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The Not-Very-Thrilling Life of Succulents

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It's not like Morgan Rielly can't get laid in Toronto.

 

When he goes out for a drink with the boys, he can take his pick of nearly any girl in whatever bar they visit. At every team event he pockets at least three phone numbers. There is a steady stream of women of all ages and races sliding into his DMs both on Twitter and Instagram. He's a fucking Maple Leaf, of course he can get laid.

 

And yes, sure, he does sometimes take advantage of the ease with which he can hook up; he just feels a little uncomfortable with it. But when an absolute smokeshow invites him back to her apartment, he won't turn it down. Or when it's after midnight and there's a gorgeous brunette purring in his lap, telling him all the things she wants to do with him, pursing her lips around a straw to allude to other ways she could use that mouth...well, Morgan's only human.

 

He always feels guilty when it's over, though; he knows that he doesn't want to pursue a relationship with any of them. He leaves without giving his phone number--it's easier than ghosting them later--but he always makes a note of the address and apartment number. When he gets home he schedules a delivery from a florist.

 

He doesn't buy flowers because he wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong impression. He sent houseplants the first few times, but since then he's realized that those are a lot of work and so now he sends succulents. They're low-maintenance, but they stick around for a while. He figures it's a nice gesture. He doesn't want the girls to feel like they meant nothing to him.

 

He likes women just fine, all smooth skin and high-pitched moans, the taste of lipstick and the smell of vanilla. They're just not the only thing he likes.

 

And that's where it gets a little bit dicey. If there are rumors about him going out in Yorkville and leaving with different girls each time, no one is going to bat an eye. As a hockey player in the NHL's biggest market, it's practically a foregone conclusion that he's going to use that status to get it in whenever possible. But if he started bringing guys home, it would draw a lot more attention.

 

That is where Morgan Rielly runs into a problem with getting laid in Toronto.

 

So Morgan never even attempts to pick up with men in Toronto. He also avoids it at home in Vancouver. Hell, he's given up on ever getting to touch a dick other than his own whenever he's in Canada.

 

But he's a professional hockey player, and that means there are road trips to places like Tampa, Dallas, Los Angeles, cities that are either too vast or too clueless about hockey to know his face. There are cities where no one would know who he is if he walked down the street wearing his own jersey. There are cities where he's just another guy on Grindr trying to get a blow job.

 

His profile picture is carefully chosen for discretion. It shows no part of his face, and he's wearing a shirt--he doesn't have the right body to go without--but he's got a pair of shorts on that hug everything just right. It shows his bulge impressively, and he's gotten plenty of compliments. It's served him well thus far, so he hasn't found much reason to change it.

 

The last time they were in New York, he met a construction worker who insisted on eating him out before they traded BJs. When they went to Nashville the guy was an aspiring musician who was the sloppiest kisser Morgan had ever encountered, but he had been willing to bottom so it was worth it for Morgan to wipe his face off after they made out. When they played the Ducks it was an IT guy who didn't take his glasses off the whole time Morgan was fucking him.

 

None of it is ideal, of course. Grindr is a crapshoot; sometimes he finds a good-looking guy who happens to be close enough to their hotel that he can sneak out and back before the boys ever know he's gone. But then there are times when he'll spend the whole night trying to find just one single man worth even talking to, let alone sneaking into his hotel room.

 

He's had some luck in places like Columbus or Raleigh; hockey isn't enough of a draw to make it risky, though there isn't a terribly deep pool of readily available gay men in those smaller markets. He's found that big, anonymous cities are the best--Chicago's pretty good, New York is nearly always a home run--so he looks forward to those games. California road trips are always highlighted on his calendar; he can usually manage at least one hookup between those three cities. Once he even managed to get laid at all three stops.

 

Their first game for this roadie is in Los Angeles. The Leafs are good about scheduling flights so the team gets at least one free night when they go to warmer climates. It's early in the season yet, but that doesn't stop most of the boys from taking advantage and going out on the town; the whole crew will go to an expensive dinner and then try (and usually fail) to pick up aspiring actresses at a club where the music is too loud and there aren't enough lights.

 

These are the nights Morgan begs off from taking up the boys on their invitations to go out. If all of his teammates are out late, it means that the corridor of their hotel will be empty. Which means that if Morgan invites someone to his room, no one will ever know.

 

He orders room service and settles in to scroll through profiles, hoping to find someone who strikes his fancy. In smaller cities he might get a radius of five miles or more, especially with filters set to catch only certain ages and bottoms alone. In Los Angeles, though, those same filters give him results only within a mile--hundreds of guys within just a few city blocks, most of them looking for the same easy sex that he's in search of.

 

He's already finished dinner and put the tray in the hall next to his door by the time he finds a profile he's interested in. The profile is for a 21 year old and the name is listed as only "B." Morgan understands that, plenty of guys on Grindr use either nicknames or names that are altogether made up; he's been simply "Mo" since the day he downloaded the app.

