Tyler thinks ahead. Of course, not always in the short-term, diving headfirst into seemingly trivial decisions, but he focuses on the future more than what’s probably healthy. Every season, obsessing over how they can get ahead in the league, plotting how to make playoffs, sketching a plan to bring his team to the sweet victory of every player’s dreams, to raising that shining, silver beauty over their heads in front of all of the people who had gotten them there.
He’d done it once before, back in Boston, but the celebration had been filled with gaps and loud clubs and brutal hangovers. Tyler still craves the feeling of ecstasy from when his fingertips first grazed the silver Cup.
He’s in Dallas now, with a team that actually wants him, with better friends who aren’t trying to draw sex or drug money out of him. There had been a time, right after the announcement of the trade, where Tyler had hit rock bottom. Late nights spent on the living room floor of his dark, half-packed apartment, sip after sip of some cheap liquor he hadn’t bothered to look at the name, looking for any way to silence his stream of thoughts, to cloud his awareness.
Like he said, he’s in Dallas now, sitting on the island in the Benns’ shared kitchen, watching Jamie attempt to keep his fingers unburnt from the popcorn he had just pulled from the microwave as Jordie chirps him from the doorway. The whole scene tugs at something deep in Tyler’s chest, overwhelming and warm, but not bad. Jamie looks over his shoulder to defend himself, catching Tyler’s gaze with his soft, dopey brown eyes in the process. He shoots him a grin, a dumb, blindingly bright smile that makes Tyler feel like he could fly.
It’s something he would’ve never imagined he’d be able to have, even before the issues in Boston, before being sent away because he wasn’t good enough, because they didn’t want to have to deal with him. But right now, it feels so much like he belongs , and he never wants to let this go. Right now, he can just be.
His captain, of course, helps with that. Jamie grounds him, in a way, gets him out of his head. Tyler’s never had someone be so goddamn enamored with him, at least not in the way Jamie is. Of course, people have always appreciated his looks, his body, his ability to be a hot fuck they forget the next morning, but Jamie had been witness to some of Tyler’s lowest lows, offering a hand into the pit he had been slowly falling down, helping him to dig his fingers into the walls and climb back out. He had come to check on Tyler one night and walked in on a drunk mess, covered in his own vomit, and even after that he still looked at Tyler like he was the best thing on Earth.
When Jamie finally does kiss him for the first time, it’s after a game in the dim of Tyler’s kitchen, the soft lights of the street lamps outside stretching out in warm yellow stripes over their faces and necks. Jamie had been leaning against against the counter, long legs spread in front of him, looking so, so at home and Tyler couldn’t help himself but to step between those legs and let his wrists cross behind Jamie’s neck, faces inches apart. Jamie had grinned, cheeks pink, and closed the last of the distance between them, pulling Tyler flush against him.
It had felt like coming home, finally, as they did their best to kiss through giant smiles, noses knocking together uncomfortably. When Tyler pulls away for air, he can feel his lungs give out when he glances up at Jamie, who looks so content. He’s so beautiful, in the low lighting, and Tyler can’t think about anything but this moment, here, between them.
They were inseparable, afterward, but that wasn’t really ever a new thing. Their chemistry strengthened with age, as well as with how their relationship had grown and flourished. Tyler falls in love at some point, he’s sure of it, or he wouldn’t still be here, six years later, loving every second of it, never taking any moment for granted. He falls in love with his team, and the city of Dallas, and of course, Jamie Benn.
And after seven years of getting so, so close and screwing up and going home to bitter offseasons, they finally bring the Cup home, raising it under the roof of the American Airlines Center in front of their beautiful, beautiful city after a grueling six-game battle against Winnipeg.
Jamie passes the Cup off to Tyler, because of course he does, and all of the weight, building and building over the years, melts from his shoulders as he takes his victory lap, head blissfully clear and heart bursting with happiness. He hands the Cup off to Spezz, and turns back to his captain, his captain with those big, tearfully happy brown eyes, looking at Tyler like he holds the world in the palms of his hands.
Jamie gets down on one knee, at some point that offseason, when the Cup comes to British Columbia, and Tyler answers with an emphatic yes, oh my God, of course, you asshole . He slips the ring onto his finger, standing on the back porch of Jamie’s house in Victoria, fireflies dotting the horizon and the soft lights from inside spilling out to create a hazy scene that had come straight from Tyler’s dreams.
They return to Dallas early, their home half in cardboard boxes. Jamie leaves, just to run a few trivial errands, and Tyler takes the time to say goodbye to their old home, the one that holds so many memories, back to when Tyler had come over to meet the Benns for the first time, to their first kiss. To having the whole team pile into the too-small living room after their barbecue had gotten rained out, to hugging Jordie in the foyer, never wanting to turn the page on that chapter of their lives.
Tyler misses the days with little responsibility, little obligation. He would never wish his Cup ring away, not for anything in the world, it’s everything he had ever imagined, ever since coming to Dallas. He loves that his team sees him as a leader now, that he’s taken so seriously, but he doesn’t mind being reminiscent of the simpler days. Slow afternoons spent trading lazy kisses with Jamie in that big, ugly recliner that had long since made it’s departure from the living room, waiting for Jordie to come back with whatever movie they had decided on that day. But, like he said, he wouldn’t trade his accomplishments for the world.
He’s a fucking Stanley Cup Champion , he’s engaged to the love of his life, and he’s so, so happy.
Tyler’s finally pulled out of his thoughts when the latch of their front door clicks, and Jamie appears with a small grocery bag in the doorway to the kitchen. He sets the bag on the island, hooking his chin over Tyler’s shoulder.
“Whatcha doing?” He asks softly, wrapping his arms around his waist. Tyler leans back against his fiancé, letting his nose poke into Jamie’s sideburn, closing his eyes for a moment.
“Just thinking,” He responds honestly, and Jamie just hums, which translates from Benn-speak to go on . “Just thinking about how happy I am. How happy you make me.” Tyler says simply, turning to face forwards again. He can feel Jamie turn his head, can see him press his lips together out of the corner of his eye, watches as his eyes trace every line of Tyler’s profile.
“Well, don’t think too hard.” He teases gently, pressing a kiss to his temple. It’s a simple gesture, but Tyler easily picks up on the tenderness of the movement, and his brain goes all slow and sappy. Jamie gives Tyler’s a hip a light squeeze and leaves the kitchen, taking the grocery bag from before with him.
Tyler smiles to himself, patting the kitchen counter fondly, and follows. He has a house to pack, and a boy to marry. He wouldn’t have it any other way.