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Up in the Shadows

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It’s so deep. So fucking deep and Auston can’t. He can’t do anything but bite at his lip to cut off the sound building in his throat. It comes out through his nose instead, this harsh huff of air, and then Freddie changes position, tugs at Auston’s hips until he’s further up in Freddie’s lap and Jesus. There’s copper on his tongue and Auston throws his arm over his face. It’s too much. He can’t... He never thought....

He likes it. He really fucking likes this so much.

“Wait,” he says, and is that his voice? It’s thin and reedy, not even a little like he’s heard himself before.

Freddie pauses, his dick still so fucking big inside of Auston that he imagines he can feel Freddie’s heartbeat strong and sure, pulsing in that thick vein that runs along the underside of it. Just thinking about Freddie’s dick has another shot of arousal spike up Auston’s spine; what it feels like to run the flat of his tongue against it, the bitter taste of precome as it hits the back of his throat. How much his jaw aches when he tries to take all of Freddie in.

It’s not supposed to be like this. He isn’t supposed to....

Freddie’s eyes are dark and intense as he gazes down at Auston. He can probably see it written all over Auston’s flushed face. He probably knows and fuck... fuck.

“I wanna turn over,” Auston spits out, can’t take the way Freddie is looking at him for a second more.

It’s a lot when Freddie just pulls out, doesn’t say a word, pushes at Auston’s hip when he’s left Auston empty, hollow. Auston doesn’t like the feeling, but it’s got to be better than having to stare up at Freddie who keeps looking back at him like he knows something Auston won’t even admit to himself. It’s got to be better than hiding behind his arm, or fucking closing his eyes like some frightened child. He can’t admit how much he likes the way Freddie makes him feel, how good it is between them. How much better it gets whenever they have time for this. Whenever Freddie lets him in his bed and takes over when Auston’s so used to being the one in charge.

It takes more than Auston thought it would to flip himself over, Freddie guiding his movement when Auston’s left hand slips on the bed, sending him skidding forward. It makes Auston’s face heat even further than before, and this is why he needs to do it like this. Not let Freddie see what’s basically written all over his reddened skin.

Freddie’s palms are hot as they slide down the sweat slicked skin of Auston’s thighs and push up until he’s on all fours. It twists something deep in Auston’s gut to be handled like this, like he’s nothing more than just muscle and bone, something to give and take pleasure from. Auston can barely get his breath. He can barely hear past the thumping of his heart so loud in his ears as the blunt head of Freddie’s dick slides between his cheeks back and forth. He’s so wet back there from how long Freddie licked him open. How much longer after that, when Freddie pressed his thick fingers in with more and more lube until Auston was whining for it, begging with every shift of his hips back into Freddie’s talented hand.

Freddie taps the tip of his cock against Auston’s hole once, twice, and just as Auston is about to say something about it, slides in and Auston’s head drops. His mouth opens wide as he sucks in air from the pillow below that smells like Freddie’s shampoo, like Auston’s cologne. Like sweat from them both.

Jesus, fuck it’s too much.

Auston tries to concentrate on breathing, on just getting air into his lungs and letting Freddie move behind him, splitting Auston apart. He’s leaning forward now, surrounding Auston with his bulk, hands planted on the mattress so close to Auston he can feel the faint press of Freddie’s thumbs brushing his wrists. Auston feels so small like this, Freddie this line of heat against his back, covering him up and holding him close as one hand leaves the bed, sliding over Auston’s chest and pulling him in close. Auston leans into it, presses his body back against Freddie’s taking it in, needing that feeling of Freddie inside him deep. Freddie’s breath is cool as it plays over Auston’s neck, the shell of his ear, before Freddie’s lips are there, skating across sensitive skin before dipping down to mouth over Auston’s shoulder. It’s sensual in a way that Auston isn’t used to. It’s as if Freddie is speaking to him without words.

Freddie’s teeth press in, a touch of pain so faint but Auston feels it sharper than all the soft of Freddie before. It makes him forget what he was contemplating before. Auston just wants to get a hand on himself, dick so hard it's throbbing between his legs, his cock head barely brushing the sheets below. He’s existing on this jolt of barely there friction with every deep fuck from behind. After months of this, Freddie knows exactly where to put Auston to get him right there, right on the precipice. Freddie’s so good at fucking Auston. Breaking Auston down into nothing more than giving and taking and Auston can’t even begin to parse what it is he likes more.

There’s this callous on the meaty part of Freddie’s hand, just under his middle finger that keeps scraping over Auston’s nipple, sending shivers down his spine. A high pitch whine escapes from his throat and Freddie, the bastard, pauses for a millisecond before he’s repeating the move and Auston’s cursing this whispered, “fuck,” before he can catch himself.

Freddie slows it down then, just plays with Auston like it’s his job. Shifts his hips in short pulses, grinding in deep and staying there, keeping Auston split open, split down the middle. Every deep thrust feeling like it’ll be the last before Auston thinks he’s actually going to combust into a shower of sparks. There’s that familiar rolling swell from the base of his spine that lights up, up, up until his head is swimming in it. Freddie the only thing keeping him grounded, keeping him tied here to the now.

“Close?” Freddie asks, and Auston can only nod, pushing his ass back into Freddie’s hold.

He gasps loud and wet as Freddie’s hand tweaks his nipple before sliding down his chest, fingernails catching over Auston’s stomach and down, down until he’s got Auston’s dick cupped in a light hold. Auston shudders and Freddie’s mouth is on the round of his shoulder now, this wet slide as he works his way up Auston’s neck. Auston tips his head to the side because it feels so good and he doesn’t want Freddie to stop. Freddie’s just holding him, letting Auston’s dick fuck through the circle of his hand as he continues this stupid slow grind in and out of Auston’s hole and fuck, fuck.

Auston can feel how close he is to coming in his fucking fingertips, a tingling that won’t cease, just increases and Auston isn’t even sure he’s breathing anymore. His eyes slide shut as Freddie shifts them again, pulls them both upright so Auston’s basically sitting in his lap, thighs spread wide. Freddie’s dick is sitting so deep now Auston feels like it could possibly be the only thing keeping him upright. Freddie nips at Auston’s skin, sucks light over that spot behind his ear before he’s whispering again. “Come on.”

Auston whines, brings his hands up from where they were fisted loosely at his side. He needs more, needs to touch Freddie and remind himself that it’s Freddie that gets him here like this. Gets him to this point. He slides one palm over Freddie’s forearm, threading their fingers together and gasping as Freddie tightens their combined hold over Auston’s dick. He reaches behind him then, mouth open in awe, drops his head back onto Freddie’s shoulder. His fingertips scramble for purchase behind him, needing to connect with Freddie further. Whether to push him away or pull him close is something his mind is at war with as Freddie starts fucking him hard. Thank fuck for their endurance training because Auston’s not sure if he was in Freddie’s position that his legs would have already given out. As it is, he’s basically flopping back onto Freddie, being held up by Freddie’s arms and Freddie’s cock.

It’s as if Auston’s chest is filling like a balloon, threatening to burst, every gasp is timed with a grunt from Freddie moving faster and deeper. Freddie’s getting him there, he knows that, but it’s so much with every brush of Freddie’s thumb over his slit and slide of his cock head deep inside sending waves of heat up his spine. He’s so close. So fucking close that he doesn’t know what will get him there until he is and he’s coming from the tip of his toes to what feels like the ends of his hair as he pulses in his hand. Freddie’s palm cups the tip, catching every drop. Freddie holds him close as Auston shivers through each pulse, ripped from the inside out. Auston can’t keep himself upright any longer. He falls face down and boneless, Freddie not far behind him.

There’s this rushing in his ears as he turns his head to the side, forehead kissing the pillow, cheek mostly on the mattress as he feels Freddie pull out. The mattress shifts as Freddie must sit back, leaving Auston whining at the loss, but it’s weak at best. A sharp “Jesus, fuck,” from Freddie overrides the thump of Auston’s heart in his ears and oh. Oh fuck.

Freddie’s almost silent behind him, but there’s the wet sound of him fucking into his own fist, stripping himself fast. Auston’s come acting as an added lube and it’s so dirty but Auston’s body lights up fleetingly at the thought. Freddie’s palm lands like a brand on Auston’s waist, fingers fitting the curve of his hip and Auston feels it down to his bones. Freddie’s grip tightens as he comes, splashing hot over Auston’s back, pooling at the dip of his spine.

