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the bones of what you believe

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Brandon kneels because it’s what he’s supposed to do. It’s part of being a rookie, it’s part of belonging, it’s part of hockey.

So he kneels.

He kneels for Jonny, at first, actually, starting the season after the lockout, but it turns out they’re both like, super uncomfortable with it? Brandon expected it to work out—he likes and respects Jonny, and they get along really well, and it’s not like Jonny has any trouble being authoritative and responsible, but somehow, when he’s on the carpet and Jonny’s in a chair, it skews everything.

(The first time, they just sat silently in Jonny’s apartment for like a full and terrible hour, with Jonny on the couch and Brandon on his knees, and they weren’t touching, and Jonny was super keyed up and kept tapping his fingers on his knee, and Brandon got to his feet without being told and said, “I’m going to go get a beer,” and when he came back, he sat on the couch.

The second time, he kneeled at his feet again, and Jonny said, “No, man, let’s just—not,” and Brandon stood up and sat beside him.

The third time, he paused at the door and considered kneeling, and instead just plopped down on the couch, put his feet up on the coffee table, and let Jonny mumble his way through apologies and an explanation involving Kaner that Brandon really didn’t follow.)

So he doesn’t kneel for Jonny anymore.

They still sit and talk and play video games and stuff, and Jonny tells him when he’s doing well and all that, and so it’s kind of what the organization wanted in terms of the mentoring thing, but, well.

Brandon isn’t kneeling for anyone, and Jonny is so official about everything that he has to pass it on to whoever makes these decisions that he can’t do this, can’t give what he’s supposed to. It’s a Jonny thing—he won’t let anyone assume he’s doing his captainly duties or whatever if he’s not. Plus, Brandon suspects Jonny wants to make sure that someone’s taking care of him.

He knows Jonny needed Seabs when he was a rookie, needed to have someone there and in charge and capable of watching out for when he’s gotten in over the head. And Jonny couldn’t do that for Brandon, so he needs to find someone who can.

He’s frustrated, a bit, but not with Jonny. Just with the whole… process. Brandon gets why the whole kneeling thing exists, really, even if it didn’t work with Jonny, but he isn’t sure it’s going to work with anyone else, either.

Like, Andrew tells him about how much he likes it, how it’s calming and grounding to kneel for Bolly, have him run his hands through his hair and tell him he’s doing alright. He says Bolly lets him forget about his responsibilities for a while, takes them and holds onto them and gives them back when Andrew’s ready.

(Because he’s Andrew, he also explains that he likes when Bolly holds him there, when he puts him on his knees and keeps him there, but. Brandon already knows Andrew likes to fight.)

But so far, he doesn’t really get it for him—what he had with Jonny didn’t work for either of them, and he thinks of kneeling for like, Sharpy or Hossa or, well, pretty much any of the guys who don’t currently have a rookie, and it makes him cringe a little bit.

He wants that stability Andrew talks about, but, well. He doesn’t know where to get it.

He says that to Andrew one day, when they’re over at his place.

Brandon’s actually on his knees now, tucked between Andrew’s legs, but it’s not really a mentor thing so much as a blowjob thing, and it’s not exactly calming or grounding, it’s just hot.

“Well, this isn’t the same thing,” Andrew says after he’s come, curling the fingers of one hand into Brandon’s hair and pressing his other thumb into the corner of Brandon’s mouth. “Do you want me to talk to Bolly?”

“Why?” Brandon asks, pressing a kiss to his inner thigh before moving up to the couch. He reaches for Andrew, pulls him onto his lap, claims his mouth in a bruising kiss. “He’s yours.”

The three of them are all pretty close, having played together in Rockford through the lockout, but Andrew and Bolly are—well, Andrew kneels for Bolly, and Brandon doesn’t.

Andrew shrugs and runs his hand down his chest. “I could share. It’s just a thought.” And then Andrew’s got his hand on Brandon’s dick, and Brandon tilts his head back, groans, and forgets all about it.

- - -

He forgets all about it, at least, until Bolly approaches him a few days later and says, “So do you want to kneel for me?”

Brandon has to take a second to regain the ability to speak English, and then asks, “Why?”

Bolly shrugs and claps a hand on his upper arm. “You need somebody, don’t you?”

He supposes he does. It’s what he’s been told, at least, and Bolly seems to be the only one willing or able to do it, so. He shrugs. “Yeah, okay.”

Bolly seems satisfied and says, “Tonight? Do you want Shawzy there?”

“Yes,” Brandon answers immediately, and it’s the only part of this he’s sure of. Andrew’s his roommate, his friend, his—whatever. He’s his, and if Brandon’s nervous about kneeling, he’s confident that Andrew will help alleviate it.

“Tonight, then,” Bolly says. “My apartment. Nine?”

Brandon nods.

He shows up that night exactly at nine, fully anticipating that Andrew won’t show up for another ten or fifteen minutes. Instead, he walks into Bolly’s apartment to find Andrew already on the floor, cheek on Bolly’s thigh, eyes closed.

It feels—intimate, is what it is, and he feels like an intruder just watching, let alone joining. He takes an unconscious step backward, but then steels himself, takes a deep breath, comes in. Bolly’s eyes are on him the whole time, and he shifts under his gaze.

“Are you alright?” Bolly asks.

Brandon watches Andrew’s eyes open, sees a flicker of concern in them, and he comes over to them, reaches down to run his thumb along his cheekbone. Andrew closes his eyes again, and Brandon looks up at Bolly.

“I’m fine,” he finally answers. “Where do you want me?”

Bolly’s watching him with a contemplative expression he’s never seen on him before, and answers, “Like Shawzy, on my left. Just for a little while, alright?”

Brandon gets to his knees slowly, and hesitates before he finally rests his cheek on Bolly’s thigh. The fabric of Bolly’s jeans is rough, and the angle of Brandon’s neck is sort of weird, and everything about this is unfamiliar and just vaguely uncomfortable. He takes a deep breath and reaches for Andrew, wrapping his hand around his wrist.

He hears Bolly make a small sound, and whether it’s objecting or approving or just noting, Brandon doesn’t know, and he doesn’t especially care. He holds onto Andrew’s wrist for a moment and then lets his hand slip down to his palm. Andrew laces his fingers through his own, and Brandon lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

His grip on Andrew’s hand tightens a bit when Bolly starts stroking his hair, but he thinks he disguises his tension alright other than that. It isn’t—this isn’t bad, necessarily, but he knows Andrew, can tell that he’s perfectly at ease and feeling good, while Brandon is… not that.

He’s fine, though. It’s not bad. He likes Bolly a lot, and he likes when people play with his hair, so. That’s fine. It just isn’t really doing anything for him.

But he sits, and he waits. Bolly isn’t as painfully on edge as Jonny was, and that’s helping.

Even so, though, he isn’t exactly at ease.

He can tell that Andrew’s a little lost in this; his breathing is even and slow, and he has this little smile, and his eyes are closed. He doesn’t feel anything like that. This is just… happening to him.

He focuses on Andrew, running his thumb along the knuckle of Andrew’s and keeping his eyes set on the line of his mouth, and eventually, Bolly says, “That’s good.”

Brandon stands up immediately, dropping Andrew’s hand, and rolls his shoulders. Andrew’s slower, more graceful, and he gives Bolly a small smile. There’s a pang in Brandon’s chest, and he doesn’t know what exactly he’s jealous of.

“Okay,” he says, and both of them turn to look at him.

“Okay,” Bolly repeats. “That was—you were good. Do you want to hang out a while, or?”

“No,” Brandon says. “Thanks, though. Shawzy, you want to go, uh, grab a burger or something?”

It’s like ten pm and they have a game tomorrow. Brandon has no intention of eating a hamburger. Andrew looks from Bolly to Brandon and back again and says, “Yeah, okay.”

Bolly gives him a smile and a friendly ass tap. “You did so good, Mutt. My room after the game?”

Andrew smiles. “Yeah.”

Brandon doesn’t say anything, and Bolly looks back at him. “You too?”

“Um, yeah, maybe,” he says, and shifts a bit on his feet. “We’ll see how the game goes. Shawzy?”

Bolly doesn’t say anything, just watches them go, and the moment the door shuts behind them, Brandon’s pushing Andrew up against the wall.

He steals a quick, hard kiss and says, “Come home with me.”

Andrew laughs and grips his t-shirt loosely; Brandon can feel his knuckles press against a fading bruise on his ribcage. “What, was that doing it for you?” he teases. “No judgment, man, sometimes I wanna—”

“No,” Brandon interrupts, and he’s sure it comes out a little harsher than he meant it to. “I just—want you. Please.”

Andrew’s grin fades a little bit, and the mischievousness leaves his eyes, and he brings one hand up to cup his jaw. “Alright, yeah, babe, of course,” he says, giving him a brief kiss. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he says, and steps back. “I just, um, I just want to go home, alright?” Andrew looks a little concerned, but he nods, and Brandon takes his hand and gives it a quick squeeze. “I’m fine, really.”

He doesn’t look convinced, and, honestly, Brandon isn’t totally sure he’s telling the truth himself, but he takes Andrew home, fucks him into the mattress, holds him close while he falls asleep curled into his chest, and, well.

It makes him feel a lot more settled than kneeling did, to say the fucking least.

- - -

They lose the next night in a shootout, 2-1, and Brandon had had a fucking gorgeous scoring chance in the third, and he’d missed it, just shot a little too wide. He’s still fuming about it in the locker room; the rest of the guys are more sad than angry this time around, but—

“Hey,” Bolly says, pressing a hand to the small of his back. “Do you want to—?”

“Yes,” he says immediately. This is what it’s for, this whole thing, it’s supposed to remind him that he’s neither infallible nor responsible, and right now he needs that, and Bolly is where he’s supposed to go to get it.

Bolly smiles, soft and reassuring, and Brandon manages to smile back.

He holds Andrew’s hand in the hallway of the hotel. The two of them are an open secret of sorts—they aren’t really officially out, even to the team, but they aren’t exactly in, either. At the moment, Brandon doesn’t give a shit who sees them; Andrew’s an anchor, and he’s the best one he’s got.

They get to the hotel room and Bolly sits down on the edge of the bed, and Andrew looks at Brandon before he drops his hand and sinks to his knees beside him, easy as anything.

It’s harder for Brandon; he toes out of his dress shoes and lines them up evenly, tugs the knot of his tie undone and slowly slides it out from his collar, shrugs his suit jacket off and hangs it carefully. He spends a moment standing there, back to Bolly and Andrew, and takes a deep breath.

“Saader,” Bolly says, and Brandon closes his eyes for just a moment, then turns back to him.

“Yeah,” he says, and comes to stand beside him. Andrew looks up at him from where he’s already settled, cheek on Bolly’s thigh, and reaches a hand out to rest on the back of his calf. Brandon manages to smile down at him and then gets to his knees.

“Good,” Bolly says, his voice low and a little rough. “You played well tonight, you know. You did.”

“I fucked up,” Brandon says, leaning his head against Bolly’s thigh. “I should have—”

“No,” Bolly interrupts him, smoothing down his hair. “We’re not doing that, okay? You played well.”

He knows Bolly’s trying to be reassuring here, that this is what he’s supposed to do. Praise him, comfort him, whatever—but right now it feels like a lie. Brandon swallows his protest.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Bolly says, and it’s supposed to help, but the floor is hard and suddenly Bolly’s hand is too heavy and it’s not fucking helping, he’s just angrier.

He doesn’t say anything else, and Bolly just keeps slowly stroking his hair, but this isn’t like the other time; he doesn’t reach for Andrew and he doesn’t zone out. He’s acutely aware of every minute that passes, and he’s counting on it when Bolly says, “That’s good.”

Again, Brandon stands immediately, but Andrew stays down this time. He’s making those little snuffly sounds he always makes when he’s napping, and Brandon selfishly wants to wake him up, wants to take him with him, but he doesn’t. It’s on Bolly to take care of him from here, to choose to wake him or move him or whatever, and it’s not—it’s not on Brandon.

“Thanks,” he says. Even he can tell how forced it sounds.

“Brandon,” Bolly says, but Brandon’s already putting his shoes back on. He takes his coat and his tie, forcing himself not to rush, and he closes the door quietly.

He thinks it may have been satisfying to slam it, but he didn’t want to wake Andrew.

- - -

He keeps trying. Brandon doesn’t quit, doesn’t quit anything, and he has to make this work. He’s supposed to make this work. And it gets better, sort of, kind of. They’re steadily improving.

He still feels a little weird about kneeling, honestly, and it’s still not perfect. He doesn’t feel settled the way Andrew talks about, he isn’t sure that it does for him what it does for Andrew, but. It’s okay. He likes it when Bolly rubs his neck, and he likes holding Andrew’s hand.

(They talk about that, one night.

They’re in Brandon’s bed, and Andrew’s curled up with his head on Brandon’s chest, and they’re holding hands, and he says, “You know, we’re not really being… subtle. Around Boller.”

“Do you want to be?” Brandon asks after a careful pause, and Andrew turns to press his face into Brandon’s chest a little bit, and he can feel more than see him smile.

“No,” he says. “I think we’re doing okay.”

Again, always, that makes him feel safe and happy, that makes him feel like winning.)

The point, of course, is that kneeling is getting better. He thinks it’s just taking him a bit longer than most, that’s all. Brandon’s finally starting to think that it’s gonna work out.

But one day, he lets himself into Bolly’s apartment, and, like.

Bollig’s alone on the couch.

“Where’s Shawzy?” Brandon asks slowly. He could just be late—he’s pretty consistently late to stuff, actually; it wouldn’t be surprising at all. It’s just that he’s not usually late to see Bolly. Brandon suspects that he’s actually been asking Andrew to show up early, so he’s already ready and waiting when Brandon gets there.

“I was thinking we could do this just me and you today,” Bolly says.

Brandon stands in the doorway for a long time and then slowly toes off his sneakers and walks over to him. “Okay,” he says cautiously, and sinks to his knees.


