "Rematch, dude."
"It's not a rematch, you killed me when I told you to pause," Tyler grumbles, but they boot up the game again and settle in for round two.
"Yo," Kaner says. Tyler drops his backpack near the door, full of snacks and a clean pair of underwear. Tazer is with Kaner, wearing a pair of headphones around his neck and one of Kaner's hats perched backwards on his head.
"Hey, dudes," Tyler says. "What's good?"
"Who do we need to talk to about getting some extra cables?" Tazer asks. "I brought my own speakers, gotta get 'em hooked up."
"Uh," Tyler says. "Not me? Sorry bros, but I'm heading out."
"Out to where?" Kaner asks.
"New York," Tyler tells him. "Turns out I won't actually be here tonight."
"If you aren't gonna be here, who's gonna pay me?" Tazer asks. He's keeping a straight face, but Kaner kind of laughs, so Tyler's pretty sure it was a joke.
"There's Bud Light in the fridge," Tyler throws back. "Made sure the boys didn't get you Keystone."
Tazer laughs, mostly because he's surprised, Tyler thinks, but he still says, "No, seriously, who's gonna pay me?"
Tyler shrugs. "Dougie knows where the check is, ask him when he gets back with the kegs."
"Sweet," Tazer says.
"You goin' to New York for the Cornell game?" Kaner asks Tyler as he tries to sidestep them to get to his backpack.
"Yeah, man, got tickets super last minute," Tyler tells him. "Gotta get rolling though-" his phone cuts him off by buzzing loudly with a text from Andrew. outside, it says. "My ride's here. Have fun, drink up, don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
"That means I'm good to dance around playing forty-hands without a shirt on," Kaner warns.
"Go nuts," Tyler tells him. "Tazer, good luck with him!" He grabs his backpack and poster and salutes them both.
Andrew's car is idling outside. Tyler knocks on his window to get him to unlock the doors and Andrew jumps, Tyler can tell through the tinted windows. He laughs and drops his bag and poster into the back before climbing into the passenger seat. "Hey," he says.
"Please tell me that poster is a giant picture of your boy's face," Andrew says, turning the car on.
"I would never disappoint you," Tyler says. "It is a giant poster of his head."
"Good man," Andrew tells him. "Megabus, right?"
"Yep," Tyler says. "Cheap and with WiFi, what more can I ask for?"
The bus is already in the parking lot when they pull up, so Tyler doesn't linger. "Thank you again, dude," he tells Andrew. "Tell the girls I say hey!"
"Will do," Andrew says. "If you have any problems getting the ticket, call me."
"For sure," Tyler says. He gets his backpack and poster out of the back seat and opens the door. "See ya later!"
He takes the backpack and poster with him, shoving the poster against the window so it doesn't get crushed underneath the bus. He falls asleep halfway through the ride and when the bus stops and he jolts awake, he's blinking up at Marchy's blown-up nose. He laughs at himself, out loud, and some of the other passengers turn around to look at him but he can't stop, because Marchy's nose is already huge. He pulls out his phone and snapchats a picture of just the poster to Marchy, captioning it model drawn to scale, nose face killaaaahhhhh.
He has to pay attention once he gets off the bus, though, because he's standing in on a street corner in New York City holding a giant poster of Marchy's face, and he has no idea where he's going. He sees a Dunkin' Donuts across the street, though, so he heads in that direction.
"Andrew Ference," Tyler says when he gets to the Will Call window at Madison Square Garden. The girl behind the glass laughs.
"Nice try," she says. "Probably shouldn't pick a Boston player if you're trying to name drop in New York, though."
"I'm serious," Tyler says. He smiles at her. "The ticket's under Andrew Ference." She gives him a no-nonsense look, so Tyler sighs and digs his phone out of his pocket. "Hold up a sec," he says. He scrolls through his contacts until he gets to 'FERENCE FROM THE BRUINS' and hits Call. "Hey," he says when Andrew picks up. "Tell her I'm not a scam, please."
He puts his phone on speaker and holds it up to the glass. "This is Andrew Ference," Andrew says, laughing a little. Tyler frowns at the phone, because Andrew laughing isn't doing much for his credibility. "I spoke to Billie Streets yesterday about getting one ticket in my name and that Tyler Seguin would be picking it up," he continues, and Tyler grins because that sounds a lot more legit. "There should be a note from Billie."
The girl types something into the computer and then turns back to Tyler. "Can I see your ID, please?" Tyler pulls out his driver's license, triumphant. He grins at her as he slides it under the glass. "Alright, hold on," she says, tapping something else into the computer. She passes his license back on top of an envelope with 'Andrew Ference' written on it. "Sorry about that," she says.
"No worries," he says. "Thanks!" He takes the phone off speaker and steps out of the way of the next guy in line. "Thanks, man," he says to Andrew.
"No problem," Andrew says. "Go paint your chest, or whatever you do."
Tyler laughs. "See ya."
He's maneuvering himself and the poster of Marchy's head through the line when someone taps him on the shoulder. "Way to hold up the line," a guy says, and Tyler turns around ready to snarl at him, but he starts grinning once he sees who it is.
"Hey, Starkman!" he says, and lets Evan pull him into a full-on hug, complete with back-thumping. Evan's decked out in Cornell shit, but he's got a red and white Canada hat on, so Tyler forgives him.
"Hey, bro," Evan says. "Didn't know you were coming to this!"
"It was last minute," Tyler shrugs. "Didn't know you were gonna be in town either, man, I would've come in earlier."
"No worries," Evan says, waving him off. "You gonna be in Toronto for the summer?"
"Prolly," Tyler says, even though that's a long way off and he hasn't really thought about it. "Hey, too bad you went to the wrong school, we could've got tickets together," he adds.
Evan snorts. "Please, BU let your sorry ass in, no way was I gonna settle like that."
Tyler punches him. "Cornell might'a got your brain, but that couldn't get you on the ice, eh?" Evan's playing club- sometimes he texts Tyler about how much some of the other dudes he plays with suck, but Tyler doesn't take him seriously because Evan kind of sucks too, and they both know it.
"I don't see you suiting up, either," Evan shrugs. "Guess that rag-tag team of yours couldn't drag you outta retirement, eh?"
"Yzerman himself couldn't drag me out of retirement," Tyler tells him. "Now that I know what it's like to eat whatever I want and only work out when I feel like it? Bro, you can't put a price on true freedom."
Evan laughs, and then waves over Tyler's shoulder. "Hey, I'm gonna go catch up with my buddies," he says, "but let's go out after, yeah? I'll text you."
"For sure," Tyler says. "Let's do it. New York doesn't know what's coming!"
They fistbump, and Evan squeezes around him to go join his boys. For his part, Tyler holds his poster close to his body so it won't get destroyed by the crowd, and goes to find his seat.
Eighteen thousand people start screaming when the teams take the ice before the anthem. Tyler goes ham, waving his poster around and yelling with the best of them. He hadn't painted his chest, because he didn't want to lug the paint around with him, and also he's not sure where he's crashing tonight and figured it would probably be easier to find somewhere if he was not painted bright red. He is wearing the BU Hockey sweater he stole from Marchy, though; he would feel bad about it, cause Marchy had gotten in kind of a lot of trouble with the equipment managers for losing his uniform, but this shit is fly and there's nothing he'd rather be wearing than Marchy's 63 as he waves around a giant picture of Marchy's head.
He does respectfully stop hollering and lower the poster when the anthem is sung. Tyler doesn't know all of the words to the Star Spangled Banner, but he can sing O Canada in both languages, so he doesn't really care. He texts Evan during it, THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREEEEEE star spangled suck canada's dick, which is probably rude and unpatriotic, but he's only here on a student visa. He figures it's okay.
The lineups are announced and when Marchy's name is called, the camera shows him, chewing absently on his mouthguard, the beginnings of a beard starting to show. Then it cuts to Tyler, who's got the poster of Marchy's face back up over his head, waving it around. The crowd starts to laugh, and he sees Marchy staring at the Jumbotron, so he waves, grinning. The announcers move on to the rest of the lineup and the camera moves back to the players. Tyler watches Marchy as he scans the crowd trying to pick him out.
