“Do you believe in fate?” Nate asks sleepily. His face is buried in his pillow but his phone is on speaker.
The Fates ?
“No,” says Nate. “Fate. Like. Everything that’s gonna happen, is gonna happen, and we can’t change that.”
There’s silence for a moment and he raises his head and squints at the screen. Still connected (‘no, you hang up,’ is so much part of their repertoire). He sighs and lets his face fall back into the pillow with a flumph.
No , is the answer, eventually. If I believed in fate, I’d have retired and gone home years ago .
“No, you wouldn’t have,” says Nate, and there’s a lump in his throat, thinking about what might have been.
You’re probably right. There’s another pause. What brought this on, anyway?
“Oh,” says Nate. “Yeah. Okay. It’s Tyson.”
A sigh. Isn’t it always?
Tyson believes in fate. He firmly believes everything happens for a reason. He absolutely believes that he can handle one more drink and he’s currently baffled as to why it is, every time he wraps his hand around his glass, his fingers get peeled away from it.
“Slippery fucker,” he mutters to himself.
“Oh my god, Tys, just let go. ”
“You’re not my dad,” says Tyson. He whines as the glass is pulled right out of his reach and across the table and he scowls at the absolute villain opposite him. He forgets what he was going to say because the absolute villain might be the most beautiful person Tyson knows and, if sober Tyson finds it hard to look away from him, drunk Tyson doesn’t stand a chance.
He watches as Gabe takes a long swallow from Tyson’s glass. He watches as Gabe’s throat moves, and as Gabe’s eyes drift closed. It’s possible the rest of the world drops away as Gabe’s eyes suddenly open and lock on Tyson’s.
“Gods,” he whispers, his voice low, and the lights around them throb like a heartbeat. The illusion is broken when Gabe shakes his head and looks around and laughs. “Gods, Tys, how do you drink this stuff? It’s diabetes in a glass.” Gabe is wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Seriously, EJ, try this.”
“I’m not getting involved in this,” says EJ which Tyson can appreciate. EJ’s voice sounds a bit weird, though. “It is definitely between you two.”
Gabe shrugs and drinks back the last of Tyson’s drink. He looks almost daringly at Tyson and Tyson huffs.
“You are all fired,” he says, with every ounce of sincerity he possesses. It takes a moment, or maybe two, before he stands up and makes his way over to the bar.
As soon as the bar stops moving, that is.
“Do you ever feel like time is running out?” he asks.
“C’mon, bud. Let’s get you home.”
“Oh, not yet,” says Tyson. “I’ve still got a few months left, right?”
“Sure thing, Tys.” An arm comes around his waist and it’s strong and it’s attached to someone who smells nice. “It’s only October.”
“We have to do it this year,” says Tyson. He’s not sure how to explain how important it is to him. It’s like he’s been on loan to the land and, on his next birtbday, he’s going to be whisked away again. Three decades and that’s all he gets.
He’s just a changeling, really, when it comes down to it and he was never supposed to become this attached.
“Shh, you’re not a changeling,” says Nate. Oh, he’s been handed off to Nate. That seems sensible. “You’re full of shit, though. Come on. Here’s the car.”
Tyson kind of capsizes into the backseat and the door shuts behind him. He’s dimly aware of Nate getting into the front seat and talking to the driver.
“Hey, Nate,” he murmurs against the cold window. His breath fogs up the glass and it pleases him, this proof that he is still water. “Remember when we took the wrong road and Soda had to reason with the troll near Boulder?”
“Yeah, buddy,” says Nate. “He did it, though.” Nate waits a moment. “Why are you bringing it up?”
“I’m thinking of inviting him to my birthday,” says Tyson.
“Go for it,” says Nate. “He’s still in touch with most of the guys. They’d all love to see him too.”
Tyson has sobered up, at least a bit, by the time they get to Nate’s house. He’s thinking about all the people he’d love to see before he has to go.
“I should go home,” he says, a little uncertainly, and Nate just snorts and puts his hand on Tyson’s shoulder to guide him into the house. Their Uber pulls off and Tyson sighs.
“Yeah,” says Tyson. “No. I think I’m gonna puke.”