Fuck. Well, it’s terrible. He feels like he’s vibrating out of his skin, and he keeps having to tell himself not to reach out for Andrew, and usually he thinks Bolly’s thumb tracing the shell of his ear is comforting, but today he fucking hates it.

He stands up abruptly. “It has to have been at least an hour,” he says, and takes a step back. “You always tell me to get up after an hour.”

“Saader, it’s been like twenty minutes,” Bolly says, looking taken aback.

Brandon’s actually about to call bullshit when he looks at the clock. He can feel his face drop when, yeah, it’s actually barely even been fifteen, and he crosses his arms.

“Tell me what I can do for you,” Bolly says, reaching out for him. “I know you. I know this isn’t working.”

“I don’t like this without Shawzy,” he says immediately. “It isn’t—it isn’t okay without him.”

Bolly pauses. “Saader, you know I don’t… I don’t expect anything, um, sexual. From you. This isn’t… anything like that.”

That catches him off guard. He’d never even considered it (or, uh, not never, necessarily, but at least not seriously). He knows these relationships don’t always mean sex, he knows they usually don’t. He isn’t uncomfortable about this because he thinks Bolly’s, like, waiting for an opportunity to whip it out.

“I know,” he says slowly. “I never thought you did.”

“Then what—” Bolly sounds frustrated, and he stops, pauses, takes a breath. “What can I do for you?”

“I don’t know,” Brandon says, and he feels defeated.

- - -

He meets Jonny for lunch the next day.

“I’ve been kneeling for Bolly,” he says, and Jonny chokes on his iced tea.

“Okay,” he says, when he’s breathing again. “That’s—that’s good. That’s good?”

“I don’t think it’s working,” Brandon says, looking down at his plate.

Jonny pauses and then says slowly, “What do you—uh, do you want. You don’t want to try it with me again, do you?”

“Of course not,” Brandon says, unable to hold back a fond little laugh.

It’s like Jonny doesn’t know if he’s supposed to be offended or relieved, so his face settles on this weird combination of both. It’s kind of endearing.

“I just, um.” Brandon doesn’t know how to say what he has to; he doesn’t know how to tell Jonny that he’s not happy. He wants to just lay it out piece by piece, explain that, on paper, Bolly is everything he needs, but in practice, kneeling puts him on edge, makes him itchy and angry. “Did you like kneeling?” he asks instead. Jonny knelt for Seabs, back when he was a rookie, and Brandon can’t imagine anyone putting Jonny on his knees.

Jonny pauses, considers it. “Yeah,” he finally says. “It was—I don’t know. Me and Seabs still have that, a bit. That he—calms me down. When I need it. I mean, I don’t—I don’t kneel anymore, or anything, you know, but. It was… I needed it. Then.”

Brandon isn’t arrogant enough to say that he doesn’t need it, that he’s somehow an exception to the rule. He wouldn’t ever say he’s above this. He wants what everyone says rookies get out of it, the comfort and closeness.

But he isn’t getting that from Bolly, and he definitely didn’t from Jonny, and he’s trying so hard, but it just isn’t happening. He’s heard it takes time for some people to get used to it, but. He’s had a lot of time.

Rookies are supposed to kneel because it eases the expectations, because it allows for someone older, more experienced, to take care of them, to lighten the burden.

For Brandon, kneeling is a burden all its own.

“I don’t,” he hears himself saying before he’s going to. “Like it, I mean.”

Jonny leans back in his chair. “I didn’t think I was going to, at first, either,” he starts, but Brandon shakes his head and cuts him off.

“It’s been a while,” he says. “With Bolly.”

“Wait, so you and Shawzy—what, share him?” Jonny asks, curiosity clearly getting the best of him. “Isn’t that, um, kind of weird?”

Brandon blushes despite himself. “That’s, uh…not a problem.”

He watches the wheels turn in Jonny’s brain, and then—“Oh. Oh. Really?”

“Er, yeah, since—a while. Started in Rockford,” Brandon says. “It’s—it’s really good.”

“Congratulations?” Jonny offers. “If you ever, uh, need any, you know, advice, about—um, like, being involved with, like, a teammate—”

It looks like it’s physically paining him to speak, and Brandon decides to take him out of his misery. “I’ll talk to Kaner?” he suggests, and watches Jonny flush.

“Probably for the best,” he says sheepishly. “So—you and Shawzy, what, both kneel?”

“Andrew actually, uh, wasn’t there, the last time. That was horrible,” Brandon admits, fiddling with the straw in his glass. “I just… I don’t like kneeling. Even when I’ve got Andy—Shawzy—there, I don’t like it. I can just… deal better, with him.”

“Huh,” Jonny says after a long moment. “You just…you don’t like it.”

“I don’t like it,” he agrees. “It’s like… it works for everyone else. I don’t know why. I just. I don’t.”

“It doesn’t have to be for you,” Jonny suggests. “I mean, it—nothing’s universal.”

“It works for everyone else,” he argues. “And it’s not like. It isn’t like I don’t get wound up, or stressed out, or anything—all of that happens. I should need it. It’s just that the kneeling makes it worse.”

“Then don’t do it,” Jonny says, like it’s that fucking simple.

“I’m supposed to do it,” Brandon says.

Jonny sighs. “Saader.”

“I just—have to keep trying,” Brandon says, looking back down at his plate. “Right?”

There’s a long pause, where Jonny’s clearly trying to decide to argue or be supportive or whatever it is he’s gonna do. “Be careful,” he finally says.

“Always am, Jonny,” Brandon says, and manages a smile.

- - -

Bolly catches him after practice a few days later and says, really softly, “Do you want to come over tonight? Shawzy too, I promise.”

No is on the tip of his tongue, but he knows Bolly, trusts Bolly, is absolutely certain that Bolly is trying as hard as he is to find what it is that he needs and give it to him. He glances over at Andrew to find him looking back, eyes so big and so hopeful, and he looks back to Bolly.

“Okay,” he says. “What time?”

“When do you want?” Bolly asks, and, okay, that’s new, but he’ll go with it.

“I’ll be there at seven,” he says, pulling his shirt on over his head.

“Do you want to have dinner before, or should we all eat at my place?” They don’t usually do that—eat dinner together first, or anything. Bolly has tried to combine spending time together like normal with putting Brandon on his knees, trying to blur the distinction in Brandon’s head, but he’s always on edge when there’s a definitive plan to kneel for him later, and if they try to do it after, he’s still all keyed up, and so it never really works.

“We—we could cook at your place,” Brandon suggests slowly. It’s worth another try. Cooking with Bollig has always been sort of relaxing in and of itself. “I could get some wine on the way over.”

Bolly smiles, pleased, like Brandon’s done well, and—well. He likes it, sort of, likes seeing that look, likes knowing he put it there. “Awesome,” Bolly says. “See you then.”

He heads back to his own stall, and then Andrew comes over and smacks Brandon’s ass.

Brandon grins helplessly and swats at him in return. “Horrible brat,” he scolds, and Andrew just laughs and headbutts him.

Brandon catches him in a headlock, and they just scuffle like that for a moment, with a few of the other guys in the room noticing or chuckling or whatever, and Brandon presses a kiss into Andrew’s hair when he’s reasonably sure no one’s looking. Andrew grins up at him from where he’s still tucked beneath his arm.

“Brat,” he whispers again, real quiet, and Andrew beams.

(When he glances up, Bolly’s watching them. Brandon looks back at Andrew and pretends he didn’t notice.)

- - -

When he gets to Bolly’s that night, Andrew’s on his knees by the couch, like usual, but Bolly is nowhere to be seen. “Boller?” Brandon calls, setting the wine bottle he’d brought down on an end table and then approaching Andrew.

There’s no answer from Bolly, and Andrew is quiet. Brandon leans over to drop a kiss to the top of his head, but stays on his feet until Bolly walks in from the kitchen.

“Hey,” he says, and Brandon starts to get to his knees. “No, hey. Don’t. We’re doing something else today.”

Brandon pauses, straightens up, rocks on his feet.

“Sit on the couch,” Bolly tells him. “And, uh. Touch Shawzy. Like I usually do.”

Brandon’s—hesitant, a little bit, and kind of freaked out, because this isn’t what he’d been asking for, it’s really rude to try to take over someone who’s already kneeling for someone else, and he’d never been intending to, to insult Bolly, or imply that he wasn’t capable of his responsibilities to either Andrew or Brandon himself, or, or—

“Hey." Bolly cuts his panic short incredibly gently. “It’s okay. Sit.”

Brandon sits.

“I’m going to go make dinner for all three of us, okay?” Bolly says, and Andrew leans his head on Brandon’s thigh. “Just… just sit there with Shawzy, and see if that’s better for you. You can do anything you like to get comfortable, just—try to follow what I do, usually. See if that works.”

Bolly disappears into the kitchen, and Brandon takes a deep breath and curls his fingers into Andrew’s hair. He tugs, really brief, in this way that he knows he likes. Andrew makes a small, pleased noise, and brings one hand up to rest on Brandon’s ankle, fingertips pressing into the bone.

Brandon’s watched Andrew kneel before. He’s tactile all the time; Brandon’s seen him curl his hand around Bolly’s foot or loop an arm around his leg. So it’s not special, exactly, that he’s pressed all up against Brandon, that he’s drumming his fingertips on his calf.

But it’s different, somehow. It’s kneeling, but it’s them.

Brandon runs his hand through Andrew’s hair again and again, smoothing and mussing it in turns, and whispers, “Hey.”

Andrew blinks up at him, gives him a lazy smile. “Hey.”

Do you—do you like this, babe?”

“Yeah,” Andrew answers almost immediately, nuzzling into his leg. “Yeah, I do. Do you?”

“Yeah,” Brandon says, real quiet, and Andrew raises his head to smile up at him.

They sit like that for a long time, with Brandon stroking Andrew’s hair real careful and Andrew smiling so soft and so sweet. When Bolly comes out, Brandon’s barely realized any time has passed.

“Do you want to eat now, or do you want to stay like that for longer?” Bolly asks. The answer’s easy.

“Stay,” he says, drawing his thumb along Andrew’s ear. Andrew makes a small, sleepy noise.

“Do you want me to go, or?” Bolly asks after a long moment, and this is just as easy to answer.

“Stay,” Brandon repeats, and looks up at him with a genuine smile. “Come here.”

Bolly returns the grin and comes to sit beside him, and he wraps an arm around Brandon’s shoulders. He’s warm and big beside him, and Brandon leans into him, lets himself relax. “Is this better?” Bolly asks softly, turning his head so his lips are brushing Brandon’s ear.

“Yeah,” he confirms, pressing close to him and keeping one hand on Andrew. “Yeah, this—this is good.”

“Knew I could take care of you,” Bolly says, and he sounds so proud. “Knew we’d find something. You’re so good, Saader, really. You—you deserve to be taken care of.”

There’s pride in his voice, yeah, and also something else, something Brandon can’t quite name. It’s nice, though, happy and warm and safe, and for the first time, Brandon feels like he’s doing something right, feels like this could be what he’s supposed to get from all this.

Bolly keeps murmuring praise to both of them, a slow, quiet string of approval coming out in his low, even voice, and Brandon is only vaguely aware that he drifts off like that, all tucked into Bolly’s chest with one hand resting on Andrew’s neck.

When he wakes up, he’s lying flat on his back on the couch and Andrew’s on top of him, face pressed into the crook of his neck and shoulder. It’s dark, and Bolly is gone.

He fumbles to get his phone from his pocket without disturbing Andrew, and the screen is painfully bright when it tells him it’s 2:17 am. He drops it on the floor, wraps his arms around Andy’s waist, and goes back to sleep.

Bolly makes them breakfast in the morning. Brandon tries to help at first, but after he pours orange juice into his cereal, Bolly gently pushes him into the corner and leaves him to be groggy in peace.

Andrew is a morning person, and so he’s significantly more helpful that Brandon managed to be—he makes tea, for one thing, and then presses the mug into Brandon’s hands, because he’s the best.

Brandon smiles gratefully and sips his tea from the corner of the kitchen, watching Andrew and Bolly work around each other, watching Bolly put his hands on Andrew’s hips and move him away from the sink when he needed to step in. He likes seeing it, the way they fit together.

He takes a sip of his tea and smiles.

After they eat, Bolly drives them to the UC, and Andrew calls shotgun, even though he a) has the shortest legs and therefore is the least deserving of the extra room and b) couldn’t even see the car yet, which is totally cheating and against every single rule of shotgun-calling. He beats Brandon to the car, though, and so Brandon gets in the back.

Brandon doesn’t think he’s ever fallen asleep at Bolly’s before, or at least not while sober, but the three of them arriving together doesn’t seem to raise any eyebrows.

He makes sure to grab Jonny before they all go home to nap, just briefly, tell him that it’s looking up. Jonny looks pleased and said, “I knew you’d work it out, yeah, Saader?”

Andrew goes home with Brandon, because he claims pre-game naps are most successful when heavy cuddling is involved, and, because Brandon is hopeless, he never says no.

They fuckin’ destroy the Red Wings and everyone goes home happy. Brandon gets two assists and Andrew gets a goal, and it’s taking Brandon everything in him not to just slam him up against one of the stalls and go crazy on him.

He’s still considering it, actually, watching Andrew’s hungry gaze, and then he catches Bolly by the sleeve of his dress shirt instead. “Want to go to yours?” he asks, and watches Bolly’s face spread into a smile.

It’s almost as good as the win was.

- - -

So that’s a thing, from then on.

It works way better, once Brandon’s not trying to force himself to like something he doesn’t.

It’s usually the three of them—sometimes, Andrew nestles himself between them while they curl up together, or he kneels and Brandon lies down and puts his head on Bolly’s lap, or Brandon just sits with them while Bolly keeps Andrew down with the lightest of touches, and all the while, all the time, Bolly tells them they’ve done well, that he’s proud.