Marchy doesn't find him before he has to skate over to his bench for a last minute huddle, though, but Tyler isn't too bummed. There's plenty of time left. His phone buzzes with a text from Evan, you freak, and he gets a text from Andrew a few minutes later, too: saw someone tweeted a pic of you and the poster go big or go home?
Tyler laughs to himself, but then the puck drops and he puts his phone away in favor of cheering some more.
The game ends in a frantic flurry in front of the Cornell net and every shot somehow goes just wide, or bounces off the goalie's pads. Tyler tries not to curse too much, cause there are kids sitting in the row in front of him, but when Marchy hits the post in the dying seconds, he can't help it.
"Fuck!" he yells, and the parents of the kids on front of him turn around to glare. Tyler ignores them; he's kept it clean all game and besides, who brings kids to a hockey game and honestly expects everyone to keep it PG?
He's bummed when BU loses 4-3, but Marchy had a good game at least. He texts Evan as he makes his way out of his seat, gonna see my boys, text me where you are later? lets draaank, and heads towards where Andrew told him the player exits are.
Tyler hangs around for a while, waiting; it’s a little more awkward than it is at home games, 'cause there's no couch for him and he's pretty much the only one who's not a family member who's still standing and waiting. He's still carting around the poster, because it's not the last game of the season by a long shot, and Dougie would probably kill him if he had to use more print money to make a new one.
"Yo," he says when Marchy finally emerges. "Hell of a game, Pigeon."
Marchy laughs, and he looks exhausted and kind of upset but also happy. "You haven't called me that in a while," he says, separating himself from a pack of his teammates who all wave at Tyler and walking over. He knocks his shoulder against Tyler's and Tyler puts the poster down to hug him properly.
"Yeah, well," Tyler says, his voice muffled by Marchy's hoodie. "You deserve it, tonight." He hasn't called Marchy 'Pigeon' since some time last year, he thinks, after a game when Marchy made a particular pest of himself.
"What are you doing here, though?" Marchy asks. "What about the party?"
"I brought the party here, duh," Tyler says. "For real though, like, you're my boy. And you're playing in fucking Madison Square Garden. You really think I'm gonna miss it to get drunk with the same people I see every day?" He digs his fingers into Marchy's sides where he knows Marchy's ticklish, and Marchy pulls out of his hug to try and wiggle away. "Besides, I wanted my fifteen minutes of fame on that Jumbotron."
Marchy snorts. "Dude, you should've told me you were coming," he says. "I saw you on the screen and thought I was hallucinating."
"Best surprise ever, though, right?" Tyler asks, beaming when Marchy nods.
"For sure," Marchy says. They start walking out of the building. "I've got to get back to the team hotel," he starts.
Tyler waves him off. "Yeah, it's chill. I wanna see you later, though," he says. He winks at Marchy. "I didn't come all the way down here to not see you on your big night."
Marchy nods. "I'll text you later, for sure, we're gonna go out I think. Where are you staying?"
"Not sure yet," Tyler laughs. "One of my buddies from home is here, might crash on his floor if you can't put me up."
"You know I would if I wasn't- we aren't allowed to have anyone except the team with us," Marchy says, apologetic. Tyler punches him lightly.
"Dude," he says. "I'm joking. I know, I get it. I'm gonna go meet Evan, but tell me where you're at later, eh? I'd tell you where I end up but somehow I don't think you'll go over so well with the Cornell crowd."
Marchy snorts. "Nah, prolly not," he agrees. "I'll tell you when we leave the hotel."
"Sounds good," Tyler says. "Peace!"
Marchy walks over to where the team bus is idling, and Tyler pulls out his phone to text Evan. where u at/let me borrow a shirt, he sends, and heads for the subway.
Tyler meets Evan at his hotel and drops his poster and backpack off in Evan's room. Evan looks ready to head back out, sliding his keycard back into his pocket, but Tyler starts rooting around in Evan's duffle.
"What are you doing?" Evan asks, frowning.
"Borrowing a shirt," Tyler says. "This thing's fucking hot." He pulls Marchy's sweater over his head and tosses it on top of his backpack. "I would just go like this," he says, pausing to run his hands up and down his abs for effect, "but then you'd hate me for getting all the ladies."
Evan snorts. "As if you're even interested in the ladies right now," he says. "Whose sweater have you been wearing around all day again, eh?"
"Fair," Tyler says. He pulls a black v-neck out of Evan's duffle and puts it on. It's a little too big for him, because Evan never lost his hockey bulk when he stopped playing seriously. "Ok, let's go!"
They end up in a midtown bar with Evan's boys, mostly Canadians studying at Cornell, and Tyler likes them. They give him some shit for the fathead of Marchy, and rib him for the loss, but Tyler played juniors, he can shit talk with the best of 'em.
"Are you even legal this far south of the border?" Evan laughs when he comes back with the first round and passes Tyler a beer.
"Did you forget my birthday, fucker?" Tyler asks, holding his hand to his heart and pouting. "You'd better get me an extra shot to make up for it."
"That's all it takes to get back in your good graces?" Evan snorts. "You're as easy as I remembered, eh." Tyler gives him the finger and takes a long pull of his beer, because he is in fact twenty-one, and he has ID to prove it. He tells Evan as much, which turns out to be a mistake because Evan replies, "Looks like you're getting the next round then, since you're legal and all."
Tyler's having a good time, pleasantly buzzed, when his phone goes off. leaving the hotel now comemeet us, it says, from Marchy.
"Gonna jet," he tells Evan. "Gonna go drink with some real hockey players, your lightweight ass couldn't take it."
Evan laughs at him, but gives him the extra keycard to his hotel room. "If you aren't back by checkout tomorrow, I will throw your shit away," he says, and gives Tyler a one armed hug. "Good to see you, man."
"You too," Tyler says, and he means it. "Later, dude."
He GoogleMaps directions to the bar Marchy texts him, and manages to get there alive and with all his belongings. Marchy and a few of his teammates are packed into a booth and the bar is pretty crowded, with some good music going. Tyler makes his way through the crowd and stumbles over to their table.
"Hold the bottles up, where my comrades? Where the fucking felons, where my dogs at?" Tyler raps, announcing his presence. The guys make room for him and Tyler squeezes himself into the booth next to Marchy. "How you holding up? Drowned the sorrows yet?"
"Not even close," the guy on the other side of Marchy says, sliding the pitcher towards Tyler.
"Yo," Tyler says, quieter, leaning into Marchy. "Holding up?"
Marchy shrugs. "Working on it," he says, holding his glass up.
Tyler frowns, because when he saw Marchy earlier, he'd seemed pretty good, but then again, Tyler knows from experience that drinking with teammates after a loss is a fast track to moping. "Finish it," he tells Marchy, tapping his glass. He pulls out his phone and starts Googling. When he looks up, Marchy hasn't finished his drink yet. "Chug, fucker," Tyler insists, grabbing Marchy's wrist and guiding the glass to his mouth. His wrist is warm.
"Pushy," Marchy grumbles, but he does it, and the rest of the table starts cheering him on. He finishes with foam on his upper lip and Tyler leans over, wipes it off with his thumb.
A bunch of the other guys start chugging after Marchy burps, and Tyler stays in Marchy's space. "Let's go soon," he suggests.
"Where?" Marchy asks.
"Do we or do we not have a postgame ritual," Tyler says, feigning hurt. "I am insulted that you'd forget, I should just go back to Evan and his Cornell boys-"
Marchy cuts him off by slapping the back of his head gently. "You know somewhere that's open now?"
"Pigeon," Tyler says. "It's New York, there's always something open. Haven't you seen any movie ever?"
They end up following directions from Tyler's phone to a diner that's kind of near the team hotel. It's not as awesome as their diner in Boston, of course, because the waitresses don't know them and Tyler feels a little bad for being drunk, but he also really, really wants greasy breakfast food and also chicken fingers, so he gets over it. They slide into a booth and order coffee before starting on the plastic menus.