Ragged sounds of their breathing light Auston’s ears as he lies there blinking slow. Freddie shudders this whistling gasp through the last of his orgasm that has Auston biting his lip, eyes fluttering closed. Freddie’s grip loosens on his side, fingertips weaving through the mess he made on Auston’s skin. It’s gross and yet Auston doesn’t hesitate when he feels those same fingertips press to his bottom lip, the bittersweet scent of Freddie’s come flaring in his nose as he doesn’t hesitate to open his mouth, sucking them clean. Again and again he does this and a mess of emotion swirls in Auston’s gut every time his tongue laves at Freddie’s fingers. He doesn’t want to consider what it means that he likes it when Freddie is like this. How easy it is for Auston to give over to all of Freddie’s wants.

Auston tries not to think as he feels Freddie get up. The sound of water loud in the quiet aftermath of all that happened before the only sign of where Freddie’s gone to. Minutes later, a warm cloth swipes over Auston’s skin. A gentle press at his side has Auston rolling over, belly up. The sheets are cool against his back as he studies the ceiling. The same blank pattern of every hotel room they stay in reflecting above. It’s always a little harder on the come down, to get back into his own head after Freddie’s worked so hard to get him out of it. Auston tries to act normal - as normal as he can - as Freddie cleans him up, gentle over his still sensitive dick and balls but thorough nonetheless. Freddie leaves again and the sound of the shower lessens as he must push at the door but doesn’t shut it entirely.

It’s done then. It’s time for Auston to go.

The warmth that lit his body aflame minutes before is already dying out as Auston takes three deep breaths in and out. He lets the last out slow and long before shifting from the bed and picking up his clothes. His ratty sweats go on first; the shirt he usually sleeps in he doesn’t bother with, just throws on the hoodie that brands him property of Toronto’s finest. The shower is still going as he shoves his feet into his slides and heads out the door.

He clears his head as he walks back to his own door, starts counting his steps in an effort to get his body back in sync with his mind. Auston can appreciate the looseness his whole body has now, rolling his shoulders more for something to do on the walk down the hall than anything else. He doesn’t dwell on the why, pushes it out of mind. Zach’ll be in their room when he gets back, and with a quick gaze at his watch he realizes it’s not late enough that Zach’ll be asleep either. He won’t ask questions - never does - just nods as Auston opens the door.

Zach’s got his headphones on and laptop balanced on his knees, probably working on another book or edits or something. Maybe even talking to his girl if the smile that flirts with the corner of Zach’s lips is anything to go by. Auston shoves his hands into his bag, finds his toiletry kit and a new pair of underwear. He also grabs a shirt that doesn’t smell like he’d been rubbing up against Freddie for the half hour or so they lay on the bed making out before Freddie started kissing his way down Auston’s stomach with a look so intense Auston had to close his eyes to hide from it all.

It’s fine. It is what it is, what they have between them. There’s no need to look into it further than just bros being bros and getting off, not all that different to what he does with girls. It’s just shades, right? Different levels of black and white and gray that mean nothing in the scheme of things. Not when it means his game is good and he and Freddie are friends that can bump heads for a good win and throw back shots in a bar before Auston gets his dick blown by some faceless girl in a toilet stall. So what if Auston presses at the dark fingerprint shaped marks on his hip that should fade by the time he has to share the locker room with roving eyes always looking for an easy chirp. It’s not a thing at all.

 

/o/

They’re at a bar that isn’t all that different to all the bars they frequent when they’re on the road. Girls with tops cut low leaning in whenever he talks, low lights playing over dark lined eyes, adding extra shine to glossy lips. There’s a dance floor playing hits of old mixed in with that country music that all Canadian’s seem to love and since most of their team is Canadian, it’s places like these that they tend to end up in. Pitchers of whatever someone’s deemed decent spill over the table that’s lined with half filled and empty shot glasses. More empty than full which means they lost, but Auston isn’t keeping count.

He’s sore tonight. A shove too close to the wall, a knock during a scuffle for the puck not fading into a bruise as fast as he’d normally like. He feels achy with it. There’s this pressure at the back of his neck that no matter how he stretches, he can’t work the kink out.

He spies Freddie at the bar with Willie and he’s not smiling but there’s a lift to his cheeks that Auston knows is how he gets when he’s trying not to encourage another of Willie’s long winded stories. It makes Auston chuckle, his head tipping forward enough that his hair falls in front of his eyes. Before he can brush it away, someone else is carding their fingers over his scalp, down past his ear.

He blinks and oh. Right. Carla. Carly. Carmen? Her lips are red, matching the nails that he now realises are pressing a little into his forearm. Right.

“What’s so funny?” She says, a curious tilt to her head that has her dark hair falling over a bare shoulder. She’s got a tan that reminds him of summers at home but even in the warm lights from above has an orange fake glow about it. Her eyes are blue as one brow lifts and he realises he still hasn’t answered, but when he does look at her properly he thinks he’s gotten away with giving her a once over. In fact, when she licks at her full lips, his brain flirts with the image of them wrapped around his dick and maybe, maybe saying nothing has worked out for him all the more.

“Nothing,” he answers finally, shifts his body further into her space, runs a fingertip over the warm stretch of skin on show between the seam of her shirt and her tight black jeans below. “You wanna get out of here?” He asks. Cliche but...

She smiles and grabs her purse.

… It works.

/o/

“Do you like, set an alarm for this?” Zach asks as Auston enters the room, possibly not as silent as he’d hoped he’d be when he pushed open their door.

The lights are off in the room but Zach’s left the bathroom door ajar, a strip of white illuminating the floor across to Auston’s bed leaving Zach’s in the dark. Thoughtful, as always.

“For what?” Auston whispers back, stripping off to just his underwear. He’ll shower again in the morning. The shower he had at Karla with a K - as she typed herself into his phone - house was perfunctory at best. He’s too worn out to consider much else than pulling the sheet over himself as falls onto the mattress below.

“You’re like minutes from curfew. Have a good time?” Zach asks through a yawn. He probably wasn’t waiting up for Auston but it makes him feel a stab of guilt anyway.

Auston points his toes and stretches his legs out, breathing in and out and settling his muscles like they’ve been learning to do in that meditation, self care class that the trainers have been pushing on them to keep them “in the zone”. He nods, then remembers that Zach can’t see him.

“Yeah, she was good.”

“She? But he left,” Zach cuts off and Auston’s heart thumps loud in his ears. Zach can’t. He can’t mean. He can’t think.

Zach laughs but it's not long and real, it sounds forced.

Auston can’t breathe.

“Well, um. Glad I set three alarms then, you’re bound to sleep through two of them,” Zach ends and Auston makes some sort of sound agreement while his pulse races.

Quiet settles between them and Zach’s snores eventually start up, signalling his slide into sleep.

Auston, however, doesn’t follow till long after.

/o/

His Dad is somewhere in the apartment. Auston can’t hear him, but it’s an off day and Auston’s supposed to be napping but he can’t. He’s been laying here for a while, a stupid mood music app that Marns swears by playing on his phone, but if anything, Auston’s paying more attention to the whale sounds than actually drifting into sleep. His mind just won’t settle.

He just….

He likes girls.

He likes fucking girls. He likes they way they feel under him. Their soft bits, their curves, and the sounds they make when they’re enjoying themselves. He likes how it feels when he sinks into them, how hot it is and how wet they are when they pulse around him. He likes how careful he has to be with them, how big his body feels - awkward almost - because he’s still learning how to fit into his own skin, how to move this big frame he’s growing into.

He also likes how feels when he’s with Freddie.

Freddie isn’t gentle with him. Freddie throws him around and fucks him so hard and so deep Auston feels it for days. He loves the ache in his thighs that doesn’t match a good shift on the ice, doesn’t even begin to equate to a bag skate when Babs feels like they need the discipline. He loves how Freddie holds him, like he wants to keep Auston there, keep him in the moment. He doesn’t have to think when he’s with Freddie. Doesn’t have to worry about how many goals he has, or if his shot is off or if this next play will get him a step closer to the Calder or whatever other hardware he’s supposedly in line for.

When he’s with Freddie it’s different. Auston can just be. He doesn’t have to worry about what to do with his hands, or how hard to press, or how gentle to be because Freddie makes those decisions for him. Coming is different with Freddie because he doesn’t have to work for it. Freddie will just get him there.