It’s never just Brandon and Bolly, but Brandon’s pretty sure Andrew still kneels more often than he sees. It doesn’t bother him—he doesn’t feel like an intruder anymore, but he understands that the two of them have something that’s a little different than what the three of them do, and he’d never deny Andrew anything that made him happy.

Besides, for all that he and Andrew have their moments, Bolly is constantly stealing time with Brandon. He touches him so casually now, pressing the flat of his palm to his back or ruffling his hair as he passes by, and Brandon’s a little surprised by how good Bolly is at knowing when he needs it and when he doesn’t.

He’s always been fairly picky about when and how people touch him. Hockey is a world of casual and constant physical contact, but he’s not always interested in or prepared for it, and somehow, Bolly consistently knows without asking what kind of mood Brandon’s in.

It takes him a little while to notice that, actually, to figure out that Bolly’s never so much as patted his back when he’s not in the mood to be touched, to put together that every time he’s looking for any physical attention, Bolly’s there with an arm around him.

A few months ago, he would have said nobody could tell one way or another—but Bolly has proved he can, and it’s intimate in a way Brandon can’t quite find words for.

The three of them aren’t traditional, exactly, in their mentoring arrangement: for starters, obviously, there are three of them, plus Brandon’s a rookie who refuses to kneel, but it works. The times they curl up together, find comfort in their closeness, and the times where Bolly just praises them in passing—all of it serves as a constant reminder that everything’s going to be just fine.

He never says so, but Brandon’s pretty sure the two of them provide that same reassurance to Bolly. He may be older, and he’s been playing professionally for a year or two more than they have, but he’s still new to the NHL, he’s still figuring all of this out too.

The three of them, supporting each other, it’s—it’s nice. It’s so, so nice, and Brandon’s pretty much settled into it the way he thinks he was supposed to have done all along.

He says this to Andrew one day when they’re on his couch, Andrew with his feet on the coffee table and Brandon with his head in his lap.

“I’m glad you asked Bolly,” he says. “About me, and him. Even if I don’t kneel.”

“Me too,” Andrew agrees, pushing Brandon’s hair back from his forehead. Andrew likes kneeling for him, Brandon’s sure of it, even if it never happens when Bolly’s not there. “He likes taking care of you however you’ll let him, I can tell.”

He opens his eyes slowly and says softly, “Hey, you—you like how we are, right? Me and you, and then, uh, me and you and him.”

Andrew grins and says, “I’m happy. Are you trying to define both relationships at once?”

“Maybe,” Brandon says. “Want to?”

“I can’t believe it’s taken you this long to try this, babe,” he laughs. “Come on. Me and you are, you know, us. And then with him, it’s different. It’s good.”

That about covers it, probably, but Brandon sits up a little. “And you’re happy?” he asks, just to check. “You don’t want anything to change?”

Andrew leans over to kiss him. “Are you trying to tell me something?” he teases. “Like, if you want to hit that, you’ve totally got my blessing. He’s head over heels for you, anyway.”

Brandon turns bright red despite his best efforts. Andrew just said so much, and he doesn’t know how to address any of it. “Are you joking?”

“No, totally serious. Fuckin’ get it, man, but you have to tell me everything after,” he says, grinning in that ‘I’m a little shit and you’re so into me,’ way of his.

“You and he—never—have you?” That isn’t exactly a real question, doesn’t have enough verbs, but Brandon trusts that Andrew will get what he means.

“Nah,” he shrugs, leaning back on the couch. “Thought about it, got close a couple times, but, uh.” He pauses. “I actually haven’t fucked anybody else since, like. November.”

Brandon sits up again. “What?

“Shut up,” Andrew says defensively, crossing his arms. “It doesn’t have to mean anything.”

He breaks into a huge, helpless grin and reaches for him, pressing him down into the couch and kissing him soundly. “Yes, it fucking does.

They didn’t quite finish their discussion, but Brandon is more than willing to put aside heavy, scary implications (what the fuck did he mean, head over heels?) in favor of focusing on ‘I’m pretty sure you’re my boyfriend now and I didn’t even have to ask’ celebratory sex.

There’s a time and place for everything.

- - -

He kind of can’t stop thinking about Bolly, though.

Like, it was just an offhand comment on Andrew’s part, just a joke, but, like. He keeps thinking about it. He gets a couple supremely awkward erections from snuggling Bolly while Andrew’s on his knees between them, and every time he jerks off he has to spend the entire time actively not thinking of Bolly and then his brain flashes to beard burn on his thighs when he comes, and then there’s the fucking handholding.

Handholding is not buddies.

But, like. Brandon’s never been a great flyer, planes have always put him a little on edge, and he’s only recently begun sitting with Bolly on a regular basis, and Andrew always holds his hand during takeoff, so it’s sort of instinct to wince, brace himself, and reach for the hand next to him.

It’s just that sometimes Bolly is next to him now, so it’s Bolly’s thick fingers laced through his, and, the first time it happened, Brandon was about to apologize and pull back when Bolly just squeezed his hand and said, “I’ve got you.”

It’s embarrassing how comforting it was.

So they like, hold hands now. And not just when the plane takes off, but like, through the whole flight, and when they sit together on the bus, and when they’re alone with Andrew, or when they’re at team fucking dinners and trying to be discreet under the table.

Brandon is not totally sure what he’s doing, but he is totally sure he’s fucked.

He talks about it with Andrew, because they’re in like, a relationship now, and that’s the kind of shit people in relationships do.

“It’s alright that I, like, hold hands with Bolly sometimes, right?” he asks one day, leaning on Andrew’s kitchen counter, like that isn’t weird and out of the blue and probably not alright at all.

Andrew bursts out laughing. “Yeah, babe, it’s fine,” he says, and comes over to kiss him. “Seriously, get it.”

“I’m not going to have sex with him,” Brandon tells him, because he really thinks that bears saying. It’s one (already weird and inappropriate) thing to jerk off thinking about fucking Bolly. It’s another thing to actually go for it. Sleeping with a teammate/mentor/friend who is also a teammate/mentor/friend to your teammate/friend/boyfriend is just a smidge too complicated for his taste, even on the off chance Bolly was into it, which he’s probably not.

“That’s disappointing,” muses Andrew, looping his arms around Brandon’s waist. “Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure,” Brandon confirms, smiling a little despite himself and rubbing Andrew’s back over his t-shirt.

And he is. Pretty sure, that is.

But he’s kind of getting more and more hopeful about it.

Like, there’s one day, Andrew’s sick enough to whine but not too sick to skip the road trip, and Brandon’s just super on edge about going up against the Ducks, and so Andrew is lying on his hotel bed and Brandon is pacing and Andrew just says, “Christ, just go find Bolly.”

Brandon stops pacing. “What?”

“You heard me,” Andrew says, sprawled out on the bed like the drama queen that he is. “You’re all tense and shit. Go snuggle with Bolly for a while.”

He thinks about arguing—like, he and Bolly have never done the whole mentoring thing when it’s just the two of them, not since that first time he knelt for like fifteen minutes and then freaked out.

Casual praise and inexplicable handholding is one thing. Knocking on Bolly’s door and saying, I need you to hug me until I feel better is kind of another.

“You’re thinking too loud and it’s making my headache worse,” whines Andrew. “Either stop or go do it somewhere else.”

Brandon sighs, comes over, drops a kiss to Andrew’s forehead. “Yeah, okay, I’m going. Feel better, babe.”

Andrew just swats at his thigh, which is really just uncalled for, given that Brandon is being all affectionate and shit, even if he is about to head out and cuddle a lot with another dude.

He grabs his room key and heads down the hallway, knocks on Bolly’s door.

“Heya, Manchild,” Bolly says, grinning easy and open.

“Hey,” Brandon says, walking in and then just standing there a little awkwardly. He really should have thought about what he was gonna do before he knocked. “Um, are you busy?”

Bolly makes a show of looking around the empty hotel room.

“Could, I, uh, stay with you for a bit?” he asks. He bites his lip, tries not to look nervous.

He watches understanding fall across Bolly’s face, and then Bolly reaches for his hand and pulls him into his arms, and Brandon just hugs him back and lets the tension fade.

Brandon only stares at Bolly’s mouth a little bit when he pulls back.

“Do you want to watch TV or something?” Bolly suggests, and he’s got one arm still around Brandon’s waist and the other hand resting just below his shoulder, and he’s running his thumb along his collarbone, for fuck’s sake.

“Yeah,” Brandon says, because ‘yeah’ is safer than ‘No TV, I want to suck your dick or something and my boyfriend’s totally down for it as long as I tell him about it later, you in?’

‘TV’ turns out to be an uncomfortably long Game of Thrones sex scene, and ‘watch’ turns out to be snuggle up on the fucking bed and try not to be too aware of how nice Bolly smells.

Everything is terrible and his life is the worst.

- - -

“Hey, babe, I’m gonna head over to Bolly’s for a bit,” Brandon says, shrugging a hoodie on. “You good to stay here, or?”

Andrew is currently very engrossed in beating Brandon’s (exceptional) best time on Rainbow Road. He grunts and sort of kicks his foot at him in response, presumably because his hands are busy and he’s not able to drift and talk at the same time.

God, but Brandon adores him. “Alright. I’ll text you when I’m heading back, okay?”

Andrew just kicks his foot out again, and Brandon’s still chuckling when he heads out the door.

The plan is just for Bolly to teach Brandon how to season chicken so he doesn’t want to die every time he has to eat chicken and pasta again. It’s not that big of a deal.

But he gets there, and Bolly smiles so big when he opens the door, and says real earnest, “Did you bring wine? You always bring the best wine,” and he takes Brandon’s ratty old Hawks hoodie and hangs it up in the front closet, and then he gives him a hug.

It’s a long hug, and a good hug, because Bolly is such a good hugger, and Brandon just sort of melts into it, hugs him back. They stand like that longer than they should, probably, and then Bolly lets go like nothing happened and says, “Dinner?”

So that’s that.

Brandon’s always been pretty at home in Bolly’s kitchen, so he takes it upon himself to make the salads.

Bolly, though, apparently thinks he needs supervising, and so he stands behind him while he’s chopping up vegetables, and Brandon is painfully aware of how close he is and then forgets how to do simple tasks, and then Bolly honest to God takes the knife from him and cuts up half the tomato while Brandon’s still in front of him, boxed between his arms and the counter.

Like, really. Really, Bollig. Really.

“When you don’t apply the pressure the right way, the tomato gets squished,” Bolly scolds gently, pressing the handle of the knife back into Brandon’s hand. “Do the rest of it.”

Brandon does the rest of it, and then just stands there for a moment. His hands are shaking when he reaches for the green onion. He’s not proud.

“You’re good at this,” Bolly says appreciatively while he watches Brandon dice.

“Green onions are literally the easiest things in the world to chop,” Brandon says, and his voice is only a little strangled.

Bolly laughs, and Brandon can feel it, feel him shaking a little against his back, and then for the briefest of moments he can feel Bolly’s lips on the side of his neck when he says, real soft, “Yeah, but. You’re kind of good at everything.”

Brandon turns around, and Bolly keeps his hands on the counter, and for a second, he thinks Bolly’s gonna do it, he’s gonna just fucking go for it, and his gaze jumps from his eyes to his mouth to his eyes again, and then Bolly steps back.

“Sorry,” he says.

“What, no, it’s—” Brandon says uselessly. “It’s fine. You’re fine. You could have—”

“Um, I’m going to check on the pasta,” Bolly interrupts, and then takes the four steps over to the stove. He stirs for a second and then looks back at Brandon hopelessly. “It’s good.”

“It’s good,” he echoes. “That’s…good.”

Brandon does not have high hopes for dinner conversation.

They finish cooking in near silence, except for when Brandon asks where the pepper is, even though he knows where the pepper is, and then Bolly points instead of answers, and Brandon doesn’t know if the awkwardness would be better or worse if they’d just fuckin’ made out.

“I’m sorry,” Brandon tries, once they’re sitting down. “I didn’t, uh.”

He stops there, which is probably good, given that he had no fucking idea where he was going with it.

He glances down at his plate, and, when he looks up, something of how embarrassed he is must show on his face, because Bolly kind of looks like he got punched in the gut, and not in the fun-adrenaline way, but more in a wounded-baby-animal kind of way.

“No, Bolly, everything’s fine, right?” he rushes to say, anything to get that look off his face. “I don’t—and you—I’m sorry?”

Brandon doesn’t know what he’s expecting, but it’s definitely not for Bolly to hook his foot around Brandon’s ankle and say, “The chicken came out really well.”

“Thanks,” Brandon says, and Bolly offers a smile.

There’s a long pause, where both of them just focus on eating for a moment, and then Bolly breaks the silence and says, a little abruptly, “You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

“What?” he asks, setting down his fork.

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Bolly says. “So you don’t have to apologize.”

Brandon smiles helplessly. “Oh,” he says, and sort of squeezes Bolly’s foot between his ankles, because what else can he fucking do. “Okay.”

When they clean up the dishes, they’re in perfect tandem again—Bolly washes, Brandon dries—and Bolly keeps chatting about their game against the Sabres the next night, and about the episodes of The Bachelor he needs to catch up on, and how he and Brandon and Andrew all need to go out soon and ‘show Chicago a good time.’

Brandon wants to show Bolly a good time. It’s becoming a problem.

He has to talk himself out of kissing him goodbye. It’s becoming a big problem.

When he gets back to his apartment that night, Andrew is still on the couch, glaring at the Mario Kart opening sequence.

“Couldn’t beat my score, huh,” Brandon says, and comes and sits beside him.

“I’m breaking up with you,” Andrew says, promptly snuggling into his side. “You’re better at me at video games and it’s bad for my street cred.”

Brandon laughs a little weakly and presses a kiss to the top of his head. “Hey, so. You know how you, uh. Me, and Bolly?”