“Oh for gods’ — ugh, I should have let Gabe take you home.”
Tyson is honestly so fucking relieved that Nate didn’t let him go home with Gabe. It’s been a few years since they last fucked and it’s been so much longer since Tyson fell in love with Gabriel Landeskog and, honestly, it sucks.
That’s not totally accurate. The sex was always amazing, sporadic though it was, and loving Gabe is as easy as the rain, but Tyson is determined that his is the only heart that’s going to break.
He drags himself into the en suite bathroom off Nate’s guest room and stands in the shower for longer than is necessary or polite but his cells need it; it’s like they all strain inside him as the water sluices down his body.
It’s like all his cells want to go home and Tyson isn’t ready.
“I thought you were trying to drown yourself,” says Nate, far too cheerfully for this time of the morning which is, okay, sometime after midday.
“You know that’s literally impossible, right?”
Nate starts humming under his breath.
“I’ll doo-doo-doo you ,” mutters Tyson, but he can’t help smiling. He’s not sure what he did to deserve Nate McKinnon or how he’s managed to avoid being traded away, even though he’s crushed all the defenceman scoring records in Denver.
“We’re going to brunch,” says Nate. “And you’re going to cheer the fuck up. You need to time your crises better, you know? The start of the season ain’t it, you know?”
“I had one in the summer, too,” Tyson starts before realising that it probably doesn’t paint him in the best light.
“I know,” says Nate. “EJ documented it on snapchat.”
Oh. Right. “His fucking horse tried to bite me. I bet the fucker was going to eat me.” Tyson should know better than to trust a child of Diomedes but he genuinely loves EJ and he really needed to not be at home for a while. It’s not like he can’t hear the waves, wherever he is, but there is something about EJ’s thunderous life that almost drowns it out.
Nate throws a hoodie at Tyson’s head. “Come on, we’re going out.”
Tyson grumbles a little because the hoodie is too big and has Nate’s number on it but his clothes from last night are not currently wearable.
He stares at the hoodie in his hands, 29 standing out. “Ugh.”
“Maybe Gabe will lend you one of his,” says Nate as he herds Tyson out the door.
(92 is still the same number, is the thing, even if it’s in a different order.)
Tyson works hard at forgetting, and he works hard at hockey, and he moves from the second to the third pairing, and back again. He makes it to November, and most of the way through November, before he is confronted with his feelings for Gabe again.
Gabe’s birthday is on a Wednesday, and he turns twenty-nine, but he is a Monday’s child, and fair of face.
Tyson, well. He’s a Friday’s child, and he’s loving and giving and he’s been in love with Gabriel Landeskog for a long, long time.
Gabe is twenty-nine years old. Twenty-nine doesn’t mean anything. It’s not a special number.
The special number is nine. This is the ninth full season that he’s been captain of the Colorado Avalanche; three by three is important for any son of the Æsir, and so he’s going to eat and drink and make his ancestors proud.
He catches Tyson’s eye and smiles at him. He half-expect Tyson to look away, the way he does more often than not. It’s frustrating; they are in the New World, after all, this melting pot of demi-gods and children of forgotten deities. There shouldn’t be any misunderstandings. Gabe likes Tyson. He probably even loves Tyson but Tyson shies away every time they get close. They’re smiling at each other now, though, and it warms Gabe’s heart. Gabe is used to being liked but he’s never wanted anyone to like him more.
Gabe looks around the VIP section of the bar and he feels comfortable. Mikko is baring his teeth, a proud son of Fenrir, and Nate is laughing. Gabe tilts his head to the side. He’s never figured out what Nate is, even though Nate has always claimed to be fully and entirely human. It seems unbelievable, given what he can do on the ice. He knows that Nate is probably sick of all the speculation in the media, about what Nate is and what he hasn’t disclosed. Maybe he is only human and that’s why the entire team flocks towards him.
“It’s my birthday,” Gabe tells Tyson, when they come together at the bar.
“You don’t care about birthdays,” says Tyson and Gabe grins.
“You do, though,” says Gabe. “You’ve been a total fucker since you turned thirty. Is that what’s ahead of me?”
