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Empirically Verifiable

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When Jonathan Freakin’ Toews finds him standing with Cody Glass barely half an hour after he goes second in the draft, he loses it a little. He had maybe hoped a little that he’d go first, but it’s already the best day of his life, and now the guy who inspired him to pick the number 19 is standing right in front of him. System overload, he thinks, trying to figure out how to say something cool and mature as Toews holds out his hand to shake. Somehow he manages to stutter out a hello and a ‘so nice to meet you,’ desperately hoping his palms aren’t swampy from terror and that he doesn’t look like a teenie who’s just met Bieber. Which is about how he feels, to be honest. He’d be less starstruck if he met Batman and Hannah Davis and got an anytime offer to drive the Batmobile while Hannah sat in his lap.

Oh god, he’s still holding Jonathan Freakin’ Toews’ hand. Let it go. Let. It. Go. Somehow he makes his fingers unclench, dropping his palm to his side and wiping it on his trousers.

“I hear your family has a place in Kenora,” Toews says, lips curving up in a smile. “I’ll be up there in August. A couple of us train. If you’re around, you should join us.”

Brain has now gone offline. Commencing reboot.

“Um,” is all Nolan manages.

“Or not,” Toews says with a laugh. “No pressure.”

The truth is that his family ordinarily goes up to Falcon Lake in July and then they’re back in Winnipeg for August, but…

“No, yeah, that would be awesome,” he says in a rush. “Of course, wow. I’d love that.”

...he’ll make it work. He doesn’t care how much he might have to beg his parents.

“Yeah? Cool,” Toews says like he’s pleased Nolan’s saying yes. Like it’s exciting for a three time Stanley Cup winner and Olympic Gold Medalist who’s played with Sid and Bergeron and Kane to train with Nolan of all people. “Here, let me give you my number.”

“I—yes,” he says, fumbling his phone out of his pocket. Promptly he can’t find the contact menu at all. And he looks like a complete fool thumbing through, trying not to appear frantic, like he’ll lose this opportunity at the drop of a hat. Which he might. He has no idea how Jonathan Toews rolls. Maybe it’s a trick. Oh god, don’t let it be a trick.

“Here,” Toews says and takes the phone from him, quickly plugging in his number and then handing it back. “When you get up there, gimme a call.”

“Right, yeah, sure,” he says, still staring round-eyed after Toews as he leaves.

“Jesus christ,” Cody says, thumping him in the side. “That was painful to watch.”

“What?” Nolan asks, blinking at him, a little out of it.

“Your hard-on for Toews. Everybody knows you wear 19 for him.”

“Fuck off, I wear 19 for Yzerman,” Nolan protests, a total lie, of course, knowing his pale skin is flushing up red from it and that Cody knows him well enough to see right through it.

“Yeah, sure, man,” he says, looking out over the room, all the milling players waiting to be told where to go now that their billion photo opportunities are over. “So,” he says, after a moment, “You gonna go?”

“Heck yes I am,” Nolan replies, quick as lightning.

Cody just grins.


It’s not what he expected. Well, he doesn’t know what he expected. But it’s definitely a million times more relaxed. Over the last few years he’s eaten up every piece of information about Toews that he possibly can, trying to use it to fuel his game. He knows all about the Captain Serious stuff and the nutrition, so while he’s prepared for Toews’ kitchen to be the place where fun goes to die, he’s not at all ready for how relaxed and irreverent Toews is, how he complains every time their workouts require him to get on the exercise bike, how he’ll flip himself into a handstand in the middle of a conversation ‘to get blood flowing in his head,’ how he’ll rant about politics long after everybody except Nolan has stopped listening, how he cheats horribly at video games.

He makes Nolan a nutrition chart that makes him feel like a little kid until Travis shows him his own specialized version.

“I think Jonny likes doing them,” Travis says. “It’s like his version of sudoku or something.”

Nolan awkwardly calls him Jonathan until, in the middle of an intense yoga session he said would help build up Nolan’s core strength after his hernia operation, he says, “Jon or Jonny, man, you make me feel like I’m getting yelled at.”

Jonny, he tries it out in his head, Jonny Toews.

He makes the hour drive out from Falcon Lake to Kenora nearly every day and Cody Eakin and Travis are always there, skating on the synthetic ice that Toews gets because of his sweet deal with Canadian Tire, putting in some rink time at the Rec Center, doing Pilates and strength training and weird meditation sessions.

The first time he drives up and he realizes it’s just his and Jonny’s car in the driveway his heart starts to pound harder in his chest.

It’s just.