"None of this is on my diet," Marchy complains.
Tyler kicks at him under the table. "Dude, you just played Madison Square Garden, you can eat some fuckin' home fries without feeling guilty," he says.
Marchy kicks him back, but Tyler traps his foot between his ankles. "Sucka," he chirps.
The waitress comes back by their table and pulls out her notepad. Marchy wiggles his foot around, but Tyler just smiles at the waitress and asks for an omelet, bacon, and chicken fingers.
"And you?" she asks, turning to Marchy, who is making a face at Tyler as he continues to try and free his foot.
"Um," he says. "Chocolate chip pancakes would be good? Thanks."
When she's gone, Marchy braces his hands on the table and tries to yank his foot free, and Tyler waits until it looks like Marchy's using all of his weight before letting go and uncrossing his legs. Marchy kind of collapses back against the back of his booth with a loud thump and Tyler laughs.
"You are the worst, why am I friends with you?" Marchy grumbles. He flips Tyler the finger and Tyler just beams at him.
"Cause I'm your favorite," he says.
"Not if you keep kicking me," Marchy threatens.
Tyler pouts. "But you're mine," he says. "Favorite. You know?"
"You have a giant poster of my head," Marchy says. "If you were trying to keep it a secret, you failed."
Tyler laughs. Their food arrives, along with glasses of water for both of them, which makes Tyler wonder if they're acting that much drunker than they are. He pulls the paper wrapper off of his straw and scrunches it up, pushing it across the table for Marchy, who drops a few beads of water from the end of his straw onto it, and they watch it unfold.
"So," he says through a mouthful of omelet. "Real talk."
"Okay," Marchy says, and he sounds a little wary. "Real talk."
"You prefer male pronouns, right?" Tyler asks. "Like, whatever, I don't know the PC terminology and shit, but like, he him his, husband, all that?"
Marchy blinks at him. "Um," he says, and takes a large bite of his pancake. "Yes? What the fuck?"
"Well like, Brownie's my wifey, right, and we talked about it and it's chill cause we've defined that as a heterosexual platonic partnership or something like that," Tyler explains. "Which leaves the term 'wife' up for grabs, but I figured you might prefer 'husband,' so. Do you?"
Marchy looks like he's about to choke on his pancake. "How drunk am I?" he asks. "Did we get married and I didn't notice?"
"No, fucker," Tyler says. "I wouldn't let you forget your own wedding, especially if it was to me. That shit would be the best day ever."
"So then what are you talking about?" Marchy asks.
"Dude, if I'm reading it all wrong, speak now or forever hold your peace," Tyler says, "but I kinda figured you might wanna hook up. As a thing, not a one-off." He waves his fork around. "And, you know. I wanna. But you aren't some laxbro who's obvi gonna be a casual thing, right, so we have to figure out what to call each other." He pauses. "I’m cool with being your wife, for the record."
That startles a laugh out of Marchy, who puts his fork down and just looks at Tyler, laughing, but not like he's making fun of him, which Tyler appreciates. "So, hang on a sec," Marchy says slowly. "You want me to wife you up? Like, for real?"
"Yes for real," Tyler says. "We're having real talk, aren't we?"
"I just, you know," Marchy says. "I gotta make sure." His eyebrows go up a little, and it's so earnest that it makes Tyler smile.
"I'm serious," Tyler says. "I'm one hundred percent serious about this, man."
"Okay," Marchy says, kicking Tyler under the table again. Tyler reflexively traps his foot and Marchy doesn't struggle. "I mean. Now? You wanna-?" He breaks off, frowning in the direction of the bathrooms. "That's probably not sanitary."
Tyler snorts. "Please," he says. "I mean like, when we get back. Forever. Or, you know, 'till death do us part and shit."
"So we are getting married," Marchy laughs.
"If you like then you better put a ring on it," Tyler sings.
"You fucked up the lyrics," Marchy tells him.
"On purpose, asshole," Tyler says.
"Okay, wife," Marchy says, and Tyler laughs, happy, and takes a giant bite out of a chicken finger.
They find their way back to Marchy's hotel easily, and Tyler catches Marchy's beltloop before Marchy can turn to go inside. "Text me when you're back in Boston," he says, winking.
"Stop doing that, you look like you're having a seizure," Marchy says, but then he grins and catches Tyler's elbow. "I will."
"Cool," Tyler says. He leans forward and plants a wet kiss on Marchy, sloppy on purpose with all tongue and no finesse, and he's kind of laughing, which makes it difficult to really try. Marchy laughs at him and Tyler pulls back, grinning like an idiot.
"We're gonna have to work on that," Marchy tells him.
"Don't worry," Tyler says. "I'm just trying to help you out."
"How," Marchy asks, his eyebrows shooting all the way up to his hairline, "was that supposed to help me out?"
"So you don't have to go back to your room with a boner and explain yourself to your roommate," Tyler tells him, trying very hard to hold a straight face. "Unless you want that, in which case-" He leans forward again before Marchy can answer, and kisses him for real this time, making sure not to slobber. It's not too dirty, not really what Tyler wants, but that'll come later, so he pulls away before he can't stop. "Better?"
"Yeah," Marchy says, his voice a little growly. "I can work with that."
Tyler gropes Marchy quickly when Marchy turns around to go into the hotel, and Marchy flips him off. "Fuck you," he laughs.
"Yeah, yeah," Tyler drawls. "We'll get to that."
Marchy makes it inside and Tyler watches him until the door closes before GoogleMapping his way back to Evan's hotel and letting himself in with the spare keycard. Evan put a pillow and a blanket on the floor for Tyler, but Evan also should know better than that, so Tyler picks them up and relocates himself to the bed.
Andrew picks Tyler up at the Megabus stop in Boston. Tyler is tired and mildly hungover, and Evan had woken him up way too early because the caravan back to Cornell had decided to leave at the crack of dawn.
"Hey," Tyler says, opening the back door of Andrew's car to put his poster down. The girls are sitting there, and he smiles at them. "Wanna hang on to something super cool?"
"What is it?" Ava asks, suspicious. Tyler puts his backpack down underneath her seat and shows her the poster.
"Who is that? He has a big nose," Stella says.
"That's why we call him Nose Face Killah," Tyler tells her. "He's my husband."
"You aren't married," Ava points out.
"Nothing gets by you, does it," Tyler laughs.
"Nope," she says proudly, but she reaches out for the poster and holds it on her lap. Tyler resists the urge to take a picture of her, and gets into the passenger seat instead.
"Husband, huh?" Andrew asks, grinning as he pulls out of the parking lot.
"Yep," Tyler confirms. "No shotgun wedding, don't worry."
"If you got married after I got you tickets to make your grand gesture and didn't invite me," Andrew says, "I would be extremely disappointed in you."
Tyler laughs, because it's kind of a dad thing to say, but it's also a fair point. "Don't worry," he says. "My wedding will be the most fun you've ever had."
"Can we be invited?" Ava asks from the backseat.
"Sure," Tyler says. "But it won't be for a while which is good, 'cause you'll have more fun if you're old."
"Why?" Ava asks, wrinkling her nose.
"You'll find out when you're older," Andrew cuts in.
"Fine," Ava sighs, and Tyler twists around so he can pout sympathetically at her.
"What do you think I'm gonna be doing at my wedding?" he teases Andrew.
"God only knows," Andrew says. "Stella, didn't you have something you wanted to ask Tyler?"
"Yes," Stella says. She leans forward and taps on Tyler's shoulder. "Will you come to our skating show on Friday? I'm gonna get my Level Two badge," she says proudly.
"Girl," Tyler says. "I wouldn't miss it for a million bucks."
"Good," Stella says, pleased. Andrew coughs loudly. "I mean thank you," she adds. Tyler laughs.
"No problemo," he says.
Andrew drops him off outside the house, and Tyler collects his backpack and poster from the backseat. "Text me deets for the skating show?" he asks Andrew.
"Yeah, of course," Andrew says.