“Did you do it?” Andrew asks, grinning and kissing his jaw. “Didn’t think you had it in you.”

“I didn’t,” he says immediately. “But I want to.”

I could get it in you,” Andrew suggests, waggling his eyebrows, and Brandon kisses the shit-eating grin off his lips.

They get distracted by that, a little bit, and, when they finally break apart, Andrew’s straddling Brandon’s lap. He tucks his head into his neck and sucks a bruise there, and Brandon brings a hand up to cup the back of his neck.

“Really, though,” he says, tilting his head back for him. “I think—I think you’re right, I think I want to. With Bolly.”

“You fuckin’ think,” Andrew laughs and bites down.

“It still doesn’t matter, though,” Brandon says. “Like, he doesn’t want to.”

Andrew pulls back and gives him the most unimpressed look Brandon’s ever seen. “Don’t be an idiot,” he says scornfully. “Of course he does.”

Brandon sighs. “I don’t know. Like, at his apartment today, I thought, for a second, but. He didn’t do anything, and then it was super weird, and I just. It’s not worth the risk, you know?”

Andrew pauses, brushes his thumb along Brandon’s lower lip. “You sure?”

“Yeah,” Brandon says. “I just… I gotta get over it, right? I can get over it.”

“You do have other sexual options,” Andrew agrees, and wiggles his hips. “Am I hotter than Bolly?”

Brandon grins and gives a long-suffering sigh. “You’ll have to do.”

They’re both laughing when he pulls him down into a kiss.

- - -

Brandon rapidly discovers that it’s really hard to get over Bolly.

Like, he thinks it’s gonna be so easy, just a matter of willpower, just push on through, but then Bolly is so funny, and he strokes Brandon’s knuckles really lightly with his thumb when they hold hands, and yesterday Brandon fell asleep with his head on Bolly’s lap while Andrew knelt before them, and just.

He keeps catching himself smiling helplessly at Bolly’s shitty jokes and they keep getting in dumb shoving matches at practice and one night they go out with the team after a fucking gorgeous win at home, and Bolly makes him laugh so hard he cries and holds his hand under the table the whole night and takes it upon himself to get him home.

They fall asleep in Brandon’s bed together, for fuck’s sake.

There’s only so much he can take.

They’re drinking wine straight from the bottle on Bollig’s balcony, passing it back and forth and letting the start of springtime surround them. It’s a little chilly, so Brandon’s borrowed a sweater, and they’re both sitting on the ground with a blanket over their legs.

It’s romantic as fuck, is what it is, and Brandon can’t stop staring at the way Bolly’s lips curve around the mouth of the bottle.

“I’m real glad we do this, Saader,” Bolly says, a little abrupt, a little slurred.

“Do what?” Brandon asks, and finds his hand under the blanket. He laces their fingers together.

Bolly is always very warm. It makes Brandon smile.

Bolly doesn’t answer, just turns to look at him dead-on, and there’s a smile playing on his lips, and he looks so soft and fond, and they’re blurry from the wine and from staying up too late, and so Brandon kisses him.

Bolly makes a soft, surprised noise, and his mouth opens a bit, and Brandon seizes the moment, draws his tongue along his lower lip.

He’s so still for a moment that Brandon’s afraid he’s done something wrong, that he’s done this all wrong, and then Bolly gets one of those huge, strong arms locked around his waist and tugs him half onto his lap, and he kisses him back, and it’s perfect, it’s perfect

Until Bolly throws him off and stands up.

Brandon lands hard on the ground and has to pick himself up, and all he can think to say is, “Uh?”

“We can’t do this,” Bolly says, immediate and flat and final.

“It’s—it’s okay, Bolly,” he rushes, stepping forward and reaching for his hand. Their fingers barely brush before Bolly’s jerking his arm away like he’s been burned. “I mean, me and you, it’s… It’s been a while coming, hasn’t it?”

They’re silent for a long moment. The city is moving around them, there’s wind and ambulances and music from the apartment below, but Brandon has never felt so still.

“No,” he finally says. “I think you misread me, Manchild.”

Brandon swallows. “I. I, um, misread.”

“We’re friends,” Bolly says, and he’s not meeting his eyes. “This is a bad idea.”

“I thought,” he says weakly, “that you…”

“I don’t,” Bollig cuts him off, and Brandon takes a breath.

He’s thoroughly humiliated and a lot more hurt than he would have anticipated, and he thinks briefly, and totally irrationally, that he should go find Bolly to make him feel better.

“Right,” he says softly. “I’m gonna go, I think.”

“Brandon,” Bolly tries, too quick and a little desperate, and he takes a step forward, and then he stops, pulls back again. “Yeah. You should.”

Brandon’s in the elevator when he realizes he’s still wearing Bolly’s jacket. He yanks it off like the fabric’s burning him, leaves it with the doorman. He walks home in the cold.

- - -

“He said he didn’t want to?” Andrew asks incredulously. “What the fuck, why wouldn’t he want to!”

“We don’t have to do this,” Brandon says dully. “I’m okay skipping this part.”

The indignation melts off Andrew’s face and is replaced with something softer, gentler. He comes and hugs Brandon, wrapping his arms around him, letting Brandon lean into it and take what he needs. “Hey, babe, I’m sorry,” he says quietly.

Brandon thinks there ought to be something a little wrong about having your boyfriend comfort you about being rejected by another guy, but. The only part of this bothering Andrew is that Brandon’s hurting, and so he takes a deep breath and then hugs him back.

- - -

Bolly slaps him on the back and greets him with a big smile in the locker room the next morning before their optional skate. Brandon thinks, a little wildly, that it’s not too late to skip.

Instead, he forces a smile and tries to act natural. He thinks he does alright.

He’s fucking terrible the next night, though. They scrape out a win in overtime, but Brandon sucked the whole game; his passes weren’t connecting, his shots on goal were nonexistent, and he just wasn’t anywhere he had to be.

He’s wound up in the locker room after; he’s usually pretty chill when talking to the media, but today he can’t help his clipped answers.

He tries to get out of there as soon as he can, but Bolly catches his wrist and says, real low, “Shawzy’s coming over after the game. Do you need me?”

Brandon tries not to look too wounded. Rejection happens. It stings and you move on. Bolly doesn’t have to want to make out with him.

All that being said—“No,” he says, and he knows how cold he sounds, and he isn’t even sorry.

“Right,” Bolly says, and drops his wrist.

Brandon is really, really sorry.

- - -

Not talking to Bolly is officially The Worst. Andrew keeps giving them significant looks that Brandon has no idea how to interpret and Brandon is spending all his time vaguely on edge.

Bolly tries, for a little while, extends invitations or offers small touches, and Brandon keeps flinching away without exactly meaning to, and he doesn’t blame Bolly when he stops trying.

Doesn’t blame him. Misses him.

A couple weeks go by. They play hockey. Brandon doesn’t hold anybody’s hand when the plane takes off, and he’s fine. It’s fine.

He’s lying in Andrew’s bed, with Andrew a little propped up on the pillows and Brandon with his head on his chest. Andrew’s playing with his hair, long fingers carding through again and again, and he says quietly, “I don’t like this. You’re sad.”

“So is he,” Brandon says, heart heavy, and Andrew sighs and presses a kiss to the top of his head.

The next morning, Andrew’s not in bed, which and of itself is not unusual, because it’s like eleven and he likes to get up before Brandon, but then Brandon gets up and wanders into the kitchen, and Andrew’s not there either, and when he calls his name, nobody answers.

He texts him. did u go on a breakfast hunt?

Andrew takes a lot longer to reply than usual, and so Brandon just sort of putters around the kitchen and makes himself some tea and waits for an answer.

He’s at my place. –Bolly

Brandon looks at his phone for a long, long time, and tentatively taps out, is he okay?

The reply’s faster this time, but Brandon’s still holding his breath waiting.

He’s fine. Guess he just missed me. And a picture, too, taken from above, of Andrew smiling up at the camera, a little sleepy, a little soft. His cheek is all red, presumably from where he was resting on Bolly’s thigh.

guess so, Brandon sends, instead of me too, and sets his phone aside.

He goes to shower. When he gets out, there’s no new texts, and he stands there in a towel in his boyfriend’s kitchen, and then makes a decision.

Half an hour later, he’s standing outside Bolly’s apartment with his hands shoved into his pockets and no idea what he’s gonna do when the door opens.

And then the door opens, and Bollig is standing there in a t-shirt that’s stretched a little too tight over his broad shoulders, and he’s all stubbly and handsome and shit, and he says, surprised, “Saader.”

“I’m really sorry,” Brandon says, because it seems like the thing to say.

Bolly steps back to let him inside. “Come in,” he says, and Brandon takes a step in, lets Bolly shut the door behind him. He gives him an expectant look, and Brandon scrambles to continue.

“I fucked up,” is what he finally settles on. “I fucked up when I—when I did what I did, and I was an asshole to you, and I miss you a lot, and I’m—I’m just really sorry, Bolly.”

“It’s okay,” Bolly starts to say, because of course he does, but now that Brandon’s started he can’t stop.

“It’s not okay,” he says. “I shouldn’t have—I shouldn’t have done—any of it. You’re right. We’re friends, just friends, but then I was a dick, and it wasn’t, uh, wasn’t buddies, and I want to be okay again, so just tell me what I can do to fix it.”

Bolly looks at him and huffs out a little laugh. “Wanna come play Super Smash with me and Shawzy?” he says.

Brandon can think of nothing he wants more.

When he follows Bolly back into the living room, Andrew’s sprawled out on the couch, and his face lights up. “Fuckin finally,” he says, and grins. “Come here, assholes.”

Brandon settles into the couch beside Andrew, lets him tuck himself under Brandon’s arm and snuggle up close. “Shoulda left a note,” Brandon chides quietly. “Don’t like waking up without you.”

“Sorry,” Andrew says, and kisses his jaw. “Were you worried about me?”

“Not ever,” he lies, and lightly butts their foreheads together.

Bolly tosses a controller onto each of their laps and sits down on the other end of the sofa. “Keep snuggling, boys,” he says, “Easier to beat you that way.” There’s something in his voice that isn’t quite right, this sort of forced lightness, and Brandon glances over at him.

Bolly smiles at him right off. It’s a little pinched, the sort of thing that Brandon doubts he himself would have been able to notice six months ago, but—but he notices now.

He smiles back, watches the tension in the quirk of Bolly’s lips fade away into something better, something real.

He knows better than to think letting Bolly win a round or two of Super Smash on his increasingly outdated GameCube will make them okay again, but, well.

It’s a start.

- - -

They’re…alright. Or something close to it, anyway, and, honestly, Brandon will take what he can get. If what he can get is a fraction of what he had, well, it’s his own goddamn fault.

Bolly still isn’t touching him.

But, like, Brandon took months of bro-touching and built it into something it wasn’t and then shoved his tongue down Bolly’s throat. Bolly had been—flirty, maybe, and Andrew had seen it too, but. Andrew sees it in everybody, and Brandon should have been more careful.

If friendly touching leads to unsolicited makeouts, he gets why Bolly would want to cut that shit out, especially once the week or so Brandon spent flinching away from him gets taken into account. It’s all a matter of negative reinforcement or whatever.

He’s fully aware he brought this upon himself, is what he’s getting at here.

But he and Bolly had built up this sort of casual intimacy, and, even now that they’re talking again, even if they can spend time together and make jokes together and sit by each other on airplanes and buses, he feels vaguely off-kilter without being able to count on Bolly’s hands.

Like, they’re cooking in Bolly’s apartment, and instead of bumping their hips together or reaching for his wrists and arranging him as he needs, Bolly is just… cooking, and dinner is delicious and perfectly seasoned and it is a nice evening but not a whole one.

(Andrew sits on the counter, announces himself the designated taste-tester. Brandon swears he only finds him so endearing because he gets his dick sucked, and he wonders what Bolly’s excuse is.)

Or they’re boarding the plane to California, and Brandon winces during takeoff, and digs his fingers into the armrest, and very resolutely looks out the window instead of at Bolly next to him.

(There’s turbulence midflight and it takes everything in him not to just break, reach for Bolly’s fingers and hold on until it passes. He catches Bolly staring at him but he still doesn’t do it, and the plane evens out.)

Or they’re out with the team, and, instead of slinging an arm around Brandon’s shoulders and tugging him to dance, Bolly spends the whole night talking to a busty redhead at the bar. He leaves with her, and Brandon tries not to think about it.

(Brandon can’t stop thinking about it.)

So it’s like that, mostly.

It’s almost okay but not quite, and Brandon isn’t about to start asking for anything. He’s already asked too much.

“I’m going to go over and hang out with Bolly after skate,” Andrew says, and when he says hang out with he means kneel for, and when he says after skate he means all day, and when he says ‘I’m going to’ he means ‘will you come?’

Brandon won’t.

He’s still been avoiding that part of their—relationship. Or whatever. It’s seemed overwhelming, it’s seemed like so much, and he’s anxious in the same way he was at the very start.

So it’s easier, he thinks, to avoid it, to kiss Andrew goodbye and smack his ass on the way out and pretend nothing ever happened at all.

For all that he’s trying to avoid it, it’s on his mind all day.

He’s absentmindedly flipping through channels, and he finds some college basketball game. He tries to settle and watch it, but—he wonders what they’re doing. He wonders what it would be like if he was there with him, if it’s any different than without him.

When it’s the three of them, they’re usually in the living room. The couches are big and comfortable, and Brandon can settle in close to Bolly, and they’d arrange Andrew in between them.

And they’d been in the kitchen, a few times. He’s watched Bolly carefully place a cushion on the tile, push Andrew down by the shoulders, draw a chair up for Brandon. He’d sit with his knees open and eyes half shut, get one hand curled around the back of Andrew’s neck and the other on Brandon’s thigh.

Brandon always wondered if Bolly knew how it made his mouth go dry.