The after is different with Freddie, too. He doesn’t have to worry about NDA’s or if this girl recognises him for more than a quick fuck, but a ticket to dollar signs and more. He doesn’t have to make awkward small talk because Freddie usually rolls off, gives the barest amount of aftercare to Auston, then hits the shower. No expectations. No “I’ll call you.” Just sex, pure and simple.

Something that Auston learned the first time.

Auston rolls over, presses his half hard dick into the mattress and lets his mind wander.

It’d been a bad game. No goals for Auston and a loss that stung enough that he thought he should seek Freddie out afterwards. Commiserate or apologise for not being enough, he didn’t know which he needed to do more. It wasn’t the first time he’d been to Freddie’s place but it was the first time they’d gotten drunk enough together that Auston let his eyes linger on Freddie’s lips.

He always did appreciate a full mouth. Pink skin glossed up by every flick of Freddie’s tongue as he explained something to Auston, about Marns or maybe Marty. Something about the way he shaped his mouth around one or both of those names had Auston leaning in closer from where they’d slid down on the sofa, asses on the floor, heads lolling back on the seat.

Auston blinked and forced his eyes upward only to find Freddie looking at him in a way that had something flicker to life, a burning ember low in his stomach that had nothing to do with the spicy Thai that he’d brought over for dinner earlier. This was arousal and it should have made Auston pause and think but yeah, he’d noticed Freddie before. Noticed the broadness to his shoulders even without his pads on. Noticed his thighs as they stretched out his shorts when they paired up to do squats. Noticed the freckles that scattered their way across Freddie’s nose like some simplified star system that at this time, being this close, Auston was tempted to follow with a fingertip.

“Hey,” Auston found himself saying, whispering nearly in the lull that had settled between them, the odd crash and flare of sound from the movie they’d pretended to be watching echoing in the background.

Freddie shifted closer, or maybe Auston did.

“Hey,” Freddie answered in return, dark eyes blinking slow.

There was just something about Freddie’s eyes that Auston couldn’t drag his gaze from. Maybe it was the face they were set in, the burnished auburn brows that sat heavy above them as Freddie blinked slow. It was stupid how attracted Auston was to him. How sometimes just seeing Freddie smile in his direction was enough to make his stomach swoop. It was stupid how even having Freddie’s attention for a few extra minutes on ice when they were finishing a warm up was enough to have Auston’s cheeks heat with a flush even Marns had started teasing him about. It was stupid to sort of have a crush on a team mate, have more than just friend feelings for a boy. As much as he didn’t want to, or wish it was any different or even try and ignore it. It was hard enough keeping it all under control when he wasn’t drunk but now? Three sheets to the wind and Freddie’s leaning in and, fuck, when Freddie kissed him Auston didn’t hesitate to kiss him back.

He probably should have. Probably should have considered what it meant to be kissing Freddie and enjoying it like he’d enjoyed kissing every girl he’d ever kissed before. He probably should have taken a moment to consider how he’d thought making out with a teammate, or even a guy, was something he’d left behind in Europe as one of those things that you do until you hit the big show.

Kissing Freddie did feel good, though. Letting Freddie tug Auston up and over his lap was even better, especially in that second that he realised how hard he was just from kissing Freddie. How hard Freddie was from kissing him.

Freddie got them both off that time, eyes locked on Auston’s, hand wrapped around them both as Auston held onto Freddie’s shoulders. Pressed his lips hungrily to Freddie’s as Freddie jerked them off to a completion that left a permanent stain on Auston’s shirt. He’d had to throw it out before his Dad could find it in the wash.

They didn’t talk about it afterward. Freddie just pressed his lips to Auston one last time before Auston slid to the side, breathing in with a chuckle that Freddie echoed. He’d turned up the movie and wiped the spunk off his hands with some napkins and threw a few at Auston to clean himself up.

They didn’t talk about it the next time when they were on the road and Auston found himself sharing a bed with Freddie, a rerun of Brooklyn 99 on Freddie’s laptop shoved gently to the side as Auston sucked him off.

It never really came up, not until they were left with a few days between games and Auston found himself at Freddie’s house once more. They’d been out drinking with Brownie and his girl, and Mitch and his girl, and somehow ended up sharing an Uber home. Well, Auston was supposed to go home, but hadn’t said a word when the driver went past where he should have turned for Auston’s apartment. If Freddie had wanted him to split the fare then he would have worked that out in the app. No, Auston knew where he was going. Even if he didn’t really want to think about what for. He was drunk, Freddie was probably trying to help Auston keep it from his dad, was all.

It wasn’t. Wasn’t anything more.

He’d kept thinking how he could blame it on the vodka they’d drunk when Freddie had pushed him out the car door. He kept thinking that it’d be okay, just bros, when Freddie had pushed him down the hall, nipping at his lips, hands hot at his waist as he pushed Auston’s shirt up and up until it was off, thrown somewhere on Freddie’s bedroom floor.

He stopped thinking at all when Freddie knocked him back onto the bed. His brain ceased to make sense of the world entirely when Freddie pulled his jeans and underwear off, twisting them over his ankles, socks next to go. Auston could only lay there, face down ass up as Freddie shuffled his way in between Auston’s thighs. His heart beating fast in his throat because this was new. He wanted it, it was new and different, but he wanted. Auston gasped as Freddie’s hands pulled his cheeks apart, his mouth hot and wet and there and Auston.

Auston didn’t know his body could feel like that. Didn’t know how good it would be when Freddie pressed one, then two fingers in followed by the wet heat of his tongue prodding and pressing around them. Didn’t know he could sound the way he did, these grunts and groans falling from his mouth like a benediction as Freddie’s hand curled around his dick, tugged it back and down Freddie’s throat. How could he ever have known how good his body could feel as he begged, begged Freddie for more.

“You want this?” Freddie had asked, voice soft and low as he tapped two fingers at Auston’s rim.

“Please,” Auston had pleaded, throat sore from all the sounds Freddie had pulled from him before. “More, just... more,”

Freddie was quiet behind him, then a heat at his side as he leaned up and over Auston, the sound of his bedside drawer and then the crinkle of a wrapper being undone. If Auston had of been more in his own head he may have wondered if this was going to mean something different. Was it still buddies if he did this? Let Freddie have him in this way? He swallowed hard and tried to think. Tried to get his brain to trickle into action more than the “fuck, yes, please, there” that it had sunk into.

Then Freddie was slapping his dick on Auston’s ass and no. There was no question that Auston wanted this. No question how much his body wanted it when he came from just the fucking tip of Freddie pressing in. Then again as Freddie kept going, working him slow and steady until Auston came shaking apart at the seams, Freddie’s thick dick pressed in deep.

It should have been a revelation. How much he’d liked it. How hard he’d gotten off, feeling like it had stripped even the marrow from his bones. He didn’t really have time to think about, barely getting his breath back before Freddie pulled out and collapsed at Auston’s side, asleep or passed out before Auston could utter a word.

What would he have said anyhow? Thank you?

He’d gotten up and found his clothes and stumbled back home, sober enough when he got in not to wake his dad.

That’s how it had started. How it’s continued on through road trips and on the occasional home stretch. The thought of their upcoming roadie the only thing that stops Auston from getting off on his own. He flips his pillow over to the cold side, switches on his white noise app instead and attempts to get at least forty five minutes of shut eye.

/o/

They lose against Ottawa. It’s not something new or different, but then they lose against Montreal, then Detroit in a home and home. It’s not too bad, nothing they can’t overcome and Auston even gets a few goals.

He sees a girl he’s hooked up with before when he’s in Montreal. Then he’s too pissed off about the home game against Detroit to do anything but head back to the apartment and sleep when they have to leave early in the morning. He isn’t up for anything when he only gets an assist after they fall to the Red Wings at the Joe.

They win in Boston and the whole team heads out, but it’s Freddie’s room that Auston steps into when everyone else is still out at the club.

He can do both. He’s happy not figuring out anything more than he likes what he has with Freddie. Likes what he has when he picks up a girl.

It’s fine.

/o/

Until it’s not.

/o/

Thirteen games. Thirteen games and not one single puck finding the net. He still spins the same lines about it being a team effort. Nods his head at the mentions of plays he sets up, the assists he’s a part of. Stays on brand. Repeats his lines in ways he hopes doesn’t sound as bad as robotic Crosby.