Well, it’s totally stupid, but…

He thinks maybe Jonny might be a little bit interested in him? He’s always touching Nolan, correcting his form during yoga, clapping him on the back and gripping too long, meeting his eyes like Nolan’s the only one in the room, and now today they’re alone. Nolan’s not stupid. He knows what he looks like, and while Jonathan Toews might be the coolest thing that has ever happened to him, Nolan’s been a local celebrity in Brandon since he was 16. He knows people, girls especially, are interested in him. It wouldn’t be the most insane thing in the world, would it? He doesn’t think Jonny looks like that at Eakin or Travis.

One day, going through pilates exercises, Jonny puts his hands on him to correct his form. They’re impersonal, and Nolan’s used to being touched this way by trainers and coaches and other players, but Jonny says soft and low, right by his ear, his breath stroking across the shell, “Tilt your hips a little.”

Nolan goes blindingly hard, and spends the next few minutes absurdly grateful that his position is hiding the front half of his body pretty well. He doesn’t need Eakin or Travis seeing him springing wood for Jonathan Toews. When he finally gets home that evening, he doesn’t even stop in the kitchen to say hello to his mom before hitting his bedroom to jerk one out. His cock ached all day long, and now finally sweet relief. He imagines Jonny knowing what he did to Nolan, rolling him over right there on his exercise mat and laying a kiss on him, grinding down against Nolan, smell of his sweat thick in his nostrils.

It only takes a couple pulls for him to spill all over his fist.


A few days later, when it’s just the two of them, they run through their usual exercises in the home gym Jonny has set up on the first floor, and the entire time Nolan is buzzing, body thrumming like he had too much coffee. Jonny let him play his own music, and so far he’s spoken up twice to ask the name of a song, which Nolan always considers a good sign that somebody likes his music.

After they’ve put in two hours and Jonny’s sponging off his forehead with a towel, he looks Nolan over and says, “I’m going in the lake, wanna come?”

They’ve gone swimming a few times, and one time Nolan went along with Jonny, his brother, and Mike Richards super early to go fishing and people had accidentally ended up in the lake, but Jonny doesn’t even go to change into trunks. When Nolan follows him outside, he carelessly strips off his shirt and compression shorts and dives off of the end of the dock into the water completely naked.

He surfaces a few lengths away with a whoop, slicking his short hair back and grinning. “Feels great, you coming?”

Just. How is this not flirting?

Nolan takes a deep breath and pushes his shorts and briefs down, before taking a running leap off the end of the dock. He opens his eyes underwater, it’s dark, shafts of light illuminated by churned up sediment. He can only just make out Jonny treading water, but he swims in that direction, coming up with a splash.

Jonny curses and laughs at him, splashing back. “Watch it, twerp,” he says, giving Nolan a little shove.

They’re closer now than Nolan meant to be, and both naked. The water laps at their waists. He looks at Jonny’s warm eyes and thinks he could do something right now, he could kiss him. His heart pounding hard in his chest, he considers it, just leaning forward, pressing their mouths together. Before he can do anything, Jonny’s eyes slide past him and then he’s diving back into the water and heading to the shore with an assured free-style.

He starts striding out of the water when he gets close enough to the shore. He calls back over his shoulder. “C’mon, youngster. I could use something to eat.”

Nolan breathes out, adrenaline crashing and leaving him strangely forlorn. He stays in the water for a moment longer waiting for his pulse to slow, before he turns around to follow Jonny back into the house.


Kane blows into town on the rare day Nolan spends the morning with his parents rather than heading to Jonny’s first thing. He arrives to find a flashy rental sitting in Jonny’s driveway and wonders who it is for a few moments before he sees Kane walking barefoot on the lawn shading his eyes against the sun as he talks on the phone. He feels a sudden burst of excitement. He can’t believe his luck—getting to hang with both Toews and Kane. It’s a freakin’ dream come true. Cody is going to shit himself from envy when Nolan tells him.

Kane sees him walking up and seemingly ends his call so that he can shake Nolan’s hand.

“How you doing, man?” he says, blue eyes brilliant in the morning sun.

“Pretty good, pretty good,” Nolan says dumbly.

He gives Nolan a sly smile and tells him, “Tazer says you’ve been making him feel old.”

“Oh I didn’t mean—he’s not old,” Nolan stutters.

Kane bursts into laughter, his eyes moving to something over Nolan’s shoulder. “Don’t know about that, had to bring his walker with me on the plane. He left it behind.”

“Fuck you, old,” Jonny replies from behind Nolan, startling him. “Exactly how many beers does it take for you to get a hangover now? Two, three?”