He wonders if they’re in the kitchen or on the couch, wonders if they’re thinking of the places he’s not. Or they could be—in Bolly’s bedroom, maybe. He knows Andrew’s knelt in there before, but never when Brandon’s with them; he’s never so much been in the room.

He turns off the TV.

He wonders if they’re in there tonight. He wonders what color Bolly’s sheets are, and imagines they’re dark. It’s like he can see it—Bolly sitting on the edge of the bed. It’s getting warm, he could be in shorts, maybe, with Andrew’s cheek so close to the bare skin of his thigh, maybe even on it—

He thinks not for the first time about Bolly spreading his legs a little wider, letting Andrew get between them.

It’s easy to build from there, to picture Andrew unzipping Bolly’s jeans, nuzzling his thigh, swallowing his cock. He knows how Andrew gives head, knows the way he likes to mouth at Brandon through his boxers before he takes his dick out out, knows how expertly those lips stretch around a cock, knows how fucking dirty and satisfying it is to shut up the boy who never stops talking.

And he wants Bolly to know it, too.

Brandon wraps his hand around his own dick, lazy and unhurried. He’s half hard already but it’s not long before he’s fully focused on it, falling into the images of Andrew tucked between Bolly’s thighs.

He’s picturing Andrew’s familiar mouth on Bolly’s cock, Bolly’s familiar hands in Andrew’s hair, thinks about Andrew taking him in—

He works his hand around his cock, thinks of Bolly fucking Andrew’s mouth the way he likes it. He thinks of Bolly coming down his throat and wonders what he looks like; squeezes his hand around the base of his dick and imagines Bolly hauling Andrew up to the bed and pinning him down while he gets him off in return.

He thinks of Andrew coming over Bolly’s hand and his stomach, and he follows a moment after.

He has to take a second to catch his breath and then cleans himself up, tucks himself back into his sweats. He wants, wants in a way that’s indescribable and inconvenient, and, afterward, when he’s climbing into bed, he doesn’t feel guilty but thinks that he should.

Brandon’s half asleep when Andrew gets back.

It occurs to him, drowsy and sated, that Andrew’s spent every night they’ve been in Chicago with him for weeks. He wonders if Leddy’s noticed that Andrew’s basically moved in with Brandon. He wonders if Andrew’s noticed.

“He misses you,” Andrew tells him, not turning on the lights. Brandon can hear him undress, hears him toss his shirt in the direction of the hamper and miss, hears the clink of his belt buckle as he slides it off. When he gets into bed, he curls around Brandon like he knows he belongs there and kisses the back of his neck.

A long time passes, long enough that Andrew probably thinks he’s asleep. “I miss him too,” Brandon finally says, and it’s the first time he’s said it.

Andrew presses another kiss to his shoulder and squeezes Brandon close to his chest. He doesn’t say anything, but he really doesn’t have to.

- - -

Their whole thing is just so fucked up right now.

Like, Brandon’s constantly aware of Bolly, he can feel him looking, and sometimes Bolly reaches a hand out to touch him and then pulls his hand back. He notices every time, has to convince himself not to reach back.

He wants more than he can have. It’s on him to keep that in check.

It’s April. There are seven games left.

They shut the Blues out in St. Louis and Bolly throws an arm over Brandon’s shoulders in the visitor’s locker room, possessive and easy, and hauls him in close. Brandon freezes.

It’s the first time they’ve touched like this in a few weeks now, the first time he’s been so close to him since—since he kissed him.

Bolly keeps him there for a moment, and then seems to notice how tense Brandon is, and he drops his arm.

“Sorry,” he says. “Forgot.”

Brandon opens his mouth to say something, and discovers that he has nothing to say. He watches Bolly walk away.

“What was that?” Andrew asks him, approaching him a few minutes later.

Brandon shrugs.

It just—keeps going like that. Either Bolly isn’t trying, and Brandon doesn’t blame him, or Bolly tries and Brandon panics and Bolly backs away and Brandon still doesn’t blame him.

He’s trying not to think about it.

He’s focusing on the playoffs.

That’s how he’s justifying it, at least, when he tells Bolly he can’t meet him for dinner because he’s going to work out, or watch tape, or get some sleep and rest up. It’s how he justifies it when he’s distant, even snappish, when Bolly asks him to come over and watch a movie. It’s how he justifies it when he meets Bolly’s eyes and looks away without a word.

He’s focusing on the playoffs.

He can’t focus on missing him, or wanting him, or how badly he has and continues to fuck everything up, because he’s focusing on the playoffs.

That’s what he tells Andrew, one day, when he’s pacing the living room. He can tell he’s filling the space up with nervous energy, knows damn well that he’s shaking out of his skin and that Andrew can feel it too, but, when Andrew says, quiet and sad in a way Brandon can’t quite place, “You really should go see Bolly,” Brandon can’t fucking deal with it.

“I’m okay,” he says, and forces himself to sit down on the couch beside him. If his leg is bouncing, well, what of it.

Andrew leans over, puts his palm on his knee, stills him. “You aren’t,” he says. “Babe, I need you to take care of yourself. So let him take care of you.”

Brandon looks up at him. “I’m fine,” he repeats, and his voice only wavers a little. “Just—we’ve got a skate tomorrow. I’ll be okay after I get on the ice.”

He looks hesitant, and he runs his hand up Brandon’s knee to his thigh and back down again, just a soothing touch, a reminder that he’s there. Brandon appreciates it, even if he can’t say so. “I don’t know,” Andrew says. “It’s optional. Maybe we should take the day. I could call him—”

“Don’t,” Brandon says, because what else is there to say? “Please, don’t. Just—just let me play hockey, Andy, please. I’m okay.”

Andrew doesn’t believe him, he can tell, but he doesn’t say no, either, just takes Brandon’s hand and raises it to press a kiss to his palm. “Okay,” he says softly, and squeezes his hand. “I trust you.”

It’s good to know one of them does.

And it’s true—he could probably benefit from not-quite-kneeling for Bolly, because he’s been off balance without him, but he still feels a little off when he’s with him, too, constantly and painfully aware of how much he’s fucked up and, worse, how much he still wants him, and it’s just. It’s easier to keep his distance.

He is focusing on hockey. He has to.

Because he can feel it down to his fucking bones, can feel good things coming, can tell it’s going to happen. Brandon’s never been the most superstitious, necessarily, but even he knows not to tempt fate by voicing it—

Even so. It’s there. It’s in his reach, it’s so close, they’ve just got to get through the Wild, and then he can keep thinking, keep hoping.

They beat the Wild in five.

Brandon tries not to hope too hard.

- - -

He fucking hates Detroit.

There’s really nothing else to say.

He hates the team. He hates the arena. He hates the street on the way to the hotel. He hates that he hasn’t scored and he hates that they got shut out and he fucking hates that they’re fucking down three fucking one in this fucking series.

He hates that Andrew’s angry. He can see his hands shaking with it, and he says, very quietly, “I’m going to shower.”

“Okay,” Andrew says, and he’s so still but for the tremor in his hands. Brandon knows that look, knows it’s the calm before the storm.

“Do you want to join me?” he asks, and strips his shirt off. He thinks it might be reassuring, maybe, to have that closeness. He’s furious, with himself and his team and the entire goddamn state of Michigan, and all he wants to do is wash the series off of him, leave it in this hotel room and never come back to it.

He wants all of that, doesn’t say any of it. Watches Andrew understand anyway.

Andrew stands, peels his own shirt off, and walks into the bathroom without saying anything. They shower in silence, and, for all that Brandon scrubs at his skin, he still feels unclean when he gets out.

They dress again, in sweats and tshirts, and Brandon can tell Andrew feels as trapped in the room as he does.

“Let’s go,” he says suddenly, standing up and tugging on his shoes.

“Where,” Andrew says dully.

“Bolly,” Brandon tells him, and checks to make sure he’s got his key.

Andrew looks up at him then, gaze sharp and cold, and says, “Fuck you.”

“I’m going,” he says, turning back to look at him. “Are you coming?”

“Fuck you,” Andrew repeats, and Brandon crosses the room to him, leans over the bed. He grips Andrew by the hair, tugging his head back, demanding his gaze.

“You played like shit,” he says, and it’s frustrated and mean and true, and he watches Andrew deflate, watches some of the tension leave his shoulders.

“So did you,” he retorts, and Brandon loosens his grip, smooths down his wet hair.

“I know,” Brandon says, and he feels weary. “Are you coming?”

There’s a long silence, and then Andrew stands up. He holds Brandon’s hand so tightly on the walk down the hallway he thinks his fingers might break.

Brandon doesn’t let go of Andrew’s hand when he knocks. Bolly opens the door, and he looks tired and beaten but not at all surprised.

“I was going to come to you,” he said. “Thought you might need me.”

Andrew snaps, “I don’t,” but he does, and so does Brandon, and so Brandon steps into the room.

They’re both losing control here, but it’s different—Andrew gets reckless, angry. He needs Bolly to push him down, keep him there, make him be still. He gets caught up in it, stuck in it, whereas Brandon is just… detached. He feels like he’s a minute away from shattering.

“I do,” he says, a little weakly.

Bolly pauses, shuts the door. “Saader,” he says slowly, cautiously.

“I do,” Brandon says again, and takes a deep breath. “I need it.” He’s staring at the carpeting instead of at Bolly’s face.

Bolly puts his hand on his shoulder and Saader just crumples into it, drops to his knees, like it’s easy instead of the hardest thing he’s done in—well, only hours. It’s the hardest thing he’s done since leaving the ice to a stadium full of cheers for another fucking team.

Brandon keeps his head down, and Bolly runs the hand on his shoulder up to his neck, gentle and light. “Are you sure?” he asks instead of arguing, and drags his fingertips up his neck and along the shell of his ear.

Brandon looks up at him and nods. It feels right for the first time, and something of that must show on his face, because Bolly nods, cards his fingers through his hair, and then turns to Andrew.

Andrew looks not unlike a cornered animal, a little wild around the eyes, and Bolly says, “C’mere, Shawzy, it’s gonna be alright.”

Brandon raises his head to watch Bolly approach Andrew and wrap his hand around his wrist. He can see his thumb moving, just barely, rubbing circles along his pulse point, and Andrew yanks his wrist away.

“You did good out there,” Bolly tells him, and Brandon winces when he hears it—it’s true, in Andy’s case, he played so fucking hard, but he knows him, knows he’ll hear it like pity.

“Bullshit,” Andrew spits, like Brandon knew he would. “Don’t fuckin’ lie to me.”

Brandon cringes hearing the anger in his voice, so tightly wound and building up, but Bolly doesn’t sound surprised. “Go stand by Saader.”

Andrew doesn’t move.

"Stand by Saader," Bolly repeats, but Andrew stays in place, shifts on his feet and comes out of it standing firmer.

"I don't need this," Andrew says, slow, deliberate, designed to hurt. Brandon hears 'I don't need you,' and he wonders if Bolly does too.

“You not gonna let me do this?” Bolly asks. “Fucking go, then. I’m not stopping you.”

Brandon knows Andrew could walk out that door right now if he wanted to, and Bolly does too. Andrew's staying because he wants to, just isn’t ready to say so yet, and he takes a deep, shuddering breath before dropping his arms to his side. Brandon watches his fists clench and unclench, the tendons in his wrist tighten then relax.

“Go stand by Saader or I’ll put you there,” Bolly says, and Brandon doesn't know when the order ends and the warning begins.

“Fuck you,” Andrew spits, and Bolly grabs him by the upper arm, yanks him in closer.

“You need this, Mutt?” Bolly says, and Brandon can barely hear him. Andrew doesn’t speak, just glares—for all that he’s constantly running his mouth, Brandon’s found that when he’s the angriest he gets silent. “If you need this, you have to let me give it to you.”

Andrew shoves his hand off, and then grabs him by the collar, hauls him in.

Bolly barks out a harsh little laugh. “You wanna hit me?” he taunts. “That what you want?”

"Maybe I do," Andrew snarls, hands fisted in Bolly's shirt.

Brandon hears more than sees Bolly's smirk when he says, "Fuckin' dare you."

For a second, Brandon thinks he’s going to do it, thinks Andrew’s going to take a swing at him. Instead, Andrew freezes for a moment, still clutching Bolly's shirt. Brandon would bet anything his hands are shaking.

He lets go of Bolly, drops his hand to his sides and his gaze to the floor. He doesn't speak, but Brandon doubts he has to.

Andrew is still standing, but Bolly takes the submission for what it is. He tugs his head back up with a hand fisted in his hair. “Kneel, Andrew,” he says, authoritative, commanding.

Andrew kneels.

Bolly sits down on the bed and curls his hand around Brandon’s neck. Andrew’s still distanced, a bit, and Bolly lets him be for the moment, instead focusing on rubbing some of the tension out of Brandon.

“You know we’re going to be alright,” Bolly says softly, and Brandon looks up at him. He’s not sure if Bolly’s saying it solely for their benefit or if he really means it. “We aren’t out of this yet.”

Brandon takes a deep breath and leans his head on Bolly’s thigh, closing his eyes.

Andrew moves closer when he’s ready; Brandon can hear him shuffling a bit on his knees so he can settle against Bolly’s other leg.

Brandon breathes, slow and easy. He keeps his eyes shut, focusing on the murmur of the air conditioner and the press of Bolly’s hand on his neck and upper back.

It’s quiet like that for a long, long time, and Brandon’s feeling something like settled when Bolly says, “Up.” Andrew startles and Bolly hastens to add, “Not you. Just Saader.”

Brandon stands slowly. He feels a bit lightheaded, and vaguely overwhelmed, but it isn’t the same all-consuming state of near-panic he’d been in when he walked in. He feels—better. Exhausted, maybe, but better.

“Come here,” Bolly says, and Brandon sits down beside him. Bolly wraps his arm around his shoulder and squeezes, just briefly. “You gonna be alright?”

“Yeah,” Brandon says, and leans into the touch.