It’s not the same though.

There’s no rush of blood and excitement when that red lamp lights up. There’s no relief when a puck slides off his stick and into the back of the net, a job well done. A point added to their score.

Thirteen games.

It fucking sucks is what it does.

He’s not worried. It’ll happen again. Everyone talks to him about getting through a slump. Mo, Bozie, Uncle Leo - even Marns - which is ridiculous because they’re both rookies here. He just... he just needs not to think about it. Not to think at all.

/o/

It’s Freddie that shows up to his door. Freddie who pushes his way in and shoves at Auston until he’s nipping at Freddie’s bottom lip in an effort to get him to slow down.

“Your dad?” Freddie asks, just as his lips curl around Auston’s earlobe.

Jesus, fuck. His dad... no. “Not here, went home for a - oh fuck - a thing,”

Freddie doesn’t say anything else but his hands are on Auston’s hips and he’s pushing them down the hall.

Auston gets with the program, body lighting up from Freddie’s touch, the way Freddie slams him against the wall just past the kitchen. His knee between Auston’s thigh gives Auston something to work against. Auston whimpering when Freddie drags Auston’s shirt up and off. There’s a bruise on his side that Freddie’s fingertips skirt, Freddie looking up into Auston’s eyes when he stiffens at the touch. The low light from above makes Freddie’s eyes look dark - almost black - as Auston holds his breath when Freddie leans in, presses his lips to yellow fading into green and dark blue.

It sets something off in his chest. That balloon feeling is there again; as it is a lot when Freddie looks at him like this. It makes Auston think about how Freddie looks at him on the ice at the end of every game. Auston tries to keep it short, a quickly glance, but Freddie grabbed his shirt tonight, made Auston look at him proper.Auston felt his gaze down to the tips of his toes.

Auston pushes his fingers through Freddie’s short ginger hair, presses him down.

Freddie goes. Drops to the floor in that way that all goalies seem able to. Falls to his knees in a motion that Auston would be jealous of, knowing how much his knees hate him when he’s been in the same position before. Auston shoves his sweats down over his hips, bites down on a chuckle when his half hard dick springs up over the elastic near catching Freddie on the cheek if it weren’t for his reflexes. The laughter dies in his throat anyway, with how quick Freddie is to circle his fingers around the base of Auston’s dick, taking him into the warm heat of his mouth. Freddie’s fucking mouth.

Freddie makes it wet, spit and Auston’s precome sure to follow as he bobs up and down. He takes Auston in deep and keeps him there as Auston’s fist smacks the wall beside him. Freddie’s sucking Auston off so slow, taking him in so well with barely a sound while Auston softly curses above. This litany of “yes” and “fuck” and “Freddie, please” fall from Auston’s lips until he’s closing his eyes because it’s all too much. That familiar warmth is tugging at the base of his spine. That telltale pull signalling how much he’s enjoying this. How good it is to have Freddie worshiping him like this and it’s... he’s not. Auston’s not good is the thing. Thirteen fucking games. He’s not worth this attention. He’s not.

He only registers the tears on his cheeks when one drips from his chin and lands on the back of his hand where his fingers are still tight in Freddie’s hair. Shame wars with the pleasure in his belly until he’s pushing Freddie back, shoving a little at his shoulders as polite as he can be while brushing the wet heat from his cheeks with the back of his hand.

Freddie lets him, stands up and looms over Auston who is looking anywhere but in Freddie’s direction. Embarrassment stains his cheeks even further as Freddie’s lips follow the tracks of his tears over heated skin. The corner of Auston’s eyes. That place where his ear joins his jaw. The sharp jut of his chin. It’s too intimate. Too much like Freddie is showing him something, and Auston doesn’t want to think about what that something is. Doesn’t want to think about any of it. He pushes out of the cage of Freddie’s arms and heads down the hall, stripping his sweatpants from his ankles as he goes.

Freddie follows.

Freddie pushes him to the bed, takes Auston’s dick in his mouth once more and if Auston thought he was focused before, this is something else. Freddie takes him down into his throat and keeps him there, everything going tight at once as Freddie swallows and fuck. It’s so much and it’s so wet, Auston’s thighs are sticky with it as Freddie pulls off with a choked sound. He strips Auston’s dick with a tight grip as he mouths over Auston’s sack, further back still with a nudge of his shoulders at Auston’s thighs.

His tongue barely grazes Auston’s rim, but it’s enough. Auston’s spine curves away from the bed with a shout and Freddie’s mouth is there, a tight heat enveloping the tip of Auston’s dick as he comes with a shocked gasp. He’s shaking through it, back hitting the bedspread as Freddie spits Auston’s come back over his dick, sucks him down again and it’s so filthy. Autston’s still mostly hard, dick near purple at the tip, flushed with blood that rings in Auston’s ears. He thinks his heart might actually stop as Freddie leans in, tongue sliding out between his reddened lips. He’s so fucking gorgeous like this. Eyes intent, looking at Auston like all he wants is to take him apart.

Maybe he does.

His hands are a steady push at Auston’s thighs, murmuring, “hold them,” as he nudges his way in close.

He should shove Freddie away. Should tell him he doesn’t want any more. That this is enough. Is more than enough, really. He doesn’t deserve any of this, really. Maybe… maybe it's Freddie who does. Maybe Freddie deserves to take what he wants from Auston and if this is it, if Auston can’t give him what they need on the ice? Maybe this can do.

He pulls his knees up to his chest and whimpers as Freddie bites a mark into his inner thigh, then again, lower near his taint. Freddie wastes no time licking over Auston’s hole in thick broad strokes that have Auston shivering, thighs twitching beneath his hands as Freddie fucking goes for it. Short stabs and long licks. The barely there hint of teeth as Auston pulls himself open, gives Freddie room.

It feels so fucking good as Freddie’s finger starts sliding in. Auston’s so open from Freddie’s mouth he barely notices. Then again, maybe that’s because Freddie’s started with two. A fact Auston only picks up on because Freddie’s scissoring them apart. Auston feels like he can’t breathe. It’s too much but then two becomes three and fuck. Auston has to turn his head to the side, bite at his own shoulder. His torso half coming off the bed as Freddie’s pinky slides up against Auston’s rim and maybe. Maybe he could take it. Maybe, if Freddie wanted, maybe Auston could take his hand.

“Fuck. Fuck, Freddie!” Auston chokes out.

Freddie doesn’t say anything, but his mouth leaves what is sure to be an impressive mark just up from where his fingers toy with Auston’s rim. He feels almost empty as Freddie pulls out slow, leaves one finger inside, tugging soft and slow at the sensitive ring of muscle there. Auston is shaking with need, fingertips grappling at his own sweat slicked skin, thighs trembling from the effort to be held where they are. Freddie loves eating him out, Auston knows this, but it’s never... it’s never been this involved, this thorough and Auston is probably going to die if Freddie doesn’t get his dick in Auston soon.

Auston reaches up and behind him under the pillow, hand shifting about until he finds the strip of condoms he’s had hidden there from the last time his pop flew home. He’d thought about bringing Freddie back that night, but it’s always been Freddie’s house, or Freddie’s hotel room. Until now.

Auston doesn’t think about the why, only throws the strip down in Freddie’s direction and lets his fingertips toy with the head of his dick. He’s still sensitive from coming before, even this light touch almost too much. Yet there’s something good about it. Like it might hurt, but he could come again. He probably will with how good Freddie is at getting him there. He knows exactly what to do get Auston where he needs to be. If only that translated on ice. If only Freddie could be whatever it is that Auston needs to get him back in the swing of things once more.

All coherent thought fades from Auston’s mind as Freddie lines up and presses in. Presses Auston’s knees near to his ears as he covers Auston with his body. They might be similar in size when stood together but, like this, lying here like this with Auston pretty much pretzeling himself and Freddie looming... Auston’s never felt so small.

It’s as if Auston’s body wants it as much as his mind does. He wants to forget about everything and Freddie fucking in and in, pushes anything else from Auston’s mind. All he knows is how it feels with Freddie above him, inside him. How flushed Freddie’s cheeks are as he stares down at Auston, sweat beading at his brow. Freddie’s bottom lip trembles as he bottoms out and Auston’s met with a wave of emotion. So filled with Freddie and how Freddie is looking at him and....