“Absolutely,” says Tyson, mock-solemnly, his eyebrows shooting up. “The crankiness will set in any day now though ... “ Tyson tilts his head to the side and taps his chin with a fingertip. “I think with you, we’re not going to be able to tell the difference.”
“It’s my birthday. You should stop being mean to me,” says Gabe, and he slides a bit closer to Tyson. Tyson is good at personal space, in that he lets Gabe into his. “You should give me something.”
“I already gave you a gift,” says Tyson.
“I want another.” Gabe is delighted at how pink Tyson turns.
“Gabe,” says Tyson, and he half-shakes his head before he looks to the side. “Well. You asked nicely so. Fine.” He stands up on tip-toes and presses his mouth to Gabe’s, and the kiss is brief and sweet and Gabe sighs at the touch of Tyson’s tongue to his. “That’s all you’re getting,” says Tyson, pulling away, as Gabe tries to chase another kiss from him.
(A kiss can seal so many things, even a promise that remains unspoken and incomplete.)
Gabe’s never really asked Tyson why they stopped sleeping together but it definitely wasn’t Gabe’s idea. He would have kept sleeping with Tyson indefinitely. Monogamy is pretty unusual for demi-godlings, given that their forefathers were, to be blunt, prolific procreators. Gabe has a secret, though; son of the Æsir though he is, it is said that he is descended from Baldr, beloved and fiercely loyal.
“I know your type,” Tyson once said, pushing Gabriel away playfully. “Love ‘em and leave ‘em.” He followed the shove with a kiss and Gabriel, delighted and confused, pursued every last kiss.
“Give him a break,” says Nate, regularly, like Gabe doesn’t always forgive Tyson and like Gabe won’t always wait for him. “He’s an idiot.”
“I think maybe he doesn’t know what he wants,” says Gabe, although that doesn’t quite ring true. He thinks, maybe, Tyson doesn’t know what he is. He’s registered with the league as a son of Triton and has had to put up with more Little Mermaid jokes than any other child of the sea. He’s always seemed uneasy about something.
Gabe wonders if it’s the altitude in Colorado, if Tyson panics being far from the sea but anyone who knows Tyson knows that he’s the exact same, whether it’s in Denver or Tampa Bay.
“He’s high strung,” says EJ, kindly. “But he’s definitely into you.”
Gabe laughs, pleased, even though he knows Tyson sleeps around. He knows that Tyson doesn’t look at anyone the way he looks at Gabe.
Gabe hosts his annual Jól party.
“Can we burn something big?” asks Mikko, gleefully. “Don’t your people burn goats? I definitely read something about Backstrom burning goats.”
“We’re going to burn a log,” says Gabe, sternly, “And you’re not going to terrorise this season’s rookies, okay?”
“You’re no fun,” says Mikko but he looks happy enough as he sniffs the air. “There’s gonna be more snow. I love this time of year.”
“Easy to say when you can sprout a fur coat, just like that,” says Nate.
“What are you?” asks Mikko, and it comes out like a whine as he drapes himself around Nate.
“Just a person, pal,” says Nate.
“I suppose you’re gonna say Crosby is a person too, huh?”
Nate huffs. “I don’t know why everyone thinks I know what Sid is.”
“Gosh, I wonder,” says Tyson, from somewhere behind an armful of bakery boxes. “Thanks for the help with these, bud. Super appreciate it. Where am I putting these, Gabe?”
Gabe moves forward to help Tyson and smiles at him over the boxes. He’s gratified by the way Tyson sucks in a breath and Gabe hopes that, maybe, he’ll get another kiss tonight.
(There’s no mistletoe in Gabe’s house at Christmas, and there never will be, and he doesn’t want Tyson to feel obliged to kiss him.)
Tyson’s happy and it’s only when he realises that he’s happy that he panics, a little. It’s March and he should be counting down the months, or the weeks, or the days, to his birthday and his departure but the Avs are doing well. They’re doing well enough to be a lock for the playoffs and it’s St Patrick’s weekend.
JT pretends like he hates it.
“Just because I’ve got red hair doesn’t mean I’m Irish,” he shouts at the bar, like the whispers of the Morrígan aren’t in his blood.