Andrew takes longer to settle, and Brandon just rests on Bolly’s shoulder in a sort of drowsy half-awareness while Bolly rubs circles on his back with one hand and cards his fingers through Andrew’s hair with the other.

“Shawzy,” Bolly finally says, and Brandon watches him tug on Andrew’s shirt. “Come here.” Bolly scoots back on the bed and tugs Brandon along with him. Brandon’s feeling pliant and worn out, so he goes easily, and when Bolly leans back against the pillows, Brandon just settles into his side.

Andrew climbs up on the bed and stretches out on Bolly’s other side, hooks a leg over Bolly’s and then reaches for Brandon’s hand, lacing their fingers together over Bolly’s stomach.

“We’re gonna fuckin’ kill them,” Andrew murmurs, and falls asleep with his face pressed into Bolly’s shoulder.

- - -

Two days later, they fuckin’ kill them.

Andrew scores twice in game five, once in the second and once in the third, and they win four to one. Jonny tries, very briefly, to warn them that they can’t lose focus, that they’re still hanging on a thread, but then they win again the next game. It’s closer this time, four three, but they still win, and then it’s game seven.

Seabs scores in OT.

They’re moving on.

They don’t have time for a ton of celebrating, given that they play the Kings in two day’s time, but Brandon still invites Bolly over after the game.

“What, you need me?” Bolly asks, surprised, but Brandon shakes his head.

“Just want you,” he says, and offers a hopeful little smile.

Bolly smiles back, and follows them home.

They fall asleep together again that night, this time with Andrew nestled in between Brandon and Bolly.

Brandon wakes up the day before game one against the Kings with Bolly’s hand gripping his hip possessively and Andrew tucked between their bodies. He spares a glance at the clock, decides he’s got time, and presses in a little closer to go back to sleep.

- - -

They beat the Kings in five, and Bolly keeps spending the night.

- - -

Several things happen in rapid succession: they win the Stanley Cup, Andrew dances on at least one table at every bar they find themselves at, and Brandon very nearly gets off with Bolly in the bathroom of a club that looks like hasn’t been cleaned since the last time the Hawks won the Cup.

The first thing happens because of dedication, hard work, and a dash of luck from the hockey gods.

The second thing happens because Andrew likes to dance when he’s drunk, and Brandon suspects the mustache makes him less classy anyway.

The third thing happens—well, Brandon doesn’t really know why the third thing happens. Alcohol, probably, and elation from the first thing, and, at least on Brandon’s part, several months of built up sexual tension.

Except it isn’t Brandon who starts it—everyone’s dancing, and cheering, and Bolly yells over the crowd, “Follow me!” Brandon can barely hear him over the music and the people, actually, even when he’s shouting in his ear, but he watches the way his mouth curves around the words and, well, he follows.

He thinks they’re going to the bar, actually, maybe for another round of shots that someone else will buy for them, but instead Bolly leads him to the back, and sort of manhandles him into the bathroom. Brandon’s always been kind of a happy drunk to start with, and all the beer plus the shots plus the champagne he drank out of the fucking Stanley Cup have all joined forces to make him all pliant and easy for Bolly.

“What are you—” Brandon starts to ask, laughing, until Bolly shuts him up. With his mouth.


Brandon makes a pleased, eager noise and kisses back immediately, letting Bolly shove him up against the sink and fuck his tongue into his mouth. He wraps his arms around his neck and grinds his hips up against him, sloppy and demanding.

Bolly kisses like he wants to fucking wreck him, harsh and unstoppable, and Brandon can’t get enough of it. He tastes like tequila and beer, which is gross, but he’s so warm and big pressed up against him that Brandon can’t fault him anything.

He can still hear how loud it is outside, but it’s muffled in here, and the little grunt Bolly makes as he drops his hands to Brandon’s ass is—well, pretty much all consuming. Brandon slots his thigh in between Bolly’s and relishes in the noise he makes.

“Bolly,” he manages when Bolly shoves a hand between them, yanks the button of his jeans open. “Holy shit, Bolly—”

He grins at him and works a hand into his boxers.

Brandon jerks his hips up and his head falls back, but when Bolly gets his hand around his dick, he has to pull himself together enough to bat it away. “Hey, hold on,” he says, and it is the hardest decision he’s ever made.

Bolly moves his hand away, but he’s still got him all pressed up against the sink. “Yeah?”

“Not here, alright?” he says, even as he palms Bolly’s dick through his jeans. “There’s—so many people. Tonight. Come home with me.”

Bolly just stares at him, eyes dark and mouth open. It’s a good look on him, and Brandon has to pull him into another kiss.

“Yeah?” Brandon says when they part, holding him close.

“Yeah,” Bolly echoes, and gives him one more kiss. “Yeah.”

He leaves the bathroom first, and tells Brandon to wait before he follows him out. It’s probably for the best, Brandon thinks when he sees himself in the mirror, because he looks fucking wrecked. He’s shaved already, but Bolly hasn’t, and his mouth is raw and red.

He likes it.

He sees Bolly talking to Andrew, later, but the crush of people makes it nearly impossible to cross the club and get to them, and by the time he finds them again, Bolly’s not around.

“Where’d Bolly go?” he yells in Andrew’s ear.

“Said he was heading home!” Andrew yells back, and that’s—startling, maybe, but it’s alright, and Brandon nods.

“Dance with me?” he asks, and Andrew nods and grins. Brandon still thinks he’s hot with the mustache. That’s probably as close to true love as anyone could get.

His mind’s on Bolly, though, and it’s not much longer before he goes home too, with Andrew promising he’ll be there before too long. He’s half-hoping Bolly will be waiting for him, but, well, he’s not.

Brandon texts him in the morning (or, technically, late afternoon), once he’s slept enough that the hangover has been downgraded from serial murderous to standard murderous. you forget to come over? He means it to be light, teasing, but when he presses send he worries it’s anything but.

All he gets back is a single question mark.

we had plans, he decides to say.

Sorry lol. I don’t remember anything after the second club.

Brandon stares at it for a long time, and suddenly feels the need to be sick.

- - -

They’re all about to split for the summer, and Brandon is spending most of his time loitering in Bolly’s apartment, trying not to think about how hard it’s going to be to fall asleep alone in Pittsburgh. He and Andrew have plans after the convention, but he’s expecting a quiet summer up until then.

Andrew never lets Brandon have what he expects.

Bolly’s on his couch, and so is Brandon, sitting sideways with his feet in Bolly’s lap. (Bolly had, in pure Bolly fashion, made fun of him for a moment and then started giving him a foot rub. What a guy.)

Andrew’s perched on an armchair, looking at both of them. “You’re both weird and sad,” he announces, and looks between them. “And I for one am bored of it.”

Brandon casts a look at Bolly to find him looking right back. “I’m not sad,” Brandon tries, and he’s not, necessarily, just sort of jumbled up, but Andrew cuts him off.

“You guys were gonna fuck the night we won the Cup, yeah?” It’s a shock to hear it, laid out so plain that way, and Andrew’s so matter of fact about it that it catches Brandon off guard in more ways than one.

Brandon chokes and Bolly splutters. “Shit, Andy, I’m so sorry, I was so drunk—” Bolly starts.

“You remember?” Brandon demands, pulling his knees up and then swinging his legs off the couch, sitting straight again. “You said you blacked out—”

“I figured it was better than, you know, cheating with you,” Bolly says, and he looks genuinely remorseful. “Helping you cheat. You cheating on Shawzy. With me.”

“He told me I could!” he protests. If he can trace all this juvenile angst back to not plainly communicating his boyfriend’s stance on their banging, he’s going to be soembarrassed. “He’s been trying to hook us up longer than I’ve been trying to hook us up!”

Bolly looks taken aback, and looks from Brandon to Andrew and back again. “What?”

Andrew gives an exasperated sigh. “This is why I had to step in. I can’t believe I’m the most aware one here. You guys should be ashamed, what have you been doing?” Brandon… can’t really answer that, but Andrew handles it when he barrels on, “Dancing around each other like idiots, that’s what.”

“What is happening here,” Bolly says slowly.

“Look, Bolly, I want you,” Andrew tells him, honest and open. “I want you both. I want the three of us to be together, and I want it all the time.”

Brandon’s pretty stunned. “I thought you just, uh. Wanted me to get him out of my system, you know?” he says weakly. “And, um, hear about it.”

Andrew laughs. “Hell, no. I’m too selfish to let you have him to yourself.” He sends Bolly that wild, mischievous grin of his, and Brandon manages to laugh, but Bolly still looks a little struck.

“I don’t… understand,” he says finally. “You guys are dating.”

“Yeah,” Andrew agrees. “And I want you to be part of it.”

“But—Saader,” Bolly starts, and Andrew rolls his eyes.

“He’s already half in love with you, man.”

“That’s—I never said that,” Brandon says, even if it’s true.

“Like you had to,” he argues. “You look at him like you look at me.

“Who said I’m in love with you?” Brandon protests, and then when both Bolly and Andrew give him incredulous looks, he’s forced to acquiesce, “Yeah, okay. That’s, um, fair.”

“I’m not saying either of you have to, like, decide right now that we’re gonna get like, triple gay married someday,” Andrew says, and Bolly cracks a little grin. It’s small, but its presence is reassuring. “I just… this is what I want. And I thought I should lay it out there.”

Brandon takes a deep breath and looks down at the ground.

“And it’s—I mean, it’s kind of what we’ve been doing anyway for a while now, right?” Andrew adds. “The three of us. We work.”

“We do,” Bolly says, and he still sounds pretty dazed, but Brandon supposes Andrew did just drop a bomb on them. He’s pretty shell-shocked, and he’s been half-aware that Shawzy’s into both of them for ages.

(Now that he thinks about it, he really should have seen this coming.)

“And I like you,” Andrew says, and leans forward so he can nudge Bolly’s knee with his knuckles. “And Brandon likes you.”

“I like both of you,” Bolly says quietly, and glances at Andrew.

“Just take some time to think about it, okay?” Andrew says gently, and stands up.

He walks over to Brandon to give him a kiss, and then pauses in front of Bolly, standing in the space between his spread knees. Bolly tilts his head up, and Andrew smiles, leans down, and presses a soft kiss to his lips.

“I’m gonna head out,” he says, and runs his thumb along Bolly’s lower lip. He cups his jaw in his hand, and Bolly’s eyes are locked on him, even as Andrew turns to glance at Brandon. “Are you coming?”

Brandon’s as transfixed on Andrew’s fingertips on Bolly’s jaw as Bolly is. “Sorry, what?”

“Are you coming?” Andrew repeats, a laugh playing at his lips, and he steps back from Bolly.

“Yeah, okay,” he says, and stands up. Bolly is still bordering on speechless, apparently, but he catches Brandon’s wrist in his hand, drags his grip down to lace their fingers together, and squeezes briefly.

Brandon squeezes back.

- - -

It’s Brandon’s idea to table the conversation until the convention. They’re all about to leave town for a few weeks, and it just seems easiest for each of them to think it over on their own time, on their home ground.

Andrew agrees, because he doesn’t want to push, and Bolly agrees because, well, because he’s agreeable, Brandon supposes.

So they agree to hold off on it, and it feels—well, it feels actually normal between them, for the first time in a long time.

There isn’t really much of a will they-won’t they hanging over them—every now and then, Brandon catches Bolly looking at him, or at Andrew, with this soft, quiet fondness, and he knows exactly what his answer is going to be.

It’s not demanding. Instead of the tension that’s been building up, it’s just this patient sort of calm. Soon, he thinks, when Andrew keeps stealing tastes of the soup Bolly’s cooking, when Bolly shuffles out of his bedroom to make them all tea. Soon.

There’s been tension Brandon’s been holding into for so long that he’s a little surprised to find it gone. It’s lighter between them now. Simpler.

He kisses Andrew good morning and can feel Bolly’s gaze on them, makes eye contact and smiles. He squeezes Bolly’s hip when he passes him, and Bolly laughs and swats at him with a free hand. Being with the two of them is easy, so easy. They might not be quite ready to dive into it headfirst, but—soon.

Brandon’s flight is the first one out, and Bolly and Andrew go with him to the airport even if he insisted they didn’t have to. He hugs both of them for too long, and Andrew pretends that he’s not tearing up even though Brandon definitely heard him sniffle.

“I’ll see you in like three weeks, dumbass,” Brandon says, and shoves his shoulder, but he’s feeling it too, a tightness in his chest from this weird sense of like, missing him in advance.

“Shut up, you’re the dumbass,” Andrew says, and shoves back. “I love you.”

Brandon knows better than to kiss him in O’Hare, but it’s tempting for a minute. He tugs him into another hug and then squeezes Bolly’s hand, real brief. “I’ll see you both soon, okay?”

It takes approximately four days in Pittsburgh for Brandon to decide that ‘let’s wait until the convention to decide anything’ is the worst idea he’s ever had, and he books a flight to St. Louis.

He calls Andrew in something that is definitely not a panic.

“Miss me already, babe?” Andrew teases when he pick sup the phone, sleazy and affectionate.

“I just bought a plane ticket to St. Louis,” Brandon says, staring at his suitcase, open on his bed, only barely unpacked from the trip from Chicago. “I—I gotta go see Bolly.”

Andrew bursts out laughing. “Are you for real? Oh my god, Brandon.”

“Shut up,” Brandon says, and runs a hand through his hair. “What do I pack that says ‘I want to date/fuck you with my boyfriend’? Is there like, a dress code for this?”

“Whipped cream bikini?” he suggests. “You’d have to shave your chest.”

“I don’t know why I thought you would be helpful,” Brandon says.

Andrew just laughs at him, the horrible brat. “Good luck, babe,” he says. “Go get him. You know he’s just waiting on you.”

“You wanna come too?” Brandon asks.

“Fuck no,” he says promptly. “You couldn’t pay me to go to Missouri. Unless, you know, you’re the Blackhawks organization, in which case you could. And do.”