“Only one,” Kane replies equably. “But you’re always saying I should avoid beer, because it screws with gut macrobiota.”

“It does! All that yeast! Guaran-fucking-teed diarrhea.”

Kane shakes his head at Nolan. “If I knew how much of my adult life he would spend obsessing over shitting I woulda signed with a different team, I tell ya.”

Nolan shrugs and says loyally, “But it helps though, keeping your body clean.”

Jonny gets him into a headlock and Nolan can’t help flushing and smiling, when he says, “Atta boy.”

Kane snorts. “Next he’ll get you started on transcendental meditation.”

Nolan coughs and shrugs. “Well…”

Kane’s eyebrows go up. “My god, you and Jonny are a match made in heaven. How will I live if there’s two of you?”

Nolan’s cheeks flame impossibly darker with embarrassment and pleasure.

“Enough chitchat, there’s work to be done,” Jonny says and thumps Nolan on the side.


Kane joins them for their workout, face smooth in concentration as he powers through reps. For such a little guy he can lift as much as Nolan, and he does it with ease. Nolan watches him stretching afterwards, bending with an elastic flexibility Nolan thinks he last had at the age of five. Kane catches him staring.

“Yes?” he says, arching a brow.

Nolan blinks at him. “Oh—I was just—I thought, you know, mostly only goalies are that flexible.”

Kane looks supremely unimpressed and Nolan doesn’t know what exactly he said that was so upsetting.

There’s a clang of a bar being rested back in its cradle and Jonny calls out, “Don’t worry, Nol. It’s not you. Kaner is weird about stretching. Always does it in private during practice and before games.”

“I need time to think,” Kane replies. “Just trying to get away from you hassling me all the time.”

“I would never,” Jonny replies, face twisting as he starts up on another set of cleans.

“A bigger lie was never told,” Nolan replies.

Patrick chuckles. “See, even mini-Toews agrees with me!”

Jonny rolls his eyes. Nolan knows that Kane meant the comparison as a joke and it doesn’t necessarily reflect on his play, but he’s over the moon about it anyway.


Later he’s not sure why it didn’t occur to him. It really should’ve. The ribbing at the draft, the way Jonny had just took it with that smile, seeing the two of them bickering through the workout and then lunch. He feels so stupid all of a sudden, for more reasons than one.

He should stop looking though. Oh fuck, he should really stop looking. But he can’t.

Jonny’s got Kane up on the kitchen counter, his thighs split around Jonny’s middle as he lazily thrusts inside him, messily kissing each moan out of his mouth. Kane tears his mouth away with a groan as Jonny’s strokes slow, lingering now deep inside, so deep Kane chokes. Nolan stands frozen, eyes caught on Jonny’s tightening buttocks from every thrust, the flush running down his body just like when they work out.

Nolan doesn’t know how they didn’t hear him coming up the gravel drive, or the ‘hello’ he’d tossed out when he walked in the door. They were occupied he thinks bitterly, his stomach gone to lead. He really needs to leave or announce his presence somehow, but he can’t move from the kitchen doorway, frozen with shock as he peeks around the corner with the perfect angle to see everything.

Kane’s perfectly cut biceps tense and flex around Jonny’s shoulders. Jonny says something soft to him, Nolan can’t make it out over the sound of his heart pounding in his ears. Kane’s eyes flutter shut and he nods, tips of their noses brushing together, before leaning back, hands gripping the edge of the counter. He gasps on Jonny’s next thrust inside, entire body shuddering before he sinks his teeth into his lip. Nolan’s never seen somebody looks so overcome from sex outside of porn, and for a moment he fools himself that it’s a performance, until Jonny shifts an arm to brace his palm on one of the cabinets and he gets an eyeful of Kane’s cock, erect and purple, bouncing against his belly with every hard shove of Jonny’s hips.

“Oh fuck, I missed this,” Kane says, startling Nolan. He sweeps a hand down the back of Jonny’s neck, the same way you’d pet an animal. Jonny must like it, because he squeezes his eyes shut, burying his face into Kane’s neck. Nolan watches him get a palm underneath Kane’s spine, hauling him in close.

Kane lets out a strangled gasp, and Nolan doesn’t know very much about sex between two men, beyond that he’d thought about maybe having it with Jonny more than a few times these past couple of weeks if Jonny would even be into that. But he’s heard enough about it to know that some guys can come from getting fucked. He hadn’t given it much credence, but now he’s pretty positive Kane’s gonna.

Jonny’s thrusts speed up until he’s practically pounding inside, but every single one just seems to dial Kane higher. Suddenly every muscle in his body goes tense, he lets out another hot choked moan and then jizz shoots out of his cock, painting up his chest.