“I like your hair,” says Josty. Josty’s purely, delightful human and everyone has always been so protective of him but no one more than JT.
“Fine,” says JT and he sinks down next to him.
Tyson smiles. They look happy. Maybe they won’t miss him.
He sinks down next to Gabe, who takes one look at him and just hands him his own half-drunk beer. It’s gonna taste gross but it’s better than nothing, given that the crowd at the bar is four men deep and Tyson’s never tall enough to be seen, or god enough to command attention.
Tyson sips Gabe’s beer and Gabe is looking at him sideways.
“This isn’t bad,” says Tyson, looking down at the beer. It’s dark in colour, which probably makes it a stout or something, and it honestly tastes chocolate-y. Tyson gets lost for a moment, staring into the glass, and he raises his head to look at Gabe. Their eyes meet.
“It’s good, even,” says Tyson, the words heavy on his tongue, like a dense truth. He smiles at Gabe and Gabe smiles back and lifts his hand. He swipes his thumb over Tyson’s upper lip.
“You had a moustache,” says Gabe, showing Tyson the froth on his thumb.
Tyson doesn’t know why, and it’s stupid, but he leans in and sucks the tip of Gabe’s thumb. It feels like he shouldn’t waste a drop. Gabe hasn’t looked away from Tyson’s face and Tyson knows this because he’s not looking away from Gabe’s face.
They kiss, like it’s inevitable, and Tyson blinks, surprised.
“Didn’t want to waste any,” says Gabe, like he can read Tyson’s mind, like they’re one and the same.
“This is Avs hockey,” shouts EJ, holding up one hand. “This is Avs hockey in May !”
That makes literally no sense but Tyson is happy to scream along with everyone else.
“What’s a conference final like, Grubi?” asks Rants, and Grubi grins.
“It’s pretty fucking great,” he says.
“We’re gonna win it,” says Mikko, determined and dogged. “We’re gonna win it and Gabe’s gonna touch it.”
Gabe looks lazy and happy and he shrugs and smiles. “Sure, Mikko. You keeping making those sick assists and I’ll touch the damn thing.”
Tyson can’t look away from him. More and more. It’s becoming a thing. They say that, don’t they? There’s nothing like a sense of impending doom for really identifying one’s priorities and Tyson’s priority is to drink his fill of looking at Gabe, maybe kiss him a time or two more.
Gabe tilts his head. It’s come here and Tyson is not going to deny Gabe. Not when he’s playing as well as he ever has. Not when his OT goal put them into the conference final. Not when he keeps telling the media that every single player on the team is a potential Conn Smythe winner.
Tyson walks over and settles in under Gabe’s arm.
“Hi,” he says.
He wrinkles his nose; Gabe’s breath is beer-sour and his cheeks are pink. “We’re going duck-hunting,” Gabe whispers and Tyson is startled into laughter.
“Nate,” Tyson moans. They slaughtered the Ducks. It was a four-zero sweep and honestly it was kind of embarrassingly easy. It makes Tyson uneasy, like maybe he’s being given everything he ever wanted before he’s taken away.
“Fuck, Tys. Really? It’s been, like, two months since your last existential crisis. You’ve been doing so well.”
“I’m really gonna miss you, you know?”
“You’re not going anywhere, buddy,” says Nate. “You signed a contract, like we all did.”
Tyson huffs. The sea doesn’t respect contracts, any more than Corey Perry respects the bodily integrity of his opponents. His three decades are winding to a close and they’ve been fucking amazing and no one seems to be taking it seriously.
“You’ll miss me when I’m gone,” he mutters.
“I should have let Gabe take you home,” says Nate. Tyson rolls over and throws an arm over Nate.
“He never lets me be the big spoon,” he says.
He thinks Gabe is too much in love with hockey right now to remember he’s in love with Tyson.
It’s really heavy, is the thing.
Everyone always says that the Stanley Cup isn’t as heavy as it should be but it feels heavy to Tyson. It’s generations of hopes and dreams, and it’s the roar that fills the Pepsi Center. Sacrifices and mistakes have been made to get them here and none more than Gabe who missed Game Seven with a broken forearm from blocking a shot like an idiot and then immediately punching Marchand in the face like a hero, when Marchand tried to go after Grubi.