This is the part where he usually makes Freddie’s pull out so Auston can roll over. Hide from what it would mean to show Freddie how much he likes this. How much he needs what Freddie gives him. Sure, he gets off whenever he’s with Freddie, but it’s different. It’s different because if Freddie was looking at him. Really looking. He might see just how much Auston likes it. How what he and Freddie do feels like nothing Auston’s ever experienced before.

He reaches up instead, shaking fingertips caressing there way from Freddie’s jaw and up until he’s cupping Freddie’s cheek. He ignores the pinch to Freddie’s brow that fades the instant he leans into Auston’s touch, turns his face and presses his lips to Auston’s palm. Freddie’s eyes still dark and demanding as he gazes down at Auston. Pins him with his stare. Auston surges up and meets Freddie halfway in a kiss that is almost primal. Auston bites out Freddie’s name as Freddie draws his hips back and fucks in deep, once, twice, and he’s so big. Feels like he’s splitting Auston apart, his lips following Auston’s like it’s the only thing that’ll keep them both whole.

Auston chases his lips with every shift of Freddie’s hips, kisses Freddie back with just as much fervour. He tries to put everything he can’t put into words - can’t even put into coherent thought - into every slide their tongues make together. He’s never felt so much. Felt like every fibre of his being is imploding as Freddie fucks him in this slow, relentless grind that must take all his patience because it’s never been like this. It leaves Auston feeling almost too much. Cherished. Cared for.

Freddie’s hands tug at Auston’s where he’s still gripping at his thighs, his fingers sliding into the spaces between Auston’s own as he presses them to the bed on either side of Auston’s head. There’s barely any space between them, as Auston wraps his legs around Freddie’s waist, curls his ankles over one another not wanting to let go. Freddie’s close, if the shudder in his strokes is anything to go by. The way his eyes flutter shut, long lashes dusting his cheeks before they open again, gaze always coming back Auston’s own.

“C’mon, Freddie,” Auston murmurs soft, squeezes his fingers tight against Freddie’s own. “I want it.”

Freddie groans, his head falling to Auston’s chest as his strokes speed up. He’s making these sounds and Auston’s so close himself it won’t take much, but he can wait. He can wait because Freddie is sitting up, his chest a rosy red from the neck down near his navel as he pulls out of Auston, strips the condom from his cock. He’s still staring at Auston as he manages two, then three pulls of his dick and then he’s coming with a groan hot and wet over Auston’s hole. It shouldn’t get Auston there but he’s coming untouched, this weak dribble of a thing adding to the tacky leftovers from before. His whole body seizing with euphoria and still, still he can’t look away from Freddie. Auston feels so open, so raw, like he’s hiding nothing and he hasn’t the strength to turn away.

Not while Freddie’s there, this look of awe on his face. This hint of a smile tugging at his lips while he rubs the fat head of his cock through his own sticky mess. Auston shivers as Freddie prods at Auston’s puffy rim, and Jesus what if they did this bare? What would it feel like to have Freddie shoot off inside him? Auston clenches down around the barely there tip of Freddie, a whine slipping from his lips.

Freddie leans in again, his body covering Auston as he kisses Auston deep and breathless. Freddie’s cock leaves a slippery trail over Auston’s stomach, still ridiculously hard. A jolt of “too much, too much” is like lightning up Auston’s spine as their dicks brush, Freddie pulling back with what’s almost an abashed look on his face.

Auston closes his eyes and snorts. Actually snorts and whatever it is that was so there, so thick between them breaks. Freddie’s chuckling too and then with a quick press of his lips to Auston’s cheek he’s off the bed, the sound of a tap letting Auston know his whereabouts.

This is it then. Auston knows this part. Starts preparing himself for Freddie’s imminent departure. He watches through half lidded eyes as Freddie cleans him up. Freddie’s lips meeting Auston’s chest, and tickling almost over his ribs when he’s satisfied that Auston’s clean. There’s a difference this time, as Freddie lays down beside Auston, looms over him really, as he cups Auston’s cheek and turns his face toward his own. Auston goes with it, not knowing what else to do except return the kiss that Freddie presses to his lips. Nothing heated but firm and present. A reassurance, maybe. He pushes Auston to his side, wraps himself around Auston after dragging the sheet up and over them both.

It’s a lot.

He’s too worn out emotionally and physically to wonder exactly what makes this time different. It doesn’t take long with Freddie’s hand stroking slow over his side for Auston to slide into a dreamless sleep.

 

/o/

It’s not as if he expected Freddie to be there when he woke up. Not as if he expected them to maybe talk about the night before.

He’s still surprised by the not nutritionist approved pancakes and turkey bacon that sit in the warmer he’s never actually used in his kitchen.

He tells himself it's for the good of the team that he throws the whole plate out, drinks his shake instead. He puts on his gym clothes, ignoring the condom wrapper on the floor, the stains on the bedsheets from the night before, and leaves his apartment. He’ll text the cleaner later, that he’ll be needing extra services.

 

/o/

He scores in just over half of the first period in New Jersey. Picks up two girls that night and barely makes curfew.

Gets another against the Caps at home and calls a blonde he remembers having a good time with a few months ago. Sends her home a few hours later and texts someone he’s got down in his phone as “Amanda with the boots” which he obviously meant boobs when they come in his door before she does.

Edmonton is Clara. Calgary they’re shut out and he fingerbangs three girls at the bar before getting blown by a fourth, finishing in her hand as Willie finds him and drags him back to the hotel. Vancouver they lose in a shoot out, but Auston still scores, sexiling Zach for the night. He doesn’t save Auston a seat on the flight home, a flight Auston barely makes because Zach’s three alarms weren’t there to wake him up in the morning.

It’s fine. If he can’t meet Freddie’s eyes it’s fine. If he’s ignored a few calls and texts from Toronto’s favourite goalie, it’s just that Auston is a busy man, saviour of an original six team and all.

 

/o/

They lose to Minnesota at home and Auston slams around the locker room, pissed at himself. Pissed at the team. They’re the fucking Wild and they beat them at home. It’s stupid and his play sucked and all his skin feels itchy. Tight.

But Marns drove him in and Marns is driving him home so he showers quick and settles in his stall. He leans forward, head in his hands, blocking out whatever Marns is talking to Marty and Brownie about. It’s probably how bad he sucks and that’d serve him right. As much as he thinks listens to people say how much he’s supposed to be here, its times like now that he wonders if he should have even tried for the big show at all. Auston scrubs his palms hard against his eyes until sparks appears and rolls his shoulders. The room is bright when he looks around and of course. Of course his eyes focus on one place in the whole room.

He walks out into the hall. Can’t be in what should be a safe space for a second longer. Not when he can see Freddie’s stall. See Freddie’s tape and his stupid cap because Freddie’s still in the shower. Won’t be for much longer, not that it’s any added reason to why Auston’s left at all.

“Dinner, you and me?” Mo asks him with a friendly toothless grin. It’s not necessarily a question. He’s looking at Auston with a stare that brooks no argument. He’s friendly and quiet, but there’s just something about Mo when he’s like this that Auston and plenty of the other rookies this year have learned not to ignore. It’s natural then, for Auston to nod. Mo may not be much older than him, but he’s a vet on this team after all. Touted for the C but still wearing the A.

Mo pats his shoulder a little firmer than what he normally does, and Auston follows him, turning to call out to Marns but he’s already left.

Great. This means Mo doesn’t just want to catch up like he does sometimes with all of them.

He follows Mo out to his car and then they make idle small talk about Leo and his baby news and Jake stressing about his wedding even though summer is a forever away. It lulls Auston into a false sense of security, right up until they’ve ordered steaks and a beer each (none for Auston because they lost tonight so any winks and ‘great goal tonight’ isn’t gonna happen). Auston’s leaning back in his seat, eyes drifting skyward to the fancy lighting above when Mo starts to talk.

“Steak is great, right?”

“Here? Yeah, I get it here every time I come with Willie,” Auston answers, wondering if maybe he should get lights like these, hipstery looking mason jar things when he buys a place of his own. They’re nice. Kind of warm and homey looking.

Mo clears his throat. “Chicken, too. Like, chicken’s different but it’s just as good as steak. Loads of people like one or the other, some even like both,”

Auston hums. Food talk is a little odd, but their nutritionist was on at them all about keeping up their protein intake in a meeting earlier that week so, it’s no surprise that Mo brings it up. His sister would probably give him shit if he got lights like this. Especially if he got those old fashioned bulb things that are inside them, like Eddison originals or something.