He laughs and says, a bit softer, “Hey. Love you.”

He can practically hear Andrew beaming over the phone. “I love you too,” he says. “You guys better come up here after, though. I don’t want all the new-boyfriend sex to get used up without me.”

Brandon bursts out laughing. “I’ll try and save some for you,” he promises.

- - -

The flight is the longest hour and forty minutes he’s ever spent on a plane. Or anywhere else, probably.

He has the middle seat, which he hates, and the man in the window seat is snoring, which, who sleeps soundly enough to snore on a flight that’s less than two hours in the middle of the afternoon, and the woman in the aisle has been chattering to him about her grandchildren despite the fact that he hasn’t spoken to her, literally at all, the entire flight. The person in front of him has their seat leaned all the way back with no regard for the fact that Brandon’s legs are too long for the space as is, and, judging by the screams, there is apparently a child being tortured a few rows back.

Brandon really should have either bought a seat in first class or remembered to pack his headphones. Ideally, both.

Sadly, though, he didn’t do either, and now he’s sitting on a plane sandwiched between a snorer and a talker, and as sweet as this old lady is about her grandchildren (and it’s very), he does not care at all.

Planes are stressful enough for him as a general rule, and now, with Bolly waiting when he lands—it’s just a lot. He’s on edge, his knee bouncing in place, and his hands digging into his arm rests.

He’d been so sure about this when he’d been packing up his duffel, but he’d started doubting the decision when the plane took off, and now, getting off the plane somewhat dully, faced with Terminal 2, Gate E16 of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, he’s starts to doubt every decision he’s ever made in his entire life.

There’s a couple kissing by baggage claim. He thinks, very briefly, that they’re mocking him.

He manages to talk himself down from it, though, as he heads to the rental car booths. He texts Andrew, too, just to say he landed safe. Andrew sends back a string of emojis that tell a very explicit story surprisingly well for the medium.

Brandon doesn’t dignify it with an answer.

Andrew sends him another text maybe ten minutes later, for real tho, get it babe.

He smiles at his phone, tucks it into his pocket, and is out of the airport in a reasonably priced mid-size sedan fifteen minutes later. He’s gonna go see Bolly. He’s gonna see Bolly in like twenty minutes. He’s gonna grab him and kiss him and give a huge declaration of love and it’s gonna be awesome, and hella fucking romantic.

There’s traffic on I-70.

Of course there is.

He spends an hour sitting on the road, drumming his fingers on the wheel, and hating himself for picking a flight that landed just before rush hour on a Friday. None of this was a good idea.

He finally, finally makes it off the highway and to Bolly’s house. He’s never actually been here before, but it’s a nice house. Brick walls, blue door. It’s a little smaller than he expected, with a big, well-kept yard, and he takes a deep breath and gets out of the car.

He knocks on the door and waits on the step. There’s no answer for a long time, longer than he expected, and he thinks, a little wildly, that he came all this way and Bolly’s not even there.

That’s a sign, probably.

He sits down on the stoop, looks at his phone, and waits.

Two hours later, Bolly pulls into the driveway, and Brandon perks up.

“Saader—” Bolly starts, breaking into this huge, gorgeous grin. “What are you—?”

Brandon has run through his big, eloquent, let’s be together speech at least ten times. He had it perfect. It was gonna make Bolly cry.

He promptly forgets all of it, and blurts, “I love you.”

Bolly looks a little stunned, and he steps up to him, offers his hand to help him up. Brandon stands up, but he doesn’t let go of his hand.

“I love you,” he repeats. “And I want—I want to be with you, and Andy. I want it, Bolly, I’m in, are—are you in?”

Bolly just looks at him, still with that look on his face, and then laughs, gets his hands on his hips and tugs him inside. “I’m in, babe,” he says, and pulls him into a kiss.

Brandon drops his bag and kisses him back.

- - -

They spend a lot of time kissing in his entryway. Like, a lot.

Brandon starts yawning mid-kiss, though, and Bolly pulls back. “Should I be offended?” he asks, laughing, and Brandon blushes.

“No, I’m sorry, it’s just—long day,” he says sheepishly.

Bolly grins and gives him another kiss. “I’m sure you’re hungry.”

Brandon’s about to deny it, because it’s impolite to show up uninvited and then demand food, probably, but his stomach rumbles as if on cue, and Bolly starts laughing at him.

“I’ll make you dinner,” he says, and ducks his head, presses a kiss to his neck. “Anything you want.”

“Anything you’ve got,” he answers.

Bolly huffs out a laugh. Brandon can feel it on his neck, and he swats at his shoulder lightly. “Want to make pizza with me?” he asks. “We can eat it in bed.”

Brandon really only hears pizza and bed, and he likes both of those words a lot, especially when in the context of sharing them with Bolly.

He lets Bolly deal with the dough, and the sauce, and the cheese, and the meat, and mostly just all of it, really, but he digs through the fridge looking for other stuff to put on it.

“Do you have pineapple?” he asks, moving a gallon of milk to investigate.

“Yeah, maybe. Do you want to make a fruit salad?” Bolly asks.

“No, I wanna put it on the pizza,” Brandon says like it’s obvious, which it is, and he hears a clatter from the other side of the kitchen. When he looks over his shoulder, he finds Bolly staring at him, with nothing in his hands, “Did you just drop something?”

“You want pineapple on this pizza,” he says slowly.

Brandon straightens up, shuts the fridge. “Yeah,” he says. “Why?”

“You want pineapple on this pizza,” he repeats. “Brandon, I’m sorry, but maybe this boyfriend thing is a mistake.”

Brandon has a brief moment of legitimate panic before he bursts out laughing. “Babe, we only have to put it on half.”

“You’re a heathen. We’re not putting it anywhere. We’re putting it up your butt.”

Apparently, Bollig has the sense of humor of a ten year old.

Brandon… knew that already.

He grins and saunters over, grabs his ass. “We’re not putting anything in my butt.” Some jokes must be made, and when Bolly gets all red and flustered, Brandon just gives his ass a quick squeeze and then a smack. “Get back to dinner,” he says. “I’m gonna find the pineapple.”

Bolly looks a little stunned. Brandon is really excited for the rest of the evening.

- - -

They don’t fuck that night, though. They eat their (pineapple!) pizza in bed and then they snuggle a lot and Bolly presses a kiss to his forehead once they’re lying down. “I’m glad you came,” he mumbles, and Brandon makes a quiet, pleased noise.

He falls asleep pretty quickly, because it’s been a very emotional day, and traveling can be exhausting, okay, and he’s allowed to be tired. Bolly is warm and nice and Brandon is very pleasantly full of pizza, and the bed is really comfortable, and—it’s reasonable that he fell asleep, that’s all.

They fell asleep holding hands, but wake up pressed together, legs all tangled up and faces so, so close.

Brandon’s first and Bolly follows, blinking at him sleepily, and his mouth is barely inches away, and it’s simple, so simple, just to close the distance between them, press their lips together in a soft, slow kiss.

Bolly’s mouth opens easily for Brandon’s tongue, and it’s warm and soft and sleepy, until Bolly makes a pleased noise and rolls his hips up against Brandon’s.

Brandon brings a hand up to grip Bolly’s neck and one of Bolly’s hand slides down to Brandon’s ass and his fingers dig in, and suddenly it’s not quite so soft; there’s a new sense of urgency that borders on desperation, and Brandon kisses him harder for it.

He rolls so Bolly’s on his back and Brandon’s straddling him, rocking his hips down to meet Bolly’s.

“Thought about this,” he says, voice low and still a little rough from sleep, and he presses kisses down Bolly’s neck. “Wanted this.” Bolly tilts his head back for him, and Brandon takes the opportunity to bite at his throat.

Bolly jerks his hips up and startles a moan out of Brandon, and the little chuckle he lets out is fucking everything. “God, me too, babe,” he promises, curling his fingers into Brandon’s hair and pulling, just briefly. “Kiss me.”

Brandon isn’t exactly going to say no to that, is he, and he claims his mouth again, kissing him dirty and fast. He grinds his dick down against Bolly’s just to hear him groan, and then sits up on his lap.

They’ve barely started and Bolly already looks ruined. He’s all broad chest and tan skin and flushed cheeks, and Brandon wants to wreck him, cover him with bruises and kisses in turns, and he fumbles with Bolly’s sweatpants.

HIs cock bobs against his stomach once Brandon’s shoved his sweats down his thighs. It’s thick and red and cut, and Brandon wants to do everything to him all at once. He settles for licking his hand and then wrapping it around Bolly’s dick, watching him throw his head back and jerk his hips up.

“Get naked and kiss me,” Bolly demands, which, pushy, but Brandon’s kind of into that, and he grins and lets go of Bolly’s dick so he can work his own boxers down, kneeling above his hips so he can do so.

Bolly lets out a whine and rocks his hips up, searching for friction and finding none, and Brandon falls forward again, slotting their hips together and kissing him hard.

Brandon grinds his hips down against Bolly’s, dirty and lazy and tangled up in his sheets, with his boxers shoved down around his knees and Bolly’s nails digging into his shoulders.

It’s quiet in the room but for the sound of their mouths moving together and the soft gasps Bolly’s letting out (nothing like Brandon expected but so, so good). Brandon bites at Bolly’s lower lip and revels in the choked out noise he makes, and then shoves a hand between their bodies to wrap around their dicks.

The slide of their cocks together was fucking gorgeous on its own, but once he gets his hand around them, jerks himself and Bolly off in tandem, messy and fast and maybe a little too rough, it’s almost too much.

They’ve been building up to this so long, been dancing around each other for months, and Brandon’s a little dizzy with want and need and yes, and he manages to gather himself enough to pull back a bit from their kiss and ask, “Is this good, babe, are you—?”

Bolly makes a pained noise and tugs Brandon back down, crashing their mouths together and arching his back up. “Goddammit, Saader, it’s fuckin’ good, come on,” he growls, and there’s the Bolly he was expecting, and Brandon works his dick faster and bites down on his lower lip so hard he tastes a little blood, and Bolly’s shaking beneath him and coming all over his hand a moment later.

“Fuck,” Brandon gasps, and ducks his head into Bolly’s neck, sinking his teeth into his shoulder while he gets himself off, twisting his hand around the head of his cock and letting Bolly’s come slick him up, and then he’s losing it too, dick jerking as he spills in stripes across Bolly’s stomach.

He stays there like that a moment, dick softening against Bolly’s thigh, and catches his lips in another kiss. The urgency’s gone but the intimacy isn’t, and Bolly cups the back of Brandon’s neck in one of his huge hands. “Fuck,” Bolly whispers, and Brandon laughs a little against his lips.

He rolls off him and lands on his back with a thud. Brandon’s mouth feels a little raw and they’re both messy with come and sweat; he turns his head to look at Bolly only to find him looking back with a smile.

Brandon does the only thing he can think to do and reaches for Bolly’s hand.

- - -

They Skype call Andrew the next morning. Andrew beams out at them from the computer screen.

There’s a mad blur of golden brown that neither Brandon nor Bolly can really figure out, until Andrew wraps his arms around it and it stills. It turns out to be a dog, a Great Dane, and it appears to be enthusiastically and joyously confused about how large it is.

“Come visit me and Arnold,” Andrew demands immediately.

Arnold barks at them.

“Arnold is not a lap dog,” Brandon says.

“Of course he is, he’s on my lap!” Andrew says cheerfully.

Brandon imagines he’s smiling, but he can’t actually see Andrew anymore, what with the Great Dane on top of him.

“For real, though,” Andrew says, and pokes his head out from one side of Arnold. “Are you guys settled? Are we all boyfriends?”

Bolly laughs and leans over to kiss Brandon soundly. It takes him off guard, a little, but he’s probably never going to argue with Bolly’s tongue in his mouth.

Andrew makes a frustrated whine and demands, “Here. Immediately. Do that to or on me.”

Brandon grins at him. “Our flight leaves tomorrow evening,” he promises. “Buy pineapple, will you? And make sure you have cereal besides Lucky Charms.”

Andrew looks offended at the perceived insult to his magically delicious sugar-fest, and then horrified by the request for pineapple. “Why, so you can put it on pizza? You even try that shit and I’m breaking up with you immediately.”

Bolly bursts out laughing and Brandon looks between the two of them. He legitimately isn’t sure if Bolly’s already managed to tell him the story, or if Andrew’s just letting out some built up rage about pineapple pizza. Either is plausible. “I’m outnumbered, but that doesn’t make either of you right,” he warns. “That shit’s delicious.”

Bolly makes a face. Brandon suspects Andrew does, too, but then Arnold presses his nose into the laptop and tilts the screen back.

Brandon and Bolly are still laughing when Andrew gets everything all straightened out. “He’s just really excited to meet you,” he says, and grins hugely. “Also, so is my dick. So.”

“Is he always this subtle?” Bolly asks.

“Usually less,” Brandon says, and smiles helplessly.

- - -

The flight from St. Louis to Toronto is two hours, and the drive from Toronto to Belleville is another two. Brandon still can’t sit still, but it’s not at all the anxiety he felt on the way to St. Louis—it’s just excitement.

Everything they’ve been building up to is coming, every mile is one closer to Andrew and to his entire goddamn future, and Bolly’s driving and he keeps casting these little glances at Brandon, and Brandon just holds his hand over the center console and smiles out the window.

- - -

When Bolly gets out of the car, he is immediately bowled over by Arnold, who is even larger than Skype suggested. When Brandon gets out of the car, he is immediately bowled over by Andrew, who, shockingly, does not appear to have grown.

Brandon hugs Andrew back and gives him a quick, hard kiss, arms locked around his waist. “Hey,” he whispers, grinning like an idiot, and then Bolly, having recovered from the sudden attack of canine affection, comes and wraps his arms around both of them.