There is so much blood and sweat in the ice. Tyson can’t really hear it except that the ice is thrumming weirdly beneath his skates and it is nothing like the sea. The sea has never felt so far away.
Nate got the Conn Smythe which seems totally fair to everyone. He can admire his name near Sid’s for the whole summer.
When they make it to the locker room afterwards, Gabe pours champagne into the cup.
“Come here, Tys!” he shouts. “Have a drink!”
Tyson hurries over, if only to keep the idiot from injuring his arm even more and, together, they both manage to drink from the Stanley Cup. The champagne pours down their chins and Gabe’s beard brushes against Tyson’s more modest attempt at facial hair and it’s disgusting and it’s perfect and suddenly Tyson can hear the sea again, clear clarion call, and he wonders if Gabe can hear it too. He wonders if he opens his eyes, will he find himself far from here, standing at the edge of the ocean. He thinks he’s being called home but he opens his eyes and Gabe is right there, resting his forehead against Tyson’s temple, taking deep gasping breath after deep gasping breath.
Fuck, it’s the Stanley Cup. They’ve won it. Tyson, with champagne dripping from his lips, turns to kiss Gabe. There’s a roar from their teammates and Gabe is clutching at Tyson’s side with his one good hand and murmuring something against his lips (something that will be lost forever but has already been heard, and accepted).
Gabe thinks it’s pretty cool that Tyson invited them all to his Cup Day. It’s the day before Tyson’s birthday, which Tyson has been treating like some kind of doomsday. Gabe doesn’t completely understand it. Thirty-one isn’t young for a hockey player anymore, sure, but Tyson is still in really great shape.
Tyson’s house is set up with a gazebo out back, and the Cup is standing on a plinth.
“Looking good,” says Gabe, when Tyson comes towards him.
“It does, right? My mother did loads of work,” Tyson says.
“I didn’t mean the house,” says Gabe.
“Not the Cup,” says Gabe and he lifts his hand to rest it on the side of Tyson’s neck. “You look good, Tys. For an old man, I guess.”
He leans forward and rests his forehead against Tyson’s and they both sigh. Gabe feels like they could have stood there for ever except there’s uproar at the back gate and Mikko arrives.
“So worried that your Cup Day would be lame, you invited us all?”
“Something like that, Rants, yeah,” says Tyson. “Nah, I just wanted to prove to my family that I have friends, you know?”
Gabe resists the urge to slide his arm around Tyson’s waist and anchor him against his side.
“Let’s drink, eh?”
“Make our ancestors proud!” says Mikko, showing his teeth.
They do drink, is the thing, and Tyson keeps looking out towards the sea. Gabe wonders if Tyson misses this place during the season. The smell of the sea fills the air, like there’s a storm rolling in, though there’s not much of a breeze.
“Tyson,” Gabe says, reaching for Tyson’s hand. “Tyson, you gotta say goodbye to the Cup. It’s Kerfy’s day tomorrow.”
“Bye, Cup,” says Tyson, obediently, but he looks down at the Cup in its case and he smiles, like he can’t help it. “We fucking did it.”
The guys all let out a roar and Gabe still hasn’t let go of Tyson’s hand.
“Tyson,” he says. He wants to pull Tyson out of whatever reverie he’s in, whatever crisis he’s contemplating. “Tyson, come here. Kiss me.”
Tyson’s face scrunches up and he smiles, and he means it. “You’re not the boss of me,” he says.
“Nope,” agrees Gabe. “I never have been. Kiss me anyway.”
They kiss, beneath the spruce trees. Gabe’s heart is racing. Maybe there’s mistletoe nearby, or another promise of death. He hates it and he clutches Tyson tighter.
“Tyson,” says Gabe. “Take me to bed.”
Tyson groans. “Gabe,” he says. “Gabe, please. I can’t.” He sounds genuinely distraught and Gabe can’t see his face clearly enough.
“Why not?” asks Gabe, with a flare of anger. “I know you love me.”
Tyson laughs, and it’s a harsh sound. “Everyone loves you.”