“It’s just. A lot of people have steak and it’s fine for them and some people realise they like chicken and that’s good, too. Like, you like what you like, yeah?”

Auston frowns. Okay, so now it’s verging on weird but they’re hockey players. They’re all a little strange.

“Yeah, Mo. Meat’s great and Kappy wants to be a vegan because of that girl he’d dating,” Auston deadpans, taking a sip of his water and spinning the glass on the table top to make a circle of water under it. His mother would kick his ass if she saw him doing this on the stained wood, but this place isn’t all that fancy enough to have a table cloth or coaster so.

He looks up at Mo who’s face is scrunched in a way that looks painful.

“Did you want to order the chicken instead? Our waitress is just over there I can ask,” Auston offers, reaching his hand up in the air to wave her over.

“No!” Mo leaps up, reaches over, batting at Auston’s hand with his own. “No it’s okay. I’m fine, oh god,” Mo continues mumbling as he sits back down.

Auston watches Morgan as he shakes his head and mutters a little to himself, picking up his phone.

“Mo-“ Auston starts, only to be shushed by Morgan holding up one finger as he types away on his screen.

Their dinner has officially gotten weird and Auston has no choice but to sit there. They haven’t even eaten yet and he’s contemplating just throwing down money and heading out to find an Uber. The only thing keeping him here is that Morgan was his lift and he doesn’t feel all that up to ordering an Uber the night of a home loss here in Toronto. Everyone’s a critic and Auston isn’t up for hearing about how shit he was tonight from strangers. Maybe not even from Mo but it doesn’t look like thats happening all too soon.

“Okay,” Morgan says after a few minutes, his phone buzzing on and off. “So, I just wanted to say it’s okay if you like steak, or if you like chicken, or if sometimes you like one or the other more. You can like both and not have to talk about it, or you know, if you want to. I’m here for you, or Jake or Bozie... even Naz but I don’t think he’s the best for this type of thing. We just wanted you to know that. All of us.”

Auston blinks and tries to parse what the fuck Morgan is trying to get at. None of it really makes all that much sense and before he can think much more on it their food arrives and his hunger takes over.

They don’t talk about food much after that, only a mention of how good the steaks are - because they are - and Auston mostly forgets about it until Mo is dropping him off.

“So, is there anything you want to talk to me about, Matts?” Mo asks, turning down the stereo as the car idles.

Auston shakes his head, belly full and heart a little lighter from just having dinner with a friend. Sometimes he forgets how lucky he is to have a team full of guys that are great to be around.

“You just, you seem a little distracted tonight. Little agitated at the end there,” Mo’s voice is light, as Auston takes off his belt, slides to the side more so he can focus on Mo.

“You asked me to dinner, Mo,” Auston answers. It feels like Morgan wants Auston to talk about something in particular but Auston really doesn’t feel like hashing over the same points he got when he was in that slump earlier in the season. He knows his play isn’t great but he’s still getting points. Still helping out the team.

“Yeah I did, and I then I think I fucked up what I wanted to say, but Jake said it wasn’t too bad, but maybe I should have been clearer?” Morgan’s cheeks look a little pink, but it’s hard to tell in the car’s low lighting. Auston sighs, looking up at the roof.

“Maybe James would be better than this than me.”

“Reimer?” Auston has officially had his limit of trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. The mention of JVR though is something else, and when he puts it together with all the other odd pieces from the night, it hits him like a truck.

“You think I’m gay?” Auston chokes out, louder than he probably should be even if they’re in the car and under ground. “Wasn’t it you that was reminding me to ‘wrap it before I tapped it’ last week in Calgary?” The steak is turning in his stomach now. Fucking metaphors from the fucking the Mom and Dad of the team, Jesus. “I like girls, Morgan,” Auston spits. “I don’t know what you-“

“Zach told me about how much time you spend in Freddie’s room. How you both disappear and you both aren’t talking about it and it’s okay, you know? It’s okay if you and Freddie-“

The steak in Auston’s stomach has officially turned to lead. He feels cold all over and he can’t. He can’t believe this. Can’t believe he’d been so stupid to think that no one would notice. That it was just for him and Freddie alone.

“Zach’s worried, okay. You’ve both been off your game and-“

Auston snorts, rubs a hand on his thigh to see if it’ll warm it up a bit. Get some feeling back when right now he’s a mix of stupefied, angry and numb.

“Look,” Morgan says softly, “this isn’t about your game. This isn’t about anything but just making sure you know it’s okay. We’re team Auston, you don’t have to hide from us. We’re here for you, no matter.”

Auston can’t breathe and he can’t be in this car any longer. “‘You can play if you can play,’ right? Thanks, Mo. I’ll get right onto PR about making me the fucking face of more than just Toronto. No problem.”

Auston doesn’t wait to hear whatever else it is Mo thinks he can placate Auston with now. He gets out and doesn’t run to the elevator but it’s a near fucking thing. Mo doesn’t come after him which is good and they don’t have a game until the Bruins on the weekend so maybe he’ll have a little bit of space.

His fingers shake as he hits the button and he stuffs them down into his jacket just to get them to stop. He practices his breathing, a measured count of in and out like he does in their visualisation classes and tries to block all thoughts leading to what Mo was insinuating. Not insinuating, really. Fucking flat out saying like it was true. Is true.

Auston’s been so stupid.

He can’t have both. He can’t have things like this because it means more. It means more than just fucking his friend, and screwing around with girls that could be carbon copies of each other. He doesn’t care about the playboy moniker he’s known by outside of his hockey skills because it’s not a lie, really, but this? Being gay or bi or whatever. He can’t be that with everything else he’s already got on his shoulders. He can’t admit to himself how much he likes fucking Freddie because that would mean he was more than what he’s worked so hard to be. Can’t imagine what his mom would say, or his dad’s face if he brought Freddie home as more than just a friend. They probably wouldn’t care, but he’s a professional hockey player. It’s not going to just be a small town talk thing if it comes out that he likes girls and guys - one guy in particular. It’d be fucking everywhere and people would hate him.

He just has to stop. Stop thinking about what he wants, and what he likes, and just focus on what he needs to be.

What he’s good at.

 

/o/

He texts Freddie later that night when he’s had a beer with his dad and taken an extra one on the sly to his room to drink on his own. Tells Freddie that he can’t do what they were doing anymore. That even if they never talked about it, whatever it is, isn’t going to happen anymore.

He pretends it doesn’t hurt when Freddie simply texts back one letter.

k

Wishes he could drink a little more without having to steal some from the fridge and hope his dad wouldn’t know.

 

/o/

They play and they play and they win some and lose some. The highs are great and the lows he satisfies going out or taking a girl home. It’s not every time and if he stays back at the hotel with Zach more, he isn’t saying anything about it.

There’s no more talk of food with Morgan unless it’s when they’re ordering meals at team dinners.

He still warms up with Freddie. Still takes his position on the ice beside him to go through how the game that night might play out. Still rides with Marns on home games an spins the lines he’s supposed to spin when it’s his turn with the media.

He doesn’t think about how easy it was to fall asleep the last time he was with Freddie. How he always ends up being the big spoon with all these girls.

He doesn’t think about how easy it would be to walk past his own door to Freddie’s when he’s got that itch under his skin. Shoulders feeling too tight, muscle bound too thick around his bones. He doesn’t think about how easy it would be to knock on Freddie’s door and kiss Freddie stupid. Strip his clothes off and trying to fit as much of Freddie’s stupid big cock in his mouth. Doesn’t spend more time in his shower at home, finger slick with suds between his cheeks, just nudging at his hole. Gives up on trying to get himself off like that. He can’t get the angle right and he’s worried even if he did, he’d knock himself out for his father to find on the bathroom floor.

It’s fine. He’s good. His game is good and there’s the most hushed talk of playoffs and post regular season. Talk of the Calder race that he and Werenski text each other shit about and make bets with on who can get the most goals.

He goes out with the team and he smiles and he laughs and he tries, all right?

It still doesn’t explain why the night before they play Washington - first game of the fucking playoffs no one expected them to be in - he finds himself at Freddie’s door.