"Bring your husband," Ava says. "I wanna meet him and see if his nose is really that big."
Tyler laughs. "It is," he assures her. "I'll see if he's free." He likes the thought of bringing Marchy – Marchy's been weird about meeting Andrew, and Tyler gets that, kind of, but it's gotta happen eventually, and Marchy's a big softie, so Tyler's pretty sure that if he brings up the kids, he's got a trump card.
When he gets inside, he drops his shit in the hallway and goes up to his room, where plugs his phone in, leaves it on loud in case Marchy texts, and faceplants on his bed to catch a few more hours of sleep. Evan, aside from waking up ridiculously early, had spent most of the night tugging on the blankets and kicking, and Tyler doesn't want to have dark circles when Marchy comes over.
Tyler does wake up because his phone goes off, but it's Dougie, not Marchy. Tyler holds the phone over his face for a few seconds, trying to figure out if it's seven PM or AM. come downstairs mariokart tourney is the first text, and Tyler is debating whether or not he wants to reply when the second comes in, u will get ur ass kicked krug is wicked good.
He gets up and puts on a pair of clean-smelling sweatpants. The heat is on high in the house, so he doesn't bother with a shirt, just jogs down the stairs yawning, and grabs a Red Bull from the fridge before heading to the living room. Dougie and Krug are playing, with a few brothers gathered around watching. They still haven't moved the furniture back, so Dougie and Krug are sitting on the floor, and most of the other guys are either sprawled out right behind them or lazing around on the couch by the back wall. Tyler heads for the couch, but makes sure to nudge Dougie's arm with his foot as he walks by, throwing him off.
"Fuck you," Dougie snaps, "I was catching up!"
"Not even close," Krug laughs. Tyler takes the free seat on the couch and watches, pleased with his handiwork, as Dougie loses.
"You are an asshole," Dougie informs him, tossing his controller at Krug's next challenger. "Also, I know you have shirts."
"But why would I want to cover this up?" Tyler asks, waving a hand around in front of his torso and taking a big gulp of Red Bull.
"Stop drinking that, you just napped and you're gonna be up all night," Dougie groans. He stands in front of Tyler expectantly until Tyler moves over enough for him to sit down. "I have shit to do and ladies to see, I can't babysit your sugar-high ass."
"Who babysits for Andrew Ference again?" Segs asks, thoughtful. "Oh right, not you!" Dougie flips him off. "Also, I won't be sleeping, but I will be far to busy to bug you all night, if you know what I mean." He grins.
"Are you telling me I should get earplugs while I'm out?" Dougie asks, raising an eyebrow.
"Or you should stay with whoever you hook up with," Tyler nods.
Krug turns around and offers the second controller to Tyler. "Wanna try?" he asks, which is pretty ballsy for someone who hasn't rushed yet and also hasn't seen Tyler play Mario Kart. Tyler leers at him.
"Dibs on Yoshi," he says.
"Take whoever you want, it won't help you," Dougie tells him. Krug nods.
"You say that now," Tyler says, shaking his head. "'Cause you know you lookin' at a winner, winner, winner, can't miss, can't lose, cause you lookin' at a winner," he raps, handing his Red Bull to Dougie and accepting the controller from Krug.
"We'll see about that," Krug chirps, and they start up the game.
Tyler loses, but it's a close thing and he's pretty sure Dougie kneed him in the back on purpose at the very end. Dougie and Krug take off once the game ends, and most of the guys filter out, too. Tyler contemplates moving the furniture back into place, but decides that moving it out of the way in the first place was enough physical exertion for a while, and besides, he's got to save his energy for Marchy.
He's puttering around in the kitchen, trying to find where Dougie's hidden his new box of Lucky Charms, when Marchy finally texts him, just got back, tired, coming to yrs cause its closer. Tyler fist pumps, and then continues his hunt for Lucky Charms. He finds them under the sink, and he's pouring himself a solo cup full so he can pick out the marshmallows when he hears the front door open.
"Kitchen," he calls, because even if it isn't Marchy, he doesn't know anyone who doesn't like Lucky Charms marshmallows.
It is Marchy, though, with his hood pulled up and his team duffel still over one shoulder. "Open wide," Tyler tells him, and Marchy blinks at him. "I have marshmallows, fucker, do you want them or not?" Tyler brandishes the solo cup at him and Marchy sees the Lucky Charms box on the counter, puts it together. He drops his bag and opens his mouth. Segs aims and throws a marshmallow, but it's super light and falls about three feet short. "Come on, come closer," Tyler says. "Ready?" Marchy takes a few steps forward and opens his mouth again. Tyler throws another marshmallow, and Marchy sways a little to get underneath it. He catches it in his mouth, and Tyler whoops. "Aw yeah, buddy," he cheers, and pops one into his own mouth. "How was skate today?"
"Well," Marchy says, jumping up to sit on the counter, "we lost yesterday, so. Hard as fuck." Tyler slides into Marchy's space, pushing at his knees until Marchy makes room for him to stand between his legs. He gives Marchy the solo cup full of marshmallows and takes a handful for himself. "We did one v one's for pretty much the whole two hours," Marchy continues, "which is the fucking worst."
"You sore?" Tyler asks.
Marchy shakes his head. "Not really, just tired. Had my legs up the whole time on the bus," he laughs. "Fell out of my seat twice." Tyler snickers. "Gonna put 'em up again later, but at least we only have a lift tomorrow."
"Nah, during normal practice time," Marchy says.
"Stay over, then," Tyler suggests. He pops the last of his marshmallows into his mouth and lets his hands settle on Marchy's sweatpants-clad thighs.
"Okay," Marchy says easily. He smiles, and Tyler leans forward a little bit more and kisses him. It's slow and easy and Marchy's lips are chapped from his mouthguard, which Tyler wasn't expecting but decides he likes. Marchy puts the solo cup down without breaking the kiss and moves his hands up Tyler's arms, swiping his tongue into Tyler's mouth.
Tyler's getting into it, pressing closer and trying to haul Marchy off of the counter so he can get more contact, but his muscles are really only good for a few reps and not stamina, and Marchy's heavy for someone so short. Tyler squeezes Marchy's thigh and pulls back a little. Marchy's lips are starting to get puffy and his stubble is scraping Tyler's skin; Tyler wonders if he'll have beardburn in the morning.
"Let's move this upstairs?" Tyler asks, hopeful, and Marchy runs his hands over Tyler's bare chest just once and nods.
"Yeah," he says. "I'm not making any promises, though, I might pass out as soon as I'm in a bed."
"I'm sure I can find a way to keep you up," Tyler says, licking his lips.
Marchy seems on board with this plan, so they make their way up the stairs. Tyler cops a feel on their way up and Marchy swats at him, but Tyler just wraps his fingers around Marchy's wrist and lets Marchy lead him into his own bedroom.
They lock the door and Tyler flicks on the lights because this isn't a one-off and he doesn't have beer goggles on; Tyler wants to see. He sits on the edge of his bed and waits for Marchy to tug off his hoodie before getting his hands on Marchy's hips and manhandling him onto the bed. He rolls them over so that Marchy's underneath him and Marchy laughs lazily.
"So I guess these aren't all just for show," he says, bring his hands up to Tyler's biceps and moving over his shoulders to his pecs.
"Mostly they are," Tyler laughs, because he can't front with Marchy; Marchy's seen him in the gym, fucking around with med balls and only ever doing one or two reps of any heavy lifting.
He leans down and noses at Marchy's cheek, biting gently at Marchy's jaw before coming back to his lips. They make out lazily for a while, dirty but not urgent, and Tyler's getting hard in his sweats, so he moves down to Marchy's neck and goes to work there for a minute, dragging his lips over Marchy's stubble.
"Hey," Marchy says. His voice is rough and Tyler likes it like this, wants it to sound like this more often. "I'm not gonna- I don't want to cockblock but I'm literally gonna pass out," he says. Tyler pulls himself up on to his elbows and looks down at Marchy.