Jonny trembles all over and Nolan wonders if Kane’s squeezing down on him like a girl does, contractions from when she comes. He thrusts a few more times making Kane jerk and gasp from the aftershocks.

Kane gets a hand in Jonny’s short hair, pulling at the strands. “C’mon, baby, do it,” he says, almost like he’s giving Jonny permission.

And then he watches Jonny thrust in hard one last time and fold in on himself with a loud cry.

Nolan’s eyes burn and then he’s walking as quickly and quietly as he can out of the house. He doesn’t need to see anymore. He goes and sits at the end of the dock, unable to think of a time he was so miserable and also had a boner. It’s very confusing. He doesn’t like it. Nolan sighs, looking down at his reflecting kicking his legs just above the water. Kane’s it for Jonny, he sees now. He feels so stupid for wondering why Jonny wouldn’t just kiss him that day in the lake. Maybe he’s just not that into you, he hears Madison telling Aimee about a boy she likes.

Yeah. It was all in his head.


Jonny pulls out, watching himself withdraw, come spilling slow and viscous out of Patrick’s hole. Three years of this and it’s still a punch to the gut.

Patrick raises his arms up above his head with a yawn, his back cracking, lazy and supine with pleasure. “Can that count as my workout today?”

“What? What’d you do?” Jonny asks. “That counts as my workout today.”

“Well lemme fuck you then, so we can be even,” Patrick says, shoving Jonny back so that he has room to get down from the counter. “Just gimme thirty minutes.”

Jonny snorts, he can’t say anything, because Patrick will surely crack a joke about how long it takes him to get hard now in his old age, and he doesn’t want to shoot himself in the foot and not get that promised round two. They didn’t manage anything at all yesterday although Jonny had thought about it on loop ever since Patrick unexpectedly appeared in his driveway.

Patrick yawns again. He jerks his head at the front of the house, towards the water. “How much do you think he saw?”

Right. Nolan. Jonny shrugs. “Nearly all of it, I would say. You didn’t hear him call hello when he came in?”

“Was a little occupied,” Patrick tells him with a dirty smirk, leaning in to lay a kiss on his bare shoulder. He’s heading towards the sink, presumably to clean up or get a glass of water, but Jonny can’t help belting an arm around him and tugging him in close.

Patrick tolerates it for a moment before breaking out of his hold, going to the cabinet for a glass and then filling it with water, drinking it down in three gulps, water spilling down past his lips and over his throat. Jonny’s spent cock gives an interested twitch.

“Hmm?” he says, when he realizes Patrick is talking to him.

“He’s got it bad for you,” Patrick repeats.

Jonny sighs. “I feel kinda bad about that.”

Patrick leans back against the counter, careless of his nudity, the come all over him. “Don’t tell me it doesn’t get you hot, him looking at you,” he stalks over to Jonny, eyes dark and predatory. When they got together in the summer of 2014, Patrick had been game, but also a little uncertain of himself and the things Jonny wanted. They’ve come a long long way from there, Jonny realizes, as Patrick leans in, mouth brushing his ear to whisper, “wanting what he can never have, because it’s mine.”

“Of course it does,” Jonny tells him, allowing himself to lean on Patrick a little. “But that’s also why I feel bad. I should’ve cut it off at the pass.”

“He’s 18, he’ll get over it,” Patrick says. “C’mon, we should shower and clean up. Make sure the kid doesn’t go drown himself in the lake.”

Later under the spray, while he’s soaping up Patrick’s hair, running his fingers through it in gentle massage that has Patrick lolling back against his chest in unmistakeable ecstasy, he says, “I fell in love with you at 19. I didn’t get over it.”

Patrick turns in his arms, swiping a hand over his forehead to keep soap out of his eyes. He looks surprised. “Seven years? You never said.”

“I got you in the end, it didn’t matter.”

Patrick reaches up and pulls him down with a hand on his neck. He says, lips just a bare whisper away from Jonny’s, “We’re different,” before kissing him deep and sure.

Jonny has never told him either how he’d given up completely by the time that day on the boat had rolled around. How insane he’d felt, laying Patrick out on that mattress, could any of it really be happening? When he asked him out afterwards, Patrick had stared up at him, still looking so dazed and come-dumb, blinking those heavily-lashed blue eyes up at him, lips bitten so red. He’d unexpectedly said yes, and it still ranks as one of the happiest moments of his life.

“Yeah we are,” Jonny replies, turning Patrick back around so he can wash the soap out of his hair.