Andrew shifts to get one arm around Bolly’s waist, and so does Brandon, and then they’re just standing there in this little triangle of a hug, all grinning like idiots at each other. Arnold squeezes himself through the space between Brandon and Andrew, and then manages to get his legs tangled up in Brandon’s.

“He’s a lot cuter than you, Shawzy,” Bolly laughs and steps back, dropping to his knees so he can scratch behind Arnold’s ears. “Maybe we’ve got a new mutt, eh, Saader?”

Andrew looks betrayed on several levels. “He’s a purebred—and hey, I’m fucking adorable—”

Brandon laughs and tugs Andrew into a kiss. “I couldn’t replace you,” he promises.

Bolly gets up and comes to kiss Andrew too, and it starts out soft, cute, just a hi, I’ve come a long way to see you and I’m very happy I did, and all of a sudden Brandon’s just watching Bolly tonguefuck Andrew’s mouth in the driveway of Andrew’s cabin.

He clears his throat.

They pull away from each other, looking vaguely guilty. “Are we leaving you out?” Andrew asks, and reaches for him.

“No, fuck, I just want to see more of that,” he says immediately. “Andy, where’s your bedroom?”

“Like, a tour of the cabin?” Bolly suggests innocently, like he’s not currently sliding his hand down to Andrew’s ass.

“No,” Brandon corrects him. “Like, his bedroom. I think we’ve been waiting long enough.”

Andrew sort of looks like it’s Christmas, and he practically drags them to his room. Arnold follows them halfway there, but thankfully gets distracted on the way, and Brandon shuts the door behind them.

He leans against it and glances over them. “Strip,” he says, casual, and tugs his own shirt off. They exchange a look and then Andrew starts undressing, dropping his shirt on the ground easy as anything. Bolly doesn’t move, though, and Brandon repeats, “Strip.”

Bolly pauses, feeling it out, and looks back at Andrew, who’s now standing in his bedroom bare ass naked, clothes in a pile beside him. “Were you wearing underwear?” he asks, pretty blatantly staring at Andrew’s dick.

“Never do,” Andrew says, and winks.

As cute as they are, Brandon feels compelled to interrupt. “Andrew, get on the bed. Touch yourself, get hard, and then stop. Bolly, you gonna take your clothes off or not?”

Bolly whistles and then starts unbuttoning his shirt. “Mutt, is he always this bossy?”

“Pretty much,” Andrew says delightedly, wrapping a hand around his cock. “Isn’t it great?”

Bolly laughs and finishes undressing, gives his dick a few quick tugs and meets Brandon’s eyes. “It’s alright.”

Brandon grins at him. “Just alright?”

“I could get behind it,” he concedes, and Brandon laughs.

He steps toward the bed, shoves Bolly real lightly in Andrew’s direction. “You could get behind Andrew,” he teases, and Andrew laughs. “I’ve had both of you to myself. I want to watch you together.”

Andrew keeps smiling and Bolly just shivers, naked and half hard, and Brandon has to step into his space and give him a long, slow kiss. He runs a hand from his shoulder down his chest to rest just above his dick, and Andrew gives a sort of pitiful moan.

When Brandon looks at him, Andrew’s fisting his dick a little bit desperately, and he tuts at him. “I told you to stop once you got hard,” he reminds him, and Andrew drops his hand, already a little wild around the eyes. Brandon knows that some of it just has to be the whole, ‘this has totally been his go-to fantasy for months and now it’s coming true’ aspect of it, but, well, he has to congratulate himself at least a little.

“He follows directions well, doesn’t he,” Bolly murmurs, and leans in to kiss Brandon’s neck. His beard scratches along his skin, and Brandon tilts his head back to allow it for just a moment, and then pushes Bolly backwards onto the bed. He’s still standing, wearing the jeans he’d shown up in, and he’s got his boyfriends naked and spread out on a bed for him, and, well. It’s a nice situation, is all.

“Kiss,” he says, and that’s an order neither of them want to deny; Bolly sits up and Andrew scrambles into his lap, kissing him eagerly. He watches one of Bolly’s arms wrap around him, a sharp tan against Andrew’s pale back, and the other come up to cup around his neck, holding him in place.

Andrew’s got a knee on either side of Bolly’s lap and his hands roaming over his sides, and Brandon suspects he’s trying to take him in, memorize this body he’s spent so much time thinking about.

He makes an appreciative noise and palms himself through his jeans. Andrew starts grinding down on Bolly, rutting his hips against him, and Brandon gets on the bed, resting on his knees, and tugs Andrew off him.

He goes easily, falling back onto the pillows, but Bolly protests, “Hey, wasn’t done with him.”

Brandon laughs and leans in to give Bolly a kiss. “You’ll get him back, promise.”

Andrew hooks his fingers in a belt loop and pulls playfully. “Why are you still wearing these?” he asks, half-laughing, half whining. “Take them off.”

He’s hard, and it’s getting a little uncomfortable pressed into his jeans, but Brandon just grins. When he moves up to kneel beside Andrew instead of at his feet, it wasn’t Andy who put him there, and they both know it. “Nah,” he says. “Where’s lube?”

Andrew grins and settles into the sheets, brings his knees up, spreads his legs a bit. Bolly’s just staring at him, eyes wide, mouth just a little open. Brandon laughs, but doesn’t blame him, exactly—it’s a pretty fuckin’ sight.

“Top drawer,” he says, sounding pleased and expectant. “You gonna fuck me?”

Brandon makes a noncommittal noise and opens the drawer, leans over to pull out a small bottle. He opens it easily and slicks up his fingers, settles between Andrew’s legs and presses a fingertip against his hole.

Andrew sighs happily and angles his hips up a bit. Brandon glances over his shoulder at Bolly. “Get up here. Play with his nipples, he likes that.”

A spark of interest flashes across Bolly’s face, and he listens, moving up beside Andrew. He kisses him again first, long and dirty, and Brandon presses a finger in just to watch the way he gasps into Bolly’s mouth.

Bolly brings a hand up to his chest, twists a nipple between his fingers, and Andrew’s already squirming. Brandon rests an arm across his hips, presses him down.

“Hold still, Andy,” he says, and Andy holds still.

He smirks and kisses his hipbone, a brief reward, and then Bolly pinches one of Andrew’s nipples, Brandon pushes another finger in, and Andrew cries out.

He’s playing it up, really. Brandon wants him to fall apart, and he wants Bolly to see it. Andrew knows that’s the plan, Brandon’s sure of it, and he wants to give Bolly a show as much as Brandon does.

He looks up from where Andrew’s stretched around him and finds Andrew kissing Bolly again, eager and deep, and he twists his fingers a bit.

Andrew gasps and tilts his head back; Bolly chases his lips, and, when he kisses him again, it’s surprisingly careful, a little softer than Brandon was expecting to see. He smiles a little bit and ducks his head to kiss along Andrew’s inner thigh, and Andrew gives a little sigh.

“You alright, Mutt?” Bolly murmurs, and Brandon glances up to see his hand stroking down his chest, slow and calm. Andrew’s got one hand around his own dick, grip loose and easy.

“He’s good,” Brandon says, and scissors his fingers. “Yeah, babe?”

“Yeah,” Andrew manages, and kisses Bolly again.

Brandon fucks him slowly on three fingers as long as he can manage to wait. He had planned on drawing this out, he really had. He’d wanted to see how far he could push, how much Andrew could take. But he’s been waiting for this a long time, and he knows Andrew’s body, knows when he’s ready.

He pulls his fingers out.

Andrew sits up a bit and grins. “Are you finally gonna do it?” he taunts, like he wasn’t writhing and whimpering a second ago. Andrew is the only person Brandon’s ever had sex with who chirps him when he’s desperate. God, he loves him so much.

“No,” he says, and Andrew looks legitimately confused for a moment. So does Bolly, and Brandon grins, waits, watches them realize. Bolly starts to move, and Brandon says, “Don’t. I want him to ride you.”

Bolly makes this choked noise, one that Brandon’s going to have to file away and keep for fucking ever, and Andrew practically falls all over himself trying to find a condom. Brandon lets Andrew do this part, slide the condom on him and slick up his dick, and then he watches as Andrew positions himself over Bolly and sinks down onto his cock in one fluid motion.

He doesn’t even know what to look at—Bolly looks like he’s gotten hit with a ton of bricks. Andrew’s hands are on his shoulders and his thighs are a little tensed, and Brandon thinks they’re both just so fucking beautiful.

He finally, finally undoes his jeans, shoves them down and kicks them off. Brandon gets to his knees by Bolly’s hip, and Bolly’s got both hands gripping Andrew’s sides, but he drops one down to Brandon’s thigh, tears his eyes off Andrew to look at Brandon.

“Your boy’s good, isn’t he,” he says, voice a little strained, tilting his head back as Andrew rolls his hips in a move Brandon knows very well.

“Our boy,” he corrects him, and watches Andrew start smiling. He shuffles a bit closer to them, Bolly’s hand still a warm weight on his thigh, and says, “Andy, hands behind your back.”

Andrew looks at him, a bit startled, but obeys. Bolly’s propped up on his elbows a little bit, watching this unfold with interest. Brandon closes his hand around both of Andrew’s wrists, holds him there.

He pauses for a moment, still on top of Bolly’s dick. “Don’t stop,” Bolly says, and Andrew huffs out a little laugh, raises up and sinks down again, thighs shaking with the effort. He’d been using his hands for leverage, but now Brandon’s got them trapped.

Brandon grins, watching Andrew strain to fuck himself on Bolly’s cock. Bolly’s fingers are digging into Brandon’s thigh now, and the other hand is clenched the same way on Andrew’s hip. “How is he, Bolly?” Brandon asks, teasing just a bit.

Bolly groans and his hips stutter, arching off the bed just barely. “Fucking perfect.”

Brandon shifts so he’s kneeling behind Andrew, bracketing one of Bolly’s legs between his knees. He’s still holding Andrew’s hands with one of his own, pinned between his chest and Andrew’s back, but brings the other around to wrap around his dick.

Andrew whimpers and stills again. Brandon tightens his grip, just enough pressure to remind Andrew that he’s not done, and he gets moving again. It’s not a great angle, but it’s enough, and when Brandon ducks his head to whisper, “Come,” Andrew does.

He’s always loud when he loses it, and it’s no different now; he cries out Brandon’s name as he comes across Bolly’s chest, and then Bolly swears and shuts his eyes, and Brandon watches him shudder as he comes a moment after.

Bolly’s flat on his back, trying to catch his breath, and Andrew’s still sitting on his thighs. He slumps backwards against Brandon, which probably isn’t that comfortable given that Brandon’s dick is pressing into his back.

Andrew’s too fucked out to deal with that, though, and Brandon shifts him, arranges him so he’s lying down beside Bolly. He’s always so pliant and easy after, just wants to snuggle and sleep. It’s kind of adorable.

Bolly look sort of like he wants to just stay there and appreciate it a while longer, but instead he sits up, reaches for Brandon. “I want to blow you,” he says, and Brandon grins.

He’s so worked up, honestly, he’s a little amazed he even lasts long enough for Bolly to get his mouth on him. And Bolly’s fucking good at this, somehow knows exactly what Brandon wants and likes, and he blows him fast and dirty.

He lasts an embarrassingly brief time and digs his fingers into Bolly’s shoulders. “I’m gonna,” he manages, and comes in his mouth. Bolly swallows and then grins at him.

They stay like that for a moment, Bolly settled between Brandon’s thighs, and then Andrew lets out a whine. “If one or both of you don’t come cuddle me immediately, I’m kicking you out,” he tells them.

“Can’t have that,” Bolly says, and stretches out beside Andrew.

Brandon curls around him on his other side, chest fitted around his back, arm draped over him to rest a hand on Bolly’s ribcage. Bolly does the same thing, holds Brandon’s hip with his arm over Andrew.

Andrew’s the first to fall asleep. Brandon hadn’t planned a nap, officially, but Andrew’s making snuffly noises and burrowing into the pillows, and Bolly’s smiling at him with this sort of fond awe, like he can’t believe he has this, and it just seems like an excellent use of his time to fall asleep all nestled together.

(They’re very rudely awoken by barking and pawing at the door.

Andrew makes Bolly take Arnold out, because “he might be my dog, asshole, but you just fucked me senseless and I’m still regaining the feeling in my thighs,” and, well. Brandon thinks that’s an excellent point, but he’s probably just glad it’s not him that has to get out of bed.)

- - -

The rest of the summer goes by… pretty much exactly like that, actually. They go home for their respective Cup days, and each spend some time with their families, but, beyond that, stay at Andrew’s cabin.

Brandon meets Andrew’s mom for the first time as Andrew’s Serious Boyfriend, which is—well, it’s alarming, because she is very small but very scary, and she loves Andrew very much.

(However, she appears to believe him when he tells her that so does he.)

They spend all summer cooking fancy meals with organic produce and skinny-dipping in the lake and playing with Arnold. Arnold is everybody’s best friend.

When they get back to the city a week or so before the preseason begins, they’re tan and happy and, amazingly, not sick of each other yet. Brandon’s pretty sure he’s going to keep being not-sick of them forever.

They kneel for Bolly once they’re back in Chicago, the day of the season opener.

It’s sort of a ceremonial thing. They’re in Bolly’s living room, like they usually were. They’ve talked about it—some people keep up the mentoring relationship after that first season, but they’ve agreed it’s not what they need from each other anymore, that it’s not how they’ll be.

So this is the last time, Brandon supposes, on his knees with Andrew, Bolly sitting between them, a hand on each of their necks. They sit like that for a long time, and Brandon gets up first, like he always did. He settles on the couch beside him, curling up close and running a hand through Andrew’s hair.

“Hey,” Bolly says, after a long, quiet moment. “You’re going to be amazing.”

He pulls them up before too long, and they take their pregame nap all on Bolly’s bed, all three tangled up in each other.

They win the game. Brandon celebrates a goal, gets first star of the night, and goes home with the two people he loves best.

They’re going to be amazing.