"It's okay," he says, because he can see the dark circles underneath Marchy's eyes and it sucks because he's been amping himself up for this, but he wants it to be good, not just rushed mutual handjobs before bed. "Stay anyway."
He rolls to the side, off of Marchy, and slides one of his legs between Marchy's thighs. He can feel the muscles there, even between two layers of sweatpants, and it's fucking hot, but Tyler can already hear Marchy's breathing begin to even out. He thinks about going to the bathroom and jerking one out, but he's comfortable, so he just reaches over Marchy and hits the lights instead.
Tyler had planned on waking up first, but somehow he finds himself being nudged awake by Marchy, who's sitting up and leaning over him, digging his knee into Tyler's side.
"Time 's it?" Tyler asks, his voice scratchy from sleep. He blinks up at Marchy blearily.
"Early," Marchy says. "Go get rid of your morning mouth."
Tyler opens his eyes all the way. "Yeah?"
"I already did," Marchy shrugs. "For what that's worth." Tyler stands up so fast he gets a head rush and has to squeeze his eyes shut for a second. "Don't hurt yourself," Marchy laughs.
When Tyler gets back, Marchy's sprawled out on the bed waiting for him. He's gotten rid of his t-shirt but he's still wearing his sweats, and Tyler gets back on the bed too, rolling into Marchy's space. He leans into Marchy's face and exhales obnoxiously. "Better?" he asks, grinning.
"Much," Marchy says, and then Marchy leans over him and kisses Tyler, getting right down to business. There's a strong toothpaste taste going on, but Tyler doesn't care, just licks into Marchy's mouth and swings his hips around to get a leg in between Marchy's, who traps it there, pulling back for a second. "Gotcha," he says, and Tyler gets a hand on Marchy's jaw to pull him back in and kiss the shit-eating grin off of his face.
Tyler tries to roll them over and manages to get Marchy more or less underneath him. "Hang on," Marchy says, wiggling so they're both on their sides. "Awkward arm." Tyler laughs, pressing his forehead against Marchy's, and lets Marchy adjust so his arm isn't limp underneath Tyler's ribs. "Okay," Marchy says, solving the problem by getting his hand down to Tyler's ass and squeezing. "Good."
"Yeah it is," Tyler grins, and ducks down to go for Marchy's neck. He likes how it gets Marchy's hips going when he scrapes his teeth gently over the place where Marchy's beard ends, and so he does it a few times, pressing his leg further up so Marchy has something to grind against.
"Pants," he says eventually, running his hands up and down Marchy's sides lightly and ticking a little. Marchy laughs and kicks at him, rolls off so he can slide out of his sweats. Tyler shoves his own pants down his legs and kicks them off, bunching them up at the foot of his bed. "Come back," he says, pushing himself against the pillows and looking at Marchy. His chest hair thins out a little over his stomach and Tyler wants to run his fingers through it. He also wants to get a hand on Marchy's dick, which- "You weren't lying, eh?"
"What?" Marchy frowns, palming himself, and Tyler gets distracted for a second just watching him. He drops a hand to his own dick and groans a little.
"When you said you were big," Tyler tells him. "Fucking come here."
Marchy laughs and crawls over Tyler so he can duck down for another kiss. "I told you, better believe it," he says when he pulls back, and Tyler shakes his head.
"Can I?" he asks. Marchy just makes a noise in the back of his throat and nods, so Tyler licks his palm and bats Marchy's hand away to start stroking. Marchy's thicker around than he is and Tyler likes it, even though he has to twist his wrist at an awkward angle.
"Yes, fuck," Marchy says, exhaling harshly against Tyler's neck, and his hips jerk into Tyler when Tyler swipes a thumb over the head of his dick.
"Good?" Tyler asks, and he's not even trying to be an asshole, genuinely wants it to be good for Marchy.
"Your hands, dude," Marchy grunts. "You know how distracted I get sometimes?"
Tyler's not sure if he should be flattered by what Marchy's saying or insulted that Marchy can still form full sentences. "Why?"
"Your hands are the size of my face," Marchy says, and he looks like he's going to say something else, so Tyler cuts him off by tightening his grip a little and stroking faster. It works; Marchy exhales and closes his eyes for a second, and Tyler keeps going.
Marchy gets a hand on Tyler's dick, once he gets himself together, and then it's Tyler's turn to hitch his hips up and grunt, because their knuckles are knocking against each other and it's fucking hot. "Hold up," Tyler says, and he uses his other arm to grab Marchy's ass and manhandle him so they're lying on their sides, facing each other. He knocks Marchy's hand out of the way and gets his own hand on both of them. Marchy gets it, joins him and it takes them a minute to get a good rhythm going, but once they do, it doesn't take either of them long to come.
Tyler rolls over to lie on his back, panting, and gives himself a minute to come down before getting up to find tissues, because he's sticky and gross.
"We should do that again," he says, tossing the box to Marchy after he cleans himself up.
"Gonna need more than a few minutes for that," Marchy laughs. His hair's messed up and there's a hickey on his neck and Tyler gets back onto the bed and curls up around him because he just wants to keep touching.
"I got all day, babe," Tyler tells him.
"You do not, you have class," Marchy says, yawning. "Don't make promises you can't keep."
"Fine," Tyler whines, nosing at Marchy's hairline. "Time?"
"Eight forty," Marchy says, glancing at Tyler's phone.
"Fuck," Tyler mumbles against Marchy's skin. "Gotta get up, don't I?"
"Prolly should," Marchy agrees. "Imma stay here, if that's cool?"
Tyler laughs and sits up. "For sure," he says, and he slaps Marchy's naked ass once before standing up to find a clean pair of underwear. Marchy grunts a little, and Tyler grins. "You into that? 'Cause I can be into that."
"Later," Marchy waves him off. "Go be smart, let me sleep."
"Fucker," Tyler tells him, and after he's found clean-smelling clothes, he gives Marchy one more kiss before he grabs his bag and heads downstairs.
Dougie's in the kitchen, eating what's left of his Lucky Charms, and he looks kind of pissed that the box is only half full and there aren't any marshmallows. "I'm only telling you this because you're gonna be late so you can't do anything about it," he tells Tyler, "but you have some serious beard burn going on."
Tyler's sitting in the student union, idly eating cheese fries and skimming next semester's course catalog, when his phone starts buzzing with what seems like a million texts. He checks it and sees that most of them are actually notifications from Twitter, which is weird because he hasn't been on Twitter as much as usual in the last few weeks. He opens the app and scrolls through his mentions, trying to figure out why everyone he follows is either saying @tylerseguin92 WAIT REALLY I KNEW IT or @tylerseguin92 wtf. He favorites the one from Blacker that says @tylerseguin92 breaking the hearts of single girls in boston in one fell swoop and check his own timeline.
"You shithead," he tells Dougie's voicemail when Dougie doesn't pick up. "They were just marshmallows!"
He's contemplating what to do about his hacked Twitter –Dougie had changed the password, too, the fucker, so when he tried to send a tweet from his phone he was prompted to log in and not allowed to send anything- when DZ shows up and sits in the chair across from him.
"So," DZ says, grinning. "I heard you got ballsy and came out on Twitter. Not like it was a secret or anything, though."
Tyler flips him off and leers. "There's nothing to come out about, yo," he says. "I have always maintained that I am equal opportunity lovin'!"
His phone buzzes again. He's ready to ignore it, but it's not a Twitter notification, it's a text from Marchy, wanna tell me next time we go public?? Tyler can picture him saying it, eyebrows raised, half-joking and one hundred percent serious at the same time. dougie hacked me in retaliation for cereal, he texts back.
"Trouble in paradise?" DZ asks, and Tyler glances up at him, suspicious, because DZ can't possibly know he and Marchy hooked up, unless Dougie tweeted something else from his own account. "You have beard burn, dude," DZ reminds him, and Tyler's hand flies automatically to his face.
"Whatever," Tyler grumbles. "Hey, wanna fuck with Dougie?"
"Always," DZ answers, because while Tyler doesn't think he has anything against Dougie personally, DZ is usually up for messing with people. "What did you have in mind?"