“Tyson, please . Why won’t you?” Gabe knows he’s sounding pathetic but he can’t help it.
“Because,” Tyson takes in a breath. “Because tonight’s my last night here,” he says. “On the surface.”
There’s a huff. “It’s been three decades,” says Tyson. “I’m a son of Triton. It’s not like the stupid movie but it kind of is. Three days, three decades, whatever. My time’s up, Gabe. I gotta go.”
“Bullshit,” says Gabe. “Bullshit. You’re—”
“Human? Not human enough.”
“ Mine .” The word rips out of Gabe. “You’re mine,” he says again. “And, yeah, you’re Nate’s and EJ’s and Josty’s too, but you’re mine. You’re mine most of all.”
“Oh, Gabe.” Tyson has never sounded so old. “Oh, I wish I was.”
Gabe’s throat feels tight and his heart is pounding. “No, Tyson. I won’t let you go. You gotta know that. Who do I have to fight?”
“I mean,” says Tyson. “The sea.”
Gabe turns, like he’s honestly going to march down to the sea front and remonstrate with the waves, but Tyson catches him by the arm.
“Let’s go to bed,” he says, softly.
“Let’s go to bed,” Tyson says, again. “You want to give me a last night to remember?”
Gabe growls. “You’re just trying to keep me away from the assholes who are going to take you away.”
“That’s my family,” says Tyson.
“Bullshit,” says Gabe. “I’m your family. Your parents and your sister are you family. Fucking Nate is your brother so don’t even pull that shit.”
“Come back to the house,” says Tyson, again. “Let’s just. Let’s just sit together. It’d be nice not to be alone.”
They don’t just sit together. They crash in through the front door and Gabe supposes there are still people here, but they’re not directly in their path, so it’s irrelevant. They stumble up the stairs, tugging at each other’s clothes and unwilling or unable to tear their mouths away from each other for any longer than it takes to draw breath. They are drowning men and they are beyond saving.
The door of Tyson’s room slams behind them and Gabe kicks off his shoes and wriggles out of his clothes as quickly as he can, in between kisses. It’s only when he’s on top of Tyson, cradled between his legs, that he pauses.
It is not hesitation. It is appreciation.
Tyson is smiling up at him like there’s no tomorrow to fear. His curls are tumbling around his face because he hasn’t cut his hair since the playoffs. His perfect, handsome face brings something out in Gabe; maybe it is a fierce possessiveness because all Gabe can hear in his mind is a clanging repetition of mine, mine, mine . Tyson winds his arms around Gabe’s neck and pulls him down to kiss him again, biting down on Gabe’s lower lip, which spurs Gabe into action.
He drags Tyson down the bed, just enough to hook Tyson’s legs over his shoulders as he leans down to kiss Tyson’s abdomen, quivering beneath his lips. He kisses down towards Tyson’s cock and breathes for a moment, until Tyson digs his fingers into Gabe’s hair and pulls, while drumming on Gabe’s back with his heels.
“I swear to the
, Landeskog, if you don’t…”
“I will,” says Gabe, fiercely. “Anything you want, Tys, always .”
He lowers his head before Tyson can reply, gratified by the way Tyson’s fingers tighten even further as he licks him slowly, once down, once up and then he swallows Tyson down, as much as he can. WIth a bit of maneuvering, he frees his hand from under Tyson and strokes the base of his cock, meeting his lips on the upstroke. Tyson has stopped making any sense at all, his fingers clenching and loosening, until Gabe is vaguely aware of increasing pressure, pulling his head up. He reluctantly lets go of Tyson’s cock, but darts out his tongue to lick over the slit, glistening now.
“Shit, Gabe, no, I…”
Gabe waits but Tyson seems disinclined to make any actual words. Gabe contents himself with kissing and biting the insides of Tyson’s thighs.
“Okay,” says Tyson. He’s got his fists pressed against his eyes and when he pulls them away, his eyes are red. “Okay, okay. I think I’m not gonna ... “ He lifts one hand and extends a finger, pointing at Gabe. “I’m gonna need you in me before I come.”
Gabe’s vaguely aware of his mouth dropping open but Tyson is gesturing weakly at the bedside table. “Lube,” he says.