 

/o/

Freddie is looking at him. Auston’s still catching his breath and lets Freddie roll him onto his side so they’re facing each other after he’s cleaned them both off. Auston’s body is still fizzing with it, the stretch of Freddie between his thighs, the way Freddie had got him off with his fingers - not even touching Auston’s dick - just his fingers alone. Then again as he fucked him so, so slow. Auston on his stomach, head resting on his crossed arms as Freddie pushed in and in, feeling somehow so much bigger inside of Auston than ever before. No matter how Auston whined, how much he begged, Freddie wouldn’t speed up. He wouldn’t change the angle of Auston’s hips, even though with every thrust Freddie’s dick was just glancing over where Auston needed him most. A flicker of a pleasure that Auston had known a lot more of. Had probably come here seeking, if he wanted to admit it to himself.

He hadn’t even looked Freddie in the eye once Freddie had let him in and nodded once Auston had choked out a simple, “Can we... can you?”

Freddie had kissed him deep and started them down the hall. A trip Auston knew so well he could do with his eyes closed and apparantly, so could Freddie. Freddie hadn’t looked at him either, in the few times Auston had let his gaze wander to Freddie’s face. Freddie was either really good at concentrating on getting Auston’s clothes off and folding them or he was avoiding Auston as much as Auston was him. As stupid as that was considering what they both knew Auston was here for.

Now though. Now Freddie is staring. His eyes seem so big and dark and intense Iike this. A mere breathing space between them. There’s this lump in Auston’s throat that only feels like it’s growing the longer this silence widens between them.

Does he apologise for being such a dick these past months? Does he thank Freddie for a fuck that has all the stress, all the worry about their first game completely gone from Auston’s form? Does he bring up that this was a once off. Something he can’t do again. Maybe.

Then Freddie leans in and kisses him, so soft - almost sweet - and Auston stops thinking about what he should, and could say at all.

They kiss and they kiss, and Freddie’s hand slides over Auston’s elbow down to his wrist. He pulls Auston’s arm over his hip, pushes down gently for Auston to leave it there. Then his fingertips leave this heated trail back over Auston’s skin until he’s playing with the short hair at the nape of Auston’s neck, a shiver rolling down Auston’s spine with it. He’s cupping Auston’s skull so gently, as he tilts Auston’s head and makes the kiss deeper, but no less sweet. It’s nice. It’s nice and Auston likes it probably more than he should. It doesn’t stop him from shifting closer, tangling his feet with Freddie’s and holding him close, hand slipping down to the small of Freddie’s back.

Later, when Auston’s feeling sleepy and his lips tingle Freddie pulls back. Auston has to fight not to whine at the loss. Freddie nudges the tip of his nose against Auston’s and Auston bites at his lip not to smile. Freddie’s fucking adorable.

“Stay.”

He shouldn’t. They fly out early and they have practice and planning. His shit is all still at home and Marns wants to drive them in, worried about breaking tradition and stupid superstitions that they’ve never put a name to before.

He shouldn’t stay, because liking being here? In bed here with Freddie? Liking how Freddie kisses him all chapped lips and a surety that Auston hasn’t felt with anyone else isn’t something he should give in to. He made a decision about this.

About Freddie.

But he’s already come this far.

 

/o/

Making breakfast in Freddie’s kitchen is... well, it’s Freddie making him sit at the island bench and chop peppers. It’s barely blinking awake until Freddie sets a coffee Auston probably shouldn’t have, in front of him. It’s Freddie serving up two plates of eggs and toast and the smoothies that are on both their nutrition plans. It’s their legs touching from knee to hip, they’re sat so close. A warmth that isn’t just from good food builds in Auston’s stomach.

It’s showering quick and throwing on a pair of sweats and his shirt. Freddie waving at him when Auston hesitates on how to say goodbye before he heads out the door.

It’s locking it all down. Locking down how it felt, or why he did it. Why Freddie let him. Locking it all out of mind, shelved for later by the time he gets back to his apartment. It’s shrugging his shoulders at Marns wide eyes - asshole here earlier than he said he would be - when Marns notices the sweats Auston’s wearing have Freddie’s number on them. Not his own.

There’s playoffs to be played. No time for anything else at all.

 

/o/

The thing is. There is time. There’s the nights when he’s so fucking wiped out that he should be asleep, should be snoring as loud as Zach is... but he can’t.

There’s time in the shower as he’s washing his body off as perfunctory as he can, but still his mind whirs with what if’s.

There’s the seconds in between sitting his ass on the bench waiting for his next shift when his eyes slide down the ice settling on the body between the pipes that he knows as well as his own.

Still. Time moves like a glacier and like a waterfall and within the space of the two they’re finished. Their playoff run is over and Auston still doesn’t have any more answers than he did before.

 

/o/

In the end. It’s Freddie who makes a decision for him.

They’re at locker clean out and Auston’s weary of it. It’s been a long season and the playoffs made it feel even longer even though it was amazing as it was. He’s saying goodbye for the summer to people he’s come to know and love like family. He’s got his shit together, made a few hesitant plans with Willie and Marns to catch up here and there. Has his mom’s reminders set in his phone for when he needs to catch what flight. Hotel bookings for Vegas and the awards.

He drove himself today. Dad already headed back home the day before. He puts his bag of shit down on the ground, has to find his keys to open the trunk. He shoves his stuff in, doesn’t really care all too much about it seeing as it’s basically going to be staying in here until he gets back from the summer doing whatever it is he wants. He pushes the door down with a click and near has a heart attack when he turns and finds Freddie there.

“Jesus, Freddie. You’re gonna give me a heart attack. I thought you’d left already?” Auston sputters. Heart racing from more than just shock.

It’s no coincidence he thought Freddie had already left.

Freddie smiles but it’s too soft at the corners. Sad almost. He pushes at the peak of his cap, a flash of ginger hair appearing only to disappear once more as Freddie’s hand shifts to the back of his head, securing it on just right.

“Couldn’t leave without saying goodbye,” he says, and Auston feels the unspoken “like you were, as if Freddie actually said it.

“Right, yeah,” Auston looks down at his feet. There’s a white mark on the side of his left foot that wasn’t there this morning. He’s got no idea how it got there now.

“Auston,” Freddie says, this thickness there that has Auston meeting the dark brown of Freddie’s stare. “I know we never talked about it, and maybe there was never a good time, and maybe now isn’t it but. It’s the summer,”

Auston shoves his hands deep in his pockets, leans back against his car and tries to keep it cool even though inside he’s shaking. Talk?

“I was mad at you. I was mad at you because you left, and you always left, and I know part of that is my fault. I never asked you for more because I didn’t think you’d want that. I was fine with you and your hook ups and what we had,” Freddie pauses and huffs this half laugh. “I guess it changed, though. I liked being with you and kissing you. Maybe that’s all on me. Maybe my feelings are mine alone but, it started feeling different, like it felt different for you, too? That last time?”

Auston nods, feels like his skin is too tight, like he’s sweating too much and - Christ - anyone could hear them here. Anyone. Even if Freddie is speaking softly. Even if they’re in the players part of the ACC. They’re still outside and there’s no way anyone could mistake Freddie’s words for what they are. A truth Auston isn’t sure he’s ready to actually hear out loud. He’s such a fucking coward and it turns his stomach that he feels like his. That he could feel this bad over something that was so good. Something he still wants. Thinks about in the dark of night.

“I just wanted to tell you, just wanted you to hear it from someone that cares about you and even if it doesn’t make a difference. Even if we go back to friends and nothing else I think you should know for yourself,” Freddie reaches out, pats at Auston’s wrist like he wants to hold it.

Auston clenches his hands into fists and doesn’t move.

Freddie shakes his head a little, sighs. “It’s okay, you know. It’s okay if you like girls and guys. It’s okay if you, if you like me.”

Auston says nothing. His heart's beating too loud in his ears. His chest feels like it might explode as he studies the white shape on his shoe. It kind of looks shiny like paint. Sort of the shape of a carrot almost. It’s odd.

The silence stretches and then a car alarm beeps twice, like someone’s opening their doors.

Fuck. Anyone. Any one of their team mates could be coming. Could have overheard. Auston clears his throat.

“That all?”

God, he hates himself as he says the words. Hates that he sounds so cold.

“Yeah, fuck. Have a good summer, Matts.”

Yeah, Auston’s such an asshole.

 

/o/

Summer is summer.

It’s staying at his parents place in his old room eating everything his mom puts in front of him.