"Got any Just For Men?" Tyler asks.
"No, but I can get some," DZ says. "Hair?"
"No, that would be doing him a favor," Tyler says, because duh, Dougie's a ginge. "I was gonna go for the shitty beard he's tryna rock."
"I like it," DZ says, pounding his fist against Tyler's. Tyler's phone buzzes again.
are you already planning revenge please say yes, is the message from Marchy.
u kno me well, Tyler replies. dinner after ur prax?
sure, pick me up, Marchy sends back, and Tyler isn't sure if he's serious or not, but he knows where Dougie keeps his keys.
Tyler rolls up to the gym parking lot at 7, wearing Fay-Bans and letting the car idle because he's trying to run Dougie out of gas. He's a little early, so he turns up the radio and plays Candy Crush while he waits, jamming to some Lil' Wayne. He jumps and almost drops his phone when Marchy knocks on the window, and then has to take a minute to laugh at himself before he unlocks the car.
"Get in, bitch, we're going shopping," he deadpans, and Marchy doesn't even pretend he's not laughing at him.
"I didn't have real clothes on me, sorry," Marchy says. He's wearing a BU Hockey sweatshirt and one of Tyler's really old pairs of Plymouth sweatpants.
"You look fine to me, baby," Tyler leers, drawing out the 'i' in fine. He kind of likes that Marchy's wearing his pants, because they're about five inches too long and he's got to have hiked them up high enough to give Urkel a run for his money. He also has no room to judge, because he's wearing Evan's shirt. "How strongly do you feel about your diet tonight?"
"Game next week," Marchy says. "So like, no dessert, but I could cheat a little, I guess."
They end up at a burger joint near campus and Tyler gets a milkshake with his burger, because he can, and because it doesn't count as cheating if Marchy didn't order it.
"Can we have real talk for a hot sec?" Tyler asks before their food comes.
"'Bout what?" Marchy shrugs. He takes a large gulp of water, and Tyler gets a little distracted watching his throat bob. He reflexively brings his hand to his face and rubs his thumb over the lingering beard burn.
"I'm just kinda wondering," Tyler says, "like, you remember that night at the bar when Andrew was there and you were too chicken to meet him?"
"It has nothing to do with that," Marchy argues. "But yeah, I remember."
"Well, he told me he thought we were together, or whatever, back then. And that's kind of what got me thinking, ya know? About us, so I'm wondering like, did you think about this before New York?" Tyler asks.
Marchy snorts. "I really hope you don't think I'm that easy," he laughs. "Dude, I've been into it for a while. Thought you would pick up what I was putting down eventually."
"Since when?" Tyler demands.
"Dunno, somewhere between the first time I saw you take your shirt off and when we made the pinky promise to never have another pong partner," Marchy tells him.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Tyler asks. "I would've- I just didn't realize, you know?"
"It's okay," Marchy says. "You had to figure it out, it's cool."
"But we could've been having awesome sex for like, three years," Tyler argues.
"Well," Marchy says, smiling to himself. "There was also a pool with a couple of your brothers," he admits.
"Ah," Tyler says. He grins. "How much did you make?"
"Three hundred," Marchy says.
"Nice," Tyler hums, appreciative, and he holds his hand out for a fistbump. Marchy obliges, but Tyler pulls his hand back at the last minute, wiggling his fingers. "Jellyfish," he explains, grinning at Marchy's bemused expression. "So everyone knew but me?"
"It's okay," Marchy says again. "I'm in it for your hot bod, not your brain." Tyler kicks him under the table. "Ow, fucker," Marchy grunts, and Tyler smiles, satisfied, when his milkshake arrives with two straws.
"You gonna give me my keys back?" Dougie asks the next time Tyler sees him. Tyler pulls the keys out of his pocket, dangling them around before putting them back.
"Dunno, you gonna give me my Twitter password back?" Tyler asks back, smiling sweetly.
"Your Twitter password is not as valuable as my car," Dougie argues.
"A few hundred Twitter followers of mine beg to differ," Tyler says cheekily.
"It's also not like you were ever in the closet," Dougie tells him. "And I said nothing about your relationship. Or Marchy." He looks defensive and kind of upset, and Tyler feels abruptly bad for messing with him, so he winks. "You shit," Dougie says, getting it. "Give me back my keys, you fucking shithead!" He leaps forward, tackling Tyler onto the couch. Tyler spazzes out when Dougie starts to tickle him, but Dougie has a good three inches on him and manages to keep him pinned.
"Uncle," Tyler gasps, wiggling. Dougie stops tickling but doesn't let him up.
"Keys," Dougie demands.
"I can't get them out of my pocket when I can't move my arms," Tyler points out, and Dougie fixes that problem by reaching into Tyler's pocket for him and grabbing the keys.
"Truce?" Dougie asks.
Tyler thinks of the Just For Men that DZ is probably buying right now. Then he thinks of the circulation in his lower body. "For now," he concedes. He and DZ can wait until Dougie is least expecting it.
"Okay," Dougie says, rolling off of Tyler, who takes the opportunity to be an asshole and stretch obnoxiously, getting his limbs all up in Dougie's space.
"You're gonna have to get gas," Tyler says, grinning. "If you can get to the gas station."
"I hate you," Dougie says. "Why are we friends?"
"You only hate me 'cause you ain't me," Tyler tells him solemnly, and they both laugh.
Marchy naps in Tyler's bed on Thursday, and Tyler's pretty sure it's only partly because his house is closer to the gym than Marchy's. They've cranked the heat up another few notches, so Marchy is sprawled out on top of Tyler's sweatshirt blanket in just his boxers, and Tyler is wearing a t-shirt and an old pair of Plymouth gym shorts, pretending to skim some reading but really just staring at the swell of Marchy's ass.
He's kind of zoned out, because damn is hockey doing great things for Marchy's ass and thighs. When his phone starts buzzing at him, on vibrate instead of silent, Tyler panics for a second, fumbles for it and hits 'Answer' as fast as he can.
"Yo," he whispers.
"Hey," Andrew says, in a normal voice. "Why are you whispering?"
"Marchy's napping," Tyler whispers.
"Okay, I won't take long then," Andrew says, and Tyler can practically hear him smiling. "You still coming to the skate show tomorrow?"
"Yeah!" Tyler says, forgetting to whisper in his enthusiasm. "Dude I'm so pumped."
Andrew laughs. "Great," he says. "The girls are really excited."
"They're gonna be so good," Tyler says. "Who'da guessed, Andrew Ference raises children as figure skaters."
"There's still time," Andrew says. "Honestly, they'll probably pick up snowboarding like Krista and I'll have to take them out to Whistler every weekend."
"There are closer mountains," Tyler offers.
"Sure, but they'd have to have the best coach in the world, and she trains at Whistler," Andrew tells him.
"Right," Tyler says. "Got it." He pauses. "Hey, you don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but- why? I mean, it seems like you still really love her."
"I do," Andrew says, like it's the easiest thing in the world. "And she had a chance to get her career back, so. She's out there taking it, and we have two awesome kids and she's still a big part of my life and she always will be."
He says it with a note of finality, so Tyler doesn't push. "Cool," he says. "Well, she's pretty awesome and your kids are my favorite kids ever, but if you tell my sisters that they'll kill me, so please take that secret to your grave."
"Cross my heart," Andrew chuckles. "Tomorrow though, you remember where the rink is?"
"For sure," Tyler says. "What time should I get there?"
"The whole shindig starts at six," Andrew says, "but they'll probably skate around seven, so anytime in there."
"Cool," Tyler hums, mentally planning to get there right at six, because no way is he missing this. He glances over at the bed and Marchy is sitting up on one elbow, blinking sleepily. Sorry, Tyler mouths. Marchy waves him off and shakes his head. "Sounds good. I'll be there."
"You both better be there," Andrew reminds him. "You promised my kids they'd get to meet your husband."
"Right," Tyler says. "And what was promised shall be delivered."
Andrew snorts. "Text me if you need directions," he says.