 

The profile picture for "B" has him on a boat, and the picture is cropped just above the collarbone so that his face isn't visible. But he's shirtless, and "B" has a hell of a body. Broad-shouldered, and there are abs there, but he isn't too sculpted either. Morgan might spend plenty of time in the gym, but it's for function, not so he looks good in photos. He doesn't really care for the gym rat type, and this guy doesn't appear to be one.

 

Morgan likes the look of him, so he scrolls through the rest of the profile.

 

Traveling and looking for a good time. Discretion is a must. No face pictures ever. Can't host.

Height: 6'1

Weight: 190

Ethnicity: White

Body Type: Athletic

Position: Bottom

I am: Single

HIV Status: Negative

Last Tested: Sept 2018

 

Grindr tells him that "B" is only a few hundred yards away. Morgan takes another long look at his photo and then finally decides to send him a message.

 

Nice pic. Wouldn't mind getting a view of all that in person.

 

It's only a few minutes before a response comes.

 

B: Not too bad yourself. Looks like we're pretty close. You at a hotel downtown?

 

Yeah, in town for a work thing. Just for tonight. You?

 

B: Same, traveling through. Got some buddies here though, so I gotta get away from them for anything to happen.

 

Well I can host, if you're interested.

 

B: I'm definitely into it, you look hot. Been a while since I got fucked.

 

Morgan doesn't hate it if a guy goes straight for the kill in a Grindr message. They both know what they're here for, wasting time flirting and getting to know each other is pointless if they just intend to get each other off and never speak again. And he can certainly do worse than getting a guy like that in his bed.

 

Sounds like we could have a good time together. You need to be discreet too?

 

B: Def. Gotta be careful, I'm not out. Can't get caught.

 

Most of the time guys who insist on discretion have wives at home, sometimes kids. They just want a little dick sometimes too, and business trips are a good time to indulge that. This guy is only 21, so Morgan doubts he's someone's husband, and that means there probably aren't kids at home. Morgan never wants to be responsible for fucking up someone's family.

 

Same. You can come over, but you just gotta sneak in here quick, in case any of my coworkers are hanging around. I'm at the JW Marriott.

 

B: I'm right next door, I can be there in a few mins. Room #?

 

Morgan glances at what he's wearing: a t-shirt and sweats. Lululemon or not, Morgan never wears sweatpants for a hookup. He knows he's not the hottest guy in the world--and he can't use his profession or wealth to his benefit with a Grindr hookup--so he at least tries to look his best when he's got someone coming to see him.

 

Gimme 20 mins before you come over. Rm 1408.

 

B: See ya in 20.

 

Morgan strips down and pulls on fresh boxer briefs, then a pair of snug jeans that once resulted in Gardiner telling him that he was showing off that "good Canadian moose knuckle." He's going to use whatever he's got going for him, and these pants go a long way to helping him with that. He checks his hair in the mirror--hopeless, mostly--and pulls on a button-down. He doesn't bother with shoes, but otherwise he thinks he looks pretty decent. Enough that whoever "B" is probably won't run screaming when he arrives.

 

There's always an odd combination of excitement and trepidation when he meets someone from Grindr. He probably prefers sex with guys, if he's being fully honest about it, so knowing there's going to be someone solid and muscular beneath him is thrilling. With a guy he doesn't have to worry so much about his size. He's a big guy in more ways than one, and often when he's got a slim, delicate woman in bed he wonders if he's too heavy for her, wonders if he's going too hard or too fast.

 

With a guy, though, he feels more at ease. Even if he picks up a twink, the guy is rarely smaller than 150 pounds; it doesn't leave Morgan feeling like an oaf, too broad, too wide.

 

But at the same time there's an underlying current of anxiety. Morgan is convinced that one of these days he's going to open the door for a hookup and the guy on the other side will be from Ontario and will recognize him instantly. Not that he's Auston Matthews or anything--Morgan isn't a hockey superstar, not even close--but in Toronto even someone from the Marlies would likely get noticed, let alone a top-4 defenseman for the Leafs.

 

Every time Morgan plans a Grindr hookup, there's a nagging worry in the back of his mind that this is going to be the time it all goes wrong.

 

This is the time the guy on the other side of that door is going to know who he is. This is the time one of his teammates is going to see some dude leaving Morgan's room and put the pieces together. This is the time when Sportsnet is going to find out, when TMZ and Deadspin are going to learn about it and it's going to be a huge story not just among hockey types, but every other kind of media too. This is the time he's going to get outed.

 

He shakes off the nerves; it hasn't happened yet, and it isn't likely to happen tonight either.

 

He's expecting a knock at any moment now, so he brushes his teeth and makes sure he's got condoms and lube easily in reach of the bed.  As soon as he's closed his toiletry bag, there's a rap on the door. He takes a breath and rolls his shoulders before he answers. He doesn't bother with the peephole--he's only seen pictures of this guy from the waist down, what good would it do?--and he pulls the door open. He's prepared with a greeting and what he hopes is a seductive smile, but as soon as he sees who is on the other side, any plan goes out the window.

 

Every single fear he's ever had about hooking up via Grindr has just slammed into him. He feels like he's going to pass out, or throw up, or maybe both.

 

"Oh fuck," Morgan mutters.

 

Standing in the hall is Brock Boeser.