It’s hiding in his room late at night reading up on shit on his phone. Bisexual, pansexual. Asexual. There’s a lot of sexuals in the the world.

It’s clearing his browser history even though he’s on his phone and using the incognito window in fucking Chrome.

It’s baseball and taking his sisters to the movies and catching up with the boys.

It’s California because he can afford it and drinking and hangovers cured by throwing himself in the pool or the ocean, depending where he wakes up.

It’s Jordyn’s laugh and Jordyn’s smile. It’s her curves and fucking her on every surface of the house while their friends are out getting supplies or at golf.

It’s no news from Freddie and it’s fine.

It’s perfect.

 

/o/

He tells Jordyn everything one afternoon when everyone else is out and they’re laying out the back just out of reach of the sun. He’s not drunk - he’s had a few mojitos - but he’s not drunk. He just… Marns sent him some group text about going Boston for the Jays game and Freddie hasn’t answered.

Auston hasn’t either which… it’s not a thing.

It’s like Freddie said. They can be friends.

Or maybe he changed his mind after Auston was a prize dick to him.

Which is probably why he’s feeling like an even more prize douchebag explaining the past year to the girl he’s been fucking on and off for maybe double that.

Jordyn’s quiet, but she hasn’t move from his side. Hasn’t stopped plucking at the drawstring on his shorts. They know a lot about each other but this… this is different. This is Auston telling the girl he’s been fucking about the boy he probably definitely has feelings for.

He waits it out though. Waits for her to say something even though it’s killing him that she’s just lying there saying nothing and he’s just vomited feelings everywhere.

“So,” she starts and there’s nothing in her tone for him to figure out where this is headed. Nothing in the silence that stretches for another painful minute after that, that tells him anything either.

“So you’re basically saying that you like fucking me, and objectively, you like fucking guys, too.”

“Not guys,” Auston says, and either he’s caught the sun more than he thought or his cheeks are heating up. “Just, maybe one.”

Jordyn hums.

“What about JT? He’s got a great ass, not as good as yours but, like, if you had to, would you say he’s hot?”

Auston’s cheeks are definitely hot from something other than the sun. “JT? We grew up with him, like. You can’t ask me to-“

“Ryan Gosling then, or Channing Tatum or even Carey Price,”

“Carey Price is old,”

“Carey Price is hot, even if he is old and a dad,”

“Oh my god,” Auston whines, burying his face in Jordyn’s neck. This conversation is not going where he had thought it might. Not at all.

“Okay well, let’s just go back to JT. Pretend you didn’t know anything about him. He’s just some guy that you spotted in a club. Some guy who smiled at you at a bar or something. Objectively. Hot or not.”

Auston huffs. Closes his eyes and tries to unpicture all the things he knows about JT. Thinks about his ass, his thighs that Auston’s maybe admired when they spot each other in the gym over the past week. Thinks about how he may have thought about kissing JT once when they were really drunk. When JT was talking about how good Auston was at what he did. How proud he was of Auston. How much he was going to miss him when he moved to Toronto. How much he loved him man… you know. Love.

Okay so maybe Auston does have an answer.

“Yes,” hides his face in her neck, her hair smells good. Like sunshine and the beach and all the bits he associates with growing up and home.

“Okay.” Jordyn says after a beat. Auston waits a few more before he whines.

“You’re taking this far too well.”

Jordyn snorts and Auston grins into her skin, safe in his hidey hole behind her hair.

“You know it’s okay, right?”

Auston doesn’t move. He knows it’s fine. Knows that isn’t all that bad, liking what he does.

“Auston?”

It’s the wanting that might get him in trouble.

“Matts. Auston. Just, fucking look at me a minute okay?”

Auston doesn’t move but Jordyn does with a frustrated whine. She sits over Auston’s hips, grabs at his face with both hands near squashing his cheeks in a comedic fashion.

“Look at me you, idiot,” she says, tone all business. “Don’t make me pee on you,”

“Pee on me?” Auston’s eyes open wide. “What the fuck, Jordyn?”

Jordyn grins, tipping her head to the side. “I need to go and I have for a while, I was just waiting for your existential crisis to be over,”

“I’m not having an existensh, exshist - fuck. I can’t talk like this,” Auston breathes out in a whoosh, pushing air back into his cheeks once Jordyn lets him go, puts her hands on his chest instead.

“Maybe not existential,” she says, patting at his pecs where - yeah - he did get a little sunburned earlier. He’ll never admit she was right about having to put SPF on though. “But a crisis that you shouldn’t even be having none the less,”

Auston closes his eyes tight, opening them again when she calls his name and presses her fingernails in over his sensitive red skin. “Fine, fine! I just don’t think you understand how it is for me, I can’t - jesus fuck, Jordyn!” Auston shouts when she drags her nails down. He grips at her wrists, holds them tight.

“No one has said you need to come out as some fucking pillar of the gay community in hockey, Auston. No one wants you to be anything but honest with yourself. Tell who you want, or not. Scream it from the roof tops or just say it to those that matter, but for one fucking moment, be honest with yourself.”

“Who put you in charge of my life,” Auston pouts, flinching when she bares her nails at him in a claw like pose. “Okay, okay! It’s just. It’s hard,”

Jordyn rolls her eyes and Auston wants to be anywhere but here, lying on this deck chair with someone he was inside of barely twenty four hours ago who is now - apparently - trying to get him to admit he likes fucking men. Well. One man.

“It is simple though. It’s you and me and it’s this Freddie guy, if you want. It can be you and me sometimes, and him sometimes. Or it can be him all the time, and we can still be friends, or you can find someone else, or lots of someone else’s. Just be honest, Auston. What do you want?” Jordyn asks softly this time, but it still rings in Auston’s ears. She makes it sound like he can do, or be what he wants.

She makes it sound easy. Simple.

“I want Freddie. I want what we had but more, I guess. I don’t want to come out because I don't want... It’s too much, too… I barely know who I am? I don't think I’m ready to do that but, but like you and my family maybe? Maybe some of the team? I think the people I trust would be okay with it. I hope they would be.” And god it feels stupid, like in all those movies. Relief of saying it out loud washes over him like waves.

“So you’re bisexual then?”

“No. I mean, not in every sense,” Auston thinks about the research he’s done when he can’t sleep at night. The bright of the display screen on his phone burning his eyes as he read all he could just trying to figure out what he wanted. Who he was. “I like guys but I don’t want anyone else but him.”

“Aww, babe,” Jordyn says, this soft grin on her face, her big eyes almost glassy. Are, Auston guesses, as she rubs at them with the back of one hand.

“It’s my big gay revelation here, shouldn’t I be the one crying?” Auston quips, a shake in his tone the only thing giving away how big it feels to finally be admitting all of this out loud.

He wants Freddie. He likes girls. He can do both. The world isn’t going to fucking end.

“Asshole,” she smacks at his chest and Auston digs his fingers in at that soft place above her hips, has her laughing.

“Stop you dick! I really will pee on you!” Jordyn squeals, laughing and slapping at Auston wherever she can reach.

He stops and lets her up. “I don’t think I’m ready to hear about any of your kinks today, Jordyn,” Auston calls out as she near runs inside, giving him the finger behind her back as she goes.

Auston breathes out, laughing at himself as he looks up into the blue, blue sky above.

/o/

“Just... just come here. Come be with me,” Auston closes his eyes, feels like everything is hedging on the space between this last breath in and what Freddie says next.

He’s so fucking quiet on the other end of the line Auston isn’t even sure he’s still there. The waves crest and fall against the sand and Auston feels like he might have to throw himself in and not come back up if Freddie doesn’t answer him soon.

There’s a whoosh of air on the other end of the line and Auston sucks in one of his own.

“Be with you or be with you,” Freddie says, his voice so quiet that Auston has to strain to hear it, push the phone up against his ear so hard it hurts.

The suns only starting to rise but Auston doesn’t need any more time to think about this. He’s thought about it enough.

“With me. Us. Be an us if you still want that. If that’s still a thing you want, with me.”

God he’s stumbling over his words and he wants Freddie to know he’s serious, but he sounds like an idiot. This being open and honest thing is a lot harder than Freddie made it look all those weeks ago back in the fucking car park.

Waiting for Freddie’s answer is even harder.

 

/o/

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The Deck on Laguna Beach

Auston and Freddie side by side with a beach sunset in the background

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