Gabe crawls over and finds the lube.
“Uh,” he says. “Condoms.”
“Fuck, Gabe, the sea is reclaiming me tomorrow, can I just feel you?”
Gabe can’t argue with that, and he doesn’t want to, so he kisses Tyson, quick and bruising, before he reaches down to stretch Tyson out. He remembers this, how he has to hold Tyson down to stop him from squirming too much (he remembers this, how much Tyson likes being held down), and Tyson is incoherent again by the time Gabe slicks himself up.
He takes a deep breath as he lines himself up and slides into Tyson.
“Fuck,” he says, as he starts to move.
“Ye-e-es,” Tyson sighs.
“I love you,” says Gabe (because he’s never known when to keep his mouth shut.)
“Gabe.” Tyson’s choking out the word, on a sob. He turns his head to the side but Gabe crooks a finger under his chin and gently guides Tyson to look at him. Gabe leans down and kisses Tyson, even if it is clumsy and mostly breathing.
“I love you,” says Gabe again, against Tyson’s mouth.
“Gabe,” says Tyson. “
“I love you,” says Gabe, like third time’s the charm (and it invariably is), and he holds himself up on his elbows as he presses deep into Tyson, coming hard enough to see stars. He reaches down, fumbling a little, and wraps his hand around Tyson, and he gasps against Tyson’s throat as Tyson comes over Gabe’s fingers and his own belly.
Gabe pulls out carefully and he’s too tired to do anything but nudge Tyson onto his side, so he can curl around him.
“You never let me be the big spoon,” mutters Tyson, but he grabs Gabe’s hand and raises it to his lips, kissing their entwined fingers.
Gabe doesn’t mean to fall asleep. He figures nothing can take Tyson if he’s standing guard over him but Gabe is mostly human, and he knows how the old stories go. There’s always a moment of weakness.
He wakes up to an empty bed.
He doesn’t know what to do.
“You motherFUCKER, NATHANIEL!” comes a voice from downstairs.
“Tyson?” Gabe shoots out of bed and bounds down the stairs.
Tyson is in the kitchen, pointing at Nate. “You absolute and UTTER—” He holds up his hands, counting “— one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. That’s one decade! So twenty-one to thirty is another decade!”
“That’s … that’s not how it works, Tys,” says Nate. “Fucking Google it. Your third decade ended a year ago!” He turns around and sees Gabe. “Oh my gods, put on some pants, Gabe,” says Nate before he turns back to Tyson. “If you’d told me what you were so freaked out about, I could have told you this a year ago! It’s not my fault you suck at math!”
“My three decades,” says Tyson. “They were up on my thirtieth birthday!” He’s waving his phone at Gabe, with a Google search open on the screen. “Third decade! Age twenty to twenty-nine! What the fuck!”
“Oh my gods,” says Gabe, faintly.
“Anyway,” says Nate. “Gabe’s married you, like, three times already this year.”
“ What? ”
Nate looks between them like they’re idiots. “You honestly didn’t notice. The marriage cup in October? In March? In June, with the Stanley fucking Cup?”
Tyson is looking at Nate blankly and Gabe knows he’s not much better.
“You guys shared a drink, like, three times, and we all saw it, and more importantly, the demigods saw it, and you didn’t know you were married?”
“Fucking hell,” says Tyson. “Fucking hell .”
“I’m surrounded by honest-to-gods idiots,” says Nate.
“But you love us, right?”
“Not as much as you love each other,” mutters Nate, as EJ wanders into the kitchen, scratching himself through his sweatpants.
“Hey,” he says. “Have you guys decided if you’re gonna hyphenate or what?”
“Did you have to deal with idiot teammates too?” asks Nate, stretching out in bed.
His phone is propped up on the nightstand in his house in Nova Scotia. Yes, far too often.
“When are you coming home?”
Soon . I promise. I’ve missed you .
“I’ve missed you too.”
Is it —?
“Of course it’s safe,” says Nate. “i’ll always keep it safe.” His gaze flickers towards the chest at the end of his bed. It’s ornate, and the lock is more ornate still, and inside, there’s a pelt.
I know you will , says Sid. Goodnight, Nate .