"Sure thing," Tyler says. "Adios, dude." He hangs up and puts his phone on silent for real this time. "Sorry," he says to Marchy, out loud this time.
"'S okay," Marchy says. "What's up? You babysitting tomorrow or something?"
"Nope," Tyler says, deciding that the bed would be much more comfortable than his desk chair and crawling onto it, getting up in Marchy's space and letting his hands drift over Marchy's chest as he gets comfortable. "Even better. The girls have a skate show."
"Skate show?" Marchy asks.
"Yeah, dude, like, figure skating and shit," Tyler explains. "I took 'em to one of their lessons a little while back, they invited me to their show."
"Sounds cool," Marchy says. "You gonna make 'em a poster or something?"
"Damn straight I am," Tyler says. "I think we still have extra glitter. Hey, though, you should help, they invited you, too."
"Yeah? How'd they know who I am?" Marchy asks.
"They were in the car when Andrew picked me up from New York," Tyler says. "They saw the poster, they wanna see your schnoz in person." He reaches over and flicks Marchy's nose gently.
"Wouldn't that be weird, though?" Marchy says. "I don't know them or anything, you know?"
"Dude, they're gonna love you," Tyler tells him. "They know you're my hubby and that automatically makes you the coolest, so."
"Andrew Ference will be there," Marchy says, like he's considering it.
"He wants to meet you too, man," Tyler says. "You should come. Please?" He looks over at Marchy and bats his eyelashes, trying to go for the puppy dog look his sisters still use whenever they want anything. "Bring your skates, we can fuck around after."
"We, as in, you'll actually get your ass on the ice?" Marchy laughs.
"Yeah, sure," Tyler shrugs. "I like getting my ass kicked by ten year olds."
"Do you even own skates?" Marchy laughs.
"Well, yeah, but they're in Brampton," Tyler says. "I know you have extras, though!"
"Are you sure it won't be weird? I don't wanna crash your party, man," Marchy says.
"Marchy. Brad. Bradley Marchand," Tyler says, sitting up a little so he can loom over Marchy, who makes a face at him. "Don't stick your tongue out at me, mine's much longer than yours is." He leers. "You aren't crashing the party; you are the party."
"Well, when you put it like that," Marchy says, rolling his eyes.
"Dude, I have basically arranged a private skate with Andrew Ference, you should be thanking me," Tyler says.
"I guess I can think of a few ways to thank you," Marchy says, rolling over so he's pretty much on top of Tyler.
"Does that mean you'll come?" Tyler asks. Marchy ducks down and bites lightly at Tyler's jaw.
"Yeah," Marchy says. "Guess it does."
Tyler stays up pretty late making a poster for the girls- he doesn't have pink posterboard, but he has leftover red, and plenty of glitter. He mostly just tries to remember what the girls had done when they made posters from Krista, back the first time he babysat for them, and so he ends up with a kind of clumsily drawn figure skate outlined in glitter and 'STELLA & AVA BOSSING IT UP' written in white.
"Yo, can I borrow your car?" Tyler asks Dougie as he swipes the keys.
"You are paying for a full tank of gas," Dougie tells him, not looking up from the game of Halo he's got going with Krug.
"For sure," Tyler says, grinning. "Thanks, bro."
He picks Marchy up outside the gym, fresh from practice and carrying two pairs of skates. "They might be small for you," Marchy warns, climbing into the passenger seat.
Tyler snorts. "Sure," he says. "You know what they say about men with big dicks." Marchy punches him. "Gotta get all the profanity outta my system before we get there," Tyler explains. His phone's hooked up to the car stereo, and the Drake edits he downloaded a while back are playing.
"Their dad's an NHL hockey player," Marchy says. "I'm sure they've heard someone swear."
"Dude," Tyler says. "You aren't meeting Andrew Ference, NHL hockey player, you're meeting Andrew Ference, awesome dad of two who will body check you into next week if you potentially scar his kids for life." He realizes after he says it that it's probably the exact wrong thing to say to get Marchy to relax, so he tries to backtrack. "But you aren't gonna scar his kids so don't worry, he'll love you."
Marchy snorts, and Tyler takes a hand off of the steering wheel to squeeze Marchy's forearm.
The parking lot at the rink is pretty close to full, and Tyler's glad they left on the early side. He texts Andrew, we're here where u at, before they go in, and Andrew replies pretty quickly.
"Hey," Tyler stage whispers, forcing several people to stand up so he and Marchy can squeeze into a bleacher row near Andrew. "This is Marchy."
The audience starts applauding politely for whatever group just finished skating, and Andrew leans over Tyler and shakes Marchy's hand. "Andrew," he says. "Good to meet you."
"You too," Marchy says. "I hear you saw the poster of my head?"
Andrew laughs, and Tyler smiles to himself. "Yeah, man, but you look good in person, too, don't worry," Andrew tells him.
"When are the girls up?" Tyler asks. "We brought a poster."
"Of course you did," Andrew says. "They're next, I think."
"Sweet," Tyler says. "You ready for some hardcore cheering?" he asks Marchy.
"No," Marchy says. "I've seen you at my games, I ain't got shit on that." Tyler and Andrew both laugh, and Tyler knocks his knee gently against Marchy's.
Classical music starts playing when the girls skate out. Tyler was half expecting them to be wearing sparkly leotards, or whatever figure skaters wear, but they're just in matching tops and yoga pants. He elbows Marchy in the ribs and they get up, waving their poster and cheering loudly. Andrew laughs at them for a minute and turns around to apologize on their behalf to the set of parents sitting behind them. Tyler and Marchy sit back down before anyone can get actually mad at them, but they keep the poster up where Tyler hopes it's visible. Stella and Ava definitely see them; Tyler sees Ava poking Stella and glancing in their direction. Tyler flashes a thumbs up.
He's not really sure what the girls are doing; it seems more like they're just skating endless laps than anything. At one point they switch and go backwards, and then weave in between some cones and skate on one leg. But he cheers and hollers like a maniac when they both get badges and are promoted to the next level of the program they're in.
"Hey, squirt," he says whey they approach the girls and Stella rushes him for a high-five. "You too, babe," he adds, squeezing Ava's shoulder, "you guys were great!" He hands them the poster. "You like?"
"Yes," they chorus, taking it from him.
"Marchy helped make it," Tyler says, which is a lie, obviously; Marchy doesn't have glitter in his eyebrows like Tyler does. "Marchy, this munchkin is Stella and this munchkin is Ava."
Marchy waves at them and smiles. "You guys were awesome," he says. "You skate better than I do, eh?"
"It's true," Tyler says.
"You have skates, show us," Stella demands, and Marchy laughs and hands Tyler one of the pairs of skates he's been carrying over his shoulder.
"You're skating this time? Yes!" Ava cheers, laughing, and Andrew snorts.
"Thought you didn't skate anymore?" he asks Tyler.
"I don't," Tyler says, sitting down and slipping out of his kicks. "This one twisted my arm." He jerks his head in Marchy's direction.
"I did," Marchy confirmed.
"What happened to being cool with not playing?" Andrew asks.
Tyler snorts. "Dude, playing and skating aren't the same thing, duh," he says. "I am so happy without playing it's insane, you are both jealous of all the fried food I can eat, don't even front."
Andrew and Marchy glance at each other. Tyler's not exactly sure what they're saying with their eyebrows, but he's pretty sure it involves him being crazy. He's cool with it, though, because he laces up Marchy's extra skates and gets out on the ice with Stella and Ava before Marchy has even taken his shoes off.
"Sucka," Tyler hollers, pushing off and gliding a few yards before changing directions and skating backwards so he can face the kids. "Teach me your favorite moves, ladies, let's go!"
They tug him around the rink a few times and Tyler pretends he doesn't know how to do a crossover so they can teach him. Marchy joins them, and he goes slow so the girls can skate circles around him. Tyler resists the urge to wink at him, because he knows his winking isn't that subtle, but he can't help himself from smiling.
"I don't wanna keep you guys here forever, I just told Marchy we'd skate around a little after," Tyler tells Andrew when he circles back to him.
"It's cool," Andrew says. "You seem happy."
"Dude," Tyler says. "I'm so happy."
"Good," Andrew nods. "He's a good kid." They both look over at where Marchy is holding one of Ava's hands so she can twirl on one foot.
"Thanks for your blessing, Pops," Tyler laughs.
"Anytime, kid," Andrew says.
Tyler skates back over to the girls and Marchy, and grabs Marchy around the waist so they spin around a few times. "You ladies mind if I steal my man, here?"
"You aren't supposed to steal," Ava admonishes.
"You are very right," Tyler says. "How about borrow?"
"You can borrow him," Stella says. "You were right about his nose."
Tyler laughs and Marchy hip checks him so he falls on his ass and skids a few feet. Tyler stops himself from cursing, and as Marchy, Ava, and Stella all skate over to pick him up, he shakes his head. "Way to go for the injured guy," he says to Marchy, accepting his proffered hand and getting up.
"Yeah, yeah," Marchy says. "You're fine and everyone knows it."
"You bet I am," Tyler says, and he keeps holding Marchy's hand as they all skate back to Ference.
"That was fun," Marchy says without Tyler even having to ask when they get back to the house.
"Yeah," Tyler says. "It was. Know what else is fun?" He tugs on Marchy's beltloop and tilts his head towards the stairs.
"I dunno, are you about to show me?"
"Bet your ass," Tyler says, and starts tugging Marchy up the stairs.
"Put music on, assholes, there are other people here," Dougie grumbles from the living room, and Tyler laughs and flips him off as they walk past him.
Tyler locks the door to his room, just in case, and plants his hands solidly on Marchy's chest and pushes until Marchy's sitting on the bed. He cups Marchy's jaw and swipes his thumb over Marchy's lips. "Can I blow you?" he asks without preamble.
"Is that even a question?" Marchy asks, and his voice is lower than usual and it goes straight to Tyler's dick. "Fucking duh."
"Great," Tyler says, and he gets on his knees on front of Marchy. He's still a little too tall, so he puts his hand on Marchy's stomach and pushes him until Marchy scoots back a few inches, and then Tyler gets his fingers underneath the waistband of Marchy's jeans and tugs insistently until Marchy undoes his fly.
He gets a hand on Marchy's dick once his pants are out of the way, and he gives it a couple of firm tugs. He's starting to get used to what Marchy likes, what gets him off hardest, and he keeps a hand at the base of his dick when he lowers his mouth, because Tyler is a fucking rockstar, but Marchy is not little, for a little dude, and it's been a while since Tyler's done this for anyone.
Mostly what he likes is the noise Marchy makes when Tyler flattens his tongue and licks a wet stripe from where his hand is to the head of Marchy's dick. "Told you I have a long tongue," Tyler grins, and Marchy gets a hand on Tyler's shoulder and squeezes.
"You stick it out at everyone," he says, his voice hoarse.
"Not like this," Tyler says, and he licks Marchy's dick a few more times until Marchy's breathing gets a whole lot louder and Tyler is satisfied that Marchy won't be making fun of him anymore.
"Hey, come here," Marchy says after a while. Tyler pulls off of his dick and licks his lips, more because he kind of needs chapstick than anything else. "C'mere," Marchy insists.
"Okay," Tyler says easily, and he stands, tugging his shirt over his head and letting Marchy take care of his pants. He steps out of them when Marchy shoves them down his thighs and then he straddles Marchy, pushing him back until he's lying down and Tyler is stretched out over him. "Better?"
"Much," Marchy says, and he gets his hands on Tyler's ass and squeezes, lets Tyler grind against him until he's embarrassingly close. "Got you," Marchy says, taking one of his hands off of Tyler's ass and licking it before he starts jerking Tyler off. "I got you."
Tyler comes against Marchy's hip and lies on top of him for a minute, gathering himself to return the favor. Marchy keeps grinding against him and it feels good even though it shouldn't, because Tyler just came and he's sticky and tired.
"C'mon," he says, working Marchy's dick in his hand. "Fucking come on, Marchy," he says, and Marchy bites down on Tyler's collarbone when he comes.
Tyler cleans them up with tissues, because he's not thirteen and doesn't use his t-shirts for this anymore, and then he collapses on the bed, because he's exhausted and happy and he falls asleep before Marchy can even start snoring.
Things get going early that weekend. Sigma Chi's got a few kegs, so Tyler texts Marchy, ill meet u there, and plays a few rounds of kings in the kitchen with Dougie and some of the brothers before they head over to meet Marchy and his boys. It's barely eleven, but there are plenty of people already milling around, and Tyler breaks off from the group pretty quickly, fistbumping guys he knows and looking around for Marchy.
"Ay, wifey," he says, finding Brownie first, waiting for his turn at pong.
"Sup," Brownie says. "Your boy's around here somewhere, think he's lookin' for you."
"Yeah?" Tyler asks, taking the beer Brownie holds out for him.
"I'm gonna guess things went well?" Brownie nods, poking the hickey on Tyler's collarbone that's visible inside the collar of his v-neck.
"Things went fucking great," Tyler beams.
Brownie gets him in a headlock and gives him a celebratory noogie. Tyler lets him, mostly because he's fucking happy, man, and Brownie gets distracted by his turn to play beer pong, anyway. "Yo, lemme know if you wanna smoke later," Brownie tells him as he takes his place at the end of the table. "I got shit from Kaner yesterday."
"Sweet," Tyler says. "I'll text you, bro. I get next game!"
He wanders towards the kitchen, where he finds Krug. "Yo, you seen Marchy?"
"Yeah, dude, right there," Krug tells him, pointing to the other end of the room where someone – Marchy – is doing a kegstand.
"Schweet," Tyler grins, heading towards the semicircle of people.
Marchy's upside down, one of his brothers holding his legs in the air, and his shirt is slipping up to expose most of his stomach. Tyler isn't sure, because he can't really see the shirt, but he thinks it's the one that says 'Seguin is my homeboy', and he grins and joins the rest of the group in counting.
Marchy taps out and his brothers help him get himself back rightside up. Tyler swoops in and gets an arm around Marchy's waist, sliding his fingers below the waistband of Marchy's jeans.
"Nice shirt," he says, tugging at the hem with his free hand. Marchy grins at him, definitely drunk but not all the way to wasted. Tyler chugs half of his beer, trying to keep up.
"Shoulda worn yours, too," Marchy tells him.
"I didn't know we were supposed to be matching," Tyler says, because he totally would've worn the Nose Face Killah shirt if he'd known that was the plan. "Gotta keep me informed, hubby!"
"Next time," Marchy promises, tapping Tyler's temple. "Now what we gotta do is win beer pong." He nods, solemn, and starts walking them towards the table, where Brownie and Blacker have just won their game.
"Ready to take on the champs, bitches?" Tyler asks, announcing his presence mostly by taking his shirt off and extracting himself from Marchy to display the Solo Cup tattoo, smirking at Brownie.
"Put it away, fucker," Brownie says. "This might not be the Solo Cup but there will be a new champion tonight!"
"Bring it," Marchy says, taking off his own shirt.
They rack the cups and Tyler finishes the beer he's been nursing before they start. Brownie and Blacker get the first shot, and Tyler leans over at the end of the table, sticking his tongue out and flipping Brownie off as he throws.
"Sucka!" he crows when Brownie misses. Blacker hits his, and Tyler drinks it because Marchy's drunker than he is and he needs to catch up. "Here we go, baby," he says to Marchy. "All in." He holds up the ball. "Kiss for luck?"
He means the ball, but Marchy does him one better and plants one on him, wet and smacking and Tyler grins when he pulls away.
"Can't beat that, fucker," he shouts to Brownie. "You're going down!" He sinks his shot and fist pumps and cheers loudly when Marchy makes his, too. "Beer pong partners for life!" he crows, and he pulls Marchy into a one armed hug, bumping him with his hip.
"Beer pong partner for life," Marchy answers. "Pinky promise."